Stardew Valley Review

As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

Geeky: 2/5  –  This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!

Sweetie: 4/5  – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.

At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).

And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.

Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).

There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.

You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!

Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.

Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.

I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.

Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —

I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.

And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).

The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.

Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.

There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.

Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.

Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.

Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.

Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut,  a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.

Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.

Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.

Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.

I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.

I did take off a few points for the following:

  • It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
  • Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
  • Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.

Music: 10/10 – The soundtrack is one of my favorite things about this game. It is infectiously catchy. Not only does it feature great music, but sound effects are skillfully used to further create immersion and once again give rise to a game world that feels bursting with life. Sound effects for weather effects, animals, monsters, and machines and tools all help paint a picture of what life in Stardew Valley is all about.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Despite myself criticizing many things in this game such as terrible controls and user interface, lack of promised features and development setbacks, and a rather barebones story and characters who are dull and cliche, there’s just something indescribable about the gameplay itself. It is just a fun game. It’s not a perfect game… but it is one that I would recommend. I can seriously see myself sinking hundreds, or even thousands, of hours into the game, a single playthrough takes probably a hundred hours or more, and if you want to try a different profession or pick a different husband or wife, you’ll be starting a new farm, as the game autosaves every night which takes the freedom of creating multiple save files from a single playthrough out of your hands.

When I play Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m living a second virtual life, I come to care about my character, her friends and relationships, the farm, the city, and everything that’s going on in the game world. It offers me a challenge with several aspects being only discovered later in the game, and that too keeps the experience feeling fun and fresh and wondering what will happen each time I play.

Stardew Valley is a game that pulls you in with all of its charm — However, it could do with some fine tuning to greatly improve certain gameplay and story aspects.

Would I play it again? Absolutely. Given the sheer amount of things to see and do, it is impossible to accomplish everything on a single playthrough and no two farms are exactly alike.

It is that feeling, that my farm, my village, my animals, my crops, my house, my little virtual family, that they are unique and truly unlike anyone elses’ that is the driving force that makes me want to sit down and invest my precious time and energy into this game. That and the kawaii cute graphics and charming nature of the game that seem to just suck you right in.

And once Multiplayer gets implemented, kiss your real life goodbye, as the 50,000 people who think “Overwhelmingly Positive” things about the game, as well as thousand of new players, will be busy visiting their friends’ farms and experiencing brand new gameplay elements.

Stardew Valley is constantly evolving with new maps, new characters, new skills, new recipes, and new fun!

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Stardew Valley Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Nintendo Miitomo Mobile Game Just Got a Huge Update That Lets You Send DMs, Decorate Your Room, and Use Multiple Miis

Nintendo Miitomo Mobile Game Just Got a Huge Update That Lets You Send DMs, Decorate Your Room, and Use Multiple Miis. You can now add wallpaper and flooring to your room on Miitomo.

There’s also a new feature called Sidekick Miis which lets you use other Miis you have created – and decorate their rooms as well.

You can add “Posters” to your room – and possibly furnishings too (haven’t finished exploring everything yet myself). The Posters can be miifotos, or any photo saved to your mobile device. I chose one of my cats to use as my poster.

There’s a new Miitomo drop stage that changes every day with new wallpaper and flooring items to be won. I love my new pink rug that I won lastnight lol. I also won white panel walls today but didn’t like how they looked with the “medium” size poster – That’s another thing you can choose medium, small, or large when designing posters and choose different “spots” to place them in your rooms. They give you 1 poster spot free but additional ones have to be purchased.

If you are wanting to decorate lots of Sidekick Mii rooms, you will need multiple poster spots and decor items. If one is in use by one Mii, it cannot be used by another of your Miis. So I recommend always choosing the wallpaper or floor if you land on a multiple item in the gacha game – instead of taking the candy – because you never know when you might want to make another sidekick and need items for their room as well.

You can also now send Direct Messages privately to your friends. The interface has a slightly new look too which will show you almost like a twitter feed of your friends’ latest answers to Miitomo questions. Both of these new tweaks will make Miitomo more of a social network and allow you to connect deeper with your friends, or make new ones.

These are all exciting updates and a step in the right direction, breathing life back into a somewhat already tired mobile game app.

PS: You should log in each day for awhile right now because they’re having huge login bonuses to celebrate the massive update.

See you in game 🙂

If you haven’t played Miitomo, you can check out my review (prior to this update) here.

Nintendo Miitomo Mobile Game Just Got a Huge Update That Lets You Send DMs, Decorate Your Room, and Use Multiple Miis was originally published on

Countdown to Black Friday with New Deals Every Day on Amazon

Amazon just launched their Black Friday Pre-sale event. You can check back every day for new items at http://amazon.com/Black-Friday/…

Already they are offering up some pretty sweet deals for geeks and gamers. I recommend bookmarking and checking back as often as possible. I’m hoping for a PS4 Bundle or Console to go on sale. I have enough already to purchase, but since it is that time of year, saving some money never hurts, and I’ve waited this long already to get myself the newest consoles, so might as well hang in there a few more weeks and see what happens!

Last year, amazon had amazing black friday and cyber monday exclusive gaming bundles for all three major game systems including Xbone, PS4, and WiiU. This year the savings should be even greater since the technology continues to age and the market gets even more competitive with new consoles such as the Xbox Scorpio, PS4 Pro, and (soon to be released) Nintendo Switch, which means the standard Xbox One, PS4 Slim, and possibly Wii U will need to discount their inventory to see a strong finish this year.

PC Gamers are not to be forgotten, RIGHT NOW amazon has awesome Black Friday deals on headsets, lightup keyboards, game controllers, gaming mice, and more. There are some great deals such as headsets for 65% off, hot new release games for both console and pc at up to 75% off and many more.

Amazon even has a page set up specifically for gaming deals here: http://amzn.to/2evLcYi

or a general one for Electronics here: http://amzn.to/2evMYZH

I’m also needing a new gaming laptop, and Amazon has a page for PC and Laptop deals here: http://amzn.to/2elLmON

Video Games not your thing? Maybe you want some boardgames, legos, cute plushies, dolls, or figures? If so amazon also has a page for you here: http://amzn.to/2fp9ssJ

And the sales will continue into cyber monday as well and Cyber Monday has it’s own page for deals which will be located at http://amzn.to/2fk9JB3 once it goes live later this month.

 

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Per Amazon’s site:

“Black Friday Deals–The Party Is Just Getting Started!

Black Friday 2016 will be here soon, but we didn’t want you to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to save on Black Friday deals, so we are counting down to Black Friday 2016 with exciting deals today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and…you get the picture. Stop by each day through November 24 for early Black Friday deals, including sales on electronics, low prices on DVDs, magazine subscription specials, toy bargains, and fashionable deals for women, men, kids & baby, and more. You’ll find our best Black Friday deals, and Deal of the Day bargains you won’t want to resist for holiday gifts.

Something else to be excited about–at Amazon, Black Friday 2016 isn’t just a day to us–it’s a whole week! We’ll kick off Black Friday Deals Week early with Black Friday deals and sales all day every day that week, including Black Friday, with those big after-Thanksgiving sales you’ve been waiting for. Trust us, if you love a good deal, you won’t want to miss it!

To continue the excitement, we have made Cyber Monday 2016 a whole week too! We’ll be kicking off Cyber Monday with a week’s worth of cyber deals, just in time for you to get back to work after Thanksgiving … and shop online. Shhh … we won’t tell your boss! You’ll find more great deals every day during Cyber Monday Deals Week.
So stop by any day, or better yet, every day. We’ll be here with great deals!”

 

Countdown to Black Friday with New Deals Every Day on Amazon was originally published on

Line Play Free Anime Dressup Game Like Gaia Online for IOS and Android Mobile Devices

This review honestly has been long overdue. I’m sure many of our readers already play Line Play everyday. This cute anime-styled game has been popular for a number of years now. It offers everything you could want in a dressup game, pets, cute outfits, rooms, fishing, minigames, and even chat rooms. There’s tons of stuff to do and new items being released constantly into the game which gets updated quite often with new cute things to collect, new minigames, or limited time events.

Needless to say, if you enjoy other similar anime dressup games I’ve reviewed here such as Hello Nikki, CocoPpaPlay, Romantic Diary, Pokemini / Pokecolo or Miitomo then you will also enjoy Line Play, so let’s take a closer look below!

Title: Line Play

IOS Version Herehttps://itunes.apple.com…

Android Version Herehttps://play.google.com…

Genre: Anime Dressup Game

Publisher: Line Corporation

geekyGeeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky – Although it is saccharine overload at times, if you’re not opposed to a “cutesy” game, then Line Play actually has a ton of features and is more robust and in depth than a lot of other anime dressup games. There are also a lot of skill-based minigames which provide a fun challenge and way to earn in-game currency. It does however sometimes suffer connection issues or lag which is why I can’t rate it higher.

sweetieSweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie – This game oozes charm and cuteness at every corner. It also partners with big-brand names you know and love such as Hello Kitty, Sailor Moon, Disney, and Show by Rock, as well as offering tons of options to customize your avatar, your room, even raising cute pets! It also has a journal system and chat rooms making it almost a social network as much as it’s also a game.

Overall: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 – I’ve mentioned it a few times, but this game has just a ton of things to do! You can go fishing, you can raise a pet, you can play skill-based minigames, you can dressup your avatar as well as decorate your room by layering different items from thousands if not millions of combinations. The social networking aspects are also a great way to make friends, or play together with your real life friends. There are multiple worlds you can explore and lots of new things to see and do which get added regularly with new updates.

Gameplay: 8/10 Although there is a lot to do in this game, it does become tedious and repetitive after long periods of play. The game also suffers from occasional lag or connectivity issues. However, those two small flaws aside, this game is a lot of fun. You get to interact with other players which makes the game world feel very immersive and alive. You can choose to play various minigames which require speed, skill, and a bit of luck. You can go fishing, explore multiple different themed worlds where you can chat or roleplay with your friends, or just spend hours alone in your room decorating your home, playing with your pet, writing in your journal, or trying on new outfits.

 Story: 2/10 – I thought about giving story a zero to be honest, but then I remembered that there are occasional events which present a story in comic book form (similar to Gaia Online, actually almost everything about this game is very much like Gaia Online). These stories are cute and short, sometimes continued through multiple-part events. But ultimately, there really is no true overarching story of any kind.

Graphics: 10/10 – This game is just so cute. The game is in 2D isometric top-down view reminiscent of many retro or anime-styled games. There is a lot of work put into the sheer amount of graphics needed to create this game. Really no two avatars ever look alike thanks to hundreds of thousands of different items. Items get removed and added in almost daily. When you first start the game, you can select to either be a human or furrie. This setting cannot be changed later, and both races have access to different face items. You customize everything about yourself, from your hair, to your shoes, to your eyes, nose, lips, shirt or dress, and then you can choose different accessories to accent your outfit. You also can decorate and expand your room. You can invite your friends over to party together in your room or go see your friends’ rooms too. There are also many open world areas for you to go explore each with a different cute theme! The user interface is also clean and intuitive.

Music: 5/10 – It’s cute at first, but gets old very quickly. Also I found some of the minigame music and sound effects to get distracting at times. There are lots of cute sound effects when fishing or playing with your friends. However, the main theme song gets used so often and in so many different areas of the world, that you will grow tired of it after a few hours max.

Community: 7/10 – Most of the people I’ve met in Line Play have been very nice and friendly; however, for being a social network, it seems most people are not that social. It’s probably more fun if you already have a group of friends to play with. However, there are several different chat rooms as well as the ability to chat in the open world areas, the journal system (where friends can leave a comment), and the ability to import friends from popular social networks such as Line and Facebook. It also features private messaging, group chats, or the ability to invite friends to see your room, or meet new ones in any of the open world areas. Friends can also help you out in various minigames or by sending you a “heart”. Once you get over that initial hurdle of making a few friends, Line Play definitely provides you all the tools you need to continue to foster that friendship. Since the game features kawaii graphics, many of the players in Line Play share common interests such as anime and games which can help when making new friends especially if you’re shy or introverted. On the other hand, because of the cute and simplistic nature of the game, the Line Play community also has many young children and teens and not very many active players who are over 30, such as myself, which can make it awkward or difficult to make new friends as well.

Replay Value: 10/10 Thanks to a wide variety of minigames and different activities to enjoy, as well as frequently updated content, limited events, and the drive to collect new and rare items for your home and avatar, this game keeps you coming back to see what’s new or to chat with your friends.

Overall: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Line Play Free Anime Dressup Game Like Gaia Online for IOS and Android Mobile Devices was originally published on

Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting

I just discovered, Romantic Diary, an anime Otome Dating Sim which is part Dressup Game, part Visual Novel, part Cooking Game, and has an extensive crafting system. At the core, this game looks quite similar to Hello Nikki! Which I reviewed here. However, it seems to have more robust features, and a heavier emphasis on story telling and dating elements. It’s also a “Stat-Raising” game similar to Princess Maker (which I reviewed here) or Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here).

Are you thinking about playing this game? If so please use my friend code (input it later after the tutorial at the “friend” screen). We’ll both get free stuff! ❤ Use Invite Code: 82477180

Title: Romantic Diary

Price: Free

Platforms: IOS and Android

Where To Get Romantic Diary:

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/…

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com…

Genre: Otome Visual Novel Dating Sim (With Stat-Raising Sim elements)

Publisher: NGames Interactive

Geeky:  3/5 – Technically speaking, this game is more advanced than about 95% of other Otome Dating Sims. It uses Live 2D to make the characters fully animated on dates, like Ensemble Stars or NekoPara. It also has much more to offer than just “dating” or “just dressup”.

Sweetie:  5/5 – One of the cutest games you’ll ever play.

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is fast becoming one of my favorite mobile games because of the wide variety of things to do from dressing up yourself, or one of several boys. It has full voice acting, and uses Live 2D to bring the characters “to life” – It has sky high production values. But not only that, but it’s a ton of fun. You can cook sweets to give to the boys to boost their affection, or plan a date by selecting different locations. You can work part time to earn in game currency, or study different subjects to boost your stats which helps unlock new event scenes, jobs, or even new guys to meet. There’s TONS of in game events too, which makes you want to keep playing, and an interesting story too.

Gameplay: 10/10 This game is unlike any of the other “dressup” games out there – it’s also equally different than some of the voltage/ntt solomare/kyonplete etc visual novels which have “dressup” components to them. This is more like a brand new genre of gaming that balances both dressup challenge type gameplay, with otome multiple ending/branching plot gameplay, as well as throwing in “Stat-Raising” gameplay ala Princess Maker or Tokimeki Memorial. It really captures several of my favorite genres here.

The basics of gameplay begin in “Story Mode” – here each “level” will present a new dressup challenge. You’re given hints at each level as to what to wear to pass to the next stage. For example you might be asked to wear “Pretty and Pure” clothes or “Mature and Sexy” or “Casual Streetwear” or “vintage” just to name a few. The different items you can get in the game all have these different traits (Once again like Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side), and when combined, you can create different looks. At the end you’re scored on how well you met the requirements. As you progress, you learn more about the strange fantasy world and explore deeper the character backgrounds and story.

But Gameplay doesn’t stop in story mode, it’s only beginning. From the main menu you have many different options, from cooking sweets, to tailoring or upgrading your own clothes, to dating, to playing various daily minigames to earn free items.

Story Mode helps you unlock new recipes for cooking or tailoring your clothes. (PS: the cooking and tailoring modes don’t open until later in story mode). Story mode is also how you meet new guys to date. As you play you keep unlocking new ways to play the game, making it an exciting and fresh experience on multiple playthroughs.

It even has a Skinship feature on the dates. If you don’t know what Skinship is, you might’ve heard about the recent controversy and removal of Skinship from Fire Emblem Fates which I covered in a news article here. But if you haven’t heard, Skinship is a concept common in many Japanese dating games, in which as your affection grows between you and the characters, you can “try your luck” at “petting” them in different parts of their body, stomach, arms, hair, face, lips, ear, etc. But if you are too bold or too forward, the affection will decrease, but if you are “petting” appropriately, it helps you bond with the character and thus, your affection will increase.

There is really a lot of things to do! You could play this game for hours a day, or devote as little as 20 minutes a day to collect your login bonus and free items for the day. It’s up to you.

Story: 7/10 – I think the story is cute, and SURPRISINGLY the translation is NOT terrible – I say surprisingly because if you look at their googleplay or itunes app store page…. their English is VERY poor. They must have outsourced the game’s translation or hired an editor though because there is little beyond minor typos which you see in almost all games with heavy text.

The story itself is about a girl (you) who is summoned into another world. When she first arrives, she can’t speak the language or understand what is happening. A young man casts a spell on her so that she may understand the native language of the world, and another young man begins helping her collect emblems as she begins life in the new world a “transfer student” in a magical school.

You learn that by helping others with their problems or concerns, you can extract magic shards from them which are causing their anxiety (and also which are valuable in this new world.) The events in the story focus on helping others and learning about why you’ve been summoned to the strange magic world.

Characters: 7/10 The characters are cute, both how they are drawn, as well as their personalities. There’s also ample character depth and progression as you increase affection with the different guys and turn that Tsundere or Shy boy into hopeless romantics for you lol. The characters also have unique fantasy elements to them, such as the main “cannon” character being an “elf” which is similar to a “druid” in that he can shapeshift – and sometimes not always “at will” similar to anime such as Fruits Basket or Ranma 1/2.

Graphics: 10/10 — I love this game’s graphics. Dozens of dressup options, high customization, you can make your own makeup, and combine different pieces of clothing, from dresses, to stockings, shoes, hair styles, hats, purses, jewelry, and more. Things have a soft, sweet, “dreamlike” vibe, and lots of pinks are used making it super cute and girly. Plus, as I mentioned, when you enter the dates, the game uses Live 2D which is a relatively new technology that can create fully animated models which appear 2D or anime like. — This sets it apart from other games which just use still images, which still, unfortunately, is the norm for almost all games of this type.

Music: 7/10: There’s a lot of cute and catchy tunes in this app, but a lot of them do get reused pretty often.

Voice Acting: 9/10 The game has the original voice acting in tact. I could be wrong, but I think it’s Chinese voice acting? It’s definitely not Japanese. It may be Korean, I dunno — That said, regardless of what it is, it’s highly expressive and further helps bring the characters to life. I deducted a point (maybe somewhat unfairly) because I didn’t like a few of the voices, but I’m not overly used to hearing Chinese (or whatever language this is). I just felt some of the voices were a little “jarring” on my nerves. Might just take some getting used to though. At least they kept the voice acting in so yay. Similar games such as Hello Nikki were originally fully voiced, and the voices removed for US release, so I really appreciate that this game kept the voices in tact.

Replay Value: 10/10 – I’ve said throughout this review, but the multitude of different things to do, from cooking, crafting, dating, minigames, dressup, questing, and in game limited time events, and of course exploring the story, keeps you wanting to play each day. This game is a huge time sink, but an enjoyable one!

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Miitomo Review: Nintendo’s New App Will Devour Your Soul — And All of Your Free Time!

As you should know by now – I’m no stranger to these types of apps having already reviewed countless others such as Dream Girlfriend, CocoPPAPlay, Pokecolo (Formerly Pokemini), Animal Boyfriend, and also an avid fan and long time player of LinePlay. The concept, which is essentially dressup an avatar and decorate a room,  is nothing new. But Somehow, Nintendo’s new Miitomo app manages to stand out in a very crowded marketplace. I stayed up til 2am saturday night playing this game. And stayed up until midnight lastnight playing (after also playing it 10+ hours throughout both days) – only because I knew I had to be up for work today. (otherwise I would’ve stayed up later – I cannot put this app down!)

I think what makes Miitomo so successful is the social aspect of the app. It allows you to answer questions similar to the dating site OKCupid, and read your friends’ responses. This results in some hilarious conversations. For example, the funniest one I saw was simply about cereal and had over 90 comments. I started laughing so hard that I was snorting, and I’m still smirking from it now remembering the conversation. (Trust me you just had to be there . I know cereal might not sound funny, but it was.)

For someone shy like me, Miitomo encourages me to interact with my online friends (It uses your twitter and/or facebook friends). It encourages me to reach out to new people too – both via social media and also in the game. It brings me out of my shell – from lurker – to contributor by rewarding you for having conversations with your friends and amassing new friends and followers.

Also the artificial robot voices make for some really entertaining things. One guy on my friendslist has a “greeting” when they leave the room that says “It ain’t no lie, baby, bye, bye, bye” and it is SOOOOOO funny in the robotic voices of the miis.

The third point that makes Miitomo so successful is the customization. It uses your camera to make your mii (or optionally lets you create one looking however you wish you looked, or like any fictional character you can imagine). But where’s the fun in that, the camera feature is where it’s at. It will take 20-30 images (in a matter of seconds) and let you choose which one you want – And you can tweak it a bit afterwards. I left mine alone though because it does look quite a bit like me, and it’s cute in its own way.

You can customize EVERY thing – from the way it looks, to the way it sounds – to it’s personality traits.

Once your avatar is created, you can win prizes (outfits) to dress up in by earning coin or tickets to use Miidrop – which cycles in limited time outfits. Miidrop is strangely satisfying and addicting, you drop your friends onto a giant “Plinko” style board and try to get them to land on the prize that you want to win. The fact that the items are limited and retired pretty quickly, makes it very exciting. Rather or not those items will reappear is unknown – but I can tell you that in similar games such as those linked to above, they do not – once limited items are done, they’re gone for good (though sometimes they do get recolored variations). Some items in Miitomo even let YOU select the colors you want.

I find it’s best to save your coins – because in addition to Miidrop – there’s a time limited shop that rotates in and out new items each day and if you blow all your coins playing Miidrop you might miss out on an item here (unlike Miidrop though, I’m pretty sure that these items DO rotate back into the shop.) I have a lot of Miidrop tickets because two of the Miidrop “events” ended already and the currently active ones do not appeal to me – I am just hoarding my tickets right now for when new items become available via Miidrop.

There’s an item in the store that I want today, but it’s 1,760 coins and I only have about 1,120 – so I dunno if I will get it before it poofs. Which makes me wish I hadn’t spent coins when I first joined on playing Miidrop – because now I have tons of tickets and find coins harder to come by than tickets.

But you do get coins for interacting with your friends, replying to their responses to questions, answering questions yourself, visiting or adding new friends, etc.

Honestly, I’d like to see coins instead of – or in addition to candy – being added to Miidrop.

Beyond that, the fact that it’s Nintendo makes it “Too Big to Fail” While people have likely never heard of the EXTREMELY similar apps which I mentioned at the beginning of my review, chances are, they will download Miitomo because of the name behind it “Nintendo” and the marketing budget that Nintendo can pour into promoting their new app.

A word of caution “This is the Internet” – while Nintendo is INFAMOUS for censorship and child protection — the same has NOT yet been applied to Miitomo (though I suspect soon – very soon – we will see language/word filters and other annoying things because a few people think it’s funny to swear or write sexually explicit things in the app. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS YOU GUYS. lol.) So if you are a parent, you really probably don’t want your kid playing this game right now until they “fix” this issue. There is ZERO censorship – yes you can report inappropriate responses, but by then the damage is done and your kid’s already been exposed to whatever it was that you did not want him to see. So yeah I would say Miitomo should be for users 16 and up.

So now that I’m done hyping over the game, let’s give it a proper review below.

Title: Miitomo

Genre: Dressup Game

Publisher: Nintendo

 

Platforms: IOS and Android (Both Available from Official Site): https://miitomo.com/en/

Geeky: 3/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 86 / 110 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 As mentioned above, Miitomo is a dressup game which also lets you meet new friends and have conversations with your social network. While it does little to innovate over other similar apps, the app is addicting due to the increased social element and simplistic “nintendo charm”. New items are available every day which keeps you wanting to play to get new items to dressup in, and customization options are quite impressive.

Gameplay: 7/10 The gameplay itself is pretty minimal / simplistic. It’s more of a social network / chat app more than a game – but yet somehow, it’s SO much fun, so many funny conversations happen and it’s the MOST SOCIAL of ANY of these “dressup games”. This makes the gameplay super addictive and rewarding. However, the gameplay itself is in fact a bit thin when compared to very similar apps like Lineplay which have pets, fishing, farming, and the ability to have more than one friend in your room simultaneously and more of a “chat” based instead of “forums” based method of communication. (Although, ironically, I prefer the forum method more, as the chat is only good if you’re all on at the same time really.)

Story: 0/10 – Sorry, I know this hurts the score – but there’s no story. At all. Period – BUT that does not make this any less of an awesome app – just that for my readers specifically, story is the paramount feature they look for so I have to point this out. But really you guys should play this because it’s so fun / funny — If you’re expecting a serious game – look elsewhere. But if you want a FUN game – this is it!

Characters: 10/10 – The characters are you and your friends! You meet new people, you learn about your existing friends, and you have so many funny conversations. Also as mentioned below, the Mii is an iconic character for Nintendo that fans love.

Graphics: 8/10 The mii’s are not as detailed (or kawaii (cute)) as the other very similar apps which I mention above. However, the customization and ability to make a mii look like almost anyone, and the cute expressions and emotes and animations, make the graphics very charming. It’s also a very famillar character and icon for Nintendo which many fans have come to love. The dressup items range from strange, to ugly, to utterly adorable. Some have very smooth, almost like no texture at all, while others have a very tactile feel, like real clothing – it’s rather hit or miss. The level of detail that went into some of the outfits though is amazing considering how small the area they had to work with really is. Also Miitomo is the only dressup app that’s 3D – games like My Dream Girlfriend – actually ARE 3D – but they use an engine called Live 2D (which I love more than anything in this world) (But it makes the characters appear as if they’re 2D.) Also Miitomo is the only app where you can pinch and zoom and rotate and drag your screen to see different angles of your character. You can create really fun, cute, or funny images and share them with your friends. It’s really funny and charming. Good job Nintendo!

Music: 3/10 Is there music in this game? I really can’t remember lol. all I can remember are the funny mii voices. I will maybe adjust this if there actually is music in the game – I’m at work right now so obviously can’t check — If there is music though, it’s not very memorable since I’ve spent 20+ hours playing this game, and last logged in (with sound at least) less than 6 hours ago, and can’t remember if there’s music or not – that’s not a good sign or indication of an awesome music track – when I can remember music from games which I played 25+ years ago LOL.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – The robot voice acting — OMG it’s so funny – it’s not “good” by any means – but my god, it makes the game so much more fun — And I LOVE the amount of customization you can do with the voice and how different everyone’s mii’s sound. It just adds that extra layer of goodness!

Customization: 10/10 I’ve said it a couple times but the customization in Miitomo is awesome, from how you look, to voices, and even personality traits.

Social / Community: 10/10 I’ve made some new friends and had lots of fun – Miitomo is different from every other dressup game out there because you are rewarded for chatting with your friends, and it is set up in a very intuitive and engaging way which facilitates discussion. You can learn a lot more about your friends, and have funny conversations. Highly recommend it!

Replay Value: 10/10 – I can’t put this game down!!! — And I bet neither will you once you start to play! You have got to experience this game.

Overall: 86 / 110 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Note: If we don’t take into account the lack of story, it then becomes 86/100 or 86% B “Very Good Game for Girls” which more accurately reflects my own personal enjoyment of this app. 

PS. Add me if you play Miitomo! You can scan my QR code below — OR follow me on twitter @Xenokitten and send me a note that you play Miitomo and I’ll follow you back so we can play!

Add Me on Miitomo #MiitomoAddMe
Add Me on Miitomo #MiitomoAddMe

Miitomo Review: Nintendo’s New App Will Devour Your Soul — And All of Your Free Time! was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero

7th Dragon until now, has remained a title only available in Japan, but that is about to change with 7th Dragon III Code VFD on the Nintendo 3DS.

This quirky little Time Travel RPG sees us in a not too distant future which is at war with powerful dragons. In order to save the world from destruction, you must travel to the ancient city of Atlantis, future capital of Eden, and present day Tokyo.

The artwork features chibi super-deformed, bobble head, big head, tiny body style character designs, giving everything a very cute anime feeling. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean. Very Kawaii!:

With the cute art work, and almost endless ways to customize your hero, this game immediately sparks my radar. I admit, I’ve not heard of 7th Dragon until now. I’m somewhat surprised to see Sega’s name attached to this project, but then again, not really no, because they do own Atlus who is well known for “risky” games like this which “cater to Otaku” – I wonder why they wouldn’t brand this title under their Atlus flagship since it has a lot of loyal fans already which they could then leverage to get more attention for this cute little game.

From the very brief teaser, it looks like it will be an emotionally engaging story as well – We see a character sick in a hospital bed for example.

Most intriguingly of all Destructoid reports that “And as if that weren’t bizarre enough, the role-playing game involves rescuing stray cats from dungeons and sheltering them in a cat café.” And if you don’t know what a Cat Cafe is, you can check out my post for 10 Cat Cafe you can visit in North America.

The whole “Cat Cafe” concept makes the game even more Kawaii and immediately appealing to me (and likely also to my readers). I’m becoming more and more intrigued by this little game and can’t wait to check it out.

The game will release on July 2016 and is available for preorder on Amazon here: Preorder 7th Dragon III Code VFD

 

Those who click the amazon link above can read even more of the game’s features – Incredibly enough, it even features a dating sim element. Given that the series originally was created and handled by Imageepoch who made Fate/Extra which plays INSANELY SIMILAR to Persona 3 and 4… I can imagine that THIS dungeon crawling RPG will also be very similar to Fate/Extra and Persona 3 and 4.

The Japanese voice cast has been left in tact, and not only do you customize your heroes’ appearances, but also their voices, with more than 40 voices to choose from!

This game is Kawaii to the Max! Very Otaku Pandering, and very very very cute and quirky. Personally, I can’t wait! BRING ON THE CAT CAFE DUNGEON CRAWLING DRESSUP JRPG! This game is right up my alley!

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

My Dream Girlfriend Free IOS Android Dressup Anime Gacha Dating Sim Mobile Game

Title: My Dream Girlfriend

Publisher: Ambition

Genre: Anime Dressup Game with Dating Sim and Stat Raising Elements

Get it on IOS here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dream-girlfriend/id997701066?mt=8

Get it on Android here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.ne.ambition.googleplay_nizikano2d_glb&hl=en

Geeky: 2/5 geekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 60/80 75% C “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This game utilizes Live 2D, a new technology to bring 2d characters to life. Perfect for anime style games. You can get mega rare animated outfits. The picture here is of my character in the game. When you start the game you get one animated outfit for free. This card captor sakura-ish outfit is adorable and it was what I got for free. The other gacha items sometimes (most of the time) will not be animated. These animated outfits are very rare and set this game apart from Moe Can Change and Ambition’s other apps like My Animal Boyfriend which I reviewed here.

Gameplay: 7/10 So aside from getting outfits for your girl, you can also study, work, and take part in events to earn items and personality points. These personality points help your girlfriend evolve into different personality types such as Gentle, Flamboyant, Shy, Friendly, Studious, etc. This effects how she responds and behaves. Allowing you to create your perfect “dream girlfriend” just like the title suggests.

But the main thing is the dressup aspect. There are limited time events almost constantly with new items being added. You have many different slots for dressup such as hair, face, back, body, room, frame, accessories, and more. This ensures that your girlfriend is different and unique from all others.

You can also visit other players’ girlfriends and if they are working or studying you can offer advice to them which boosts your own xp. You can also make recommendations and see them wear your own items. At level 30 you get a 2nd girlfriend increasing your dressup potential two fold.

Really the gameplay can be repetitive though at times. Because of the repetitive gameplay I’ve deducted 2 points.

Also events can be difficult to rank in due to cash shop items which restore energy. You can get free in game currency by watching videos and taking surveys or installing apps. But even with these free offers I am only ranked 3000 and only the top 4000 players get prizes, and really only the top 200 get anything good. They really should put a limit on the amount of energy drinks that you can use in an hour. like 3 an hour or something to level the playing field. I deducted a point due to the over use of the cash shop items especially in ranked events.

TIP: You should always max your charm right away by exchanging event medals – I went from getting 200 points to about 2000 points each click by just trading in my medals. Also play the event gacha and wear as many tie-up outfits as possible to max your score. Complete free offers with Tapjoy and buy the rainbow dx drink if your total stamina is over 100. If it is 100 or less buy the half priced rainbow drink instead.

Graphics: 10/10 Clearly the highlight of this game is its super high quality super kawaii artwork and the whole point of the game is to make a cute or sexy girlfriend of your dreams. I adore the artwork in this game. Its better even than many console games.

I prefer the cute innocent look but there’s a lot of sexy items too. This is another animated item I received. (click to enlarge)

My Dream Girlfriend, Free, IOS, Android, Dressup, Anime, Gacha, Dating Sim, Mobile Game, In game events, Ingame events, limited items, limited edition items, limited edition, rare items, collect rare items, 2d, live 2d, anime game, anime games, cute, kawaii, moe, sweet, virtual reality, raising sim, raising simulation, sim, sims, simulation
My Dream Girlfriend

Music: 3/10 The music is cute, but it does not have much variety so you will eventually grow tired of it.

Characters: 8/10 There are a host of cute NPCs, and they have well defined personalities but not much backstory, I took away 2 points for lack of a backstory.

Story: 5/10 There is a story at the beginning of the game and some of the events in the game offer up a glimpse of a story, but the story quickly takes a back seat to the item centric nature of the game. The story is that you have gotten a new cellphone and discover an app already installed when you launch it, your dream girlfriend appears in your room and the sales people who sold you the phone, who are also all cute girls, come over to explain how to set it up.

Replay Value: 10/10 The plethora of events running constantly around the clock make this a game you keep coming back to and playing for long periods of time trying to get the rare items before they disappear.

Overall: 60/80 75% C “Good Game for Girls”

My Dream Girlfriend Free IOS Android Dressup Anime Gacha Dating Sim Mobile Game was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Monster Rancher EVO | Monster Rancher 5 | PS 2 | Monster Taming | Retro RPG | Review

Monster Rancher is a series of games (there’s also an anime) in which you (at certain prompts) insert another cd, dvd, or game disc into your machine to generate a monster which you then take back to your ranch to train for battle.

I’m reviewing Monster Rancher EVO today because it stands out the most for its story and characters, although its gameplay deviates significantly from any of the other games in the Monster Rancher world. I recommend this game, but I also would recommend any of the other Monster Rancher games as well. I’ve played them all (with the exception of the hand held ones). It is truly a great monster taming series.

Also, although no new games have been released in over half a decade, there are 2 different mobile games which come close to capturing the spirit and fun of Monster Rancher for fans who miss this series. These two mobile games, include one actual real Monster Rancher game by Mobage. And another app called Monster Nursery.

Of those two apps I prefer Monster Nursery because it has the monster generation mechanics (It uses your facebook friends to generate a monster – they don’t get spammed or notified either, it just reads their “name”).

You can check the apps out at the end of this article I will put some links there for you. But first, here is my review of Monster Rancher EVO.

Title: Monster Rancher EVO (Monster Rancher 5) (Also known as Monster Farm 5 Circus Caravan in Japan)

Platform: PS2

Release Date: April 2006

Where to Buy: Amazon – prices range from $10 to $40 depending on the condition of the game. Buy Monster Rancher EVO on Amazon.

Genre: Monster Taming RPG

Geeky: 5/5 stars

Sweetie: 5/5 hearts

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 9/10 The concept of these games is truly unique. I don’t know of any other games that allow you to insert CDs (or DVDs) as part of the actual gameplay. That was the most fun and addicting element of these games. And I had a massive huge collection of games to try too. Still have most of them too, though I have sold parts of my collection over the years. Would love to see a new Monster Rancher Game (maybe on PS4 :)).

Beyond just generating random monsters from your CDs and DVDs, you then take that monster to your ranch to train him for battle. In Monster Rancher EVO you can have up to 3 monsters in your battles while adventuring at once, which is different from most of the other games in the series which allowed only 1 on 1 battles. Though in this entry tournament battles have been replaced with a circus minigame. I kinda do miss the tournament style from the other games. I would’ve liked to see the tournaments also used, but I understand they didn’t fit the story or theme of this installment so I won’t deduct a point for that.

As mentioned above, Monster Rancher EVO also introduces a Circus minigame element to the mix. You must perform different tricks with your monsters through a series of minigames to progress through the game. The tricks start out simple, but increase in difficulty as you progress through the game.

It also had a decent story – more so than most of its predecessors. You play as Julio, a circus performer who trains monsters for his traveling circus troupe. You begin to doubt your training methods when one of your monsters runs away from the circus and dies as a result. A mysterious girl also shows up and joins your group.

Each week you must meet with your Ring Leader in order to review the schedule for the upcoming week. You can choose from tasks such as Training, Performing, Adventuring in dungeons, or just going to town to shop for items to talk to NPCs

Also in this series, the number of main species is only about half as large as Monster Rancher 4 which is rather disappointing (deducted 1 point here).

Gameplay: 6/10 – While the concept/theory of this game sounds good on paper, many of the minigames in the circus performances – which are required to progress through the game – become very challenging, to the point that they can become more frustrating than fun later on. Also, although generating the monsters and caring for them is a novel idea, the gameplay in all of these games, not just EVO, does have a tendency to become very repetitive if you play for long periods of time.

Still, it is kept fresh with a huge variety of things to do, from the circus performances, to adventuring and battling with a party of monsters, to just going through your CD and DVD collection looking for rare monsters to add to your book. Also more than any other Monster Rancher game this one feels the most like an RPG because it focuses more on story, character development, and NPC interaction.

It was also nice how the circus theme was tied to every single thing in the game – even at the cost of losing the beloved feature of the tournaments. It kept me feeling like I was playing in part of a world, with a goal, a story, and characters that I cared about, which ultimately caused me to enjoy the Gameplay more. It was more structured in this game, and less sandbox style as its predecessors.

Losing the feature of the tournament style gameplay was super disappointing though. It is a hallmark of the series and well, in a way, what makes Monster Rancher, Monster Rancher. I’m not sure how they could have tied it into the circus theme, but I really did miss the tournament style gameplay throughout.

Story: 8/10 Out of all of the Monster Rancher games, this one easily has the most immersive story. It’s not the best RPG for story in the world, but it was highly engaging with characters and a unique theme that pull you in right from the start. Then it develops more mystery and intrigue which keeps you wanting to continue to play to see how things evolve throughout the game. Story in most Monster Rancher games takes a back seat to gameplay. I would say in Monster Rancher EVO, the gameplay and story are of equal importance. Sadly, the story is executed better than certain aspects of the gameplay. But both story and gameplay are joined together with the overarching theme of the traveling circus troupe. I enjoyed the unique setting and unique characters and feel that it’s worth playing for story alone, even without the other gameplay elements which make the series so unique and engaging (such as generating monsters from discs, etc).

Characters: 10/10 As mentioned a few times above, this is a very story and character driven RPG which focuses a lot on NPC interaction and really makes you care about the cast of unique and unusual characters. The characters are also all drawn in a very cute, colorful, and bold style. The monsters themselves have also always been “characters” within these games with many species making a return, and a few new arrivals as well. Having more of a focus on story in Monster Rancher EVO really lets the trainers and NPC cast members shine just as much, if not even more than, all of the cute monsters in the game.

Graphics: 10/10 I fricken love the graphics in this game. They mix in Cell-Shaded 3D graphics with 2D anime cutscenes to give it a very colorful anime feeling. There’s also character portraits that are nearly full body when talking to NPCs which have a bright vibrant style. The monsters are always cute in these games. While EVO and MR4 both feature slightly more “realistic” designs, and less “cartoony” artwork for the characters – all of the human trainers in EVO are very “cartoony” or “anime” feeling. EVO upgrades all of the textures, environments, and character designs SIGNIFICANTLY even from Monster Rancher 4. It’s hard to believe both of these games are on Playstation 2, because EVO looks so much better than Monster Rancher 4 that it looks almost like it should be a PS3 game. Everything about this game is super colorful, stylized, and unique helping it to create a lasting impression.

Music: 8/10 The music, while bright and innocent sounding, and rather simplistic or even childish in a way, fits perfectly with the circus theme. The music is just another testament to how the theme of the circus was carried out into every single aspect of this game. It fits with the cute vibrant nature of the Monster Rancher series, and helps to further immerse into the game world.

Replay Value 7/10: While this is a linear game, and while there are other Monster Rancher, or even other Monster Taming games in general, this one definitely keeps you coming back – In fact, you may find yourself putting in 100+ hours or more just trying different CDs and combining your monsters before you even complete the story mode. It offers a ton of things to do and is very fun – but ultimately since it is a linear game with very repetitive gameplay and sometimes unforgiving difficulty and minigame mechanics, I’d say there are some people who would probably prefer to play other installments in the series or move on to other similar games.

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You Might Like: As mentioned in my introduction, there are 2 mobile games which you may enjoy if you like Monster Rancher. These are Monster Rancher by Mobage, and Monster Nursery. Check out the links below to get these free games.

Monster Nursery for IOS

Monster Nursery for Android

Monster Rancher by Mobage for IOS

Monster Rancher by Mobage for Android

Edit: apparently Mobage has closed the US version of Monster Rancher. However, if Monster Nursery above is still not enough to satisfy your Monster Taming goals, I did find Neo Monsters – but it is a paid app. (99 cents) and looks closer to Pokemon than Monster Rancher – You can grab it here: Neo Monsters on IOS.

 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Monster Rancher Universe. These are great games, and if you like one, chances are you’ll like the others.

Also I recommend Dragon Seeds on PS1, Digimon, and Pokemon. I also presume that you’d like Yokai Watch although I’ve not played it myself yet :). Lastly, check out the Petz games, especially dogz and catz 3, 4, and 5 for the PC.

Monster Rancher EVO | Monster Rancher 5 | PS 2 | Monster Taming | Retro RPG | Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Princess Maker 2 Review | Retro PC Game | Simulation Game | Life Sim | Anime Game

IMPORTANT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN NOW LEGALLY BUY AND PLAY THIS GAME ON STEAM. RE-Released with new art work as “Princess Maker 2 Refine” You can grab the game, and learn more about the release on my news article here: Princess Maker 2 Refine Now Available in English on Steam for the PC.

Princess Maker 2 is part of the Princess Maker Franchise – Note – none of these games were ever released in English. Princess Maker 2’s translation was mostly complete – 99.99999% when their licensing agreement fell through and also the game met tough criticism (by American media and press outlets) from people that viewed it as too pedophiliac in nature despite there being absolutely no sex scenes in this game. The (western) world was just not ready for Princess Maker 2 (and may never be ready either).

