Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ar Tonelico (PS2)

Reviewed by Kit
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Hello, boys and girls, today we're looking at the most recent gaming gem from NIS/Gust. So let's begin.

Story: You take the role of Lyner Barsett, a young man who serves as a knight of Elemia in a beautiful city near the top of the tower. Maybe I should do some back story. People in this world live around a giant tower known as Ar Tonelico. Some live on floating lands near it (these are the lower lands and are generally looked down upon by the upper lands) and some live near the top. In the middle are a tribe of people known as terus that prevent upper and lower landers from meeting. There are also people known as Reyveitals whose job it is to sing and provide backup to the warriors they serve. The tower occasionally has issues with viruses, which the knights of Elemia kill. One day though, new unstoppable viruses appear, and Lyner is sent to the lower lands in an airship to find a crystal that can wipe these new threats out. Once there he meets a some new friends who can help him on his mission. The basic story is the usual overused fare, but this doesn't make it any less fun. 3/5

Audio: The voice acting is bad, I won't lie. The voice actors themselves are fairly well known, so why they mostly fail, I just can't say. The worst in my opinion is the voice of Jack, which is somewhat highpitched and whiney for his older veteran role. Luckily, it's easy to skip through the dialogue without having to listen to it, or you could adjust your sound settings. The music, on the other hand, is beautiful. Generally the background songs are soothing. Some tracks even have vocals to bring to mind the reyveitals that are singing. 4/5

Graphics: The character sprites are a bit on the lower end of the spectrum. They're not unappealing, but they're certainly not absolutely gorgeous. All the characters have anime portraits that usually alter in the face to display emotion, and these are very lovely. The backgrounds as well are hand painted art that look beautiful. 4/5

Gameplay: There are quite a few aspects that must be brushed on in this section. First, we'll talk about Reyveitals. A lot of reviews call this a dating RPG, and while I'm not sure that's the best classification, there are some similarities. As Lyner, you must dive into the subconscious of the girls to learn their inner feelings and help them learn new song magic. The deeper you dive, the more the girls will coem to like you. In order to dive into the girls you need two things: dive points, which you earn in battles, and conversations, which you have with the girls while staying at inns or camping. Diving deeper also unlocks alternate costumes for the girls which you can wear in battles. The costumes have different bonuses, but it's mostly fun just to cosplay. Another aspect with the girls is installing, where you put crystals into their body to boost various song magics. Both diving and installing have the most hilarious dialogue involved because both are talked about as if they're sex. It's all so delightfully dirty sounding. Once you have learned song magics, you will find the girls very useful in battles. Most songs have a limit to how many times you can sing them, which refills as you fight more battles. At the bottom of the battle screen are two bars. The blue and purple one is the harmonics bar, which fills when the warriors or reyveitals act. The red bar above it fills when the reyveital uses song magic, and it is vitally important for getting good drops. To the left of the red bar are little harmonics crystals, which if you fill all of them (only one is there at first, more appear as you fill the red bar) you get more drops. Battles are turn based, with the reyveital working in her own little world. You can command her at any point. The warriors are also responsible for guarding the reyveital, should an enemy have an attack that would go over the warriors. After battles you are allotted experience and dive points depending on your performance. Another aspect of the game is grathmelding. It is essentially a crafting system. You find recipe cards, gather the ingredients, and make the item. The best weapons and armor are made from these recipes. The gameplay is simple, but it's also very fun. 5/5

Replay: This game offers some replay value with alternate endings and various choice paths throughout the game. 4/5

Overall: It's not the greatest game out there, but it's entertaining, cute, and time consuming. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes the Atelier games as well as anyone who likes just plain fun RPGs. 4/5

Monday, February 26, 2007

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 11 (PS2/PC)

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Yuuki here boys and girls with a truly amazing game. Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI which is also entirely to long to say so it will be referred to as ROTK. Truly a diamond in the rough for Koei. The game is based on the Romance era of China focusing around the later Han and the empires to follow it. The games true basing ifs from the Novel of the same name, much like the games Dynasty warriors and Dynasty tactics. So let's begin...

