Devil Maker Tokyo

Title: Devil Maker Tokyo

Genre: Collectable Card Game / RPG

Publisher: Palmple

Platform: Ipad / Android

Language: English

Where to Get: http://www.palmple.com/dm/home?lang=en

Cost: Free (with additional in-app purchases available.) There’s nothing that you “have” to pay for. There are no cards that you can’t obtain on your own while playing the game, but some people are impatient I guess, so for them, the option to buy additional “summons” to summon new devils exists.

Overall Score: 77% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: There are multiple areas when it comes to the gameplay. First there is the story mode, where chapters unlock as you level up in the main game, the story is fairly solid (see story for more details there), then there’s the arena, where you can engage in pvp battles with other players.

Battles in this game are all done automatically, you don’t have any control over what happens. In the arena, you pay your fee with silver for entry, and then wait 15 minutes to see the results. Not very exciting lol. But you can win rare cards here. Every month (roughly) they will have a new “arena season” with a new devil to obtain that’s only available for a limited amount of time. You typically have to participate in the arena 150-200 times to obtain this reward. There are other smaller rewards like health potions and summoning tickets and experience cards as well.

Then there’s the “main” game. Here you are free to explore various maps in the game world, each offering various rewards and level requirements to enter. You explore these worlds by clicking on one of three cards that appear at the bottom of your screen. I like to think of it as coming to a fork in the road, you can keep going straight (middle), or turn left or right. Each map has a finite amount of steps, and when you reach 100%, you engage in a boss battle. Boss fights allow you to take up to 2 of your friends’ “leader cards” into battle with you. This is a big help for new or low level players, as some of the boss fights can be very tough. Also, just because you CAN go into a zone (are high enough level to enter), doesn’t mean you SHOULD go in there. I’m level 37 and consistently get my butt whooped by NON-boss battles in the areas with a level requirement of level 35 or even level 32. (My cards are around level 32 on average, rank 6 through 4).

I guess I’ll talk about that next, cards have various ranks represented by stars across the top of the card, the more stars a card has, the more powerful it is and the more likely you are to want to place it in your party. You have 6 slots you can fill in your party, and you also have a battle cost on each card, and a battle “limit” meter that increases with each level up. Sometimes you might not be able to fit all of your best cards because of this limit. So have to put some thought into the members of your party.

Secondly, cards have a level, and they do NOT gain experience in battle – only you gain experience in battle. Confused yet? lol. The cards level up by sacrificing other cards at the shrine screen. You can sacrifice up to 30 cards at once. The higher the rank, level, and rarity of the cards you sacrifice, the more experience you will gain. Also, the higher the rank, level, and rarity of the card you are trying to level, the more experience it will take to level that card up. You can find “sealed devil cards” in the “theme park” and “fallen darkness” zones. The only use I’ve found for these is to level up your cards.

You can also find “material” cards like otherworldly and celestially armor, etc. You have 2 options for these cards, you can sacrifice them to get a tremendous boost in experience, or use them to transform certain cards at the shrine. When you transform a card, it will go up by one rarity level. The art work will change slightly, and it’s skills and abilities may also improve.

The other thing you can do in this game is fight against the “core”. Cores are discovered by you or your friends as they explore in the main game. If you discover the core, you get a free card, totally random, can be crap, or be really valuable. A core will stay active for 30 minutes OR until it is killed, whichever comes first. You may fight each core once every two minutes. Your friends will also receive a notice that a new core of darkness has been discovered and will hopefully help you defeat it. Each time you fight the core you get a decent amount of experience and a small amount of silver (currency used for things like sacrificing cards at the shrine or entering the arena). If you deal the final blow to the core, you get about ten times the experience awards as a regular “defeat” against the core. If no one defeats the core, it disappears after the time is up. If you OR one of your friends defeats the core, everyone who fought at least ONE battle will receive a card, once again totally random, there are also 2 very powerful cards that can ONLY be found by fighting the core. I’m not sure if they change or not. since I’ve been playing it’s been Amon (rank 5) and Samuel (rank 6). They drop pretty frequently, with Amon dropping about twice as frequently as Samuel.

Lastly, back at the shrine you can also “recontract” a devil. Devils also have a letter grade S through D. It goes (from best rank to worst) S, A, B, C, D. Altering a devil’s rank will alter it’s AP (I assume these are attack points), HP (self explanatory), and DP (maybe defense points? or darkness points? not sure). It may also gain new skills and abilities. It’s “battle cost” however will remain the same. You will need a “recontacting ticket”. You can find them playing the main game, or purchase for real money from the cash shop. So that’s a basic overview on the game play.

While exploring the zones you will find one of 4-5 different “encounters” at each “step” (each time you select a card at the bottom.) They are pink hearts (heal 20-30% of every party member’s HP), Shortcuts (advance further into the dungeon by skipping some steps), Devil (a battle, where you get a random card if you win), Powerful devil (a harder battle where you get a better card if you win, but still random), Boss (sometimes you find bosses before the final boss) you can take 2 friends’ leader cards, and have a small chance to get the boss card that you fight, they almost never drop though, they are super rare and annoying lol. You also can find cores (explained above), sealed devil and equipment cards (explained above), silver, and “empty spaces” where you might encounter new friends to add to your buddy list. Some maps also have celestial, underworld, or other worldly energy cards which deal OR heal damage based on your corresponding devil types (there’s weaknesses and strengths, but I’ve not figured them all out yet.).

There’s also a weekly “challenge” where you try to approach the core of darkness – basically it’s an endless dungeon with infinite steps, you can keep fighting until you have no party members remaining, you get various rewards for how far you make it. You encounter all the other things you encounter in a normal dungeon too. You can enter once a week for free, and then each time you enter, rather you resume (by paying 50,000 silver), or start over (from the beginning), will cost you light points.

Light points refill every few minutes and each dungeon costs a set number of light points to enter. There are light potions you can buy or find to refill your meter, and also when you level up, this meter, and all of your devils’ hp are restored, and dead devils are revived. If a devil dies while exploring you can use a revive potion to restore them to full health.

The gamep lay is fun, but it loses some points from me for not having any control in battles, I can’t use items (like health potions) in battle, I can’t select which skills my devils use, or which devils they attack. All I can do is sit and watch or “skip” the battle to speed it up. I’d also like to see a way to trade cards with other players. Therefore, removing 3 points (2 for no control in battle, and 1 point for no trade feature). Final score 7/10

Story: The story in story mode is very good. Without revealing too much here is a brief hopefully non-spoilerly synopsis :). You are a contractor, one who can make deals with devils. The devils lend you their power in exchange for “favors” that only a human contractor can perform. When a devil and contractor merge their powers the devils’ full potential is released.

Also a devil can enter areas of light if it is bound to a contractor. Conversely, a devil who puts darkness into a human, or a contractor of “darkness”, can enter darkness that most normal humans would not be able to.

There was a fight many years ago against a very strong devil named Oracha. After this fight, a great area of darkness, known as S1 was created. The government controls S1, the people who lived there before the fight, remain, but most people are prohibited from traveling in or out of the area. S1 is infested with demons and highly dangerous. The people living there live in darkness, despair, strife, etc. Sometimes contractors of light help these people, bringing them food and medicine from outside.

You can’t remember much about your past, but a devil named Yuki tells you that you used to have a contract with her master and that she needs your help to find her master again. You think that she might know more about your past than what she lets on, so you agree to help her in exchange to hopefully regain your lost memories. As the story progresses you begin to realize that you were directly involved in the events which created S1, but no one will tell you exactly how you were related to what happened there.

