Persona 5

Reviews
Persona 5 - Title Screen
PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3
09/15/2016 (Japan), 02/14/2017 (US and PAL)
ペルソナ5
An eight to ten year gap between mainline games in the Shin Megami Tensei family (Persona included) is not unusual. Persona 4 was a PlayStation 2 title released in 2008, basically two years into the life of the PlayStation 3. This odd release decision didn't stop P4 from successfully continuing the Persona legacy of being a cult RPG favorite in the west, that the series had really maintained since 3. Persona 5 was almost released in the same way: It was announced for release on the PlayStation 3 in 2014 (the same year that the PlayStation 4 launched in Japan), but the following year saw the platform changed to both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. We'll never know how things would have gone for P5 if it had remained only on the PS3, in an era where it's becoming an increasingly ridiculous idea for your average gamer to keep anything older than the current generation of console hardware hooked to their TV. Continue Reading

Double Dragon

Reviews
Double Dragon (Famicom) - Title Screen
Famicom/NES
04/08/1988 (Japan), 06/1988 (US), 1990 (PAL)
双截龍 (ダブルドラゴン)
Almost a year after the original arcade hit, Double Dragon was brought home to the Famicom. This is the first of the handful of home ports that Japan would see of this game, and the NES version is probably among the first to be seen throughout the rest of the world (the microcomputer versions don't have exact dates associated with them, other than just 1988). The Famicom port probably didn't deliver the experience that big fans of the arcade version wanted, but it succeeded on its own merits. Continue Reading

Nioh Beta Surprises

Blog
After missing out completely on the alpha demo, I decided to give the beta demo of Nioh (Team Ninja's divisive Dark Souls-like title) a try before it expired. I was very into the aesthetics and general idea of the game (I'm interested in this period of Japanese history) from the time I first saw footage of it, but I was a bit dubious as whether or not the game would actually feel good. Souls-likes in general don't have a very good reputation for feeling very good, and the Nioh alpha produced some very mixed feedback. I fully expected to pick it up for a little while and then put it down after spending enough time with it to figure out I just didn't like the way it felt. Well it turns out that I was wrong, because I played it all weekend! Admittedly I'd been feeling hungry for a new Dark Souls experience (I need to get to playing Dark Souls 2 and 3, but won't have time for them for awhile due to a few big games I've been wanting to play coming out soon), and while it took care of that it also did some very different and interesting things. Be warned though: If you found Dark Souls too obtuse or frustrating, you'll probably think the same thing about Nioh. The atmosphere may be different, but ultimately you get satisfaction the same you do in Dark Souls: By overcoming what seems to be a very high level of difficulty through actually getting better at the game and a little perseverance. Continue Reading

Vanquish

Reviews
PlayStation 3, XBox 360
10/21/2010 (Japan), 10/19/2010 (US), 10/22/2010 (PAL)
ヴァンキッシュ
Both PlatinumGames and Shinji Mikami had a lot of eyes on them in 2010. Platinum was still a young studio with only three releases to their name, and were already showing a trend of developing games that were critical darlings but commercial failures. Famed Director Shinji Mikami (primarily of Resident Evil fame) had been out of the spotlight for awhile, the last game he directed being the 2006 PlayStation 2 beat-em-up God Hand with Capcom funded Clover Studios (whose staff largely became PlatinumGames after they were shut down). He had left Capcom completely after that, announcing that he was opening his own small studio called Straight Story. This studio would prove to be nothing more than one established to work with Platinum (as a contract employee) on a single game though, that game being Vanquish. There were many who were very curious as to how Platinum's next title, and Mikami's first non-Capcom affiliated title, would turn out. Continue Reading

Drag-On Dragoon

Reviews
PlayStation 2
09/11/2003 (Japan), 03/02/2004 (US), 04/21/2004 (PAL)
ドラッグオンドラグーン
Drakengard
A few months into the merger between Square and Enix, Square had not yet begun to fall out of the good graces of many of its loyal fans. While they weren't the highly experimental Square of the 1990s, their catalog hardly consisted only of releases from flagship series Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Traditional JRPGs still reigned, but Square Enix had some notable action RPGs in their back catalog: Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, and the Seiken Densetsu/Mana series (of which a remake of the first entry in the franchise had just released on the Game Boy Advance). 2003 would also see a new series added to that list: Drag-On Dragoon/Drakengard. Drag-On Dragoon was developed by the Tokyo-based (and now disbanded) Cavia. They were a very young studio, and while this was not Cavia's first RPG (that honor belonged to a One Piece licensed game on the Game Boy Advance, "nanatsu shima no daihihou"), it was their first action game of any kind. So why would Square Enix publish a new action RPG property when they had plenty of other franchises they could pull from? This was meant from the start to be a dark RPG, unlike most of Square Enix's other properties. The story was written by Yoko Taro (who was also the game's director) and Natori Sawako, and is easily the highlight here despite being presented in a fairly bland manner for large chunks of time. The game's Japanese slogan was "抗え、最後まで" or "Resist until the very end". Continue Reading