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Review: Tales of Zestiria

Oct 20 // Chris Carter
Tales of Zestiria (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, tri-CrescendoPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentMSRP: $49.99 (PC, PS3), $59.99 (PS4)Released: January 22, 2015 (JP), October 16, 2015 (EU) October 20, 2015 (US) If you've played a Tales game before, you pretty much know what to expect. This is still very much a hero's journey affair, with the main character Sorey embarking upon an epic quest to become a Shepard and save the world. This is complicated by two warring nations, the evil Heldaf, and the Hellion -- monsters created out of pure evil energy. Along the way Sorey will conscript new companions into his crew, including his childhood friend Mikleo. For the most part, the story stays on point and doesn't stray from its primary goal of a fantasy epic. Just when you think it's starting to get crazy with the juxtaposition of humans and the heavenly Seraphim race, Zestiria quickly grounds things with Sorey as a tether, who was raised by the latter but is still a human. It's all very straight-forward, partially to a fault, and is easy to follow. Zestiria houses a stable of interesting, memorable characters, but they don't necessarily grow over time. Sorey also sports a bit of a drab persona, but again, it helps that he's at least likable. As you may have heard, Zestiria has generated a fair bit of controversy over in Japan when it was released earlier this year. The crux of the issue stems from a character named Alisha, who was heavily promoted before the game's release, and then relegated to a side character that wasn't in most of the game -- and later sold as DLC. The games producer even apologized for it. This in no way effects the review, but it's something to be aware of in case you might have heard something negative about Zestiria in the past. Ultimately, I'm ok with this being Sorey's tale. When it comes to exploration, Zestiria walks a fine line between open environments and too many linear dungeon-like settings. It's actually more open than both Xillia games, but don't get the impression that they're as sprawling as say, Xenoblade Chronicles. I'm ok with this compromise though, as the developers have stuffed a ton of secrets into the game's universe, including monoliths that grant you information, and cute hidden creatures called Normin that grant you rewards the the effort of finding them. The concise focus also helps make the dungeons less of a slog, and allows them focus more on a centralized theme or puzzle element. [embed]316377:60788:0[/embed] Combat is easily the most meaningful advancement Zestiria has made, however. It's now a lot more action-oriented, and relies on SC (spirit chain) energy, which adds a new strategic element to the mix. At first players will start off with just 4-hit combos, which are essentially a mash session, but the game quickly ramps up into something much more interesting. For starters, your attacks get stronger as you expend SC, but unloading all of it will leave you vulnerable. To recharge SC you'll have to guard or stay idle, leaving you open to attack. It's interesting, as sometimes you'll want to go all out on a foe if they're stunned or if you're attempting to finish them off, but it can completely backfire. It's a nice risk-reward system that's present in every fight, not just boss encounters. Other advanced arts like quickstepping (dodging) come into play on a constant basis. Oh, and certain characters can actually fuse, Dragon Ball style, with Seraphim companions to supercharge their abilities, which is just as fun as it sounds. Everything having to do with character customization is supercharged this time around, actually. Players can stack skills for each party member to make them stronger, or diversify their elemental loadouts to create new skills. There's also a host of meta-abilities like snack preparation and discovery, which recharge party member's health bars and present icons on the minimap respectively. You can even further augment characters with abilities like auto-guard, and alter your AI's strategic tendencies when you're not in control. They really went all-out when it comes to the game's core mechanics. Like most Tales games, Zestiria has a beautiful art style in tow, with plenty of bright colors and endearing character designs. It has its limitations however, as it is a PS3 game at heart, and longshots typically don't have the same impact. Also, the camera angle is insufferable at times, especially indoors, and can't be easily manipulated. Thankfully dual audio comes standard with the western release, and both the dub and sub are well done. You can also alter the battle difficulty at any time, lengthy combo input windows, utilize fast-travel, skip cutscenes, and even skip individual lines of dialogue. Oh, and players can save anywhere with a quick save system, which is convenient. Tales of Zestiria plays by the book in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to its cast and narrative. But it's still a great entry into the series, and a welcome return for old fans, especially as far as the battle system is concerned. In fact, it's even inspired me to go back and finish both Xillia titles -- that's the magic of the Tales series at work. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tales of Zestiria review photo
A tale of two Shepherds
My history with the Tales series is sort of akin to an on again, off again relationship. I was introduced to Phantasia by way of a friend's import copy, and immediately fell in love. After that I only dabbled in a f...

