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PSN photo

Sony apologizes for recent PSN outage, gives us a few goodies

They're small, but appreciated
Jan 01
// Chris Carter
Sony has responded to the PSN outage that happened over the holidays, and you're probably getting something extra because of it. For starters, all PlayStation Plus members will have their membership extended by five days auto...
Waifu bartending photo
Also, racist talking corgis
I love Catherine. Part of the reason is its block puzzles. Part of the reason is its small scale, with most playable segments taking place in the homey bar Stray Sheep. VA-11 HALL-A--or Valhalla--is that same sort of ba...

Criminal Girls photo
Criminal Girls

Criminal Girls: Invite Only up for parole in February 2015

Doin' time and the living's easy
Nov 26
// Brittany Vincent
You may remember Criminal Girls: Invite Only as the game we covered back in July two different times where it was briefly suggested the game shouldn't be localized. But that's only because I didn't write the post, because I'm...

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...

Nidhogg comes to PS4 photo
Nidhogg comes to PS4

Stabby, stabby: Nidhogg hits the PS4 and Vita today

Is that a mythical serpent in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
Oct 14
// Nic Rowen
Today is the release date for the PS4 and Vita ports of the indie hit Nidhogg, meaning there has never been a better time to stab your friends in the face and sacrifice yourself to a giant worm-serpent.

Review: Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed

Sep 24 // Brittany Vincent
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS3 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: AcquirePublisher: XSEED GamesRelease: August 12, 2014MSRP: $39.99 Akiba’s Trip places you deep in the heart of Akihabara, one of Japan’s most famous shopping districts and nerd paradise. Our hero Nanashi is broke and jobless otaku, following up on a strange job listing he found online that ultimately ends up with him chained to the table and having been turned into a being known as a Synthister. Synthisters feed off of others’ life energy, and it turns out there’s a huge population of them right there in Akihabara. Nanashi is nearly killed off by resident villain Zenya Amou, but the mysterious Shizuku swoops in to save him before things get that serious. Nanashi, Shizuku, and a ragtag group of freedom fighters head out to rid Akihabara of the Synthister threat once and for all. Of course, killing off the Synthisters isn’t exactly as straightforward as you’d think. They’re a lot like vampires, except instead of staking them to death you have to rip their clothes off. There’s a reason behind all this, as silly as it may be: they’re weak to sunlight and will dissolve within it. That’s why you need to strip them down and make them as vulnerable as possible. With Nanashi targeting his enemies’ head, chest, and legs, you can systematically de-pants (and de-shirt, etc.) your adversaries in a strategic manner. Acquire’s familiar brand of brawling is present here, as you chain up attacks to strike away at the baddies one after another. You can choose where you want to attack, but it doesn’t exactly open up a world of variety. Believe it or not, smacking around random passersby in Akihabara until they’re reduced to they skivvies can and does get old eventually. As you wear down the durability of whatever the groups of Synthisters are wearing, you’ll come across bigger and better weapons to do this with, such as boxing gloves, swords, laptops, and other strange options that you certainly don’t normally see in these types of games — think Dead Rising meets Devil May Cry. Once you’ve battered away at the clothing each Synthister is wearing, it’s time to strip them clean. As soon as you do this, they’ll disappear. If you do this when there’s a large group of enemies involved, you can chain these attacks together for a Strip Finisher. If it so happens that your enemies’ clothes aren’t flashing just yet (meaning you haven’t done enough damage to undress them totally just yet) you can engage in a button-mashing QTE, during which you need to aim for a gauge to reach zero. If you can do it by wailing on the face buttons, you’ll tear all the enemies’ clothes off in quick succession. This triggers a new QTE if you’re successful, during which you can execute several clothing removals time and time again for maximum points and efficiency. If you can get this down, you’ll be burning through Akiba’s Trip in no time, but of course these same types of battles completed over and over again do tend to become slightly repetitive over time. But fighting off Synthisters is only a small portion of the game itself. There are also multiple relationship routes to pursue, with several female characters you can aim to become close to. This opens up the possibilities for several different endings, depending on who you decide to spend the most time with. Aside from doting on a specific character, you’ll also spend a lot of time using your in-game smartphone. It acts as your menu, with several “apps” on-board that you use for changing equipment, tracking records, searching glossaries for help on unfamiliar terms, and checking out email programs and parodical social networking programs. Free-roaming Akihabara when you’re not completing missions is intriguing as well, with plenty of pictures to collect, items to purchase, and side quests to finish off. It feels much like the Yakuza series in many ways, with time-sensitive quests to complete, engaging yet silly missions to tackle on the side, and quirky characters to catch up with. You’ve also got several different locations to shop at — goods are never in short supply. So when you’re tired of bashing baddies’ heads in for a while, it’s still entertaining to take a quick break, while still making progress. Akiba’s Trip looks great as well, though there are some muddy textures and dips in frame rate at some points, especially when there are several, several enemies on-screen at once. Otherwise, the 3D models themselves look great on the PS3, as do the anime-inspired cut scenes and character artwork. The localization is spot-on, with snappy dialogue and even fantastic voiceovers that make the game entertaining even when the battles themselves start to wear on your nerves later on in the game. It’s a perfect complement to the soundtrack, an addictive mix of techno, house, and electronica that gets you moving in and out of battles. Unfortunately, the game can be completed in only a matter of hours, if you’re not looking to collect every possible item you can or complete the side quests available to you. You’ll want to go back and try for all the endings, but if you’re one to simply “beat” the game you’ll find that you can in three to five hours if you concentrate. That may not be enough length for some people, even factoring in the additional endings, plots, fan service, and the incredibly accurate rendition of Akihabara. Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is an interesting culture shock of a good time if you can see past the silliness, especially if “quirky Japanese games” happen to be your cup of tea.
Akiba's Trip reviewed photo
Akiba, strip!
When you're faced with imminent danger, what's the first thing you do? Do you gear up to fight back? Do you see if you can land the first punch? Or do you take all of your clothing off? I'm guessing that's a pretty uncommon r...

Gravity Rush  photo
Gravity Rush

Check out this gorgeous Gravity Rush figure

Kat's never looked so good
Sep 09
// Brittany Vincent
Kat from the excellent PlayStation Vita game Gravity Rush has been lovingly sculpted into this new figure from maker President Japan. She's dressed in her original black costume with cape and is accompanied by Dusty, and whil...

Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

Aug 30 // Brittany Vincent
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection (PS Vita)Developer: Compile HeartPublisher: NIS AmericaRelease: June 3, 2014MSRP: $29.99 For the uninitiated, Hyperdimension Neptunia revolves around the female personifications of the major console manufacturers. You’ve got Noire, Neptune, Blanc, or Vert, each representing various companies such as Nintendo and PlayStation. That’s a common theme within the Hyperdimension games, although Producing Perfection abandons the entire “lampooning the game industry” mission and opts for an idol management game that pulls you in as an active participant in the CPUs’ fates rather than a passive viewer who was simply privy to the RPG stylings of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games past. Producing Perfection charges you with training the CPUs of Gamindustri (that’s where they live) to become the latest pop sensation after they begin losing their powers to pop idol group MOB48. Rather than seeking out an alternate path to success, the girls arrive at the conclusion that the best way to beat out their rival is to excel in the same field. The girls decide to summon you (the player) as their producer. From there, it’s your job to determine whether they sink or swim as aspiring idols. [embed]280328:55499:0[/embed] Producer Mode finds you naming your custom protagonist and choosing a singular CPU to raise and mold as you see fit. From there, you complete bits and pieces of training segments, as the game is set up like that of a day-to-day sim with visual novel elements peppered in. Your end goal is to take on most of the shares in the region you're operating in as well as send one of your CPU's recorded songs to number one on the charts. You’ve got 180 in-game days to complete this objective, so time management and making the right decisions is absolutely crucial if you want to see any of the endings that are considered “good,” or any of the events leading up to them. Day-to-day tasks include giving the girls singing lessons, rhythm training, and more, but they need to be able to relax too, so the goal is to strike a fair balance between learning and polishing up stats while waiting for cooldown periods to pass. Once you've become a bit more seasoned, you even have the option to put on concerts, during which you'll help your fledgling pop star perform. These segments are a bit dull, unfortunately, mainly because the music tracks themselves aren't truly memorable after you've completed the songs, and because you don’t truly interact with your idol as much as you’d think you would. There are only six tunes to speak of as well, so it’s a good thing the concerts weren’t made a focal point of gameplay -- they can and do get old extremely fast. But you’re not really there for the music, strangely enough. Enhancing stage presence and playing around to see what works best for the girls is fun too, but rarely engaging. In fact, you do little else other than alter the camera angles and provide special effects for the girls during their performances, and admittedly, this can be done while barely even looking at the screen. There's no real lasting appeal to speak of that you might see with, say, Project Diva F or other similar endeavors. A combination of the tasks you direct your girls to complete and your attentiveness lead you to the ending you’ll eventually receive, although it’s prudent to keep in mind that allowing any of the girls’ stress to reach its max level or simply running out of time to “complete” the game will result in the worst ending possible. If you’re familiar with visual novels and dating sims of this ilk, this should come as no surprise to you. However, if you’re a newcomer to the genre and have little or no understanding of the basic framework of “management” sims or visual novels, the game won’t be holding your hand to see you through. You’ll need to figure things out for yourself, which may well be a turnoff for some players. The problem is that the game never really ramps up enough in the idol management or concert areas to offer a complete experience for both fans of the Hyperdimension Neptunia lore or those who’ve never ventured forth into Compile Heart’s colorful world of CPUs and tongue-in-cheek video game references. It seems content to languish between two worlds, and as it’s never particularly fantastic in either, ends up feeling quite hollow. And it’s not for the production values, at least. The game is polished enough and boasts excellent localization, with genuinely likeable dialogue. English and Japanese voice options are certainly a boon, and it's entertaining to see the Hyperdimension Neptunia girls in new roles, but this isn't exactly the vein most players will want to see them in. Plus, unless you want to play the same scenarios over and over, you'd get more enjoyment out of one of the meatier core games. Unfortunately, this is one instance where Compile Heart simply didn't produce perfection -- but if you just want to hang out with the girls when there’s not some sort of crisis going on, it might be worth a look.
Hyperdimension Neptunia photo
'Perfection' isn't the word
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is a polarizing one. Some find Compile Heart’s thinly-veiled parodies of the game industry engaging and painfully adorable, and flock to it for an abundance of fanservice. Others run f...

Danganronpa 2 photo
Danganronpa 2

Weirdos abound in this latest batch of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair screens

Seriously, lots of weirdos
Aug 15
// Brittany Vincent
What can I say? It's a screenshot kind of day. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is on the horizon, and NIS definitely doesn't want us to forget about it. Especially with the amount of weirdos in the game, as evidenced above.&nb...
Murasaki Baby photo
Murasaki Baby

Akira Yamaoka creating an exclusive track for Murasaki Baby

Love the composer, not so sure about the game
Aug 13
// Brittany Vincent
Akira Yamaoka, Silent Hill soundtrack wizard and all-around awesome composer (Snatcher, Killer is Dead, and many others) has created an exclusive music track for the upcoming side-scrolling game Murasaki Baby. Yamaoka paired...
Bullet Girls photo
Bullet Girls

Panties, bras, and firearms abound in Bullet Girls

Additional details emerge about the power of the undergarment
Jul 31
// Brittany Vincent
In D3 Publisher and Shade's upcoming action shooting game Bullet Girls, you'll play as the girls of the Ranger Corps, training to become frontline soldiers for the military. Some of the training is a bit unorthodox, with a go...
Unfinished Swan PS4 photo
Unfinished Swan PS4

It looks like The Unfinished Swan is flying to PS4, Vita

Korean ratings authority lists the marvelous puzzler for new platforms
Jul 20
// Kyle MacGregor
This month, the Korean Game Rating Board issued classifications for PlayStation 4 and Vita versions of The Unfinished Swan, foreshadowing a potential cross-platform release. Giant Sparrow's first-person puzzler initially rele...
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...
Class of Heroes 2G photo
Class of Heroes 2G

Class of Heroes 2G is getting a scant few physical copies

Better pre-order if you want in on this production run
Jul 04
// Brittany Vincent
Class of Heroes 2G, a dungeon-crawling RPG playable on PlayStation 3, Vita, or PSP, will be receiving a run of limited edition boxed copies. After pre-orders for the physical editions cease on July 25, there will be no additi...
Mutant Blobs photo
Mutant Blobs

Snag Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack on PS3 starting today

I've had it with these mutant blobbing aliens on this mutant blobbing planet
Jun 18
// Brittany Vincent
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack was one of the first games I ever picked up for my Vita, and I still find myself going back to it from time to time. Today, it's available via PS3 for the first time, so you can save civ...
Vita photo

New Vita Super Value Packs coming to Japan

I could think of some better games for the packs, honestly
Jun 04
// Brittany Vincent
The original Vita models are all so boring and plain. Why not spruce them up with a little color? Japan gets the cool stuff again (as usual) with the launch of Red & Black and Blue & Black models being sold as part...

Reviews In Review: Watch Dogs, Monochroma, Wolf Among Us

Jun 01 // Ben Pack
World End Economica Episode 1 (PC)Developer: Spicy TailsPublisher: Sekai ProjectRelease: May 5, 2014MRSP: $12.99 World End Economica has so much going for it: an interesting premise, a protagonist with an actual design and personality (even if it is a little rotten) and the opportunity to capitalize on a business rarely (if ever) explored in video games: stock trading. Unfortunately, it squanders the opportunity to capitalize on these great bullet points and winds up a generic, muddled mess of pacing issues, bland dialogue, and characters too difficult to connect with. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full World End Economica Episode 1 review  Watch Dogs (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease: May 27, 2014 / TBA 2014 (Wii U)MRSP: $59.99 Despite the fact that Watch Dogs hasn't made any meaningful impact on the genre, I found myself having a ton of fun with it. Between the deep levels of customization and the sheer breadth of content, there's no shortage of things to do. If Ubisoft can take the game's core fun factor and marry it with an actual "next-gen" experience the next time around, they'll have something truly special. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Watch Dogs review The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesRelease: May 27, 2014 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) / TBA (iOS)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Having said that, Wolf Among Us continues to wow me with all of the details therein. From the Little Old Lady who lived in a shoe in a random painting to Curds and Whey in a jar, there's lots of lore building, and all it makes me want to do is read the comics proper. While The Walking Dead always feels like more of a micro-tale with each individual group, Wolf Among Us feels like something greater, and bigger than Telltale -- and that's a good thing. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing review Monochroma (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Nowhere StudiosPublisher: Nowhere StudiosReleased: May 28, 2014MSRP: $19.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The narrative itself is generally engaging overall, but it suffers from a few holes. Aside from being told that the little brother is in fact the protagonist's little brother, the player is given no intrinsic reason to want to help him, and in fact, the player can grow to resent the character. Otherwise, there is not a good reason given that the two brothers decide to walk to the city and infiltrate a corporation instead of staying home and calling for medical help. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full Monochroma review Worms Battlegrounds (PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Team17Publisher: Team17Released: May 27, 2014MSRP: $24.99 Like most Worms games, you'll need other people to play with or risk monotony. Enemy AI still isn't the sharpest tool in the shed even this far in the game, and they can take far too long between turns, leading to boredom. Given the price tag of $25, it's perfect for those of you who haven't played a Worms game in years and have the itch. But if you've been playing along for the past few years, you might be able to skip this slightly upgraded collective of recent entries -- unless you're a fanatic, of course. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Worms Battlegrounds review  
REVIEWS! photo
Plus World End Economica
Reviewer? I hardly know her! This week's reviews in review goes out to Steven Hansen. Check out the video and all the reviews below.

Reviews In Review: Wolfenstein The New Order, Transistor, Drakengard 3

May 24 // Ben Pack
Kero Blaster (PC [reviewed], iPhone)Developer: Studio PixelPublisher: PlayismReleased: May 11, 2014MSRP: $7.99 (PC) $4.99 (iPhone) If Cave Story was Amaya's answer to Super Metroid, Kero Blaster is his Mega Man X. It's dense and perfectly paced, just begging to be replayed over and over. If I were to have to introduce someone to the genre of 2D action/platformers, it is probably the game that I'd give them, as it starts off easy-yet-engaging, and ends with giant bosses, swarms of enemies on screen, and everything else you could want in the genre. It's a game you may beat in a day, but will be playing off and on for a lifetime.  Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Kero Blaster review Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Renegade KidPublisher: Renegade KidReleased: May 15, 2014MRSP: $8.99 It's really difficult to give Moon Chronicles a strong appraisal one way or the other. It's far from a stellar experience, but isn't a bad one either. There just isn't anything here that hasn't been done better elsewhere, and I can't see anyone other than FPS-starved 3DS owners or hardcore fans of the original being too interested. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 review Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: MachineGamesPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksRelease Date: May 20, 2014MSRP: $59.99 In many ways, Wolfenstein: The New Order is "First-Person Shooters: The Game," but it gets most of the important details right. It's still weird to me seeing Wolf games developed over and over by new devs, but MachineGames did a great job adapting the franchise in its own way. With a few tweaks, the next iteration could be something truly special. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Wolfenstein: The New Order review Drakengard 3 (PS3)Developer: Access GamesPublisher: Square EnixRelease Date: May 20, 2014MSRP: $59.99 It's not too challenge of a game all things considered, because the difficulty curve is meticulously designed to not overwhelm or frustrate players. It's well made to the point where you won't feel like everything is too easy, and if you really need that extra edge to overcome a certain task, you can go back and level-up with sidequests. If you want to do everything you'll probably find yourself around a 100-hour completion rate, but the story is roughly at the 40-hour mark. Drakengard 3 is a bit unconventional at times (like its developer) with tales of extreme hair cutting and dragon piss, but action fans will want to seek this one out immediately. Within 15 minutes I was drawn into its world and its cast of characters, and I wanted to see Zero's journey through from start to finish. If you like games like Nier, you'll loveDrakengard 3. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Drakengard 3 review Transistor (PS4, PC [reviewed])Developer: Supergiant GamesPublisher: Supergiant GamesRelease: May 20, 2014MRSP: $19.99 / £14.99 While Transistor initially feels like a whole new game, structurally it sticks closely toBastion. Both games feature a beautiful but abandoned city that has undergone huge tragedy. In Bastion it was called the Calamity; in Transistor, it's dubbed The Process. Both feature areas where the player can rest and take stock; Red finds special doors which take her to a deserted island where challenge rooms are located (much like the Proving Grounds in Bastion). If the game isn't sufficiently challenging, Limiters can be installed that will make things harder for Red but at the benefit of gaining extra XP or other bonuses. These can be installed like Functions, swapped in and out at access points, but work the same way as the Idols in Bastion.  Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Transistor review R-Type Dimensions (PS3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: Irem, Tozai GamesPublisher: Tozai GamesReleased: May 20, 2014MSRP: $9.99 If you have any fondness for the series, or if you're just looking for a solid side-scrolling shooter that's about as hard as can be, R-Type Dimensions faithfully re-creates the original experience and before long you'll be wondering why you did this to yourself. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full R-Type Dimensions review  
REVIEWS! photo
And more!
Look, E3 is coming up soon and that means we're about to get super excited about games. Let's take a minute and be thankful for the games we have right now, ok?

Reviews in Review: Mario Kart 8, Super Time Force and more!

May 17 // Ben Pack
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1Publisher: NintendoRelease Date: May 30, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Mario Kart 8 is my favorite series entry since Double Dash, and if it gets arena battle tracks at some point by way of DLC, it will be a near-perfect package. Its vibrant visuals will hold up for years to come, ensuring that the game will withstand the test of time, and it will be a staple in my household for a long, long while. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Mario Kart 8 review Ether One (PC)Developer: White Paper GamesPublisher: White Paper GamesReleased: March 25, 2014MRSP: $19.99 Ether One nails its puzzles, atmosphere, and sound (ambient and voice acting). It also nails its story -- whether or not you decide to fully unravel its world and its mysteries -- culminating in a, well, refreshing, smart finale that will stay on my mind for years to come. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Ether One review The Walking Dead Season Two: In Harm's Way (iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesRelease: May 14, 2014 (PC, PS3) / TBA (iOS, Vita, Xbox 360)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Episode three was probably my favorite from season one of The Walking Dead -- so far, I'm feeling the same way about In Harm's Way. Based on the preview the next tale seems to be a buffer of sorts before an explosive end, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how Clementine's journey ends. You hooked me yet again, Telltale. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full The Walking Dead Season Two: In Harm's Way review Super Time Force (Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Capybara GamesPublisher: Capybara GamesRelease date: May 14, 2014MSRP: $14.99 All told, Super Time Force is a satisfying run-and-gun game made even better with a fun (and funny!) take on time travel. It's as enjoyable to play as it is to look at. You'll likely be able to burn through the game in a few hours if you're not going for full completion, but it has such a winning personality that you'll find yourself coming back for more. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Super Time Force  review Demon Gaze (PS Vita)Developer: Kadokawa GamesPublisher: NIS America Released: April, 2014MRSP: $39.99 You'll have to have plenty of patience and a pretty good imagination to get the most out of Demon Gaze. The dungeon crawling is great and the NPC interactions outside of the dungeons are fun, but it's insanely challenging (even on the easiest setting) and the high level of repetition and mostly static presentation could get to you after some time. And you'll also have to be okay with the game's many horny NPC situations as they didn't skimp on the fan service. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Demon Gaze  review Cloudbuilt (PC)Developer: CoilworksPublisher: Rising Star GamesReleased: March 20, 2014MRSP: $19.99 Cloudbuilt is frustrating. It's frustrating to play and frustrating to recommend. I like the style, I like the parkour mechanics overall, but there's a lot of junk to contend with. The antagonistic design (minefields everywhere) is one thing, but the unforgiving checkpoints and limited lives lead to a lot of repetition. Meanwhile, the combat ends up about as unsatisfying as Mirror's Edge, with worse enemies that either absorb too many bullets or deflect them with shields anyway. If you want something that is going to fight you every step of the way as you shave seconds off of run times (and you have a strong pinky finger), this is for you. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Cloudbuilt  review JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle (PS3)Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesRelease Date: April 29, 2014MSRP: $49.99 Overall, despite its shortcomings, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is a colorful spectacle that both fans of the anime and future fans of the anime will want to pick up and experience, even if just to watch a man use only his upper body strength after hopping off his horse to hold his own in combat. It's funky, gorgeous, and oozing with style. And where it comes up short, it simultaneously delivers in terms of fanservice and content. You won't be putting it down for quite some time, unless, you know, you need some time to eat a few more breads in your life. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle review
REVIEWS! photo
Plus The Walking Dead, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Hey, what are you doing here! There's a ton of good games that came out this week! No wait, come back and watch this video for a couple of minutes, read the article, then you can go play those games.

Reviews in Review: Sportsfriends, Amazing Spider-Man 2

May 12 // Ben Pack
Bound By Flame (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360)Developer: SpidersPublisher: Focus Home InteractiveRelease Date: May 9, 2014MSRP: $39.99 The game is actually on your side when it comes to whipping your character into shape, too, as if to compensate for dim AI and the repetitive grind that some may not find as rewarding as I did. There's plenty of loot scattered throughout the multiple winding passageways and easy-to-navigate dungeons, giving you numerous chances to craft new potions and other necessary items for use in battle. While gold isn't exactly in short supply, you'll still be faced with enough opportunities to make your own fortune rather than looking for your next payday. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Bound By Flame review Hitman GO (iOS)Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixReleased: April 17, 2014MSRP: $4.99 Still, I was more than enamored with the numerous nods to classic Hitmanmoments, additional costumes, and the amount of polish lavished upon this bizarre yet savory addition to the Hitman universe. It's not perfect, and it certainly won't appeal to everyone, but if you're jonesing for your next taste of the life of an assassin, Hitman GO is the hippest way to emulate everyone's favorite sharp-dressed agent.  Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Hitman GO review Republique: Metamorphosis (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 5], Mac, PC)Developer: Camouflaj, LoganPublisher: CamouflajReleased: April 30, 2014 (iOS) / PC (TBA)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) I had my doubts about the Republique project as a whole, but it's clear to me now after two episodes that Camouflaj "gets it." The studio is finding a way to improve upon the core tenets of the game while maintaining an episodic format, which many other developers don't tend to do. While I wouldn't recommend that everyone rush out and buy the Season Pass right now, I'm looking forward to seeing what the next episode brings to the table. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Republique: Metamorphosis review Sportsfriends (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Die Gute FabrikPublisher: Die Gute FabrikRelease Date: May 6, 2014MSRP: $14.99 Despite the fact that I don't think I'll be playing Barabariball or Super Pole Riders for very long, Hokra's level editor gives it legs, and Johann Sebastian Joust shouldn't be missed by anyone who enjoys having company over. It's a very uneven package in the sense that there could have either been a few more games and a few could have been better, but honestly -- $15 isn't a terrible price just for Joust alone. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Sportsfriends review Raiden IV: OverKill (PS3)Developer: MOSSPublisher: UFO Interactive GameReleased: April 29, 2014MSRP: $19.99 Raiden IV: OverKill could have used a few more extras, but the fact that you can get it cheaper than the Xbox 360 version when it launched (it's $20 now digitally as well) is a compelling reason for genre fans to pick this one up. While theRaiden series in general isn't my favorite collective of shmups, it's been a steady staple for over two decades for a reason. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Raiden IV: OverKill review The Elder Scrolls Online (Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)Developer: ZeniMax Online StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksRelease: April 4, 2014 (Mac, PC) / June 2014 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)MSRP: $59.99 ($14.99 subscription fee, with 30 days included in base game) I think right now, the most prudent thing to do is to wait for ZeniMax to iron out all of The Elder Scrolls Online's kinks (including how it handles post level 50 content to make it less grindy), and play the console version of the game. Not only will it arrive with all of the updates from the PC version in tow, but it'll also have full native controller support -- which feels more natural than a mouse and keyboard in this instance. Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full The Elder Scrolls Online review Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: Big Finish GamesPublisher: AtlusReleased: May 7, 2014MRSP: $19.99 / £14.99 The humor doesn't always work and the puzzle design is still rooted in the series' 1990s adventure game roots, meaning it feels archaic in spots, but there are some welcome concessions to modern design with the flashlight and hint system. Tex Murphy might be alive in 2014 but he'll need to learn a few more tricks if he's to stay around for another adventure.  Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure review  
Review recap photo
Plus Tesla Effect, Raiden IV: Overkill
Hey some dude in the comments said I should do this drunk so Max made me drink malt liquor. Anyway here are the reviews I reviewed last week (as well as a couple more that went up after the video).

Reviews in Review: Child of Light, Daylight, Kirby Triple Deluxe

May 04 // Ben Pack
LEGO The Hobbit (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PSVita, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One, WiiU)Developer: TT GamesPublisher: Warner Brothers InteractiveRelease Date: April 8, 2014MSRPP: $29.99 (3DS, Vita), $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) Still, there is a good bit to like about the game as well. If you've enjoyed the many other LEGOadaptations, this one is not without it's charm. The characters and backgrounds match the films well, and the game follows the story of the movies very closely, down to the questionable bonus material padding. Though again, being a bit limited by the original voicework may not allow for the normal LEGO slaptick-type humor, and a few scenes of real tension and whimsy from the films seem to fall a bit flat. Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full LEGO The Hobbit review Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoReleased: May 2, 2014MSRP: $34.99 Kirby:Triple Deluxe is yet another winning entry in the franchise. It delivers the core Kirby experience alongside of a few very well done extras, which is pretty much everything a fan could ask for. While the Kirby formula could easily be getting stale for some, it still represents a whimsical corner of platforming games that's centered around one central ideal -- fun. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Kirby: Triple Deluxe review Child of Light (PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: April 30, 2014 Child of Light will satiate pretty much everyone but the most hardcore of RPG fans, and even then, they'll find plenty of enjoyment. There are a few minor issues here and there that hold it back from instant-classic status that could be enhanced in a sequel or future work, but regardless, Child of Light is a noble effort from Ubisoft Montreal, and another win to put in the studio's diverse portfolio. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Child of Light review FRACT OSC [Mac, PC (reviewed)]Developer: Phosfiend SystemsPublisher: Phosfiend SystemsMSRP: $14.99Released: April 22, 2014 FRACT OSC is a game where you need to be willing to go in blind and just explore; this might be something that puts a player off within the first 10 minutes, as there's no tooltips or tutorial to tell them what to do, unlike most modern games. If you allow yourself to be drawn into the strange, geometric landscape and understand the structure of the puzzles and progression, then you'll be rewarded with a great experience. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full FRACT OSC review Life Goes On (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Infinite Monkeys EntertainmentPublisher: Infinite Monkeys EntertainmentReleased: April 17, 2014MSRP: $12.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Life Goes On might not start with the most mindblowing hook, but the idea is solid and Infinite Monkeys develops it well. By constantly adding new tricks into its repertoire and not dragging itself out unnecessarily, it maintains a good quality throughout. Puzzle difficulty ranges from easy to medium-hard; it rarely gets diabolically difficult, and when it does it is only when completing optional objectives. Although it is not particularly nice to look at, the underlying gameplay is worthwhile for any puzzle platformer enthusiast. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Life Goes On review Borderlands 2 Headerhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Gearbox SoftwarePublisher: 2K GamesReleased: April 15, 2014MSRP: $2.99 As with the other entries in the Headhunter series, Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax is a short experience with a relatively low price tag. Although it does not complete Borderlands 2 with a bang, it does a decent job of rounding out the series and setting up for the next one. Those particularly interested in the path of the characters moving forward will enjoy what this DLC does toward that end, but most other Borderlands fans would be just as well waiting for the release of the Pre-Sequel this fall. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Borderlands 2 Headerhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax review Daylight (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Zombie StudiosPublisher: Zombie StudiosRelease: April 29, 2014MSRP: $14.99 Overall I felt as if Daylight was made as a jump-scare machine with a loosely tacked-on plot. I never felt invested in Sarah or cared much for the mysterious man rambling through her phone. In fact, I was more concerned with getting Miss Ghost off my back so she’d stop screaming, more so out of annoyance than fear. Daylight would have benefited from a fresh set of spooks rather than intermittent scares and muddy plot lines, but at the end of the day if you’re looking for a cheap thrill you've found it. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full Daylight review Destiny of Spirits (Vita)Developer: SCE Japan Studio, Q EntertainmentPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentMSRP: Free-to-play Released: March 25, 2014 As is the case with any free-to-play game, you really have nothing to lose but time by trying outDestiny of Spirits. It helps if you're a hardcore Sony fan and strive for some of the more unique characters, but otherwise the pace is far too slow, and the rewards are far too little for the amount of time you need to invest in it. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Destiny of Spirits review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BeenoxPublisher: ActivisionMSRP: $59.99Released: April 29, 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't a complete disaster, and I can easily see fans of Spidey enjoying it at a deep discount. It's just a shame that Beenox somehow got worse at makingSpider-Man games over time, and that the powers that be insist on rushing them as movie tie-ins. Somehow, someway -- we will get our Arkham of Spider-Man games again. Until then, you can just pick up a used copy of 2004's Spider-Man 2. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full The Amazing Spider-Man 2 review Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer:  Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month, with a free PS3-to-PS4 license transfer) Released: August 27, 2013 (PC, PS3) / April 14, 2014 (PS4) Despite those issues, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is my favorite MMO since World of Warcraft. It has a lot of things going for it, tons of content to explore, and best of all -- lots and lots of support. I have no doubt that the popularity of A Realm Reborn will continue to rise with every major update and expansion, and I wish Square Enix nothing but the best. I didn't think it was possible, but they have absolutely atoned for the original mess that was Final Fantasy XIV -- and then some. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn review
Reviews! photo
Plus LEGO The Hobbit & More
It's the end of the week which means that it's time for another episode of Reviews in Review. This week a TON of games came out, so if you missed any of our reviews just check out the video for a quick recap. Seriously, what else are you going to do for four minutes? This week I use some really bad accents.

Reviews in Review: FFXIV, Arkham Origins DLC & NES Remix 2

Apr 26 // Ben Pack
Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Heart (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal / Splash DamagePublisher: Warner Bros.Released: April 22nd, 2014MSRP: $9.99 (part of the Season Pass) Cold, Cold Heart feels like a legitimate addition to the Arkham Origins lore, and not just a cheap cash-in. It's definitely a side story that's too big to be shoved into the core game, even if it doesn't really innovate in any meaningful way. While I wouldn't go out of my way to buy Arkham Origins just for it, I'd implore any current owner to take a look. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Heart review NES Remix 2 (Wii U)Developer: indieszeroPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 24, 2014MSRP: $14.99 This is something that I'm going to be playing for quite some time with friends every so often, comparing scores until the cows come home. I wish this mode was a bit more fleshed out overall though (two Mario games is a bit much), and I'd love to see it as a standard in future iterations of this franchise (SNES Remix, perhaps?). In other words, I wouldn't buy it just to play Championship mode, but it's enjoyable all the same. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full NES Remix 2 review. Disney Magical World (3DS)Developer: h.a.n.d.Publisher: NintendoReleased: April 11, 2014MSRP: $29.99 That's the theme of Magical World -- simplicity. There are no secret times you need to get to a club to hear a certain song, no special residents that will only grant you a rare item on a certain hour of a certain day (there is a clock, but its effects are mostly aesthetic). For those of you who like min/maxing turnip prices and the like, you won't scratch that same itch here. It's not like that's a bad thing in my book -- I think an increased amount of accessibility is great -- just be wary that it can affect the game's longevity. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Disney Magical World review Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)Developer: CamelotPublisher: NintendoRelease Date: May 2, 2014MSRP: $29.99 Mario Golf: World Tour's presentation is strong, especially when it comes to the varied characters and costumes. The course designs are colorful and exciting, and they're packed with little secrets to find. The low resolution of the shot grid is the only place where the presentation of World Tour lets you down. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Mario Golf: World Tour review  
Reviews recap photo
Review these Reviews in Review
Reviews in Review is back, and due to the fact that this is episode 2, it officially has lasted longer than that time Fox tried to bring back The Osbournes after it got cancelled.  Anyway, onto the reviews. This week I talked about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Hearts, NES Remix 2, and Disney Magical World. Check 'em out.

Thomas Was Alone sales photo
Thomas Was Alone sales

Thomas Was Alone leaps past one million sales

'So glad my silly little hobby project was sort of not sh*t' - Mike Bithell
Apr 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Thomas Was Alone sales have eclipsed the one million mark, creator Mike Bithell revealed yesterday via Twitter. The minimalist platformer wasn't an overnight success, though. Thomas Was Alone first arrived on Windows and...

Reviews in Review: Steins;Gate, Half Minute Hero 2, Trials Fusion

Apr 19 // Ben Pack
Trials Fusion (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: RedLynx, UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftReleased: April 15, 2014 / April 24, 2014 (PC)MSRP: $19.99 / $39.99 physical release with Season Pass (Xbox One, PS4) Trials Fusion is a good game -- and I can only see it getting better over time as user-made levels excel and DLC is released -- but what's there now, at launch, is a step down from Trials Evolution. It's disheartening, then, to see the game come in at a higher price point than its predecessor and also try to sell users on a $19.99 Season Pass in-game right out of the gate. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Trials Fusion review. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (PS Vita, 3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: AtlusReleased: April 15, 2014Price: $39.99 As the game progresses, the ritual scenes become a bit longer and naughtier. Toward the end of the game, when you've maxxed out the bonds with the girls, the scenes of baby making become even more horny. You'll see hands against walls, rears out, with girls wincing. Again, nothing is happening as far as contact is concerned, but depending on your tastes, these scenes could be offensive. I've been around the block a few times and have seen way worse. For me, these scenes were more silly than anything. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars review. Steins;Gate (PC)Developer: 5pb., Nitroplus Publisher: JAST USAReleased: March 31, 2014MSRP: $29.99 And things will indeed get intense. Steins;Gate is a taxing game, but it's also quite beautiful, from the talented Japanese voice cast (no English dub, unfortunately) to artist huke's unorthodox visuals. It's an exemplary visual novel with a thrilling premise, memorable characters, and a fantastic "true" ending that may very well move you to tears. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Steins;Gate review. Putty Squad (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Vita)Developer: System 3 SoftwarePublisher: System 3 SoftwareReleased: March 11, 2014MSRP: $29.99 You should only pick up Putty Squad if you're a fan of the original, and have an unhealthy affinity towards platformers. Everyone else need not apply unless the game drops to a rightful price of $10 or less. Verdict: 5/10 - Read the full Putty Squad review. Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming (PC)Developer: Marvelous AQLPublisher: Marvelous AQLRelease: April 4, 2014MSRP: $19.99 Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming makes a number of improvements on an established formula. It's endearing, provocative, and silly. But it lacks variety and never quite recaptures the magic of its predecessor. No longer a breath a fresh air, The Second Coming settles for being an enjoyable lark. And I'm perfectly okay with that. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming review.
Review in Review photo
Review these Reviews in Review
"Reviews in Review" is a new show that releases every week where I will go over the reviews published this week on Destructoid, as well as give a score to the week in general. This week I talked about the reviews for Steins;...


New Vita, PS3 RPG from former Atlus devs coming soon

Something-something Dimension
Apr 15
// Dale North
Rumor time. But this one is a good one, and likely a solid one. Something-something Dimension is all we have, thanks to a source that is holding off on full details, which are set to drop in a couple of days. But we do know t...
Tribute Games photo
Tribute Games

Tribute Games is bringing Mercenary Kings to the Vita

Also, Ninja Senki DX and Curses n' Chaos
Apr 11
// Chris Carter
When Mercenary Kings was released for the PC and PS4, many fans yelled "why not Vita too!" Well Destructoid has just learned at PAX East that Tribute Games is working on it, and it will be out as soon as it's done -- it ...
Soul Sacrifice Delta photo
Soul Sacrifice Delta

Soul Sacrifice Delta may be coming to the west

According to a Spanish retailer
Apr 02
// Chris Carter
Soul Sacrifice Delta, an expansion/semi-sequel of sorts for the original PlayStation Vita game Soul Sacrifice, is apparently coming to the west, according to a listing from a Spanish retailer. According to the listing the fo...
Luftrausers photo

Luftrausers is coming to PC, PS3, and Vita on March 18

Pre-orders are up now
Mar 03
// Chris Carter
We already knew developer Vlambeer's Lufrausers was headed to the PC, PS3 and Vita platforms, but now we have a concrete release date -- March 18th. Publisher Devolver Digital has also confirmed today that it will b...
Deception photo

This is how to build a trap in Deception IV

And the rest of the Deception series, basically
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Deception IV is on the way here, and if you think it's going to be a constantly action packed experience, you should check out the above trailer. Essentially, the vast majority of your time is going to be spent in menus...

Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Feb 10 // Wesley Ruscher
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NIS AmericaReleased: February 11, 2014MSRP: $39.99 As Makoto Naegi, you've been accepted to the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy, a school that only admits the most talented “Ultimate” students of various fields each year. Though strangely for Makoto, he’s pretty average across the board and only got the chance to enroll because he won a raffle as the “Ultimate Lucky Student.” However, upon reaching the school’s gates, his luck begins to run out. Inexplicably, Makoto suddenly loses consciousness only to awake hours later in what appears to be the school’s gym surrounded by 14 other “Ultimate” students. No one knows what is going on, except for one fact: they’re trapped. [embed]270284:52512:0[/embed] It’s here where a maniacal remote-controlled bear named Monokuma appears -- a two-faced Teddy Ruxpin looking monster, with a penchant for rules -- who drops the bombshell that all the students are now imprisoned at the school for the rest of their lives. That is, unless they are willing to do the unthinkable to earn graduation from the academy: murder another student without getting caught. Well it wouldn't be much of game, or a story, if some of the students didn't eventually succumb to the pressures and start killing each other. In the time leading up to a murder event, known as “the Daily Life,” you’ll spend the majority of it getting to know each student and trying to understand the situation that has befallen you. During this time, you’ll explore the available areas of the school from a first-person perspective. Similar to the investigation scenes in the Phoenix Wright series, you’re free to scour each area in search of information or to perhaps talk to a student hanging out in the area. Once all the information is collected for the day, the game pushes the story forward. Eventually the game awards the player with “free time,” which allows Makoto to roam the school and build stronger relations with other students. Akin to Persona’s Social Link segments, whom you talk to is completely your choice. Additionally, you can also purchase gifts from a capsule vending machine to gift to them in order to increase your bonding. The interactions are quite simple, but they are a necessity since they also allow Makoto to build up special skills that he can later use in the game’s main attraction: Class Trials. All this good willed nature comes to an end with the discovery of a murder, in which the game enters the “Deadly life” section of gameplay. The first phase consists of investigating and collecting clues, called “Truth Bullets,” for the looming trial ahead. Like the earlier phases of the Daily Life, the game pushes the story forward upon the collection of all pertinent information. These moments that lead up to the Class Trial could be very tedious under a poor script. And though NIS America’s localization is usually hit or miss with me, the majority of the characters here are exceptionally interesting. I found myself enjoying the messed up situations that surrounded even the more flamboyant characters; waiting to see how they would respond once the crap hit the fan. Of course, with fourteen characters you’re bound to find tropes, but their predictable tendencies are often used to throw players off the scent. Additionally, the game moves at a much more rapid pace than most other adventure/visual novel style games which helps keep the tension focused throughout. Once the Class Trial begins though, the tension magnifies immensely. Similar to the Phoenix Wright series, false accusations can be your undoing, but unlike those games, time also serves as your opponent. There are four main styles used for figuring out who the culprit is in each trial (Nonstop Debates, Epiphany Anagram, Machinegun Talk Battle, and Climax Logic) and they get progressively more difficult as the game moves on. Nonstop debates lead off each trial and involve all surviving classmates. During these discussions, it’s up to the player to find contradictions in specific highlighted phrases and shoot them down with the acquired Truth Bullets gathered from the previous investigation. White noise created from other students can interfere with hitting the right statement in later trials in addition to some other surprise elements that are added later to up the difficulty of these scenes. As the answers begin to unfold in the trial, players eventually get into a one-on-one Machinegun Talk Battle debate with a fellow student. This style threw me for a loop the first time, as it mixes rhythm based gameplay with shooting down a student’s remarks. Progressively, like the other styles, it gets harder to maintain the rhythm further since opponents can make your tempo bar disappear or change the speed of the rhythm entirely. The idea to add action, via shooting or by rhythm, segments into the actual trial is something I really enjoyed once I got the hang of things. It cleverly brings tension -- something you would actually feel if your life was on the line -- during every murder trial. The fact that things get more difficult, later in the game, only amplifies the disparity of the situation at hand. Getting an answer wrong is one thing, but it’s entirely different when you choke under the pressure of time. My favorite of the gameplay styles though was the Climax Logic puzzle. In this style, a comic strip -- that recreates the events of the murder -- must be put together using the fragments of information derived from the trial with the basic facts already known. Time is your only enemy here, but there are typically extra potential answers to each slot in the puzzle that can lead a player astray. Danganronpa mixes a variety of art styles throughout each case, but the way it all comes together helps paint an exquisitely disturbing picture. Its mix of 2D and 3D, over-the-top death scenes, hyper stylized murder images (with neon pink blood) combined with a well thought out story make the game’s world all that much more alluring, even amongst its sadistic nature. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is easily one of the most intriguing games I've played in quite some time. It’s as if Persona and Phoenix Wright got together and had a little demon spawn that I didn't want to put down -- no matter how disturbing it can be at times. For fans of adventure/visual novel games, this is an easy must play on Vita this year. But it’s also a great entry for those who tend to find this type of game a little on the slow side and well worth the time.
Trigger Happy Havoc  photo
Phoenix Wright X Persona
Adventure games enable developers to guide their audience on an incredibly focused journey. Completely scripted -- with little variation or user input that impacts the outcome -- they rely on the quality of their storytelli...

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