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Hotel Mario photo
Hotel Mario

Who wants to stay in this Super Mario-inspired apartment?


There's free Wi-Fi too
May 12
// Vikki Blake
Looking for a game-flavoured place to stay the next time you're in Tokyo?  This Mario-inspired apartment in Meguro, Tokyo - nicknamed (unsurprisingly) 'Mario World' - is stuffed with a veritable smorgsbord of Mario-...
Obscure Video Games photo
Obscure Video Games

Obscure Video Games: Panic Restaurant


Keep calm and beat your meat
May 09
// Obscure Video Games
So this week I decided to go crazy and review a game that actually saw release in the US. I still consider it pretty obscure, though. The game is Panic Restaurant, a 1992 NES release from the late, legendary game designer Ken...

Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed

May 08 // Chris Carter
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed (PS TV, Vita [reviewed])Developer: TamsoftPublisher: Compile Heart (JP) / Idea Factory International (EU, US)Released: August 28, 2014 (JP) / May 19, 2015 (US) / May 22, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 Once again we are whisked away to the parody-filled world of Gamindustri, where the main characters of Neptunia will get into all sorts of wacky antics. Since this isn't a typical RPG, the story is tangential to all of the killing you're going to be doing. You're free to bypass part or all of the story with very easy to enact button presses, skipping ahead to dungeons and gear management at will. The dialog is cute and the voice acting is presentable, but the silly nature of the plot almost always circles around the same feud of "who is the best CPU or journalist in the Gamindustri," and it ends up getting old after a few hours or so. The action of course, is the highlight. Neptunia U's engine looks incredible, especially on the Vita's OLED screen, and more importantly, the framerate and camera are top notch. I simply adore the cel-shaded style. Everything on-screen looks wonderfully detailed, whether it's a faraway landscape or an up-close shot of a character. Each combatant has access to strong or weak attacks, which function just like the Dynasty Warriors series with simplistic combos that trigger new abilities. Characters can also double-jump, dash, and call forth stronger powers (limited by a mana gauge), as well as transform and unleash mega attacks. There's plenty of options like camera tweaking and display settings to ease the clutter of the UI, and a toggle for Japanese or English voice acting is the cherry on top. [embed]291761:58476:0[/embed] For a hack-and-slash the combat is surprisingly deep, even if you won't have to use half of its tricks to best the AI on the standard difficulty setting. Action Unleashed also has a costume break mechanic, where if you use too many strong attacks or get hit too often, some clothing will tear off. Yep, some characters will occasionally bare their underwear, so if you mind that sort of thing, you probably shouldn't play it. What this boils down to is the realization that Action Unleashed is a magical girl Dynasty Warriors, which I am totally ok with. Uni is a personal favorite of mine, as her main gimmick is a rapid-fire rifle that offers up some melee attacks, often melded in the same combo. All 10 playable characters (including series newcomers Dengekiko and Famitsu, based on the popular Japanese culture and gaming outlets) have their own signature style and are fun to play in their own right. There is a snag in terms of pacing, though. Early on, enemies don't put up enough of a fight to put your skills to the test. While their models are great (aping tropes like Dragon Quest's slimes or Pac-Man's ghosts), most of the foes you'll face in the first few hours are cannon fodder, and it isn't until you reach the boss fight in a particular dungeon that you'll really have any sort of a challenge to square off against. Additionally, it must be said that while the mechanics do match up to the Warriors series, the actual flow of a level feels more confined, akin to the Senran Kagura games. Instead of sprawling battlefields with multiple objectives to worry about simultaneously, Action Unleashed's dungeons are linear by comparison. It's a lot less focused on exploration and more-so on constant fights, with a hefty amount of gates -- some levels are just sole rooms with dedicated arena battles. Despite this, it's still a lot of fun to blast everything in sight and try out new styles of play. Once you clear the first few missions and the game opens up, there's a lot more to do in general to keep you interested. You can opt to watch additional scenarios and hang out with the cast of the game to unlock extra scenes, fool around with your current loot and try out new gear combinations, or adjust your bonus abilities, unlocked by killing a certain amount of each enemy type. Neptunia U is ultimately built on replay value, counting on players to repeat missions for better scores, gear, and the goal of reaching max level with all characters. There's also a new difficulty and extra arena mode unlocked after completing the game. Maybe it's just me, but the videogame industry parody theme that the Neptunia series is going for fits with a faster-paced environment -- especially when a better developer is involved. As long as you can deal with a little skin and a silly plotline, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a fun little action romp.
Neptunia U review photo
Compile Heart didn't develop this
Over the years, I've developed a cautionary approach to Compile Heart projects. As a fan of Eastern games in general I'm always receptive to the idea of them, but as a development studio, they don't always follow through as w...

