Ni No Kuni II Demands Your Desire

 

Even with the up, down and sideways health issues happening, I’m still intent on diving into a bunch of games this spring. Right at the top of things to get to is Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, out NOW on the PS4 and PC. As a fan of developer Level-5’s games since the two Dark Cloud games, it’s been fantastic to see each new experience grow more and more polished. As you can see here and below, this game is absolutely packed with things to do including all-new kingdom building and RTS elements that seem very much like whole games in themselves.

While Studio Ghibli wasn’t part of the sequel, on board are former Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose and music composer Joe Hisaishi, both returning from the wonderful first game. Keeping that unique anime look and lovely sound is key to the experience and yep, this game nails it perfectly. In any event, get it digitally or get it physically (a walk to the game store counts as EXERCISE, folks!) – just get it and prepare to spend way too much time thinking about it when you’re not playing (well, that’s what I fully expect to happen to me given my past experience with Level-5’s other great RPGs).

-GW

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Review: .hack//G.U. Last Recode (PS4)

dot hack ps4You’ve two choices to deal with as soon as you fire up .hack//G.U. Last Recode on your PS4 or PC. Do you play it as intended and enjoy the story as it spools out across the three remastered games (Rebirth, Reminisce, and Redemption) along with one new shorter chapter (Reconnection)? Or do you activate the Cheat Mode that maxes your party out from the get-go and makes zipping though most of the game a total cakewalk?

I ended up choosing the first option and while the game took a lot longer to play through, I didn’t feel as if I was taking advantage of Bandai Namco or developer CyberConnect 2‘s overly gracious hospitality. As a huge fan of the original four chapters games and later, the G.U. series’ three entries, I wanted to play these as originally presented, carrying my save data over into each game and getting the same thrills I’d gotten way back when the PS2 was going strong with quality JRPGs dropping on a semi-regular basis.

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This remastered trilogy benefits from a higher resolution, better frame rate, somewhat simpler combat and much better looking cut scenes. That said, it also doesn’t go overboard in trying to be a purely visual showpiece far beyond the original games. Lead character Haseo is still very much an angry jerky guy for a good chunk of the experience, but you’ll get used to him as the game progresses. The end result is a reliable buy that will please fans of the old games while maybe making some fans that expected too much or come into this wanting to see every trick in the PS4 book exploited a tad disappointed. Then again, you’re going to be playing this game more for the story and somewhat deep world building that extends into how you interact in the “real” world presented outside the faux MMO game.

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.hack//G.U. Last Recode – Launch Trailer: Time to Deep Dive Back In

 

Good gravy, veteran developer CyberConnect2 is made of of some incredibly busy and possibly crazy (in the best possible manner) people. Those power-packed Naruto games they’ve been doing great work on have set and raised a few bars in the anime to games scene and now, it’s .hack//G.U. Last Recode getting a superb-looking and super-polished remaster, now available on PS4 and PC.  I’ll need to grab this one when I have actual free time as I’ve been a big (but silent) fan of the .hack series since the PS2 days and while I was hoping the originals would get full remakes with new assets and features, this update of the second series will do more than nicely.  So, yeah – go add this one to your want list as it sure is coming in hot and pack to the gills with new stuff.

 

-GW

WRC 6 Slides Onto Console, PC

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Rally fans looking for another fun spin around assorted twisty tracks now have another entry in the genre as Bandai Namco, Bigben Interactive and developer Kylotonn present WRC 6 for your approval. PC (via Steam), Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions are out NOW, so I’m gathering you know what to do, right? Granted, Codemasters has the edge with its own rally games. But it’s always great to see other options available to fans who don’t mind playing as many rally games as possible. This one’s going to be more than welcome around here.

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-GW

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Ni no Kuni II: RENEVANT KINGDOM – Level-5, At The Top of Their Game


 

Feh, who needs Final Fantasy and its overly complex kitchen sink boy band kettle-pot plot latest entry when Level-5 is simply making some of the best, if not THE best pure JRPGs out there today? Don’t get me wrong, folks. I don’t hate FF at all. It’s just moved so far into being too hip/ster and modern for my tastes with each installment. The first Ni no Kuni was fantastic, albeit a wee bit too epic in length if one wanted to see and do it all. Sadly, my PS3 was stolen before I got to complete the game (over 90 hours was put into those save files), but this sequel got me pumped to dive in for more and more stunning visuals now that it’s a PS4 game. Just ogle the hand-drawn and painted magnificence (oh, alright, it’s all digital, but still!) and hear that solid voice acting knowing you’re in good hands with this upcoming console exclusive. Lovely work here, just beautiful and I can’t wait to dive in.

