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9:26 PM on 10.05.2015

Persona 4 Dancing All Night Review (Vita)

My first attempt at one of these games was in the form of DDR. I even tried a few MMO versions such as Dance!, Audition, and some other ones. My latest attempt was Persona 4 Dancing All Night because I am a fan of the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series. One of the things I have to commend Atlus for is for getting one of the original Hatsune Miku groups to work on this game and the results are pretty good. This is also the first game I ever got a Platinum Trophy in during all my years playing the PS3 and Vita.


The story picks up some time after the ending seen in Persona 4 Golden and it unfolds like a visual novel, though your choices have no impact on the outcome of the story. Yu Narukami (the main character) has gone back to the city and Rise has called upon him and his friends to help her with her big return to the stage. There, they also meet Kanami Mashita, the idol who was mentioned during Rise's relationship events, made it big during Rise's absence in Persona 4 and her idol group known as Kanami Kitchen. However, the members of Kanami Kitchen mysteriously disappear and Yu, Naoto, and Rise track down rumors of a Midnight Stage in order to rescue them. The story branches off into several parts when the characters split up, but meet up again towards the end of the story.


For a Vita game, the graphics are extremely good. The 2D art that is present is fairly nice, especially the characters. My only complaint when it comes to the art is that the same graphic for the Shadows whenever they appear is exactly the same. It would be nice if they had some more variation or even a few more animated cutscenes. It tends to be a picture of the area they are in, a picture of the area they are in with purple smoke, and a picture of shadows. This constant repetition can make it look poor at times. The character models during the dance sequences and the stage selects are pretty good though. Kanji has a song where he does a ton of head banging and Chie has songs where she whips ou There is also a decent variety in the costumes of the game that features everyone's school uniforms and some themed ones like butler/maid, Halloween, or Christmas.


The gameplay is pretty simple. There are three arrows on the left and three buttons on the right. Like any rhythm game, you want to press the indicated icon when it is exactly over those icons in your HUD. Easy, Normal, and Hard modes feature the same button combinations though the higher difficulties have significantly more notes. However, when you unlock the "All Night" difficulty, then introduce numerous new button combinations that instantly make everything far more difficult. The result is that the game is pretty easy for players in the Easy mode, but can be extremely challenging on the hardest difficulty. The reason is that in Hard and All Night, you are heavily penalized for any notes that you miss in a song whereas it is forgiving on Easy and Normal and even missing like a dozen of 400+ notes can cause you to lose. Luckily, the game offers a way to alleviate this penalty and does not require it for the Platinum Trophy outside of a few songs.

For players who are having trouble with rhythm games, Persona 4 Dancing All Night offers a huge variety of customization to make the songs easier or harder. For example, you can change the speed at which notes appear during the game. If you change it to a slower setting, the icons appear much slower, but will pile up on the screen, giving you more time to react. This is definitely a feature that I found to be very helpful whereas other games like the Hatsune Miku series simply flood your screen with a ridiculous amount of icons on higher difficulties. Persona 4 Dancing All Night manages to avoid that problem by giving more customization features to the player and does not restrict them on the combination of modifiers that they use. This makes the game very friendly to players.

As you play the game, you also obtain money based on your final ranking. This money can be used to unlock new customization options or power ups. The power ups are fairly cheap and permanent. Costumes tend to be a bit more expensive, but change the character's appearance. Overall, the items are not too difficult to unlock and gives you a change that references events from Persona 4. Newcomer Kanami and Nanako do not have many customization options sadly. Margaret is available for one song, but also does not have customization options other than a few masks. A few items are only available through the DLC though and I really felt like they should have just included a few more costume options rather than make people pay for them separately. I'd rather them have the Santa outfits as DLC instead of something like the cross dressing Yu or Kanji since cross dressing Teddie is already available in the game.

A minor complaint is that it is hard to tell how well you are doing in a song. The main indicator is at the top of the screen, which features 5 little figures that are basically suppose to show you how well you are doing. On higher difficulties, you may have to go through 200 notes before you notice that you are actually doing well. If it was broken down in just a bit more detail so that you could tell exactly how well you were doing, that could have been a huge improvement. If they ever decide to make another, lets hope this is one thing they address.

