Review of Campione!

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Campione is a thirteen episode anime series that is presently available to buy in the UK courtesy of MVM Entertainment. The show is based on the light novels penned by Jo Taketsuki and at the time of writing can be purchased for a little over £20 (United Publications are selling it for £22, whilst Amazon is asking £26 for the two disc DVD set.) The cartoon follows the exploits of Japanese teenager Kusanagi Godou, who is seen in the first episode travelling to Italy in order to deliver a mystical tablet to one of his grandfather’s acquaintances. During the Mediterranean trip Godou runs into the God of War who is determined to acquire said tablet at any cost. Using his ingenuity, Godou defeats the deity and inherits his powers turning him into a Campione (God Slayer.) Using his newfound abilities Godou must now protect the world from other rogue gods.

CHARACTERS

Over the course of the series Godou’s god slaying adventures see him tangle with the likes of Athena and Perseus, a mighty swordsman who is renowned for vanquishing dragons. Godou also battles an elderly Campione named Sasha Dejanstahl Voban, who has the ability to summon un-dead warriors in addition to shape shifting into a werewolf. Aiding the protagonist against these threats are a quartet of beauties starting with Erica Blandelli, a blonde caster, who is a member of the Copper Black Cross knights. In the opening episode Erica detests Godou, but after the teenager acquires godly powers she cannot resist throwing herself at him. The sudden shift in personality is rather odd and makes her look like a gold digger who despises a guy, until she suddenly realizes that he is a millionaire.

Next in Godou’s harem of servants is Yuri Mariya, an innocent shrine maiden who is gifted with the power of clairvoyance. Her only notable trait is the size of her chest so I’ll move onto the next floozy named Liliana Kranjcar. Miss Kranjcar is a silver haired knight who starts the series serving Voban, before being coerced into switching sides. Despite presenting herself as a solemn warrior Lillian has a secret passion for writing cheesy romance fiction. One of the few occasions when I chortled, whilst watching Campione, was a scene were one of her books gets uncovered causing her to get flustered. Last on the babe list is Ena Seishuin who appears in the final two episodes. Due to insufficient screen time she failed to make any impression on me.

VERDICT

My rating for Campione is a two out of five. Although it’s not a terrible show I have to rank it below average, as it is so generic. It took me several days to complete the series as I lacked the urge to watch more than a couple of episodes per sitting. The tale of a hero who battles gods sounds epic, but all we get is an uninspired anime about a bland teen who flees from the bevy of girls who want to get in his pants. I am usually more tolerant when it comes to scoring harem shows, providing that they entertain me with some exciting action or amusing comedy. but sadly Campione failed to impress me on both counts.

Campione’s attempts at humour seldom registered a laugh and the fight scenes, although flashy in parts, are guilty of concluding in an unsatisfactory manner. For the most part, after trading blows for a bit, Godou spouts some mythological gibberish before dispatching his opponent with a flurry of enchanted blades (yawn.) The portrayal of the female cast is also demeaning. The opening credits have the ladies swooning over Godou or draping themselves all over him. Feminists will cringe as Erica transforms from a strong independent woman into a complete slut within the space of one episode. Last but not least is the manner in which the girls impart Godou with knowledge about the foes he is facing. Do they teach him by loaning him some informative tomes? Nah, they instead give him a French kiss under the pretence of telepathically cramming information into his head. How unrealistic. If locking lips, with an attractive lass, were a viable teaching aid I wouldn’t have flunked all my exams.

Although I know that some viewers have enjoyed Campione I personally cannot recommend it. If you are seeking a better harem show I would recommend Sekirei, which ironically is directed by the same director. Sekirei delivers in terms of thrilling action and the banter between its cast is funnier than anything Campione has to offer. Sekirei also knows that its audience is tuning in for eye candy and duly obliges with plenty of boobies. Campione, despite being equally sexist, is much more tame when it comes to its fan service. Perhaps Godou’s list of slayed deities includes Himeros the god of sexual desire?

Review of Sword Art Online (Part Two)

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Sword Art Online (Part 2) is a DVD set that contains episodes eight to fourteen of the popular anime series based on Reki Kawahara’s books. The collection’s tales take place roughly two years after the events of part one, which saw protagonist Kirito (along with thousands of other cyber role-players) get trapped within the confines of the titular VR game. The only way of escaping their computer-generated prison is by clearing all one hundred levels of the Aincrad tower, thereby completing the game. Gripes, I know many MMOs try to prevent users from leaving their clutches, by tying them down to a subscription plan, but SAO’s way of retaining active players is ridiculous. I don’t suppose there’s a cheat code to skip ahead to the final stage?

STORY

Two years since the game’s launch, the surviving players have gradually adjusted to their new digital lives. Despite suffering a number of casualties the players battling on the front lines have made steady progress climbing up the tower. How much easier their journey would have been had the structure been installed with a functional elevator. With the end goal now in sight Sword Art Online switches from touching one off stories to an on-going narrative exploring the blossoming relationship between Kirito and Asuna. The pair begins to bond after suave Kirito invites Asuna to a romantic dinner, in exchange for her cooking up the tasty morsel he acquired from a slain monster. Kirito’s cooking skill is too low to make said ingredient edible, but Asuna can because both her tailoring and cooking stats are maxed out (she is a woman after all.)

Aside from some short bursts of action the focus of this DVD set is squarely on the Kirito/Asuna romance. Refreshingly Sword Art Online isn’t one of those shows that tease the viewer on whether the leading couple will or won’t end up together. Kirito and Asuna actually tie the knot over the course of these seven episodes, although getting hitched comes at a price (and I don’t mean a healthy sex life getting replaced by wifely nagging.) In order to stay close to the missus, Kirito has to abandon his soloing ways and join her guild. This leads to many complications including putting up with the group’s smug leader and dealing with a nasty bodyguard who refuses to let Asuna out of his sight. On the plus side Kirito and Asuna get to have a brief honeymoon at a lakeside cabin. Their vacation has them adopting an amnesiac girl and tangling with a giant lungfish… standard stuff for holidaying newlyweds.

VERDICT

My rating for Sword Art Online (Part Two) is a five out of five. The series may not be perfect, but when scoring this set I wanted to indicate that I enjoyed this collection of episodes slightly more than part one’s offering (which I have previously rated four stars.) As the series progressed I found myself becoming more and more absorbed in the Kirito/Asuna love story, so much so that it has eclipsed the fantasy adventure aspects of the plot that initially attracted me to the series. Their relationship feels more genuine than other anime partnerships I could mention, so much so that I would rank Kirito and Asuna amongst my favourite animated couples (in your face Homer and Marge.)

Production wise this second chapter in the Sword Art saga maintains the impressive production values witnessed in part one. The artwork is polished and meshes well with the CG effects used to animate the giant bosses Kirito faces. On the audio side of things everything is top notch, from the strong voice acting to the catchy soundtrack. The general consensus is that Sword Art Online peaked with the end of episode fourteen, which prematurely sees Kirito duelling against Aincrad’s final boss. Given that bombshell you may be wondering where the story could go from there. Well it does manage to continue, although the direction it takes wasn’t to the liking of many fans. My thoughts on episode fourteen’s aftermath will however have to wait for the next review.

Review of Mind Zero

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Mind Zero is the personification of plagiarism. The manner in which it copies the Persona franchise is akin to that little twerp who used to copy my exam answers back in school. He ceased that unethical practice once his grades came back and he realised I’m equally clueless when it comes to geography. Much like in Persona, the cast of Mind Zero is composed of teenagers who battle creatures in an alternate dimension with the aid of powerful guardians. In the case of Atlus’ smash hit you explore the Shadow World and summon Personas, whilst Mind Zero has you traversing the Inner Realm with the aid of summoned Minds. If that isn’t blatant imitation then Blackpool isn’t the capital of England… told you I suck at geography.

GAMEPLAY

Aside from the similar premise Mind Zero also mimics Persona with its cast of characters. Kei, the moody protagonist, is accompanied by a buffoonish sidekick and a spunky tomboy that make up a trio who resemble Persona’s Makoto, Yosuke and Chie (both in terms of appearance and personality.) Coincidently the English voice actor who plays Yosuke also voices Leo the Yosuke doppelganger. Clearly Aksys Games, who localised Mind Zero for western audiences, noticed the similarities between both titles too. They can at least defend their casting decision by arguing that said voice actor does a fine job performing the role. If however you are one of those sticklers who prefer to play games in their native tongue, you’ll be pleased to know that the option to switch over to Japanese is also available.

Much like in Persona, the majority of Mind Zero’s gameplay involves dungeon crawling through mazes made up of multiple floors. I cannot help but admire the stamina of your average RPG hero. I’m down for the count after climbing a flight of stairs, unlike Mind Zero’s cast who manage to traverse several floors and battle monsters without breaking a sweat. Although I have spent much of this review harping on about the similarities Persona and Mind Zero share, I can at least say they differ slightly in their execution. Persona’s levels are randomly generated whilst Mind Zero’s are pre-made. Your view of the action is also different. The recent Persona games show your party from a third person view whilst Mind Zero opts for a first person vantage point, akin to that used in Demon Gaze and Etrian Odyssey.

COMBAT

Like with many JRPGs, combat is a turn-based affair were you select your desired action from a list of commands. Random encounters are the order of the day so you won’t see any enemies on the map. Instead every step you take has a chance of triggering a battle, which in my experience occurred too frequently for my liking. In order to triumph over the game’s tougher foes managing your Minds is essential. Summoning a Mind onto the field boosts your stats and protects your characters from damage by depleting your MP bar, instead of your health, whenever you get hit. Hiding behind a Mind can however be risky as an attack that reduces your MP to zero will stun a character, preventing them from moving in the following turn. In other words you should be MINDful about overusing your Mind (ha ha.)

Apart from performing standard attacks and using items players can also command their party to cast spells. Magic that heals allies, buffs comrades and damages foes can be assigned to specific characters by equipping them with special cards. Vanquished enemies liberally drop these enchanted cards, which is a relief. Whenever I think of collecting cards my mind goes back to the days when I tried to complete a Premier League album. I never accomplished that feat and was forced to consume tons of nasty bubble-gum, which came bundled with the cards. Moving back to Mind Zero, the card system is neat as it allows you to customize your team. Duplicate cards can be sacrificed in order to strengthen your equipped spells, in addition to clearing up inventory space.

VERDICT

My rating for Mind Zero is a three out of five. It’s not a bad game, but it fails to distinguish itself from the multitude of other JRPGs on Sony’s handheld. I genuinely enjoyed Mind Zero at first, but after clocking in several hours of play its flaws began to surface. My chief complaint is the repetitive combat, which is made all the worse by the frequency of its random encounters. The uninteresting battles made the later levels a chore, as they regularly interrupted the game’s dungeon crawling. Increasing difficulty, more elaborate mazes to navigate and re-coloured versions of enemies you have previously faced are not a good combination when the battle system is struggling to maintain your interest.

Thankfully holding down the shoulder button speeds up the combat sequences, although there isn’t much pay off for fighting your way to the end. The story ends in an unsatisfactory cliffhanger, which may never be resolved given that the game wasn’t a hit. Despite its faults RPG fans looking for a new dungeon crawler will find some enjoyment in Mind Zero. The question is whether this Persona pretender is worth the full retail asking price. Given that Persona 4 Golden is jam packed with content you would probably have more fun replaying it over tackling its unimaginative imposter.

Review of Shangri-la (Collection Two)

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Shangri-La (Collection Two) is a two disc DVD set containing the final twelve episodes of the anime series based on Eiichi Ikegami’s sci-fi book. At the time of writing you can pick up MVM’s UK release for around sixteen pounds, although owners of a multi-region player may prefer to import the U.S edition (which collects the entire twenty four episode saga for a mere eleven pounds.) For those of you not acquainted with the franchise, Shangri-La is set in the not too distant future were Japan has been crippled by a humongous earthquake. The series follows the exploits of the Metal Age resistance group who are campaigning for Japan’s survivors to be relocated from their present jungle dwellings into the swanky, state of the art, Atlas City.

STORY

Back when I reviewed Collection One I bemoaned Shangri-La’s opening episodes that were slower paced than Val Kilmer after visiting an all you can eat buffet. Thankfully that’s not the case in this second set, which commences with an action packed assault on Atlas City. After taking command of Metal Age Kuniko Hojo leads an attack on the lavish metropolis, but is ultimately repelled by the settlement’s technologically advanced defences. To be fair I would have been surprised had Metal Age successfully managed to invade Atlas. Kuniko may be able to kick ass, thanks to her oversized boomerang, but she doesn’t strike me as a strategic genius. She is after all a pink haired teenager who thinks that going into combat wearing a mini-skirt is a good idea!

Subsequent to the attack Metal Age and the Atlas City government manage to form an uneasy truce to combat a greater threat – genetically modified mushrooms that are overrunning the country! The fungi in question, which are more potent than the shrooms that power Super Mario, could eradicate the Japanese populous if not stopped due to their deadly combination of noxious gas and seedling projectiles. In order to halt the ferocious fungi Kuniko must venture forth to Akihabara and use her haggling skills to barter for aerial bombers that can toast the mutant mushrooms from the safety of the sky.

Once the unorthodox weeding is completed it’s time for the series to wind down and wrap up its tapestry of loose threads. Albino cult leader Mikuni and boomerang babe Kuniko rush off to claim ownership of the supercomputer running Atlas, but in order to do so they must first depose the conniving Ryoko Naruse who is unwilling to relinquish the position of Japanese prime minister. All that may be for naught though as hacking prodigy Karin Ishida’s greed could signal the end of the world. In an attempt to cash in on the volatile carbon markets, Karin unleashes the Medusa virus on the global network – only for it to run amok and unexpectedly attempt to activate every nation’s nuclear arsenal. I’ve got a bad Terminator/Skynet feeling about this.

VERDICT

My rating for Shangri-La (Collection Two) is a four out of five. It gets one point more than the first set as it isn’t marred by the plodding pace that afflicted Collection One’s first DVD. I was initially unimpressed with Shangri-La, but it eventually won me over once it finished setting up its world and cast. Viewers who plough past the uninteresting first few episodes will be rewarded with a rich story that is populated with fleshed out characters, who each have credible motivations for acting the way they do. Well for the most part. The writer never did furnish us with an explanation for why Kuniko dresses in a panty flashing skirt.

I must give credit to Eiichi Ikegami for crafting an elaborate tale, juggling the sizable cast of characters and still managing to pull off a satisfactory ending. The conspiracy shrouding the origins of Atlas City gets a little crazy, but not more so than some other animes I could mention. Visually Shangri-La is as impressive as its script, only faltering when it needlessly decides to use chunky CG to animate the Medusa virus. The action sequences are well put together although you’ll need to suspend your disbelief to fully appreciate them. I’m no physics expert (as my GCSE grades will attest to) but I don’t think Kuniko’s ability to acrobatically dodge automated drones, atop the wings of a bomber in mid-flight, is possible. Perhaps her skirt has been enchanted with gravity defying properties? I knew I would suss out her choice of attire eventually.

Review of Accel World (Part Two)

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Accel World (Part Two) is a two disc DVD set from MVM Entertainment, which contains the final twelve episodes of the anime series based on the novels written by Reki Kawahara. This second instalment continues the adventures of chubby teenager Haru Arita and his high school chums who compete in the virtual reality fighting game Brain Burst. Rather than detonate someone’s cerebrum, Brain Burst permits players to spend Burst Points (earned via winning duels) to effectively freeze time in the real world, which comes in handy for acing exams and triumphing in sporting events. Haru’s gaming prowess has earned him a spot in the Nega Nebulus guild led by student council vice-president Kuroyukihime, who also seems to have the hots for him. I guess due to Sumo’s popularity Asian women have a thing for obese guys?

STORY

The dozen episodes collected in this set commence with Haru’s childhood friend Chiyuri joining the Brain Burster ranks, in order to spend more quality time with her pals. Chiyuri’s in game persona Lime Bell has the ability to heal, which should come as no surprise to anyone who plays online role-playing games. For whatever reason the fairer sex seems to gravitate towards playing healers. In the world of Brain Burst however medics are almost as rare as Haru’s Silver Crow, who is the only known competitor with the ability to fly. It’s just as well that Haru’s in-game avatar is a skinny robot because I doubt his hefty real life body could ever get airborne.

Chiyuri’s induction into the world of Brain Burst couldn’t have come at a worse time given that it clashes with Haru meeting a devious chap named Seiji Nomi. Seiji is a fellow Brain Burst player who uses the game’s time freeze feature to cheat when competing for the school’s kendo club. What a fiend! I haven’t seen such unsporting behaviour since the days of Lance Armstrong. Unfortunately for our big boned hero, Seiji has decided to make Haru’s life a living hell both in Brain Burst and in the real world. When the two eventually clash Seiji is able to sequester Silver Crow’s flying powers for himself. Meanwhile in school Seiji plants fake evidence that implicates Haru of peeping in on the female student body (in more ways than one) via a hidden camera in the girl’s locker room.

Haru will have to overcome the threat of potentially getting expelled and the loss of Silver Crow’s wings by himself, as Kuroyukihime is presently away on a school field trip. It’s a convenient way of ratcheting up the tension by taking Haru’s usual saviour out of the picture. Kuroyukihime’s excursion is also a good excuse for some bikini clad fan service, given that her class are spending the time away at Okinawa beach (my how I wish my school did that sort of thing back when I was a student.) Kuroyukihime’s time at the seaside is chronicled in a two-part tale, which is relatively light hearted and a good counterbalance to the darker main storyline.

VERDICT

My rating for Accel World (Part Two) is a four out of five. Both DVD sets end up getting the same grade, as they are equally good. I had fun watching the twelve episodes on offer thanks to the humorous interactions between the cast and the flashy virtual reality fighting. Despite just being a generic bad guy, who had a rough childhood, Seiji Nomi did well in the role of antagonist as his scheming ways really ramped up the ante. Instead of being a mere video game opponent, for Haru to best, he managed to raise the stakes by taking their feud outside the online arena into the real world, were Haru’s education and relationships are on the line.

Shallow as it may sound, my only real issue with this series is Haru’s appearance. Even after watching twenty-four episodes I still find he sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the rest of the cast. Everyone in Accel World looks like a regular anime character whilst Haru resembles Eric Cartman from South Park. That would be fine if he was just a comic relief sidekick, but it’s harder to accept when he’s the lead who the beautiful Kuroyukihime is fawning over. His looks are even distracting during the action sequences, as they regularly shift from the mechanical avatars to close ups of Haru’s pudgy face. Maybe I am being jealous? I’m a short and chubby gamer too. Where’s my own smexy girlfriend?

Review of Jormungand: Perfect Order

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Jormungand: Perfect Order is the second season of the cartoon that adapts the comic book stories written by Keitaro Takahashi. The series is animated by fledgling anime studio White Fox (Steins;Gate & The Devil is a Part-Timer) and is scheduled for release, in the UK, on the 25th of August courtesy of Manga Entertainment. As with season one, the show follows the misadventures of a jet setting arms dealer named Koko Hekmatyar and the posse of bodyguards employed to protect her. Her security group includes Jonah the former child soldier, Valmet the one eyed knife fighter and Lutz a sniper whose magnetic like ass cheeks seem to have a knack for attracting bullets.

STORY

Perfect Order pretty much kicks off where season one ended. George Black, the tubby head of the CIA’s European branch, has set his sights on Koko hoping to exploit her arms network. Black’s scheme is however derailed by one of his own agents, a loose cannon nicknamed Hex who would rather assassinate Koko than work with someone who she deems a terrorist. The storyline is edge of your seat stuff with plenty of explosive action that starts the series off on a strong note. The highlight of the piece would have to be Koko’s reaction to the spy in her midst, which reveals emotions she normally conceals behind her trademark grin.

After that Koko returns to Japan, at the behest of her brother, to take care of a clandestine team that has been interfering with the family business. As was often the case in season one the writers manage to tie the story to one of Koko’s staff. In this particular case it’s Akihiko Tojo, who apparently used to work for the opposing faction in question. Taking down Tojo’s former comrades proves to be almost as tough as getting Jonah to learn math. The structure of binding missions to one of Koko’s bodyguards continues in the following tale titled Pazuzu. The one off episode sees Koko’s team driving through Iraq, which serves as a good excuse to talk about Wiley – the explosive expert nicknamed after the animated coyote (I hope he doesn’t use Acme brand bombs as they are notoriously unreliable.)

The remainder of the series focuses on Koko enacting project Jormungand, her master plan for ensuring world peace. The five episode run up to the show’s culmination begins with Koko’s team kidnapping a pair of scientists and builds up from there. It must be said that Jormungand’s finale is a divisive ending that may annoy some of the show’s viewership. At first glance the Jormungand project is ingenious, but upon further scrutiny the plan has more holes than Swiss cheese. This is at odds with the script’s usually clever writing and could annoy the more discerning fans of the show. The anime even seems to acknowledge the flaws in Koko’s plan in a scene were her brother comments that dominating high tech weaponry will not mean an end to warfare. Mankind’s inherently violent nature will always find a way to battle, even if it means resorting to hammering skulls with wooden clubs.

VERDICT

My rating for Jormungand: Perfect Order is a four out of five. If you enjoyed the first season this is pretty much more of the same. The action is satisfying, but not in a mindless way as it has intelligent stories to back it up. Although the subject matter gets heavy at times the quirky cast succeeds in injecting humour to proceedings so things never get depressingly dark. I’m scoring the series a little lower than season one however due to the manner in which it wraps up. It’s not a happy ending, as it highlights the depressing fate humanity is heading towards, but I don’t hate it to the level of other critics. I would equate it to the infamous Mass Effect 3 ending. Even if the conclusion to that trilogy is sub-par it would be harsh to say that the overall the series wasn’t excellent.

My grievances with the finale would have to be in its execution. When Koko unveils what she is plotting it puts her at loggerheads with Jonah, the ally she has been bonding with all this time. They both want a world free of global conflict, but Jonah is an idealist who wants to do what feels right whilst Koko teeters on the precipice of villainy, believing that the ends justifies the means. The expectant clash between the two however never materializes ending things on a damp squib. Fans aren’t even given the opportunity to debate what side of the fence they stand on, as the final episode advances the narrative two years. This gives us the hindsight of seeing the aftermath of Koko’s handiwork, thereby telling us who of the two was correct. I think I’ll appreciate the ending more once I am able to re-watch the show and collect my thoughts better… and re-watch it I shall because, despite its flaws, Jormungand is one of the better UK anime releases of 2014.

Review of Rogue Legacy

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Rogue Legacy is an action packed platformer created by developer Cellar Door Games. Although the title has been available to download for the PC since 2013, it has only recently been ported over to the Sony consoles. Having to wait over a year for a game to come out is terrible. Those poor Playstation owners are being subjected to the same shoddy delays normally reserved for hapless Australian gamers (crikey.) On the plus side I can report that the wait was well worth it. This indie gem, about a knight battling his way through a haunted castle, is a must have – particularly for anyone who loves the old school Castlevanias.

OVERVIEW

The aim of the game is to explore the above-mentioned fortress and defeat the four guardians that reside there. Accomplishing this not so easy task will grant you access to the final area where the last boss lies in wait. Impeding your progress are traps to avoid and a plethora of hostile minions to slay. The enemies in question include acid spewing foliage, hooded spectres that resemble Orko from the He-Man cartoons and skeletal guards that pelt you with bones. Oddly enough, no matter how many bones the Skeletor wannabes hurl at you they never seem to exhaust their supply of body parts. Next time I play I shall endeavour to dodge 206 of their projectiles. If they are still pelting me after that I’ll scribe a strongly worded letter to Cellar Door Games bemoaning the inaccuracy of their products.

One thing I should warn new players about is that challenging Rogue Legacy will lead to many deaths. Your inaugural trek through the castle is unlikely to last beyond two minutes (no comment on that duration equalling my stamina under the bed covers.) Once the knight capitulates it’s time to restart your quest by choosing one of the deceased’s three descendants. Having to start from the very beginning, with a new character, might sound lame but fear not as your previous run was not in waste. Opening chests, vanquishing monsters and wrecking the castle decor will yield gold that can be used to purchase upgrades. The general idea is that your next attempt will last a bit longer as you will come equipped with stronger weapons, hardier armour and new skills.

GAMEPLAY

Anyone plotting to stockpile gold should be aware that entry into the castle relieves you of whatever funds you are carrying, much like a wife asking for shopping money. You therefore have to blow your earnings on whatever upgrades you can afford because the remainder will be claimed by the hooded figure blocking the castle’s entrance. Once inside the cycle begins anew. Fight for as long as you can, die, spend the income you made on upgrades and try again. The whole experience may sound frustrating, but it is actually rather addictive. You’ll have a tough time putting down the controller, as the urge to have one more go is too strong to resist.

Replaying the game from the very start could potentially get repetitive, but thankfully the developers have included some neat features to keep things fresh. Firstly the castle’s rooms randomly shift position every time you visit the structure, thereby giving you new mazes to explore. The root cause of the ever-changing architecture is unclear. My money is on a mystical enchantment cast over the building, although it’s certainly possible that an ultra fast redecorator is giving the place a quick facelift between knightly deaths.

The other thing that makes each play through unique is that the descendants you control each have their own set of skills and traits. During one run you may play as a barbarian who can repel foes with a loud bellow whilst in another game you may control a paladin who can deflect bullets with his shield. The randomly generated characters come complete with distinct traits, some which are beneficial and some that are humorous. Some funny traits that I have spied include IBS that causes your character to sporadically fart, colour blindness that changes the usually colourful graphics to black/white and alektorophobia that summons deadly chickens.

VERDICT

My rating for Rogue Legacy is a five out of five. It’s no wonder that indie games are all the rage these days when you consider that an inexpensive download, like this one, ends up being more enjoyable than many full price releases. The whole package is a joy to play thanks to the charming sixteen bit visuals, funky retro music and responsive controls. Don’t let the title’s reputation for being hard put you off, as I normally have an aversion to taxing games and still managed to love this one. Even if your lifespan initially mimics that of a lemming atop the Eifel Tower, with a little practice and some upgrades Rogue Legacy’s challenges gradually become more and more manageable. At the time of writing ninety of the knight’s family have perished within the castle and yet my desire to lead more of them to their slaughter shows no signs of waning.