September 24, 2010

Delicious Culture Candy, or Unlosing Ranger – The First Ten Minutes

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 4:06 pm

Z.H.P. : Unlosing Ranger vs. DarkDeath Evilman
Housewives and children set aside their chores and Government’s watch with bated breath as the battle to determine the fate of the world is broadcast live on television. But for all the fanfare, the fated showdown between Demon General Darkdeath Evilman and the invincible Unlosing Ranger is so one-sided, with the Unlosing Ranger being invincible after all, that many simply carry on with their day, even if it includes running over said Ranger on his way to the fight.

NIS has crammed so many bits of cult love into the first ten minutes of Z.H.P. that, perhaps for the first time ever, I laughed like a lunatic at the play of it all before any actual game even begins. The game finds the means to scream at you before you even press start, warning players that there will only be one fight, but that it will be an epic and long one. From there it grabs at super hero tropes and Power Ranger oddities, 80’s apocalypse anime doom, and quick editing that offers cameo appearances from completely random characters, simply because it can.

This is NIS off their medication, with another PSP game with a very strange name (Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman) – though this time it isn’t just a case of being crazy for the sake of it, though that is ever present. There’s fertile ground for the character customization to feed naturally through the parody and knit a sweater of awesome out of the cultural threads on hand.

That the game offers customization options for the “me! me! me!” swarm I often catch myself belonging to, helps invite me into an strategy game with a wealth of customization options – without hammering me over the head at the outset, or in simpler terms, not being nearly so stuffy about it as the genre generally is.

Who doesn’t want to play a hand at customizing the ultimate hero?

As for the game that unfolds beyond the first ten minutes, stay tuned. Or if for some reason you’ve no idea what game I’m talking about, catch up with the trailer after the break.


April 22, 2010

Review – Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:05 pm

Sakura Wars
Within an alternate and slightly steampunk infused depiction of 1920’s New York City, the Little Lips Theater serves as a cover for an elite force of agents known as the STAR Division, who use mech suits to battle evil while also performing in musical dramas to raise the spirits of the city they defend – rounded out with a Samurai and a Cowgirl searching to find their place within the city and that group of heroes.

I’ve really come to savor telling people about this game over the past few weeks, because they can’t help but laugh and scratch their head over how a structured game would even begin to make unifying sense of those ideas with any degree of success. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is a game exploding with ideas, a late to the party visitor from Japan that has curiously shown up on North American shores exactly when titles of this kind are needed most – hard pressed as we’ve been for new releases that don’t wear their glib intention entirely in the straight-to-the-point box title making them 90% marketing, 9% entertainment, and 1% any of the fanciful things we’d like to say about the medium’s artful possibilities, were we not generally sick of kicking that dead horse.

Sakura Wars opts for putting the horse in an apartment, and brings an energy that succeeds in blazing a path free of any genre binding obligations or easy explanations – great for gamers, bad for indexing.

And in a rare twist Sakura Wars isn’t one of those games where I laud the ideas and forgive the actual playing of the game. I don’t need to make any excuses for a game that’s every bit as fun to play as it is to talk about, I just have to try and clear up what the hell is going on when playing it.


March 8, 2010

Review – The Challenges of the Edy Detachment

Valkyria Chronicles
The legend of Valkyria Chronicles’ sometimes crushing difficulty is a subject I’m well familiar with, but I was still surprised to take on the Shocktrooper challenge and find myself facing what seemed like the entire Imperial Army, gunning down poor Rosie before I knew what was happening.

When I first heard that this latest DLC would offer challenges from each soldier class within the game, I suppose I imagined it as a potential sampler for players who still haven’t caved to the peer pressure of the Valkyria faithful. For some reason this made me think that the game might go a bit easier on players, but rest assured that these six missions are every bit grueling enough to merit the word challenge.


January 15, 2010

Catching Up With Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 7:13 pm

Disgaea 2 - Dark Hero Days
Many moons ago, or last September, Disgaea 2 made the move over to the PSP, at which time I had every intention of reviewing the game. I remember being in a state I’ll call endless rush review mode, which I wouldn’t recommend not only because it stretches the limits of one’s sanity, but also because it opens a dark dimension where every game can be condensed into a few paragraphs of cohesion and then be done with – not a fun place to be for the writer, the reader, and more importantly for the gamer.

As it turns out that review never came together anyway, mostly because trying to take it all in and sum the experience up with some clever lines made me cry. And though that sounds like a bad thing, it really has been good for me and my relationship with the game.


December 14, 2009

Review – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 8:40 am

Clash of Heroes

Despite the low profile release, and a name only someone with a shirt reading Dungeon Master could love, Capybara’s DS entry into the strategy genre stuffs more game up my stocking than I’d anticipated this season.

Sitting alongside recognizable brands on the store shelf, you’d be forgiven for going a tad cross-eyed reading the title Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. The game is filled with the knights, elves, talking trees and evil hell spawn the title brings to mind. And while I don’t intend to undermine the effort but probably will anyway, such elements are just window dressing for a game more focused on proving Capybara an undisputed leader in creating addictive gaming experiences.

It’s not like I’d accuse Capy of having a shtick or suggest that the game repeats an established formula. But there’s definitely an emerging sense of familiar sensations attached to their work, and fortunately for us this is a good thing.


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