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Visual Novels photo
Visual Novels

Otome game Norn9 coming to Vita this autumn


A sexy supernatural voyage
May 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Once upon a time, an employee at a well known localization house told me there wasn't a market for otome games in the west. The men in charge just didn't believe folks in North America or Europe would buy romantic visual nove...
Eurovision photo
Eurovision

Six months later, Guilty Gear Xrd: Sign comes to Europe


Eurovision
May 22
// Steven Hansen
Things are going your way right now, Europe. That whole Eurovision thing is going on and you're finally getting Guilty Gear Xrd: Sign, which Chris totally loved when it came out in the US back in December.  Plus, you hav...
sexy sexy sexy photo
sexy sexy sexy

Romance Frankenstein, Van Helsing in this Vita game


Talk about toxic relationships
Apr 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Your skin is poisonous. It rots and/or melts anything you touch. You haven't seen your pops in two years and live alone in a derelict mansion near London. Then, one day, Royal Guards try to capture you for some reason, and ma...
BlazBlue photo
BlazBlue

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend is getting a localization


This summer
Mar 06
// Chris Carter
Aksys Games has announced that BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend will be getting a localization on PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Vita this summer. Can't keep track of BlazBlue's updates and sequels? The "Extend" is q...
UNIEL out in Europe photo
UNIEL out in Europe

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late out today in Europe


Arc System Works and French Bread's fighter completes its world tour
Feb 27
// Kyle MacGregor
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late is now available at retailers across Europe, NIS America tells us. The PS3 fighter will see a digital release next week, starting March 4. For more information about Under Night In-Birth you can...
Xblaze Lost: Memories photo
Xblaze Lost: Memories

BlazBlue spin-off Xblaze 2 coming west this summer


こんにちは読者
Feb 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Xblaze Lost: Memories is coming west this summer, Aksys Games just announced. The "RPG-style" visual novel is the follow-up to XBlaze Code: Embryo, which Aksys localized for western audiences last spring. This PS3 a...
UNIEL on sale photo
UNIEL on sale

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late discounted to just $24


Gordeau is slashing prices!
Feb 25
// Kyle MacGregor
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late just launched in North America and it's already being offered at a deep discount via the PlayStation Store. Plus members can grab the PS3 fighter for a measly $23.79, while those without a subscr...

