Thursday, November 22, 2018

Ben's Gaming Memories - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of year when friends and family get together, and everyone sits around a table to have a big meal. Everyone knows that, and although that's the "standard," many people do celebrate it in their own way. As for me, Thanksgiving and gaming has always gone hand in hand, and today I wanted to share some of those memories with you all.

The first time I really considered playing games on Thanksgiving was when my uncle invited us all over to his house for a change. He had a PlayStation 1, and a copy of the brand new Spider-Man PS1 game. To put it simply, that game was amazing. The moment I sat down and started playing, the rest of that day flew by. Heck even AFTER we finished eating and everything, I wanted to stay and keep playing that game. I loved it. It was the first time I had play a game that actually made me feel like Spider-Man, and there was so much to do. So many costumes to unlock and use, most of Spider-Man's greatest enemies were in there, and the voices from the cartoon only helped make it even better for me. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time, and one of the best Christmas presents I would ever receive from my uncle.

Another one of my earliest memories of playing games on Thanksgiving comes from my days of playing Mega Man X5. That's a game I'd return to a lot, but the Thanksgiving after I received the game is one moment that really stands out to me. While any other day I would just turn the game on for a few hours and mess around with it, that day was the first time I really tried to complete it. Yeah, that's right. I played Mega Man X5 almost every day and never actually finished. I didn't have a memory card, some of the parts were too hard for me, and I had no idea how to get the different types of armor the instruction book mentioned. This time however, I actually tried. I'm sure I spent most of the time just trying to get through the bike section in Volt Kraken's stage, but oh well. It became a fond memory of mine either way.

After that my family started jumping around for Thanksgiving. Many times it would be at my house with just me, my parents, and my grandparents, but sometimes we'd go to their house, my uncle's house, or even the family bakery after it opened. On days like those I typically didn't get to play much of anything, but sometimes I'd wake up early to do something before we left. I can still recall the days of playing Zelda OoT and Shadow the Hedgehog before setting off, and when I got older there was that time my cousin left Call of Duty Black Op's at my house and I speed ran the thing. There was also the year I got to play Donkey Kong Jungle Beat at my uncle's house, but that was only for a little while as well. Of course these are all still fond memories of mine, but the next big thing didn't really come until a few years ago.

When the PSVR came out two years ago (yes, it's been TWO YEARS) everyone in my family was excited. My parents, my cousins, my grandparents, and even my neighbors! Everyone was interested in seeing the new technology, and they were all blown away from it. Although the day started out just like many of the others (with us meeting up at my grandparent's), once we all finished eating everyone piled into multiple cars and headed over to my house. There everyone got to experience things like PlayStation VR Worlds for the first time, and even some horror games like Here They Lie. Although VR is fun to play yourself, seeing others experience it for the first time is even better, and it was something I got to see time and time again that day. Making it one of my favorite Thanksgivings of all time.
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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

It's that time year of again. Thanksgiving! And you know what that means? Four day weekend (if you're lucky)! So go out, spend time with friends and family, and use those extra days to do whatever it is you enjoy. As for me? It's time to hunt some turkeys in Red Dead while I wait for the real thing.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition - Review

As many may know, Devil May Cry is a popular series created by Capcom, and it's main character Dante has become iconic in the video game industry. The original game's unique "devil may care" attitude helped it stand out from other games in the same genre, and fans quickly fell in love with it. However, after the release of the first game, the DMC series sadly took a sharp turn. Devil May Cry 2 was handed off to another team, and they were told to recreate what DMC1 had done before it. So they did... Sorta...

Although DMC2 was still an action game, it was much easier than the original, and it stripped away much of the game's personality. While DMC1 featured a Dante who cracked jokes and really didn't care what happened to him, DMC2 went down the serious route. This didn't go over well with fans, and the future of the series was put into question by many. That is until DMC3 came around.

Devil May Cry 3 is "the" DMC title that most fans will recommend others to play. It's the game that returns to the roots of the original game, while also expanding on everything that came before it. It's the game where Dante's personality really shines, and it's also one of the more challenging titles out there. Of course this did cause some backlash from fans, as the US release's normal mode was actually the Japanese version's hard mode, but thankfully this was fixed in the Special Edition release. But putting that aside... Just how is the game? It's considered to be one of the best action games out there, but is it a game you should check out for yourself? Maybe? Who knows! Let's find out if this one is a bust, or a jackpot.

The Story:

Unlike the previous entry in the series which was a sequel to 1, DMC3 is a prequel. Taking place even before Dante opened his Devil May Cry detective agency, the game focuses on Dante and his rivalry with his brother.

In the distant past a demon by the name of Sparda turned against others of his kind, and became a hero of justice. He fought back against the of the demon world, and then sealed it off from the human world as well. Because of this act Sparda would go down in history, and tales of the evil power located in the demon world would be passed on for generations. Sure, not everyone believed the stories they heard, but there were others who did...

Being the sons of Sparda, both Dante and his brother Vergil were not like other humans. They gained super human powers from their father, and neither of the two see eye to eye. While they were closer as kids, the two quickly become rivals, and eventually things take a turn for the worst. While Dante works on setting up his demon fighting detective agency, Vergil seeks the power of the demon world. This goal of his is what eventually sets the events of DMC3 into motion, and what brings Dante to face him once again.

While the original DMC featured a Dante who would sometimes make wise cracks, DMC3 is the first time we really see Dante's characterization brought to life. Rather than being angry at the demons who try to kill him, he does what he can to have fun with the situation. Jumping off of buildings, using the ends of weapons that have impaled him, using a motorcycle as a sword, eating pizza DURING a fight, you name it! Dante doesn't care, and nearly everything he does is over the top. And that's just one part of the game's charm. Of course Dante isn't the only character in the story. A girl Dante calls "Lady" has also shown up for the party, but her motives are unknown to him. The only thing that is certain is that she is almost as crazy as he is.

The Gameplay:

Like the previous games before it, Devil May Cry 3 is an action adventure game. Although the game is split into missions that act as chapters, it takes a page out of Resident Evil's book and has a nearly fully connected world. Most areas have fixed camera angles, and those from previous chapters can be accessed at almost any time, and often you have to back track through these older areas to achieve your new goal. Sometimes you'll come across a room you cannot access until you've found the correct key or item, and other times you'll have to solve a puzzle if you want to progress. This is where the exploration aspect of DMC3 come into play, as most of the time the game will not tell you where you need to be. On top of that there are also hidden "Secret Missions" for you to find, which will lead you to new areas with specific goals you need to complete. They are a nice distraction from the main story, and they reward you with upgrades if you complete them. Of course all of this is only a small part of what DMC3 really is.

Although the exploration is nice, the real main focus in DMC is none other than it's combat. This time around Dante as a bit more customization than in previous entries. Just as before he starts out with his long sword and twin hand guns (which have unlimited ammo), but he has new style options as well. These styles give Dante new moves and abilities, and they become stronger as you use them. For example the Trickster style allows Dante to quickly dash to dodge enemy attacks, but when it levels up it eventually gives him the ability to warp in front of the enemy he has targeted. Meanwhile styles like the Doppelganger allow you to create a clone of yourself to help in combat, and the Gunslinger increases the effectiveness of ranged weapons. Each of these styles have their own use, and by switching between them you can change up your play style to keep things fresh. This also gives you a reason to use the built in chapter select to replay previous areas, or possibly even try the harder difficulties.

Outside of styles, the rest of the combat has gone mostly unchanged. Dante can freely switch between his melee attacks and range attacks by simply pressing the designated button (triangle for melee, square for ranged), and the two types of attacks can be mixed together to create all kinds of combos. Depending on what directly you're pushing the analog stick, if you're locked onto an enemy or not, and when you press the attack buttons, Dante will preform different attacks, and these attacks can be chained together. As you pull off these different attacks the game will grade you on your combos, and pulling off longer ones (without repeating too many of the same attacks) will give you a better score at the end of each mission. Higher scores will give you more currency to buy items and upgrades, and that will in return help you progress through the game. Although the Special Edition of DMC3 is easier than the original release, it is still a challenge.

Besides your standard sword and guns, Dante does unlock multiple weapon types during his adventure. One of the earlier weapons he unlocks is a set of dual swords, and a shotgun. These weapons are more useful in different combat situations, and can be swapped in and out whenever they are needed. Dante can hold up to two melee and two ranged weapons at a time, but others can be equip by visiting the statues located throughout the game's map. These statues are also where you can buy items and upgrade Dante's abilities, and are often found near extra puzzles that require specific conditions to clear. In other words, even if you didn't bring the correct weapon with you in a stage, it's no big deal to just stop by and equip it.

On top of having different weapons and styles to use, DMC3 SE also has a second playable character to unlock. Vergil is usable once you complete the game, and he offers a new challenge all his own. While he doesn't have an actual story (as he simply replaces Dante), he has a complete new move set and play style. His gameplay mode is also more challenging than the main game, so it gives players a new way to push themselves. There is also a "Bloody Palace" mode to fight your way through, but it's something only the most hard core players should attempt.

The Good and the Bad:

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition really is a fun game, and a huge upgrade over the previous entries in the series. While the main tower might not be as interesting of a location as the castle from DMC1, the gameplay itself more than makes up for it. Dante feels great to control, the style system gives you a reason to experiment, and the weapon selection is sure to have something for everyone. The story is fun and entertaining, it's filled with unique characters, and you never know what Dante will do next. The game makes you want to keep going, and no one part ever feels like it drags on too long. Although there are moments you may get confused on where to go, being lost often leads you to discover worth wild secrets, and you'll never feel like you've wasted your time. The combat itself is also spot on, and the second playable character gives you even more of a reason to return even after the credits roll. However, that doesn't mean the game is for everyone.

There's no denying that DMC3 is an older game, and some parts of it might be challenging for others to overcome. The fixed camera angles can still sometimes cause you to get hit by enemies off screen, the dodge roll takes some time to get used to, and the game IS a challenge. Thankfully the Special Edition adds in some options to help with that (such as an easy mode), but if you're not willing to learn to get better, then a lot of the game's enjoyment will be taken away. Even so, DMC3 is still a great game, and it's one that action game fans should really give a chance. It's really no wonder why fans of the series like it so much.
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

MediaMoleclue Recreates LittleBigPlanet in Dreams

This is something interesting I came across. In honor of LittleBigPlanet's 10th birthday, the original developers behind the series decided to do something special. Using their brand new Dreams game, they actually recreated some levels from LBP itself! Although there's actually quite a bit more to it than that. While LBP was a 2.5D platforming game with a level editor and logic chips to create your own games, Dreams takes this all a step further and is nearly a full on game engine. It's a game that allows you to shape and mold the world as you like, and design and code your own features and mechanics. This is how they recreated LBP as well. Rather than using a simple level editor, everything was built from the ground up. The character models, the physics, the menus... Everything! It's truly an impressive tool, and the fact that it supports PlayStation VR only makes it even better.

But anyway, enough of that. Check out the video for yourself! (Or videos.) The first one is a little trailer for what they created, while the second is a full walk through with the dev team showing off what they exactly did. Skip to around the 25:00 mark in that one if you'd like to see the logic side of things.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

SoulCalibur VI is out and 2B is on her way!

Both good and bad news for fans. 2B from Nier Automata is officially being added to the game! How could this be bad news you might ask? Well that's because online is currently flooded with custom 2B characters, and this means their work was (mostly) wasted. Even so, I'm sure even those who lost time making their 2B will be happy to see the real thing being added instead. Along with this addition comes her new fighting style for the character creator, a Kaine (from the original Nier) costume, and some other extras like an Emile head attachment, and even a new stage to play in. While no release date was given for when she'll be added, a "coming soon" message was at the end of the new trailer. You can check it out for yourself below:

On another note, although we might've lost our custom 2B characters, at least this makes making a custom A2 much easier!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Devil May Cry - Review

With the PlayStation Halloween sale going on, I decided to once again take a chance, and try something new. In past years I used this sale to get back into series like Castlevania, but this time around I went for a game I have never touched in my life. That series being none other than Devil May Cry. Now as a Capcom fan this is one of the few games of theirs I simply wouldn't play. Wasn't a huge fan of the whole demon thing, and I never had a good reason to give the series a chance. That is until the complete collection went on sale the other day.

Anyway, with the entire series now downloading on PS4, I finally found the time to really sit down with the series to give it a chance. So with that being said, here's a review I never thought I'd do. A review of Devil May Cry 1 for the PS2/PS3/PS4.

Devil May Cry. It's a series that has quite the strange history. Originally it was being created as a brand new Resident Evil game, but it was eventually deemed too much of a departure from the series' roots. Rather than fighting zombies and what not, the game had more of a supernatural ghost theme, and for whatever reason it didn't sit well with the developers. However, rather than tossing the game out after canceling it, the team decided to save what they could and create a new IP instead. This is what would eventually become Devil May Cry on the PlayStation 2. Needless to say, the game was a pretty big hit back in the day, but how does it hold up now? Is this game really as good as fans say it is? Or could it be nostalgia? Well, after playing the game for the first time in 2018, I'm hoping to have that answer. This is my review of the original DMC.

The Story:

The story in the first Devil May Cry is pretty light. In the ancient past a demon named Sparda rebelled against his own kind. Rather than siding with the evil beings of his dimension, he decided to walk down the path of justice instead. Eventually Sparda sealed off the underworld, and defeated it's leader Mundus, but this came at a price. By locking away the demon world and it's evil power, Sparda lost his power as well.

Jumping ahead to modern day, Dante, the son of Sparda, is running a shop called "Devil May Cry." There he works as an investigator mercenary who specializes in strange paranormal activities. At the start of the game Dante is attacked by a young woman named Trish, and is then asked to help her take down Mundus once and for all. Dante, who is looking to avenge the death of his mother, accepts the job, and sets out for a strange castle to confront the evils within it.

At this point the story of DMC is mostly told by the environment. Similar to Capcom's Resident Evil, much of the plot comes from the places you visit, and objects you examine (such as the books on the book shelves). While there are cutscenes during key moments, they are few and far between, with other aspects of the plot only being implied. Of course this is understandable, as DMC1 is focused on gameplay over everything else.

The Gameplay:

Devil May Cry is an action adventure game, with some light puzzle elements incorporated. The game features one central location that you explore, but the story itself is broken up into smaller "missions." At the start of each mission you are given a clear cut goal, and the moment you complete it the mission will end and will trigger an intermission checkpoint. During these moments you're able to save your game and buy items or upgrades, but you're also given a rating as well. This is where DMC differs from most action games out there, as it rewards you based on your performance.

Although the game does have it's chapter based structure, the world itself is completely connected. Taking place in a creepy old castle, Dante must explore the world around him and solve puzzles as he progresses. Sometimes you'll come across doors that require a key to open, but that key itself might be locked behind another puzzle accessed in a later chapter. There are also side areas that will challenge you with extra missions (such as one that asks you to trick enemies into killing each other), and completing them will give you bonus rewards. Although most key items are given to you just by following the main plot, these extra areas give you a reason to explore and to backtrack to older areas. On top of that some weapons are completely optional as well, and can be missed if you're not careful. Again, these elements are reminiscent of Capcom's Resident Evil series, and will be very familiar to fans. However that's about as far as the similarities go.

While RE is a pure horror survival game with limited resources, DMC focuses on it's action. The game does retain the fixed camera angles from RE, but the environments are fully 3D with some more dynamic camera angles during fight scenes. Also while Dante's main weapon of choice is the sword, he also has a wide range of guns at his disposal as well. Although most of them have to be found by exploring, a handful are given to you as you progress through the game. Unlike in RE these guns do have unlimited ammo, and are meant to be used along with Dante's sword combos to help clear out mobs of enemies. However using the gun alone does come at a price, as it does not reward you with the stylish combo points needed to achieve higher rankings during the intermissions.

Although using guns in DMC is quite simple (as it's a matter of holding aim and then hitting the shoot button), Dante's sword and other melee weapons are not quite as straight forward. While triangle is used as the main attack button, depending on when and how you press the button will cause Dante to use different combos. Quickly tapping the button will give you a quick basic attack, but putting a pause between presses will result in a different type of attack entirely. There are also attacks that can be pulled off during a job, and you can use other moves like the dodge roll by holding the aim button and tapping jump while flicking the analog stick. It's actually a pretty complex system, and mastering it is the key to survival. Mix in some well aimed shots however, and you'll be able to pull off massive chain combos that completely destroy everything around you. But on the flip side... Fail to learn this combat system, and you'll be struggling your way through from start to finish. DMC is NOT an easy game, and it can be a very punishing one as well.

Despite being a challenging game, there are some things that can be done to help you through it. Killing enemies (as well as getting high scores on missions) will reward you with currency you can spend on items and skill upgrades, and health upgrade items can be found hidden throughout the world as well. There's also a special demon mode Dante can activate to give himself an edge, but this ability is limited use and needs to recharge after it runs out. If you're still having trouble with the game even after all of this however, there is an easy mode that can be switched to after dying enough times. This mode boosts your health bar, allows you to stay in your demon mode longer, and simplifies the controls to allow you to pull off auto combos. It's a way to help you get through the story if that's all you care about, but it does ruin a big part of what makes the game fun. On top of that it also locks you into easy mode forever, so you're unable to challenge the harder difficulties on New Game Plus... Which is something else that really adds to this game's replay value.

Once you have finished the game for the first time, there is still plenty to do. Finishing normal mode lets you roll on into the harder difficulty settings, and completing them lets you challenge yourself even further. Eventually you'll be able to master the game and experience the rush that goes along with it, but it's a long road before you get to that point. Even so, for the die hard players it'll be worth it.

The Good and the Bad:

Like many games released around this time period, Devil May Cry is an early PS2 release, and it shows. While the game can be a lot of fun, it's also one that takes quite a bit to get used to. Especially playing other action games this day in age. The fixed camera angle can often keep you from seeing enemies and their attacks, the forced platforming sections can be a bit of a challenge, and the lack of checkpoints during the missions can be frustrating. Mix in the fact that most enemies can kill you in a few hits, and you're greeted with a challenge that might be a bit harder than it should be. This doesn't stop it from being a fun game though.

If you can put aside it's age and design choices, DMC is a solid old school action game. While the camera might cause you to get by something off screen once in awhile, most of the challenging moments don't feel cheep. If you die or fail to finish something, it's typically because you aren't skilled enough yet or are simply doing something wrong. Dante has many different combos under his belt, and it's up to you to figure out which ones are the best to use, and when to use them. It's a nice system that keeps the combat from becoming too repetitive, and it prevents you from mashing buttons and hoping for the best. On top of that, the auto lock on guns feel great to use as well, and you can get pretty creative with your combos if you know what you are doing.

Besides the combat, the setting of DMC is a nice one as well. The dark eerie castle is shrouded in mystery, and exploring it's halls is fun on it's own. While it might not be as detailed as areas found in horror survival titles, it does give off a similar vibe and has plenty for you to discover for yourself. The hidden challenges are a nice addition to the main story, and finding new weapons or upgrades always feels great. Putting aside some clunky swimming sections, the map itself is perfect.

Overall Devil May Cry is a pretty fun game, with most of it's issues coming from it's age. It was the first title in a brand new series, and a lot of the ideas they tried out were new at the time. If you're willing to look past all of this, what you're going to find is a solid old school action game with plenty of replay value. It's also one of the few action games to really challenge it's players, and it's iconic main character only helps make things better. Sure, DMC isn't a game for everyone, but it is one that is worth checking out at least once.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Muv-Luv - Review

So typically around Halloween I share something horror related. Last year it was a creepypasta thing I was asked to pass along, a review of The Evil Within, and a few posts about my experience with horror games. So this year I'd like to continue that trend, but by doing something a bit unexpected. I am going to review one of the few games to ever truly scare me, but it's not what you may think... No, this game is one you'd never guess in a million years. (Unless you read the title of this post that is!) Anyway... This is my review of the visual novel Muv-Luv!

Visual novels were once extremely niche outside of Japan. Back in the day most gamers in the west had never even heard of them, and only a handful of people even watched the anime series based on them. Today's world is a different story though. Anime has become quite a bit more "mainstream" than it used to be, and thanks to series like Ace Attorney introducing the genre to the west, visual novels are becoming more common as well. Sure they still aren't as popular as in Japan, but at least western gamers are a lot more accepting of them now, and we've gotten quite a few releases because of that. The only problem is... Which ones are actually worth playing? Well, like with anything, it really depends on what you are interested in. Visual novels are typically fully story based, and if it's not the type of story you're into, then it's not something you should play. However sometimes a visual novel comes along that takes everyone by surprise, and isn't exactly what most think it is at first glance. One such game is Muv-Luv.

At first glance Muv-Luv is nothing special. The box art and promotion art features two girls and a heart on it's cover, and it seems to be your typical anime dating sim. It's not something a lot of people will pay much attention to because of this, and those who might play it based on that alone will only be getting it for the girls. Now there's no denying that this game did in fact start out as an adult only release on PC, but that honestly is only a small part of what it actually is. There were only a few of these scenes in the game, and the PlayStation Vita release slightly modifies them to retain the M rating. But again, this isn't what Muv-Luv is about. It is not your typical "dating sim," nor is it a game that you play for the adult content. All of this is here to trick you, and lead you into a false sense of security. What at first seems to be a high school dating drama series, eventually turns into a full blown sci-fi mecha psychological horror adventure, and it's one you will never forget. This is the not so obvious truth of Muv-Luv.

Muv-Luv Extra:

The original release of Muv-Luv actually consists of two games, with the first one being titled "Extra." This game follows the story of a young man by the name of Takeru Shirogane, and lets players experience his life day by day. While Takeru seems to live a normal high school life, one day he awakes to find that everything is about to be twisted upside down. After spending a day out with his childhood friend Sumika, he opens his eyes the next morning to find a girl sharing the same bed as him. With no knowledge of who she is, instantly Takeru freaks out, and receives a beating from Sumika after she catches them together. It's a typical h-game scenario one might expect from such game, but again, this is only temporary.

After the strange encounter, Takeru helplessly watches as the girl, who he learns is named Meiya, transfers into his class, and moves herself into his home. She claims the two are meant to be together and is fully ready to marry him, but Takeru is against the idea. Although he hopes she will leave so that he can go back to his normal life, things only get worse as time goes on. For the next months of his life, Takeru is faced with crazy situation after crazy situation, and your actions as a player decide how things will play out.

While strange rich girl Meiya and childhood friend Sumika are the two "main" love interests in Muv-Luv, they are not the only girls Takeru can become close to. The main story of the game is actually based around his daily life in general, with Meiya's craziness just sorta being there in the background. Sure a lot of weird things happen because of her (which help drive the plot forward), but other characters contribute to the story as well. You get to see Takeru and his best friend Mikoto go to the arcade to play their favorite game Valgern-On (which is this world's version of SEGA's Virtual-On), you see him getting in trouble with the class president, and you even see his relationship with his teachers at school. Muv-Luv Unlimited lets you see every aspect of Takeru's life, and it allows you to uncover more about the other character's lives as well. Depending on your choices you'll go down different story routes to unlock different pieces of information, but in the end there is only one true path that leads into the sequel. Even so, what you learn about the other characters is important, and by the time the credits roll you will care about each and every one of them. However; all of this is only the intro...

Despite Unlimited being a mostly "generic" dating sim like story, there are some things that really stand out about it. For one it's much more animated than most visual novels on the market. Rather than having static images and backgrounds, the camera will pan to different locations in the area, and characters have multiple animations to get their actions across. All of the characters (besides Takeru) are fully voiced as well! On top of all of this, the story is actually pretty funny, and it does a great job of making you feel like you're living Takeru's life. Although it can be a bit slow at times, the story is actually enjoyable on it's own, and makes it easy to overlook the sometimes generic plot points. This is one reason it's so hard to take what is yet to come.

Muv-Luv Unlimited:

Muv-Luv Unlimited is the "sequel" to Muv-Luv Extra, and the true start of the story. Continuing roughly from where Muv-Luv left off, Takeru wakes up in the morning as usual, but quickly he notices something is different. His childhood friend Sumika isn't screaming in his ear to "wake up," and the door Meiya installed to connect their rooms is gone. At first he's not sure how to process all of this, but considering how weird his life has been lately, he just sorta shrugs it off. Takeru leaves that room without a care in the world, with only his Game Guy (this world's version of the Game Boy) in his hand. That's when he sees it.

Upon opening his front door to leave for school, the first thing he sees is a sight he doesn't recognize. The world outside appears to be a wasteland, and the house next door to his has been crushed by a giant robot. "AWESOME!" Of course none of this upsets Takeru, as he loves giant robots, and now he's having the greatest dream of his life. Sadly the robot is a wreck so he can't pilot it, so he decides to walk to his dream version of school as well. This being a part of his imagination means anything could happen, and he can't wait to see what's next.

After arriving at his school, Takeru find something even stranger in it's place. Sure his school is technically "there," but now there are two armed guards at the gate, and the school itself has been turned into a military base. At first the guards ask him why he left the base, but when they see his uniform is missing any kind of identification, they are quick to apprehend him. This is when Takeru first starts to realize something. That this dream isn't actually a dream. What he's opened his eyes to is none other than the real world.

Having a hard time believing this fact, Takeru spends some time in jail, but is eventually freed by his teacher Yuuko; however, she has no idea who he is. Apparently she's one of the heads at this military base, and she has come to question Takeru. The fact that he doesn't know what is going on, and has memories of another world intrigues her, so she decides to take him back to her office for further questioning. Of course she's not completely sure if she can believe him yet, but the same can be said for Takeru as well. Neither one can accept the other's memories as truth, but Yuuko believes Takeru will understand if he enrolls at the military academy. So by using the guise of "you can pilot a giant robot if you join us" to convince him, Yuuko does manage to get Takeru to join them, and soon he does learn to accept reality.

Going back to Takeru's life, Unlimited once again does follow his story day by day. Upon enrolling in the military academy he eventually finds himself reuniting with his old friends, but just like Yuuko they have no memories of him. To keep from causing issues, and because Yuuko told him to, Takeru avoids talking about his original world with anyone else besides Yuuko herself, and instead has to treat all the others as if he is meeting them for the first time. Of course this world's versions of these people are slightly different from the ones he used to know, but Takeru has a hard time accepting that. To him they are the very same friends he's known all this time, and eventually he even starts using the same old nicknames he had for them all. But then reality starts to set in once again.

It turns out this world is at war with something called the "BETA." Vile creatures from space that have all but completely wiped out humanity. They appear in different parts of the world, and in no time at all they slaughter everything in their path. The humans of earth are fighting a losing battle, and it's only a matter of time before everyone is dead. Surface Pilots are the only ones who stand a chance at fighting back, but to reach that level students much pass their basic training. Of course all of this information doesn't really stick with Takeru (nor will it to the players), and it's all something that can easily be blown off. Yeah, it's aliens, and robots have to fight them. It's not the most original thing in the world, and Takeru doesn't see the big deal. Most of Earth is dead? Okay, it's easy to just say that but the whole thing is just so impersonal. How bad it truly is doesn't sink in, and is nothing more than background information. So Takeru takes it all with a grain of salt, and goes back to his training. Where he fails horribly.

The main story of Unlimited is focused on Takeru trying to survive in this new world. While all his old friends are military ready, he doesn't even know how to do the simplest of things. Tell him to take apart a gun, clean it, and reassemble it? Yeah, he has no idea. Ask him to run a few miles in full gear? He's dying after the first few steps. Takeru just isn't cut out for this life, and he has a hard time following the world's history. What is common knowledge to everyone else is far beyond him, and the whole alien thing continues to be nothing more than a dream to him. He's unable to understand just how serious his situation is, and nearly everything he does only holds the others back. Eventually though, he does have his eye's opened.

While it may not seem like it at first, Muv-Luv Unlimited is one of the few games that will really play with your emotions. At first you will feel completely safe with this game and it's characters. Extra was nothing but comedy and stupid situations, and the start of Unlimited seems to continue that trend in it's own way. It's a generic sci-fi aliens attacking story, and you'll feel like you already know everything that's going to happen. It'll be as if nothing bad will actually happen to these characters, and you'll expect it's plot to take familiar turns. However, that's where Muv-Luv truly is at it's best. What happens isn't going to be what you expect, and it doesn't take long for the overwhelming sense of dread to drown out all of your other feelings about the game. Eventually you and Takeru will both understand the truth.

The Good and the Bad:

So Muv-Luv isn't a story that's so black and white, and that can make it hard for some people to get into at first. When Extra first starts up it really does seem like a generic anime dating sim. Bright and colorful characters, most of the cast is female, and Takeru gets into a lot of stupid situations. It doesn't seem like anything special, and it's pretty easy for someone to be turned off by it. Despite all of this however, the game does a great job of introducing these characters, and it does a really good job of making you feel like you're Takeru. You easily become invested in this guy's life, and you can't help but want to see what happens next to him and his friends. Yeah it can drag on at times, but it's pretty enjoyable as well. The Japanese voice acting is pretty high quality, and the more animated scenes help liven up the story. It's these extra miles that help keep you drawn in, and make it easier to continue pushing forward with it's story. But even so, it's not actually until Unlimited starts up that the main plot presents itself, and it's possible many will drop the game before reaching this point. For those who do stick it out though, they are greeted with the start of one of the craziest sci-fi stories to have ever been written.

By the time Unlimited rolls around, players have already taken an interest in Takeru's life. They care about this character, and that's important for what type of story Muv-Luv evolves into. We get to see him march up to those front gates like an idiot, and we then get to see this new world beat him down again and again until he's molded into who he needs to become. At first the whole alien thing seems like a stupid generic plot point, but the way Muv-Luv expands upon that idea is unlike most series out there. Everything up until that moment leads you into a false sense of security, and it's not until you see it for yourself that you realize how serious this is. Muv-Luv is one of those few games that can really play with your emotions, and it eventually evolves into full on psychological horror. The very same feelings Takeru has while going through this endeavor will get passed on to you the player, and at some point you may even find yourself unsure if you want to go on. Although, this is mainly something seen in Alternative... The thing about Extra and Unlimited is, although Extra may be the intro to the full package, both of the games are only the beginning. And that makes Muv-Luv one of the greatest setups of all time.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

The World Ends With You: Final Remix releases tomorrow!

Hard to believe that it's finally here... It only seems like yesterday that I first heard of the possibilities of this, but in reality that was 6 years ago.

Back in 2012 I finally stopped being stupid and picked up The World Ends With you on the DS. Before that moment I flat out refused to play the game, and I basically avoided it at all costs. However with Kingdom Hearts DDD featuring characters from it, I slowly started to come out of my shell, and decided to give it a chance. Needless to say, I was blown away. (So much so I actually wrote this review!) After seeing how good the game was for myself, I wanted the world know as well. By that point it was already five years old, but I didn't care. I knew there were people out there just like me who had yet to play it, and this was my way of hopefully getting more to give it a chance as well.

Anyway not long after that Square-Enix launched a strange countdown website which got everyone excited. The only thing we knew for sure was that it was for a TWEWY related project, and that once the countdown ended they would officially announce what it was. Yeah, it turns out it wasn't what we expected...

The World Ends With You Solo Remix was a mobile version of TWEWY. It wasn't the sequel fans were hoping for, but it was actually a pretty game on it's own. Sadly the combat system had to be modified due to the lack of a physical D-Pad (which was used to control your partner character), but the core game remained in tact (as it was a touch screen game to begin with). As for what else was changed? Mainly the graphics and music. The new release featured enhanced graphics, high quality audio, and some new songs were added to the mix as well. For a game that focuses so much on it's pop style, these enhancements were actually pretty major. It gave long time fans a reason to rebuy it, but it was still no substitute for a real sequel. Then it happened. This was found.

Once you finished Solo Remix a secret image is unlocked that hints at a sequel. This once again reignited the flames of hope that fans had lost, and once again they began speculating when this sequel would come out. Would it be on 3DS? Would it be yet another mobile game? We had no idea, but we hoped we would find out soon. Yeah, it didn't happen. At least not until now.

TWEWY Final Remix is a Nintendo Switch exclusive port of TWEWY, but this time around it has quite a bit to offer. While the game itself is an enhanced port of the previous enhanced port, it also introduces a new story chapter, and adds in new enemies to fight and attack pins to collect. It's basically a the "Final Mix" version of the game (which is something the developers do with their Kingdom Hearts games), and it's where they finally make good on their promise from that teaser image. Sure, it isn't a full new game, but at least something has come from it... And who knows? Maybe this WILL lead to a true sequel? Only time will tell, but the odds are looking pretty good. Especially with how well the Switch is doing these days.

So, if you haven't checked out the game yet, here's your chance. It's a cult classic DS RPG that you really shouldn't miss out on, and it's releasing tomorrow. (Personally I can't wait to buy it for a third time!)
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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"NieR: Automata - Long Story Short" Out Today

Are you a fan of NieR: Automata? Are you sad that the game is over? Do you want to know more about the game's world? (Or any combination of these three?) Well you're in luck! Today is the English release date of "NieR: Automata - Long Story Short," the first of multiple novels set within the Nier: Automata universe. Now anyone who is a fan of the series may already know that NieR and Drakengard both have been expanded outside of their original games, but usually everything besides the games remain Japanese exclusive. With the exception of the Drakengard 3 short stories (which could be read on the website), rarely have we seen the extra content be translated! So it's actually a bit shocking that VIZ would pick up the NieR: Automata novels. But never the less, it's the good kind of shocking! So, what is it exactly? Well..

Long Story Short is a novel version of Automata that expands the story in new ways. While the book's contents are basically the "same" as what you see in the game, new details are introduced to the plot, as well as new characters who play a key role in the overall story. It's basically an expanded version of the story that is only meant to be read after finishing the original game. While it isn't completely new content, it does give new insight, and helps answer some key questions left over from the main game -- something many fans have been looking forward to.

On top of Long Story Short, Short Story Long will be releasing within the next few months as well. This novel will be a collection of short stories that expand the NieR universe even further, and they will take part during different periods of time. Of course saying too much about that novel's contents would be considered a spoiler, so I'll just leave it at that.

Anyway... If you're a fan of NieR, then both of the novels may be worth checking out. They're roughly only $10 each, so they are pretty easy to get your hands on if you're interested. Personally my copy arrived today, but I'm really debating getting it digitally as well. As a huge fan myself, it's something I'd like to keep with me to read anywhere, but nothing beats a hard copy.
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NGR Updates - 10/9/2018

So today I wanted to give everyone a heads up on some changes happening here at NGR, and on some changes that are yet to come. Honestly most of these were forced on us, but I'm sure it's better off this way anyway. With that being said, first up is:


Noooooo-oh well. When we first opened the NGR forums it was to create our own version of what we once had over at Capcom-Unity. I've had quite a bit of experience running forums in the past, and most of them were pretty successful. Typically the forums I created became populated with people who quickly became close like family, and a lot of long time friendships were made. Of course the problem with running such forums was the fact they were fan forums aimed at a specific game, and when interest dies in the source material, the demand for fan forums goes with it. So with NGR's forum I was hoping to bring that to a wider audience, but by then times had changed. When we opened in 2013 forums were already a dying breed, and that's something that has only gotten worse as time marched on. With even large official communities struggling to stay afloat, it's really no wonder we too met the same fate.

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who was involved with the NGR forums. While we weren't the biggest community in the world, you guys were great, and I am happy for the time we spent together. I just want to let all of you know that it isn't because of you that we decide to close the forums - in fact, this is what I meant when I said some of these changes were forced on us. Sadly the service that the NGR forums used was bought out by another company, and all existing forums were forced to migrate to a new service. This new service not only locks many key features we used behind further paywalls, but it removes the freedom of having your own forum, and instead turns it into a "group" that's a part of a much larger overall site. Basically that forum is no longer truly "ours," and it even asks that members make a full account for the service instead. So to put it simply, it's a mess, and not worth putting up with.

Now I'm not saying this is fully the end of the "NGR Community," but currently I have no plans when it comes to opening another forum. Sure I could migrate almost everything over to a new service, but at this point it really isn't worth it. Again forums are dying out, and with other options out there like Reddit or even Discord servers, there isn't much of a reason to go down the same path again. So basically what I'm saying is, the forums may be done, but that doesn't mean we won't replace it with something else in the future. But until then, feel free to leave comments on the blog, or even email us... And that leads into the second major change.

Google + is dead!

Google announced that they are putting an end to the consumer version of Google +, and that means there are some changes we will be dealing with as well. Since NGR runs on Google's Blogger service, Google + was actually integrated into the site as well. This was mainly seen in our comment section, but our accounts and some behind the scenes features were linked to G+ as well. Now with the service shutting down in the near future we have decided to make some changes of our own ahead of time.

First of all, Google + is no longer linked directly to NGR. Our new blog posts will no longer be shared to Google + as well, and you can no longer access our Google + page. (Not really that big of a deal honestly.) The second change is the fact that our comments no longer use Google + as well, so EVERYONE is free to say what they want. Now the comment section WILL default to your Google profile (or YouTube, or Gmail, or whatever else you might use Google for) so most of you will still be able to comment just as you did when we were linked with Google +. On top of that, you no longer actually have to USE that Google profile to comment. You can if you want to, but if you'd rather stay anonymous you can. Accounts are no longer required to post here, but that means we will be a bit stricter on moderation of said comments. Now sadly because of this change we have lost ALL past blog comments, but I'd like to think of this as a fresh start. What was said in the past has already been said, and now it's time to move forward.

As for our final changes? That's yet to be seen. We're still posting using our Google + accounts as our profile, so what happens to those profiles is for Google to decide. Again this won't be a change you guys will care about, but it does mean our usernames may be altered. (We'll see though.)

And as for the future...

A bit hard to say really. Not too long ago Google released a pretty massive update for all of Blogger. This update gave us new features to play around with, which greatly enhanced what we can or cannot do with this site. With that being said, I'd like to make some changes to the blog overall, but I simply haven't had the time to sit down and do that. I have some ideas of what I'd like to add/change, but I rather not announce those plans until I am actually ready to do them. In the meantime I'll be testing out some of my ideas to see if they are worth incorporating, but until then that's all I can really say. Although I do want to make it clear that I don't want to make changes just for the sake of change. I only want to do things that NGR would benefit from, and that will make you, the reader's, life easier. Sorry if it sounds like I'm talking in circles here, but I want to make it clear that changes will only happen if they are worth it.

Anyway that's all I have for today. Until next time guys!

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