How many times have you ever sat down to watch a movie, and had to turn it off without finishing it because it was just such a bad movie? I can guess a lot of people chose to turn off this movie… So I’m here to tell you to give it another chance. This movie is amazing… but it doesn’t seem that way at first. Much like life itself in reality. Life Itself (both the movie, and well… Life) can have some pretty horrible things happen when we least expect it… but Life Itself (again both the movie, and actual real life), can have amazing beautiful moments that teach us the power of the human spirit, the power of love, and the importance of family.
Title: Mr Love Queen’s Choice
Platform: IOS and Android
Release Date: I think I must have used Qoo App, because I am already playing the game, and it says Pre-register on the play store. Or maybe I got into beta? I am not sure, anyways, yes I am playing the game currently. You can check Qoo App, which is probably how I got it. And yes I’m playing it in English.
Overall: 65/80 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – Basically just a card collecting game, but with a twist, you manage a TV studio and produce various korean tv shows and commercials. The cards have different skills such as if they’re good at drama or news or gourmet cooking shows, as well as stats for things such as affinity, decision, creativity, and other skills that you would expect an idol to need to have to be successful. Some cards are more rare than others. You can also level the cards up. But nothing too complex here, definitely a casual game.
Sweetie: 5/5 – there are otome aspects, sometimes the guys will call you, and it is partially voiced in English. The artwork is beautiful, the voice acting is pretty good, and the whole Kdrama Producer thing really speaks to anyone who loves simulation games.
Overview: 10/10 Mr Love Queen’s Choice lets you run a TV studio and recruit idols, as mentioned, with various specialties and stats. The main draw of the game is collecting idols, progressing through the story, and dating the idols. I think it is a unique concept, there’s a lot of idol producer games, but not too many that take a TV Studio theme.
Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is pretty simple, and if you’ve played Love Nikki you will be instantly familiar with the user interface as it seems to just be reskinned and given a new theme. No, this one is not a dressup game, but the way you progress through various levels, and the achievement system and basic interface are very similar. I give full marks to Gameplay because I’m really enjoying the simulation aspects of this game, casting idols based on their strengths as to who will perform best at various assignments. You also can experience otome game elements by choosing how to respond to various parts of the story. I am not sure how much consequence your choices carry – if any at all. But it is a nice touch.
Story: 10/10 – Actually for a mobile game, I’m really enjoying the story. First of all, yes I love korean dramas, and the thought of a game that lets you simulate your own Kdrama production studio, is a huge draw, but that’s not the only thing the story offers. You are daughter of a famous Producer who has passed away and left the studio to you, but it is struggling to stay afloat. As you struggle to step out of your Father’s shadow, and take the company to new heights, you also have recurring dreams about an accident that happened when you were a child. You narrowly escaped death and now your thoughts turn to trying to remember the face of the man who saved you all those years ago. As you’re occupied in your thoughts one day, you find yourself again in a similar situation and rescued by a mysterious man. Could it be the same man from your past? And why do these men keep appearing around you? One such man tells you that you are an Evolver, and that you do not know it yet, but you will soon awaken to your true powers. Leaving you (both as the character and the person playing the game) completely confused as to what he meant. Strange things also begin happening around town – could this be related to your supposed powers? The story offers a lot of mystery, intrigue, romance, and suspense. I have not fast forwarded or skipped a single screen.
Characters: 5/10 – I’m giving 5 out of 10 here. I do like the characters, and I appreciate they have a strong tie to the story, but there just aren’t enough characters to collect for an idol simulation game. I hope they continue to add new characters in the future!
Music: 5/10 – Kinda average, I don’t have strong feelings either way. I usually play mobile games on silent while other people are watching movies or something else anyways.
Voice Acting: 7/10 – I do like that they have voice acting in the game. It is in English, and some of the actors are really good… But some of them are not as good… I’d say overall though the acting is better than expected for a mobile game.
Graphics: 10/10 – I love the artwork of this game.
Overall: 65/80 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Based On the Manga by Kore Yamazaki
Episodes: 24 Episodes
Genre: Fantasy, Super Natural, Mystery, Romance, Slice of Life
Studio: Wit Studio
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – A great story with high production values, a good blend of action, comedy, mystery and romance make this show a hit with geeks of either gender. I took away 1 point for the somewhat slow pacing of the early episodes, and 1 point away for the character designs – they don’t feel as clean or modern as most other contemporary anime characters, even though I understand that’s the style also of the original manga.
Sweetie: 4/5 – Chise is a unique female lead. In the begining she is broken inside, however we watch her become stronger and transform due to her magic training and new found feelings and emotions.
Story: 10/10 – (Note there may be spoilers in this paragraph up to episode 12). The story is quite interesting, Chise has seen strange monsters and creatures since she was very young. Paralyzed by fear, Chise withdraws from the world around her. Her parents are unsure how to handle her, so her dad runs off and her mother kills herself. Chise is passed off to other family members but they also don’t know how to handle Chise’s unique condition. At one point, Chise discovers someone very similar to herself, able to see the same creatures as well. He grants Chise a special book. In the end, he entrusts Chise with a special request which leads her on her path. Chise wants to escape her world, to the point she tries to kill herself, and doesn’t care what happens to her or anyone else. Sensing Chise’s magical abilities, men approach her and get her to sign a contract, placing her in a strange auction for magical goods. Elias meets Chise at this auction and purchases her to be his apprentice, and future bride. Thus Chise’s magical training begins. Chise is later discovered to be a Sleigh Beggy. A person who can see spirits and fairies. These people usually live short lives because their magic powers are so strong and so draining. Elias is working on a spell that can break the “curse” upon Chise, while also showing her love and affection and giving her a home for the first time. Chise’s heart begins to open and she too begins to show Elias what it is like to be loved for the first time. As part of their “honey moon” they travel around the world helping people with magic quests, which further help Chise develop her skills and talents.
At time of this blog post, the series is halfway complete, with many more mysteries and questions to be answered:
What/Who is Elias? (I haven’t read the manga, and I’m probably way off base, but I wonder if he’s at all related to the person who gave her the book at the beginning of the anime)
WTF happened to Chise’s little sister/brother? Maybe it’s as simple as a miscarriage? Maybe it’s related to why Chise’s mom killed herself?
Why did Chise’s mom kill herself? (It’s later revealed that she at one point really loved Chise, and that both of her parents saw the same spirits and creatures that Chise sees)
What happened to Chise’s father? Will he ever be back in the picture?
Will Chise die from her magical abilities, or will Elias find a way to save her?
Will Elias ever become human?
Can Chise and Elias’ love survive all of the odds against them?
All of these questions keep you intrigued and watching each week.
Characters: 8/10 – The characters are interesting and unique. Chise starts out very weak and hard to like, but as the series progresses she matures and finds her own confidence and independence. We also witness the relationship and Elias’ changes as well. All of the minor characters are also awesome. Silky is so funny even though she is silent. And the back story of how Chise gets her familiar, Ruth, is very touching. Ruth is one of my favorite characters in the anime.
Artwork: 3/5 – I’m not a fan of the character designs as mentioned above; they just don’t seem very clean and kinda have a retro vibe. The backgrounds and effects on the other hand are lovely.
Music: 5/5 – This anime has some of the best music I have ever heard. I love both the opening and ending, but my favorite song is Iruna Etelero, the flower song that Lindel sings in episodes 11 and 12. It’s maybe my favorite song, ever, of all time, from anything, tv, anime, video game, radio, etc. It’s so beautiful and soothing.
Voice Acting: 5/5 – The voice acting is also another highlight of this anime. They really make the characters more unique and bring their emotions to life. From the deep booming voice of Elias, to the sweet soft voice of Lindel, or the sarcastic and sadistic voice of one of the series’ first villains, each character is well cast.
Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Still it is nice to see anime getting more coverage in theaters. I drove almost an hour to go see Totoro, but it was still closer than the nearly 2 hour drive I made (twice) to go see Sailor Moon. It’s also awesome to see old anime like Totoro from the 80s and SailorMoon from the 90s finally on the big screen!
The excitement of seeing such childhood favorite films on the silverscreen inspired me to want to do a review for Totoro today.
Also be sure to check out the Studio Ghiblifest home page, there will be other Studio Ghibli films in theaters all summer long, with the next one being Kiki’s Delivery Service on July 23 (dub) and 24 (sub). I like Kiki’s Delivery Service so much, that I might just go to both of them :).
Onto the review:
Title: My Neighbor Totoro
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date: 1988
Genre: Slice of Life, Adventure, Fantasy
Geeky: 2/5 This film is beautiful to watch, even now, 20 years after its initial release. But plot wise, this is a very slow moving film, slow and uneventful for almost the entire film, and then insanely rushed in the last 10-15 minutes of the film. Actually the ending feels really disjointed from the rest of the film and you can read about that under the Conspiracy Theory below. The languid plot and ending that feels out of place make this a hard film to like, unless you’re watching it for the beautiful backgrounds and cute characters. Systematically though, I can’t give it high “technical” points due to the poor writing.
Sweetie: 4/5 Like most Ghibli films, this is super charming with a lot of heart. It depicts every day life of two little girls living in a new home in the forest with their father as they wait for their mother to return from a hospital. The girls encounter magical creatures, and those creatures are super adorable to boot. Blending slice of life in traditional Japan in a quiet countryside rural village, alongside the mystical and fantastical secret world that only the girls can see, and all the new magical friends they make, this tale is full of sweet cute moments sure to appeal to anyone looking for a kawaii cute family friendly and feel good anime. — It loses one point because there is no plot or character development. Unlike other Ghibli films, this one just never seems to get off the ground or accomplish much.
Story: 6/10 The story is a slice of life look at the life of 2 very young girls. Their mother is sick in the hospital with some unexplained illness, and their father has just decided to move the family to a new home in the country, thinking the fresh air from the trees would be good for his wife once she returns back home. While exploring their new surroundings, the two girls stumble upon a magical creature which they dub Totoro. Their father says Totoro is a very old forest spirit, and the father, along with Totoro, teaches the young girls to love and respect nature.