The only serious complaint that I have is the lack of song variety. There are a few songs that are remixed and repeated in its collection. It would be nice if there were fewer remixes because songs like "Pursuing My True Self" are listed three times and played at different speeds. There are a few songs that are available in DLC, but one is a live concert and one is just the credits of Persona 4 Golden. Rise's True Story is also paid DLC for $0.99. A few more DLC are coming in the future featuring other songs and characters, but at the cost of $4.99 each, I feel that this is extremely pricey for the content. If they ever decide to revisit this and attempt another Persona dancing game, they should attempt to incorporate more songs, even the ones from the past games in order to give the game a bigger selection of songs.

Overall: 9/10

Persona 4 Dancing All Night is a pretty good rhythm game. It is very friendly towards new players and I like that. Far too many games feature a punishing hard mode without considering the ease of access and very few games do it well enough that it is easy to pick up and difficult to master. It is also nice to see what happens to a group of friends after the RPG is over even though it may be a cheap attempt to cash in on the game. The only real complaint is the lack of songs because I feel like they could have done much more by simply introducing other songs from the Persona series or Shin Megami Tensei franchise. They were ready to bring in other characters, even Hatsune Miku, so why not songs?


3:06 PM on 09.27.2015

Toukiden: Kiwami Review (PC)

Before I begin, let me state that I heavily dislike the Monster Hunter series and games like it. However, I am still willing to give them a shot. I've tried Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate, and now I've tried Toukiden: Kiwami. Sadly though, my favorite giant monster killing game is still the Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe series.

The game is a sequel to Toukiden: Age of Demons (though it does not really matter) and you play as a "Slayer." A Slayer is someone who basically fights against the army of invading Oni (Japanese demons). As you progress, you meet new NPCs that you can add to your group and each chapter of the game ends with a confrontation against one of the giant ones.

There's nothing really impressive about the graphics. They look at about the level of any Playstation 3 game or an equivalent of. Monster models are fairly detailed. The thing that stands out to me the most is the character art and they are by far the most impressive. The cutscenes and appearance of the large monsters feel fairly lackluster to me though. Enemy and area diversity definitely needs improvement as you are basically in the same map every single time ntil you clear the chapter assuming they don't make you go back. At least minor changes would at least make the area feel different. Instead, they just have you run through a different combination of sections on the map.

The beginning of the game is long and dull. You have a starter weapon and you are basically taught the basics of combat along with how to use special abilities during your fist battle against a fairly annoying boss monster if you are not familiar with the game. They later on teach you to absorb demons that you kill so that you can use their parts to upgrade your equipment and about mitama (spirits captured by the demons) that buff your stats. There's really no customization until you make progress in the game and gain access to the new equipment and mitama. Once you get a few chapters into the story, then you will have enough items to actually start upgrading your equipment and begin a little customization. However, it feels like a long journey just to get to that point.

Combat in this game feels clunky and poorly executed. With characters weilding such large and unrealistic weapons, they are very slow and feel unresponsive at times. When you fight small generic enemies, I actually have a hard time estimating the distance between me and the enemy because of how awkward the combat feels. The lock on feature helps to address this a little, but I still found it difficult to use. It is also highly repetitive due to the lack of combos. There were times where I felt like they should have just taken some moves from their Dynasty Warriors series in order to add some speed and variety for each weapon. You can use special abilities to see monster weak points, find hidden things on the map, or power up your attacks, but I found some of these features to be more annoying than useful, especially when looking for hidden things on the map.

Missions in the game are highly repetitive and basically amount to Kill X or destroy a certain number of Y. This is expected of these games, but you will find yourself frequently repeating missions in order to get items that you need to upgrade your gear or enough points to upgrade your mitama. Most of the items that you actually find on your missions are junk, with only a handful of items being useful because you need them to actually upgrade your gear. The rest are meant to be scrapped for money at the end of the mission. The only missions I found enjoyable were the ones that featured boss battles. There are strategies and you have to learn the boss' attacks, but once you do, it gets repetitve as I found that enemies had quite a lot of health. It is less of a problem if you are playing co-operatively, but slashing and doding the same weak spots for like 2 minutes to get a boss to fall over so you can actually deal any significant damage is just tedious. This often repeats a few times before the boss is killed.

Overall: 5/10
Toukiden: Kiwami is a decent game that introduces the lock on feature to a series that traditionally does not have it and it does work, but it does nothing to fix its initial problems. If you are a fan of the giant monster killing series, then Toukiden: Kiwami is something you will enjoy. If you do not like this, then there's nothing really here for you. Much like the rest of the giant monster killing series, it feels awfully slow and the combat is based on what the monster can do rather than what the player can do. They need to start shifting focus to enhance the abilities of the player rather than show a giant monster that you can only swing a giant weapon at.


7:21 PM on 07.19.2015

Fantasica Review (Android)

This is my first review for a non MMO game and I am a harsh critic, but I base it on my opinion and the features that I like. There are a lot of features that I dislike and I will make it known that I absolutely despise those features. Examples include things like selling equipment in the item mall, random box roulettes for decorative items, and stamina/fatigue systems. One of the things that have gotten my interest is Trading Card Games (TCGs). In all my years, I've largely been disappointed with TCGs as video games. Even Hearthstone kind of bothered me because of the random luck in Arena and the disproportionate rewards from longer wins. Since then, I've been jumping around all consoles in an attempt to look for a decent TCG. The only thing that came close to this for me was DevPro and Yugioh, but that gives you all cards from the start, killing the joy of collecting. I recently found Fantasica, a weird hybrid of Tower Defense and TCG. Even though this game is 3 years old already, it still looked pretty good.

Although the game is divided into chapters, I cannot find out if there is an actual story. It just seems to be a collection of missions that end with a boss battle. There is no story that actual binds the game together, but that is fine. The early stages have a 1 minute cooldown, but later stages have 5 minutes and some challenge stages have 1 hr cooldowns.

Fantasica Banner

The graphics of the game are pretty simple. They remind me of the old SNES sprites. The placed characters simply attack with a projectile or instant hit effect. What I really like is the art of the game. The cards come in a variety of styles. Some of them remind me of the old Final Fantasy Tactics art style where as others resemble something out of Lineage II. In general, the common cards (2* and below) seem to lack defining features whereas the rarer cards (6* and up) begin to feature more elaborate art work. The even rarer ones even have a background and seems like something that could be used as a wallpaper if it was released in a high enough resolution. For all of the TCGs out there, the artwork is one of the best.

The game gives you a few 2* cards that are fairly decent to start off. Each card has several stats. Land attack determines how much damage you deal to most non-flying enemies. Air attack determines how much damage you deal to flying enemies. Sea attack determines how much damage you deal to amphibious creatures. In addition to this, each card also has a speed stat that determines how quickly a card attacks. S seems to be the fastest followed by A and all the way down to E as the slowest. In addition to this, cards at 4* and higher have a bonus effect that is rated from 4 to 9 with 9 being the most powerful. These effects include boosting other card types, slow, poison, knockback, and area damage. Each card also has a cost rating that determines how many points you need in order to actually use it in a stage. More powerful cards have a higher cost, but the stats rise exponentially, so that a single 6* card with a cost of 30 will greatly outperform multiple 5* cards.

The game has a pretty thorough tutorial that teaches you all of the gameplay features of the game. It introduces you to each type of enemy and even has an advanced tutorial that teaches you how to optimize the placement of the units for the maximum amount of damage. This feature is very nice and allows you to test how well you've learned the game and shows you what you can do with a limited selection of cards. What it does not do well though is teach you how to use your allies and how important they are since they do not require any points to be placed. These are extremely important in helping you through nearly every stage in the game, so it is important to make as many allies as possible early on.

There are a couple of game modes available. The first one is quest, which is the standard tower defense. This is the main game mode. In each stage, you begin with a certain amount of points to spend on placing your characters with a cap on the number of units you can actually place yourself, and a cap on the number of allied units you can call for help. Allies are important as they do not require any points to place. The game is divided by episodes with about 6 to 7 stages in each episode. The final stage has a boss and once you defeat it, you unlock 3 challenge stages. The first requires you to complete a stage with strong enemies using only a single unit. The second requires you to complete a stage with strong enemies using only your allies. The third stage requires you to complete a stage with extremely strong enemies without the help of allies. The number of units you can place and allies you can place are often inversely related, so if you can only place 3 units, chances are you can place 3 allies. If you can place 4 units, then you can probably only place 2 allies. Using your allies grant you some points that you can use to raise skills that provide passive boosts to various effects including increasing an energy cap or boosting the effects of your units.

The second game mode available is simply reffered to as training. Your leader unit goes down a single hall and instantly kills anything but a boss in a single attack. This mode gives your leader unit experience and some luna (standard currency) to spend. You have a chance to find monster cards as well and at the end of 5 stages is a boss unit. You have to defeat it to move on to the next chapter. Higher chapters give more luna and experience. 

In addition to the two game modes above, there are constantly ongoing events that introduce new cards. The events give you points based on how well you did and you earn rewards as you earn more points. These range from collecting certain items (often gifted by players to each other) or by killing bosses that randomly spawn in special training stages. It is fairly hard to do these without at least a 6* card, but with a 5* card or powerful allies, you can probably earn more 5* cards in these events. You also get a bonus reward if you are able to place overall in the top 3000 or so. This ranking is based on something called BT Points for each event and basically measures how well you did in an event. Without any 6* cards though, you will most likely struggle.

The last feature is something for monster type cards. They are used in Battle mode where an enemy can attack you and they win if your monster cards cannot get past their line of defense. It gets you a nice amount of money, but there is a 1 hr cooldown for this, so it isn't something that you can do very often. In addition to this, you can also send your monster cards out to search for items. With some luck, they will bring you back tickets that you can use to get some better cards though it is 4 hours per attempt.

As you complete each stage, you gain experience for any of the cards you used and they can be leveled up. You can also give them experience by sacrificing other cards, but it requires a large amount of luna to do so. There are also items to increase the level cap of high level cards, but should be done so wisely, preferably with cards that are at an extremely high rarity because they get the most out of it. The stat difference between common cards and rare cards are huge  because rare cards have exponentially higher stats. For comparison, a 10* card can easily have double the stats of a 6* card when maxed out and the cost rating only goes up from about 25 to 40. Considering that using only two cards is often enough to clear most stages, cost is not a factor once you realize that you can use your allies to fill up the rest of the slots.

Although this game is free to play, I found a huge barrier when it came to acquiring new cards. Most players will only be able to obtain tickets that are 4* tickets, which give you a chance of getting cards that are 4* or higher. However, the odds of getting anything better than 5* are extremely low and these tickets are already hard to come by. Your daily free draws and draws from Brave Points rarely give anything more than 2* and I have not even seen a 3* from it yet. 6* or higher cards require an absurd amount of BT Points or event points in order to obtain and there just seems to be no way to even earn that much without first acquiring another 6* card that is already leveled up. 10* cards are essentially only available from spending real money. They say you can earn them from events, but when it is limited to the top 100 or so players instead of being based on percentage of participants or even allowing older 9* and 10* cards being obtainable from some kind of legacy packs, it becomes extremely difficult to acquire unless you save up all your free cooldown resets for a single event and burn through them there to try to earn it. Your only other option is to hope your monster cards can find a rare ticket and you get extremely lucky with a draw. If they changed the rewards to be percentage based, then it might be better. Otherwise, you will be stuck with 5* cards until your day 7 of login for a 6* and day 30 of login for a 7*. Any higher require events. Sadly, I started near the end of their anniversary, so I missed the chance to get the 9* free card that requires 22 or so days in July to acquire, but this is supposedly the only time they have done such a thing. If they did this more, it might have been better.

Overall: 6/10
The game combines elements of TCG with tower defense, creating something that is kind of unique. Ultimately though, the game suffers because you are locked out of the top tier cards unless you spend real money. Had they introduced a decent way of obtaining them, it would have been okay, but the current methods for obtaining them are basically restricted to those who have real money to spend to reduce cooldowns and earn event points. It seemed like this was ultimately a result of serial escalation and the release of rarer and more powerful cards at a constant pace in order to keep the money flowing in. 


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