Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Level 5

Yo-Kai Watch 3 photo
Yo-Kai Watch 3

Yo-Kai Watch 3 announced, in addition to a Three Kingdoms crossover and Ghostbusters homage

Apr 07
// Chris Carter
Level-5 has big plans for the Yo-Kai Watch franchise beyond the localization of the first game in 2016. It's also gone and announced three more titles in the franchise last night, including Yo-Kai Watch 3, Yo-kai Watch:...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch is coming west, thanks to Nintendo

Big news for a big franchise
Apr 07
// Chris Carter
In case you haven't been paying attention, Level-5's Yo-Kai Watch franchise has been rocking it over in Japan since 2013 with over seven million units in sales. Rumors of a localization have been brewing for over a year ...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Beard View: Yo-Kai Watch

A look at Japan's #1 new game series
Feb 11
// Jonathan Holmes
I was worried about Yo-Kai Watch when it was first announced. Putting out a manga, anime and game series all in one fell swoop is no small financial undertaking. Given that Level-5 isn't a multi-billion dollar outfit, they h...
Level-5 photo

Level-5's CEO is jacked up about the next project

Whatever it is
Jan 05
// Chris Carter
Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino is pumped. After selling tons of copies of Yo-kai Watch in 2014 among a host of other successful IPs, 2015 is looking to be a good year for the developer. Recently, speaking to 4Gamer, he noted that h...

Review: Fantasy Life

Oct 24 // Brittany Vincent
Fantasy Life (3DS)Developer:  Level-5, 1-UP StudioPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: October 24, 2014  Fantasy Life is the child of Level-5 and Brownie Brown, having begun its own story back in 2009 and finding a Japan-only release in December 2012. With notable names like Yoshitaka Amano and Nobuo Uematsu attached to the project, it's no secret that it was well-received, a project that stole the attention of role-playing fans, particularly those of Brownie Brown, which would eventually change its name to 1-UP Studio. It comes from trusted names, but most of all, it's absolutely adorable; a warm and welcoming sight that will feel simultaneously familiar to RPG lovers and anyone who appreciates Western fantasy alike.  Getting started in Fantasy Life is exceedingly simple, as you choose a gender, body type, face, expression, and more for your character. You can customize him or her right down to the spacing of their eyes, voice, and hairstyle. There are a surprising amount of options for customizing your hero, but then it makes sense that there should be -- this is your "fantasy," after all. [embed]282964:56074:0[/embed] Unfortunately, the beginning of the game is riddled with JRPG narrative tropes, especially as you wake up in the morning in a tiny house and rush out to choose your own Life, which is essentially the job a person chooses for themselves in the game world. There are multiple Lives for various proficiencies, though if you choose one and wish to swap over to another halfway through your training, that's perfectly fine as well. You're never constrained to one job, just like in real life. The scope of jobs is interesting as well, ranging from the familiar Paladin or Blacksmith to the less flashy Tailor or Cook. Just as there are jobs that find you on the front line of battle, there are also more mundane professions where you'll be completing tasks for townsfolk  rather than lifesaving operations. Depending on which Life you choose, you might find yourself slaying a dragon or mining ore to forge weapons. All the jobs are interconnected, so even the smallest role plays a part. Though it would have been simple to offer 12 different jobs and give them the same questlines, playing each Life ends up feeling unique. With engaging writing and interesting interactions between characters, even if you choose to play as an Angler or a Cook, there's still plenty to see and do. And if and when you get bored with their minigames, you can just switch to a different profession at the drop of the hat to begin earning stars for another job. You'll retain many of your skills and recipes when switching, except for Special Skills that are tied to the Life you're currently developing. It's up to you to select which classes are important to spend time on in order to ensure your character has access to a wealth of different abilities and proficiencies that complement each other. But don't mistake versatility for a game that requires you to learn all of these jobs to train a machine who can slay monsters and knit a mean sweater. You're never forced to pursue specific skills and there's no dark cloud hanging around the world of Reveria nudging you to pursue different skills in order to complete a quest. You can play at your own pace, and if that means diverging from the main quest to focus on learning how to craft potions or forge weapons, that's your prerogative. That's where all the fun lies -- spending time trying new things and figuring out what it is you like to do within the game. It's a lot like real life in that regard, without any of the risks attached to uprooting and learning a completely new trade when the mood strikes. There's no hurry to complete anything, and that's what makes the game work so well. Everything is done at a leisurely yet satisfying pace, even combat, which finds skills assigned to single buttons that works quite well with the real-time hack-and-slash system. You may need a bit to get used to timing your strikes, but it's simple to master and complements the rest of the game well. The minigames surrounding item production are easy to learn as well, though if you happen to botch a crafting session while at a workbench, you can simply start over. Aside from earning XP and levels, however, there's an additional system in play that's important to focus on. It's called Bliss, and you receive Bliss points when you explore Reveria and complete tasks for others. As you decorate your home, buy a new residence, or interact with the game in ways beyond combat and training, you'll earn Bliss points that can be used to upgrade your bag, allow for home expansion, and more. It's an interesting system that encourages players to focus on aspects of the game beyond combat and grinding, and acts as a reward system for completing tasks you were going to have to do anyway. There's simply no shortage of things to complete in Fantasy Life. Beyond single-player's vast amount of things to do, you can also invite other players locally or online in groups of three to tackle tasks together. You can't complete the game while working with friends, but you playing together via Link mode does allow for some MMORPG-styled fun that ensures each player's individual strengths are pooled together in a manner that's beneficial for everyone. Of course, Fantasy Life's relaxed nature may not be for everyone. The lengthy tutorials and even the fact that there's no true urgency for the main storyline to be completed will grate on some players' nerves. There's also the caveat that playing multiplayer with friends doesn't allow for "true" progress. They're minor nitpicks, but issues nevertheless, especially for a game where multiplayer is such an enticing proposition. But there's so much to love about Fantasy Life, from its whimsical and colorful illustrations and lighthearted tone to its varied soundtrack. It's truly a role-playing game that allows you to forge your own path, and a breath of fresh air that feels at home on the 3DS. If you're looking for something to scratch that Animal Crossing or Tomodachi Life itch with a little more substance, Fantasy Life is the game for you.
Fantasy Life review photo
Trip the life fantastic
One of the biggest gripes I hear from friends interested in but hesitant to play Japanese role-playing games is that they're too "complicated." It's a sentiment I've never understood; several take great pains to be accessible...

Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life is almost here, check out every major feature

All jobs, combat or otherwise
Sep 25
// Chris Carter
It feels like we've been waiting forever for Fantasy Life -- and we have! Years, in fact. Japan even got a full expansion before we even got the base game, but here we are with the game launching now in EU territories, ...

Review: Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Aug 30 // Patrick Hancock
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)Developer: Capcom, Level-5Publisher: NintendoRelease Date: August 29, 2014MSRP:  $29.99 The story revolves around the main characters from each game: Professor Layton, Apprentice Luke, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright, and Spiritual Medium Maya Fey. It doesn't take long for these characters to meet up in a town called Labyrinthia, a town on no map and completely run by one person: the Storyteller. It's also a town that seems to be caught in the past: knights keep order and there's no modern technology to speak of. The Storyteller is exactly that: the one who pens the "story" for the town of Labyrinthia. However, the town has been having some major issues with magic-using witches in the past years, and everything seems to be coming to a head just as the four protagonists enter the scene.  The characters of Labyrinthia deserve a very special mention. There are numerous characters that easily steal the spotlight during the courtroom scenes, which is largely due to the fantastic writing. The game's tone ranges from incredibly serious to downright hysterical while hitting every note in between. Characters come to life, scenes nail the correct tones, and the unpredictable story itself all come from the brilliant writing throughout.  Gameplay is divided into two distinct sections: puzzle solving while navigating the town and court cases. The former will be familiar to anyone who has played a Professor Layton game in the past, and the latter familiar to Ace Attorney players. The major issue here is that they almost never blend together. Instead they act like oil and water, with each section being completely separate from the other. It is important to note, however, that despite this lack of congruence, the game does not feel disjointed, largely due to the character interactions between the two sets of protagonists. There is a moment towards the end of the game where the two gameplay types cease to act like oil and water and instead act like peanut butter and chocolate. Needless to say, this moment is nothing short of pure gameplay bliss and one of the most memorable moments of the entire game.  The Layton-inspired puzzles are various logic puzzles. For players unfamiliar with the games, these puzzles often require a decent amount of brainpower and/or trial and error to solve correctly, and the objective of each puzzle is different. The difficulty of these puzzles is widely inconsistent, as some of the final puzzles are laughably simple.  Some puzzles are required to progress, while others are included simply for players who want to try more puzzles. The context for these "extra" puzzles is always absurd, in an endearing way. Meeting someone on the street and having them challenge the player to a puzzle just because is absolutely ridiculous and perfect. The story puzzles are always given context and make a remarkable amount of sense within that context, making them feel very real. [embed]280424:55505:0[/embed] As for the Ace Attorney-inspired court cases, players will listen to witnesses tell their testimony, and then have a chance to point out any inconsistencies or contradictions they can find. Players can "Press" the witness, which involves Phoenix Wright asking for more clarification on a specific statement. Players can also Present information to the court, which will bring up a key piece of evidence to hopefully point out a flaw in a witness' testimony.  