From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait

What would you do if you suddenly found that you’d changed sex?

That’s the core question in Crowd’s X-Change, localized for us Westerners by Peach Princess. At heart, it’s an interesting question and, frankly, one that I have found myself pondering in quieter moments — as, I’m sure, have many of you reading this, regardless of whether you identify as male or female, or even if you’ve taken that next step and started to explore your gender identity further.

Either way, wondering if the “grass is greener,” so to speak, is a fundamental part of human nature, so of course I was always going to jump at the opportunity to play something that explored these themes.

What I found was… hmm. Perhaps not the best example of a visual novel you’ll ever come across, to say the least, though it is at least something that warrants a certain amount of discussion, if only because it’s quite a well-known title.

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.

Continue reading From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait

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Nekopara: Introduction

Nekopara (or “Cat’s Paradise”, if you prefer) is a series of catgirl-centric visual novels that has become a genuine worldwide phenomenon since its launch in 2014.

Since the release of first game Nekopara vol. 1, developer Nekoworks has brought out roughly one new installment a year, beginning with the short fandisc prequel Nekopara vol. 0 in 2015 before continuing with vol. 2 and vol. 3 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Unusually for a visual novel, the whole Nekopara series has seen simultaneous worldwide releases since its inception rather than releasing in its native territories first then localising later. This has helped fans across the world enjoy its lightweight slice-of-life comedy together, and has almost certainly been a huge contributing factor in making it so popular in both the East and West.

We’re going to start our look at the series with a broad exploration of where the catgirl phenomenon as a whole came from, and how Nekopara fits in with all that.

Continue reading Nekopara: Introduction

Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha

I’ll freely admit that, up until the time of writing, I’ve had little to no familiarity with the Fate series as a whole aside from recognising various Saber incarnations and Tamamo no Mae on sight, and having some complicated feelings towards Astolfo.

But with the North American release of Fate/Grand Order — accessible outside the US by using a service such as QooApp for Android to download the app — I decided that I’d jump in. (I’m also planning to jump right back to the beginning of the series and the Fate/stay night visual novel in the next few months, so please look forward to that.)

And what do you know? I’ve been having a grand old time with a game that, while superficially similar to other mobile-social RPGs such as Granblue Fantasy, successfully distinguishes itself with a strong degree of audio-visual polish, some interesting mechanics and one hell of a lot of words. Pretty appropriate for a work whose source material is notorious for being roughly on a par with Lord of the Rings in terms of length.

Continue reading Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha

Granblue Fantasy: The Grind Never Ends

One interesting thing about Granblue Fantasy when compared to a more traditional MMO on computer or console is the fact that what we’d typically regard as the “endgame grind” is actually spread out throughout the whole game.

This is partly due to the game’s overall structure and progression: you’re not levelling up a single character and thus there isn’t a “level cap” to reach because at any time, you can switch out your party members, your weapons and your summons to create a new experience for yourself.

Aside from this, however, it allows players to get into the multiplayer content — often restricted to high-level play in other mobile-social RPGs — almost right from the outset.

Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: The Grind Never Ends

From the Archives: Go, Unlosing Ranger!

I made a throwaway comment to a friend a while back that I wanted to check out more of Nippon Ichi’s games.

This was partly due to some past positive experiences with Disgaea back in the PS2 days, an enjoyable bit of time spent with the surprisingly tragic The Witch and the Hundred Knight as well as a great deal of enjoyment of products NIS had contributed to, such as the early Hyperdimension Neptunia games.

Zip forward to the time of writing (Editor’s Note: 2013… and this is a game I’d like to cover in more detail in the future!) and I’m thoroughly engrossed in one NIS offering in particular: a PSP game from the team behind Disgaea. And, boy, does its heritage show.

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: Go, Unlosing Ranger!

From the Archives: You Must Be This Awesome to Succeed

When I beat Lifesigns: Hospital Affairs (aka Lifesigns: Surgical Unit, aka Resident Doctor Tendo 2) I was ultimately very satisfied with the whole game.

But the fact that I didn’t get the “best” endings to each chapter throughout very much made me think of a now-famous video clip from popular Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, which you may have seen do the rounds on the Internet in the past.

It concerns the concept of how video games, in many cases — though there are exceptions, particularly in more recent years — demand a certain level of competence in order for you to be able to see everything they have to offer.

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.

Continue reading From the Archives: You Must Be This Awesome to Succeed

Gravity Rush 2: Bigger, Better, Bolder

In making the jump from the handheld PlayStation Vita to the much more powerful PlayStation 4, Gravity Rush 2 ups the ante from the original considerably in terms of scale, scope and ambition.

While the first game, in some ways, felt somewhat like a proof of concept — admittedly an enormously enjoyable, playable and compelling proof of concept — it’s Gravity Rush 2 where it truly feels like the series has truly hit its stride, both in terms of mechanics and narrative.

What’s rather impressive about it more than anything else, though, is that despite releasing five years after its predecessor, it’s clear that there has been a solid plan in place from the very beginning, making this sequel not only an excellent game in its own right, but a fantastic follow-up that is immensely satisfying for fans of the original who wanted answers to its unresolved questions.

Continue reading Gravity Rush 2: Bigger, Better, Bolder

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