There are many websites which offer Princess Maker 2 (in English) as “abandonware” however; it is the wish of the creators and those involved in the (failed) localization that you never download or play this game (you can google about that too, there’s copies of letters from people involved in the project all over the internet, in which they remind us that this is NOT abandonware and to not “pirate” the game. — So Take that as you will. It’s a little bit different from a “Fan Translation” in which you can still support the creators by buying the original game and “patching” it with the english translation – in order to play Princess Maker 2 (in a language you can understand), you’re going to have to pirate it – I’m not putting a link here, I’m not condoning it, I’m not promoting it – I’m just telling you, it’s out there, if you search for it and if you care to play it. And that that is the only way to play this game in a language that you can read and understand.

There are many similar, but ultimately inferior, games which have been developed by English speaking fans, drawing inspiration from the Princess Maker franchise. These games include but are not limited to Cutie Knight Deluxe, Prince Maker, Long Live the Queen, and Spirited Heart Deluxe. I recommend checking them out, they’re still great games, but I found myself constantly comparing them to Princess Maker, and found them to be inferior to it in every way (art, story, number of activities, number of endings, variety of things to do, etc.) – That is not to say they are bad games – I own them all and love them – but they are no Princess Maker.

Anyways, Princess Maker 2 is a great game – as are all the other games in the series which I have supported and purchased despite not being able to understand them. There’s even a (relatively) new mobile game – in Korean language which I play on Bluestacks (an android simulator). As far as I know there’s no plans to bring those games to an English audience any time soon. The same people who fan translated Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here by the way) – had indicated interest in Princess Maker 4 or 5 translation – however, to my knowledge that translation has not even begun yet. Many other translations have begun, but never gotten further than intro or menu translations for any of these games. I sincerely hope, maybe someone in the fan translation community might visit my little blog one day and see that there is a “need” to translate these games which have no hope of ever being commercially released outside of Asian territories.

With all of that out of the way, here’s my review of Princess Maker 2:

Title: Princess Maker 2

Publisher: Gainax

Genre: Life Sim / Raising Sim / Dating Sim / RPG

Release Date: 1993 Japan Only

Platform: (all different kinds, but the one I’m reviewing is the PC version) (It was also on Sega Saturn, PS2, and more consoles)

Geeky: 1 star 

Sweetie: 5 hearts 

Overall: 77/100 77% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 You raise a daughter from the age of 8 to 18. You see her grow and change as you manage her schedule in different ways, and you also battle in turn based rpg fights and dungeon crawling elements (I think that feature is unique to Princess Maker 2 – I know some of the other games don’t include the battling / dungeoneering elements.) You lead her to her destiny in dozens of different endings. Her sprite will change to reflect her mood, her condition, and her age as time goes on.

Gameplay: 10/10 You set your girl’s schedule choosing different tasks for her such as cooking, magical battle, dancing, etiquette, visiting the palace, reading, etc, etc. There’s probably about 20 different options to choose from. You can also choose to give her a break by giving her some allowance to go shopping in town, or splurging and taking her on a vacation. She’ll randomly encounter different people, sometimes they will attack her, other times sell or give her items, or sometimes just chat with her all of which may effect her stats. You can also choose to explore dungeons for treasure, items, and more which greatly alter her stats. There’s also a dressup element to the game and what you have her wear also effects her stats. All of these stats and her relationships with all of the other characters are taken into account when deciding what ending you will receive.

Storyline: 7/10 You are a war hero who defeats a demon – the gods are so thankful to you that they grant your lifelong wish for a family – you are all alone, and unmarried. Now you become a single father to a very young cute girl who needs your guidance. The plot is up to you! Will she become a powerful fierce wizard, a war general just like daddy, or a princess in the palace, or maybe she’ll even fall in love with you and become your wife! (which is why the game was so opposed in America lol – dunno why they couldn’t just remove that one ending and release the game still – but whatever, I’m not in the game industry so I dunno all the details, just what I’ve read online. Seems like such a waste to have completed all that work and spent money localizing this game and then cave to media pressure and pull the plug at the 11th hour.) It’s a very loose gloss-over type of plot, that doesn’t get very deep while playing the game, but that branches into dozens and dozens of endings and hidden scenes and lets you chart out your own destiny.

Characters: 6/10 – Most of the characters are not really well fleshed out – It’s not about them it’s about your daughter! You have a cute “demon” butler that assists you (or maybe I’m thinking of one of the other princess maker games) anyways he’s cute and provides some comic relief, but ultimately their character development is pretty low. The other characters you meet, like the guards and prince, and king, etc never really feel very well developed either. — Despite not really having any character development, somehow, it is still an awesome game, you “write” your own story, and decide who your “princess” is. It gives you great freedom of choice on unprecedented levels.

Graphics: 4/10 – They’re “cute” but the graphics in the later installments of this game, are not only “higher quality” but a hell of a lot more “attractive” either “kawaii” (cute) or “sexy” etc. — The characters and graphics in this game, are by no means “ugly” – but their age is definitely showing! There’s also lack of animation of the (large “portrait”) sprites. The smaller sprites you see in training are detailed and animated. There are numerous kawaii cut scenes to unlock with more detailed artwork – but even that artwork is rather pixelated and not as vivid as many other games in this genre. I can’t really give this a high score in artwork. Even the background environments are drab looking. There are other games from the 90s which look way better than this, so it’s not just that it’s “old” either.

Music: 4/10 Uhm, the music was not that great. I think it was just due to the limits of the technology at the time of release. It also was not very memorable.

Customization: 10/10 – Your girl’s figure will change as she grows, she may become athletic looking, frail, fat, strong, etc. She will wear different clothes, even her breasts will change in size, and of course each year she will change and grow more and more. It’s awesome for dressup game fans. Highly recommend.

Kawaii Factor: 10/10 – despite the outdated graphics, there’s some seriously cute moments between you and your daughter. And despite being pixelated she’s still adorable. Actually she reminded me of myself. lol. I have long brown super thick naturally curly hair – so if there ever was an anime character that looked like me, it’d be her haha which helped me to “identify” and “immerse” into the game lol. She grows and evolves into a supposedly beautiful woman – but the art style kinda misses the mark there for me – but still – adorable adorable little game.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Multitude of random events, dozens of ways to plan your schedule, people to talk to, dungeons to explore, and dozens of endings to unlock (I think it has 20 or 30 different endings) — So yes, you will want to keep replaying this game to achieve 100%.

Overall: 77/100 77% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Princess Maker 2 Review | Retro PC Game | Simulation Game | Life Sim | Anime Game was originally published on