There’s a convincing argument to be made that a long-running video game franchise has only seen true success when it’s had a video pinball spinoff on a Nintendo platform.
I jest, obviously, but there are a number of fun examples from over the years — primarily direct from Nintendo, it has to be said, what with Metroid, Kirby, Pokémon and Super Mario all getting the bouncing balls treatment.
Senran Kagura is a series about ninja girls, though, so how on Earth could that possibly… oh, you know they’ll find a way. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Senran Kagura Peach Ball: Bump ‘n’ Bounce
It’s understandable that some people approached Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash with a certain amount of trepidation prior to its initial release.
After all, here was a series that was supposedly about ninja girls fighting an unseen battle against the otherworldly youma forces, and yet their next game seemed to have them all clad in bikinis having water pistol fights with one another. Sure, the fanservice angle had always been part of the series… but surely, surely we were going a bit off-piste now, right?
Two things. Firstly: Bon Appétit would like a word about going “off-piste”. And secondly: Peach Beach Splash is absolutely a worthy sequel to Estival Versus that sets the series up for what will hopefully be an apocalyptic, climactic finale. In the meantime, though, yes, water guns.
Continue reading Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash: No Shirt, No Shoes, All Shinobi Shooting
Ah, what could possibly be better than the charming jank of the Simple 2000 series on PlayStation 2? Why, the Simple 2000 Ultimate series, of course!
Yes, indeed, not content with 123 volumes of low-budget, experimental and weird titles, D3 Publisher decided to put out another range of 34 games under the “Ultimate” branding. Exactly what makes these particular 34 games “Ultimate” isn’t terribly clear, although they are prime examples of what the Simple Series has always been about.
And, just like the main Simple 2000 series, we got a random selection of Simple 2000 Ultimate games in Europe, once again mostly published by 505 GameStreet. Here’s a particularly fine specimen: Fitness Fun, also known as Love★Aerobi or Love★Aerobics in Japan.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Fitness Fun
In Japan, the PlayStation 2 era was a fantastic time for budget-priced, arcade-style releases.
D3 Publisher is the indisputed master of janky but charming budget fare in this period of gaming history thanks to its expansive Simple Series, but they didn’t keep this knowledge and experience to themselves. They actually collaborated with Sega on a project dubbed “3D Ages” (“Sega D3” backwards) which ultimately resulted in the Sega Ages 2500 collection — a range of games that retailed for 2500 yen each (about £17.50 in today’s money) and encompassed a variety of remakes of Sega’s classic arcade and console titles.
We didn’t see a lot of these games in the West, but we were fortunate enough to get a cool compilation of them bundled together on a single PS2 disc in the form of the Sega Classics Collection. So let’s take a look at exactly what’s on offer, beginning with Monaco GP.
Continue reading Sega Ages: Monaco GP
While the Neptunia series is primarily known for being RPGs, developer Compile Heart’s frequent collaborator Tamsoft has had a number of shots at bringing the franchise into the real-time action realm.
Over time, the scale and ambition of these “action Neptunia” games has expanded considerably, with Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online marking the most convincing realisation of the formula to date at the time of writing, blending elements of the mainline Neptunia games with an appealing and enjoyable real-time combat system.
Let’s look at how “action Neptunia” has evolved over time, and how Cyberdimension Neptunia refines the formula.
Continue reading Cyberdimension Neptunia: Action Neptunia’s Latest Evolution
The Neptunia series is not only one of the most remarkable success stories in Japanese gaming, it’s also one of the most interesting, diverse franchises out there.
From its humble beginnings as a low-budget RPG with an atrocious critical reception to its current, widely recognised status inextricably associated with Sony platforms, even the most hardened cynic has to admit by now that there’s probably something to this series.
A big part of what has kept Neptunia fresh and interesting over the years is the fact that it’s not afraid to step outside of its traditional RPG comfort zone and experiment with gameplay styles. And, since we already explored the history of the mainline series when we dove deep into Megadimension Neptunia V-II back in 2016, it’s these spinoff games we’ll be looking in more detail today.
Continue reading Cyberdimension Neptunia: Introduction and History
Party Girls is an interesting anomaly in D3 Publisher’s Simple Series in that its Japanese title is much more interesting than its somewhat generic sounding localisation, rather than the other way around.
Party Girls? Eh, pass, sounds like shovelware. Mogitate Mizugi! Onna Mamire no THE Suiei Taikai (Fresh-Picked Swimsuits! The Swim Meet Packed with Women*), on the other hand? Sign me right the hell up.
This situation wasn’t helped by Western publisher 505 GameStreet’s rather generic-looking cover art for the game, which looks like it was knocked up by an intern messing around with WordArt on their lunch break. And consequently, I’d be rather surprised if you ever played Party Girls.
And this is a shame. Because Party Girls is fun.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Party Girls