Fate/Extra review: Absolute Destiny Apocalypse

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Fate/stay night and its associated franchise seem to be pretty iconic among anime and Japanese video game fans. I’ve known about the series for quite some time, but didn’t engage with it until late 2011, when I watched the godawful 2006 anime adaptation. My interest in Fate waned for some time after until I watched the Fate/Zero anime adaptation, which rekindled my attention to the series. A year later, I noticed that fellow writer Franklin Raines had gotten his hands on a copy of the PSP game Fate/Extra; he expressed little interest in playing it at the time, but allowed me to borrow it in his stead. I was intrigued by this ditty of a PSP game, but how did it unfold in the end? We’ll see.

Fate/Extra was developed by Type-Moon and Imageepoch, and was originally released in North America in late 2011. Type-Moon is known for the visual novels and games they produce, including Tsukihime and Melty Blood. Imageepoch developed several RPG series since 2005, such as Luminous Arc and 7th Dragon, before filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

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…isn’t that what I’ve already been doing, though?

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The Sky Crawlers – Innocent Aces Review: Happy Hunting!

I personally have little experience when it comes to the hundreds of hard-core-as-hell plane combat games. I grew up during a time many years after the era where vertical shooters and shmups like Gun Nac and The Guardian Legend were as common to video games as platformers. I’ve had my rare outings: be they a quick run through an Area 88 arcade cabinet at a local con, to the semi-realistic pilot simulators once showcased at the East Dallas Science Place (imagine a science museum, but bigger), to early memories of either Star Wars X-Wing or Tie Fighter my dad once owned, with a full-motion pilot joystick and everything, that we could never seem to run on our family desktop.

But what about any of the Star Fox games you may ask? Let the record state that the only Star Fox games I like are the ones where flight combat is shared with either the puzzles and adventuring of Star Fox Adventures or the time Nintendo tried to make a Halo-esk console multiplayer FPS of Star Fox Assault. Thankfully, my odd pedigree with dog-fitting didn’t stop me from checking out The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces on the Wii.

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces was made by Access Games, the same developer who credits include the equally odd-ball pair Deadly Premonitions and this year’s Drakengard 3. I have some familiarity with the Skycrawlers’ name from being a fan of director Mamoru Oshii’s film adaption of Hiroshi Mori’s novels. I immediately put Innocent Aces in the same tie-in boat as the two Eureka Seven PS2 games, The New Wave and The New Vision. A nice form of reassurance that Innocent Aces’ might have been trying to shoot  higher than the average Anime tie-in game came when I read that Oshii and Mori were personally involved in Innocent Aces’ production. This way, Innocent Aces can be seen as a hybrid of Mori’s source material and Oshii’s experience adapting Mori’s source material.

Looking at the reverse cover like this makes me wonder. Does being a Veteran pilot just make you tan or am I missing something?

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Class of Heroes 2 Review: A School Where Everyday Is A Field Trip

As a long-time listener of the ANNCast podcast, I remember host Zac Bertschy once invited X Button writer Todd Ciolek on to help interview both Victor Ireland and John Greiner, head of publisher Gaijinworks and president of publisher Monkey Paws, respectively. Outside of a general discussion about Victor Ireland’s and John Greiner’s lengthy involvement in the games industry, they also talked about the then-current (as of April 2012) Kickstarter for a grandiose deluxe edition of the PSP dungeon-crawler Class of Heroes 2. The limited edition would include treasures like character standees, a soundtrack, a watch, an inflatable sword, and most crazy of all, a pen/pencil set. As most Kickstarter’s go though, they weren’t successful, falling back on an originally intended digital only release.

Fellow Oddity Game Seekers writer Francisco Garcia Fuentes, whom I remember sending a link to the then active Kickstarter as it looked right up his alley, pledged right away. What ended up happening was that backers were given priority to a limited number of Class of Heroes 2 physical releases with digital download codes, to which Francisco gave me my own copy.

Developed by Tenchu creators Acquire, Class of Heroes 2 takes place in the fictional Crostini Academy, a school system involved in training the land’s strongest adventurers. Defined with no irony by your hard-ass home-room teacher Mr. Dante as a “serious school for serious adventurers”, Crostini Academy works with students from all races and good-to-evil affinities. Instead of playing one specific student, you the player seem to embody the essence of a student group, as you actively create (or by CH2’s jargon, “enroll”) different students until you make a party of six. You can choose between ten races and pair them with different jobs. In addition, you can craft individual identities by allocating stat points, based off a randomized set of bonus points akin to dice rolling for stats in a table-top RPG.

Why yes, most of the towns and schools are named after food like they took all their inspiration from Kirby’s Adventure. Granted,I would kill to attend a establishment called Panini Academy.

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Sweet Home Review: Fresco? Like the drink?

 

As a kid, going to Blockbuster with my older brother was the highlight of the month; since we weren’t rich enough to keep buying new games, we had to recycle our games or rent them. Like most normal people, my mother got paid every two weeks; so every two to three weeks, as a family, we went to our local Blockbuster. My brother and I ended up gravitating towards games that looked interesting based on the cover, description, or if it was multiplayer.

Buying or renting games meant getting ones that were either age appropriate for me, the speculation if it would be good, or ones where my brother and I could co-op. To give a little back story/context my mother was a tad bit over protective when she was raising us. Hell, I wasn’t even allowed to play with toy guns, be it Nerf or water, as my mother’s thinking was it would turn me into a killer. So when the few times I could actually go to an arcade without my mom, I would play games such as Time Crisis and Virtua Cop, but especially House of the Dead. This might explain why I’ve never really had the accessibility to have a sweet love affair with any Horror games besides my occasional House of the Dead. So for 1989’s Sweet Home, this is wish fulfillment on multiple levels.

What is this, Splatterhouse???

Released for Nintendo’s Famicom in 1989, Sweet Home was developed and produced by Capcom (we are all familiar with the love affair these two companies had in the 80’s and 90’s, right?). Often Sweet Home is sighted as being the father of survival horror games; as well as being the main influence for the initial Resident Evil. Sweet Home is based on and was released in tandem with the horror film of the same name  as this old commercial showcasing not only the game play but as well as scenes from the film points out. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director for the Sweet Home film, also oversaw the game’s development.

Sweet Home sees a small team set out to discover the mystery of the famous painter Ichirō Mamiya, who vanished without a trace, leaving five hidden Fresco paintings behind in his enormous mansion. The team consists of five unique members who enter the mansion and are immediately trapped by a ghost. The ghost tells them that the mansion is slowly but steadily falling apart, thus Sweet Home becomes a race against time as they not only have to document their findings, but more importantly, survive.

SWEET! TOOTHPASTE FIRECRACKERS!!?!

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Hakuoki-Demon of the Fleeting Blossom Review: All the Pretty Sashes

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I like to test different game genres whenever I can, with the only caveat being most of the genre’s not part of my mainstays: RPGs, Action, FPSs, and Adventure, tend to thrive on ramped up player challenges. For example, dungeon crawlers and especially their masochist off-shoot brother (little sister?) roguelikes; are difficult because of features like permanent death and random enemy wave spikes that; intimidate me far more than the looking at any monster at the end of a cave hallway. Hell, the recent Etrian Odyssey 4 with its rocking soundtrack had a casual mild mode specifically made for people like me. I am also dreadful at strategy games; owning almost every post GBA Advance Wars game but have yet to beat even one. Visual Novels on the other hand, specifically the young women-targeted otome games, focus less on the skill and execution. How about I start with the most recently popular one, 2008’s Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom?

Hakuoki, developed by Idea Factory and released in the U.S. by Aksys Games, is a huge franchise in Japan branching into both manga and anime adaptions from its original Play Station 2 release. Like a big fish in a small pond, Hakuoki’s has a swath of ports, Play Station 3, PSP, DS, 3DS, to its various amounts of cell-phone charms and wall scroll merchandise, painting the series as a samurai-filled media juggernaut. Fitting I guess, since Hakuoki is marketed as the first big example of an American release of an otome game.

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Harvest Moon Game Boy (Color) Review: The Original Sit In A Corner For Hours Farm Simulator

When I think of a video game franchise, whose popularity is hidden by its soft-voiced fans (who you know exist, but require looking for), it would be Animal Crossing…well, pre- Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Now, in a post New Leaf world, Harvest Moon takes its place, with tons of sequels and spin-offs of the original 1996 SNES farm-simulator with Visual Novel elements. Personally, my experience with the series is through the fan-thought darker and more adult title, Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, as well as my personally preferred spin-off, Rune Factory with its added monster fighting and RPG mechanics (internet, you have no idea how stoked I am for Rune Factory 4 coming out later this year).

Problem is, it’s hard for any of developer Natsume’s Harvest Moon games to stand out outside of either visual or mechanical changes to a rather bolted-down formula. Plus, in general it is hard to write on a series where the only people who care will already buy anything with the name. So, I was going to review the first Harvest just to get a feel for the original progenitor, but instead opted out for Harvest Moon GB for Game Boy (actually, its technically Harvest Moon GBC, which is the same game but in color), thinking that as long as I started at the beginning of a hand-held console, I could gain the same effect.

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Hammerin Hero Review: STOP!…Obvious M.C. Hammer Joke

The PSP, out of all the handheld systems that are readily available is one in which I have the least experience. To be honest Hammerin Hero is the first game I have ever beaten on the system. Frankly at launch I was not impressed with the system, I have always been geared more toward Nintendo when it came to buying handhelds. Ever since the original Game Boy up until now I have associated handheld gaming with.Nintendo.  To me, the PSP always seemed to be the awkward kid at the dance sitting in the bleachers that I wanted to go up and befriend but cool, sexy, and super interesting Nintendo was always more alluring. I am probably missing out on a number of good titles on the PSP for instance, hell the Katamari series has a game for the PSP, and Katamari is in my list of top series of games.

With all of the games I have emulated, reaching way back into the NES and SNES library, I realized why Hammerin Hero sounded familiar when fellow writer Franklin Raines assigned me to review it. I had played its’ first ancestor, Hammerin Harry for the NES, not but a few months prior. While researching Hammerin Hero, I learned that the series was created by Irem, best known for the R-Type and Metal Storm series. Remembering how great it was, I was excited to dive into this game and see what eighteen years would do for the series. 2008’s Hammerin Hero released by ATLUS proves to be more than I expected.

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