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Archive for April, 2012

Review #465

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Mortal Kombat
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Home Games
Genre: 2-D Fighting
Release Date: 05/01/2012

I grew up a SNK and Capcom fighting game fan. To me, Mortal Kombat was a neat franchise, but it just wasn’t as deep or interesting as games like The King of Fighters, Street Fighter II, Darkstalkers, Samurai Shodown and others. Out of the early games, I really only liked Mortal Kombat II. Over the past few years though, Netherealm Studios has not only been putting out games that rivaled Capcom and SNK titles, but actually surpassed them. In 2008, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe won our fighting game of the year award. I happily cast my vote for that after having been quite impressed with the game when I reviewed it. Then in 2011, Mortal Kombat 9 impressed even the most hardened skeptic (basically Mark and myself). We had nothing but praise for the game and then when the end of the year rolled around, it was no surprise that it too won our fighting game of the year award, but that it was also nominated for the overall game of the year as well (Losing to a tie between Batman: Arkham City and Radiant Silvergun).

Now Netherealm Studios has ported the game over to the Vita, adding some new content and replacing other bits. I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of fighting games for handhelds. They never seem to play as well due to hardware and controller differences. About the only time I’ve felt a portable fighting game could go toe to toe with a console or arcade cabinet were a few for the Neo*Geo Pocket Colour like SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millienium. Even the BlazBlue and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom titles I have for the Vita don’t play as well as their console big brothers. Still after how impressive the last two Mortal Kombat games were, I was not going to dismiss the chance that we were finally going to have an awesome handheld Mortal Kombat game. (I still remember Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance for the GBA…). So has Mortal Kombat hit it out of the park for a third straight time.
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Review #464

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The Pinball Arcade
Developer: Farsight Studios
Publisher: Farsight Technologies
Genre: Pinball
Release Date: 04/10/2012

If you’ve read Diehard GameFAN for any length of time, you know I’m a huge pinball fan. In fact, this is my third pinball review of 2012, having already reviewed Zen Pinball 3D for the 3DS and Epic Quest for the PS3. I even nominated Addams Family Pinball for a successful entry into our Video Game Hall of Fame. So of course I was excited when I learned Farsight was making a new pinball compilation for the PS3. I was doubly excited when I learned The Pinball Arcade would be digital reconstructions of some of the most famous and beloved pinball games of all time. With the announcement that the purchase of the PS3 version would net you the Playtation Vita one for free, I was ecstatic. After all, I needed SOMETHING to play on that besides Disgaea 3 With Farsights announcement that Bride of Pin-Bot, Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Cirqus Votaire, Funhouse and Monster Bash are all on their way as DLC, could my beloved Addams Family Pinball be far behind? After all, look at all the Bally/Midway titles! Of course, it doesn’t matter WHAT games Farsight is able to license if they don’t play very well. So is this double shot of pinball worth your ten bucks? It’s time to find out.
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Review #463

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The House of the Dead 4
Developer: WoW Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Light Gun/Rail Shooter
Release Date: 04/17/2012

I’ve always been a big fan of The House of the Dead series. For some time however, Sega has really only focused on The House of the Dead 2 and 3. Both games have seem multiple re-releases, with The House of the Dead 3 most recently hitting the PS3 and Nintendo Wii (Along with The House of the Dead 2 in a compilation package. Compare that to say, The House of the Dead which hasn’t seen life outside arcades of the Sega Saturn, with both versions selling for an obscene amount of money. It’s even worse for fans of The House of the Dead 4, which up until a few days ago had NEVER seen release outside of the arcade. Hell, The House of the Dead SP has barely been played by ANYONE; it’s that rare. I personally love it and my friend Dan and I actually tracked down both versions to an arcade in Beaverton, OR last April and played the hell out of them. Good times.

Finally though, Sega has released a console version of The House of the Dead 4. Even better, it’s only $9.99 ($6.99 for Playstation Plus users) – a mere fraction of what it would cost to actually get through the game in the arcade. It’s joystick and Move compatible to boot! Still, a lot can go wrong with the conversion of a light gun game into a console – especially with something like The House of the Dead 4 SP which is an experience that is all but impossible to re-create in a home. What was the end result of Sega’s latest experiment?
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Review #462

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Horror/AR
Release Date: 04/13/2012

As an import gamer, I absolutely love this generation of consoles for breaking down the region coding barrier. I’ve imported many games for my DS, MY PSP and my PS3. From Europe I was able to get Tales of Eternia for my PSP and Captain Morgane for my PS3. From Japan, I imported X Edge, Hakuna Matata, Demons’ Souls, and several others. Then there’s Nintendo. Not only did they piss me off by region locking the 3DS, but Nintendo of America especially annoyed me by keeping big name titles for the WII out of North America? Why? It makes no sense, especially when there is a clamoring for them and Nintendo of Europe is releasing them anyway. Thanks to fan demand (and outright anger), Nintendo helping bring over Xenoblade Chronicles and XSeed is doing The Last Story. There’s still no word on Pandora’s Tower coming stateside though. Sure it’s great that these JRPGs are making it here but the original game that set off this annoyance with NoA still doesn’t have a North American release. I’m talking about Fatal Frame 4.

Look, I love Fatal Frame. I own the first two director cuts for my Xbox and the third game for my PS3. I imported Fatal Frame 4 for my Wii (which thanks to my relationship with Nintendo is able to play games from all region and legally so). I even downloaded the English translation patch top see how it fared. So I was more than a little annoyed that NoA decided to not localize Fatal Frame 4, especially after it paid Tecmo Koei all that money to making the series Nintendo exclusive. Why pay all that money if you’re not going actually use your one big M rated franchise that you have for the system? It’s insane. I became even more incensed, as I’m sure many of you did as well, when we learned Fatal Frame 2/Project Zero 2 was not only getting a Wii remake, but that said remake would be coming to Europe in English but would NOT be coming to North America. Again, this shows not only the stupidity of Nintendo for region locking their Wiis, but extra stupidity on the part of NoA as Reggie and pals obviously don’t want to learn from their mistakes.

The lack of both Fatal Frame 4 and Crimson Butterfly for North American Wiis gets even weirder when you consider that NoA not own happily brought over the franchise’s soin-off for the Nintendo 3DS< but has been marketing it rather heavily, complete wityh hands-on previews being held in supposed haunted houses. What's up with that? My only guess is that it's Nintendo realizing they pretty much HAVE to put out everything they can for the 3DS in light of the issues and drama that surrounded the system's first year of life coupled with the ever encroaching tablet/cell phone market as an alternative to their nigh monopoly on portable gaming. As I said though, I *LOVE* the Fatal Frame series, and the series seems tailor built for the 3DS, so I was quite hopeful hat if this fared well, maybe NoA would FINALLY change their mind on the Wii games in the Fatal Frame series? So does Spirit Camera mark the return of Fatal Frame to North American shores…or is it the final nail in the coffin?
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Review #461

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Disgaea 4: Absence of Detention
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 04/17/2012

I haven’t been too impressed with the Playstation Vita. I’ve played all the demos but as of yet, but nothing has remotely interested me enough to pick anything up for the system. I have the free MotorStorm Apocalpyse, the free AR games and the free puzzle gameTreasures of Montezuma. I was given a copy of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 by a friend at Capcom in exchange for writing a comprehensive walkthrough for the upcoming Pokémon Conquest, but that’s about it. I was even going to pass on Disgaea 3 since I already owned the PS3 version, but Nippon Ichi sent me a review copy so here we are.

We’re big fans of the Disgaea series here at Diehard GameFAN, but Disgaea 3 holds the odd position of being the only game in the franchise not to win a year-end award from us. Disgaea was our Game of the Year in 2003, along with three other awards. It was alsop the first inductee into our Video Game Hall of Fame. In 2006, Disgaea 2 won our award for “Best Tactical RPG.” In 2011, Disgaea 4, my personal favorite in the series, won “Best PS3 Exclusive.” Disgaea 3 however, hasn’t won anything.

I remember reviewing Disgaea 3 back in late 2008. I enjoyed the game, but found it to have the least interesting characters so far. Only Almaz and Sapphire really did it more me. Mao was just annoying and creepy and Beryl was just lame. I was pretty positive and I enjoyed it, but it has always been my least favorite of the series. The PS Vita version however is jammed with new content. It has almost all the DLC for the PS3 version built in, which means you’re getting the equivalent of $100+ of content (Well, $100 back when the game was originally released) for $40. That’s crazy awesome…unless of course you purchased everything back in the day. Then you’re probably grumpy. The cutscenes have been changed from static images to the flowing animation seen in Disgaea 4. The game features new touchpad controls (rear and front), four new scenarios equivalent to the one Beryl got in the PS3 version, two new playable characters and completely redone graphics. Whew! This is all pretty awesome and at the end of the day, I’m really happy with the new version of Disgaea 3 and have already put my old PS3 version in the “trade-in pile.” So Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is indeed pretty sweet, and if you are a fan of the series or SRPGs in general, you’re going to want to pick this up. That’s all you need to know. You can stop reading here. For newcomers or those that want a more in-depth look at the game…keep on reading.
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Review #460

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Genre: Visual Novel/Adventure
Release Date: 02/14/2012

I know, right? Normally I review a game in the first week it comes out. Unfortunately for Hakuoki, it came out while I was on my honeymoon and when I came back I had other, more current games (tabletop and video game) to review. So too bad for Hakuoki. if only Aksys had sent us the review copy they said they were going to, maybe this would have been done by someone else on staff…

Out of the five known PSP releases for the year (This game, Growlanser, MLB 2k12, Gungnir and Grand Knights History, Hakuoki was the one I was most looking forward to. I love visual novels as they’re an offshoot of the adventure game genre I love so dearly. A visual novel just ditches the puzzles and hidden object scenes and concentrates solely on storytelling. The end result is basically a digital “Choose Your Own Adventure” with voice acting.

We don’t get a lot of visual novels in the states even though they’re quite popular in Japan. I’ve been playing these as far back as the Phantasy Star ones for the Game Gear, and some Sakura Taisen ones (If you want to be like Sony’s USA Dvision ancd count them here…ugh), but those are all imports. The last one to come stateside was Disgaea Infinite, and while I enjoyed it, I am still lefting wondering why this genre is so ignored in North America. Even with Hakuoki this is true, as only a half dozen or so sites bothered to review what is one of the last ever PSP UMD releases. Strange. Of course it took us two months to get someone to review this, so we’re not free from that finger pointing either…

So how was Hakuoki? Was it worth the money I dropped on the Special Edition version complete with CD and art book or did Aksys drop the ball n a genre that sorely needed to shine on this side of the Pacific?
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Review #459

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Kid Icarus: Uprising
Developer: Project Sora
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Rails-Shooter/Third Person Shooter
Release Date: 03/23/2012

As I mentioned on last week’s review of 3D Classics: Kid Icarus, Pit was always my favorite first party Nintendo character –at least Satoshi Tajiri invented this obscure little game called Pocket Monsters that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. Whether it was the 8-bit NES classic or watching Pit in Captain N: The Game Master, I always preferred the little guy to other Big N characters like Samus, Link, and Mario. I rejoiced when I could play as Pit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and doubly so when Kid Icarus: Uprising was announced. I have been looking forward to this game for a long time, and it was one of the main reasons I picked up a launch 3DS.

Now, having played through the game I can honestly say it was nothing like what I expected when the title was first announced. From AR cards to multi-player madness, this is nothing like the vertical platformer we grew up with. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? Read on to find out.
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