Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Game - Atelier Rorona Plus

Last month i aquired my copy of the Atelier Rorona Plus PS3 game, an upgraded version of the 2009 release.

It is a cute and beautiful game visually with marvellous pastel artwork made by renown artist Kishida Mel who also worked for the Totori and Meruru sequels of the Arland series. You play as Rorolina Frixel (Rorona for short), the assistant of a lazy Alchemist named Astrid whose shop is being threatened with closure from the kingdom and its owners banished should they not shape up. Thus Astrid dumps the task of saving the workshop to Rorona who knows little to nothing of alchemy.

The game is basically simple, you have a set number of days, 3 times a year, to submit commissioned work from the castle to avoid closure, for 3 years. You do so by crafting a number of products you create in the workshop using various materials. You get items needed for your work by going adventuring outside of town, which take days of your deadline as you explore areas for gathering items of various quality from the land and fighting monsters while hiring friends to help you in your party for a fee.

The difficulty comes from there, producing items in enough quantity and/or quality to pass the evaluation while not taking too much time outside as synthesizing items with alchemy also takes time and MP to do. Also you can take requests at the castle to craft items for friends of villagers in order to make some cash and increase your reputation.

The game itself has several events that are unlocked with a higher friendship levels with your party members, whom in the end serves to determine which of 4 main endings and 10 alternate endings you will get at the end of the game.

The PLUS enhancements are plenty themselves, such as redone battle and synthesis system based on the Meruru title, redone 3D models to look similar to the Kishida Mel artwork as well as background and maps, new playable characters including a cameo of Totori and Meruru whom will also be playable, a garden for growing medicinal ingredients, the ability to decorate your workshop with item that have special effects, alternate costumes, new dungeons and events post end game and most notable is the addition of extra tasks you can do beside your main assignement to gain powerful items, stats and powerups.

Overall its a pretty fun game worth your time and a great upgrade over the previous incarnation of the title, with an increasingly difficult challenge as the story progresses.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Indie game review - Banished

A gemstone of an indie game, Banished is a town building sim mixed with survival and resources management.

The goal of the game is to manage a small band of exiles who start with almost nothing and create a flourishing town all the while keeping the citizens happy, healthy, warm and well fed.

However you have very limited amounts of iron and stone spread thru the map, vegetables and fruits doesn't grow during winter and your people constantly need new housing, firewood, tools and clothes. Now add in some random disasters and you got Banished.

This game is really fun and will drain many hours out of your gametime, the challenge is pretty good even at easy with disasters turned off. Visually the game is beautiful, successfully capturing the charm of a medieval village of old. The amount of buildings you can build in the game are many and plentiful but maybe lacking some more like maybe a wind and/or water mill to make bread. You also control what amount of villagers work in what profession.

It's otherwise an excellent little game worth every dollar.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WiiU Game - Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart EIGHT!!! \o/
Ok so its almost been 3 weeks that this game came out, i got my copy as well as my WiiU system as a bundle on release day. First i'll say this, the WiiU is a great little machine with high capabilities and potential, what it only lacks right now is a good rooster of new games but after E3 last week, this will be rectified very soon.

Now for the game.
I admit, due to financial reasons i was never able to get most nintendo systems and few games, the only mario kart games i played were the snes and n64 ones with a one timer for the Wii version.

Nevertheless this game does NOT disappoint.
The graphics are beautiful, while keeping a cartoonish look, they look very realistic and refreshing. The stages are inventive and plentiful, while half of the em are from past games they remain fresh as this game added a whole new element, Anti-Gravity, which allow you to race along walls and even upside down.
The basic controls are easy to learn but with the already existing weight class for the characters, the different vehicles and parts you can choose all effect the way your kart or bike will react which add a difficulty but also good a way to personalize your racing experience.
The character Rooster is plentiful, with 14 unlockable chararacters added for the base 16, one being a Mii character of your choice with variable weight class.
The powerups are pretty much the same save for the new boomerang (that is kinda hard to use) and the powerful horn that creates a sound wave strong enough to deflect even the friendship breaking blue shell.
The online mode is really fun, but i myself had problem staying in a group sometimes as the connection kept failing, but that was in the first 2 weeks upon release so it is to be expected cause of the high traffic.

One downside of this game however is the major change of the battle mode. No longer are we in an arena dogfighting one another but simply on the same race tracks as the normal game which results in the mode being trying to find opponents 90% of the time.

If anyone still hesitates to get a WiiU system, now is the time, with a current promo ending at the end of the month where you get a free game of your choice upon purchase of Mario Kart 8 and with Super Smash Brothers and Hyrule Warrior coming very soon it will be a great end of year for Nintendo.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anime - Neon Genesis Evangelion

The year is 2015, the world recovered from a cataclysm 15 years ago that destroyed many of the world's greatest cities and killed a good portion of the human population after a meteor fell on the south pole, causing a colossal rise of the sea.

However humans must now face a new threat, the Angels.
Rising from the depths of the sea, a gigantic creature attacks the new fortress city of Tokyo-3 and conventional military equipment are no match for it.
Shinji Ikari, 14 year old boy whose father abandoned him as a child after his mother's death, is ordered by him to come to the NERV HQ to pilot a top secret gigantic neuro-controlled robot and fight the enemy.

Evangelion or Eva, was released in 1995 in japan by Gainax and was the source of a major cultural evolution in japanese animation with its animating methods, complex plot intertwined in biblical themes and character development. Seemingly just another mecha anime at first, this series has many twists in its story-line and delves into human psychology, behaviour and weaknesses while providing several great innovative battle scenes.

A sad point in the series however was after a scene that Sega deemed too violent made them decide to cut their funding and by the final few episodes the show degraded in quality with an ending that dissapointed many. Fandom was still at an epic high however and after years two movies, Death and Rebirth and End of Eva, were released in theatre much to the delight of fans.
However fan reception was split by the end of the 2nd movie with some left more confused than before at this new conclusion presented to them.

Years later a new Rebuild movie series was announced as a 4 parter and although it is presented as a remake of the original TV show, several clues in the first movie indicate this is actually a continuation of post end of EVA.

Commercially, this series was a complete success, from figures to cell phone straps, this series still continues to pump new merchandise very often even 20 years later, Gainax even founded its own beautiful Eva themed shop and a cafe that also serves as an art gallery. An ongoing manga series, which debuted a year before the anime, should (hopefully) finalize this year with its long awaited 14th final volume and there are numerous spin-off manga and games.

So great was the impact on the anime and manga culture that Eva references and influences, both evident and obscure, can be observed in countless series of any kind even to this day.

The iconic Evangelion anime opening.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Indie Game - The Stanley Parable

One of my personal top favorites, this is a story driven game where you play as a man named Stanley and attempt to follow a story told by a narrator or disobey him.

Formerly a Half-life 2 mod, its popularity encouraged its creator to make an improved version as a standalone game, and what a game it is.

As you progress thru the game you are given several choices of paths to take, whether you decide to follow the voice of the British accented narrator guiding you or not is up to you. Whatever path you take will lead you thru several funny dialogues should you disobey and one of several imaginative storylines and endings, some well hidden!!

The game is available on steam.
A Demo is also available which in itself has its own separate story.