Ova Magica – Adorable Farming Monster Taming Game With Inspiration From Azure Dreams

I stumbled across a pretty cute farming game on kickstarter and just had to back it. Especially after I read where their inspiration was coming from with some of my favorites listed like Azure Dreams and Jade Cocoon – and of course the usual suspects, harvest moon, pokemoon, and etc.

Almost no one nowadays remembers Azure Dreams – It’s one of my favorite games of all times. The playstation version – I heard there was a gameboy version but they removed almost all basic game mechanics like dating sim aspects and so on – never played that one – and gladly not. read more

Pop in Q Anime Movie Review

Pop in Q
Pop in Q

Title: Pop in Q
Length: (approx) 1.5 hours, feature length film.
I hear there is a 2nd film in production as well that will finish telling the story. *hint: Keep watching after the credits of the first movie*
Genre: Shoujo, Magical Girl, Fantasy, Idol, Musical, Slice of Life, Drama
Studio: Toei Annimation
Release Date: December, 2016

Score Card:

Geeky 1/5 – There is a bit of action later in the film, also some nostalgia to anyone who grew up watching shows like Digimon. But largely, this is pure shoujo aimed at very young girls. Afterall the girls themselves are middleschool students in this film.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This anime is utterly adorable!!! The Popin look like Sanrio characters. The girls are young and have round faces and big eyes. The music is catchy. Idol culture is always kawaii AF. The backgrounds have a nice painterly style. And the story actually has some depth to it, especially towards the end and the small preview of the next film.

 

Story 9/10 The story is basically the same as nearly every shoujo series. Which isn’t a bad thing. A group of young girls who don’t believe in themselves (or other people), come together, find their own inner strength, and learn to trust each other and work together. The basic plot of Pop in Q surrounds 5 girls each with different regrets as they prepare to graduate from middle school. They escape to the magic world where they meet the Popins, loveable cute mascots who are responsible for the flow of time. The girls do not want to return to their own world until tragedy threatens both worlds and forces the girls to make some difficult decisions.

 

Characters: 10/10 – 10 out of 10 just for how cute they are. Plus I like how every girl is given ample screen time and has a rich back story. This reminded me a lot of sailor moon or magic knights rayearth, or to a lesser degree card captor sakura. It also has a hint of love live or aikatsu stars because of the idol elements. But the cutest thing of all are the Poppins!

 

Artwork: 4/5 I deducted 1 point because some of the 3D scenes are not animated that well. However, the character designs are so cute. The 2D parts are adorable, and the background environments have this lovely painterly style with heavy brush strokes. This creates a beautiful storybook like feeling.

 

Voice Acting: 4/5 – The voice acting is cute and suits each of the girls. The poppins also have cute voices. Only reason I didn’t give it a 5 was that it wasn’t that memorable.

Music: 5/5 – There are tons of vocal tracks, obviously as music plays a central role to this story. Luckily all of the music is quite catchy. I also liked the instrumental tracks, especially highlighting some sad and touching moments.

 

Overall: 38/45 84% B+ “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Magikarp Jump – Free Mobile Virtual Pet Pokemon Game Review for IOS and Android

Overview: 10/10 Magikarp Jump is a cute, free, seemingly innocent Pokemon Game for Mobile IOS and Android devices. The gameplay is very simplistic and reminiscent of Monster Rancher in that you take home a pet to train and raise and enter league battles. Pretty basic stuff, right? But actually it is perhaps one of the darkest Pokemon Games of all time, because for the first time ever, your Pokemon can die! There is no going back into their Pokeballs, and no amount of healing from Nurse Joy can bring a KoiKing back after he has become lunch for a wild flying Pokemon.

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

Eliyo Virtual Pet Game – Browser Based Virtual Pet Game Like Pokemon and Wajas

elonprism

I recently joined a new virtual pet site called Eliyo. The site seems to be less geared towards breeding, and more geared towards battling and leveling your pets in an almost Pokemon-like way. As you battle you gain experience and level up. Upon leveling up you can distribute stat points. Occasionally you may learn new skills and if necessary be asked if you’d like to overwrite existing skills to make room for the new ones. You and your opponents have various elemental strengths and weaknesses, and you can capture wild pets by using prisms similar to how you can capture Pokemon using Poke Balls. There are different types of Prisms with varying degrees of success, and just like Pokemon, sometimes the monsters will break out of the balls (or prisms in this case) or flee before you can catch them.