Review: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

Feb 20 // Kyle MacGregor
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late (PS3)Developer: French Bread, Arc System WorksPublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: February 24, 2015 (NA) February 27, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $39.99  Under Night In-Birth has a story, but it certainly isn't much of a draw. Arc System Works may have helped French Bread bring Under Night In-Birth to consoles, but don't go in expecting a tale on the same level as other titles in Arc's prolific catalog. A paranormal phenomenon called the Hollow Night is happening and demons are spilling from the rift. So, naturally, it's fighting time. And that's really why we're all here, isn't it? Thankfully, the combat at play is just fantastic, as French Bread has carved out a niche for itself between the breakneck air-dashers and slower, more grounded titles like Street Fighter. It's fast, but, with precious little in the way of aerial defense, you'll probably want to keep planted on terra firma most of the time. Space control is a critical element of Under Night In-Birth, as nearly every character on the roster has some sort of long-range attack to jab at opponents and keep them at bay. This creates a fascinating dichotomy at the heart of the experience, giving players the tools to zone adversaries and bait them into vulnerable positions while also heavily encouraging aggressive play. Notice that bar at the bottom of the screen between the special gauges? That's the "GRD." It's a baffling thing, really. In the center of the meter there's a ring that makes a rotation every 17 seconds. At the end of each cycle one player is awarded "Vorpal" status, granting the winner a damage bonus and the ability to "Chain Shift," which can be used to perform special combos and momentarily pause the fight. It certainly adds a layer of strategy to the game. One gains GRD by landing attacks, blocking them successfully, and rushing forward. It can also be charged manually, though it's risky. This doubles as way to deplete the opponent's reserves. GRD is lost by moving away from the enemy, backdashing, or having one's attacks blocked. GRD essentially punishes those clinging to predictable strategies and attack patterns, thereby incentivizing intelligent play and giving rise to all sorts of mindgames. Matches often feel like a tug-of-war, where the timing of an assault or execution of a block or pushback could be the tipping point in battle. That said, a Vorpal bonus is a fleeting advantage, not a surefire path to victory. [embed]287677:57430:0[/embed] Melty Blood fans will be glad to see Sion make an appearance as a guest character in Under Night In-Birth, though she's now named Eltnum. Her dialogue is brilliant too, as she frequently references the fact she shouldn't be in this universe, breaking the fourth wall and even giving the Type-Moon franchise a plug here and there. French Bread also pays homage to its doujin roots with another guest, the title character from Subtle Style's 2D fighter Akatsuki Blitzkampf. All the game modes you'd expect (arcade, training, versus, time attack, survival, and score attack) make an appearance here, though the overall presentation is somewhat spartan. That's not a knock on Under Night In-Birth's visuals, mind you. The art and animation here is just stellar, even if some of the character designs and background environments look pretty run-of-the-mill. Arc System Works did a great job with the network mode, which works seamlessly across all regions. I was able to take on a number of players from Japan (as well as westerners who decided to go ahead and import the game) without experiencing any lag or disconnects. I do have concerns about the title's longevity, though. It's a niche game, one currently lacking a vibrant community. While finding a match wasn't a tremendous challenge, I never noticed more than a dozen or so players in the unranked lobbies at any given time. Hopefully the impending localization can inject some new blood and give the online mode a good kick in the pants. That's really my one concern, how much appeal an obscure fighter on a sunsetting system will have. It's an apprehension not levied at Under Night In-Birth itself but the circumstances surrounding it. French Bread has crafted an intelligent, tactical fighting game that I'll surely be playing for a long time to come. I certainly hope you'll join me.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
UNIEL reviewed photo
It's a total knockout!
The competition is fierce, and I'm not just talking about the folks delivering beat downs online. With so many fighting games on the market nowadays, fans of the genre are spoiled for choice. Studios are vying for mindshare, ...

