Oct 01
Posted by Duane at 02:54

In this industry there is quite often a bit of negativity generated when a game receives a sequel rather close to its original release, this also often results in yearly updates yadda yadda, and it would be easy to tarnish Spike Chunsoft's Danganronpa series with that same brush if you don't know the whole picture. Earlier this year NIS America released Danganronpa: Trigger happy Havoc in the West and it received generally positive reviews (I loved it by the way), however that particular game was originally released in Japan way back in 2010 on Sony's previous handheld, the PlayStation Portable. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair followed 2 years later on the same platform, but neither saw a Western release until they were re-released on Vita and with the positive noise surrounding Trigger Happy Havoc, it only really makes sense to ride that wave whilst its still there and get Goodbye Despair out as close as possible. Which is where we are now.

So then, Goodbye Despair is as much a sequel as you'd like it to be, the tale is familiar, although the cast is different, as is the location as its now set on an island rather than in a school, the theme and style of the game is the same and overall a "if it ain't broke..." method of design has been applied with a rather large brush. Thats no bad thing, as already mentioned I did rather like Trigger Happy Havoc.

Once again we follow pupils of Hopes Peak Academy as their plunged from the prospect of attending the most prestigious school in their homeland into a world where they need to murder and deceive in order to guaruntee their own survival. However, instead of an all out battle royale the aim of the game here is to catch the killer in each chapter via the form of investigating crime-scenes and taking part in the "Class Trials". If you discover who the killer is and succesfully prove its them, you and the rest of your classmates will survive a little while longer whilst the killer is executed. It's as dark as it sounds, but the hook is that the games social interaction mechanics, whereby you learn more about each character by interacting with them during the games, rather controlled, "Free Time" moments, add both a bit of light-heartedness to proceedings, whilst also providing you with potential clues as to each characters personalities that could prove important as the game progresses, however, who you interact with is (mostly) upto you.

As one would expect from such a setting, the game is absolutely filled with stereotypes, as was the first game. It's unfair to point the finger solely at Danganronpa as it's not the only culprit. However, many of the characters personalities feel carried over from Trigger Happy Havoc and applied to those in Goodbye Despair. It also takes all of that and, to me at least, seems to ramp up the fan service quite heavily. Admittedly I may have just missed out on most of that with the previous instalment, although there certainly were moments of it, but here its rather obvious. One character in particular just so happens to be incredibly clumsy and often finds herself on her back with her legs askew, now I'm no prude, but that makes for uncomfortable playing.

Goodbye Despair never really quite hits the heights of Trigger Happy Havoc, possibly because it can feel a little like its treading over that same ground a little too much, and with its reliance on obvious tropes and fan service, its much harder to sing its praises. But its still a rather entertainingly dark mystery game that will keep you hooked until its conclusion.

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Sep 30
Posted by Duane at 07:56

I won't even attempt to disguise how big a fan of Velocity and Velocity Ultra I was (I still have both downloaded and installed on my Vita despite the latter being a remake of the former), now we have Velocity 2X, the true sequel, and its pretty much as sublime as I was hoping. Even better, its almost, kind of, two games in one!

Allow me to explain; Velocity is all about flying about in your Quarp jet, shooting enemy space crap, warping around levels and solving switch puzzles. Thats all still in there, however Futurlab have also taken the series in a new direction, allowing the pilot to step out of her ship into on foot sections. These parts of the game play out horizontally, whilst the Quarp jet sections play out vertically, but thankfully the change in scrolling direction never really gets in the way or feels confusing, even when the game does force you to switch between the two to progress through specific levels.

The Quarp Jet moments are as plentiful, entertaining and (as you progress) as challenging as ever, whilst the on foot sections add a bit of variety to proceedings they also never feel like they are tacked on. Futurlab have made some odd control decisions and I can see some people struggling when they game asks you to flick between the two gameplay styles in order to progress to the end of a particular level, which is something that Velocity 2X does quite often as you progress through the game. Personally speaking, I didn't really have no trouble, thats not to say I'm some Velocity ninja (I'm not), I just didn't have a problem changing systems on the fly. However, I do think it is something that was done needlesly as the mechanics for both the Quarp Jet and Kai Tana (the games female protagonist) are rather similar. The mechanism's are thrown at you, and whilst players returning from previous Velocity outings will be familiar with the Quarp Jet, suddenly having two sets of controls to remember on the fly is maybe asking too much in this era where everything has to be instantly accessible.

It's to Futurlab's credit then that the world that they have created, and this time fleshed out with the inclusion of Kai Tana's tale, which has a perfect visual style to accompany the (once again) excellent soundtrack, really does suck you in and you want to get through to the end just to be told the full tale and see all the wonderful artwork. Speaking of the visuals, with this being on both PS4 and PlayStation Vita, I was concerned that the latter version would suffer performance wise, and whilst I can't make a direct comparison, the Vita version never feels like its been scaled back or hampered in the slightest by the hardware. Whilst the games short level structure (a first run of even the longest levels should never take more than 10 minutes) fits the handheld perfectly. So even if I was able to play this on PlayStation 4, I do genuinely think it is better at home on the Vita.

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Posted by Ben at 16:18
Steam's new Curator system is a nice idea. I'm not sure how much it will get used, how easy it will be for people to discover new curators, or even how easy it will be for people to find someone who isn't already on the first couple of pages, but it is a good idea. If there's a particular person or site you trust, then why not use them to point you towards some good stuff you might not find on your own, it is after all what video game reviews have been supposed to be doing for decades. I'm less sure how well it will work in practice, one person can only play so much stuff, and as an individual will have quite singular taste. Something sprawling, like a forum, it's too disparate, you get enough people and everything will be getting recommended, which sort of defeats the point.

That's not to say our list is perfect, certainly as we're trying not to stick in things you'll definitely have heard of. That makes things a bit difficult, not just because there's lots of good games we now can't add, but because there's going to be some good games that you've definitely heard of but not played. Take Thief for example (the new one), it's actually really very good, as are the two Metro Redux games, as is Rage, and Deus Ex Human Revolution, but none of them are exactly hidden, I mean if you've found this site or are browsing curators on Steam, you've definitely heard of all of those games. Similarly there's 'indie darlings' you don't need to be told about; Gone Home, The Walking Dead, FTL, you've probably not missed them.

So, with that preamble out of the way, here's our list, also linked on Steam. These are the first 10, as I type there's 13 games on there, there's more I intend to add, I presume the others too, so we'll pull from it and write these features every so often. The theme is smaller games you might not have played that are worth your time, we hope you enjoy them

The Fall is a peculiar mix of a game. In gameplay terms it's almost a point & click, with you waving the mouse around the screen trying to find the thing you can interact with. But it's a 2.5D action game, with cover combat. It's also creepy, somewhat unsettling, but then funny and deadpan. I really liked The Fall's story, apparently it's part 1 of 3, but it ends in a way that it could easily stand on its own.

Jazzpunk is absolute fucking nonsense. I put in the review something along the lines of there being a 'wrong' way to play it, if you just mainline it, heading straight to the objective, you're not doing it right. The 'point' of Jazzpunk is to see all it has on offer, to let it throw its stupidity in your face. It's Naked Gun, Hot Shots, Vic and Bob, and to top it off, there's even a fairly competent spy story underlying the whole thing.

There's going to be a few 'non-games' on our list, which To The Moon does kind of fall 9in to. There's a few puzzles, but they're really that in name only, To The Moon is basically just an interactive story. What makes it stand out is what it deals with, the story itself is great, there's twists and surprises, it can be funny, but it can be grating. However, the characters, what they're dealing with and who they are, is something not many games do, in fact I can't think of another that addresses what To The Moon does. It's also quite hard hitting, I'm not saying tears for everyone, but it left me open mouthed at one point, made me hate a character at another.

Nihilumbra is a better game than it initially appears to be. The narrator is horrible, so brace yourself for that, and the animation is limited, but where the story goes, and the hints of nihilism are pretty interesting. The game itself is an action/puzzle platformer, where you get skills based around colours, and have to use them to defeat enemies and progress through the level. Nihilumbra is exactly the sort of game Steam Curator could be great for.

I actually played Hero of Many on a phone rather than the pc, but I mention in the review that it would work pretty well with traditional controls, and I've no reason to go back on that. It's one of those mobile games that looks and sounds great, but it also has a surprisingly good desolate story in there too. You're an orb who must survive, leading your underwater populace to victory over the dark sea creatures. Hero of Many is a proper hidden gem

Theoretically One Finger Death Punch couldn't be more simple, if an enemy is on your left tap the left mouse button, if the enemy if on your right tap the right mouse button. It's not long though before the frenetic speed of the game starts to get the best of you as your brain melts from the pressure. It's hardly the hardest game in the world, but it is one of those where once the tension lifts you burst out laughing and how tense you were. Special mention to the animation too, it really helps make the game

Jamestown wasn't my pick, but I'll second it. It's kind of a bullet-hell shooter, but broader feeling, more expansive. As such it's a good way in to the genre, not that it's easy, but comparatively... One of the reasons why, and one of the reasons it stands out, is the way the multiplayer works. So long as one of you is alive you don't lose a life, it means you work together in a way rarely seen in a shooter.

