Friday, April 29, 2016

Here's the first English footage of Romancing SaGa 2's mobile remake

OK, so the text highlighted in the trailer below is a bit stilted, but it's hard to care about that when you've been waiting to play the game--in a language you understand--for more than two decades. (Just under 23 years, if you want to be specific.)

It helps, of course, when the game surrounding that text looks as fun, interesting and unique as Romancing SaGa 2's mobile port-remake-whatever-you-want-to-call-it does.

I'm not at all sure I prefer the aesthetics of this updated iteration to the original, mind you. The backdrops are almost too slick, in my opinion. Plus, they tend to dwarf the character sprites, which I find a tad off-putting.

All that said, I can't wait for Romancing SaGa 2 to hit the App and Android stores.

When's that going to happen? I haven't the slightest clue, although I won't be surprised if the day arrives sooner rather than later. After all, the footage shown in the teaser above gives off the impression that the game's localization is pretty far along.

Are any of you similarly chomping at the bit to get your grubby hands on a non-Japanese version of this ages-old RPG?

See also: 'Romancing SaGa 2's Android/iOS/Vita remake is looking good, sounding great--and releasing soon' and 'Our prayers to Kawazu have been answered: Square Enix's Romancing SaGa 2 remake will be released outside of Japan'

Thursday, April 28, 2016

So, what do you think: is this just-announced Azure Striker Gunvolt physical release worth getting or a waste of money?

A couple of days ago, Japanese game-maker Inti Creates announced it would release--in its homeland only, at least for the time being--a physical compilation of its two Azure Striker Gunvolt 3DS titles on Aug. 25.

I've yet to play the first Azure Striker Gunvolt--barely even thought about doing so, to be perfectly honest--but of course I'm seriously considering pre-ordering this sucker via because of my sick and desperate need to own as many boxed Japanese 3DS games as possible.

The thing is, because I haven't shown much interest in Azure Striker Gunvolt until now, I have no idea if it's any good, or if this upcoming Azure Striker Gunvolt Pack is worth picking up.

Have any of you played this Mega Man-esque title? If so, what do you think about it? Is it worth owning, or is it a waste of time and money? Also, would you even consider buying a physical compilation of it and its soon-to-be-released sequel for about $40?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Three things I really like about Yo-Kai Watch (and three things I don't entirely like about it)

After putting more than 25 hours into it, I appear to be nearing the end of my Yo-Kai Watch playthrough.

I'll do my best to publish a more formal review of this 3DS game in the next week or two, but for now I just want to rattle off a few comments about my most and least favorite aspects of it.

Here are three things I'm really liking about Yo-Kai Watch at the moment:

The setting--It's refreshing to play an RPG that takes place in a modern, real-world setting. OK, so Yo-Kai Watch's real-world setting is decidedly comical and cartoonish, but what else would you expect from a game that's aimed at the Pokémon-playing set? At any rate, it's nice to run around housing complexes and schools and parks rather than the generic fantasy settings that fill most of this genre's offerings.

The yo-kai--Nowhere is Yo-Kai Watch more obviously the anti-Pokémon than in its character designs. Whereas the catchable monsters in Game Freak's series tend to be cute and cuddly, the ones showcased in this Level-5 title tend to be, well, kind of ugly. Naturally there's some overlap between the two, and most people would be hard-pressed to describe Yo-Kai regulars like Jibanyan and Whisper as anything less than adorable, but there's no denying that many of their counterparts aren't as immediately attractive as Ken Sugimori and company's creations. For some strange reason, I consider that to be a "very good thing," as the incomparable Martha Stewart would say.

The battles--When I first played the Yo-Kai Watch demo Nintendo dropped onto the 3DS eShop late last year, I found the game’s battle scenes a tad overwhelming. I loved how engaging they were, but I also found it difficult to keep track of all their moving parts. (While taking on foes in this title, six of your ghost pals are plopped onto a wheel. Only three can fight at any given time, but you can switch between them by spinning the aforementioned disc left or right using the 3DS’ touch screen or shoulder buttons.) Thankfully, the experience is a lot easier to manage given a bit of time. Plus, it eventually becomes frantically fun in a way that further differentiates it from its Pokémon forebearers.

And here are three things I'm not entirely liking about Level-5's Pokémon-esque RPG:

The story--Don’t get me wrong, I adore that Yo-Kai Watch’s story isn’t your typical “save the world” tripe that’s at the center of about 99 percent of RPGs offered to the masses today. I just wish it were more cohesive. As it stands, the game feels like a collection of vignettes. That’s not a bad thing, of course, but it does keep Yo-Kai Watch from feeling as epic as I expected it to be back when I first heard about it. It also can make the game feel like a slog as you near its home stretch. Normally some sort of rousing finale keeps you coming back to the journey even if you've slowly bored of it. Here, you get semi-stuck and can't help but wonder, "eh, why bother?"

The yo-kai befriending mechanism--Anyone who’s played Pokémon knows how frustrating it is when you fail to catch a creature even after tossing a handful of Poké Balls at it. Well, multiply that feeling times 10--if not more--and you have, in a nutshell, a good part of the Yo-Kai Watch experience. Let’s just say that while I usually have to "catch 'em all" when I play a Pokémon title, here I've pretty much stuck to just the yo-kai I most need or want. And even that tactic hasn't proven to be very fruitful thanks to Yo-Kai Watch's confounding befriending mechanism, which often sees you wasting many minutes, as well as many of the game’s consumable treats, trying to woo a character to your side, only to be rebuffed in the end.

The fetch quests--I usually like a gaming fetch quest as much as the next guy or gal, but that's only true if the fetch quests in question are fun--or at least captivating. In Yo-Kai Watch, the majority of them are mundane to the point of being easily overlooked or ignored. Thankfully, you can pass by most without it biting you in the butt down the road.

Have any of you played Yo-Kai Watch yet? If so, please share your opinions of it in the comments section below.