Review: Everdark Tower (Switch)

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Collins’ powerful skills make mechanical foes no trouble.

everdark towerThe second in Kemco’s quick play RPG series, Everdark Tower ($4.99) is a tougher game overall in terms of most battles and the inclusion of puzzle elements, yet still an easy time for veteran players. Granted the game is, like Archlion Saga before it, made to cater to novice players new to the genre. That said, expect to lose a few battles until you level up and unlock skills that make most fights in the final chapters somewhat of a cakewalk.

While the game is meant to (and can be) completed in about three hours, there’s one puzzle in Chapter Two that’s somewhat of a head-scratcher that pads out the running time a few minutes or more unless you look up how to solve it. Even then, it’s a weird bit of business because the helpful fairy that you can use to solve a puzzle earlier is nowhere to be found, leaving you high and dry unless you know the solution. I more or less stumbled on the solution after about half an hour of trying, but your time will vary (hey, I’m older and slower than most people!).

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Well, most of the puzzles are easy-peasy stuff.

As with Archlion Saga, health is pooled and based on equipped gear, so the best gear you can get will help. The enemies starting in Chapter Three onward can be a hassle, but aren’t impossible to defeat with skills your team will acquire (or using stars to restart if you’re beaten). The game isn’t complicated at all save for that aforementioned puzzle, but search where you can when you can as there are a few items off the pathway you’re (optionally) meant to follow.

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Review: Archlion Saga (Switch)

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Well, you can’t get lost at all in this game, but you can turn the arrows off if you want a less guided tour of the maps.

archlion sagaShades of the initially underappreciated (and still disliked to this day by some) Final Fantasy Mystic Quest drift through Kemco and developer Hit-Point’s entry level JRPG Archlion Saga ($4.99) and yes indeed, the game will definitely ruffle some feathers among the noisy gamers with unshakeable opinions (too often presented as “facts”) who never seem to think that players new to any genre just might like a welcoming title they can complete without a video walkthrough or wanting to bust controller into pieces against a nearby wall.

That fiver you’re spending gets you a game that can be completed in a few short hours, auto saves whenever you do pretty much anything and is so simple that anyone of any skill level can play it.  It also offers a bit of replay value for those who want to run through it again (you can opt to keep your levels and earned currency). There’s no need to “git gud” here at all unless you overuse the auto-battle option that can actually wipe out your party if you get too careless in the 4th and 5th chapters when and the random battle system decides to slap you with the occasional strong enemy pack. Amusingly enough, if for some reason you feel the urge to grind levels, late in the game there’s a dragon who heals your party at no cost whenever you speak to it. Given that healing herbs drop frequently (you can stock 99 at a time) and you start off with an amulet that restores a few hundred HP in battle, this might not be necessary, but it’s here nevertheless.

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Hmmm… we kinda know how this is going to turn out, but okay, let’s pray along…

“So, it’s a kid’s game, then?” you ask? Sure, you can say that, but it’s one that while colorful and easy on the eyes and ears is a tad gloomy in tone what with the 1000 year return of the evil Serpent and his curse mark dooming the population and you, the Archlion King out to stop that threat with the aid of a few allies. Cue up the handy trailer so you can see what’s what:

One thing the game does that works well is streamlining the story so you meet up with your party members with no aimless wandering about. Your party’s hit points are accumulated into a shared pool with numbers based on equipped gear. Each of the four characters will learn and an use three powerful Skills (the game has no magic points), all with different cooldown times and a few that can only be activated under certain conditions (e.g., after guarding for one turn or after taking certain amounts of damage). Granted, the game is easy enough that you can beat it without any major strategy whatsoever.  That said, it’s just nice to have the option to play with each character’s skills, especially the one that lets you steal items from enemies (which can net you some nifty gear and free healing herbs) or the one that puts most enemies to sleep for a brief period.

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Especially once you start using those Stars to power level, Bram.

While exploring the short maps, you’ll gain Stars needed to unlock doors and chests, but you’ll also earn them by playing the game for a certain period of time without taking a break. Those stars are also used to pull off powerful attacks and double experience gained after battles, so you can pretty much become too overpowered by the game’s final chapter if you like. Of course, NOT using any aids makes the game a bit more challenging. so feel free to experiment. The pixel art here is great overall, particularly the big, colorful monsters and bosses you’ll meet and beat. Sure, the assorted human foes have no facial features, but most of the more mystical beasties do and they’re all excellently rendered. The music is suitably 8-bit sounding bliss that feels just right, but don’t expect a wealth of tunes given the brevity of the experience.

