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Review: Stella Glow

Nov 13 // Chris Carter
Stella Glow (3DS)Developer: ImageepochPublisher: AtlusMSRP: $49.99Release Date: November 17, 2015 Our journey begins with Alto, a young man who (surprise) has amnesia, and is found by a girl named Risette, who takes him into her mother's house. Three years later Alto encounters Hilda, a "sort of good sort of bad" witch, who is commonly referred to as "The Witch of Disaster" -- with a name like that, who wouldn't be inclined to be bad sometimes? Risette then unlocks an ancient power from one of Alto's artifacts, and becomes a witch herself -- then it's off to the royal palace, where they are tasked with hunting Hilda by recruiting more witches. You can probably guess where it goes from here. Alto is a country boy of sorts, but accepts to call to become a reluctant "aw shucks" shonen sword master. The rest of the party runs the gamut of anime tropes, and while they can occasionally get annoying, the cast is memorable enough and all sport a great set of designs. There are a few nuanced storylines peppered in, like the tale of a misunderstood witch who was doomed to live as an outcast. Another character hides her face in a cardboard box because she's shy, but wears revealing clothing. The cast is massive, and since there's no "job" switching in Stella Glow, all of them act unique both in and out of combat. Speaking of combat, much like the Arc series, it's still a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics. Utilizing chibi characters on a grid-like format, players can move about the battlefield, use items or skills, and choose to "wait" in a specific direction to guard against directional attacks. A lot of games still use the grid style because it works, even to this day. There's a certain order to it that warrants a respect beyond relegating it to "old school nostalgia," and planning out party movements and attacks is never a chore. When you're actually engaged with an enemy an Advanced Wars style miniature cutscene will play, and as expected, some characters have counter-attacks available. As previously stated, the cast really makes a different here, as some party members have access to special abilities like guarding characters they're adjacent to, which makes placement paramount. Don't expect a whole lot of depth and customization though (stats are applied instantly, and equipment management isn't all that difficult, even accounting for the materia-like socket system). [embed]320467:61085:0[/embed] Really, the game isn't all that tough in general. I feel like it will be challenging enough for those of you who don't keep up with the genre, but for veterans, you'll rarely find a taxing quest until later in the storyline. This is partially due to the fact that the AI isn't overly aggressive, and tends to hang back more, waiting for a better opportunity to strike. On the flipside, that means that there's no frustrating fake difficulty spikes for the sake of it. Like most SRPGs, Stella is hella long. There's at least 40 hours of gameplay here if you only opt for the story, and leveling up characters, locating the additional endings (over 10), completing sidequests and sidestories will likely elevate it to double that. Like most games with a billion endings, your mileage may vary depending on your affinity towards a specific character, but the ones I saw ranged from unsatisfying to sufficient. For those you are wondering, the voicework is in English, and the songs, which are heavily woven into the game's narrative, are performed in Japanese. In many ways, Stella Glow is a by-the-numbers strategy RPG, but it does have a partially interesting cast, some unique storylines, and a working combat system. Imageepoch has had some ups and downs in their lengthy career, but thankfully they can at least end on somewhat of a high note. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Stella Glow photo
Imageepoch's swan song
That's all she wrote for Imageepoch. The developer responsible for the Luminos Arc series and Arc Rise Fantasia filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and it seems like they're out of the industry entirely with the laun...