-GW

Lost Reavers Beta Hands-On: Fun, But Needs Some Old West Tweaking

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LOSTREAVERS_keyartWhile it hasn’t sold in the numbers Nintendo has liked to have seen, the Wii U isn’t dead just yet. Bandai Namco’s online-only action shooter/RPG-lite exclusive Lost Reavers popped up last Friday as a public beta until April 26 (the final version goes live a day later) and after some extensive playtime, the jury is in on the gameplay (solid and accessible fun), but out on the lack of certain features that make these online games hugely popular and more enjoyable to western audiences. Let’s start with what works before commencing with the constructive criticism, as some things can and should be ironed out once the final release is out.


 

While the “plot” is thinner than a sheet of rice paper on a recently paved road run over by a dozen brand new steamrollers, it’s not *why* you’ll be playing at all. The game is a throwback to a simpler arcade style of play: Run through maps killing monsters and picking up drops before making to a relic room where that prize is retrieved by a single player and carried to an exit warp while the others protect hm or her. Most maps are relatively short and can be completed in less than five minutes to closer to ten minutes each with a good set of teammates. The Unreal-powered visuals are okay and occasional lag and bug issues (that will hopefully be squashed before launch) aside, the game runs at what looks like 30fps most of the time. While it’s a third-person game, each of the four classes plays differently and the heavy gunner guy has the only optional first-person view. My own preferences are the third person furthest view camera because it allows for seeing more of what’s around you, but there’s also a second third-person view that adds a targeting cursor as well as a lock-on function that should help casual players get used to things quickly.

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Lost Reavers Killed My Productivity Today (Thanks, Bandai Namco!)


 

So yeah. I only planned to give that Lost Reavers beta a try for oh, about an hour or two. I got online at noon (after a few attempts at logging in after midnight failed because the beta wasn’t ready for its close up), and the next thing I know it was 6:47 and anything else I had planned earlier was toast. More in-depth impressions to come tomorrow. It’s fun and really easy to get into but REALLY needs an offline solo and up to 4-player co-op mode so even MORE people can play it.

Back in a bit. My eyeballs need a break, I’m at level 16 and there’s a big, bad boss that needs to be dealt with (later this evening, perhaps?)

Dark Souls III “True Colors” Trailer: Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun


 

So, yep. Using the Cyndi Lauper version would have made this bleak gameplay video a wee less gloomy, but this new-ish version works beautifully. It’s great to see Bandai Namco and veteran developer FromSoftware not only making sure Dark Souls III is the best entry in the series to date, but making sure veteran players know that the new game isn’t going to make it any easier on those stepping into its deadly world for the first time. All that dying badly does come with the reward of finally figuring out how to clear areas without taking much damage as you lay low foes that previously gave you problems.

Of course, clearing one area out just means those new enemies with completely different challenges await. But hey – one set of problems at a time, right? Once you dive into Dark Souls III, you’re not coming up for air any time soon. Unless you try and escape in order to go try and do something else. The game won’t like that one bit, by the way.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Arrives on PS4, Vita


 

Bandai Namco’s Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (now available on PS4 and PS Vita) should do well among North American fans of the Digimon games who’ve been starved for content for a few years. The game is a quite decent mix of action-based “dungeon” crawling and yes, features plenty of creatures to digivolve. The game skews older than previous entries with more mature looking main characters and a darker overall tone. But it’s still a pretty family friendly game at heart, so no worries about picking this one up for the kids if they ask.

My eye is set on the Vita version as it’s supposed to have bonus pre-order content if you buy it this month. That and this seems like the perfect game to take on the road to kill a few hours when traveling. I’ll probably play it most at home, however. Anyway, enough babbling on this end – you have a city to save (and Tokyo always seems to be in trouble in games like this, right?)

And remember, folks: You can peek over Bandai Namco’s digital shoulder anytime you like. Just follow Bandai Namco Entertainment at one or more of the links below. They won’t mind, really!

Er, unless it’s after work hours and you’re trying to follow them home:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BandaiNamcoUS
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Attractio: Great Gravity Game’s a Gas


 

Sure, it’s got a serious case of Portal envy, but Attractio is also quite a lot of fun to play because it adds a bit of freshness to the gravity puzzle game formula made user-friendly fun by Valve a bunch of years back. Actually, back when I tried the PS4 demo out at a Bandai Namco event last year the game reminded me of a cross between Portal, The Running Man and a teeny-tiny bit of the old Amiga game The Killing Game Show (aka Fatal Rewind, for you Sega Genesis owners who recall that truncated version of the Amiga game). IF none of those ring a bell, let’s just say that the game is all about trying to think your way out of a series of increasingly deadly puzzles and traps for “fun” and some sort of profit (survival and prizes do go together, right?)

Anyway, the game is out NOW digitally on PC via Steam or PS4/Vita via PSN for $19.99, so if puzzles, gravity and trying not to have your avatar die horribly from embarrassment when he or she gets stuck (or get bumped off by a high fall into some hot lava-like liquid) are your cup of tea, this one’s a recommendation of the most absolute order.