Review: NeverEnd (PS Vita)

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Indie developer/publisher Sometimes You also ports and distributes some interestingly nostalgic budget indie games for PC and consoles that aren’t perfect, but provide a bit of fun and challenge at a decent price point. Developed by Duck Devs, NeverEnd is a decent, simple looking top-down rogue-like/lite 3D pixel single player dungeon crawler (say that three times fast!) that’s influenced a tiny bit by The Legend of Zelda (without the overworld sections) with a tricky combat system that relies not only on weapon usage, but blocking and avoiding enemy attacks. While controls seem initially very clunky and off-putting, once you get the game’s mechanics and can deal with permadeath, things get much better. Granted, the game probably won’t win a ton of industry awards come the end of the year, but for $2.99 you’re getting your money’s worth and then some.

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The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled (PS4/Vita): Not A Review (Yet)

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A few years back, when I liked certain games I tended to go mildly berserk and buy a few versions of it (if it made it to multiple platforms). Hey, don’t look at me like that! I’m far from the only one who dis/does this (although I’ve cut down on that significantly over time thanks to me not exactly rolling in dough these days). Anyway, InXile Entertainment‘s The Bard’s Tale from 2004 was one of those games I snapped up on anything it appeared on thanks to its use of Snowblind Studios’ wonderful game engine and often hilarious parodying of RPG tropes including subtle nods to the original game.

Flash forward to late last month when The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled appeared without fanfare as a digital-only release on PSN. Ten bucks for a cross-platform HD remaster (PS4 and Vita) with a cross-buy/cross-play feature that allowed players to take the game on the road and use cloud saves to continue at home? SOLD. I didn’t hesitate at all or bother to even bug InXile about a review code. This was certainly going to be the best version of the game to date and yep, the ability to play anywhere and go home to continue was going to keep me grinning long into the wee hours. What could possibly go wrong?

Well… a few things folks. Thankfully, cross-play and cloud saves are flawless, but in terms of other things on the technical front, this version of the game (done by Square 1 Games) needs patching. Badly. I was initially going to write up a full review, but have decided to wait a few days to see if the problems can be fixed as the older console versions were great overall and this remaster needs to be as good or better in terms of consistent performance. Right now, it’s not.

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Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares

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MSN_bg_pcIdea Factory/Compile Heart games can be hit or miss affairs, but their latest, Mary Skelter: Nightmares is (for my money) one of their best games (and best dungeon crawlers) to date thanks to taking chances with a few tried and true formulas and smacking most them right in their sweet spots. It’s got the turn-based dungeon crawl aspects of the Wizardry series mixed in with real-time chase/combat scenarios, excellent production values and yep, a bit of M-rated fan service lightly sprinkled on top for good measure.

While parts of the plot can be somewhat pedestrian in their usage of familiar anime/manga tropes, things take a few interesting turns as the game goes on. The use of well-known mostly female characters from popular fairy tales works quite well provided your brain properly detaches them from any imagery you might recall (or: you need to re-imagine everyone as anime gals). Of course, the gameplay is where it’s at and what’s here will keep you hooked in to the very end (and then some).  If you’re a fan of the aforementioned Wizardry, Etrian Odyssey, Demon Gaze, and Dungeon Travelers 2 among other dungeon crawlers, this one’s a drop everything and go kiss your Vita if you own one event.

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Just An Update Or Two

“When you wake up and the world hasn’t ended, that’s at least good enough for a second cup of coffee.”

Ah, senior citizen logic. No, not from me, silly. Some older guy in the elevator here spontaneously said that the other day and it made me laugh out loud. Anyway, it’s kind of busy on a few fronts these days, but yeah, yeah – more reviews are incoming.

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This one’s fun and weird so far, so heads up if you like those Idea Factory/Compile Heart dungeon crawlers that borrow heavily from the classic Wizardry series while adding a few interesting JRPG twists. There are a few other (mostly) RPG-related reviews coming as well, but we’ll get to them over say, the next week. It’s tricky to make it through some recent games where you’ve got cut scenes that feature a novel’s worth of text with a novella of lore to wade through and you want to read every word.

I’ve been plowing through a stack of movies as well so my to-do pile is now a comfortable collection I can stroll past without feeling like I have to watch a film or three I’m not in the mood for. Amusingly enough, I’ve been stacking by genre and country, so you may see a few too many posts in a row about Japanese, Italian, or French films I’ve received. Or not, as I’m playing this my ear at the moment.

Was that a Blue Velvet reference? Oh, I don’t know. I think I need a new nap or something. Back in a bit.

-GW

Review: Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds

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HAKU1_PackArtIf you or someone you love are suffering from FVN (Fear of Visual Novels), Idea Factory International has a great solution at an affordable price. Hakuōki: Kyoto Winds is a great introduction to otome games for Vita owners willing to try something different that’s well made and quite enjoyable.

Yes, longtime fans will recognize this as “only” an enhanced port of an older game they may have previously played. But they should also recognize the fact that every day someone might just want to try something out of their comfort zone they’ll probably like. Hey, an expanded fan base can be a good thing when all is said and done, right?

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Review: Valkyria Revolution (PS4)

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Valkyria Revolution PS4 (Custom)Well, veteran developer Media Vision gave it the old college try, but as a set in the past side story to the fan favorite Valkyria Chronicles series, Valkyria Revolution isn’t so thrilling as a game experience. Packed full of overlong exposition, mostly pretty visuals ruined by stiffly animated characters, and somewhat weak gameplay, this one manages to be somewhat lifeless despite trying very hard to appeal to longtime fans and players new to the series.

That said, the music is great, some of the timely political intrigue is interesting enough, as is the main storytelling device of a teacher and student discussing events that happened decades earlier. But the core gameplay never rises above mediocre thanks to somewhat loose controls and a “tactical” side that really doesn’t add much challenge. It’s not a “bad” game per se – it’s just one where you may feel too much time was spent on making a game packed with too much of some stuff and too little of everything else.

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Berserk and the Band of the Hawk: Gatsu Get It If You’re A Fan

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Veteran developer Omega Force is well into being the reigning champ of turning its share of popular anime and game franchises into variations on its long running Musou/Warriors games and the latest, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk looks as if it might be one of the better conversions to date. We’ll see, of course. But the art is on point, the game isn’t shying away (much) from its mature content and as the trailer shows, it’s a guaranteed to be a hit on PS4, Vita and PC that fans of the manga and anime should check out.

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-GW

Berserk’s Back: Have You Got The Guts To Read It?

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Okay, I’ll admit it. I have almost NO experience with Berserk outside a poring over a few borrowed issues of the manga back in the 90’s and playing through three video games based on the manga and anime (Super Famicom, Dreamcast and PS2, FYI). That said, with Koei Tecmo set to release the gloriously violent Berserk and the Band of the Hawk on February 21, 2017, Dark Horse Comics has put out the word that Volume 38 of Berserk will be slicing its way to comic stores and online retailers July 5, 2017. Why post this so early? Well, I think I need to play catch up and I think that’s enough time to play catch up on the other 37 volumes, of course!


 

I’ve been following the game closely, but not reporting much on it or watching any videos other than trailers and official gameplay videos like the one aove because I want to go in as cold as possible and not have stuff spoiled by yakky streamers who got early access even if they love what’s coming. In any event, I need to co clear up some room on my calendar I guess. Slowly going Berserk is a lot better than the alternative, right?

– GW

PSN Double Sale: Your Wallet Needed The Post-Turkey Day Exercise, Right?

psnbfGot a PS4, PS3, or Vita handy? Good. Click on that banner above or below (or both in separate tabs), do some self-gifting and thank me later for saving you a trip to the mall (or maul, given the usual antics on this crazy shopping day).

psnfsI think you can use only this one-time use code: D9NGJ7NF3L for an extra 10% off on Flash Sale buys, but see if it works if you combine purchases. You’re welcome, of course.

-GW

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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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