Bravely Second photo
Bravely Second

Bravely Second journeys west next spring

And not a moment too soon
Nov 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Earlier this year, Nintendo announced plans to bring Bravely Second to western shores in 2016, but now we have a better idea of when the follow-up to Bravely Default will be arriving: Spring! The role-playing game has been av...
Dragon Quest photo
Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII finally coming to North America and Europe

Nov 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Good news, eveyone! Nintendo just announced plans to bring the Nintendo 3DS versions of Square Enix's Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King to weste...
Fire Emblem Fates photo
Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates will have three different versions

Birthright, Conquest, Revelation
Nov 12
// Darren Nakamura
Nintendo's Bill Trinen detailed the release for the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates. When the 3DS strategy title releases on February 19, 2016, it will come in two flavors: Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest and Fire Emblem Fates: Birthr...
Mega Gold photo
Mega Gold

Golden Mega Man amiibo confirmed, with exclusive challenges for Mega Man Legacy Collection

All gold everything
Nov 12
// Jed Whitaker
The upcoming Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS will have exclusive extras including challenge levels that can only be unlocked with a Mega Man amiibo. A gold Mega Man amiibo will be available exclusively as a pack-in with the collection for 3DS. Reminder: spray paint is cheaper.
Smash Bros. photo
Not a drill
This is not a drill. Nintendo has announced the newest Smash Bros. character, and it’s only god damn Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. The trailer up top shows both his FFVII and Advent Children costumes, as well as...

Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Linkle confirmed for Hyrule Warriors

I hope Zeldathan is next
Nov 12
// Jonathan Holmes
Looks like those eagle-eyed internet sleuths were right. Linkle, the woman version of Link who was previously revealed as a cut character from the game, will be making it to the upcoming 3DS re-release of Hyrule Warriors as ...
FF Explorers CollectorsEd photo
FF Explorers CollectorsEd

Final Fantasy Explorers Collector's Edition is the real deal

A nice collection of goodies!
Nov 12
// Patrick Hancock
Final Fantasy Explorers was shown off today during the Nintendo Direct, and man does it look great. It's coming to North America on January 26, 2016, and will come with all the DLC that's been released in Japan, for free...
Pokemon photo

Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow are coming to 3DS

Wireless trading and battling
Nov 12
// Laura Kate Dale
I am so bleeding pumped right now, you can't even believe it. Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow and coming to the 3DS eShop in Europe and North America on February 27, 2016. Yes, that's right, they're really finally coming. Link ...
Mario & Luigi photo
Mario & Luigi

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam finally has a release date

Europe, then North America
Nov 12
// Laura Kate Dale
Hey 3DS Mario fans, we finally have a firm release date for Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. During today's Nintendo Direct presentation, we learned that the game will be releasing in Europe on December 4, 2015 and North America...
Zelda photo

Zelda: Tri Force Heroes gets a lot deeper next month

And it's free
Nov 12
// Brett Makedonski
Your Tri Force Heroes co-op adventuring will grow considerably come December 2. Nintendo just announced during its Direct that the Den of Trials update is coming soon for free. According to Nintendo's Bill Trinen, D...
Nintendo Download photo
Nintendo Download

Nintendo Download: Nintendo Badge Arcade

Also, Stella Glow
Nov 12
// Chris Carter
This is a pleasant surprise -- the 3DS just got the Nintendo Badge Arcade app, which allows you to play a crane game to obtain icons, which you can customize your home screen with. Also on 3DS is Horse Life 4, as well as...
Nintendo Badge Arcade photo
Nintendo Badge Arcade

Nintendo Badge Arcade is a brilliant concept

It's also fair
Nov 12
// Chris Carter
One of my favorite things about the 3DS is its innate ability to get me to turn it on even if there isn't a hit game out for it. Whether I'm tending to my plants in the Miiverse, trying to finish a puzzle, or sending pictures...
Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Hyrule Warriors Legends' King of Red Lions looks like he kicks major ass

Coming to 3DS next year
Nov 12
// Chris Carter
The King of Red Lions has always been one of my favorite characters from Wind Waker, and I'm glad that the cast is has a chance to shine in Hyrule Warriors Legends. I didn't realize, however, that his style was so fluid...
Walmart Black Friday photo
Walmart Black Friday

Walmart Black Friday deals include amiibo, $250 Wii U, $299 PS4, and more

Get ready to stand on the edge
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
Best Black Friday, one of the many sites dedicated to collating deals available during the ebony-black altar of consumerism and bloodlust known as Black Friday, has published an early version of Walmart's ad, detailing its en...

Review: Moco Moco Friends

Nov 11 // Chris Carter
Moco Moco Friends (3DS)Developer: RacjinPublisher: Aksys GamesMSRP: $39.99 (a portion of proceeds go to Make a Wish)Release Date: November 17, 2015 Moco Moco's main conceit lies with "Plushkins," which are described as "cute but violent" creatures who can only be controlled by witches. Moco, the titular witch, has just graduated. She wants to be the very best -- naturally -- and is on a quest to obtain the Stella Medal. That's all you're really getting in the way of a story, so be warned. Despite the shallow setup, the presentation is undeniable charming. Creatures are literally sentient stuffed animals, and the cast consists of characters like a dog who is afraid of going bald to a talking cat-head staff. Every character is so amazingly upbeat, including some of the adversaries, that you can't help but smile while playing. It helps that the in-game character models are well animated, but the artwork is generally faded, and the dialogue font just It's obviously translated for the English release, but all of the vocal work is raw Japanese -- which is fine by me, but may be jarring for others. Additionally, don't get your hopes up over the prospect of exploration. This is mostly a dungeon crawler. Most of the game's chapters consist of an errand or object that's found at the bottom of a dungeon, which can be accessed in list format in the hub world. It's fun, but repetitive, as most of the areas look the same and the mazes aren't all that complex. Rooms are linked in a box-like fashion with very little deviation, and enemies are visible on-screen, initiating a combat sequence if touched. You've seen this all before, I'm sure. [embed]320280:61075:0[/embed] Combat is thankfully a tad more nuanced. Each party member boasts a separate set of skills, which can range from offensive magic, to healing powers, to party buffs. Creatures also belong to a pool of elements, which counter each other in a rock, paper, scissors type fashion. Selecting abilities instantly using the d-pad or touch screen is a cinch, and the fast-forward button makes trash fights much more manageable. As time goes on, bosses start to get tougher, and while it never really reaches the point of becoming overly challenging, this is a pretty competent RPG all told. Once you return to the hub though, Moco's world starts to shrink back to size. There's a crafting station, item shop, and a garden that grows in real time, but that's about it. Players can use yarn to create new monsters, which is kind of cool (there's 120 to capture in all), but tedium will likely start to sink in after 10 hours or so when you delve into dungeon after dungeon. While I did enjoy acquiring new party members and items on a consistent basis, this isn't something I'd recommend playing for hours on end. Beyond the cute veneer, Moco Moco Friends is a slightly above average dungeon crawler with a decent crafting system and serviceable combat mechanic. At this point, there are so many better games to choose from, but if you can't get enough RPGs, Moco is ready and willing to accept your call. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Moco Moco Friends photo
Gotta sew them all
While the concept of catching cute monsters and battling them is innately linked to the iconic Pokémon series, I'm hesitant to plaster the word "clone" over similar games, as RPGs have had party-based systems for ...

Rodea photo

Sonic creator asks you play Wii version of his new Wii U, 3DS game

Listen to it on vinyl
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Rodea: The Sky Soldier went through a heck of a development cycle and somehow came out the other side but not unscathed. Chris gave it a good score, though he noted, "the game's tumultuous development process bleeds through t...
Customize home screen photo
Customize home screen

Nintendo Badge Arcade for 3DS is leaving Japan

Confirmed for UK and the US
Nov 10
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: Nintendo of America just announced that Nintendo Badge Arcade is now available in the US from the 3DS eShop!] Nintendo Badge Arcade for 3DS is a popular application in Japan that allows users to collect ba...
Rodea 3DS photo
Rodea 3DS

Rodea: The Sky Soldier on 3DS is basically a far worse Wii U version

It should not have been made
Nov 10
// Chris Carter
As I described in my review for Rodea: The Sky Soldier's Wii U version, the game's tumultuous development process bleeds through the finished product despite its charms. But after booting it up on 3DS, the situation was even ...
Nintendo Direct photo
Nintendo Direct

The next Nintendo Direct is coming a lot sooner than you think, this week

Nov 10
// Chris Carter
Nintendo wasn't kidding when it said it'd have Direct information in the near future. It has announced to Destructoid that the next event will be held on November 12 at 2PM PST. No doubt it'll discuss its holiday lineup, including the heavy-hitting Xenoblade Chronicles X. I really hope it has a tribute of some sort in there for Iwata. Watch it here on Thursday.

Review: Rodea the Sky Soldier

Nov 09 // Chris Carter
Rodea the Sky Soldier (3DS, Wii, Wii U [reviewed])Developer: Kadokawa Games, PropePublisher: Kadokawa Shoten, NISMSRP: $39.99 (3DS) / $59.99 (Wii U with Wii edition for first-print copies)Released: April 2, 2015 (Japan), November 10, 2015 (US) Rodea is a strange, strange game. While the Wii version uses IR movement and is more in line with the creator's original vision, and the 3DS edition has even more differences, this assessment deals directly with the Wii U. This is a traditional single-player action game with RPG elements, most of which remind me of the golden age of JRPGs. You have your shonen hero (Rodea), a robot who has been stricken with amnesia at the start of the game, and must stop the evil Naga empire from taking over. Oh, there's one catch: his princess gave him an actual heart, so he's not a soulless machine. If you end up choosing the Japanese audio option, the narrative, while cheesy, is watchable. Where Rodea really spreads its wings is the open-ended flight gameplay, similar to Nights into Dreams. Within the confines of each semi-open level, Rodea can move around on foot, jump, hover, boost attack enemies, and blast off into the sky. The gist is that he has a limited flight time (it's actually rather generous), and once his meter is expended, he must either pivot off of a solid object, or land on the ground and start a new flight pattern. It's jarring at first, but it's easy to get the hang of after about 30 minutes, and you have a huge degree of freedom. Some of it is even automated (grabbing pickups, grinding wires), but never to the extreme degree of the 3D Sonic titles. Although the GamePad does support off-screen play, there's no need to even look at it, as the controls are entirely traditional on Wii U. The open design works both for and against Rodea. While it's amazing to look into the horizon at times and see areas you can readily explore, the draw distance is often so poor that it's tough to plot out a full course. Additionally, a lot of zones tend to blend together, with entire areas that have nothing more than empty plains seemingly unfinished. Rodea also starts to falter when it adds more elements to the mix beyond its core conceit. While the boost attack is fairly foolproof (it's a lot like the 3D Sonic games' homing attack), gunplay is shoehorned in. It isn't fun at all. The fact that the controls feel dated isn't entirely the player's fault, as the entire game feels like something out of last generation, and possibly even a generation before that. That's not to say Rodea doesn't sport a beautiful art style -- because it does -- just that occurrences like slowdown, pop-in, and occasional glitches are present more than they should be. Individual missions can get boring, but flying is always a joy, and bosses are often the highlight. They'll range from humanoid fights to giant hulking monstrosities, and both varieties are a blast while they last. This is a decently long affair, with over 25 levels, upgrades to purchase, and even a secret shop with extras like an additional mode. You can expect anywhere from 15-30 hours once everything is said and done. You rarely see things like this outside of DLC, so it's refreshing that the game feels so feature complete, even if it technically has three different versions in the end. Rodea the Sky Soldier really hits that sweet spot when it comes to evoking the wonder of flight, but the troubled developmental process is tangible in the final build. For those of you who can stomach older experiences however, you'll likely overlook some of its issues and find a lot to love. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rodea review photo
A rusted robot with a heart
The history of Rodea the Sky Soldier is one muddled with platform changes and developmental issues galore. Originally slated as a Wii game in 2010, producer Yuji Naka ran into publishing troubles, and the project was ess...

MonHun X photo
MonHun X

Monster Hunter X has nods to Wind Waker and Macross Delta

Link with a tail and whiskers!
Nov 09
// Jordan Devore
Capcom has a habit of putting crossover characters, outfits, and weapons in Monster Hunter and that amusing trend continues with Monster Hunter X. The upcoming 3DS game has tie-ins with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Macross Delta. Here's a look at them.
Monster Hunter X photo
Monster Hunter X

Here's when you can download the Monster Hunter X demo

Japanese-language only, though. Sorry!
Nov 09
// Vikki Blake
A Monster Hunter X demo will be available from November 19, 2015. In a 90 minute livestream last night, Capcom also shared a new trailer, dropped information about your playable cat companion, new monsters and new upcoming weapons, too.
Mewtwo photo

Mewtwo amiibo up for pre-order now at Best Buy

Last time it went away pretty quickly
Nov 08
// Chris Carter
If you're still into collecting amiibo, Mewtwo is up now at Best Buy's site for the standard price of $12.99 in the US. Although the amiibo shortage seems to have mostly let up, there are still a number of figures that sell o...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Do you care about Yo-Kai Watch's western launch?

It's big in Japan, but will it catch on?
Nov 06
// Chris Carter
I've been noticing a lot of downwards trends when it comes to the western rollout of Yo-Kai Watch, starting with its US release today. People don't seem to be paying as much attention to it when it comes to news in parti...
Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Watch Tetra kick ass in Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors 3DS

Hyrule Warriors Legends
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
Pulling a reverse Smash Bros., Hyrule Warriors launched on the Wii U last year and is getting an updated version on 3DS, Hyrule Warrios Legends, sometime next year. It's January 21 in Japan, first quarter 2016 for America an...
Mega Man Legacy Collectio photo
Mega Man Legacy Collectio

Japan is getting a hella expensive Mega Man Legacy Collection package

For 3DS
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
You win again, Japan. Sort of. Capcom has announced that come February 25, 2016, when the physical package of Mega Man Legacy Collection is released, Japan will be getting a special edition. It's going on sale for 9,709 ...
Nintendo Download: photo
Nintendo Download:

Nintendo Download: Yo-Kai Watch

Also, Electronic Super Joy
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
Finally! After two years, Yo-Kai Watch is arriving outside of Japan. It'll be available tomorrow on the 3DS eShop, and it's pretty great. You can also watch the show on YouTube for free starting this week. The rest of th...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

The Yo-Kai Watch anime will be available for free on YouTube starting this week

With a one month delay from Disney XD
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
Level-5 has announced that they will be airing full episodes of the Yo-Kai Watch anime, for free, on their official YouTube channel. The show is currently airing on Disney XD on Monday nights, but if you're keen on ...

