Shmup Essentials: Deep Space Waifu

It may seem faintly sacrilegious to include a game like Deep Space Waifu in the same column as legends such as Thunder Force II, Raiden IV and Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. But the fact is, this rough-around-the-edges, budget-price affair is actually well worth your time and attention.

Developed by the mysterious “Neko Climax Studios”, whose only online presence appears to be a Facebook page under the ID “@nekohentaiking” and whose credits consist entirely of initials, Deep Space Waifu describes itself as a “casual strip ’em up action game, full of colours and girls”. And, really, that’s pretty much the perfect description.

At first glance, this appears to be a game that does not take itself at all seriously. But beneath the neon colours, chaotic visual effects and questionable artwork, there’s a surprisingly solid shoot ’em up that has clearly been designed with some care and attention.

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Granblue Fantasy: More Than Just a Deck of Cards

Japanese mobile-social gacha-based RPGs — or “mobages” as they’re colloquially known today, after the social network many of them are hosted on — were originally described when they first appeared as “card battle” games.

Looking at Cygames’ previous title Rage of Bahamut, it’s easy to understand why. Everything about the game had the feel of a collectible card game about it, from the simplistic battle system (which primarily consisted of ensuring your numbers were bigger than the enemy’s) to the fact that the main incentive to collect all the available units (through blind draws) was to see the beautiful artwork. About the only thing missing was the ability to actually trade “cards” with other players.

In recent years, while the basic structure of these games has remained similar — draw cards, level them up, upgrade them to higher rarity versions, challenge more and more difficult content — there’s been a noticeable shift away from the “card game” feel in favour of something a lot more interesting. And Granblue Fantasy is a particularly good example of this evolution.

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From the Archives: Xenoblade Chronicles and the Wii’s Swansong

If you owned a Wii, whinged about there being no good games for it and didn’t own a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles then, well, frankly we need to have words.

Xenoblade Chronicles, you see, is awesome. I’d probably go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite RPGs in recent memory. I’m not convinced it is my all-time favourite — with so many great games out there today, I’m pretty hard-pressed to pick an all-time favourite, to be honest — but it’s certainly right up there with the best of them.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes it such a remarkable game.

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: 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.

Continue reading From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers

Oh, Japan!