The funniest thing about playing this was I was able to compete it once while waiting for a few downloads to complete (some larger games on PSN and a Windows 10 updates that had me offline for about 4-5 hours). Hit-Point has a few decent ideas here that I think need to be applied to a larger project at some point down the road, but for what it is, this isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours if you’ve got a Switch, five bucks to spend and don’t mind some hand holding in handheld or docked mode. While I won’t call this an “essential” game at all, it’s cheap enough and so user friendly that it feels as if it’s trying too hard to please. But that’s somewhat of a relief in this era of games where you’re forced into that “die, rinse and repeat until you don’t die” loop that can be frustrating for a select few.

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He may be a big scary cartoon jerk, but you can beat the devil out of this devil with relative ease.

Score: C (70%)

-GW

Review: Dragon Sinker – Descendants of Legend (PS4/Vita)

Dragon Sinker PS4KEMCO and ever-busy developer EXE-CREATE along with a few other studios have been whipping out dozens of mobile JRPGs for years and fortunately, a bunch of them have been slowly but surely arriving on home consoles, a great thing if you happen to be a fan of “old-school” dungeon dives. Dragon Sinker – Descendants of Legend is one of their latest and it’s a wonderfully, intentionally rustic style of gameplay that recalls the early Final Fantasy series as well as bits of Dragon Quest and a few other well-aged classics.

Granted, the game is going for more of a very solid homage to 8-bit JRPGs than it goes for the gold standard in terms of its familiar plot points. But between the clever use of the Unity engine to deliver appropriately chunky sprites and the developer implementing elements of its other role-playing games to great effect, this one’s a time-sink worthy of your time.

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© KEMCO/EXE-CREATE

While deceptively short if you follow the main quest and stick to it like glue, as with other EXE-CREATE games, the true depth lies in players seeking out side quests and late to post-game content. Sure, you can blow through the game in about a dozen or so hours, but you very likely won’t see everything or find some fun secrets that require more time leveling up for some fairly tough battles. This is one of those rainy or snowy weekend games where you plop down on something comfortable and only come up for air and food when required. Continue reading

Review: Revenant Saga (PS4/Vita)

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RS_PS4Kemco and veteran developer Exe-Create have had a particular formula with their mobile games where they cook up simple, nostalgic stories with casts of the usual JRPG suspects, sticking them in games that reuse some assets and range from OK to pretty darn good. You’ll also get a relatively straightforward game on the surface that’s actually hiding a ton of optional content for those willing to grind up hundreds of levels and gain some incredibly powerful skills.

Initially released on mobile back in 2014 and ported to PS3/PS4 and Vita back in May (and now on Switch) Revenant Saga does a pretty fine job of recapturing some of the glory days of the 16-bit era while adding a few modern twists that reflect the game’s mobile origins. While its mix of nicely done sprite art clashes with the polygonal battle scenes, the game works well overall in delivering a decently nostalgic experience. Granted, you’ll really need to work to get to some of the more challenging content. But if grinding appeals to you, there’s a lot to love here.

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In the game, you’re Albert, a young man who volunteers for an experimental process that is supposed to help cure a plague that’s run rampant. Unfortunately, the mad doctor passing for helpful doing the treatment turns out to be using humans as hosts for Revenants, powerful demons that are part of a few plans (some of which the not so good doctor is totally unaware of).

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Review: Symphony of Eternity (3DS)

SOEtitleFor the record, I was so tempted to write this review in 6-point type just to vent a little at Kemco and World Wide Software for this port of their otherwise decent mobile game, Symphony of Eternity. But I kind of like having regular readers so that plan died a merciful death and you get something a lot more readable. Anyway, the game, taken on its merits is a fine and dandy revisit to the nostalgic days of 8-bit console RPGs and there’s a decent amount of content for that low price point of $7.99 (yes, it’s worth a buy).

The big caveat is the playing the game on either the standard 3DS or worse, a 2DS will subject your eyeballs to some pretty darn tiny visuals on the main screen and a tinier map on the second screen. Worse, the game uses a few different camera positions and only one allows you to see what you’ve paid for with a full screen. Amusingly enough, that viewpoint is a standard overworld view… but you actually only use that map for getting from one point to another as the game has no overworld combat. Every fight takes place in dungeons of assorted size where that larger screen would have been very welcome, thank you much.

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Symphony of Eternity VS My Old Eyes

SoE_Nintendo.PNGGrrr. I like a few of Kemco’s old-school style JRPGs, but I avoid the mobile versions because I hate playing games on a phone and having ads pop up every five minutes because I’m a complete cheapskate who doesn’t like buying additional content if a game says it’s free to play or has a budget price point.

