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7/28/2012

DOA5 Balance Test Combo Footage



A new EXCELLENT trailer for Dead or Alive 5 showing some combos for Kokoro, Leifang, Jann Lee, Akira, Kasumi and Rig. Most of the combos look guaranteed and some of them even start from basic throws. AMAZING! Check it out!

7/27/2012

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 - Bikini trailer!



The very first bikini trailer for Dead or Alive 5 featuring some of the bunny outfits for the girls available as pre-order bonuses from Amazon (black ones) and Gamestop (white). The video shows Kasumi, Ayane and Hitomi fighting it off and showing some moves, stuns and juggles. No new characters were revealed though.

There's another one with Leifang instead of Ayane but the voices in that one are in English. Terrible. But I'll be sharing it in a big anyway.

The Fate of Eorzea -- FINAL FANTASY XIV Trailer



I dunno why I didn't shared this earlier in the day. Square-Enix has released a very impressive and beautiful trailer for Final Fantasy XIV 2.0, now named "A Realm Reborn". No gameplay is shown sadly but the trailer itself is fucking amazing. 

I've been debating whether to either join FFXIV or go back to FFXI for the past year. Hmm what to do...

Dead or Alive 5 Box art revealed!

Tecmo has just officially shown the Dead or Alive 5 box art. And it's very cool! Check it out!


Final Fantasy Versus XIII vaporware?


 With the release of Theatrhythm and various visits around many Final Fantasy sites I usually visit, I've come across many very interesting articles regarding Versus XIII. In the last weeks, the game has caused a couple of very impressive and scary hoaxes on the internet. In the first, some guys made a video about an "inside reveal" showing the game's name being changed to "Final Fantasy XV" and the second one a stupid rumor elaborated by the people who write in the website Kotaku stating the game had been quietly cancelled by Square-Enix but that they'd never make an official announcement to let the game die in peace like Star Craft: Ghost or Shenmue III. Fortunately, both hoaxes were crushed by Square-Enix president himself on Twitter and he even said something about meetings about the creation of a town in Versus.

Now we all have to remember that Versus was officially announced in E3 2006. That was six, SIX, years ago. In that time we've seen XIII, XIII-2, Type-0 (in Japan), IV Complete Collection, several Kingdom Hearts games, Dissidia, Dissidia 012 and Theatrhythm along with the digital releases of pretty much the entire series in the PlayStation Network. The lack of actual footage like trailers, screens and official showings at events like E3 and TGS has made the game been labeled as vaporware recently by many writers around the web.

In my personal opinion, the game can't still be called vaporware simply because Square-Enix insists in talking about it every now and then. Whether to ask for our patience or to claim the cancellation rumor was false. Officially the game is still in development and thus calling it vaporware is silly. We just have to wait for them to make another official statement or announcement on the game's progress. And for all we know, we could be seeing a completely different game from what they showed us in the last trailers. Even the gameplay one where Noctis and the others are fighting the Behemoth.

There are some things that I'd really like for them to do with the game. For one, I'd support them if they made the name-changing thing to Final Fantasy XV official. Why? Simple. Nomura himself claimed years ago that while the game is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis saga, Versus holds no relation at all with XIII (and XIII-2 and Type-0) so it can't be considered neither a prequel nor a sequel. If that's true, the "XIII" in the name will have people confused for years and it's only gonna spawn countless theories relating FFXIII and Versus like the one that states Squall dies halfway through FFVIII (I support that one, actually). So changing the name of the game to FFXV would be beneficial for the company.

Another thing is that Nomura claimed that the game can't be part of the main series because the art-style and gameplay were different but to me, that makes little to no sense because most games in it are completely different from each other. Look at for example FFIII when compared to FFVII. or FFXII with FFXIII, to use two games close to each other. FF Versus XIII could easily be part of the main series as Final Fantasy XV and as I said, I think it'd actually benefit both the company and the franchise a LOT, especially if the game ends up being good, which I'm pretty sure it will.

But for now, all we can do as the players is wait. A FF event is happening in Japan in September and for all we know, we could be seeing new footage of Versus in it (along with a possible announcement of FFXIII-3). As fans of the series and people who have enjoyed all the games in it, we have to support and wait for Square-Enix.

REVIEW: Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)



Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland is the first chapter in a trilogy of very obscure and rare games developed by GUST. It’s the typical unpopular JRPG, with a very strict anime style to its visuals, not heavy on exploration and requires lots of grinding to do many things. The game, while charming and with lots of potential, falls shorts in way too many things that will make it completely not enjoyable to most of the public out there, even JRPG fans.

