Posted by Duane at 18:36
Nippon Ichi have confirmed that Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will be arriving on European PS4's sooner that I had initially anticipated.

You can expect to play the 6th home console instalment of Nippon Ichi's lead SRPG series some time during "Fall 2015".

Full gallery (5)
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Posted by James at 11:09
The long awaited and long delayed Kickstarter Campaign for Sekai Project's plans to bring Front Wing's Grisaia Trilogy to the west finally went live today.

At the time of writing, the trilogy is $19,000 away from being funded. Compared to Sekai Project's previous Kickstarter for Key's Clannad, there are currently eight times as many donations, and the average donation is almost twice as high, at $157.

It's nice to see crowdfunding become a sustainable way to bring both lower and higher profile visual novels overseas, with far less risk involved given most of the costs will be paid for from the very beginning.

All three titles are scheduled for an October release. There's no sign of a date for spin-off title (and stretch goal) Idol Mahou Shoujo Chiruchiru ☆ Michiru.
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Posted by James at 08:43
it would appear Captain Toad may be on its way to us sooner than expected, despite yesterday's launch trailer showing us Nintendo's previously planned 2 January release date.

Signs of this happening come by way of two sources: firstly someone who works at a retailer mentioned yesterday that his chain store received their Captain Toad shipment.

There are also a few tweets from GAME customers expressing surprise that their Toad order is being paid for and that it's due for release on 19 December.

The change, if true, is to be welcomed. Captain Toad has always seemed like the perfect game to play over the festive season.
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Posted by Ben at 15:08
STEINS;GATE is one of those names I've heard countless times, but couldn't tell you anything about it. Thanks to the press release from PQube though that has all changed.

STEINS;GATE is a very well regarded visual novel, with a gameplay element involving answering, or not, phone calls and messages. PQube have today announced that they will be bringing the game to European PS3s and Vitas in 2015

I'm fairly new to the whole visual novel thing, unless you're counting adventure games, which I think something like 999 or Dangonronpa would fall in to. However, the huge amount of excitement for STEINS;GATE has me intrigued, as does that it apparently has a good enough story to be transferred to a full on manga and anime series. To top it off, one of the last anime series I watched and enjoyed was Chaos;Head, which it turns out also started out as a visual novel by developer 5pb.
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Posted by Ben at 15:45
We were sent a code for the Steam release of Kamui (and ALLTYNEX Second), and after a couple of play throughs captured a video.

I'm not very good at Kamui, I make no claim to be, but I try to show how the game works, and there's a couple of levels in the video below

Kamui holds up really well, it's still a really good game. I'll get something akin to a review up once Geometry Wars is done, such is my busy, busy life at the minute

Show/hide video

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Posted by Ben at 06:09
Yeah, so this is some Christmas bah humbug. The excellent After Burner Climax is going to be delisted from XBLA and PSN on the 24th December.

If you've already bought the game you'll still be able to play it or redownload it, but if not then you're about to miss out on one of the most hyper arcade games of the last generation

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Posted by Ben at 02:16
Nyu Media have sent over a code for the shoot em up classics Kamui and ALLTYNEX Second, which have both just been released on Steam.

Priced at £5.99 for the individual games, or £14.99 for all 3 parts of the trilogy (ALLTYNEX Second, KAMUI, RefleX). So far, with the couple of play throughs of Kamui I've done, it still holds up and is still very enjoyable.

There's a trailer below, and we'll have our own video up soon

Show/hide video

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Dec 11
Posted by James at 16:19

So here we are with a new, shinier 3DS, nearly four years since Ben took the original 3DS through its paces. Think of Nintendo's latest hardware update as a modern Game Boy Color, a transitional piece of hardware to tide us over until Whatever It Is They Are Working On Next. We've been in possession of a European New XL for two weeks now, and after many hours of Persona Q labyrintheering and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, er, Poke-ing on the thing our thoughts have been collected.

Bear in mind that we aren't yet in possession of the smaller model. However, on paper it offers "regular" size screens, nifty removeable cover plates (Like this glow in the dark one adorned with Boos) and a more playful look as such. So how does the New XL stack up?

First impressions are positive. Upon sliding the New XL out of its dinky box we're greeted with something positively gorgeous and premium by comparison to the austere Old XL. A glossy outer lid shows off a subtle sparkle whilst remaining a subdued ink blue. Inside, high quality matte plastics feel great to the touch. Its buttons have a satisfying and tactile clickiness to them.

The setup process is less fun, and for once it's not the system transfer which is the problem. That's relatively painless. You get the option of wirelessly beaming your old 3DS's SD Card's contents over to the New XL or just doing a license transfer and doing the rest using your computer. This path only took us 10 minutes, having copied our SD Card's contents to a new Micro SD a few days before.

What is problematic is how the Micro SD Card is hidden beneath the battery cover. To swap out the tiny 4GB included card for a larger one you'll have to dig out a cross-head screwdriver, then twiddle about with the two screws until the coverplate becomes loose. Which on its own is hard to tell despite the clicking sound it'll make, and we tried to pry the thing off when it was in fact, still tightly clinging to the 3DS. That left a faint scratch. Not a good start, and this sort of thing is awkward in an age where we expect our hardware to be ready right out of the box.

Once you've set the thing up, you'll soon discover that the improvements Nintendo have made to the New XL are the sort of things which make you want to go back and revisit your games library. Take Super Stable 3D, which sees the system's inner cameras track your face and send the 3D your way. Just imagine our faces when we tried out Star Fox 64 3D with motion controls on and saw the 3D effect remain intact, not breaking in the slightest. It's enchanting stuff, and it "just works". We were expecting the face tracking to be laggy and slow, but it's anything but that. It even works in the dark, and this time the 3D effect doesn't break when viewed outdoors.

Soon enough, everything with motion controls stops being a 3D trade-off. Bravely Default's "special movie" teaser is stunning with the added depth, since you really feel confined to this container as you move the 3DS around to get your bearings. Ocarina of Time's gyro camera controls suddenly allow you to take a more natural look at Hyrule without needing to flatten what you're looking at. It also massively enhanced how you can use the handheld: you're no longer restricted to holding it directly in front of you. It's a revelation of sorts, and this writer says this as someone who used the 3D effect nearly all the time on his Old 3DS.

New 3DS XL also sees Nintendo adopt better screens. The upper screens (since 2 displays are needed to produce the 3D effect) are vastly improved from both the Old 3DS and Old XL, with more vivid contrast and colours, deeper blacks and what are now perfect viewing angles. Persona Qís vivid colour palette really sings for example. Their reflectivity (or rather, lack of) is something else: even on low brightness these screens are appreciatably anti-reflective, moreso than any device we've used to date. Unfortunately the bottom screen is similar to the Old XL's, with poor viewing angles and less contrast. While it makes sense given that 3DS games are primarily played on those 3D upper screens, the difference becomes stark when viewing things which span two screens, like Miiverse.

Speaking of Miiverse, we were pleasantly surprised by New 3DS's extra processing grunt. The service is finally useable, with pages loading nearly instantly, and far less waiting to get on the thing from the home menu. 3DS's operating system also sees a big boost to responsiveness, with times where you'd previously left waiting being eliminated. The new web browser is to be commended too, being fully modern (it scores 359 on HTML5test) and supports 3D video.

We've been putting the C Stick through its paces as well. It's like a more refined, softer version of those nubs in the middle of ThinkPad keyboards, only comfier thanks to its softer texture. In games it's better for large sweeping camera movements than fine aiming. That's not to say it isn't bad at fine movements -- in fact it's more precise than the Circle Pad when we use it to scroll very slowly on Miiverse or zoom in and out on the new browser -- but when playing titles like Metal Gear Solid 3D it did a much better job keeping the camera in check than aiming our crosshairs. Perhaps a game designed with the C Stick in mind, like Ace Combat Plus or Monster Hunter 4U, would fare better.

There are other tweaks made to improve the user experience too. Auto brightness sees New 3DS utilise its cameras to measure light level, adjusting the brightness to suit and potentially prevent your eyes from being seared when you play with the lights out. It's a much appreciated addition, though not perfectly implemented yet: our New XL was bit overzealous with it at times. Another niggle is the fit and finish of the back cover: there's a ridge created between handheld and cover which doesn't feel great to the touch. The speakers are much improved over the Old XL, however, but the original 3DS still pips them by producing marginally richer sound. Guess that's the trade-off for having thinner bezels on either side of the screen.

As an "iterative" update, New 3DS XL is a triumph. You get a much improved experience in every way over what came before it, and Super Stable 3D is the sort of thing that has to be seen to be believed, making us happy that Nintendo is sticking to their guns as far as 3D is concerned. There is some uncertainty as to how its untapped potential (the extra power and hassle-free Amiibo support) will be used in the future, but as an upgrade alone you can't go wrong with this. And if you've yet to pick up a 3DS, then it's an even easier sell.
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Dec 10
Posted by Ben at 15:59

In the fighting game genre it's important to find your niche, your USP, the reason someone should pay attention to you. We might not have the glut of fighters we've had in the past, but we've still had Persona and Smash Bros in the last few weeks. Arcana Heart 3 Love Max's identity is probably that itís a mix of various styles from within the genre.

One of the striking things about Arcana Heart 3 is that all the key cast are female. There's males in there, but they tend to be more incidental characters and sidekicks. Initially it's refreshing how respectfully the characters are treated, they aren't there for titillation. I say 'initially' because the After Story mode does centre around the girls heading to a hot spring, complete with steamy bath scene (you don't see anything, it's just clichťd and unnecessary).

Talking of the designs, there's some inventive characters here. You've got your standard human females, a bunny girl piloting a giant robot, girls with bat wings, angels, a girl riding a wolf, a girl inside a muscle-bound bubble, a girl who's drawing has come to life, and a girl who is dragged around by a demonic staff. There's no shortage of variety there. The charactersí move sets take their cue from established fighting games, with the likes of Terry and Guile represented.

The truth is, Arcana Heart is a bit of an odd mix of a fighting game. Youíve got some of the more absurd characters, super jumps, and huge special moves, but then system after system. Youíve got your standard super meter, which fills as you land attacks, unusually though using a special doesnít wipe it out, only drains it before it quickly refills. It means youíre never far away from being able to launch another super. After picking your character you also get to chose an Arcana, the Arcana can alter your stats and imbue you with new moves. Every arcana will have a host of special moves that can be used with no cost, and is usually your solution if you want a projectile attack. You have a meter in the top left of the screen, again it quickly refills, but when activated your character will enter a boosted state, this can have a negative or positive effect on their attack and defence depending on the Arcana, but it allows for some very powerful supers to be thrown out.

One of the peculiarities of Arcana Heart is how slow it moves. Combat takes place in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with banners either side of the action, by rights this should make the game feel tight and close. Instead though the characters feel tiny, giant robots aside obviously, and you can find yourself a long way from your opponent. This is where the gameís slow movement speed becomes noticeable, itís an odd choice, and presumably why the game has a homing button to rush towards your opponent. The problem is it leaves you vulnerable, but then so does walking or hopping in

The arcade mode is mostly a breeze, although by picking certain fights you can make it more difficult, right up until the penultimate boss fight, then itís SNK levels of difficulty. Right after that though youíve got a boss not dissimilar to something from Marvel vs Capcom. Itís not helped that the game does absolutely nothing to train you, thereís nothing about the systems, only a basic training mode with no instruction on how to complete its tasks.

Thereís a lot to like about Arcana Heart 3, but its mish-mash of styles count against it. If it threw itself head on to the more nonsense side of the genre I think it would find its niche, Iím not sure the more serious side is strong enough to keep an audience playing. Arcana Heart 3 is fun though, difficult at points, but thereís enough to it youíll progress, and defined enough characters youíll have a favourite. Itís worth playing, and itís nice to see some worthwhile stuff still coming out on PS3.
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Posted by James at 07:51
Colour us surprised this morning when we stumbled across an overhaul of Nintendo's Japanese website, as promised in their last investor meeting.

It's pretty nice: on our desktop browser we see slick animation, dynamic resizing, all these other modern things which make us mildly excited. Wii U eShop-esque navigation panes now take up the left and right while content's centre-focused. There's finally quick access to upcoming software releases too. It all reminds us a bit of the best of Microsoft's live tiles. The mobile view works similarly, adopting a one or two column layout for the info tiles whilst retaining the important navigation.

Now if only Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe would follow suit with a unified-global facing design. Oh, and that web-based eShop we were promised nearly two years ago.
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