Tag Archives: PC

Winged Sakura: Endless Dream – Dungeons and Defenses

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front, because it seems to be a common point of confusion if Steam reviews are anything to go by.

The Winged Sakura series is not the same as the Sakura series. The Sakura series is a sprawling range of ecchi and hentai visual novels with a distinctive anime-inspired art style, developed by Western indie group Winged Cloud. Meanwhile, the Winged Sakura series is, at the time of writing, a trilogy of three disparate games with a shared cast, a (different) distinctive anime art style, this time developed by Winged Sakura Games, also known as one-man studio and BCIT graduate Hong Dang (plus freelancers).

To put it another way, if you’re one of those people who sees a new game with Sakura in the title and thinks “oh no, another Sakura game” or makes other similar assumptions, note that Winged Sakura: Endless Dream is nothing to do with those games, despite similarities in both its title and the name of its developer. It’s also really rather good.

Clear? All right then. Let’s continue.

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Fate/stay night: The Friction of Real and Ideal

Fate/stay night’s final route Heaven’s Feel is a culmination of everything that has come before.

Longer, more complex, more challenging and concluding with a definite sense of “finality”, it’s a fitting end to an enormously ambitious visual novel — as well as just the beginning of something that would go on to become a worldwide phenomenon.

So let’s dive into the Holy Grail War for one last time and see where this epic (in every sense of the word) ends up…

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PS2 Essentials: Shadow of Memories

The first game I ever played on the PlayStation 2 was Konami’s Shadow of Memories, also known as Shadow of Destiny in the States.

I’d wanted a PS2 for a while, but even back then, I felt like I didn’t want to pick up a game that I felt I already knew all about from reading about it in magazines. So I deliberately chose a game I knew absolutely nothing about as my first PS2 game, then sat down to play it and found myself utterly entranced by something quite unlike anything I’d ever played before.

Combining elements of traditional adventure games, visual novels and even open-world exploration, Shadow of Memories remains a highly noteworthy title in the PS2’s library, and well worth exploring even today.

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Fate/stay night: Introduction and History

To say that Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night is an influential work in Japanese popular media is something of an understatement.

Since its first appearance as an adults-only visual novel in 2004, the series has gone on to spawn a visual novel sequel and all-ages remake, numerous spin-off games for a variety of different console and handheld platforms, several anime series, manga volumes, light novels, movies and, most recently, a successful free-to-play mobile game.

The original game is regarded as one of the best visual novels of all time, and indeed was a bestseller in its year of release in Japan. And yet, for some reason, we’ve never seen an official localisation in the West, even from long-standing powerhouses of visual novel publishing such as JAST USA, MangaGamer or Sekai Project.

Thankfully, all is not lost, thanks to the continuing efforts of various fan translation groups, who have not only translated the original 2004 visual novel, but also the 2012 release of the Réalta Nua remake, including the ability to re-integrate the adult content from the original.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams

There have been a number of attempts to dethrone Nintendo’s Mario Kart over the years, but none of them have been successful, at least in the multiplayer sphere.

There is one aspect of Mario Kart that has pretty consistently sucked over the years, though, and that’s the single-player offering. Offering little more than predefined Grand Prix championships, one-off races or time trials even in the most recent installments, Mario Kart has always struggled to provide anything of real substance for the solo player. Which is fine, as the series has always been known for being best experienced with at least one friend, right from its inception in the 16-bit era.

This has, however, left a decent-sized gap in the market for other developers to come along and offer more robust solo experiences in kart racing titles. And one game that succeeds admirably in this regard is the cumbersomely titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from Sega.

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Puzzler Essentials: Hell Girls

We’re enjoying a bit of a puzzle game renaissance at the moment.

While we’re not quite at the same level as we were in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit eras, where puzzle games would happily share retail shelf space with 100+ hour RPG epics (Puyo Puyo Tetris aside), we are at least starting to see more and more puzzle games that aren’t free-to-play mobile titles primarily designed to repeatedly part you from your cash rather than providing a well-balanced, fun experience.

One interesting game that may well have passed you by owing to its low price and seemingly low production values is Hell Girls from Taiwanese circle SakuraGame. And you should most definitely give it a look!

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Puzzler Essentials: Baku Baku Animal

Today’s puzzle game of choice is one that there is, unfortunately, no real easy way to get hold of legally any more, but it holds extremely fond memories for me regardless.

The game in question is Sega’s Baku Baku Animal, which I first came into contact with back in 1997 when I was doing my Year 10 work experience at PC Zone magazine in London. This was an era when Sega was just starting to experiment with PC ports of its popular arcade games, with varying results.

Baku Baku Animal was one of this initial batch and, like the CD-ROM version of Puzzle Bobble (featuring full Redbook audio!), which had also come into the office around the same time, managed to bring much of the office to a standstill for quite a while, even dragging the most hardcore Quake-heads away from their daily deathmatches for a while.

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