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Review #521

October 22nd, 2013

Rayman Legends
Developer: Ubisoft Montpelier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 09/03/2013

If you’re a long time reader of me here at Diehard GameFAN, then you know platformers and driving games are my two least favorite genres. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t games in each genre I enjoy. Take platformers for existence, since that’s what this review is on. I love the first two Sonic games, Super Mario Bros. 3, The Haunted Mansion, Psychonauts, NiGHTS, The Legendary Starfy, A Boy and His Blob, The Kore Gang and several others. However the only platforming franchise I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every game of is the Rayman series. Whether it was playing the original on my Atari Jaguar (I’m old) to gettingRayman Origins as a freebie for my Vita by being a member of Playstation Plus, I’ve always enjoyed the franchise, even if I’ve never purchased a game for full retail price. So when I was sent a review copy of Rayman Legendsfor the Wii U, I was more than happy to review it. I’m happy to say I had a lot of fun with the game and that it’s one of the best platformers I’ve played in years. So let’s overlook that Ubisoft says the game failed horribly in terms of meeting sales expectations and the big dramarama that occurred when it was announced the game would no longer be a Wii U exclusive. Instead, let’s look at why the game is so good and why you should pick it if you haven’t already.
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Review #520

October 16th, 2013

Pokémon X/Y
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 10/12/2013

I had no intention of picking up Pokémon X. I stopped picking up a Pokémon based paycheck because I was disappointed (and a little disgusted) by the forced mandate regarding a yearly turn based Pokémon game instead of letting the games come at their usual pace. I wasn’t the only from Game Freak, TPC, Hal Labs and the like to leave because of this decision as we had all seen what happened when a yearly release schedule was forced on a franchise. Look at Yukes and the WWE games. Every year, it’s mostly the same with a slight roster change and a TON of bugs that could have been fixed had they been given time to clean up the poorly coded engines. My fears were proven right by Pokemon Black and White 2 which was a little more than a face lift and the throwing together of modes of play from older games in order to say, It’s different.” Rather than give us something new. I wasn’t the only one to have this problem with the game. Long time Pokémon fans considered it the worst in the franchise (check multiple polls) and even here at Diehard GameFAN, where we are unabashedly pro-Pokémon, there was nary a kind word about the game. For the first time in the ten year history of the site, a core Pokémon game wasn’t even mentioned in any of our year end top ten lists. Thankfully Pokémon fans had Pokemon Conquest that year.
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Review #519

September 21st, 2013

Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Genre: SRPG
Release Date: 10/08/2013

Back in August of 2003.a game called Disgaea hit US shores thanks to Atlus USA. The game was their biggest hit to date, won numerous awards (including GOTY and several others from us) and helped to convince Nippon Ichi to open a US branch. Several years ago, it was the first game nominated and successful entry into the video game Hall of Fame and it has spawned three sequels and several spin-offs like Makai Kingdom and Phantom Brave. Now, a decade later, Nippon Ichi has decided it’s time to give Laharl his own game again. It’s only fair I suppose. After all, the previous Disgaea games have all featured new main characters and even the supporting characters of Flonne and Etna have appeared in numerous games as major characters. Even the prinnies have been the main character in games more than the Overlord of the Underworld, and so it makes sense Nippon Ichi decided to correct that situation.
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Review #518

August 30th, 2013

Pokémon Rumble U
Developer: Ambrella
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Release Date: 08/29/2013

Pokémon has always been good in turning spin-offs into full length series. Pokémon Ranger, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Pokémon Stadium/Coliseum are all examples of the series breaking free from the same old “eight to ten year old becomes a Pokémon Trainer and travels their region in an attempt to collect badges and become the Pokémon Champion, all while stopping an international conspiracy.” With the release of Pokémon Rumble U, the Pokémon Rumble series gets its third game, returns to console gaming AND takes a page out of the Skylanders and Disney Infinity book all at once.

Pokemon Rumble first debuted in 2009. A lot of guys on staff liked it for the mindless beat ‘em up that it was and it eventually won our award for 2009’s “Best Downloadable Game.” The next game in the series, Pokemon Rumble Blast was a 3DS release (the first Pokémon game for that system), and while another good game, it fell short come awards time. Pokémon Rumble U is the first Pokémon game for the Wii U and sports a low cost of only $17.99, which is only three dollars more than the original game for the Wii when it was released four years ago. That’s a great price point when you think about it, but then you do have to remember the toy factor.
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Review #517

August 16th, 2013

The Curse of Shadow House
Developer: Hidden Treasure Games
Publisher: Hidden Treasure Games
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 08/12/2013

The Curse of Shadow House is a first person point and click adventure game from new developer Eric Shofe. I was one of 241 Kickstarter backers for this project and it’s the only iOS game to date that I’ve backed. With an original release date of Nov 2012, Eric learned firsthand why some many release dates are pushed back. It’s now available for the iPhone and iPad with a price tag of only 99 cents. For fans of games like Shadowgate and The 7th Guest, The Curse of Shadow House looked to be an incredible deal for anyone who loved first person point and click titles. After playing through the game three times, with two of the playthrough being met by game braking bugs that forced me to restart, I have to say the while the game it atmospheric, fun and a worthy addition to any point and click fan’s collection, it did need a bit more work before being released to the public. Here’s hoping for that patch to come soon!
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Review #516

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

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

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

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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Review #511

June 24th, 2013

Project X Zone
Developer: Banpresto/Monolith Soft
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 06/25/2013

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