Review: Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden

Oct 15 // Laura Kate Dale
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS)Developer: Arc System WorksPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesReleased: October 16, 2015 (Europe), October 20, 2015 (North America)MSRP: £22.99 / $29.99 So, let’s get the core info out the way. Extreme Butoden is a 2D sprite brawler for 3DS set in the world of Dragon Ball Z. All playable characters have the same core controls, similar to games like Smash Bros. where the inputs don’t vary, but the moves produced do. Dashes double as teleports into counter positions if timed correctly, while characters string together basic combo strings, ranged projectiles, and launchers. You fight each match with a team of characters, built up of mains and non-playable assists, with the player able to switch between team fighters at any time. Characters mainly vary in terms of plot-specific special attacks, power, and speed. If all this sounds a bit dry and by the numbers, it’s because that’s how it feels in game. It’s by no means an incompetent fighting game, far from it, but it just plays everything too close to the chest. There’s nothing about the combat that feels particularly new for fighting game fans, or particularly exciting for Dragon Ball Z fans. Visually, Extreme Butoden has turned out pretty nicely. While not the peak of 2D sprite work, they certainly hold their own with some of the better examples of 2D sprites on the system. Sprites are crisp, expressive, and fluid in their animations, which leaves little room for complaint. It is worth noting that with 3D on the system switched on, some of the special attacks do look rather spectacular, with a lot of work clearly put into effective 3D layering. In terms of a story mode, Extreme Butoden’s initially available story mode sees you playing through a truncated version of the events of Dragon Ball Z. Events are skipped over and dialogue is shortened in such a way that a lot of the drama, emotion, and investment is stripped away. Much of the engagement with Dragon Ball comes from the long, drawn-out exposition screams, and that isn’t really replicated here. Imagine the plot, heavily abridged, and told through mostly still character portraits, lifeless dialogue text, and the occasional brief plot-related battle that doesn’t go on nearly long enough to justify its build up. It’s a bit of a disappointment. After completing the main story, you do unlock some alternative storylines to play through that offer interesting spins on the narrative, as well as an additional adventure mode that sees Goku face off against many of the enemies from the main story in a slightly contrived narrative. It’s fun to do fight bosses in new combinations, but the overarching story attempting to string that together feels like an afterthought developed to excuse the gameplay content. One of the more disappointing aspects for me was the limited playable roster. While many of your bigger-name characters are playable, most of the supporting cast of fighters is relegated to support assist roles. Past Dragon Ball Z games have allowed a very wide selection of characters, down to some of the most useless, to be playable, so this feels like an unfortunate step back. Unlocking these additional assist characters is also a bit of a lengthy chore, as they have to be unlocked by attaining high ranks throughout other modes. Many of these character unlock requirements do not feel like the reward unlocked is really worth the effort put in. Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden does feature a local multiplayer mode, but unfortunately no online multiplayer. If you couldn’t tell from my less-than-enthused review, I really couldn’t muster up feelings either way on this game. It’s a competent fighter with nice sprite work, but it also does very little interesting with narrative presentation, combat mechanics, or gameplay modes. It all feels very safe, and I didn’t really feel much by the time I was done. Time to scratch my Dragon Ball Z itch with some Budokai Tenkaichi 3. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dragon Ball Z photo
Competent, but not excitingly so
When it comes to Dragon Ball Z fighting games, I am one of those people who loves them for the over-the-top spectacle more than the technical fighting specifics involved. I know when a fighting game feels responsive and plays...

Champ-yons! photo

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth launching February 2, 2016

North America-exclusive preorder content
Oct 13
// Steven Hansen
Bloodborne insights photo
Bloodborne insights

There is a friendly carrion crow in Bloodborne

And other assorted tidbits
Oct 12
// Jordan Devore
YouTuber VaatiVidya is back with another Bloodborne lore video. This time, he examines a slew of smaller discoveries that didn't make it into his prior videos. A few of them surprised me. Pebbles being eyes, for one, because ...
Tales of Zestiria photo
Tales of Zestiria

Tales of Zestiria has a mountain of DLC waiting for you

A new chapter, but mainly bikinis
Oct 12
// Joe Parlock
Bandai Namco has announced a landslide of DLC for the upcoming Tales of Zestiria, which doesn’t release until October 16. Fortunately, some of that upcoming DLC is free for a limited time, but other bits aren’t. F...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Can you sit through this 14-minute Project X Zone 2 trailer?

It's pushing it
Oct 08
// Chris Carter
I liked Project X Zone 2 well enough. It's basically another edition of the first game with more characters -- so it's going to be pretty easy to tell on paper if you're going to want to pick it up. For those of you on ...
Tekken 7 photo
Tekken 7

More hints drop regarding Tekken 7's console future

We kind of know, but we don't?
Oct 07
// Chris Carter
Every so often Bandai Namco drops hints as to the timeline of Tekken 7 on consoles. I mean, we know it's happening, but we don't have a window or full confirmation yet. Antoher hint dropped at Madrid Games Week, where ma...
SAO photo

New Sword Art Online announced for PS4, Vita

Hollow Realization coming next year
Oct 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at the Dengeki Bunko Festival in Tokyo, Bandai Namco revealed Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, the latest role-playing game based on Reki Kawahara's popular light novel series. The story takes place within "Sword Art: Origin," a new MMO modeled after the world of Aincrad.
One Piece mobile photo
One Piece mobile

One Piece: Thousand Storm is a new free-to-play mobile game

Coming to Japan next year
Sep 28
// Chris Carter
When I was in Japan, One Piece was absolutely everywhere. From ads on trains, to stores full of Tony Tony Chopper figurines, to a host of Pachinko machines, you couldn't avoid the Straw Hat Pirates. Now they're about to ...
Disney Magical World 2 photo
Disney Magical World 2

Disney Magical World 2 is pushing the Frozen property pretty hard

Much to my chagrin
Sep 19
// Chris Carter
So, Frozen. I must be one of the only people on the planet who doesn't like it. I mean, I love Elsa -- it's about time Idina Menzel and her amazing voice got the respect she deserves -- but the rest, including most of th...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Nintendo characters join Project X Zone 2 cast

Chrom, Lucina, Fiora, oh my!
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Project X Zone was a nice bit of fan service, and the sequel seems to be taking things up a notch. In addition to featuring a procession of familiar faces from the vaults of Sega, Capcom, and Bandai Namco, Project X Zone 2 wi...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Get in on the Dark Souls III beta

You'll need a PlayStation 4 and PS Plus
Sep 18
// Jordan Devore
My favorite part of this beta sign-up page for Dark Souls III is that you can shake the guy by wiggling your mouse from side to side. Life's a lot more fun when you treasure the little things. Anyway, the actual beta registra...
Dark Souls @ TGS photo
Dark Souls @ TGS

Dark Souls III looks good at Tokyo Game Show

Albeit familiar
Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
I'm with Chris in that I don't see myself getting tired of From Software's action-RPGs anytime soon. Fatigue hasn't set in yet. That said, the opening areas of Dark Souls III aren't exactly fresh. See for yourself! This footage from TGS 2015 covers the same stuff Steven and Chris previewed.

Star Wars Battle Pod is an immersive, flashy, and elaborate arcade cabinet

Sep 17 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]310990:60396:0[/embed] It's not just the game that impresses here -- the actual cabinet itself does, too. Blowing air vents and rumble features that are synchronized with the action add to everything. The overwhelmingly large convex screen taking up the entirety of your peripheral vision certainly helps too. For the third time in this article, I'm using the word "experience" because Star Wars Battle Pod is more that than a game. Unfortunately for me, I'm kind of bad at it. Giving it a few different shots, I couldn't manage to clear any of the (approximately) three minute missions. Everything was going smoothly enough until "Mission Alert" flashed across the screen, meaning that there's an objective to fulfill -- defend a transport, blow up the Death Star...that sort of thing. I failed here each and every time. Oh well, it was still a hell of a ride. My go at Star Wars Battle Pod was at Bandai Namco's headquarters in Tokyo, where a free cabinet was set up. Those in the United States can give it the old college try, as it's in several Dave & Busters locations. That won't be gratis, of course; online reports seem to indicate that it's $4 per play. Steep, but maybe worth it for Star Wars fans to at least check out. There are likely diminishing returns across more runs, as Battle Pod shows its hand immediately. But hey, if the force is strong with you, who am I to stop you?
Star Wars photo
And fans will probably love it
While everyone's waiting for that one Star Wars game this fall, there's another new(ish) experience meant to transport you to a galaxy far, far away. It won't scratch the same itch, but it's immersive, flashy, and unabas...

Digimon photo
Presentation's mega-slick, too
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Tokyo, make it rain yakitori. That was my modus operandi at Bandai Namco's office. Rather than strangely assaulting passersby with a meat barrage, I limited my chicken chuckin' (cluc...

Fumbling anime fighting with Saint Seiya: Soldiers' Soul

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
I think my favorite thing about Saint Seiya is that I can say its title to the tune of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Also it looks pretty pretty. Not quite as clean as some of Namco's other anime games, like the current One Piece and Naruto titles, which look gorgeous. But still good. Has that Killer is Dead extreme sheen and mild grunge to it. BRETT: I guess my favorite part about it is how I beat you at it. By the skin of my teeth in the final round, but a W's a W. I'm not quite sure how I did it. It probably has something to do with the fact that neither of us had a real clue how to play. A pre-fight intro screen was gracious enough to share all the controls, and it was convoluted enough to make me say "Hahaha, fuck this" out loud. I don't consider myself well-versed in fighters, and that goes doubly so for 3D fighters. In my layman's opinion, I thought it felt slow, but not in a bad way -- more of a moving chess match kind of way. The pace is likely the reason I was able to string together a few nine hit combos, which were satisfying even though I have no idea if they were impressive or not. Probably not, to be honest. It felt good when my golden boy blocked your dumb Kratos chains, too. STEVEN: Yeah, I was using a pink lady with green hair who, actually might've been a very pretty and slim man, according to pre-fight dialogue. Regardless, she had these Ivy Soul Calibur whip things going and I spent the first match just ranging Brett because it was easy to do and exploit, but that proved pretty boring so I tried to figure out other things to do. Figuring out the block button was essential, but I'm still confused about the supposed throw combination and also the specials. I do enjoy that 3D fighter running style -- "like chickens," you noted -- which is very anime-like (and definitely faster than something like Tekken). That general style of fighter (I lump Gundam Versus and Dissidia types in there, too) is interesting me, but not something I ever got into. I last spent notable time in a fighter with vanilla Street Fighter IV (I later tried to get into Persona 4: Arena, but not even Persona love could hold me). I'll mess with more Samurai Gunn, Towerfall, Duck Game, Smash Bros. these days. Had a bunch of stages, though, Saint Seiya. And a pretty good roster. I feel like a lot of fighters skimp on that recently, probably for DLC (Mortal Kombat X comes to mind). BRETT: Who knows if that roster is a blessing or a curse. For all we know, it's unbalanced as all get-up and there are glaring exploits. Probably not though, right? The meta's something that people can figure out when it releases very soon. We had fun, got a few chuckles, and ran around like chickens. Chalk that preview experience up as a success, I say.
The Fighting Animes photo
PS4, PC fighter
The Saint Seiya series has been going strong for nearly 30 years in Japan. Those elsewhere might know it as Knights of the Zodiac. Brett Makedonski and myself don't know it from Adam, though the maintained '80s anime art styl...

Project X Zone 2 is more of the same, with new faces

Sep 16 // Chris Carter
To be clear, Project X Zone 2, so far, seems to be more of the same. Although Bandai Namco has promised advancements when it comes to the combat system, it's still very simplistic, and more style than substance. That's not to say that there's no strategic depth involved in general though, as the decision to employ defensive options at the cost of SP is alive and well, in addition to the general placement of your characters in each mission's grid. It just isn't nearly as nuanced as a lot of other SPRGs on the market. During my hands-on time with the game I was able to play a full level, which followed the mundane task of "killing all enemies," an objective typically found in the first iteration. Having completed the original it was an all-too familiar sight, albeit with the typical rush of playing as some of my favorite video game characters. During the demo I had access to Dante/Vergil, Chun-Li/Ling Xiaoyu, Strider Hiryu/Hotsuma, Kazuma Kiryu/Goro Majima teams, as well as the solo units of Captain Commando, Phoenix Wright, and and Ulala. As expected, the flair didn't disappoint. Dante/Vergil were a joy to play as, and the ninja team of Strider/Hotsuma (Shinobi) was just perfect. Seeing Captain Commando was also a treat, as he doesn't get nearly enough respect these days. Every single character is represented well, even the ones that can merely be called in by core units. It may be fanservice, but developer Monolith Soft is handling it in stride. Series producer Kensuke Tsukanaka was on-hand to talk about the game, and noted that in particular, they want people to know that this is a character-focused game, so the opening animation will not only feature every playable hero, but will clock in at just over two minutes in length. Tsukanaka went on to state, "We're aiming to look for new fans with an even bigger cast. We want people to see a new character and ask 'what game is this from?' We want them to become even more involved with the industry as a whole." The team is also stepping up the original animation with the sequel, as there will be more artwork than before both in and out of combat. I noticed this particularly during my demo session, as supers and abilities had a bit more visual flair than usual. When asked how this collaboration was even possible, Tsukanaka replied that "all of us have a mutual respect for each other. We've also collaborated for years with one another, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to create this project. The rivalry still exists, but it's a friendly one." Project X Zone 2 is still set for a November launch in Japan, and a February 16 date for the US was just announced.
Project X Zone 2 photo
Your mileage will vary
Based on the reception to Project X Zone 2, it's clear to see that it's a "hate it or love it" affair. Fans seemed to really take to the idea of playing as a cavalcade of heroes from some of their favorite franchises, but oth...

Project X Zone 2 dated photo
Project X Zone 2 dated

Project X Zone 2 will arrive overseas in February

2/16 for the US, 2/19 for EU
Sep 16
// Chris Carter
Today at TGS, Bandai Namco announced that Project X Zone 2 will arrive in the US on February 16, and in Europe on February 19. This isn't too far off from the Japanese release, which is still on track for November 12, 2015. I'll have my first hands-on impressions to share soon.
Dark Souls III date photo
Dark Souls III date

Dark Souls III gets April 2016 release date

In the Americas and Europe
Sep 16
// Steven Hansen
Bandai Namco announced here at Toyko Game Show 2015 that Dark Souls III will be releasing in April of 2016 in North and South America as well as Europe. That puts the latest entry in the Dark Souls series just a year after th...

