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 Sonic Forces

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Eggman has “hatched” a diabolical new plan to take over the world, and for once his scheme has succeeded. Aided by a reality-warping ally named Infinite the genius, formerly known as Robotnik, has captured Sonic and conquered the globe. Players must now liberate the Blue Blur by designing their own anthropomorphic hero or heroine. I chose to fashion a bunny girl avatar. Sadly my creation resembled an adult Cream the Rabbit (from the Gameboy Advance trilogy) rather than a Playboy waitress. If you want eye candy in Sonic Forces you’ll have to make do with ogling the batgirl’s cleavage.

OVERVIEW

After completing the game (I defeated Eggman last Fry-Day) I am now in a position to jot down my opinions on Sonic’s latest adventure. For the most part Forces feels a lot like Generations. The levels feature third person stages where you control modern Sonic and a smattering of 2D missions featuring the classic Sonic, who has a spin dash instead of a homing attack. New to Forces are sections where players control their custom made character. Known simply as “the rookie” the player created toon comes equipped with a grappling hook and a projectile weapon. The rookie begins the story with only a flamethrower, but as the plot progresses they gain access to other cool armaments.

When I destroyed Egg-man’s final robot I was “shell” shocked to discover that Sonic Forces had only taken me five hours to complete. I should have known there was a catch, when the game’s retail price was revealed to be cheaper than your average triple A title. Although the campaign is made up of thirty levels, most of the stages can be cleared within a couple of minutes. The missions are short and not especially tough, as the enemies guarding them are ineffective. Most of my deaths were actually caused by me recklessly running off ledges, akin to a hyperactive lemming. Thankfully due to regular checkpoints and infinite lives I was never overly punished for my recklessness.

VERDICT

My rating for Sonic Forces is three stars. I think the game will appeal most to younger Sonic fans, as it isn’t too difficult. The story is also wholesome and kid friendly. Sonic veterans may be less impressed with Forces though. They may argue that this latest Eggman outing isn’t all it’s “cracked” up to be. With Sonic Mania still fresh in everyone’s mind, I couldn’t help but notice that the way Sonic moves/jumps doesn’t feel quite right. His leaps lack height and momentum. On the plus side I liked how the cut scenes feature many familiar faces from the Sonic universe. Best of all, Knuckles looks like his normal self again. Sega have seemingly abandoned his much-derided Sonic Boom makeover.

Overall I think Sonic Forces is a decent game. Not the best, but by no means the worst title Sonic Team has released. The graphics are flashy and aren’t plagued with the camera issues of past 3D titles. I liked the soundtrack too, even if the cheesy rock tunes don’t match the level of Crush 40’s Sonic Adventure efforts. The game is a tad short, but given that I have only unlocked a tiny percentage of the trophies on offer there is plenty of incentive to replay Forces multiple times. Okay, that’s it for this review. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the egg puns. If you didn’t, lighten up and learn how to appreciate a good yolk… um joke.

Review of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

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Play Asia recently gifted me a discount voucher, which I opted to spend on Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 – a game that Koei Tecmo refused to release in the West. In this politically correct climate they must have been concerned that the game would attract bad PR from the social justice brigade. That logic I fail to understand, given that the raunchier Senran Kagura titles get localized over here without much fanfare. Presumably the sight of ladies relaxing at the beach is offensive, but they have no qualms about players assaulting women in the mainline DOA fighting games. Forget about Middle East travel bans. To protect society from the ills of bikinis we should bar all flights to the Costa del Sol and Hawaii!

OVERVIEW

In this Dead or Alive spin-off players pick their favourite female, from Team Ninja’s fighting game franchise, and help her have a fun fortnight at a tropical resort. To raise your waifu’s satisfaction level you can buy her trinkets or participate in various mini-games. Out of the six activities on offer, beach volleyball is by far the most challenging. If you prefer a more casual way of accruing experience points and cash I recommend giving rock climbing a bash. To conquer the cliff face all you need do is clear a few quick time events. Just be sure to keep your eyes on the button prompts and not the babe in a swimsuit that is recklessly ascending the wall, without a safety rope or shoes.

Those of you who prefer competitive pursuits can try Butt Battle instead, which is pretty much a poor man’s Keijo. Alternatively you can race in the Beach Flag event. Pound the X button to run faster, akin to the NES days of Track N Field, and pray that your controller doesn’t break in the process. Another mini-game of note is Tug of War, where you pull on a rope until your opponent is dragged off their platform and into the pool. The victor is rewarded with cash and the loser screams in agony as their eyes get scorched with chlorine. Out of all the games on offer Pool Hopping is my favourite. The aim is to traverse the body of water by bouncing off foam blocks. Bonus points are awarded if you press the face button that matches the colour of the block you are stepping on.

VERDICT

My rating for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus is three stars. If you desire a fun mini-game collection, which is rich in eye candy, this title is worth an import. Don’t worry about the language barrier, because the Asian version comes complete with English subtitles. Xtreme 3 boasts an impressive number of collectables (mostly bathing attire) and gorgeous visuals. Even on the humble Vita the character models are beautiful. I’m sure that the PlayStation 4 version looks even prettier, but I don’t regret my purchase. Sacrificing graphical fidelity for portability is worth it. I can now play DOA on the commute to work… and get weird looks from the strangers sitting next to me on the bus.

Be aware that Xtreme 3 carries an eighteen-age rating, as it features some casino games. The roulette sucks, as the wheel takes ages to spin, but the Blackjack and Poker are enjoyable. If gambling is your thing Xtreme 3 is more affordable than blowing your life savings at 888.com. Overall I give Xtreme 3 a thumbs up. More mini-games would have been nice though, as playing the same six events continuously gets stale after a while. A larger lineup of characters would have enhanced the game too. Koei could have padded out the roster with some of the DOA guys. Both genders would then have something to drool over and critics wouldn’t be able to brand the game sexist. Oh well, it’s probably best to keep things female exclusive. No one wants to see Ryu Hayabusa in a thong after all.

Review of Cat Quest

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Once again I played a video game were the objective is to save a damsel in distress. Thankfully what Cat Quest lacks in originality it makes up for in funny feline puns and awesome gameplay. Developed by Singapore outfit Gentlebros, Cat Quest is another example of a title making the successful leap from mobile devices to console. Players assume the role of a silent paw-tagonist who travels across an isle, inhabited by humanoid kitties, in search of his abducted sister. Over the course of this eight-hour adventure our hero will have to vanquish an evil knight named Drakoth and a trio of dragons who are terrorizing the land.

OVERVIEW

Drakoth has kidnapped an innocent girl. What a cat-astrophe! Oh well, fear not because the captured maiden has a sibling who won’t rest until his sis is saved. Playing through Cat Quest reminded me of classic Zelda. There aren’t any puzzles to test your brainpower, as a handy marker tells you exactly what to do, but the combat is pure 2D hack n slash. Another similarity the two titles share is that the game features a mute playable character, who is accompanied by a diminutive flying sidekick. Thankfully the fairy in Cat Quest is less annoying than Navi, although you may think otherwise if you dislike characters that spew out puns.

The combat in Cat Quest is fun, but far from purr-fect. Due to a lack of depth the battles get repetitive after a while, so I would recommend playing the game in short bursts. In most cases you’ll deal with foes by evading their initial attack, with a well-timed roll, which you can then follow up with a barrage of sword swipes. A handy red radius indicates exactly where and when an enemy is going to strike. Complimenting the physical damage you inflict are magic spells that can restore health, boost strength and burn anyone in the vicinity. Sorcery costs mana to activate, which you can easily replenish by landing melee hits.

VERDICT

My rating for Cat Quest is a three out of five. The game missed out on four stars by a “whisker.” Although the humour and cute graphics are nice I can’t award it a higher score due to the lack of variety. Both the main campaign and optional missions, which you procure from village bulletin boards, are nothing more than glorified fetch quests. Cat Quest also suffers from a lack of challenge. The hit and run strategy I outlined above works on everyone, be they lowly rodents or mighty bosses. Should you mess up and die it’s no big deal either. The only penalty for death is that you re-spawn at a nearby town.

On the plus side I liked how the loot you procure, from adventuring, can be used to customize the main character. Every piece of gear has its own modifiers that influence health, damage and defence. The way you go about purchasing new equipment feels like opening a loot box. Gold you earn can be spent at the smithy to open chests, which award random gear. Obtaining a duplicate is no biggie, because if you pick up a repeat said weapon/accessory will level up in power. Sweet! Okay, that’s enough typing for today. Thank you for reading the review. Until next time, I am meowt of here!

Review of Chaos;Child

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The award for Most Grammatically Challenged visual novel franchise must go to the Science Adventure series. What’s the deal with developer 5pb inappropriately inserting semi colons into all of their game titles? If you aren’t familiar with the company’s library of work, I am sure you at least recognize some of their anime adaptations – the most famous being time travel yarn Steins;Gate. Chaos;Child is the sequel to the lesser-known Chaos;Head. Thankfully you don’t need to be familiar with its predecessor to enjoy Chaos;Child. Probably for the best, as the original visual novel never came out in the west and the animated series based off said VN wasn’t all that great.

OVERVIEW

If you decide to purchase Chaos;Child, either on the PS4 or PlayStation Vita, I would not recommend eating a snack whilst reading it. The game features some grisly murders, starting off with the very first chapter. Chaos;Child’s opener shows how an online soothsayer comes to a premature end, during a live stream, when he decides to chow down on one of his arms. For some unknown reason the celebrity predictor had mistaken his appendage for a slice of cheese. The death is the handiwork of a serial killer who is copycatting the New Generation Madness – a series of murders, made to look like bizarre suicides, which occurred six years prior.

Players take the role of Takuru Miyashiro, a Shibuya student who leads his high school’s newspaper club. Takuru has taken it upon himself to investigate the above-mentioned killings, despite the disapproval of student council president Nono Kurusu. Nono is actually Takuru’s stepsister, but the two no longer cohabitate due to a falling out. A while back Takuru left home and moved into an RV, where he spends his days drinking Mountain Dew and reading magazines that a local hobo delivers to him. Helping out Takuru with the mystery are childhood friend Serika Onoe, club mate Shinji Ito and a twin tailed girl named Hinae Arimura (who is very perceptive at detecting lies.)

VERDICT

My rating for Chaos;Child is four stars. One of the better visual novels available on Sony’s handheld – marred only by a noticeable number of typographical errors that publisher PQube could have eradicated with a quick spellcheck. The game is great value, as it is effectively six stories in one. Which ending you unlock is determined during certain scenes, where the player has to elect whether Takuru should experience a positive or negative delusion. The hallucinations in question are humorous and help offset what is otherwise a grim tale that usually concludes on a bittersweet note. Out of all the finales, the least depressing one was the route that pairs Takuru with MMO junkie Hana Kazuki. She is a quiet girl who survives on a diet exclusively made up of squid and lollipops.

Compared to other visual novels on the market, Chaos;Child has some pretty impressive production values. Spicing up the standard text and still pictures are Japanese voice acting, some minimal animation and a few particle effects. Those little touches really help enhance an excellent script that is rich in quirky characters, supernatural elements and unexpected twists. Okay, that’s it for this review. Time to edit the draft before I post it online. Thank goodness that my articles are concise because I expect the proofreading will take a while. I wonder how many times this document is going to cause Microsoft Word’s grammar checker to pause, due to all those blasted semi colons!

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Review

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The original Danganronpa trilogy concluded not too long ago, courtesy of an anime double bill. With the Hope’s Peak saga wrapped up, a new game has emerged and this time round it has been released both on PS4 and Vita simultaneously. I opted to purchase the game on Vita, as I find reading text heavy titles more comfortable on a handheld. That and I am also a cheapskate, so the Vita edition’s lower asking price helped to tip the scales in its favour. Like in past Danganronpas, Killing Harmony stars a group of sixteen talented youths who have been kidnapped and had their short-term memories erased. Trapped inside an Academy, they are forced to participate in a murder game. Is this latest release from Spike Chunsoft to die for? Read on and find out.

OVERVIEW

Escape from The Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles is only possible by committing homicide and not getting caught. When an assassination occurs players must investigate the crime scene and determine whom the culprit is, in the subsequent class trial. Deduce the killer’s identity correctly and you progress to the next chapter. Guess wrong and the evildoer is liberated, condemning you to a Game Over. The judge of the court cases is a mechanical teddy named Monokuma. He’s a beary bloodthirsty character. On this occasion, Monokuma is assisted by a quintet of offspring named the Monokubs, who are modelled off past Danganronpa characters. For the most part Killing Harmony plays like its predecessors. Scouring the environment for clues has been enhanced though, thanks to a new feature that allows budding sleuths to move onscreen objects.

What makes the Danganronpa games such a joy to play are its quirky cast of characters. Their humorous interactions are funny, which helps endear the sixteen hostages to players – making the moments when a victim perishes all the more poignant. Some of the students that feature in V3 include an accomplished maid, a bashful magician who insists that her tricks are genuine magic, a martial artist who detests men, a cosplayer who often quotes anime, a kinky inventor, a muscle-bound gentleman who is fond of insects, a spikey haired android and a compulsive liar (who tells more fibs than Hilary Clinton). My favourite character is astronaut Kaito Momota. In the first chapter Kaito comes across as a buffoon, but as the story progresses he proves to be a true bro.

VERDICT

My rating for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a five out of five. The game was a blast to play from start to finish, with the narrative’s only blemish being that the final trial drags on for a bit longer than I would have liked. Speaking of finales, I suspect that the twist at the end will prove to be divisive. I personally thought that said reveal was cool, but some fans are likely to disagree as it makes the events of past games feel inconsequential. For readers who may be wondering how the Vita version performs – I experienced no crashes and for the most part things ran smoothly. I did however encounter a brief glitch that caused the background music to cease playing whenever someone spoke. Thankfully the bug remedied itself after a minute or two.

I highly recommend Danganronpa V3, especially to gamers who are fond of Phoenix Wright. Just like Capcom’s lawyer series, Danganronpa is packed with zany mysteries that will test your deductive skills. The trials feel more kinetic than Phoenix Wright, as they are peppered with mini-games that include block smashing and driving sequences where you cruise across the highway collecting letters. In terms of content, the story clocks in at a respectable forty hours. Once the end credits roll some bonus content unlocks too. Right now I am playing the RPG mode, which involves fighting through dungeons with a party that you level up via a Danganronpa themed board game. Murder and board games? Sounds like Cluedo, only with fewer candlesticks and more robotic ursine.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash Review

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Game of Thrones was correct. Winter is coming. Yesterday’s commute to work necessitated the use of a brolly, as precipitation poured down upon my noggin. Sigh, how I miss the warmer climes of July and August. Thankfully, regardless of the current weather, I can still enjoy the spectacle of bikini-clad babes thanks to the release of Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. Marvelous and Tamsoft have once again treated us to a game starring their well-endowed female ninjas. This time however the teenage shinobi have traded their shurikens and swords for super soakers, as they compete in the titular water gun tournament.

OVERVIEW

It’s funny to see that the Peach Beach Splash competition is being streamed on a fictional site named New Tube. Somehow I doubt that the real life YouTube would support videos featuring half naked girls who cuss a lot. YouTube are currently waging a virtuous crusade against controversial content, which has seen many talented creators get whacked with the demonetization bat. Apparently this all started because a certain annoying Swede decided to go full Nazi, resulting in an advertiser boycott. Oh well, who cares. Let’s return to the more pressing matter of swimsuits and bouncy gals.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash’s single player content includes a five-part story mode, some bonus missions and various tournaments. There’s multiplayer fun to be had too, courtesy of ranked competitive matches and a co-op survival mode. Unfortunately I have yet to dabble with the online features because I can never seem to find any other players to group with. Perhaps splitting the niche community across regional servers is to blame… or maybe everyone sticks to single player, as revealing to the world that you like this game is embarrassing. A fondness for midget porn is easier to justify than a passion for Senran Kagura.

To be honest it’s a shame that the salacious content will put off some people, because the game is a fun third person shooter brimming with tongue in cheek humour. Many of the levels pit you against hordes of weak enemies, robots and fellow ninjas. Sometimes, to spice things up, you’ll also be expected to use your liquid spewing arsenal to extinguish flames within a lenient time limit. Missing from this edition of Senran Kagura is the series’ trademark destructible clothing. There aren’t any garments to damage as the cast is barely wearing anything to begin with! On the plus side it’s possible to make downed opponents part with their raunchy two-piece, by squirting them with a rubber ducky. Quack.

VERDICT

My rating for Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is a four out of five. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to learn that the series’ temporary transition from brawler to shooter has turned out well. My only complaint with the game is that the main campaign can be cleared in a few quick hours, as the levels are shorter than the star of a midget porno (wow two hobbit adult-movie references in one review.) On the plus side Peach Beach Splash gives you plenty of reasons to continue playing once the story is finished. There are tons of unlockables to earn in the form of artwork, music and cosmetic items. Replaying levels also awards card packs, which contain new abilities/guns for your characters, pets that can be summoned in battle and stat upgrades.

Peach Beach Splash’s mix of action, comedy and eye candy will serve me well for the upcoming nippy period. Why bother venture outdoors and get drenched when you can stay inside and watch the virtual beauties get soaked instead?