My Horse Stories – Horse Sim Game Review

So yesterday I reviewed 2 horse racing games, Horse Haven, and Rival Stars Racing.

Today I am sharing yet another Horse Simulation game – this time it is a mobile game called My Horse Stories. I am not very far yet into this one. I just started playing it late last night. I haven’t even bred my own horse yet, just still using the first horse I purchased at the market.

I might not have all the right information to give a super accurate review, but I just want to give like an early impression review. read more

Rival Stars Racing Mobile Game Review

I just finished my review of another game, Horse Haven, which you can read here.

Rival Stars Racing is another similar, yet different, horse breeding, raising, and racing game. I just also learned that it is soon coming to Mac and PC so if you’re the type who doesn’t enjoy mobile games, you might be interested in the PC version with enhanced graphics and additional features.

What makes Rival Stars Racing so great? The first thing that really stands out is the genetic system, allowing for stats and colors/markings to be passed down from parents to foals. read more

Tamagotchi On Review 2019

I just recently purchased the Fairy Pink Tamagotchi On from Barnes and Noble. Here’s my thoughts after the first 24 hours. I did a lot of research prior to purchasing Tamagotchi On. Tamagotchi On is also known as Tamagotchi Meets in Japan and Tamagotchi Some in Korea. The Tamagotchi Meets has a lot of bugs which were all fixed for the English Tamagotchi On. The bugs included things such as draining the batteries in just a day or Tamagotchis getting glitched when they evolved.

I also read that a lot of people received used looking Tamagotchi On from amazon who had badly scratched screens despite being brand new. Luckily mine was in perfect condition. I don’t know if the scratched screens were just from Amazon, or maybe a bad batch, afterall it’s been out for about 2 months now so my tama is from a different manufacturing batch.

I chose to purchase from Barnes and Noble because you can get 30% off your first toy order when you join the free kid’s club. Tamagotchi On are pretty pricey around $50-60 so saving 30% is a big deal.

I also prepared for my Tamagotchi’s arrival by buying a “case” which as far as I can tell is just a decorative touch. It might offer some protection but not much. When it comes to Tamagotchi “cases” there’s 3 basic types. Silicone which is what I bought – I picked out a pink Pusheen case which still isn’t here. Crochet cases from places like Etsy – many of which have cat or rabbit ears. And Bath and Body Works Hand Sanitizer holders which people are using mostly as wrist straps. Unlike the original Tamagotchis of the 90s, the new ones are not keychains. They do have a place you could attach a chain, wrist strap, or lanyard though. Or just pop your tamagotchi into the Bath and Bodyworks hand sanitizer.

The other ways I prepared for my Tama’s arrival include buying a tiny screwdriver and some rechargeable batteries. The battery door is secured with a tiny screw. I bought an eyeglass repair kit. If you live in the united states you can buy these at the dollar tree store. It comes with 2 screw drivers that fit the tiny screw and a cleaning cloth that you can use on the screen. And it only costs a dollar.

I dunno about you, but I am a 90s kid. I grew up with the original Tamagotchi. The new Tamagotchi On is very similar to its 90s counterpart. The basic concept of the game remains the same, you navigate the menus with 3 buttons. The first button toggles through the menus, the 2nd button confirms your selection, and the third button cancels and goes to the previous screen.

The gameplay also has not changed much on the surface. You feed, play with, and clean up after your virtual pet. The big differences between Tamagotchi On and the 90s version are that the Tamagotchi On is in full color and has a backlit screen. The Tamagotchi On also features some new gameplay elements, the biggest of which is the ability to connect to the Tamagotchi On app and play minigames to earn coins, or meet other players from around the world. Once your Tamagotchi is an adult, you can even marry another player’s Tamagotchi and have babies, including twins. The genetics of the parents pass down and there are over 1 million different combinations and ways that your Tamagotchi can look. You  can use the coins from the minigames to dressup your tama, decorate your room, buy toys or food for your tama, or put your Tama in a daycare so you can take time away, perfect if you have to leave your tama when you go to work or school.

