Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name – Makoto Shinkai – 2016 Anime Full Length Featured Film Movie Review

I just got done watching Kimi No Na Wa, this year’s record breaking summer box office smash that is still topping the charts for almost 3 months now in Japan.

The film is directed by Makoto Shinkai who also made anime such as 5cm per second and voices of a distant star.

All of his works follow a common theme of fated lovers who are separated by either distance or time. And Kimi No Na Wa is no exception to this overarching theme throughout his works.

What is a slight departure from his previous works is the use of several vocal tracks throughout this film – Maybe this is the new hot trend in feature length anime films in Japan right now? Because “I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee” (which I reviewed here) also has about a half dozen vocal tracks. – Kimi no na wa has about 3 or 4 – and they are used to help convey key scenes and emotions throughout the film. — In fact all of the music, even the instrumental tracks are very “emotional”. I loved the music in both of these films and it really sets them apart from a lot of other anime movies out there.

Title: Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name

Release Date: 2016 in Japan – No release yet in North America

Genre: Slice of Life, Scifi, Romance

Length: 1 Film – Runtime: aproximately 1 hour and 46 minutes

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films / Toho

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky – The theme of time travel is one that many geeks enjoy; the production values in terms of animation and sound effects, voice acting, and music are all very high – however, this is a slow paced shoujo, with little to no action until about the last 40 minutes of the nearly 2 hour long film.

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie – The theme of fated lovers and the suspense and drama throughout this anime make it a hit with anyone who loves slice of life or shoujo. The numerous vocal tracks as well as the heart-stirring instrumental themes also play on the viewer’s emotions. The animation is simply gorgeous and draws you right in as well.

Overall 40/45 89% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Story: 9/10 – The story follows 2 main characters, a boy named Taki, and a girl named Mitsuha, who switch places when they fall asleep. It’s not every night, and happens at random times. When it first begins happening neither one can remember or realize what’s happening. They begin leaving notes for one another, on their phones, in journals, or even writing all over their bodies. This helps them learn more about eachother and helps them adjust when this change suddenly happens. They also try to spend as much time helping eachother when using the other one’s body. Of course the gender-swapping thing is prone to some fanservice and comedic bits as well.

As they grow closer, and as more of the story is revealed, you learn that Taki must remember Mitsuha to save her and her village from a terrible fate. The problem is, that as they grow closer, they also begin to lose their memories and forget one another. Their dreams seem much more like dreams and less and less like reality, and soon time begins to pass them by. Will Taki remember Mistsuha before it is too late?

Characters: 9/10 – Mitsuha is from a small village deeply rooted in tradition and culture. Taki is from the city. Both dream of escaping their day-to-day routines. There are several other minor characters, but most of the screen time goes to our two love birds.

Mitsuha’s friends and family get way more screentime than Taki’s friends and family. Mitsuha lives with her grandma and younger sister. Mitsuha is responsible for helping to weave hand braided cords. Her grandma explains these cords represent the threads of time, and explains how time can unravel and reconnect in mysterious ways. Mitsuha also is training as a shrine maiden and prepares a special offering for the gods at the upcoming festival. Mitsuha’s bestfriends are another couple from her school. They become instrumental later in the film to helping Mitsuha orchestrate her plans to try to save the village.

Taki lives with his father. It appears his father works a lot and is busy so Taki is alone a lot. Taki also has 2 best friends, and a slightly older coworker, but they are far less instrumental as far as plot devices go. They serve more as comedic relief and love rivals.

Would have liked to see Taki’s friends and family fleshed out more to give this 10/10. However, the characters – especially our two love birds, really grow significantly throughout the film thanks to sometimes unwanted meddling from eachother when borrowing the other’s body. And of course we get to watch them face hardship and unravel the mystery of what is happening when they switch places. Best of all, we get to watch them come to know one another and develop feelings for eachother which is the biggest catalyst in their coming of age and beginning to change. From start to end, 8 years have passed, so we see them grow throughout their incredible journey.

Artwork: 4/5 – The animation as mentioned is really beautiful. The character designs almost have a retro vibe I think, kinda 90s looking. That, combined with the gender-swapping theme kinda harkens back memories of Ranma 1/2 or similar older anime. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but it was a unique approach. The character designs also remind me slightly of studio ghibli in that they are slightly more realistic and less “anime-ish”. But it’s the backgrounds that are just super lovely. The sky, the trees, the lakes, clouds, and even the cityscapes of Taki’s home town in Tokyo. They feel so realistic and lifelike, but yet have a gorgeous mysterious dreamlike feeling to them.

Music 5/5 – As mentioned previously, this film employs several vocal themes throughout. This really helps paint a story and carry the characters’ emotions. It also catches the audiences’ ear. Even without these tracks, the music is still a 5/5 because of the gorgeous background melodies which swell with so many different emotions

Voice Acting 5/5 – The voices felt super natural, which helped carry the emotions, suspense, urgency, and frustrations of the two main characters. The supplemental cast was also spot on in delivering the lines for their roles.

Overall 40/45 89% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name – Makoto Shinkai – 2016 Anime Full Length Featured Film Movie Review was originally published on

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Orange Manga Review + Crunchyroll Begins Airing Orange Anime Based on the Manga by Ichigo Takano

I’m not as big of a reader as I used to be when I was younger, however, the last few seasons of anime have not held much to capture my interests, and being single again I find myself with too much spare time. So this past year I’ve been reading a lot of manga! One of my favorites, which is available to read for free on Crunchyroll, is “Orange” — and a few days ago Crunchyroll announced they will be simul-casting the new anime based on the manga as well! I thought that makes it a good time to share my love of this series. I’m so excited about the anime adaptation! This review is for the manga version 🙂

There may be some slight spoiler for the first volume – I have tried to avoid them and keep this as brief and condensed as possible but if you’re worried, I’d recommend reading or watching the series first before going any further.

Title: Orange
Author: Ichigo Takano
Genre: Shoujo / Slice of Life / Mystery / Time Travel / Scifi / Romance
Volumes: 5
Release Date: 2012
Where to Read (for Free): www.crunchyroll.com/comics/manga/orange/volumes
Where to Purchase (For Your Collection): //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=1626923027&asins=1626923027&linkId=586c86f6383b06e86aa9e7c8f777788b&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true //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=1626922713&asins=1626922713&linkId=dd4b403e33a9647fdfddec721ae59493&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

Geeky: geekygeekygeekygeeky 4/5 – due to the mystery of the time travel and suspense of life and death circumstances this series could easily be enjoyed by geeks regardless of their genders. However, the shoujo elements are strong, and there’s not much “action” aside from the time travel bits. So if you don’t enjoy slice of life, you likely won’t like this either.

Sweetie: sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie 5/5 – A very sweet love story here with a lot of heart and emotion and great character growth continuously throughout the series.

Overall: 41/50 82% B- “Very Good Manga for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The manga revolves around a young girl named Naho who one day receives a mysterious letter claiming to have been sent by her “future self”. It forewarns Naho that a new student is going to be transferring to their school and that this student will plan to commit suicide by the end of the school year and tries to give her advice on how to help save her “friend”. Naho works closely with her classmates, at first unable to tell them about the letter but gradually opening up to them as they enjoy their normal highschool life and Naho finds herself falling in love with the new student who she’s set out to save.

Story: 6/10 – I love the story (which I’ve outlined above without spoiling too much for you). However, the story ends with a rather “open” ending, and doesn’t resolve some of the questions I have. I can’t tell you more, obviously without spoiling it, but it was just not a very satisfactory ending to me. I also often wondered what became of the future Naho in the original “timeline” – because she was in love with and married to someone else and even had a child by him (this is all revealed pretty early (first chapter before she sends the letter to her “past self”) so it’s only a minor spoiler so don’t freak too much. — But if she saves Kakeru — would that then lead to Naho and Kakeru getting together, and how would that impact her child/relationship with the other person? — I wondered about that throughout the entire manga… I felt badly for this other person who really loves Naho. That slightly diminished my liking of Naho and Kakeru a little bit.

Characters: 8/10 Naho is the stereotypical heroine we always see in shoujo novels. She’s naive, afraid of her feelings, afraid of messing things up with her love interest, and pretty dense and oblivious to what seems obvious (about the relationship) to everyone else. She has a good group of friends who act as comic support, as well as love rivals, and this is all really common mundane stuff here. The most interesting character, by far, is Kakeru… he is one hot mess…. he blames himself for something that happens to his family at home (I won’t spoil it for you). He refuses to talk to anyone about his guilt/shame/feelings/fears and they eat away at him, which in the original time line leads to his committing suicide. Naho’s determination slowly begins to change Kakeru and get him to finally trust and open up to her and their other friends, however, it also frightens Kakeru, and we see him regress over and over and withdraw back into his depressing little shell. You don’t realize up until the very end if he will go through with suicide again or choose to live a happy life. I liked the suspense and drama. I liked even the dull mundane bits, and the comedy and humor along the way, and yes, even though I felt bad for some of the love rivals, I really did hope for Naho and Kakeru to get together. You can really feel their love and emotions for one another. You can also feel how awkward they are, and how they continue to inadvertently hurt eachother and struggle and fumble through their relationship.

Artwork: 8/10 – The art style is cute, and yet, distinctive. This is a relatively newer mangaka without many hits out there yet – I’m pretty sure this is their first novel to get picked up for an anime adaptation. I loved how each character looked very unique and different. Every single one is a different height and different body build. Naho is kinda short, and a little “pudgy” even with rounder cheeks, etc. This gives her a sweet soft innocent look that makes her a very likeable character for kawaii-ness alone. The boys of course are all absolute hotties :). My favorite thing is the multitude of different facial expressions – this artist has a very expressive style to their drawings.

Overall: 41/50 82% B- “Very Good Manga for Girls”

Animenewsnetwork.com provides the following information about the upcoming anime adaptation. I think most interesting to note, it’s being written by the same writer as Stein’s Gate, which is very fitting for a time travel anime. I do not see mention anywhere of the original mangaka’s hand touching the anime adaptation. Can we expect to see some changes in the story? I’m excited to find out.

The anime’s cast includes:

Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins;Gate, Terraformars) is directing the anime atTMS Entertainment and Telecom Animation Film, and Yuuko Kakihara(Chihayafuru 2) is writing the scripts. Nobuteru Yuki (The Vision of Escaflowne, Kids on the Slope) is designing the characters. Yukio Nagasaki (GATE, Dragon Ball Z Kai) is serving as the sound director, and Hiroaki Tsutsumi (Kuromukuro, Monster Musume) is composing the music.

(Source: animenewsnetwork.com)

Check out the trailer for the new anime set to air on Monday on Crunchyroll!

I also just found out (while searching for the trailer for the anime version) that there’s a live action film as well – check out the trailer for that below:

Are you excited for the anime or live action adaptations? Did you read the manga already? Do you like it? Let us know in comments below!

Orange Manga Review + Crunchyroll Begins Airing Orange Anime Based on the Manga by Ichigo Takano was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review

Ever17 is probably my all time favorite visual novel. It was one of the first that I had played, and the story is so good. It’s not your typical “dating” or “romance” novel. It’s a very thrilling and suspenseful tale about a group of young people trapped in an underwater theme park. They are running out of oxygen, and worse yet, the computer systems are failing which is causing the pressure inside the ship to build, causing leaks. They’re also running out of fresh food and water. Strange things also begin happening aboard the ship. Some characters resign themselves to their doomed fates, while others will do whatever it takes to survive.

I’ve referenced this game in many of my other reviews, most notably, my review of Stein’s Gate (which you can check out here.) The reason for that is because after Kid, the developers of Ever17 and the rest of the series which includes Never7 and Remember 11 (both have been fan-translated) and 12Riven and Code_18,  which to my knowledge have not been translated closed down, many of the staff members joined 5PB (developers of Stein’s Gate).

There are numerous similarities between the two games – both games deal with time travel, both games have the same interface (more or less, Stein’s Gate has the cellphone thing, but other than that, the menu design and especially the Tips section is really similar). But the biggest impression both games leave is a strong scifi mystery regarding time travel which uses true life events, people, theories, and science to create a great sense of immersion. Schrodinger’s Cat, John Titor, Black Holes, etc. I doubt I’m the only person who googled some of these things while playing and became interested in them because of these games.

The same author of Ever17 (and etc.) also wrote the script for 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors, and Zero Escape, Virtue’s Last Reward (and the sequels).

So if you like any of those “newer” games – please play Ever17 – in my opinion it’s STILL the best out of all of those – in terms especially of story, mystery, and suspense.

If You’re wondering what order to play these games in. This is the proper order: Never7 –> Ever17 –> Remember11 –> 12Riven –> Code18 // Stein’s Gate –> Stein’s Gate 2 (still in development) // 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors –> Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward –> Zero Time Dilemma (still in development).

Stein’s Gate and 999 are not directly related to Ever17, but they do have spoilers that might deter your enjoyment of Ever17 – especially 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which are very similar to Ever17. They’re great games, but Ever17 is still better :).

Title: Ever17 The Out of Infinity

Developer: Kid

Publisher: Hirameki International (who are now sadly out of business)

Genre: Visual Novel

Release Date: 2005

Platform: PC (There are numerous other versions, including a 3D version on the Xbox360 – however, none of these ports or remakes have ever made it to North America, despite the surprising success of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which you think would cause them to consider bringing this title over. It could perhaps have to do with licensing issues now that Kid and Hirameki are both dissolved. )

Where to Buy: MY GOD!! It’s going for almost $1,000 on Amazon LOL. Or for about $400-600 from other resellers. Now I’m really tempted to sell my copy. But I worry I will want to play it again some day. — Anyways, needless to say, with both KID and Hirameki being out of business, this game is EXTREMELY rare and highly sought after (because it’s awesome). You can keep an eye on this amazon page and see if there are any new listings. http://www.amazon.com/EVER-17 Ebay might also be a good option, it looks like a few recent auctions have gone for around $100-200 (Example from last month: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ever-17)

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Like most visual novels, you progress through the game by reading an interactive story, choosing how to respond at different points which in turn determine what parts of the story you see or which endings you receive. After completing each character ending, a new option will open up when you next start a new game at the title screen which will let you see the true ending – which is a huge mind fuck in this case – in a good way, but it’s very well worth the effort in doing all the endings and being rewarded by finally being told wtf is going on here – and it’s definitely NOT what you think it is. Really surprising / twist ending – I enjoyed it very much. It ties up every single question you have and is just so satisfying. Unlike the next game in the series, Remember11, which up until the true ending, I was liking it even more than Ever17, and then it just kinda ends with an open ending and you feel ripped off lol. Ever17’s routes are all really well fleshed out and tinged with sadness and mystery. But they resolve all of that mystery with the true ending. It’s awesome.

Gameplay: 6/10 The nature of visual novel games makes gameplay always a bit dull. The gameplay here is spiced up a little bit as you will switch between two different characters (which is a concept they also use in Remember11). And like any good visual novel (but sadly not all visual novels) there is a skip function to bypass previously read text to make multiple playthroughs much easier. There’s no minigames or anything of that nature to break up the “monotonous” gameplay of clicking and reading large blocks of text. However, compared to most novels, Ever17 has a ton of choices, and those choices carry a lot of meaning. As mentioned above, the true ending is also really satisfying, making all of that reading well worth it in the end.

Story: 9/10 I deducted one point because of the notoriously bad translation. It’s not really THAT bad where it detracts from the story or my enjoyment of the game – but it really needed another set of eyes to proofread this thing before it went commercial. There’s fan translations that are higher quality than this (I dunno, there might even be a fan patch for this game, I never looked, because like I said, the translation didn’t bother me that much.)

More importantly, this game’s story is amazing. I’ve mentioned a few times, but it uses real world theories and scientific principles which really helps build immersion and buy-in from the audience. The main theme is time travel – although that’s not readily apparent at first. And I won’t comment on how that comes into play, because that’d be a huge spoiler. All I can say is, if you like time travel games like Stein’s Gate – check this game out.

But at the heart of the story, is humanity struggling against their fate, people’s will to survive, and people’s determination to save their friends, family, and loved ones.

It also has an interesting juxtaposition of a childlike setting (a huge themepark), and the impending doom and oppressive feeling and urgency throughout the game.

Of course, the true ending is really satisfying, you’re left without any burning questions or confusion. It ties everything up into a neat little package with a bow on top for you to unwrap.

Characters: 10/10 The characters begin their “vacation” with such innocence and enthusiasm until they realize their sad fates. The characters slowly begin to change (which is a key sign of character development). Some who were anti-social before and independent, become weak and fearful, others who were innocent and bright become reclusive, almost all of the characters become neurotic, and a few become desperate enough to do anything to survive. It’s interesting to watch their struggle, their cooperation, how they begin to organize and band together to ration their food, lift eachother’s spirits, and search for a way to contact the outside to send help.

There’s also numerous mysteries within the main mystery, ghosts, artificial intelligence, children searching for their parents, amnesia, and more.

Graphics: 8/10 For the time, the graphics are quite beautiful. Keep in mind, this game is now 14 years old (the original Japanese version debuted in 2002). For that, the character style, the backgrounds, and even the 3d animation  (in the opening video) are all very well done. Of course, by today’s standards, with technology like Live 2D and fully fluid moving character sprites (such as those in Ensemble Stars or NekoPara), the artwork, especially of the sprites, is stiff and dated. It’s still quite lovely though. — Interestingly enough, the Xbox360 remake features 3D character art – however, fans have often criticized the new art and prefer the original art of the PC version.

Music: 8/10 I loved the soundtrack in this game – it really helped add to the mystery and suspense, and even desperation that the characters were experiencing.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The voice acting is also another highlight of the game. I hear that they re-recorded all of the voice acting for the 360 version – rather this was to improve it, or due to licensing fees I’m not sure. – But in my opinion, the voice acting within the original PC version was excellent.

Replay Value: 10/10 The true ending is worth all of the work – and each of the routes are really well done. Many times a visual novel will have some routes that are not fleshed out well. But that’s not the case here. I tremendously enjoyed each route, making it almost impossible to pick a favorite. Also even though I’ve beaten it to completion and completed the true ending – I’d still play this game again – because it’s so good. Seriously, just go play this game if you’ve never experienced it.

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Erased – Anime Review

Erased is pretty much THE anime of 2016. I’m sure you have probably at least heard of it, if not watched it yourself even. I really enjoyed this anime despite it being so predictable that I knew who the killer was by the 2nd or 3rd episode. — Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (or haven’t figured it out themselves).

Erased has awesome music and a neat time-travel theme. Are you sad that Erased is over? I highly recommend that you check out Re:Zero – a currently running anime with a very similar time travel concept.

Title: Erased (aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – The Town Without Only Me)

Genre: Seinen, Murder, Mystery, Scifi

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Length: 12 Episodes

Release Date: 2016

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 5/5

Sweetie: 3/5

Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 9/10 (Possible spoilers from first episode) The story begins with our main character, Satoru, delivering a pizza, suddenly as he’s driving down the street, he realizes he’s been there before. He explains that he has special powers which rewind time a few minutes before an accident occurs and that even though it’s against his better judgement he somehow always gets involved in other people’s problems to save them. This time he saves a little kid about to step into traffic. After he gets off work he goes home to find his mom is in town visiting him. He goes with his mom to the store, and he feels that something is not right. He tells his mom to look around for anything suspicious. She sees a man trying to abduct a child, but the man’s eyes meet her gaze and he gives up on his plan. Later, the man decides to kill the main character’s mom. The main character is blamed and framed for the murder of his mother – as he flees from the cops, he triggers another time jump – this time all the way back to when he was 8 years old – more than 20 years into the past.

There is something that happened when he was 8 years old that will set the course in motion for his mother’s death. Now he must figure out what exactly that is. The problem is, he’s just a kid, and while he has his memories of being an adult, he’s not as strong, and not able to do things he used to do (stay out late, go places unsupervised, etc). His friends help him “play detective” though only one of them actually believes that it’s more than just make believe. It turns out that when he was 8 years old, several of his class mates were abducted and murdered. The man thought of committing these murders was sentenced to life in prison. Could it be they have the wrong man? Can Satoru solve the mystery and save his classmates – and his mom?

The only reason I give this a 9 instead of 10 is because they made it so obvious who the killer was and did so too soon! I had it figured out by the 2nd or 3rd episode (Then again, this is a short series). It kinda killed the mystery which is sorta the whole point of this series. It’s still an awesome anime though and the story is really good! Good mix of comedy, suspense, horror, scifi, and even romance. There’s some changes from the manga – because the manga was still running when the anime aired.

