Pokemini is Closing – Join Pokecolo – Guide for English Users

It was not that long ago, that I reviewed Pokemini here, a cute anime dressup game that I’ve been playing for almost 2 years. – It all comes to an end next week as Pokemini will be shutting down. They are encouraging everyone to join Pokecolo – however, there’s one small problem … Pokemini was in English and Pokecolo is in Japanese! Pokecolo also has all kinds of “new” (to Players of Pokemini) features and can be confusing when you first start.

I’m new myself and I do not speak (or read) Japanese. This is just a quick rough guide that I’ve learned the last 2 or 3 days since joining – hope it proves helpful.

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First, lets take a look at the “main menu” – you’ll be using this a lot! to access it you simply tap on your mini.

Clockwise from top – Cook, Trade, dressup and decorate, travel, shop, fashion show, your profile

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The other screen that you’ll most frequently use is the shopping screen. The easiest way I’ve found to get there is to simply hit the back button in top left corner while viewing any of the active gacha.

Left to Right: Top Row: Gacha, Clothes, VIP, Stickers
Left to Right 2nd Row: Scratch Card, Dressup, Room, Planet
Left to Right 3rd Row: Pets, Seeds, “Old Man” shop, Gumball Tickets
Left to Right Bottom Row: VIP Room, Market, and Cotton Candy (Duplicate Exchange)

See comments for details #pokecolo #dressup #dressupgame #free #game #Japapnese #ios #android #kawaii

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:33pm PDT

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So as you can imagine, the core of the game is not all that different from Pokemini. You create a character (Good news, there’s lots more options for you to pick from upon starting out).

More choices for starters in #pokecolo compared to #pokemini

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 12:13pm PDT

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You have a planet and room to decorate – But wait there’s more!! – Not only do you have one planet, but now you have THREE – these include a fishing / aquarium building mini game, and some type of minigame in which you give hearts and flowers and write messages to other players. You access these other planets by hitting the right arrow while viewing your home planet. Which brings you to this screen like so:

#pokecolo three planets

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:36pm PDT

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My planet so far newb to #pokecolo

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 2:24pm PDT

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My room so far newb to #pokecolo

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 2:25pm PDT

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So I dunno if any of you had trouble, but it took me the longest time to figure out how to place my items in my room, planet, or even how to dress myself. Here’s how to do it! Click on your avatar. Then click on the suitcase – Then click on either the dress, or the planet with paintbrush (must be on your planet for icon to appear) – If you go inside your room, then repeat these steps, click on your mini, then the suitcase then the icon that used to be the planet with paintbrush is now a table with a teddybear – clicking that takes you to the menu to place the items in your room!

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Alright, so we’ll start by talking about the fishing mini game – You are given a pole and some free bait upon your first visit. you can level up to get better fishing gear. To fish you have to keep the fish in the middle of the white circle. once you catch a fish you can add him to your aquarium (red left button), do something I haven’t figured out/unlocked yet (grey button to right), or beneath both of those, exchange the fish/let it go for fish points – which I’m assuming can be used to get new items later on. Your tank is limited on how much room it can hold. You can add more fish above this limit by spending donuts. Also while viewing your tank you can sell/release fish and/or click a fish to create bait from it every few minutes. Fishing costs 1 heart, as you level, you gain more hearts. Hearts also replenish over time. As you level your fishing you unlock new planets to fish on with new fish and new challenges.

#pokecolo vs #pokemini – you can even go fishing and build an aquarium in #pokecolo

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 2:22pm PDT

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#pokecolo vs #pokemini – you can even go fishing and build an aquarium in #pokecolo

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 2:22pm PDT

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That about covers the fishy-wishies so let’s take a look at the message in the bottle island. The objective here is to write short messages like twitter tweets and reply to other users’ messages that wash up on your island. If you really like what a mini has to say, try leaving them a heart or flower. The flowers will grow on their island, and I believe the hearts are used to send different styles of bottles. Big tip: You can leave FREE flowers – look for flowers with a text next to the donut symbol instead of a number. Also as far as I can tell leaving hearts is always free. Tap the ink bottle with feather to write your own message. Tap the bottles floating by and hit the black downward arrow inside a message to reply to that user.

Here are some screenshots to help explain the above points better.

#pokecolo message in a bottle island

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:47pm PDT

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The other new feature are the cute pets which you can get – AND the pets have their own Gacha! So you can dressup your pets. You can have multiple pets as well.

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You can also get your fortune told and test your compatibility with other users which I think may have some game complications such as increasing/decreasing donuts earned, energy refill rates, etc. To get here, click the horoscope sign of yourself or a mini you are visiting.

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Some other features unique to Pokecolo include an “Old Man” shop with items coming in and out of stock at different times throughout the day. A scratch card mechanism that lets you get free or cheap limited time items. A trading system that lets you exchange your items with other players and bookmark items that you want via a wish list feature. A cotton candy machine that lets you combine duplicate items to create something new. and a market place which I haven’t used or figured out the details of just yet not to be confused with the trade function.

#pokecolo add items to your wish list and trade with other users

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:44pm PDT

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Other than that, it plays a lot like Pokemini – You add friends to your list (the pink button next to the green visit planet button will let you type up a friend request). You visit their planets, water their trees, slap their boards, and harvest their fruit. You cook to restore energy. You complete quests and level up. And most of all earn donuts to play the Gacha to get items to decorate your room, planet, and avatar.

#pokecolo #screenshot

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Mar 27, 2016 at 12:14pm PDT

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These boots were made for walking – I can’t remember which is which, but each pair of shoes allows you to visit a different type of user: friends, recent visitors, and random users..

