Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is... good.
Pardon the italics, but surprise is a tough emotion to convey in a written review and I did not have high hopes for this one. In my experience, spinoffs of fanservice-focused Japanese franchises tend to just be excuses for diehard fans to spend more time with their favourite female characters, meaning that gameplay is an afterthought and quality suffers badly as a result. After all, many will pay to virtually hang out with their waifu whatever the cost, so why bother putting in the effort?
To be clear, Hyperdevotion Noire definitely is an excuse to get more intimate with Noire and the Hyperdimension Neptunia girls in some very compromising situations, but there's much more to it than that. It's a full-fat Strategy RPG created by Sting, an SRPG developer of considerable repute, that's powered by solid mechanics, handsome visuals and strives to be a good tie-in first and foremost. And succeeds, at least, more than enough to be taken seriously.
As per usual, Hyperdevotion Noire is a parody of the videogames industry, set in a colourful Sci-Fi fantasy world in which warring nations are console manufacturers battling for market share, lead by powerful (if very moe) female warrior goddesses. Noire heads up Lastation, Vert fronts Leanbox, Blanc represents Lowee and previous protagonist Neptune inexplicably still champions Planeptune despite SEGAs questionable relevance, and their fierce rivalry for fans and shares is still going strong. However, a nefarious plot ends up stripping them of their powers, forcing them to band together under Noire's leadership to reunite their scattered generals and save Gamarket once and for all.Click here to read more...
This cheap Vita deal gets you a physical copy of this insanely deep and deeply insane SRPG. Read our full review to find out more!
The Promise Revisited version includes a whole slew of DLC, upgrades and new content vs the original, and the series plays best on Vita. Thanks Blastoise!
Platforms: PS Vita
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Handhelds and strategy RPGs were made for each other, and Disgaea continues to be one of the biggest names in the business for those in the know. Nailing that sweet spot between quirky upbeat humour, insane social life-destroying tactical depth and adorable exploding demon penguin murderers, the irreverent series always feels more at home on portable consoles than it does in the living room.
Case in point, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, which provides the ultimate definitive edition of arguably the strongest game in the franchise.
Sardines, dood! Yes, once again, Disgaea isn't ashamed to be deeply silly when it comes to the storyline. We find ourselves following Lord Valvatorez, a once-terrifying vampire tyrant now relegated to a lowly exploding penguin instructor in the depths of hell thanks to some hastily-made promises. His mission, not to mention his obsession with the nutrient value of sardines versus human blood, quickly derails as all manner of crazy characters show up and hilarious diversions poke fun at established conventions, but a strong central theme and great localised dialogue keeps things interesting even if you've never played a Disgaea game before.
It's a surprisingly engrossing tale, even providing alternate 'bad endings' with their own non-canonical epilogue when you fail certain battles. Just remember not to save after seeing one! More importantly, though, Valvatorez is by far the most interesting protagonist in the series. Older and more experienced (but no less bizarre) than his predecessors, he's genuinely hilarious, likeable and benefits from a believable and relateable motive. Move over Laharl.Click here to read more...
Project X Zone is one of those curious Japanese crossovers that almost never release over here in Europe. Capcom chararacters teaming up with SEGA legends and Bandai Namco badasses for one massive Strategy RPG rumble developed by the team behind Xenoblade Chronicles? Count me in! The in-jokes and battle system are excellent, though in hindsight, many of the engagements can be overlong and protracted. Luckily £9.99 isn't going to break the bank, especially if you know that you're in the market. Thanks to Skullpanda @ HUKD!
Platform: 3DS, also on Wii U (eShop, £9.99)
Developer: The Game Bakers
"Every once in a while, a mobile game comes along that delivers quality and value consistent with a full-price handheld console release. A game that offers an experience that wouldn't feel out of place on the DS with a premium price tag... but costs next to nothing. SQUIDS is one of those games." - Mobot iOS review, 2011
Deja vu much? This will make for the third time I've reviewed SQUIDS in as many years, and the fact that I still enjoy the experience speaks volumes about the quality and enjoyment factor of this crazy genre hybrid. Whether on iOS, Android or now Wii U, the squishy underwater lovechild of Fire Emblem and Angry Birds still manages to blend strategy with artillery and a huge dose of silly referential humour.
And now it's on 3DS, a big fat fully content-and-feature-complete edition with an IAP-free economy that also grants you a free copy of the Wii U version here in Europe (details here). As such, this review is going to be short and sweet, since we already covered the original Wii U eShop release in May. Instead of rehashing old ground, we'll focus on what makes this new version different, better and wetter than its predecessors.Click here to read more...
Blackguards is a tough, granular, staggeringly long and very capable turn-based strategy game that puts you in control of a team of utter reprobates. The story isn't really strong enough to support its monstrous length, but if you're a fan of exceptionally nuanced combat, it's going to be fantastic value. Especially since you can save a whopping £15 on The Humble Store, which rivals Steam's own savings last month.
Blackguards is a tough, staggeringly long and very capable turn-based strategy game that puts you in control of a team of utter reprobates. Though its story isn't really strong enough to support its monstrous length, but if you're a fan of the genre, it's going to be fantastic value. Especially since you can save a whopping £15 on Steam.
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Blackguards shouldn't exist, at least by conventional logic. Even as publishers and focus groups tell gamers that we crave cinematic multiplayer shooters, Daedalic Entertainment bring us a rock-hard fusion of hex strategy with mechanics lifted straight out of a quirky German tabletop role-playing game. Starring morally bankrupt rogues. With no multiplayer. That's forty hours long. From a studio who've only previously created point & click adventure games.
It's too stubbornly obtuse to be hip, a real old-school niche-filling humdinger, the kind of game that makes you genuinely proud to own a half decent PC... or very glad that you don't. Personally, I'm so deep in the former camp that I'm pitching a tent.
Wait, no, I need to rephrase that. What I mean to say is that Blackguards' unapologetic desire to brutalise and reward a hardcore niche audience is intensely refreshing, harking back to the days when fortune favoured the bold and brainy. And honestly, as someone who rolled more than his fair share of D6 back in the day, I find its unabashedly esoteric ruleset almost physically arousing. Phrasing be damned.
Mind you, what makes Blackguards irresistible for some will prove utterly miserable for others.Click here to read more...
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...
Sumptuous hand-drawn SRPG Liege has already beaten its Kickstarter funding target for PC and Mac, but could make it to Sony consoles if it manage to raise $52,000 over the next 12 days.Click here to read more...
Developer: Monolith Soft
Publisher: Namco Bandai | Capcom | SEGA
Perhaps it's the heatwave, but I've been having a bizarre recurring dream over the last few nights. In my fevered imagination, the developers behind Xenoblade Chronicles impossibly created a strategic turn-based RPG disgused as a fighting game. Starring over 40 classic characters from SEGA, Capcom and Namco Bandai franchises. Jill Valentine, Frank West, Heihachi Mishima, Ulala, Chun Li, Yuri Lowell, Blackrose, Mega-Man, Ryu, Dante, Neneko and even that bloke from Resonance Of Fate come cartwheeling through my mind; an impossible cavalcade of superstars all fighting side by side. On the 3DS, no less.
I wake up screaming.
Then, just before I reach for my phone to ring a clinical psychiatrist, I notice that same game in my 3DS card slot. Project X Zone is somehow inexplicably, maddeningly, brilliantly real. And magnificent in its insanity.
Click here to read more...
Project X Zone is just seven days from its UK release, bringing together a huge roster of beloved Namco, SEGA and Capcom characters for a strategic RPG. No, really, it's a strategy RPG. Even though it looks like a fighting game. Trust me.
If you want a closer look at the heroic lineup (including Dante, Ulala, Morrigan, Chris Redfield, Mega-Man and Tronne Bonne just for starters), we now have a new video for your eager delectation. Naturally we'll present you with a full review closer to launch.
MonolithSoft's insane Strategy RPG disguised as a crossover fighting game is nearly upon us, with the localised EU version releasing on July 5th (at a budget RRP to boot). Expect SEGA, Capcom and Namco characters to team up and throw down throughout a lengthy story in this utterly insane 3DS exclusive, which you can see in action in this epic launch trailer.
Gosh, but it's nice to watch a trailer that features awesome crunchy rock instead of dubstep. I thought there was an industry-wide ban on guitars or something.Click here to read more...
Project X Zone has received a trailer on the 3DS eShop, which gives us Europeans a chance to check out the SEGA, Capcom and Namco Bandai crossover SRPG.
Yes, you read that right. It's a Strategy RPG that features classic characters from decades of gaming history (everyone from Ryu to Dante, Frank West, Ulala and Jin Kazama). Though Project X Zone looks like a fighting game, it's actually a tactical experience with a real-time battle system designed by the developers behind Xenoblade Chronicles. So, erm, the demo might be worth a download, then.
Another demo will go release next month ahead of a summer release.
Project X Zone, the unprecedented three-way RPG collaboration between SEGA, Capcom and Namco Bandai has received a new trailer today in order to show off Capcom's roster of characters. Street Fighter cast members, Resident Evil heroes, Dante, Mega-Man, Frank West and more besides will all enter the same continuity, allowing players to take on a mysterious menace with an insane dream team.
Note that while the gameplay looks like a fighting game, Project X Zone is actually a strategy RPG with a real-time battle system designed to superficially resemble classic brawlers. It's out this summer on 3DS.Click here to read more...
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Killer App: A computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated; broadly: a feature or component that in itself makes something worth having or using.
Fire Emblem Awakening is magnificent. In a year when the 3DS has finally found its feet with any number of fantastic exclusives, Intelligent Systems have delivered its undeniable killer app: a gloriously deep strategy RPG that's perfect for stolen minutes on the train or long nights spent bathing in the glow of your dual screens. Infinitely complex high-level tactical planning goes hand in hand with a compelling storyline that unfolds over the course of sixty hours, and an unforgettable cast of characters who bring personality to what is sometimes a sterile and clinical genre.
You'll furrow your brow in concentration as you set up the perfect assault. You'll laugh at your comrades' antics, empathise with their plight and fall in love with their quirks even as they dynamically fall in love with each other. And every once in a while, you'll burst into tears when your dear friends fall in the heat of battle.
For many players, myself included, Fire Emblem Awakening makes a strong case for the best game of 2013 thus far. Love and death may be common videogame themes, but rarely have they been so exquisitely intertwined.
Click here to read more...
Watching all of these videos of Fire Emblem: Awakening without being able to play it is like an exquisite form of torture. But whilst gnawing our fingernails down to the bone and rocking back and forth in a stupor while muttering "It's coming West! It's actually coming West!", we can all take a few minutes to learn about character progression and glean a few tips for rounding out our party and getting the best out of our allies on the battlefield.