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Archive for July, 2013

Review #516

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Shadowrun Returns
Developer: Harebrained Studios
Publisher: Harebrained Studios
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 7/25/2013

Hoi, chummers! As the big Shadowrun tabletop fan on staff, it’s probably no surprise that I’m reviewing this game or that I was a backer of Shadowrun Returns on Kickstarter. I pledged $125 dollars to help get the game made, which may sound insane if you picked it up on Steam For $19.99 or $34.99, but I feel I got my money’s worth. After all, for my $125 I received three copies of the game for Steam, a DRM free copy (only available to Kickstarter backers), a special ability only available to Kickstarter backers, what appears to be an unlimited supply of Doc Wagon Platinum, a Shadowrun T-shirt, a personalized Doc Wagon card to put with all my Shadowrun books, a hardcover copy of the anthology (review will be up of the PDF version in a few days!) a boxed version of the game for unlimited DRM free play, USB Shadowrun Dog Tags, a physical copy of the soundtrack and four copies of the eventual Berlin DLC (Three Steam, one DRM free). So I kind of think I’m getting my money’s worth, even if the physical items won’t arrive for a while still.
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Review #515

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Dragon’s Crown
Developer: VanillaWare, Inc.
Publisher: Atlus USA
Genre: Side Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up
Release Date: 08/06/2013

Dragon’s Crown is one of those games I’ve been really looking forward to this year even though Vanillaware’s games don’t excite me all that much. Grim Grimoire was one of my least favorite games of 2007 and while I enjoyed Odin Sphere and Muramasa, I can’t say either of them inspired me to keep either game in my collection after I beat them. So what about Dragon’s Crown made me want to knuckle down and get this? Well, for one thing it’s the spiritual successor to games like Golden Axe and the two Dungeons & Dragons arcade games. For another, as an owner of both D&D arcade cabinets, I was more than a little disappointed with the quality of the Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara port Capcom had Iron Galaxy do earlier this summer as there were multiple bugs and some very noticeable edits and cuts made to it. It’s why I’m imported the PS3 disc version from Japan – because Capcom actually members of the original dev team to do THAT version (that will be my second Japanese version of the games for consoles too…). So if I can’t have a high quality version of D&D for my PS3 or Wii U, I decided to make do with a game that was made and directed by one of those same original members of the D&D arcade game teams. I’m happy to say that while Dragon’s Crown isn’t a 100% replacement for those classic licensed arcade beat ‘em ups with RPG trappings, it is a pretty awesome game in its own right and it’s definitely one of my favorite games of the year. I’ll slogged through the entire game as the dwarf and am now finishing up the game with the elven archer and sorceress. I honestly don’t see myself putting this down anytime soon and honestly, it was a test of willpower to take the time out to right the review – it’s that good. Let’s talk about why.
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Review #514

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Arcania – The Complete Tale
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: Nordic Games
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 07/30/2013

I’ll admit. I have a soft spot for Euro RPGs. They tend to be simple but well told linear stories with a large world to explore, but very little to see or do in said world, so the fun is in seeing the sites rather than searching out every nook and cranny for things to kill. NPCs are populous, but you can only interact with the ones that are quest related so they are there for scenery. The graphics tend to be a bit outdated – usually a generation or two behind. So why do I like them? Because they’re generally fun action RPGs at a budget price and they’re good for mindless entertainment, although nothing I’d play more than once. Sometimes we see a really good experience come from these like Russia’s Pathologic or Deck 13’s Venetica, but often times they’re so similar and yet so different to Western RPGs that North American gamers (and reviewers) don’t get the genre because it rarely makes it stateside, and when it does it’s almost always exclusively for the PC.

Well, not Arcania. It originally came out a few years ago for the PC and 360…and didn’t do all that well stateside. Dreamcatcher Games, the publisher of Arcania has since been folded in to another gaming conglomerate and so Nordic Games (usually a Euro only publisher) has taken up the reigns to bring The Complete Tale stateside so that players can get the core game and the full length expansion all at once for an extremely low price ($29.99 for the PS3, $19.99 for the 360). That price tag is pretty tempting, especially if you’re a fan of the Gothic series, but Arcania is far less a Gothic game than it is a second rate third person Diablo clone. It’s not very well done in any respect save for voice acting and the soundtrack and ranged combat (especially magic) is so overpowered that even on the highest difficulty you won’t have a challenge (I never died from combat. Having the ground disappear under me due to coding problems however…). However there is something inherently enjoyable about exploring the world and seeing what little there is to do in such a large setting that you’ll manage to have fun with the game for a while before you really the game is eighty percent walking and twenty percent content. In the end, it took me twenty-five hours to beat the core game and explore every nook and cranny of the world and while there was something that kept me playing, I honestly can’t say what it was or even why as the game, while not the worst title I’ve played this year, is a far cry from being an enjoyable experience. Let’s see why.
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Review #513

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Neo*Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1
Developer:SNK Playmore
Publisher: Tommo
Genre: Retro Compilation
Release Date: 06/25/2013

Oh, the poor Neo*Geo X. In theory, the idea of a portable Neo*Geo that could be plugged into a MVS looking docking bay which then lets you play the games included on the system’s hard drive was a golden one. After all, the Neo*Geo had so many incredible games - yes even ones that WEREN’T fighting games. The problem is the system has been bereft of errors since day one. If you read my original unboxing of the system back in December of 2012, you can tell I was really happy with everything I got. Of course I was a lucky one. A minority of owners couldn’t get the system to show visuals on their TV when hooked to the loading dock, others reported blurry or distorted visuals and when the system was cracked, it was shown to run an emulation software that legally belonged to someone else. Factor in that you could only charge the system via the massive docking station and you couldn’t save your games at all, and the Neo*Geo X had a lot of egg on its face after its release.
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