Characters: 9/10 The real reason to watch this show is because all of the characters are cute, unique, heart warming, and funny. Not just the adorable Totoro and his friends, but also the human children. The anime puts a lot of work into making us like and care about the girls and their father. In fact, the entire film, until the very end, is just day to day stuff that the girls find exciting about their new home, or sharing loving family moments with their father. — That said, unlike most Ghibli films, there’s really no character “development” the characters do not change much at all throughout the movie. This, combined with a very slow moving plot, makes the anime feel slow and sleepy at times.
Conspiracy Theory: If you’ve already seen the film, here’s something you may be interested in reading. There are spoilers below here, so proceed at your own risk.
Overview: 10/10 Assassination Classroom is first and foremost a slice of life anime. Each episode focuses on a different student or faculty member and how Koro-Sensei helps them with whatever turmoil they are experiencing while at school. Assassination Classroom is also very much a comedy anime, as if you can't tell by just looking at the design for Kore-Sensei. He is a murderous demon lord with a sweet tooth, love for super hero movies, and kind heart, but that still doesn't mean he won't destroy the earth. Although Koro-Sensei may be a villain that the other students must defeat, it is hard to not fall in love with Koro and his classroom. Each episode does have action, with the students trying to defeat their teacher, but each episode also is full of tender sweet moments, and lots of very wtf moments and comedy as well.
There may be some slight spoiler for the first volume – I have tried to avoid them and keep this as brief and condensed as possible but if you’re worried, I’d recommend reading or watching the series first before going any further.
Ever17 is probably my all time favorite visual novel. It was one of the first that I had played, and the story is so good. It’s not your typical “dating” or “romance” novel. It’s a very thrilling and suspenseful tale about a group of young people trapped in an underwater theme park. They are running out of oxygen, and worse yet, the computer systems are failing which is causing the pressure inside the ship to build, causing leaks. They’re also running out of fresh food and water. Strange things also begin happening aboard the ship. Some characters resign themselves to their doomed fates, while others will do whatever it takes to survive.
I’ve referenced this game in many of my other reviews, most notably, my review of Stein’s Gate (which you can check out here.) The reason for that is because after Kid, the developers of Ever17 and the rest of the series which includes Never7 and Remember 11 (both have been fan-translated) and 12Riven and Code_18, which to my knowledge have not been translated closed down, many of the staff members joined 5PB (developers of Stein’s Gate).
There are numerous similarities between the two games – both games deal with time travel, both games have the same interface (more or less, Stein’s Gate has the cellphone thing, but other than that, the menu design and especially the Tips section is really similar). But the biggest impression both games leave is a strong scifi mystery regarding time travel which uses true life events, people, theories, and science to create a great sense of immersion. Schrodinger’s Cat, John Titor, Black Holes, etc. I doubt I’m the only person who googled some of these things while playing and became interested in them because of these games.
The same author of Ever17 (and etc.) also wrote the script for 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors, and Zero Escape, Virtue’s Last Reward (and the sequels).
So if you like any of those “newer” games – please play Ever17 – in my opinion it’s STILL the best out of all of those – in terms especially of story, mystery, and suspense.
If You’re wondering what order to play these games in. This is the proper order: Never7 –> Ever17 –> Remember11 –> 12Riven –> Code18 // Stein’s Gate –> Stein’s Gate 2 (still in development) // 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors –> Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward –> Zero Time Dilemma (still in development).
Stein’s Gate and 999 are not directly related to Ever17, but they do have spoilers that might deter your enjoyment of Ever17 – especially 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which are very similar to Ever17. They’re great games, but Ever17 is still better :).
Title: Ever17 The Out of Infinity
Publisher: Hirameki International (who are now sadly out of business)
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date: 2005
Platform: PC (There are numerous other versions, including a 3D version on the Xbox360 – however, none of these ports or remakes have ever made it to North America, despite the surprising success of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which you think would cause them to consider bringing this title over. It could perhaps have to do with licensing issues now that Kid and Hirameki are both dissolved. )
Where to Buy: MY GOD!! It’s going for almost $1,000 on Amazon LOL. Or for about $400-600 from other resellers. Now I’m really tempted to sell my copy. But I worry I will want to play it again some day. — Anyways, needless to say, with both KID and Hirameki being out of business, this game is EXTREMELY rare and highly sought after (because it’s awesome). You can keep an eye on this amazon page and see if there are any new listings. http://www.amazon.com/EVER-17 Ebay might also be a good option, it looks like a few recent auctions have gone for around $100-200 (Example from last month: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ever-17)
Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Like most visual novels, you progress through the game by reading an interactive story, choosing how to respond at different points which in turn determine what parts of the story you see or which endings you receive. After completing each character ending, a new option will open up when you next start a new game at the title screen which will let you see the true ending – which is a huge mind fuck in this case – in a good way, but it’s very well worth the effort in doing all the endings and being rewarded by finally being told wtf is going on here – and it’s definitely NOT what you think it is. Really surprising / twist ending – I enjoyed it very much. It ties up every single question you have and is just so satisfying. Unlike the next game in the series, Remember11, which up until the true ending, I was liking it even more than Ever17, and then it just kinda ends with an open ending and you feel ripped off lol. Ever17’s routes are all really well fleshed out and tinged with sadness and mystery. But they resolve all of that mystery with the true ending. It’s awesome.
Gameplay: 6/10 The nature of visual novel games makes gameplay always a bit dull. The gameplay here is spiced up a little bit as you will switch between two different characters (which is a concept they also use in Remember11). And like any good visual novel (but sadly not all visual novels) there is a skip function to bypass previously read text to make multiple playthroughs much easier. There’s no minigames or anything of that nature to break up the “monotonous” gameplay of clicking and reading large blocks of text. However, compared to most novels, Ever17 has a ton of choices, and those choices carry a lot of meaning. As mentioned above, the true ending is also really satisfying, making all of that reading well worth it in the end.
Story: 9/10 I deducted one point because of the notoriously bad translation. It’s not really THAT bad where it detracts from the story or my enjoyment of the game – but it really needed another set of eyes to proofread this thing before it went commercial. There’s fan translations that are higher quality than this (I dunno, there might even be a fan patch for this game, I never looked, because like I said, the translation didn’t bother me that much.)
More importantly, this game’s story is amazing. I’ve mentioned a few times, but it uses real world theories and scientific principles which really helps build immersion and buy-in from the audience. The main theme is time travel – although that’s not readily apparent at first. And I won’t comment on how that comes into play, because that’d be a huge spoiler. All I can say is, if you like time travel games like Stein’s Gate – check this game out.
But at the heart of the story, is humanity struggling against their fate, people’s will to survive, and people’s determination to save their friends, family, and loved ones.
It also has an interesting juxtaposition of a childlike setting (a huge themepark), and the impending doom and oppressive feeling and urgency throughout the game.
Of course, the true ending is really satisfying, you’re left without any burning questions or confusion. It ties everything up into a neat little package with a bow on top for you to unwrap.
Characters: 10/10 The characters begin their “vacation” with such innocence and enthusiasm until they realize their sad fates. The characters slowly begin to change (which is a key sign of character development). Some who were anti-social before and independent, become weak and fearful, others who were innocent and bright become reclusive, almost all of the characters become neurotic, and a few become desperate enough to do anything to survive. It’s interesting to watch their struggle, their cooperation, how they begin to organize and band together to ration their food, lift eachother’s spirits, and search for a way to contact the outside to send help.
There’s also numerous mysteries within the main mystery, ghosts, artificial intelligence, children searching for their parents, amnesia, and more.
Graphics: 8/10 For the time, the graphics are quite beautiful. Keep in mind, this game is now 14 years old (the original Japanese version debuted in 2002). For that, the character style, the backgrounds, and even the 3d animation (in the opening video) are all very well done. Of course, by today’s standards, with technology like Live 2D and fully fluid moving character sprites (such as those in Ensemble Stars or NekoPara), the artwork, especially of the sprites, is stiff and dated. It’s still quite lovely though. — Interestingly enough, the Xbox360 remake features 3D character art – however, fans have often criticized the new art and prefer the original art of the PC version.
Music: 8/10 I loved the soundtrack in this game – it really helped add to the mystery and suspense, and even desperation that the characters were experiencing.
Voice Acting: 10/10 The voice acting is also another highlight of the game. I hear that they re-recorded all of the voice acting for the 360 version – rather this was to improve it, or due to licensing fees I’m not sure. – But in my opinion, the voice acting within the original PC version was excellent.
Replay Value: 10/10 The true ending is worth all of the work – and each of the routes are really well done. Many times a visual novel will have some routes that are not fleshed out well. But that’s not the case here. I tremendously enjoyed each route, making it almost impossible to pick a favorite. Also even though I’ve beaten it to completion and completed the true ending – I’d still play this game again – because it’s so good. Seriously, just go play this game if you’ve never experienced it.
Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”
Erased has awesome music and a neat time-travel theme. Are you sad that Erased is over? I highly recommend that you check out Re:Zero – a currently running anime with a very similar time travel concept.
Title: Erased (aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – The Town Without Only Me)
Genre: Seinen, Murder, Mystery, Scifi
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Length: 12 Episodes
Release Date: 2016
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Story: 9/10 (Possible spoilers from first episode) The story begins with our main character, Satoru, delivering a pizza, suddenly as he’s driving down the street, he realizes he’s been there before. He explains that he has special powers which rewind time a few minutes before an accident occurs and that even though it’s against his better judgement he somehow always gets involved in other people’s problems to save them. This time he saves a little kid about to step into traffic. After he gets off work he goes home to find his mom is in town visiting him. He goes with his mom to the store, and he feels that something is not right. He tells his mom to look around for anything suspicious. She sees a man trying to abduct a child, but the man’s eyes meet her gaze and he gives up on his plan. Later, the man decides to kill the main character’s mom. The main character is blamed and framed for the murder of his mother – as he flees from the cops, he triggers another time jump – this time all the way back to when he was 8 years old – more than 20 years into the past.
There is something that happened when he was 8 years old that will set the course in motion for his mother’s death. Now he must figure out what exactly that is. The problem is, he’s just a kid, and while he has his memories of being an adult, he’s not as strong, and not able to do things he used to do (stay out late, go places unsupervised, etc). His friends help him “play detective” though only one of them actually believes that it’s more than just make believe. It turns out that when he was 8 years old, several of his class mates were abducted and murdered. The man thought of committing these murders was sentenced to life in prison. Could it be they have the wrong man? Can Satoru solve the mystery and save his classmates – and his mom?
The only reason I give this a 9 instead of 10 is because they made it so obvious who the killer was and did so too soon! I had it figured out by the 2nd or 3rd episode (Then again, this is a short series). It kinda killed the mystery which is sorta the whole point of this series. It’s still an awesome anime though and the story is really good! Good mix of comedy, suspense, horror, scifi, and even romance. There’s some changes from the manga – because the manga was still running when the anime aired.
The manga develops Kayo and Airi a lot more (Kayo never does move away and becomes part of their group instead of just disappearing. And with Airi we learn more about her dream (to be a photographer which makes the ending of the anime make more sense lol.) However, I think overall, the anime really captured the heart of the story and although the endings are drastically different, they really still follow the same formula with Satoru being framed for another attempted murder.
Characters: 9/10 I really loved the characters in this anime. They are so unique – from our main character, a struggling manga artist, to his mom with her sharp instincts, to his friends who range from chubby comedy support, to handsome young intelligent and level headed, to various love interests throughout the characters’ pasts and future. There are some really touching moments. More than anything, Satoru wants to protect the people he loves. This really shows through the character dialog and interaction. Once again, some of the characters are not as well developed in the anime adaptation as opposed to the manga. The anime is a bit rushed which causes certain chapters of the manga to be omitted completely, including an entire chapter devoted to Airi. Even still, I think the characters and their interaction is one of the highlights of this series.
Artwork: 5/5 Since it is a recent release, the artwork is clean, the animation is fluid, and the character designs are very attractive. – I also read the manga after watching this – and dang, that’s one ugly manga lol. (still well worth the read). I do like how they took certain things from the manga, like how the characters’ lips are very full, etc. It gives them a unique appearance. But I’m glad that it polishes these designs and changes them to look much cleaner and fresher. It has the spirit of the manga, but a very different style overall.
Music: 5/5 – If I could rate this on a higher scale, I would, but to keep in form with my other reviews we’ll stick to this formula. The music is one of the best anime soundtracks of 2016 so far. I really loved the opening song – which apparently is an old Jrock song from the 90s which used to be really popular. Kinda fits with the time travel theme to use a “throwback” opening song – and it’s just so catchy! The music throughout the rest of the series was also just really good.
Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Xenogears is easily in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I also enjoy Xenosaga and Xenoblade as well which are spinoffs of this series (and involved most of the same staff). Xenogears was revolutionary for its time because of the extremely dark storyline and incredibly strong religious overtones which were considered to be almost “too mature” for a video game, especially in North America.
It had both scifi and fantasy elements; by that I mean, it really went into depth in some areas explaining the scientific theories and concepts behind certain things – but then other things have a more “magical” feeling that require suspension of belief. It also blended high tech (mecha, A.I., and space travel) with primitive “fantasy” style settings and characters.
Xenogears had some stellar production values and featured beautiful cutscenes, along with possibly the best soundtrack on Playstation One. Not only that, but it had 65+ hours of gameplay. Its storyline was not cookie cutter – it was very different from most other JRPG – and even its combat system was different from the traditional menu-based systems used by most other RPGs of the 90s.
To this day, Xenogears remains quite possibly one of the best JRPGs of all time. It has aged extremely well and is a game that really any JRPG fan should consider a must-play.
Platform: Playstation One
Release Date: 1998
Where to Buy: Your best choice if you have a PSP, PSVita, PS3, or PS4, is to pick it up on the PSN store. At time of writing it is priced at $9.99 – which is such an incredible buy for such an incredible game. https://store.playstation.com/… – However, if like some gamers out there, you are a Retro Game Collector, you may want the physical edition. At time of this review, Amazon has quite a few copies in stock ranging from $29.99 to $115 depending on the condition of the game disc, case, manuals, etc. You can see what they have available right here: http://www.amazon.com/Xenogears…
Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
The game world is huge and rich in lore
Title: D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
Genre: Sandbox Game with elements from Simulation Games, Dressup Games, Point n Click Games, Visual Novels, Adventure Games, and “TellTales Style” Games.
Developer: Access Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios (Xbone) and Playism (PC)
Release Date: September 2014 (Xbone) June 2015 (PC)
Platforms: Xbone and PC
Where to Buy: If you’re lucky, the humble bundle sale may still be going on which includes the entire first season of D4 and a buncha other games for $10. You can check here to see what the weekly humble bundle currently is. Otherwise, you will need to purchase either a season pass, or buy the episodes individually (if that’s even possible everywhere I look appears to be selling “Season 1” for $14.99 (or less with steam holiday sale). You can check steam for the PC version here or Xbox Store for the Xbone version here.
Overall: 70 / 80 88% B+ Very Good Game for Girls
Concept: 10/10 I picked this up in the weekly humble bundle – I’ve had my eye on it for awhile now but wasn’t sure if I’d like it or not enough to pay full price. I cannot stop playing it. I was up well past my self imposed bedtime lastnight lol. It’s a fun little sandbox style game with a really interesting story that plays similar to telltale’s games with “QTE Quick Time Events”
Story: 10/10 In the game, you play as a retired police officer, who left the force when his wife’s murder remained unsolved. He has amnesia surrounding the events about his wife’s murder, and a nasty scar that he received as well. Before his wife died, while in the hospital, she told him to “Find D”. The nasty scar left him with a super power of sorts, he can “dive” into the past if he has a memento (a personal belonging) from the suspect and he has been researching and eliminating potential suspects trying to find who murdered his wife – I have a pretty good feeling who it was, because of the cat hissing at him in the prologue, but I could be way off too as I’m only on the 2nd episode right now lol. So this isn’t a spoiler, just my speculation. “Diving” into the past is not without consequence though; similar to Life is Strange, which I’ve reviewed here, our main character gets bad nose bleeds and begins to experience some weird things as a result of using his powers.
Characters: 8/10 There’s definitely a lot of interesting characters. Your cat turns human, your wife appears as a ghost, there’s drug lords, henchmen, a crazy looking doctor, a paranoid crazy woman, a really quirky fashion designer, and lots of other oddities. The characters are all over the top and a lil crazy, but highly original and entertaining.
Gameplay: 7/10 It’s really fun to play. The controls are kinda “wonky” on the pc version though. I wish I could just walk around with W A S D and explore freely like in most adventure games; instead it’s kinda like walking around in IMVU, because you just click on one spot after another, and you can look left/right or down as well as turn around in the spot you’re standing to explore further. The combat is fun, and simple, you make swiping movements and it feels a lot more fluid and interactive than telltales games even though its a similar concept. I think the adrenaline pumping music as well as the wild animations and fun things that the characters use in their fights help keep it feeling a lot more fluid. There’s also multiple dialog choices when interacting with people. Interestingly enough, there’s also a ton of customization in this game; you can find outfits and accessories everywhere. Some give bonuses to your stats, but most are just cosmetic. Not only do you get to dress your main character, but also a plethora of other characters that you meet as well. You also need to eat to keep up your energy which slowly depletes itself as you are exploring, interacting, or talking to other characters. You also have a life bar, which will take a dip when you mess up in the quick time events. You can purchase or find first aid kits and bandages to restore your life bar. As for the food, it’s fun finding new foods to eat, they’ve made it into a sort of collection type game where it shows you how many different types of food you’ve eaten, how many calories, etc. Really neat. Loses quite a few points from me for the controls, but the gameplay itself is actually one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in gaming.
Voice Acting: 8/10 The Boston accents annoy me – sorry to anyone from Boston here. lol. But no, to be honest, the voice acting is actually pretty darn good. There’s a lot of emotion into the script and the entire thing is fully voiced by a wide range of different characters with different voices and nuances.
Music: 10/10 The music is really unusual, sometimes heavy metal, other times, almost angelic or gospel sounding. But always fitting with the theme and in a way, the music itself is used to help tell the story. The metal music is used in fight scenes or action scenes, while more mysterious and soft music is used at home or when exploring.
Graphics: 9/10 The game is cel-shaded, but with a sorta grungy film-noir effect. I really like the character designs, they’re rather “anime-ish” looking in a way, despite how they are colored in a more western fashion. The environments are also very nice with lots of things to explore and collect. a lot of detail went into designing each of the levels. I would have preferred it to be a more clean cel-shading similar to Catherine, which I’ve reviewed right here, but overall, I really like how this game looks.
Overall: 70 / 80 88% B+ Very Good Game for Girls
If You Liked This Game You’d Also Like: Wolf Among Us, Heavy Rain, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, and Sam n Max Hit the Road.
The Long Dark shows off its story ahead of early 2016 launch
Ok so anyways, I digress. This exciting announcement just went viral today that thanks to the BBC network, we’re about to get to see Philip Pullman’s whole trilogy in a TV series format. The trilogy is comprised of three novels, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
The story follows Lyra who inadvertently gets dragged into a war much bigger than herself. It features fantasy, and magic, and is often criticized for taking a very dark/negative view of religion. Pullman is a very vocal aethist. It’s even rumored that because of his “fight against religion” as the main reason New Line Cinema did not move forward to complete their trilogy of boxoffice movies.
I wonder if perhaps, if this TV series does well if we will see a reboot or perhaps the sequel we want from New Line Cinema. I thought the Golden Compass movie was every bit as good as Lord of the Rings, another New Line Cinema book to movie “triology” (or sixology I guess lol).
