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Archive for July, 2011

Review #430

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Catherine
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer/Dating Sim Hybrid
Release Date: 07/26/2011

I’ve been a huge Megaten fan for most of my gaming “career”. I’ve imported most of the series . I’ve done translation guides and/or walkthroughs for Devil Summoner, Soul Hackers, the Snow Queen Quest for Be Your True Mind and Innocent Sin to help with my learning Japanese back in the day. I’ve also loved how Atlus would try crazy new things, from publishing Ogre Battle and Ogre Tactics games when Enix pulled out of the US market to Virtual Hydlide or Bloody Bride. So when I heard they were trying their hand at a puzzle game semi-connected to the Megaten subseries of Persona, I was intrigued, especially since I’m a big fan of puzzle games.

At the same time, I was a bit hesitant. The one-two punch of Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment was pretty much the peak of Atlus for me, and although I enjoyed Persona 3 and 4 for what they were, they didn’t feel like actual Persona games. It was more really well made games that had nothing to do with the Persona universe save for using the name and shoehorning in poor Igor. It was Phantasy Star 3 syndrome. It also didn’t help that nearly every review that I read from across the Pacific or person than I talked to took a big verbal steaming dump on Catherine. Still, I assumed it would be a case of Persona 3 where Americans would love it while Japan was so annoyed by the original release that Atlus has remade that game twice in an attempt at apologizing to the understandably grumpy Persona fan base (and milk more money out of them). That’s the danger of using a brand name but nothing else from the original games. See things like Guardian Heroes Advance or Still Life 2 games. Longtime fans get cranky.

Still, by not using the Persona branding, this let the new “Team Persona,” as they are calling themselves (according to the enclosed artbook), forge their own identity without any preconceived expectations. It also let them try something other than a role-playing game, which is pretty much all Atlus has developed (But not all it has published) up to this point, so I applaud them for trying something new. So now the question is, does Catherine live up to the hype Atlus has made for it, or is the end result less than overwhelming?
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Review #429

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion
Developer:
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Genre: Beat ‘Em UpM
Release Date: 08/02/2011

Although most licensed anime games do tend to suck horribly, there have been several that are quite awesome. Every Hamtaro video game has been shockingly good. Robotech: The Macross Saga is easily the best side scrolling shoot ‘em up for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. The cast ofThe Slayers has appeared in some wonderful RPGs on the SNES and Sega Saturn. So on and so forth. It’s precisely because of how good some of those games have been that I decided to review Bleach: Soul Resurreccion - even though before playing the game, I had never seen a single episode of the anime before.

Originally, this would have gone to my staffer D.J. Tatsujin, who is our resident Bleach expert, but as his wife was just about to give birth, I couldn’t have asked him to play this. Since I speak Japanese, am pretty open to licensed anime games(and am the default Nippon Ichi anime reviewer here), it made sense that I do this one. However, I will admit that the game lost me story-wise almost instantly as it never tried to explain the massive amount of terms and lingo specific to the series. It was like playing a game in Czech as far I was concerned. I tried watching the series on Netflix streaming, but after a dozen episodes I found the series too slow and dull for me. I ended up describing it to DJ as, “a bad version of Yu Yu Hakusho meets Dragon Ball Z…which he actually said was pretty much on the nose. He also told me I’d need to watch over 100 episodes for the plot of the game to make any sense to me. Since that obviously wasn’t going to happen, I gave up on the series completely and decided to review the game on its own merits.

Now, just because I didn’t like the anime doesn’t mean I didn’t like the game. After all, in my preview of the game, I admitted it was a lot of fun even though I had no idea what the hell was going on. So was my first impression the right one, or did Soul Resurreccion end up joining a litany of other crappy anime games?
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Review #428

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock
Developer: Alwar Games
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Genre: Adventure/Hidden Object
Release Date: 07/10/2011

When our PR Manager, D.J. Tatsujin was offered a review copy of Vampire Saga by Alwar Games, he knew exactly who would review it. I do tend to be the guy to go to for either adventure games or titles involving vampires in some way. As this game combined both, it was pretty much a shoo-in that I’d take it.

Welcome to Hell Lock is actually the second game in the Vampire Saga series. Unfortunately I’ve never played the first game, Pandora’s Box, so I have no idea if the two games connect in any way. Welcome to Hell Lock does play like a stand-alone title, so you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on anything. It also helps that Welcome to Hell Lock is only $9.99 ($6.99 for Big Fish Games members) giving adventure game fans yet another budget horror point and click title for the PC. Of course, price isn’t everything. It’s all about the quality of the game after all. So is Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock quality?
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Review #427

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Captain America: Super Solider
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Sega
Genre: 3-D Beat ‘Em Up
Release Date: 07/19/2011

Licensed games are usually awful. Licensed games based off of movies are doubly so. Licensed games based off of Marvel movies that Sega publishes are generally considered the worst of the lot. Thor: God of Thunder is a definite contender for the worst game of the year, much like Iron Man and Iron Man 2 were. Just look at our angry reviews of Iron Man from 2008. Three different reviewers and three different scathing commentaries on it. Whether is was Mark on the 360, Aaron on the PS2 or Robert pn the PS3, there was unanimous disdain for the game.

Which brings us to Captain America: Super Solider. Once again we have Marvel and Sega in the same licensed movie product, which means that the game SHOULD be so bad that by the end of it, I would prefer to be pickled alive than ever sit through this game again. However, Sega hired Next Level Games, which is actually…a really good development team. They’ve already done one really fun Marvel beat ‘em up in Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, which both Mark and I loved…and to say we are a mite picky when it comes to Spider-Man games is a bit of an understatement. They’re also loved by Nintendo enough that they were give the opportunity to make the Super Mario Strikers series, the Wii remake of Punch-Out!!, and they are doing the upcoming Luigi’s Mansion 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. That’s one hell of a pedigree and one hell of a company to stick on a licensed video game title, right? Well, it was enough to get ME excited about the game.

Now, if you’ve been reading us for a while, you know I’m a big Captain America fan. I own a Captain America & the Avengers Data East Arcade Cabinet that is displayed prominently in my home and I have all sorts of Capt knick-knacks to boot. I was pretty happy with Captain America Pinball, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but was it even remotely possible that Steve Rogers could star in three really well made games in a single calendar year? Especially with the Sega/Marvel movie curse looming over this game’s head? There’s only one way to find out.
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Review #426

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Record of Agarest War Zero: Limited Edition
Developers: Idea Factory/Red Entertainment
Publisher: Aksys Games
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 06/15/2011

I purposely waited this long to review Record of Agarest War Zero as I wanted all of the DLC (along with the pricing) to be out before I gave it my final judgment. I’ll admit to being a bit aghast at some of the prices, like six dollars for a new skin for a female character in a dialogue scene (and we though $5 for a new character in Mortal Kombat or Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was bad!), but at least more than half the DLC is free, right?

I also outright refused to review Record of Agarest War when Aksys brought it stateside, because to be honest, it was the worst handling of a video game I’ve seen this generation. Unlike Europe, which received a very nice collector’s edition under the name Agarest: Generations of War, which I imported to support new publisher Ghostlight, but Aksys brought this massive epic to the PS3 ONLY in downloadable form and in a big snazzy collector’s box for the Xbox 360. To this day, this decision makes no sense and it was worse that you could import the CE from Europe for less than the downloadable North American version on PSN. (You still can BTW). But if you think that was bad, Aksys came up with the decision to market Agarest as if it was a hentai game, implying that it was riddled with sex and naked anime girl boobies. Which is wasn’t. This is a Red Entertainment game after all. Agarest was nothing more than a fantasy version of Sakura Taisen or a tactical version of Thousand Arms. I was honestly disgusted by how Aksys treated my favorite overseas company and I generally go out of my way to support them for bringing over weird little things like Theresia. The end result was people who WANTED a hentai game for the PS3/360 were massively disappointed and the people who just wanted a nice SRPG eschewed the game because of Aksys’ horrid marketing of the title, causing many to miss out on a really good game.

Thankfully, Aksys didn’t make that blunder with the prequel, Agarest War Zero but once again they did do a very different collector’s edition from Ghostlight and unfortunately where Zero all but requires you to have clear data from the first game, the Aksys version is not compatible with the Euro version of the first Agarest, while Ghostlight’s can load save date from either version. Ghostlight -2, Aksys Games -0

With all that in mind though, it’s all about the quality of the game and whether or not Record of Agarest War Zero is worth your hard earned cash. Be warned that trophies fans will be forced to spend money on DLC to earn some trophies and will outright neat Agarest 1 clear data to earn a few others. Of course, trophies don’t really matter to me (the Euro version of the first Agarest doesn’t have any), but just a forewarning to those who care. Now, on with the review.
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Review #425

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Wicked Monsters BLAST!
Developer: Corecell Technology
Publisher: Valcon Games
Genre: Light Gun/Mini Game Compilation
Release Date: 07/12/2011

One of the problems with video game journalism (and gamers in general) is that the majority have been trained to only look at the big name publishers with a marketing budget larger than the incomes of some third world countries. Because of this, some publishers get lost in shuffle. Valcon Games is one of those publishers. Even though they’ve put out a solid selection of games that we’ve enjoyed here at Diehard GameFAN, nine out of ten gamers probably haven’t heard of them. Hell, even EBGamestop lists them as “Interworks.” Take a look at what they’ve put out though. Thinks like a decent little First Person Shooter in Darkest of Days, the wonderful vertical shoot ‘em up Raiden Fighter Aces and most recently, the puzzle/platformer hybrid The Adventures of Shuggy. Now they’re back with a $19.99 budget light gun game from Thailand called Wicked Monsters BLAST!. I picked it up because a), I love light gun games (Hell, I even love Mad Dog McCree and Fast Draw Showdown.), b) there haven’t been a lot of Wii exclusive titles this year and c), it was only $19.99. All three things combined to give me an opportunity to use my Wii which has suffered a real dearth of exclusive content this year (Well…in NORTH AMERICA anyway).

So, has Valcon Games brought us another quality under the radar game, or is Wicked Monsters BLAST! another piece of Wii shovelware?
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Review #424

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident
Developer: Big Fish Games
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 6/28/2011

Although most console gamers wouldn’t know who Big Fish Games is, PC gamers know BFG as one of the largest video game publishers in the US, specializing in publishing adventure and hidden object based games. Their own first party line of games mixing the two aforementioned genres is the Mystery Case Files series, which outsells most mainstream high budget and heavily marketed console games. I reviewed The 13th Skull>, the most recent release in the PC series about six months ago and found it to be a nice little game, especially with a $13.99 price tag.

The Malgrave Incident marks the series’ first console release, although a previous entry, Millionaire Heir, appeared on the Nintendo DS. While the series tends to have dark and supernatural overtones on the PC, these are mostly swept under the rug in both the games that Nintendo published as exclusives for their systems. This doesn’t bother me, as a good mystery is a good mystery. I’m also happy to see the Nintendo Wii FINALLY get a adventure game exclusive for it, as the system is pretty much built for these type of games. Unfortunately, all they’ve really had up until now are PC ports of things like And Then There Were None, Sam and Max and Secret Files: Tunguska. It’s a shame that this genre has been so neglected when the Wiimote is potentially perfect for point and click gaming ala a mouse.

The kicker here is that while PC games in the Mystery Case Files series run between $6.99 and $19.99, The Malgrave Incident is $29.99. Now for a Nintendo published title, that’s pretty cheap, but for a BFG title, that’s a bit of sticker shock. So does the price tag coupled with the move from the PC to the Wii spell disaster for the The Malgrave Incident or do adventure game fans finally have the high quality point and click title for the Wii they’ve been hoping for since the system’s inception?
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