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? ūüôā 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- ‚ÄúVery Good Game For Girls‚ÄĚ

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. ūüôā 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- ‚ÄúVery Good Game For Girls‚ÄĚ

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

The Red Turtle Anime Review

I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.

I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.

For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.

Read on for the full review below.

Title: The Red Turtle

Studio: Studio Ghibli

Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017

Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.

Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of¬†the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.

Overall: ¬†42/50 84% B¬†‚ÄúVery Good Anime¬†For Girls‚ÄĚ

Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.

There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.

It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while¬†witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.

Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.

It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.

Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.

Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.

Music: 10/10 РThink of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.

Overall: ¬†42/50 84% B¬†‚ÄúVery Good Anime¬†For Girls‚ÄĚ

The Red Turtle Anime 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 ‚ÄúVery Good Anime¬†For Girls‚ÄĚ

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 ‚ÄúVery Good Anime¬†For Girls‚ÄĚ

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

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 ūüôā I know what my plans will be this weekend lol. Anyone else?

New Cardcaptor Sakura Anime is “In the Works” 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

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

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

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

Title: Romantic Diary

Price: Free

Platforms: IOS and Android

Where To Get Romantic Diary:

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

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

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

Publisher: NGames Interactive

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

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

Overall: 78 / 90 87%¬†B+ ‚ÄúVery Good Game For Girls‚ÄĚ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall: 78 / 90 87%¬†B+ ‚ÄúVery Good Game For Girls‚ÄĚ

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

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¬†modernized,¬†fast-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

CrunchyRoll Announces New Anime Violet Ever Garden Details and Trailer

Check out the new trailer for Violet Ever Garden.

I am so excited for this! (and isn’t the opening theme awesome too? And look how cute she is – and just OMG. Geeking out right now so bad lol.) I had never heard of it, until I saw the trailer on CrunchyRoll’s Facebook page. From the comments on the facebook wall and the official website at¬†http://www.kyotoanimation.co.jp/books/violet/ this anime is about Artificial Intelligence / AI / Robots / Robotics – Similar to Chobits, Time of Eve, Metropolis, HAL, and Plastic Memories. – All favorites of mine – I am fascinated by the concept of humanoid AI creatures – especially those who have feelings, or what we would classify as feelings – and how they would fit into society. It might also be quite similar to Tegami Bachi as it looks like she has the power to convey emotions within letters just like Lag Seeing – Tegami Bachi is another favorite of mine as well – so this is shaping up to be a must watch for me.

Violet Ever Garden is a Japanese light novel, written by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase.

I also found the below trailer and story synopsis from http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-05-27/kyoani-award-winning-novel-violet-evergarden-gets-anime-project/.102551 

Kyoto Animation describes the story:

Auto Memories Doll.It’s been quite a while since that name caused a fuss. Originally invented by Professor Orland solely for his beloved wife, Auto Memories Dolls eventually spread out into the world, and a machine that allows people to rent out the dolls was also created.

“I will run as fast as I can to wherever my customer desires. I am the Auto Memories Doll, Violet Evergarden.”

A girl who almost appears to have popped out of a fairy tale with her blonde hair and blue eyes said this with her inorganic beauty and sweet voice.

CrunchyRoll Announces New Anime Violet Ever Garden Details and Trailer 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‚Äô fates. As players travel through the tower of Arcane and the gorgeously animated world of Gaia, they‚Äôll 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‚Äô 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 ‚Äėem 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