May Thine Strength Help The World Be Mended

 

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Xevious 3D/G+ (PS) – The definitive collection for Xevious fans! Includes arcade versions of the original Xevious, Super Xevious, Xevious Arrangement, and Xevious 3D/G.

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (DS) – One of the very last worthwhile games for the Nintendo DS. This game is indeed my final intended purchase for the system as I have everything else I wanted already.

Crysis (PS3) – Crysis has finally come to consoles and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone was raving about four years ago. Digital Download

デモンズソウル
Demon’s Souls (PS3)
+ amazing atmosphere and sense of place
+ excellent art direction and enemy design
+ demanding and unforgiving challenge very rarely feels unfair
+ exhilarating sense of accomplishment is second to none
+ tons of customization to build your character any way you want be it appearance, stats, weapons, armor, spells
+ multiplayer integration is unique and creative
– game doesn’t explain much of anything to you
– practically requires you use the Demon’s Souls Wiki to know about and how to do many things

No one is more surprised by my love for this game more than me. I bought a copy in December of 2010 with the intention to play it some time in the future, but it wasn’t on my must play right away list. I was intrigued by the reception it received after its release, but with the reputation it garnered I didn’t think it would be for me and, wow, was I wrong! I’ve realized that the focus by most people on its difficulty misleads people into thinking that’s all the game is about: being a brutally hard game for the sake of it. I can say without a doubt that that was not the intention of From Software, not only because Hidetaka Miyazaki said so in an interview with Game Informer, but because Demon’s Souls feels like a very deliberately designed gaming experience in every aspect. You have to think and play smart because you can die easily if you start getting sloppy. Never let your guard down and never think you are ever above what you are up against or the game will smack you back down to earth. Demon’s Souls doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator, it expects you to bring your ‘A’ game and I love it for that! You can definitely expect Demon’s Souls to be a big contender in my Game of the Year awards later this year.

RATING: 6 out of 6 / 9.5 out of 10

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September Pickups & Review Quickies Vol. 6

Downloadable Games
G.G Series: Ninja Karakuri Den (DSi)
Cave Story (DSi)
Legend of Zelda: Four Swords – Anniversary Edition (DSi)

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Spikeout: Battle Street (XB) – A beat-’em-up by some of the Yakuza team at Sega released slightly before the first Yakuza was released in Japan. Looks decent and got largely mediocre reviews at the time.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP) – I was able to get this for $20 recently, probably because it was released on PS3 in that Origins Collection earlier in the month. I’m fine with playing it on PSP because I think the controls are good, if not better, than on consoles.

Samurai Shodown Anthology (PSP) – Tried this out to see if it wasn’t the abomination the King of Fighters PSP collection release was. Turns out it performs much better!

Umihara Kawase Shun: Second Edition Kanzenban (DS) – Unique platformer that originated on the Super Famicom. Play-Asia had a sale on it recently so I had to snatch it up. I originally wanted the PSP version, but that one wasn’t a perfect port, but this one apparently is.

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One of my friends decided to unload his remaining PS/PS2 games in order to make room for a PS3 and these are the ones of the twenty I acquired that I decided to keep.

Final Fantasy Origins (PS)
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (PS)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Burnout 3: Takedown (PS2)
Soul Reaver 2 (PS2)
Killzone (PS2)
Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Final Fantasy XII (PS2)


Ryuuko no Ken 2 (SNES) [aka. Art of Fighting 2]
+ responsive controls
+ multiple difficulty levels make the game accessible unlike the Neo Geo original
– music is forgettable
– based on a game that’s not particularly good to begin with

I gave this game a decent score because it’s a good port of an OK fighting game to the Super Nintendo. While the first Art of Fighting came to SNES in the west, this one surprisingly didn’t. Perhaps that is because the company responsible for this port wasn’t the same as for the first game. Better than I expected, but definitely a non-essential for the system.

RATING: 4 out of 6 / 7.0 out of 10

G.G Series: Ninja Karakuri Den (DSi)
+ 61 stages in total
– over before you know it

This is an excellent fun little diversion that can easily be finished by anyone, but the thing that’ll keep you coming back is trying to best your score and the farthest you’ve gotten in a single credit.

RATING: 4 out of 6 / 7.0 out of 10

Time Crisis (PS)
+ precise, fun light gun gameplay
+ great sound effects
+ enjoyably cheesy voice acting
– could’ve used some variety in weapons
– can be quite difficult at times with the limited credits you have

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 8.0 out of 10

Yakuza 4 (PS3)
+ four different characters to play as [Akiyama, Saejima, Tanimura, Kiryu]
+ additional rooftop and underground areas added to Kamurocho
+ narrative is as crazy and over-the-top as ever [Yakuza 3’s not so much]
+ brawling is still viscerally satisfying
+ content is fully intact just like in Yakuza 1 & 2 [Yakuza 3’s on the other hand… :(]
– inexplicable transition from fully voiced and animated cutscenes to non-voiced text boxes and back is still a part of the series
– breaking up the game between four characters doesn’t give you much time with any of them
– noticeably easier than the previous games in the series

Overall, I feel Yakuza 4 is the best in the series by a small margin over Yakuza 2. This is mainly because of many small improvements to how the game plays which were first introduced in Yakuza 3. These are things such as: full camera control with few exceptions, improved quick time events, introduction of Revelations, and incremental improvements with the combat system, among others. I would recommend this series to anyone interested, but starting with this one will leave you out of the loop with getting to know the characters throughout their previous adventures. Sure, the games all have recaps of the overall events of the previous games, but your relationship with them and with the recurring location of Kamurocho won’t be there which I would argue is a big draw. Even if you don’t want to invest the time with the previous games, I’d still say this is a worthy play through.

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 8.5 out of 10

海腹川背