The game tells the story of a very loud but cute young girl named Rorolina Frixell, who is usually called Rorona. She’s the apprentice of an extremely lazy alchemist master named Astrid and works in a workshop with her. The kingdom of the land threatens to close down the workshop unless they complete 12 special assignments in three years. So Astrid gives the ownership of the workshop to Rorona and lets her take care of everything.

The 12 assignments usually include creating certain items via alchemy, gather a special set of ingredients somewhere in the land or simply killing a certain number of enemies. The tasks themselves aren’t hard at all. But the game makes everything extremely annoying with a time-limit gameplay style, where the game uses “days” as a form of currency for almost everything. Traveling from one place to another, creating items in the workshop and moving around in the same area spends days and if you’re not careful, it’s possible to literally mess up and get stuck in the game if you spend too much days and the assignment deadline arrives without you completing it on time. I’ll be talking more deeply about this in a bit.

Story-wise, the game doesn’t ask players to save the world, there’s no dangerous enemy threatening the land and there’s not even a villain in the entire game except for maybe a stupid minister who wants to close the workshop to build factories. The story is very simple but the fact that it goes out of the heroes-save-world formula gave it a lot of potential that the game sadly didn’t use in its favor.

In the visuals department, the game is actually pretty. The textures in the anime-styled characters are good and since they also go for a “chibi” style for them makes everything even simpler. The environments are pretty as well but impossible to explore since most of them are just a passageway with invisible walls. Don’t expect a world map, animated movies, facial expressions and quality animations in this game because you won’t find any. The game is pretty and cute but it really falls short in the graphics department when compared to monsters like Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2 or Lost Odyssey to the point where it really feels like a PS1/PS2 game polished to run in HDTV sets.

Atelier Rorona comes with two options for voice-overs: English and Japanese. The English ones are a complete abomination and should be avoided at all costs. I tried it out for a while and made most of the characters speak in English and there’s really nothing good about it. If you’re going to play Rorona, do it in Japanese and read the subtitles and dialog boxes. The Japanese voices aren’t perfect either, but at least they fit with what the developers wanted the characters to sound like depending on their looks, ages and personalities. You can expect the Japanese voices to sound very childish and most of the anime stereotypes are there, like the cute young girl, the tsundere serious guy, the Casanova who looks like a girl, the shy big-breasted Blondie, etc.

Besides, it’s not like they’re going to make a deep storyline come to life with dialogs because there’s really no storyline. In fact, the dialogs occur in the typical old-school RPG style where two images of the characters speaking appear in the screen and a dialog box is in the lower part with the voices over them. No animations or anything. No videos and no CGI so if you’re looking for that, stay in Final Fantasy.

The sound effects in the game aren’t good at all. The only ones in it are very childish and cartoony. I turned the music off in several locations to see if I could hear water, wind, rain, plants or any other ambient sound but there really weren’t any. This is also because of the game’s simplicity in its presentation. The soundtrack is very cute and most of the songs are catchy so this part of the sound department kind of saves the game. Of course, don’t expect music of the quality of Nobuo Uematsu, Martin O’Donnell or Go Shiina because the songs in Atelier Rorona are cartoony, childish and simple, yet catchy and most of them are very cool.

Now, let’s go to the most important part of the game: its gameplay. Atelier Rorona, while very simple in almost every aspect, actually has a very deep alchemy system where the little girl can create dozens and dozens of different items off hundreds and hundreds of different ingredients found in all the areas outside the town. Each ingredient comes with a quality number, the higher the number the higher the quality and thus, it can be used to make better items. Each ingredient can also include “attributes” of some sort that can be transferred to a different item if used in a recipe. For example, if you use an Iron Ingot with “Attack +10” and “Defense +5” to create a sword for a party member, the attribute will be carried over to the weapon so the user can benefit from it in battle. It’s vital to pay attention to these quality numbers and attributes because they sometimes give the opportunity to finish missions for better money, complete the kingdom’s assignments more quickly or make better equipment for when you “explore” the dungeons looking for even more ingredients and leveling up.

Rorona has her own alchemy level, which is completely different from the “adventurer level” she and her friends use for the battle system. If she’s low on alchemy level, there’s a chance that she’ll fail a creation or she’ll simply take more days to complete them. So it’s important to try and level her up as much as possible so the later recipes can be done in fewer days and with better quality.

Outside the entire alchemy system, there are several “dungeons” like plains, caves, catacombs and mountains where Rorona can go accompanied by two party members of your choice and fight enemies to level up, gather hundreds of different ingredients and finish special missions given by the people in the kingdom outside the official assignments the game revolves around. In battle, Rorona and her companions only have a handful of stats like HP, Attack and Defense. These go up by leveling up and equipping better items like weapons, armor and accessories. The animations and sounds in the battles are very simple and the system itself is very basic to the point where there aren’t many possible strategies other than attack things until they die or escape if they’re too powerful for you. There aren’t many enemies, skills or weapons to allow for a deeper battle system like in other games of the genre.

The game actually has a curious elemental skill system where you can make elemental attack more or less powerful depending on rate of use in a single battle. But sadly, you won’t make much use of it because most fights are over in two or three turns anyway and building-up the elemental powers takes more than that. Also, there isn’t any variety in enemies. Most of them carry over from one area to the next with a different color palette and stats. Rorona’s friends who can travel with her have their own stats, attacks and weapons to equip but I really felt that these were extremely unbalanced. The first one who joins is another little rich girl called Cordelia who is very weak so once you get other members like a knight named Sterk or a puppet master named Lionela, there really is no reason to travel with Cordelia anymore because no matter what, she’ll always be weaker than other members. In fact, I finished the entire game with Rorona, Sterk and a third spot usually occupied by Lionela because that party worked wonderful for me and every time I changed it, I seemed to have a harder time defeating monsters.

During the entire game, there’s a deadline system that will be hunting you down and annoying you during the experience with it. Each time a new assignment is given to Rorona, there’s a “time limit” of about 89 days to complete it. The assignment themselves, as I mentioned aren’t hard at all except for maybe two or three out of the 12 that make the game. In my personal run, I usually took about 20-25 days to complete each task, some took less and some a little more. But even if you complete the kingdom’s assignments very quickly, the game uses these “days” as some sort of currency. As I said before, traveling, creating items and completing missions for the people to earn money spends days. So sometimes the game will simply don’t give you enough days to both level-up the alchemy levels, grind the battle levels, finish missions to gather more money to buy vital things or have all the ingredients you need to have in the workshop for future use.

This last is especially annoying because besides the “time limit”, there’s a maximum carrying capacity for Rorona outside the workshop. She has a basket that can only carry 60 items. And if you decide to carry around healing potions, attacking items like bombs or extra equipment, they will take space in her basket so farming ingredients in many occasions will force you to travel from the town to the dungeon and vice-versa several times, thus, spending way too many days. The general consensus in the community online is that the game simply doesn’t give the player enough time to do everything he/she wants in a single playthrough. And besides all that, there’s a realistic (but very unlikely) chance to mess up and save the game with not enough days to complete a kingdom assignment which would result in a Game Over. So having different save files is 100% recommended. Just in case.

The game can be played several times with no problems because it’s not very long. It can be finished in about 20-25 hours even if you take a lot of time to walk around the dungeons and farm items. The trophy list for it is a little hard to get because it requires you to see all the four different endings and mastering everything that can be leveled up, like the battle levels, alchemy levels, ingredient list and Rorona’s reputation among the townspeople. So in replay value, the game is actually very lengthy and good.

For closing comments, I can say that Atelier Rorona, despite all the things it is lacking, is a good game. Not great, but definitely not bad. If you like JRPGs or are interested in a video game revolving around alchemy, try your luck with it. It’s very simple and as I said before, it feels like a PS1/PS2 game that came out way too late. The graphics, sound, storytelling and gameplay are basic but it has a deep alchemy system that will allow you to create hundreds of cool and useful things. Also, if you like anime and cute Japanese stuff, then you will enjoy the game. Just don’t expect it to compare with more “serious” JRPGs like Final Fantasy, Lost Odyssey, Xenoblade or Tales of Vesperia because it really doesn’t come even close to them. Rorona is a game that is not for everyone, but not because of difficulty or depth, but because of its simplicity and extreme focus on being a cute otaku game.


Pros:

-          Charming characters.
-          Deep alchemy system with hundreds of things to gather and create.
-          Good music.
-          Equipment customization is fun and varied.


Cons:

-          Deadline system is extremely annoying and doesn’t let you enjoy the game’s features to the fullest.
-          The Battle system is very basic.
-          Exploration is non-existent.
-          No cool boss battles.
-          Storyline is dull and uninteresting.


-          Graphics and Visuals………...6
-          Music and Sound Effects….....7
-          Gameplay………………....…7
-          Replay Value…………….…..8

Overall Score……………….. 7 / 10

7/26/2012

REVIEW: Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus (Vita)



Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is yet another remake of the awesome classic released originally for the Xbox back in 2004. Developed by Tomonobu Itagaki’s Team Ninja, it features a very bloody and extremely difficult adventure by super-ninja Ryu Hayabusa for revenge against the evil Vigoorian Empire.

