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: Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS)

Radiant Historia PC

In a weird way, history is more or less repeating itself with the release of the brilliant remake/remix that is Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. The original game popped up near the end of the Nintendo DS life cycle and received pretty solid reviews overall, and this newer title slides into the eShop and at retail as Nintendo is slowly but surely planning to phase out the 3DS line (despite the handheld pretty much being the showcase for portable JRPGs in my humble opinion). Does Atlus have a hit the second time around with the same impact?  In short, yep.

If you’ve never played the first game, this one’s a must. If you’ve played the first game and are on the fence, I’d still recommend this for a few good reasons. There are new story elements, a great ‘Friendly’ difficulty setting, a new character with her own storyline (which is actually a fun excuse for assorted dungeon running exploits), full voice acting for all the main characters, sharper visuals, and all-new character portraits. The latter seems to be something a few fans dislike, but as we’re in the age of DLC, you can feel free to spend a few extra bucks for those original images and exchange the new art for the old if you like.

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Review: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, MeiQ has a few surprises for those thinking it’s just another fan service packed JRPG. Lengthy and packing in some cool ideas, it’s a solid genre entry worth picking up.

meiq_cg7 Platform: PlayStation Vita
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/13/2016
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B (80%) BUY IT!

At first glance (and second… and third), MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death looks like many other fan-service JRPGs packed with gals bursting out of their too-skimpy outfits ripe for waifu fantasies from those eager fans into that sort of thing. Fortunately, a mighty good game lurks past that booby trap facade and this is one Labyrinth worth a full inspection and yes, another Iffy game you’ll want to have in your library. Once you get over the costume designs, there’s a long and challenging game here to conquer with a fine combat system, albeit one that doesn’t change all that much once you sink a few hours in.

The plot is pretty basic stuff with four towers that need to be conquered in order to beat the evil so-and so trying to rule and ruin the land. Adding mechs each gal can pilot to the mix is a great touch, as it allows for some interesting pairings as well as gives you a squishy backup plan should a mech fall in battle. That’s right, your gals and whatever skills they’ve learned are your last resource if their metallic rides go down in flames. Initially, it’s a lousy thing as the gals aren’t exactly powerful and it takes time to gain a full party anyway. But, after a chunk of time, they’ll improve and all gain some nice, useful skills that can do decent damage. You’ll still want those mechs in good shape, though.

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The Silver Case Demo Hands-On: Dread, Delusion, And A Little Death

The Silver Case
 

With its October 7 release date right around the corner, Grasshopper Manufacture has released a new demo and trailer for the remastered version of The Silver Case, set to hit PC as a digital download on Playism, Steam, and the Humble Store for $19.99 (Standard Edition) or $29.99 (Deluxe Edition with a digital art book, soundtrack and comic). The new demo features two slices from the game starting with the harrowing opening chapter “lunatics”.

As I proudly still own the 1999 PlayStation import, seeing and playing this chapter all over again with enhanced visuals (and yes, in English) that still echo the original but with more detail brought a smile to my face despite the grin proceedings taking place. I won’t spoil a thing (you can and *SHOULD* give the demo a test drive) other than to say the mix of tried and true adventure gaming, unique interface and graphic novel meets cinematic presentation elements combined with a mature script will have you engrossed and enthused to play the final version. As with his other mature titles, Goichi Suda’s style is evident in the deadly manner in which some events play out, plenty of vernacular usage (hey, we’re all adults here, right?), and offbeat, welcome humor to break up the tension… or add it in cases where someone might not live.

tsc_lunatics For those of you craving physical product, you’d best move like a bullet. The fine folks at Limited Run Games are doing a fantastic (and yes, LIMITED) boxed retail version ($49.99) available for pre-order ONLY on their site until midnight, October 20. Yes, my eyeballs needed to be retrieved from under the couch after I saw this blissful box of beauty.

Inside are the following items:

  • DRM-free game disc with installer
  • Soundtrack CD
  • Artbook
  • 22-page manga
  • Two-piece manual set
  • Individually numbered box – numbers will be issued by order of purchase. The box is 7.75″ x 9.5″ x 1.75″ – the same box dimensions as many classic PC games from the 80s and 90s.
  • Game download on Steam

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Of course, broke-ass me will have to settle for a standard digital code, but I can live with that. Getting to finally play this and fully grasp the plot is well worth the long wait. Or short wait, if you’re new to the game and are holding your breath for the next 48 hours. Also, if you’re only buying the game digitally and want to do a double-take of sorts, go with the Playism version, I say. That purchase gets you a DRM-Free download as well as a Steam key, meaning you can choose to get gifty with it if you like. Hopefully the game does well enough to get console ports down the road, as it’s quite a ride and deserves to be played by as many as possible.

As usual, we shall see.

-GW

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October’s Arrows Draw PLENTY of Blood

Only three releases next month, but one is a SUPER biggie. That said, getting that that particular Arrow Video October release will be tough as hell for some budget-minded collectors unless they score a great online deal. Anyway, here’s what’s coming up soon:

vamp_av067Vamp [Blu-ray] (October 4th, $29.95 MSRP)

THE FIRST KISS COULD BE YOUR LAST!

Two fraternity pledges head to a seedy part of town to find some entertainment for their college friends but are faced with bloodthirsty vampires! Keith (Chris Makepeace, Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) want to make the right impression at college and so they devise a plan to get them into the best frathouse on campus. They head to the After Dark Club where they want to find a stripper for a party their friends won’t forget, instead they find themselves among vampires led by Kinky Katrina (Grace Jones, A View to a Kill)!

Almost certainly an influence on From Dusk til Dawn, Vamp is superbly designed by many of Grace Jones’ own award-winning collaborators and features stunning effects by four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Delivering laughs and scares in equal measure, with the added bonus of vampy sex appeal, Vamp is a comedy horror romp with real bite!

Bonus Materials
– High Definition digital transfer
– Original mono audio
– Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp – a brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk, stars Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
– Behind-the-scenes rehearsals
– Blooper Reel
– Image gallery
– Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
– First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher

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MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death Gallery

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Be careful what you wish for, especially when you wish for something saucy like “anime gals in a DUNGEON… with mecha!, Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa!” and you’re not very specific beyond that. *POOF* Your wish is Idea Factory International‘s command (*whipcrack!*) with the upcoming Vita game MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death, coming to PlayStation Vita September 13 (North America) and the 16th in Europe.

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IF, Compile Heart, and Makaiichibankan’s deviously deep dungeon crawler looks to captivate and challenge JRPG fans with its cute cast and no doubt challenging turn-based combat that should please those who liked similar gal-centric JRPGs or even mixed party titles. Here’s a gallery full of game trailers and screens to ogle along with some info about what to expect continuing right below the jump.

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Fallout Anthology: The Bomb Drops In September (But Only In America)

fallout_anthology_logo-black Amusingly enough, this must-have collection of the multi-million selling post-apocapalyptic game franchise is ONLY available in the continental United States thanks to that non-functioning miniature nuclear bomb replica it’s all packed into. Yes, you can imagine the irate international Fallout fans dying to get this and there will probably be some who manage to have a friend or relative here place an order and try to ship it their way. Of course, the USPS or other delivery services here won’t like that and most certainly, Customs in every country in the world won’t like that either. Especially if that “audible bomb sound” goes off while the package is being checked.

Still, you can’t fault someone for trying to grab this, as it’s absolutely a whopper of a conversation piece:

Fallout-Anthology_Compilation-02 As for what’s in the bomb, er, box- that’s below the jump. Fifty bucks is a steal for all this, mind you. Continue reading

PCE Works’ Belmont Survival Kit: Stake Your Claim For This (Vampire) Killer Box Set

PCEW aku_survival_1
 

As far as the repro game scene goes, the folks over at PCE Works are doing quite possibly the best job out there in bringing gamers who collect these high quality fan-created reissues the best in custom limited editions. If you happen to be lucky enough to sitting on about 240 US dollars (or €219) and want that wonderful-looking wooden crate chock full of goodness for your own game library, boogie on over to the link you’re clicking now and check the availability of this limited edition as well as other PC-Engine gems for sale there.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Get the Coffee Table Book Treatment

The Art of He-ManOkay, I’ll admit to not being much into He-Man and the Masters of the Universe way back when it was on TV and those beefy action figures and massive playsets were selling like hotcakes in stores. However, I was a big fan of Earl Norem‘s fantasy artwork as well as some of the cool animation Funimation had been doing since the late 60’s. As soon as I heard Dark Horse Comics was putting out a massive 300+ page regular and limited edition hardcover called The Art of He-Man And The Masters of the Universe, it went on my long list of books I needed to check out.

After getting a digital copy to peruse last week, color me impressed and a *kiiiind of* new convert to the old kid’s show. Granted, I’m not about to run out and buy up a box set and binge watch myself into a coma anytime soon. But thanks to the wonderful art and well-done interviews with many involved with the show, toys, comics and even that weird live action film, I respect the show a lot more on the art side of things. It’s still a big toy-selling chunk of nostalgia, but that sort of thing is why many now adults loved the show back in the day. I’m sure some of their parents had an eyebrow raised every time a new figure was requested and I don’t even want to think about holiday shopping for a hot new playset with a bunch of other parents eyeballing the same big box. Anyway, if one or more of those links floats your boat, go make a purchase. The regular edition is in stores on April 15 and the LE hits retail in May.

Me-Man Norem Art 

Oh, and someone needs to track down Earl Norem and send him a nice letter of thanks for all his gorgeous artwork, as his Wikipedia page is kind of depressing near the end. Personally, I think more people including younger illustration fans WOULD indeed be interested about the career of an 81-year-old artist. Hell, they’d better be, as his work was always consistently grand in just about anything he did.

Sony’s 20th Anniversary Limited Edition PS4: Nifty Shades of Grey


 
I should have figured that Sony would be going back to basics for their 20th anniversary, but seeing that familiar shade of grey on a new model PS4 made me chuckle a bit. I bet it’s not backward compatible at all, meaning some younger folks who buy it, might want one to add to their collection or just hate that color aren’t seeing the complete picture. I still have three of those old grey models here and they get trotted out from time to time, too. 20 years is a long time and I can still recall the initial skepticism some had about Sony jumping into the game console business with the PlayStation after a deal with Nintendo to co-create a game console fell through. How the gaming landscape would been had that arrangement not fallen through is anybody’s guess. Like them or not, you have to give Sony credit for making good on their initial promise to shake things up and continue doing it for so long despite some ups and downs over the years.


 

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Sony – you’ve certainly earned a place in millions of lives since 1994. Here’s to (at least) 20 more years (provided we’re all still around)…