Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix PS4 Videogame Review

Title: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix

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

Genre: Action Roleplaying Game ARPG

Publisher: Disney + Squarenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you will need bare minimum to purchase 3 games

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a look below:

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

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

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

15 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 2

15 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Raises the Bar

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Raises the Bar

Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood

Guest Post by Michael Lan at Anime Zeal

When you think of MMORPGs, it’s no surprise for the big three to come to mind: World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. Up until recently, I would say these three have been pretty evenly matched with the exception of Guild Wars 2 not seeing as much popularity as the other two. But with the release of Stormblood, I would say Final Fantasy XIV has taken the lead!

If you haven’t seen the official launch trailer yet, check it out here!

Stormblood is the second major expansion after Heavensward. The first installment of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 ended up as a failure as it drastically failed to meet expectations. Since then, the next three installments and expansions, A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, and Stormblood have all been massive successes.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood follows the story of the Warrior of Light played by yourself, the player character. Stormblood focuses on the conflict between Eorzea and the Garlean Empire that has oppressed the land of Ala Mhigo for 20 years. See the new sights that Stormblood has to offer with this tour of the East.


With Stormblood, we see a complete revamp to the combat system with new features and functionalities. This allows for a much more dynamic battles and gives you the ability to be more involved. Strategizing based on your fellow players’ roles and skills will also be crucial for taking down the realm’s most powerful bosses.

If you thought that was cool, just wait till you try out the new DPS jobs, Red Mage (RDM) and Samurai (SAM). I mean, just look at them! With so much versatility and heavy damage dealing respectively, RDM and SAM just feel so impactful and fun to play.

FFXIV Stormblood Review

If you’re thinking that the other jobs have been left in the dust, not to worry! Every job in Final Fantasy XIV is getting a revamp with Stormblood. This means new skills and actions for a completely new feel! Below, you’ll find a video of every job’s actions, including RDM and SAM.

With new challenges in the form of dungeons, raids, and all kinds of new enemies and allies alike, you’ll be in for one heck of a ride. Stormblood increases the level cap from 60 to 70 so even if you were completely maxed out in Heavensward, there’s still so much more to do! Acquire new items, weapons, armor, mounts, and of course, we can’t forget about glamour now can we?

FATEs now have an added feature called Twist of Fate. Here, you get bonus every time you dispose of a special enemy. In this case, you get a dramatic boost to the amount of experience gained from FATEs. So let’s hope this makes leveling our jobs to the new level 70 cap much easier!

The first major expansion, Heavensward, gave players the opportunity to fly across the skies in Heavensward areas with flying mounts. And now with Stormblood, the ability to explore surface and deep swimming in new areas as well as old ones has been introduced.

FF14 Stormblood

If Stormblood didn’t sound awesome before, I bet it sounds pretty darn awesome now, right? Just like with flying, in order to unlock swimming you just have to go through your main scenario quests. Time to get to exploring the world beneath the surface of the realm of Eorzea. See all the underwater sights and don’t forget to take some beautiful snapshots with /gpose!

If you’re new to Final Fantasy XIV or have never played it before, now’s the time to at least give it a try. It really is the complete package: an amazing story, intricate design, fascinating lore, an expansive world, engaging combat and mechanics, and a friendly and helpful community. I thought I had seen it all with Heavensward but Stormblood takes the cake!

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Raises the Bar was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Final Fantasy XV Review

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Final Fantasy XV

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

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XV Review was originally published on

Top 10 Anime Casino Games

Top 10 Anime Casino Games

Many people enjoy the excitement of “winning big” from the comfort of their own home. These games help recreate the feeling of being in a real money casino with exciting slot machine gameplay. You can play some other casino games at Imhighroller

Manga Girls Anime Slots
Manga Girls Anime Slots
  1. Manga Girls 25 Line Slots.

This game features dozens of cute anime girls across 5 reels and 25 lines. Other features include auto play, free spins, wild symbols, scatter symbols, and a bonus round.

9 Tailed Ninja Naruto Anime Slot Machine
Nine Tailed Ninja Naruto Anime Slot Machine
  1. Nine Tailed Ninja.

This slot is unique because it features different seasons and different bonus rounds which correspond to the seasons. You find yourself fighting large demons and monsters in the summer bonus round, while in the winter you must correctly choose between a ninja and a shadow clone. The slot features progressive payouts, free spins, auto play, wild and scatter symbols, and the aforementioned bonus rounds.

Koi Princess Anime Casino Game
Koi Princess Anime Casino Game
  1. Koi Princess Slots

You get to feed fish in a relaxing Koi pond while playing this game. It also has a kawaii (cute) Asian anime girl mascot who will help cheer you on. Koi Princess Slots features 5 reels and 20 lines. As with most of the games on the list, it also features free spins, video slots, auto play, and bonus rounds.

Toki Time
Toki Time
  1. Toki Time

Toki Time is a very popular slot machine game with 5 reels and 11 lines. What I love about toki time are the kawaii cute graphics which resemble Tamagotchi virtual pets. The cute and colorful graphics make this a beloved favorite on many different sites. Toki Time is featured on nearly 200 sites in my state alone. This expanding wild slots game includes auto play, wild symbols,  video slots, and free spins.

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  1. Bikini Anime Slots

My favorite thing about this IOS Slot Machine Game is that it features popular characters from several anime and game series and beautiful graphics such as Sonico from Sonicomi. As the image suggests you can choose from 3 or 5 reel slot games and play on as many as up to 30 lines. It has free coins for starting out, free daily spins, and an optional in-game cash shop to purchase more coins when you run out. There are exciting bonus rounds and lots of cute girls to see.

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  1. Sakura Lady

Sakura Lady is developed by Konami, makers of popular games such as Suikoden and Metal Gear Solid. It was one of the first anime themed slot machines to be released in real Las Vegas Casinos and gained almost immediate success and attention.

Sakura Lady is a 5 reel slot machine which can be configured to opperate with 20, 30, or even 40 lines.

It’s fully animated with video slots and super cute, colorful and high quality artwork from leading video game developers and animators in Japan.

The main theme of Sakura lady is about a girl watching cherry blossoms grow in her garden. At times, “Sakura Lady Symbols” will appear on the reels which can award up to 20 free spins.

Check out the video (not my video, just linking to it) to see how cute this game is in action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFIbTa8_3vQ

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  1. Slots Anime – Vocaloid Hatsune Miku Games

This game features really great vocaloid graphics and includes all the fun features you’d expect such as free spins, wild symbols, bonus games, and more. Not only does it feature Hatsune Miku, but it also includes many of the other, lesser known, vocaloids as well. Vocaloids are so cute. I got to see Miku perform live a few years ago when she went on tour with Lady Gaga. I’m a big vocaloid fan, and if you are too, you’re going to love this free anime slot machine game for IOS.

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  1. Anime Slots Free Casino Pokies

This game is one of the top rated slot machine games in the Android Play Store. It features lots of great high quality anime graphics, including popular characters from hit anime tv series and popular video games. There are wilds, scatter symbols, and exciting bonus rounds. It also includes free spins and sticky game mechanics.

  1. Star Ocean 4 Pachinko Slots

Just last month, Sqaure-Enix announced that they were entering the Pachinko Slot Machine market (a style of Japanese slot machine game units.) Unfortunately no images or media have been released yet, however trademarks exist for slot machines, slot machine housing, and pachinko electronics which all seem to indicate that progress is being made. Along with Star Ocean 4, Square-Enix also announced that they are working on a Lord of Vermillion Pachinko slot machine. I wonder how long it will be before we see Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest slot machines as well?

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  1. Chibi Vegas Slot Machine – Anime and Manga Fan Edition

Chibi Vegas Slot Machine – Anime and Manga Fan Edition takes my pick for the top spot in today’s round up of kawaii anime themed slot machine games.

This game allows you to connect to facebook to try to obtain the high score on the leaderboard which makes playing the game competitive and fun and gives you a sense of playing with other people.

Chibi Vegas Slot Machine features super cute “chibi style” (big head, little body) anime characters with tons of personality.

But it’s not just all about looks either. This game is packed full of many different features, including 9 different game modes each with a different cute anime theme. There’s also lots of different bonus games.

Out of all the games on today’s list this would be my pick for the best anime slot machine game. If you like anime, and slot machines, do not miss this app.

Top 10 Anime Casino Games was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4

Check Out Parts One and Two of our 4 Part Secret of Mana Series

Part One: Secret of Mana Review
Part Two: Secret of Evermore Review

Welcome to Part Three of our Secret of Mana Reviews. Today’s topic is Secret of Mana 3, a game which we never got to experience in North America, but which was thankfully translated by some dedicated fans. You’re probably wondering how you can play this awesome game so here’s a link to the Seiken Densetsu 3 fan translation.

I really recommend that you purchase a physical copy of the game. You sometimes can find it on sites like Amazon. At time of this writing, it is about $160 but it is so worth it. Buy Secret of Mana 3 on Amazon.com

I don’t condone piracy so I’m not putting a link to the rom here. You can find it easily enough for yourself.

I’m really excited to be writing today’s review because this is my favorite game in the Secret of Mana series (although Legend of Mana is a very  close 2nd.)

Title: Seiken Densetsu 3

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: September 1995 (Japan Only)

Genre: Action RPG

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 4/5 

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

Concept: 10/10 Seiken Densetsu 3 is an action RPG with real-time combat that is part of the Secret of Mana franchise. The game features 6 playable characters. When the game begins it asks you to select 3 of these characters to focus on, similar in a way to games such as Live-a-Live and Saga Frontier. Like Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu allows for you to play simultaneously with a friend. When playing solo, you can freely switch control between the characters, and have the other 2 characters back you up via artificial intelligence. Also like Secret of Mana, there is a ring like system which allows you to equip weapons or cast magic spells.

Gameplay: 10/10 The big differences and improvements over Secret of Mana focus on the leveling and class system. Upon level up the player chooses which stats to enhance for each character and at different levels the player can unlock different classes which each have a unique set of skills for each character, for a total of 5 (counting the starting class) classes for each character, times 6 characters, you have 30 unique classes and unique skill sets to explore. Although the classes are labeled as light or dark variations, they do not impact the storyline in any way.

There’s also a night/day cycle and a calendar system which similar to games such as Final Fantasy XI, gives a magic boost on different days to increase the effectiveness of corresponding magical spells. The calendar system also changes which in-game events occur and even what enemies you encounter.

Story: 8/10 Story has never been this series strong suit if we’re being honest. Despite that, I enjoyed the story in Seiken Densetsu 3 more than any of the previous titles in the series. This particular game has a unique approach to story that differentiates it from the other installments. As mentioned, when the game starts, you select 3 characters to focus on during the story out of 6 total. You also distinguish who your main character will be and this is the focus of the story. All 6 of their stories are intertwined, and to really experience the whole story you need to play the game multiple times using all 6 of the different characters.

Seiken Densetsu’s story is also unique in that it is the first game in the series to begin to establish some continuity between game worlds. In fact, there is a direct sequel for the NDS called Heroes of Mana (which I sadly have not played yet). I also find it interesting how the mana goddess in Seiken Densetsu 3 is a sleeping tree, and the tree is also a main symbol/character in Legend of Mana as well.

Characters: 7/10 Like any game with multiple stories, some are more interesting than others. Character interaction depends heavily on who you have in your party and that does detract a bit from the freedom given to pick and choose your party members. It was interesting in concept, but poorly executed, as more dialogue should have been written in for the other characters as well. – Still, overall, the plot and characters in this game remain much more detailed and interesting than the bare bones plot and characters in Secret of Mana.

Music: 10/10 The music for the game features many symphonic sounding tracks and melodic piano pieces which highlight the different scenes throughout each story. It is a huge soundtrack with over 50 different tracks recorded, making it quite possibly one of the largest soundtracks for an SNES game.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is just beautiful to look at, it really pushes the limits of what was thought to be possible with 16 bit hardware. When this game was released, systems such as Sega Saturn and PS1 had already arrived in Japan and I’d argue that this game almost looks as good as many of the early games for those consoles as well. I especially love the use of color, and the details given to the textures and environments.

Replay Value: 10/10 – unlike other games in this series, Seiken Densetsu 3 is a game which must be played 6 times to see the whole story. There are also significant differences depending on who else is in your party, making it actually possible to enjoy playing it even more than 6 times.

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

Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 1 of 4

Secret of Mana is a series of real-time adventure RPGs from the 1990s. The “first” installment, which we’re reviewing today, is Secret of Mana for the SNES. This game was actually the 2nd in the Secret of Mana series, but was the first one to make it overseas. There’s also Secret of Mana 3 (Sometimes mistakenly referred to as Secret of Mana 2) which we also never got in the USA (but which has been fan translated), Secret of Evermore – which is a completely different, but equally fun game, which is what we got in America instead of Secret of Mana 3, and Legend of Mana on the PS1.

I say this review is part 1 of 4 because I plan to review the other installments in the series in the near future. I’ve never played the original “first” game (from Japan), so that one will not be included in the series of reviews. It may be available somewhere fan translated, I’ve just never sought it out. I have however, played the rest of the series, including Secret of Mana 3 which is among my favorites in the series. But we’ll start this series of reviews off with good old Secret of Mana, because it was the “gateway” for most english speaking players into this series.

Title: Secret of Mana

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: 1993

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: Amazon has the original SNES cartridge for as low as $67.00 – This is a good buy, as this game is a classic and sure to retain or increase in value among collectors. Just take a look at some of our other retro reviews around the site, similar RPGs from the 90s are going for upwards of $160 a piece. Secret of Mana is a bit more obscure than say, Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy, but it’s still an amazing little game.

However, if you are not a collector, I would recommend the mobile edition of this game which features a completely new translation. The original game had many bugs and a translation from Japanese to English which took only 30 days to complete. As a result, much of the original story was cut from the English version – Whether that was due to a hastily translated script and pressure to meet holiday deadlines from Nintendo, or as a result of the limitations of the cartridge format, the fact is, that the IOS and Android versions provide a much better experience – and cost a lot less than the actual Super Nintendo cartridge too.

You can get Secret of Mana on IOS here for just $7.99

And Android here also for $7.99

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The most unique thing about these games is the weapon “wheel” in which you can quickly switch between different weapons. Every character in the party can use every weapon in the game, in sort of a class-less system. If you try to equip the same weapon on 2 different characters though, you will only switch their weapons instead.

The weapons can be upgraded with weapon orbs found in various dungeons. Also by using a weapon, it will begin to level up and unlock new special abilities.

Since all the combat is real-time (much like Zelda, Ys, and other Action Adventure RPGs) you have to be fast thinking and take into account the movements of your enemy as well as use the terrain to your advantage to kite your monster around the map.

The game features an AI system as well in which you can decide if your party members should engage enemies directly or stay in the back to minimize their damage.

There’s also a magic “wheel” but the main hero does not have access to this; however, the other party members can use offensive or healing magic to aid the hero. You cycle through and select spells in the same way that you cycle through and select weapons. And similar to the weapons, magic also levels up the more you use it.

Some spells will be specific only to certain characters, and others will be shared by both of the magic users in the game.

Aside from the unique wheel like mechanism for choosing spells and weapons, the game plays much like other action JRPG of the 90s. You control a party of 3 heroes, and complete quests, level up, go into dungeons, and progress through the storyline.

Story: 7/10 As I mentioned above, the original SNES translation (which to be fair, is the version I’m reviewing) suffered from time constraints and/or physical limitations of the technology of the time. While we did get the game just a few weeks after the Japanese release, we really missed out on a lot of the storyline and character development.

The premise of the story is very interesting. It tells of an ancient war fought with magic which resulted almost in the end of the world. However, a hero emerged and using the Legendary Mana Sword was able to bring peace back to the world. To prevent a similar war from occuring again, the mana seeds were sealed and scattered across the earth. Powerful guardians were charged with protecting each mana seed.

Foreshadowing tells us however that the peace will not last, and a time skip brings us to our main hero as he is playing outside the village with his friends. An accident occurs in which you get separated from your friends and must find your way home but your path home is blocked by thick weeds. Conveniently, there’s a sword sticking up out of the ground, so you figure you’ll just use that to cut your way through. However, as you pick up the sword, a voice speaks to you telling you that you are the chosen one (similar to the legend of the sword in the stone) and that you now posses the legendary Mana Sword. As you make your way home, you see there appear to be monsters closer to the village than usual, so you get to try out your new sword in some real combat practice.  When you finally make it back home, the villagers blame you for the appearance of the monsters and banish you from the village.

As the story unfolds, you learn of the plan to release the mana seeds and restore the ancient technology from the first war. Knowing that this will again anger the gods, you become like the hero from the first war, destined to once again seal away the power of mana from the hands of man.

The story is actually pretty well written with some interesting surprises, and was very dark for a game of the 90s including suicide, spiritual possession, and themes of war and sorcery.

Characters: 3/10 But in the end it felt like there was more that could have been told here. Perhaps as a result of things lost in the original translation. I especially felt that the characters themselves were flat and never really connected with them in the way that I would in most other games. This made the game ultimately less enjoyable and less immersive than I would’ve liked. I should have been devastated when a major plot thread occurs which effects one of the playable characters and a love interest, but ultimately, I was just not moved or able to feel as much emotion for as grave as the plot had become, because I just didn’t care that much about any of the characters. And I am not a cold person, there are many games which have brought me to tears. This just isn’t one of them. To be fair, I’ve not played the improved new translation from the mobile games. I suspect a lot of what was cut from the script may have filled in this void in character depth and may be restored in the new mobile version.

Graphics: 8/10 I really liked how colorful and bright this game world is. Most of it features outdoor environments with lush green fields, bright blue rivers, and the character sprites are also very brightly colored.

Music: 10/10 Another iconic 90s Squaresoft soundtrack. Very memorable tracks which helped to set the mood throughout the game.

Voice Acting – N/A Not Voiced.

Replay Value: 2/10 This is a completely linear game with little to no replay value, aside from the fact that it is an enjoyable little rpg that you may wish to revisit down the road.

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 1 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Tokyo Gameshow 2015

PS4 and Kingdom Heart fans are in for a real treat. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter was just announced at the Tokyo Gameshow. Check out the trailer below:

This game is meant to serve as a prologue of events leading directly to the long awaited and anticipated Kingdom Hearts III.

According to IGN.com “Kingdom Hearts II.8 will contain a HD remaster of Dream Drop Distance, along with scenes from Unchained X called Back Cover, set to tell the tale of the Foretellers and revealing new parts of the series’ history. The final part of the collection is Birth by Sleep 0.2 – A Fragmentary Passage -, which is a completely new part of the story taking place after the events of the original Birth by Sleep, told from the perspective of Aqua”

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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Tokyo Gameshow 2015 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Life is Strange Review

Title: Life is Strange

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game (With some Visual Novel Elements)

Publisher: DontNod Entertainment & Squaresoft/Square-Enix

Release Date: Life is Strange is an Episodic Game, where your decisions made in each episode carry over to the next, the first episode was released in January of 2015. There are a total of 5 episodes, and we are still waiting (at time of this review) for episode 5 to be released.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Life is strange is a Point-and-Click adventure game with a heavy focus on story telling. It also includes branching plots and decision trees similar to those found in visual novels. The story is set in the 90s, and follows a young woman attending an art college who is insecure about her own artistic abilities, and struggling to make friends and fit in with the other students. The school is full of the stereotypical characters one remembers from their own experiences in surviving highschool (or university), such as jocks, preps, goths, hipsters, the shy people, the fat kids, the druggies, the bullies, the cheerleaders, the airheads, the geeks, the studious types, the religious types, and of course the teachers and staff of the school as well. This makes it pretty relateable for anyone who hated school or also felt like they never really fit in anywhere.

Story: 10/10 It’s a coming of age story, and also a story about finding out what’s important to you, and what you must do to protect it. You play the role of the protagonist, Max, as she returns to her childhood neighborhood to attend college after being away for a number of years. Max is rather aloof and although she has a few friends in her class, she also has a lot of enemies. She sometimes has trouble focusing in class, and also she wonders if she even belongs in an art program, because she doubts her own abilities and lacks self confidence. She is asked to participate in a photography contest but she is too shy to submit her entry. While thinking of what she should enter, she is captivated by a blue butterfly in the ladies restroom. Wanting to get a pic, she turns the corner, and quickly becomes involved in something she wasn’t supposed to see. Two other students have entered the restroom and are struggling over a gun, a real gun. Max hears the gun go off, and then, her head hurts, she feels a strange power, and realizes she’s able to rewind time, to undo the events of what happened. Using her new power, she rewinds time to prevent the gun from going off. The other girl, scared but unharmed, thanks Max for her help, and the two begin chatting. It turns out that the girl was Max’s best friend when she was a little girl, but she’s changed so much that Max no longer recognizes her. The two begin to rekindle their friendship, as Max learns about the events that led to the struggle that day, including mysterious murders, disappearances, rapes, and drugging of female students from Blackwell Academy. As the story progresses, Max finds herself trying to save the girls involved in these incidents while trying to uncover the truth behind who’s to blame for the horrendous acts. On top of that, Max begins having strange visions, and strange things begin happening around town, such as snow in the summer, and dozens of beached whales, and solar eclipses, and tornadoes, and other strange phenomenon that eerily seem to be connected to Max’s new powers. As she uses her powers, sometimes other things around her change, and not always for the better, sometimes for the worse, or even heartbreaking consequences. There’s a lot of emotion and heart in this game, and your choices and decisions impact which parts of the story you will see.

Characters: 10/10 Max is the player’s character throughout this game; she’s an intelligent and artistic young woman who’s just enrolled into a new university where she’s struggling to fit in. Chloe is Max’s childhood friend, they were separated when Max moved away as a child. Max did not keep in touch with Chloe due to a certain event in their past, but their paths soon cross again. Kate is one of Max’s close friends at her new school. Kate had something terrible happen to her and is now the victim of constant bullying. Rachel Amber, another student at Blackwell Academy, had filled in the role of Chloe’s best friend in Max’s absence, but then Rachel mysteriously disappeared. Nathan Prescott, is the rich spoiled boy who’s family owns most of Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy. Is he behind the mysterious disappearance?

Appearances are not always what they seem in this game; be careful who you trust, and also don’t judge others too quickly until you know them. They may surprise you!

As mentioned above, the characters feel very relateable because they’re based on all too common, but all too true, stereotypes of the types of students one has encountered in their own life.

Gameplay: 6/10 Gameplay consists of wandering around the school or town looking for clues, by finding objects that you can interact with or talking to different people. Many objects have multiple ways in which to interact and the game does not hold your hand or make it readily apparent which options are best for which objects. At times, your actions, decisions, and dialogue will impact the past, present, or future, and you will be notified by a blue butterfly icon on your screen. You can then either rewind, or proceed and live with the choices you’ve made.

Although the gameplay itself is fun, there are some MAJOR gameplay issues with this game when it comes to control, usability, and interfaces. I play on a “gaming” laptop machine. I don’t have a mouse, nor any place to really put a mouse, because I play from my bed. Using the touchpad OR my touchscreen with this device is a nightmare for some reason. Also when I first got episode 1, maybe it’s just me and I’m really dense, but I spent over 4 hours trying to do the first action, and stumbled through the game for days, until I realized one thing – I was trying to “trace a path” to the action I wanted to take, following the little arrow that’s drawn by every object. This is wrong! Instead you just click below or left/right/above etc for the action you want. — This made control somewhat easier BUT the main thing I find is I have to be facing/looking at an object JUST right in order to “reach” the action I want to click on, sometimes I have to back out of the action tree and reposition the items on my screen – I think this probably doesn’t happen when using a mouse – but I can’t be the ONLY gamer who doesn’t use a mouse, especially with a game like this which doesn’t require much user input.

Music: 8/10 Music plays a big part in this game; with the ability to sometimes sit and listen to a music cd or play your guitar, and you can just relax and immerse yourself in the soundtrack. The soundtrack is also fitting for the game, and has an “indie” feel to it which matches the “hipster” vibe of the game’s settings and characters.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The game is fully voiced, and the game relies on this mechanic to tell its story to the audience. The voice acting is also quite well done; in fact, it’s been nominated for Performance of the Year in the Golden Joystick awards for the voice actress behind Chloe.

Graphics: 7/10 I enjoy the graphics of the game, and it’s fully animated and fully 3d, presented to you like a movie. They’re not the most highly advanced cutting edge graphics ever, and other reviewers are quick to point out some lip syncing inconsistencies (which I personally haven’t noticed). But I think it’s still a pretty game to look at :). The number of environments that you get to interact with are rather small, the school, a diner in town, a scrapyard, your friend’s home, and the dark room; but this is an indie game, so it’s expected to be somewhat small in scale. I think the outdoor scenes are especially lovely. Character design is also very good, although the characters feel a bit stiff at times.

Replay Value: 8/10 Your decisions really do matter; For example, Kate Marsh really can die if you don’t save her. I saved her in my game, but I did some research while typing this blog post to see if the decisions we make in the game actually matter, and a lot of people are asking for help how to save her, etc. Also they say it’s one decision that you cannot rewind and redo; so unless you save before then, or start all over, you’re stuck living with the consequences of your actions. — However, so far, every episode has followed the same story and reached the same climax; although what happens in between the beginning and end IS dependent on your actions, as illustrated above, you will still arrive at the same conclusion each episode so far; though there may be multiple endings as it is advertised as such on steam – we won’t know for sure until Episode 5 arrives.

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

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Life is Strange Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Life is Strange Review

Title: Life is Strange

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game (With some Visual Novel Elements)

Publisher: DontNod Entertainment & Squaresoft/Square-Enix

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Release Date: Life is Strange is an Episodic Game, where your decisions made in each episode carry over to the next, the first episode was released in January of 2015. There are a total of 5 episodes, and we are still waiting (at time of this review) for episode 5 to be released.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Life is strange is a Point-and-Click adventure game with a heavy focus on story telling. It also includes branching plots and decision trees similar to those found in visual novels. The story is set in the 90s, and follows a young woman attending an art college who is insecure about her own artistic abilities, and struggling to make friends and fit in with the other students. The school is full of the stereotypical characters one remembers from their own experiences in surviving highschool (or university), such as jocks, preps, goths, hipsters, the shy people, the fat kids, the druggies, the bullies, the cheerleaders, the airheads, the geeks, the studious types, the religious types, and of course the teachers and staff of the school as well. This makes it pretty relateable for anyone who hated school or also felt like they never really fit in anywhere.

Story: 10/10 It’s a coming of age story, and also a story about finding out what’s important to you, and what you must do to protect it. You play the role of the protagonist, Max, as she returns to her childhood neighborhood to attend college after being away for a number of years. Max is rather aloof and although she has a few friends in her class, she also has a lot of enemies. She sometimes has trouble focusing in class, and also she wonders if she even belongs in an art program, because she doubts her own abilities and lacks self confidence. She is asked to participate in a photography contest but she is too shy to submit her entry. While thinking of what she should enter, she is captivated by a blue butterfly in the ladies restroom. Wanting to get a pic, she turns the corner, and quickly becomes involved in something she wasn’t supposed to see. Two other students have entered the restroom and are struggling over a gun, a real gun. Max hears the gun go off, and then, her head hurts, she feels a strange power, and realizes she’s able to rewind time, to undo the events of what happened. Using her new power, she rewinds time to prevent the gun from going off. The other girl, scared but unharmed, thanks Max for her help, and the two begin chatting. It turns out that the girl was Max’s best friend when she was a little girl, but she’s changed so much that Max no longer recognizes her. The two begin to rekindle their friendship, as Max learns about the events that led to the struggle that day, including mysterious murders, disappearances, rapes, and drugging of female students from Blackwell Academy. As the story progresses, Max finds herself trying to save the girls involved in these incidents while trying to uncover the truth behind who’s to blame for the horrendous acts. On top of that, Max begins having strange visions, and strange things begin happening around town, such as snow in the summer, and dozens of beached whales, and solar eclipses, and tornadoes, and other strange phenomenon that eerily seem to be connected to Max’s new powers. As she uses her powers, sometimes other things around her change, and not always for the better, sometimes for the worse, or even heartbreaking consequences. There’s a lot of emotion and heart in this game, and your choices and decisions impact which parts of the story you will see.

Characters: 10/10 Max is the player’s character throughout this game; she’s an intelligent and artistic young woman who’s just enrolled into a new university where she’s struggling to fit in. Chloe is Max’s childhood friend, they were separated when Max moved away as a child. Max did not keep in touch with Chloe due to a certain event in their past, but their paths soon cross again. Kate is one of Max’s close friends at her new school. Kate had something terrible happen to her and is now the victim of constant bullying. Rachel Amber, another student at Blackwell Academy, had filled in the role of Chloe’s best friend in Max’s absence, but then Rachel mysteriously disappeared. Nathan Prescott, is the rich spoiled boy who’s family owns most of Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy. Is he behind the mysterious disappearance?

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Appearances are not always what they seem in this game; be careful who you trust, and also don’t judge others too quickly until you know them. They may surprise you!

As mentioned above, the characters feel very relateable because they’re based on all too common, but all too true, stereotypes of the types of students one has encountered in their own life.

Gameplay: 6/10 Gameplay consists of wandering around the school or town looking for clues, by finding objects that you can interact with or talking to different people. Many objects have multiple ways in which to interact and the game does not hold your hand or make it readily apparent which options are best for which objects. At times, your actions, decisions, and dialogue will impact the past, present, or future, and you will be notified by a blue butterfly icon on your screen. You can then either rewind, or proceed and live with the choices you’ve made.

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Although the gameplay itself is fun, there are some MAJOR gameplay issues with this game when it comes to control, usability, and interfaces. I play on a “gaming” laptop machine. I don’t have a mouse, nor any place to really put a mouse, because I play from my bed. Using the touchpad OR my touchscreen with this device is a nightmare for some reason. Also when I first got episode 1, maybe it’s just me and I’m really dense, but I spent over 4 hours trying to do the first action, and stumbled through the game for days, until I realized one thing – I was trying to “trace a path” to the action I wanted to take, following the little arrow that’s drawn by every object. This is wrong! Instead you just click below or left/right/above etc for the action you want. — This made control somewhat easier BUT the main thing I find is I have to be facing/looking at an object JUST right in order to “reach” the action I want to click on, sometimes I have to back out of the action tree and reposition the items on my screen – I think this probably doesn’t happen when using a mouse – but I can’t be the ONLY gamer who doesn’t use a mouse, especially with a game like this which doesn’t require much user input.

Music: 8/10 Music plays a big part in this game; with the ability to sometimes sit and listen to a music cd or play your guitar, and you can just relax and immerse yourself in the soundtrack. The soundtrack is also fitting for the game, and has an “indie” feel to it which matches the “hipster” vibe of the game’s settings and characters.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The game is fully voiced, and the game relies on this mechanic to tell its story to the audience. The voice acting is also quite well done; in fact, it’s been nominated for Performance of the Year in the Golden Joystick awards for the voice actress behind Chloe.

Graphics: 7/10 I enjoy the graphics of the game, and it’s fully animated and fully 3d, presented to you like a movie. They’re not the most highly advanced cutting edge graphics ever, and other reviewers are quick to point out some lip syncing inconsistencies (which I personally haven’t noticed). But I think it’s still a pretty game to look at :). The number of environments that you get to interact with are rather small, the school, a diner in town, a scrapyard, your friend’s home, and the dark room; but this is an indie game, so it’s expected to be somewhat small in scale. I think the outdoor scenes are especially lovely. Character design is also very good, although the characters feel a bit stiff at times.

Replay Value: 8/10 Your decisions really do matter; For example, Kate Marsh really can die if you don’t save her. I saved her in my game, but I did some research while typing this blog post to see if the decisions we make in the game actually matter, and a lot of people are asking for help how to save her, etc. Also they say it’s one decision that you cannot rewind and redo; so unless you save before then, or start all over, you’re stuck living with the consequences of your actions. — However, so far, every episode has followed the same story and reached the same climax; although what happens in between the beginning and end IS dependent on your actions, as illustrated above, you will still arrive at the same conclusion each episode so far; though there may be multiple endings as it is advertised as such on steam – we won’t know for sure until Episode 5 arrives.

Overall: 65/90 72% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Life is Strange Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie