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Hyrule Warriors 3DS photo
Hyrule Warriors 3DS

Hyrule Warriors 3DS adds Toon Link and the Helmaroc King

They're pulling me back in
Sep 09
// Jordan Devore
I'm trying not to pay too much attention to Hyrule Warriors Legends knowing full well how much time the original Wii U game ate up. But the expanded 3DS release sounds alluring, what with its on-the-fly character switching an...

Review: Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence

Sep 03 // Kyle MacGregor
Nobunaga's Amibition: Sphere of Influence (PC [reviewed], PS4, PS3)Developer: Koei TecmoPublisher: Koei TecmoRelease Date: September 1, 2015MSRP: $59.99 My journey began by acquainting myself with Sphere of Influence's comprehensive (perhaps a tad too comprehensive) tutorial, before jumping headlong into one of the title's nine historical campaigns. There, players have the opportunity to act as one of Japan's elite families during the country's "warring states" period in the 16th century. Whether you choose to recreate history as the Oda clan or blaze your own trail, the aim remains the same -- to unite the fractured nation. How you get there will require a careful synthesis of conflict, management, and diplomacy, as the path toward bringing dozens of warring territories under a common banner requires a multi-pronged approach. This begins with building up a small province, developing it into a rich, bountiful launching pad that can support a growing empire. The backbone of the realm is the labor force, which is, of course, limited in supply. Daimyos must allocate their workers to projects mindfully, whether that means paving new roads, constructing new buildings, improving fortifications, focusing on trade or food production, the list just goes on and on. Rest assured, manpower is always at a premium. That line of thought extends to the nobility as well as the commoners. With only so many officers to go around to carry out diplomatic missions, govern territories, lead military units, and oversee civic projects; managing the ruling class is of the utmost importance. Individual leaders have varying skills, and knowing how and where to employ them can make a drastic difference in how quickly and effectively a clan enacts the wide swathe of policies these officers must take charge of. [embed]305046:60241:0[/embed] If that sounds incredibly intricate and exacting, well, that's because it is. Despite being a game where the end goal is conquering (or subduing) an entire nation spanning dozens of factions and hundreds of settlements, Nobunaga's Amibition doesn't shy away form minutiae. No task, from appeasing the local hill tribes to planting an orchard or setting up a suggestion box for citizens to voice their concerns, is too small a concern to deal with. And in the aggregate these sorts of seemingly minuscule moves tend to pay dividends when clashing with neighboring daimyo or getting them to join your coalition. It isn't all about raising armies and sending them off to battle. Not that combat isn't a large part of the game, because it most certainly is. After players finish managing their towns, the experience switches from a turn-based affair to a real-time one, where armies will march off to besiege enemy villages or clash with hostile forces on the battlefield. The battles play out automatically (as depicted above), but can be controlled manually, with players taking control of each individual army as a unit on the battlefield. This facet of the experience might seem a little primitive in comparison to some of its genre peers, but it's not entirely without depth. While there isn't much in the way of unit variety, each commander has his or her (no, you needn't marry off all your daughters to forge political alliances) own abilities that buff their troops with improved defense, melee attack, and a myriad of other temporary strategic supplements. Skirmishes aren't always a numbers game, either. I've frequently found myself using guerrilla tactics, surrounding a large battalion with several smaller ones and harassing them from all sides. This negates their numerical superiority, since a block can only attack in one direction at any given time, while forces with smaller, more plentiful detachments possess the ability to be more nimble. Throughout the experience, players are treated to historical vignettes, which not only follow key events pertaining to your chosen faction, but other clans as well. If significant affairs are happening across the country, chances are you'll be given a front row seat. These aren't always assassinations and coups d'état, though, sometimes they're a tad more trivial, pertaining to the romantic lives of clan leaders or the arrival of western missionaries spreading Christianity in certain provinces. There's a lot going in Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence, to be sure, and much of it is done well. After pushing through some initial bewilderment associated with coming to grips with its mess of elaborate systems, I discovered an experience that rewarded the time I put into it in spades. Its pace may be too plodding for some and it certainly seems somewhat backwards or dated in relief with other modern strategy games, but Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence still remains an ornate and absorbing title that kept me engaged for hours on end and surely will continue to do so. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nobunaga's Ambition photo
Sublime Sengoku-era strategy
My first experience with Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence nearly broke me. I collapsed into a heap over my keyboard, weeping softly, wondering just what I had got myself into this time. Even as a seasoned strategy gam...

Dead or Alive fan vote photo
Dead or Alive fan vote

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3's smallest chested volleyballer leads polls

Looks like all the youngest leading
Sep 01
// Steven Hansen
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, which may come west and will feature women in bikinis playing volleyball on the beach, is filling out its swimsuit roster by way of fan vote. And, perhaps surprisingly, fans of the series known for its...
Fatal Frame Wii U photo
Fatal Frame Wii U

Fatal Frame Wii U is an eShop exclusive in North America

Aug 24
// Jordan Devore
Fans speculated that Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water would be a digital-only release on the Wii U eShop in North America. Unfortunately, they were correct. Nintendo confirmed its launch plans (October 22, $49.99) in a 2015...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

New Attack on Titan PS4 game is lookin' good

A shade or ten prettier than the 3DS one
Aug 23
// Kyle MacGregor
No offense to Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains, which I'm sure Spike Chunsoft put a lot of hard work into, but this is more like it. This is the sort of Shingeki no Kyojin game I've been waiting for. This time around ...
First screens photo
First screens

Bikinis, volleyball confirmed for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

First screens
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
Just in case you were concerned that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 would not feature Japanese women in bikinis playing volleyball on the beach, I am here to reassure you that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will in fact feature Japanese wome...
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 photo
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 may come west after all

Provided there is enough demand
Aug 18
// Kyle MacGregor
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is in development for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, the latest issue of Famitsu reveals, while also giving fans in the West some hope of seeing a localized release. Though Koei Tecmo currently onl...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Tecmo Koei's shonen crying simulator Attack on Titan shifts dev focus to PS4

Before, PS3 was the lead
Aug 13
// Chris Carter
Tecmo Koei's Omega Force is planning an Attack on Titan project, to be released on the PS3, PS4, and Vita platforms. Speaking to Dengeki, producer Hisashi Koinuma notes that this is the first time they are really fo...
Nobunaga photo

I totally forgot that a new Nobunaga's Ambition comes out next month

Sphere of Influence on PC, PS3, and PS4
Aug 07
// Chris Carter
Holy crap there's a new Nobunaga's Ambition coming out! Even though I recently remembered this while I was sorting it out for review, I forgot again, and was reminded this morning looking for news. Nobunaga! This new tr...
New Attack on Titan photo
New Attack on Titan

New Attack on Titan PlayStation game from Dynasty Warriors devs incoming

Officially announced for 2016
Aug 05
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: The website has been updated revealing the above trailer for Attack on Titan (working title) for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita coming in 2016. No real gameplay details have been revealed but I noticed when Eren is flyi...
Dynasty Warriors photo
Dynasty Warriors

Dynasty Warriors as we know it turns 15 years old today, so what's your favorite game?

Mine is super old at this point
Aug 03
// Chris Carter
I still remember where I was when I discovered Dynasty Warriors. I was in a Blockbuster Video just perusing some games, and my friend shouted that I needed to hurry up so we could get to a meetup of some kind. So I kind of ju...
DOAX3 Beach Volleyball? photo
DOAX3 Beach Volleyball?

Get your balls ready for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

Exclusively for the Asian market
Aug 01
// Jed Whitaker
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is in development, Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi announced today at the Dead or Alive festival. The Dead or Alive Xtreme series is best known as the volleyball game all about unlo...
Read me, senpai photo
Read me, senpai

Gust's anthropmorphic book girl RPG Atelier Sophie gets fuller trailer

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita
Jul 17
// Steven Hansen
Gust announced Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book for PS3, PS4, and Vita last month and has since expanded on that first trailer, not that you need a trailer to tell you what to expect from the 15th Atelier in as many years.

Review: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess

Jul 14 // Chris Carter
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Tecmo KoeiPublisher: Tecmo KoeiMSRP: $49.99 (PS4)Released: July 14, 2015 Since the core experience hasn't changed all that much, head to the original review to get a full breakdown of the main mechanics. The gist is that you'll be controlling a character that, for all intents and purposes, can't attack on their own, and must rig an elaborate combination of traps to do their dirty work for them. You'll do this by pausing the game, bringing up a menu, and placing a number of wall, ceiling, and floor traps that can be used with one another for maximum mayhem. For instance, you can hold an enemy in place with a beartrap, shock them with a wall taser, then drop a giant boulder on their head from the ceiling. It's glorious. So before you get confused, The Nightmare Princess is an all-new SKU that includes everything in the original package on top of another story with 100 quests, a new character with a different moveset, and a "Studio" mode so you can create your own scenarios. The extra campaign is easily the new draw, and I have to say, newcomer Velguirie holds her own here. Her tale runs concurrently with Laegrinna's and doesn't feel tacked-on in the slightest. 100 new quests also isn't really anything to shake a stick at either, though it must be said that there's only a few new zones (which are rather small), as some quests re-use old areas from the base game. The second campaign does stand up on its own, and even playing both stories back to back, they didn't overstay their individual welcomes. Velguirie's big gimmick is that she can kick enemies now -- something no other protagonist was able to do in the history of the franchise. [embed]295432:59487:0[/embed] But it's important to put things into perspective here. She can't just karate-kick bad guys into oblivion with flashy combos. It's a simple timed kick on a cooldown that can be used to tactically slot foes into position for traps (or stomp them on the ground), which are still going to do the real legwork here. It's not a game-changer, but again, the story, bonus traps, and the new character design themselves are enough to carry another playthrough. Yep, I said bonus traps, including a deadly toilet, a bolt of lightning, a wardrobe that eats armor, and sticky flooring. At this point there are so many trap combos at your disposal that you're only limited by your imagination.  You'll get to test your inner demon plenty with the Studio mode, the other big addition in Nightmare Princess. Here, you can create enemies with various custom parts and name them, placing each creation inside an existing arena. You can craft fun scenarios like battling the entire Justice League, and even download or upload them online for all to see. It's not as expansive as I would have liked, but the fact that you can download new missions every so often is a breakthrough for the series. Keep in mind that your fun is also going to be limited by how many actual parts you have, which are unlocked by completing both campaigns. Here's the bad news for those of you who already bought the original. While the new story is enjoyable and the Studio is fun to mess around with, you aren't getting a substantial new expansion to pour over for weeks here. Think of it more like a hefty DLC package. In other words, unless you absolutely love Deception, it probably isn't a good idea to shell out $50 for Nightmare Princess. It's a really weird thing for Koei Tecmo to do, as it could have easily provided an "upgrade" for say, $20, and then released a package version on the side. As it stands, you either have to go all or nothing. At the very least, there is the added bonus of being able to import your old save data, so you don't have to complete the original campaign all over again to reap the unlock benefits. Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is in a really weird spot, but here's the rub -- as a Deception enthusiast, I was more than happy enough to take Velguirie's story for a spin, and I found myself beating the original game again as well as creating a few levels in the Studio. Just know exactly what you're getting into with Nightmare and make an informed decision. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Deception IV review photo
Hardcore trappers only
I really liked the original release of Deception IV. It was refreshing to see the series get another lease on life after taking a hiatus with Trapt all the way back in 2005, and newcomer Laegrinna fit right in. This...

Arslan photo

These Heroic Legend of Arslan Warriors screens are beautiful

Two new characters announced
Jul 10
// Chris Carter
Koei Tecmo has decided to dump a bunch of Heroic Legend of Arslan Warriors screens out into the wild for us to gander at, and man are they great. The character Gieve and Farangis have been added to the game, and a few de...
Ar nosurge photo
Ar nosurge

Sci-fi RPG Ar nosurge out now on PlayStation Vita

Boxed special edition available via NISA
Jul 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Ar nosurge Plus: Ode to an Unborn Star is now available across North America and Europe. As we've come to expect of Gust-developed role-playing games, this PlayStation Vita release is an enhanced port of last year's PlayStati...
Dead or Alive photo
Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive 5 PC still doesn't have working online multiplayer

Jul 01
// Jordan Devore
Team Ninja was supposed to enable online multiplayer for the PC port of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round by the end of June, months after the game debuted on Steam. Hasn't happened. "[D]ue to major issues found during the beta test...

Review: Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 (3DS [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Tecmo KoeiMSRP: $29.99Released: June 30, 2015 In a sense, although Chronicles 3 is a continuation of the existing Chronicles offshoot series, it actually ends up being bite-sized take on Warriors 4, but with a few twists in tow. Players will create their own warrior right off the bat and follow a more personalized story, putting them smack in the middle of famous figures like Takeda Shingen. It's a strategy fitting for a portable, even if it takes some liberties when it comes to gameplay. What this does is it allows Samurai newcomers to instantly acclimate themselves without having to know any background on the franchise whatsoever. Even with the last full iteration, it was tough to glean a lot of ancillary backstory about armies and characters unless you had kept up with the series. With Chronicles you can just jump right in, and it will assist you in filling in the blanks. There's a bit of choice involved in the pre-battle cutscenes, but it's mainly an illusion and more of an excuse to learn more about the cast. This goes double for the story, which doesn't really change, and is more of a predetermined narrative for your character. Having said that, the "bonding" system does allow you to unlock new scenes (and a few levels) the more you battle (or pay to drink tea) with fellow officers. [embed]295006:59270:0[/embed] For the most part, gameplay is roughly the same: there's your standard attacks and combo openers as well as supers. It's fast, and despite claims of being "repetitive," it's still a damn fun approach to beat-'em-ups. Chronicles 3 takes things a bit further though (as it has in the past) and allows you to swap between four characters in the battlefield at will, which is better than Samurai's recent two-character mechanic, and a great way to always keep you in the action. Instead of running back and forth constantly, you can just switch to someone else. The main storyline took me roughly 10 hours to complete, then it's off to individual battles while you grind up your character and earn gold to buy new outfits. Instead of a bunch of different bonus gametypes, you'll have a simple challenge mode at your disposal, which is basically a score attack on a timer. Most of your enjoyment will derive from grinding it out for rare weapons and fighting enemies across the span of the entire campaign all at once. It's fun, but its appeal is definitely limited and your mileage may vary. I would have preferred more modes. Sadly, the 3DS hardware has not been kind to Chronicles. The game looks incredibly generic, especially in comparison to the detail that was put into Samurai Warriors 4's new character models. You can't even make out faces for enemy soldiers a lot of the time, much less the set pieces in the background. As a reminder, this review is based off the 3DS version (the only one that was provided), which does have the added benefit of constantly displaying the map on the bottom screen. The 3D effect enhances the experience a bit, but sadly, also contributes to some slowdown. It's never unplayable, but it does make things worse and I don't recommend using it. Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is held back by the switch to the 3DS, and I recommend just picking up the past core entry instead. In the meantime, I'll attempt to locate a Vita version to see how it compares to Warriors 4, which was also released on the Vita earlier this year. With some of the performance issues smoothed out, this personal story would be more worth telling. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Samurai Warriors review photo
Not quite as punchy on a portable
Samurai Warriors 4 was a noticeable advancement for the series, and added a number of interesting mechanics like instant character switching and more varied move sets for each character. It even solved a few common compl...

New Atelier photo
New Atelier

Gust announces JRPG Atelier Sophie for PS4, PS3, Vita

The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book
Jun 29
// Steven Hansen
Gust has turned heads with a new PlayStation (3, 4, and Vita) action RPG Yoru no Nai Kuni (something along the line of Land of No Night). It's much darker (but still pretty) than the Atelier games the company might be best k...
Toukiden photo

Toukiden: Kiwami is now on Steam but it's $60

I still love those demon designs
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
Omega Force's action-RPG about hunting Oni has come to Steam. Great news! There are few if any games like this available on PC. But because it's Koei Tecmo, Toukiden: Kiwami costs $59.99. This is an expanded version of Toukid...
Gust RPG photo
Gust RPG

Gust's dark RPG Land of No Night continues to look good

It's dark, but there's no night?
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
I was surprisingly impressed with Gust's (Atelier) new PlayStation (3, 4, and Vita) action RPG Yoru no Nai Kuni, or Land of No Night, when we got a first look at the gameplay (and whatever shreds of fabric the character is wearing in that picture). This new trailer shows off the battling a bit more, as well as some of the menus and monster accumulation system.
Deception IV photo
Let me show you
When Deception: The Nightmare Princess was announced, a wave of confusion crept up on every Deception IV owner. Is it DLC? Is an an expansion? Well, it's a weird combo! I just got my hands on a US copy of the game ...

Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Everyone look under your Hyrule Warriors chairs!

Free costume
Jun 17
// Chris Carter
While everyone was off enjoying all of the new announcements that came out of E3, Hyrule Warriors got a really small update. How small? Well, Link now has an extra "Classic Tunic" costume for use in the game to celebrate...
Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors coming to Nintendo 3DS

Unlisted trailer leaked ahead of E3
Jun 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Hyrule Warriors is on its way to Nintendo 3DS, a leaked trailer for the game reveals.  The good word comes from an unlisted video on developer Koei Tecmo's YouTube channel, which shows footage of two new characters, Wind...
PC, PS4, PS3, Vita photo
PC, PS4, PS3, Vita

First screens for Samurai Warriors 4: Empires

PC, PS4, PS3, Vita
Jun 05
// Steven Hansen
We're still waiting on Samurai Warriors 4-II (pictured above), the expanded version of last year's Samurai Warriors 4. It's coming to PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita October 2 in Europe, September 29 in the US. Mea...
Yoru no Nai Kuni photo
Yoru no Nai Kuni

First footage of Gust's new dark PlayStation action RPG

Jun 03
// Steven Hansen
Gust's (Atelier) new PlayStation (3, 4, and Vita) action RPG Yoru no Nai Kuni, which I've seen translated as various permutations of Land of No Night and Country Without Night has a trailer today.  I think it looked a l...
Dragon Quest Heroes photo
Dragon Quest Heroes

You can buy Dragon Quest Heroes in a treasure chest

There's also a Day-One Edition
Jun 02
// Jordan Devore
If you're committed to getting Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below -- I am, after playing two short levels -- then there are a couple of things to be aware of. The hack-and-slash game releases on Oc...

Dragon Quest Heroes isn't quite what I expected, but I'm in

Jun 02 // Jordan Devore
Here in the West, the game's full title is Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below. I'm telling you that now because I can't hold it in any longer.  So silly. But also fun to say out loud (in the privacy of your home where strangers can't hear you being a weirdo). The first level I tried was not the first level of the game, but it was straightforward enough: slay all of the monsters. They're so darn cute! My history with Dragon Quest spans one title, Sentinels of the Starry Sky, so my connection to "iconic" series characters is tenuous at best. But I do love Akira Toriyama's creature designs, and that's a sufficient starting point for this game. [embed]292744:58779:0[/embed] Coming off of Hyrule Warriors, combat in Dragon Quest Heroes feels slower, more deliberate. Strategic. You can swap between four party members at any time, each with their own HP, MP, spells, and abilities. Land enough hits, and you'll fill a gauge that will put your hero into a souped-up state. In this lax early level, juggling characters effectively wasn't crucial for success, but that was definitely the case for the session's next stage, a battle against the towering Gigantes. The idea is to hop into cannons and shoot the cyclops straight in the you-know-where to put it into a downed state, then mash away while it's vulnerable. Don't let it destroy everything. Easy. But the beast had such an absurdly large pool of health that defeating it within the time limit seemed impossible. Matter of fact, after losing, I asked the Square Enix rep just to make sure. The fight was technically possible, he said. Guess I need to work on my strategy and timing. (Or grind?) Either way, the battle should be easier at home with the finished game. Much to my dismay, the demo ended right there. I didn't get to see the town hub. Or character upgrades. Or the story. Or monster medals, which are dropped by fallen foes and can be used to summon them onto the battlefield to fight for your side. For the purposes of writing this preview, that lack of first-hand experience is unfortunate, but the tease has ratcheted up my interest  considerably. Dragon Quest Heroes is already out in Japan, so inquiring minds can see as much or as little footage as they want ahead of the October 13, 2015 release for PS4 in North America. Between all the familiar music, sound effects, and faces, Dragon Quest fans are going to feel at home here. It was a warm, happy, inviting place, even for me. Combat flows more like a role-playing game and skirmishes feel smaller and simpler, but that's not inherently bad. It's just different. After a few hundred hours of Hyrule Warriors, yeah, I could go for something different.
Dragon Quest Heroes photo
Releasing Oct. 13, 2015 in North America
Having spent Too Many Hours with Hyrule Warriors, I was worried I'd be tapped out for Omega Force's next big spinoff, Dragon Quest Heroes. Well, maybe not worried. These games chip away at your life for months on end, and all...

Samurai Warriors photo
Samurai Warriors

Sadly, those Nintendo costumes will not appear in Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 in the west

May 29
// Chris Carter
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 will arrive next month on 3DS and Vita in the west, but they won't be bringing along a really cool piece of content on the former platform -- Nintendo costumes. In the original Jap...
Dissidia Final Fantasy photo
Dissidia Final Fantasy

12 minutes of the Final Fantasy fighter Dissidia

Currently in arcades
May 26
// Steven Hansen
The currently Japan-only, arcade-only (a PS4 release down the line is likely) Final Fantasy fighter (spun off from the PSP series) has some new footage fresh from arcade cabinet location testing. The 3-on-3 fighter looks deep. Right now the breakdown of the six confirmed characters is Heavy (Cloud, Warrior of Light), Speed (Lightning, Onion Knight), and Ranged (Terra, Y’shtola).

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