Ys: The Oath of Felghana was my introduction to the Ys series. Ys is a fast paced action rpg, the recent Memories of Celceta for example lets you hammer a forward roll because walking is too damn slow. Oath of Felghana though is something else, you're encouraged to always be attacking, increasing your rewards, health pick ups, experience, damage, always being on the offensive is key. It helps that Oath of Felghana doesn't overstay its welcome, but there's a charming breeziness to the game, the kind of thing you want to like

As is Recettear: An Item Shop Tale, a game with a smile on its face. You play as a young girl who is being heavily extorted, in a charming happy way, and so must run her shop, an armour and weapons shop in an rpg town, to make as much money as possible. This means buying low and selling high, and even sending out adventurers to retrieve loot for her to sell, which changes the game from a shop simulator to an action rpg.

If they ever make a film of The Swapper Duncan Jones will probably direct it. An action puzzle platformer, like most things, with the premise of creating clones of yourself, that mirror your every move, to solve puzzles in the environment. While the gameplay and puzzles themselves are worth your time, it's the tone, story, and exploration of the theme that really make The Swapper stand out, and that's with the proviso that it doesn't go as far as it could
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Posted by Ben at 05:46
We should be writing a review for Hyrule Warriors this coming week, so I'll save any thoughts on the game until then. I will say though that there's a decent amount of content in Hyrule Warriors, so long as you're down with the core concept at least.

If you are into what the game is then good news, Nintendo/ Tecmo Koei will be releasing some new playable characters for free. You'll be able to play as the bad guys Cia, Volga and Wizzro from the 16th October

There's more dlc planned, with a season pass up on the eshop (£13.49), it needs 1.6gb of space, which is a bit worrying for those of us with the 8gb WiiU. The paid dlc will include new scenarios, characters, costumes, and another map for the Adventure mode
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Posted by Ben at 05:35
Here's a shock for everyone, Steam got an update. An actual proper one this time, not a slight change to the font in some dead language no one uses that is probably some hint about Half Life 3, one that changed the store front.

The store page of Steam is now geared towards matching your tastes, a nice idea, I'm less sure how well it works but maybe it just needs time. There's also a section for 'Curators' which we are now a part of

Basically we get to suggest games, good games hopefully, and if we can manage it, some games you've not encountered before. That's actually more difficult than you might think, there's plenty of games that are 'obscure', but if you're browsing curators on Steam then you probably know some fairly obscure games, like, you probably don't need me to point you in the direction of Brothers

Anyway, if you'd like to follow us then head over to the Bitparade Curator Page, or copy that page url and paste it in to Steam itself
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Posted by Ben at 04:27
Resonance of Fate is a game I always intended to pick up. I'll be honest, I doubt I'll be downloading it on my PS3, I can't see me spending the amount of time with it to get through a JRPG, however, at least that is now an option.

For the first time, for westerners at least, you'll be able to get Resonance of Fate digitally this week. The Sega Blog doesn't say if it's coming to European PSN as well as US PSN, but presumably so

Shame they couldn't get it running on PS4 as a cheap download though
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Posted by Ben at 15:59
NISA (Nippon Ichi Software America) have announced that they'll be brining visual novel Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters to Europe in 2015.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters originally launched in Japan on PS3 and Vita, I'm not sure if both will be getting European versions, I suspect we might just get the Vita version.

Also, the trailer below doesn't really show much, hopefully we get something with a bit more gameplay soon

Show/hide video

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Sep 19
Posted by Duane at 03:12

In a culture, or indeed a commercial world, where we are encourged to rush through and devour everything we can possibly consume before moving onto the next big thing, the Disgaea series is something of a breath of fresh air. Here we have a series, that since its first release ten years ago has admittedly spawned 5 games (plus re-releases of those titles on various platforms, just as we see here) but at no point do you feel rushed to get to the games "end". Alot of that is admittedly down to just how much Nippon Ichi pack into these games, and whilst the basic concept of the series has never changed, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is a very, very different beast to the PlayStation 2's Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.

Here is a series that, if you just try and follow its tale, is deceptively light-hearted and wears that on its sleeve. Characters bicker, squabble and one in particular is obsessed with sardines, although in typical Disgaea fashion, this is deceptive as the tale also covers corruption within government and (as mentioned in the games title) keeping promises. Fans of the series can expect the usual moments of ridiculousness, Prinnies having their moment, back-stabbing, OTT character personalities and just enough cameo's to put a smile on your face.

All of that is great, its what we expect from Disgaea dn Nippon Ichi, and thankfully its all tied to the same systems we've grown to love over the years. We're still operating within the same grid based SRPG genre, Geomods still appear as does the item world. There have been some changes made though, the Assembly system has been altered somewhat, you can still persuade them to your side or annihilate them, however NIS has including an online component where the assembly could feature members from other peoples games (and indeed you can pick a character to send out into the infrastructure to appear in other peoples games), this, for me at least, plants a seed in the mind of wanting to try and at least bribe those characters, in the hope that someone, somewhere does the same with yours and you can reap the rewards.

Other new features include being able to create your own pirate ship to send out into the wider world and invade other players' Item Worlds and a level editor to play around in. All with stuff that gradually appears as you sink more and more time into Disgaea 4. The biggest alteration, for me at least, is the way in which you unlock abilities. Previously you would earnt hem as you levelled up and became more powerful, however now you're forced to purchase skills and they aren't cheap, this can make progression feel a little laboured at times and can ultimately force you into grinding previous levels or trying to survive the item world a little longer than you would like as Mr Gency Exits are rarer than ever, this also comes into play when the game throws a difficulty spike at you, by now this feels like its a pretty traditional addition to the franchise, but it doesn't stop it being annoying when it happens to you.

Thats only really the games minor point, the games art style looks (unsurprisingly) stunning on the Vita and the manner in which this sort of game is easy to pick up and put down again really suits the system well, I've seen some complaints that there is no in-battle save/checkpoint system for if you want to close the game and boot something else up, but I'm of the belief that that isn't needed in the slightest and is more of a fault of the hardware than the software (after all the PSPGo allowed for multiple titles being run at once). So, if you're looking for a game that you can seriously sink your teeth into and are happy with a fairly slow pace (rather than the typical AAA juggernaut that we're forced to play on the home consoles), Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is fairly close to perfection within its genre.

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Sep 19
Posted by Ben at 02:03

Reviewing a demo isnít really the point of these kind of articles, but itís a little hard not to with the Smash Bros 3DS demo. It gives you a pretty good idea of how Smash Bros is going to play on the 3DS, but then limits you in so many ways that you donít really get a taste of how it all works

Smash Bros is a simple game, thatís not to say there isnít depth there, and even from the small roster of characters available here itís pretty clear. Every character has a quirk to them, you might like playing as Link but hate playing as Megaman, itís about finding characters who suit how you want to play, and if the last game was anything to go by, theyíre probably in there somewhere.

The layout of the 3DS was a bit of a problem for me, I didnít really want to be using the circle pad, as good as it is for most games itís not really suited to a fighter, but holding the 3DS in a way that makes the d-pad feel Ďrightí for sustained periods isnít really a goer. While weíre talking about the 3DS itself, youíve got to factor in the screen size. Iím using an old launch 3DS, so perhaps this is less of an issue with the XL, but I found the action to be a bit small, particularly if I was playing as Pikachu. It made me pine for one of those magnifying glass attachments I had for the Game Gear and Neo Geo Pocket, which was a nice touch of nostalgia but might be telling.

The action is limited to 3 player rather than the usual 4 player. Itís not why you come to Smash Bros, itís not hectic enough, which might actually be deliberate, a way to ease people in without overwhelming them. Thereís also no online, and while I get that itís a demo, a feature light taste, itís a taste I think people need. If you want to convince people of the concept, then give them the proof, not having online means people will wonder how well it works and how well itís implemented. Once the demo is more readily available then local play might become an option for some, it certainly seems like it could be a good way to play.

Itís a shame the demo is so light because Smash Bros certainly does work on the 3DS. Controls are fairly uncomplicated, with some sort of tutorial setup thereís no reason new people couldnít get to grips with it. The game is fast, punchy, and smooth, at least in 3 player, against the computer, offline...
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Posted by Ben at 05:47
Not that we're giving away tickets or anything, you can pay for yourselves, I'm not made of money.

Slightly surprisingly, although I guess it shouldn't be given there's already multiple books about the game, there's a film out soon all about Football Manager

Titiled 'An Alternative Reality: The Football Manager Documentary', it will "examine the gameís enduring appeal and how it has seeped into and influenced the culture of the worldís favourite game".

While a documentary about a game half the world dismiss as a spreadsheet might seem an ill fit, any one who has played the game will know it inspires some good stories and definitely gets people talking

An Alternative Reality: The Football Manager Documentary is getting a cinema release, but only for 1 day, Tuesday 7th October, and only in selected cinemas (MyVue cinemas)

Birmingham Star City
Bristol Cribbs
Bury the Rock
Cheshire Oaks
Edinburgh Omni
Glasgow Fort
Leeds Light
Manchester Lowry
Westfield White City
Westfield Stratford

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