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

Lovelink Dating Simulation Mobile Game

So all day I’ve been seeing ads for this game called Lovelink and at first I found it creepy because it’s trying so hard to look like a real dating app. Just so you know: it’s a GAME. There are no real profiles or real people. It’s not Real. You don’t even type real responses just select from one or more prompts on screen. So after seeing the ad for like the fifth time I decided to check it out.

Lovelink tries to make itself seem real. I met my fiancé on a dating app (Bumble) and I have experience with real apps like this so I’ll say it’s an interesting concept. The user interface and overall experience feels like a dating app. read more

Imagine: Figure Skater Nintendo DS Retro Videogame Review

Imagine Figure Skater Nintendo DS Otome Olympic Ice Skating Game
Imagine Figure Skater Nintendo DS Otome Olympic Ice Skating Game

With the 2018 Winter Olympics well under way, I’ve been thinking a lot about games and anime (such as Yuri on Ice which I reviewed here) that showcases the dedication that a skater must possess. I remembered fondly an NDS game from “a few” years ago that I played that allowed you to take on the life of a professional skater, competing in various events, training, dating, and dealing with drama.

This game, as it turns out, was Imagine: Figure Skater for the Nintendo DS. The game first came out in 2008 (at least in North America), making it “retro” by my definition (I consider anything greater than 10 years old to be retro.)  I’m thinking about digging out my cartridge and playing it again this weekend. I’ve also been thinking about rewatching Yuri!! on Ice.

First, you might look at the box art for this game, and think it is for little girls. — Not true! The original boxart in Japan was much better – featuring anime style artwork. Why they went with a photograph of an iceskater on the US version, I dunno. They should have aimed it at anime/otome fans, but this was 10 years ago, before otome games had much foothold in the US.

Gamestop has the game in-stock for just $0.99 cents! – If you have a powerups reward card, Even better, you can grab it for just $0.79 cents!!! OMG… Go, go, go!! If you like anime, ice skating, dating sims, or otome games, it will be the best 99 (or 79) cents you could spend today. Click here to buy it before it’s gone.

There’s also apparently a sequel to this game, called Imagine: Ice Champions. I have not played the sequel yet, but Gamestop has it for just $1.59. read more

Atlus Confirms that Catherine Full Body Remix for PS4 and Vita Is Getting an English Release

Atlus has confirmed that their cult classic and fan favorite, Catherine will get a new makeover in 2018 – along with an English release in North America and Europe. Catherine is a visual novel and puzzle game with gorgeous breath taking cel-shaded 3D artwork sprinkled in with some equally gorgeous 2D anime cutscenes.

I reviewed the original release of Catherine here. And as of this write up, the original Catherine is currently the highest rated game on my site. Catherine is not my favorite game of all time, but it does almost EVERY-thing right! It’s hard to find any flaws at all which makes it continuously at the top of my list for the Top 10 Best Games for Girls.

It has some of the best graphics and character designs I’ve ever seen, and that includes even standing up also against newer games that have been released on newer systems and with more technology prowess than the PS3 and Xbox 360.  I still rather play a game that looks like Catherine. Give me more games that look THIS GOOD. Please!!

But not only does it LOOK good, but there is heart and substance to it too! The story, the characters, there’s drama, mystery, suspense, love, romance, comedy. It has it all. The story revolves around Vincent, a young man who currently is in a relationship with a young woman named Katherine – with a K. Katherine is much more emotionally mature than Vincent. Although Vincent does love Katherine very much, her “put a ring on it” ultimatum scares him into the arms of another woman, Catherine – with a C. But Catherine with a C has her own secrets and own agenda as well. Because when it comes to love, nothing is ever that simple. To make matters worse, people have been dying in their sleep, but with looks of horror and terror on their faces, and no one knows why. How is Catherine connected to this, and how can Vincent escape a similar fate?

The gameplay is kinda like a combination of Qbert and Visual Novels where you choose responses to fork the story down different paths, seeing different parts of the story on each new play through, with multiple endings and tons of replay value.

The music score and voice acting were also fantastic.

Gameplay, Story, Characters, Artwork, Replay Value, Fun, what more do you need? – Catherine has it all. I’m so excited about the remake!

Not only is it a remake but it brings a ton of new additions to Catherine as well, including a completely new character with her own story route(s), and how her route(s) will also effect the story branches of the other 2 characters.

That’s not all though, there’s also new online battle modes, and new difficulty settings. — I totally cheated in the first game and played it on the super easy hidden mode – because I was playing it mostly for the story(s) — I wonder if that mode will also exist in the new Catherine as well.

Take a look at the English teaser website.

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

Stardew Valley Review

As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

Geeky: 2/5  –  This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!

Sweetie: 4/5  – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.

At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).

And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.

Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).

There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.

You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!

Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.

Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.

I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.

Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —

I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.

And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).

The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.

Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.

There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.

Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.

Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.

Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.

Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut,  a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.

Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.

Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.

Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.

I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.

I did take off a few points for the following:

  • It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
  • Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
  • Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.
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    Humble Narrative Bundle Features Great Games For Girls with Emphasis on Story and Branching Plots

    This week’s humble bundle is a great one. I already had many of the games but I picked it up because Shadowrun Hong Kong looked interesting to me – and 80 Days was a game I was really excited about when it first came out for mobile devices, and I’m looking forward to playing it on the PC. I already gave away a copy of Broken Age on my blog here a few months back and gave it a full review, and I gifted the copy in this humble bundle to one of my online friends. I have a lot more duplicate keys, both from this bundle and others, so I may try hosting another give away in a few weeks. Read Only Memories is an excellent indie visual novel game which I already have, so I will probably try to rehome that game first. Maybe this weekend 🙂 *hint: check back to this blog throughout June for steam key giveaways!*

    If you’ve never used Humble Bundle here’s how it works:
    How it works:

    Humble Bundle is a site where you can save a lot on video games AND support a charity.

    Each week a new bundle comes out with handpicked games curated by the humble bundle staff.

    The games are available in Tiers.

    For any amount even just $1 you get the first “Tier” of games which in this week’s bundle includes: Her Story, Read Only Memories, and Ciebel. Pay more than the “average” which at time of writing this it was $4.15 and you get all of Tier 1 plus Tier 2 which includes 80 days, Broken Age, and Sorcery Parts 1 and 2. Pay $10 to get Tiers 1 and 2 and a bonus game, which this week is Shadowrun Hong Kong Extended Edition

    You can read my review of Broken Age here (sorry giveaway is over already)

    I also covered “Her Story” But it’s a HUGE SPOILER so do not click here unless you’ve played the game. 

    You can pick up the Humble Narrative Bundle here

    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: broc.copeland@gmail.com
  • Socials: Kickstarter, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine
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    Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review

    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

    Developer: Kid

    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)

    Geeky: 5/5 

    Sweetie: 5/5 

    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”

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    LiEat Releases Tomorrow on Steam for just $2.99

    LiEat is a little indie JRPG-inspired trilogy of short games. The entire trilogy can be completed in just 2 or 3 hours. The game was originally Freeware made with a program called WOLF RPG Editor. I’m not sure, but am assuming that some enhancements were made for the Steam Release as is typically the case for free to play games which later get redone for steam.

    The story follows a con-artist trying to sell information in various cities and a dragon-girl named Efi who has the ability to turn lies into living things and then eat them. There are multiple endings and turn based combat when Efi encounters various lies who have turned into monsters.

    Synopsis from Steam “Welcome to the heart-moving world of LiEat, a fascinating trilogy of JRPGs that captured the minds of thousands. Follow the story of a dragon, Efina, who travels the countryside with her multi-named caretaker/reluctant guardian. Appearing as a young girl, Efina has a unique, magical gift: when someone lies near her, the lie will manifest itself as a living monster. Efina then can consume the lie for strength and sustenance: she can eat food for fun, but only lies make her feel full. As she explores the world, she meets other dragons with interesting powers, discovers bizarre and terrifying mysteries, and finds out about her own history as well as her guardian’s.”

    It also looks very kawaii (cute). You’ll be able to order the game from the store page in Steam tomorrow (2/26/2016). http://store.steampowered.com/app/373770

    Check out the trailer for the Steam Edition Below.