Tokyo Game Show 2015 press conference schedule

Sep 16 // Steven Hansen
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 Sony Japan press conference @ 4:00PM-5:30PM JST (12AM-1:30AM PDT)YouTube stream, Niconico stream Here's a list of what Sony will have on-hand at TGS. This does not include unannounced games. The Sony Japan conference should have some announcements (and better have Gravity Rush 2). PS4 Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Star Wars: Battlefront Street Fighter V Arlan: The Warriors of Legend Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky Call of Duty: Black Ops III Destiny: The Taken King Tearaway Unfolded The Tomorrow Children Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 God Eater: Resurrection Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven PS Vita Airship Q Minecraft: PS Vita Edition Tokyo Xanadu God Eater: Resurrection THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 Okay, now we're into detailed, fan-centric company streams, stage shows, and the like. Here is where we're most likely to find tidbits about things, which may be interesting, and a tidbit about a bigger release is even closer to news. But completely new games? Doubtful. Credit Gematsu for many of these individual publisher itinerary translations. There are more things scheduled at the aforelinked page, but I've removed re-runs and less news-worthy events. (See: Atlus' three-day Persona proceedings -- and no, it's not playable) 11AM-11:50AM JST (7PM PDT, September 16) Sega Title Presentation (Niconico stream) -- Title Presentation by Sega Group’s Development Manager – Featuring Osamu Ohashi, Takaya Segawa, Kikuchi Masayoshi, and Naoto Hiraoka 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Special Stage (YouTube stream)  -- Focus on Side Ops and Forward Operating Base Online (a prelude to the later Metal Gear Online demo) 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Hyrule Warriors Legends (Niconico stream) -- Gameplay stream and news from the producer, Yosuke Hayashi. 12:40PM JST (8:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): News for Konami's Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball series. (YouTube Stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, Sept. 16): "Coming Soon" from Sega (Niconico stream) -- idk 2:00PM JST (10:00PM PDT, Sept. 16): Romance of the Three Kingdoms 30th Anniversary and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII Special Stage (Niconico stream) -- Producer Kou Shibusawa on XIII and a 30th anniversary commemorative project. 2:40PM JST (10:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): Metal Gear Online (YouTube steam) -- "Playable debut," not sure if publicly or just a live demonstration, but if the former, we will play the hell out of it. 4:00PM JST (12AM PDT): Arslan: The Warriors of Legend (Niconico stream) -- Producer Shigeto Nakadai introduces gameplay. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 11AM-11:40AM JST (7PM PDT, September 17) Sega TGS 2015 booth lineup (Niconico stream) -- All of this stuff. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 17): Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Ignition New Character “Shiba Tatsuya” Gameplay Introduction (Niconico stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, September 17): Attack on Titan (Niconico stream) -- Producer Koinuma Hisashi and director Kitamura Tomoyuki unveil first gameplay for new Attack on Titan game. 3PM JST (11PM PDT, Sept. 17): Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Media Tournament (YouTube stream) -- Gaming media versus soccer media in what is effectively a promotion for Pro Evolution Soccer, hmm, weird. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 10:30AM-11:30AM JST (6:30PM PDT, September 18): Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (Niconico, YouTube) 11:15PM-12:05PM (7:15 PM PDT, September 18): Just Cause 3 Summer of Chaos at TGS & Extreme Edges New Titles Introduction Broadcast (Niconico, YouTube) -- Will include Hitman and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XIV Official Producer Letter Live in Makuhari (Niconico, YouTube) 12:30PM-1:00PM JST (8:30PM PDT, September 18): Square Enix's "secret" (Niconico, YouTube) 1:45PM-3:15PM JST (9:45PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report at TGS 2015 (Niconico, YouTube) - See you in Japan!
TGS 2015 photo
What to expect when you're expecting
Lord on a skateboard, Tokyo Game Show 2015: Hey, There's Something to This Whole Mobile Gaming Thing is here to wash away industry sins with a waterfall of hype airdropped upon the unwashed masses. It tastes of Mountain Dew ...

Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Tekken team's Summer Lesson returns for TGS

VR demo for PlayStation 4
Sep 15
// Jordan Devore
Summer Lesson is a "VR character communication demo" for Project Morpheus (now simply PlayStation VR) developed by the Tekken team. There's a new trailer out of Tokyo Game Show. Unlike Josh, I will probably never interact wit...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III launches in Japan March 24, 2016

No western release date just yet
Sep 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Dark Souls III is debuting on March 24, 2016, at least on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Japan. From Software has yet to reveal release information regarding the PC or international versions, but the developer has promised to ...
Digimon World: Next Order photo
Digimon World: Next Order

Digimon World: Next Order has some new screenshots

How many Leomon will die this time?
Sep 11
// Joe Parlock
Dang, Digimon World: Next Order is looking really pretty. Bandai Namco has released a whole load of new screenshots for the upcoming (currently Japan-exclusive) Vita game. The screenshots show off the two lead protagonists an...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Here are some ways Dark Souls III is a-changin'

Fast travel, hidden walls return
Sep 08
// Zack Furniss
Steven and Chris both tried their hands at Dark Souls III last month. Despite the increase in overall speed and the addition of the Battle Arts mechanic, they both came away with the opinion that it felt like m...
Namco photo

Bandai Namco trademarks 'Slashy Souls'

What if? Nah
Sep 08
// Jordan Devore
The Internet has caught wind of several trademarks filed by Bandai Namco, some more curious than others. In Europe, there's one for "Burning Blood" and another for "Sky Kid," while in the United States, there are trademarks f...
Tokyo Game Show photo
Tokyo Game Show

