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

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.

Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Deep Space Waifu

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.

Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: More Than Just a Deck of Cards

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.

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

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.

Continue reading From the Archives: Reasons to Read

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