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?

Full Review

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Conception II – Children of the Seven Stars Review: Indecision is Best Girl

When I initially reviewed Acquire’s Class of Heroes 2, I did a personal check of the high school dungeon crawler to see if it marked every check box on a special list. That list is called the “Francisco Fuentes Big Three”, otherwise known as a set of perimeters or elements a game is to contain to be a considered a Francisco Fuentes game. First is the setting, which has to be set in an anime high school. I’m not talking about your Project A-ko style anime high school with their gangs and mech unit fights, but one with dates and class representative meetings. Second is a usually fantasy (but science fiction can also work) world where everyone name drops specific proper-nouns and terminology and expects the player to keep up. Third is the biggest deal breaker, which is a heavy injection of boys’ romance perversion (think panty flashes and jiggling breasts). Thankfully Class of Heroes 2 well short on the third check box, but unfortunately Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars strikes that final square with gleeful abandon.

Developed by Spike Chunsoft, Conception II   has you playing in a fictional-fantasy world,  as the gray-haired male youth Wake Archus (you get to pick his name, but Wake seems to be the canon name), a recent transfer to an island combat academy. Each student at the academy is called a disciple, as they all share a uniform symbol on their hands called the Brand of the Star God, a mark said to have been bestowed by their god as a means to fight alien creatures that appeared decades ago. Wake learns that he is the fictional religion’s God’s Gift (a title who’s subtlety will quickly appear more Gallagher’s sledgehammer then soft messiah), a forespoken figure whose huge magical energy count allows them to successfully travel through the otherwise hazardous home of the monsters, called labyrinths.

The red-head is named Clotz, the game’s constant reminder that his life sucks simply because you are the cherished protagonist and not him.

Full Review

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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7th Dragon 2020-II Import Impression: Slaughtering Dragons In Tokyo Was Never This Flashy

91P17tNuzML._SL1500_Unlike their undead co-workers the zombies, dragons rarely get to start their own apocalypse. Because the fantasy genre usually portrays dragons as mighty, but rare, creatures they are usually left as strong bosses, if not the final boss itself (whether we talk about video games or not, it rarely makes a difference). But sometimes, some form of media comes along, and shows us the terror of what it would be like if the flying, fire breathing lizards were about as common as say, rats? Rob Bowman’s 2002 Reign of Fire, was one such movie, if you were one of the few to apparently enjoy it. Another such attempt, though this is no B-List movie, has arisen from Japan in the form of the 7th Dragon series, and its latest installment, 2013’s 7th Dragon 2020-II.

7th dragon 2020-II is the third game in the 7th Dragon series and the second game in the 7th Dragon 2020 spin-offs (kind of confusing, I know.) It was developed by Imageepoch, a game developer that deals primarily in JRPG’s like Fate/Extra, and Sands Destruction, and published by Sega. Yuzo Koshiro, who has worked on the Y’s series as well as every Etrian Odyssey title to date was the composer for the game, illustrator Shirow Miwa, best known for his Dogs manga series, was the character designer.

Is this was not inspired by God Eater's Hannibals, then I must be French.

Is this was not inspired by God Eater’s Hannibals, then I must be French.

Now, I will warn you, this is an import game, as the title implies, this is not a full review, so much as a general impression. The reason for that is quite simple: I can read squat of Japanese; as such, a true review of the game would be incomplete without at least some story analysis.

While I did say that I cannot provide a story analysis, I can provide you with the general premise of the games as a whole. In the year 2020, dragons from space invade Tokyo, warping the city and covering it with mysterious flowers. The dragons quickly overwhelm the military and complete chaos ensues, which is when Murakumo, a government agency made up of people with superhuman abilities dispatch their 13th squad to deal with the draconic menace. One year later, after the events of the first game, the dragons come back for a rematch and seem to be more powerful than ever.

Moving on to the gameplay, you control a trio of characters whose appearance, voice actor, and class are yours to pick (and later on, fully exchangeable, except for class, which follows slightly different rules). You can assign one of them the fairly arbitrary position of leader, though you can change it at any time when in your room. All it really does is assign someone to interact directly with the cast during the story sequences. The game mixes elements of dungeon crawlers with those of more traditional RPG’s while battles are fought in a first person perspective, much like Dragon Quest, mixes things up by showing us our characters as they perform actions. A regular attack, for instance, will simply show the fighters coming in from the sides and swinging their weapons at enemies. Skills, on the other hand, will change camera angles and have the player characters performing much more elaborate attacks; this video showcases some of the flashier ones.

Roppongi has let itself go.

Roppongi has let itself go.

Among the usable classes, we have the samurai, who is strong, has good endurance, and speed, but is only above average. There is the destroyer, who has excellent strength and endurance, but afflicted with low speed and magical defense. The psychic, powerful offensive and healing magic, but has low physical prowess, low endurance, and middling speed. The hacker, which has a great deal of supporting skills, but lacks very many offensive skills, and has the same general weaknesses as the psychic. The trickster, possessed of decent attack, high speed, and two sets of skills depending on whether it is using knives or guns, unfortunately it also has low defenses, and it’s gun skills consume a lot MP, so they have to be used carefully; the knife skills have low MP consumption, inflict status effects and often gain a critical hits, but tend to lack in power. Finally, the idol which is a support class much like the hacker, but has more offensive skills, and the support it provides is slightly different from those of the hacker, it also has better offense, but it is still kind of frail.

One of the main gimmicks concerning 7th Dragon 2020-II is presence of the vocaloid Hatsune Miku, you know, the virtual voice who lends her talent to any Japanese composer who cannot afford to hire an actual singer. She (and her merry band of companions) are quite popular among the Japanese, and certain sections of the English speaking internet community. While her in-story presence is fairly insignificant (at least as far as I was able to tell), helping her in a certain side-quest allows you to change the entire soundtrack to “Diva Mode” which is a remake of the original soundtrack using vocals, courtesy of Miku herself. To my surprise, the songs sound vastly different, and often were improved by the switch to Diva Mode. Take this and this as an example.

Our diva.

Our diva.

And I suppose I have been glossing over the language issue haven’t I? All of the story, all the skill names, and all the items are in Japanese, however, the menus themselves are completely in English, so at the very least you will not be getting lost there. And voila, these spreadsheets contain very useful information and translations (but no walkthrough) of the 7th Dragon 2020 and 7th Dragon 2020-II  games (the second one is still in progress, but it is still fairly complete).

As a whole, 7th Dragon 2020-II and its predecessor seem to be more about style than substance (or at least for those who cannot follow the story) but they are nonetheless enjoyable, challenging games. If you like the Etrian Odyssey series, you might want to give this one a look-see. 7th Dragon 2020-II is not as old fashioned, but it does make up for it in terms of flair and I certainly did enjoy myself.