Amusingly enough, I’ve picked up a few of their PSP, Vita and Nintendo 3DS releases over the years and for the most part, like what I’ve played. That said, their latest Nintendo 3DS/2DS game, Symphony of Eternity, ($7.99, Nintendo eShop) is making me go cuckoo because while I like it so far, warts and all… it’s hard to see the darn game thanks to a kooky design choice.

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Humble Mobile Bundle Brings Kemco RPG’s Galore For Dirt Cheap

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If you’re into a bit of 90’s JRPG nostalgia, own an Android compatible device and have yet to try some of Kemco’s modern but retro games yet, this new Humble Mobile Bundle is going to be right up your alley.  Pay a buck to get three games, but beat the average price of $5.56 and get six titles with a seventh to unlock soon and up to three more games if the total sales reach goals of $100k, $150k, and $200k.

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Here’s a quick look at one of the games in this deal, The Legend of Ixtona, which is a turn-based strategy RPG:

Remember, the more you pay (or get friends in on the cheap deal), the more games come your way down the road. This sale lasts forabout two weeks, so jump on it and spread the good word while you’re at it.

Review: Alphadia Genesis (Wii U)

Alphadia Genesis_MainArtPlatform: Wii U

Developer: EXE-Create

Publisher: Natsume

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating:

Official Site

Score: B+ (85%)

As surprising as it is that there’s been a lack of original Japanese RPGs on the Wii U, it’s an equal surprise that Alphadia Genesis manages to be a pretty solid port of a mobile game and for those who only own console, the only true JRPG currently available for the system. Released for iOS and Android earlier this year by Kemco, developer EXE-Create has cooked up a game full of familiar tropes that works hard at delivering the nostalgic goods. For the most part it succeeds, thanks to nice 2D visuals, speedy combat and a fairly lengthy quest. However, veteran JRPG fans will wish the developer had gone the extra mile in a few spots that would have made the game even more impressive… Continue reading

Tuesday Means Furniture Tetris and Other “Thrilling” Things…

(Thanks, Cameron Lightfoot!)
 

Today was a nicely dull but annoying yet slightly productive one. My mood is shifting a bit restlessly with all this deconstruction and reconstruction going on. Moving some stuff around for the work to be done on Friday, vacuuming the kitchen again thanks to a busted Pyrex measuring cup (I didn’t do it, but I’ll miss that thing, as it was an old one that served me well over the many years I had it) and making a short list of gripes to discuss with the management here took up a lot of energy. In the midst of this, I completed Alphadia Genesis on the Wii U, unlocking what’s looking like a bonus chapter to the story in the process (nice!). That needs to be reviewed this week as well as a few other things, but we’ll see where I am tomorrow.

Okay, off to hunt for dinner – I just got some fun news in my inbox, but perhaps I’ll save it for tomorrow… we’ll see.

Alphadia Genesis Arrives on Wii U: Finally, a JRPG On a Console That Should Have MORE!

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It’s a sad thing indeed to see a Nintendo console with no original JRPGs on it after over a year on the market, but that’s finally being rectified. Even though Natsume’s freshly released Alphadia Genesis is actually a mobile port of a Kemco mobile game, it’s going to be the first “new” JRPG Wii U owners have played. Whee, you! Anyway, here’s the plot of this one, for those of you who don’t own tablets and may want to know what’s what before you buy this from the eShop:

Alphadia, Year 1092: Fifteen years have passed since the end of the terrible Energi Wars, where clones were used as weapons. Two kingdoms, after nearly destroying each other and the natural resources of Energi, signed an important peace treaty, and have been co-operative neighbors ever since: Augustine and Archleign, where the story of Alphadia Genesis begins.

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Sure, it’s not a visual showpiece for the hardware, but like WaterMelon’s gorgeous (but faux) JRPG Pier Solar and the Great Architects, it’ll be the go-to game genre fans will most likely gravitate top while they wait for more info on Monolith Soft’s new Xenoblade game next year. I’ll have a review up in about a week, as I just got a code today and am setting aside time to play this one from start to finish. Heck, I’m not doing anything for Thanksgiving, not having a kitchen to use and all, so I may as well play some games while I’m on that diet. Okay, it’s not THAT bad, but it’s pretty inconvenient to be waiting so long for things to go back to normal. Thank goodness for games!

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Alphadia Genesis is out NOW via the Nintendo eShop for $14.99. Check it out if you’re a genre fan looking for a fix on a console that needs a good deal more games like this.