Retro Gaming Convention to Benefit Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital

I love retro videogames. I’m also (relatively) close to Pittsburgh. There’s a convention coming up that I really want to attend at the end of this month. It’s the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention, in it’s 2nd year of operation. The event will take place one day only on January 23rd, 2016 from 10am-3pm at the XTAZA Nightclub on 1620 Smallman St. Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Tickets are just $15 and all profits go to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.

Check out http://pittsburghretrogaming.com for more info.

They have cosplay and everything :) — Of course with only 2 weeks until the event, not much time to make a costume this year haha.

I don’t really know how “retro” their games are, given their tournaments include super smash bros melee and street fighter iv – both from around 2010 (only about 5 years old lol)

But maybe there will be some other stuff too :) Not a lot of info on their site.

But if you’re in the pittsburgh area you should totally check it out – cuz it sounds fun and is for a great cause.

Retro Gaming Convention to Benefit Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

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Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review

Hang tight; things are going to get confusing if you’ve never heard of this series before. Growlanser Generations is the name of an American version of Growlanser II and III (that’s the one I’m reviewing below). BUT Growlanser Generations is the name of a Japanese game in the same game series, which is Growlanser V (and this game was also released in America as Growlanser Heritage of War, but I hate (or at least strongly dislike) that one, so I’m not reviewing it (at least not right now).

So Keep in mind, this is a review of Growlanser II and Growlanser III (Generations NA). And it is NOT a review of Growlanser V (Generations JP) Got it? Good :)

Title: Growlanser Generations

Publisher: Working Designs

Release Date: 2004

Platform: PS2

Genre: Strategy RPG with Dating Sim Elements

Where to buy: Amazon has a few available ranging in price from $65 to $95 depending on quality and deluxe or standard editions. You can browse whats available on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Growlanser…

Geeky: 3/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 7/10 Though packaged in America as a single game, this is originally two separate games (though from the same series) in Japan. Growlanser I was never released in America, which puts us at a disadvantage because Growlanser II’s story takes place at the same time as, and has the same characters as, Growlanser I. It is basically letting you play as the opponent’s army  from the first game, to draw sympathy and give you another look at the war from a different view point. But since we never got Growlanser I in America (I’m sure Working Designs would have if they could, but this game actually was one of their last games and probably partly responsible for the ultimate demise of the company – selling two games, for the price of one, at the expense of double the staff hours, wages, localization fees, etc.) — Anyways, since we never got the first game, Growlanser II is mostly a stand alone story for English speaking players – and I felt its story, while good, was weaker than III – which is intended to be a new stand alone story – because Growlanser II is supposed to be enjoyed with Growlanser I.

Anyways, beyond that, they are both real-time strategy rpgs with a high amount of freedom and player choice and consequence. Choices matter, and there’s a branching plot, mostly focused around who you date in the game. There’s multiple endings and of course the data from one game to the next can be carried over from game to game.

Gameplay: 8/10 The gameplay in these two games features real-time (as opposed to turn-based) strategy rpg battles which sometimes have you trying to reach the edge of the map to “escape” or sometimes destroy all enemies on the map, or sometimes must protect an NPC from being killed. Growlanser III expands on the gameplay of II by allowing you to freely move around the overworld instead of just choosing points on a map. However, Growlanser III cuts the active party members in half from 8 in Growlanser II to just 4 in Growlanser III. Growlanser III also raises the encounter rate significantly from that of II and introduces proceduraly generated dungeons which are sometimes rather hit or miss in their design.

Upon gaining a level you can spend attribute points to customize your party members to your liking, which is just another testament to the freedom of choice these games provide. Also as you level up your equipment, you can unlock new spells and abilities that are tied to the equipment, making the equipment a key focus of your battle strategy. You can team up with party members to unleash joint spells and abilities and you are also free to move around the map, not stuck using a grid based system in other Japanese strategy games such as tactics ogre and final fantasy tactics.

Because the game has a branching plot and multiple endings, there are some things which may happen in battle which would typically be a gameover in most games, but in this case, the game goes on (not always, haha sometimes it REALLY IS a gameover lol.) – Sometimes though this can throw you off the route you want in the game so save often and make use of multiple save files.

Outside of battle there is not much to do in this game (aside from talking to your comrades which can influence the storyline which is a big draw to this series) — That is changed years later with Growlanser Wayfayer of Time on PSP which introduces city building and “pet” raising elements to the game series. (But that’s a review for another day (maybe soon).)

That’s not to say that all you do is hack and slash your way through Growlanser Generations either. Both games feature a huge branching storyline with several secret hidden side quests and dialog scenes which unless you take time to back track to previous locations and explore the map fully, are very easy to overlook. If you enjoy exploring  every nook and cranny of every location, you’ll really enjoy the huge worlds and the fact that this game does not hold your hand or force you down any “correct” path as it’s very non-linear. However, there are some gamers, who may find all this back tracking and side questing to be tedious.

Storyline: 10/10 Both games have a very emotional and action packed story which is fueled by the theme of war and focuses strongly on character backstory and development. They take place in a fantasy setting, however; it is draped around a very modern and realistic atmosphere that makes the characters and story feel quite engaging and believable. Mostly, what I enjoyed about these stories is the overarching theme of betrayal, trust, sadness, and pain that are told through the events and actions that happen in each game. As mentioned above, Growlanser II definitely has the weaker story, because in America, we only experience “one half” of the “game” (although it is in fact 2 games in Japan too, Growlanser II is a “direct sequel” – and not only takes place “after” but also concurrently during the first game. So I can’t deduct points here, because it’s no fault of the game that we only have “half” the story here.) Overall, the story becomes very emotional and the sheer volume of the game world itself and lore added into every nook and cranny and dialog options and extra scenes really help bring these games to life.

Characters: 8/10 Growlanser II is packed full of dozens and dozens of interesting characters. Like most branching plot games, some character routes are more well developed than others. Growlanser III significantly cuts back on the number of characters, BUT in exchange, they devote the time to writing a very interesting and well developed story around those characters. As I’ve said a few times, III is definitely the more story-focused of the two games in this collection, and that also shows through character development and interaction – not that it was terrible in II either, but III just really digs into it more. 12 years later I still deeply remember the story and characters of Growlanser III – while I only sorta vaguely recall some of the characters of Growlanser II.

Graphics: 7/10 While the character portraits themselves are LOVELY and very appealing, especially I think to females, as they’re rather “Shoujo” in nature, the battle effects, background environments, and other artistic elements are very underwhelming, even for a PS2 game.

Music: 5/10 – It’s been awhile since I’ve played, but I can’t recall having a strong opinion of either like, or dislike, for the music in these games. I’ll update this the next time I play :)

Voice Acting: 8/10 Working Designs is always pretty good with their localizations – of course they westernize things and take some pretty big liberties with their translations (which some fans criticize them for) but for me, I’ve always enjoyed their sense of humor and found it often times make a dry script more engaging – not that I think Growlanser is dry by any means, but it’s always fun to see Working Design’s little touches. That said, the cast is very good, reusing many actors from previous Working Designs titles (such as Lunar and Vay). So if you enjoy the voice acting in those games, you’ll enjoy it in Growlanser as well. Each game has probably about 2 or 3 hours of voice over content – which isn’t much when each game probably spans hundreds of hours through multiple story lines and endings. But hey, there are games from early 2k that don’t have any voice overs at all, so can’t complain much. I would’ve liked the option left in for Japanese voices as well but I understand those are expensive with licensing fees and Working designs was such a small little studio. I appreciate all the love and care they always put into their games and I feel out of all the 90s Dubs out there, Working Designs were some of the best!

Replay Value: 10/10 Both games feature Multiple endings, though the differences to these endings are definitely more distinctive in Growlanser II as opposed to III. There’s also tons of hidden side quests and dialog options which will require multiple playthroughs to experience everything these games have to offer. Between both games, you’ll probably spend hundreds of hours to get 100%. I’d wager it’s about 35-40 hours per single play through.

Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka Anime Review

Title: Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka?!! (So I’m a zombie?!!)

Length: 22 Episodes

Genre: Comedy, Parody, Action, Romance, Harem

Overall: 28/35 80% Very Good Anime For Girls

Story: 9/10 Kore Wa Zombie is a fun series that pokes fun at both itself and several other anime tropes. For example, the main character becomes a magical girl who fights with a giant chainsaw while wearing a pink uniform and hairstyle very similar to Card Captor Sakura. He finds himself in the middle of a harem with a house full of beautiful, but strange other worldly girls, including a Necromancer, Magical Girl, Ninja, and more. One episode even parodies and pokes fun at the idol culture in Japan.

While all of that sounds silly (and it is pretty hilarious), the story is not without substance, feeling, and heart also. Namely, in the relationship between the main character and Necromancer who is responsible for turning him into a zombie (and thus saving his life). The Necromancer (almost) never speaks because she’s so powerful that her words become magical spells. Since she can’t control this, she isolates herself from others and writes her thoughts down instead of speaking. This causes her to be very sad and lonely which becomes a plot device later to strengthen the relationship between everyone in the house.

It is a little bit tongue and cheek and over the top at times, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun to watch.

Characters: 8/10 The characters, like the story itself, are over the top; this also makes them highly original. Although each one represents a common character trope, archetype, or stereotype, this is the only anime that asks “what would happen if you stick the characters from series like Bleach into Sailor Moon, or the characters from Inu-Yasha into Tenchi? Because it’s the only anime that has such extreme opposites for characters and blends characters from other worlds all into the apartment of one young (undead) highschool student.

Also, this series is not without a fair amount of character development and you do watch the characters and their relationships with one another evolve and grow throughout the series.

Art: 3/5 The art is kawaii (cute) and very distinctive. The animation is clean and it does have some nice special effects. The character designs are a bit awkward at times and almost reminiscent of the 90s with the very pointy chins and large eyes; however the characters also have a cute charm of their own. Backgrounds are colorful and detailed as well.

Voice Acting: 3/5 (I watched the original Japanese version with subtitles). I wasn’t blown away with the voice acting, but certainly can’t complain either. It can at times be as over dramatic and over the top as the characters and story itself, but that is the intention here.

Music: 5/5   It has a zany fast paced, loud, and in your face soundtrack with memorable opening and ending themes. It’s not always to my tastes or my style, but I can’t deduct points just for that. It seems rather fitting for an action harem comedy parody anime

Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Sonicomi Communication English Preorders Begin. Game Release Date Scheduled for Summer 2016

Sonicomi English Preorder is now live on JLIST. Up til now, the game has only been available in Asian regions. This new English release is the original Sonicomi Game from 2011 for the PC; however, JLIST has licensed the visuals from the much improved 2014 PS3 version.

Preorder Sonicomi Communication – and use Coupon Code: MOE-22Y-E8BNV5 to get 5% off!

Gameplay puts you in the role of a professional cameraman as you photograph a “Gravure Idol” (which loosely translates to Magazine Model), the busty, pink haired, Sonico. You get scores and combos for taking better photos. Outside of the photography element, you interact with the model in visual novel fashion.

The game features a ton of customization with well over 100 items to dressup in.

The replay value is also very high, because depending on your advice, Sonico’s career is at stake and she will evolve to reach one of 18 different endings, including a special ending where she falls in love with you.

Unlike most visual novels, this one is fully animated and in 3D.

In all, from the descriptions, Gameplay reminds me of a very perverse, echi style “Pokemon Snap” X Princess Maker 2 Crossover lol.

Super Sonico is Nitro+ special mascot and makes cameo appearances in many other games, and even has her own anime series.

There are 2 editions available for preorder. The standard edition includes preorder bonuses of an action figure, steam key (for when the game is later released on steam), and art cards. The special “collector’s edition” includes a “full body” mouse pad which is “2 times larger than other moe mouse pads” and they said the mousepad has never been sold before anywhere, not even in Japan, and features brand new artwork by the designer of the game, just for the US English release and once preorders end this Mousepad will no longer be available. $100 bucks seems Crazy to me for a Mousepad – but if you’re really into this character, I guess some people may be interested in it. Meanwhile, the standard edition will run $55 – which yes, is a lot for a visual novel. Clannad recently released with a $50 price tag too. Now that visual novels are gaining popularity in the west it seems we can expect typical “new release” prices on par with other genres of gaming. I plan to preorder the standard edition when I get paid this week.

Preorder Sonicomi Communication

Sonicomi Communication English Preorders Begin. Game Release Date Scheduled for Summer 2016 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie