It should be pointed out that you can currently get a digital version for just £11.19 on the PSN Store. However, if you'd rather save some space on your Vita's memory card this is the cheapest for a physical copy, beating the next best offer by over £3. Sure, the game's main advertising pull is that you strip vampires of their clothes, but Akiba's Trip is actually a celebration of Otaku culture in Tokyo's Akihabara district. The story and localisation is also of top notch quality too, so as long as you can get over the fact you'll be stripping people in Action-RPG combat.
Be sure to check out our Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed review for more details.
Here's a fantastic offer for Danganronpa 2 that is not only the cheapest price we've seen, but beats the next best offer by almost a fiver. You'll also get an exclusive Softcover Art Book featuring work from the game. While we felt it wasn't as great as its predecessor overall, fans of the series will definitely want to pick it up purely for the finale, which we called "one of the best videogame endings" ever.
Be sure to check out our Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair review for more details.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy was one of my most anticipated games of the year.
Hailing from Experience Inc, the studio behind sensational and sexy dungeon crawler Demon Gaze, it presents a much darker and more interesting storyline than its raucous predecessor. Starting out in a literal cesspool, you'll join a secret organisation of mutant-hunting high schoolers battling to keep the city safe from a rising tide of horrors.
It's a fascinating premise full of complex themes, uncanny characters and creepy situations, a little like Persona meets Blade Runner by way of Tokyo Ghoul. A great excuse for some dungeon crawling. Unfortunately, seeing as Operation Abyss is actually a remake of the ancient Generation Xth trilogy, the story and characters are sometimes buried under some functional but deeply convoluted systems. What matters, then, is whether the dungeon crawling is strong enough to be worth digging back out.
Thankfully, it is.Click here to read more...
Under Night In Birth Exe: Late has the most unmistakeably Japanese name of any game I've reviewed in ages. None of it makes sense, familiar words smashed together into complete gibberish, but seeing as it hails from the developer behind the Melty Blood series I suppose it could be worse.
And it doesn't matter, because when a fighting game is this good, it can call itself whatever it wants.
As a massively expanded revamp of arcade brawler Under Night In Birth, Exe:Late inherits a fascinating mythology. An otherworldly phenomenon known as Under Night has ravaged Japan for centuries, summoning creatures known as Voids into the physical plane and transforming certain humans into powerful yet undead In-Births. Blessed with eternal life, some of these In-Births are desperate to end their existence, others are obsessed with exploiting the Under Night for itself, whereas others are determined to enact vengeance against the Voids who killed their families or did them wrong. Fighting games are no stranger to bizarre and convoluted storylines, but Exe: Late presents a seriously compelling context for the action.Click here to read more...
Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth is sensational.
In the interests of full disclosure, it was probably always going to be one of my favourite games of 2014. As an unabashed lover of the Etrian Odyssey series and everything Shin Megami Tensei-related, I'm right in the middle of Persona Q's target audience venn diagram, but this sensational crossover goes far beyond fan service. By blending Persona's great stories and characters with the peerless dungeon crawling of Etrian Odyssey, it stands proud as an utterly stupendous game in its own right and a highlight of the genre.
Persona Q brings the casts of Persona 3 and 4 into a single intricate narrative, allowing you to create your Dream Persona team out of 18 playable legendary characters from Yukari and Rise to Teddie and Junpei and everyone in between. At the outset you'll choose to assume the role of the protagonist of either game, which grants you a totally different perspective on the early story as the Investigation Team and Extermination Squad are brought together into a mysterious replica of a Yasogami High School. The only way out, it seems, is to embark into a series of mysterious dungeons known only as the Labyrinth, and to work together to discover the reasons behind their predicament.
Click here to read more...
When it comes to the murky world of all-female fighting games, Arcana Heart has more pedigree than most. Pre-dating the likes of Skullgirls, Girl Fight and Senran Kagura by several years, Examu's fighting franchise brought crazy aerial combat and customisable movesets to Japanese arcades in 2006, finally leading us to the recent release of Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! on PS3 and Vita. As a remake of Arcana Heart 3 with rebalanced gameplay and loads of extra content, it's definitely a major event for franchise veterans and lovers of all things moe, but does the latest NIS America localisation job deserve its five exclamation points?
Well, perhaps two or three of them at least. Maybe four if you're a fan of cute anime girls.
After seeing so many fighting games provide little or no story for solo players, it's great to play a brawler that takes its narrative seriously and offers a robust singleplayer experience. There's an entire visual novel's worth of dialogue and storyline here -- or more accurately an entire visual novel -- told through a full story mode for each character, epilogue 'After' story mode that ties up loose ends, plus loads of unlockable skits that shows the cast interacting in their daily lives that usually feature their own battles too. Though experience with the previous games will help you to understand some of the nuances, the first page of the instruction manual sums up the situation in an easy prologue (which many of my fellow reviewers seem to have embarrassingly ignored!), while the cast's personalities conform to familiar enough anime tropes that you'll soon work out what's what.
In short: Japan and by extension the entire world is threatened by a dimensional rift that can only be repaired or worsened by finding some crystals. Some characters want to stop it, others want to exacerbate it, others just have their own adventures or agendas in the background. Yes, I've mullered the fine detail, but that's basically it. I'm not sure what many of my peers were complaining about.Click here to read more...
Wow. Every once in a while, a game you'd barely even noticed socks you right out of left field and presents something truly unique. Tears To Tiara 2 is one of those wonderful anomalies, but at first glance, you'd probably wonder what the fuss is about.
Half incredibly wordy visual novel and half Strategy RPG, Tears To Tiara 2 certainly seems like standard localised roleplaying fare. A young hero with fabulous hair, Hamilcar Barca, fights to retake his homeland against an evil empire, assisted by a scantily-clad war goddess called Astarte (Tarte for short) and a cast of colourful characters. Over the course of a long campaign he'll go from slave to legend, bringing the fight to the empire with war elephants, fireballs and a little fanservice to keep things interesting.
So far, so generic, except that Hamilcar Barca actually existed. He was the father of Hannibal who resisted the Roman Empire's occupation of Carthage in 247 BC. Astarte really was worshipped as a battle goddess by the Carthaginians. Tears To Tiara 2 isn't just another throwaway RPG setting, rather it's a fantastical yet astonishingly well-observed retelling of the Punic Wars! In fact, you could even call it... don't panic!... edutainment.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS Vita (reviewed) | PS3 | PS4 (cross-save)
Developer: Kadokawa Shoten
Natural Doctrine (that's enough with the capitalisation already) is my cup of tea. As a fan of niche localised JRPGs, turn-based strategy and turn-based strategy RPGs, I am this game's target audience. It's not so much "up my street" as "moved into my spare bedroom, sprawled on my sofa, eating my crisps and beckoning me to play it at all hours of the day and night."
We'd be the perfect room mates, if only it would stop punching me in the balls every few minutes.
Natural Doctrine may be a ruthless SRPG with a solid plot, decent characters and some interesting gameplay mechanics, but it sacrifices far too much in an effort to be as obnoxiously difficult as possible.
Click here to read more...
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is magnificent. Genuinely, truly superb. Both a compelling visual novel and engrossing tense videogame, this disturbing yet playful cult classic tells an incredible yarn with fantastic characters and gruesome murders to unravel. The sequel is out soon, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't hold a candle to the original.
So, if you have a Vita, I'd suggest taking advantage of the PSN discount that will save you £8 vs Base.com - and more if you're a PS Plus member. That way you'll know what I'm talking about when I award it GOTY 2014 (your move, holiday season!). Thanks to RicknVic @ HUKD!
Developer: Compile Heart
"LOVE MEEEEEEE," Mugen Souls Z seems to scream. "I'm quirky and cute and colourful and moe as hell and there are huge robots and tentacles and sometimes the girls flash their knickers. What more do you want?!!"
I could have just described any Compile Heart game, in fairness. The masters of the delightfully-bizarre-yet-never-particularly-brilliant JRPG always stuff their offerings full of cute scantily (pantily?) clad ladies, cheeky cheesecake galore, crazy gameplay systems and violently colourful art direction - and I can't help but love them for it even as I bring down the critical hammer. Irrepressible personality and gorgeous anime artwork can make a good game great and a mediocre one interesting, but it can't make a bad game worth buying.
Such as we saw with the original Mugen Souls. A vain goddess tried to win over an entire solar system by making it fall in love with her -- inanimate objects, landmasses and all -- by assuming a variety of dated female character tropes to cater to specific anime fetishes. Unfortunately the quirky veneer gradually cracked to reveal a grindy and annoyingly obtuse JRPG. As much as I love all things anime, there was no disguising the rubbish game buried beneath all the crazy.
Thankfully, Mugen Souls Z is a much better game in almost every respect!Click here to read more...
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Being imprisoned in a poisonous swamp all your life is likely to leave you bitter and twisted, so it's no surprise that Swamp Witch Metallia is thoroughly fed up with her lot. The evil mage finally decides that enough is enough, resolving to turn the entire world into a swamp with the help of a demonic ally from the realms beyond. Through the darkest of magicks, she summons the legendary Hundred Knight, the most powerful demon in all existence.
Who turns out to be an adorable diminutive creature with a cheerful smile, gangly arms and cuddly round body who frankly cries out for a great big hug. Can this loveable blob of demon-stuff really become Metallia's weapon of retribution?
The stage is set for great things. Hailing from the developers behind the Disgaea series, The Witch And The Hundred Knight promised to merge the hectic hack & slash combat of an action RPG with the deep layered systems of a more strategic title, tied together with the quirky off-the-wall hijinks we expect from the boutique studio. What could possibly... no, scratch that.
I was tempted to play the tired old "what could possibly go wrong?" card here, but you're savvy enough to see where this is going. Sadly, despite getting a lot right, The Witch And The Hundred Knight is held back by Nippon Ichi' relative genre inexperience and the shocking depravity of its leading lady.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Are you sick and tired of JRPGs leading you by the nose from cutscene to cutscene? Do you hear the call of adventure, but crave the thrill of fast and fluid combat? Do you own a PlayStation Vita?
If you answered 'yes' on all counts, Ys: Memories Of Celceta probably deserves to make its way onto your shopping list. This ground-up remake of Ys 4 puts us into the well-worn boots of Adol Cristin, which are definitely made for walking. Having found himself in a frontier town on the edge of civilization with a convenient case of amnesia, the rakish explorer discovers that he lost his memories while mapping the legendary forest of Celceta, so teams up with an old friend and plunges back into the unknown. With little save a sword, a mercenary information dealer and a blank map for company, the scene is set for a genuine adventure.
Celceta is an enormous tract of land, an intricate and confusing labyrinth of glades, swamps, tunnels and ruins that's somewhat reminiscent of a massively expanded Monster Hunter title. Most JRPGs would immediately funnel you down a preset path, but Memories Of Celceta is cut from a different cloth, simply thrusting an empty map into your hands and suggesting, perhaps, that you ought to check over there when you have the time. Most of the game simply revolves around the satisfaction of filling this map in, of discovering new areas, new places, new faces and eventually piecing Adol's memory back together.
And romping through hordes of foes with one of the most responsive combat systems we've seen from the series yet, if not the entire sub-genre in recent years.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
What could inspire high school students to murder each other in cold blood? Fear? Financial gain? Honour? Despair?
This isn't a rhetorical question, because you'll have to work it out for yourself -- then prove it beyond all doubt -- to avoid grisly death at the paws of a sadistic robot teddy bear. After average student Makoto Naegi blacks out on the first day of attending his new school, he wakes up confined within the academy's walls for all eternity with his new classmates, who are offered only a single way out: commit a perfect murder, then get away with it. Surely the students will see the wisdom in peacefully working together to solve the mystery of their incarceration... right?
If only. Halfway between Phoenix Wright, Persona, Corpse Party and Virtue's Last Reward, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is one of the best (and most disturbing) visual novels to ever hit British shores, and easily one of the most compelling games on the PS Vita so far. If not the year so far, as long as you're comfortable with the differences between a visual novel and a traditional adventure game.
Important note: in an effort to avoid spoilers as much as humanly possible, I'm severely limited in my choice of screenshots. Be aware that the full game features graphic yet stylised depictions of brutal violence and mature themes. - JonathanClick here to read more...
Importing is all well and good, but we love it when publishers take the time to bring Japanese games to Europe complete with localised voice acting and menus. Thankfully NIS America are on the case, and have greenlit a bountiful harvest of cult handheld games to play early next year on 3DS and Vita. Mainly Vita, actually.
I've collated the numerous separate announcements into one handy post. Unless specifically mentioned, every game below is out in "early 2014"Click here to read more...
NIS America has announced that Mugen Souls Z is making its way to Europe in 2014, bringing the cult JRPG's free-roaming battle map, unique turn-based combat, and massive amounts of customization to a brand new audience.
However, some "sensitive content" has been removed.Click here to read more...
Got a hangover? Then this new trailer for Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is probably going to make your face hurt. Coming to the PS3 later this year, the tactical RPG from NIS America looks set to be as crazy and colourful as ever.
It's a little early in the day to make sense of it all to be honest, but this could fill the RPG-shaped gap in the Christmas lineup until Tales of Xillia 2 arrives next year.Click here to see the new trailer.
NIS America will be bringing PS3-exclusive RPG The Witch And The Hundred Knight to the US and Europe early next year, having dropped the 's' from the original title (The Witch And The Hundred Knights). This makes sense, because players will assume the role of the singular Hundred Knight as he obeys his mistress' demands, equipping numerous weapons and pulling off lengthy combos in the process.
The localised port will feature both English and Japanese dubs. We'll bring you more nearer the time. [via Gematsu]
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Soul Hackers (let's just call it Soul Hackers from now on) will arrive on European 3DS from September 20th, NIS America announced today. The 1997 SEGA Saturn JRPG has been treated to a new animated intro, 30 new demons to summon, StreetPass functionality and a brand new dungeon to explore.
A downloadable eShop version will release on September 25th. Atlus fans, be aware that Etrian Odyssey IV will also launch on European 3DS later this month, and our full review will go live nearer the time.
Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is set to release in the tail end of September on PS3, acting as a ten-year anniversary for the quirky SRPG series. These latest screenshots demonstrate the classic blend of quirky dialogue, massive strategic depth and near-limitless item customisation in fine form, bringing Laharl, Fionne and the gang back together for an all-new adventure. And hundreds of procedurally-generated pirate ship levels, apparently.
Remember: spearmint is the most violent mint flavour. Important tactical advice for a demonic overlord.Click here to read more...
Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends Of The Titan has finally been locked down for an August launch in Europe, which means that it's definitely time for a launch trailer. Accompanied by some suitably upbeat J-Rock, the footage shows us battling, dungeon crawling and manual map making, the latter of which will be your most important weapon. Your team will succeed or fail depending on your cartography skills.