Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World PC Game Review

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World is a brand new game by Koei Tecmo Games to celebrate 20 years of the series. Wow has it been that long already? I still remember the first 2 games way back when. And you know what else I remember, a little-known Nintnedo DS offshoot game in the Atelier Series called Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island which came out about 10 years ago.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World

So why Am I mentioning Atelier Annie? Because, if you’ve ever played it, then you know what to expect from Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists. Both games are unlike any of the rest of the Atelier Games, and instead put you in a role of managing a city and completing missions to advance.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

Nelke has some really negative reviews – at least on Steam, but I purchased Nelke anyways, on a hunch it’d be like Atelier Annie, and you know what, I’m not disappointed. If you liked Annie, you’ll like Nelke. Conversely, if you hated Annie, you’ll hate Nelke, and if you’ve never played either game, well there’s only one way to find out then, and that’s by giving it a go for yourself.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

The reviews on steam are complaining how different Nelke is — and to some — how boring it is… But honestly Atelier Annie was one of my favorites in the series. I loved the humorous story / humorous main character, and yes, I enjoyed the more “Sim Like” gameplay of building a city.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

Nelke is not without flaws however; Unlike Annie, it lacks the humor and charm, and feels a bit dry and dull so far in the story. I’m 4 hours in at this point… which brings to another flaw, in that 4 hours in, I’m still in the tutorial… This game is very very very linear in the tutorial… Like almost everything will be on lockdown… for a long while… expect your first 8+ hours to be linear AF….

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

After that though there really is a TON of stuff to do in this game. It is NOT boring at all. You can craft items, gather materials, build new buildings, talk to your villagers, discover new recipes, sell items in your shops, and invest in new routes and tools to use in your adventures. There are simplistic turn based combats and different characters to recruit to your village.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

You have to complete some required, and other optional tasks within a set number of days within the game. This can make it difficult and frustrating, so save often and in multiple save slots to try to minimize time lost if you miss a goal.

The game either runs slow on my laptop, or just is really slow by design, to the point where its a little frustrating. It may just be my laptop though and can probably be improved if I adjust some settings.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

The main complaint a lot of people have is that while exploring you do nothing but watch your characters walk by on the screen. They will converse, gather items, and occasionally run into random enemy encounters. The battles are also slow and tedious. I do agree with these basic gameplay flaws. However, they don’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the other aspects of city building and mission completing and watching my city grow and evolve based on my decisions and choices made in where to invest and what to build next, etc.

The graphics are insanely adorable as always with the Atelier series.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Unlike a lot of the other games in the Atelier Universe, this one does not have English voice acting. I do like to have the original voice actors, but I also sometimes like to have an English cast too. I was disappointed they didn’t offer both.

I assume replay value is high because each city you build will be pretty unique and you will attract different stores, different npcs, and different quests based on how your city is developing.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

All and all I’d rate the score card like this:

Title: Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists – Ateliers Of The New World –

Platform – (for this review The PC version was used.) It’s also available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Where to Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FMZZYK1?tag=amz-mkt-chr-us-20&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-org00-win10-other-nomod-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

Geeky: 3/5 – Points for bringing back some of the popular characters from this series over the past 20 years.

Sweetie: 5/5 – For the casual gameplay and kawaii art

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 7/10 – I do love the sim aspects, having been a huge fan of Atelier Annie (easily one of my top 3 games in the Atelier universe). But I do agree that the game is slow and the wait for the payoff/reward is pretty steep. The game also doesn’t run great, can’t tell if it’s just my PC though maybe.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Story: 3/10 – I’m not loving the story, or lack there of. I’m 4 hours in and there’s not much of any story to be found; it does keep hinting at solving a mystery about a fruit from a legendary tree. But compared to other Atelier games the story feels less engaging so far.

Characters: 10/10 – I love seeing popular characters from the Atelier games return all in a brand new game. I also love the new characters that were created just for this game.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Voice Acting: 7/10 – The original Japanese voice cast does a great job and sounds super cute, but where’s the dual English voice acting? A bit disappointing especially for a 20th anniversary edition, you’d think they would have put a little more time and effort into the localization on this one. It feels cheap and rushed to not have both to choose from.

Music: 10/10 – Always love the music in the Atelier games, and Nelke doesn’t disappoint here either.

Replay Value: 8/10 – I think replay value will be very high, but I’m not looking forward to dredging through 5+ hours of linear handheld tutorials each time.

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Overall I would recommend this game to anyone who does not mind slower paced casual simulation games, or to anyone who remembers playing Atelier Annie on the DS. I like Atelier Annie a lil bit more because of the humorous story; but Nelke’s story may pick up and become more interesting. I may come in eventually and update my review scores if I find the story to improve as I get further into the game. Gameplay wise though it is almost identical to Atelier Annie, so if that’s your thing, be sure to check Nelke out.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Advertisements

Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

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

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix PS4 Videogame Review

Title: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix

Platform: PS4 (note this release combines various Kingdom Hearts games originally found on the PS2, GBA, Nintendo DS and 3DS)

Genre: Action Roleplaying Game ARPG

Publisher: Disney + Squarenix

Where to Buy: $49.99 on Amazon (at time of this writing)

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

Geeky: 3/5 The games have fun gameplay, good graphics for the age of the games, and a great soundtrack. However, the Disney segments can be a bit too kiddie for some more serious gamers, and although the entire series is about the juxtaposition of light and dark, the light hearted disney characters can sometimes take away from immersing yourself in the deeper darker story of Sora and his friends.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This game is cuteness overload by combining well loved Square and Disney characters. It also has a surprisingly deep, relatively dark (for a Disney product at least), and mature storyline, which evolves and grows deeper and darker from game to game as characters grow and evolve.

Gameplay: 10/10 Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG. You play as Sora, a young boy who dreams of leaving his home town on a tiny island. When the game begins you are asked to choose a weapon. You may choose between shield, sword, and magic wand. You’re also asked which weapon you will give up. This allows you to customize your fighting style to match your preferences. You’ll also be asked a few questions. These questions do not have any significance on the story, but they do have a large impact on how quickly you will level up throughout the game.

A tutorial will give you a taste for how combat is in each of the games. You can run, jump, push and pull objects, climb, and use your chosen weapons as you chain attacks, dodge, defend, and parry to take down your foes. Enemies will drop small glowing orbs which can offer XP or sometimes restore health or other benefits. You will have to run around and touch the drops, because they do not get added automatically.

After settling into the game, you are allowed to freely explore the island, interact with NPCs, and engage in several minigames, such as fighting or racing with your friends on the island. You will see many familiar faces from both Squaresoft and Disney franchises.

Fairly early in the game, Sora gets his wish of leaving the island, and the rest of the game is played through traveling between different worlds, each representing a key franchise from Disney or Squaresoft. There are numerous battles to fight, areas to explore, sidequests, mini games, and hidden goodies. In fact, to find everything, across all games will take you almost 300 hours (and you’ll be awarded with an extra ending in each game). There’s plenty of content here to sink your teeth into, even for the most seasoned of gamers.

The action based combat is fun and snappy, while the mini games and interaction with a wide variety of characters gives you a break from the hack n slash combat, creating a well balanced game that equally values action as well as adventure.

Story: 8/10 I find it jarring at times how the story jumps between worlds, and I sometimes cringe at some of the Disney characters (and I consider myself a Disney fan! But it can really take away from the story, just when things are getting interesting to flash back to Goofy or Donald, especially with their well known silly voices and all). This can all make the story less immersive. However, at the heart of the story, you have a coming of age tale and a love triangle between 3 best friends. You watch throughout each game as Sora and his friends evolve and grow and change and how their friendships and relationships change as well. The story from each game is directly related from one game to the next. We’ve already watched Sora age by 2 years (and gotten a glimpse at a very young Sora as well). When Kingdom Hearts 1 starts, Sora is 14. By the end of Dream Drop Distance, he is 16. Many speculate he will be 16 or 17 in Kingdom Hearts 3. We witness Sora’s changing emotions as he transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. The main theme song in Kingdom Hearts 1 even hints at this with the lyrics of the chorus stating “Don’t get me wrong, I love you, but does that mean I really have to meet your father? One day when you’re older you’ll understand what I meant when I said No, I don’t think life is quite that simple.” Those lyrics perfectly describe the relationship between Sora and Kairi. An innocent love, a boy who still quite often views love/girls as “gross”, and a boy embarrassed by his emerging feelings of love for Kairi. And we witness not only how friendship can grow to love, but also how platonic friendships can change to rivalries when two boys love the same girl. The depths of both Riku and Sora’s love for Kairi is perhaps the best thing about the story.

I recently picked up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix. I had played the original KH1 and KH2 on Playstation 2 but that was over 12 years ago now. And I had not played the other side games.

Every game in Kingdom Hearts is connected, and contains the same 3 characters, Riku, Kairi, and Sora, and the story gets deeper and more complex as the games go on as more is revealed building upon back stories and prequels and sequels and spin off games. It can be intimidating for someone new to the franchise to pick up the games now with almost 15 years of games to catch up on.

Many people recommend the following order to play the games in to get the most out of the story:

Kingdom Hearts 1 (1.5 remix)
Re: Chain of Memories (1.5 remix)
Kingdom Hearts 2 (2.5 remix)
358/2 Days (1.5 remix)
Birth By Sleep (2.5 remix)
Re:Coded (2.5 remix)
Dream Drop Distance (2.8 remix sold separately)
0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (2.8 remix sold separately)
X Back Cover (2.8 remix sold separately.)
Unchained X (free mobile game, available separately)
Kingdom Hearts 3 (sold separately – coming soon)

So you will need bare minimum to purchase 3 games

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix
Kingdom Hearts 2.8
Kingdom Hearts 3

And optionally download and play Unchained X on your cell phone.

Some of the “games” above are actually “cutscenes” because they could not emulate the nintendo DS “touch screen” on the PS4. So each of these nintendo remakes are movies which reuse old, and add new cutscenes to tell the story.

You can alternatively purchase and play these Nintendo games separately. But you should be fine with just the cutscenes from an understanding the story standpoint.

Characters: 10/10 I really enjoy watching Sora and friends evolve, age, mature, and change over the course of multiple interconnected games. I also really do enjoy seeing favorite characters thrown in from Final Fantasy and Disney. It’s a strange mashup but it works surprisingly well. If you are either a Disney or Squaresoft fan you will love the cast of characters in these games.

Graphics: 7/10 – Taking into consideration the age of the games, I think the graphics are beautiful and memorable. They are vibrant, full of color, detail, and fun. The character designs blend Disney’s whimsy and charm with Squaresofts more stylistic approach. Sora also reminded me of a brunette Cloud wearing Mickey’s big “clown” shoes. The bobble headed appearance of the characters, makes them cute, but it’s almost a bit too juvenile, given that even when we first meet Sora and friends in KH1, they’re already teenagers. I feel like they look like Precious Moments dolls, and about 7-10 years old because of the proportions of their heads to bodies. — Luckily, the artwork does improve in later games.

Take a look below:

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 1 (Does he look 14 to you? Not even close in my opinion).

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2 (He is supposed to be 15 here, looks about right.)

15 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 2

15 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 2

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 3 (Speculated to be 16 or 17 here) (meh this design is alright, I expected to see something like Final Fantasy XV quality here. There are very few details in the hair/face and almost no shading on the clothing, it just looks kinda flat/plastic-y… not what I’d expect from a PS4 title. He does look a tiny bit more mature, slimmer face, etc.)

Music: 10/10 I’m a big Utada Hikaru fan, and I love the opening theme “Simple and Clean” – as I mentioned, I feel the lyrics foreshadow the coming of age story and changes that our little island buddies are about to experience. She also sings “Sanctuary” the opening theme of Kingdom Hearts 2. And it has been confirmed that she will also be involved with the opening for Kingdom Hearts 3. My favorite Utada Hikaru song though will always be “First Love”. The Japanese versions of the tracks are also quite catchy even without knowing the lyrics or understanding Japanese. The background music is also fitting and full of adventure and wonder.

Voice Acting: 6/10 – The voice acting is definitely hit or miss for me. Some characters I think are perfectly cast, and others way off mark. Some give pretty convincing performances, while others are too overdramatic and/or the opposite, lack any feeling or emotion in the deliverance of their lines. The iconic Disney characters also can tend to annoy and detract from the story with their overly cartoonish voices for which they are so well known.

Replay Value: 9/10 Although the games are linear, there are multiple games in this “bundle”, and each game has a secret ending, usually only uncovered for completing all side quests, or playing on the hardest difficulty settings, which will take you around 270 hours total according to How long to Beat. Even if you don’t want to go for the secret endings, you’re still looking at over 130 hours of gameplay just for the main stories of each game. For just $40something, that works out to around 30 cents per hour of entertainment. Therefore your return on investment is quite high in this title, even if you might only play each of the games once.

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

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix PS4 Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review

Title: Curious Expedition

Genre: Adventure Game, Rogue Like

Developer: Maschinen-Mensch

Platform: PC, playable over Steam and also right in your web browser, stand-alone DRM free client coming soon

Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Retail Price: $14.99

Where to Buy: Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/358130/The_Curious_Expedition/ or Direct from the official website at http://curious-expedition.com/

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

Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.

That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.

You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.

There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.

While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)

You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.

Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.

Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.

The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.

Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).

Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.

Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.

Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.

Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.

You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.

If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.

Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.

While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:

Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.

Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.

Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.

Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.

There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:

Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.

While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.

Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.

Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.

Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.

You can activate your combos each round.

For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.

If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.

Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.

Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.

Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.

Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.

Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.

Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.

Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.

Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.

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

Other Games You May Like Include Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC.

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Review:

Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

 

Production: Bejing Enlight Media

Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Concept:

Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.

So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.

Story:

Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.

In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.

Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.

Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.

1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.

2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?

This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Characters

Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.

Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.

Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.

The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.

I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Production Value:

Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.

Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.

Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

5 Best Anime Games of 2016

5 Best Anime Games of 2016

Continuing the long standing tradition of converting shows and comics into video games (or vice versa), 2016 has delivered us a slew of very decent games. Compared to their predecessors, these games have come a long way from the old days when Bandai meant a relatively short and generic gameplay experience.

But enough stalling; you came here for a list of great games, and here it is! Just be sure you’ve got the right console to play on.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

If you’re into fighting games and follow the Naruto universe, this one is definitely for you. Continuing the visually flamboyant style of the previous Ninja Storm games (as well as the absurdly long title conventions), Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 offers a vast selection of characters from the series and a quick way to catch up on the story if you haven’t been following.

As with the last installments, the gameplay takes place in a 3D arena using a fighter style system. The controls are relatively basic, being nearly identical between each of the characters, but with differences more pronounced in character speed and in visual showoffs.

Much like Marvel vs. Capcom titles, you can choose more than one hero at a time and pair their attacks together for varying combinations. Overall, it’s a satisfying title and one you won’t want to miss if you enjoy fighters, Naruto, or both.

Digimon: Cyber Sleuth

We never expected to see another Digimon game, but here it is in all its shining glory. Digimon: Cyber Sleuth is an RPG that features turned based team combat and mixes elements of mystery solving and monster collecting.

While it may not be breaking into any new territory, what seems to really set this Digimon installment apart is the plot. Despite some of the usual oddities in translation, the story is genuinely well put together with lots of laughs and an unexpectedly adult-oriented depiction of moral ambiguity.

Unlike other monster collectors, adding Digimon to your collection is as simple as just battling. There aren’t any involved capture mechanics, so if you’re looking for something a little simpler, this should do the trick.

We recommend this one for anyone that enjoys sitting down to a good old JRPG plot. Just don’t be surprised if you find it a cut above the usual in the story department.

One Piece: Burning Blood

If it seems like a lot of anime games are fighting games, that’s because it’s largely true. One Piece: Burning Blood is no exception to that rule, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Faithful to the show’s plot (particularly in the visuals), the game incorporates mechanics into battle not seen in most arena style fighters.

Perhaps one of the most unique game elements is the introduction of Logia type devil fruit powers and Haki. Characters can access their special abilities with a button press and just like in the show, they’ll gain the benefits (for instance Logia types being immune to regular attacks or being able to physically pass through characters).

Although the controls could stand to be a tad more responsive, the game is gorgeous. And for what it’s worth, the lack of game balance seems to fit the character of the show fairly well, considering how characters such as Nami are compared to Doflamingo. Give this one a try if you’re a One Piece fan.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

After the success of the first Dragon Ball Xenoverse and in company with the ongoing Dragon Ball Super series, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 takes what made the first title good and runs with it by introducing new types of character customization and abilities and just generally looking nicer.

For those who don’t know, Xenoverse incorporates certain elements of MMO-type games, so expect to do a lot of your play online. Maybe consider picking yourself up a Virtual Private Network service if you’re looking to feel a bit more secure, as it can keep your internet connection safe and encrypted.

Otherwise, it’s an interesting mix of fighting game and RPG. Battles consist of arena style fights, but there’s also world exploration, questing, and character development to keep you busy. In the meantime, there’s also a plot going on that focuses on time travel and allows you to relive some of the more memorable moments from the show.

While we don’t expect Xenoverse will have the same staying power as some of the larger MMOs, that isn’t the goal; online play is largely supplemental to the main game and serves more to give you an opportunity to play with other people without the effort of calling friends over to sit down and play.

Pokémon Sun/Moon

We may be cheating a little with this one considering that the Pokémon anime is based on the games and not the other way around, but how could we not mention such a great game!? Pokémon Sun and Moon add to the franchise what so many of us have been hoping for since 3D started to become a part of the franchise: a nicer looking game.

While building on many of the series’ classic elements by adding new Pokémon and moves, Sun/Moon also adds regional variations to already existing Pokémon, such as the Ice/Steel version of Sandshrew or the Grass/Dragon version of Exeggutor.

Online play has also changed quite a bit with the introduction of the Plaza, where you can meet other players and challenge them to battles or ask for trades. In true Nintendo tradition, it’s also a bit slower and less convenient than we’d like, but it’s functional enough for what it tries to do.

Fortunately for new players, the game’s main story continues to be relatively easy, but thankfully Nintendo has also seen fit to add a considerably harder postgame. Did we mention that Pokémon Snap elements have returned? Get ready to snap some photos!

And stay tuned—rumor has it that the third game version of the Sun/Moon series will be released for Nintendo’s new console, the Switch. We’re waiting with anticipation!

About the Author: Faith has a personal interest in all things anime, particularly when it comes together with video games. She’s also an cybersecurity blogger, focusing her writing on helping users and businesses avoid hackers and malware.

5 Best Anime Games of 2016 was originally published on

Final Fantasy XV Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a review around here with the holidays and all. It’s time to fix that. Having just finished FFXV over the weekend, that seems the best candidate for a review this week. I’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy for a long time, ever since “Mystic Quest” on the SNES. Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) is still my favorite in the series. I’ve played every Final Fantasy Game since the 16 bit era. And I’m “strange” I know, but I don’t really like FF7, not as much as everyone else seems to be in love with that game. But Final Fantasy in general always holds a special place in my heart. If I had to rank my favorite FF games that I’ve played from best to worst, it would look something like this when using the corresponding Japanese numbers for each title… With the newest game, Final Fantasy XV somewhere solidly in the middle. Although I’ve played 11 and 14, I didn’t include them in the list since they are a different genre (mmorpg)

  • FF6
  • FF8
  • FF4
  • FF10
  • FF13
  • FF15
  • FF9
  • FF5
  • FF7
  • FF12

Honestly, my most favorite thing about the new FF game was Prompto’s Photography skills lol. My twitter and facebook looked like a giant marketing website for the game for the past few weeks. Pretty smart move by SquareEnix, getting the public to help promote their game like that on social media. The characters are quite likeable in the game, and although the story starts slow, it eventually builds with a lot of emotion. The first half of the game features an open world environment where you can travel, explore, and quest freely, but the last several chapters are much more linear, and it’s within the later half of the game that the story becomes much darker. The emotions are felt stronger due to the first half focusing on friendship between the main character and his friends and the light hearted feeling of the early chapters.

The story however, is not without flaws, and that is where I have to deduct points. People are killed off much too early in the game to feel any sense of loss or attachment to them. Furthermore, some characters are mysteriously killed off without ever showing exactly what happened to them. The character development between the 4 “bros” is the highlight of the game – and it is beautiful. On the other hand, supporting characters are introduced only to be almost forgotten in later chapters. For example, I really liked Iris in the first half of the game. In the end it’s eluded that she too has become a daemon hunter, but it never shows her again nor does she ever rejoin the bros. Aranea is another forgotten female as well.

The game is supposed to be receiving numerous updates in the coming weeks and months. Among which include new story sequences, special dlc for each of the bros, gameplay enhancements for the later chapters (chapter 13), and the ability to create your own player character. But I shall base my review solely based on the content that was available when I played through the game.

Title: Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version, but they are both the same).

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=anisug-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00DBF829C&asins=B00DBF829C&linkId=4b4ea0a807925e2224ffcef07fe80a0e&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

Geeky:  5/5 – The new combat system, high production values and cutting edge graphics make this new entry into the Final Fantasy series a new, but amazingly fun experience.

Sweetie:  4/5 – The story and character development sometimes struggles to keep things coherent and cohesive, especially in the later chapters of the game. Many of the side characters, especially female characters, are tossed aside and forgotten in the second half of the game. Some scenes that should have been tear jerkers fell flat due to not enough time spent developing characters before introducing tragic events. However, lots of non-combat activities, such as photography, fishing, cooking, and chocobo racing are sure to delight most girls playing this game. Not to mention ample amounts of glorious man eyecandy.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Final Fantasy XV is an action RPG with the ability to select Real-time combat or the Active Wait commands which allow you more time to use items and plan your strategy. Early chapters feature an open world with numerous quests, while later chapters shift to a linear narrative focused on building a strong story. Without spoiling it for you, Final Fantasy XV tells a story about a prince trying to rescue his bride to be while avenging his father’s death and reclaiming his kingdom. When the game starts, the prince is a mouthy spoiled brat, who, along with his friends journey to meet the Oracle, who is also the prince’s childhood friend and betrothed. However, shortly after leaving the capital city, their kingdom is attacked which begins a quest to seek the powers of the gods as well as past kings to help defeat evil and bring peace to the lands.

Gameplay: 9/10 – Some people really dislike the new action based combat; however, I find it much more fun, engaging, and fluid than traditional JRPGs (and I love JRPGs don’t get me wrong.). You can chain attacks like crazy, which is really cool, especially later in the game, it’s possible to see triple digits on your chained attacks. You can bring up the menu which in Real-time mode, monsters will still attack, but in Active Wait mode, the monsters will be paused allowing you to select the items you want to use. I had no trouble using items in the Real-time combat modes.  I relied pretty heavily on elixirs and potions, especially in later chapters of the game lol. There are two difficulty settings, and I played on easy and found most of the fights a breeze, even in the dreaded chapter 13 which finds the main character separated from the bros and without any weapons or armor. So I would say the game is of average difficulty probably. I did not need to grind or run into any issues.

Overall the game took me about 55 hours to complete. I spent the first several hours doing side quests, and enjoying the extra content of the game, and about the last 20 hours maybe actually trying to progress through the storyline. FFXV is one of those games that can take you as little as 30 hours or as many as probably 100+ hours depending on what you want to do! I still had plenty of side quests that I could have completed. However, I didn’t feel particularly motivated to do so, too many “fetch quests” – go here, bring back x, or kill x number of monsters, etc. Needed more story based quests. Also money became laughable as a quest reward. I had 99 (the limit it lets you carry) Hi Elixirs, Hi Potions, etc.

Long time fans will be delighted to see the return of chocobo racing (which in my opinion was the best part of FF7 lol). You can also name, customize (with medals and colors), and take your Chocobo on the road with you. Not only that, but as you travel by chocobo, he will level up, gaining more stamina and learning new skills such as being able to help you in combat. In the beginning he may run from a lot of encounters as soon as you dismount, but as he levels up it’s implied he has more affection for you as he will often take initiative to engage in combat and wait for you to mount back up when the fight is finished.

New features in FFXV include Prompto’s photography skills. Prompto will take pics randomly throughout the game. I believe most are randomly generated, but a few are perhaps storyline driven. This is by far my favorite part of FFXV. I filled up all 150 album slots by Chapter 10. You can check out my twitter to see some of my pics. 

The main mini game in Final Fantasy XV is a pachinko game (popular in Japan, these casino games kinda resemble Pinball in a way). You can win trophies and in game items (mostly accessories from what I noticed) by getting high scores in the game. The mini game felt kinda long and tedious in a way to me, too many levels. I made it pretty far, but never did reach the end – if there even is an end to it.

I think there also may be a coliseum fighting tournament thing – I heard NPCs saying “Let’s go out for drinks if we win the tournament” etc. I didn’t fully explore enough to find the arena – so I can’t comment on this feature – if it actually exists.

Fishing is another passtime which you can choose to level up throughout various fishing spots in the game. It is very challenging at first, but if you fish enough your skill increases and you also become accustomed to the controls and it does get easier and more enjoyable as you go on.

There’s also Ignis’ cooking skills. When you make camp you can have Ignis cook a stat-boosting meal for the group. As you travel you will discover new recipes (hint try ordering everything at the taverns you visit, and check shops for recipe books and other key items). Sometimes just foraging for the ingredients out in the wild will be enough to spark Ignis’ inspiration. Characters also have favorite foods that further give an increased boost to their stats when consumed.

Camping can also unlock special scenes between you and the bros. For example, staying at an outpost one night, Prompto approaches the main character to reminisce about their childhood. It’s a very moving scene – one that really does a lot to develop Prompto as a character – and kinda a shame a lot of people may not get to see it.  There’s other scenes too and some include mini games such as cooking with Ignis or racing with Gladiolus.

Traveling in Final Fantasy XV is easier and faster than any other JRPG I’ve ever played. The main mode of transportation is the Regalia, a beautiful black sports car. You can choose to drive yourself, or choose to have Ignis drive automatically for you by selecting quests or map markers kinda mindlessly guiding you through the game. To pass time you can collect and listen to numerous Final Fantasy soundtracks from previous games. You can also shop while driving in your car (or even while it’s parked). At times the radio will have news or other backstory elements you can hear while riding around. Your car will need gas so don’t forget to refill for a measly 10 gil at outposts along the way.

The car is not the only means of transportation though, as mentioned you can take your Chocobo on the road as well. I chose to travel by chocobo throughout much of the game, because I liked the photos Prompto took while on chocoback. Yes, that’s my “fuschia” chocobo in the featured image lol. I later changed him to teal. I named him Cho-Cho. And he was awesome :).

You can also instantly teleport to the last campsite or inn you’ve slept in, or teleport instantly to wherever you parked the car. When traveling by car you can also instantly teleport to any previously visited parking spots. This makes traveling super fast and cuts down on gametime and gameplay that is “boring” in most other JRPG.

With so much to do, Final Fantasy XV gets high marks on gameplay. I only deducted a point for the lackluster nature of most of the side quests which may cause some players such as myself to not want to bother completing them.

Story: 6/10 The bones are in place, but the skeleton needs a little meat on those bones to flesh out the story and characters more. The potential for emotional and gut wrenching scenes is there – and I won’t lie, the end and later chapters did elicit a few tears from me, but I felt a lot more could have been done, especially involving supporting characters who seem to be cast aside in the 2nd half of the game (as mentioned Iris, Aranea, etc). The supposed emotional scenes also would have had more impact had they built more rapport with the characters before killing them off, giving them some more screentime, personality, and showing the bonds between them. I feel they did pretty decently with one of the characters they killed – but I won’t say who so as to not spoil anything. But most of the others it never really explains exactly how they died or why we should even care that they’ve died.

The story starts slow and light hearted, a happy prince on his way to see his bride to be who he has not seen since they were children. Each chapter has setbacks and builds more and more darkness, and misery. Until the final chapters where light no longer exists in the world, very symbolic of the story itself. The final chapters reveal the true nature of the daemons that have been plaguing the lands as well as the role of a wayward god. The middle of the story focuses on seeking favor from the gods and ancient kings to help defeat the evil across the land. The end is left open-ended in a sense that it could be left to interpretation by the players and there is much debate as to what exactly happens. I have my own theories but I won’t spoil anything for anyone here. Make sure you watch through all of the credits, there’s numerous scenes after you may think it has ended. Until you have seen Noctis sleeping on the throne, you haven’t seen the true ending, the logo will also change after you complete the game.

Characters: 8/10 Although as mentioned, I have some serious gripes about how side characters (Iris and Aranea for example) are just forgotten in the later half of the game, I can’t overlook the strong character development of the main character and his friends. He changes from a whiny brat who’s insecure and unsure if he even wants to rule, to someone who is so determined and mature, that he is willing to sacrifice everything for his kingdom. Many sad and many happy things will happen between the bros. The first half of the game will make you love the bros. This is important in making you care about what happens in the later parts of the game. Aided by Prompto’s selfies and group shots, and some solid narratives, the bromance between the group is really the highlight of the game. Each of the bros is very likeable. Ignis is kinda the mother hen of the group, Gladio the rough around the edges strong forceful type who sometimes has to motivate Noctis to stop whining by nearly pummeling some sense into him, and Prompto the carefree high-energy playful sidekick who mostly serves as comic relief Prompto is featured prominently in later chapters of the game, and also as I mentioned you may get lucky and see a special scene with him and Noctis which reveals that he hasn’t always been so outgoing. Prompto has a lot going on under the surface – and for that reason, he may be my favorite character in the game. Although I also really like Ignis who has a tragic event in the later parts of the game which changes not only his character, but his appearance and also his skills and abilities. All of the bros are absolute eyecandy for any girls playing the game, and are often compared to boy bands of the 90s lol. And any guys playing the game will likely relate to the friendship between the group of young guys. Liking the characters goes a long way in motivating me to play through the end of the game and also is instrumental in drawing the desired emotions from the players.

Graphics: 10/10 – Can’t deny that this is one beautiful game. The huge scale monsters create a feeling of awe and terror. The various destinations, from desserts, to large cities, to forests, caves, and the open road give the game a sense of realism and adventure. Your characters can wear different outfits and you can customize the chocobo colors. – Soon you will even be able to create your own playable character as well. The quality of the graphics, especially the hair and the environment are amazing, almost photo realistic.

Music: 8/10 – I actually really liked the ending theme which is Stand by Me by Florence and the Machine. However, I miss days of yore when Final Fantasy had original music, such as Eyes on Me or Suteki Da Ne. That said, the music is still fitting for the game. That song got me at the end, making me cry a little. And it is a great song that fits the theme, because the bros will stand together through all kinds of hardships in this adventure. It’s also super awesome to be able to collect previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play and listen to in the Regalia. And like most FF games, a large number of the tracks in Final Fantasy XV have been remixed once again (such as the chocobo theme which is a fan favorite).  I deducted a few points for lack of originality in the sound track, but overall, it’s a great soundtrack with a lot of variation and some old throw backs as well :).

Voice Acting: 9/10 – I played the English audio. I will probably do Japanese audio next time I play the game just to see what the original cast is like. But the English voice acting is actually pretty good. There are a few lines that are sometimes either overdramatic or lacking in emotion, but it’s nowhere near as bad as most other dubbed games or anime. The audio goes a long way also in helping the audience to identify with the characters and further creates deeper impact for the emotional scenes throughout the game.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Replay Value is unknown at this time. As of writing, SquareEnix is reworking Chapter 13. Most notably this will be gameplay “fixes” such as powering up the ring of lucis. However, they have stated plans to introduce new story elements as well which require localization and voice acting and are further down the road. There are multiplayer aspects and the game does present at times choices to the player, but those choices have little bearing on the story which remains largely linear. Replay Value ultimately will be determined by the nature of updates and DLC released by SquareEnix.

Final Fantasy XV Review was originally published on

New Cardcaptor Sakura Anime is “In the Works”

Crunchyroll shared news lastnight that a new Cardcaptor Sakura anime has been announced to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. Earlier this year it was reported that a new Cardcaptor Sakura manga would be released that would continue the adventures of Sakura and her friends as they enter into Junior High.

No information is available at this time as to if the new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will follow the newly announced manga, or whether it will be a series or stand-alone movie, or perhaps a reboot or remake of the original series (for example, taking the route of fellow magical girl Sailor Moon and what she did for her anniversary with the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime), or perhaps this new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will be something new entirely. Also no release date or voice actor cast or further info has been released just yet, which indicates it may be well into 2017 or even 2018 before we actually get to see this new anime.

Crunchyroll currently has all of the original anime to view on their site. I personally need to sit down and marathon them all at some point. Over the years, I’ve seen a dozen or so episodes and at least 2 of the movies, and from what I’ve seen it’s a very cute show! Just so much to watch and so little time that I never “got into it” as much as I would expect to be into a magical girl romantic comedy / fantasy adventure such as this.

Now that the new show has been announced that motivates me to want to hurry up and watch the original episodes 🙂 I know what my plans will be this weekend lol. Anyone else?

New Cardcaptor Sakura Anime is “In the Works” was originally published on

Pixel x Pixel Games Announces Guardian of The Rose Action RPG With Branching Plot and Multiple Endings Based On Your Choices

If there’s one thing that I love in a game, it’s a branching plot and multiple endings, as you’ll see from many of the games reviewed or news given here on this website. So I was really excited when Pixel x Pixel Games emailed me yesterday to promote their new Action-RPG.

This game looks really great for retro game lovers. It was clearly made with a lot of love and fond memories of someone growing up in the 90s playing all of the classic games.

I’ll just include the message I received from Pixel x Pixel Games below because it pretty much highlights all of the features that I would want to highlight about this game. I’ve bolded the bits that I thought were the most exciting. Check out what Pixel x Pixel Games has to say about Guardian of the Rose below.

Guardians of the Rose is a story of high adventure, taken on by a small group of companions, that are seeking to overthrow the Great Witches that have assumed control of the kingdom. You are a newly christened member of the Royal Guard, the magic-keepers of the king. With the Royal Guard now tainted by witchcraft you have no choice but to take it upon yourself to form a new Guard that will overthrow the witchcraft that has enslaved the kingdom. Encounters with river spirits, groundlings, giants, and dragons alike are some of the adventures that will befall you.

Open-Ended Adventuring – The world is laid out specifically so that you can choose to explore in any direction you want. You can choose to progress the storyline at your own pace while immersing yourself inside the lore and sidequests of the kingdom. These sidequests are not your typical “save my chicken” type quests but instead are designed to make the player feel like he is making a significant difference in the lands around him.

High Fantasy pitting Magic vs Witchcraft – Magic was taught to the people by a legendary hero that saved the world from the Great Witches long ago. Ever since, witchcraft has been outlawed and users of the craft have been hunted mercilessly by the Royal Guard. Now that witchcraft has risen to power again, you are tasked with saving the Kingdom but you have no magical ability like the great heroes of times before.

Compelling Story – Guardians of the Rose was heavily inspired by the classic tales of Homer, Viking Sagas, and high fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings and Winds of Fate. Not only is the main storyline compelling but there is a focus on enveloping the entire game in epic world lore.

Choose your own way to play – The player must choose what path to take, good or evil. The only goal of the game is to restore peace to the land. How it is done is up to the player. You can choose to incite revolution from the stealth of the shadows or you can wage all out war. With a completely customizable stats and skills system there is very little the player does not have control over.

Multiple Endings – Depending on how you play the game, which path you take in your exploration of the lands, and who you decide to party with, the game’s story and ending can change fairly drastically.

Guardians of the Rose is a story-driven 2D action adventure RPG. It controls like a modernized, fast-paced version of old-school Zelda and Gauntlet games with the RPG elements of the Elder Scrolls Series.

Along with the inspiration from classic books and stories the games style was inspired by old school Arcade games that I would play as a kid at Pizza Hut and the local bowling Alley.

Check out the press release provided by Pixel x Pixel Games below:

Press Kit

 

DESCRIPTION

Guardians of the Rose is a story-driven 2D action adventure RPG.

  • Controls like a modernizedfast-paced version of old-school Zelda and Gauntlet games with the RPG elements of the Elder Scrolls Series.
  • Inspired by the Classics of the 8-bit and 16-bit Generations
  • Pixel Art Graphics and Chiptune Sounds
  • Hidden Secrets around every corner
  • Compelling, charming characters
  • Open World Exploration
  • Epic Boss Fights
  • Long lost magical Artifacts
  • Choose how you complete the story: wage all out war, incite a revolution, or something in-between
  • Alternate Endings based on how you play the game

STORY

The illegal art of Witchcraft has tainted the Royal Guard and brought ruin upon the kingdom.  A small group of the Royal Guard has slaughtered the King’s family and taken control of the kingdom.  It is now up to you and a small group of members of the Royal Guard that calls themselves the Guardians of the Rose to save the kingdom.  Your small band of allies has to work together in secret to cause a revolution in the kingdom.  One slip up and you will be on the run from the Royal Guard and wanted by relentless bounty hunters.

And you, a boy with no magical ability, are left with the task to save the kingdom.  Will you choose to taint yourself with witchcraft or will you choose to search out legendary magical items to use in your struggle to save the kingdom?  Explore the Unfellable Forest while avoiding being trampled by Sand Giants and Unfellable Beasts.  Fight off sea serpents and other creatures of the deep that are terrorizing sea port towns.  Venture into the snow-ridden Mountain Lands and discover hidden temples in the wild forests.

(see kickstarter lore for more information on Guardians of the Rose’s Story)

HISTORY OF PIXEL X PIXEL GAMES

My uncle taught me how to play Mario and Duck Hunt on the NES when I was 1 or 2 years old.  Shortly after, he gave me his NES when he was shipped off to Desert Storm.  I’ve wanted to make video games ever since.  I’ve been drawing and selling my art to strangers and my mom’s coworkers since I was 3 years old.

I was a graphic designer/web developer before becoming a stay-at-home dad in 2012 when my son was born.  In late 2012 I published my first flash game to Mochimedia.  After working on a couple more games in ActionScript I realized that I had arrived to the Flash party after everyone else had already left.  I then continued practicing making games on Unity with C# for a couple of years and now have been developing Guardians of the Rose inside of Game Maker Studio using their in-born coding language GML.

SCREENSHOTS

Download all the screenshots, gifs and the trailer as a .zip file:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/f917k4jjiikfacu/Press%20Kit%20Media.zip?dl=0
http://www.mediafire.com/download/633b7ahv3hz998o/Press_Kit_Media.zip
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4W6ptGYrY37VGllRmJqbFI0VGs

Pixel x Pixel Games Announces Guardian of The Rose Action RPG With Branching Plot and Multiple Endings Based On Your Choices was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Third-person Action RPG *Anima: Gate of Memories* due June 3 on Steam (Windows/Linux), PS4 & Xbox One, North American PS4 launch to take place June 7

The folks at Badland Games just emailed me their press release for their upcoming title: Anima: Gate of Memories which is based on a series of books. It is being developed by a small team and heavily involving the author of the novels.

This looks to be a really fun, story-rich RPG with multiple endings, choice-based dialogue system, beautiful graphics, and fun combat system. I’m seeing if I can get a key so I can share some more details and possibly stream or upload some videos for you guys – but until then, enjoy the press release and official trailer below!

Third-person action RPG *Anima: Gate of Memories* due June 3 on Steam (Windows/Linux), PS4 & Xbox One, N. American PS4 launch to take place June 7

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Action RPG Anima: Gate of Memories Available June 3rd (Steam, PS4, Xbox One)

 

North American PS4 Release on Tuesday, June 7th

 

MADRID — May 26, 2016 — BadLand Games and Anima Project proudly announce that the much-anticipated RPG Anima: Gate of Memories will be released digitally on June 3, 2016 on Xbox One, Steam, and PlayStation 4. In North America, the PlayStation 4 launch will take place on June 7th.  Anima: Gate of Memories will have both a standard and collector’s edition PlayStation 4 box release in select territories on June 3rd.

 

Anima: Gate of Memories is a third-person action RPG focused on combat and exploration. Players will enjoy a deep and multifaceted story where their choices and actions directly impact the journey and decide the characters’ fates. As players travel through the tower of Arcane and the gorgeously animated world of Gaia, they’ll endure epic battles with formidable opponents — each with special features and gameplay.

 

Join The Bearer and Ergo — agents of an ancient society called Nathaniel which for centuries has protected mankind from the darkness — on their journey to recover an old artifact called The Byblos that has been stolen by a renegade of the order. After a long pursuit — crossing areas ravaged by war — they are able to corner the fugitive in the middle of an ancient construction. All at once, the entire area is swallowed by light. Our protagonists awake inside a strange structure where they are no longer alone; strange beings have also been summoned there. Soon, both will discover that something darker than they could imagine is about to begin — a war in the shadows in which they will have a leading role.

 

Based on the international Anima: Beyond Fantasy RPG books, Anima: Gate of Memories is being developed by the author and Anima Project — a small team of developers.

 

Key Features

  • Multiple endings: Your choices and actions will influence the journey and decide the destiny of the characters.
  • Epic battles with formidable opponents: Challenge many legendary entities, each with their own special features and gameplay.
  • Deep combat system: The combat system combines RPG elements with fast-paced action and spectacular attacks and spells.
  • Unique locations: Travel through the tower of Arcane and the world of Gaia across stunning backgrounds and places.
  • A huge world: You can move with great freedom — visiting different locations and having the option to always retrace your steps to revisit areas, discover new secrets, and unlock access to previously inaccessible places.
  • Customizable skill trees: Enhanced your characters’ abilities by increasing their stats.

 

Pricing & Availability

Anima: Gate of Memories will be released digitally on June 3, 2016 for Xbox One, Steam (Windows/Linux), and PlayStation 4.  (In North America, the PlayStation 4 launch will be on June 7th.)  On June 3rd, the title will also have a standard and collector’s edition PlayStation 4 box release in select territories. The game will retail for $19.99.

 

Assets

Trailer

YouTube

https://youtu.be/nimAxpPBoVY

 

Download

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/announcement_trailer_Anima_Gate_of_Memories_ESRB.zip

 

Screenshots & Logos

IMGUR

http://imgur.com/a/UcDuR

 

Download

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/screenshots_Anima_Gate_of_Memories.zip

 

Concept Art & Wallpapers

IMGUR

http://imgur.com/a/4H7e0

 

Download

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/concept_art_Anima_Gate_of_Memories.zip

 

Social Media

 

BadLand Games

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Badland.Indie

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/badland-indie

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BadLand_Indie


Anima Project

Twitter – https://twitter.com/animaps

 

About BadLand Games

BadLand Games is an international publishing company that firmly believes in the need to support emerging talent. We are passionate gamers on a mission to find the diamonds in the rough. Working alongside talented developers, we bring captivating, outstanding games to the masses. We’re always on the lookout for enthusiastic and dedicated developers with all sorts of games from beat ‘em ups and RPGs to puzzle games — and everything in between. To learn more about BadLand Games, please visit http://badlandgames.com

 

About Anima Project

Anima Project is an indie studio formed by just three people who have dedicated their lives to games. After 10 years working on the acclaimed Anima: Beyond Fantasy RPG book series, they have decided to go further using their experience to create videogames. To learn more about Anima Project, please visit http://www.gateofmemories.com

 

###

 

Media Contact

Luis Levy

Co-Conspirator

Novy PR for BadLand Games

luis@novypr.com

Third-person Action RPG *Anima: Gate of Memories* due June 3 on Steam (Windows/Linux), PS4 & Xbox One, North American PS4 launch to take place June 7 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie