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

Game Review: Design Home vs Home Design Makeover – 2 Similar Apps With Similar Names – Which Home Decorating Game Is Better?

I recently began playing both Home Design and Design Home Makeover. 2 Android mobile games that allow you to decorate your own homes.

Home Design Makeover is available here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.loop.hdmakeover&hl=en_US

Design Home is available here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.crowdstar.covetHome&hl=en_US

Both are free games with optional in-game purchases.

First, Home Design is by Storm8 Studios. They have an upcoming Property Brothers game coming soon too. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.storm8.propertybrothers

Storm8 Studios also has a lot of other kawaii games including Bakery Story and Dragon Story. Check em out.

Home Design Makeover is a Match 3 game, similar to Homescapes, Gardenscapes, etc. Yes, you do have some options in how to design the home, but not nearly as much flexibility as Design Home.

Design Home is by Crowdstar Inc. They have only one other game, a popular dressup game called Covet Fashion. I have played Covet Fashion for a long time. Design Home plays almost the same as Covet Fashion but the concept is to decorate your room instead of dressup your model.

The concept is similar, you enter timed events and can borrow from your friends’ inventories, or use currently owned items, or purchase furnishing for gems or dollars in game currency. You can also vote on various events to earn more event tickets (called keys in Design home). And like Covet Fashion, the items are from real-world brands and have links to purchase or view the real-world equivalent of the item outside of the app as well.

The thing I love about Design Home is how much flexibility it has. You don’t just pick from 1 of 3 couches or 1 of 3 wallpapers, but hundreds of different items and there are many many items in each room, tables, chairs, accessories, wall decor, etc. This makes your design truly unique and much more exciting and creative than the match 3 system in games like Home Design Makeover or Homescapes.

In the end, I prefer Design Home, it’s more creative and enjoyable. But Home Design Makeover is fun especially if you are a fan of similar Match 3 games. Check them both out and leave a comment below for which game you prefer.

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5 Best Anime Games of 2016

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

Nintendo Announces Limited Edition Black or White 3DS for $99.99

white limited edition Nintendo 3ds
white limited edition Nintendo 3ds

Nintendo announced plans to launch two new limited edition Nintendo 3DS handheld portable gaming systems on November 25th, 2016 for just $99.99. You can choose from either an all black, or all white, 3DS system with popular nintendo characters and icons embossed on the face plate.

It’s the first time an all black 3DS has been available outside of Japan, and also the first time that the 3DS has ever gone on sale for less than $100. There is no word on if this is just a temporary price cut for the holiday season, or a permanent new price for the entire 3DS lineup. I’m guessing that it will be the new standard price moving forward, as the new handheld, the Nintendo Switch, will be out in just under 4 months now.

The Nintendo 3DS game library has some amazing games if you like RPG, Simulation, or Strategy games (others too, but those genre seem to be the handheld’s strong suit (and happen to be some of my favorite genres as well). I still get a lot of use out of my 3DS and developers are continuing to push out new games still for the system despite being very late in the handheld’s life cycle.

If you don’t already have a 3DS now is the perfect time, and price, to get one for yourself or to give as a gift so you can play together with your friends and family.

Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 1 of 4

Secret of Mana is a series of real-time adventure RPGs from the 1990s. The “first” installment, which we’re reviewing today, is Secret of Mana for the SNES. This game was actually the 2nd in the Secret of Mana series, but was the first one to make it overseas. There’s also Secret of Mana 3 (Sometimes mistakenly referred to as Secret of Mana 2) which we also never got in the USA (but which has been fan translated), Secret of Evermore – which is a completely different, but equally fun game, which is what we got in America instead of Secret of Mana 3, and Legend of Mana on the PS1.

I say this review is part 1 of 4 because I plan to review the other installments in the series in the near future. I’ve never played the original “first” game (from Japan), so that one will not be included in the series of reviews. It may be available somewhere fan translated, I’ve just never sought it out. I have however, played the rest of the series, including Secret of Mana 3 which is among my favorites in the series. But we’ll start this series of reviews off with good old Secret of Mana, because it was the “gateway” for most english speaking players into this series.

Title: Secret of Mana

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: 1993

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: Amazon has the original SNES cartridge for as low as $67.00 – This is a good buy, as this game is a classic and sure to retain or increase in value among collectors. Just take a look at some of our other retro reviews around the site, similar RPGs from the 90s are going for upwards of $160 a piece. Secret of Mana is a bit more obscure than say, Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy, but it’s still an amazing little game.

However, if you are not a collector, I would recommend the mobile edition of this game which features a completely new translation. The original game had many bugs and a translation from Japanese to English which took only 30 days to complete. As a result, much of the original story was cut from the English version – Whether that was due to a hastily translated script and pressure to meet holiday deadlines from Nintendo, or as a result of the limitations of the cartridge format, the fact is, that the IOS and Android versions provide a much better experience – and cost a lot less than the actual Super Nintendo cartridge too.

You can get Secret of Mana on IOS here for just $7.99

And Android here also for $7.99

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The most unique thing about these games is the weapon “wheel” in which you can quickly switch between different weapons. Every character in the party can use every weapon in the game, in sort of a class-less system. If you try to equip the same weapon on 2 different characters though, you will only switch their weapons instead.

The weapons can be upgraded with weapon orbs found in various dungeons. Also by using a weapon, it will begin to level up and unlock new special abilities.

Since all the combat is real-time (much like Zelda, Ys, and other Action Adventure RPGs) you have to be fast thinking and take into account the movements of your enemy as well as use the terrain to your advantage to kite your monster around the map.

The game features an AI system as well in which you can decide if your party members should engage enemies directly or stay in the back to minimize their damage.

There’s also a magic “wheel” but the main hero does not have access to this; however, the other party members can use offensive or healing magic to aid the hero. You cycle through and select spells in the same way that you cycle through and select weapons. And similar to the weapons, magic also levels up the more you use it.

Some spells will be specific only to certain characters, and others will be shared by both of the magic users in the game.

Aside from the unique wheel like mechanism for choosing spells and weapons, the game plays much like other action JRPG of the 90s. You control a party of 3 heroes, and complete quests, level up, go into dungeons, and progress through the storyline.

Story: 7/10 As I mentioned above, the original SNES translation (which to be fair, is the version I’m reviewing) suffered from time constraints and/or physical limitations of the technology of the time. While we did get the game just a few weeks after the Japanese release, we really missed out on a lot of the storyline and character development.

The premise of the story is very interesting. It tells of an ancient war fought with magic which resulted almost in the end of the world. However, a hero emerged and using the Legendary Mana Sword was able to bring peace back to the world. To prevent a similar war from occuring again, the mana seeds were sealed and scattered across the earth. Powerful guardians were charged with protecting each mana seed.

Foreshadowing tells us however that the peace will not last, and a time skip brings us to our main hero as he is playing outside the village with his friends. An accident occurs in which you get separated from your friends and must find your way home but your path home is blocked by thick weeds. Conveniently, there’s a sword sticking up out of the ground, so you figure you’ll just use that to cut your way through. However, as you pick up the sword, a voice speaks to you telling you that you are the chosen one (similar to the legend of the sword in the stone) and that you now posses the legendary Mana Sword. As you make your way home, you see there appear to be monsters closer to the village than usual, so you get to try out your new sword in some real combat practice.  When you finally make it back home, the villagers blame you for the appearance of the monsters and banish you from the village.

As the story unfolds, you learn of the plan to release the mana seeds and restore the ancient technology from the first war. Knowing that this will again anger the gods, you become like the hero from the first war, destined to once again seal away the power of mana from the hands of man.

The story is actually pretty well written with some interesting surprises, and was very dark for a game of the 90s including suicide, spiritual possession, and themes of war and sorcery.

Characters: 3/10 But in the end it felt like there was more that could have been told here. Perhaps as a result of things lost in the original translation. I especially felt that the characters themselves were flat and never really connected with them in the way that I would in most other games. This made the game ultimately less enjoyable and less immersive than I would’ve liked. I should have been devastated when a major plot thread occurs which effects one of the playable characters and a love interest, but ultimately, I was just not moved or able to feel as much emotion for as grave as the plot had become, because I just didn’t care that much about any of the characters. And I am not a cold person, there are many games which have brought me to tears. This just isn’t one of them. To be fair, I’ve not played the improved new translation from the mobile games. I suspect a lot of what was cut from the script may have filled in this void in character depth and may be restored in the new mobile version.

Graphics: 8/10 I really liked how colorful and bright this game world is. Most of it features outdoor environments with lush green fields, bright blue rivers, and the character sprites are also very brightly colored.

Music: 10/10 Another iconic 90s Squaresoft soundtrack. Very memorable tracks which helped to set the mood throughout the game.

Voice Acting – N/A Not Voiced.

Replay Value: 2/10 This is a completely linear game with little to no replay value, aside from the fact that it is an enjoyable little rpg that you may wish to revisit down the road.

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

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    Amnesia Memories Review

    Title: Amnesia Memories

    Genre: Otome Game / Visual Novel / Dating Sim

    Release Date: August 2015

    Publisher: Idea Factory

    Platform: PS Vita / PS TV and PC and IOS / Android

    Get it for PS Vita on Amazon Here:  read more

    Devil Maker Tokyo Review

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    Note: Sadly, this game is no longer available. It was one of my first, and favorite, Ipad Collectible card games. This review will remain up in honor of what a fun game this was.

    If you’re looking for similar games, you can try: Million Arthur: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/million-arthur./id935513908?mt=8

    Lussid Magic School (AKA Sid Story) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sid-story/id983543914?mt=8

    Lastly, you can check out soccer spirits which combines collectible card games with soccer team management here https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soccer-spirits/id808137814?mt=8 or Love Live School Idol Festival which combines collecting cards with a rhythm game mechanics which you can pick up right here https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/love-live!-school-idol-festival/id834030294?mt=8

    Title: Devil Maker Tokyo

    Genre: Collectable Card Game / RPG

    Publisher: Palmple

    Platform: Ipad / Android

    Language: English

    Geeky Factor: 

    Sweetie Factor: 

    Grab it on IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/devil-maker-tokyo/id659867068?mt=8

    Grab it on Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.palmple.glodmkr.google&hl=en

    Cost: Free (with additional in-app purchases available.) There’s nothing that you “have” to pay for. There are no cards that you can’t obtain on your own while playing the game, but some people are impatient I guess, so for them, the option to buy additional “summons” to summon new devils exists.

    Overall Score: 77% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

    Gameplay: There are multiple areas when it comes to the gameplay. First there is the story mode, where chapters unlock as you level up in the main game, the story is fairly solid (see story for more details there), then there’s the arena, where you can engage in pvp battles with other players.

    Battles in this game are all done automatically, you don’t have any control over what happens. In the arena, you pay your fee with silver for entry, and then wait 15 minutes to see the results. Not very exciting lol. But you can win rare cards here. Every month (roughly) they will have a new “arena season” with a new devil to obtain that’s only available for a limited amount of time. You typically have to participate in the arena 150-200 times to obtain this reward. There are other smaller rewards like health potions and summoning tickets and experience cards as well.

    Then there’s the “main” game. Here you are free to explore various maps in the game world, each offering various rewards and level requirements to enter. You explore these worlds by clicking on one of three cards that appear at the bottom of your screen. I like to think of it as coming to a fork in the road, you can keep going straight (middle), or turn left or right. Each map has a finite amount of steps, and when you reach 100%, you engage in a boss battle. Boss fights allow you to take up to 2 of your friends’ “leader cards” into battle with you. This is a big help for new or low level players, as some of the boss fights can be very tough. Also, just because you CAN go into a zone (are high enough level to enter), doesn’t mean you SHOULD go in there. I’m level 37 and consistently get my butt whooped by NON-boss battles in the areas with a level requirement of level 35 or even level 32. (My cards are around level 32 on average, rank 6 through 4).

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    I guess I’ll talk about that next, cards have various ranks represented by stars across the top of the card, the more stars a card has, the more powerful it is and the more likely you are to want to place it in your party. You have 6 slots you can fill in your party, and you also have a battle cost on each card, and a battle “limit” meter that increases with each level up. Sometimes you might not be able to fit all of your best cards because of this limit. So have to put some thought into the members of your party.

    Secondly, cards have a level, and they do NOT gain experience in battle – only you gain experience in battle. Confused yet? lol. The cards level up by sacrificing other cards at the shrine screen. You can sacrifice up to 30 cards at once. The higher the rank, level, and rarity of the cards you sacrifice, the more experience you will gain. Also, the higher the rank, level, and rarity of the card you are trying to level, the more experience it will take to level that card up. You can find “sealed devil cards” in the “theme park” and “fallen darkness” zones. The only use I’ve found for these is to level up your cards.

    You can also find “material” cards like otherworldly and celestially armor, etc. You have 2 options for these cards, you can sacrifice them to get a tremendous boost in experience, or use them to transform certain cards at the shrine. When you transform a card, it will go up by one rarity level. The art work will change slightly, and it’s skills and abilities may also improve.

    The other thing you can do in this game is fight against the “core”. Cores are discovered by you or your friends as they explore in the main game. If you discover the core, you get a free card, totally random, can be crap, or be really valuable. A core will stay active for 30 minutes OR until it is killed, whichever comes first. You may fight each core once every two minutes. Your friends will also receive a notice that a new core of darkness has been discovered and will hopefully help you defeat it. Each time you fight the core you get a decent amount of experience and a small amount of silver (currency used for things like sacrificing cards at the shrine or entering the arena). If you deal the final blow to the core, you get about ten times the experience awards as a regular “defeat” against the core. If no one defeats the core, it disappears after the time is up. If you OR one of your friends defeats the core, everyone who fought at least ONE battle will receive a card, once again totally random, there are also 2 very powerful cards that can ONLY be found by fighting the core. I’m not sure if they change or not. since I’ve been playing it’s been Amon (rank 5) and Samuel (rank 6). They drop pretty frequently, with Amon dropping about twice as frequently as Samuel.

    Lastly, back at the shrine you can also “recontract” a devil. Devils also have a letter grade S through D. It goes (from best rank to worst) S, A, B, C, D. Altering a devil’s rank will alter it’s AP (I assume these are attack points), HP (self explanatory), and DP (maybe defense points? or darkness points? not sure). It may also gain new skills and abilities. It’s “battle cost” however will remain the same. You will need a “recontacting ticket”. You can find them playing the main game, or purchase for real money from the cash shop. So that’s a basic overview on the game play.

    While exploring the zones you will find one of 4-5 different “encounters” at each “step” (each time you select a card at the bottom.) They are pink hearts (heal 20-30% of every party member’s HP), Shortcuts (advance further into the dungeon by skipping some steps), Devil (a battle, where you get a random card if you win), Powerful devil (a harder battle where you get a better card if you win, but still random), Boss (sometimes you find bosses before the final boss) you can take 2 friends’ leader cards, and have a small chance to get the boss card that you fight, they almost never drop though, they are super rare and annoying lol. You also can find cores (explained above), sealed devil and equipment cards (explained above), silver, and “empty spaces” where you might encounter new friends to add to your buddy list. Some maps also have celestial, underworld, or other worldly energy cards which deal OR heal damage based on your corresponding devil types (there’s weaknesses and strengths, but I’ve not figured them all out yet.).

    There’s also a weekly “challenge” where you try to approach the core of darkness – basically it’s an endless dungeon with infinite steps, you can keep fighting until you have no party members remaining, you get various rewards for how far you make it. You encounter all the other things you encounter in a normal dungeon too. You can enter once a week for free, and then each time you enter, rather you resume (by paying 50,000 silver), or start over (from the beginning), will cost you light points.

    Light points refill every few minutes and each dungeon costs a set number of light points to enter. There are light potions you can buy or find to refill your meter, and also when you level up, this meter, and all of your devils’ hp are restored, and dead devils are revived. If a devil dies while exploring you can use a revive potion to restore them to full health.

    The gameplay is fun, but it loses some points from me for not having any control in battles, I can’t use items (like health potions) in battle, I can’t select which skills my devils use, or which devils they attack. All I can do is sit and watch or “skip” the battle to speed it up. I’d also like to see a way to trade cards with other players. Therefore, removing 3 points (2 for no control in battle, and 1 point for no trade feature). Final score 7/10

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    Story: The story in story mode is very good. Without revealing too much here is a brief hopefully non-spoilerly synopsis :). You are a contractor, one who can make deals with devils. The devils lend you their power in exchange for “favors” that only a human contractor can perform. When a devil and contractor merge their powers the devils’ full potential is released.

    Also a devil can enter areas of light if it is bound to a contractor. Conversely, a devil who puts darkness into a human, or a contractor of “darkness”, can enter darkness that most normal humans would not be able to.

    There was a fight many years ago against a very strong devil named Oracha. After this fight, a great area of darkness, known as S1 was created. The government controls S1, the people who lived there before the fight, remain, but most people are prohibited from traveling in or out of the area. S1 is infested with demons and highly dangerous. The people living there live in darkness, despair, strife, etc. Sometimes contractors of light help these people, bringing them food and medicine from outside.

    You can’t remember much about your past, but a devil named Yuki tells you that you used to have a contract with her master and that she needs your help to find her master again. You think that she might know more about your past than what she lets on, so you agree to help her in exchange to hopefully regain your lost memories. As the story progresses you begin to realize that you were directly involved in the events which created S1, but no one will tell you exactly how you were related to what happened there.

    Oracha is about to re-awaken and is organizing an all out war, demons, against humans, and the newly found “contractors of darkness” mean that now there are humans fighting on the side of the ultimate evil, making him even stronger than the last time you battled him. You must find a way to prevent Oracha and his army from advancing their plans any further. Still, since the story takes a backseat to the main game and other features, and because it doesn’t feel terribly original, giving it a medium score of 6/10

    Concept: The concept of summoning devils and making contracts is almost like playing Persona on my ipad. While the game play is VASTLY different, the concept is almost identical. Not very original, but then again I like Persona’s theme/concept. I also like that every card can be obtained for free with hard work, and the cash shop items are 100% optional. I also like that my max card size is very large AND it increases as I play the game. I play a similar game called Valkyrie Crusade and it’s cash shop is almost essential to increase your max card size which never increases, so that’s a big plus in Devil Maker’s favor. I think I have to also remove a point though for not having a landscape format, having to hold my ipad all the time instead of using it’s stand is super annoying. No reason why they should not have landscape view!! Overall concept loses 2 points, one for originality, and one for lack of landscape, BUT it gains 1 point for it’s non-essential cash shop, and nice max-card hand size. Making concept 9/10

    Artwork: The artwork reminds me tremendously of Persona. the character designs and environment are very similar, and very nicely drawn. There are some cards which were designed (I assume) by players which palmple has allowed them to autograph the artwork on the cards, which ruins it in my opinion. After many months of play, I gained a red riding hood card which is highly rare. In the middle of the artwork, not even in an inconspicuous place, in huge letters it says artwork by blahblah blah, whatever her name is, a western sounding name, oddly, so that’s why i think maybe it was drawn by a player. None of my other cards have this garish writing on them. I really dislike that about this card, and I worked super hard to get it. orz… But other than that one small point, I think the artwork is beautiful. Some of the artwork does get recycled – a common card and uncommon card are identical except for a hue/color shift, and a rare vs uncommon has a colorshift and sometimes a lineart edit. So I have to ding the artwork 2 points total, making it 8/10.

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    Music: I love the music in this game, it’s very catchy. Completely original, and fits the mood of the game. It is perhaps the best music score I’ve heard in a mobile game. 10/10

    Voiceacting: Not voiced, no score given.

    Characters: The characters in story mode are interesting enough, but take up such a small portion of the game that I can’t really rank them too highly, story is secondary in this game afterall. Character development therefore gets a medium score of 6/10.

    Final Scores:

    Gameplay: 7/10

    Story: 6/10

    Concept: 9/10

    Artwork: 8/10

    Music: 10/10

    Characters: 6/10

    Overall: 77% C+ “Good Game For Girls”