Flesh Of
Beasts Edition
Nov 24
Posted by at 17:53

I've been playing Pandora's Tower which, as one of the Wii's hidden gems, is an annoying game to play.

It's a perfectly 'core' game, which uses the Wiimote/nunchuck combo meaningfully. Much like Super Mario Galaxy, the player character- Aeron- is mostly controlled traditionally with the analogue stick, and the remote is used as a pointer for aiming the chain used as the game's main weapon and means of interacting with the physical environment.

This is a good example of using motion control intelligently- rather than simply being a gimmicky 'something to do' (as in Galaxy) or being waggle for the sake of waggle (although the game isn't completely free of that) it's being used because it's better than the traditional control alternative, which would be some kind of inevitably faulty auto-aim or first-person section.

It's annoying not for any design-y reasons one might expect to see in a review, but because it's a glimpse of a alternate future where people didn't overlook the Wii for being casual-focused, where Nintendo didn't reject the hardware arms race and made a console which could handle PS360 ports well, and where the company didn't shit itself in the face of tablets, creating the misguided chimera that is the GamePad.

Perhaps, one where people didn't smell blood in the water after Microsoft backtracked over the xBox One DRM thing and bullied them into making Kinect optional.

Given that Nintendo have similarly blinked and all but confirmed a 2016 launch for NX as well as properly kicked off their mobile initiative in earnest, it's a future we've probably lost forever.
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Disgaea 5

Nov 24
Posted by Ben at 16:41

I don't have a huge history with the Disgaea games. I played the first game on the PS2, got so far, hit a wall, then stopped. I eventually rebought Disgaea on the DS, played it, enjoyed it, hit a wall, then stopped. There's a smattering of other moments, some games on shelves I'll never get around to. I like the series, but I've always stumbled over the depth of it. There's systems on top of systems, and every now and then they get in the way.

The most notable thing about Disgaea 5, right off the bat, is how sharp it looks. The art has always been good but the blown up sprites had started to show their age. There's a lot of character to the Disgaea series, and it's no different here. You worry that starting afresh with the characters every game will eventually catch them out, but Nippon Ichi have assembled another likable cast of characters (mostly), and a pretty good story. Void Dark is systematically taking over the numerous Netherworlds, killing their overlords and enslaving the populace. Serafina, overlord of the richest netherworld, is facing off against Dark Void's Lost army, a fight she's destined to lose, when Killia shows up and gets dragged into the fight. From there they form a rag-tag group of vengeful overthrown overlords, a rebel army that's slowly growing in strength.

One of Disgaea's great strengths is its humour. It's not always laugh out loud funny, sometimes it is, but it's a series packed with incidental moments, funny names, nonsense. I petitioned the council for something called 'lucky boards' in the pocket dimension (your hub world). I didn't know what lucky boards were, but I figured they sounded like a good thing. Now my game is full of rabbits and I need to petition the council to get rid of them. It's hard to dislike Disgaea 5, although some of the characters can "super" start to grate.

For the uninitiated, at its most basic, Disgaea is a turn based strategy rpg. You move your team around the grid levels, setting out your attacks, then hitting execute, before ending your turn. This is where the depth comes in, and where the systems start to show themselves. Chaining attacks increases their power, but as only the character who lands the killing blow gets the experience points, chaining is not without its costs. Using special moves will level them up, reducing their cost and potentially their range. It's where the game is at its strongest for me, a straight forward srpg.

The systems mostly exist outside the battlefield. There's the item world, where you pick an item to level up and with every floor you clear its stats improve. Items, weapons and armour all contain 'innocents', these traits can be removed and placed in something else to give it different attributes. You can capture prisoners from battles, interrogate them and then bring them in to the pocket dimension (and sometimes even recruit them). There's a bunch more too, layers to the combat like towers, layers to levelling characters, layers to getting the best items. It's what makes Disgaea Disgaea.

It's also where the game will start to push people away. I hit a spike, I started a new chapter with a sudden leap in enemy levels. That in and of itself wasn't a problem, the problem was the enemies on a high up platform that I couldn't reach with anyone except my spell caster. There is, it turns out, a solution within the level, revealed to me a couple of levels later, but my solution was less eloquent. I went and recruited more magic users,and levelled them up while improving them some armour in the item world, spamming their spells so they'd have the reach I needed. I had fun playing the game still, but it's the sort of labour that stopped me playing the original game, a difficulty spike can mean a lot of leg work.

This all being said, the story mode of Disgaea 5 acts as a tutorial, quite a lengthy one. Facets of the hub world will be locked away until you make progress in the main story, and occasionally the story missions will introduce mechanics, like the geo tiles. For series diehards this may make the game drag, but given how many systems Disgaea has, not throwing them all at you at once is very much the way to go. Disgaea 5 is easily my favourite exposure to the series, and while it can get in its own way sometimes, it's still one of the most fun games I've played this year.
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Video Review
Nov 23
Posted by Ben at 15:50

We posted our Typoman review yesterday, and here's the accompanying video.

I feel a bit bad for the score I game Typoman, it's not without merit, but reading the review back, a 6 looked comical. I do think some people will find something to like about the game though

The video mainly focuses on the end of Chapter 1 and a chunk of Chapter 2. There's spoilers, solutions to puzzles, which depending on if you're stuck or not will either be a good thing or a bad thing, but don't say you weren't warned Show/hide video

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How Good Does
Ray Gigant Look
Nov 22
Posted by Ben at 10:09

There's been an unusually large number of Vita announcements recently, in fact I've been surprised all year by the amount of content the platform has received.

I don't know too much about Ray Gigant, I'd heard the name mentioned, but the announcement that it's coming to the US and Europe has put it on my radar

New publisher Acttil are bringing the game to the west in spring 2016, and it will work on both the Vita and Vita TV (Playstation TV, whatever it's called).

Take a look at the gallery below, looks pretty good, certainly nice enough to make Ray Gigant stand out amongst the other jrpg and dungeon crawlers on the Vita

Full gallery (5)
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Nov 22
Posted by Ben at 09:16

A few weeks back we posted a feature called 'How Good Does Typoman Look'. The game had been featured as an upcoming indie game on the WiiU eShop, I'd missed it there, but after seeing the trailer I was won over. I thought the game looked fantastic, the concept at least, and was expecting good things. Unfortunately, the horrendous mess of Batman Arkham Knight on the pc aside, Typoman might just be the most disappointed I've been with a game all year.

The premise is wonderful. Typoman is a puzzle-platformer, where you must use and rearrange words to progress. Simple things like 'NO' being switched to turn a switch 'ON', 'remove'-ing things, draining the rain. It's cool, and when it's being that, the simple execution of a good idea, it's a good game. The problem is it feels like the developers decided that wouldn't be enough, and maybe they're right, maybe they do need to push on the way they do, focusing more on the puzzles and difficulty, maybe it's just that the balance isn't right.

Typoman is oddly ruthless. The platforming is needlessly precise, considering it's not the focus, final pixel jumps are not uncommon. There'll be sections where one nanosecond pause will guarantee failure, the final boss is a prime example of this. The boss itself wouldn't be too bad, but if you aren't moving the second you respawn after a death you're dead... again. One of the other issues that the final boss flags up that's an issue throughout is how little time you get to think. It's not constant, other times you'll have all the time in the world to not know how to solve a puzzle, but on occasion you'll be faced with imminent death and no respite to even look at the solution, let alone try it out. For the last boss I took to grabbing my phone and taking a picture of the letters available to me, then pausing the game and giving myself the time to think. Typoman really is peculiar in its ruthless streak.

When you do get stuck there's a hint system. Hit the '?' on the WiiU Gamepad, and you'll get a bit of prose, a poem of sorts that points you to the answer. Press the '?' again and the particular word you need to make will light up. It's good that the hint system is there, I certainly made use of it, but it comes with a few problems. The hints, even before you light the word up, can be a little on the nose, essentially giving you the answer when you just want a poke in the right direction. Conversely, you can have the answer, even the word revealed, and still be left staring at the screen with no idea what you need to do.

There's a balance problem with Typoman, it too often leaves you completely bewildered. You'll have everything you need but have no idea where to start. Take the puzzles that involve letter machines, a production line that lets you print letters to build words. You'll have more letters available than you need, it clouds things, especially when the word needed to provoke the action seems unintuitive. You can usually see the logic once you've solved it, but wonder if you'd ever have reached it without using a hint. It's the double-edged sword of the hint system, it's too easy to go to it, it takes away the 'game' a bit, it's too all or nothing. I wish they'd made the hints a bit more like those of a crossword puzzle, something to solve before just handing you the word you need.

Typoman suffers from too many technical issues. The initial load time is long, once you're in the levels there's no loading, but getting there takes surprisingly long. Initially I thought this might be because I was running the game from a harddrive, but too many other people have mentioned it. Similarly the hitching, presumably it's caused by the engine streaming in a new area, but it's off-putting and can occasionally happen at key times. I've had a couple of moments where Typoman has got stuck, where spawned words have glitched through an object causing me to die. There's also an issue where leaving the game paused for a long period will make the pause menu freeze up, but that's a bit of an edge case.

Really the technical issues are the kind of thing that need to be mentioned in the review, but not necessarily the sort of thing that will ruin a game. Typoman's problems are all with its puzzle design and platforming. Difficulty is fine, leaving the player frustrated isn't, especially in the moments where the puzzle has been solved but the application let's you down. It's a shame too, there's moments where I really liked Typoman. There's some good ideas, some cool set pieces, and the concept is great, but once I got through the early sections I'm not sure how often I had fun. It's a game that's almost there, but as it is Typoman is too frustrating for its own good, it leaves you cursing it too often, and it left me feeling like it was a huge missed opportunity.
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Posted by Ben at 15:44
We featured Typoman in our occasional How Good Does ___ Look feature, and now it's out

Priced at 10 on the WiiU eshop, it certainly looks a good idea.

We may or may not do a review at some point, but until them here's the launch trailer

Show/hide video

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Rodea the Sky Soldier
First Play
Nov 18
Posted by Ben at 15:08

If our review of the 3DS version of Rodea The Sky Soldier is anything to go by, and the various scuttlebutt across the internet about the WiiU version, the Wii version of Rodea The Sky Soldier is the one to play. Certainly I'm enjoying my time with it so far

Hopefully this has all come out alright, and you're seeing a 1080p 60fps video of the Wii version of Rodea The Sky Soldier. Granted the game isn't 1080p, it's a Wii game, it looks ok, less than ok at points, but at least you're seeing it roughly as I'm seeing it

Show/hide video

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WTF? Edition

Nov 17
Posted by Duane at 13:20

We cover alot of translated Japanese titles here at bitparade, and theres always a bit of a risk that one of us will feel a little uncomfortable with some of the content that features in some of these games.

Monster Monpiece is probably the biggest culprit for that, with its odd, not to mention perverted, card levelling up mechanic (have a look on YouTube... also, read my original review.

It wasn't a bad game, just... um, yeah, not something you'd declare out loud to be playing or, indeed, play in public.

I've not been playing that again, I have however, been playing Dungeon Travelers 2 for review purposes. It seems pretty innocent outside of the fact the only male in the game (that I've encountered) is the protagonist, but every so often, usually after a key event (defeating a certain enemy or encountering particular characters) you'll receive a full screen picture of said creature or character in a rather compromising pose, which totally feels like OTT fan service and completely out of context with the rest of the game.
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Posted by Ben at 16:28
We've been sent over some information about The Rivers of Alice, and while that doesn't automatically mean we'll post about a game, take a look at the trailer below, The Rivers of Alice looks worth a mention

There's something off-kilter about it, they're (Delirium Studios) going for dream-like and it looks like they've managed it, that it's inspired by a Spanish band I've never heard of (although the music in the trailer isn't bad), Vetusta Morla, is no reason to turn your nose up at it.

The Rivers of Alice: Extended Edition is out on Steam now for 5.59. It was released on the WiiU eshop a few weeks back, and is slightly more expensive at 7.19

Show/hide video

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Posted by Ben at 16:00
We'll have a review up of Disgaea 5 this week, and while the 2 probably aren't connected, I can't help feel that in an effort to capitalise on the hype for our review.

Anyway, Disgaea, the original Disgaea, is coming to Steam February of next year

You can maybe see from the gallery that we're not talking a ground up port. Sprites look, well, less than great, but the levels themselves look sharpened and the UI has had a bit of an overhaul. there's also going to be keyboard and mouse support, and it's going to include the extra content from the DS port; Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness

Full gallery (2)
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