Rise of Mana photo
Rise of Mana

Rise of Mana, that free-to-play mobile title, is coming to Vita this month


In Japan
May 08
// Chris Carter
Earlier last year, Square Enix shocked the world by announcing another title in the Mana series, a long-cherished franchise in the eyes of old school gamers. Then quickly shocked us back into reality by stating that it was go...
Carpe Fulgur photo
Carpe Fulgur

I've never seen anything like Carpe Fulgur's new project


This Starry Midnight We Make
May 07
// Jordan Devore
Carpe Fulgur introduced Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale to hundreds of thousands of players in the West and, last we had heard, was helping XSEED Games localize The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter. Now the ...
Imageepoch photo
Imageepoch

Imageepoch's CEO is still missing, Twitter account deleted


Ryoei Mikage has yet to be found
May 06
// Chris Carter
Imageepoch, a Japanese developer that has worked on games such as Luminous Arc and Arc Rise Fantasia, has a problem. Ryoei Mikage, the CEO of the company, has been missing for over a month, and now, his Tw...
Famicom photo
Famicom

'My Famicom Exhibition' is an art show of games that never were


Japan? Doing something cute?! Since when?!
May 04
// Joe Parlock
Here’s something that really should be way too cute to exist. My Famicase Exhibition is an annual art show being run at the Meteor game shop in Kichijoji, Tokyo. The collection shows nearly 150 different fake Famic...
Chroma Squad photo
Chroma Squad

Run the Japanese superhero TV studio of your dreams in Chroma Squad


Out now for Windows, Mac, and Linux
Apr 30
// Jordan Devore
Chroma Squad, the game about running your own Japanese superhero television studio, is now available on Steam, GOG.com, and the Humble Store for $14.99. What a cool niche. This is part tactical role-playing title, part manage...
Uncharted 4 photo
Uncharted 4

Japan gets Uncharted 4: The Pirate King and the Last Treasure


Same game, different subtitle
Apr 30
// Steven Hansen
We're getting Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (delayed into 2016). Dark. Foreboding. Japan is getting Uncharted 4: The Pirate King and the Last Treasure, which sounds like it could be a Netflix-funded Goonies reboot. Or, you know, One Piece. Maybe Sony should go with Uncharted 4: The Hunger Games in the States?  Goes both ways, though. The States gets Angry Kirby. [via reddit]

Final Fantasy XV getting demo update, mostly skipping E3

Apr 28 // Steven Hansen
The two also talked new features that will make it in Final Fantasy XV, including difficulty options. The more action-oriented style seems to have fans clamoring for an easier setting. Voice acting will be improved, too, as the demo's acting represents non-final dialogue (Noctis will sound less like Batman). The sexy mechanic Cid, however, will stay sexy. "She's actually not meant to be an erotic character," Tabata said, explaining that her cleavage represents her "energetic...cheerful, and active character." He was also perplexed by the "too sexy" complaints, which mostly came from Europe, combined with the desire for a female party member, again hitting up the "bro-trip, men can't be themselves around women" excuse that sort of flies in the face of series history. Other little changes are already promised or underway. A mini-map will be added with enemy radar now being considered additionally. You'll be able to evade and cancel out of most attacks. You were meant to be able to warp outside of battle, but the team hasn't been able to implement it without bugs (and might not be able to). So, if it wasn't obvious, Final Fantasy XV is still a work in progress. This is where we loop back to the headline and note that the game will have a short trailer at E3, but "the promotion for the main title will officially begin at Gamescom" in August, a month ahead of the Tokyo Game Show. Final Fantasy XV feedback live stream full report: Episode Duscae 2.0 coming mid-May [Gematsu]
Final Fantasy XV photo
Demo gets camera, combat and targeting tweaks, main game gets difficulty settings
Ok. Final Fantasy XV isn't skipping E3. It'll only pay lip service, though. The above Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report, which is helpfully subtitled in English, sees director Hajime Tabata and marketing manager Akio Ofuji...

Man meat photo
Man meat

I'm not happy with the Persona 4: Dancing All Night swimsuit DLC


You know better than this, Atlus
Apr 28
// Steven Hansen
The first run of Persona 4: Dancing All Night in Japan will come with the "Woman’s Swimsuit Set." Not surprisingly, it is comprised of costumes for four of the rhythm game's characters; Chie, Yukiko, Rise, and Naoto. Th...
Reverse-Censoring photo
Reverse-Censoring

Publisher reverse-censoring upcoming FPS for Japanese audiences


Bigger guns, bigger boobs, bigger everything!
Apr 27
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
On July 15, gamers in the U.S. and Europe will get their hands on the highly anticipated first-person shooter The Kill Squad. The title, developed by Gunner Games, will also see a release in Japan but players there will have ...
Obscure Video Games photo
Obscure Video Games

Obscure Video Games: Hachiemon


Put your lips together and throw.
Apr 25
// Obscure Video Games
Hachiemon is not nearly as weird as it looks. Natsume and Namco unleashed this GBA game onto the people of Japan back in 2003, perhaps as their response to Kirby. The character, however, was created in 1995 as the mascot for ...
Bravely Second photo
Bravely Second

Bravely Second out now in Japan


The rest of the world is waiting
Apr 22
// Kyle MacGregor
Bravely Second: End Layer, the follow-up to last year's Bravely Default, is out now in Japan. Square Enix still hasn't said anything about an international release, in case you were wondering. The publisher didn't believ...
Dying Light photo
Dying Light

Dying Light shambles toward top of Japanese sales charts


Only one game could fight off the zombies
Apr 22
// Brett Makedonski
Dying Light doesn't seem to have any intention of dying anytime soon. Three months after its initial release, it's maintained popularity through support of modders, new game modes, and wacky gags. Despite being widely av...
PlayStation Vita photo
PlayStation Vita

Is this the next PlayStation Vita?


Sure looks that way
Apr 21
// Vikki Blake
A Twitter bot may have spilled the beans on as-yet-unannounced new PlayStation Vita design. The tweet, published on the weekend by @trademark_bot, shared details of a patent filed recently by Sony Computer Entertainment for "a portable LCD screen game machine controller." That's right -- LCD. Not OLED. 
Fire Emblem If photo
Fire Emblem If

Fire Emblem If special edition sold out in Japan, second shipment coming


Fire Emblem goes from its final fantasy to power selling franchise
Apr 20
// Steven Hansen
The sequel to the 3DS's Fire Emblem: Awakening, Fire Emblem If, comes out June 25 in Japan (next year for us). As we've noted, it comes in two different versions with alternate storylines each the size of Awakening, while a t...
Dragon Ball Z photo
Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden looks great in action


Finally, gameplay
Apr 20
// Chris Carter
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden by Arc System Works sounds amazing on paper, and no we longer have to settle for a brief look -- we can ogle at the whole damn thing thanks to YouTube user ShonenGameZ. The entire demo is on di...
Back in 1995 photo
Back in 1995

The new retro: Japanese mystery Back In 1995 looks like a PS1 game


Want to feel old? The PlayStation 1 is retro
Apr 17
// Steven Hansen
Ah, 1995. A good vintage. Earthquakes in Russia and Japan combined to kill nearly 10,000, the New York Times published Ted Kaczynski's manifesto, folks made Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream into a videogam...
Game Arts photo
Game Arts

Should GungHo bring back Grandia and Lunar?


The company is gauging interest in porting the Game Arts catalog to PC
Apr 16
// Jordan Devore
GungHo Online Entertainment America wants to know which Game Arts titles it should port to PC. Grandia. Lunar. Uhh, Thexder. The list goes on. Problem is, there's only enough room in this survey for one choice, so you've got ...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II re-release tops Japanese charts (but it's not as impressive as it sounds)


Not a whole lot going on this week
Apr 16
// Brett Makedonski
Dark Souls II's current-gen re-release Scholar of the First Sin found an opening in the Japanese sales charts and struck at an opportune moment. Most weeks, it would barely make a dent, but on this particular week, it wa...
Hotline Miami art photo
Hotline Miami art

This Japanese Hotline Miami art is sick as hell


In the face of evil
Apr 15
// Jordan Devore
Danganronpa maker Spike Chunsoft is publishing Hotline Miami: Collected Edition, a localized bundle of the original gorefest and its thumping sequel Wrong Number, in Japan this year. Ahead of its June 25 release for PS4 and PS Vita, here's the bundle's slick promo art and logo. You've earned a new fan today, @b0neface. [Via Shane Bettenhausen]
Fire Emblem DLC photo
Fire Emblem DLC

New Fire Emblem 3DS has Marth and Lucina as DLC characters


Available through a Japanese trading card game
Apr 15
// Steven Hansen
Fire Emblem: Awakening's success saved it from being the last in the series and Nintendo seems to be trying real hard to capitalize on it. The upcoming 3DS turn-based strategy -- Fire Emblem If in Japan, where it releases in ...
Unity photo
Unity

Unity support coming to New 3DS


Engine now supported on all current gaming hardware
Apr 13
// Laura Kate Dale
At this past weekend's Unite 2015 Tokyo event in Japan, Nintendo announced that Unity support would be coming to the New 3DS. With this addition Unity is now supported on every current dedicated gaming system. With much of Ni...
Monster Hunter Stories photo
Monster Hunter Stories

First look at Monster Hunter Stories for 3DS


A new direction for the Japanese hit series
Apr 11
// Jonathan Holmes
In an announcement that apparently couldn't wait for E3 or TGS, Capcom unveiled a teaser trailer for Monster Hunter Stories, a new game in their hit Monster Hunter series, set for release on the 3DS in 2016. While I hig...
Obscure Video Games photo
Obscure Video Games

Obscure Video Games: Combat Queen


Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug you
Apr 11
// Obscure Video Games
Remember FMV games? Back in the '90s they were briefly the hot new thing. Games like Phantasmagoria and 7th Guest were considered cutting edge adventure games. Perhaps you even bought a CD-ROM drive for your computer just to ...
Xenoblade Chronicles X photo
Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X lets up to 32 players cooperate


Form a squad and explore efficiently
Apr 10
// Darren Nakamura
There was a Japanese Nintendo Direct this morning focused on Xenoblade Chronicles X. Thanks to some helpful translation, we know a few more details about the Dolls and mechs and cooperative play. One cool-sounding note is th...
Game & Watch photo
Game & Watch

These Game & Watch bookends are real nice


Bless this mess
Apr 08
// Jordan Devore
It's been a slow start this morning and that means lots of Twitter breaks. A Simpsons quote of the day here, a tweet from Steven about his gamer socks and thigh hair there. Quick, better find some way to leverage these divers...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

This new Yo-Kai Watch game channels Ghostbusters


In the most adorable way
Apr 08
// Jordan Devore
There was a bunch of news out of Level-5 this week, so you might have missed seeing Yo-Kai Watch Busters, an upcoming 3DS action game that's essentially a cutesy take on Ghostbusters through the lens of Japan. I mean, there'...
The Snack World photo
The Snack World

Level-5's new IP, The Snack World, coming to 3DS


...and also smartphones
Apr 07
// Ben Davis
Along with its Yo-Kai Watch and Fantasy Life announcements, Level-5 also revealed a new IP known as The Snack World. It's going to be another mixed media project with manga, anime, and games being developed for 3DS and smart...






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