Vita

2014-08-20-141818

Surprisingly hot on the heels of the release of the first game, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has both the benefit and the challenge of following an experience that is still quite fresh in players’ minds. Considering how much the original Danganronpa turned the visual novel genre on its head, it’s hard not to wonder whether the sequel could live up to its standards.

I’m happy to say that it did that and then some. READ MORE

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Stealth games have gone through somewhat of a renaissance as of late, augmenting traditionally rigid mechanics you associate with the genre for something more forgiving. This is a way to introduce the genre to new players without alienating the veterans, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. CounterSpy continues this new traditional in style, with randomly generated side-scrolling levels and a focus on maintaining the balance between pure stealth and action. READ MORE

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Emulating another genre within a game has been met with varying levels of success. Probably the most well-known of an MMO-within-a-game structure is the .hack series. That franchise spanned seven games and, for the most part, did its best to emulate the MMO structure inside a “regular” RPG of sorts. Years after .hack made an appearance in both anime and video games, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment rolls around with a similar premise. Is SAO able to raise the bar on this kind of formula? READ MORE

Hohokum: I think I liked it?

August 21, 2014

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I’ve been sitting here, staring at a blank page for almost an hour. How do you write about a game like Hohokum? I recall my adventures with the game’s lead “character,” taking me through vast worlds full of bizarre characters and creatures that are all unique, yet somehow feel singular. It’s a game with no real premise or clear objectives, yet I found myself (sometimes) engaged with its colorful landscapes. Let’s explore Hohokum and see if we can dissect it, shall we?

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Players have been enjoying The Swapper on PCfor the previous year, but console fans are just recently getting their first taste of the game on the PS4, PS3 and Vita. The Swapper is a puzzle-action game hybrid, similar in feel to Braid, but with a much darker and more realistic tone set on an abandoned space station. The game does make a few missteps, but the atmosphere, along with some unique and well-thought-out puzzle mechanics, make this a game that anyone even remotely interested in it should play. READ MORE

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I’ve never been to Japan before, but I imagine it’s not unlike playing the new title from Acquire and XSEED, Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed. Sure, the game features way more blood-sucking demons than you might find in the real Akihabara, but otherwise it has to be close, right? Akiba’s Trip is exactly as bizarre as I expected, but it’s also surprisingly charming despite its rough edges.

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At this point, getting a handheld Disgaea remake is nothing new. The first game was ported to both PSP and DS, and the second made it to PSP. Then Disgaea 3 was released on Vita two years ago, and here we are with the fourth game receiving the same treatment (and uniting the core series on one device). So how does it compare to both its ported peers and the PS3 original? READ MORE

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The world of data visualization is in many ways a novel one for games. I mean, to a certain extent, all games are is data visualization, but it’s never really drawn inspiration from these infographics precepts in a significant way. Metrico developer Digital Dreams saw that hole in its own data and sought to fill it with a game that is both visually arresting and mentally demanding.
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Arc System Works is known, at least in the West, for its anime-style fighting games. With XBlaze Code: Embryo, though, it’s dipping into another side of one of the BlazBlue universe, straying away from intense combat and floating into the gentle waters of the visual novel. Despite the fresh (to us) approach, is XBlaze worth the journey? READ MORE

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Both good music games and good puzzle games have value outside of the mechanics themselves. One gives you a reason to listen to new music, and the other keeps your head in check and reinforces pattern recognition. Arc System Works, known for its work in the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, released Magical Beat, a hybrid rhythm-puzzle game, in the arcades in 2012. Two years later, it’s on North American Vitas. READ MORE