May 5, 2010

Persona

Filed under: Gamer — Tags: , , — Yukino @ 8:45 PM

Status: Still playing & making new Persona in the Velvet Room

Purchase Shin Megami Tensei: Persona from Amazon

Reviewed for GamingAngels – Nov 16, 2009

Repost of review:

I fondly remember (vaguely) when I first played Persona on the PS1. Ever since, I have enjoyed delving into the twisted franchise. The wonderful people at Atlus have done me (and the entire gaming world) a huge favour by updating and re-releasing the original title on the PSP.

High schoolers will do as every other student has done before them, and St. Hermelin High students are no exception. There is a rumor going around that by performing a special chant you can summon otherworldly creatures known as Personas. The game begins with a group of students, including the main lead who you will name, playing this game at school and passing out when they witness a crying girl in the middle of the room. They wake up and are sent by the school nurse to go to the local hospital for a check up, and encouraged to visit a girl from their school (Maki) who has been in hospitalized for over a year.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital and a brief visit with Maki, a lunar haze covers the town. Demons and evil creatures appear everywhere, with the exception being the high school. Upon first facing a group of demons, our group of students discover they all had the same “dream” when they passed out, and now have the ability to call upon Personae to assist them in battle. And in a miraculous turn of events, Maki seems to be completely fine. Oddly enough, she has no recollection of even being hospitalized. There is definitely more to Maki than the students realize, and soon they discover secrets that SEBEC, a local and very sinister corporation, has created a machine that allows people to travel into an alternate dimension. (I want to add here that the Snow Queen side story which never made it to North America in the PS1 version of Persona is available to play in this version, which is another big plus.)

Always controlling your main character (who I named Tsuki Yuki, since there is already a character named Yukino), you become the party leader. Other characters will join him or split off when you reach certain points in the story, but for the most part there are almost always others in your group.

When you encounter demons in random battle, you are first given your main battle commands: Fight, Contact, Analyze, Form, Auto, and Escape. Some of these are self explanatory – Analyze lets you see the HP/SP and other important information available on the enemy you scan, Form lets you choose the formation your characters take in battle (moving stronger players to the front, weaker in back, etc), and Escape gives you the option to attempt escape from battle, which is not always guaranteed.

Fighting is pretty simple and follows the basic guidelines of any RPG: Attack, Shoot (option to use firearm once you acquire them), Skill (call on your Persona to perform magical moves, such as elemental attacks or healing spells), Persona (assume a different Persona to battle with), Item (use an item to assist in battle) and Guard (defensive position to lessen damage from attacks, does not attack).

The most useful thing you can do is choose to Contact demons at the beginning of each encounter. If you negotiate with them properly you can get items, money and most importantly Spell Cards, if they are eager enough. Spell Cards are necessary for forming new Personae to equip your cast with. Happy and Eager demons will give you items, Scared ones will run away, and Angry ones will just get more peeved with you and send you straight into battle. When Contacting a demon whose Spell Card you still have in your possession, they will remind you that you have their card and leave the battle. You can always get a card from them again, but not until you have fused their card with another in the Velvet Room.

Ah, the Velvet Room. A staple in every Persona game, it is here where you visit Igor and combine Spell Cards to create new Persona. Igor will assist you in matching up the right cards to fuse or you have the option to do it yourself. You may also add items into the mix, selecting from any items that you currently have available. Keep in mind that as you unlock stronger Persona, your characters must be leveled enough to support them. While its great to create a level 20+ Persona within your first 20 hours of play, you might not be able to use them for a while. Also, make sure to assign Persona evenly amongst the team. You don’t want to have three strong players down and depend on a weaker character that you have neglected before you can save and heal!

While the characters and cut-scenes have been updated, the game play remains the same. Some people will not be overly fond of the first person view as you wind through the dungeon maps, however, the nostalgia factor outweighs redoing the dungeons, in my humble opinion. The maps are easy enough to follow, as they highlight yellow with little footprints as you walk on sections of the floor. You can expand the map by pushing the Square button to see the floor of the area you are on. I also recommend using the directional keys instead of the nub for moving your character. There were too many instances of walking the wrong way or getting turned around because the nub registered where I wanted to move incorrectly.

Because Atlus loves their fans, they’ve thrown in the 2 disc soundtrack for you to listen to in your car or as you are cleaning your room. I will admit that the soundtrack is catchy and one of the best out there. I also have to say that while you are playing the game, you may come to dislike the music and turn your volume down. As much as I love Persona titles, they all have the same problem of overplaying the songs. There is one song in the background when you are traveling on the map, another song for battles, etc. Having to listen to the same song on loop over and over while you are searching through a five story building can and will definitely get on your nerves. I have had many nights of waking up with a song looping in my head.

Overall Opinion:

Buy. This. Game.

There are not many PSP games that make me run out to buy them, but this was one of them. If you want something with substance, humor, and an intriguing story, then Persona is right up your alley. That said, if you can’t stand random encounters in maze dungeons, maybe this isn’t for you. But if you are a fan of Persona 3, FES or P4, then you definitely should pick up and play the title that started it all.

My favourite part of Persona hands down is messing around with fusion in the Velvet Room. There are so many combinations of cards with or without additional items for you to discover, and creating ones that work well with your team is not only important but a lot of fun to mess about with. My second favourite part is Contacting the demons. I love seeing the various reactions they respond with and trying to figure out who the best person to negotiate with each type is. So glad I picked this one up. Now if Atlus would re-release Persona 2…. *hint hint*

Undead Knights

Filed under: Gamer — Tags: , , , — Yukino @ 8:41 PM

Status: This was a pre-release build that I had to send back. Need to buy a copy & finish it.

Purchase Undead Knights from Amazon

Reviewed for GamingAngels – Sept 17, 2009

Repost of review:

Disclaimer: This review is based on the review build that was sent out. The final version of the game may have some slight differences and tweaking of gameplay.

I haven’t played a good hack and slash game in a very long time. So when you tell me about a game that incorporates zombies into it…. well, I’m sold! Tecmo Games has done just that, with a great new game for the PSP – Undead Knights.

The story is a simple one: the King, influenced by his hot and busty young new wife, has decided that the House of Blood (a family who has long serviced the throne) should be wiped out. Little did the King know that his daughter had just married into the family, and the House Leader Romulus, the princess Sylvia and her new husband Remus were slaughtered on their way to share the joyous news with her father. The House of Blood has powerful blood pumping through its veins, and so in death, the three are reborn, commanding forces of the living dead as they systematically destroy those who were behind their murders.

Let’s begin with choosing which character is right for you!

Romulus: The most balanced of the three, Romulus wields a decent blade and has decent recovery time between hits. He is good for the beginner player.

Remus: Speed makes up for his weaker rapier attacks.

Sylvia: Her scythe attacks do heavy damage, but her slow movements leave her vulnerable to attacks.

Characters are chosen at the start of each chapter, so if you find one isn’t working out for you in a particular chapter, you can always chose another when you restart. You will also choose your difficulty level for each chapter, thus allowing yourself to face tougher challenges.

There are 20 chapters in Undead Knights, providing you with tons of zombie minions to clear the way for you. Turning zombies is relatively easy. Hold the Circle button to perform a choke hold on the enemy. As you progress through the game, you will find that some enemies need to be grabbed twice as they become stronger than earlier levels. Another way to turn zombies is by activating a powerful Wrath move that will instantly kill and turn any enemies caught in its wake. Sometimes you need to stun the soldier before you can grab him. Using the Triangle and Square buttons you can attack your enemies and weaken them.

There are several things you can do with your newly turned minions. They can climb on top of each other to build bridges, take down structures for you, and you can throw them at larger enemies to stun and distract them. The most important command you want to give them is to attack the enemies. By stringing together attacks you will increase the amount of White Souls you earn at the end of the chapter.

On the topic of souls, green ones will replenish some health, and red souls will help fill your Wrath bar quicker. Red souls are generally found in giant chests hidden in each level, while green souls comes from destructible vases and other such items.

At the end of each chapter you will be ranked on Souls Earned and Clear Time. The combination of the two ranks will then give you an overall rank and determine the amount of Dark Energy you have earned for customization. Upgrading your character is key in this game. By doing so you will be able to increase your strength and the destructive power of your weapons. Keep in mind that Dark Energy is shared between all three characters, so upgrade accordingly.

As you progress through the game you will also notice that you unlock Revenge Titles at the end of chapters. You can check which Titles you have gained in the Records of Revenge. You can also see your chapter records from this section as well.

Ad-hoc mode will let you hook up with friends for various multiplayer matches. Survival Race, King Battle and Undead Battle. Unfortunately I was not able to try out these mode for the review, but I bet they are a blast.

Fans of metal music will love the soundtrack to the game. There are three metal groups who have music featured in the game: Lightning Swords of Death, Endless Blizzard, and Valdur.

Overall Opinion: As far as hack & slash games go, this one ranks right up there for me. I normally don’t enjoy these titles too much, or at least I haven’t since the original Devil May Cry. (The sequels just weren’t fun for me at all.) It also was another reason to charge up my PSP and use the thing again. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in the game, but for what there is, the voice acting was just the right amount of cheesiness. If this was ever to get the movie makeover, it would have to have Bruce Campbell star in it.

I really enjoyed the game, although I did run into a couple instances that I am 100% sure will be fixed for the retail release. You can just pick it up and play a couple levels at a time then come back to it later on or play it through in a sitting. Sylvia was my Anti-Hero of choice, and I loved every minute I spent swinging that enormous scythe around the screen. And while not a big metal fan, I did find that the soundtrack was extremely fitting for the game. I am so glad that I was able to enjoy this title earlier than I originally expected to.

Dead or Alive Paradise

Filed under: Gamer — Tags: , , , , — Yukino @ 8:34 PM

Status: It will be years before I finish collecting everything, and I’m fine with that

Purchase Dead Or Alive Paradise from Amazon

Reviewed for GamingAngels – March 29, 2010

Repost of review:

Everything you’ve heard about the Dead or Alive Volleyball games is true, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been fun. Sure the girls have flawlessly perfect bodies, and yes, DOA breasts seem to have a special gravity field (or maybe lack thereof), but the relaxing vacation experience is really just as much fun for the girl gamers as it is for the guys. We just don’t take the game in a perverted manner, instead appreciating it for what it is, flaws and all.

At its heart, DOA Paradise is a portable version of Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball 2 with some tweaking. Select your favourite DOA girl and enjoy a two week vacation on New Zack Island chilling by the pool, kicking up sand at the beach, meeting up at the volleyball courts, getting a bit wet during a friendly pool hop competition, and gambling at the casino. There are no jet skis this trip, but that’s fine by me since I wasn’t a big fan of them in the first place.

Dead or Alive Paradise features all nine familiar faces from DOAXVB2, and introduces a new playable character: Rio, the black jack dealer from the casino. A Guide to the Girls has been made readily available throughout the game for your referral needs. Pay special attention to it, as it contains hints as to who is easier to recruit as a friend for your special lady, as well as clues to favourite colours, food and beverages.

The most important aspect of the game is still your interaction with the other girls on the island. You don’t want to be alienated during your fortnight of frolicking, so just make sure you spend your money wisely and earn it when you need it. Spending money on your intended girlfriend should be your #1 priority. Make sure you know what your girlfriend’s favourite colour or food is so you don’t get her the wrong thing and ruin a budding relationship and wrap it up nice and pretty. Is your partner into flashy, skimpy bikinis, or does she prefer a slightly more modest look? The selection is the Sports Shop changes on a regular basis.

There are three ways to earn Zack Dollars: Pool Hopping, Beach Volleyball, and Casino games. Volleyball is by far my favourite way, as I am flawless with the perfect serves (worth an extra 3000ZD each time) and the killer spikes (5000ZD). That way, even if I lose the match, I still walk away with enough money in my pocket to buy some accessories, treats or new balls. The Casino is fun, and if you are good at Poker and Blackjack, you might want to visit nightly. Slot Machines are provided as well but those are too much of a risk for my liking.

Once you have a decent bit of savings, you’ll want to hit up the Sports Shop to purchase bikinis and volleyballs. All of the classic looks are back and waiting for you to collect. I’ve barely made a dent in Lei Fang and Lisa’s closets at this point, and I know that probably a hundred hours will be needed in order to acquire a good portion. But that’s part of the fun of Dead or Alive Paradise. There is so much replay value and so many items to unlock in order to obtain the 100% character completions. Zack of All Trades has all of the random goodies like food and collectibles. And if you’re looking for some sunglasses or a flower for your hair, a quick trip to the Accessory Shop will help rejuvenate your look.

Dead or Alive Paradise features Venus Clips, glamour videos of the DOA girls dancing in the side, sitting poolside and sipping on drinks, sunbathing and several others. Each girl has over 150 videos for you to unlock. During Venus Clips, hitting the Right Bumper gives you access to your camera. Your camera allows you to take snapshots of your character or her partner and save directly onto your memory stick. On average, the pictures run between 100-150kb, so if you want to take several photos, make sure you have enough room. After you complete your first 2 week stay on the Island, Private Paradise becomes available. Here you can string together your favourite Venus Clips and create a Paradise Flick for your personal pleasure. Snapshots taken and saved on your memory stick or hard drive are saved in a SCREENSHOT folder and can easily be copied over to your computer for uploading. Now all my favourite shots of Lei Fang and Kokoro can be combined to create a super awesome desktop background!!

One of the best features from the previous volleyball games is the Radio Station and having the ability to import your own music. DOA Paradise also offers this function, and any music you have in your MUSIC folder (excluding subfolders) is automatically added to the playlist. Since there are only seven tracks included with the game, I highly recommend adding some music to your memory; the playlist starts to annoy quickly if you don’t.

So after reading through all of this you are probably wanting to know what I think of the game? Does it offend me as a female gamer? Is it really as creepy as they say it is?

If you follow me on Twitter or have been on GamingAngels long enough, odds are you will have seen me speak about my love of the DOA franchise. Dead or Alive is my guilty pleasure and I will never apologize for my love of the people behind the fighting and volleyball incarnations. So yes, I enjoyed the game. Having a portable version that I can take on take on trips or play while my husband is using the TV is great. Each vacation can run between 2-4 hours depending on how you run through it and what you are trying to achieve each time. And since I play for the completion, I’m sure this will be another 80 hours and up addition to my sorely lacking PSP library.

Now let’s get down to the “creepy voyeurism” accusations. Due to flack from certain gaming sites, Tecmo Koei decided to run with an advertising campaign insinuating what certain types of gamers might intend to do with a portable game such as this. Let’s face it, this isn’t new news, and every Dead or Alive game has been criticized for the unnatural boob physics and the hotness of the girls. There have been rumoured cheats that allow for the girls to be naked in the Volleyball titles, a line of real bikinis for your girlfriend inspired by the closet of DOAXB, and giant body pillows you can cuddle up to at night. So yes, why not capitalize on all the pre-conceived notions to sell your game? I still don’t find this creepy. Instead I feel sorry for those gamers who will be playing this because they are socially awkward and have issues talking to real women.

However, there is another market that plays the game for what it is: virtual Barbie dolls. Its all about playing dress up and getting your virtual DOA dolls to like each other. Most girls (including myself, even though I have been a tomboy forever) have had Barbies or fashion dolls as children. We wouldn’t be caught dead doing that now, so Dead or Alive fills the space in gaming for big girls who want to collect and swap outfits in the digital realm.

To my sisters in the DOA sorority, Paradise is well worth the $30 for our on-the-go entertainment. We are no longer tied down to having to play in the privacy of our homes. We are free to show our DOA love by plane, train, bus, dogsled, camel, horse, or whichever means of transportation suits you best. Let’s collect every possible bathing suit, attempt to get Ayane and Kasumi to partner up (yeah, we know it’s impossible, but as females we won’t ever stop trying!) and post our favourite screenshots for all the world to see.

To the male readers of this review, please use DOA Paradise responsibly!

“Review product was provided by Tecmo Koei and does not affect the outcome of this review.”

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