Nekopara: A Day in the Life of Some Cats

The concept of the “fandisc” is a curiously Japanese phenomenon that allows fans to engage with their favourite works in alternative ways, and for creators to celebrate the success of a work without making a full-blown sequel.

The closest equivalent we probably have here in the West is downloadable story DLC or expansion packs for popular video games, but those aren’t quite the same thing as a fandisc; while exceptions exist, they tend to be about “adding value” to an existing product, whereas your typical fandisc stands by itself as its own discrete title in the context of a larger series.

Such is the case with Nekopara vol. 0, an all-ages fandisc for the series that launched in August of 2015, about eight months after the surprise success of vol. 1.

Continue reading Nekopara: A Day in the Life of Some Cats

Fate/GO: The Joy of the Grind

Since starting to play Fate/Grand Order, I’ve cleared the prologue story chapter and moved into the next Singularity… but from thereon I haven’t made a great deal of progress in the narrative.

The reason for this is that I’m finding Fate/GO’s core battle gameplay to be so enormously appealing and enjoyable that I’ve been having a blast doing nothing but the daily quests. These are a series of narrative-free challenges of varying difficulty set up to provide you with an easy way to acquire experience-yielding cards for fusion, currency to pay for various character powerups, mana prisms to produce bundles of helpful items, or simply to test your skills.

It’s testament to Fate/GO’s excellent mechanics that “the daily grind” isn’t a chore, and is instead an interesting and varied way to try out varied party combinations from day to day.

Continue reading Fate/GO: The Joy of the Grind

Nekopara: The Story Begins

And so we come to Nekopara vol. 1, the first of this series of popular eroge, and the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon.

Except that’s not quite accurate; while Nekopara vol. 1 was indeed the first place that many fans came across this series — particularly in the West — it’s far from the beginning of the story as a whole.

To see the origins of Nekopara and everyone’s favourite catgirls, we need to look back much further to some non-game works by series artist Sayori, and how those designs evolved into the colourful, cutesy funtime we know as Nekopara today.

Continue reading Nekopara: The Story Begins

An Open Letter to Kenichiro Takaki, Marvelous Games and All Producers of Games with Fanservice

A recent article published by PlayStation Lifestyle suggested that Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki has considered toning down the fanservice elements of his most famous series.

Speaking with the site, Takaki-san reportedly said that he had pondered this possibility “a little bit… the game started out very small and that was the big selling point in order to move units. Now that the franchise has grown and is getting more popular, it might be worth considering having features that differ depending on where it’s being sold. That way it might be able to sell better in certain regions where it would be problematic to have that kind of content.”

He did, however, also note that “there are also reviews that ignore the games due to the sexual content, and write it off from the start, so those aren’t very helpful. If you’re going to write it off due to a main component then that game just isn’t for you, and that review isn’t really useful as feedback.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to address Takaki-san, Marvelous Games and any other content creators who make fanservice part of their work, and reassure them that their work is welcome, enjoyed and appreciated by fans of all descriptions from across the world.

Continue reading An Open Letter to Kenichiro Takaki, Marvelous Games and All Producers of Games with Fanservice

Mega Drive Essentials: Burning Force

One of the best things about the Mega Drive — and one of the aspects that makes it a system so enjoyable to revisit — is the prevalence of unabashedly arcade-style games — and indeed arcade ports — in its catalogue.

Namco’s Burning Force is a particularly fun example that offers something a little different from the norm; while received with fairly mediocre reviews on its original release thanks to a superficial resemblance to Sega classic Space Harrier, looking back on it from a modern perspective reveals a pleasingly distinctive shoot ’em up that both looks and plays great even today.

Also it features a pretty girl in a neon pink leotard riding a transforming hoverbike. What’s not to like about that?

Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Burning Force

From the Archives: Wandering the World

I’ve asked this question before in our visual novel column, but it bears repeating: why do we play?

The answer is different for everyone, even between fans of the same type of game. Some enjoy JRPGs for their heavy focus on story and character development in a narrative sense; others enjoy the gradual process of building up their strength and power and being able to take on the toughest challenges the game has to offer. Others still enjoy finding all the secrets there are to find in the game — and there are usually a lot.

For me, as a self-confessed narrative junkie, I primarily enjoy the experience of hanging out with the characters, of fighting alongside them and, eventually, taking on some sort of earth-shattering, physically-improbable Big Bad, probably in space. Battling against all odds. Building those bonds between people that the Persona series is always banging on about, you know?

But this isn’t the only way to enjoy a JRPG.

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: Wandering the World

Destructoid’s Valkyrie Drive Review is More Than Just “Bad Games Journalism”

This week, Destructoid’s Jed Whitaker posted a review of Valkyrie Drive Bhikkuni, a PC port of a Vita game produced by Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki’s new studio Honey Parade Games.

The review, such as it was, angered a lot of people — and with good reason, since it began with the headline “Dynasty Warriors for paedophiles” (later edited to “Dynasty Warriors for aspiring paedophiles” and finally “Dynasty Warriors for aspiring paedobears”) and didn’t improve from there, demonstrating throughout that Whitaker was unwilling to engage with the game in good faith and raising serious questions about his professional rigour in covering a title.

Whitaker’s article isn’t the first to follow this mould; it’s just the latest. But it’s a problem. It’s more than just “bad games journalism” — something that can be laughed off. It’s a problem that needs to be tackled.

Continue reading Destructoid’s Valkyrie Drive Review is More Than Just “Bad Games Journalism”

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