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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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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that isn't actually baseball edition
Nov 10
Posted by James at 16:22

Iíve been chipping away at Darumeshi Sports Shop over the past couple of weeks, or rather, Rusty's Real Deal Baseball as itís known in the west.

The game seems to have been remembered for its interesting take on in-game purchases: youíll find yourself haggling with Rusty, a middle-aged, somewhat saddened shop keeper to buy games for your Nontendo 4DS Ė a Virtual Reality successor of sorts to the 3DS.

Itís a novel approach to buying things, but itís not revelatory. Haggling just brings the price of games down to what they were always intended to be sold at, making the player feel good about their purchase and adding extra friction to proceedings. But itís fun and engaging at least.

The real meat of the game comes from, well, the baseball. As youíve probably figured out from this weekís title, youíll never actually play a full round of baseball, instead the WarioWare team have instead stuck to their strengths by offering snippets of the sport and seeing how far they can take them.

I find this refreshing in face of the usual complaining that gets trotted out whenever a game turns out to be a collection of minigames. Here the developers have looked at the sport, distilled it into its simplest parts and offered something that both baseball novices and avid followers can get their teeth stuck into.

Indeed, ďbaseballĒ in Darumeshi Sports Shop translates to a whole variety of sharply focused actions, from facing off against the Ultra Machine of decades past, to playing keepie-uppie with a baseball bat, to testing your reactions in catching a ball, to aiming the perfect throw by angling the 3DS.

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These snapshots of the sport translate well to the minigame format thanks to some excellent audio-visual feedback, which in turn ensures they feel incredibly more-ish and satisfying to play. Youíll certainly feel the connection when baseball bat meets ball, or the thud when you catch a ball just at the last moment with your glove. The sharp effects work is matched with equally sharp controls. For example, to play Quick Catch you need to slide the Circle Pad at the last possible moment to catch a ball thatís heading towards you in 3D space.

It just feels right. Even something as mundane-sounding as Keepie-Uppie is more fun than it has any right to be when combined with the excellent motion controls, the convincing 3D effect and the WarioWare teamís fun take on things (ever played Keepie-Uppie with a baseball bat and an American football?)

The other thing that has me really impressed with Rustyís Real Deal Baseball is its ability to wring the most out of each of these core concepts. Youíll play through fifty individual challenges per mini-game, which slowly introduce include some very devious modifiers which are then combined all into two high score challenges per game. Itíll keep you on your toes, but perhaps more importantly, itís all played for laughs.

I think this is one of the best games to come out of Nintendo in the last five years. Itís perfect for portable play, itís a masterclass in audio-visual feedback, and it complements the 3D effect with perfect judgement. Shame Nintendo of Europe doesnít seem interested in releasing it over hereÖ
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Posted by Ben at 15:13
James was going to lead this week's WWP but look at that title.

It's been a busy week, not a huge amount of game time, but I did manage to play through A Wolf in Autumn, an interesting, bleak story of a game. It's not very long, hence the lack of review, but it is interesting. Something I'd like to talk to people about

Elsewhere there was a bout of Grandia for Grandia Weekly, which I wont link to. We're approaching the end, and I'm still really enjoying the game

The big game was probably Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend which we were sent to review. I'd never played a Blazblue game before and I've been pleasantly surprised by how good it is. There's a finesse to it I wasn't expecting, a level of refinement I thought would be lost amongst the more nonsense and ludicrous elements. Kind of a shame I have to move on from it, I'd like to spend more time with it and throw myself in to it a bit more, but alas, Disgaea awaits
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Posted by Mark at 15:42
I've mainly been playing Gunslugs II, on 3DS, which I'm going to be posting up a review of in the very near future.

Saving my thoughts on that for the review makes this What We're Playing a little light on anything interesting, but that's the nature of the beast.

We don't cover mobile games very often on Bitparade, and that's pretty much due to them being almost uniformly awful. That being said, I've been dropping a surprising amount of time into Pako.

The game is a car chase simulator, you find yourself in a car being chased by cops and tasked with staying out of their reach for as long as possible.

Rather than being the typical clone of Temple Run or indie darling Canabalt, Pako instead leaves you in an environment and gives you the freedom to steer around it as much as you like, evading capture by guiding your pursuers into crashing- with your game coming to a crashing halt if you do the same.

It doesn't sound particularly special in gameplay terms- mostly because it isn't, save for the fact that it's nothing special done quite well- where the game really shines is in its presentation, minimalist graphics seen from an isometric viewpoint.

Notably, the developers have been unusually willing to port the game to multiple platforms- I've been playing it on Windows Phone, which nobody supports. Particularly given that it is unsullied by Free-To-Play mechanics, it's a shame that it's pretty much stopped at mobile, since it's an art style that would look amazing on 3DS.
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Posted by Duane at 06:28
So I've been on hiatus for quite some time, depending on which member of staff you chat to they could say its been from the birth of my third child last December, another might say it was around the time of my second child being born in 2013, either way, right at this moment, my gaming itch has returned, as has my writing one.

Now I'm pretty sure we used to do this on a Tuesday, and fairly regularly, although we never got a whole lot of discussion out of it, and for the most part my additions for the short term will mostly be surrounded around Vita titles and/or me mopping up on a few games I may have missed from the previous generation.

So kicking things off then, my current plays are definitely of the handheld variety. First up is Etrian Mystery Dungeon a fairly typical, but rather charming, fun but kind of evil dungeon crawler from Atlus, I've literally just posted the review here. I've also been chipping away at a new SEGA beat-em up, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. Again, this is to be reviewed so I wont say alot more than its really odd playing a 2D Beat-em up on a handheld, and that the fighter genre seems to be rather difficult for any newcomers to pick up and play, most games seem to ignore the great roads that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 tried to make in teaching players just how to play it.

Lastly, and by no means least, as I'm sure many longer term readers will know, I'm a big big fan of Atlus' Persona franchise. Persona 4 Dancing All Night was recently released in the US, however its not due for release here until November 6th. It features rather alot of text for a rhythm action game, and some of the re-imagined tracks take some getting used to, but for more opinions than that, you will have to wait for my review.
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Posted by Ben at 17:40
You might have noticed that the site has been very quiet over the last few weeks. you might even have wondered why. You're probably thinking that there was some life-event that occurred and shook things up, perhaps, you might even figure that the World Cup has been eating in to our time, why not.

But this is what I've really been doing. Trapped in a groundhog day of bleak desolation. Reading on-screen instructions and acting on them, only to have to repeat the same moments over and over and over and over.

I've been playing Deadlight

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Posted by Ben at 09:48
We've had a couple of weeks off. I'll be honest, while we could point to a lack of news to post, it's really more to do with laziness. At some point we're going to have some Game of the Year stuff up, although probably not until next week. I am going to have a feature up about some games you might have missed from the year (indie stuff, not Tearaway, although Tearaway is great and I've a half-finished review to go up at some point).

Moving on, here's a bit of what I've played in the past couple of weeks

Bravely Default, the plan is to play enough of it to review it in time for the American release, y'know, for all those sweet hits. I've put 20 hours in to it though and really enjoyed. It follows a very traditional formula of working your way through a dungeon until you get to a boss, random battles and all, so it's not quite the reinvention of the Jrpg it's sometimes made out to be, but it's very good with some great new ideas. The combat system for example, not exactly a revolution but it has some novel ideas with the ability to go in to debt to attack more often. Then there's the village repairing stuff, a way to get more weapons and items made available to you.

I also went back to The Puppeteer. I'd enjoyed the first hour so much that I wanted to make a point to go back to it to see if The Puppeteer was one of my games of the year. It isn't quite, unfortunately it reverts to being a bit of a standard platformer. It still has the scissor mechanics, but you end up with an ice level, a fire level, a water level, and so on. Again, it's a decent game, I'm glad I went back to it, but it's harshly dealt with by not making the GOTY lists, even if more people probably should have played it. If you did miss it, then this is really the season to pick it up, especially if you have kids that can watch you play it
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Posted by Duane at 03:20
You know how many gamers with families complain that having kids takes time away from games playing? Well, oddly I've found it to be the opposite case. Thats not to say I've got more time than normal and I'm not helping out, just that since my second child arrived my games playing has becoming seemingly more focused. The past couple of weeks then, sinces its arrival on PS+, I've took to playing Catherine.

I own it on disc, and indeed have been playing it via that medium, but restarted as part of the group thing I've mentioned in the past (when playing Alpha Protocol) and have now made it further than my previous playthrough.

Unsurprisingly, considering its developer, I'm really enjoying it, although the subject material does become rather uncomfortable at times but thats a discussion for another time (i.e. another article to add to the pile of unfinished ones currently littering my desktop).
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Posted by Mark at 16:40
Minecraft. Lots and lots of Minecraft.

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