     

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    Chrono Trigger Squaresoft Retro Super Nintendo SNES RPG Videogame Review

    I’m sure the majority of my readers have played this one, but it’s a great game and deserves to be included on our site. I still remember when Chrono Trigger first came out, I was still a child then, and my mother had gone with me to the game store where I was browsing through the games. Nowadays, you can find places that sell used games on every corner, but it was just the one store in my area Since I seemed to be taking awhile, the clerk offered help and my mom told him that I needed a game that would be challenging and last me a long time because I used to beat my games very quickly. The clerk recommended Chrono Trigger because of the high replay value with 13 multiple endings and some challenging boss fights, and the rest is history 🙂 It quickly became one of my favorite and most memorable RPG experiences from my childhood, and still remains a fun game even to this day.

    Title: Chrono Trigger

    Genre: RPG

    Platform: Super Nintendo

    Publisher: Squaresoft

    Where to Buy: Since the original SNES version is a collector’s edition, and an immensely popular game even to this day, the prices are about $100 – as you can see on Amazon here. However, there are many cheaper alternatives. The game was later re-released on numerous other (newer) consoles including a version for Playstation 1 which you can get on Amazon for under $18 at this link here. There’s also a version for Nintendo DS for about $25 on Amazon here – This version even has extra scenes which help to tie it into the sequel Chrono Cross which are not found in any other versions of the game. I believe there’s even digital editions of these games available in the PSN store and Nintendo’s Eshop for those who prefer digital versions. But there is still no PC version for Steam yet. However the cheapest way to get the game is if you are an Iphone or Ipad user. You can pick the game up for just $9.99 in the app store. And Android Users can also get the game in the Google Play store for $9.99 – Though I suspect many android users had rather just install the rom on their mobile device.

    Geeky: 5/5 

    Sweetie: 3/5 

    Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

    Concept: 10/10 The concept of Chrono Trigger revolves around time travel (hence the name, duh lol) to both the future and past as well as back and forth to the present. You play the role of a young boy whose friend is a “tinkerer” always making new inventions. There’s a big faire coming up and she has a “teleporter” that she’s put on exhibit, however, her invention malfunctions and creates a time gate, teleporting people not only from one place to another, but one time to another as well! – What begins as a quest to save their friend who is lost in the time gate, becomes a quest to save the entire world. You see many interesting locale from futuristic cities or prehistoric villages. The characters are also equally as diverse, including some anthropomorphic in nature such as a cavegirl/catgirl and a frog prince. The biggest draw to chrono trigger is the freedom of choice and multiple endings. It was perhaps one of the first games to have multiple endings, at least such a huge number of them, which greatly added to the replay value.

    Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is the highlight of this title. Everything is so fun, and believe it or not, but almost everything you do matters in this game. I remember one scene in which you can have a drinking contest and eat another man’s chicken, if you eat his chicken you will later hear about it when you’re accused of a crime. Little touches like this, and the freedom it gives to the player to travel back and forth between eras and encourages exploration really made it stand out from any other RPGs of the 90s.

    Story: 7/10 The long winding path between different eras in time, is a rewarding experience, with tons of character development and excitement. It has a very epic feeling to it. However, it can at times, be bogged down by the sheer number of side quests and running back and forth which does little but drag out the game.

    Characters: 9/10 I’m not the biggest fan of the designs for the characters, I know he’s an immensely popular mangaka, but I just don’t like his art style. — But looking past the outside appearances of the characters, you find a lot of heart and a story that very much relies on character interaction and character development to move the plot. The characters are not as diverse nor as many as in the sequel, Chrono Cross, however, they are all exceptionally well written and endearing. You really come to care about your little group of heroes and become invested into what happens to them as you play the game.

    Graphics: 8/10 Graphically speaking, Chrono Trigger was one of the most detailed and best looking SNES games of its time. The character designs are not my cup of tea, but that just boils down to personal tastes. The character designs are instantly recognizeable, and for most people who are a fan of his other work such as dragon quest and dragon ball z, this really helped to sell the title. Some of the newer versions of the game even have new animated cutscenes added in to key scenes to further draw the player into the world of Chrono Trigger

    Music: 10/10 Chrono Trigger has one of the best soundtracks to come off of an SNES cartridge. It’s also highly memorable and equally appropriate for the scenes in the game. Music can be used to help tell a story or create emotions in the audience playing the game, and that’s exactly what this soundtrack accomplishes.

    Voice Acting: N/A – Not Voiced

    Replay Value: 10/10 – Not only due to the plethora of multiple endings, but also the large number of sidequests which can be easily missed on the first playthrough. Also the ability to start a new game and keep your character stats and most equipment in place really encourages users to go back through to try to find all the extra endings or hidden sidequests.

    Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

    Get Ready for Our Phantasy Star II Replay!
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    Princess Maker 2 Review | Retro PC Game | Simulation Game | Life Sim | Anime Game

    IMPORTANT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN NOW LEGALLY BUY AND PLAY THIS GAME ON STEAM. RE-Released with new art work as “Princess Maker 2 Refine” You can grab the game, and learn more about the release on my news article here: Princess Maker 2 Refine Now Available in English on Steam for the PC.

    Princess Maker 2 is part of the Princess Maker Franchise – Note – none of these games were ever released in English. Princess Maker 2’s translation was mostly complete – 99.99999% when their licensing agreement fell through and also the game met tough criticism (by American media and press outlets) from people that viewed it as too pedophiliac in nature despite there being absolutely no sex scenes in this game. The (western) world was just not ready for Princess Maker 2 (and may never be ready either).

    There are many websites which offer Princess Maker 2 (in English) as “abandonware” however; it is the wish of the creators and those involved in the (failed) localization that you never download or play this game (you can google about that too, there’s copies of letters from people involved in the project all over the internet, in which they remind us that this is NOT abandonware and to not “pirate” the game. — So Take that as you will. It’s a little bit different from a “Fan Translation” in which you can still support the creators by buying the original game and “patching” it with the english translation – in order to play Princess Maker 2 (in a language you can understand), you’re going to have to pirate it – I’m not putting a link here, I’m not condoning it, I’m not promoting it – I’m just telling you, it’s out there, if you search for it and if you care to play it. And that that is the only way to play this game in a language that you can read and understand.

    There are many similar, but ultimately inferior, games which have been developed by English speaking fans, drawing inspiration from the Princess Maker franchise. These games include but are not limited to Cutie Knight Deluxe, Prince Maker, Long Live the Queen, and Spirited Heart Deluxe. I recommend checking them out, they’re still great games, but I found myself constantly comparing them to Princess Maker, and found them to be inferior to it in every way (art, story, number of activities, number of endings, variety of things to do, etc.) – That is not to say they are bad games – I own them all and love them – but they are no Princess Maker.

    Anyways, Princess Maker 2 is a great game – as are all the other games in the series which I have supported and purchased despite not being able to understand them. There’s even a (relatively) new mobile game – in Korean language which I play on Bluestacks (an android simulator). As far as I know there’s no plans to bring those games to an English audience any time soon. The same people who fan translated Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here by the way) – had indicated interest in Princess Maker 4 or 5 translation – however, to my knowledge that translation has not even begun yet. Many other translations have begun, but never gotten further than intro or menu translations for any of these games. I sincerely hope, maybe someone in the fan translation community might visit my little blog one day and see that there is a “need” to translate these games which have no hope of ever being commercially released outside of Asian territories.

    With all of that out of the way, here’s my review of Princess Maker 2:

    Title: Princess Maker 2

    Publisher: Gainax

    Genre: Life Sim / Raising Sim / Dating Sim / RPG

    Release Date: 1993 Japan Only

    Platform: (all different kinds, but the one I’m reviewing is the PC version) (It was also on Sega Saturn, PS2, and more consoles)

    Geeky: 1 star 

    Sweetie: 5 hearts 

    Overall: 77/100 77% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

    Concept: 10/10 You raise a daughter from the age of 8 to 18. You see her grow and change as you manage her schedule in different ways, and you also battle in turn based rpg fights and dungeon crawling elements (I think that feature is unique to Princess Maker 2 – I know some of the other games don’t include the battling / dungeoneering elements.) You lead her to her destiny in dozens of different endings. Her sprite will change to reflect her mood, her condition, and her age as time goes on.

    Gameplay: 10/10 You set your girl’s schedule choosing different tasks for her such as cooking, magical battle, dancing, etiquette, visiting the palace, reading, etc, etc. There’s probably about 20 different options to choose from. You can also choose to give her a break by giving her some allowance to go shopping in town, or splurging and taking her on a vacation. She’ll randomly encounter different people, sometimes they will attack her, other times sell or give her items, or sometimes just chat with her all of which may effect her stats. You can also choose to explore dungeons for treasure, items, and more which greatly alter her stats. There’s also a dressup element to the game and what you have her wear also effects her stats. All of these stats and her relationships with all of the other characters are taken into account when deciding what ending you will receive.

    Storyline: 7/10 You are a war hero who defeats a demon – the gods are so thankful to you that they grant your lifelong wish for a family – you are all alone, and unmarried. Now you become a single father to a very young cute girl who needs your guidance. The plot is up to you! Will she become a powerful fierce wizard, a war general just like daddy, or a princess in the palace, or maybe she’ll even fall in love with you and become your wife! (which is why the game was so opposed in America lol – dunno why they couldn’t just remove that one ending and release the game still – but whatever, I’m not in the game industry so I dunno all the details, just what I’ve read online. Seems like such a waste to have completed all that work and spent money localizing this game and then cave to media pressure and pull the plug at the 11th hour.) It’s a very loose gloss-over type of plot, that doesn’t get very deep while playing the game, but that branches into dozens and dozens of endings and hidden scenes and lets you chart out your own destiny.

    Characters: 6/10 read more

    Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review

    Hang tight; things are going to get confusing if you’ve never heard of this series before. Growlanser Generations is the name of an American version of Growlanser II and III (that’s the one I’m reviewing below). BUT Growlanser Generations is the name of a Japanese game in the same game series, which is Growlanser V (and this game was also released in America as Growlanser Heritage of War, but I hate (or at least strongly dislike) that one, so I’m not reviewing it (at least not right now).

    So Keep in mind, this is a review of Growlanser II and Growlanser III (Generations NA). And it is NOT a review of Growlanser V (Generations JP) Got it? Good 🙂

    Title: Growlanser Generations

    Publisher: Working Designs

    Release Date: 2004

    Platform: PS2

    Genre: Strategy RPG with Dating Sim Elements

    Where to buy: Amazon has a few available ranging in price from $65 to $95 depending on quality and deluxe or standard editions. You can browse whats available on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Growlanser…

    Geeky: 3/5 

    Sweetie: 5/5 

    Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

    Concept: 7/10 Though packaged in America as a single game, this is originally two separate games (though from the same series) in Japan. Growlanser I was never released in America, which puts us at a disadvantage because Growlanser II’s story takes place at the same time as, and has the same characters as, Growlanser I. It is basically letting you play as the opponent’s army  from the first game, to draw sympathy and give you another look at the war from a different view point. But since we never got Growlanser I in America (I’m sure Working Designs would have if they could, but this game actually was one of their last games and probably partly responsible for the ultimate demise of the company – selling two games, for the price of one, at the expense of double the staff hours, wages, localization fees, etc.) — Anyways, since we never got the first game, Growlanser II is mostly a stand alone story for English speaking players – and I felt its story, while good, was weaker than III – which is intended to be a new stand alone story – because Growlanser II is supposed to be enjoyed with Growlanser I.

    Anyways, beyond that, they are both real-time strategy rpgs with a high amount of freedom and player choice and consequence. Choices matter, and there’s a branching plot, mostly focused around who you date in the game. There’s multiple endings and of course the data from one game to the next can be carried over from game to game.

    Gameplay: 8/10 The gameplay in these two games features real-time (as opposed to turn-based) strategy rpg battles which sometimes have you trying to reach the edge of the map to “escape” or sometimes destroy all enemies on the map, or sometimes must protect an NPC from being killed. Growlanser III expands on the gameplay of II by allowing you to freely move around the overworld instead of just choosing points on a map. However, Growlanser III cuts the active party members in half from 8 in Growlanser II to just 4 in Growlanser III. Growlanser III also raises the encounter rate significantly from that of II and introduces proceduraly generated dungeons which are sometimes rather hit or miss in their design.

    Upon gaining a level you can spend attribute points to customize your party members to your liking, which is just another testament to the freedom of choice these games provide. Also as you level up your equipment, you can unlock new spells and abilities that are tied to the equipment, making the equipment a key focus of your battle strategy. You can team up with party members to unleash joint spells and abilities and you are also free to move around the map, not stuck using a grid based system in other Japanese strategy games such as tactics ogre and final fantasy tactics.

    Because the game has a branching plot and multiple endings, there are some things which may happen in battle which would typically be a gameover in most games, but in this case, the game goes on (not always, haha sometimes it REALLY IS a gameover lol.) – Sometimes though this can throw you off the route you want in the game so save often and make use of multiple save files.

    Outside of battle there is not much to do in this game (aside from talking to your comrades which can influence the storyline which is a big draw to this series) — That is changed years later with Growlanser Wayfayer of Time on PSP which introduces city building and “pet” raising elements to the game series. (But that’s a review for another day (maybe soon).)

    That’s not to say that all you do is hack and slash your way through Growlanser Generations either. Both games feature a huge branching storyline with several secret hidden side quests and dialog scenes which unless you take time to back track to previous locations and explore the map fully, are very easy to overlook. If you enjoy exploring  every nook and cranny of every location, you’ll really enjoy the huge worlds and the fact that this game does not hold your hand or force you down any “correct” path as it’s very non-linear. However, there are some gamers, who may find all this back tracking and side questing to be tedious.

    Storyline: 10/10 Both games have a very emotional and action packed story which is fueled by the theme of war and focuses strongly on character backstory and development. They take place in a fantasy setting, however; it is draped around a very modern and realistic atmosphere that makes the characters and story feel quite engaging and believable. Mostly, what I enjoyed about these stories is the overarching theme of betrayal, trust, sadness, and pain that are told through the events and actions that happen in each game. As mentioned above, Growlanser II definitely has the weaker story, because in America, we only experience “one half” of the “game” (although it is in fact 2 games in Japan too, Growlanser II is a “direct sequel” – and not only takes place “after” but also concurrently during the first game. So I can’t deduct points here, because it’s no fault of the game that we only have “half” the story here.) Overall, the story becomes very emotional and the sheer volume of the game world itself and lore added into every nook and cranny and dialog options and extra scenes really help bring these games to life.

    Characters: 8/10 Growlanser II is packed full of dozens and dozens of interesting characters. Like most branching plot games, some character routes are more well developed than others. Growlanser III significantly cuts back on the number of characters, BUT in exchange, they devote the time to writing a very interesting and well developed story around those characters. As I’ve said a few times, III is definitely the more story-focused of the two games in this collection, and that also shows through character development and interaction – not that it was terrible in II either, but III just really digs into it more. 12 years later I still deeply remember the story and characters of Growlanser III – while I only sorta vaguely recall some of the characters of Growlanser II.

    Graphics: 7/10 While the character portraits themselves are LOVELY and very appealing, especially I think to females, as they’re rather “Shoujo” in nature, the battle effects, background environments, and other artistic elements are very underwhelming, even for a PS2 game.

    Music: 5/10 – It’s been awhile since I’ve played, but I can’t recall having a strong opinion of either like, or dislike, for the music in these games. I’ll update this the next time I play 🙂

    Voice Acting: 8/10 Working Designs is always pretty good with their localizations – of course they westernize things and take some pretty big liberties with their translations (which some fans criticize them for) but for me, I’ve always enjoyed their sense of humor and found it often times make a dry script more engaging – not that I think Growlanser is dry by any means, but it’s always fun to see Working Design’s little touches. That said, the cast is very good, reusing many actors from previous Working Designs titles (such as Lunar and Vay). So if you enjoy the voice acting in those games, you’ll enjoy it in Growlanser as well. Each game has probably about 2 or 3 hours of voice over content – which isn’t much when each game probably spans hundreds of hours through multiple story lines and endings. But hey, there are games from early 2k that don’t have any voice overs at all, so can’t complain much. I would’ve liked the option left in for Japanese voices as well but I understand those are expensive with licensing fees and Working designs was such a small little studio. I appreciate all the love and care they always put into their games and I feel out of all the 90s Dubs out there, Working Designs were some of the best!

    Replay Value: 10/10 Both games feature Multiple endings, though the differences to these endings are definitely more distinctive in Growlanser II as opposed to III. There’s also tons of hidden side quests and dialog options which will require multiple playthroughs to experience everything these games have to offer. Between both games, you’ll probably spend hundreds of hours to get 100%. I’d wager it’s about 35-40 hours per single play through.

    Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

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