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One last note that may help you for completing quests. New quests are marked with the word “new” and completed quests have a small red chat bubble that appears over the quest giver’s head in the quest log (Q) on right hand of screen. You need to turn the quests in by clicking that red bubble. here is an example of a regular quest, a completed but not turned in quest, and a new quest to illustrate the points above:

Click the small red bubbles above quest givers’ heads seen here on second quest green frame middle screen – click red bubble left above head to turn in quests. These bubbles appear when you meet the conditions to complete the quests.

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Pokemini is Closing – Join Pokecolo – Guide for English Users was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review

Xenogears is easily in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I also enjoy Xenosaga and Xenoblade as well which are spinoffs of this series (and involved most of the same staff). Xenogears was revolutionary for its time because of the extremely dark storyline and incredibly strong religious overtones which were considered to be almost “too mature” for a video game, especially in North America.

It had both scifi and fantasy elements; by that I mean, it really went into depth in some areas explaining the scientific theories and concepts behind certain things – but then other things have a more “magical” feeling that require suspension of belief. It also blended high tech (mecha, A.I., and space travel) with primitive “fantasy” style settings and characters.

Xenogears had some stellar production values and featured beautiful cutscenes, along with possibly the best soundtrack on Playstation One. Not only that, but it had 65+ hours of gameplay. Its storyline was not cookie cutter – it was very different from most other JRPG – and even its combat system was different from the traditional menu-based systems used by most other RPGs of the 90s.

To this day, Xenogears remains quite possibly one of the best JRPGs of all time. It has aged extremely well and is a game that really any JRPG fan should consider a must-play.

Title: Xenogears

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: JRPG

Publisher: SquareSoft

Release Date: 1998

Where to Buy: Your best choice if you have a PSP, PSVita, PS3, or PS4, is to pick it up on the PSN store. At time of writing it is priced at $9.99 – which is such an incredible buy for such an incredible game. https://store.playstation.com/… – However, if like some gamers out there, you are a Retro Game Collector, you may want the physical edition. At time of this review, Amazon has quite a few copies in stock ranging from $29.99 to $115 depending on the condition of the game disc, case, manuals, etc. You can see what they have available right here: http://www.amazon.com/Xenogears…

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The game world is huge and rich in lore and history for those who love to explore and talk to NPCs or search through books and hidden objects. But even if completionism and immersion aren’t your thing – fear not – this little RPG actually has a pretty fun combat system. The combat system is two fold – in some battles you will be controlling human characters, and using martial arts like abilities as well as items to aid you in battle. This part of the combat relies on a slightly modified version of the “ATB” “Active Time Battle” system used in Chrono Trigger. – The second aspect of combat is with the introduction of large mechs known as Gears. While piloting a gear, you have much more powerful attacks and secret abilities for each character. Either way, when battling, things are sped up a great deal over other primarily menu-driven 90s JRPG – In Xenogears, you have various different levels of attacks, strong, moderate, weak, etc, and each are accessed via a simple button press. The trick is learning which orders of these presses will activate new special abilities and combo attacks. This made the large amount of random encounters (too many in my opinion lol) more enjoyable since combat felt more fluid.

Story: 9/10 I’m not going to really go into too much detail on what the story is about, because I feel, the main point in playing the game is to enjoy the story. As a brief overview, the story initially takes place aboard a spaceship but quickly jumps to present day in a tiny village where a child has lived with no memories of his past. Circumstances happen which drive the child (now a man) out of the village. He seems to go berserk when in the presence of mechanical weapons known as “gears” – As more is revealed we learn how the seemingly unconnected spaceship from the prologue has lead to the events in the present day. But that’s all I will say because to say anything more would definitely spoil the surprise.

So instead I will critique the technical writing and setting of the story. To achieve a more mature “scifi” story, they use a lot of technical details in how the mechs or vehicles, or space technologies or artificial intelligence, etc all work. They borrow from real world theories and terminology which if you look into these theories, you will find more details which helps create the impression that the world/story is very real and quite fascinating.

There really are very few games which rival the “scifi” nature of this title – keeping in mind the difference between scifi and fantasy – scifi is something which could in theory at some point become a reality – and in fact many things that authors have written about in the mid 1900s’ have come to pass as reality today – it’s something that although it seems “unbelievable” could in theory work (example Star Trek goes into explicit detail about the way their ships work – to the point where NASA has even tried to borrow ideas from this series) – Where as with fantasy – it’s more of a magical element, where you’re just expected to take it as “faith” that this is how something works (example, Harry Potter, etc.).

There are few games therefore, with very realistic (all be it, futuristic) technology (such as that found in Star Trek, or in this case, such as that found in Xenogears). – However, Xenogears also blends that Scifi with it’s own sense of Fantasy and Charm found in your typical JRPG. Not everything is “Scientific” but compared to just about any other JRPG – Xenogears does a pretty good job staying “Scifi” as opposed to dripping into Fantasy when it comes to describing the tech found within the world – Of course, the exception to this is the glaring point that Xenogears deals with Religion as the MAIN focus of the game – the technical stuff is just a backdrop to the story. It creates a believable lore and setting for the game, but ultimately, in the end, due to the focus being on Religion which is in direct “conflict” with science, it creates an interesting dynamic and blend of these two very opposing viewpoints.

Some similarly written games (which rely on real world theories and science to tell their stories) include Stein’s Gate, Ever 17, 999, Never 7, and Remember 11. If you’ve played any of those, that gives you a clue as to the level of detail that really went into creating the story of Xenogears.

However, much like the similar in concept, Evangelion (an anime about mechs and religion), the concepts of Xenogears are sometimes hard to understand. I don’t think Xenogears is quite as philosophical and heavy as Evangelion which can be really “out there” at times – but the subject matter and technical and religious topics dealt with in the story definitely require some critical thinking to fully understand and appreciate.

Also, we never got to see the entire story the way the developers had intended. Xenogears was supposed to be part of a nine part game series however, the studio largely responsible for developing this game (Monolith), broke away from their parent company (Squaresoft) which left fans without a sequel for many years. It’s widely believed that Xenoblade is a “prequel” to Xenogears, however the developers prefer to think of it as taking place in the same universe, but ultimately, an unrelated and separate entry. Of course there’s also a multitude of Xenosaga games as well which also deal with the same themes of space, mechas, war, and artificial intelligence.

Characters: 8/10 – For me, I didn’t find the characters as likable as in Xenosaga. Out of Gears, Blade, or Saga, in my opinion, Saga had the best and most memorable characters. That said, the characters in Xenogears are far from bad – in fact, they are very unique and unlike most other JRPG characters of the 90s. The story begins with a crew aboard a spaceship, which then transcends to a small village and meeting our “hero” Fei Wong. Fei is an orphan with no memories of his past. Things quickly escalate as the village is under attack. Fei goes into some kind of rage which leads to him accidentally destroying most of the village and being banished. He is joined by a village doctor who has extensive knowledge of technology and history. Together they begin to search for clues to Fei’s past. They meet up many other memorable characters including a desert pirate, a prisoner, a religious zealot, and even a cute, fat pink rodent, and of course, a lady love for our hero.

Character Development is really high in this game. The story is told primarily through character interactions and the characters themselves evolve and shift motives and change deeply as the story progresses.

What I really enjoyed was all the mystery in this game. Things, and people, are not at all what they seem at first. From our hero, to the doctor, to the king, to even god, – what you think of the characters and their roles initially will be turned completely on it’s head by the final quarter of the game. It’s a long game (65+ hours for a single play through) – and the way the story slowly unfolds and learning the true pasts and identities of our “heroes” is very interesting. In fact, I’d say that solving these mysteries is what makes Xenogears such a well-written and fun, and memorable video game.

Graphics: 8/10 – I love the blend of hand-drawn anime cut scenes as well as stunning 3D cut-scenes to help tell the story. However, I feel some of the graphics outside of these cutscenes don’t use the PS1 to it’s fullest capabilities. The textures have a distinctively grainy feel to them – even for a ps1 game, and the battle animations were not as flashy as I had hoped. Overall though, it is a very detailed game with a high variety in both enemy design as well as environments.

Music: 10/10 – This was the first Squaresoft game to use vocal tracks (something that is super common now among their titles) – and it is a freaking FANTASTIC vocal track too: “Small Two of Pieces”. The piano pieces throughout the game are also just simply beautiful. Small Two of Pieces is maybe my favorite single song from videogame history. Of course there are numerous more up-tempo tracks for battles and when the suspense and action of a scene calls for it.  But what I really enjoyed were the serene and melodic tracks that made up a majority of the album. The music also stands out from any other game with a distinctive Celtic influence.

Replay Value: 5/10 – This is a super long linear game. It is interesting to replay however, as you go into it with a different perspective and knowledge that you didn’t know on your first play through. There may be things that make more sense now, or new things that you notice in the story now that you have all parts of the puzzle. However the 65+ hour long time and huge number of random battles can make multiple replays a bit of a chore.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

CocoPPaPlay Dressup Game Review

(The following review uses screenshots that I personally took while playing CocoPPaPlay. I wish I could give credit to all of the models which appear and the players who spent time creating their models – however, I did not make a note of the players’ names while taking my screenshots. I’m sorry. I started a new character, so I didn’t have many cute items to use for my own photos. Thanks for understanding! If you happen to recognize your character and either want credit, or for some reason don’t want me using their photo for my review, just leave me a comment below.)

I post a lot of photos of this game, and other games, on my Instagram account – check it out if you want to see more! But please note, I also post other non-gaming and more personal photos as well so only subscribe if you’re okay with that kinda stuff in your feed as well ^-^. Link: https://www.instagram.com/Xenokitten/

Title: CocoPPaPlay (the Android version is called Star Girl Fashion but it is the same game).

Genre: Dressup Game

Platform: Mobile (IOS / Android)

Grab it on IOS: https://itunes.apple.com…

Or Here for Android: (For some reason, it’s called “Star Girl Fashion” here, but same game, even same icon that the Itunes version uses) You can pick it up here: https://play.google.com/…

Geeky: 1/5 geeky

Sweetie: 4/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 70 / 100 70% C- Good Game for Girls

Concept: 7/10 The concept of CocoPPaPlay is simple – play “gacha” machines or enter monthly events to win new outfits. Outfits consist of different layers, such as eyes(facial expresion), hair, clothes, shoes, hand accessories (purses, stuffed toys, swords, etc), hats, glasses, pets, backgrounds, and other items – This allows you to really fine-tune and make unique avatars. Similar to games like Pokemini (which I reviewed here) or Line Play (review coming soon). However, in my opinion, CocoPPaPlay has less robust features than these two games and operates on more of a pay-to-win model than either of the above games.

Gameplay: 7/10 I covered the basics above: There are a number of “lottery” style games (gacha machines) where you’re awarded an item for your outfit by paying or using a gacha ticket. Gacha tickets only work in a few gacha. Once a week you can use in-game currency (the free kind that you earn by playing) to play one Gacha. This resets on Sundays, so each Sunday, you could, in theory, get a free “paid” item. The problem however, is that it’s insanely expensive. You earn this free currency by “cheering” for people’s “fashion shows”. The problem is, the gacha cost 20,000 of this free currency and you only get 5 to 10 of the currency for each cheer you do. You’d have to cheer 2,000 – 4,000 times to get enough points to get a free item each week – this is insanely time consuming.

To give you an idea, I played it very heavily this past weekend, logging in about once an hour and using up all of my “energy” cheering – which took about 15-20 minutes each hour. I did this each hour from about 9am – 11pm each day Saturday and Sunday – and only earned around 8,000 “smile points” (the in-game, free currency). You’d have to keep this pace up for 4-5 days, without missing a day or hour/wasting your free energy refills, etc. – I also had some free “energy drinks” and since I started a new character (didn’t feel like digging out my ipad to transfer my data), I leveled up many, many, many times from level 1 to 24 within the 2 days, and each time you level up, your energy also refills – so I cheered lots and lots – but obviously, not even close to the amount needed to get to 20,000 smile points!!

I work (as I’m sure a lot of my readers do) so I can’t log in Monday-Friday. So realistically I can only play on weekends – which means I’ll probably take 2-3 weeks to reach the 20,000 smile points necessary. Other games, like Moe can Change and Animal Boyfriend (which I reviewed here) let you play EVERY gacha for free completely free one time – so you always have nice items! I don’t like that CocoPPaPlay forces you to feel like you HAVE to spend money – I spent money willingly one time in Moe can change to get a hairstyle I wanted – but I have thousands of cute clothes for free. Every game should let you get free stuff – Line Play’s gacha’s only cost one to three thousand gems  not 20,000!! Making it much easier to earn tickets on the Gacha. I just feel that CocoPPaPlay is greedy in this regard.

Also, let it be known, that they don’t even make their own graphics, they use some type of “free to use” avatar system called “Selphie” which is used by A TON of other games (sadly none in English). There used to be a game called Tinier Me which was in English however, it went out of business some years ago. The “Japanese Tinier Me” still exists as “AtGames” and their “free items” are MUCH nicer than those in CocoPPaPlay which only puts like the worst garbage items in their “shops” For example, in the Japanese Tinier Me (or AtGames) you can get very nice high quality eyes for free/or in game currency. While in CocoPPaPlay you only get “closed eyes” like “n_n” and “^-^” and “x_x” etc for free. I only have 2 models on my new account right now because I’m still trying to win a face for my third model in the Gachas. And that’s another thing, although at level 10 you can dressup 3 characters at once, you can only use an item in your inventory once and can’t reuse it on another model unless you “unequip” it first. Just more evidence of wanting you to pay to play – they could have a default face that you could use/start with but nope.

Okay so I’m done ranting about the pay-to-win gamestyle – let’s move on to some other things now. There are numerous events – most recently they had an Easter event – but basically every event is the same – there will be multiple “quest givers” who request items from you – these items you can earn for free by cheering – you get “lucky tickets” in exchange (and sometimes other items like exclusive limited outfits, energy drinks, etc) – The lucky tickets can be used to try to play the lucky event gacha to win outfits/energy drinks, and/or used to raise your charm level for the event – I recommend trying to max your charm (similar to the events in Dream Girlfriend (which I reviewed here) having high charm lets you get event points and rewards much quicker! Therefore its best to max it out asap). To illustrate, I ranked in the top 5,000 (which is pretty low but in the scheme of things, with 40 million players according to their itunes profile, not bad) within just 2 days of playing, on a brand new account, at the very end of an event. So it’s fairly easy to rank – I think maybe a lot of that “40 million” is inactive or like me, hadn’t logged in in a long time, etc. Either way, it seems most don’t go for the event items, and/or don’t make good use of the charm boost, etc.

There’s also a club feature. You can at any level, any time, and for free, create (or join) a club. You can get bonuses in the events above by having club members where certain items or do certain tasks so clubs are really useful, you can also use them to chat and make friends which gives the game a nice social touch.

There’s a farming minigame, but it’s pretty lame, you sheer sheep. I dunno, I don’t find it that fun, you earn “wool points” and outfits when you discover a new sheep. You discover new sheep by spending wool points to improve your farm and buy new equipment to care for your sheep.

You also can take on quests from NPCs within the game, which when you complete, will add new items to their shops, and unlock new cities to explore, and grant you some free outfits. When a city “levels up” they have a sale with half priced items – but I never buy them – because I’m hoarding all my Smile Points to use in the “weekly free gacha”.

As a “bonus”, there’s another app by the makers of CocoPPaPlay, where you can customize your cellphone, with new icons, background images, wallpapers, lock screens, etc. This other app works best on android – because sadly, apple has a lot of bloatware that you cannot delete or modify – for example, the camera, you can’t change the icon for it on apple, the only work around is to download a 3rd party camera app, and hide your other icon in a folder somewhere. Email is another example, for example, you have to download Gmail, and hide the default mail app. You also can’t change the phone or text icons at all on the apple iphone. But it still makes your phone about 90% cuter – though it also makes your phone a little slower, as it adds an extra step whenever you click on one of the new icons it is only a shortcut to the actual program so you get prompted if you want to open the “page” with the following application. (At least on Iphone.) This other app also acts as a social media site, and if you link up your CocoPPa account to your CocoPPa Play account your avatar is carried over to both apps and appears on your social media wall – you earn some free items in both apps for linking, and can more easily login/retrieve your account by having both apps active.

That about covers it for gameplay. There’s really not much to do – but the limited event items and limited gacha items can be enough to keep you playing (for awhile until you get so frustrated by how long it takes to get a free spin on the Gacha.)

Customization – 10/10 – going on 2 years (they’re having a 2nd anniversary event right now) – the number of items available is incredible, and many items have already retired, rising the demand (unfortunately there’s no trading system (which exists by the way in the Japanese Tinier me lol)) – you get “bragging rights” if you have a super rare/old/obscure item equipped and well, I see this game being around 2-3 years from now, so even if you start playing today, in 2-3 years you too will have those rare items everyone else wants and be admired. I like games like this where they retire items fairly quickly. Pokemini is another example of really time sensitive items. That to me really increases my drive to play these games.

Story: 2/10 – There’s really not much, if any, story – I think there was some type of story presented at the beginning, but it’s so bare bones I forgot it quickly. It’s mostly fetch quests and cheering and there’s also quite a few typos or improper grammar and awkward sentences thrown about in the game.

Characters: 6/10 – Characters get high marks for cuteness – but really have no purpose or substance, other than serving as mascots.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is super cute, the mascot girl who guides you through the story and quests is adorable, and the sheep mascot is also cute and he helps run your club. Your avatar and the items are very nicely drawn and large. a Good variety of items (though most are paid items) and different poses, and the ability to layer many items to create your avatar make this game very very appealing for anyone who loves cute things.

Music: 5/10 – Music is standard mobile type music. It’s cute and catchy, but ultimately only consists of 3 or 4 different tracks which means the more you play it, the more it starts to annoy the heck out of you lol.

Cuteness – 10/10 – to balance out all the negative things I have to say about this game, added this lil bonus in here –  the main reason to play this game is because it’s so cute.

Replay Value: 8/10 – It gets repetitive, is super time consuming, and annoyingly “expensive” – but in the end, the lure of those time sensitive items keeps you wanting to press on to replay and get new items. It’s a very item-centric game.

Overall: 70 / 100 70% C- Good Game for Girls

CocoPPaPlay Dressup Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2

A day later than promised, but here is my review for Dark Cloud 2. Dark Cloud 2 improves upon Dark Cloud 1 in almost every way.

(By the way, I reviewed Dark Cloud 1 yesterday, which you can read here.)

You may want to read the review for Dark Cloud 1 first to get the fullest understanding of the Gameplay mechanics, as a lot of those same mechanics are carried over to Dark Cloud 2.

Dark Cloud 2, like it’s predecessor is an Action-RPG with real-time combat and unique weapon leveling system, procedurally generated dungeons and world and city building gameplay elements.

Title: Dark Cloud 2 (also sometimes referred to by the Japanese title, Dark Chronicle).

Platform: PS2

Genre: Action-RPG

Publisher: Level 5

Where to Buy: Playstation Store has Dark Cloud 2 (digital version) for $14.99. Amazon has the physical disc with prices ranging from $32 to $92 at time of this review, depending on the game’s condition. http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cloud-2… Amazon also has the digital version, the same as the Playstation Store, for $14.99 – accessible from the same amazon link above.

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of Dark Cloud 2 is very similar to that in Dark Cloud 1. It’s a Dungeon Crawler with randomly generated dungeons and real-time combat. There’s also multiple quick time events. The city and world building elements return in Dark Cloud 2. The weapon system, and the non-leveling characters also return. The game is enhanced with new features such as fishing and character customization through a unique costume system. Combat is improved, and the game is given a much needed makeover with adorable anime style cel-shaded artwork that looks like it came out of a painting or storybook. The Soundtrack is almost double the size of the original, and has some truly amazing tracks. It also adds voice acting to the game which helps highlight key events and scenes. Yep, in every single way, this game is much better than the original – which was already pretty darn great!

Gameplay: 10/10 Dark Cloud 2 takes everything that made Dark Cloud 1 so great, and then adds in some new features as I mentioned above, an improved combat system, a new fishing “minigame”, ability to customize your characters with different costumes, etc. But at the core, it’s still the Dark Cloud that we all know and love from the first game. You crawl through multiple procedurally generated dungeons, in which you will find artifacts called Geostones which when taken back to town, allow you to place objects, people, houses, even landscaping elements into your city. As you add more to your city, you will begin to recruit new npcs which will open new shops, give you new quests, and make your city come to life. The weapon system also makes a return in Dark Cloud 2. In the Dark Cloud series your characters do not level up or have any stats or abilities. Instead, it is their equipment which levels up during combat and can be refined back in town to add attributes and abilities directly into the Equipment. Also as in Dark Cloud 1, If you over-use the equipment and forget to repair it though you will permanently lose the items, which sucks for rare or high powered gear. However, this element of “risk” definitely makes Gameplay more fun and challenging.

Story: 6/10 Dark Cloud 2’s story is a significant improvement over the bare bones story of Dark Cloud 1. But to me it’s still just not “great”. I still think story is a weak point for this series overall. Dark Cloud 2’s story focuses on Time Travel. A Princess from the future is sent 100 years back in time to try to save her kingdom. To do so, she joins forces with our hero, who is able to also Time Travel (to the future). Using their powers combined they can freely go to the past, present, or future. As you make changes in your town, things begin to change in the future also. It’s a unique and fun concept. As the story progresses you travel between the past, present, and future re-writing certain events to prevent a terrible war from taking place while seeking help from the moon people. I just felt overall, the story lacked a lot of heart or emotion which prevents me from being able to score it higher. I enjoy the time travel concept, but just never felt as immersed or connected to the story as I have in many other JRPG.