The PS Vita version is actually a remake of PS3’s Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Every extra that appeared in Sigma, like Rachel’s chapters and the Ninja Trials are there but the Vita entry includes even more and most of the changes are pretty cool, while another is actually a bit annoying and just doesn’t feel right for a game that many consider the best action-adventure game ever made.

But let’s first start with what the game is about, just in case somebody still doesn’t know. Ninja Gaiden (Sigma Plus) is an action adventure game where you’ll be controlling Ryu Hayabusa (and in this case, a VERY beautiful demon hunter named Rachel for a bit), exploring areas, fighting many challenging enemies and bosses and using all kinds of ninja weapons against them, both melee and ranged. This game has always been considered to be very, very hard, especially if you attempt the high difficulties. But unlike games like Demon’s Souls, Ninja Gaiden is not broken or cheap-hard. Every enemy can be beaten if you’re good, you use a weapon that deals more damage or simply by creating a good strategy on the go. The Sigma versions have a “Ninja Dog” difficulty especially made for casual players but I truly recommend going for “Hard” or “Very Hard” if you really want to experience how the game must be played.

The game starts with Ryu’s Village getting burned down by samurai from the evil Vigoor Empire. The Emperor wants to steal the Dark Dragon Blade, a very powerful sword capable of inflicting and absorbing evil. They succeed and Ryu goes in a quest for revenge and claim the sword back. In his adventures he’ll meet Doku, a dark evil samurai, the purple-haired Ayane from Dead or Alive and as I mentioned before, Rachel, a very hot demon-hunter with her own playable chapters and ninja trials.

Graphically. NGSP looks very good in the Vita, with an HD screen, the portable console manages to bring the already-great visuals of the PS3 version everywhere you go. The textures are very nice, especially on the most important characters like Ryu himself, Rachel, Ayane, Doku and Murai. Some of the environments look a bit bland and the water isn’t very good but this is because they use the same textures from the Original Xbox version, and that one came out back in 2004. Fortunately, you won’t see much of those.

The game manages to run at a steady 60 frames-per-second which make the lightning-fast gameplay look very smooth and natural. The areas are big enough to move around freely and comfortably and the lightning effects, while not top-notch, are very nice in the Vita screen. It’s impressive how such an old game manages to stay with such quality for so many years.

In sound, the game is a bit of a let-down for fans of the original entries. The Vita version does NOT include the Japanese voices from the Xbox and PS3 versions so we’re all forced to play in English. The English voices aren’t that bad but they just feel out of context and if you’re a fan of the original version and Dead or Alive, it will take a lot of time to get used to Ryu speaking English. On the other hand, the rest of the sounds are very good, the environment, enemies, spells, weapons and objects sound very realistic and help with the immersion in the game.

The soundtrack in NGSP is quite nice as well. Fan-favorite songs like “Revival of the Dead” “Go the Distance” and “Iron and Sword” are still there and accompany players during the difficult adventure in an excellent way. Most bosses and areas have an exclusive song and in general, they’re very good. So no changes there from the PS3 version.

Gameplay-wise, the game is pretty much the exact same as the PS3. You run, attack, evade, block and jump in the same ways but there are two important changes to be noticed in Sigma Plus. First, the ninpos now require you to touch a specific part of the back of the Vita while they’re being charged so they come out stronger (the PS3 version only required for the controller to be shaken) and the bow is now controlled mostly by the touch-screen. This is very bad because it forces you to let go of the buttons to aim and shoot so doing that mid-fight is definitely a no-go since the game is very fast-paced and in the two seconds you take for aiming, an enemy will grab you and take half your life. This new gameplay mechanic is especially annoying in the military chapters where there are two extremely close and challenging boss fights against a couple of tanks and a helicopter and the only way to destroy them is with the two special arrows. The fights become quite confusing and sometimes Ryu simply won’t aim and shoot where you want him to. In my run, these were the hardest bosses to defeat while in the Xbox and PS3 I can take them on very easily.

Fortunately, the rest of the gameplay is still very fun and fast-paced, even with the Vita analog sticks. Running and controlling the camera at the same time feels very natural and pulling out combos with weapons like the Dragon Sword, Vigoorian Flail and Lunar Staff is still very, very cool. All the challenging bosses are there: The fat guy at the top of the zeppelin, Alma, the dinosaur skeleton, Doku, etc. The challenges where you have to take on a certain number of enemies for an extra item are also there and they come quite handy for practicing combos, building up kills for trophy-hunters and just for the rewards themselves (except in Rachel’s case where you simply get a hair-style, oh Team Ninja).

There are five difficulty settings for Story Mode: Ninja Dog, Normal, Hard, Very Hard and Master Ninja and the story itself has 19 chapters including three for Rachel, each one with bosses, sub-bosses, many enemies, secrets and places to explore. You can buy items and upgrade weapons and accessories in Muramasa’s shop and in Sigma Plus; you’ll be able to equip masks and bracelets that add cool tweaks to gameplay like increased damage, less defense and such. These can make the whole game easier or insanely more difficult, depending on what you equip and they’re a very welcome addition to the game.

Outside the story, there are many Ninja Trials to play where you’ll be put in a specific area with a specific task like “destroy all enemies”, “burn down the tower” or “kill the boss”. These are available for both Ryu and Rachel and the variety is quite impressive. Each trial gives your character set equipment and will rank your result depending on many things like your total time, life remaining at the end of the mission and enemies killed. Ninja Trials will add many, many hours of gameplay to the game even after you’ve finished the story a few times. And of course, most of them are very, very hard to complete. Sometimes they’re just ridiculous, but awesome anyway.

As mentioned, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a game that can literally last several hundred hours. With all the difficulty settings, weapons to try out, golden scarabs to collect, trophies to get and ninja trials to finish, the game will prove to be quite long. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s no surprise that it’s considered to be one of the best games ever made. Unfortunately, the Vita version is not the best out there, especially because of the bow-and-arrow issue. I’d personally have to go with the PS3 one if asked, but Sigma Plus is still an amazing game and definitely one of the best in the Vita catalog right now, even if it is just a remake of a remake, taking Ryu’s revenge with you anywhere is priceless.


Pros:

-          Excellent challenging and fast-paced gameplay.
-          Many different weapons to use.
-          Great boss battles.
-          Lots of extras outside Story-Mode.
-          Very good graphics and sound.
-          Very hard but very rewarding.
-          Excellent controls for moving, ninpos and melee weapons.

Cons:

-          No Japanese voices.
-          Forced touch-screen controls for Bow and Arrows.
-          The later Ninja Trials are just ridiculous.



-          Graphics and Visuals…….…..9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....8
-          Gameplay……………………9 
-          Replay Value………………..10

Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

7/24/2012

Incoming reviews

Between other things to do and just plain laziness, I haven't written my review for Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and Atelier Rorona. I'm really behind in those and the task is always in the back of my mind. I'll really, really try to have them ready during the week. I just wish these reviews were an actual job instead of something I do to keep a blog active for myself and know what I thought about games in the recent months I played them. 

Anyway, there's a couple things I must mention taking the opportunity of a new post. First, my Gravity Rush run is going pretty awesomely. I really like the game. Traveling around that semi-steampunk world is very cool and Kat is just really a really nice character. As I mentioned before, this feels like one of those great PlayStation games that will just never see a popular market. I hope it stays that way. 

Another thing is that my opinions towards the Tekken franchise have changed a lot in the last month or two. For the last 7 or 8 years I really disliked the series but mainly due to a blind love towards DOA and admiration for Itagaki (which he doesn't really deserved). But now, I've learned a lot about how fighting games work and how they must be seen from a hardcore and competitive point of view and I've grown quite a respect for Tekken. In fact, I just played it for two hours with a friend and had a blast. So I went and pre-ordered Tekken Tag Tournament 2, yay bikinis and a Snoop Dog stage!

Finally, I just have to say that I love Theatrhythm Final Fantasy with all my heart and will buy every single DLC song and character Square-Enix ever releases for it. And almost forgot! A Square-Enix person confirmed Versus XIII was NOT cancelled. VERY GOOD news for us Final Fantasy fans all over the world.

7/22/2012

THEATRHYTHM Final Fantasy in my hands!

God, that word is a pain in the ass to write, but anyway, I got the game and every time I play it I feel like I'm about to cry. Theatrhythm is a rhythm game for Final Fantasy music. You choose a party made up of four FF heroes (Like Cloud, Bartz, Squall, etc) and play a song that can either be a battle (for battle music), a walk in the fields (for field and town music) and event video (for main themes and such). It covers every game from the main series from FFI to FFXIII, spin-off and sequels like X-2, Crisis Core and XIII-2 aren't included sadly but it's still a great game.

It has five songs from each game, some of them are the original 8-bit beats like the battle theme from Final Fantasy I or the AMAZING song "Rebel Army" from Final Fantasy II while others are the more modern and iconic songs from the recent games like "To Zanarkand" from FFX and "Saber's Edge" from Lightnings's FFXIII. 


This game really makes me feel happy. I've always been a fan of the music in the franchise to the point where I usually just play the soundtrack of one of the games while I write, study or drive. So having a game focusing on it is like a blessing. 

The graphics are amazing and the soundtrack, oh well, the entire game revolves around it. It's FF music, the best in the industry (with Halo's coming a close second), the best five themes from each game and I don't think it could be better. Be warned though, this is a game that feels like it was made for and only for FF fans. It has many easter eggs and if you haven't played some of the games you won't recognize many enemies in the Battle stages or simply won't feel any connection to a protagonist whose game you haven't played. 

According to what I've seen there are other characters that can be unlocked and I think they include Snow, Vivi, Yuna, Rydia and others. I hope it's true because I'd definitely include them to my party. I'm currently playing with Lightning, Cloud, Bartz and Terra. I'll of course keep the post related to the game coming as I unlock more content in it. 

7/21/2012

Atelier Rorona final thoughts

I finished Atelier Rorona a few minutes ago and though I admit I liked the game, there are some heavy issues with it. I'll elaborate everything in a review eventually (possibly during the weekend) but in this short post I'll be stating some things.

As you can possibly and logically imagine, the game isn't very good graphically and musically. It has some pretty cel-shaded things and some songs are catchy but nothing near FF-level.  The story is simple, you are Rorona, a girl owner of an alchemy shop the kingdom wants to close down and she has to finish 12 assignments in three years to avoid it. This is precisely the worst problem with the game. The time limits. 


Each assignment must be done in about 89 days and each action in the game spends days. Traveling, creating items and other things and if for some reason you mess up, there's a real chance of being stuck with a task you simply have not enough days to complete. This hinders the experience a lot because it limits the amount of exploration, grinding and alchemy you can do outside of the assignments. It's pretty lame to be honest. 

For example, if the assignment is to create a certain item with ingredients in a dungeon 9-days away and creating the item itself in the worshop spends 4 days, then you have a realistic chance to fuck things up if you save your game too late. 

In my personal experience, I didn't have any problems with any assignments because I focused on completing them 100% but that didn't leave me enough "days" to go exploring and level grinding both the battle levels and the alchemy levels so I finished the game with an unexplored dungeons and many monsters way stronger than my party. 

The battle system is very simple, all you do is attack with skills or the attack command. Items can only be used by Rorona and there's a useless elemental system that you'll probably never use. (I didn't). Also, many story elements are left unexplained or are simply never developed. 

The game is actually good but I can't help but feel that it came out about 12 years too late. It just doesn't match the quality of FFXIII, XIII-2 and other games like Star Ocean 4, Eternal Sonata and Tales of Vesperia. It's simple in every way and the deadline system definitely hinders the experience. I'd only recommend the game to die-hard fans of the genre. If you're not one of those, don't buy the game. It's unnecessarily expensive and definitely not for everyone. 

7/20/2012

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown COMBO VIDEO



An EXCELLENT combo video for Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. Kudos to the creators and players involved. Top tier shit right there.

7/19/2012

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 - TAG TEAM ACTION TRAILER



New DOA5 trailer! This time, Jann Lee and Lisa join the fight in this AWESOME Tag Battle video. We get to see a brand new stage and several teams showing some of their tag throws like Tina with Sarah, Bass with Rig and Jann Lee with Leifang. At the end there's a tag power blow between Hitomi and Leifang. The game is looking better and better by the day!

REVIEW: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (Xbox 360)



The last version of the fifth entry in the Virtua Fighter series has made it to consoles in digital form. And it really couldn’t be better, with a starting price of fifteen dollars, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is quite possibly the best 3D fighter in this generation. It is available for both the PS3 via PSN and the Xbox 360 via Live Arcade and it features a lot of new content when compared to the physical Xbox 360 version (commonly known as “version C”).

For starters, Final Showdown has two new characters: Sumo expert Taka-Arashi returns from the VF3 roster and a brand new karate fighter called Jean Kujo who resembles a usual Final Fantasy male, until he starts kicking his opponents’ asses in a very, very cool way. Both of the new fighters are awesome and feel extremely unique. But besides Taka and Jean, the other 17 from the old roster were subjects to many changes. All of them have new moves, while other useless ones where removed, their frame data and attack attributes changed a lot to the point where some of them feel completely different from version C. Especially El Blaze, Aoi, Eileen and even Akira.

There are several new game modes like Tutorial where the game gives you several lessons that are more than welcome to understand the rules of the game. Which are very complicated at first. Tutorial mode offers the basics of striking, throwing, sidestepping, movement and even how to make combos and counter hits. Visiting it occasionally is vital to be successful in the game. There are other new modes like License Challenge and Score Attack which provide tons of fun for single player. Dojo mode is perfect for practicing either command after command or just do whatever you want and try new things against a certain opponent.

Sadly, Quest Mode is gone. That was a very cool arcade simulator that had players rank-up against AI opponents and was excellent for the single player experience. But Sega seems to have focused the experience in the Online and Offline Multiplayer. Versus mode offers the opportunity to fight against a friend with a second controller or arcade stick while the online modes are divided in three: Ranked Matches where players fight to earn points and get new ranks like 5th kyu, 10th dan, Berserker, Veteran, etc. Player Match is very similar except that there aren’t any points at stake. This mode is perfect for practicing a character you’re not very familiar with against a real opponent if you don’t want to play the AI. And finally Room Match is an unranked lobby system similar to DOA2U and DOA4 where several players join a room and they either play matches or watch other players fighting. Besides those three, you can access a couple of online leaderboards to see how many points you have and the number of wins you’ve scored and such.

In terms of graphics, the game didn’t get many upgrades from VF5O. And everyone must remember that this is actually a very old game, from 2006 so the graphics, while very good are nothing compared to the ones in most recent games like Soul Calibur V or Dead or Alive 5. Still, the animations, stages, textures in the characters and colors are very pretty. Final Showdown has about five new stages from the previous versions. As usual, some of them have walls while others are open and allow ring-out strategies to be used in the matches.

The gameplay is exactly the same as before. Like Dead or Alive, this game uses only three buttons: Punch, Kick and Guard and everything happens while using only those. Of course you can press two or the three at the same time for different actions. Using three buttons gives players a false sense of simplicity but Final Showdown is everything but a simple game. There are many, many rules and attributes to every action. There are different kinds of jumps, sidesteps, stuns, strikes and throws. There is very little guessing in the game and pretty much every action can be stopped by the defender by either blocking, back dashing, sidestepping or simply using a faster attack.

Unlike Dead or Alive, the game’s tools aren’t universal, which means that while all characters have punches, kicks and throws, only a few of them will get reversals, low throws, charged attacks, sabakis and other special tools. But in all honesty, all characters have more than enough things at their disposal to emerge victorious. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is an extremely well-balanced game and though there are top tier and bottom tier characters, it’s very common to see the bottom ones destroying the top ones both online and in offline tournaments. (A bottom tier character reached the Grand Final in EVO 2012).

As usual with all fighting games, there are easy-to-use characters and others who require better understanding of the game and harder executions. For example, fighters like Pai, Lau or Lei-Fei are not very complicated and feel perfect to start playing the game and understand it, while others like Akira, Aoi or Goh feel much harder to use. But of course, learning those and getting good results with them is extremely satisfactory. Besides, all the fighting game “profiles” are there. There are fast fighters like Pai, Eileen or Jacky while others are leaning more towards the grappler gameplay like Wolf, Jeffrey and Vanessa. Besides those there’s a ninja, a shaolin monk, a sumo wrestler and even a Mexican luchador for a total of 19 excellent fighters. Really, there’s a least one for you in the game.

The soundtrack is actually really varied, Final Showdown has remixes from every entry of the franchise and you can choose which playlist to listen to in your fights from the Options menu. Most of the songs are the usual fighting game beat but they’re not bad to be honest. The sound effects are very similar to the previous games, they’re not realistic or anything but they’re very cool and aren’t annoying. The quotes from the characters when they start a match, win and lose them are very silly and hilarious. Sometimes they’ll feel a little ridiculous but you’ll get used to them very fast.

There are a couple of DLC packs available for the game with hundreds of items to customize the outfits for each fighter. There are literally infinite ways to customize the characters and sometimes you can make them look like iconic characters from other games like Ulala from Space Channel 5, Ryu from Street Fighter and even Bruce Lee. But if you want a completely original costume, there are tons of shirts, pants, shorts, masks, shoes, skirts, bracelets, tattoos and many, many other things to choose from. Like in the last two Soul Calibur games, the customization mode is extremely fun by itself and watching the costumes people make and use online is really cool.

Finally, as all fighting games out there, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is a game with unlimited replay value, there’s always something new to learn. Thanks to the very complicated mechanics and the extreme variety of fighting styles of each of its nineteen different characters. Whether you like ranking up online, playing friends offline or simply practicing to become good no matter what, this game will have what you need. The game’s complete price in PSN is 30$ while the XBLA version is 1200 alone and 3600 with all the customization DLC packs. This is definitely the best and deepest fighter out there and you should not miss it.

Pros:

-          The best fighting game system in the entire industry.
-          Extremely varied roster of characters.
-          Online modes run smoothly for the most part.
-          Customization mode is extremely deep and provides almost limitless options.
-          It rewards players for practicing and trying out high-level gameplay.
-          There’s no Story Mode.
-          Vast and varied soundtrack.

Cons:

-          The game is very hard to master.
-          Quest Mode is gone.

-          Graphics and Visuals………....9
-          Music and Sound Effects…......9
-          Gameplay……………………10
-          Replay Value…………….…..10

Overall Score……………….. 9.5 / 10

7/18/2012

Gravity Rush also started

I went and picked up my Vita, stopped playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus on it and started Gravity Rush. God what a fucking awesome game! This feels like one of those very obscure and unpopular games in PlayStation consoles that everyone seems to talk about but no one actually got and played. Just like Ico, Heavenly Sword or Blade Fencer Musashi. 


Gravity Rush is a game where you control a girl known as Kat who has the power to control gravity around her. She travels around with a black cat and lives in this steampunk-like city with various sectors, people to talk about, etc. You can literally move however the fuck you want, shifting the gravity as you wish so you walk on walls, ceilings and the like. There's also a battle system where she kicks some monsters that sometimes appear. 

The game's story is pretty weird and at the point I'm at, it doesn't make any sense at all. There seems to be a criminal named Alias wanting to use a gem for something and another gravity shifter called Raven who looks like she hates Kat. It's pretty weird but this is definitely the best (if not the ONLY) original Vita game. I truly recommend it. The graphics are awesome, just like the music and the gameplay is very, very innovative and cool. Kat is also very pretty.

Check out this gameplay trailer:



Atelier Rorona first impressions

I started to play Atelier Rorona, FINALLY. I'm really liking it a lot though it's exactly what I expected it to be: A very simple JRPG with a cute and charming art style, heavily focused on alchemy instead of fighting and exploration. The story is about this girl who works in an alchemy shop that the kingdom wants to close down so they keep giving her assignments to fulfill in a limited number of days. It's simple, all you do in the game is go to a location, kill some monsters with a very, very basic battle system and gather ingredients to then synthesize them at the workshop. But it's a little annoying that almost every action spends some "days" and you're constantly worried about the assignment's deadline.


The alchemy system is actually very cool, there are tons of ingredients to collect, each with attributes, quality rankings and type. I'm about halfway through the game and I've already gathered about 200 different kinds. There are some silly party members to hire in the small basic "dungeons" and the story is told in the typical PS1 JRPG way where we see a portrait of the people involved talking with a silly Japanese (or English) voice-over. 

If you're a JRPG fan and really like the genre, I suggest trying it out. It's not very expensive nowdays. But be warned, Atelier Rorona is a very simple RPG that is definitely not for everyone. It feels like a PS1/PS2 RPG and focuses a lot on alchemy instead of exploration and battles so many fans of the genre might find it boring. I'm having a great time with it though. I'll post more once I finish it. 

7/12/2012

New Dead or Alive 5 videos!

A new group of very cool DOA5 videos were posted today in a report from the Japanese gaming site Dengeki Online. They had a small competition between Team Ninja staff and the people from the website. Two of the videos feature Sarah from Virtua Fighter in action for the first time and Rig can also be seen fighting her in the last revealed stage. Speaking of stages, there's a new one in the last small clip in a fight between Bayman and Zack. Check 'em out.

BAYMAN vs ZACK:



HITOMI vs KOKORO:



SARAH vs. KASUMI:



LEIFANG vs AKIRA:



RIG vs. SARAH:



BAYMAN vs ZACK:

In search of the 160 Fragments in Final Fantasy XIII-2

Though my backlog project is on, I can't really say I'm done with Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Skyrim yet. In the first game's case, I want to collect all the 160 Fragments. Those are some optional items which complement the story and are rewarded for exploring further, unlocking secret areas, completing sidequests and so on. I finished the main quest in the game with about 40 of them and am now using my strategy guide to collect the rest. After about 10 hours of gameplay I've just gotten to 63... SIXTY THREE! 


The search is gonna be much more longer than I originally predicted, but well, this is a Final Fantasy game so it is to be expected I suppose. The ones I got were in several areas and required a lot of walking, backtracking and even find required minor items in other timelines and places. That's crazy! I don't really think anyone can find them all without a guide in less than a year. If it weren't for my huge never-ending backlog, I'd have tried to get the Fragments that way but well, I'm having tons of fun using the strategy guide.

Looking for the Fragments is also making me farm tons of Crystanium Points so I'm pretty sure I'm gonna max out both Noel and Serah at some point and if I get enough Monsters Materials I might even fully level up my favorite monsters. Cool! Also, if everything goes OK I could finish the DLC campaigns in the process. I'll be making some updates about the quest as I continue it. Also expect some Atelier Rorona and Gravity Rush posts soon.