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DTOID News is wearing a dumb scarf
Hey everybody, I’m back from Japan! And here’s your quasi-timely news update for the first two thirds of this week. Irrational Games closed, pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order gets you a beta for the new and...

Review: Inazuma Eleven

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

Guild 01 photo
Guild 01

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


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

Review: Weapon Shop de Omasse

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

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

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


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

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


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

Inazuma Eleven drops on the 3DS eShop...today!


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

Weapon Shop de Omasse to be released this month


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

Guild 01's missing Weapon Shop game getting localized


Weapon Shop De Omasse
Jan 09
// Chris Carter
America may have gotten the vast majority of Level-5's Guild 01 and Guild 02 collections, but it was missing one game -- Weapon Shop De Omasse. According to Level-5, the game would have taken far too long to localize given al...
Level-5 new in 2014 photo
Level-5 new in 2014

Level-5 wants to 'surprise' fans in 2014 with new game


I'm still waiting for Fantasy Life
Jan 07
// Chris Carter
Fantasy Life took off in Japan, and as a result, has substantially raised Level-5's coffers beyond all of the other successful projects they had in 2013. Speaking to 4Gamer, a few key developers noted that the Fantasy Life&nb...
Ni No Kuni soundtrack photo
Ni No Kuni soundtrack

Mega-fan re-scores Ni No Kuni out of respect for composer


Sam Joseph Delves loves this game
Nov 08
// Chris Carter
Despite its shortcomings, Ni No Kuni is one of my favorite games of this year, bar none. In fact, depending on how I feel at the end of December, it may even be my outright Game of the Year, amidst everything I've playe...
Wonder Flicl PS4 photo
Wonder Flicl PS4

Level-5 JRPG Wonder Flick gets a PS4 teaser trailer


Unless you want to be rent asunder, click
Sep 25
// Steven Hansen
Our previous look at Level-5's adorable new RPG scored by Final Fantasy's Nobuo Uematsu was tempered because it is a free-to-play mobile title. It's meant to release in Japan this November on Android and iOS. However, some w...
Level-5 game sales photo
Level-5 game sales

Layton series has sold over 15 million units


Level-5 also reveals sales of Ni no Kuni, Inazuma Eleven, and the Guild games
Aug 28
// Tony Ponce
Level-5 has kicked the fans in the collective nuts with the complete tonal shift that is Layton 7. That must mean the games are on their last legs and can no longer make bank on Nintendo handhelds alone, right? Not likely if ...
Layton 7 photo
Layton 7

Layton 7 for 3DS and mobile is not MY Layton


This is how it starts
Aug 28
// Tony Ponce
I... I brought this upon myself. I said that Layton Brothers: Mystery Room was a great game. I said it was an excellent iOS companion to the traditional Layton series. I never should have had faith that a major gaming compan...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5's next role-playing game is Wonder Flick


The 'L' and the 'I' together kind of look like a 'U'
Aug 26
// Jordan Devore
Level-5's got a new role-playing game that has a cutesy art style (yay!) and composer Nobuo Uematsu (double yay!) but it's a free-to-play mobile title. The basic hook of Wonder Flick is that commands are issued by flick...

Review: Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

Aug 19 // Tony Ponce
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S])Developer: Matrix SoftwarePublisher: Level-5Release: June 27, 2013 (US / EU)MSRP: Free (Case File No. 000-002), $2.99 (No. 003-006), $1.99 (No. 007-009) You won't find Professor Hershel Layton or his young protégé Luke in this new tale, which takes place an indeterminate number of years following the duo's globetrotting adventures. Instead, you assume the role of Lucy Baker, an eager new detective constable working in Scotland Yard under Alfendi Layton, genius son of the ol' professor. Despite the game's title implying otherwise, Alfendi's unnamed brother is curiously absent aside from a brief offhand mention early on. Perhaps Level-5 hopes to investigate that particular mystery in a future sequel, but it's nonetheless an odd naming choice. Anyway, Mystery Room is split into nine separate "Case Files" (plus a prologue chapter to establish the setting). In each, you must use your investigative skills to examine murder sites and determine the culprit from a small list of suspects. Most cases are unrelated to one another, save for the last few which tie directly into the game's overarching narrative. [embed]259887:49975:0[/embed] The meat of the game is the investigation phase, in which you use the touchscreen to navigate the crime scene for evidence. Unlike your typical point-and-click adventure, all objects you can inspect will be pointed out via markers. Though genre-savvy players might believe this makes the game too easy, the upside is that it eliminates both the tedious exercise of pixel hunting as well as any fears that you can't solve a case because of a single missing clue. After making a list of deductions, you invite the alleged culprit into the office for a final round of questioning; here's where Mystery Room gets deliciously anime-tastic. Much like the "cornered" sequences in the Ace Attorney series, the culprit grows more comically frustrated as you present evidence that contradicts his or her statements. Their composure is visually represented by a heart encased in stone, and each of your accusations take on the form of arrows that literally chip away at their defense. While the earlier cases are fairly straightforward, later ones feature last-second twists that may point the blame elsewhere. As tense as the game can become, there's never any danger of failing. Al will gently guide you towards the correct answers early on, but even in the more complex cases, the penalty for presenting incorrect evidence is just to pick again. You'll never have to replay a section just because of your mistakes, which makes it entirely possible to brute force your way through. However, there is a sense of hearty accomplishment in putting forth an honest effort. The story isn't as massive in scope as those of Al's old man, but that shortcoming is balanced out by a well defined cast. Alfendi himself is a mellow fellow who calculates the percent certainty of his suspicions down to the tenths place, but in the heat of interrogation, his demeanor changes to that of a sinister, sharp-tongued wolf. Lucy of course is the bright-eyed sidekick, anxious to prove her worth despite her lack of experience. Then there are the supporting characters and the criminal suspects, each with distinctive mannerisms and speech. The dialog is one of the game's biggest highlights. Mystery Room successfully textualizes a range of regional dialects -- you can almost hear Lucy's thick Cockney accent whenever she speaks. It's such a shame there is no voice acting whatsoever, considering the incredible voice work in the main Layton games. The other highlight is the incredible jazz soundtrack, produced by famed Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro. There's such energy and intensity there, as if you are playing a classic radio drama. Once you start putting pressure on your suspect, the trumpets flare, the drums go absolutely mental, and the player feels completely in control. You've got the mind of a super sleuth and have the theme song to prove it! Mystery Room is also a highly digestible experience. Each chapter feels like an episode of a TV show -- long enough that you feel adequately invested, yet short enough that you can easily clear a case in a single sitting. Though there are frequent checkpoints for those who absolutely must quit mid-investigation, the fact that you can tackle a chapter in the time it would take to watch CSI makes the game very inviting. Most of all, there's something immensely satisfying about putting on your thinking cap and solving a harrowing murder mystery. Even if there isn't any true risk of failure, the game creates just enough tension that you feel your actions have purpose. Add to that all the window dressing -- the bizarre characters, the over-the-top interrogations, the music -- and you'd have to be pretty jaded not to have a grand time. Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is a fine companion to the main Layton series. Unless you really, really miss those Highlights brain teasers, that is.
Layton Brothers review photo
A gentleman leaves no murder unsolved
Despite my affection towards the Professor Layton series, I felt no compulsion to download Layton Brothers: Mystery Room when it released a couple months back. I'm not against mobile gaming, nor do I believe it's impossible f...