What I really liked about it was the strong female lead (I mean, yes, she was a child actress, but when compared to books and movies like Harry Potter who are “afraid” to put a woman in the main role or books and movies like Twilight which feature a very weak female, Lyra is a very adventurous and strong little girl with a big heart.) I also totally dig the concept of the animal companions which come from the children’s magic and abilities. Some of the different races are in fact animals with sentient minds such as the Polar Bears, etc. I also really like the underlying themes of family and what “makes” a family. Lyra’s mother is not a perfect mother, and her father is not in the picture, but appears to love Lyra very much. It’s an interesting, modern, and sometimes true interpretation of what a family unit looks like in this day and age.
I don’t see any word yet on how many episodes this new BBC TV series will be. I’m hoping it will be nice and long 🙂 At least 3 full TV seasons. But I’d be okay too with just a 3-part miniseries. I just want to know how the damn story ends without having to read the book. lol. I could skip ahead, etc, but where would the fun in that be? I already know the main gist anyways from reading online, but it’s not the same as “seeing” it myself. 🙂
The series will be produced by “Philip Pullman, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema, Bethan Jones for BBC One, and Deborah Forte for Scholastic”. (according to the Times.com article linked to at the beginning of this post)
Since New Line themselves are getting involved in this TV Series, that makes me want to hold out hope even more for them to bring it on back to the BIG SCREEN.
I hope beyond hope that this TV Series really takes off and does well!! And then I hope New Line Cinema will bring back their big screen trilogy too.
Like the original, the new release will also feature exclusive special artwork for the characters that’s only available in this version of the game. You can also play the game in either Japanese or English.
Higurashi is a murder mystery presented through 14 different chapters. It’s also a Kinetic Novel, which means that unlike most visual novels, there is not a branching plot nor multiple endings, and there’s in fact, absolutely no interaction by the player. It’s just a story. A very good story though. So if you like murder mysteries, you might like it!
Since this is chapter 2, you should play chapter 1 first to better enjoy this game. Check out my review of Higurashi Chapter 1 Onikakushi — right here to see if it may be something that you’d like. You can also see the lovely new sprites MangaGamer has developed for this release (and comparisons to the Japanese ones).
You can learn more, and preorder Chapter 2 Watanagashi on Manga Gamer’s Site (and soon also on Steam) at http://www.mangagamer.com/detail.php?goods_type=1&product_code=154
I Have This Condition – Amnesia: Memories Review
MangaGamer just sent out an email that says Higurashi Chapter 2: Watanagashi will be available for preorder “this” month. Since there are only 8 days left in this month, it must be sometime soon. With this exciting news, I thought I should review the first chapter of Higurashi for those who have not played it yet.
Gameplay: 1/10: Higurashi is a kinetic novel. This means that unlike other types of visual novels, there are absolutely no choices which you, the player, makes through the game. Click and read, Click and read, Click and read… One story, one end, one “path” — That’s it. It’s little more, than a story with some pictures and a soundtrack.
Does that mean it’s bad? Not necessarily. People like to read. What people don’t like, is when they buy a GAME and discover only later that it has no “Gameplay”. So I want to preface my review by making it clear what it is, and what it is not. If you’re still cool with a game in which you absolutely, do not, interact, at all, ever, then read on to learn what Higurashi has to offer.
Concept: 10/10 Higurashi is a murder mystery. It spans multiple “episodes” (14 of them to be exact). I’ve read that each episode is about 10 hours long; but I must read slow because I think it took me about 23 hours to complete the first “chapter”. Your mileage may vary. Even with a conservative estimate of 10 hours, to read the entire thing, all 14 chapters, it’d take a minimum of 140 hours. That’s a LOT of bang for your buck.
Unlike most games in this genre – there is no “season pass” – so there’s no good way to save money if you’re wanting all 14 episodes (although I did pick up Chapter 1 in an awesome bundle from indiegala – I’m hooked now though and will not be waiting for a discount or bundle before ordering Chapter 2. I have GOT to see how it all ends – I refuse to watch the anime until I’ve completed all 14 chapters of the game to avoid any spoilers.) Also, Manga Gamer, being a very small company, is doing it’s best to translate the games as quickly as possible, and are releasing them one by one upon completion. Chapter 1 was released in May of this year…. I hope they are able to release chapters more quickly than this… It’s been almost 6 months now since Chapter 1’s release. And Chapter 2 STILL doesn’t have a definite release date, just that they are taking “preorders”. If they continue with 2 chapter releases per year, it will take 7 years to get all of them released. Perhaps this project was too large for Manga Gamer, or perhaps they should have just purchased the translation rights from one of the many fan translations that were already done for this game.
Graphics: 8/10 However, Manga Gamer is also doing a lot of good with this game. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever seen an English release get HUGE improvements and upgrades over the Japanese version!!! We can make Japanese non-english speaking gamers totally jealous with our beautiful new sprites. When I first saw this feature, I had assumed that Manga Gamer was giving us the option of using the original (horrible) sprites from the PC Japanese version (which they are keeping as an option in Manga Gamer’s release too) OR I THOUGHT that they were giving us the option to select the much improved Playstation sprites from the Japanese version — BUT that is NOT the case!! Manga Gamer Went ALL OUT and developed BRAND NEW artwork for the English release. Sadly, they left the original Japanese PC version background art… The playstation Japanese version has REALLY nice background art — BUT their character sprites are no where near as nice as the ones Manga Gamer contracted for this release. Having these HIGHLY improved sprites makes me feel really special. For ONCE we get something in a port that is a HUGE big deal, and huge upgrade over what Japan has. That makes me feel like Manga Gamer really appreciates their customers and wants to do their best with this project.
See the sprites here below. Look at the level of detail in shading and better proportions. This makes the sprites much cuter than either of the Japanese versions. P.S. Click To Enlarge :).
Translation Quality: 10/10 In fact, also from a writing standpoint, the translation was very good. I can’t recall really almost ANY typos (though I’m sure there must have been a few) Compared to my most recently completed play through a similar style game (Amnesia Memories which is FULL of typos and inconsistencies) the translation of Manga Gamer’s version of Higurashi is REALLY high — I appreciate that, because it helps to immerse in the story
Music: 10/10 Sound wise, the music and especially the sound effects and atmospheric sounds REALLY stand out and add to the mystery and horror aspects of this game. Actually, I read before that Higurashi is what they call a Sound Novel instead of a Visual Novel, Higurashi relies on the soundtrack more than its artwork (especially when you look at the really amateur artwork from the original PC version).However, both the original PC version and the Manga Gamer release do not have any voice acting at all. The Playstation version had full voice acting and if you’re feeling brave, there are tutorials online to patch your game to have voice acting – Would have been nice if Manga Gamer either could have bought the rights to that version’s soundtrack and incorporated it, or cast an English dub cast for the game — I don’t particularly like English dubs, but It would have been another concession on Manga Gamer’s part towards pleasing their fans.
Story: 8/10 I don’t want to ruin anything for people who have not yet played Chapter One Onikakushi – but this game is very very very slowwww starting out — BUT… it rewards you if you put up with all of that by starting to REALLY pick up more horror/suspense/mystery themes towards the last 4-5 hours of the game. PRIOR to that, it’s very very light-hearted, slice of life, fluffy, happy…. When shit starts to go down though, that dark contrast against the MAJORITY of the first chapter being so innocent and pure, really stands out, and it is that contrast that becomes the real “heart and soul” of the first chapter.
Higurashi also leaves you to draw your own conclusions about wtf is going on – and I don’t know if it ever really explains things fully or if it leaves it up to you a la similar murder mysteries such as gone girl which end with an open ending. Since I’ve only played the first chapter I can’t be sure. Is it the occult? Is the town cursed? Do they hate outsiders? Is it all a coincidence? Is everyone just crazy? lol.
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Characters: 8/10 The characters are all highly likeable which makes it even more alarming that one (or more) of them could be capable of murder – especially on such a high brutality scale, in such a way, that they enjoy murder, enjoy watching their victims suffer – pretty creepy when these are just CHILDREN. But well, creepy children are a staple of horror films too; such as exorcist, ringu, grudge, children of the corn, etc. Children are kinda creepy with their small frame and large eyes and sometimes strange movements or gestures etc which I guess is why there are so many horror movies and books which focus on the whole creepy kid thing. But children are also pure, innocent, adorable, etc. And Higurashi does a perfect job of showing that, despite being murderers, the children are otherwise, perfectly normal little kids, who like to play tag, hide and seek, and go to school.
For awhile, it looks like there will be some romance options (well not that you the player have any choice anyways), but then the game decides to take a VERY different approach. If you don’t dig visual novels because they’re all sappy happy slice of life romance anime etc — Well you might just like Higurashi… BUT keep in mind what I said, the MAJORITY of the first chapter IS VERY MUCH like most any other novel, light, happy, innocent, slice of life, boring, slow, REAL slow in fact. — But it REALLY takes a dramatic turn that makes it unlike pretty much any other english visual novel on the market today. — And I hear the following chapters are even more bizarre and darker and that the first was merely a prologue/introduction. So fasten your seatbelts – you’re in for quite a ride.
The emotional impact of Higurashi was high, not only a sense of sadness, but perhaps more over, a feeling of isolation and desperation, a feeling of fear. It really gets creepy. It presents more questions than it solves and makes you the player think and reflect back on the story.
Overall: 55/70 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”
Note: if you don’t count the lack of gameplay against the game, it then becomes 54/60 or a 90% 🙂 So if you don’t mind the Kinetic Novel genre, this is probably one of the best, if not the, best, kinetic novels to play. – I personally don’t like Kinetic Novels, but I am hooked on Higurashi!
Genre: Otome Game / Visual Novel / Dating Sim
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Idea Factory
Platform: PS Vita / PS TV and PC and IOS / Android
Get it for PS Vita on Amazon Here: