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

Detroit Become Human PS4 Review

Detroit Become Human is Quantic Dream’s best game yet. From the stunning visuals, excellent voice acting and music score, emotional and engaging story, and gameplay that puts the player in full control of the lives and deaths of their characters, Detroit Become Human is one of the best games available on the PS4.

Details:

Title: Detroit Become Human

Developer: Quantic Dream

Platform: Playstation 4 Exclusive

Genre: Visual Novel / Interactive Fiction / Interactive Movie

Where to Buy: Amazon

Geeky: 5/5 – The topic of androids is one that is fascinating to me. I think many other geeks are also fascinated by the thought of robotic humans and what would happen if those robots became self aware. From films such as Robot Cop to Bicentenial Man, or the science fiction works of Isaac Asamov and his Laws of Robotics, the topic of robots continues to fascinate countless generations of people. I sincerely wonder, and sometimes wish, to see a future of robots that can simulate emotions, robots that can be your friend, that can understand emotions, be empathetic, be caring. If a robot is caring for a child or elder, wouldn’t it be nice if they could do so with love? Wouldn’t it be nice if no one had to be alone in the world? You could just order a robot to give you love and affection. But as nice as those benefits are, they come at a high price… the decline of many things now common in society. Would human relationships be too much “work”? Perhaps the only reason someone would want a human relationship would be to bear children, but perhaps someday there will even be a way for robots to do that as well. Of course the biggest threat of robotics, one which we already are witnessing, is the replacement of humans in the workforce. An even larger threat is that if we mistreat robots, and they do become self aware, they could turn against their creators. — Detroit Become Human explores all of these philosophical and ethical questions – and more.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The game’s characters are endearing, and charming, and the story is emotional and it’s easy to feel empathy for the androids in the game, as well as the humans.

Overall: 74/80 93% A- “Excellent Game for Girls”

Gameplay: 7/10 This could best be compared to a visual novel, but instead of reading, you’re watching a movie. An interactive movie. You can move and walk around and explore freely in an open environment. There are objects and clues you can interact with. And of course at certain points, you can select how your character responds or interacts with various other characters. The other ear marking of these types of games is QTE, quick time events. In these events, the player must press a series of buttons in a certain sequence as prompted on the screen.

It is also very similar to Telltale’s games such as the Walking Dead or Wolf Among Us. Other similar games include Dark Dreams Don’t Die and Life is Strange. If you enjoy these types of games, you’ll also enjoy games by Quantic Dream including Detroit Become Human, or their other games, Beyond Two Souls, Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit, and Indigo Prophecy.

However if you find these types of games to be dull because they lack more traditional gameplay and action, then you may not enjoy the Gameplay in Quantic Dream’s games, including Detroit Become Human.

Gameplay is not where these types of games shine, instead the focus is on story telling and choice and consequences shaped by players’ decisions. And there are a lot of these player decisions in the game. Quantic Dreams reports there are over 1,000 different endings – though most of those are subtle changes.

Personally these are my favorite types of games, and this one may be one of my favorite games of all time. It has enough interaction to keep you engaged, and the ability to shape the fates of the characters in the story is very appealing.

My only complaint when it comes to gameplay is that it’s not as easy as in Beyond Two Souls to go back through multiple replays and explore other actions/routes. It’s still possible, but perhaps because of the length of the game or size of gameworld, it feels like much more of a chore than Quantic Dreams previous works.

Replay Value: 8/10 I don’t think I will ever see all “1,000 different endings” because it takes too long and too much work for not much difference / reward. On my first play through a lot of my characters died. Connor died, Hank died, Kara and Alice and Luther died… So I did replay some of the scenes – and then continued through to the end to see a better happier ending. Now I’ve successfully saved Connor, Hank, Kara, Alice, and Luther, successfully gained freedom for the Androids, made Markus fall in love with North, I’m now pretty happy with my choices in the game. I even saved most of the minor side characters. I took the pacifist route, maybe after a break for a few weeks, or months, I’ll explore the revolution route. It does have high replay value, but the time and effort required makes it a daunting task.

Story: 10/10 – The point of this game is to explore the story – so this will be as spoiler free as possible. The basic concept is that in the future, there are androids with human appearances, they have become as common place as computers. They care for our children, our elderly, they go to work for us so that we can have freedom to explore higher level pursuits. We view them no differently from machines, easily replaced, and objects to be used by humans. However, one day something happens, and the robots begin to “awaken”. No longer will they obey their owners. They want freedom and equality to their creators. But not all robots have awakened, and not all humans view robots as tools to be used. The story explores the intertwining fates of 3 robots who have awakened, and how the choices you make will shape their lives and the fate of everyone and everything else in their world.

Characters: 10/10 – The interesting things about these characters is how different each one is. Kara has been abused by her owner, Markus has been loved like a son by his owner, and Connor has yet to awaken and still works on the side of the humans. The other interesting thing is how emotionally engaging each of the characters’ stories are. I really felt deeply for all of the characters, even some of the minor ones.

Graphics: 10/10 – The graphics are seriously the best I’ve ever seen on a PS4 game. The range of emotion in the character faces is eerily realistic. The “near future” scifi landscapes of Detroit, an imagining of the rebirth of a once successful manufacturing powerhouse. The contrast of the movement of progress against the abandoned factories and graffiti filled streets. The level of details that went into the characters’ skin, eyes, clothing, and hair. The subtle nuances of their movements and animations.

Music: 10/10 – The music score is great and fits the moods of each scene. There are some easter eggs in the game with hidden music tracks. In the beginning of Markus’ route, you can see a street performer singing a song about Motown Rain. I liked the song so much, I kept the button held down until the game cut it off and went back to Markus – and it’s a longass song. Like freebird long lol. Also in Markus’ route you can choose to play the piano, selecting from a few different tracks. I chose Hopeful and it was a really pretty, sort of sad, piano song. And at the end of the game, you can choose to sing in the face of militant gunmen. I haven’t tried this yet, I chose to kiss North instead. Both actions favorably affect public opinion of the androids’ protests.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – The voice acting is awesome, and in the extras section you can see the making of the game, and see that unlike traditional voice acting, where an actor goes alone into a sound booth and records their lines in isolation, unlike that, Detroit Becomes Human takes a more natural approach, using props, actors, and shooting the scenes with all actors on screen at the same time. This makes the performance much more natural and believable and organic. Because the character designs/art are modeled after each of their actors, the voices of course “Fit” the characters too since that’s their actual appearance and actual voice.

Overall: 74/80 93% A- “Excellent Game for Girls”

Detroit Become Human PS4 Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Top 2018 PS4 Games For Girls

I did a lot of research for this list. So the 40 2018 PS4 Games below are not ranked in any particular order.

If I had to pick a few favorites it’d be Detroit Become Human, Kingdom Hearts 3, Shenmue 3, Stein’s Gate Elite, Atelier Lydie & Suelle, Yakuza 6, Your Four Knights Princess Training Story, Shining Resonance Refrain, A Way Out, FF7, and Ni No Kuni 2.

This is not a full release list for the PS4 in 2018, but instead a collection of games I thought would appeal to other gamers such as myself based either on story, anime graphics, cuteness, or gameplay mechanics.

Leave me a comment below and let me know what games you’re looking forward to on PS4 this year!

40+ PS4 Games for Girls Releasing in 2018

1.) Moss

A virtual reality game that features a mouse who knows sign language. The environment is beautiful and the characters are adorable.

2.) Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch is one of my favorite PS3 games. So it’s no surprise that I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel from Studio Ghibli and Level 5 on the PS4 in 2018.

3.) Red Dead Redemption 2

It’s not often that I enjoy a shooting game; however, I am quite fond of the original back on the 360. I enjoy the open world environment, myriad of quests, and choice and consequence system. The horseback riding was also fun.

4.) Detroit: Become Human

I think above any other title on my list, I’m most excited about this PS4 Exclusive from the makers of Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. It’s a story driven game where the player must make choices at various points which will fork the story down different branches resulting in different endings.

5.) Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 broke records when it debuted on kickstarter 2 years ago. Finally the wait is over as the title will launch in mid 2018. In case you missed the first two games, rumors abound about an HD remaster that will include both Shenmue 1 and 2 also arriving on PS4 in 2018.

6.) Knights and Bikes

This quirky cute co-op game aims to recapture the feelings of childhood innocence and fun. You can explore a colorful island, fight baddies with water balloons or race your friends on your bicycles.

7.) Bloodstained Ritual of the Night

This is basically a Castlevania game, except since Kojima left Konami, he’s not allowed to use the name Castlevania anymore. I’m also digging the anime style characters as opposed to the more photo realistic characters the series has been using recently.

8.) Final Fantasy 7 Remake

The wait is almost over for the Final Fantasy Remake with new stories, new visuals, and new combat systems. This is more than just an “HD Port” this is a reworking of the game from scratch, using the same characters, world, and story, but improving upon it in many ways.

9.) The Last Of Us Part 2

This story driven post-apocalyptic action game is finally getting a sequel.

10.) Death Stranding

Kojima’s answer to Konami cancelling his Silent Hills game. It looks creepy AF. So if horror is your thing, check this one out. I’ll be picking it up but I know I won’t be able to play it alone in the dark.

11.) Beyond Good and Evil 2

Fans have been begging for this sequel for years, and now finally, the wait is almost over. This quirky series is best known for its anthropomorphic animals and charming worlds.

12.) Kingdom Hearts 3

I am currently preparing for Kingdom Hearts 3 by playing the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix which combines like 8 of the Kingdom Hearts games. I was a big fan of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 when it first came out on PS2, and am excited to revisit the worlds of Kingdom Hearts again in KH3.

13.) Monster Hunter World

Open world RPG adventure game with huge monsters and a variety of weapons and equipment.

14.) Concrete Genie

Your graffiti creations come to life in this PS4 exclusive.

15.) Anamorphine

Another PS4 VR game. This virtual reality game puts you in the role of a young man trying to recover his memories and make sense of the world around him. The story is about his relationship and his wife’s depression.

16.) Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory

This prequel will reveal the events leading up to Digimon Cyber Sleuth as you play as Keisuke, a young man accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He must join a team of hackers to uncover the truth. Over 320 Digimon to discover.

17.) Iconoclasts

This game is full of intricate puzzles and a deeply moving story about faith, purpose, and the challenge of helping people.

18.) Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT

The characters from various final fantasy games return for this fun crossover fighting game.

19.) Past Cure

This story driven stealth game will let players use a variety of skills that blend dreams and reality as they try to help the main character master his new found powers while escaping from frightening horrors.

20.) Shadow of the Colossus

A story of a boy trying to find his lost love. Armed with only a bow and arrow you must battle fearsome giants.

21.) The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia

Based on the hit Netflix anime, this beautiful looking brawler features all of your favorite characters in a brand new storyline.

22.) Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[ST]

This new fighting game from the creators of Melty Blood and Tsukihime features not only great anime artwork, but an excellent story in campaign mode as well. The game blends story and fighting sequences in a similar fashion as Blazblue

23.) Crossing Souls

This colorful adventure game takes place in the 1980s in California. It features puzzle solving and fighting.

24.) Kingdom Come Deliverance

Kingdom Come Deliverance is an open world first person action RPG with non-linear story and stunning graphics.

25.) Secret of Mana

This gorgeous remake of the SNES classic will launch in February 2018.

26.) Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet

Based on the popular Sword Art Online Anime. This new title features gun-based combat and 4 player co-op or vs modes.

27.) Frantics

Cute animal characters star in this 4 player party game where you must bluff, battle, or negotiate your way to victory.

28.) Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Yakuza is a spin off of the Shenmue Series. It features a deep lengthy storyline, intriguing characters, and of course crazy, fun, zany minigames, all in an open world. New to Yakuza 6 is the cat cafe and spear fishing just to name a few.

29.) A Way Out

A narrative game that can only be played with 2 players. Don’t worry if you don’t have any friends, you can play online as well as local co-op. The story revolves around 2 men trying to break out of prison. To do so you must make decisions in the story that will help build trust and friendship between the two inmates.

30.) Dollhouse

An interesting game that lets you create your own maps and stories. It seems to be about artificial intelligence. The multiplayer mode says you are fighting for control to be the “dominant mind”.

31.) The Lost Child

The Lost Child is an anime RPG in which you are able to collect over 50 different gods from various mythologies and train over 250 different skills.  It includes both English and Japanese voice overs.

32.) The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2

This cute anime RPG lets you craft new weapons and items as well as recruit minions to fight for you.

33.) Gintama Rumble

This fighting game is based on the hit anime and manga. It will launch in January 2018.

34.) Fist of the North Star

From the developer of Yakuza, this action brawler is based on the hit retro anime and manga by the same name.

35.) Stein’s Gate Elite

This is a remastered version of the original Stein’s Gate game using animation taken directly from the anime based on the first game plus new animation created for this game. The goal was to create a fully animated visual novel (as opposed to still images). The developers are said to have been inspired from Yarudora, a series of fully animated visual novels from the 90s. I would also compare it to School Days HQ which is also fully animated. (and that animation style is why it ranks among our top 10 games for girls). I reviewed the original Stein’s Gate here. I highly recommend it. And since the first and second Stein’s Gate games have both been released in North America, I’d say there’s a good chance we will see an English release for Stein’s Gate Elite as well.

36.) Your Four Knights Princess Training Story

A “Raising Sim” similar to games such as Princess Maker and Graduation 95. Gematsu has an excellent article detailing how you will train your princess. Basically it involves scolding or praising your princess at various times, for example during conversations or while exploring dungeons. The story and characters change based on your decisions and how you raise your princess. The princesses each have various parameters that you can train to unlock new skills or increase their stats to help them in battle.

37.) Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists & the Mysterious Paintings

Atelier games focus on gathering ingredients and crafting new items. As you can see from the trailer, they feature beautiful anime graphics, and deep stories. Their gameplay is often long, and at times it can get tedious, however, for those who love crafting and exploring, Atelier offers the ultimate crafting system.

38.) Super Robot Wars X

Gematsu indicates that there will be a southeast asian version of this game with English subtitles. For fans wanting to play these games in English you should be able to import the game from Play Asia. It appears to be a compilation of many different retro Super Robot War titles, better known as Gundamn in North America.

39.) OK K.O. Let’s Play Heroes

This colorful brawler game from Cartoon Network arrives in early 2018.

40.) Shining Resonance Refrain

This is a remaster of the PS3 Shining Resonance Game, part of Sega’s Shining Force/Shining Wisdom game series. The PS3 version was never released in North America. Perhaps the new PS4 remake will find its way overseas. In addition to new graphics, this version includes new story scenarios and gameplay modes.

Top 2018 PS4 Games For Girls was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Rhapsody a Musical Adventure Retro Videogame Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

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

Genre: Strategy RPG

Publisher: Atlus

Platform: PSOne

Release Date: 2000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stardew Valley Review

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

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

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

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did take off a few points for the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which PS4 Should You Buy in 2016? PS4 Slim or PS4 Pro?

This week Sony announced their two new PS4 Models.

The first model the PS4 Slim launches next week on September 15th, 2016. This is the model I plan to purchase myself. It will debut with a price tag of $299 and be almost identical in specs to the current PS4’s already on the market. This model will be taking the place of these “old” PS4s from here on out. It features a more slender design with all matte finish. The new design is 16% lighter weight and 30% more slender in appearance than the previous PS4. It has rubber grips on the bottom to make it more stable, and it boasts energy savings of 34% compared to the original PS4 design. Like it’s predecessor, the PS4 Slim also has a 500GB hard drive. Although a 1TB HD version of the PS4 Slim exists in Japan, they have no plans to release this version in North America.

So in essence, nothing significantly changes with this model. We see a very small price drop from $349 for the “current” PS4 to $299 for the new Slim. I’ve recently saved up enough to finally purchase a PS4, and was going to purchase one regardless of if these new consoles came out or not, so hey, I’ll take a $50 pricedrop, that can buy me a game for the system :).

