Genshin Impact Review Of Free To Play Open World Anime RPG With Gacha

Genshin Impact has been making waves and covered by almost every media outlet. It has received both good and bad press. But I hadn’t played it until last month when I got my Playstation 5. Genshin Impact is also available on mobile and PC. And there is talk about bringing a version to Nintendo Switch but that won’t happen until late 2021 at the earliest. I’ve spent a few weeks now with Genshin Impact and have really enjoyed it thus far. Here’s what I think.

Genshin Impact is a new open world anime RPG by Mihoyo. It has stunning anime graphics, English voice acting, great music, and lots of unique features. The open world lets you explore, craft, hunt for treasure, perform both story and non story based quests, and of course fight monsters, all while collecting characters from a gacha. Genshin Impact is said to have terrible Gacha rates and gets a bad rep for that aspect sometimes. read more

The Best Upcoming & New Release 2018 PC Games for Girls

Back in the 90s I barely played PC Games, because so few existed that appealed to my tastes. There were exceptions of course, Torment, Fallout 1 and 2, Baulder’s Gate, Icewind Dale, King’s Quest (and other Sierra titles), Ever 17 (and anything else by Hirameki International), Petz, Black and White, Creatures, Graduation 95, and a handful of other gems that weren’t available on my consoles.

But largely, console gaming was the highlight of my childhood. That’s where all the anime games or JRPGs or story rich games were, especially in the 16 and 32 bit eras, which still remain my favorite gaming period of all time. Genesis, Sega CD, SNES, Saturn, PS1, PS2, and Dreamcast, the majority of my favorite games, still to this day, lived on one of those great consoles.

But nowadays, I barely play console games anymore. Occasionally there may be an exclusive that catches my eye, such as Persona 5 on PS4, or Tokyo Mirage Sessions on the Wii U. I even bought a Wii U just for that game in fact.

But now, so many games are cross platform, and so many people like me, who grew up in the 16 and 32 bit eras are making their own indie games now such as To the Moon, Always Sometimes Monsters, Rakuten, Undertale, etc. This completely changes the gaming landscape. Now PC is by and far my preferred gaming “platform” of choice.

And where once, JRPGs reigned on Consoles, they now thrive on the PC or even on mobile devices, and in the past 5 years we’ve seen a huge explosion of visual novels and Otome games as well on both PC and mobile – and barely any of those have been released (at least in English) on consoles.

Where once the PC had almost no games that appealed to my tastes, now suddenly, more and more each year, I find the PC to offer so many games I want to play that I don’t have the time, nor money, to possibly play them all! I have over 700 steam games already (and a handful on Origin, and about 50 more on GOG, and then of course my old CDs from the 90s which have yet to get released digitally.) And that’s not taking into account the PC’s ability to emulate the console games I own (probably around 300+ games there too). And emulation is perfectly legal as long as you own the original games, which I still do.

This puts the number of games I can play on my PC right now today, without buying a single thing, at well over 1,000 games! — How many of those games I’ve actually played, is probably around 25%, and how many I’ve beaten to completion / all endings etc, is probably like 5%. lol. But the point is, there has never been a better time to play girl games on your PC. If you’re a girl, there’s plenty of games that you should check out on PC. This wasn’t the case 20 years ago; my how the landscape has changed!

Here is a list of games due out in 2018 that are on my radar! I’ve selected these games for one of the following reasons: Decisions Matter, Branching Plot, Multiple Endings, Cute/Kawaii Graphics, Excellent Story, Innovating (or at least really fun) Gameplay, and Customization. If you look for the same qualities in your games, check out the list below. Warning, it’s long.

This list is not in any order – largely it’s sorted by release date, because that’s how I was browsing the games while researching this post.

Sea Dogs

Our first recommendation reminds me of Horizons New Dawn, one of my all time favorite super nintendo games.

Sorcery Jokers

This visual Novel Has Some Beautiful Graphics

Til the Dawn, Waiting

This looks sad, and also features animals, a powerful combination to tug at any heart strings

Franky the Bumwalker

Super cute and colorful adventure game that probably doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Dragon Cliff

This indie RPG features an extesnive crafting system and city building aspects as well as cute retro graphics.

Stunt Corgi VR

If you’re lucky enough to have a VR headset you might like this title that lets you create obstacle courses and watch a cute corgi try to navigate the courses you create.

Project Bits

If you like rhythm games, you might like this one with cute anime artwork. Plus it’s free to play.

The Mind Hero

An anime visual novel where you help 8 different characters overcome their trauma. It aims to teach psychology inside a video game. It’s also free and features a comic book style.

Katyusha

This looks to be a very emotionally engaging and beautiful pixel retro style RPG. The developers have said that the game uses real-life world war 2 letters that were written by soldiers to their families.

Battletech

The ability to customize everything about your mechs and the appeal of mecha genres from decades of anime such as macross, robotech, go lion, voltron, evangelion, gundamn, etc, make this appeal to me, despite the more dark realistic graphics. The gameplay looks fantastic. And who doesn’t love giant robots?

In The Valley of Gods

Explore pyramids in this narrative adventure.

Villages

This game aims to balance the skills and economy of its players so that they are forced to work together. Sounds promising. Let’s see how that works once the game releases.

Grow Bot

This just looks so utterly adorable!

Boyfriend Dungeon

With a name like Boyfriend Dungeon, how could this not make our list? It’s an otome dating sim and hack n slash RPG adventure, where the boys are weapons.

The Iron Oath

I am beyond excited for this game! True, it doesn’t have the visual aesthetic that I like, but nearly everything about the gameplay appeals to me greatly! Decisions matter, the guild management sounds fun, every character has a back story. Characters die / perma death, you recruit new characters, I’m ready to play this awesome looking tactical RPG.

Living the Deal

Business Management and Life Simulation Game. This one is high on my wishlist (despite how hideously ugly the characters look lol).

Wolf Gang

Play as cute wolves chasing cute sheep in a game which promises unlockable content and character customization.

Freedom Planet 2

Furrie fans and fans of old school Sonic games still love the original Freedom Planet, and soon the wait is over for the much anticipated sequel.

The Forgettable Dungeon

Co-op Action RPG that you can play with up to 15 friends.

Next Up Hero read more

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero

7th Dragon until now, has remained a title only available in Japan, but that is about to change with 7th Dragon III Code VFD on the Nintendo 3DS.

This quirky little Time Travel RPG sees us in a not too distant future which is at war with powerful dragons. In order to save the world from destruction, you must travel to the ancient city of Atlantis, future capital of Eden, and present day Tokyo.

The artwork features chibi super-deformed, bobble head, big head, tiny body style character designs, giving everything a very cute anime feeling. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean. Very Kawaii!:

With the cute art work, and almost endless ways to customize your hero, this game immediately sparks my radar. I admit, I’ve not heard of 7th Dragon until now. I’m somewhat surprised to see Sega’s name attached to this project, but then again, not really no, because they do own Atlus who is well known for “risky” games like this which “cater to Otaku” – I wonder why they wouldn’t brand this title under their Atlus flagship since it has a lot of loyal fans already which they could then leverage to get more attention for this cute little game.

From the very brief teaser, it looks like it will be an emotionally engaging story as well – We see a character sick in a hospital bed for example.

Most intriguingly of all Destructoid reports that “And as if that weren’t bizarre enough, the role-playing game involves rescuing stray cats from dungeons and sheltering them in a cat café.” And if you don’t know what a Cat Cafe is, you can check out my post for 10 Cat Cafe you can visit in North America.

The whole “Cat Cafe” concept makes the game even more Kawaii and immediately appealing to me (and likely also to my readers). I’m becoming more and more intrigued by this little game and can’t wait to check it out.

The game will release on July 2016 and is available for preorder on Amazon here: Preorder 7th Dragon III Code VFD

 

Those who click the amazon link above can read even more of the game’s features – Incredibly enough, it even features a dating sim element. Given that the series originally was created and handled by Imageepoch who made Fate/Extra which plays INSANELY SIMILAR to Persona 3 and 4… I can imagine that THIS dungeon crawling RPG will also be very similar to Fate/Extra and Persona 3 and 4.

The Japanese voice cast has been left in tact, and not only do you customize your heroes’ appearances, but also their voices, with more than 40 voices to choose from!

This game is Kawaii to the Max! Very Otaku Pandering, and very very very cute and quirky. Personally, I can’t wait! BRING ON THE CAT CAFE DUNGEON CRAWLING DRESSUP JRPG! This game is right up my alley!

Azure Dreams – RogueLike Dungeon Crawler with Dating Sim, City Building, and Pokemon Style Gameplay | Retro Game Review | Playstation | 90s | Cute Anime RPG

Title: Azure Dreams

Publisher: Konami

Release Date: 1997

Platforms: Playstation 1, and Gameboy Color. Note that the Gameboy Color version is widely different and not as good as the PS1 version, for example the Gameboy version removed all of the dating sim elements from the game. I really recommend playing the original PS1 version.

Where to Buy: Unfortunately it’s very old and hard to find, at time of this review there is one copy left on amazon, being sold for $150+ Keep your eyes on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Azure-Dreams-Pc/dp/B00000DMAP 

You can also check out the reviews there and see for yourself that this is a great game.

I wish Konami would release this game on the Playstation Store. I’d buy it in an instant even though I still have my PS1 disc. (darn lack of backwards compatibility). (plus I greatly prefer digital distribution anyways).

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Azure Dreams was one of my favorite games growing up. In fact, I still find myself playing it, almost 20 years later. It’s an addictive game with very high replay value because it offers a lot of choice to the player in how they want to focus their time within the game. And because it’s procedurally generated, it also offers a wide variety in terms of level design and challenges to the player as well.

Gameplay: 10/10 The main gameplay elements focus on entering the “Monster Tower” to search for treasure. Within the tower, you can also find Monster Eggs which you can bring home to hatch into familiars which you can train and take with you the next time you enter the dungeon. But outside of the dungeon is where the game really shines. You can invest into rebuilding the town and as you do so, new characters, new shops, and new mini games will open up to you. You can buy new buildings, or furniture, or decorations for the buildings as well. You can also spend time conversing with the people in the town, and form relationships with one of 7 cute girls which will slightly alter various storyline elements throughout the game.

Storyline: 6/10 Admittedly, the story takes a backseat to the gameplay. It’s a pretty simplistic story about a boy whose father disappeared when the boy was young. His father was a famous monster tamer, and now on the player’s 15th birthday, he too has been granted permission to enter the tower and follow his father’s footsteps. He hopes to find clues to his father’s disappearance while searching for treasure.

Characters: 6/10 The player character is intentionally kept as a blank slate to immerse yourself into his shoes, which is not uncommon with rpg games or dating sims. He has a little sister who helps take care of her sometimes irresponsible big brother. Your first familiar is a cute lil blue chubby dragon looking guy named Kewne. He will be your guide as you begin the game. Some other town residents include a rival boy named Ghosh, his little sister, Selfi who’s training to be a sorcerer, there’s also your childhood friend, named Nico, an item shop owner named Fur, a Waitress named Patty, a Librarian named Mia, A sick young girl named Cheri, and a traveling performer named Vivian.  Some of the girls are cute and endearing, others are outright annoying. Most are common tropes and archetypes from anime and JRPGs and not terribly original or interesting.

Graphics: 7/10 – while the monsters are cute, and the 90 level procedurally generated tower offers some variety, a lot of the game looks and feels “grainy” due to poor textures. I’m also not crazy about the character designs, but if you look at anime from the mid to late 90s, this style is very popular.

Music: 8/10 The music is composed by Hiroshi Tamawari who also (was one of the ones who) composed the music in Suikoden. If you like the Suikoden soundtrack, chances are you’ll also like the music in Azure Dreams as it’s has his same style.

Voice Acting: 1/10 The original Japanese version was fully voiced, however, that is not the case of the US version. It makes me sad that costs had to be cut in this area.

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

If you like this game, I also think you would like Time Stalkers (also known as Climax Landers), another City Building Dungeon Crawler game which is part of the Land Stalker and Alundra game series. Other people have compared Azure Dreams to Mysterious Dungeon but I have not played Mysterious Dungeon yet myself to be able to back that claim.

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Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review

geeky

Title: Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Natsume

Platform: SNES

Release Date: 1996

Geeky

Sweetie

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 9/10 This review is for the 2nd game in the Lufia series. Although, chronologically, the events in this game take place before the events in Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. Which we reviewed by the way over here in our Lufia and the Fortress of Doom Review. The 2nd game improved upon many aspects of the original including some pacing issues with the story and enhanced graphics, more challenging puzzles to solve, and no more random encounters. The story in Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals takes you back to playing as Maxim and the original heroes who helped defeat the sinistrals as shown briefly in the prologue of the first game. Like it’s predecessor, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals also includes some dungeon crawling and adds a new monster taming mechanic, but the game is largely a traditional turn based JRPG with colorful graphics, endearing characters, and a heart warming story.

Story: 8/10 You play as Maxim, a bounty hunter, living in the town of Eclid. His childhood friend, Tia, who runs a shop where Maxim receives new orders and turns in his bounty to be paid worries about the recent increased occurrence of monster attacks near the village. Maxim soon learns from a strange woman named Iris that these attacks are no mere coincidence and that he is “fated” to save the world from evil and thus sets out on a journey to a floating citadel to defeat the sinistrals. As for “plot” this is all that is really “presented” to the player; it is bare bones at best…. but is plot really the only driving force in creating a good “story”? No, it’s not; because the characters themselves are equally as important as their settings and surroundings. There are numerous plot twists which emerge later in the game and many different playable characters who all feel very real because of the way character interaction is handled within this game. The story is less about saving the world, and more about the bonds that are formed along the way between Maxim and his comrades. It seems as if “real” relationships are formed (and sometimes cruelly ripped apart, just as love can be fleeting also in real life). There is death, there is pain, and most of all, there is love, because love is the most important thing in the world. You will experience all of the emotions that the characters are feeling and you will be surprised and shocked a few times along the way as well. Because of it’s excellent character interaction and the way in which the story builds upon the relationships of the different characters, this saves what would otherwise be a fairly run-of-the mill plot, and instead turns it into one of the most touching and memorable experiences on the SNES.

Characters: 10/10 As I mention above, the characters themselves are what keep you engaged in the game’s plot. They seem like they are as real and troubled as many people that we personally know in real life. The drama can be over-the-top at times, but I like a good drama, so for me, that’s not an issue. The characters fight amongst themselves, deal with secret feelings and desires, have conflicting emotions, objectives, and they grow and evolve throughout the game, coming to reconcile their differences and sort through their emotional struggles.

Gameplay: 8/10 If you enjoy the puzzles in games such as Zelda or Alundra which force you to think outside the box, you will also enjoy the puzzles in Lufia 2. Lufia is well known for having some of the most challenging puzzles for it’s time (I found them much more abstract and challenging than Zelda a Link to the Past which released around the same time). The ability to see monsters on the screen also gives you an element of strategy in your gameplay as you can surprise them to take the advantage or avoid combat to travel more swiftly. Though this mechanic is commonplace in RPGs today, I do believe Lufia 2 was one of the first games to shift away from the random encounters that were prevalent in most RPG back in the late 90s. Other noteable features include the capsule monster system which allows you to gain a 5th (all be it, computer-controlled) party member which you can “raise” in a virtual pet sort of way by “feeding” him items and equipment that you no longer need. The monsters would evolve in various ways and multiple times, getting increasingly stronger and aiding you further in battle. Also, as in all Lufia games, the ancient cave returns providing an (almost) endless and optional dungeon crawling experience to obtain the best loot in the game. Lufia 2 introduces an “IP” system, where as you battle, your IP gauge begins to fill, and upon filling, you can unleash powerful skills. These skills are often obtained by equipping special items (like those found in the ancient cave). The one caveat that people like to pick on is the amount of “fetch” styled quests (many of which are optional) (but some that are required to advance the story). That is, quests which are not “story” driven and merely “go here, kill x monsters, or find x items”. While these quests aren’t very innovative, they are a commonplace mechanic in most JRPGs.

Graphics: 8/10 The colors are much richer, and there is a wider range of textures and tile sets used in Lufia 2. It addresses the main critique of Lufia 1’s graphics as being reused and dungeons and towns all looking and feeling similar to one another. I enjoyed the super flashy “anime” style colors and enjoyed the large areas that were used for various towns, making them feel more alive than it’s predecessor. The character sprites although not overly detailed are cute and keep with the same anime vibe. The combat screen in Lufia 2 is much better; where as in Lufia 1, you see your characters primarily represented as stat bars, in Lufia 2, the characters are present on the battle field, as in most other RPGs of that era. Lufia 2 is definitely on equal footing with most late 90s RPGs in terms of graphics and presentation.

Music: 7/10 Lufia 2 is often complimented for it’s very large soundtrack. Aside from the first few dungeons, other tunes are seldom reused. When you enter a new area you hear new tracks; and the tracks used vary widely from upbeat peppy tunes to sweeping ballads. However, I find very few of these tracks to be very memorable when compared to other RPGs of the 90s. The music is “good” but not “great”. There are also a number of different sound effects which add an additional depth of immersion to the game world.

Replay Value: 4/10 Lufia 2 has a replay mode that allows you to earn increased XP and Gold on multiple playthroughs; however, it’s a completely linear game, so the story never changes. There are still some interesting side quests and gameplay elements that could keep people coming back to find everything this game has to offer. Replay value is minimal; although I have personally replayed this one many times, because it’s just so fun and the storyline is so touching.

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Churbles – Adorable Zelda-Like Action RPG with Anime Style Hamsters

churble2

Note: This is only a Preview. I’ve no hands on experience with this game; I just wanted to make my readers aware of this adorable little indie title. It is still in development, and no “public” beta test will be held – they are only allowing those who backed their now closed Kickstarter campaign to test the game. So the rest of us will have to wait. When it releases, it will be a cross platform game available on all current gen systems including PC, PS4, Xbone, and WiiU.

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Churbles is a fully 3D game, and the latest developer blog post details how the environment will work.

“We are currently working on a system that allows you to control how your guild hall layout develops, which will allow for procedural dungeon generation later on. It also allows turn-based combats to occur anywhere, not just pre-built arenas.”

The game also features local multi-player (and I’m sure it will also probably have online capabilities as well).

About gameplay:

“Using their Guild Hall as a base of operations the player selects a location based adventure for their Churbles to embark on. Each location or dungeon is free roaming and can be expanded through story progression and diligent exploration. Enemies can be found freely roaming the world, spoiling for a fight. Some battles must be fought, while others can be avoided through story-based decisions or clever sneaking.

As play continues more and more Churbles will want to join your founder and the Guild Hall to help protect Churble World. With 3 different classes to choose from, each with 3 distinct styles of fighting and 7 different weapons styles you will be able to develop any sort of team you desire. Want 3 different Warriors? What about a Mystic who charges into battle with a two-handed ax? Or a rogue who has a fondness for casting spells? With over 63 different combinations it is all possible!

Skills can be learned through leveling up your weapon skills, heroic paths, through story events, and the acquisition of legendary tutors and items. In fact, over the course of its career a Churble will learn a great many skills and it is up to the player to create combinations of moves that will perform best with the other Churbles making up the party.

Boss battles are a huge focus of Churbles game design. Each one is intended to be challenging, innovative, and unique; this isn’t a matter of tank, heal, dps, success. Drawing inspiration from the best and most memorable boss battles throughout gaming history, we are creating encounters that have the player (and their Churbles) thinking and acting outside the box.

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Churbles takes some of the best features of JRPGs, such as cute and exciting characters, outrageous villains, and over-the-top attacks, and combines it with some of the best elements of western RPGs, like rich customization of both the characters and play styles and streamlined gameplay that focuses more on playing the game and less on grinding.

But what really makes Churbles unique is the ownership the player will feel over their Churbles. Every Churble has its own personality that determines its affinities for different abilities -as well as interactions with other Churbles- and even the player! Everything from fur and eye color to armor and weapon skins can be selected by the player. The Guild Hall where the Churbles rally between their adventures is not just a quest hub: It is their home. Churbles eat, sleep, play, and train in the Guild Hall, which you the player will help design and build.”

I’m super excited about this game, and if you are too, you can find more info about the project via http://churbleworld.com or the kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crashgem/churbles-a-beautiful-3d-rpg-adventure/

Persona 5 delayed until Summer 2016

Persona 5 took center stage at Tokyo Game Show 2015 with a new Trailer (see it below); however, it also brought with it, the sad news that the game is being delayed once again, now with an estimated release date of Summer 2016. I’m disapointed by this news, as it was reported that the special Persona 5 event was in order to announce the “exact” release date. Not only do we not have an “exact” release date, but we learn that the game is once again delayed, and not even first quarter 2016, but instead, almost a full year from now – and that’s just for the Japanese gamers; the rest of us can probably expect an even longer wait.

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Oh well, gives me time to save up to buy a PS4 before the release. While we wait, check out the new trailer below:

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Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame

Title: Lufia the Fortress of Doom

Genre: RPG

Release Date: December 1993

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Taito

Where to Buy: Amazon has a few used copies in stock from time to time; at time of this review, it’s priced around $68 You can keep an eye on this page on amazon to see when copies become available. http://www.amazon.com/Lufia-Fortress-Doom-Super-Nintendo/dp/B0007Y66N4 You may also have good luck searching on ebay for a used copy of the game.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 8/10 This is the first game in the Lufia series if you look at release date; however, several “prequels” were released that take place prior to the events in this game. The order that you play them in does not matter much since several decades elapse between each point in the storyline; if you have time for only one game, I recommend Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals (Which we’ve recently reviewed in our new Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals Review ) over this original game. The pequel improves on almost every aspect of this title, including storyline, character development, gameplay, and graphics. But the first game is still a great rpg with a touching story full of plot twists and challenging gameplay. The game begins by playing a group of heroes (who are the stars of the prequel) in the final stretch of their journey to seal away ancient evil powers known as the Sinistrals. After some brief gameplay and story, the time skips ahead almost 100 years into the future, and you are playing as the descendant of these heroes. The world has been peaceful and uneventful until now; but now the ancient evil that your ancestors faced has reawakened and you must follow in their footsteps to save the world once again. Lufia’s strength as a whole has always been its rather challenging puzzle solving elements that are presented as you explore various dungeons. There’s also many different side quests and things to explore in each game which give players a break from the main story.

Story: 8/10 As mentioned above the concept of the game is that you are the direct descendant of heroes who faced great evil almost 100 years ago. You play as a young knight serving your kingdom, and you have a childhood friend who mysteriously turned up in your village 10 years ago with no memories of her past that serves as a love interest for the main character. The game is more about Lufia than your main character who is more just like a sidekick as far as story and character development go. Lufia has a very strange past which slowly emerges as you play the game and really becomes the main focus and catalyst of the storyline later on. The storyline is very touching, and you can really feel the love that has developed between the hero and Lufia. The real game (after the prologue) begins when a nearby village is attacked by someone claiming to be one of the defeated sinistrals. As a knight, it’s your duty to go help the villagers and when you arrive, you come face to face with the Sinistral Gades for yourself. After learning that the Sinistrals have reawakened you begin your journey to help save the world once again. The story does start out rather slow, so I deducted a few points there. It suffers from some bad dialogue at times too, being either bland or cringe worthy at times. However, the plot twists and the love story that slowly emerges, as well as the shocking truth about Lufia’s past make the storyline a very rewarding experience that’s well worth the somewhat slow start.

Characters: 5/10 Your party consists of 4 characters, the hero, his childhood friend Lufia, Aguro a knight from a neighboring village, and Jerin, a healer who later becomes a love-rival for Lufia. The characters are not as well developed as in Lufia 2. With the only character who’s strongly well developed being Lufia herself. Lufia and the love that you feel for her are very emotionally engaging. However, the other two party members often feel flat and lifeless. The main hero is left somewhat generic to allow the player to better immerse and imagine themselves in the role of the hero. This can sometimes make the main character feel more cold and uncaring than if he also had a well developed backstory and personality. The character dialogue can also be cheesy or fall flat at times which can detract from the emotional impact of the storyline.

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Gameplay: 8/10 This is a typical “90s RPG” featuring turn based combat, dungeon crawling, (lots of) random enemy encounters, and puzzle solving. You level up and learn new skills and spells, travel from town to town, purchase new equipment, talk to NPCs, and take on side quests as you progress through the main story. There’s nothing terribly innovative here; but the puzzles and monsters can be quite challenging which makes this series very fun for those looking for a challenge. One of the most challenging features is the “Ancient Cave” which has 100 levels and I think it may be procedurely generated if I remember correctly. Each level features better loot, but increasingly difficult monster encounters. This area is completely optional, but most players will want to explore this dungeon to level up their party and acquire some of the best in-game items. This is a linear rpg (as most games where back then) with little in the ways of customization and no replay value or incentive for multiple playthroughs (so I deducted a couple of points there).  If you love traditional retro RPGs, that’s what we have here, so you should be right at home in Lufia Fortress of Doom.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Lufia is very memorable, maybe one of the best back in the 90s (aside from “big name” games such as final fantasy). The sound effects and ambient sounds also help to immerse the player into the world of Lufia and help set the mood for each point in the story.

Graphics: 7/10 The graphics are dated by today’s standards of course, but back in its time, Lufia had some of the most vivid and colorful graphics around. One flaw in the graphics may be in the combat system, as you are shown a row of enemies in the middle of your screen, and beneath that, 4 status bars representing your 4 party members, with a small animated sprite in the right hand side of each bar. It seems odd to present the statistical info more prominently than the characters themselves. The game is also often criticized for reusing several graphics and not having enough variety in level or monster design.

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines Review for PSVita / PSTV

Disclaimer: My review is based on the demo version. Sadly, I’ve yet to play the full version but will update this accordingly (if my views change) once I’ve purchased the full game.

Title: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Alfa System / Sony

Release Date: March 2015

Where to Buy: $19.99 on Amazon.com

Geeky Factor

Sweetie Factor

Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept here is very fun, you can check out what I think of the Gameplay and Customization below which are really the highlights of this game. The concept is that you and all of your ancestors and descendants have been cursed by someone so that they will live a very short life and also never be able to reproduce normally – instead they must reproduce with gods and demons. The game is fast paced and your characters do die quickly which forces you to keep breeding with the gods to make new clan members. You can pass down heirloom armor and the armor gets new powers as it is passed down. Combat is turn based and there is also a city building element to the game. Read on to learn more about each of these features.

Story: 6/10 I did not get to see much of the story during the demo; but from my limited play time, it does not seem to be very story driven and seems more like a dungeon crawling hack n slash experience. There is a loose story there; about your family being cursed and only able to live for a max of 2 years (my main character died at 19 months; so they don’t always even make it to 2 years). Your family is chosen by a god to be reincarnated and you are given a chance to learn about and take revenge on whomever it was that cursed your bloodline. The god uses a sacrificial girl with magical abilities named Nueko who can bring herself back to life after she dies. From what I read about the game online, it seems that this Nueko becomes the main focus of the story; and that the story does not focus on your clan or your cursed bloodlines, but instead on protecting Nueko. Because it does not focus on your character or clan, many gamers feel the game is less personal and less immersive, and that their characters are only minor characters to the plot and story. This is just based on hearsay and not my own experience, so take that with a grain of salt too. 🙂 This is actually the 2nd game in the Oreshika series, but it’s the first one we’ve gotten in North America. I’m not sure if the story is at all connected to the first game or not.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is really unique in this game. I had a lot of fun in my brief time with the demo. The most unique thing obviously is that your characters live only a very short time so you are forced to mate with numerous gods in the game to create new offspring and once your player character passes away, you select one of your other clan members to take over as leader. Certain gods come and go at different times, and other gods must first be unlocked in various ways (sometimes by equipping certain items or killing X number of monsters etc). The customization is amazing allowing you to customize everything from your appearance, to class, abilities, offspring, and even the town. (you can read more about that under my section on customization). And the combat experience is also fun. There’s a roulette like wheel that appears and will determine what loot is available. You have the option of killing all enemies or just killing the leader. Sometimes if there’s an item you really want it’s best to go straight for the leader, because he will sometimes run away with the loot. You can take up to 8(I think?) characters into battle at once. Some can attack any row, others can only attack front or back row depending on their placement on the field. There’s also 8 classes to choose from each with their own fighting style. Most of the fights I encountered in the demo were too easy/dull but the demo forces you to play on the easiest game settings so I’m not going to deduct points for that. The monsters are visible on the screen and you can avoid combat or sneak up on the opponent to get an advantage. Everything you do advances time by one month. If you choose to mate with a god, one month passes, if you choose to explore a dungeon, one month passes (sometimes more, as you can choose to keep exploring or return home at the end of each month in a dungeon). Because of this, it’s a very fast paced game, and there is always a sense of urgency and pressure on the player to make the best decisions. Also later (not available in the demo) it is said that we will be able to visit other players’ towns and other cities and dungeons too. Taking pictures also seems to be a high focus in the gameplay – I haven’t figured out why yet – there’s even the ability to share the pics you take over social media from within the game. I don’t know if the pictures serve any other purpose though.

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Graphics: 7/10 The thing about the graphics is that they are VERY stylized; they are intended to represent ancient paintings and scrolls from Japanese history. Therefore, you can notice a very “painter” like feeling to the graphics, including thick brush strokes and uneven coloration. This is intentional; similar to how Ghibli chose to use a similar technique while animating Princess Kaguya. If you’ve ever seen that film you’ll understand what I mean about the artwork in Oreshika. It’s not “ugly” but it’s definitely “different” from what most modern RPGs aim for.

Also the ability to put your own face into the game with the PS Vita camera can create some pretty ugly characters even if you are average to above average looking yourself lol. Luckily, the characters can also be manually created to get something more pleasing.

There are some very cute characters. Your servant and guide through the game, a little weasel girl is totally adorable. And some of the gods are sexy / beautiful.

All of the graphics have a distinctive anime feeling, and there is a huge amount of customization too in this game. (both of which are things I typically look for in games to review here.)

In battle, the graphics look pretty good, but I think some of the monster designs are rather ugly; (but hey they are monsters after all); there’s also a lot of recycled artwork, that’s been recolored for different monsters; red crab, blue crab, black crab, gold crab, green crab, etc. The special effects and abilities are also not very pretty or impressive in battle, which is a little disappointing.

Music: 7/10 The music, like the graphics, is intended to invoke feelings of ancient Japanese culture. It’s very asian sounding, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. I personally don’t care for a lot of the tracks used in this game; however, because it is very fitting with the theme and story of the game, I still graded the music fairly high.

Voice Acting: 8/10 I like the voice acting in this game because they kept the original Japanese voices in tact. Most of them are quite good; I do get confused by the main “God” in the game; I still haven’t decided if it’s male or female – It kinda sounds female, and it wears a lot of pink (maybe because I chose that for my own clan’s color?) lol. In the opening animation, I think “he” was wearing armor that showed off his pecs, so I am pretty sure he is male, but he is very feminine sounding/looking. I don’t care for his voice actor; but I guess a more rugged voice wouldn’t fit his somewhat androgynous appearance. I love the weasel girl’s voice actress she is super kawaii sounding! 🙂

Customization: 10/10 For sure, customization is where this game shines. You spend a long time initially making your first character, with the ability to either use a photo of your own face to try to generate a character that looks like you; or the ability to manually make any kind of character of your dreams, by selecting from over 20 different hair, eyes, noses, face shapes, and then further fine tuning your selections using slider mechanisms to control placement, height, width, depth, spacing, etc. Then you move on to choose your class and are shown a description of the different fighting styles. I chose lancer; but I ended up having the most fun attacking with my dancer later on. After you make your first clan member, you get to make 2 other clan members to fight along side you. I just went with the pre-generated options here, and selected their classes, but I think (could be wrong) that you can also customize their appearances as well. (but I was tired of customizing and just wanted to play the game lol). Because your characters die easily/quickly (my first death happened at 19 months which occurred less than 1 hour into the game), you must mate with the gods to produce new offspring. The children will take a genetic combination of facial features/hair/skin etc from both their human and god parents. You even have the ability to get demon looking or god looking children or animal children etc in this way; and then their traits are passed down when they mate also. And not only do you get to customize the characters, but also the town in which they live, by investing in different shops or boosting different aspects of the city, and inviting new shops, and unlocking new items, or new activities that you can undergo while in town, So really the customization is amazing in this game. It’s what makes the game so much fun.

Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

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Conception II: Children of the Stars Review

geeky

Title: Conception II: Children of the Stars Review

Genre: RPG (with some dating sim and city building elements)

Platform: 3DS or PSVita / PSTV

Publisher: Atlus

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Language: English (text and voice acting) (or you can import the Japanese original game with Japanese text and Japanese audio)

Geeky Factor

Sweetie Factor

Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

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Story: 7/10 The story follows the life of young “students” who have been chosen by god and granted magic powers in order to fight monsters in dungeons known as dusk circles. These circles began appearing all around the world, with each representing a different sin; for example, the first dungeon is based on the theme of Lust. Students who are chosen, are always between the ages of 16-18 and receive a glowing brand on their body (typically their hand, but some characters have them on the forehead etc). Once this brand appears they must join a special academy and learn how to use their new abilities. The story follows a group of new students who are just discovering their powers. It also is rich in lore and history, and you can uncover more about the dusk circles and the monsters as you progress through the game, why they exist, where they come from, etc. It’s futuristic, dark, and scifi, with some religious overtones; however, the story never sseems to take itself too seriously; with several ecchi (perverted) jokes, I think the humor is a bit over the top, and some of the cliches over-used, which can distract from the story.

Gameplay: 10/10 In addition to exploring the dungeons, you are also able to partake in dating and after school activities, similar to the Persona series (another Atlus title). This almost feels like it could be another Persona game in a lot of ways to me. The main difference is that, instead of using personas in battle, you use an ability called Class Mating. Class Mating occurs by selecting a female team member and joining her in the church to create “star children”. These children have various classes, such as swordsman, magician, cleric, etc, and their stats, skills, and even appearance, depend on which female you’ve chosen, and the bonds that you’ve formed with her through the dating aspect of the game.

Star children always must be used in groups of 3. If you have 5 star children, you can only use three of them; but if you have 6 star children, you can use all 6. You can use up to 9 star children at any time,by following this rule of 3’s. The star children receive a boost within the dungeon by bringing their mother with you. Which brings us to the next point…

Each time you enter a dungeon you can select one female team member to join you. Each female has a different element attribute, and you will have the best success by choosing a female who’s element is strong to the element of the dungeon (which is displayed before entering the area). As mentioned above; if any of the female’s star children are in your group; those star children will receive a nice bonus as well.

There’s a lot of things to do, a lot of skills and abilities to use in combat, including chain and combo attacks; and a lot of fun things to do outside of combat too. In addition to the dating sim portion of the game, there’s also a city building simulation aspect. Once you run out of space for or get tired of your star children, you can “grant them their independence” which removes them as a playable character, but you will find them working in new shops that open up in town, and the town will grow and offer new items for purchase, and new events may be unlocked, etc. It’s a very fun game. Both the combat portions, and the city and dating sim portions feel very well fleshed out. And there are multiple endings which really increases replay value.

Concept: 8/10 I think that the classmating aspect is really original, and I love that the game offers so much to do outside of combat too; however; it does feel, more or less, like a Persona “clone”. Persona is one of my favorite series, so nothing wrong with that really. Although for originality; if you removed the classmating aspect, it would not be very original at all. Also, the combat feels too easy early on, and the story is sometimes bogged down by too much ecchi and humor and not enough suspense and maturity. Still it’s an amazing concept, and everything is well done without any aspect of the game feeling lacking.

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Characters: 9/10 I really like the characters in this game; as always in a dating sim style game, the main character is a bit of a blank slate so that you can “plug yourself into the game” and immerse yourself as that character. The females and the teachers and friends and rivals in the game all feel really well fleshed out. I appreciate very “real” characters who have flaws and secrets that they hide, which are slowly revealed, etc. I think the way they introduce the characters and the fact that you actually have to put in the time to learn more about them, etc; sorta simulates how we form real bonds and relationships; and that is a very unique thing in this game. It definitely makes me care more about the characters I’ve drawn closer to throughout the game.

Graphics: 10/10 The PSVita version looks fantastic on my PSTV / HDTV – I haven’t played the NDS version – I’ve heard mixed things regarding the frame-rate of that version. All of the girls are SOOO cuuuute. I don’t know which one is my favorite. There are anime cut-scenes, and some “magic girl” transformation scenes when entering combat and performing skills etc. These get old after a few times, so thankfully you can skip them whenever you want. Also your equipment is reflected in game, there’s costumes to collect and lots of ways to customize the physical appearance of your characters. The dungeons themselves are a bit, bland, and at least on my TV, they look sorta pixelated somewhat, same with some of the monster designs; but this is more than made up for with the beautiful characters and anime cut-scenes.

Music: 5/10 I dunno, the music is okay; but it’s kinda “jut there” – I wouldn’t say it’s bad; but it’s not really memorable either.

Voice Acting: 7/10 I’m surprised, I actually don’t hate this dub. I think it’s actually “pretty good” – for an English dub. But I did notice a LOT of recycled / can messages that play during the game. I’m disapointed in that. I wish it had full voice acting; if it did, I might have given it a 10/10 because the acting itself is actually not bad. But most of the times instead of the characters reading the lines you just hear them say “Okay” “Roger that” “No” “It’s Alright” etc. Only certain scenes have full voice acting; and the canned phrases can get a bit annoying because they use them so often.

Final Scores:

Story: 7/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Concept: 8/10

Characters: 9/10

Graphics: 10/10

Music: 5/10

Voice Acting: 7/10

Geeky: 4/5

Sweetie: 4/5

Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”