Review: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale

Aug 14 // Jonathan Holmes
Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (3DS eShop)Developer: Millennium KitchenPublisher: Level-5Released: July 18, 2013 MSRP: $7.99 Attack of the Friday Monsters opens with an alarmingly adorable, fully-voiced theme song about not knowing why your parents love you. It threw me completely off balance, and that's where I stayed for the rest of my time with the game. The priorities of the developers seem so contrary to where most games are going these days. Their focus is on putting you in a specific place and time and letting you be there, often alone, calmly existing. It's been compared to Animal Crossing and EarthBound, and while the game has similar goals as those two beloved classics, it goes about meeting them in vastly different ways.  You may think that you need to do more in a game than walk around, talk to people, and pick up shiny balls sitting on the ground in order to remain engaged. You may feel you know yourself and your taste in things enough to make such an assumption. If so, Attack of the the Friday Monsters may just prove that assumption wrong.  [embed]258514:50001:0[/embed] The game uses pre-rendered backgrounds like Resident Evil or the old Monkey Island titles that set the camera at different angles as you move throughout the environment. All these backgrounds appear to be hand-painted watercolors, and they invoke a gentle sincerity that packs a punch with each new angle you experience. While most games that take the "cinematic" approach do so with loads of virtual acting and dramatic turns, Attack of the Friday Monsters sticks to pacing, framing, and beautiful artwork. Anyone who has been in awe of a dialogue-free sequence in a Ghibli film -- like Mei's exploration of Totoro's forest, or Ashitaka's quiet journey of exile from his home village -- will know what I'm talking about.  You play as a young boy named Sota who's just moved into town. Along with his new environment comes the understanding that his parent's relationship may be more complicated than they may show on the surface. His mother quickly sends him on an errand, but perhaps because of his age, Sota is simply not able to remember to carry out this task. It doesn't matter how often the player may put Sota in the position to carry out that errand; he just can't remember to do it. This speaks to the relationship that the player will find with the world of Attack of the Friday Monsters as filtered through the eyes and mind of a Japanese boy. Sota is at a time and place where children didn't fear strange adults as they might today, so he runs around town talking to every man, woman, and child without fear of what it may lead to. The only true threat Sota knows comes in the form of giant monsters which have been trampling the countryside. Strangely enough, there is a television show about giant monsters being produced in the very same town. The game dances between leading you to believe the monsters are real and that they are just an elaborate Santa Claus-style fantasy created by the adults of the town, though Sota's belief in the creatures never falters. In the end, it's hard to say what is real and what is Sota's interpretation of reality, though the ideas about bullying, parenthood, family relationships, and what it means to belong are never so ambiguous. The narrative moves along on a pretty straight line. Your objective points are always on the map on the lower screen, so there is never much question as to where to go next, though getting there isn't always as simple. You don't usually have to follow those specific objectives, either. The game contains 26 "episodes," much like the Bombers handbook in Majora's Mask, but those episodes rarely play out in numerical order. One may start while another is half complete, and one may finish before the next begins. Not coincidentally, this structure mimics the attention pattern of your average child who has plenty they could do, but nothing they have to do, so things may fall into place in their own way without need to follow a logical order.  Scattered throughout the town are "glims," which Sota is told are shards of energy that have flown off of the local monsters in the midst of their battles. Collect enough of these glims and you'll magically obtain a card that you can use in a Pokemon-style in-game card combat against other kids. There are only a couple of times that you have to engage in a card battle, but you'll want to play much more often than that, as the game-within-a-game is surprisingly gripping, like a cross between Poker and Rock, Paper, Scissors. That comparison isn't just a lazy reference. The cards literally have the Rock, Paper, or Scissors symbols on them, identifying their strengths and vulnerabilities in a way that is universally clear. By collecting more cards, you can level up older cards, and even obtain cards that represent more than one element at a time (like Rock-Paper or Scissors-Rock). There is no in-game reason to collect all the cards and craft a formidable deck, but seeing all the new card art and feeling the sense of completion for "catching them all" is reason enough.  Whoever wins a card battles gets to cast a spell on the loser, which involves speaking a few magic words (mostly Japanese nonsense phrases) and watching the loser fall down. It's way more fun that it sounds like or deserves to be. You can even customize the order in which the magic words are spoken. It's never clear if the spells are real, or if the children are so convinced that they're real that they are compelled to act out their power by willfully falling over. It's just another way that the game plays with the line between perception of reality and projected illusions.  There is a little post-game fun to be had after the main narrative is over, but you'll likely only get three to four hours of play out of the title altogether. That's about $2 an hour. It's not the kind of game you might want to jump in and replay immediately after seeing the credits, but like most good short stories; it's something you'll want to revisit after your memory of its specifics has faded. The beautiful graphics, evocative soundtrack, selective but effective use of voice acting, excellent story, and occasional fart joke make Attack of the Friday Monsters worth keeping in your permanent collection. Titles like Journey and The Walking Dead have shown that games aren't always about what you do -- it's about where you are and who you're with. Attack of the Friday Monsters stands beside those two critically-acclaimed titles as another example of how fun short story narrative games can be.
Friday Monsters review photo
Pacific Ghibli Rim
Children see the world from a lower vantage point than adults. They're closer to the smaller things, the things they're more able to control. They're also more able to stand back and see the bigger picture in ways that adults...

Layton vs. Ace Attorney photo
OBJECTION!
[Update: European release also confirmed.] Late last year, Japan got an amazing crossover in Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney -- leaving everyone else in the dark as to when it would be announced worldwide. But due to today...

Fantasy Life Link photo
Fantasy Life Link

Fantasy Life Link gets an adorable new trailer


New video is mostly multiplayer-centric
Jul 23
// Chris Carter
Last we heard, Fantasy Life wasn't up for an international release just yet, but that didn't stop the game from being insanely popular in Japan, and with the newest "Link" expansion, it's only getting bigger. Link offers up ...
Layton on iOS photo
Layton on iOS

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room hits iOS today


'Who is the mom?' is the real mystery
Jun 27
// Chris Carter
At some point Professor Layton had a child. We don't know how it was conceived, or whether or not it was through natural or unnatural means, but lo and behold, Alfendi Layton is a real thing, and he's starring in his own iOS ...
Level-5 top character photo
Level-5 top character

Level-5's most famous character is... the Aero Porter?


Um, what?
Jun 26
// Chris Carter
To celebrate their 15th anniversary, Level-5 held a fan poll to find out what the current favorite was amongst their colorful stable of characters. As many people know, Professor Layton is a popular Level-5 franchise, alongsi...

Review: BUGS vs. TANKS!

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
BUGS vs. Tanks! (3DS)Developer: ComceptPublisher: Level-5Released: June 20, 2013MSRP: $7.99 Given how easily the World War II time period could have overstayed its welcome, I'm glad Inafune opted for a quick setup and very little story. Simply put, you're a soldier in a shrunken German panzer squad, and the local insects are looking at you for their next meal. Your battlefield isn't a famous war-torn European city but a completely foreign jungle of grass and dirt, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style. You'll defend yourself with a battalion of tanks with fairly straightforward controls -- your only real abilities are moving, pivoting, firing, and a "once per level" artillery power. By default, your tank will utilize an automatic fire mode to constantly shoot enemies in range; you're going to want to go ahead and turn that off and jack up the difficulty (you can always switch back), because this game is best experienced when its insects are genuinely terrifying. Though the fundamentals and the animations are pretty basic, the game's realistic-looking bugs can get pretty nerve-wracking, especially in swarms. They're extremely relentless and most won't stop until your dead, even if you're backed into a corner begging for breathing room, unable to get a clear shot. The game's brutal difficulty, although frustrating at times due to some occasionally cheap AI, is one of my favorite aspects. Once you're off the battlefield and hitting the game's menus, you'll learn that BUGS vs. Tanks! has a surprising amount of depth. For each tank, you can customize the rate of fire, chassis, and more. The actual tanks themselves are modeled after real vehicles in history, which helps give the game a bit more character. Along with changing in difficulty setting or automatic/manual fire, you can make it feel like a completely different game, which is pretty remarkable. But what you can actually do with these tanks is extremely limited. Missions are pretty standard -- base defense, item collection, kill quests, and things like that. To be blunt, there's really not anything that you haven't seen a million times before, lending itself to something best played in short spurts. Thankfully, no one mission overstays its welcome too often, as these levels are extremely short, and each of the 29 (with 10 bonus) stages feel different enough from one another to justify themselves. There's also a local multiplayer function that allows you to play with three other friends, as well as a fun little StreetPass mechanic that lets you call in extra artillery fire. In terms of visuals, while I never really had any issues telling enemies and areas apart, BUGS vs. TANKS! is extremely unimpressive without the 3D effect on. It looks similar to a low-budget PS1 game, with jagged edges, plain backgrounds, and generally stale models. While I don't have a problem with a low graphical output, given the high quality in the other Guild games, it looks odd when juxtaposed with the total body of work and will disappoint anyone expecting a little more. Like a few of the other Guild offerings, BUGS vs. TANKS! isn't remarkable, but it's a great way to pass the time over the course of a few days. Whether you want to casually roll through and blow up some insects on the easy setting, or wrack your brain to test your mettle with manual shooting and an insanely difficult campaign, BUGS vs. TANKS! offers a little something for everyone.
BUGS vs. TANKS! review photo
Honey, we shrunk the soldiers
The idea of shrinking objects and placing them into ridiculous situations is not new. But in the case of Comcept and Keiji Inafune's BUGS vs. TANKS!, it's somehow fitting to pit a tiny World War II German tank battalion again...

Level-5 mobile RPGs photo
Level-5 mobile RPGs

Level-5 announces a trio of mobile role-playing games


Projects feature Final Fantasy composer, Fire Emblem artist
May 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Ni no Kuni studio Level-5 is developing a set of three role-playing games for mobile platforms, Weekly Famitsu reports. Part of the company's 15th anniversary celebrations, the trio of titles features a few high profile names...
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life will be getting an expansion in Japan


The 'Link' add-on enhances online play
May 23
// Chris Carter
Readers know that I've been clamoring for an international release of Fantasy Life for quite some time. As a roaring success in Japan, Level-5 has already seen fit to update the game, calling the enhancement Fantasy Life Link...

Review: The Starship Damrey

May 18 // Tony Ponce
The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop)Developer: Level-5Publisher: Level-5Release: May 16, 2013 (US / EU)MSRP: $7.99 You wake up trapped in a cryogenic sleep capsule with no memory of who you are or how you got there. You discover you are on board the Damrey, a research vessel floating in the far reaches of space, but something has happened to the ship and its crew. Since you are unable to exit your pod, you must remotely operate one of the ship's AR Series robots. They can only turn 90 degrees, which makes navigating around fallen debris quite cumbersome. Furthermore, they can only carry one item at a time, essentially limiting the complexity of any of the "puzzles." The game's biggest problem isn't that you aren't given any instruction on what to do or where to go -- that's the hook, after all. Rather, the solutions are so simple and telegraphed that the game might as well be feeding the answers. Considering that you typically can't drop an item once in your possession, you can safely assume that your next task will involve that very item. [embed]253991:48697:0[/embed] If you had dreams of managing multiple inventory slots, weeding out red herrings, and discovering alternate puzzle solutions, allow me to stamp them out right now. There is only ever one right way. It's akin to locking a person in an empty room save for a key in the corner, then telling the person to "figure it out" without any further clues. Okay, maybe not that simple, but close enough. The most difficult part is probably the opening scene in which you have to figure out how to reboot the corrupted computer console -- an admittedly clever sequence that is never trumped. Afterward, the bulk of your time is spent rolling through darkened hallways, looking for tools, corpses, and notes lying about. But ignoring the core gameplay, you'll find that The Starship Damrey does succeed in being a tense, moody experience. When I say the ship's halls are dark, I mean pitch black. Equipped with a low-power flashlight, your robot typically can only see a few feet in front or glowing signs and panels in the distance. And dogging your search is the ghostly specter of a young girl in a sun hat, fueling the mystery of the crew's fate. There's even a humorous interlude that parodies the famous "Blue Danube" scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it completely breaks the tone of the game, but it's nonetheless entertaining as a one-off. Figuring time spent wandering around aimlessly in search of objects hidden in the shadows, the game will last you no more than three to four hours. However, if you happen to own any of the three Guild01 titles -- Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter, or Crimson Shroud -- you'll unlock a bonus scene upon completion. There's also an additional bonus should you accomplish an optional late-game task. Sadly, both are text-only prologue chapters that don't add anything substantial to the narrative. Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations.
Starship Damrey review photo
Lost in space
"This game contains no tutorials or explanations. Part of the experience is to discover things for yourself." Thus reads the disclaimer when you fire up a new game of The Starship Damrey, Level-5's atmospheric sci-fi adventur...

The Starship Damrey photo
The Starship Damrey

Launch trailer for Guild02's The Starship Damrey


The sci-fi eShop adventure is on sale right now
May 16
// Tony Ponce
The first in Level-5's Guild02 triple pack, The Starship Damrey, arrived on the 3DS eShop earlier today for $7.99. A new trailer for the moody sci-fi adventure game has surfaced, featuring choice words from game designer Kaz...
Guild03? photo
Guild03?

Is Level-5 about to announce Guild03?


Trio of Level-5 trademarks have suddenly appeared
May 04
// Tony Ponce
With the three Guild02 games already out in Japan and the first in the set, Starship Damrey, scheduled for release in the States on May 16, it's time to look towards he future. It's never too soon to start thinking "sequel"! ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Starship Damrey flies to Nintendo 3DS on May 16


First Guild02 title lands on eShop in a couple weeks
May 04
// Kyle MacGregor
The Starship Damrey is set to touch down on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America on May 16. A survival horror title designed by Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko, it will be the first title from Level-5's Guild02 c...
Liberation Maiden sequel photo
Liberation Maiden sequel

Report: Liberation Maiden to get sequel on PlayStation 3


We fight for our people!
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Liberation Maiden is getting a sequel! Well, sort of. It seems like Grasshopper Manufacture has decided to eschew Shoko's roots, following up last year's 3DS shooter with a visual novel for PlayStation 3. According to Si...
Professor Layton photo
Professor Layton

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy to hit 3DS in 2014


Prostitute D is a dog
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is set to arrive on North American shores in 2014. After arriving in Japan back in late February, the sixth entry in Level-5's series of puzzlers is slated to arrive in Europe someti...

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