The manga develops Kayo and Airi a lot more (Kayo never does move away and becomes part of their group instead of just disappearing. And with Airi we learn more about her dream (to be a photographer which makes the ending of the anime make more sense lol.) However, I think overall, the anime really captured the heart of the story and although the endings are drastically different, they really still follow the same formula with Satoru being framed for another attempted murder.

Characters: 9/10 I really loved the characters in this anime. They are so unique – from our main character, a struggling manga artist, to his mom with her sharp instincts, to his friends who range from chubby comedy support, to handsome young intelligent and level headed, to various love interests throughout the characters’ pasts and future. There are some really touching moments. More than anything, Satoru wants to protect the people he loves. This really shows through the character dialog and interaction. Once again, some of the characters are not as well developed in the anime adaptation as opposed to the manga. The anime is a bit rushed which causes certain chapters of the manga to be omitted completely, including an entire chapter devoted to Airi. Even still, I think the characters and their interaction is one of the highlights of this series.

Artwork: 5/5 Since it is a recent release, the artwork is clean, the animation is fluid, and the character designs are very attractive. – I also read the manga after watching this – and dang, that’s one ugly manga lol. (still well worth the read). I do like how they took certain things from the manga, like how the characters’ lips are very full, etc. It gives them a unique appearance. But I’m glad that it polishes these designs and changes them to look much cleaner and fresher. It has the spirit of the manga, but a very different style overall.

Music: 5/5 – If I could rate this on a higher scale, I would, but to keep in form with my other reviews we’ll stick to this formula. The music is one of the best anime soundtracks of 2016 so far. I really loved the opening song – which apparently is an old Jrock song from the 90s which used to be really popular. Kinda fits with the time travel theme to use a “throwback” opening song – and it’s just so catchy! The music throughout the rest of the series was also just really good.

Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Erased – Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2

A day later than promised, but here is my review for Dark Cloud 2. Dark Cloud 2 improves upon Dark Cloud 1 in almost every way.

(By the way, I reviewed Dark Cloud 1 yesterday, which you can read here.)

You may want to read the review for Dark Cloud 1 first to get the fullest understanding of the Gameplay mechanics, as a lot of those same mechanics are carried over to Dark Cloud 2.

Dark Cloud 2, like its predecessor is an Action-RPG with real-time combat and unique weapon leveling system, procedurally generated dungeons and world and city building gameplay elements.

Title: Dark Cloud 2 (also sometimes referred to by the Japanese title, Dark Chronicle).

Platform: PS2

Genre: Action-RPG

Publisher: Level 5

Where to Buy: Playstation Store has Dark Cloud 2 (digital version) for $14.99. Amazon has the physical disc with prices ranging from $32 to $92 at time of this review, depending on the game’s condition. http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cloud-2… Amazon also has the digital version, the same as the Playstation Store, for $14.99 – accessible from the same amazon link above.

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of Dark Cloud 2 is very similar to that in Dark Cloud 1. It’s a Dungeon Crawler with randomly generated dungeons and real-time combat. There’s also multiple quick time events. The city and world building elements return in Dark Cloud 2. The weapon system, and the non-leveling characters also return. The game is enhanced with new features such as fishing and character customization through a unique costume system. Combat is improved, and the game is given a much needed makeover with adorable anime style cel-shaded artwork that looks like it came out of a painting or storybook. The Soundtrack is almost double the size of the original, and has some truly amazing tracks. It also adds voice acting to the game which helps highlight key events and scenes. Yep, in every single way, this game is much better than the original – which was already pretty darn great!

Gameplay: 10/10 Dark Cloud 2 takes everything that made Dark Cloud 1 so great, and then adds in some new features as I mentioned above, an improved combat system, a new fishing “minigame”, ability to customize your characters with different costumes, etc. But at the core, it’s still the Dark Cloud that we all know and love from the first game. You crawl through multiple procedurally generated dungeons, in which you will find artifacts called Geostones which when taken back to town, allow you to place objects, people, houses, even landscaping elements into your city. As you add more to your city, you will begin to recruit new npcs which will open new shops, give you new quests, and make your city come to life. The weapon system also makes a return in Dark Cloud 2. In the Dark Cloud series your characters do not level up or have any stats or abilities. Instead, it is their equipment which levels up during combat and can be refined back in town to add attributes and abilities directly into the Equipment. Also as in Dark Cloud 1, If you over-use the equipment and forget to repair it though you will permanently lose the items, which sucks for rare or high powered gear. However, this element of “risk” definitely makes Gameplay more fun and challenging.

Story: 6/10 Dark Cloud 2’s story is a significant improvement over the bare bones story of Dark Cloud 1. But to me it’s still just not “great”. I still think story is a weak point for this series overall. Dark Cloud 2’s story focuses on Time Travel. A Princess from the future is sent 100 years back in time to try to save her kingdom. To do so, she joins forces with our hero, who is able to also Time Travel (to the future). Using their powers combined they can freely go to the past, present, or future. As you make changes in your town, things begin to change in the future also. It’s a unique and fun concept. As the story progresses you travel between the past, present, and future re-writing certain events to prevent a terrible war from taking place while seeking help from the moon people. I just felt overall, the story lacked a lot of heart or emotion which prevents me from being able to score it higher. I enjoy the time travel concept, but just never felt as immersed or connected to the story as I have in many other JRPG.

Characters: 5/10 Here we have fewer playable characters, down to 2 from 6 in the original game. Also both characters are human looking in appearance and no where near as creative looking as in Dark Cloud 1 (a cat girl, moon person, etc). I just felt the characters themselves also, just like in Dark Cloud 1 were rather flat and didn’t engage me right away. I think maybe it’s the way they interact with other characters and overall a lack of character development that really hurt both games in this series.

Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are a tremendous step up from those in the first game. Gone are the grainy textures and poor lighting. Also gone is the more realistic art style. Instead we have adorable anime inspired cel-shaded artwork. I did deduct 2 points because the characters facial expressions and animations felt stiff as is often a problem with 3d games especially from this time period. Overall I feel Dark Cloud 2 is adorable, and beautiful to look at. Dark Cloud 1 looked more like a PS1 game, while Dark Cloud 2, clearly took full advantage of the PS2 Hardware. It’s not as beautiful and fluid as say, Dawn of Mana, which is another PS2 game that utilizes similar cel-shaded art styles, but it’s very attractive in it’s own right, and the added touch of being able to customize the characters with various costumes really made the game’s art stand out even more.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Dark Cloud 2 has nearly 80 unique tracks (up from the 40-ish tracks in the original game.). Some of these tracks are amazing. It is really a hidden gem among retro JRPG soundtracks. The game is relatively obscure, but I’d rank Dark Cloud 2’s music right up there with other great JRPG such as Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger.

Voice Acting: 10/10 No expense was spared in localizing this game. Although I’m not really a fan of dubbed voice overs, most of the ones in Dark Cloud 2 are fairly decent. And it’s nice to have Voice Acting added to help highlight key scenes in the story. The game featured almost every high profile voice actor of the 90s.

Replay Value: 8/10 Still a linear (and not great) story, but with a plethora of new gameplay additions, enhanced combat, and already addictive and unique world/city building elements, the randomness of the dungeons, and great music score – this is a game that you will definitely want to replay.

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2 was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Get Stein’s Gate and Other Great Visual Novels From JAST USA in This Bundle for $30

I also forgot to mention there’s a limited edition bundle at Groupees.com right now which features a lot of popular JAST titles, including the AMAAAAZING Stein’s Gate – which I reviewed here. The bundle features a tiered pricing system, allowing you to get more games with each tier. I already have Stein’s Gate, so I went with the $20 tier. I was actually most interested in Snow Sakura and Snow Drop though, so even the $10 tier is a great buy. These games go for $40 and up on JASTUSA’s website and rarely go on sale or get placed in bundles. I think it is the first time Stein’s Gate has ever been included in a bundle. At time of this writing there are still 750 bundles remaining.

FOR A MINIMUM OF $10 YOU GET:

Do You Like Horny Bunnies
Snow Sakura
Snow Drop

FOR A MINIMUM OF $20 YOU ALSO GET:

Princess Waltz
Pretty Soldier Wars A.D. 2048
Yin-Yang! X-Change Alternative

FOR A MINIMUM OF $30 YOU ALSO GET:

Steins;Gate

You can pick this bundle up from Groupees at https://groupees.com/jast2

Get Stein’s Gate and Other Great Visual Novels From JAST USA in This Bundle for $30 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Secret of Evermore Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 2 of 4

Check out Part 1 Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Here

Hi, and welcome to part 2 of a 4 part series covering Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Secret of Mana III, and Legend of Mana. In today’s review we will take a look at Secret of Evermore which is what North America got as a sequel to Secret of Mana, instead of Secret of Mana III.

NOTE: While maybe not technically correct to refer to it as a sequel, because they had completely different development teams, and stand-alone stories and worlds, the gameplay, as well as the name, are so similar that most squaresoft fans (myself included) hold the opinion that this is (more or less) part of the mana series. Squaresoft however has pointed out numerous times that this is not part of the “mana” franchise.

If you’re wondering what happened to Secret of Mana II, well that is what North Americans know as Secret of Mana – that’s right there was actually another game in the series before Secret of Mana, but like many JRPGs it remained only in Japan. I have not played it, but I have played the entire rest of the series, including Secret of Mana III which also never left Japan, but which has been translated by the fans.

For whatever reason, Squaresoft didn’t think Secret of Mana III would sell well in North America, so they brought over Secret of Evermore instead. More accurately, they didn’t “bring it over” but instead actually “developed” the game in America and geared it towards a “western” audience (supposedly). In fact, this game never got released in Japanese. It is perhaps the only North American “exclusive” (though I believe its also in Europe too) JRPG developed by Squaresoft.

If you look at the credits, you will see many English sounding names. See the details from wikipedia below.

Designer(s) Alan Weiss
George Sinfield
Artist(s) Daniel Dociu
Beau Folsom
Writer(s) George Sinfield
Paul Mazurek
Composer(s) Jeremy Soule

Actually a Japanese version was planned to release after the American release but was cancelled because they didn’t think it’d appeal to the audiences over there.

Still, this game does play very much like a JRPG. Actually I might have liked it a little bit more than Secret of Mana though not as much as Secret of Mana III. Critics may not agree, as the game is widely considered inferior to other Squaresoft RPGs.

Title: Secret of Evermore

Publisher: Squaresoft

Release Date: 1995

Platform: Super Nintendo SNES

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: Amazon has Secret of Evermore for SNES ranging from $30 to $45 which is a good buy for a rare retro Squaresoft JRPG

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 54 / 80 68% D+ “Average Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is a game about a boy and his dog. It plays very similar to Secret of Mana with Real-Time battles and the same Weapon Ring and Magic Ring from the original game. Unlike Secret of Mana, this game only features two characters, a boy and his dog. They travel throughout many different places and times from history lending the game a sorta educational feeling, though blending it with elements of fantasy as well. It also features an alchemy system.

Gameplay: 10/10  Gameplay consists of taking control of both the boy and his shape-shifting dog as they travel through time from the stone age, ancient egypt, and even into the future. As mentioned one of the key mechanics is an extensive alchemy system that allows you to craft your own consumable items as well as key items needed to progress the story. Magic was also reliant on alchemy ingredients which were often scarce in supply. This is an often criticized feature of the game’s alchemy system. I didn’t mind as much though, since when I play a game, I explore every nook and cranny of every room, dungeon, city, etc. I enjoyed the alchemy system even if it was flawed to a degree. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed the game as much without said alchemy feature. Then again I enjoy similar games such as Kamidori Alchemist Master, Students of Mana Khemia, and the Atelier series, where you ‘grind’ and search for ingredients for various alchemy recipes. In fact in the end, from a gameplay perspective: this game resembles a mashup of Secret of Mana, Chronotrigger, and Atelier Iris.

Story; 6/10 Like most western RPGs, story is not as strong as what is commonly found in most JRPG games – I feel this is where most of the criticism for Secret of Evermore comes into play. There are a few plot holes, and the story just seems to jump around without much of an overarching plot other than trying to return to your own timeline and the adventurous ‘scamp’ like nature of a boy and his dog, painted against a wild fantasy pseudo historical setting. Though the bare bones for some continuity between worlds exists it is tied only together loosely by a malfunctioning time machine and evil robot invaders.

Characters: 5/10 Likewise the character development is another weak point for most western developed RPG games. There’s really only two characters in this game, a boy, and his dog. Though there are numerous NPCs, they don’t connect with or endear themselves to the audience. The concept of a shape shifting dog was very fun, but the boy feels very flat and unappealing as a main hero leaving the player little reason to care about what happens throughout the story.

Graphics: 8/10 While most critics applaud the graphics in this game for being very detailed and more realistic than most other RPGs, I can’t help but miss the more “anime” feeling graphics of Secret of Mana. And while Secret of Evermore is a very lush and visually stunning game in it’s own right, I miss the more “cutesy” feeling and bright color palettes of other Square RPGs.

Music: 5/10 – The music in Secret of Evermore is composed by Jeremy Soule. This was his first ever videogame soundtrack. He has gone on to work on numerous other RPG soundtracks including Skyrim, Icewind Dale, and Guild Wars just to name a few. Unfortunately, being inexperienced, the soundtrack in Secret of Evermore is often very weak. He dared to be different though, so I’ll give him credit for that. Most of the soundtrack consists of a lot of dead noise and ambient sounds instead of the bright and colorful music found in most JRPGs. Ultimately though, using such a minimalistic tactic makes the background music do just that, fade into the background. It is no where near as memorable as other Squaresoft soundtracks.

Replay Value: 2/10 This, like most other 90s games, is a linear story. It’s also much shorter than other squaresoft RPG – to be fair, I have read that a lot of the game was cut due to cartridge size limitations. Still it is a fun, unique, little RPG that appeals to anyone who loves themes of time travel, or just simply anyone who loves their dogs :).

Overall: 54 / 80 68% D+ “Average Game For Girls”

Secret of Evermore Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 2 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero

7th Dragon until now, has remained a title only available in Japan, but that is about to change with 7th Dragon III Code VFD on the Nintendo 3DS.

This quirky little Time Travel RPG sees us in a not too distant future which is at war with powerful dragons. In order to save the world from destruction, you must travel to the ancient city of Atlantis, future capital of Eden, and present day Tokyo.

The artwork features chibi super-deformed, bobble head, big head, tiny body style character designs, giving everything a very cute anime feeling. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean. Very Kawaii!:

With the cute art work, and almost endless ways to customize your hero, this game immediately sparks my radar. I admit, I’ve not heard of 7th Dragon until now. I’m somewhat surprised to see Sega’s name attached to this project, but then again, not really no, because they do own Atlus who is well known for “risky” games like this which “cater to Otaku” – I wonder why they wouldn’t brand this title under their Atlus flagship since it has a lot of loyal fans already which they could then leverage to get more attention for this cute little game.

From the very brief teaser, it looks like it will be an emotionally engaging story as well – We see a character sick in a hospital bed for example.

Most intriguingly of all Destructoid reports that “And as if that weren’t bizarre enough, the role-playing game involves rescuing stray cats from dungeons and sheltering them in a cat café.” And if you don’t know what a Cat Cafe is, you can check out my post for 10 Cat Cafe you can visit in North America.

The whole “Cat Cafe” concept makes the game even more Kawaii and immediately appealing to me (and likely also to my readers). I’m becoming more and more intrigued by this little game and can’t wait to check it out.

The game will release on July 2016 and is available for preorder on Amazon here: Preorder 7th Dragon III Code VFD

 

Those who click the amazon link above can read even more of the game’s features – Incredibly enough, it even features a dating sim element. Given that the series originally was created and handled by Imageepoch who made Fate/Extra which plays INSANELY SIMILAR to Persona 3 and 4… I can imagine that THIS dungeon crawling RPG will also be very similar to Fate/Extra and Persona 3 and 4.

The Japanese voice cast has been left in tact, and not only do you customize your heroes’ appearances, but also their voices, with more than 40 voices to choose from!

This game is Kawaii to the Max! Very Otaku Pandering, and very very very cute and quirky. Personally, I can’t wait! BRING ON THE CAT CAFE DUNGEON CRAWLING DRESSUP JRPG! This game is right up my alley!

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Chrono Trigger Squaresoft Retro Super Nintendo SNES RPG Videogame Review

I’m sure the majority of my readers have played this one, but it’s a great game and deserves to be included on our site. I still remember when Chrono Trigger first came out, I was still a child then, and my mother had gone with me to the game store where I was browsing through the games. Nowadays, you can find places that sell used games on every corner, but it was just the one store in my area Since I seemed to be taking awhile, the clerk offered help and my mom told him that I needed a game that would be challenging and last me a long time because I used to beat my games very quickly. The clerk recommended Chrono Trigger because of the high replay value with 13 multiple endings and some challenging boss fights, and the rest is history 🙂 It quickly became one of my favorite and most memorable RPG experiences from my childhood, and still remains a fun game even to this day.

Title: Chrono Trigger

Genre: RPG

Platform: Super Nintendo

Publisher: Squaresoft

Where to Buy: Since the original SNES version is a collector’s edition, and an immensely popular game even to this day, the prices are about $100 – as you can see on Amazon here. However, there are many cheaper alternatives. The game was later re-released on numerous other (newer) consoles including a version for Playstation 1 which you can get on Amazon for under $18 at this link here. There’s also a version for Nintendo DS for about $25 on Amazon here – This version even has extra scenes which help to tie it into the sequel Chrono Cross which are not found in any other versions of the game. I believe there’s even digital editions of these games available in the PSN store and Nintendo’s Eshop for those who prefer digital versions. But there is still no PC version for Steam yet. However the cheapest way to get the game is if you are an Iphone or Ipad user. You can pick the game up for just $9.99 in the app store. And Android Users can also get the game in the Google Play store for $9.99 – Though I suspect many android users had rather just install the rom on their mobile device.

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

Concept: 10/10 The concept of Chrono Trigger revolves around time travel (hence the name, duh lol) to both the future and past as well as back and forth to the present. You play the role of a young boy whose friend is a “tinkerer” always making new inventions. There’s a big faire coming up and she has a “teleporter” that she’s put on exhibit, however, her invention malfunctions and creates a time gate, teleporting people not only from one place to another, but one time to another as well! – What begins as a quest to save their friend who is lost in the time gate, becomes a quest to save the entire world. You see many interesting locale from futuristic cities or prehistoric villages. The characters are also equally as diverse, including some anthropomorphic in nature such as a cavegirl/catgirl and a frog prince. The biggest draw to chrono trigger is the freedom of choice and multiple endings. It was perhaps one of the first games to have multiple endings, at least such a huge number of them, which greatly added to the replay value.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is the highlight of this title. Everything is so fun, and believe it or not, but almost everything you do matters in this game. I remember one scene in which you can have a drinking contest and eat another man’s chicken, if you eat his chicken you will later hear about it when you’re accused of a crime. Little touches like this, and the freedom it gives to the player to travel back and forth between eras and encourages exploration really made it stand out from any other RPGs of the 90s.

Story: 7/10 The long winding path between different eras in time, is a rewarding experience, with tons of character development and excitement. It has a very epic feeling to it. However, it can at times, be bogged down by the sheer number of side quests and running back and forth which does little but drag out the game.

Characters: 9/10 I’m not the biggest fan of the designs for the characters, I know he’s an immensely popular mangaka, but I just don’t like his art style. — But looking past the outside appearances of the characters, you find a lot of heart and a story that very much relies on character interaction and character development to move the plot. The characters are not as diverse nor as many as in the sequel, Chrono Cross, however, they are all exceptionally well written and endearing. You really come to care about your little group of heroes and become invested into what happens to them as you play the game.

Graphics: 8/10 Graphically speaking, Chrono Trigger was one of the most detailed and best looking SNES games of its time. The character designs are not my cup of tea, but that just boils down to personal tastes. The character designs are instantly recognizeable, and for most people who are a fan of his other work such as dragon quest and dragon ball z, this really helped to sell the title. Some of the newer versions of the game even have new animated cutscenes added in to key scenes to further draw the player into the world of Chrono Trigger

Music: 10/10 Chrono Trigger has one of the best soundtracks to come off of an SNES cartridge. It’s also highly memorable and equally appropriate for the scenes in the game. Music can be used to help tell a story or create emotions in the audience playing the game, and that’s exactly what this soundtrack accomplishes.

Voice Acting: N/A – Not Voiced

Replay Value: 10/10 – Not only due to the plethora of multiple endings, but also the large number of sidequests which can be easily missed on the first playthrough. Also the ability to start a new game and keep your character stats and most equipment in place really encourages users to go back through to try to find all the extra endings or hidden sidequests.

Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

Chrono Trigger Squaresoft Retro Super Nintendo SNES RPG Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Norn9 Var Commons | PS Vita | Otome | Visual Novel | Game | Review

I’ve been spending the past few days playing Norn9 Var Commons on my PS TV (also works with PS Vita). Norn9 is an Otome Visual Novel with a scifi Time Travel theme. The game was hyped up quite a bit – and in some ways, my expectations were a bit too high to live up to that hype; however, I’m still really enjoying this novel.

Gamestop says: “Prestigious Pedigree!
Legendary maestro Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series) weaves soul swaying compositions and sweeping musical overtures to build a sonic world unlike anything heard before. Famed artist Akiba Minoru (Pokemon the Movie) provides expansive landscapes and awe inspiring visuals.

Content Packed and Feature Rich!
A 50+ hour story, branching story path and multiple endings ensure a deep and engrossing gaming experience. Complete all routes to reveal the truth!”

My Main Complaint – and gods, I cannot find the source now….  Edit: Found it: Here. Is that I read that the game was going to be fully animated. When in actuality, the sprites are super stiff (though not any more or less stiff than the majority of other visual novels out there). I was expecting something like School Days, or NekoPara in terms of the sprite art — but instead got just “Run of the Mill Visual Novel Sprites”. They do blink and their lips move as they read their lines. There are front facing, profile, and three-quarter views of each character. But beyond that, yeah, not exactly what I would call animated. Big Let Down.

Direct Quote Which Proved Totally Untrue:

“The characters in Norn9: Var Commons come to life. No completely static images, here!”

Source: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/05/26/norn9-var-commons-coming-to-ps-vita-this-fall/

The Music though, my god, the music is amazing. Though there is this one theme that’s used throughout that kinda sounds like a cellphone ringtone to me – but that’s just me / my imagination lol. The rest of the tracks are really good. Nobuo for the win. 🙂

And yes, the main reason we all play these games, the story. The story is solid gold. It starts slow though. But then it really picks up. The cool thing is that you have not just one girl to play as, but 3 different girls, each with their own story and within that story, different branches to pick to get the guy/ending you want.

The weird thing is, and I also noticed this also about Amnesia Memories – which I reviewed here (and need to update now that I’ve completed it 100%) – anyways I noticed that a lot of these Idea Factory / Otomate games use sorta “IOS / Mobile” “game mechanics” – by that I mean that they have you choose which guy you want pretty early in the game (after a “brief” prologue (though this prologue is longer than most) — I don’t really like this method of choosing the guy. It feels odd. I also find that you have to have 100% “correct” answers. Or you get the bad end. Which makes me feel like my choices don’t really matter (and makes me want to rage quit (or cheat and use a walk through lol).

In a normal visual novel by most other developers, that’s not how this all works. Typically you start a game, you interact with all of the characters, able to slip into and out of their paths by some mathematical percentage of who’s answers you’re matching up with the most. And yes sometimes you can screw yourself over with one bad answer and have to start over, but it’s not E V E R Y single choice with this weight of consequence.

In Norn9 I missed the good Kakeru ending on my first playthrough because I ate all my food in one scene instead of trying to copy another girl to eat less – because I thought Kakeru would love/accept me regardless of my choice, because he’s that kind of guy who likes more natural / carefree women. But nope, and that was in CHAPTER TWO…. Therefore ALL of my other choices became invalidated just by choosing to eat my food. I played the next Eight Chapters (or however many there were) and wasted all of those hours for nothing.

And yes, I did narrow it down to that one choice by using a guide on my second play through. First, in the guide, I thought it was because I did not point out that Kakeru was forcing himself to act happy. I didn’t point it out my first playthrough, saw that (which was in Chapter 6 or 7) in the walkthrough and decided, before going all the way back to Chapter TWO, to try that first. STILL got the bad end even after making this important change (which unlocked the important scene which I thought then for sure would give me good end.). Nope. So Went back to Chapter 2 to change the other question as well. You have to answer E V E R Y question the way they want you to.

Why even have freedom of choice at all? It’s really annoying. – My other answers were all exactly the same as the walkthrough. — Anyways obviously, finally on my third try, got the good ending. But I feel like it doesn’t really let me explore or live out the story the way I want to which is bad for immersion which is important in these games. It’s almost like a kinetic novel. It does have choices, but only really one path that you’re intended to take.

I don’t want it to sound like I hate the game; because I don’t — Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love this game a lot.

But I’m still able to point out its flaws (and point out the fact that it was way over hyped – like the “no static images here” — WTF @ sony blog???…. lol.

But like I said, the storyline is good, and that’s really all that matters in these types of games. If you enjoy games like Ever17 (and Remember 11 and Never 7) or Stein’s Gate – you will like this story. It deals with similar themes – though the pacing/timing and delivery in my opinion were not QUITE as good as the aforementioned games, it is only marginally less well written and the theme is one I honestly enjoy. And unlike any of the aforementioned games, this one is an Otome. Perhaps one of the only commercially available Otome games to deal with a scifi theme such as Time Travel.

At time of this writing, I’ve only completed Kakeru’s route. I’m playing through them in the recommended order (which you can see by pressing triangle within the game when it asks you to select your partner. I’m about 3/4ths of the way through Senri’s route now.

Compared to Amnesia Memories, this one seems to have less typos and inconsistencies – I still noticed a few here or there, but they weren’t as glaring to me as they were in Amnesia Memories. Typos are expected in any heavy text based game such as this. Anyways in either case, so far, the typos have not detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

I don’t have all the pieces/parts of the “puzzle” yet, as to what’s really going on here. But a lot was revealed to me already. I won’t spoil it though for you. 🙂 You’ll just have to play it for yourself.

The one thing which hasn’t been resolved for me yet (but I assume probably will be resolved by the end of the game by completing all routes) is if Sorata ever gets to return home. I’m really curious about that and about him as a character.

Anyways as for a brief story synopsis / overview / character introduction:

You begin the game as Sorata, a 10 year old boy who’s on a field trip to the Diet building (kinda like our house of representatives or senate). He starts hearing strange music, and then the next thing he knows he finds himself cold, frozen, and unable to move, nearly about to die from hypothermia in the middle of a busy city street.

Everyone ignores him, nearly tripping over his frozen cold body. But one girl approaches and is able to help him by building a fire to help him thaw out. This is the nameless protaginist who you get to play as (if you choose) and get to name as yourself or whoever you’d like. She is a bit of a space case, but very kind hearted. Sorta the typical anime heroine stereotype. Ditzy, Clumsy, Says things off-cuff, and Acts impulsively, but very interested in making friends and being well liked etc.

Because of her oblivious nature, and because Sorata really doesn’t have anyone else to turn to for help returning home, he decides to go along with our heroine. She takes him out to a grassy field, where she says a ship will be arriving soon to show her the world. Sorata naturally believes that they should be headed to a shipyard to wait for a ship. But the ship they’re getting on, is actually, a space ship, which swoops down and beams the pair up.

On board the ship, the other characters include:

Kakeru: the botanist who grows food on the ship

Akito: the chef who cooks the food on the ship

Mikoto: Another playable character, she helps protect the ship with her forcefield abilities. She is very beautiful and has a dignified / refined attitude which can sometimes come across as cold.

Senri: A shut-in who avoids the other characters, he has a weak sickly body. He is tiny in build, pale, and very softly spoken. He also hates doing chores or anything physically exerting.

Heishi: A really really dumb (but loveable) guy. His special power is to communicate telepathically with the crew. He is very loud and outgoing

Ron: I don’t know much about him yet honestly, other than he seems to know more than he admits. Even on Aksys’ official website for the game it says “No one really knows anything about him since he never talks about himself.” I suspect more may be revealed by the end of all the routes. I kinda wonder if he is Sorata in the future / a grown version of him. (Just speculation or a guess. Which may be way off base.) I think he’s probably connected somehow in some way to him at least.

Masamune: He is sorta like the “leader” he knows the most about the mission, and is responsible for reporting to the “World” throughout the journey. He appears taller/older than the others on the ship.

Nanami: another playable character. She is very quiet. Not as bad as Senri, but just a more private person. The one quirk I noticed is that she loves food.

Itsuki: He is a player / womanizer who flirts with all of the girls on the ship. He has a playful and mischievous personality. It appears his ability may be shape shifting and/or dream walking.

Sakuya: Stays close at all times to Mikoto. He gives off a quiet gentlemanly princely aura.

There are other characters too, but to reveal them now would be too spoiler-ish. So I’ll leave it at that.

Anyways, once on board, it is shortly discovered there is a traitor on board the ship. Someone is sabotaging the ship and attacking it which may cause it to crash before reaching its goal. In order to determine who the traitor is and minimize his movements, it’s suggested to pair up with another user so you can monitor them, giving the attacker fewer opportunities to go by unnoticed. Whoever you choose here as your partner will also be your love interest, and the focus of the story for that route.

Once you select a partner, the game focus shifts away from Sorata and onto you and your partner. And from the ending I got (Kakeru’s) It never shifts back to resolve things with Sorata – but I’m sure it probably does tie back into him somehow in the end.

There are several twists and turns in the plot/story mainly in regards to the Time Travel theme. It’s also full of futuristic technology and fantasy elements, androids, super-human powers, and space travel to name a few.

As far as gameplay, I’ve covered most of the gameplay elements above. Choosing your playable character, selecting their partner, having to answer 100% of the questions the way the developers want you to, and then arriving at the end, and rinse and repeat for the other characters and partners. The only variation from this is, there are some mini games along the way and points earned in minigames can be used to unlock additional stories, artwork, and soundtracks.

Graphics are beautiful even though I was immensely disappointed because of the way sony marketed this game about the non static image thing… blinking and lips moving hardly counts as not being static lol. but whatever, it’s still totally gorgeous. There are several CG scenes which highlight some of the important parts of the story and the background environments in this game are way gorge too.

Voice acting is also really well done, and if there are certain characters you dislike, you can mute or lower volume of individual characters in the settings which is a unique feature – not one I see myself using, but hey /shrugs. Of course, the voice cast is the original Japanese actors, with English subtitles which is what most of the people playing these types of games (myself included) prefer. So thank you aksys for not ruining the game with a shitty dub. Of course, Aksys could have taken it a step further, to please both sides of the debate, by allowing us to select from a shitty english dub, or original Japanese voice cast. But that would have cost them more money, and with Otome and Visual Novels being a very risky market, I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to put time into revoicing the game, when 99% of the players want it left alone in Japanese audio anyways.

Replay Value is obviously high with 3 playable girls and each girl having multiple romance options and endings for a total of at least 12 or 13 endings (maybe more.) The length of each route is also very substantial. I’d say you’ll average 6+ hours each play through. You do have the option to skip read text which is very helpful for replaying the game as well.

So that leads us to the following scores:

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Concept: 10/10 – For use of Time Travel, multiple female protagonists, deep, emotionally engaging story, high replay value, and cute mini games

Gameplay: 6/10 – I disliked how the choices felt “forced” – still good amount of choices, and once again back to the unique multiple protagonists.

Storyline: 9/10 – Emotionally moving, good character development. Neat time travel theme at center of the story. Also a story about humanity and technology and progress and a story about war and trust. Very complex, very engrossing storyline. Couldn’t ask for much more. Deducted 1 point for typos and a couple of weird translation choices. Why did the voice actress (Japanese) use Kakeru (first name) but Aksys chose to ALWAYS keep using Yuiga (last name) That bothered the hell out of me. If the character is on a first name basis (which is a very sweet/special sign of relationship status/closeness in Japan), why not reflect that also in the translation. There were other obvious liberties taken with the translation. At one point Kakeru’s voice actor used the word “Kanajo” which means “Girlfriend” (or can also just mean “Girl” or “that girl”) but the translation said “I’ve never felt this feeling before.” It seems like they could have done a closer / better translation by simply using a phrase such as “I’ve never felt this way about a girl before” or something similar. Still these are minor things that I’m being overly picky of.

Characters: 8/10 The main character feels a little cliche, but she’s still endearing in her own way. I like the use of super powers as a theme throughout and each character’s unique power and how they all tie in together at the end.

Graphics: 8/10 – I am still pretty peeved off about how I was led to falsely believe this would be a super animated high production value game — but when I take away my feelings of bitterness and resentment – and compare it objectively to other visual novels, it’s definitely above average. I mean look at Amnesia Memories and its black and white (almost) backgrounds, compared to the beautiful backgrounds in Norn9 and while yes, the sprites lack the promised animation and “life like” qualities, they’re still really pretty. If they had never made that claim and I hadn’t rode that hype train, who knows, maybe would’ve even gave Graphics a higher score. I think I gave Amnesia Memories a 7 in my review. These graphics are better than that, because of the backgrounds, so therefore, giving these an 8. On par with or slightly better than a slew of other anime otome games out there.

Music: 10/10 Nobuo never disappoints.

Voice Acting: 10/10 Every single character has such a distinct voice and so much emotion into delivering their lines.

Replay Value: 10/10 3 playable protagonists, multiple romance options for each, multiple endings, mini games, unlockable bonus content, one true ending playable only after completing all the other routes which ties everything together, skip function, yep, good replay value here :).

Overall: 79/90 88% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Norn9 Var Commons | PS Vita | Otome | Visual Novel | Game | Review was originally published on Geeky and Kawaii | Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews and News