Review: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-

Dec 16 // Chris Carter
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Arc System Works Team RedPublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: December 16, 2014MSRP: $49.99 (PS3), $59.99 (PS4) Whether you're jumping in for the first time or you want to dust some of that rust off, Xrd has a comprehensive (and funny) tutorial mode. As a six-button fighter (four for attacks), picking up Guilty Gear is easy -- there's a punch, kick, slash, and heavy slash button, as well as throws, air dashes, and cancels. Easy, right? Well, at first! Eventually you'll work into the core mechanics of the game, which involve dust attacks (launchers), the intricate combo system (including easy-to-use beginner Gatling combos), Roman Canceling, and a lot more. Some of the advanced techniques include variations of the canceling system, including Purple Romans, which work as anti-whiff recovery in case you're expecting a big punish. Then there's the Gold Psych burst move that grants maximum tension gauge (super) when used correctly, and the Blue Psych, which is basically a combo-breaker of sorts. Instant Blocks work as a "just defense" mechanism, Faultness Defense is a nuanced pushback counter, and the Blitz Shield blocks one hit of your choice with a Dragon Ball Z-esque power-up frame of sorts. The best part about Blitzing is that you can do it back and forth, which can get comical if you hit it off just right. [embed]284491:56671:0[/embed] This is all on top of the core principle of the game -- aggression is king. In order to keep your Tension up, you need to constantly rush down your opponent and actually get in the thick of it. Turtling for too long will deplete your gauge, which is used for nearly every major ability including supers. It gives Guilty Gear a unique feel where even zoning has to be more aggressive, and it's all the better for it. With Xrd, the entire graphical style has been overhauled. The game looks insanely detailed by way of 3D cel-shaded animation, even though it looks and feels like a 2D fighter. Everything from Dust Attacks to Overdrives (supers) also have a cinematic feel to them, and insta-kills feel like they're ripped directly out of an anime. At one point I couldn't tell a custscene apart from the in-game animation, which is crazy. For reference, it runs at 720p on PS3, but glorious 1080p on the PS4. To add to the upgraded sense of style, the new soundtrack (although a bit small), is worthy of its place in the series. Characters like Chipp have a new dimension to them stylistically, to the point where it feels like I'm meeting them for the first time. Seeing Venom open up his pool cue is just as awesome as it was years ago, and nuances like Sol's Dragon Install modifying his physical state and his Tyrant Rave animation are nice touches. I also love the Potemkin and Millia revamps more than the old models. Oh, and Slayer's haikus are back. Speaking of the cast, you'll find everything from the arcade version, and 17 fighters in all if you include the two DLC characters (one of which is free for a limited time). The console version adds Sin Kiske, boss Ramlethal Valentine, and the DLC-specific Elphelt and Leo Whitfang. The newcomers in the mix are extremely welcome, as Ram has the ability to manipulate two swords separately, and Bedman can recall past versions of himself to enact abilities he has used previously. Existing characters also have plenty of fun gimmicks to differentiate themselves, like Zato using Eddie as a summon/minion of sorts. All in all you'll find the following: Faust, Millia, Sol, Ky, May, Chipp, Potemkin, Slayer, I-No, Axl, Ramlethal, Venom, Zato-1, Bedman, and Sin pre-DLC. Sadly, a number of classic characters are missing like Jam, Baiken, and Johnny. It stings -- and unlocking Sin by grinding for tons of points is a massive pain -- but the new cast fits right in. You'll have a bit more to chew on in terms of a story as well, as each character has at least an intro, mid-movie, and ending in Arcade mode. Though the dub is quite serviceable and features a cast that treads the perfect line between serious and cheese, you can simply switch to Japanese voices in the options menu. Default dual-audio? Yes, please. The visuals once again are employed perfectly in the main story as it deals with yet another "world ending" scenario, intertwining the entire cast in one giant plot. There's plenty of single-player goodness to enjoy here as you see the events unfold through multiple sets of eyes, and there's even a full "story" mode that serves as a miniature movie to wrap this particular plotline up. It should really appeal to fans of the series and anime fans in general. There's also an objective challenge mode for every character, a linked mission mode, and the survival-esque Medal of Millionaire (M.O.M.) returns. The online modes are fairly robust, with gigantic 64-player lobbies, reserve slots, "winner stays" settings, room passwords, the ability to "quarter up," track records, and the option to train while you wait. You can tweak nearly every option, including individual round settings and spectator options. There can be four battles going on in each lobby, leading to some intense matches going on simultaneously. Cross-Play between the PS3 and PS4 is the cherry on top. The netcode itself is running smoothly as tested at launch (12/16). The system is server-based, and you can access a number of regions like North America and Asia. Lobbies vary, as Japan is completely maxed with multiple 64-person lobbies, but some North American regions only have a few full rooms. Once you're rocking, though, the good times keep on rolling. You can even queue up a ranked match and do any other activity in the game while waiting. Guilty Gear is still one of the most badass fighting franchises out there, and Xrd -Sign- honors that legacy. It looks breathtaking, the action is constant and in-your-face, and although the roster is smaller than I'd like, there is a lot of variation to be found once you start digging into the game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Guilty Gear reviewed photo
Heaven or Hell, rock again
I've spent many late nights with Guilty Gear. Week-long tournaments, money-matches between friends; it was the perfect series to play around with, and one of my most competitive. But as time went on, the franchise started to ...

Review: Mind Zero

Oct 24 // Brittany Vincent
Mind Zero (Vita)Developer: Acquire, ZeroDivPublisher: Aksys GamesMSRP: $39.99Released: May 27, 2014  Step into a world where bizarre creatures known as MINDs occasionally cross over into the human dimension from the Inner Realm and take over hosts. In Mind Zero, they're found forming contracts with a group of unassuming high school students after they stumble into a strange old shop where they're faced with a harrowing decision: choose a MIND "weapon" or be killed. The obvious choice is to go with a MIND, but perhaps that's a curse in itself, as they become bound to their host. The group of teenagers is tasked with getting to the bottom of a rash of crimes caused by those who have misused their own MIND contracts. In a world where the police think they're dealing with some sort of illegal drug, this is easier said than done. [embed]281895:56088:0[/embed] The plot does an admirable job of holding your attention, despite the fact that some of the characters do their best to push you away -- especially protagonist Kei, whose apathy is frustrating. The rest of the cast, including Sana Chikage, suffer from voice actors delivering repetitive dialogue and performances that grate on the nerves. It's tough to stay engaged when the game seems to do everything it can to ensure that you're not, but the premise is interesting enough that you'll want to push through and continue playing to see what kind of resolution awaits. And given the fact that there's an overabundance of talking and exposition, this is an impressive feat. Thankfully, you can switch between the Japanese and English voice tracks for a reprieve from the latter's irritating nature. But of course, you won't be standing around reading and listening to the characters talk amongst themselves the entire time. Mind Zero is comprised of story missions and dungeon-crawling. You can engage specific characters' stories to find out more about them, and earn extra equipment and sojourns back into dungeons. Otherwise, most of your time is spent excavating dungeons via a first-person perspective. This is a strange design choice, but one that does enhance the "alien" feel that Mind Zero exudes out of nearly every pore. As you travel throughout each dungeon's grid in four directions, you'll come across treasure chests, enemies, and exits to subsequent floors. It's akin to other games of this ilk like Demon Gaze or even Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers, but it will take some getting used to if you're a Persona fan entranced by the possibility of this being similar -- this is one way in which it's incredibly divergent. Combat is a turn-based affair with three party members. You can attack, defend, use items, attempt to escape, or use "burst" move twice. MINDs step in much like the Stands of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, protecting those who have summoned them and absorbing damage. They can also go on the offensive, with elemental attacks and special moves that you can use to fell enemies much quicker. The variation between MINDs is interesting, as are their attack illustrations, but using them is nowhere near as dynamic or engaging as, say, the Personas they resemble. The one saving grace that Mind Zero has going for it is its absolutely gorgeous character designs, which channel the work of the great Kazuma Kaneko. It's a sight to behold, and undoubtedly one of the main reasons buyers will have been drawn to the project in the first place. Regrettably, multiple typos and a bizarre font choice brings forth the feeling that the editors didn't care about creating a translated project so much as a finished one. Mind Zero is in no way a travesty, but despite glaring shortcomings, it's very average. A premise that sets the stage for an exciting thrill ride gives way to a rickety dungeon crawler with little to offer in the way of combat genius, looting, or even life sim elements. A game will collapse if there's nothing in it, and while it's not "nothing" per se here in Mind Zero, there certainly isn't enough good to recommend it as even a Persona competitor, let alone imitator.
Mind Zero photo
Where is my mind?
At a glance, it's easy to look at Mind Zero and compare it to the Persona series given its art style and the narrative advertised within early trailers and promotional materials. And you wouldn't be incorrect in declaring tha...

 photo

Guilty Gear Xrd Sign dated for December 16 in North America


Preorder now
Oct 16
// Dale North
Aksys announced that fighter Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- will be released on December 16 in North America, for both PS3 and PS4. That's just a couple of weeks after the Japanese release.  There will be standard and limit...
Fighting Games photo
Fighting Games