When you first join the site you’ll be introduced to a few NPCs and told to run a few basic errands. After introductions, you’ll return to the NPC to be presented with 1 of 3 different pets to choose to take with you (once again much like Pokemon and selecting a starter pokemon). I am not sure if these are randomly generated, or if the same 3 pets are always presented at first.

Obviously, looks must be taken into consideration, as that’s the main draw of these types of games, and the genes you have now, will be the foundation for your breeding program and determine your offspring’s colors, patterns, markings, etc. But that’s not all – You also need to look at various personality traits (which thus far I am unsure if they’re having much impact in the game or not as the game is still in Beta.) And lastly at the combat stats, abilities, elemental strengths, weaknesses, etc. It’s a lot to take in — But you’ll get more pets in the future, so just pick whichever one you like best to start with.

Here’s my girl – I named her Kaylee, after a cat I used to have, because her color and markings reminded me of that cat.

As you can see, it provides a lot of information about my “Elon” – it tells me her recent activity and a personality profile, both of which can be useful if you wish to roleplay over on the forums.

There’s a relationship level with my Elon – I will admit I have not read the guides yet so I’m unsure what a lot of these stats effect in-game.

Then there’s the basic stuff like her stats and elemental strengths and weaknesses – It’s a pretty detailed and complex overview about my pet.

After acquiring that first pet, there’s not much else to do except take it out for a test drive. Head out to explore and in the battle arena there will be numerous different locations suitable for your level each with different breeds of pets to battle or catch and each giving varrying rewards.

You won’t be able to catch pets right away. You need to earn at least 100 coins for the most basic prism – the only way initially to earn these coins is by battling.

People also seem to like to hoarde and then markup the price of prisms so you have to get lucky that the shop will have a few in stock by time you save up enough.

I’ve purchased 3, and even when I have the opponent severely weakened, he still escapes my prism…

Elon come in all different colors and patterns. From natural looking to purely fantasy looking creatures.

I really wanted this one too – he looked like me, but he was a different breed, – I’m not even sure if you can cross breed your pets? I’m also not sure if it’s frowned upon, as it used to be in older pet games such as Pony Island. But none-the-less his markings and colors matched mine. I had him down to about 10-15% health and he escaped the only prism I had at the time.

But you just gotta keep fighting and earning money and trying to buy and save up your Prisms. And it gets easier as you get stronger. You no longer die and need to go to the apothecary to heal (and lose your coins in doing so).

As you can see from these shots – the game is extremely similar to Pokemon. – Once you capture another pet, you can breed, and sell or show off your offspring. When breeding the two parents’ colors and genetics and battle stats etc all get passed down to their children.

The images are dynamically generated, and each pet is unique – Over the years this has become the norm – but I remember when that was NOT the case. Pony Island was one of, if not the, first virtual pet games to use dynamic images to actually SHOW you the effects of your genetics and breeding program.

The site seems to load fast – there are some ads on it, but nothing too crazy.

It could do with a more interesting/exciting tutorial.

I like the simple clean and calm green color palette used across the site.

The pet art is very petty too.

Edit: I just captured my 2nd pet – but now I need an herb to breed them and not sure what shop or where to find said herbs at lol 🙂 The new pet is very cute! Has less visible markings than my first pet, but I like the floppy ears and happy expression.

Based on the information I provided above in this review, I would score it as such:

Geeky:  5/5 – Unlike a lot of other Virtual Pet Sites, this one puts emphasis on battling your pets. Breeding is still an option. High production values with art and sounds – Site loads quickly and everything works as it should

Sweetie:   3/5 – Unlike other virtual pet sites, acquiring pets is harder – I do agree this makes it more fun/appealing/rewarding – but there is a downside too in that when you first start out and only have 1 pet you can’t do much of anything. I think this could be remedied by adding some minigames, dressup, scavenger/hunting, and other features.

Concept: 8/10 – It basically is like a browser based pokemon 🙂 It distinguishes itself from other virtual pet sites with the battle system and customization of stats, resistances, strengths, weaknesses, etc – It is in beta and still lacking in a few areas, but it feels like a fun and addicting game already.

Gameplay: 7/10 – The same concerns come up – that it may get repetitive due to lack of features at time of this review. The battling bit is cool. Also they just recently added the ability to buy and sell pets bred by other players. Pets learn moves and level up quickly, making it a rewarding, fun, and highly customizable experience. But it needs some more features to give you a break from battling, such as other features mentioned above that are common to these types of games like dressup, decorating, scavenger, hunting, crafting, minigames, etc. I understand though that the game is in beta at this time – so it is likely some new features will be added shortly.

Story: 1/10 – At this time there doesn’t appear to be much story written for the virtual pet game, which makes it kinda hard to roleplay when not much is known about the world or the pets themselves etc. – In fact, at this time, there are no current threads in the roleplay forum – and I suspect there won’t be for awhile until the creators of Eliyo give us some more info to go off of. – NOTE: I OMITTED THIS SCORE FROM THE OVERALL SCORE BECAUSE IT SKEWED MY REVIEW TOO SHARPLY. But it’s something to keep in mind, if your main attraction to pet sites is the RP – it’s just not in place yet given that it’s still in beta. So you may want to hold off before signing up for this one.

Characters: 5/10 – The monsters themselves are adorable and / or beautiful — but the NPCs, and other characters (or honestly, lack there of), make the game seem a bit empty. The ability to customize our pets, especially in terms of battling makes the character customization high on this one, and the dynamic images and genetics, make it a game where our characters’ genes are carried across multiple generations.

Graphics: 8/10 – The dynamic image technique is a big draw for me to pet games, it might be common now, but as a veteran of these games, I still remember when that was not the case. Dyanmic images ensure every single pet is unique, not just one of a few dozen different “recolors” – It makes the pets feel more personal and allows greater attachment. However, at time of writing there’s only a handful of markings and mutations. Once more markings or mutations or species get added, this would easily score a 10/10 as far as the graphics go 🙂

Music: The game has music and sound effects but I usually play it on mute, so I have not been able to review it yet. I just wanted to leave a note here about that, because I think this is uncommon in these games, so definitely a nice touch! 🙂

Overall: 37 / 50 74% “C – Good Game for Girls”

The Benefits of Playing Pokemon Go Outweigh the Risks

I was not into Pokemon Go when it first launched. It wasn’t until my mom began playing that I took interest. For a few reasons, first, when the game first came out, there were numerous game crippling bugs which made it almost impossible to play. It’s also a rather difficult game to learn at first, it gives absolutely no guidance, direction, tutorial, etc. This combined with the bugs in early days made the game frustrating and a lot less fun than it is now.

Second, I’m not one to enjoy exercise. It’s not that I’m “Lazy”, but well… exercise is “painful” and “tiring” and “annoying”.  When I started playing Pokemon Go, I thought how annoying or stupid it was to have to go outside. This was when I was playing it alone in the first few days of the launch. This began to change when I found someone (my mom) to play the game with. It’s much like the thought of having an exercise buddy.

When I was in college (10 years ago now, wow.) I went to the same school as my best friend. We’d spend our breaks swimming, playing badminton, and even (cringe) running laps. I was also doing atkins diet at the same time, and I ended up going from 200+ lbs to 127 lbs and a size 6/7 in jeans. After college, and my best friend moving to the other side of the state, now a 5 to 6 hour drive away, and going back off the atkins diet, I gained all of that weight back slowly over the years, due to lack of motivation to get out there and exercise.

I did have an xbox 360 with Kinect, and a Wii with some games which tried to add gamification elements the work out experience. I’d play them for a time, but always ultimately get bored and go back to other less “demanding” and more “rewarding” games. I will say out of the “work out” games I own, my favorite has always been “Walk It Out”, a very obscure Wii game that blasts 90s/2k pop music as you walk around a rather empty world at first; and as you walk you unlock new songs as well as begin to see the world come to life. I also enjoy DDR (although I suck at it really badly.) and Just Dance (slightly less challenging than DDR). I even had Wii Fit, and I did love the charting/tracking aspects of that game and even being able to weigh my cats lol.

But ultimately, none of those games held my interest. Was it because I didn’t have anyone to play them with? Perhaps. Was it because I still wasn’t “getting out”? I was still “at home playing videogames” something I’ve done for almost 30 years of my life.

It’s still too soon to tell how long it will be before I get “bored” with Pokemon Go. But it has some elements that are so unique and different from the other work out games I own. When I try to describe Pokemon Go to people who don’t already play, I tell them “It’s basically geocaching with pokemon”. I’d never gone geocaching before but the idea of it had always appealed to me in theory. It encourages you to get out and explore some new and sometimes remote or far away locations and you’re rewarded with small treasures (usually coins) (but in this case, it’s pokemon instead of coins).

