eSports and iGaming – A Match Made in Heaven

For the past quarter of a century or so, the concept of eSports has grown from humble beginnings to become the world’s latest major sports phenomenon. When you look at the size of the industry today, it’s hard to believe that the earliest large-scale competitive gaming event took place less than thirty years ago.

Back then, competitive gaming events were few and far between, but they still managed to attract thousands of participants to sprawling event spaces in order to pit their high scores against one another on iconic arcade games like Space Invaders and Donkey Kong. Around that same time, Walter Day was busy setting up Twin Galaxies, an organisation that promoted competitive gaming and worked in conjunction with the Guinness Book of World Records to keep tabs on the very best players from around the globe and, of course, their high scores. In turn, this lend to the creation of American TV show Starcade, on which contestants would try to beat each other’s records on a particular arcade game, plus we even started to see eSports segments used a plot device in major motion pictures like Tron.

Looking back, it really was a taster of things to come and set a foundation for further evolution throughout the 1990s, when home video game consoles started to replace arcade halls as the prime choice of gaming entertainment. Then, around the turn of the millennium, the internet changed everything.

The Rise of the Internet… and iGaming

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online-poker-ranking-reliable” (CC BY 2.0) by Chingster23

Advances in technology, particularly broadband, meant that more people could enjoy faster and more convenient internet connections than ever before. And, naturally, with this newfound power at its disposal, the world started gaming on a whole new scale.

It wasn’t long before we saw the birth of iGaming, a brand new industry that sought to emulate the thrill of the casino floor for a growing online audience. By 2010, the entire iGaming market was worth approximately $22 billion and had diversified to include a wide range of casino games and a multitude of online sports bookmakers. Both new and established iGaming businesses alike found themselves in constant competition for their own slice of their market, seeking new ways to engage players and differentiate their service from the rest of the pack – which now includes offering betting options on eSports events.

But that’s not all. Industry competition has led to remarkable innovations in a relatively short time, with perhaps the latest being the integration of live streaming technology. Operators like 32Red live casino have set a template by investing heavily in their provision of high-quality video streams, whereby players can log in to their account and watch a live link to a real table with a real dealer.

Compared with standard, computer-generated gameplay, you have to say the 32Red approach offers a much more engaging experience for the casual gamer, which is why newer sites such as 188Bet and Jackpot 247 have quickly followed suit and developed their own suite of live dealer games. For all brands, it’s becoming less of an option and more of a necessity to stay at the forefront of the industry.

Live Streaming for eSports

dota 2 international championships, esports, igaming, gambling, casino, casinos, online casino, online gambling, betting on esports, online gaming, gaming championships, gaming tournaments, professional gamers, professional gaming, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike, Arcades, Console Gaming, Retro Gaming, Igaming, I Gaming, Live Streaming, Live Stream, Live Streams
esports” (CC BY 2.0) by sam_churchill

The same concept of live streaming technology, which was originally focussed on online poker rooms, blackjack and other casino games, is now being applied to eSports events. This allows fans to log in, place a bet and gain access to a live stream of the event itself to watch the action unfold as it happens. In fact, this is often the most stable and secure way of actually being able to watch a live eSports event.

But what games are actually available to bet on? As with iGaming, the range of the eSports industry has continued to expand at a rapid pace in recent years, and we’re at the point now where almost all multiplayer gaming tastes are catered for. From sports titles like Madden and Fifa to battle arena games like World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike, more and more recognized tournaments are emerging that allow players to compete against one another for big money prizes. Last year’s Dota International Championship, for example, offered a total prize pool of $20 million, which should give a better feel for the type of scale we’re dealing with here.

For the players, competing at the highest level involves meticulous training, precise timing, and skillful execution under pressure. For die-hard fans, the fact that the evolution of iGaming services has led many bookmakers to host a dedicated eSports section on their website certainly adds an extra layer of appeal. The ability to place an occasional bet on the outcome of important tournaments and individual matches as they take place offers a much more engaging experience for eSports fans.

And, given the rate at which the eSports industry is expanding, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if more iGaming operators started to sit up and take notice of the opportunity to cover this lucrative new realm, sooner rather than later.

eSports and iGaming – A Match Made in Heaven was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Rhapsody a Musical Adventure Retro Videogame Review

Rhapsody a Musical Adventure is an anime musical strategy JRPG first appearing on PS1 and Later on the Nintendo DS. This review focuses on the PS1 version.

Preface: Okay, while researching some stuff (such as release date, etc) for this review, I discovered there was a sequel, and now I am sad AF because the sequel never left Japan….. Major Heartbreak!

WARNING THIS LINK ABOUT THE SEQUEL HAS HUGE SPOILERS ABOUT BOTH GAMES!!!! READ AT OWN RISK!!! 

The original is one of my all time favorite games. I love all the songs, the heart warming, touching story, the cute characters, adorable graphics, simple grid based turn-based Strategy JRPG gameplay, and use of the puppets in battle.

I greatly prefer the version by Atlus on the PS1, much more than the version by NIS on the DS, because Atlus dubbed all of the songs in English, while NIS only left them in Japanese. If I remember correctly, the version by Atlus let you choose to play them in the original Japanese as well. If it’s a musical, it’s more fun in English, so we can sing along, am I right? 🙂 I still can remember the words/melody to a lot of the songs even though it has been years since my first or subsequent play throughs. NIS also changed the gameplay from a grid based system to a straight forward turn-based traditional JRPG style of combat.

For the purpose of this review, since I prefer the original, and the two games are significantly different in terms of gameplay, this review only covers the PS1 game by Atlus. Now onto the review…

Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

Alternate Titles (Also Known As): Marl Kingdom, Little Princess Marl, or Marl Okoku no Ningyo Hime in Japan. Also referred to as The Adventure of Puppet Princess.

Genre: Strategy RPG

Publisher: Atlus

Platform: PSOne

Release Date: 2000

Where to Buy: If you want new, factory sealed, you’re looking at $250. Luckily, many used copies exist for under $35. You can check the current price and purchase Rhapsody for the PS1 here.

You can also find the Nintendo version here. Though if at all possible, I’d really urge you to play the PS1 version, it’s just so much infinitely better.

Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 – Dated as this game may be, its bright colorful graphics are still quite pretty. The combat is nothing spectacular and it is linear and simple. The big “geek” points go to the fact that the game is literally a musical. The characters break out into song and dance and the soundtrack very much tells us the story. There are well over a dozen or more vocal tracks and all of the characters are fully voiced. Interestingly enough, wikipedia tells me that it was almost entirely a one girl show, what a talented voice actress! She gave voice/song to all except for 3 or 4 of the characters.

Sweetie: 5/5 – the graphic style is so cute and colorful, the characters are very full of emotion and there is a ton of humor, as well as romance, and a message about the meaning of family, and morals, and just… everything. Also strong female leads, which was pretty rare “back in the day”. This game is a must play for all girls.

Overview: 10/10 – There is simply nothing else in the world like this game. It’s an anime musical JRPG. It has adorable graphics, touching, amusing, and likable characters, and is brimming with “feels and emotions”. From a technical standpoint, there’s really nothing ground breaking here. It is very typical of gameplay in most other Strategy JRPGs of its time. But the music and characters set this game apart and make it an extremely unique experience.

Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not the reason you play this game. This game is very easy and simple. The main character takes a back seat, supporting her army of puppets who move around a grid and use various items, attacks, and abilities to thwart their foes. It’s a linear game that takes you from point A to point B, pretty monotonously and mindlessly. This game is carried by the music, voice acting, memorable characters, and touching story. There are different costumes you can find and different puppets you can add to your team, but other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward experience if you’ve ever played any other Strategy JRPGs before.

Story: 10/10 – Cornet is a kindhearted girl who has a magical gift in that she is able to communicate with dolls and puppets. One such doll is Cornet’s faithful sidekick, Kururu. Kururu has guided the young Cornet all her life. Cornet is often lonely as her mother passed away at an early age. However, despite her loneliness, Cornet remains cheerful, kind, and helpful to all of the villagers in part thanks to her puppet friends. She is regarded as a simple and sweet girl, and many of the villagers take pity on her for not having a mother.

Although she is just a common girl, Cornet has fallen in love with the Prince. Unrealistic as her love may be, Cornet has always believed in “dreaming big” and her innocent outlook on life leads her to hope that anything is possible.

Cornet isn’t the only one with eyes for the prince however. A beautiful witch appears in the kingdom one day with her sights set on the prince. When the prince refuses her advances, the witch casts a spell on him turning him to stone.

Thus begins Cornet’s series of quests to reverse the witch’s curse. The witch has many henchmen and lackeys who try to interfere in Cornet’s plans.

As she travels, Cornet will make new friends and enemies, both human and puppet alike. Also she will learn more about herself, her mother, and her unique gifts and talents.

Characters: 10/10 Cornet is the star of our show, a simple, pure hearted girl who can talk to puppets. She lost her mother when she was very young and has mostly been raised by a strange talking puppet named Kururu.

Prince Ferdinand is the prince who early in our story is turned to stone. Cornet and Marjolly are both in love with the Prince.

Marjolly is a wicked but beautiful witch who vengefully curses the prince when he refuses her romantically. Marjolly is also not very skilled at magic, and somewhat of a “bumbling idiot”. Her spells often have very unintended consequences and/or back fire. She is often less “evil” feeling and more of a “comedic relief” despite being the main villain in the game.

Kururu is a “living doll” who has always watched out for and guided Cornet. The two are extremely close. And there is a secret that Cornet does not know about her puppet friend.

Etoile is a wealthy and beautiful, but ill tempered and spoiled girl who is close to Cornet’s age. Although she is “better than” Cornet in almost every way, she still feels jealous and inferior and threatened by Cornet. The two have an interesting love/hate relationship, frenemies if you will.

There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.

Graphics: 7/10 – Although dated severely, the graphics remain bright and colorful and still attractive, even 17 years after its initial US release. Also in a time when retro gaming is very popular, and pixel art is “in” – what was once old, is now hot again. An interesting thing to note, although there are many, many cutscenes, these are done with the same sprites and pixel graphics as the rest of the game, unlike other anime games of that time such as Persona and Lunar which use a more hand-drawn or anime style for their cutscenes. This in one way helps keep things cohesive and flowing well from one moment to the next, however, it does result in less detailed cutscenes. The sprites are still adorable and animated and capable of conveying a lot of emotion despite the simple sprites. I would love to see a new release with anime cutscenes (like Lunar and Persona) and/or celshading used throughout the game and cutscenes (such as with Catherine).

Music: 10/10 – Easily 10/10 – one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time because of the huge number of vocal tracks and how they tie in so closely to the story – in fact, they ARE the story. Many of them are insanely, like seriously insanely catchy!!! I love the songs in this game!!

Voice Acting – 10/10 – They sing and act, and as I mentioned, one girl gives voice to about 6 of the main characters – very talented!  If you hate dubs (which trust me, I usually do too!) you can also play with the Japanese audio. 🙂 But then you can’t sing along, or as easily get the song stuck in your head the next day lol.

Replay Value: 3/10 – It’s linear, and simple, and the only reason you will want to replay is to re-read the heartwarming story, and hear that awesome soundtrack again. I’ve replayed this at least 3 or 4 times now and love it every single time – but objectively, yeah there’s really nothing here story or gameplay wise for increased replay value.

Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Rhapsody a Musical Adventure Retro Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Casino Simulation Games Let You Build and Manage Your Own Casino

Do you enjoy city-building style games? These games focus on time and resource management to let you simulate the excitement of a real casino. Not only do these games allow you to design the floor plan and upgrade and install new poker tables, roulette wheels, or slot machines, they also may allow you to add a gift shop, restaurant, bar, or other establishment making the game much more in depth than just determining the payout rates for your casino games. Some games even allow you to hire and train your own casino staff such as blackjack dealers, entertainers, janitors, or bouncers. Many people enjoy playing at online casinos for real money, but when you can’t afford to pay to play, these casino management games let you get your gambling fix. These games can also be a great way to learn some new casino tips and strategies to help you win big the next time that real money is on the table.

Here is a quick list of some of the most popular Casino Simulation Games.

Casino Inc. – http://store.steampowered.com/app/361320/ Casino Inc allows you to relive the 1970s in a gangster/mafia ran casino. It blends both mafia style gameplay letting you attack or sabotage your rivals along with featuring casino management mechanics such as mentioned above by letting you design floor plans, place gaming tables and machines, and hire casino staff. Read More about Casino Inc.

Casino RPG – This game combines role-playing, tycoon, city-building and your favorite casino games in an open-world free-to-play MMORPG. You can play this one right in your browser without any downloads. Check it out here.

Casino Chaos – You can get a free demo of the game here or purchase the full version. Each level lets you manage a different casino. The gameplay is simple but addictive. You purchase various upgrades for your casinos and then guide people to help them find their favorite casino games.

Sim City – Many versions of Sim City allow you to build casinos to attract tourists to your town. These casinos feature different themes such as Sci-fi, Roman, or Elegant themes. Each theme will bring in different types of tourists. You can compliment your casinos by building them next to other tourist destinations such as theme parks. You need to be prepared for the incoming visitors by first building ample mass transit and airports as well as hiring some extra police to fight the increasing crime rates that will result by adding the Casino to your cities. Read more about building Casinos in Sim City.

Sims 4 – Many users have created custom content for the Sims 4 which includes special Casino themed items. Check out our list of Sims 4 Casino Themed items here.

Sims 3 – The Lucky Simolean is a special casino that can be purchased in the Sims store to be added to your Sims 3 game. This will allow your sims to play blackjack or slot machines. It is also included in the gold edition of Lucky Palms or can be purchased separately.

Sims 2 – The DS version of Sims 2 allows you to build “Snake-Eyes Casino” in one of the hotel rooms. Inside the casino, there is a Slot Machine which costs 1 simoleon per go, and reaps small rewards. On one side of the casino, there is a table with a dealer behind some Keelhaulin’ cards which can be played. If the player wins Keelhaulin’, there is a moderate to large cash reward. However, if you lose there is no penalty or loss so it’s worth having a go. There’s also another Minigame which will unlock if you play on December 14th of any year in game time. Read more about these games here.

Casino Simulation Games Let You Build and Manage Your Own Casino was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Casino Inc – Casino Management Simulation Game – PC Game Review

Have you ever wanted to be a mob boss and run your own casino? Maybe you want to hire hitmen to chase after people who don’t pay their debts when they bet on sports such as tennis betting. Or maybe you want to be well known for having the absolutely best entertainment and nightlife attractions such as Elvis impersonators, dancers, magicians, or succulent food and drink. Or maybe you just want to drain wallets dry at your slot machines and blackjack tables. Casino Inc lets you be the mob boss and call the shots in your very own casino.

Casino Inc is 50% off right now on Steam, making it just $3.59. Please note that this game is extremely old, the source code has been lost, and the company claims they cannot fix known issues such as crashing in Windows 10. With that out of the way; however, Casino Inc remains one of the only “Casino Simulation” games on the market, and for that reason alone, it’s worth checking out, especially if you love “sim city style” game play.  I bet if you have ever played other “Tycoon” style games such as “Theme Hospital” or “Rollercoaster Tycoon” then you’ll also love Casino Inc. If you happen to fall under one of the people who can’t get this game to work for them, then I would recommend also checking out Casino RPG which requires no download or plugin and works right in your browser.

Betting is only one of many activities that are available for your casino visitors to engage in. And you’ll need to do much more than simply lay out some game machines and wait for visitors to come by. You can hire all sorts of personnel to staff your casino such as security guards, hitmen, bartenders, hosts, and dealers. You can upgrade your facilities including adding rooms to your hotel to host more visitors, or upgrading the food and drinks by adding new bars, etc. Your hitmen can be sent to rival gangs and rival casinos to sabotage the competition. All in a day’s work for a casino mob boss. All of this will dramatically impact the profits and expenses of your casinos so you will need to adjust the bet and wager limits of each machine or gaming table or increase prices at your hotels or bars.

The game not only allows you to manage a casino, but to take control of an entire city, a city which thrives on tourism. There are many different types of visitors that your city will attracts from professional gamblers who are high rollers at your card tables, to young teens who like flashy arcade style games. You design the entire floor plan of your casinos, allocating space as you see fit, but you must try to balance the needs and wants of all the various different visitors by offering something for everyone who stops by. You also can help literally “drive” business to your casino by adding limos and shuttle services.

The user interface is very helpful in allowing you to see exactly which of your attractions are most popular and you can set minimum and maximum bet limits on your games and determine the jackpot and payout frequencies. High rollers will make larger bets, while vacationers and teens will prefer to bet smaller amounts on different types of games. Learning what each of your visitors prefers is the key to running a successful casino city.

The game also now includes the expansion pack, Casino Inc Management, which includes additional new casinos, cities, attractions, and employees to add to your city. With so many unique features and the ability to fine tune each of your attractions, the Casino Inc and Casino Inc Management games are still the best available casino simulation games on the market today.

Casino Inc – Casino Management Simulation Game – PC Game Review was originally published on

Humble Bundle Birthday Sale = Free or Heavily Discounted Games for You!

Humble Bundle just kicked off their annual birthday celebration which will run for the next 11 days featuring hundreds of discounted digital PC games from both AAA studios and indie developers. Some of the savings are up to 75 or even 90% off. In fact, they’re even giving you a free game just for visiting the website and registering or logging into your account.

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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

Stormfall Age of War Strategy Game Review

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Title: Stormfall Age of War

Genre: Strategy Game

Developer: Plarium

Platform: You can play it directly in your computer browser. Or they also have a mobile app for both android and IOS when you are on the go.

Where to Get the Game: It’s free to play and you can find the apps or browser version at the official website. Link at top of this post.

Overall: 84/100 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Geeky: 5/5 The ability to lead huge troops and the skill tree and city building aspects make this game high on the geek list.

Sweetie: 3/5 It’s a “pretty” game, but there’s not much “cute” – there’s also not much customization as far as appearances go. The story although funny, is mostly just there to move you through the quests and progress through the game, and not there to give you a sense of who’s who, why your kingdoms are at war, or about the lore or setting in the game world.

Concept: 9/10 Stormfall is a smart, sarcastic, witty, funny browser game which offers a large variety of quests, areas to explore, massive scale combat, ability to customize which research you take on, an awesome musical score and beautiful lush graphics with voice acting by a smart-alec narrator. While it does little to innovate the strategy genre, it is still a fun game for anyone who loves these city building types of games, and the high production values will keep you entertained, while daily quests and lots of things to see, do, build, and explore will have you replaying this game often.

Gameplay: 10/10 Like most strategy games, there is a city building aspect which the game introduces early on. You build farms to feed your troops, iron mines to get materials to arm your troops, and earn taxes to help fund your troops. You build libraries to research magic, and other structures to help build new types of weapons, armor, and unlock new units to add to your armies.

There’s also a skill tree element called the “Art of War” where you can customize which talents you learn, learning them in different order will branch off to letting you learn different skills, such as fortification, bows, thieves, trading, smuggling, etc. This is where a lot of the initial strategy comes into play.

The tutorial really helps new players jump right into the game and learn the mechanics. The narrator keeps the game entertaining and gives it a fresh perspective. From research, to city building, to intrigue, alliances, and battles, this game offers many options to let you take charge of your kingdoms.

The user interface is clean and intuitive, and combat feels dynamic but yet not overly complex or frustrating. The game has a good sense of balance between building and researching and battling to progress your kingdom.

Story: 7/10 – This game cracks me up – it is so funny LOL. You’ll see the humor right away within the first few seconds of the tutorial. The humor is accented by great voice acting! I’ve never seen a strategy game take such a sarcastic approach. It’s very refreshing! It makes it stand out in a sea of similar mobile games. It makes it unique and memorable and keeps me playing for longer. Beyond the humor though it seems like not much is revealed about the world, characters, lore, history, or setting of the game.

Characters: 3/10 The only character that’s given much personality is the narrator. I kinda feel this is a missed opportunity, as your advisers could have been given much more personality, and dialog even if it was only written and not voiced. I also think the game is missing a gameplay element by not letting you “recruit” advisers or having some bonuses/enhancements for different advisers, or aging/dying/marrying/mentoring etc of advisers, like many other games in this genre offer.

Graphics: 10/10 – The game is brought to live with beautiful detailed 3D environments and rich fantasy artwork and animation.

Music: 10/10 – For a little mobile/browser game, this game has some seriously wonderful music. It reminds me a lot of the music from Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Very pretty and the same “fantasy” vibe. It’s very dramatic music. There’s a good variety too, from very intense drum solos, to calming harp-like music.

Voice Acting: 7/10 – I’m surprised there’s voice acting throughout much of the game, and it’s actually pretty good. I like the tone, humor (at times), and deliverance throughout. However, very few of the key characters in the game are voiced and voice is given primarily through a narrator.

Community: 10/10 – Whether it’s chatting in game, forming alliances, recruiting your friends, joining a league, trading at the market, or using the official forums this game has a great sense of community that offers a break from the routine tasks of managing your kingdom.

Replay Value: 10/10 The daily quests, and sheer amount of things to build, do, and learn about this game make it worth logging in daily to work on your kingdom.

Overall: 84/100 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Stormfall Age of War Strategy Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Will You Miss The Skinship Feature in Fire Emblem Fates?

By now you’ve already heard that Fire Emblem Fates is getting censored for it’s American release due to suggestive themes such as Gay Conversion, Rape, and Heavy Petting. The Petting feature is the latest in a long list of features and scenes to be removed for a Western release later next month. Nintendo of America stands by their decision to cut such items, stating that it was necessary to do so for localization.

Regardless on where you stand on this issue, my question is, will this significantly impact your decision to purchase this game? The fan translation begun nearly a year ago and from what I understand, the translation is complete and available (with a little effort and searching and digging) for those who seek to play the game as the creators intended, without censorship. How you go about getting said fan translation – I will leave that to your imagination. You could for example, support the game creators by buying the original Japanese language Nintendo cartridge for your 3DS and patching it with the translation — or you could use less ethical means which I won’t discuss here, and never indicated that I support. – It’s not just as simple as buying the English version and applying the patch to that version to restore the lost content, as the patch will only work on the Japanese version. However, if you choose to import the Japanese version you may be locked out of DLC content available only in the Eshop.

So you’re missing out either way. In the end, if you really like the franchise and wish to support Nintendo you could even buy both versions of the game. But ultimately, for most western gamers, the changes are small enough that they likely won’t be missed. Still for a small but vocal group of core fans, or Otaku (anime obsessed fans – such as myself) these changes are enough to be upset over. Many Otaku buy Fire Emblem solely because of the relationship aspects which differentiate the series from the slew of other strategy games available. By censoring and “Westernizing” the series, Nintendo runs the risk of deterring the fans who would want to buy such a game in the first place. Perhaps they are not satisfied with such a small market share and strategically removing the content to make it “less” Japanese and more appealing to “mainstream” gamers.

While I will miss the Skinship, I will probably still buy the western release. I don’t feel it’s enough of a significant change to boycott the series or Nintendo over. I am disappointed by Nintendo’s decision and wonder if anything will be added in replace of the Petting minigame, such as perhaps talking to, or giving gifts to your comrades, etc, as the Petting game offered bonuses and made a significant difference in the upcoming battles. It will be a shame to lose those stat bonuses just because of some controversial undertones within the minigame.

Skinship (or Petting as all of the media outlets are calling it) is not a new concept, not if you’re familiar with dating sim games – and Fire Emblem definitely has a strong Dating Sim component tied into each game. Skinship exists in other games in this genre – While the mainstream media outlets are loving to compare it to Pokemon Amie (possibly because it’s one of the only examples of Skinship in a Western Release) – and saying that it would be “creepy” or “odd” to pet a “human” character – this is nothing new for these types of games despite how “weird” or “sexualized” the media is portraying this mini game to be. For example, Tokimeki Memorial also has a Skinship feature, as does Ensemble Stars both are Otome Dating Sim games. Princess Maker 4 also comes to mind as having Skinship. The problem is, none of these games ever got “localized” – perhaps the Skinship feature is partly to blame as America is so up tight about anything with even a hint of sexuality – Meanwhile it’s fine for their kids to play games with blood, gore, violence, or foul language, but if anything is even slightly perverse, it riles up a frenzy in the media.

As other media outlets have pointed out, Nintendo’s entire marketing strategy has been on providing family entertainment for small children. While Fire Emblem is likely to be rated T for Teen, that won’t stop parents from buying it for their young kids anyways. So I do understand just why Nintendo has made so many changes. I may not like it, but I get it, it’s all about business at the end of the day and Nintendo’s business is all about very small children.

I am pretty concerned for what the future will held for SMT X FE #, another Nintendo release in the Fire Emblem franchise. While Atlus is focusing on the localization of that title, it’s even more “Japanese” than Fire Emblem Fates since SMT X FE # deals with the Idol Singing Subculture that proliferates Japanese pop culture. I worry that Nintendo of America may “Strong-arm” Atlus into making changes which will dumb down all the “Otaku Pandering” elements from the final release.

In case you haven’t heard news of these recent changes check out some of the major media outlets covering the story below for more info.

Fire Emblem Fates‘ Changes: The Censorship Is America’s Fault  iDigitalTimes.comJan 31, 2016

Nintendo Speaks on Fire Emblem Fates Censorship Nintendo EnthusiastJan 22, 2016

And then weigh in with a comment below and let us know which version you’ll be buying, or maybe you won’t be buying any of them. Do you feel Nintendo is making a smart business move to capture more audiences, or hurting themselves by isolating current fans of the Fire Emblem franchise?

Will You Miss The Skinship Feature in Fire Emblem Fates? was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft Mobile Game Review Cardgame Like Magic The Gathering

I was a long-time World of Warcraft player. I quit about 4 years ago now, but still have fond memories of the game. Blizzard has a unique sense of humor and charm with their NPC’s and pop culture references sprinkled into their MMO and strong story and character development. Now, those same characters come to life again in the form of a collectible card game.

For fans of the MMORPG, Hearthstone brings back a lot of fun memories of your adventures, and gives you something to do to pass time when you can’t be playing your favorite MMO. For others, who have never played WoW before, fear not as no prior knowledge of the game world is neccessary to enjoy this deck building game.

In fact, if you like other board games and card games, such as Yugioh, Magic the Gathering, or the Pokemon trading card game, you will absolutely love Hearthstone as it lets you build your own decks and collect powerful cards. There’s a lot of strategy involved also in how you play each match against other players in real time making it one of the best trading card games for mobile devices.

Title: Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft

Publisher: Blizzard

Platform: IOS, Android, or PC

Genre: Collectible Card Game / Deck Building Game

Go here to play it on your PC: us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/

Get it on IOS here: https://itunes.apple.com/…

Grab it for Android here: https://play.google.com…

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

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

Gameplay: 10/10 When the game starts you are given a random hero and some random cards. I started my journey as Jaina Proudmore, the mage. You can play either against computerized opponents, or connect online to play against other players such as yourself. You can either play casually or join “ranked” games – I always choose ranked myself, but it’s a matter of preference. If playing a ranked game, you gain and lose points which at the end of the “season” award various loot. Also when playing ranked, you are matched to an opponent who has approximately the same number of wins vs losses as yourself.

Regardless of which format you choose, more wins with your hero will unlock new class specific cards which you can add to your deck up until level 10. After level 10 you no longer earn cards, but instead every 3rd win will score you some gold which can be used to purchase new cards or enter the arena. (more on that in a bit.) Also, regardless of which style of game you choose, the first time you beat an opponent of one of the other 8 classes you will unlock that hero and be able to begin to level them and unlock their class cards as well.

The arena is a special type of match in which you’re presented a choice of 3 different random heroes, and given a pool of random cards from which to build your deck. It works similar to the (optional) deck builder helper when assembling your decks outside of the arena as well. You start by selecting some class specific cards, then low cost cards, high cost cards, and then it will look and for example, if you need more minions or more spells, etc it will present those cards which it deems to be best to help fill out your deck.

After putting together your arena deck, you go head to head with another player and the gameplay is the same as any other game mode method. The twist is that, after losing for three times, you will be kicked from the arena. You do not keep any of the cards in your deck. Instead, as you fight in the arena, each win will significantly increase your prize pool. At the end, when you’ve been defeated 3 times, you get to collect all of your winnings, these may be things like gold, card packs, crafting materials (used to make new cards), etc.

The card game itself plays very similar to Magic the Gathering. You have a mana pool, but unlike MTG, the mana pool in Hearthstone starts at 1 and increases by 1 each turn. Cards cost varying amounts of mana to put into play. There are “minion” cards which are the main card type, they have a score for attack and also a score for life points. When you attack another player’s minions, your minion will lose life points equal to their minion’s attack power, and their minion will lose life points equal to your minion’s attack power.

Some minions have special abilities such as Taunt which prevents you from attacking any other minions or heroes until that minion is destroyed, or Silence which can remove abilities from cards (such as removing Taunt for example), or Windfury which will allow a minion to attack twice per turn, or Charge which will allow a minion to attack on the same turn that it comes into play. Like MTG, minions have “summoning sickness” and cannot attack on the same turn they come into play, unless they have this ability.

In addition to minion cards, there are also spell and ability cards which can be played also for mana which can for example deal damage to minions or heroes, or heal your minions or your hero, or allow you to draw more cards, or grant abilities (like taunt, or +2 attack etc) to a minion.

The last card type that I’ll touch on, is “Secret” cards, they are played and set to the side until the conditional requirements of the card are met. Only the one who plays the card knows what these conditions are, hence the name “secret” as your opponent will unknowingly activate whatever effect the card has. For example a card may say “whenever a minion dies, put two copies of it into your hand” or “Whenever your hero is attacked, heal your hero by 10 instead”.

The game starts both players with 30 life points for their hero character. Each hero also has a special hero power which can be activated by spending mana. You can also equip your hero with equipment cards to raise the hero’s defense or grant it attack power to let it directly attack heroes and minions on the battlefield.

The object of the game is to lower your opponent’s life points to zero.

Graphics: 5/10 – The graphics are just kinda “okay” – It was neat to see my favorite characters like Thrall and Murlocs and so on. But when I compare to other mobile card games, I’m not blown away by the art, the card images are static, and the attack animations are basically the same for each card, except for spell effects. And let’s face it, it’s not very cute or “kawaii”. Overall I’m just not a fan of the WoW art style. And there are much more “pretty” collectible card games out there with dazzling special effects, animated cards, etc.

Music: 10/10 I super love the music in this game. I think it may be directly from WoW, but it’s been years since I played and can’t recall. It has a very “epic” feeling. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of “Lord of the Ring’s” music from the hit films. It just has a very “grand” and “adventurous” tone to it. It’s great!

Voice Acting 8/10 I love that each card has a battle cry when it enters the battle field, and most ARE taken from WoW and I recognized these little one liners right away. They used the same voice cast and it’s great. I deducted a few points simply because the voice acting is not really a significant portion of the game (such as other games like Lunar, or Dandelion etc where there’s hours and hours of voice acting.) The voice acting is a nice touch though and much appreciated.

Story: 0/10 – There is no story in this game, It doesn’t need one, but my scoring system requires I grade on this criteria, so that’s a zero.

Characters 10/10 – Although there is no story, there are still very iconic characters in this game, such as Thrall, Jaina, the Murlocs, Leper Gnomes, etc. If you are a fan of the lore and world crafted around the WoW franchise, then you will love seeing all of your favorite characters in this game. If you aren’t familiar with WoW, the game is still every bit as fun, but you won’t appreciate the characters as it’s very fan-centric in that regard.

Replay Value: 10/10 – It’s a different game each time you play because of the strategy involved. There’s also the desire to keep playing to earn gold to enter the arena or buy new cards. There’s a lot of strategy, into building your decks, if you get bored, you just pick a new hero and make a new deck and everything feels new again. I don’t think it’s possible to get tired of this game lol.

Overall: 60 / 80 75% C “Good Game for Girls” Note, if you discount the fact there’s no story mode in the game, then it becomes 60/70 or 86% or “Very Good Game for Girls” – it would have even made our top 10 list with that score at time of this writing – and that score more accurately reflects just how fun and addictive this game is. However, for my readers, story is the main thing that they expect in a game so I think it’s important to point out this game lacks in that area. Still really fun and highly recommended.

Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft Mobile Game Review Cardgame Like Magic The Gathering was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review

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

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

Title: Growlanser Generations

Publisher: Working Designs

Release Date: 2004

Platform: PS2

Genre: Strategy RPG with Dating Sim Elements

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

Geeky: 3/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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