From the Archives: Reasons to Read

Those of you who enjoy visual novels have probably come up against at least one gamer friend who has refused to even entertain the possibility of exploring this interesting medium on the grounds that it’s “too much text” and/or “not enough gameplay.”

In fact, in several cases, visual novels which have hit “mainstream” platforms such as the Nintendo DS have found themselves saddled with middling or low review scores on these grounds — usually indicating that the reviewer has missed the point of the experience somewhat or is unfamiliar with this type of game.

So what I thought I’d do today is outline some reasons why exploring visual novels is a worthwhile use of your time.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Summer Sale Time Again

Yes, it’s that time of year again when a million credit cards cry out in anguish: the Steam Summer Sale.

So what better excuse to look back over some of the games we’ve discussed here on MoeGamer, and point you in the direction of an opportunity to acquire them at reduced rates? None, that’s right, there’s no better excuse.

Before we kick off, I’ll just take a moment to remind you (or perhaps inform you, if you haven’t been paying attention) that MoeGamer has a Steam Curator page, where I do my best to include all the PC versions of games we talk about here. You can check it out here (or use the link in the left sidebar/down at the bottom if you’re on mobile) — though at the time of writing note that the Steam servers are, as usual, taking a good ol’ pounding at the hands of bargain hunters, so you may have to reload once or twice.

Without further ado then, let’s check out some fun times you can have for considerably less than their normal price, in no particular order. (And if you’re reading this after the sale’s already over… these games are still well worth picking up!)

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Granblue Fantasy: Sounds of the Skydom

Japanese role-playing games have long been known for having some of the most memorable soundtracks in all of gaming. And, surprisingly, mobile takes on the genre are no exception.

The news that Cygames’ incredibly popular Granblue Fantasy has a fantastic soundtrack will probably not come as a surprise, however, given the incredibly strong pedigree of the talent behind it. The work of longstanding Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his bandmate Tsutomo Narita from the Earthbound Papas, Granblue Fantasy’s soundtrack covers a surprisingly diverse range of musical styles, and is clearly one of the areas that has had the most love and attention lavished on it.

That sounds like a good excuse to enjoy some of its finest moments to me!

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From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers

One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”

Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.

This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.

Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Hospital Affairs

The Nintendo DS might not be the first place you’d think to look for some quality visual novels, but in actual fact Nintendo’s diminuitive and immensely popular handheld has played host to a number of interesting titles over the years.

Besides the well-known Ace Attorney series, there’s Kotaro Uchikoshi’s Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the Hotel Dusk series… and then there’s the title I’d like to discuss today.

It’s an offering from Japanese developer Spike (now Spike Chunsoft who, in a pleasing coincidence, both developed and published 999 between its two constituent parts) known variously as Resident Doctor Tendo 2: The Scales of Life (Japan), Lifesigns: Surgical Unit (North America) and Lifesigns: Hospital Affairs (Europe).

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Mega Drive Essentials: Alisia Dragoon

Sega’s Mega Drive console — or the Genesis to those of you in the States — was a wonderful machine.

In many ways, it started the process of making gaming “cool”, and laid the groundwork for Sony’s solid efforts to make our whole form of entertainment a lot more mainstream with the first PlayStation. But more importantly, it played host to a wide variety of absolutely fantastic games.

One such title was Game Arts’ Alisia Dragoon, an unusual action game that combines elements of disparate genres to produce an extremely memorable, enjoyable and addictive game that still holds up well today.

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Gravity Rush: A Hero is Born

The original Gravity Rush was an important release for Sony’s Vita handheld: it was a high-profile, first-party release, which the system has not, to date, seen all that many of, and is unlikely to see any more.

It was positively received at the time of its original release by press and public alike, but Sony’s consistently poor marketing of the platform — coupled with a general sense of apathy by the more “mainstream” parts of the gaming community — meant that it passed a lot of people by.

And that’s a great shame, as it was an excellent game. Thankfully, Bluepoint Games managed to give it a second chance on the much more popular and widespread PlayStation 4 in the form of enhanced port Gravity Rush Remastered, so a whole new audience can discover the joy of swooping around Hekseville.

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Oh, Japan!