Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is one of the few games to aim high and knock everything out of the park. A prequel to the Yakuza franchise, it introduces Kiryu Kazuma and Majima Goro 17 years before the main events of the first game. Their individual stories start with no clear connection – Kiryu is accused of murder on a vital plot of land in Tokyo while Majima is working his way back into the Shimano family in Osaka. But as the finale approaches, the thread holding everything together becomes apparent, bringing both stories on a collision course.

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Video and Text)

Originally released in 2006, Final Fantasy XII quickly became one of my favorite games once I got around to playing it. It was beautiful, fun, and had plenty to dig in to. This year, the Zodiac Age remaster presented a spiffed-up version of the game, combining the best of the Japan-only “International Zodiac Job System” (IZJS) version with plenty of new improvements.

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NieR

Nier is an interesting game, and going into it I only had an inkling of an idea of what to expect. It’s a spin-off of the Drakengard series (specifically of the first game), of which I have only played Drakengard 3. If you read my review, you’d know that I have a very mixed opinion on that one. While Nier has substantial differences, particularly in where it succeeds or pales in comparison, there is one main detail that makes this a better game – it’s fun. And it doesn’t conclude with a mechanically broken rhythm game. Okay, so that’s two things.

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Persona 3 The Movie #3 – Falling Down

The first movie was okay as an adaptation, but not that great as a film. The second movie was better as a film, but took more creative liberty as an adaptation. The third movie is just a mess. They should have called it “Ryoji is here guys, so let’s make this movie about him now! Except where we need to jam in fights because I guess there was a plot we need to adapt.”

Just like my post on the second movie, there will be some spoilers. So play Persona 3 FES first if you’re looking to avoid them.

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Love Live! School Idol Festival

Have you ever yearned for a game that entices your need to “catch ’em all” in the same manner as Pokemon, but with pretty young anime girls in place of animals, keychains, and ice cream? Something to kindle your masochist desires, packaged with a mediocre rhythm game? Well, do I have the solution for you!

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CrossCode

I’ve always been a bit critical of early access games. Why pay for something before it even has a release date? When you don’t even know if it will be properly released? When you have no indication of whether promises about the game’s content will be kept? Well, something has come around that finally motivated me to chip in – CrossCode.

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Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht

This series of posts, covering the Xenosaga trilogy for the PS2, will be slightly different than what I’ve done in the past. Right off the bat, I want to make something clear – I am playing the first two games for the sake of the third. I normally talk about how I like to avoid expectations when approaching something, going in blind and taking things as they come, but here very high expectations have been set for Xenosaga Episode III, while substantially lower expectations have been set for the first two. So basically, I’m very interested in playing these games and seeing how everything actually pans out.

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Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland

After enjoying Atelier Rorona Plus as much as I did (a lot), it was inevitable that I would follow it up with the sequels of the Arland trilogy – Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru. While Totori feels like a very familiar experience as a whole, it’s held back by a few quirks that weren’t present in Rorona.

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Video Games and Nostalgia

When it comes to that mysterious and painful thing known as nostalgia, there’s nothing quite as cruel as video games. Memories of days gone by where I spent hours upon hours having fun in unforgettable digital worlds will always haunt my memories, and reliving those moments is always a rewarding experience that I crave. Or something like that.

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Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

This year’s Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for the 3DS are reboots of 2003’s Ruby and Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance. Compared to the original releases, these games are bolstered by new mechanics added into the franchise over the past decade, yet also dragged down by some disappointing decisions.

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Song of Saya

Happy Halloween! I decided to post something fitting for the occasion. I won’t spoil anything either!

In a world where nothing but his own perception is changed, Fuminori struggles in a living hell, with only a single beacon of hope – the mysterious girl Saya. But will she alone be able to keep him grounded in sanity?

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PlayStation TV (Vita TV)

A year after its release in Japan, the PlayStation TV (also known as the Vita TV) is available for the Western market. While the mini-console finally gives players the opportunity to play Vita games on a big screen, its release is held back by a problematic game lineup and absence of some important features.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the sequel to 2012’s Persona 4 Arena, brings everything that worked for the first game and strengthens it the second time through, creating one of the best fighting game experiences around.

Well, except for the story. It’s pretty bad.

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Analogue: A Hate Story

When I first heard that this was a feminist visual novel, I was quite skeptical – my mind was immediately filled with ideas of the typical misandrist mindset that seems to permeate contemporary feminism. Spending money on something that would merely lead to irritation did not seem very appealing.

Color me surprised that this turned out to be one of my favorite visual novels.

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Review – Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Following up on the success of the light novels and anime series, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a spin-off game for the Vita that takes a different approach to the conclusion of the Aincrad arc. While the game lacks an interesting story or characters, it almost makes up for it with fairly dense gameplay and an excess of content.

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Analysis – 2D vs 3D

Throughout “otaku” culture, there lies a recurring concept which has been debated more than the theory of evolution. A topic so virulent and divisive that future wars may be waged over the differing ideologies. A situation of such magnitude that Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have offered their own opinions.

The topic? 2D versus 3D. And I’m here to tell you why 2D is the winning team.

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Review – Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland

Alchemy… adventuring… and everything JRPG. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect video game. But Professor Gust accidentally added another ingredient to the concoction… moe. Thus, Atelier Rorona Plus was born!

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Revisited – Final Fantasy X HD Remaster

I had an initial post on this game a while back, but now that I’ve gotten much farther along, I felt that an update was necessary – I’ve carried over a bit of info from the last post, so you don’t really need to read both.

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Analysis – Downloadable Content (DLC)

In a world where most gaming consoles are connected to the internet, downloadable content is becoming increasingly prevalent. Some people revile this trend as a foretelling of the apocalypse, while others gleefully accept the additional material for games they enjoy. All in all, DLC is a bit of a mixed bag that could potentially harm the gaming industry in the long run, but only if consumers continue to support the practice.

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My Top 10 Soundtracks

Here is a list of my top ten soundtracks – five are from video games, three are from anime, one is from a visual novel, and one is from a film. My reasons for selecting these soundtracks are fairly simple – they contributed immeasurably to supporting the tone of the medium, and remain interesting to listen to well after experiencing them in context.

This is an update of a similar post from a few months ago, but you should forget that other one even exists. This time, I didn’t forget two that should have definitely been there. And unlike that post that doesn’t exist, I decided against limiting this to original soundtracks. While OSTs can provide new and interesting music, licensed soundtracks can also do a phenomenal job of supporting a film or game.

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Review – Anime Pirates (One Piece Online)

Do you like One Piece? Do you not consider yourself a masochist? Have you ever wondered what makes video games fun? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you may want to tread carefully from here on out.

And for everyone who saw my poll last week – this is that post. I really wish this game was just an April Fools’ joke.

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Conception II Demo

This probably seems pointless to a lot of you, but I thought that this might make for an interesting topic. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a game that will be released for the 3DS and Vita on April 15th in North America, and later in the year for Europe. The demo is available now for both consoles in North America.

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Question – Should I Write a Commissioned Post?

Okay, so I ended up in a bit of an unexpected situation. I got an email yesterday about writing a post or review for a browser-based game on my blog, for which I would be paid. After following up with the message, I learned that the “guaranteed financial reward” would be a 10% commission on purchases made from links on my blog.

The money wouldn’t be the deciding factor for me (assuming I even got any), it’s whether or not I think this post and the required gameplay will be worth my precious time during spring break. And just to clarify, this is not a “write a positive review and we’ll pay you” deal. If I do this, I will be giving my honest thoughts.

The company, the game, etc, are all legitimate, but the circumstances were very surprising – so now I ask, should I do it? This is most likely completely dependent on the poll results, so have at it.

Thanks!


The featured image, which is from Hyouka, is completely unrelated.

Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~

I wrote up a new post on the 2015 update, so this post is pretty much irrelevant now. You can see the new one here.

This visual novel is brought to you by Overdrive, a company well known for making eroge (hentai games). But this isn’t an eroge. This is an advertisement for Japan. No, seriously.

And rather than just showing you the pretty young anime girls, I’m including relevant real life pictures! OH SNAP

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Analysis – Handheld Gaming

My whole life, I’ve been primarily a Nintendo handheld gamer, starting with a GameBoy Pocket in kindergarten, and then eventually getting a GameBoy Advance, Advance SP, and finally a DS, which I’ve had and used for about 8 years or so. On the other hand, the only TV consoles I’ve had are a PS2 and Xbox 360.

With the tide of mobile gaming and people claiming that handheld game consoles will be overrun by phones and tablets, I figured it would be interesting to compare the two primary handhelds – the Nintendo 3DS XL and the PlayStation Vita – against mobile devices.

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Persona 4 – The Game vs. The Anime

Since I actually watched the Persona 4 anime before playing the game, I figured I would re-watch it now that I’ve completed P4 Golden. This isn’t a review of either, just comparing some of the strengths/weaknesses of each against each other. I will be avoiding major spoilers throughout, so don’t worry! 

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Review – Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA-f

A rhythm game was certainly not high on my list for ideas of Vita games to get, yet here I am with a copy of one based entirely on vocaloid music. If you aren’t familiar with vocaloids, they are basically synthetic voices programmed to sing. For an example, check out the below video – it might also work well as background music for this post (and it’s also the opening theme for the game).

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Review – Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God

Have you ever made curry? It’s a pretty simple dish, basically a stew of meat and veggies with a roux added in to bring the flavor of the various spices and thicken everything up. I never could have imagined that I would fail so much at making curry as I did in this game. Not that it actually matters too much, but it is a bit depressing, despondent, and woeful. Continue reading “Review – Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God”