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About
Greetings true believers!!

In real life, I go by the name of Chris, but in the realms of the internet, I am known as GundamJehutyKai!
The name itself came by an IRC chat many moons ago and is a combination of my 3 main loves: Anime (Gundam), Video Games (Jehuty) and Giant mecha, which can be seen from the names used. The "Kai" was just added later as a suffix.
I'm a pretty big collector of anime figures and spend a lot of my time building and painting resin kits, so I tend to be more active on the Destructoid sister site, Tomopop but I thought I would jump the gap and see what else is in store!
I've been playing video games since the days of the NES and I still own almost all my consoles which I have purchased over the years, all in still working condition!

As well as building anime model kits and playing video games, I also maintain a small blog which I use primarily to show the progress of whatever model kit I am working on but I also throw in a few random video games review and particularly noteworthy news as well.
Feel free to check it out if you wish.

http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net

My Top 10 Games of all time:

1) Xenogears (PS1)
2) Valkyrie Profile (PS1)
3) Burning Rangers (SAT)
4) Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram (DC/XBLA)
5) Super Metroid (SNES)
6) Sonic the Hedgehog 3 + Sonic & Knuckles (MD)
7) Dragon Force (SAT)
8) Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
9) Dungeon Keeper 2 (PC)
10) Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
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PSN ID:gundamjehutykai
Steam ID:gundamjehutykai
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a few weeks ago, a promoted clog by RenagadePanda talked about how he loved Bad games and it got me thinking about bad games in general. I'm sure we've all had experiences with games so bad, we can't possibly defend them. yet we don't necessarily like them but we still remember them, even if it's not for the best reasons…

I will openly admit to owning a few duds in my games collection but there are just a few which I will be talking about. The first is Bullet witch.



I bought the game on the cheap as it was a pretty aged title by the time I got it though I have no idea why I went for it anyway. When I popped it into my 360, I found a very shoddily made but fully functional game. I played through it a couple of times in a rather painless fashion and then… Nothing! After I had my fun, the disk has been sitting in it's case just wasting space. When i try to think back to what the game was like, I pretty much draw a blank. With no real memories of the gameplay, I find that I have no desire to play it through again to remind me of what it was like the first time around.



The next game is Another Century Episode R. A Next gen sequel to a trilogy of games released on the PS2. The ACE games (as the series is more commonly known as), are known for allowing players to control mechas from a variety of anime shows which have been thrown together into a mashup of epic proportions. Think Super Robot Wars but with you controlling just 1 unit instead of an army. Now, the first ACE game was OK but had flaws, quite big ones. The second was a masterful game and fixed everything that was wrong with the first game and the third game refined the formula.
Then we got ACE:R. And it sucked!! It sucked HARD!!!! The main problems were due to ridiculously unwieldy controls and a shit camera and lock on system which almost actively hindered your ability to play the game. I didn't get too far into the game because my mind (and my controller) couldn't handle it. But when I see my copy of the earlier ACE games, I think to myself "how could they screw up ACE:R so badly?" or when I play other mecha games, I find myself thinking "thank f*ck it's not as bad as ACE:R!" The bottom line is that I remember ACE:R, even if it's for being unplayably bad. Heck, recently I tried playing it once more, thinking that I must have been too harsh on it and it's not as bad as I thought (hint: I was wrong. It is that bad!)

And then finally, there are the anomalies. These are different for everyone but they're basically the bad games which know are bad beyond belief but yet don't quite hate them. For me, one of the more recent titles like this was Hyperdimension Neptunia.



Destructoid reviewed it and slammed it. Heck, most publications did. Eurogamer even went on and ranted about the over sexualised character designs. The thing is, Neptunia was designed for a specific type of gamer in mind, and they weren't one of them.
But even the gamers which the game was made for would find it an almost impossible task to defend the game. Where do I start? Maybe the level structure which split the world of the game into 4 distinct areas where you were expected to complete one after the other but weren't designed to be played sequentially? What do I mean? Imagine a game where you are taken to area 1. You play through the area, completing quests and level up to a decent level and finish the area. You then move over to area 2 and the first enemies you encounter were designed to fight you as if you had just started the game.Yes, it was that retarded!! Then, there was the fact that you could only use healing and resurrection items if you were in battle and had the appropriate skill equipped as the game only had an auto-item usage system available. You could not heal outside of battle. Let me give you a moment to let that sink in… YOU CANNOT HEAL OUTSIDE OF BATTLE!
*ahem* these were only 2 of the flaws inherent in the game and yet, in spite of those flaws, I managed to complete the game.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come. Even greater than the question of "how the hell did I manage to play the game until the end?" Even greater than "how the hell did this game manage to spawn not 1 but TWO sequels?" but rather, how did they make a sequel which had none of the failings of the first game but was utterly pedestrian?