Characters: 5/10 Here we have fewer playable characters, down to 2 from 6 in the original game. Also both characters are human looking in appearance and no where near as creative looking as in Dark Cloud 1 (a cat girl, moon person, etc). I just felt the characters themselves also, just like in Dark Cloud 1 were rather flat and didn’t engage me right away. I think maybe it’s the way they interact with other characters and overall a lack of character development that really hurt both games in this series.

Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are a tremendous step up from those in the first game. Gone are the grainy textures and poor lighting. Also gone is the more realistic art style. Instead we have adorable anime inspired cel-shaded artwork. I did deduct 2 points because the characters facial expressions and animations felt stiff as is often a problem with 3d games especially from this time period. Overall I feel Dark Cloud 2 is adorable, and beautiful to look at. Dark Cloud 1 looked more like a PS1 game, while Dark Cloud 2, clearly took full advantage of the PS2 Hardware. It’s not as beautiful and fluid as say, Dawn of Mana, which is another PS2 game that utilizes similar cel-shaded art styles, but it’s very attractive in it’s own right, and the added touch of being able to customize the characters with various costumes really made the game’s art stand out even more.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Dark Cloud 2 has nearly 80 unique tracks (up from the 40-ish tracks in the original game.). Some of these tracks are amazing. It is really a hidden gem among retro JRPG soundtracks. The game is relatively obscure, but I’d rank Dark Cloud 2’s music right up there with other great JRPG such as Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger.

Voice Acting: 10/10 No expense was spared in localizing this game. Although I’m not really a fan of dubbed voice overs, most of the ones in Dark Cloud 2 are fairly decent. And it’s nice to have Voice Acting added to help highlight key scenes in the story. The game featured almost every high profile voice actor of the 90s.

Replay Value: 8/10 Still a linear (and not great) story, but with a plethora of new gameplay additions, enhanced combat, and already addictive and unique world/city building elements, the randomness of the dungeons, and great music score – this is a game that you will definitely want to replay.

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kitten’s Super Adventure, an Insanely Cute New Cat Game Combines Spyro The Dragon with Adorable Kittens

You have got to see this super kawaii (cute) new game! Especially if you’re a fan of Spyro the Dragon, or if you just REALLY love cats – Luckily, I’m a fan of both, so I think that this game is super adorable!

Check out the official Twitter account https://twitter.com/KittenSAdv

Also help make this game a reality by supporting the project on IndieGoGo https://www.indiegogo.com/…

Even if you don’t want to donate, if you like cute stuff, you can just go look at all the adorable screenshots and video demos.

Here is one of the demo and promotional videos which helped the game to already be greenlit by the steam community. And beneath the video are some features which I mostly copied and added some commentary to from their indiegogo page. I really hope this game becomes a reality :) It is maybe the cutest game to ever come to Steam.

Features:

Multiplayer
(This is a feature that is still in the experimental stage and is planned to be in the final version, where you can enjoy being a kitten with other players, show off your customized kitten, have races, contests, you name it!)

– Rich Storyline
(You can check out the IndieGoGo for the story details. To me it sounds a bit silly, immature, but still want this game just for a cuteness factor)

Large Explorable Worlds
(The size of each level will vary and present different obstacles/tasks to complete).

Interactable Objects, NPC’s, Etc.
(Some object will be around just for fun while others will be main keys to progressing further in the game or opening portals to the other playable areas).

Puzzles
(Puzzles can vary from “Activate the buttons” to getting through multiple areas with move able objects that need to be in a certain patter. Puzzles will change with the levels.).

Ability To Customize Your Kitten
(Customize your kittens body structure, clothing, accessories and more!
Some levels in story mode may remove your clothing/accessories and replace them with ones that fit the story, please keep this in mind and remember to save your customized kitten setups).

Save Customization For Later Use
(You can save a bunch of different customized kitten setups to be used at any point in time during free roam or story mode).

Here are some videos showing customization options – keep in mind, they are alpha videos and do not represent the final game.

Varying Mechanics
(The base mechanics for movement and interaction will always stay the same but depending on the level there may be an extra mechanic or even a few extra mechanics that can be utilized such as using a hoverbike, riding a skateboard, using a jetpack, etc.).

Kitties with Jetpacks? LOL….

Alpha Gameplay Video – once again not representative of the final product

Kitten’s Super Adventure, an Insanely Cute New Cat Game Combines Spyro The Dragon with Adorable Kittens was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Dark Cloud PS2 Retro JRPG Game Review

Reviewing one of my all time favorite games today, Dark Cloud. I will also be reviewing the very similar, but slightly better, Dark Cloud 2 later today as well.

This game is extremely similar to Legend of Zelda. Our main hero even has a green floppy hat just like Link lol. But it brings with it some unique new features such as rouge-like random proceduraly generated level design, multiple playable characters, and most notably, a world-creation and city building system.

Also, if you missed out on this awesome game back in 2001, you can play it again now if you have a PS4 via the playstation store.

You can grab Dark Cloud 1 for $14.99 at  https://store.playstation.com… and also pick up Dark Cloud 2 for $14.99 at https://store.playstation.com…

This was Level 5’s first game – and definitely a classic must-own for any JRPG collector. Interestingly enough, when the game came to North America, it was enhanced with new content and features that don’t exist in the Japanese version such as better AI control, an entire new dungeon, and dozens of new weapons.

Title: Dark Cloud

Platform: PS2

Release Date: 2001

Publisher: Level 5

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: In addition to the digital versions on the Playstation Store, you can still find hard copies of the game on sites like Amazon. At time of this writing there’s about 10 copies on Amazon with prices ranging from $12 to $99 depending on the condition and quality of the disc, book, case, etc. Check out this page for more info: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cloud…

Geeky: 4/5 geekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 4/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 59/80 74% C “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 As mentioned, this action RPG feels very Zelda-ish in design but brings with it a few surprises, namely the city and world building aspects along with procedurely generated dungeons. The dungeon crawling and city building style of gameplay reminds me a lot of Azure Dream which I reviewed here.

Gameplay: 10/10 This game combines real time combat such as that found in Zelda or Secret of Mana with Occasional Quick Time Events and of course, lots of world building and city building gameplay. The dungeons are proceduraly generated and it also features multiple playable characters each with their own abilities and fighting style. However, Atla (the items needed for city building) can only be found when playing as the main character.

In city building mode, you place the Atla retrieved from the dungeons onto your town. The atla may be something like a shop, house, or even something as simple as a tree or pond, or even a new NPC. As you continue to add Atla, and continue to talk to the NPC’s you will learn more about what they want you to build in their cities. Once you reach a certain level within that city, you can move on to create additional cities as well.

The game is also unique in how characters level up. In fact, your characters never level up at all. Only their equipment levels up as you battle your way through the dungeons. However, the weapons also break if not repaired between uses. Once a weapon breaks it is lost forever. Weapons can also be upgraded by attaching different effects to the weapon which can give it bonuses such as agility, strength, or elemental properties. Although it can be aggravating at times (to lose a really powerful weapon), I really enjoyed this weapon system and felt that it really added something to the gameplay to differentiate it from all the other Action RPGs of the 90s/early 2k.

The dungeon crawling aspects can get dull at times – but I feel it’s spiced up enough with plenty of other gameplay elements to keep it from getting overly repetitive. There’s just so many other fun things to do in this game.

Story: 5/10 Unfortunately, story is what misses the mark for me in this game. I just felt it was a little too slowly paced and that both the story and the characters felt bland and not very engaging. The story tells of a time when 2 continents existed peacefully governed by two moons. One day a Dark Cloud appeared over one of the lands (hence the title of the game). Anything touched by this cloud was destroyed (Sounds very Never Ending Story-ish with the Nothing destroying entire cities, erasing people, creatures, forests, etc – Unfortunately, Never Ending Story was actually exciting and interesting, while the same can’t really be said of Dark Cloud). To protect the people and places of the land, a benevolent fairy king sealed each of them away in a magic orb known as Atla. The Main character appears when his village is destroyed by the Dark Cloud. He encounters the fairy king who tells him how he can rebuild the world but that he must first find the orbs which have been scattered throughout the continent. While the bare bones for an interesting story are in place, it just doesn’t really captivate or connect with the audience.

Characters: 7/10  The physical design and appearance of the characters is quite cute and unique (aside from the main character who looks way too much like Link lol). But their personalities and interactions often feel like an empty shell. The characters include a cat who is stuck inside one of the dungeons that the Main Character encounters. She is rescued by the main character and taken by to the city where she is transformed into a human-like girl with cat ears and tail. Another interesting character is a robotics engineer who wears almost like a hazmat suit that’s very form fitting. He’s unique because he has large rabbit like ears and appears to have a custom suit built to take into account his large pointy ears. – So the concepts and creativity for the character design definitely gets high marks, but the dialog and interaction between them, not so much.

Graphics: 6/10 I take issue with how grainy the textures are in this game. However, I like the overall character design and game world. Dark Cloud 2 features a much cleaner (and cuter) art style.

Music: 7/10 I feel that the music just isn’t anything special overall. It’s not very memorable. Dark Cloud 2 has great music, Dark Cloud 1, on the other hand, is average to good, but falls just short of greatness. It’s also only half the size of the soundtrack in terms of number of tracks as compared to Dark Cloud 2.

Replay Value: 6/10 Although it’s a linear story, the world and city building aspects make it interesting enough to come back to.

Overall: 59/80 74% C “Good Game for Girls”

Dark Cloud PS2 Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review

Title: Lovely Complex (Also commonly referred to as Love*Com)

Release Date: 2007

Episodes: 24

Based on: Manga by Aya Nakahara – There’s also a live action movie but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a die hard fan of this series – definitely read the manga or watch the anime first at least. The movie tries to fit 24 episodes into an hour or 2 hour format. It just doesn’t work. Too much has to be cut. It kinda just felt like watching a recap or highlight reel. There’s also a videogame but to my knowledge it has not been translated. The manga also has a sequel focusing on Risa’s little brother.

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Where to Buy: Amazon has it for $32 for the Complete Series on DVD http://www.amazon.com/Lovely…

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 10/10 The story of Love*Com follows Risa and Otani, two youths who happen to be good friends in the same class. What’s unusual about them is that Risa is taller than even the boys in her class, and Otani is shorter even than the girls! They are teased often, but also both quite popular, and even more so popular when they are together and do “comedy skits” for their classmates. They have a good sense of humor and don’t mind being the running jokes of the classroom. They also have a lot of friends. Otani is exceptionally good at sports despite his tiny size.

This is a slice of life anime which focuses on how feelings of friendship gradually change to love. However, there are many obstacles in front of the new couple, most notably, worrying about further teasing from their classmates, but also worrying about wrecking their friendship.

I think this is one of the only anime to feature mismatched couples based on height and the pacing and balance of both romance and comedy feel right on spot.

Characters: 9/10 Risa is a lot stronger than Otani, emotionally, and probably physically as well given her size compared to him. Otani has a lot of insecurities which make him hold back more throughout the series. At times it is almost painful to watch him reject Risa repeatedly. But Risa is determined and doesn’t give up. It’s also painful at times to see the strain it puts on their friendship and watching them try to pretend the feelings for eachother aren’t there. They put themselves through a lot of pain before coming to accept their feelings. Watching them struggle and fail kinda makes me want to reach through the screen and shake them at times – but that’s also where the majority of the show’s suspense and drama comes into play so it’s a good thing really in the end. As mentioned above, the character dynamics are unique and not your typical pairing.

Art: 3/5 I like the art, but the main female is just not very attractive. Her top knot hairstyle is really not kawaii (not cute). It is unique though. The way it’s parted right down the middle, and her large round forehead without bangs and how thin and “stringy” and “flat to her head” the hair looks – I just find her utterly unattractive. Other than that though, the art is colorful and clean :)

Music: 4/5  – I really like the opening theme – but it’s a bit weird the song is sung from Otani’s perspective “I won’t tell you I like you” is one of the lyrics –  and it’s sung by a male vocalist. — The anime on the other hand focuses more on and seems to be from more of Risa’s perspective. It’s still a really kawaii and catchy song!! The rest of the music throughout the series is less memorable but fits with the theme well.

Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Legend of Mana Review – Part 4 of 4 of Secret of Mana Review Series

Check out Parts 1 – 3 of Our Secret of Mana Review Series here:

Secret of Mana / Secret of Mana 2

Secret of Evermore

Secret of Mana 3

Welcome to our 4th and final review of the Secret of Mana series. This time we’re covering the PS1 classic, Legend of Mana. Like Seiken Densetsu 3, Legend of Mana also features several intertwining stories. It brings with it several new gameplay concepts as well such as a world-building aspect, gardening, crafting, and more, making it easily one of the most fun titles in the series. However, like most of the mana games, it suffers from a somewhat weak story, made even weaker by the non-linear nature of this particular game. Of course, out of all of the mana titles, it is by far the prettiest to look at and has a new painting or picture-book like quality to the artwork.

Title: Legend of Mana

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: Action-RPG

Release Date: 1999

Where to Buy: Amazon has the game in used condition for about $28, “collectors” condition for around $60, or brand new in shrink wrap for $140 http://www.amazon.com/Legend… But if collecting is not your thing, it’s much more affordable to go digital and pick it up in the PSN store for just $5.99 https://store.playstation.com/…

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

Overall: 58/80 73% C. “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 As mentioned above, Legend of Mana brings several new features to the series which greatly expands upon the gameplay. It also loosely ties into the other games’ stories by revisiting the concept of the Mana tree (which was a very prominent concept in Seiken Densetsu 3). However no previous experience with the series is necessary to enjoy this title. I’ve never understood why this title is slammed by so many critics when gameplay wise, it’s definitely more solid than any other title in the franchise. As for story, in my opinion, the entire Mana series is more light on story than say Squaresoft’s other titles such as Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy. Legend of Mana is just plain fun with so many different things to do from gardening to world building to crafting and of course questing and leveling and experiencing the story. It’s also very nonlinear which is rare for a JRPG, especially one from the 90s.

Gameplay: 10/10 You start the game by selecting either a male or female hero. Your other party members rotate in and out depending on which story or quest you are on at the time. Like most of the other mana games, a 2nd player can play co-op mode by taking control of one of the other NPCs. Also like the other mana games, your party consists of 3 members at a time. Unlike the other mana games, this game features a series of mini stories and lots of quests strung together in a nonlinear fashion through a world building system where you get artifacts to place on the map. Depending on where you place them, you will earn different bonuses to certain abilities while in combat. The biggest draw in gameplay is the extensive crafting and gardening system. There’s also a virtual pet raising aspect, and the pets you raise can even join you in battle. The choices you make also impact the storyline and fates of the various characters. Combat once again is in real time, and this time it takes place right on the main screen without loading a new scene for rendering the battle.

Story: 5/10 Story is not a strong point in any of the mana games if you ask me, at least not compared to most other JRPG. The story does suffer due to the nonlinear nature of the game, which is true for many nonlinear titles. It’s not without it’s merits though as well. There are some very touching and tender scenes, interesting mysteries, and the lore and history of all the other mana games.

Characters: 3/10 This game also suffers from lack of strong centralized characters. The main character never speaks, has no back story, no motivation, no real connection to any of the events in the game. The supporting cast depends on which quest and part of the story you’re exploring, giving them so little screen time that we never really develop much attachment for any of them.

Music: 10/10 In my opinion, this is the best soundtrack of any of the mana games. I especially love the opening theme song and had it on my ipod for years after playing this game.

Graphics: 8/10 Beautiful hand-painted or painterly styled artwork gives the game a cute storybook feeling. It’s also very brightly colored and lush feeling. I only wish there were some anime cutscenes to help flesh out key moments within the game.

Replay Value: 5/10 There are some choices which alter the events or impact the lives (or deaths) of key characters in the game; but ultimately, those changes are very insignificant that I don’t see them being a huge motivator for replaying the game again. However, the crafting, pet raising, gardening, and nonlinear nature of the game do lend themselves to multiple playthroughs. In fact, even after completing the game, you will be sent back to the hero’s home and can still engage in many of these activities.

Overall: 58/80 73% C. “Good Game for Girls”

Legend of Mana Review – Part 4 of 4 of Secret of Mana Review Series was originally published on Geeky Sweetie