Review of Fire Emblem Warriors

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Musou games have come a long way since the days when they were confined to Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In recent times the Warriors franchise has migrated from China to outer space (Dynasty Warriors: Gundam) and even Zelda’s stomping grounds, in 2014’s Hyrule Warriors. Three years after Link’s game took the Wii U by storm we are once again treated to another Warriors title on a Nintendo machine. On this occasion Omega Force have decided to turn tactical Fire Emblem into an action packed button basher. Why bother with strategy when one guy can fell an entire army on their lonesome?

OVERVIEW

Fire Emblem Warriors is similar to Heroes, in that it stars characters from various games in the series. Set in the kingdom of Aytolis, which is under siege by monsters from another dimension, players take control of twin royals Rowan and Lianna. In order to save their country, the blonde duo trek across the region recruiting the aid of well known Fire Emblem soldiers. The roster of playable characters is dominated by personalities from the recent 3DS games. Marth makes an appearance too. I guess he was included as most people recognize him from Smash Bros. He’s the swordfighter who is less broken than Meta Knight.

The game plays like any other Musou title. For the most part you dash across the map securing forts whilst slaying anyone who gets in your way. It’s easy to decimate thousands of troops, because the regular grunts don’t pose much of a threat. Their commanding officers do however put up more of a fight. In order to best the mightier foes it’s advised that you take advantage of the Fire Emblem weapon triangle. For those who don’t know – swords are effective against axes, lances are strong versus swords and axes trump lances. Also be aware that archers deal bonus damage to flying units and magic can bypass armour (or summon rabbits out of top hats.)

One feature that I like about Fire Emblem Warriors is that during a battle you can swap between four characters. That’s different from other Musou games, which limit you to just one guy per skirmish. Characters not under your control will act on their own initiative, although you do have the option of issuing them with orders via the map screen. That’s probably for the best as the AI is dimmer than an abode that hasn’t paid its electric bill. If you run across an ally, on the battlefield, it’s possible to pair up with them. Your partner will occasionally block incoming damage and will assist when you unleash a special attack.

VERDICT

My rating for Fire Emblem Warriors is four stars. Right now it’s the game I have played the most on my Switch. The story only took me ten hours to complete, but since then I have been repeating chapters on higher difficulties. Once I am done with that I have the History Mode challenges to look forward to. Despite the simplistic combat system I have yet to tire of the game. There’s just something so satisfying about seeing your characters grow stronger with each passing level up (I call that RPG addiction.) Once a mission is over you can beef up your army even further by using loot to forge mightier weapons and unlock new abilities.

My only real complaint with Fire Emblem Warriors is the character selection. Twenty plus playable heroes is a respectable lineup, but alas not all of my favourite waifus made the cut. Why can’t we have clumsy maid Felicia or snarky tsundere Severa instead of that dullard Frederick? Another notable omission is racy sorceress Tharja. Where is she? Included in an upcoming DLC bundle that you have to pay for apparently. Nintendo may censor fan service in their games, but they aren’t above using titillation to blackmail consumers into spending their shekels. Cough up the dough or you get no SexyWITCH on your SWITCH.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie Review

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Quality over quantity is the philosophy that manga creator Rin Kokuyo seems to live by. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) ever since Recovery of an MMO Junkie debuted, in 2013, only two volumes have been published. Crikey. All of a sudden I don’t feel so bad about taking so long to post new articles on my blog. Anyways, given the sluggish output of the manga it should come as no surprise that its anime adaptation only runs for ten episodes. Oh, and there is also a humorous OVA to check out too. Thankfully, as alluded to in my review opener, the lack of content is made up for in entertainment excellence.

OVERVIEW

Hot on the heels of ReLIFE, I once again find myself watching a series about a stressed out office worker who has quit their job. Thirty-year-old Moriko Morioka has decided to occupy her free time, now that she is a NEET, by playing online games. The MMORPG she frequented back in the day has been shutdown, so Moriko has decided to create a new character in a fantasy title called Fruits de Mer. Despite being a woman, she picks a male knight avatar. Isn’t it weird how different genders think? Some girls play as male characters, in games, to avoid harassment. Meanwhile some guys masquerade as ladies, to increase the odds that horny players will gift them with free stuff.

The first dungeon that Moriko tackles doesn’t go well. Armed with just a twig, she is unable to defeat the level’s oversized rodent guardian. Perhaps she should have rolled a cat girl warrior instead? I imagine that race gets bonuses when fighting against mice. Anyways, after a few unsuccessful attempts Moriko joins forces with a kind-hearted cleric named Lily. Thanks to Lily’s restorative magic Moriko is finally able to overcome her cheese eating nemesis. As it turns out, that inaugural quest was the start of a beautiful friendship. Lily invites Moriko to her guild and the two eventually get so close that they solidify their relationship by becoming official partners.

If you are hankering for some yuri goodness I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Unbeknownst to Moriko the adorable Lily is businessman Yuta Sakurai, who she bumped into once at a local convenience store. They literally bumped into each other, because during said encounter Sakurai inadvertently elbowed Moriko in the chops! Will romance blossom in the real world between the two virtual adventurers? It all depends on Sakurai unmasking his partner’s secret identity and Moriko braving her hermit ways.

VERDICT

My rating for Recovery of an MMO Junkie is four and a half stars. I have to say that episode one didn’t make a good first impression. After watching it I was left with the opinion that the series was going to be another of those humdrum MMO shows, which have flooded the market ever since SAO first appeared. Thankfully things improved in the next instalment, thanks mostly to the budding romance. I liked how the story divides its time equally between the online game and real world. Another plus is that the cast are all adults. It’s nice to see characters close to my age for a change; given how much of the anime I watch is dominated by teenage heroes. Hurrah, this cartoon didn’t make me feel old.

Ten episodes was a good length for this series. Experience has taught me that “will they/won’t they” tales tend to drag when stretched out for more than one cour. The narrative relies on huge coincidences to work, but it’s easy to overlook that fault because Moriko is so lovable. It’s hilarious how she counters anxiety by assaulting her carpet with a lint roller. Another thing I appreciated is that the script never resorts to using a love triangle for dramatic purposes. Sakurai’s co-worker Homare Koiwai goes on a date with Moriko, but rather than become a rival he ends up playing matchmaker for the two shy lovebirds. Evidently soul mates can be found in MMOs. Time to uninstall Tinder and re-subscribe to WOW.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants Review

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Around a week ago I treated myself to an early Christmas present by purchasing a Switch. Yono and the Celestial Elephants has the distinct honour of being the first game I beat on Nintendo’s console/handheld hybrid. It’s an adorable isometric adventure created by Swedish developer Neckbolt Games. The title plays a lot like classic Zelda, which is fine by me. Give me puzzle filled dungeons over destructible weaponry any day! Man, what were you thinking Breath of the Wild? Just when I was celebrating Fire Emblem’s decision to axe armaments with limited durability, you had to go and adopt that bothersome mechanic.

OVERVIEW

Yono and the Celestial Elephants stars a pachyderm infant who has descended down from the heavens with the aim of bringing peace to a fantasy world. Over the course of his five-hour adventure, Yono treks across the land quelling tensions that have brought the human, robot and undead kingdoms to the brink of war. Joining him on the journey are a mischievous redhead and an accident-prone monk. Just like in Zelda, the environments are peppered with pottery that can be smashed to acquire health and cash. Funds can be spent on skins to decorate Yono, such as the hilariously named Elephantom of the Opera.

Several of the obstacles impeding Yono’s progress come in the form of block sliding puzzles. Thankfully the brainteasers aren’t difficult so even a complete “Dumbo” can suss them out without too much trouble. Other challenges require that Yono use his trunk, rather than his head, in order to advance. He can for example unlock doors by blowing on a pinwheel or extinguish flames by dousing the fire with water. Later on Yono can strike distant targets by spewing peanuts out of his nose. In some areas he is required to melt ice via the consumption of chilli, which transforms his proboscis into a makeshift flamethrower.

VERDICT

My rating for Yono and the Celestial Elephants is three and a half stars. I think the game will appeal most to younger gamers due to its cute graphics, wholesome storyline and gentle difficulty curve. Legend of Zelda veterans may however find that the level design and combat is too simplistic for their tastes. For the most part enemies are ineffective and just stand there, as Yono stampedes them into oblivion. The bosses are thankfully more stimulating to fight against. Vanquishing the guardians will require that you memorize attack patterns and deduce the best method for breaching their defences.

Once the main campaign has been cleared there isn’t much incentive to revisit Yono. Completionists can tackle a few optional fetch quests and hunt down all the hidden life-bar boosting containers, but that’s about it. Depending on your budget you’ll have to decide if twelve quid for five hours of entertainment is worth it. Be aware that a PC version of Yono exists, so it may be possible to pick up that port on a discount during one of Steam’s sales. I personally am okay with purchasing the Switch release. My time with Yono was both fun and relaxing. I think the cost/length ratio of a title is irrelephant, as long as it makes you happy.

Review of Interviews with Monster Girls

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Interviews with Monster Girls taught me that not every show featuring Demi-Humans is a boob fest. This series is much more wholesome than the likes of Rosario Vampire or Monster Musume. Based on the manga created by Petos, Interviews with Monster Girls is set in an alternate Earth where some people are born with traits similar to those of fictional creatures. Tetsuo Takahashi, a biology teacher who possesses the physique of a PE instructor, is fascinated with the rare percentage of folks who are born Demi-Human. Luckily for him he works at a school where the student body and staff contain a quartet of monster girls.

OVERVIEW

Unlike the abovementioned Monster Musume, many of the characters in Interviews with Monsters Girls could easily pass off as regular humans. No one has arachnid or serpentine body parts that advertise their Demi-Human status. The only person who clearly isn’t normal is dullahan Kyoko Machi, whose noggin is detached from her chest. Machi is a brainbox who is “head” over heels in love with Takahashi. Her best friend is a mischievous vampire named Hikari Takanashi. The blonde bloodsucker would best be described as a hyperactive prankster, although Hikari’s trademark energy seems to desert her when it comes to waking up in the morning… something most of us can relate to!

Completing the trio of Demi-Human pupils is snow woman Yuki Kusakabe. When the series begins Yuki comes across as a loner. Yuki keeps to herself, as she fears that her ice powers could potentially harm anyone who gets too close. Thanks to Takahashi’s guidance she however manages to overcome her anti-social ways. Yuki reminds me a little of her Persona 4 namesake. Both characters act respectable, for the most part, but on occasion will burst into bouts of uncontrollable laughter. One thing that I found odd about Yuki is that she is a closet manga fan. Given how popular comics are in Japan, why would anyone over there conceal that hobby?

VERDICT

My rating for Interviews with Monster Girls is four stars. It’s a light and fluffy comedy that will put a smile on your face. Although I commented that the anime is more wholesome than other monster girl shows, it does feature a tiny amount of eye candy. Episode twelve’s poolside instalment is clearly a pretence for showing off Takahashi’s pecks. The series also stars a succubus math teacher named Sakie Sato, although she subverts expectations by not being your stereotypical man-eater. Sakie actually tries to hide her sexiness under a plain tracksuit and specs. To avoid unwanted attention she even commutes outside of rush hour, to reduce the risk of arousing passengers. That’s a good idea, because hentai has taught me that Japan’s railways are rife with molesters.

One problem that Interviews with Monster Girls suffers from is that the series loses steam as it goes along. Early on things are fun because each episode introduces a new character to the mix. Once the cast is fully established though the pace slows down to a slice of life crawl. There isn’t much story or banter to maintain your interest. Some conflict could have spiced things up, but alas everyone is too darn nice and polite. Perhaps this flaw illustrates why other properties rely on tits and harem infighting to keep their audiences’ attention? Oh well, nothing that season two can’t remedy by adding a jealous lamia transfer student to the class.

Review of Tokyo Tattoo Girls

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Screenshots can be deceptive. Back in the day, when I owned an Amstrad CPC 464, I would often be disappointed by the games I bought. The graphics, of the software I had purchased, were much uglier than the images plastered on the box. Gullible me had been duped by sneaky publishers, who would promote their wares by using pictures from the more advanced Amiga version. I guess the practice continues to this day, in trailers that use rendered cut scene footage rather than gameplay visuals. Tokyo Tattoo Girls is another example of a release that misled me with its imagery. At first glance it looks like a strategy game, but in actuality it is a glorified clicker, were you wait around and click the briefcases of cash that sporadically appear.

OVERVIEW

Tokyo Tattoo Girls is set in the city of London. Just kidding! It takes place in Tokyo. Despite what I wrote above, the game isn’t so disingenuous that it doesn’t feature the titular capital. Anyways… a disaster has struck the metropolis, which has led to the government cordoning Tokyo off from the rest of the country. Devoid of state administration the area’s wards have been taken over by twenty-three girlies who are empowered by mystical tattoos. Players take control of a tattoo artist who has joined forces with a cute waifu, who harbours aspirations of ruling the entire city some day. In order to accomplish this goal players will have to build up a syndicate and invest the funds they procure to cover their lady with more ink than Kat Von D.

For the most part the game plays itself. When the campaign begins you select an area to invade and from there your empire gradually spreads across the map. Turf wars occasionally break out, which deplete your clan’s honour meter. If the honour gauge hits zero your conquest of Tokyo ends in a premature game over. Paying bribes can thankfully reduce the likelihood of honour-sapping conflicts erupting. Alternatively income can be spent on tattoos that bestow passive bonuses. Clicking on the briefcases that manifest on the map collects racket money. It’s also possible to generate cash by playing dice at the gambling dens. The buxom croupier who rolls the D6 cubes flaunts her cleavage more than a female Twitch streamer.

VERDICT

My rating for Tokyo Tattoo Girls is two stars. I don’t hate the game, like some other reviewers do, but I can’t award it a higher score due to the lack of interactivity. Despite what the game’s convoluted tutorial suggests, Tokyo Tattoo Girls is far from complex. I would file it under the category of “podcast game.” Something that doesn’t test my concentration skills, but at least serves the purpose of keeping my hands occupied whenever I partake in an audiobook listening session. One thing that puzzles me about Tokyo Tattoo Girls is its high frequency of load screens. If the PlayStation Vita can handle 3D games seamlessly, why does it need to pause so often with Tokyo Tattoo Girls’ less demanding text menus and still pictures?

I am surprised that NIS America localized Tokyo Tattoo Girls, when there are far better Japanese titles still awaiting a Western translation. Tokyo Tattoo Girls would work better as an inexpensive mobile game rather than a twenty-five quid Vita product. On the plus side the character designs are nice. Whoever is responsible for the game’s artwork deserves to work on a JRPG or visual novel. Apart from the anime girls I also thought that the tattoo outlines looked impressive. No wonder that some people endure the discomfort of adorning their skin with skulls, names of loved ones and Final Fantasy characters. Speaking of Final Fantasy, which monster gives the best tattoos from that series? The answer is Cactuar, because he has one thousand needles!

Review of Wonder Momo

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Wonder Momo is an anime I discovered whilst skimming through Crunchyroll’s library the other day. At first glance it looked like something right up my alley. Cute girls and superheroes rank high in my list of favourite things after all. Had I known that the cartoon was based off a Bandai Namco video game I would have given the series a miss and would have saved myself much disappointment. Most anime inspired by games tend to suck and Momo proved to be no exception to that rule. In case you don’t know, the original Wonder Momo was an eighties arcade brawler. One amusing thing about the game is that jumping would cause Momo to flash her panties, which would momentarily cause her to pause in embarrassment.

OVERVIEW

Kanda Momoko is a high school student and aspiring pop idol. One day she bumps into a green skinned man who presents her with a mysterious orb. The sphere gets absorbed into Momoko’s body, allowing her to transform into the titular heroine. Momoko decides to use the power to protect Earth from space invaders. Well, I assume the extra terrestrials are trying to conquer the planet. Most of the time they just seem to commit random acts of vandalism at school gymnasiums and fashion shows. In episode one a photographer named Terashima Natsuhiko spots Momoko transforming into her alien smacking alter ego. He promises to keep Momoko’s identity a secret. Not sure why. It’s not like the transparent visor Momo wears is at all effective at masking her features!

The villains that Momo battles look like mimes, whose pale heads have been replaced with red faces (resembling the YouTube image you sometimes get when attempting to view a removed video.) Said enemies are more useless than a Koopa Trooper or Dynasty Warriors soldier, which is just as well given that Momo is a terrible hero. Often she has to be rescued by her own mother or a blonde rival named Matsuo Akiho. I guess you can’t expect much from someone who uses a hula-hoop as a weapon. There’s not much damage that one can do with a plastic ring after all… although I am sure the destroyed antiques owned by parents who have overzealous children would dispute otherwise. Kids like to wreck expensive things almost as much as cats enjoy assaulting Christmas trees.

VERDICT

My rating for Wonder Momo is one star. Usually I am more generous than your average reviewer when it comes to scores. Distract me with some eye candy or jokes and I am likely to award your show a three out of five at least. Wonder Momo however isn’t funny, just stupid. The writing is poor and it’s clear that little effort was put into the production, as evidenced by the times the studio recycles transformation sequences and fight footage. Adding salt to the wound is the last episode, which ends on a cliffhanger. Momo and chums teleport into the alien mother ship via a portal, confront a bunch of guards and it just ends there. The series aired way back in 2014 so the chances of a sequel ever coming out, to finish the unresolved story, are pretty much zero.

On the plus side Wonder Momo is mercifully short. The series is only five episodes long and each instalment only lasts for seven minutes. Even less if you subtract the opening and ending credits. Although I appreciate that it’s tough to tell a good story with such a concise running time that’s no excuse for Wonder Momo being so weak. Bikini Warriors along with The Comic Artist & His Assistants both managed to entertain me with quick skits, so why couldn’t Wonder Momo do the same? Given how rich anime is in humorous super hero franchises there’s no reason to check out Wonder Momo. One Punch Man, Tiger & Bunny, My Hero Academia and even the first half of Samurai Flamenco are superior to this anime. Wonder Moo Moo is complete and udder rubbish.

Review of ReLIFE

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Would you return to school if given the opportunity? That’s a tough question to answer, as there are numerous pros and cons to consider. My time at comprehensive was plagued with inept teachers and bullies, so I don’t have fond memories of the place. The cushier school hours easily trump my present day nine to six job though. Now that I am older and wiser, I would like to believe that I would fare better if given another chance at education. In ReLIFE, a thirteen-episode anime based on Yayoiso’s manga, twenty-seven year old NEET Arata Kaizaki accepts the challenge of spending one (all expenses paid) year in high school. Blending in with the student body won’t be a problem, as he has been asked to trial a miracle drug that transforms its users into teenagers.

OVERVIEW

Arata didn’t have much to lose when a mysterious lab asked him to test their youth restoring pills. It was either that or work retail (shudder) as a part time convenience store clerk. Arata’s first job, a stressful marketing gig, ended with him quitting after three short months and since then he has been unsuccessful in getting hired elsewhere. He’s so ashamed with his employment status that he even pretends to still work at his old office, whenever his drinking buddies invite him out for a few brews.

Tales of adults masquerading as kids are commonplace in fiction. ReLIFE handles the premise better than other shows though. Even if you strip away the anime’s sci-fi elements, it still holds up as a humorous high school romp that has a likable cast. Thankfully the series is devoid of sleaze, so you won’t see old man Arata inappropriately cavorting with girls. ReLIFE also isn’t one of those insufferable stories were an adult returns to school and becomes the most popular kid in class. Quite the opposite in fact! Despite looking young on the outside, Arata has the stamina of someone pushing thirty – so he sucks at sports. Academically he is also a failure, leading him to flunk all his exams. That’s actually realistic. If I returned to school now I too would struggle with subjects like math and science.

VERDICT

My rating for ReLIFE is three stars. Although technically a drama, the series consistently put a smile on my face thanks to its funny scenes and feel good moments. Arata may struggle with grades, but when it comes to enriching the lives of others he easily scores top marks. You might be wondering why such an outstanding guy cannot find work. Well, the reason is explained in one of the later episodes. It’s tied to a dark event that occurred in his first job. Despite enjoying the series, I wish the storylines were spread out more evenly. ReLIFE is only a single cour long and for some reason ends up dedicating most of its story arcs to a redhead named Kariu Rena, who is only an auxiliary character.

Best girl without a doubt is class representative Chizuru Hishiro. She is one smart cookie, but hasn’t got a clue when it comes to socialising. Chizuru reminds me of Sawako (Kimi ni Todoke) because they both possess awkward smiles that creep people out. There’s some romantic chemistry between Arata and Chizuru, although the former is reluctant to pursue a relationship due to their age gap. I am curious to see what will happen next between the pair; especially given the bombshell that the show ends on. Thankfully more animated ReLIFE is due out in 2018. Crunchyroll also hosts the source material, so fans can follow Arata’s future exploits that way too. Good to know that the story of the youth restoring tablet won’t end on a cliffhanger… that would be a tough “pill” to swallow.