February 2011

We just posted our Hyperdimension Neptunia review. Guess what? Now we’re giving away a copy of the PS3 game’s special edition, including an art book and a special deck of playing cards with art from the game!

The rules are as always:

  • You must live in the U.S. or Canada. (Sorry, but overseas shipping is a killer.)
  • Make a comment on this post for one entry.
  • Retweet the link back to this post on Twitter for another entry.
  • Contest ends at noon Eastern on March 4.

We’ll draw a random winner from all the entries on the 4th and post it here. Good luck!

Kairosoft, maker of our 2010 iOS Game of the Year, Game Dev Story, has released their American followup. The Japanese company’s next English-language release? Hot Springs Story, where players manage a traditional Japanese hotel and spa.

It looks to have interface improvements, but generally retains the feel of its predecessor. Except, well, it’s not about games. (The company has previously confirmed that a sequel to Game Dev Story is in the works, and they’ve also made Game Dealer Story, where players run a store, that’s most likely next to be translated.) It’s available in the App Store now for $3.99

This week we talk about YouTube on consoles, Aya Brea’s PSN debut and Resident Evil 6. 

Current score

Gerry Pagan: +30

Andrew Passafiume: +395

Graham Russell: +384

Eric Schabel: +35

Shawn Vermette: +335

 

YouTube coming to XBL and PSN

According to a recent job listing on Google’s website, they are looking to hire a Game Console Software Engineer for YouTube. Currently, you can access YouTube on the PS3 and Wii via the in-system browser, but it appears that Google’s plans are for integration similar to Netflix. The job description says that they will be working on ” the next generation game-console-based TV experience with YouTube video content,” and will “integrate and optimize with distribution channels and devices including all major game platforms.” Obviously Google is up to something console related, but is it a dedicated game service for YouTube?

Gerry: Given Microsoft’s efforts to integrate every possible web service into the XBL service, I wouldn’t put this possibility past them. PSN is a lot more unlikely, though it’d be nice. 55%


Andrew: This is an odd rumor. It just seems like something that should have already happened by now: a dedicated way to view YouTube videos on your consoles. It’s probably only a matter of time! 90%

 

Graham: I’m torn on this one. It seems like a logical thing to do, to be sure, though It seems like it should have happened already. A more likely thing to me would be appearance on 3DS and NGP. Google and Sony seem friendly these days with the PlayStation Suite initiative, and a YouTube service capable of showing 3D shorts on a glasses-free screen would be appealing, too. (Of course, Nintendo likes its walled garden.)  68.264%

Shawn: I’m with Andrew, a little surprised this hasn’t happened yet. My gut feeling is that this will be announced at E3, and that it’ll be a timed exclusive for either Sony or Microsoft, with it being accessible to XBL Gold members only. As for whether it is true or not, I think it will definitely happen.  95%


Parasite Eve coming to PSOne Classics service

The ESRB has once again potentially let the cat out of the bag for Square Enix. The ratings board has released a new rating for Parasite Eve on both the PS3 and PSP. Square Enix has said nothing on this development so far, but with the upcoming release of Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday, is Square ready to re-release yet another one of their classic PSX RPGs?

Gerry: If it’s gotten an ESRB rating, then sure! 3rd Birthday should prove enough incentive for people to get the the original game. 100%

 

Andrew: Whenever the ESRB rates a game, it usually means it’ll be coming out soon. And considering both games are available for PSN in Japan, it would only make sense for them to be released here. 95%

Graham: Square Enix, I think, senses the end of the console generation, and has decided to get everything they can out in some form before the next wave. There’s no reason to keep things in the tank, after all, when your fanbase is rabid enough to just buy them again the next time around. This one, though, does seem like a bit of a stretch, so I can’t rubber-stamp it.  91.3365%

Shawn: I really hope this is true, as I missed out on almost every single PSX RPG from Square that wasn’t named Final Fantasy. With Xenogears and Vagrant Story already confirmed for PSN release, the Parasite Eve games are about the last major Square RPGs I’ll be missing. Also, the ESRB hasn’t steered us wrong about one of these re-releases in awhile. 95%


Resident Evil 6 to be PS3 timed exclusive

Microsoft has had timed exclusive after timed exclusive this generation, while Sony has had very few, if any, up to this point. However, if a recent rumor is true, that may be about to change in a big way. Rumor has it that Capcom and Sony are discussing a 6-12 month long exclusivity arrangement for Resident Evil 6. Considering the big money made this generation by Capcom in their multiplatform releases, would they really consider such a long exclusivity arrangement for such a huge franchise?

Gerry: There’s really no precedent for the PS3 getting any timed exclusives over the 360, especially not with a big name title like Resident Evil. I’ll give Sony the benefit of the doubt though, since it’s never too late to start sending “exclusives” your way.60%


Andrew: Resident Evil 6 could work well as a PS3 exclusive, especially if it also had Move support. I definitely see this being a possibility. The Resident Evil series used to be practically considered a PlayStation franchise, despite having releases on other systems as well. At the same time, exclusives, even timed exclusives, are becoming less likely these days. They just don’t happen nearly as often as they used to. I would be a bit surprised if RE6 were PS3 exclusive, even for a short period of time, considering how well RE5 sold on the 360.  60%

Graham: What do we know? We know timed exclusivity is basically free money. We know Capcom jumped at the opportunity to implement Move support with the last Resident Evil. We know Sony would like some timed exclusives to combat Microsoft, and we also know they’d tend to go with the type of game that would succeed in Japan as well as the U.S. (something Microsoft doesn’t really factor in). Is it a good idea? Yeah, probably.  66%

Shawn: It’s about time Sony tries something to take some thunder away from Microsoft, the runaway leader among the two companies in both software and hardware sales this generation. However, I just don’t see Capcom jumping on something like this without a huge cash incentive from Sony…and I just don’t know that Sony has the will to spend that much money on an exclusive. 45%

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!

Hyperdimension Neptunia has gotten a lot of press for its premise: personified game consoles who stop their war with each other to fight a villain named Arfoire. (Get it?) It’s an interesting concept, and a game full of industry references seems like a recipe for success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fully commit, and the underlying gameplay isn’t quite as cohesive as it should be.

You play primarily as Neptune, the game’s version of Sega, as she gets kicked down from the goddesses’ realm down to the mortal world (populated by various third-parties). You team up with characters based on the companies involved in development, like Compa (Compile Heart), I.F. (Idea Factory), Gust (well, Gust) and Nisa (Nippon Ichi Software), and fight monsters in dungeons. Eventually you also acquire the other Console Patron Units to use.

The combat is turn-based, and uses a combo system. Face buttons correspond to actions, and you can chain up to four actions together. While the basic moves are simply physical attacks, weapon strikes and ranged shots, each character has a customizable move tree that you can slip special moves and combo link actions into. These special moves are where game references are made in combat, as game logos appear in them. (There are also “R/W Disc” moves, where you can customize the name and image to whatever you’d like.) You eventually gain up to six party members, but only three are active at a time. (There’s a “switch” move to bring in a reserve character.) There’s clearly a lot a player can do here, but it’s unclear why in many situations. Party members have strengths and weaknesses, so most of the time you’ll be constantly using the ranged attack button with the ranged character and avoiding range altogether with a melee expert. (Using special attacks is fun for a little bit, though. It’s just unfortunate that they don’t correspond to elements of the actual games they reference.)

Everything is set in a dungeon environment, with chests, items to pick up and mostly random encounters. (Boss battles are obvious and triggered.) Each character has an in-world ability. For example, I.F. finds hidden chests. This is a 3D world with a behind-the-back camera, and for dungeons so nondescript and spread out, it all seems a bit unnecessary. 

Anyway, those who have played Compile Heart games in the past will be familiar with many of these design decisions, and many may find them endearing. The clear purpose of the game is to make game references, and that happens. The game is largely quest-driven, with players crossing back and forth across the four worlds taking care of various missions. Sometimes there are just vignettes, where the characters talk to each other about the world, and these were clearly meant to contain the industry charm. 

That’s where the problem is. See, we love the game industry, and some well-timed jokes would redeem any experience. Neptunia, though, just makes references. It’s the difference between telling someone that you’re telling a joke and actually telling the joke. For example, do we like Tetris references? Yeah, we do! But a scene shows the characters talking about some off-screen people efficiently packing a truck, saying they work for a company that makes what certainly sounds like Tetris, and describing how they’re packing the truck. We want to get it. We don’t.

NIS America clearly wants to please its fans, and anyone who likes the game will really like it. They’ve bundled in a hardcover art book, and as they’ve done in the recent past, they made some of the game’s DLC available for free. It’s a wonderful gesture, and it’s something we hope continues, but it’s simply not something that would make someone enjoy the game if they don’t already. 

If you’re a fan of esoteric Japanese RPGs, Neptunia has some redeeming qualities, and it certainly provides hours and hours of quests and battles. It’s not the breakthrough hit that will make gamers of all sorts laugh and have a good time, though. 

 

Pros: System depth leads to hours of gameplay, slick visuals can be rare in niche titles

Cons: Tedium abounds at every turn, jokes miss the mark

UPDATE: This has again been confirmed on the PlayStation Blog, where they also revealed a price of $5.99.

According to a leaked photo from the PlayStation Blog, it looks like Vagrant Story will finally be hitting PSN in the US on Tuesday.

Released in May 2000 to critical acclaim, this cult classic RPG has become one of the most sought after PSX games during the last few years, with prices for a mint CD of the game climbing past $100 at some points.