Bandai Namco teases new game ahead of TGS

I like the art!
Sep 04
// Jordan Devore
We're a couple weeks out from Tokyo Game Show and pre-show news is starting to slip in. Bandai Namco, which I'm only now realizing I've gotten used to calling "Bandai Namco" after years of typing "Namco Bandai," has opened a teaser website for a new game titled City Shrouded in Shadow "Granzella." The lone image depicts a horse, a sword, and a castle. What's in that castle? Nothing good, I'm sure.
PlayStation 3 game ending photo
PlayStation 3 game ending

Namco shutting down Soulcalibur: Lost Swords

'Gods, please forgive me'
Sep 02
// Steven Hansen
Roughly a year and a half after its launch, Namco is ending its free-to-play PlayStation 3 experiment Soulcalibur: Lost Swords. It was apparently not great and coupled with a bad microtransaction scheme.  Namco even mad...

Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3

Aug 28 // Chris Carter
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesRelease: August 25 2015MSRP: $59.99 Pirate Warriors 3 is a reboot of sorts (within the confines of the Pirate series that is), taking us all the way back to the beginning. Players will get a recap of Gold Roger the Pirate King, and how his death sparked the search for the great One Piece treasure, ushering in the Great Age of Pirates. After briefly showing us a Young Luffy, stoked by the fires of adventure, the game jumps 10 years into the future as our hero begins to gather his crew, starting with the ruffian Zoro. It's ambitious, starting over like this, but it's a great starting point for players who enjoy Warriors games, and have no prior knowledge of One Piece's narrative. You'll even get all caught up with the Dressrosa arc, the most recent bit of story (albeit with a different ending). With all that in mind, this is a very brief recap indeed, with entire arcs condensed to a single mission. In that way it spreads itself thin in many ways, not to mention the odd design choice of starting all over on the third game in the series. Battles still follow the same Warriors beat 'em up formula you know and love, with light and heavy attacks that can be chained into combos. What's crazy this time around though is the introduction of the Kizuna system, which lends itself well to One Piece's insane over-the-top style. Here, you'll be able to call out teammates for attacks on a constant basis, as well as unleash gigantic supers with multiple crew members, culminating in an explosion that usually kills hundreds of people at once. It's a mixed bag though, because while said explosions look really cool, they're ultimately all the same despite what crew members you have in the mix. So while it's entertaining for the first 100 times, it loses its luster eventually. Also, the regular Kizuna attacks are a bit clunky, as there's a half second delay for your party members to jump in and do their thing. It's not a huge deal, but it definitely could have been handled better. [embed]308138:60166:0[/embed] As for the rest of the combat mechanics, they're rather on point, and as usual, I like to make the point that the system is much deeper than the "button mashing" scheme non-fans accuse the Warriors series of. For instance, Luffy, your first playable character, starts with 14 combos, all of which have a purpose when you're playing on higher difficulty levels. Plus with nearly 40 playable characters in all, the amount of variety on offer is nothing to sneeze at. You'll want to play on a higher difficulty too, because without it, the actual story scenarios will likely start to wear on you. Without a local partner to play with enemies tend to blend together throughout stages, and despite the mixing up of themes (military, rural), they all function basically in the same manner, with the same types of weapons. The dialogue is also poorly written at times, and doesn't do a great job of drawing you into the world beyond the out-of-mission cutscenes. But hot damn, is that world beautiful on PS4. The only time I ever saw a framerate hit was when Kizuna moves were being done in local co-op, but other than that, it's silky smooth. No matter how many enemies are on-screen the game is relatively stable, and it's easy to dash around an entire map and lay waste to hundreds of enemies at a time. While the mission objectives aren't innovative in any way, they nailed the hectic feel of the anime. The story follows the typical Warriors format of roughly 15 hours of gameplay, with 50 or more to try to max out every character. Of course, there's more modes available, including free play, and "Dream" mode, which is basically a remixed version of the story. The latter sees you jumping from island to island, fighting off enemies in unique scenarios and gaining new characters and bonuses in the process. As a note, online play is only available for story mode, but local co-op is enabled for every game type. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, from a gameplay standpoint, is simply "more Pirate Warriors 2." It doesn't really do anything new outside of the slightly different Kizuna system, and veterans will likely favor the Dream mode instead of the retreading story. Despite its Frankenstein-esque shortcomings, Pirate Warriors 3 is a beautiful game, and still a lot of fun to play locally. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
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