Gameplay: A large part of the game is the strategy behind running a kingdom. You must employ and pay officers, recruit and train solider as well as outfit them with weapons. Research technologies to stay ahead of the competition. The combination of millitary, political, and domestic options makes the game very expansive. The game offers a huge variety of options in how to play and rule making it and excellent play. 5/5

The story itself is pretty much optional. You can play through where real historical events take place and enjoy the thrill of living history. Then there is a more fictional play where the events don't happen and things are a little more in your control. Though you can always run up and take out someone and send the events into chaos. 4/5

Well the game is much more brushed up then its previous incarnations. The art style of the terrian has a feel of the painting of that era. With defined outlined and long brush strokes. Officer portraits are amazing more so for the PC of course. Battle and skill animation give you a great sense of accomplishment when the succeed. 5/5

ROTK has always had excellently composed music. Amazing battle themes that make you want to pick up your halberd and march off to war. Soft melodies that make you fill like your in a zen garden and others that make you long for the all the Romance of the Romance era. 5/5

The game has amazingly expansive variety. In the Officers you play from history or the ones you create. Building you build and cities you siege. There is really to much to do in one play through and add the multiplayer and your good to go for a long while. 5/5

Here it is this game is awesome for those of you who love strategy. Hours upon hours of playtime between creating officers getting events and everything else and to be honest there is even more than I've talked about here. Officer to Officer relationships...marriage children...tactics, ploys and so much more. Truly an epic game. 5/5

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel (DS)

Reviewed by Kit
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A day late, but that's ok. I'm sure you all weren't dying of anticipation.

Story: A new classmate of Kagome's finds herself drawn into the well and appears in feudal Japan. Shortly thereafter she discovers she has the power of a god locked inside of her, and demons are hunting after her. With the help of Inuyasha and friends she goes in search of what all of this means. The story's not great, but it gets you moving from place to place. 3/5

Audio: The music is taken from the anime, and sounds very nice. 4/5

Graphics: The graphics aren't spectacular, but characters all have their own anime portrait which is nice. Also, special attacks have brief animated clips which are appealing. 4/5

Gameplay: You can use the stylus for the game but it isn't necessary. The map is kept on the top screen while your status/inventory menu is kept on the bottom. You have HP and EP. EP are a number of bars and doing actions in battle will drain them. Each round you will restore a EP back. There is also a moon err...thing that shows the phasese of the moon so that when it's new, a certain half demon turns human. Though there probably isn't more than an average RPG, it feels like random battles are very frequent. You'll occasionally pick up items that you can use, but there is no descriptions of them, so you don't know what they do. 2/5

Replay: No reason to replay, I wouldn't recommend it. 1/5

Overall: The game is another failed attempt to make a videogame out of an anime. I'd pass on it, if I were you. 2/5

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Paws & Claws Pet Vet (DS)

Reviewed by Kit
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So, we're trying to catch up on the reviews that got delayed. Today is the only day we'll do two at once, but we're going to do reviews on Wednesdays again for a few weeks until we've gotten to that equilibrium point. Anyway that said, let's review this game.

Plot: You are a young female vet out to become a great vet by expanding your business. it's not a great plot, but really it doesn't need to be. 3/5

Audio: The music was ok. Nothign special. 3/5

Graphics: The graphics are fairly decent. The main character walks around her grounds. You can see customers coming in and out. When talking to people, they each have drawn graphics. The graphics are pretty decent for the DS, realistic and well done. 4/5

Gameplay: The purpose of the game is to improve your vet practice. You'll have to buy medications for you patients and wait for clients to arrive at your office. Treating each pet will earn you some money. As you earn enoguh you can grow your practice in a variety of ways. You can increase your building sizes, add new buildings, or take courses to be able to treat more animals. The days work on a clock, clients will show up only at certain times during the day. When treating a pet, you will have some dialogue discussing the symptoms and treatment. You will then treat the pet according to the guide. Once you build pet houses you will have some patients that stay multiple days, which means you must remember to treat them daily as well as feed them. The gameplay is simple, but not necessarily easy. 4/5

Replay: While the game is involving and entertaining, it's not necessarily something you'd replay after you unlocked all the achievements. 2/5

Overall: The game is surprisingly compelling. It is definitely aimed for young girls. The balancing of pet care and running errands and working in the vet clinic make the game something worth playing. 4/5

Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles (PS2)

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Hey guys Yuuki here with my review of Naruto: the Uzumaki Chronicles. A fun game in a fun seires which seems to have a bad habit of ruining excellent Japanese games. Did they ruin this one? Let’s find out.

Gameplay: Ok you will be playing Naruto as well as an assortment of his ninja buddies. As you run around beating up bad guys you have a couple different abilities, these include Ninjitsu and Taijitsu. Each character has different skills and you’ll have to balance them to make them work to your advantage. You also have a skill chip system. Using these you can customize your characters to be the Ninja you want with tougher attack or better Techniques. 4/5

Story: The basic Story is your Naruto and you run around going through the everyday life from the anime. You’ll go on missions meet and recruit your ninja buddies and in general beat things up. The story is hit or miss at sometimes especially in relation to the anime and manga and sometimes a bit kiddy. 3/5

Graphics: The game is like a living version of the anime. Areas and landscapes look just like the show and are fun to run around in. Characters and enemies look good too though at times can feel a little generic. 3/5

Audio: As everyone knows I hate when US companies ruin Japanese products with bad voice acting. This is no exception simple put even if you had never heard the Japanese the English are still terrible. Otherwise the game is still only sub-par at best the music is drool and the voices are only worse. 1/5

I can’t seem this game really being that replayable. In all truth most people will just either get bored or annoyed a quit early. 1/5

Overall: Here it is. The game is fun but the novelty wears off and the characters become annoying. The main fun of the game is being the different characters and seeing all there techniques but this wears off soon. I’d say just rent this if you’re a fan you’ll get bored with it soon enough. 3/5

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blogger Issues

Sorry for not being around, we've had some issues with our lovely blogger site here. Things should be good now, so we'll have some more reviews coming soon.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Thrillville (PS2, PSP, X-Box)

Reviewed by Kit
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So, as always, I'm not in the mood for a long introduction. Let's see what this week brings us.

Story: You eccentric genius uncle has decided to leave the running of his theme park in your hands while he goes into a small little shed and invents things. Not a bad story, more than is needed certainly, but it's nothing great either. 3/5

The background music is some punk/rock stylings that might actually be famous songs, but if they are I didn't recognize them. They fit the mood that the game seems to be going for, which is, we're cool and hip and everyone should love us. 3/5

The graphics are pretty good. Not compeltely realistic but everyone looks like a person with distinguishing features. Riding the rides is neat looking too. 4/5

As the manager of a theme park you have five important tasks. First you must invest in ride development. You must also talk to the customers to learn opinions, train the staff, and palce and test the rides as they become available. You are limited to a power bar which means that you must have power to make all the rides work, and you cannot place any rides that would put you on a negative power gauge. At the beginnings of the game you are allowed to design what your character will look like, from age to clothing to colors. Once in the park you walk around as your charactertalking to people and performing your duties. Each of the five categories of duties has challenges to become available. By completing these challenges you are able to earn money to improve your park. The gameplay is fairly simple, but it's not terribly exciting. 3/5

As the game is open-ended already, I doubt there is much need to replay it at all. 1/5

Overall, it's not a bad game, but I think it could be better. What annoyed me most about the game was it's seeming need to be cool. Where it could have been a fun sim game that allowed console players to make a themepark, it turned into something that was not terribly thought provoking and allowed console players to walk around talking to customers and riding rides. It's not bad, but it could have tried a little harder to not be just a little mindless. 3/5