Pokemon Go is a social game. Recently, a new dating website opened up and had such overwhelming response that they had to shut down their servers temporarily. This dating service aims to connect Pokemon Go players in their area both for playing Pokemon Go, but also for finding true love (or friendship). I’m also single right now, I’m kinda taking a break at the moment, seeing a few people but nothing serious, and find I’ve kinda backed off a bit on the dating or seeking of a mate at the moment, but when I’m ready again, in a few weeks, or months, or whatever the case may be, I have a feeling I’ll be using this Poke Date service. You can check it out here: https://www.projectfixup.com/pokedates/  – There’s also another site here: https://t.co/7sOATzdApr and probably numerous meetup.com Pokemon Go groups as well (though there weren’t any close by in my area last time I checked.).

Even if you’re not using such a site to interact with the Pokemon Go community, chances are you’re going to run into other players out in the real world, whether it’s at poke stops, gyms, or just walking around your parks or college campus, etc trying to catch pokemon. If you’re like me, you’re probably a shy introvert, who avoids other people (remember that part about sitting at home playing videogames?). I still haven’t started a conversation with anyone while playing Pokemon Go, but I have had people come up and start conversation with me, and I find it’s easy to talk to people when you have a shared interest, common goal, hobby, passion, etc. Pokemon Go can make you more comfortable in social interactions, help to break the ice, and put you in the “right place, at the right time” to meet new friends or potential romantic partners.

Pokemon Go does just that, it makes you GO places. You might find new places nearby that you’ve never visited, or it may encourage you to take a road trip, day trip, weekend trip, etc to go discover new pokemon. While playing the game, you might stumble upon new restaurants, museums, nature trails, parks, or other exciting places. Travel is fun! And Pokemon Go gives you another excuse to get away, take a vacation, take the scenic route, relax, and reconnect with nature while exploring new places and trying new things.

Pokemon Go is fun, relaxing, and addicting. Ignoring the social, psychological, and health benefits of playing the game, the game is just plain fun. The obsession to “catch them all” and to find “rare” Pokemon is a huge draw that keeps you wanting to play more and more. Just imagine if Shiny Pokemon get introduced sometime in the future, or special limited time events with special exclusive Pokemon to catch. This obsession to keep playing, keep seeking out new places with new pokemon, and “catch them all” is what keeps you motivated and interested in the game and continues to reinforce the “good habits” (exercise, social interaction, etc) that come from playing the game each day.

Pokemon Go is free. Yes, there is a cash shop, but you definitely don’t need to spend any money to enjoy this app. You can just visit your closest pokestop, and sit there for an hour or two collecting the items you need. Once again this just encourages you to keep getting out there. It’s win/win.

Pokemon Go is good exercise. It’s even being used in nursing homes to help the elderly. Gamers are not known for a love of working out or healthy habits. I’m no exception. But Pokemon Go makes me want to exercise in order to play the game. I went from being sedentary, to now walking 5 to 7 miles almost every day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I walked even a mile, let alone 5+ miles. Almost daily. Two days ago we walked ten and a half miles which so far is the farthest/longest I’ve walked while playing Pokemon Go. Of course, I am hoping to lose weight. Who doesn’t want to be more fit and healthy right? But even if that never happens simply from walking a few extra miles, I’ll tell you, this exercise has already had several benefits. The main benefit it has had is curing me of my insomnia.

Pokemon Go will help you sleep better! If you’re not used to physical activity (like me), and going through a “hard time” where your mind is just turning non-stop most nights, Pokemon Go will make you fall asleep from the physical exertion and exhaustion that comes when you increase your activity levels. The last 2 weeks I’ve been sleeping like a charm, when most of June was spent in angst and anger and disappointment and hurt feelings, I no longer have TIME to think about that. Pokemon Go keeps me busy! Keeping busy keeps me happy!

Pokemon Go will improve your mood! Exercise creates endorphins which are scientifically proven to create feelings of happiness and euphoria. It also as I mentioned helps “clear” (or otherwise occupy at least) your mind which makes you forget about your worries and troubles. It gets you out into the sunlight and sunlight is also scientifically proven to boost your mood. It helps you connect “spiritually” with nature, or helps you connect “emotionally” to other people. It reminds you you’re not alone. Pokemon Go is a comforting experience for anyone dealing with loss, death, grief, heartbreak, or other traumas.

Yes, there have been some scary stories in the news recently about Pokemon Go, either from neglect and a lack of paying attention to one’s surroundings, such as walking into traffic, falling off a cliff, or criminals using Pokemon Go to identify Poke Stops and wait for passer by to mug/rape/attack/whatever. There are also cases of people playing Pokemon Go at inappropriate times such as while working or driving. – but these incidents are few and far between when compared to the millions of players who are benefiting in some way from playing this game.

