Fairy Fencer F ADF: Anatomy of an RPG

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Compile Heart RPGs have a very clear sense of identity; they’re instantly recognisable.

Everything from their overall aesthetic to the structure of the game contributes to this distinctive identity, and it’s a formula that’s been working for them for a number of years now. Unsurprisingly, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is no exception to this rule, albeit with a few twists here and there to make it distinct from the company’s flagship Neptunia series.

Today we’re going to look at just how Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force works as a game, and how it differs from what people might regard as more “conventional” role-playing games.

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Fairy Fencer F ADF: Introduction and History

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Idea Factory’s label Compile Heart has repeatedly proven over the years that they’re not afraid to look back on their past work and try to improve it.

As a result of this highly iterative development process, we’ve seen a significant and dramatic improvement in the overall quality of their games over the course of the last five or six years.

The poster child for Compile Heart’s improvement over time is the prolific Neptunia series, which has gone from being niche-interest to a highly successful, well-regarded franchise with instantly recognisable characters.

But the Neptunia games aren’t the only ones Compile Heart wants to improve. They’ve also gone back to revisit their PlayStation 3 title Fairy Fencer F for a new generation of consoles, and the results are impressive, with Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force being arguably Compile Heart’s most significant revamp to date.

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Supipara: A Tale of the Greatest of Smiles

[Editor’s note: as of February 2019, it appears that unfortunately minori is ceasing operations. This article has been left in its original form as published in October 2016 to preserve the original intention behind the series, even if it will likely never happen now.]

minori’s Supipara, a collection of five visual novels, the first of which has been localised by MangaGamer, is in an interesting situation. It’s a series that doesn’t quite exist yet.

As the series microsite notes, Supipara is an ambitious undertaking for both developer minori and localiser MangaGamer; while the first two chapters currently exist in Japan (albeit as a single game), and the first of these has already been localised into English, the future of the series is largely up to visual novel enthusiasts.

Rather than relying on crowdfunding as developers such as Frontwing and localisation outfits such as Sekai Project have done in the past, minori and MangaGamer are instead ploughing the combined profits from Supipara’s first chapter and science fiction love story eden* directly back into the series, with various milestones allowing the companies to continue their collaboration and — hopefully, anyway — see the Supipara project finally brought to complete fruition.

Having finished reading the first chapter of Supipara last night, I would very much like to see the remaining chapters become a reality. And if you’re a fan of visual novels, checking out Supipara’s first chapter is an eminently pleasing way to spend twelve or so hours of your life.

Why? Read on.

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Gal*Gun: Sights and Sounds

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Gal*Gun Double Peace is memorable for a whole lot of different reasons: its contribution to the revival of rail shooters, its silly but touching plot and its striking audio-visual aesthetic.

Unlike many other anime-inspired games, the art and music of Gal*Gun are not the work of particularly well-known or established names — but there’s some decent pedigree there if you take the time to look into things a bit more deeply.

So let’s do just that, shall we?

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Gal*Gun: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Gal*Gun Double Peace is about much more than just shooting pretty girls until they fall over in quasi-orgasmic states: it’s actually got a pretty decent narrative, too.

Technically, it’s got several narrative threads, and in true dating sim/visual novel tradition, it’s only by playing them all that you’ll get a full understanding of everything that is going on and the context of each of the characters.

As you might expect from the general tone of the game as a whole, Gal*Gun’s narrative errs on the lighter side of things, but that certainly doesn’t preclude it from exploring a variety of interesting themes along the way.

Let’s dive in and take a look.

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Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire: Exactly What it Sounds Like

You have to respect a game that is up-front about what it is; one that says to you “we both know why you’re here.”

Japanese developers and localisers — particularly in the visual novel sector, and especially when it comes to nukige, or games where the main point is sexual content rather than narrative — are good at this sort of frank honesty; browsing, for example, MangaGamer’s (emphatically not safe for work) front page reveals titles such as Boob Wars: Big Breasts vs Flat ChestsBusty Maid: Creampie Heaven and the gloriously self-aware Eroge: Sex and Games Makes Sexy Games.

Devleoper-publisher Zoo Corporation is no stranger to this practice, either, with its various labels Norn, Cybele, Miel and Yumesta each putting out a variety of games with fairly self-explanatory titles. Prior to 2015, the only Zoo title we’d seen in the West was 1994 puzzler BreakThru! — which Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov had his name attached to despite having very little to do with — but all that changed with the release of Mahjong Pretty Girls Battle in January of that year.

A new series was born, with Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire being its latest installment. And, you know, it’s pretty good, particularly considering its ludicrously cheap price at the time of writing.

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Gal*Gun: Dating on Rails

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Although Gal*Gun Double Peace has the trappings of an arcade-style light-gun shooter, there’s a lot more going on in the game than simply pointing and shooting.

We no longer live in an age where a release like Namco’s original PlayStation port of Time Crisis is acceptable to modern consumers, at least at full retail price; players need more than just a basic game that takes 20 minutes to play through from start to finish and doesn’t vary significantly each time you play.

Fortunately, Gal*Gun Double Peace has plenty to offer those who are willing to put some time in, and it’s a fine example of Inti Creates’ talent for creating games that are simple to pick up but tricky to master completely.

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Gal*Gun: Introduction and History

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With the advent of HDTVs and their different method of producing an image compared to old-school CRTs, one genre of game has largely fallen by the wayside: the light-gun shooter.

With that said, however, there are a number of developers out there keeping the soul — if not the exact execution — of this classic arcade genre alive, and with most gamers tending to demand more than a simple 20-minute arcade-style game for their money these days, they often have a ton of hidden depth behind the traditional “point and shoot” gameplay.

Gal*Gun: Double Peace is one of the most potent examples of a developer taking what is, at heart, a very simple, straightforward style of game and adding a ton of depth, replayability and longevity to it. We’ve certainly come a long way since Operation Wolf, that’s for sure.

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One Way Heroics: Which Version to Play?

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Given that there are now three different versions of One Way Heroics in the wild, the question on your lips will doubtless be “which one is best”?

It’s not an easy question to answer definitively, so what I’ll do in this piece is outline what each version offers along with the benefits and drawbacks (if any) that come with each incarnation of this peculiar and enjoyable game.

Make no mistake, One Way Heroics is well worth your time in one form or another, but read on for some information that might help you make a decision as to which one to try… or which one to try first!

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One Way Heroics: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Unlike many other roguelikes, which tend to focus on mechanical complexity and the emergent narrative of each play session, Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics has a plot.

The original One Way Heroics and its Plus expansion had a narrative, too, but their more recent counterpart has expanded on it considerably to provide an enjoyable degree of context and motivation for the many journeys you’ll make over the course of your time with the game.

Let’s take a look at some of the main themes of the game and how they’re explored. Continue reading One Way Heroics: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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