This time around, there can be more than one person on the witness stand at a time. This allows for a slightly different mechanic of asking two witnesses about the same topic. While pressing a witness, another witness may make a sound if they hear something funky. At that point, the player can move to that witness and ask why they had a reaction to what was said. It's a decent mechanic that lends itself to a little bit of repetition, since the original witness' testimony will be cut short when moving to another witness, and to hear the entire testimony players will have to press the original witness again. Hint Coins can be found while exploring the town and can be utilized in both the Layton-style puzzles and the Ace Attorney-esque courtroom scenes. During the logic puzzles, Hint Coins will slowly reveal more of the solution, until finally telling the player "alright fine here's the answer," essentially. In the courtroom, Hint Coins can be used when a player has no clue what to do next. The game will then let the player know who to Press or Present to, and when presenting, Hint Coins will remove certain incorrect options from the evidence to narrow it down for the player. The game's visual style and technical capabilities are wonderful. The town of Labyrinthia truly does feel alive with vibrant characters while maintaining a sense of a seedy underbelly and something very sinister lurking around. There are some moments in the game where the framerate becomes noticeably terrible. This is often when there are many animated characters on the screen, and happens whether the 3D slider is on or off. Speaking of which, the stereoscopic 3D presentation is great and is easily the best way to experience the game. The music and sound effects from each game make an appearance, but much of the music is new to go with the "Middle Ages" theme of the town of Labyrinthia. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is two great tastes that taste great together, even if they don't congeal together until the finale. But wow, what a finale it is! The framerate issues are very unfortunate and the new Ace Attorney mechanics can make the game a bit repetitive, but with over 20 hours of well-written content, this is a game who will please fans of either series, and will delight anyone who is a fan of both series. This game is also a great entry point for either series, since it offers a glimpse into both without heavily favoring one or the other.
Layton vs Wright review photo
Gentlemanly and Objectiony
You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate!  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are great. Personally, my favorite part is the edge, as long as you still get a little bit of peanut butter along ...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Level-5: Yo-Kai Watch goes international next year

It's happening!
Aug 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Yo-Kai Watch is readying for global expansion, according to Level-5 president Akihiro Hino. Speaking with Zakzak, Hino revealed the studio is eyeing overseas markets in preparation for an international launch sometime ne...
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Europe gets Level-5 RPG Fantasy Life next month

Good for them
Aug 18
// Jordan Devore
Level-5's 3DS role-playing game Fantasy Life is releasing in Europe on September 26, 2014, Nintendo has announced. As a reminder, we're getting it here in the States on October 24. This overview trailer is perfect if, like m...
Yo-Kai Watch 2 sales photo
Yo-Kai Watch 2 sales

Yo-Kai Watch 2 has sold over two million copies

Well, that didn't take long
Aug 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Yo-Kai Watch 2 only just launched in Japan last month, but the Nintendo 3DS role-playing game has already managed to sell 2,093,992 units, according to the number crunchers at Media Create. Congrats, Level-5! ӎ...
Yo-Kai Watch 2 photo
Yo-Kai Watch 2

Level-5's latest RPG has people dancing in the streets

Nothing sells videogames like a flash mob, you know.
Jul 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Yo-Kai Watch 2 is officially a hit. The 3DS role-playing game from Ni no Kuni studio Level-5 sold 1.28 million copies in first four days on the Japanese market. Good lord. Actually, the latest estimates put the ope...

Fantasy Life is one of the easiest simulators ever to pick up and play

Jul 16 // Chris Carter
What you're really going to get in terms of the meat of the game (outside of maxing out all 12 jobs) is player choice. Although I only got a taste of what's to come, there are enough options to choose from to the point where you should theoretically have a completely different path from all your friends. You can't change lives on the fly (which can get annoying if you have all 12 active), but there's an instant teleport option to bring you back to the appropriate location to switch. While this system does feel like a bit of a time sink, the fact that every job can viably fight most enemies and gather up materials anyway is a nice touch. Job-wise, you can choose between the Paladin, Mercenary, Hunter, Wizard, Cook, Angler, Woodcutter, Miner, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Tailor, and Alchemist. Paladin was my personal favorite, and I enjoyed the synergy between it and the Blacksmith job, which let me forge my own weapons and armor. The neat thing though is that the Blacksmith could also level-up his skill in the same weapons and wield a sword as needed. Combat is a relatively simple affair, but that makes it just as easy to get out and start slicing things for materials to bring back to town and synthesize. Actual item creation takes place in the form of a fun mini-game, which you can make easier (or faster) by way of special class abilities that you can enact at any moment. It's all very easy to pick up. Even though I didn't get to play it for long, it's clear that Fantasy Life is a huge game. Odds are you'll spend over a hundred hours maxing out every job, not to mention the side distractions like multiplayer, customization, and room decoration. I can't wait to try the full version for myself later this year.
Fantasy Life preview photo
Play how you want
During a hands-on Nintendo event, I was given the option to play a number of upcoming games -- naturally, I gravitated towards Fantasy Life, which I've been waiting a few years to see in action overseas. Developed by the...

Yo-Kai Watch 2 photo
Yo-Kai Watch 2

Yo-Kai Watch 2 sells 1.28 million in just four days

Level-5's 3DS role-playing game is off to a hot start -- to put it mildly
Jul 15
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: Japanese sales tracking authority Media Creates estimates the figure of Yo-Kai Watch 2 opening weekend sales to be over 1.31 million.] Yo-Kai Watch 2 sales eclipsed 1,281,096 units after a mere four days on the ...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Level-5 ponders world domination for Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch 2 out today in Japan
Jul 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Level-5 is considering international expansion for its popular Yo-Kai Watch franchise "in a big way," company president Akihiro Hino revealed to Weekly Famitsu. It isn't hard to see why. The Pokémon-like property ...
Level-5 RPG photo
Level-5 RPG

Yo! Watch these adorable Yo-kai Watch 2 trailers

That music!
Jun 23
// Steven Hansen
Woops, made myself sad again that Japan gets Level-5's Yo-kai Watch 2 and we haven't even gotten the first. I spotted at least two awesome cat monsters I just want to be friends with and give three in one tick, flea, and heart worm medicine to. 
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Check out the inner workings of Level-5's Fantasy Life

Nintendo's Treehouse delivers again
Jun 13
// Brittany Vincent
After announcing Level-5's Fantasy Life life-simulation RPG during Nintendo's Treehouse event, the product development team took some time out to stream the game to provide some additional details on how the game works and w...
Prof. Layton vs. Phoenix  photo
Prof. Layton vs. Phoenix

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is finally getting a Western release

It's about time.
Jun 10
// Brittany Vincent
Thank you, based Level-5! After announcing Fantasy Life, Nintendo revealed that we've also got this gem of a game to look forward to from the Yokai Watch developer (and Capcom too, of course.) We've been clamoring for it for...
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Level-5 is doing us a solid and bringing us Fantasy Life

It's no Yokai Watch, but it's still awesome
Jun 10
// Brittany Vincent
Level-5 is bringing its glorious MMO-inspired Fantasy Life to Western gamers, and it looks to be every bit of a treat. Combining Animal Crossing-like sensibilities with the role-playing and combat of an MMO, Fantasy Life is ...
Yo-kai Watch photo
Yo-kai Watch

I just really want this Yo-kai Watch 3DS XL, okay?

I don't really care if I have to import it
May 21
// Brittany Vincent
Is there a time in your life when you can have too many Nintendo 3DS units in your home? If I were to purchase every single system I like on a whim, I think I'd find out soon enough. This Yo-kai Watch 3DS XL is the bee's knee...
Yo-kai Watch 2 photo
Yo-kai Watch 2

Reminder: Be sad you aren't playing Level-5's Yo-kai Watch 2

Kawaii ghosts
May 15
// Steven Hansen
Oh my gosh, that music is just as good as the music from the first Yo-kai Watch. Give it here, Level-5. Ni no Kuni did well enough and Bravely Default et al. have shown JRPG will sell on the 3DS in the Americas and Eurovisio...

Review: Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

Mar 10 // Darren Nakamura
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)Developer: Level-5Publisher: NintendoReleased: February 28, 2014MSRP: $39.99 While each Professor Layton game features a largely self-contained story, Azran Legacy does a bit more to tie the series together than previous entries have, with the ancient Azran civilization's technology offered as an explanation for some of the more unbelievable events from Luke and Layton's earlier adventures. The cities of Misthallery and Monte d'Or are given a nod, but knowledge of prior events is not strictly necessary to enjoy Azran Legacy. As usual, the story begins with Layton receiving a letter, urging him to assist in a puzzling archaeological matter. This time, it is from a man named Professor Sycamore, an expert on the ancient Azran civilization. Sycamore claims to have found a "living mummy," and requires Layton's help to resuscitate her. Being the gentleman that he is, Layton obliges. [embed]271686:52909:0[/embed] During this section, players can choose which location to explore, and may start one before finishing another. After completing a location, new puzzles and character interactions show up in order to incentivize revisiting areas. Through Granny Riddleton's cat Keats, those who would rather not retread old ground can still play missed puzzles later on. Once the setup is complete and the game really starts going, it opens up differently than most other Layton games. Rather than taking place in one main location, progressing through new areas linearly, Azran Legacy allows players to fly across the globe to eight different places, each with its own mini-story to unfold. It almost feels like episodic content embedded inside the full game. Building on the progress made with Miracle Mask, Azran Legacy looks fantastic on the 3DS. The cartoon cutscenes are beautiful, the hand-drawn backgrounds are detailed and expansive, and even the 3D character models look like they have gotten an upgrade. With the locations spanning between a dusty desert mining town to a frozen mountain village, the environments are varied enough to hold interest through all of the touch screen tapping. And there is a lot of tapping. As with other Professor Layton games, players will tap to talk with characters and tap to find hint coins (currency used to facilitate solving difficult puzzles). Additionally, certain environmental objects can be interacted with in small ways; food gets eaten (presumably by Luke), pots and pans rattle, stone cracks and breaks to reveal hidden objects, and more. An exploration idea that is not expounded upon is one of timing. In a particular alley, tapping a basketball sets it off rolling, while tapping a manhole opens it up and subsequently closes it. If initiated in the correct order, the basketball falls into the manhole, and only then is the player rewarded with a hint coin. More interactions like this would have kept things a bit fresher. Still, there are other things to be found by tapping. Puzzles are hidden across the landscape, as are small trinkets that are useless outside of completionist obsession. Azran Legacy's StreetPass functionality comes into play here, where players can find named items across the landscape, and set challenges for other players to find those same items. By finding items sent through StreetPass, players can earn a different type of currency to purchase otherwise locked trinkets, puzzles, and even locations. Most importantly, the strength of a given Professor Layton game comes down to the quality of the puzzles. As expected, the puzzles found in Azran Legacy are hit-or-miss, though there are more hits than misses. There are arithmetic puzzles, spatial reasoning puzzles, logic puzzles, trick question puzzles, and some less savory puzzles. Though there are not nearly as many sliding block puzzles as there have been in the past, they have been replaced with puzzles that are mechanically different but play out in largely the same way: trial and error, frustration, hints that only reveal the exact sequence of moves necessary to complete them. Where other puzzles focus on critical thinking skills, these are so mindless they end up falling flat. Thankfully, there are over 100 puzzles in the main arc of Azran Legacy, so the ones that do not stimulate the brain are easily skipped with little penalty. In addition to the included puzzles, the Daily Puzzle is back with 385 more, drip-fed to players once per day for a year (with 20 to start). Also a staple of the series, three unique puzzle minigames come up over the course of the game. This time, the minigames are Dress Up, Nutty Roller, and Bloom Burst. Nutty Roller tasks players with getting a spherical nut to a goal square by hitting it with rolling boulders, and it works well enough aside from its immovable camera occasionally obscuring important map elements. Bloom Burst has players placing flowers on a square grid in order to set off a chain reaction to make trees blossom while avoiding mushrooms, and its combination of forethought and deductive reasoning would be good enough to warrant its own game, if more puzzles were made available. Dress Up is an interesting idea in which Layton has a limited inventory of clothing items and must match them to each individual request. However, given the way new items are procured (through solving other puzzles over the course of the game), it results in one big interconnected puzzle that cannot be truly solved until all of the necessary parts are collected, rather than eight individual puzzles that can be successfully attempted as they are unlocked. While the idea is sound, it does not really work well as presented. All in all, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy turns out about how fans of the series would expect. Over the course of the 25-hour campaign, players will enjoy charming dialogue from beloved characters alongside puzzles that run the gamut between boring and thought-provoking, all gussied up with top-notch art and animation. What it does to differentiate itself from previous entries in the series is mostly superficial, but Layton fans and puzzle lovers do not really need or want a great departure for the series. All we want is a puzzle-solving adventure, and Azran Legacy delivers a good one.
Professor Layton review photo
Puzzle solving is a most gentlemanly pursuit
With five previous games and one movie under his belt, Professor Layton's reputation precedes him. Since 2007's Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Level-5 has been giving players control of the eminent gentleman Layton...

Ni no Kuni sales photo
Ni no Kuni sales

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has sold over 1.1M

Now for Ni no Kuni II: Wrath of Kahn
Mar 10
// Steven Hansen
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has passed 1.1M worldwide sales since its January 2013 release. Which maybe doesn't seem like that much with Tomb Raider needing five times that for profitability and unfinished games like...
DTOID News is wearing a dumb scarf
Hey everybody, I’m back from Japan! And here’s your quasi-timely news update for the first two thirds of this week. Irrational Games closed, pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order gets you a beta for the new and...

Review: Inazuma Eleven

Feb 20 // Wesley Ruscher
Inazuma Eleven (3DS)Developer: Level-5Publisher: Level-5Released: February 13, 2014MSRP: $19.99 Centered on the globally popular sport of soccer, Inazuma Eleven tells the story of a ragtag group of junior highers on the verge of having their club disbanded -- unless they win an impromptu match against the school that holds a 40 year championship reign. It’s a near impossible task for the kids of Raimon Junior High, since their team is lazy and out of shape, outside of their gung-ho captain Mark Evans -- but there’s one bit of fortune that may turn everything around for them: a new student, with a mysterious soccer past, has recently transferred into the school. It’s a pretty typical setup for those familiar with any sports anime, or the Bad News Bears, but it serves as a solid delivery method for telling a sports story with heart. Its focus around a group of young teens keeps it lighthearted throughout, but it should still strike a chord with a gamer of any age thanks to the “against all odds” spirit the game radiates. If you dig games like Pokemon, and the perseverance found in a movie like Rocky, then thematically, you’ll be right at home. [embed]270779:52637:0[/embed] What made the story the most engaging to me wasn't the overall path it took, but instead the attachments I made with certain players on the team. In a traditional sports game, you may have a favorite player because of their accomplishments in real life, but rarely is there any sort of emotion vested in the virtual accolades that transpire over the course of a video game. As my team began to take shape, I relied on a combination of eleven players that I had personally trained to overcome the odds. And by the end they weren't just a list of stats with some spectacular skills, but players I actually cared about. Typical to RPGs, a player’s skills are mainly grown from on-the-field experience. Soccer matches and battles serves as the main form of leveling up your squad, but there are also ways to specifically target the improvement of select player attributes. In each of the game’s locations, you will find dedicated spots where the game’s currency (Prestige Points) can be spent to increase attributes like kicking strength, speed, or ball control. In these scenes, you may find your player dribbling around cones, carrying boxes off a truck, or kicking the trunk of tree -- like Jean Claude Van Damme in Kickboxer -- to become the best of the best. While this only increases one particular stat for one character at a time, a sort of “soccer dungeon” opens up later in the game, which upon completion, can increase these same attributes across the whole team. As important as it is to have a well balanced team, all of this would be for nothing if the actual soccer portion of the game was not as fun and in-depth as it is. Thankfully it’s just as great as everything else, if not better, due to an ingenious strategic take on the sport. Whether it’s in the game’s 4 vs 4 random encounter battles or its full 11 vs 11 matches against rival schools, Inazuma Eleven’s gameplay is extremely refreshing. In its 4 vs 4 matches, players are tasked with simple “beat the clock” objectives to win. It may be something as simplistic as stealing the ball from the opponent, or a more difficult task like scoring a goal first, but they rarely last more than 30 seconds. They can happen anytime you are wandering an outside area -- which I found quite hilarious at first, since the thought of a random fight in a sports game had never crossed my mind -- but they keep the game from falling into a repetitive story-and-soccer-match cycle. Not to mention they are quite integral in preparing squad mates for the heated soccer matches that typically wait at the end of each game’s chapters. The 11-on-11 action is the main draw for Inazuma Eleven’s gameplay. So much so, that the game even includes a local versus mode that lets players battle their custom teams against each other. In these matches, the true strategic nature of the game is on full display. Similar to a real-time strategy game, players are controlled with the stylus on the 3DS’s lower screen like little tactical units. For the most part, their A.I. dictates the best course of action, but players can draw paths to where they want them to go to either lead offensive strikes or cut off opponents in the open field. Additionally, the action can be paused using a “timeout” to draw up and execute more efficient plays. What takes each match to the next level -- and additionally prompts a “do not try this at home” warning when the game boots up -- is the over-the-top anime-esque abilities every soccer player possesses. Flaming tornado strikes, teleporting slide tackles, giant rock formations bursting from the earth that stop players in their tracks; Inazuma Eleven forgoes a realistic soccer game for some jaw-dropping, 3D-animated spectaculars.   While they help heighten the intensity of a given match, they also greatly increase the game’s strategic merits. Each move, along with each player, has an affinity to one of four elements: earth, fire, wood, and air. Fire is stronger than wood, wood greater than air, and so on. Scouting the field ahead of time, and switching in accommodating teammates to counter elemental match-ups is a major key to success on the field. It’s not just about having the skills to dribble past your opponents to set up the perfect shot that I enjoyed so much, but the satisfaction of truly commanding the soccer field with a team I worked so hard to whip into shape. There’s a lot to love for both sports and RPG fans in Inazuma Eleven. The game is beyond deep -- thanks to 1,000 characters that can be molded into soccer gods – has a charming story, and some highly rewarding strategic gameplay. And to think it’s taken this long for a Japanese RPG centered on a sport to hit this side of the pacific. Sure, RPG elements have been creeping into the American sports scene for years, but stat management does not equate to any of the charm a company like Level-5 can create. Inazuma Eleven is one of the best role-playing experiences I've had in a long time, and more importantly, rekindled a youthful feeling I've grown to miss.
Inazuma reviewed! photo
A near perfect shot
When I was a young kid, I loved nothing more than playing classic sport video games like Bases Loaded, Blades of Steel, Double Dribble, Tecmo Bowl, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. While I enjoyed the likes of Super Mari...

Guild 01 photo
Guild 01

Don't forget: Every Guild 01 and 02 3DS game is on sale

Until February 23rd
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Weapon Shop de Omasse, the one missing game that needed to be localized to complete Level-5's Guild 01 and 02 collections on the 3DS eShop, is finally here. But if you haven't checked out the rest of the pack, they're al...

Review: Weapon Shop de Omasse

Feb 20 // Kyle MacGregor
Weapon Shop de Omasse (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Level-5, Nex EntertainmentPublisher: Level-5Release: February 20, 2014MSRP: $7.99 Weapon Shop de Omasse puts a new spin on saving the world. It takes a page from titles like Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, playing off classic role-playing games by focusing on unsung heroes: the humble storekeeper. This time around, you're put to work in a family-owned smithy wherein you'll get a behind-the-scenes look at fantasy adventure whilst crafting weaponry for any would-be heroes that pass through your doors. Unlike the other titles in the Guild series, Weapon Shop de Omasse doesn't come from a high profile director like Goichi Suda or Keiji Infaune, but that isn't to say the creator isn't famous in his own right. The title comes from Yoshiyuki Hirai, one half of the comedy group American Zarigani. Does that seem odd? Most definitely. The frontman's humor definitely works in the game's favor though. And the rest of package isn't half bad either. Actually, it's pretty great. I suppose I should mention that this is a rhythm game. The basic gameplay boils down to tapping the Nintendo 3DS' touchscreen, simulating a hammer striking sheets of molten metal. Players will strip away excess material, pounding away to a beat, while weapons begin to take shape. In addition to keeping time, players will need to move the stylus around the screen and trace out the form of a spear or axe -- or what have you. Piled on top of that is a temperature gauge that can be controlled with fire and water, adding a third layer of complexity to the experience. How well you manage to fire on all these cylinders will have an impact on how a project turns out. A weapon's critical hit rate, durability, special properties, strength, and sharpness all depend on your ability to multitask during the smithing process.  Producing quality work is definitely in your interest. You'll be renting your creations out and customers only pay after successfully returning from a quest. Should they fall in battle, well, say goodbye to that shoddy sword and any payment you were planning on receiving. More often that not, though, heroes will return with a stack of money and some new materials you can put to good use making more awesome stuff. In terms of the music accompanying all the hammering and polishing, it's kind of all over the place. There are some winners, like the God Hand-esque piece sampled in the trailer below, but the soundtrack is generally pretty forgettable. Along with the equally decent, if somewhat lackluster, visuals, the beats are one of the weaker aspects in an otherwise exemplary package. [embed]270845:52658:0[/embed] The real star of the show is the story and characterization. Weapon Shop de Omasse plays with the conventions of a JRPG, constantly poking fun at familiar tropes in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The experience is just saturated with pithy remarks and clever dialogue that will have virtually anyone with any sense of familiarity with the genre chuckling in no time. It's pretty clear that this game was created by a comedian. And that's part of the reason why it took so long to make the jump to western shores. The sheer amount of text in the game is pretty astounding, considering the size and scope of the Guild games, but localizing humor can be a daunting task. It requires far more than a quick and dirty translation. And it's clear that Level-5 cared enough to take its time and create something special. That dedication really shows in the writing. Weapon Shop de Omasse's colorful cast of misfits is what makes the game such a joy. The regulars at your store all seem to have an abundance of character and back story, whether its a samurai whose swords were confiscated at customs or a nondescript NPC making self-deprecating remarks about how he spends his days walking back and forth around town. While most of the hilarity occurs within the friendly confines of the shop, there's an amusing in-game version of Twitter that's sure to dispense a few laughs as well. The Grindcast provides an ever-present feed of updates from your customers as they're out in the field.  You'll be able to track their sagas and see their inane thoughts on how things are going.  Complete with hashtags and all, Grindcast provides an ever-present feed of updates from your customers as they're off questing with your weapons. You'll be able to track their progress and see their thoughts on how things are going, which provide commentary on JRPGs that should bring a few chuckles to fans of the genre and detractors alike. It's really quite charming. Weapon Shop de Omasse is a breezy rhythm game, brimming with humor targeted at JRPG fans. I realize that's a niche within a niche, and it certainly won't be for everyone, but I loved it. And if that bizarre concept sounds even vaguely interesting, I bet you'll love it too.
Weapon Shop review photo
Sharpest tool in the shed
Level-5's Guild series started out as a bizarre anthology of pint-sized experiences from industry veterans. Initially released in Japan during the spring of 2012, the package would come to western shores later that year. Well...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Level-5 reports Yo-Kai Watch has sold over 500,000

Not including digital sales
Feb 19
// Chris Carter
Perfect timing, right?Just this morning Level-5 reached out to its western fans to see if there was any interest in a Yo-Kai Watch localization due to its high amount of success in Japan. Following that inquiry, the deve...
Level-5 photo

Level-5 wants to know if you want Yo-kai Watch

I do!
Feb 19
// Chris Carter
In Japan, Level-5 has crafted a game (for 3DS) and anime series called Yo-kai Watch. It stars a boy named Keita who opens up a capsule toy and finds a magic watch that can identify ghosts, to hilarious results. He a...
Inazuma Eleven photo
Inazuma Eleven

Inazuma Eleven drops on the 3DS!

A surprise announcement from Nintendo Direct
Feb 13
// Chris Carter
Remember when we reported that Inazuma Eleven was probably releasing in North America on the 3DS eShop, and then the listing mysteriously disappeared? Well it looks like Level-5 was saving it for today's Nintendo Direct, as it will be available on the eShop today. Sweet!
Weapon Shop de Omasse photo
Weapon Shop de Omasse

Weapon Shop de Omasse to be released this month

Coming February 20th
Feb 13
// Chris Carter
When the Guild 01 and 02 Collections dropped overseas, we were missing one game -- Weapon Shop De Omasse. We already reported that the lack of a localization was due to a large amount of text, but eventually I guess the juice was worth the squeeze, and it was announced for a worldwide release. Billed as a "comedic RPG," Omasse will be released on February 20th on the 3DS eShop.

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...