Tag Archives: Steam

From the Archives: Secret of the Elemental Stone

I’m a big fan of unconventional JRPGs that buck the trends of the genre.

That’s not to say I don’t have any love for good old “ATTACK, MAGIC, ITEM” — quite the opposite, in fact — but when something combines the strengths of the JRPG genre (strong characters, heavy focus on narrative, over-the-top drama, colorfulness) with some fun mechanics from another type of game altogether, I sit up and pay special attention.

Fortune Summoners: Secret of the Elemental Stone, then.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party

With the rise in free-to-play mobile games, the humble standalone puzzle game has become something of a rarity.

That’s not to say that they don’t exist at all any more, however, and, more to the point, puzzle games as a genre generally age a whole lot better than other types of game due to their abstract mechanics and non-reliance on realistic graphics.

With that in mind, then, let’s kick off a regular look at puzzle games from both yesterday and today to run alongside the other Essentials columns for Wii U games and shoot ’em ups.

First up for examination is a modern title from Grisaia developer Frontwing, loosely based on their unlocalised Pure Girl and Innocent Girl visual novels: Purino Party.

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Shmup Essentials: Astebreed

There’s an assumption among certain parts of the gaming community that you need a big budget and a massive team to make something that looks amazing.

This is nonsense, of course, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the output of Japanese doujin circle Edelweiss, who have, to date, put out three exceptional (and exceptionally beautiful) games, each of which demonstrates a clear understanding of how to produce something that both looks spectacular and plays incredibly fluidly, in the grand tradition of arcade games.

Edelweiss’ most recent release is Astebreed, a shoot ’em up that began its life on PC but was subsequently ported to (and enhanced for) PlayStation 4, followed later by a Nintendo Switch version. And it’s one hell of a game that any shmup fan should be proud to have in their library.

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School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy

MyDearest’s visual novel School of Talent is in a similar situation to minori’s beautiful Supipara in that it’s the first in a series that doesn’t quite exist as yet.

In the case of both Supipara and School of Talent, the complete narrative work clearly exists as a concept that has been carefully considered, planned and fleshed out — just not yet explored from every possible angle. And in both cases, this fact doesn’t stop them from being highly enjoyable, touching and self-contained narrative experiences in their own right.

School of Talent is a little more up-front about its long-term intentions than the rather mysterious and ethereal Supipara, however, with that prominent Suzu Route subtitle on the first installment making it abundantly clear which of the girls on the cast the narrative is primarily going to be concerned with. And, while School of Talent’s overall cast of heroines is pretty consistently strong, the eponymous Suzu turned out to be a good focal point for this (potential) series’ debut.

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From the Archives: Capitalism, Ho!

It’s strange to think that just a few years ago, Japanese games on PC were a very unusual sight, being largely limited to adults-only visual novels and occasional localisations of doujin (indie) titles.

One game that really brought Japanese gaming to the PC-gaming masses was EasyGameStation’s Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, an early project for then-fledgling localisation outfit Carpe Fulgur, and a frequent recipient of generously deep discounts in Steam sales over the course of each and every year.

Recettear remains a wonderful game even today, some seven years after it first charmed Western players, and a full ten years after its original Japanese release. So let’s take a closer look at it today!

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Shmup Essentials: Raiden IV: Overkill

The Raiden series is a venerable one in the world of video games, albeit one that is not quite as prolific as some series of similar age.

Originally appearing in arcades in 1990, the original Raiden followed the mould of vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups that had been established some eight years previously by Namco’s Xevious and later expanded on by other classics such as Capcom’s 1942 (1984), Nichibutsu’s Terra Cresta (1985) and Konami’s Twinbee (1985).

Raiden didn’t reinvent the wheel, in other words, and it could be argued that its subsequent installments haven’t, either — but the series remains nonetheless a distinctive, noteworthy entry in gaming history, with second-to-latest installment Raiden IV: Overkill being one of the best, most satisfying yet.

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Shmup Essentials: Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours

A common criticism of arcade-style shoot ’em ups by people who don’t understand that the main “point” of them is to replay them over and over for high scores is that they’re “too short” or “don’t have enough content”.

This is one criticism that most certainly cannot be levelled at Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours, the most recent installment in the long-running shmup series. Featuring a full port of the super-widescreen 32:9 arcade version of Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX — including its 3,000+ stage “Chronicle Mode”, which is communally unlocked by players from all over the world — as well as an all-original 200+ stage “Chronicle Saviours” (usually shortened to just “CS”) mode designed specifically for 16:9 displays and a single player, Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours most certainly isn’t a game you can accuse of being “over in 20 minutes”.

It’s also one of the most expensive shoot ’em ups available in the modern market, even compared to the relatively premium prices that Cave’s back catalogue has historically commanded. But is it worth splashing out on? Spoiler: yes; but read on if you’d like to know more.

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Shmup Essentials: Zangeki Warp

The shoot ’em up genre, having been around pretty much as long as the concept of “video games”, is relatively set in its ways.

When you think about it, this isn’t all that surprising. When the core concept of your game is as simple as “shoot everything, don’t get shot and don’t crash into anything”, there’s only so much you can do to iterate on that concept. And so most modern shmups distinguish themselves primarily through carefully choreographed enemy and bullet patterns, unique audio-visual design and a sense of “spectacle”. In other words, it’s relatively rare to find a modern shmup that does things a little differently in mechanical terms.

Japanese doujin circle Astro Port is one of a few developers that likes to regularly mix things up in the genre. And its latest release Zangeki Warp is just one such example.

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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

This article is one chapter of a multi-part Cover Game feature!
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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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