Oracha is about to re-awaken and is organizing an all out war, demons, against humans, and the newly found “contractors of darkness” mean that now there are humans fighting on the side of the ultimate evil, making him even stronger than the last time you battled him. You must find a way to prevent Oracha and his army from advancing their plans any further. Still, since the story takes a backseat to the main game and other features, and because it doesn’t feel terribly original, giving it a medium score of 6/10

Concept: The concept of summoning devils and making contracts is almost like playing Persona on my ipad. While the game play is VASTLY different, the concept is almost identical. Not very original, but then again I like Persona’s theme/concept. I also like that every card can be obtained for free with hard work, and the cash shop items are 100% optional. I also like that my max card size is very large AND it increases as I play the game. I play a similar game called Valkyrie Crusade and it’s cash shop is almost essential to increase your max card size which never increases, so that’s a big plus in Devil Maker’s favor. I think I have to also remove a point though for not having a landscape format, having to hold my ipad all the time instead of using it’s stand is super annoying. No reason why they should not have landscape view!! Overall concept loses 2 points, one for originality, and one for lack of landscape, BUT it gains 1 point for it’s non-essential cash shop, and nice max-card hand size. Making concept 9/10

Artwork: The artwork reminds me tremendously of Persona. the character designs and environment are very similar, and very nicely drawn. There are some cards which were designed (I assume) by players which palmple has allowed them to autograph the artwork on the cards, which ruins it in my opinion. After many months of play, I gained a red riding hood card which is highly rare. In the middle of the artwork, not even in an inconspicuous place, in huge letters it says artwork by blahblah blah, whatever her name is, a western sounding name, oddly, so that’s why i think maybe it was drawn by a player. None of my other cards have this garish writing on them. I really dislike that about this card, and I worked super hard to get it. orz… But other than that one small point, I think the artwork is beautiful. Some of the artwork does get recycled – a common card and uncommon card are identical except for a hue/color shift, and a rare vs uncommon has a colorshift and sometimes a lineart edit. So I have to ding the artwork 2 points total, making it 8/10.

Music: I love the music in this game, it’s very catchy. Completely original, and fits the mood of the game. It is perhaps the best music score I’ve heard in a mobile game. 10/10

Voiceacting: Not voiced, no score given.

Characters: The characters in story mode are interesting enough, but take up such a small portion of the game that I can’t really rank them too highly, story is secondary in this game afterall. Character development therefore gets a medium score of 6/10.

Final Scores:

Gameplay: 7/10

Story: 6/10

Concept: 9/10

Artwork: 8/10

Music: 10/10

Characters: 6/10

Overall: 77% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

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Persona 4

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Title: Persona 4

Genre: RPG, Dating Sim, Raising Sim, Monster Collection, Dungeon Crawler

Publisher: Atlus

Platforms: PS2, Vita (Persona 4 Golden)

Languages: Japanese, English, Other

Buy this game now on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shin-Megami-Tensei-Persona-PlayStation-2/dp/B001C6GVI6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384752489&sr=8-1&keywords=Persona+4

Story: People have been disappearing lately, and there’s rumors at school about a mysterious channel that comes on at midnight every night. This midnight show can show you a better “you”, a you that is your soul’s true desire; but you might not like the “you” you find here. A group of youths with a strange ability to call upon powers known as “personas” find that they must fight to save their friends, and ultimately the world, by calling upon different reflections of their inner selves.

Concept & Gameplay: The Persona series focuses on building relationships with monsters found in randomly generated dungeons. There’s only one dungeon in the game and it’s map changes each time you enter. You are free to explore as often as you want and climb as high as you want (though there are locks at certain points where you have to progress the story further before you may continue). In addition to a dungeon crawler, it blends dating sim elements by allowing you to forge relationships with not just members of your party, but even the NPCs which you encounter. Increasing these relationships reveals story information and also makes your personas much stronger in battle. You can fuse and combine personas within the velvet room in order to create new personas. Once a persona has been registered, it can be summoned again without needing to capture it again first. Also at certain points you will make small choices in how you respond to characters or in which activities you take part in (such as joining clubs), this allows you to meet certain characters and see certain scenes, while forcing you to miss out on other characters and scenes, increasing the replay value, but ultimately, not impacting the story or ending of the game (aside from one very important choice near the very end of the game which results in either the good or bad ending). If your game continues after the train sequence in the epilogue you will know you are headed for the “good” ending or “true ending” as they call it. Which adds at least another 2 hours of gameplay to the game. The only slight flaw with the gameplay is it is possible to screw up so badly that you might have to start the game all over from the beginning, because of this, save often! You have until the “next full moon” to level up before being forced into boss encounters; if you forget and don’t have the level, gears, equipment, items, potions, personas, etc that you should have by then, you will probably be resetting your game out of desperation. I use 3 or 4 save slots, and alternate every 20 minutes or so between which slots I save in. This way I have a few options to try and salvage the mess I’ve gotten into. While I never had a problem where I felt I needed to reload an old save, it never hurts to be ready for a “what-if” scenario.  Also, unlike other games I’ve reviewed so far, this game has combat and action elements too, and the combat is very fun and intriguing using the monsters you have collected for various abilities and teaching your monsters new abilities. You can also split up and search the dungeons for treasures or stairs to the next floor. The AI seems fairly intelligent too.

Characters: There are hundreds of characters in this game, you might not meet them all, and you definitely won’t be able to max your relationship with all of them in a single play through. The characters are diverse and have depth and as you progress your relationship with each of them you witness the strength of character development that went into this game and how human and realistic these characters are. They have flaws, they have worries, troubles, joys, memories, pain, pasts, families, etc. It’s very touching and really the highlight of the game for me.

Graphics: The graphics are a bit dated by today’s standards. The 3d especially looks pretty bad. Keep in mind, this is a ps2 rpg, not ps3 or ps4. I think for it’s time that the graphics were fairly decent and I loved the added touch of the animated cutscenes and expressive character portraits.

Music: The music is very good, I dunno of anyone who’s played it who hasn’t had the “Junes Theme” stuck in their head at one time or another lol. It’s simple but catchy music. My favorite music is within the velvet room :).

Voice Acting: I played the official/commercial English version of the game, therefore my review and scores of voice acting are for the English version and the English actors. I thought it was actually really well done and I am not a fan of most dubs. The only voice I did NOT like was the loli villain girl (name is escaping me); she sounded like an old lady instead of a kawaii gothic lolita. I like that the script was left fairly untouched with a lot of mature decisions, such as allowing characters to use foul language; this makes their emotions seem stronger and more “real” to me. If you’re in a situation of high stress, it sounds more natural to curse rather than to use children safe alternatives. (just my opinion) Most of the cast did really really well for Americans. They showed a really wide range of emotion and versatility, and even many of the NPCs are voiced, it was probably a huge undertaking to record that much dialogue.

Final Scores:

Story: 8/10

Concept: 8/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Characters: 8/10

Graphics: 7/10

Music 9/10

Voice Acting: 9/10

Overall: 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Stein’s Gate

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Title: Stein’s Gate

Publisher: Nitroplus & 5pb. & Kadokawa Shoten

Genre: Visual Novel

Release Date: (Originally Released) October 2010; Preorders Now (2013) onsale for “official” English version localized by JAST USA: http://jastusa.com/blog/2013/09/20/steinsgate-preorders-open/

Platform: PC (for the upcoming English version); the game has also been released in numerous languages for numerous consoles and mobile devices. There’s also an anime based loosely upon this game.

**My play experience is based on the fantranslation but should be relatively close to the same as the final official version – I’m in the midst of playing this still so may update this review and it’s reflected scores as some point. Also I have never watched the anime as I want to beat all the routes first in the game to avoid spoilers :).

Story: The story of Steins Gate revolves around a group of youths who accidentally discover that their microwave has the ability to send emails into the past. There was a ton of thought and research put into this game. It combines science, theories, facts, and pop culture, to create a very believable back story. I like it’s use of real theories and intellectualism. It spurred me to look up many of the concepts and do my own research. As expected, most of the game revolves around time travel,, black holes, time/space theories, and butterfly effect theories. In addition to this it also deals with mental health issues, psychosis, paranoia, etc. Making it a really “heavy read”. I personally like that it’s very thought provoking, but there may be some who find it hard to follow.