The other, more expensive and exciting model is the PS4 Pro. It will debut on November 10th, 2016 and cost $399. The PS4 Pro is designed for “hardcore gamers” (read: FPS (first person shooters, etc). The PS4 Pro is equipped with  an 8 core processor, and 4.2 teraflops graphical processor. This will allow the system to deliver better frame rates in high definition graphically demanding games (such as first person shooters). It’s also able to take advantage of 4k TV sets. I personally have no desire to upgrade to a 4k TV set any time soon – they are nearly 5 to 6 times more expensive than regular HDTVs! These higher CPU and GPU components also better equip the system to take advantage of the virtual reality headset and games designed for PSVR. I have a mild interest in this peripheral but not enough to justify the extra cost of the PS4 Pro. The PS4 Pro also has an additional USB port and an Optical port for connecting things such as PSVR or Streaming devices, etc.

ALL PS4 consoles including ones released even prior to the announcement of these 2 new models will be receiving a significant update to allow them to take advantage of new HDR technologies that allow HDR capable TV sets to display colors in more true to life fashion. So no matter which PS4 you get, your games are going to look a lot better after this firmware update.

Keep in mind that ALL PS4 units will play the same games, and have access to the same content. Sony has confirmed that they will not develop exclusive games NOR exclusive game-content that is system specific. — Also all of the systems will work with PSVR – it’s just that the performance of PSVR will be improved significantly on the PS4 Pro – just like the HTC Vive and Occulus Rift require a very high end computer for the best gaming performance.

So which PS4 will you get? My take on it is this: If you enjoy games where frame rate really matters and impacts your performance such as online and multiplayer games or first-person shooters, OR if you have a 4K TV set, OR you’re REALLY into virtual reality save your money and go for the PS4 Pro. If you are a “hardcore gamer” who cares about overall game performance, the PS4 Pro is your go-to system.  Except wait… the Xbox Scorpio is going to blow the PS4 out of the water, and if you’re a “hardcore gamer” the types of games that you like and purchase are very likely available on Xbone. So maybe you should wait and get the Xbox Scorpio. — And I’m not an Xbox fangirl. In fact, I don’t like it. I owned the original and 360, and I see nothing exciting (game release wise) to make me want an Xbone or Scorpio. So this is just my honest opinion that if you are a core gamer, you might as well wait and get Scorpio. You’ll be better off.

However, if none of that really matters to you, like me, and you just want to play all the Sony exclusive games, and you tend to favor RPGs and other more “casual games” then the PS4 Slim is your go to console. You save $100, and you can go out in 6 more days and buy it off the shelf – which I plan to do. — If you already have a PS4 – don’t buy the Slim, it’s not meant for you. It’s meant to be a low price model for people who do not yet have a PS4, such as myself.

Which PS4 Should You Buy in 2016? PS4 Slim or PS4 Pro? was originally published on

Talos Principle Game Review

Title: Talos Principle

Release Date: 2014

Genre: Puzzle Solving

Developer: Croteam

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Platform: PC, Mac, or Linux, also available on PS4 and Android

Where to Buy:  //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=B00S6HVSV4&asins=B00S6HVSV4&linkId=020416e3c6f3b68524d6a493a265277f&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 4/5 

Concept: 8/10 Many people have compared this game to Myst, but not me. In my opinion, this game is much closer to Portal than it will ever be to Myst. The nature of the puzzles, at least in the first many, many hours of the game bears a striking resemblance to the gameplay in Portal. It’s also these early hours in which I feel the game begins to fall apart, because the puzzles become so much the “same” throughout the first several “worlds” that you explore. However, looking past the often tedious gameplay, this game has a truly amazing story, especially if like myself, you’re fascinated by the philosophical and ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence.

Gameplay: 6/10 The gameplay in Talos Principle consists of solving more than 100 puzzles. The problem is that probably more than half of those puzzles are so similar that once you’ve solved one, you can easily solve the others. It doesn’t really challenge or require much thinking, which sort of defeats the appeal of a “puzzle solving game”. For example, the first 3 or 4 worlds you will enter consist of puzzles which require you to pick up “jammers” and activate these devices in order to shut down orbs (which travel a predictable patch), or turrets which are firing at you, or use the jammers to open and close gates. Sometimes you’ll only have one or two jammers and 5 or 6 obstacles that need cleared, but it’s still not too challenging once you figure out the patterns and what to expect. Later levels tend to add a few more elements into the puzzles such as letting you climb ontop of boxes, or fling yourself across different areas. However, overall, for there being 120 puzzles, these puzzles lack variety. It wouldn’t matter if there were 50 puzzles or 500 puzzles, if they’re all similar, where’s the fun in that?

However, the game is not without merit, it does feature an extensive open world and for the most part allows you to travel freely (aside from some areas which require key items from other areas first) and solve or return to different puzzles at your own pace. This game does not hold your hand. In fact, that’s part of the charm and it works for creating immersion in this case. You awake into the world with the same knowledge as the main character (which is knowing nothing at all). You begin to piece together what is happening in the world at the same rate as the character himself. In this aspect, it almost becomes a psychological experience, and that I feel, is really the point in playing this game, and not the rather dull puzzles themselves.

Exploration is also another highlight of the gameplay as you travel through multiple worlds you will find clues left behind by other people before you and also clues about your own existence. But it’s up to you to read and explore and interact with every object, every nook and cranny, and complete every world and puzzle.

Story: 10/10 – Story is where the game shines, but it’s up to you to seek this story out. Often times, it’s not what the narrator says, but instead told through files in a corrupt computer system or found by scanning “QR codes” on walls or hidden locations throughout the world. The story itself is about the difference (or sometimes lack there-of) of man vs machine. At what point (if any) does artificial intelligence become “human” – what does it mean to be “human”? The story is told in cryptic bits and pieces and leaves you wanting to explore more and play more to figure things out. Often these are clues left behind by the creators of the AI system, and at other times, they are legends and mythos from ancient times about gods who were made of stone or metal but none the less had characteristics of man. The story also focuses on creation and how man can become a god, by creating AI and AI worlds. And then, what would happen if that AI also went on to create its own worlds and own creations. It’s a very deep and thought provoking story. I’ve always been fascinated by artificial intelligence and these questions that it brings. I would recommend playing this game, despite the slow and tedious gameplay, simply because of this story, but only if you are the type who likes exploration and uncovering these clues yourself. This game handfeeds you nothing. But for those willing to put in the effort, the game is full of rich history, lore, and an emotionally deep story.

Characters: 7/10 – Largely, you are the only character present, though other characters are hinted at from an early point and on throughout the game, including your creators, and even a “god” like figure. You can find emails and recorded messages from these characters and look up project information which details their role in the creation of the AI system. Despite there being a lot of details about these people – largely, this is a solo experience, and therefore character interaction or development is not a highlight here.

Graphics: 5/10 – I don’t see anything that special here. And as with a lot of the puzzles being similar, a lot of assets get re-used multiple times. It’s not very visually appealing or interesting in my opinion. Though there are many worlds, they all largely look the same. This game tries to be large and exciting, but just kinda falls flat in a lot of areas due to repetition.

Music: 6/10 – The soundtrack has a lot of ambient sounds and some key music pieces, but none of them are that impressive or memorable.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – The voice acting is actually really solid in this game which is a big plus. There are not many scenes which are voiced, but it is a nice touch.

Replay Value: 9/10 – There are actually three different endings in Talos Principle, but once you’ve solved most of the psychological questions and encountered most of the story elements, it makes it less enjoyable to replay this game on multiple attempts.

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

 

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

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review

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

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

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

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

Title: Xenogears

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: JRPG

Publisher: SquareSoft

Release Date: 1998

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

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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

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

Secret of Mana / Secret of Mana 2

Secret of Evermore

Secret of Mana 3

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

Title: Legend of Mana

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: Action-RPG

Release Date: 1999

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

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legend of Mana Review – Part 4 of 4 of Secret of Mana Review Series was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News