Super Neptunia RPG: Cool Canadians Bakin’ Up A Hot JRPG? Yep, Nep!

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Out on PC via Steam last week and coming to PS2 and Switch June 25 in North America (the 28th in EU territories), Super Neptunia RPG is coming from an interesting combination of forces. Japan’s Idea Factory and Compile Heart worked with Canada’s Artisan Studios to bring Nep fans an all-new game in the long-running series and the very first side-scrolling entry, to boot. As a fan of the series since the PS3 days, I’m quite intrigued by this one and the opening movie has sealed the deal that this *must* be played:

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Review: Rolling Gunner (Switch)

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RGboxHoly hell, mebius.’ Rolling Gunner ($19.99, buy it!) is completely NUTS, but in the best possible manner. Its very high level of accessibility and four difficulty modes mean you don’t even need to love or be somewhat decent at arcade shooters in order to get the most enjoyment from it.

In fact, the game is programmed to teach you how to play and as a friend who popped by to borrow some movies who also ended watching me play noted, “It’s really hypnotic to watch all that craziness!”, which had me cracking up as I completed the game (on Novice mode with a somewhat low 17,419,459 points) and restarted it as I handed him a controller and let him have a crack at the Training mode. Let’s just say he rather liked the chaos even that short stages offered, but he doesn’t yet own a Switch. Which is okay for now (his kid wants one for his birthday coming up in July, though, so I’m compiling a list of games for his dad).

Anyway, there’s a story here about a big corporation discovering a new element at the bottom of the sea, that element used to create a few initially helpful items and as usual, those items being used for some not so helpful things. Yadda, yadda, yadda, it’s now March 18, 2061 and you’re tasked with rolling out in one of three trusty STORK class warships to destroy the enemy fortress and a few thousand enemy ships, tanks and other robotic doom-throwers along the way. The game of course, notes the following in its helpful digital manual: “This story is fictional. The people, groups, and names that appear are fictional, and have no basis in reality.”

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Review: Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)

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Well, that took a while, didn’t it?

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There guys are new and quite a pain in the butt to fight. You’ll see (and how!)…

For me, an Earth Defense Force game is a particularly tricky review because despite the many similarities in each entry, the series has actually evolved over 16 years (yes, evolved!) into a game where you can choose a single character and dive in deep to uncover their rather massive set of weapons as you play through the different difficulties. While on the surface, Earth Defense Force 5 is a thrilling yet simplistic chunk of game to sink into, there’s a nice level of complexity in regards to how to approach missions in either single player, co-op, or online modes that makes if a fresh experience through multiple replays.

For many players, the easy to use all-rounder Ranger will be their initial pick, but I strongly suggest using Wing Diver for her air superiority and ability to snag more pickups than any other class. Or, you can play as each hero in any order, learning their unique skills (the Fencer and Air Raider require a bit of patience to master) as you challenge those aliens out to overrun the planet for the umpteenth time. It’s your call, and with 110 missions to tackle (not including DLC content), this isn’t a short game by any means.

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Going in solo? Expect to learn a lot about how your chosen class plays and put it into practice, or you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also the first EDF game with a proper (albeit awkward) tutorial for all four classes. It’s unskippable on your first play with any character even if you’re an EDF veteran, but it’s nice to see developer Sandlot make the game a lot more welcoming to new EDF recruits. For those new players, I’d recommend playing through each character’s tutorial just to see which one fits your play style and mess with “farming” a few missions to increase your arsenal. Of course, you can swap between characters between missions if you like, or stick with one for the entire campaign. Couch co-op play is supported via split screen in case you have an extra controller and a pal willing to dive in and get some bug and ‘bot blasting on.

Here’s a look at the Wing Diver intro level (all the EDF 5 videos in this review save for the official trailer are of me playing and there are quite a lot more of them on my YouTube channel, if you’re interested).

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Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain – 13 Days ‘Til The Worldwide Airdrop

This latest trailer for EDFIR is pretty goofball stuff, but definitely enjoy it for what it is. Of course, you can check out a more “serious” trailer and a nice set of screenshots on the PlayStation Store page (and pre-order the Standard or Ultimate digital edition of game if you like). Everything is shaping up to be the most epic entry in the long-running series to date and yes, that worldwide release insures EDF fans everywhere can play together or alone and not feel left out of the action.