Neptunia mk2 had a lot of things going for it.The game structure was more linear and better catered to you ever increasing strength, Items could be used at any time and at your discretion and the battle system was completely rewritten to make things far more tactical and severely limiting your characters abilities to transform into their powered up modes.

And yet, when all things are said and done, it doesn't stick in my memory as much as the first game. Mechanically, it's superior in every way to its predecessor but yet, it feels far more bland and pedestrian because of it.

Taking things a step further, when one talks about older retro consoles, you will see a plethora of top ten best and worst games on the system. There may be some general differences but most of the lists will be populated with many of the same titles. But what about the rest? You don't honestly think that those lists cover all the games that were released on those consoles, right?

It is said that the worst insult is to be ignored. If that's the case, then it has been inflicted on far more titles than the ones which are genuinely considered good or bad. And there were lots of titles which have been forgotten. Like Plok on the SNES.



Everyone remembers rise of the robots almost as much as Mortal Kombat and StreetFighter 2, but what about the other fighting games which flooded the 16-bit generation? And let's not forget that almost every other game in those days was a platformer. How many do you remember which wasn't Mario, sonic, Bubsy the bobcat or Zool?

The truly bad games will be remembered just as much as the truly great as time passes. They may not be remembered in the same way but the bad games have a way of sticking in our memories and get recalled far more easily than many other titles that have come and gone, just because they were that damn bad. As for games we initially pass off as bad, may not be as bad as we initially think…
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I'm back! And with an uber late mini Review of Pandoras Tower, the 3rd major JRPG release along with Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last story. This was originally posted a couple of weeks ago on my personal blog lookingglass.kokidokom.net but now I'm putting it on the CBlogs so others can take a gander and try to make up their own choices about the game!

OK, this mini review is late... Really late!! In fact, I could have finished the game twice more since I last saw the end credits up until now, but I have a good reason!! Basically, in an unprecedented move where Nintendo wants to appear to actually care for European gamers, they announced a special offer whereby if you register your copy of all 3 major JRPG releases (Xenoblade, the Last Story and Pandora's Tower), they were going to give you a cool little something for free to commemorate their release. You needed to register within a few weeks of the release of Pandora's tower to be eligible so we're not talking huge numbers here! Anyway, once registered, we got a message saying that they would contact us in the first week of June to ask for a shipping address. I think most of us assumed that they would spend the time crafting said items ready for shipment since they knew how many they needed by then. Then, after we told them our addresses, we got a followup email saying that the item would be shipped in October... FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!! Even when they try to act nice, Nintendo still manages to screw over European gamers!



The original plan was to wait for the special item and then show it off as part of the review, but that's not going to happen now if I'm not going to get it until November (they ship near the end of Oct!). By that time, even the US might actually get the game, leaving us with one less thing to gloat about! So I'll revisit the games again later but for now, here's a very belated review of a very underrated game!

Pandora's Tower is the 3rd in the "JRPG trilogy" release after Xenoblade and the Last Story but without any big names or companies behind it, many people dismissed it as the weakest of the three before it even arrived in the shops! A view which is incorrect IMO. At its core, it's a dungeon crawler RPG. The setting is a world at war between 2 major powers. You play a soldier named Aeron who fought for the opposing side from where the story takes place and was nursed back to health by Elena, your love interest in the game. Then, during a festival, Elena was cursed and slowly started transforming into a monster. With the help of an old lady who knows more than she lets on, the 2 of them make their way to a desolate area which has been closed off and houses the 13 towers, where the game is set.

Very early on, you are provided with a weapon called the Oraclos Chain and find out that feeding Elena flesh from the monsters in the tower allows her to revert back to her human appearance. However, only by eating the flesh from the most powerful monsters at the top of the towers will stop her change completely so your objective is to climb all 13 towers, defeat the monsters and feed Elena their flesh to cure the curse affecting her. The initial 12 towers follow 6 distinct themes representing the elements (fire, water, earth, etc) and each element has a tower guarded by a male and female deity, and boss. What that means is that once you complete the first 6 towers, the next 6 will look and feel very familiar as the basic layouts are the same although they are not identical or even mirrors. There is one cool bit at the end where the 2 towers are actually linked and you need to warp between them in order to find a path to the top as one will allow you to progress faster than the other.



When first arriving at the towers, you will find that the doors to the bosses are locked by a number of chains which increase as you proceed to later towers. Your first order of business is to break those chains to gain access to the boss and then defeat them to acquire their flesh, usually by using your chain to pull their cores out of them. While this is going on, the curse is still affecting Elena, who will slowly transform into a monster again unless you feed her flesh. So your exploration is peppered with trips back to your base to feed Elena the required flesh to keep the curse at bay as if she transforms completely, it's game over! (As a side note, it's worth noting that the religion of the game (which plays a prominent part of the story) ensures that everyone who follows it is a vegetarian, yet Elena is forced to eat meat in order to survive.)



In terms of gameplay, it's an action RPG with some similarities to the legend of Zelda series but the exploration and layout of the dungeons themselves, remind me more of a metroidvania style game, which is a shame because there are several points where you wish that the dungeons were interconnected to allow you to move around and find your own shortcuts and ways to progress. The structure definitely feels like it could support that style of gameplay and you do acquire new abilities for your chain as you progress but it feels like the developers didn't want to push things so the dungeons are independent and, for the most part, rather linear. Combat is simple but effective. You start off with a sword which can be upgraded as you collect items in the dungeons and give them to the old lady, Mavda. 2 other weapons become available as you progress but I stuck with the sword throughout. Your chain can also be used to immobilise the enemies as well as throw smaller ones around. In a neat little twist, the larger enemies have various areas to target so attaching your chain to their weapon arm allows you to disarm them if you're quick or attaching the chain to their legs prevents them from moving. Where you attach your chain also affects what item you can get from them once they are defeated. Aside from that, the chain also operates like a hookshot from the legend of zelda, allowing you to hoist yourself up to ledges, swing off certain ornaments and also unlock certain doors.



That's pretty much it. Unlike the previous 2 games, there's not too much depth or development in the story. As you proceed, you do learn more about what happened in the tower before it was abandoned and, by helping Elena and providing her with gifts, your affinity with her will increase and will affect what ending you get at the end of the game. So, how was it?

LOVED

Boss fights - To heck with the Lollipop Chainsaw bosses! The ones in Pandora's Tower may lack the personality of the zombie horde, but they're unique in their own right and the methods of defeating them are totally different and require completely different tactics. They're definitely the highlight of the Dungeons!
Simple but effective story - There's no "gotta save the world" or "must protect my Country" plot here. It's just one guy trying his best to help the girl he loves. That's it! And it feels kind of refreshing. It also helps that Elena isn't a girl you're chasing after or a hindrance. You're never left with the feeling of "Why the hell am I having to chase after this girl through all this crap?" like you do in the Legend of Zelda games nor does she get in your way during the bulk of the gameplay.
Surprisingly deep combat - Initially, I didn't even realise that I could aim my chain at other body parts of the enemy, but once I was certain, it definitely livened up things as I was able to disable one enemy while focusing on another and there were even little puzzles like lighting lanterns around a darkened room by throwing flaming bugs at them to light them!
Characters you actually care for - When you think about it, not that many RPGs do this part right. Even for the best ones, you don't often progress through a game wanting to genuinely help a character. Instead, you do it to find out how things progress or what happens next, like the plot in a film or book. There's a slight disconnect between you and the game characters so it's pretty impressive that Pandora's tower made me care for Elenas wellbeing rather than just simply looking at her as a way to push some parts of the plot forward.

HATED

Dubbing - All I can say is, I'm really glad that Aeron is mostly silent for the game as his voice is just awful! Elena is a weird one as she seems OK when she's just talking but at certain parts of the game, she sings... and there's a MASSIVE disconnect between her singing voice and her normal one. There's just no way that her speaking voice could produce singing like that! Then again, the original Japanese VA was Noto Mamiko. Not my favourite VA, but even she would probably sound a little off. The singing was a proper full blown Soprano part!
Dark as HELL! - *SPOILERS* this game does not have a happy ending!! There are 7 ending in total and each one basically has someone being screwed over, even the "best" one! When I first finished the game, I got the "B" ending and my first thought was "are you serious??" after working your way though the game, it really puts a downer on things, even if it is a logical conclusion!
Missed opportunities and a lack of Polish - As I stated before, there are quite a few points where one feels like this game could have been made into a brilliant metroidvania style game which pushed exploration if the designers were more clever with their level designs but it never happens. But the biggest fault of the game is simply how things seems to just stop at "satisfactory" without pushing beyond that, aside from the boss encounters. Combat feels like it could have been much better with some refinements, but it just stops short because it does its job well enough as it is.

Ultimately, Pandora's Tower feels like a game which could have been amazing but decides not to push the envelope and is happy with what it has accomplished. That doesn't mean it's a bad game but it keeps bugging you with thoughts about what if?
Having said that, saying it was a failure or even the weakest out of the 3 Wii JRPGs is off the mark. For me each one brought something to the table and had some glaring issues.



Xenoblade gave us a massive, expansive world with so much to do but was marred by poor storytelling which required you to suspend your belief several miles. At times, I wanted to just slap the characters and spell things out for them because it was just painful watching them progress the way they were doing.
The last story gave us a masterful story which was concise yet large in scope and put in a competent battle system but was marred by being too linear and felt like you had no control over where anything was headed, even though it wanted to give you the illusion that you had some say (the "choices" given to the player sums it up neatly).
As for Pandora's Tower, it gave us the best sense of exploration, made me care about the characters more than the previous 2 games and showed that a story doesn't have to be epic to be a JRPG.

And, incidentally, I enjoyed my time with Pandora's Tower more than Xenoblade. Xenoblade may have been the larger title in pretty much every way but it really started to drag near the end. At the same time, the Last Story felt a little too abrupt, even though you could see the end coming a mile off! Ultimately, there was no "best" between the 3 but each one catered to a different element that makes a great JRPG. If you miss out on one, you're missing out on something!
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I'm back with yet another mini review. Given how polarising the game has been if review scores are to be believed, it seemed like a good choice to review this game, which I did last week, but I haven't posted it here until now. Here's my Mini review of Ridge Racer Unbounded!
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This was one of those things which had to be done. I'm still a little amazed that I have this game in my collection seeing as I played an early build back at the Eurogamer Expo last year and hated it with a level of hatred saved for only the most heinous of things.



My original intention was to gleefully ignore the game and let it sink as I was confident that it would. Then I read the reviews and, instead of a critical mauling, I found that some respectable publications, such as Eurogamer and Edge magazine were giving the game very high scores and praising the game while others fell in line with what I was expecting. It was one of the most divisive games I have read up on for a long time and there seemed to be no middle ground. So, I decided to check it out as I was able to acquire a copy without having to pay full retail.



Now, if you've been keeping up with the game at all, then there's nothing much to add. This game is basically Ridge Racer in name only. The mechanics are more in tune with burnout and Split/Second as opposed to the "pure racing" that Ridge Racer Represents. There's also no Reiko Nagase so you KNOW that this isn't a canon RR game now!! There are several events available in the game, all of which ram home the point that this is not anything like the Ridge Racer you know. The main one is domination, a standard racing fare with destructible environments, hidden shortcuts and the ability to take out (or "Frag") rival cars. Next up we have Frag Race, where you just eliminate as many cars as you can in a set time limit; time trial, where the developers make weird stunt tracks with lots of ramps, half-pipes and god knows what else, pepper the track with tokens which shave seconds off your time and just tell you to get to the end within a certain time limit; Drift events, where you drive and perform drifts to accumulate points and extra time and finally, there's just plain old racing (though this is not a common event).



The unofficial slogan for Unbounded seems to be "Forget everything you knew about Ridge Racer" but it may be more accurate to say forget everything you know about EVERY racing game! And that was part of the problem when I first played it and it seems many others have hit the same wall. The developers of RR:U actually changed the method of drifting in their game to the point where it's pretty alien and there's not a single tutorial or set of instructions to explain this in the game! If you haven't played Unbounded yet, let me say this, if you try to play this game like any other racing game, you will fail HARD!!!
In Unbounded, the handbrake button has been changed to the "drift" buttons and to drift in the game requires you to hold down the button while simultaneously doing the usual steps of release accelerator -> brake -> accelerate like in almost every other arcade racing game. Except that the drift button also slows you down so you need to balance the presses with the other inputs to ensure that you don't slow down too much or spin. And it's VERY tricky to do well! My technique is basically down to lightly tap once on the brakes and then continue to tap the drift button repeatedly to maintain the drift and speed. It's not perfect but it kinda works for most situations and the game is more enjoyable once you break from the ways you are used to. However, there are quite a few other problems which rear their head when you play...

LOVED

Drifting: As I said above, drifting is very different from other racing games and is quite hard to do. It requires a fair bit more thought and concentration but when you get it right, the feeling is sublime!

Pure Racing: It may sound odd, considering how the game has been marketed, but for me, the most fun to be had is when you're on the racing events. Just 7 other cars, you and boost. No shortcuts, no Frags. Just pure racing and it's here where I think the game excels

Track editor: the game allows you to make your own tracks and, once you've unlocked a number of parts from the main game, it's pretty in depth! Sadly, it can be abused for easy exp points to unlock other stuff, but the system itself is solid.

HATED

F**KING CHEATERS!!: Let's get this out of the way first because it's pretty much unavoidable. This game cheats like hell! The most obvious method is by the blatant rubber banding which is performed by the AI. We're talking Mario Kart Wii levels of rubber banding here! It doesn't matter if you're 5 seconds ahead of the pack, just one mistake, a corner taken too wide for example, will have your lead not only disappear but more than likely your position will be knocked down to outside the top 3! You don't need a catastrophic error like a crash or spin for it to happen either! They will always be right on your ass! Furthermore, I have seen some races where opponents will simply drive past you and gain a massive lead WITHOUT BOOST! At several points, the car in front of me managed to maintain the same distance from me while I'm boosting and they're not. That just isn't right!!

Fragging: Fragging is basically the equivalent to a takedown in other arcade racers but with the difference being that you can only really do it if you are either boosting or drifting. It hits almost ridiculous levels as you are practically invincible under normal circumstances until someone boosts or drifts, at which point, you become as strong as wet tissue paper. Even if you are fragged, should your flaming wreck of a car hit another car before you restart, the other car would come out pretty much unscathed. You need to get into several head-on collisions with traffic before your car hits "damage critical' levels but you still need one mighty shove before you get fragged. On the other end of the scale, if you're boosting, you just need to touch the bumper of another car to get a frag. If you're driving side by side and jostling for an advantage, boost is it because as soon as one of them boosts, the other is fragged! There's simply no consistency beyond you frag if you're boosting/drifting and you get fragged if you're not!

A general lack of understanding: The developers said that they didn't add any tutorials or help because they didn't want to hold the players hand when they played. The problem is that not explaining things made it arguably worse! Many shortcuts (which are marked but can only be accessed if you are boosting. If you just drive in at top speed or your boost cuts off just before you hit, you will crash!) don't seem to provide much of an advantage in terms of distance from other racers, if any BUT they do often provide significant boost power. This isn't explained so while you can get a free boost bar from taking shortcuts, it's often not economical to hold your boost you've accumulated until you reach one. Also, when you frag an opponent, at times, you can earn a lot of boost power while at other times, you get next to none. At this point 2/3rds of the way through the game, I still don't know what controls how much boost you get!! All these question marks hurt the game because it makes it very difficult to think up strategies and plan ahead! And there's always the guy right behind you just waiting to frag you!



Ultimately, I think the game is above average but has so many flaws, it might just stand out for the wrong reasons. From the looks of things, many of the low score reviews are "playing the game wrong" by adhering too strongly to traditional control styles while the high scoring reviews are giving the game too much credit. My experience with the game paints it as an incredibly frustrating and confusing racing game with some exceptional high points appearing from time to time. It says a lot when I say that the time I have the most fun on the game is when I don't have to worry about frags, shortcuts or any of the stuff which was pushed so heavily in the advertising of the game! It's best when it's just being a racer! The other side events feel out of place (especially time trial) and domination will frustrate many a gamer as this is where the cheating is most obvious and prevalent. There's a solid base to be found in unbounded but it needs a lot of refinement before it can stand up to the big boys. The burnout games are still the kings of the destruction derbies while racers still have the standard Ridge Racer titles and Reiko Nagase to hold up the series so where does that leave unbounded?
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This is actually a repost of my private blog post from last week but seeing as it's video games based and still kinda recent, I thought that some would be interested in it, esp since I doubt many ppl visit my personal blog here! Having said that, this comes with additional info after spending an even more extended time with the demo along with playing with Ayane after picking up my limited edition NG3



Hurray for boobies!!! Wait... nope, I got it right!

Seriously though, I am a pretty big fan of the Dead or Alive series. Afterall, I've played every version of the game and own all but DoA2 hardcore on PS2 and DoA for PS1. Heck, DoA dimensions is by far my most played game on my 3DS! Still, I have to say that the series did lose its lustre after the last few games. DoA Ultimate wasn't too great and it introduced that stupid "forward + hold" to counter just mid kicks which I hated with a passion. DoA4 has cheating AI, a fickle counter system and just felt less accomplished than earlier titles. For me, the best in the series were (and still are) DoA2 and 3.

Dead or Alive Dimensions did a pretty good job of scratching a small itch but when Dead or Alive 5 was announced, I was cautiously optimistic. This is, afterall, the first original DoA game since the departure of Itagaki (Dimensions doesn't count cos it was basically a remake) but my hands on with the Ninja Gaiden 3 demo at the Eurogamer expo last year left me with some major concerns on how the final version of NG3 will play, concerns which proved to be fact if the online reviews are to be believed. That leaves some big questions about how well Team Ninja will be able to handle DoA5.

I have the PS3 collectors edition of Ninja Gaiden 3 on the way but I was able to acquire a code for the 360 demo from a member of Destructoid (thanks, Chris Carter!) so I spent a while blasting through the demo which had Hayabusa and Hitomi as playable characters!

So, how was it?

The first thing which struck me was a sense of familiarity. Controls are still the same and the moves still have the same feel and impact to them but there were several noticeable changes to the formula. The most obvious one, from the videos released, was an increase in the interactivity in the stages. The demo has the rooftop stage which was shown on the very first video and if you hit some of the danger areas, the level will change as debris makes the stage smaller and the stage tilts slightly, opening up new tactical possibilities which are opened due to your character potentially being higher than your opponent. It also opens up a new danger area which will knock the opponent to the lower level. That's the bit from the video with the opponent hanging on the edge of the building. The DoA series were always the best at handling interactive stages out of all the fighting games and the new dynamic changes while you're fighting really takes things up a few notches. However, there's also a slight problem in that, at times, the screen is simply too busy. Especially with the debris falling. With all the parts falling down and potentially causing damage, it's easy to lose focus on what's happening with your character. This is particularly evident when using the new "dynamic" camera which has a tendency to move a lot to give a view of the moving debris while you continue fighting. This can be turned off in the options menu but then you have no idea where, for example, the overhead steel beams are so you could end up launching your opponent into them, which prevents you from following up with, say Hayabusas inazuma drop.



The next big thing is a new charge move which is triggered by pressing p+k+g together (or whichever button is mapped). Pressing the button causes your character to begin charging DBZ style and, should the following hit connect, the character will perform a short flurry of moves which conclude with a heavy attack which causes the screen to go into slow motion. During this time, the background become monochrome save for active danger areas and you are able to rotate the camera to a certain degree in order to line up your opponent with the obstacles and hit them into them to trigger set animations which will cause damage to your opponent. The most well known ones so far from gameplay videos are when you hit your opponent into some steel beams on the rooftop, which triggers an animation where the opponent holds onto the side of the building before you kick them off and a flying car which you can hit your opponent into when fighting at ground level. With regards to the flying car, theres a brief QTE which ensures that you do hit the opponent into the car. Not great but it could have been far worse but many (myself included) will bemoan the introduction of a QTE into DoA.
The charge itself is fairly brief but long enough to give opponents time to react. At this point in development, I think that will need to be tweaked before release as I don't think it'll be of much use when playing against human opponents right now. It just takes too long to pull off. pressing up or down while charging also controls the sidestep, and this will probably be used far more in high level play.



The counter system has also been reworked quite a bit.. I wasn't sure initially due to the fact that I was playing with the crappy 360 dpad but after playing on PS3 as well, I'm certain that the window for successful counters have been shortened quite significantly. It's still not too hard to pull off but it does feel less spammable compared to earlier games. Damage has also been reduced considerably. And at least they kept the retarded forward+hold counter for mid kicks out of this game. God, I hated that!
However, I can't say that I'm a fan of the new look for the characters. Dead or alive has always had exaggerated character designs which were more inline with anime characters than photorealism. So the sudden change in look which went more towards realism is rather jarring, particularly with the female characters. Ayane got off lightly but kasumi and hitomi do look off. There's some real "uncanny valley" work going on here! It's not all bad though. There are some nice touches like how the characters get dirty as the match goes on and if you look at them at the end of the fight, you can see sweat beads rolling off their faces. Of course, if you're playing Hitomi, it seems that she sweats like a pony, which isn't great when you're wearing a white top... or is it?



And from my playtime with the demo, I can say that fans of Hitomi don't have anything to worry about. If you played as her in any of the previous games (but mostly dimensions) then she'll be instantly familiar. Hayate has a few new moves but it won't take long to adjust. I've never played as Hayabusa in any DoA game so I can't say too much about him, but Ayane plays rather differently. She's got quite a few new moves which have different properties to her old repertoire. Her basic tactics still work but you won't be able to just jump in and get her if you've used her in previous games (as I found out!)



Otherwise, the alpha demo does look promising. Dimensions was a lot of fun, though I have heard people complain about the dumbing down of the system (like namco did with soul calibur 5) but that's really only people who take he game way too seriously. DoA is never going to reach the level of complexity or dedication of the likes of streetfighter IV or blazblue but it's a solid fighter in its own right. Team ninja may have dropped the ball with ninja gaiden 3 but it looks hey they are more intimately familiar with dead or alive and with dimensions already under their belt, I think we have room to be a little optimistic when it comes to #5. And there's always the boobies!!
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Some of the community members may know that I keep a small blog. Normally, I post about my garage kit projects, how they're progressing, what they look like once I'm finished, etc but every now and then, I break off and post about current anime seasons and (more frequently) I write mini-reviews for some games I've completed recently.

Most of the time, I don't bother cross posting here as the games are often the big titles which people already have opinions of or they're so late, I don't see the point in posting them again elsewhere.
OK, maybe I could have posted my review of Gundam Extreme VS...

But this time, there's a small PSN game which I think IS worth posting about, partly because it doesn't seem like it's getting much coverage anywhere! And since this is the first review I'm cross-posting, I guess I should say that my style is kinda kotaku-like. I'll give a little backhistory about the game and some of the gameplay mechanics on it and then explain a few points which I liked and hated about the game before summing things up at the end. But before we begin, here's an obligatory warning about the wall of text you're about to see. You can find the original here. If you like this style of review, let me know and I'll consider throwing more out when I write them. The next one is likely to be either Catherine (which just recently got its european release) or the Last story.
Ready? Well then, here's my mini review of the PSN download title, Malicious:
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And now for something a little different! Up until now, my mini reviews have been on boxed titles and I haven't really done a review for download titles found on XBL or PSN. The reasons are many, like how I often don't pick them up until much later than release or that, due to their nature, I don't really have that much to say about them. Even the best ones, like hard corp: Uprising, tend to fall into either category or both but a few weeks ago, I bought a PSN game which kinda needs to be talked about, mainly because nobody is!! That game is Malicious!



I first learned of the game via some gameplay trailers from youtube. It was released on the Japanese PSN back in 2010 and the trailers gave it an almost Bayonetta like flow to the combat and I was immediately interested.

This was the original launch trailer for the game. But afterwards, we didn't hear much until late last year when it was announced that the game was to be given a western release. And it arrived earlier this month in the UK!! There is pretty much no story to the game. You are a vessel given a power to defeat a great evil but are told that other beings contain parts of your power and you need to beat them in order to be powerful enough to defeat the big bad! There is a backstory which is contained within the game and it's loooooooooooooong! When the game itself gives you a bookmark to allow you to come back to reading it later, you know it's long! It does provide the setting though and also hints at the name of your avatar.



You can choose between a male and female character, though the impact on gameplay is negligible at best. Your character attacks with a mantle around their neck. Initially, only 2 abilities are available (excluding guard). Punch and shot. they're pretty self explanatory but you get more as you progress. The game starts in a white hub world and gives you access to the first 5 stages and you are able to tackle them in any order you wish, though ones tackled later will be considerably more difficult compared to if you took them on earlier. The stages themselves are rather small and the objective is to take out the boss which appears at the start of the stage. To do so, you are expected to take out the smaller enemies which appear to collect "aura" which can be used to augment your attacks to make them more powerful. Each boss holds a special ability which is passed onto you once you defeat them. For instance, one boss wields a sword and defeating her allows you to change your mantle to a similar sword which allows for wide, powerful but slow attacks.



There's no lifebar as such in the game either. Instead, when you take sufficient damage, the screen flashes red and your character loses a limb. If you lose 4, then you go into a "sudden death" like state. Limbs can be restored by using aura and the more limbs you need to repair, the more it costs. Sadly, you can't restore 1 at a time so if you lose 2 or 3 and don't have enough aura to restore them all in 1 go, you aren't able to!

That's pretty much the game in a nutshell. So, how well does it play?

LOVED

Beautiful to look at - for a downloadable game, it looks really stunning. This isn't the kind of art-y "look at me" style of limbo but genuine "this could pass off as a boxed title" beautiful!
surprisingly deep - despite only having a rather limited set of moves, even after you unlock them all, the game still has a lot of depth and allows you to combo attacks surprisingly easily
Instant gratification - by making the stages somewhat small and showing the boss off straight away, you get right to the thick of things and take things on with aplomb from the offset!

HATED

Ridiculous difficulty spikes - Some of the stages are just insane. I did the red queen last and she was able to completely destroy my character with a handful of moves if I was not careful. None of the other bosses came close to that level of power, save for the final one.
Really crap camera - Remember how crap the camera was in ninja gaiden? Yeah, this one is at that level. It easily gets stuck around corners, locks onto the wrong enemy and can leave you totally blind in certain moments.
Story? What story?? - For all the effort the makers went to in order to establish a setting and story in the prologue, it means jack shit when you actually start playing!
Really short - With only 6 stages available and each one taking an average of 30 minutes for me on my first run, that doesn't add up to much gameplay time, but what it does provide is fantastic!
Lives? in 2012?? - The game provides you with 3 lives at the start of the game which allows you to continue exactly where you left off when you die to make things easier for you but there's no way to gain any more so if you use them frivolously at the start of the game, you'll end up in great difficulty on later stages. But if you don't use them, you have to start the stage you're on from the beginning. And just in case you didn't get this from the description, that's 3 lives for the WHOLE GAME! if you find youself stuck on a later stage and have no lives left, you have 2 choices, get a lot better so you can complete the stage (and subsequent ones) on 1 life or start from the beginning!

With its emphasis on boss fights and short stages, Malicious reminds me of Alien Soldier, a treasure game for the Mega drive/Genesis which was basically nothing but boss fights! Malicious isn't terribly long but it's wonderful to play while it lasts and you can't really argue with the pricetag of a mere £7. The game was able to distract me from Catherine until I managed to complete it, and that says something (not sure what though, as I can't say I was a fan of Catherine. I'll probably post my thoughts on that game soon). There's also a vita version in the works. If that gets a UK release, I'll be sure to get that too since my purchase of a Vita is pretty much a forgone conclusion. It's just a matter of when! This is definitely one PSN title which deserves more exposure than it has been getting and a genuine but pleasant surprise! Just go play it!!
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I will be the first to admit that I have a little vanity in me. Not the usual physical type where I love looking at myself in the mirror (hell, I wouldn't even count myself as even remotely handsome) but more to do with what I collect.

Being a big fan of Japanese anime figures, I've collected a number of figures and model kits over the years but unlike many others, I don't simply buy completed figures from online shops to display. That kind of thing has never appealed to me. Afterall, what's the fun in collecting and showing off things if your items are exactly the same as everyone else who bought the same item? As a result, my usual poison is making garage kits, Super limited items which require me to assemble and paint them myself. The end result being a completed figure which is uniquely mine. See where the vanity comes in?

This also stretches over to video games as I have a tendency to lean towards limited edition versions of video games (or at least steel case versions) when they are available. But the nature of video game buying means that you can't really stamp your purchases as your own. Other people will buy limited edition games as well afterall, Sometimes, you can make them stand out by getting them signed by the developers. I Managed to get Kitamura to sign my Final Fantasy XIII (the only reason I haven't banished the game from my home), Hideo Kojima for metal gear solid 3 and 4 among a few other trinkets but otherwise, my collection is pretty non descript.

But for a while now, I've been getting into fighting games and, as many similar gamers will tell you, it's all about using an arcade stick! So about a year ago, I purchased a Mad Catz Super StreetFighter IV TE:S fight stick. And one of the first things I did was to contact someone on a local forum to get it modded to run on both PS3 and 360. But it didn't stop there. After a little bit of thought, I figured that I would mod my arcade stick as it's one of the few things which I could stamp as being uniquely mine. And because I'm a big fan of Blazblue, I decided to wear my allegiance on my sleeve, or rather, my stick!!



It's taken quite a while to get to this stage. I bought the stick back when Continuum Shift was released a little over a year ago. Here;s how it looked for a long while



Aside from the dual mod, I also replaced 6 of the buttons from the standard Sanwa to Seimetsu for 2 reasons. The first was because I've never been a fan of the "squishy" feel of the Sanwa buttons. I prefer my buttons to give me a little more resistance when I press them. That and I always felt like I could accidentally press the sanwas down if I so much as rested a finger on them...
The second reason was because Seimetsu do clear buttons which let you do some cool things with the artwork! Take a closer look again!



The clear buttons allowed me to put some of the artwork into the buttons to give it a look of being unbroken.
As for the artwork itself, it was commissioned by myself and I asked Radiant Dreamer to do the honours. He and I have been friends for a while since we met up on Danny Choos website before he (and it) really took off and have been in contact on and off for a while. He was also the illustrator for the cover of the UK release of BB:Calamity Trigger. Not the best advert for his skills cos the cover sucked (even he admitted that he didn't like it as much as his other entries but that's what his client asked for) but at least it meant that I knew that he would be familiar with the source material. He also showed me a few other pieces which he submitted and so we started talking. The end result, after months of talking and throwing ideas back and forth, is a pretty damn cool custom artwork which is mine, and mine alone! No, you can't have it! (seriously, I'd get into trouble if I just handed it out)



The main section of the art is obviously, the Noel Vermillion who adorns the left hand side. Bet you can't guess who my main is!! I did also toy with the idea of having Tsubaki in there as well, but the cost would have gone way up and as we discussed it, it became clear that the art would have probably ended up too complex so the idea was shelved early on. Poor Tsubaki...



The right side was what took up the most time to decide on as I wasn't happy with the idea of leaving it too plain but couldn't decide on how I was going to full up the empty space. Radiant helped me out here and we went for Noels Emblem.
The Chibi characters are the ones used in the "teach my Ms Litchi" segments from the game as well as the Bururaji radio show from the game. If you haven't listened to them, find them on youtube. Some are absolutely hilarious! Sadly, there weren't any sprites for Makoto in her combat outfit at the time so I had to make do with the uniform. I was given the pst file from radiant so I should be able to update it later will little fuss.
There was a little worry that they would provide too big a distraction on the artwork as a whole but I stuck with it and I think it turned out pretty well!

But that's not all...

I also have the stick signed by Yoshinori Ono



... And Katsuhiro Harada



OK, it would have been even cooler if I had it signed by Mori Toshimichi and Ishiwatari Daisuke when they visited the UK last year but I got something else signed instead cos I wasn't able to take my stick to the event...

Well, that's enough about me showing off. Time to put the stick through its paces. And just in time for soul calibur V!
And for those curious, I wrote a personal blog post which went into a little more detail about the assembly process.

Can't wait for CSII:Extend!!
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