Pokemon Go means different things for different people, but for me, it has given me that little boost of motivation that I need to be more active and get out in my community.

New Pokemon Games are on the Way! Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon

Magiana New Pokemon Generation, 7th Pokemon Generation, Pokemon, 3DS, Nintendo, Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Moon
Magiana New Pokemon Generation, 7th Pokemon Generation, Pokemon, 3DS, Nintendo, Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Moon

Update: 2/26/2016: Nintendo has confirmed worldwide release of these two titles Holiday 2016 You can watch their live event below incase you missed it.

 

Previous Update – Newer information at top: the Twitter account claiming to confirm this announcement below has been confirmed to be fake parody account as you can see upon closer inspection the username has an l instead of a t however that doesn’t necessarily mean that Nintendo won’t confirm the announcement of new games themselves tomorrow during their live event only time will tell.

Nintendo of America has confirmed two new 3DS Pokemon games titled Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. No other details were revealed at this time.

This is still exciting news for Pokemon fans around the world and coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. Many of us grew up with this series. Hard to believe I was only 14 years old when Pokemon began, and to this day, it continues to entertain children and adults of all ages with it’s adorable characters and addicting gameplay.

A new Mythical pokemon was also revealed last week for the upcoming new pokemon movie. It is not confirmed if this new pokemon will be making an appearance in the new Pokemon Sun and/or Pokemon Moon.

It’s a metal pokemon with a cute round feminine “dress-like” shape and large pink eyes See a photo below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Platform: PS2

Release Date: April 2006

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

Genre: Monster Taming RPG

Geeky: 5/5 stars

Sweetie: 5/5 hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster Nursery for IOS

Monster Nursery for Android

Monster Rancher by Mobage for IOS

Monster Rancher by Mobage for Android

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

 

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

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

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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Yo-Kai Watch releases on the Nintendo 3DS in North America on November 6, 2015. What is Yo-Kai Watch? Million Selling Japanese Anime and Videogame Series. Now in English

Have you heard of Yo-Kai Watch? This Nintendo franchise is releasing for the first time in North America next week and here’s everything you need to know about the million selling anime and videogame series.

Title: Yo-Kai Watch
Publisher: Level 5 and Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: November 6th, 2015

Where to buy: $39.99 from Amazon.com

Concept: From what I can see, this looks very similar to pokemon, except you can control a party of 3 cute monsters simultaneously in a single battle. You use your stylus to search different areas until you find a Yokai and you then have the opportunity to befriend them. You raise and train the Yokai to make them stronger. There’s 200 different Yokai to find.

Last Week Nintendo released an English demo on the Nintendo E-shop which you can download for free here.

Story: The story of Yo-kai Watch is that Yo-kai are mischievous spirits which exist in the real world, though unseen by humans. One day your character helps a ghost who grants them a special watch to detect the presence of Yo-kai. Yo-kai are not ghosts, monsters, or pets. Instead Yo-kai is the Japanese belief that all objects, both living, and inanimate possess a “spirit”. These Yo-kai sometimes come from humans, or sometimes animals, or sometimes even every day objects. Unlike Pokemon, there’s really not a grand quest or anything; instead it’s a story about innocence and discovering a magical world that’s always been there but has been hidden to most people.

Graphics: The graphics in Yo-Kai Watch are cute and there are a large variety of Yo-Kai to befriend within the game. The colors and images are very sharp and it’s all done in a cute anime style.

There are also a number of anime, manga, and toys and other merchandise that go along with this series. Nintendo hopes to create the next “pokemon craze” and make a lot of money off of merchandising – which has been working quite well for them overseas. Let’s see if this series takes off as well in North America.

Also, the first game, does not have different versions like Pokemon having different monsters in each version and encouraging trading amongst players. This is one feature I will miss and really the main draw of Pokemon for a lot of gamers. However, it looks like the 2nd game, which is already out in Japan, does have two versions and may focus on different Yo-kai in each one, making trading necessary to “catch em all”.

I read that you can choose a male or female player character, but have no further info on if the player characters can be further customized.

If you happen to be going to PAX in Australia you will get hands on time with Yo-Kai Watch and get to see the premiere of the anime before it goes live in December.

Last of all, Nintendo lists this title as 2 players. I assume it will feature battling eachother’s Yo-kai similar to Pokemon Battles.

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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”