Review: Yo-Kai Watch

Nov 04 // Chris Carter
Yo-Kai Watch (3DS)Developer: Level-5Publisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: July 11, 2013 (Japan), November 6, 2015 (US), TBA 2016 (EU) For those of you who have never heard of Yo-Kai Watch, its premise is actually quite easy to explain. The gist is that a boy named Nate (or a girl named Katie, if you opt for the female lead), unleashes a mysterious Yo-Kai butler out into the world (Whisper) after an innocent stroll in the woods. As a result, Nate gains access to a special watch that allows him to interact with other Yo-Kai, which are part of actual Japanese folklore, and are a mix of sorts between a spirit and a gremlin. From there, you'll embark upon a "catch 'em all" style journey with a loose storyline woven in for good measure. Everything, from the tone down to the gameplay, is a lot more lighthearted than your average RPG. Instead of catching characters and forcing them into tiny living spaces, you'll obtain "friendship tokens," which allow you to summon them at a moment's notice. They still lead their own lives, and you'll often find them roaming around town at their leisure. The fact that the voice cast consists of the same talent from the TV show really adds to the game's charm, and I adore the dynamic between the protagonist and Whisper -- it makes for some surprisingly funny dialogue. Yo-Kai Watch doesn't technically take place in Japan (it's even called Springdale in the international version), but said country's personality is most definitely a core element of the adventure. Even little things like shoes being left at the door of every house you enter, temples and shrines with stray cats, and vending machines on every street corner constantly remind you of Japanese culture. Having visited Tokyo recently for the first time, I really resonated with it, and I was surprised at how alive Level-5's rendition felt. It's done in such a way where anyone can pick up the game and not get confused, and the localization did a great job of not neutering the content for a western audience. It's one of the best balancing acts I've seen as of late, actually -- when a team keeps in dancing toweled men in a bathhouse boss fight, you know they did the right thing. [embed]317946:60945:0[/embed] Do note that this is a game from 2013 however, so while the art still holds up, the engine is very dated, and despite the spot-on 3D, it looks like a DS game. You'll quickly get over that fact as the presentation as a whole is delightful, with bright, vivid colors galore and a catchy soundtrack. I also started to get attached to a lot of the characters in a way that I haven't before in similar games, mostly due to their infectious personalities and engaging personal storylines -- like Jibanyan, a cat that was ran over by a car and is constantly trying to prove his worth to his former master in death. As for combat itself, it's a very odd mix of classic JRPG tendencies and touchscreen-based minigames. The operative word here is "odd," because while combat is real-time, your party members will attack automatically. Players can control item management, choose targets, and queue up occasional special abilities (by tapping balls on the screen or tracing specific patterns), but your party members will still attack at their own leisure. It sounds overly simplistic, but there's a lot of nuance to it particularly when it comes to party management. For starters, you can have six Yo-Kai in your active team, but only three can fight at a time. As a result, you'll have access to a wheel of sorts where players can cycle new combatants in, and spin old ones out. Since each character has a type (similar to Pokémon's fire and grass elements, for example), and similar types power each other up when they're in combat together, this mechanic can get really tricky both in and out of fights. Also, a lot of character's specials (which again, you can engage manually) have unique status effects, like poison, so choosing when to act is key. Where I got most of my enjoyment out of Yo-Kai Watch however is exploration. It really reminds me of the best parts of Mega Man Battle Network when it comes to roaming around town, and it's so easy to just walk around and hunt Yo-Kai at any time. To find them, you don't need to walk around in grass patches, as they're openly located around the world. There's a perpetual "hot and cold" radar up on the screen at all times, leading you to locations like trees and underneath cars where you can search for companions or battles. Additionally, dungeons display enemies front and center on the screen -- yep, there's no random battles to sift through. There's no barriers to entry for recruiting party members either, as you don't need a specific capture item, though there is still a random chance of befriending them after the battle is concluded, so success isn't always guaranteed. There's also tons of fun, rewarding sidequests to participate in (that often bestow good rewards like new characters or shops), secret areas, fishing and bug catching minigames, special Yo-Kai to catch, post-game quests, and hidden items. There is a multiplayer battle component but it's very limited, and doesn't feature online play (that ability is reserved for the sequel and beyond). Yo-Kai Watch isn't the second coming of Pokémon, and that's perfectly okay. If you love to sit by the fire and train your Pokémon for hours, perfecting their EV and IV levels so you can be the very best, you likely won't find the same depth in Yo-Kai. Its world and philosophy is much simpler than that. But as a result, none of it feels frustrating or like work, and I'm constantly tempted to jump back into my adventures with Nate and Whisper. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Yo-Kai Watch review photo
Gera Gera Po
Over the course of the last month, I've gone from knowing next to nothing about Yo-Kai Watch to falling in love with it. My wife and I watch the localized version of the show, I have the theme song stuck in my head perpe...

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