If you have 2 Tamagotchi they can have playdates or communicate when you connect via infrared. You may want 2 Tama anyways because there are 2 versions *and more in Japan* with exclusive places you can unlock and a few Tamagotchi exclusive to each version. And in some cases (in Japan) there are rare genes in the special versions. The two places you can visit right now are Magic Land in the Purple or Green Magic Tamagotchi On US versions, or Fairy Land in Pink or Blue Fairy versions. The fairy version has more cute type Tamagotchi while the Magic version has more cool type tamagotchi. So which version you get may be influenced by what type of Tamagotchi you like best. If you like cute things like unicorns, or cool things like bats, vampires, witches, etc. But in the end it really doesn’t matter since you can marry and have babies and get the genes from all of the versions, even the Japanese exclusive versions, so you should just go for the shell color you like best. The white Magic one was limited in Japan but it’s now going to be an amazon exclusive in the US and Canada.

There are also many special events that happen. Like right now it is fall time and sometimes a tamagotchi will visit mine and they will go harvest fall food from the trees. Sometimes my tamagotchi will play hide n seek, or play with bubbles, or try to talk to me to get my attention.

It is a simple cute game with the object being to reach adulthood and breed and aim either for genes you like, or for rare genes that you want to collect.

Is it worth the high price? It faces a tough market, saturated with apps on the phone, some including other virtual pets, or even more complex games, all for free. each day new apps release, and kids have cell phones these days. But maybe Bandai never intended to target kids in the first place; perhaps they’re banking on people like me who collected the first tamagotchi to be willing to pay for the new Tamagotchi On.

What I like about Tamagotchi On is the feeling of nostalgia, the cuteness, both of the graphics, and the outer shell, and the ability to breed and see genes pass down to the babies. I also like that I only need to spend a few minutes a couple times a day checking in on the Tamagotchi. It doesn’t require much time, effort, or thought. It’s just a simple cute game. I like the feel of the egg in my hand, and the buttons are comfortably placed. This Tamagotchi is larger than the 90s version and seems a perfect fit for my hands. The color backlit screen is also a big improvement over the 90s version.

What I don’t like about Tamagotchi On is no built in keychain/wrist strap/lanyard mechanism, and sadly, I think I’ll enjoy the game for a few weeks and then bore/tire of it quickly because it’s just too simplistic. But on the plus side I do think I will revisit the Tamagotchi from time to time, whenever I feel like playing a cute and carefree game.

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.

My Nyan Place Cat Cafe Simulation Game Review

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review

Title: My Nyan Place

Genre: Simulation

Release Date: 2016

Publisher: ESTGames

Official Website: http://www.mynyancafe.jp/main/

IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1080565581…

Android: https://play.google.com/store…

Geeky: 2/5 – not much to the game play really, but it does have some pretty graphics. Not as robust or as many features as other cafe simulation games such as I love pasta and I love coffee which I reviewed here.

Sweetie: 5/5 – cats, cats, and more cats coupled with cute anime graphics and a casual and easy to play family friendly game.

Overall: 49/80 63% D “Average Game for Girls”

Concept 10/10: My Nyan Place is the perfect IOS and Android game for all cat lovers. You will need a Japanese or Korean Itunes account to play the game. You can create a Japanese or Korean Itunes account for free which I cover how to do in depth in my review of Aikatsu Photo on Stage here.

My Nyan Place allows you to run your own cat cafe while collecting rare and cute cats, decorating the cafe, and playing fun mini games. You will need to feed, play with, and groom your cats. They need ample space to play, hide, climb, scratch, and sleep. And all of the accessories that come along with it.

Guests will come to the cafe and play with the cats as well as purchase food and beverages which earn you gold which can be used to purchase new items for your cafe.

As you level up, you can begin adding more cats and even more floors or buildings to hold the cats which will then need more decorations and more items for your cats and attract even more guests and earn even more gold.

Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay is simple and intuitive enough that you can enjoy this game without knowing Korean or Japanese languages. There are some quests and tutorial items that can be challenging at first to get past without knowing the language, but luckily, you will clear many of these obstacles through the natural flow of the game.

You start with a completely empty cafe and are given a few items such as a table, feeder, and cash register to get you started. You also get to select one free starter cat from the old man’s shop to begin your game.

The old man’s shop refreshes once every 24 hours and gets lots of rare and unique cats. These cats cost a lot of bells, but give you the benefit of knowing exactly what type of cat you’re purchasing.

The alternate way to obtain more cats early in the game is with tickets or bells that can be exchanged for “blind box” type cats. With this method, you can exchange tickets or bells to receive one random cat. You may get a rare cat this way, but you’re much more likely to get a common cat. Different types of boxes have different cats, including rare event boxes and cats that appear only for a limited time.

Now you will need to add some important items to your cat cafe to make sure your cats are healthy and happy. With the cat feeder, you can cook your own food and treats for your cats. Each cat is a unique individual and has likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Feeding your cats food and treats that they like will boost their mood and earn you more gold from your guests. You can also grow your own catnip, which can also be used as a treat for your cats. The catnip can be harvested once a day.

Your cats need a place to sleep. Some beds can hold multiple cats, while others are only enough space for one cat. It’s better to select items for multiple cats because they take up less room on the “grid” layout of your cat cafe.

You can expand your cat cafe to hold one more row on the grid per each upgrade, but there are level blocks that prevent you from expanding too quickly. There are also level blocks that prevent you from holding more cats, or having more than X number of certain items (tables, feeders, beds, etc).

You can hire staff to help run the cafe when you need to go offline. Your friends can also help you by visiting your cat cafe and clicking on up to three items that need attention.

Cats love to play; there are a lot of items which the cats can interact with which help to boost their mood, which as mentioned, help make your cafe more profitable. These items range from scratching posts to exercise wheels to cardboard boxes and anything in between.

The cats in the cafe will play with these items on their own. When you see them playing, boost their mood by clicking on the pink hearts. You can also tap on a cat and interact with that cat directly to boost its mood by grooming, feeding, or playing with the cat.

Cats also like to sleep, but they won’t sleep on their own. You need to monitor their moods and if you see a bubble with a “Zzz” click it to make the cat go to sleep. You also feed cats in the same fashion. A bubble will appear with a blue food dish; click the bubble to feed your cat.

When an NPC guest character visits your cafe, place one of your cats on each of your open tables. The NPCs will sit and pet, feed, play with, and take photos of your cats. They will also order food and drink for themselves to enjoy as well. You will need to restock, clean, and arrange the food and drinks several times a day.

Although the game is in Korean (or Japanese depending on the version you choose to download), the game sends me notifications in English, telling me “the food stand is strange and to hurry and come clean it”. As well as other notifications in English, which also help with figuring out the gameplay.

Be careful not to accidentally sell your favorite cats. I speak from experience. When trying to transfer from your apartment to your cat cafe, one of the buttons will let you sell the cats. Another screen will pop up asking to confirm, but since it is not in English it is easy to accidentally click the wrong button and accidentally confirm that you want to sell the cat. I recommend if you see the popup, and you think you may accidentally be selling your cat, to restart the app completely. (To do so on an IOS device you hold the power button for a few seconds, then release, and hold the home button for a few seconds, this will cause any IOS app to restart).

Each cat is an individual. While some may look alike, they have different personalities and also grant different stat bonuses such as increased gold, increased luck, better moods, and other status effects. Make sure you’re using your best cats on the best tables for the best results and keep an eye on their moods, sleep, and hunger levels.

That is the basics to the gameplay. As you level up there will be new features unlocked to you such as capturing stray cats in the wild to add to your cafe, you new minigames that allow you greater interaction with your cats.

Story: 0/10 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”

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”

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/