Arcana Heart 3: Love Max hits PS3, Vita next month


And then Europe sometime later this year
Aug 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Arcana Heart 3: Love Max is connecting with North America on September 23, localization house Aksys Games has announced. The all-girl fighter from Ark System Works and Examu will then gear up to strike Europe later this year, courtesy of NIS America. According to both publishers, the title will be distributed physically at retail as well as digitally via PlayStation Network.
Muramasa Rebirth photo
Muramasa Rebirth

New Muramasa Rebirth DLC haunts Vita next week


More action-packed Japanese folklore inbound!
Jul 08
// Kyle MacGregor
The penultimate entry in Muramasa Rebirth's downloadable Genroku Legends tetralogy will be available in the West next week, Aksys Games announced today. A Spirited Seven Nights’ Haunting follows a ninja on the run ...
French Bread fighter photo
French Bread fighter

Arc System Works fighter Under Night In-Birth coming to PS3 in 2015


Melty Blood dev French Bread getting its crazy anime fighter out and available
Jul 08
// Steven Hansen
Aksys Games is bringing Melty Blood developer French Bread's Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late to PlayStation 3 in 2015. Guilty Gear studio Arc System Works published the fighting game in Japan earlier this year. "Under Nig...
Tokyo Twilight photo
Tokyo Twilight

Tell us how you really feel: Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters headed for North America


Who ya gonna call?
Jul 05
// Brittany Vincent
Aksys Games has seen fit to grace us with a North American release of Arc System Works' Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, a delightfully strange visual novel that looks quite intriguing. Nobuo Uematsu is responsible for the musi...
XBlaze Code: Embryo photo
XBlaze Code: Embryo

XBlaze Code: Embryo is the BlazBlue game you didn't know you wanted


Visual novels are love
Jun 26
// Brittany Vincent
Can't get enough BlazBlue? Check out XBlaze Code: Embryo, something completely different. Arc System Works' visual novel follows Touya Kagari as he finds himself entangled within a network of secretive organizations and a gag...
EVO money photo
EVO money

Arc System Works, Aksys add $30k to BlazBlue EVO 2014 pot


Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- playable, if I was BlazGreen I would die
Jun 24
// Steven Hansen
I had a pretty nice EVO 2013 at the live streaming get together we here are Destructoid threw in a San Francisco bar. Meanwhile, contestants (as opposed to us novice drunks) are in store for an even nicer EVO 2014 as Arc...
Persona-like photo
Persona-like

Hope you don't mind: Mind Zero now available on Vita


Persona-like
May 27
// Steven Hansen
Mind Zero is a dungeon crawler wherein high schoolers with mind powers battle against a seedy government, alternating between the real and spirit world. And it's out today in North America, physical and digital, and will be out in Europe right after, exclusively as a digital title.
Muramasa DLC discount photo
Muramasa DLC discount

Hot deal: Muramasa Rebirth DLC discounted on PSN


Both Genroku Legends available for $2.49 apiece
May 20
// Kyle MacGregor
Aksys Games has some nice deals on PlayStation Vita this week, with both episodes of Muramasa Rebirth's Genroku Legends downloadable content available for a song. A Cause to Diakon For and Fishy Tales of the Ne...
BlazBlue Visual Novel photo
BlazBlue Visual Novel

BlazBlue spin-off gets a trailer, demo out on PSN


XBlaze: Code Embryo hits PS3 and Vita in full next month
May 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Have you ever wondered what BlazBlue would be like if Arc System Works removed all the fighting game bits? Probably not. But, on the off chance you're interested in finding out, the brand-new demo for XBlaze: ...
XBlaze Code: Embryo photo
XBlaze Code: Embryo

BlazBlue visual novel gets a demo for PS3, Vita this week


Take XBlaze Code: Embryo for a spin this Tuesday!
May 11
// Kyle MacGregor
XBlaze Code: Embryo, a visual novel set in the BlazBlue universe, is coming to North America for both PlayStation 3 and Vita on June 24. Until then, Asksys Games is hoping to whet your appetite with a demo version. That'll be...
Fighting Games photo
Fighting Games

Arcana Heart 3: Love Max strikes PS3, Vita this fall in North America


'Bash the cute out of each other'
Apr 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Arcana Heart 3: Love Max is air-dashing its way to PlayStation 3 and Vita in North America this autumn, Aksys Games has announced.  The all-girl fighting game from Examu and Arc System Works is an enhanced version of the...
BlazBlue Vita photo
BlazBlue Vita

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma gets an official Vita release date


June 24th
Apr 14
// Chris Carter
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma has arrived on the PlayStation 3, but we were waiting on a Vita release date for what seems like forever. Until this week that is, when publisher Aksys Games announced that the Vita port will arrive...
Mind Zero photo
Mind Zero

Mind Zero crawling to PlayStation Vita next month


Persona-like RPG hitting North America and Europe in late May
Mar 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Get ready to go crazy, because Mind Zero is coming west next month. The PlayStation Vita dungeon crawler will debut as physical and retail release in North America on May 27 before making its way to Europe exclusively via do...
Not a game photo
Not a game

999: The Novel is a Choose Your Own Adventure book


Should have charged nine dollars
Mar 17
// Steven Hansen
What really is a game, anyway? This is a question that bothers a lot of insecure people with insignificant things to argue about. Actually, when 999 came out on iOS in Japan we learned it had removed the "escape the room" puz...
999: The Novel photo
999: The Novel

999: The Novel is coming to iOS


On March 17th for $4.99
Mar 11
// Chris Carter
Aksys Games is bringing the DS game 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors to life in the form of a visual novel on iOS.  It's set to drop on March 17th and priced at $4.99 -- since it is interactive, you'll have some choices,...
Muramasa DLC photo
Muramasa DLC

Muramasa Rebirth's second DLC is out next week


'Genroku Legends A Cause to Daikon For'
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Muramasa Rebirth is getting its second DLC campaign next week, and it's the most interesting one yet. It features Gonbe, a widowed farmer, and his grass roots rebellion against his lord. He has a sickle, bamboo spe...

Review: Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God

Feb 02 // Wesley Ruscher
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (PS Vita)Developer: Compile Heart, ZeroDivPublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: December 10, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Sorcery Saga tells a story that is about as light-hearted as it gets. Pupuru, a recently suspended magic school student, loves nothing more than the delicious curry from Smile Curry. It’s the local restaurant that is facing tough times due to the new mega trendy chain store that has opened up in town. Sort of like the Starbucks of curry shops, this corporate conglomeration is running out all the local competition with its cheap and quick curry. Luckily for Pupuru, and her local shop, she’s happened to come across a magical book with the recipe for the “Ultimate Curry.” It’s the one thing that can save her favorite delicatessen – and something that requires Pupuru to embark on an epic quest to gather all the necessary ingredients. Though she may not be saving the world, she’s saving her world and it couldn't be any more delightful. [embed]269883:52430:0[/embed] If you dig lighthearted anime, then you will be right at home with the game’s narrative. Ever since 999, Akysys Games has consistently delivered excellently penned banter. The game’s cast of characters is quite ridiculous, but I often found myself laughing at the absurdity of every situation between dungeon crawls. Perhaps my favorite side character was Gigadis, an evil lord from the netherworld and stalker of Pupuru. His brashness and idiotic ways can be cringeworthy at times, but it’s of no fault of the localization. The guy just constantly puts his foot in his mouth and is borderline creepy with his failed attempts to get Pupuru to fall for him (kind of like the vampire dude from Twilight -- editor’s note: this comes by way of my girlfriend). Additionally, his overly cocky theme song -- comprised of broken English -- championing why he is the greatest ever, is another reason I couldn’t help but root for the buffoon.  Alas, while you will spend a decent amount of time pushing through the game’s story segments, the meat of Sorcery Saga is not nearly as sweet as the rest of the game’s presentation. At its core this title is a hardcore Japanese roguelike. Similar to games like Shiren the Wanderer and The Guided Fate Paradox (one of my favorite titles from last year) the majority of your time will be spent grinding away through the depths of many punishing dungeons. Roguelikes are known for their often unfair difficulty spikes and Sorcery Saga is no different. The game starts innocently, as it warms players to its subtle nuances that separates it from others in the genre, but by the time the third dungeon is reached you can expect more than a few occasions that make you want to toss your Vita in disgust. Death can come swiftly without notice, no matter how prepared you are. The game incorporates all the nastiest staples of the genre and it’s not afraid to pile them on and make you cry. There are enemies that can walk through walls; randomly overly powerful suicidal creatures; traps that cause status ailments; random floors that take away abilities (like using items or spells); and random floors filled with overwhelming amounts of monsters. The sense of elation when you overcome the odds is one of the greatest gifts the game can instill in its players, but sadly dying and losing all your on-hand inventory is an all too frequent occurrence. The game does do a modest job in bringing a sense of freshness to the genre with its cooking system. Along with dropping weapons, gear, and other useful items, defeated enemies drop basic ingredients for creating your own delicious curry. Collecting these items in each dungeon, and then bringing back to Curry Smile, will grant Pupuru with guaranteed recipes she can execute in a dungeon when no enemies are present. You can still attempt to mix ingredients without recipes, but often the results end in inedible disasters. Where cooking comes in handy is in the status buffs it can provide for Pupuru and her A.I.-controlled partner Kuu. Cooking the right curry recipe can make all the difference in successfully navigating any one of the game’s tumultuous floors. But luck still plays a major factor since the status isn't permanent and food can rot as well. The other standout feature to Sorcery Saga is Pupuru’s bunny-like companion Kuu. He fights alongside of you in dungeons and is quite handy when he behaves properly. Like Pupuru, he begins each dungeon at level one (it’s a roguelike thing), but how he gets stronger is all up to the player. A garbage disposal of sorts, Kuu levels up from all the unwanted items you feed him. The types of items you toss down his gullet additionally grants him extra skills (like weapon forging) that can make all the difference in escaping the game’s later stages. My only real complaint of Kuu comes from the way he sometime just does what he wants. He can often get stuck on an obstacle, and subsequently left behind. You need him alive to progress floors, so when he goes off and dies having to backtrack for him and can be quite costly. He’s a great companion when he’s by your side, but he can also be your worst nightmare  -- especially when he’s starving, since his hunger pangs attract monsters. The only other thing that irked me in Sorcery Saga was the random slowdown that would hit the game at times. When you look at the game’s visuals, you can’t help but think you’re playing an uprezzed PS One game -- which makes this phenomenon all the more strange. It’s never to the point where it makes the game unplayable, but it’s frankly inexcusable for a game with such simple graphics. In the end, Sorcery Saga was a title that took me by surprise. It may not the best of games, but it’s far from the worst. Its lighthearted nature is hard to recommend if you're not a fan of the genre, but if you're willing to try something a little different, there’s enough delicious pleasantries served throughout to satisfy anyone's dungeon-crawling cravings.
Sorcery Saga reviewed photo
I'm still hungry
With the amount of role-playing adventures I’ve journeyed through in my life that culminate in apocalyptic showdowns, I’m a little tired. Save the world, rinse, and repeat. It’s so rare that a Japanese RPG d...

Muramasa DLC photo
Muramasa DLC

Muramasa's Uprising of the Oone Resistance DLC detailed


Starring Gonbei
Jan 16
// Chris Carter
Muramasa: Rebirth is set to have four side stories arrive in the form of DLC, and they all seem to be pretty meaty diversions. America just got its first, The Fishy Tales of Nekomata, and the second has just dropped in ...

Review: Muramasa Rebirth: Tales of the Nekomata DLC

Jan 15 // Chris Carter
Muramasa Rebirth: Fishy Tales of the Nekomata (PlayStation Vita)Developer: MarvelousAQLPublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: January 14, 2014 (US) / January 22, 2014 (EU)MSRP: $4.99 First things first, upon downloading the first DLC, Fishy Tales of the Nekomata, you'll have the option to select "Genroku Legends" from the main menu (don't forget the title update if it's not showing up). That's right -- there's no need to complete the core story in any way, as each DLC is a completely separate option that has no ties to your original save file -- Genroku Legends has its own menu and save system, almost like an expansion. That's great news for newcomers, as the tales are not only gaidens (side stories), but they also don't require any prior knowledge or specific ending to enjoy. As an added bonus, they can be played on both Legend and Chaos difficulty from the start. Fishy Tales of the Nekomata starts off right -- with the ability to control an adorable cat and innocently spy on some villagers. The tale quickly goes from cute to disturbing however, as a brother and sister are brutally murdered by thugs hired by her family's chef, all for a prized tea set that was going to be delivered to the shogun. Swearing revenge, Okoi is transformed into an avatar of hate by way of the aforementioned feline, and becomes a host to a cat demon. In true Muramasa form, the cat spirit (Nekomata) is based on actual Japanese folklore. This is where things get pretty interesting, despite the fact that this tale is essentially a familial and more intimate affair. All of the characters (even the vile betrayer) are interesting, and Fishy Tales really did a great job of sucking me into Okoi's world. It helps that there's full spoken Japanese dialog present in tandem with the impeccable Vita translation, and it really drives home the point that this DLC isn't some cheap rush-job addition. Okoi's gameplay and fighting style is also very fluid, and you can take advantage of her standard human form with the added benefit of claw attacks, as well as her "Miike" form (which is literally a cat) who can scratch and breathe fire, and the all-powerful "Avatar" special attack (which is only usable after you power up a special meter). Both main forms have their advantages, and are unique in their own way as you'll soon learn after busting out your first few combos with them. It's like playing with two different characters in a fighting game. The Avatar is pretty ridiculous, as you're able to commandeer a phantom spirit consisting of a giant face made up of cats. You can breath fire and attack as one, and as usual, the animation is top notch. It adds ridiculous element to the game and complements the theme of the DLC perfectly -- not to mention it's fun to actually use. When your meter runs out all the cats scurry off. Adorable. Changing forms is like changing swords in the core game (with durability in tow), but more fun and impactful. Rather than shift to a similar-looking sword that may not make a whole lot of difference (depending on your equipment of course), morphing between human and cat form makes for a vastly different set of tactics every time. Learning when to use close combat and ranged attacks is not only fun, but unique to Okoi as a character, which further differentiates the DLC from the main game in a good way. You'll also still have a skill tree (which is also specific to Okoi, and not to the swords like Rebirth proper), equipment unique to the DLC, and all of the other details that Rebirth allows for Kisuke and Momohime. It also still looks as beautiful and as smooth as ever, and most importantly, it's still challenging. Even the first fight on Legend difficulty can be an ordeal, and it kept me on my toes throughout the entire DLC. Nekomata will run you around two to three hours your first time through, although there is a speedrun trophy for finishing it under an hour. This might sound light, but it ensures that the story is streamlined, and results in less backtracking or tedium. In ways, it's more fun than the core game because it's basically nonstop action and story with little downtime. There are also two endings and a boss rush mode should you want more. I heartily enjoyed my time as a cat in Muramasa Rebirth, and I can't wait to see what the other DLC stories can do. Vanillaware ingeniously was able to tie the heart of the game into its first Genroku Legends side story, while giving it a fine heart of its own. It's so well done in fact, that I could easily see a full game starring Okoi one day.
Muramasa DLC reviewed photo
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Muramasa Rebirth transports DLC westward early next year


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