Oh, for the record, I’m finally finishing up my Earth Defense Force 5 review (yeah, it took a while thanks to the ridiculous amount of content in the game, but that’s show biz, folks!) and should have it up over the weekend. Pop back in and see if it’s a total blast of a game more folks need to jump on (spoiler: it most certainly is).

-GW

Earth Defense Force Iron Rain Update: Getting Antsy (With Purpose)

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And you thought your last picnic got out of hand when the ants started trundling towards that basket…

D3 Publisher in Japan has been running a series of informative live play videos of the upcoming Earth Defense Force Iron Rain on its YouTube channel, and while all the dialog is in Japanese, once the gameplay kicks in after some lengthy chatter, all four episodes are quite fun to watch. While there seem to be no plans to do a western version of these videos, I’d be first in line to volunteer for a series here provided I get to wear an ant mask or some sort of other disguise. That or, I’d at least want to do an interview with some of the dev team at YUKE’s behind the game and/or some of the folks at Sandlot just to give readers an idea of what goes into making the EDF games so insanely fun when all is said and done.

 

 

Given that this is the first game in the series to get a simultaneous worldwide release and it’s a PS4 exclusive, there’s a lot (ant) riding on it being a smash out of the gate or at least becoming a game with long (spider) legs as well as an “evergreen” game that sells well on a regular basis. The best thing about every game in the series is fans of all skill levels truly get their money’s worth if they want to see everything thanks to the tremendous amount of weapons and gear for each character. “Bang for the buck” really holds true for this series and that’s a great thing to see as a hallmark for this somewhat niche franchise that really deserves a larger player base.

Remember:

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-GW

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Trailer 3 – April Showers, Ant-Ride Powers

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Well, I knew way back when it was announced that Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (set for a worldwide April 11, 2019 release as a PS4 exclusive) was going to be a big departure from the Sandlot-developed games, but that new Ant riding class? Nice… and kind of really weird at the same time. Anyway, veteran developer YUKE’S is on the case with some gorgeous Unreal 4-powered visuals, character customization for a player’s chosen class and a few other features geared to a wider audience that may want all the series hard-core bug, beast and ‘bot battles with a more serious story. In other words, it looks as if the campy dialog is possibly getting put to the side for this new game. Even if this isn’t completely the case, this interview over on the official PlayStation blog with series producer Nobuyuki Okajima makes for an interesting read.

 

 

Oddly enough, while the Sandlot-developed games are well known known for their intense action and incessantly, intentionally inane dialog (delivered via some oddball voice acting), the games are all fiercely difficult as the missions throw hundreds of enemies at you and ask you to take care of the swarms as you see fit. There’s also a deadly serious undertone to the games as the Earth always seems to be at the end of its rope and your character(s) are the sole means of stopping the aliens from exterminating what’s left of humanity. Seriously, if it weren’t for the dopey commentary in the last few EDF games, you’d have a really dire story line where millions are annihilated around the world every few years and you and what’s left of the EDF are the world’s last best hope every single time.

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Earth Defense Force 5: Out Now, So Don’t Bug Me!

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It’s boom time for those pesky giant bugs and angry-ass aliens, finally!

 

 

Well, there goes the neighborhood as well as any free time I was thinking of dreaming about. Playing an Earth Defense Force game is a total commitment process if you’re a longtime fan. I actually didn’t import the Japanese version because I wanted to go in totally cold (other than watching a few gameplay videos to see how it ran and if some of the trademark wonkiness was still there), so I’d say after all this time, I’m ready to be overwhelmed by this latest alien invasion from developer Sandlot.

While this one’s a PS4 exclusive, I’d gather a PC version is in the works as Sandlot did a PC port of the last EDF game. Granted, the online mode was rife with cheaters and some players teaming up with them ended up with corrupted save files thanks to hacked weapons and other stuff that made for a less than stellar experience. Hopefully, PC fans will get this at some point, but me? I’ll be perfectly happy posting YouTube videos or doing a bit of rare live streaming just to show off my skills (or lack of them, as I’m betting myself a dollar I’ll be REALLY rusty at least for a quarter of Normal mode.

Back in a bit – I need to get a few other things posted today, so it’ll be sooner than later.

-GW

Review: 428: Shibuya Scramble (PS4)

429_SS coverThis is probably one of the easiest reviews I’ve ever written and that’s thanks to Spike Chunsoft’s 428: Shibuya Scramble ($49.99, buy it!) being one of the best, most consistently enjoyable adventure game experiences I’ve had this year. Initially released in 2008 to acclaim in Japan, this visual/sound novel/mystery game hybrid manages to still be 100% relevant because the developer nailed everything right the first time and the snappy new English localization (courtesy of the fine folks at Absolution Games) does an excellent job at making everything click exactly where it needs to.

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Trust no one… well except for guys who aren’t anything but pesky sorts just trying to eke out a living. He’s okay (this is very early in the game, so nope, not a spoiler!)

On the other hand, it’s also one of the hardest reviews I’ve written because I don’t want to ruin a single thing about the game other than to say it’s gong to be best if you go in as cold as possible (avoid spoiler-laced video walkthroughs, please!) and enjoy the perfect blend of plot and puzzle elements this one brings to the table. trust me, your curiosity will be very well rewarded, especially if you love a good mystery laced with off-kilter humor, tense drama and some deep, dark secrets.

 

 

It’s pretty spectacular when a game zips from drama to comedy to fear-inducing without missing a beat while keeping your interest in its varied cast of characters and sub-characters. It’s even more special when it’s a game that uses live actors and mostly still images with limited animation and doesn’t come off as cheesy or half-baked. This is clearly due to Spike Chunsoft’s decades of expertise with visual and sound novels and even though it’s a ten-year old game, it feels like a blast of fresh cold air on a hot summer day. Five main characters’ (and a number of minor ones) lives cross paths during a fateful day in and around the busy Shibuya section of Tokyo and it’s up to you to choose how everything plays out. Pressure much? Good. That’s how this is supposed to work and wow, does it work.

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428: Shibuya Scramble Hands-On: Flawless Detection, On the Case

428 SS_smallA little game history goes a long way, folks. Chunsoft pioneered the visual novel game way back in 1983 with Yuji Hori’s The Portopia Serial Murder Incident and over the decades since, the company, now known as Spike Chunsoft has released a number of quality visual and sound novel titles primarily for Japanese audiences. Visual novel fans here in the west probably know them best for some solid titles that have managed to make the trip overseas such as the Danganronpa, and Zero Escape games on consoles and handhelds, along with the upcoming Steins;Gate, AI, YU-NO, and Zanki Zero games set to arrive soon on a few platforms. Yes, they’ve also done a bunch of other (and better known) non-adventure game classics. But as you’ve gone and clicked that link above, you can do that extra bit of homework yourself. Me, I’m here to chat up this spectacular new but old number you’ll absolutely want to check out.

 

(Thanks, Spike Chunsoft!)

 

Another game on the way is the stellar formerly Japan-only visual novel from 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble, finally headed stateside for PS4 and PC on September 4. There’s a great demo out now on PSN that pulled me in right from its 70’s-sounding opening theme and had me playing through to both endings with a huge smile on my face. While it’s only a taste of what’s to come, the blend of text adventure, still photos and brief full-motion video clips makes this a quite impressive achievement even ten years after its release. It’s more or less a “choose your own adventure” game, but one where a failure state doesn’t necessarily end the game at all, but unlocks new story elements.

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Earth Defense Force 5 US Trailer #1: A Bit of Wait Gain

(La la la, PlayStation!)

 

EDF_5 boxIt’s about time,  but there’s still no concrete release date for North America. To be fair, Sony has opened up pre-orders for the game’s standard digital and deluxe digital editions. But that 12/31/2018 release date is a bit questionable (games usually pop up on Tuesdays and I don’t think a New Year’s Day release date would be a thing). FYI, with no official launch date decided, pre-orders have to include a tentative date so potential buyers have a general idea of when a product will arrive as a download or at retail.  I hope this game rolls in before the end of the year, as it’s a bit crazy-cakes that a worldwide release wasn’t in the cards from day one.

That said, I’m also surprised I didn’t snap up the import version at this point, but that was a mix of finances not being where they needed to be and not wanting to go to the hassle of creating a Japanese PSN account to get DLC. Well, that and I thought the game would have been out already,  Ah well. I have plenty of games to wade through in the backlog, so at the end of the day, holding out for this one in English means I’m going to be going in totally cold and enjoying every minute.

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-GW