Gameplay: The gameplay in this one is hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s a visual novel style game for sure, but the way in which the player interacts is very ambiguous. You do make choices, however, the ramifications of those choices are really not apparent, in the least. You interact with the game through your in-game cellphone, replying to text messages and emails from your friends, when you get a text, it will have a few hyper links in it (one to 3 words per each “link”). Some emails have 3 links, others have only 1, some have none, etc. But once you select a link by clicking on it, you will be shown your character’s response to the email he has just received. Often times, it’s anyone’s guess as to what he will say. (a lot of times its not very nice lol). This makes it really less about strategy and more about random chance in my opinion. – maybe they will improve this with the official translation – or maybe it is intentionally ambiguous, just as the characters in the game are unsure of how they are changing the past,, and the consequences these actions have on their future, we as players are unsure of how our actions are shaping the future for these characters as well. But regardless, it’s a bit “different” from typical visual novels, where the choices you make are more apparent.

Concept: The game references many real life events and borrows heavily from internet culture, rather it’s John Titor (a supposed time traveler who appeared online several years ago), or referencing 4chan, there’s also starbucks, pokemon, and dr pepper. Because it’s rooted so strongly in popcultural references as well as scientific debate and theories, it makes it seem like a very true and believable adventure.

Characters: The cast of characters is a bit weird in this game, you play as a “mad scientist” who often talks to himself and frankly, has many “crazy moments” and your group of friends are equally eccentric from cosplayers, to otaku (in the sorta negative sense of the word, obese, nerdy, perverts, etc), to cross-dressers, to young super geniuses, and even neko-maids, it’s a very eclectic mix. I have mixed feelings on the cast. They lend themselves well to the setting and story, since it’s once again referencing “today’s trends” in popculture, it gives a good overview of many of society’s stereotypes, But these characters can be a bit too stereotypical sometimes and tend to annoy me at points, especially the main character. The fact that I don’t really care for the character artwork could also be causing some slight disconnect here for me.

Graphics: I’m just not a fan of this game visually speaking. It’s highly stylized, to where you either love it or hate it I think. Also it combines some 3d here or there with the 2d which just looks cheap in my opinion and disjointed. Like the two art styles do not mesh well. The highly stylized art is shaded in an odd way, looks like water color almost, but much more muddy and murky. The character designs themselves are also not typical of what one might expect in such a game. They are rough and unclean, almost sketch like in appearance. While I know this was a stylistic choice, it’s one that I just can’t get behind. Mayushi’s bushy eyebrows also annoy the heck out of me, as well as her hair style and clothing. I really don’t like her character art, but I like her character and voice actress. It’s not a bad character concept, but the style is just… not attractive to me.

Music: I really like the music in this game, there are a lot of different tracks, and each one is well suited to the different moods of the game. There are even hidden tracks you can unlock with some of the choices you make in replies to emails you send; sometimes your friends will send you back mp3 files you can listen to in the game; it’s a very unique concept. The music itself is very good and long enough that it won’t annoy as it begins to loop and repeat.

Voice Acting: The game is FULLY voiced, the only thing not voiced are narratives and inner thoughts of the main character – although he sometimes breaks into monologue and begins voicing those too lol. The voice acting for the most part is good. I did get confused once in awhile about who was speaking; the scene with Suzuha and Nae comes to mind as being confusing to me. I would have liked to seen different colored text, or a nameplate system used, but that’s not really the voice actor’s faults. The main character sometimes over(re)acts in my opinion. Other times though he’s really good. It’s a bit hit or miss for me with him. He tends to annoy me at times, but when he’s not being a total nutjob, he has a really good voice with a good range of emotion. I hate his laugh though its insanely fake. I know it’s supposed to be a “mad scientist” laugh, but it’s cheesy as heck, I’d rather a more natural laugh personally. The rest of the cast does a good job and seems more natural to me.

Final Scores:

Story: 10/10

Concept: 10/10

Gameplay: 6/10

Characters: 5/10

Graphics: 2/10

Music 10/10

Voice Acting: 7/10

Overall: 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”