Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the original Tales of Symphonia game. As I recently beat the first one I knew it was time to jump right into the sequel. It’s definitely a very worthy successor. Is it as good as the first one? Well….it’s a tricky one. I do appreciate that we no longer have to worry about big dungeons and there are a lot more cinematics here. On the other hand, the original game had the better story if you ask me. So overall I would say that the original wins but it’s very close and that’s definitely impressive considering how good the first one.

It’s been a few years since the original game’s events concluded. The heroes succeeded in merging the two worlds together but this didn’t result in the perfect utopia that they expected. Instead of war about to break out between the half elves and humans, now there are big battles between the inhabitants of both worlds. The Church of Martel seems to have become more radical as well. The game starts with Lloyd appearing and murdering everyone in the city of Palmacosta. Emil barely manages to escape and saves a girl named Marta as well. We then skip forward a few years. Emil doesn’t remember these events and has had a pretty tough time of it. Nobody likes him as they believe him to be a bad luck charm. One day he meets up with Marta again who is being chased by a bunch of villains. She asks him if he will serve her as a Knight of Ratatosk and since he has nothing to lose, Emil agrees to this and gains a lot of power.

Marta explains her mission. She has to find all of the Centurion Cores and awaken them. This will restore Lord Ratatosk who will bring peace to this chaotic world. There are a lot of questions here to be honest but Emil doesn’t care. He’s finally found someone who needs him and so he has a purpose at long last. Emil agrees to help but he also wants revenge against Lloyd along the way. Emil doesn’t understand why people seem to love Lloyd so much despite the guy being a mass murderer. Most people don’t even believe Emil. Then you’ve also got the Vanguard which is an army of extremists who are trying to murder everyone and Emil’s mentor of sorts named Richter is a part of their group. The heroes will definitely need to take some sides here.

There’s a lot of story going on here and that’s why it’s always interesting writing reviews for an RPG. It’s a lot different from my standard game reviews where the plot doesn’t have to be mentioned much. Even from what I’ve written below, there’s just so much more to get into. Of course, it’s a story that is constantly evolving as you go through the chapters so you don’t want to get into it too deeply either. Needless to say there is a very large cast of characters here along with a ton of plot twists. You’ll need to play through the game in its entirety to really get the payoff here. I’ll still give a few thoughts here.

One of the big plots here is naturally involving Lloyd and how he went from being the main character of the first film to now seemingly murdering a bunch of people. If you played through the first game then I’m sure you’re thinking that there’s no way Lloyd would actually be evil. It would certainly be a bold move though that’s for sure but it would likely be a very unpopular move that would turn the fanbase against you. Well, the game explains why he’s doing all of this by the line but I just don’t buy into it. The whole thing is a huge stretch if you ask me. The guy’s just out of character, there’s no other way around it. It’s great to see him of course but he just doesn’t act like Lloyd.

It is always nice to see the old cast show up when you’re with a new group though. To date the game that did this the best was the second Golden Sun game. It was handled masterfully. Here you aren’t squarely against the old cast although you do get to fight Lloyd a few times which was neat. The game comes so close to making Lloyd the final boss which was impressive. It’s also just hype to see the characters acknowledge that Lloyd and the others saved the world a while back. It’s rare to go back to a world where the heroes are now famous for saving the world from the brink of disaster. Richter managing to fight off the whole original group was certainly impressive.

The game also retroactively shows us why the villain from the first game had some good points. Uniting the planet did nothing to stop the class battles. It just switched the sides. Now people from both planets are getting into even more fights than the old days. The characters are far from perfect and the world is in desperate need of someone saving it once more. The problem is that without a tangible villain to fight against for the most part, this battle is a lot tougher on the heroes. Then you’ve got the fact that Emil and Marta are working for a powerful spirit named Ratatosk who may or may not be evil.

So it’s a very ambitious story and certainly one that I enjoyed quite a lot. As for the characters, they’re definitely solid. Aside from Lloyd, I’d say that the rest of the old characters are in character. I’m glad that most of them are still trusting Lloyd although I don’t blame the ones who stopped due to how shady he is. If Lloyd doesn’t trust them then why should they trust him right? For the new characters, I’ll start with Emil. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of his. He’s just too timid. The guy backs down to everyone and always tends to panic. When the others get in trouble Emil is forced to call out for Ratatosk mode to save the day each time. Emil’s standard form is just in over his head and to save his character he would have needed to get with the program a lot sooner.

As for his Ratatosk mode, that’s when Emil’s at his best. It’s a similar dynamic to Jekyl and Hyde or Yugi and Yami Yugi. They are effectively different characters. As Ratatosk, Emil is a fun character even if you may not be able to call him a very heroic one. He’s always ready for a fight and isn’t passive this time around. When there’s someone in his way Emil will just blast through them. I wouldn’t have minded if he was in this form all the time. Then you have the heroine Marta. She’s a pretty unique characters. For starters she is constantly flirting with Emil due to admiring him after he saved her as a child. Emil doesn’t remember this and isn’t as brave as Marta expected him to be but that could also be why she was enjoying teasing him the whole time.

Beneath that she has a solid character arc though. Like Emil she has a lot of reasons for being fairly withdrawn and creating an external persona. She wants revenge on some characters but tries to hold this back. At the end of the day she is doing what she can to save the world and does well at this. I would say that she is better than the heroine of the first game. So the these two characters make for a solid duo. Then you’ve got Richter who is one of the major players of the game. He’s definitely a solid villain. No matter what justifications he uses, one of the guy’s first appearances is to try to murder Marta so there’s no way you can stretch him into being a hero. The guy has his goals and the motivations are solid but he definitely goes too far in trying to achieve them. He has the best theme in the game though which makes it extra fun whenever he appears. I also liked his weapon of choice.

The game’s story has a ton of cinematics which is fun because it makes this feel like a movie type event at times. There is always something happening and a benefit of being a sequel is having a lot of nostalgic moments everywhere. Pretty much every town is accurately recreated from the first game including the dungeons. The hub world is gone so now you go directly from place to place. I was definitely pretty cool with that. The graphics are quite solid and the soundtrack is good. While the first game wins with the music overall, I really liked Richter’s theme as well as the various remasters from the first game.

There’s definitely a lot of replay value here. The game itself is over 20 hours long and there are a lot of side quests and bonus cutscenes you can experience during the game as well. Add onto that the various collectibles and this will definitely last you for a while. It’s not quite as long as the first game but still quite long in its own right. There are also some new mechanics compared to the first game like being able to train up monsters. While it’s always sad to see them go back to level 1 when they reincarnate, their stats go quite high. They were super valuable during the final bosses here and they level up faster than the human characters so at least to me it seemed to balance out pretty well.

Overall, Dawn of the New World is a great sequel to the first Tales Of. I definitely recommend picking this up whether you’ve played the first one or not. Either way it’s a great RPG that really succeeds in every area. The fact that most of the dungeons are already completed when you start the game is fine by me. It just means that there’s more time to focus on the story and battles. We get quite a few action scenes in the cinematics like Lloyd taking on Richter or the main duo going up against Alice and her partner. The story gets quite deep at times and doesn’t pull its punches. The ending is pretty tragic in some ways but I was glad that at least some of the characters got a happy ending here. It would have been pretty sad if the game had cut out a bit early. Hopefully they bring these characters back for another adventure some day.

Overall 8/10

Tales of Symphonia Review


It’s time to look at one of the biggest RPG titles out there and Symphonia definitely lives up to the hype. It really excels in every area from story to gameplay to music. The game is also quite long. It took me 37 hours to conquer this title and typically I finish RPGs quite a bit sooner than that. The longest ones are still the Final Fantasy titles which tend to put me through the wringer but there is no shortage of content here. Additionally I really didn’t do much of the side missions so there’s a lot of untapped content here.

The plot changes quite a lot but I’ll just leave you with the main synopsis. The game takes place on a planet known as Sylvarant where a kid named Lloyd lives. He’s not known as one of the best students but he has heart. His childhood friend Colette has been selected as the Chosen which is a great honor. She will go around the world and unlock all of the steals which shall regenerate the world. Currently the planet has been in decline due to the mana levels running low. Once Colette has completed her duty then this will end. Lloyd decides to go along with her in addition to his best friend Genis, their teacher Raine, and a bodyguard known as Kratos. There are a lot of seals though so they will have to move quickly. Additionally they will have to watch out for the Angels, Desians, Government, Rebels, and a few other factions.

Right away the game introduces you to the fact that this planet is pretty messed up. For starters, there are human farms that exist on all of the countries. Desians use the humans as slaves in these places and the world just accepts this as a necessary evil rather than taking them down. The humans live in fear all across the globe. Then you have the half elves who are considered less than human and discriminated against throughout the planet. They certainly don’t have it easy and with each group having another one to look down on, nothing is changing. Lloyd wants to change all of this but he isn’t sure where to start or how to do it. Whenever he tries to save someone it ends up backfiring which does hurt his confidence quite a bit.

In game reviews I don’t usually write much about the plot in part because there isn’t a whole lot to say. RPGs are different in that respect because they have such a long story that really goes into detail thanks to how lengthy the game is. You’ll go through several parts in the story that will feel like the climax and then the story suddenly transitions. There are quite a lot of twists and turns here as well as a really large character cast. There were 2 villains that vanished for so long that I even forgot they were in the game. It was almost like a surprise that they returned although of course they had to return at some point. It was only a matter of when and not if they would return.

The gameplay is a real time 2D fighter. You use magic or physical attacks as you smash away the opponent’s health bar. You can have a team of 4 fighters running around so when it’s one enemy it’s best to completely overwhelm them. Watch out for knocking an enemy down since they will gain temporary super armor to all of your attacks. There’s a good amount of strategy in the fights but if you want to just whack away you can also focus on gathering extra level ups. I made sure to fight quite a lot so that I was over Level 60 in time for the final boss. I’ve noticed that in most games if you’re over Level 60 you’ll be okay and it worked out for me. I lost to the final boss once but I quickly regrouped and won the next time. As long as you have a good plan you’ll be set. The gameplay is very smooth and very easy to get used to. There are also several points in the game where you are forced to make changes that affect the next few scenes which is cool. That part seemed ahead of its time.

If there is any negative with the game it’s just that at times it can be hard to know where to go. The game can be vague with directions and the map doesn’t help for new areas since it doesn’t show up until you visit it. If you don’t know where to go then your only bet is to check the huge hub world and talk to everyone or look it up. Some of the puzzles could also be a bit much as you’ll have a huge dungeon where getting the puzzle wrong means backtracking several floors. I could have done with less puzzles and more focus on just fighting through. I suppose this was meant to be a breather from the action though.

The graphics are very solid. As is the custom with Tales of titles we do have some anime cutscenes here. There aren’t a whole lot of them or anything like that but when they come it’s definitely a lot of fun. The opening is solid and the graphics in game also hold up really well. We get nice voice acting for a lot of the scenes as well which is always fun. On a technical level, it can be hard to tell which cutscenes are on auto play and which ones aren’t though. There is no visual indicator most of the time so you either have to wait a little longer before pressing A to continue or just risk it and click A after the line is over. I think what they could have done is in any cutscene where there is voice acting, set it to auto play.

Then we have the soundtrack which is definitely very solid. The main battle theme is very catchy which is good since you’ll hear it a lot. The “danger” theme as I call it is also really solid and shows up in a lot of cutscenes. Then you have the various boss themes as well. It’s an excellent all around soundtrack that has a good amount of variety. It’s all pretty catchy and works out quite well if you ask me. This is definitely the level of quality I would expect to see.

It goes without saying that the game has a lot of value to it thanks to how long it is. In terms of replay value I would say there is a lot less since by the game it’s not like you can go back to do most of the side missions. Still, if you take care of them from the start then you’ll be well off. As far as I know there isn’t a post game but with 37+ hours at the ready you’ll have definitely had your chance to see the world in the meantime. The writing is definitely on point and the character cast is pretty solid. I’ll talk about them briefly now.

Lloyd is the main character and he’s a solid lead. He’s pretty head strong and jumps right into action. While he blames himself for getting a village blown up and a lot of lives lost, he did make the right decision. Everyone would have preferred he ignore the human farms so it would be less work for them, but ignoring evil just makes you complicit in it. Lloyd may not be the strongest guy around but he does a really good job in taking down the villains and acting right away. He does his best to come up with ideas that work out for everyone as well. You really can’t fault a character like that.

Then you have the heroine Colette who has to suffer with this great burden of being the Chosen. Often she keeps it to herself and never complains. She’s a very solid character who is willing to make any sacrifice if it’ll mean helping the world. She’s a very nice heroine and also a good fighter. Colette is definitely not a character you will forget about anytime soon. Then you have Lloyd’s best friend Genis who is less remarkable than the first two. I feel like he can go a bit too far with constantly insulting Lloyd if we’re being honest. His elemental attacks are solid though and he’s a good support character. He’s just not as strong as the rest of the cast.

Then you have Raine who is the wise member of the group. She definitely gets really into her studies. She is always around although I’d say her role is a little smaller than the first 3 characters. You’ve also got Presea who joins the main cast later on. She is emotionally distant compared to the rest but that ties into her origin here. She’s a fun character and fits in pretty well with the group. She definitely isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Then we have Regal who is a pretty solid fighter. I disagree with his decision to keep his hands chained the whole game but at least he has a reason for it. He can also fight really well which is handy for your ally to have here. You need other capable fighters.

Then we have Sheena who was a ninja antagonist at first but eventually she came around. She’s one of the more entertaining characters. At first her quest for revenge was treated rather lightly as she kept failing over and over again but as a hero she is very dependable. Without her summoning abilities the heroes really would have been in trouble quite a lot. She’s also pretty quick to call Zelos out on his antics. From the supporting characters I would say that she was the best one. The other characters in the party couldn’t quite match up.

Finally we have Zelos who is also a Chosen fighter so he’s pretty tough. He doesn’t take things very seriously compared to the other characters though and loves to goof around. He’s an entertaining character even if I wouldn’t say that he’s one of my favorites. The guy always makes his presence known though and that’s important for a side character. Then we have the mysterious Kratos who is a great character. I would go as far as to say that he is the best character in the game. He has a lot of questionable moments in the title to be sure but he’s definitely solid. The guy gets a ton of hype throughout the game and is certainly one of the strongest fighter. Without this bodyguard around the characters would have been doomed many times over.

Then we’ve got a whole slew of villains such as the Grand Cardinals and other factions. They’re all pretty solid. The only villain who I’d give a thumbs down to was the doctor with glasses. You’ll know him when you see him. The rest were pretty solid and all look pretty good when they’re getting in on the action. King Yggdrasil is the highest ranking villain and he’s definitely solid. For a villain you always want to make sure that their motive at least makes sense and I can get on board with his plan. Naturally it is an evil one as he is a villain but the fact that you can follow the logic of it is what’s important. He’s a very interesting figure and puts up a solid fight. There are many other characters of course but these are the main ones.

Overall, Tales of Symphonia is excellent and it’s one of the main reasons why I am a huge fan of the RPG genre. By the time you’ve completed the game it’s like you’ve just completed a whole experience. You’ve gotten to know the characters for many hours. In a way it’s like playing through an interactive anime. I’d definitely consider RPGs to be one of the best genres for that reason. I would still put fighting games as the absolute best of course, but RPGs would be second. I won’t go too much farther into it since eventually I plan to have an editorial ranking the genres at some point but of course it’s tricky because there are so many sub genres and such. Regardless, whether you typically like RPGs or not, I would definitely recommend picking this one up. Symphonia is the perfect Tales of game to start you off on the franchise.

Overall 8/10

Dynasty Warriors 8 Review


It’s time for another Dynasty Warriors experience. It’s definitely a step down from the last one which is unfortunate but it’s still a great game. For some reason they just stripped out most of the voice acting and story that made the 7th game so good. Perhaps fans felt that the story was too expansive and overshadowed the actual gameplay. Maybe there were time constraints. I don’t know, but it’s definitely noticeable when playing the games back to back. For once I changed sides over to Wei this time just so I could get more of a fresh experience this time around.

So you’re playing the same story as usual as you try to unite the country. Most of the key battles are the same as always but it’s interesting playing as the side that is often treated as the “bad guys” of the story. Of course each faction sees each other as the enemy so it’s hard to really say who the true heroes are. That being said, I’ve always been partial to the fire group which is why I would side with Wu. The story has around 14 battles and after completing them you can unlock some what if stories based on if you completed all of the objectives along the way. If not then you’ve still got free mode and a bunch of other options to work with as well.

The gameplay is largely the same as in 7. It’s not quite as crisp but it’s hard to say exactly why that is. I think there may be a slight time lag in switching weapons or something. It’s hard to quantify but otherwise this is still one of the cleanest beat em ups I’ve played. It’s still very smooth and every hit is pretty satisfying. I actually took out 1200 opponents in one level this time which is now a new record for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever top that because that number is just too crazy to think about. My favorite character was one of the new power types since you can use an axe and it just shreds opponents.

One thing that’s a little different here are the command grab supers. Before now your super attack would always be some kind of massive blow that dealt a lot of damage to everyone. Now you have more personal supers which target one enemy but do a ton of damage. You could effectively one shot even whole bosses using this technique. That was always a blast but it can be hard to effectively aim at the guy you want. There’s also a new mechanic where you somehow trigger a mini animation where you start swiping at a lot of enemies. I never got exactly how I would do this but I was always glad to see it because the damage was massive and even does more than your super move. You really can’t go wrong there.

As with the last game I also like the way they managed the horseback riding. It’s so much smoother than in the old games and makes navigating the level a lot more convenient. It’s hard to imagine going back to the days of having to run everywhere. Now that feels a lot more tedious in comparison. You can’t even compare the two speeds and it’s also handy for tracking down opponents who are trying to make a break for it. Now you just jump on the horse and you’re all set for action. A lot of quality of life upgrades like that have stuck since the last game which is great.

As always the graphics and soundtrack are on point. All of the super attacks and combo moves look incredibly flashy and high-end. Then you’ve got the solid soundtrack which the series is known for. There are a ton of great rock themes to enjoy here and they fit in quite well as you take down all the armies that try to oppose you. You won’t particularly remember any of them but the fast beat is really the important element here and the game definitely delivers on that.

There’s just a lot of content to enjoy here. You can play as all 3 of the usual factions and then you also have an extra group. I’m wondering what they do or how they factor in. Should make for a pretty fresh take. After you complete all of the story modes you can work on gathering all of the PS3 trophies or playing free mode and maxing everyone out. There’s a lot of replay value here and the game goes for pretty cheap nowadays. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth here.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 8 is a great game. In some respects it can feel a bit lazy though. I don’t see why they had to get rid of the voice acting. It’s part of what made the last game so ahead of its time. Going back to text boxes just feels like it’s a pretty big step back even if we did get some cutscenes still. It’s definitely not quite on the level of 7 but it’s still great so I recommend checking it out. The series has definitely come a long way since the olden days. It’s also pretty cool to know that I’m finally almost caught up with the series. One more game and I’ll finally be at the end.

Overall 8/10

The World Ends With You Review


It’s time to look at a game that I’ve had on the backburner for a very long time. The Worlds Ends With You has been patiently waiting its turn for many years. Well, it was time to finally get on with it. The game was a lot of fun back in the day but I decided to replay the whole game despite going through the first loop back in the day. The reason for this is that it has been so long. I want to make sure I really know what’s going on and with an RPG like this it’s usually best to make sure you have the complete context for everything that’s going on. The game definitely does not disappoint and is as fun now as it was back in the day.

The title starts with a kid named Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memories. He doesn’t know what’s going on but a girl named Shiki shows up and makes a pact with him. Basically what’s going on here is that the characters are trapped in a 7 day death game. The way the game works is that the villains send a message every day to the characters’ phones. Someone has to complete the mission before the time limit runs out. If you survive for 7 days you win and get to leave the game. The problem is that Neku doesn’t like people. He finds them to be too loud and annoying the whole time. Neku’s a loner who is also pretty smart so it feels like he has to wait for everyone to catch up. You can’t win this game without a partner though as that’s the only way to use pins with different elemental attacks to fight off the creatures known as Noise. Neku will have to learn to be friends with Shiki or this could get pretty ugly for him.

Right away you’ll see that the gameplay here is pretty unique. It relies heavily on the stylus so get ready for that. You’ve got two screens here. On the top you’ve got your partner and you control her by using the main buttons like A, B, Y, and X. If you follow your partner’s logic attacks on the top you can get energy towards a super attack which does a lot of damage of course. On the bottom screen you have Neku and he attacks by using the pins. Each pin has a different control setup which ranges from tapping the screen to swiping or doing something else like that. The main thing to keep in mind is to read the instructions each time. You’ve also got a hub world where you can buy items or food at shops.

In this game level ups aren’t nearly as important as your stats so keep that in mind. One thing that I didn’t do was eat a lot of food and that’s a mistake. It’s the best way to get stronger. The only way to eat is to challenge more than one enemy at a time. The more stack battles you do at once (Tapping on more than one villain icon in the hub world) the more bites you take out of your food. You don’t eat much per day so try to hit the limit every time. Do that and the final bosses will be considerably easier than if you had decided to forego this. The final boss in particular is a huge step up from the rest. Make sure you equip the final pin that gets tossed at you or you’re in for a pretty rough time.

The World Ends With You is definitely a pretty high end DS game. For starters you have a very unique soundtrack that has quite a few vocal themes. Now the one catch is that there aren’t a lot of themes so you’ll be hearing the same ones over and over again. The positive here is that they’re all pretty solid so it works out pretty well. The game also has very solid graphics with full cutscenes that play comic style as the game goes on. There’s one particular one involving a gun that maybe gets spammed a little too much but it’s a solid scene. Expect a lot of twists and turns as the game goes on. There’s certainly some nice room for a sequel here.

One thing that helps this game out as well are the solid characters. It’s almost inevitable that an RPG would have a solid cast by the end but it’s still important to note in all of these. Neku is the lead and he’s very solid. He has a big character arc since initially he doesn’t get along with anybody and by the end of the game he’s mellowed out quite a bit. He’s still not cheesy or anything though as he still has some pretty harsh thoughts about everyone and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Then you’ve got Shiki who’s a solid heroine. She’s definitely quite lively and makes for a good foil to Neku’s character. She’s always trying her best to see the bright side of things.

Beet is another one of the main heroes but he goes through some rough patches. While he gets a lot of development I can’t really side with him after what he did at the end of Act 1. He tries to walk it back later but it was a little too late for him. Meanwhile Joshua was actually my favorite character in the game. Like Neku he always had a comeback ready and he was really handling the villains pretty well. He gets the most memorable scenes in the game. Whenever he appears you knew something fun was going to happen.

For the villains you’ve got quite a few here. My favorite one was the Grim Heaper. He had a lot of good math puns and a solid design. he wasn’t afraid to get things done his way which is always important. You’ve also go the elusive conductor although he mainly just gets mentioned a lot. You’ve got two villains who are like a serious version of Team Rocket. While they try to be nice and relatable near the end you can’t forget the fact that they’re mass murderers either way. One thing you don’t want to lose sight of is the fact that this is a murder game. Keep that in mind when all of the twists are happening. No matter how you slice it that means all of these guys are knowingly complicit in these actions.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty great RPG. It’s got a solid set of characters and really nice technicals on its side. There’s a good amount of replay value since you can warp to any of the previous days to do any missions you skipped. It’s a game that gives you a lot of options for what you want to do next and the length is pretty good as well. With news of the anime coming up the series is definitely staying relevant. As long as you like a good story then this is a game I recommend to any gamer. It’ll definitely hook you on the interesting premise and solid characters.

Overall 8/10

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Review


It’s time to look at a fun action RPG. This game was on my radar for a very long time even though I ultimately did not end up picking it out when the game first came out on the Wii U. I just ended up waiting until finally it came out for the Switch and I knew I needed to pick it up. Cut to my video game backlog going under 70 for the first time and to celebrate I got this game along with a few others. The game is definitely a blast and I always love playing a big RPG adventure like this one. It’s definitely a very fun game that is also quite difficult. Without the Bloom Palace and it’s super grinding areas I dare say that I could still be playing this game right now.

The game starts by introducing us to the mass disappearance event. A show was being conducted by two mega famous idols but then suddenly everyone vanished. Cut to 5 years later and people still don’t know what happened. Our main character Itsuki is waiting at the mall for his friend when he bumps into a childhood friend of his, Tsubasa. She is trying to be an idol herself and is pretty close in the auditions to finally hitting it big. Unfortunately, that’s when tragedy strikes. The director is actually being controlled by a mirage and kidnaps her. Itsuki heads in as well and ends up harnessing the power of the mirages to save her. He is bonded with Chrome and Tsubasa also gets a Mirage of her own. They find out that there is a larger war between humans and mirages at play right now and they all have a role in it. Can the heroes find out why everyone at the concert vanished 5 years ago and stop any future threats? In the meantime they also have to work hard because they now work for an actual Idol company so Tsubasa’s dream of being a professional is almost complete.

While this is partially a Fire Emblem game to the loosest extent, it’s totally a stand alone adventure. It’s also a very character driven game so the main story takes a backseat for the most part. Each chapter will have someone get possessed and then the heroes head in to save the victim from going over to the dark side. In the final chapter or two we find out about the real main villain and that starts the climax. In between each chapter is an intermission where you get some dancing instructions and it’s also a chance for you to hang out and complete some side quests. The story may not be the deepest, but it’s still pretty fun. I’m always up for seeing the Fire Emblem characters even if they’re basically just ghosts here.

The game also shines with how it throws in fully animated cutscenes at times. It’s pretty epic when the transitions happen. The normal cutscenes are also pretty solid though as they go for more of a cell shaded look. There are quite a few cutscenes here to be sure so this really feels like a AAA title. The soundtrack is also pretty good I’d say. There are a wide range of themes here and they all work rather well. One of the things I like about RPGs is they are long enough where you get to really know all of the characters and enjoy the wide range of activities in the world. There is a ton of replay value to enjoy here after all and the main campaign is over 20 hours long. If you don’t take advantage of the Bloom Palace then it’ll probably be even longer.

So the main gameplay is that of a classic turn based RPG. When it’s your turn you can choose to use one of your skills or an item. The game has an elemental system so some attacks will be super effective on different kinds of enemies. A pretty fun thing the game does is make those elements secret until you use an attack. So if it’s an enemy you haven’t fought before then all of his elemental resistances will show a question mark. Once you beat him then for all future occurrences you will see the strengths and weaknesses. It’s something that could work well in Pokemon if you ask me since it would give more reason to actually fill out the Pokedex.

You can use 3 characters in a party and when you use a super effective attack then the others can jump in and get an extra attack if they have an applicable skill. As you level characters up and gather materials you can also unlock passive abilities for the cast. These can be quite helpful. For example, there is one passive skill that allows every character in the back row to get a turn as well. What this ultimately means is that you can have 7 attacks in a single turn every turn. You can see how much of an advantage this would be right? Ultimately I only unlocked one of these skills before beating the game though. You need a high bond level to unlock them and that requires fighting with the character for a while or working on their side quests. You also need materials and since I did all of my grinding in the dungeon I didn’t really have almost any materials.

It’s actually something that caught up to me by the end of the game. I got all of my characters to level 99 but without materials it meant that my characters still had really weak weapons. Surprisingly those make such a difference that even being level 99 didn’t help to balance things back out. So if you do decide to train up there then be sure to still go in and fight some real minions. Those materials are absolutely essential and I can confirm that you will be really glad to have them on hand. I really love how in depth the complex the game goes with the mechanics though. Each of your weapons also have passive effects you can unlock which encourages you to fight with the sub weapons as well. Then you can use dust to increase your stats. There are a ton of ways to beat each boss so the strategy is entire up to you. Choose wisely.

The cast also isn’t bad although they’re fairly weak compared to most RPG titles. Itsuki for example is a reasonable main character, but he’s borderline an avatar character because the guy has no real character. He’s a nice guy who’s super humble and always does the right thing. That’s nice and all but he never really shows much personality. Tsubasa is also a fun heroine but shows a similar level of energy. Her thing is that she tends to mispronounce words. It’s a reasonably solid gimmick I’d say. The best character here is probably the rival who shows up a few times to get in your way. He’s definitely not someone to be trifled with.

Overall, Tokyo Mirages is a game that lived up to the hype. The story may not have been the greatest compared to other big RPGs, but I was still entertained the whole way through. The most important thing is the gameplay of course and that was definitely on point from start to finish. I’d certainly be up for a sequel at some point. I’ve definitely got more RPG titles to work on as well so I’ll be ready for another big adventure soon. In the meantime if you haven’t picked this game up yet then you should. Just don’t go in expecting a whole lot of Fire Emblem characters. They help a bit with the lore but that’s about it, no Roy or Ike or anything like that. If you remember your Fire Emblem elemental types for the weapons that should help you quite a bit with guessing what attacks to use off the bat though.

Overall 8/10

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Mystery Dungeon game. It’s been a pretty fun ride getting to experience all of these games. It had to come to an end at some point though. This one definitely ends things on a high note. Not only is it the longest game in the series (or at least it took me the longest amount of time to complete) but it adds a bunch of new features that are pretty cool. This is definitely a game with a ton of replay value as well so it’s really a win-win when you think about it.

The game starts off with the main character getting transported into the Pokemon world. He used to be a human but he has lost all of his memories which is pretty unfortunate. He is attacked by some Beeheeyem and fortunately gets saved by Nuzleaf. Nuzleaf takes Terry (main character) home to his village where he meets up with Snaz (main partner) and they become quick friends. There are some bullies in the village but for the most part it’s a pretty nice place. Snaz hopes to one day become an Expedition member but kids aren’t allowed so he will keep training in the meantime. Terry does his best to fit in and has lots of adventures. Meanwhile in the main plot, someone or something has been turning Pokemon to stone. It is targeting all of the legendary and mythical Pokemon. Whoever this villain is, it’s definitely someone powerful. If the Pokemon don’t watch out they will all be conquered before they have a chance to fight back.

I definitely like the idea of someone trying to get all of the legendaries. We haven’t really seen a plot like that and it’s also a good chance for all of these Pokemon to appear. It’s definitely a cool premise and while I would have liked to have seen some of these fights on screen, I suppose that would have been difficult. Still, in terms of plot this is definitely pretty high tier and probably the game with the highest stakes. Explorers of Darkness has the best plot to me though with all of the time travel but this threat is more high tier. We even get to see the heavyweights like Mewtwo and Rayquaza. Who’d have thought that all of these guys would have had to team up? A movie based on this would be pretty cool.

The story is definitely a lot of fun. It gives you time to get introduced to all of the characters and make connections. Once the climax hits then you also get to have a lot of big battles and plot twists galore. The series also has fun flipping the script near the end as all of the games tend to have the same beginning and ending. This one throws a little wrinkle into that which I thought was pretty cool. It felt like the game was being pretty self aware there.

The gameplay is your classic dungeon exploration like the others. The goal is to reach the exit of each floor and this goes on until you end the dungeon. Each Pokemon has 4 attacks and you should use them carefully because it’s easy to run out of PP. As you go through the dungeon you’ll pick up items. A new addition here is a ring that lets you attach little items onto it in order to boost your stats or inflict status changes on the opponents. These are incredibly handy and it’ll be nearly impossible to beat some levels without it unless you do some hard grinding. There are a ton of mechanics in this game like the Alliance moves which allow you to use more than one attack at a time. I’d advise you to learn them all and fortunately the game does bring them up so you can’t really miss em.

Another new addition is if you die during a dungeon, you can rescue yourself by sending another team in. This may not be so handy at first but later on in the game you will have tons of Pokemon ready to help you out. As soon as I got my Level 50 Dragonite I was ready for business. You can only rescue yourself 5 times per dungeon though so don’t use it as an excuse to die all the time. Also, you can’t rescue yourself during a boss battle of course so play those very carefully. Leveling up in this game takes a super long time so the emphasis is really on using items. I beat this game in the 20s which is pretty unheard of for an RPG so don’t underestimate the power of items. They are extremely handy.

Another good tactic in this game is to hide behind your partner Pokemon. Let them take all of the risks while you take the rewards. Trust me, this is a tactic that will really take you far. You can use various commands to try and manipulate them but the easiest way is to walk close to an enemy and then hide behind your teammate which forces them into battle. As you battle your attacks will also gain level ups which makes them more powerful and more accurate. This is really handy if you tend to always use the same attack over and over.

Super Mystery Dungeon does a fine job of mixing elements from previous games together. I feel like they knew this was the last one because of how much this feels like the final entry. You take a quiz to determine your Pokemon like in the first games, but if you don’t like the selected one you can override the choice by just picking like in the recent 3DS title. I stayed with the results of the Exam for mine because it felt more fun that way. I ended up being Fennekin. You’ve also got your classic quest system although it has been greatly improved. It’s no longer endless so each mission feels a lot more real now. You also have all 720 Pokemon in the game so you’ve got a ton of quests since many of them want your help. There are also a lot of playable Pokemon, I unlocked around 50 of them and so I’m sure if you were to play it to 100% completion you would unlock a lot more. It’s really cool to play as everybody.

This game really takes all of the mechanics to their absolute best. While we do lose some items from previous games like the farming and building aspects, I can’t really say that they are missed. As long as we have the quests I feel pretty good about it personally. This game can be very difficult because of how low leveled your Pokemon are though. As I mentioned, obtaining EXP takes forever so you’re going to just want to plunge ahead. Use the items carefully and as the game goes on you’ll get a good feel for when to use each one. It’ll come to you. The game also does something fun with the final boss so don’t worry about losing there. Even if it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere, just keep fighting and you’ll be okay. Don’t make the mistake of quitting to try again later.

The graphics here are definitely real solid. It’s still going for that nice 3D approach and we get some fun cutscenes. A really cool visual is when we see two Pokemon firing off a giant energy blast together. It’s a fun team up and the attack is like a Kamehameha. The soundtrack is also fun. It brings back some classic tunes while adding in new ones. There aren’t really any standout themes but what we get is pretty fitting and flows pretty well together with the scenes. At this point some of the tunes will be pretty nostalgic if you’ve been following the series. The story is pretty long at around 17 hours and the post game is enormous since you have to try and find all of the Pokemon/Complete all of the quests. You won’t be completing this game very quickly that’s for sure.

Overall, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is pretty great. It really ends the series off on a high note. Ultimately I would rank the series as follows: 1. Pokemon Explorers of Darkness 2. Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon 3. Pokemon Gates to Infinity 4. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon the original. This one really ranks up there and it’s just hard not to get sucked into it. There’s so much to do here and every part of the game really feels like a lot of time and money was put into it. You will definitely not be disappointed in the slightest. If you don’t have this game yet then I recommend changing that. It’s a really solid Pokemon RPG.

Overall 8/10

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game. This one actually ended up being the longest one yet so it definitely gave you time to be attached to the characters. It’s a great game and definitely one that I would recommend. While it is not quite able to top the last one, it really has no weaknesses. The mechanics are easy to pick up on and we get some pretty cool cinematics. Now there is only one Mystery Dungeon game left so I am definitely going to miss them when they’re gone.

The game starts off with Terry arriving from the human world and turning into a Pokemon. He meets up with Tepig who is trying to build a Pokemon guild so they can share paradise with him. “Paradise” is the name of the town that Tepig is creating but it’s been tough since Pokemon in this world don’t like each other which makes things pretty tricky. Terry agrees to help Tepig and initially they start by befriending local Pokemon and getting materials to build the house. We get more of a plot soon as a mysterious pair of Pokemon show up and explain that the world as we know it is about to end. The heroes will now have to buckle up and head out to protect the present, but doing so may involve destroying the future. Can Terry and Tepig really pull the trigger and make such a call?

While the plot does get pretty high tier as you would expect, it does have a longer opening act than the last title to allow you to get used to the village and the members. Since part of the plot deals with Pokemon not liking each other the game wants to really make sure you know what’s going on here before you get into the meat of the story. It’s a fun opening act though and part of why it’s solid is because Terry is solid. He talks quite a bit more than the other main characters from previous games which I think is definitely a good move. He feels like a natural leader and doesn’t rely on thought bubbles. One particularly impressive scene is when he takes down 3 bosses at once and later holds his own against another 5 before being saved. Terry is portrayed as a real fighter here and it was really a lot of fun to play as him.

The supporting cast is also pretty solid. Tepig’s a nice guy and he’s a lot more reasonable than your partner from the last game. Tepig at least always tries to do the right thing and doesn’t keep hounding on the other characters over mild matters. Emolga and Dunsparce have a good bond between them. I like that Emolga was always ready to step up for his friend and make the hard calls. If anything Dunsparce was just less impressive because he was a bit too gullible and obsessed with Virizion. Virizion was solid as one of the wise characters and while she didn’t really believe in friends, I couldn’t really blame her for that. She certainly did not have the best prior experiences with them. I also loved having her on the party because of how powerful she was.

Umbreon and Espeon are pretty solid. They are definitely very business oriented so they don’t mess around as much as the others. The Voice of Life made for a pretty interesting character. Just from the name you can tell that this guy has quite a lot of power. Unfortunately I have to give him a thumbs down here because at the end of the day he keeps saying that he has no choice and can’t really do anything about anything but you gotta be able to do more than that when you have cosmic powers. What’s the point if at the end of the day you’re not going to use them? Kyurem was definitely cool though. All of his scenes were definitely pretty hype and he had a menacing air about him. His goal also wasn’t all that bad. It was actually very reasonable which made him a compelling antagonist.

One subplot in the game that I don’t think was really needed though was Keldeo. The plot wouldn’t have really changed almost any part of the story so if you cut him out it all works out quite nicely. He tries to talk a bit tough by the end but nobody’s buying that. As for Kyurem’s position that I mentioned earlier, it’s basically that you shouldn’t change the future just because you don’t like it. The whole concept of the game is that we’re going to change the future because it turns out to be an apocalyptic one while Kyurem’s saying that it has to be preserved. I’ve always been for changing the timestream so I’m not objective in the slightest but I’m with the heroes here. If it’s a bad future then you’ve got to change it.

Additionally, it’s Kyurem’s view that we’re changing the future. Last I checked, the whole game takes place in the present so his argument loses a lot of steam. So long as we did not build a time machine or something it’s all fair game if you ask me. So in effect by trying to stop us he’s changing the future just as much. No future is certain unless you’re actively moving through time. Thanos for example has a stronger case since the Avengers got salty that they lost and started playing with time. That’s not what the heroes are doing here.

The gameplay is your traditional overhead turn based combat. It plays out a bit like a Fire Emblem game only you are moving through a dungeon. You recover health as you move and the goal is always to get to the final dungeon where you may or may not fight a boss. You have 4 different attacks and can have up to 3 partners with you. Be careful, your main partner will count as a second life so if one of you dies then the whole mission is a fail. Just something to watch out for because your partners tend to take really big risks for some reason.

Also, make sure you have a good amount of items before tackling the final boss. I had saved up a ton of them throughout the game so I was ready for it. Otherwise, you could be in for a pickle because the game saves after the first form of the final boss so if you’re not ready to fight the real one then you could end up being stuck in a loop. Hopefully there’s a way out of that but I didn’t intend on risking everything to find out. That’s why I always keep items in the bank for tricky situations like that. I was really glad I had the stash when I walked into the fight. One tip I have is to use the orbs you get during the levels. You get some that will put every Pokemon to sleep for example and they are incredibly handy.

The main campaign should definitely last you a clean 15 hours at the least. Aside from that the game has a ton of content to explore. You can get materials and money to build up the town and make a lot of gardens. I didn’t really play around with this feature, but there’s a lot you can do here. Additionally there are a bunch of extra dungeons and Pokemon to recruit to your cause. You can also work on maxing your guild’s rank up. If you do all of this the game should really last you for quite a long time. Then we get to the graphics and soundtrack which are both quite solid. The soundtrack has some catchy tunes even if none of them are all stars. The graphics are particularly impressive with each of the characters having a 3D model now. That’s not something we’ve really seen a whole lot so it was pretty fun.

Overall, Gates to Infinity is definitely a great game. The gameplay is tight and naturally the graphics/soundtrack are good as well. You’ll have a lot of fun here and aside from a pretty solidly long story you’ve also got a whole lot of post game content to work with. I expect you’ll definitely be kept busy with this game for quite some time. I doubt the price would be too crazy nowadays and either way this game has enough content to really make it worth your while. We really need more Pokemon spinoffs to come out soon because they’ve been pretty dynamite. Pokemon lends itself well to the RPG format.

Overall 8/10

Dynasty Warriors 5 Review


It’s time to take a look at another Dynasty Warriors game. With this title out of the way I have now finished playing through all of the installments that I own. It’s been a pretty fun ride to be sure. This one definitely has the biggest change between entries in the series. It’s really like playing an entire new game which is cool. I definitely like all of the changes made here and he game still gets quite difficult by the end of its run. It’s certainly not a game to underestimate.

The basic plot of the game seems to be the same as all of the other ones. Your goal is to unite China under the same flag as the army you are fighting for. Once you do that, then you will have restored honor and balance to the kingdom. I went with Wu as always. The army’s armor always looked pretty cool and it was nostalgic to play as the same guy from the third game. From there I just went on to clear the campaign which was certainly a lot quicker than the last two games. There are only 5 levels here compared to the usual 7-8 you would have expected. Couple that with the game’s less difficult nature and it was a breeze.

I’d heard about this before but the difficulty in 5 is definitely a lot lower than in the previous two games. You really just mow the enemies down and they don’t fight back quite as much. I would say that the whole game was a cakewalk except that the final level was actually very difficult and felt like one of the installments from the earlier titles. It took me a lot of attempts to clear that one. I did my best to try and complete it the “normal” way but my army would lose morale way too quickly so it would never work out. Finally I just had to try and run straight up to the main villain and then I was able to clear it. This certainly took a good amount of effort.

Most likely the reason for the spike was because my level just wasn’t high enough. Due in part to how easily I would complete the other levels, I hadn’t needed to fight nearly as well as I should have. If I had been a higher level then I’d be beating enemies a lot quicker and naturally that would make a difference with the army morale. That wasn’t how things went down though but it does add to the replay value of the game. You can easily beat the game in under 3 hours if you blast through. However, after that you can also work on getting all of the other characters leveled up and completing their stories as well. In this game each characters gets their own story so that is definitely a lot of stories to run through. It’s definitely not something that will be an easy task nor will it be one that you can do quickly.

The graphics definitely look very good here. You’ve got a lot of little improvements like each enemy having a health bar and also their status not vanishing. In the old games you could easily lose track of a general among the mob because the title would flicker in and out. In this game it stays put the whole time which is appreciated. Characters load up a lot quicker and in general it all just looks quite good. Then you have the soundtrack which has a lot of classic rock themes like the last two. I’m still pretty surprised in general that the games have such a great soundtrack but I’m certainly not going to complain.

The gameplay in Dynasty Warriors 5 plays it straight this time around. You don’t have any missions to find a missing box or anything like that. All of the missions are simply about taking down a boss and unlike previous games they never lock the main villain away. You can run up to him in any of the levels and just test your skills. It won’t be super easy to do so as there are a lot of minions in the way, but 5 certainly makes it possible. I imagine that experienced DW fans would be able to easily get in there and take down the boss. It’s ultimately a strategy that will bite you in the end since your level will stay low but if you’re just planning to quickly beat a campaign then it makes sense. If you do this then I recommend the paralyze combo. It’s two week hits and then a power shot. It trigger a 5-7 hit combo with guaranteed stun. It’s really hard to think of any attack option that is superior to this. Spam it as often as you like. As always make sure to keep your final smash on hand until someone attacks you to instantly combo-break the opposing hit.

If you get a horse then I recommend keeping him around. On Easy mode none of the minions can do anything about him so just jump off when you make it to the boss. The horse won’t be going anywhere either so once you’re done you saddle up and move. The humans run a lot slower than the horses and these levels are massive so I definitely recommend keeping him around. In general it is just so handy to have your own horse and they can be rare to find. Another way to get one is to lure your ally who has a horse into a big battle and once the enemies knock him off you grab the horse and run. I hope in one of the future games you are given the ability to tell your ally to leave the horse. It’s a small feature but one that would be very handy.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 5 is about as solid as the last two. If anything I would say that it is even better than them thanks to the graphics improving quite a lot and the gameplay feels smoother. The opening cutscene for example is pretty incredible. 5 feels way more polished than the last two and you would have expected that the game would have come out a lot later than it did. It’ll be interesting to see how 6 tries to stop 5. It definitely won’t be easy but the series seems like it’s on an upwards trend so I won’t say that I’d be surprised either. If Dynasty Warriors wants to keep improving I expect that it will be able to do so. If you like beat em ups then you definitely ought to give this one a try.

Overall 8/10

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Darkness Review


It’s time to take a look at the next installment in the Mystery Dungeon series. I haven’t played one of these in a long while, but the first game was a lot of fun. Also, I own the next two games in the series so now I can start a bit of a marathon. In general the Pokemon spinoffs have all been pretty great. Just look at Pokken and Pokemon Ranger which have been a blast. Well, Mystery Dungeon can definitely hold its own with those big shots as well. This one ups the stakes and brings a pretty cool plot. It’s definitely a great game.

The title starts off with the main character losing his memory and being transformed into a Pokemon. Fortunately Pikachu stops by the Beach and decides to be Terry’s (the main character) friend. Pikachu wants to join the Guild which is where all of the various Dungeon teams go to team up and help out the world. Pikachu isn’t very brave though so Terry decides to help him achieve these dreams. Together the two of them solve many odd jobs and fit in pretty well. Things get serious though when a mysterious Pokemon begins stealing Time Wheels from around the world. If this continues to go on then the whole world will end up being frozen as time will be stopped. Can the heroes stop such a powerful villain?

I always like time travel. It may have a tendency to introduce plot holes into a series or not be utilized well in others, but it offers up so many different possibilities that I feel like you have to at least give it a whirl. This game handles it quite well. We get a few plot twists in the story as well. It’s fair to say that you’ll probably see a lot of them coming, but it doesn’t weaken the impact of these plots. The main campaign’s around 13 hours long so you’re given a lot of time to be introduced to the characters and get attached to them. There’s also a bit of a post game here to look at as well.

Now lets look at the gameplay here. It’s an overhead turn based combat system where you control the actual Pokemon. There can be up to 4 of you in a party although you only control the main character. The others are around to help out on the side. Be warned though that if Pikachu loses in combat then that will apply to you as well. There are certain ways you can at least control what your allies will do via tactics and turning off moves though. For example Pikachu learns an attack called Discharge later on which is incredibly powerful so after that I would turn off the other moves. That effectively forces him to use it until he runs out of PP. The move has 8 PP so you’ll need to switch it out again pretty quick.

The bosses could be pretty tricky here at times. If you don’t take them out fast or just some kind of technique to lower their stats you could really be in trouble here. Then there are the random monster houses that pop up which are probably even tougher than most of the bosses. If you run into one then it’s probably game over. Each dungeon ranges from 8-20 floors. So wherever you last passed a checkpoint is where you would be warped to. You also lose your money and a bunch of items so you are encouraged not to lose too often.

The dungeon system is pretty interesting because you’ve always got a pretty good sense of where you are in the game. They’re also just fun to explore in. The only mechanic I didn’t like here is when sand would randomly show up. It buffets your team members every few steps and if you have a full team of 4 that’s a lot of messages to keep clicking out of. It also seems to effect all dungeons until the effect randomly goes away. I understand that this is probably to add more drama to the dungeon since you’re constantly taking damage but since you heal more health than it can take away while walking it still feels pretty pointless in the end.

One other angle that’s not too interesting is how there are a few recycled animations every time you go to sleep and wake up again. You have to watch the heroes eat dinner every time and sometimes you are randomly chosen to watch out for foot prints which triggers a minigame and ends the whole day. I’d definitely be game with that being removed from the sequels. It’s just not needed and if anything it just wastes time. The post game hints that you won’t have to worry about these things anymore once you beat the hidden boss which hints that the game knew this would be a bit of a hassle as well.

In terms of characters, Terry’s pretty great as always. He’s very heroic and is always ready to make the hero call when necessary. He’s someone you can count on. His partner Pikachu isn’t quite as interesting. He’s a little too quick to believe whatever the villains say and has a hard time keeping up with the plot even when it’s not all that difficult. When someone tries to murder you, you should probably connect the dots that this character must be evil. The Guild is fun enough. Their leader Wigglytuff is a bit annoying at first but since he can actually fight I did gain some respect for him. At least that means he can be powerful when the need arises.

Grovile and Dusknoir are both pretty interesting characters. It makes for an interesting dynamic in the game and is also a pretty serious plot that works out well. Finally, we’ve got Dialga who is excellent in this game. We even get a cool time travel scene where Dialga and Celebi square off. Both of them are known for their mastery over time of course although I suspect everyone already knows that Dialga would have the edge in such a confrontation. You just can’t hope to beat one of those guys.

The graphics are pretty solid. There are quite a lot of Pokemon here which are nice to see and occasionally you’ll get a cutscene that is almost animated as the pictures light up and have some special effects. That always helps to add some weight to the moment. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which has some really nice themes in it. In particular one great theme is when Dusknoir grabs the heroes. That theme is always really epic and one of the best that I’ve heard in a spinoff lately. I still can’t go as far as to say that it beats the themes in the main games though because those are pretty phenomenal.

Overall, Explorers of Darkness is a great game. The RPG story can really hold its own and the ending is pretty emotional. Make sure you stick around after the credits because there is an extra scene. This is definitely one of the best stories I’ve seen in a Pokemon title. It’s going to be very difficult for the next Dungeon game to pass this one but it’s always possible since the game is on an upwards trend. The next one also makes the jump to the 3DS system so that should be pretty interesting. If you haven’t checked this game out yet then you should. It really shows you just what the Pokemon series is capable of.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight Vanguard Zero Review


It’s time to look at a recent app that I downloaded. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Cardfight Vanguard show so I figured playing through an app game would be pretty fun too. It’s got a unique gameplay style that is different from Yugioh and I’ve never gotten to play it in action before. This was my chance to change that and the game is definitely a lot of fun. It’s also very challenging so you can rest assured that it will force you to become a better player as the levels go on. With an active user base and ongoing events there will be enough content to keep you entertained for the long haul.

As with most mobile games there are a ton of options that greet you on the menu. It can all be pretty overwhelming so the game wisely locks a lot of the options behind level ups so you experience them all gradually. You’ll likely be spending most of your time in the story of playing online battles. Aside from that you can also clear daily missions, fight practice battles, customize your deck, and buy more cards. While there are some paid options you can do the game is 100% free to play and you can do quite well without spending any money. It’s the kind of game where you can absolutely hold your own without spending a dime.

The story mode has 11 chapters which consist of around 50 rides. While you might think you can clear those right away, it will take a lot of time. Every 3-4 rides you have to go and do other tasks to unlock the next ones. These range from beating an opponent 5 times to fighting online for 3 battles. There are a lot of different tasks and it is the game’s way of making sure you try everything out. I could be a little annoyed at having to take a break from the story so often but I understand the logic. I don’t approve, but it is what it is and the rest of the modes are all fun as well which helps a lot.

The story mode covers the first season of the show although I expect as more and more levels are added it will eventually cover the entire series. It’s been pretty detailed at trying to grab almost every fight and the game actually plays whole anime scenes which is pretty cool. You don’t see a lot of mobile games do that so it was pretty nice. I made it through around half of the rides before doing this review and they’ve been fun.

I’ll quickly go over the gameplay but it’ll be difficult to go too in depth due to how many rules there are. First off you start with a hand of 5-6 cards and then each player rides a grade 0 Unit. As each turn passes you can ride a card with 1 grade higher until you get to the max of 3. (There are future cards that go higher but I doubt they’ll be added anytime soon) There are 3 columns and 2 rows which you can rill with monsters. Only the 3 monsters in the front row can attack and the one in the middle is your Vanguard. He gets a Drive Check which has the potential to strengthen your team, heal your damage, or do something else. The first player to get to 6 damage loses the match. The only way to deal damage is to attack your opponent’s vanguard with a monster stronger than his own. The attacking player has the advantages of having a support monster to boost attack as well as the drive check so attacking is quite easy.

You’ve also got a bunch of other mechanics like sentinels and intercepts so you’ll want to study a bit. There are a few rules that are simplified here compared to the actual show and I imagine it was to help balance the game as well as make it go quickly. Depending on how many rules were added each round could take forever. As it stands most duels aren’t very long although I can’t say that I’ve actually counted how long any of them took me. I imagine they may be around 10 minutes or so. The deck I went with was Kagero and it served me well. Ultimately the battle I ended up getting stuck on was Aichi on Hard mode. That guy’s pretty hard to deal with and he’s also got a permanent attack boost on all of his monsters which is a little suspect if you ask me.

As for the graphics, the game looks quite good. Aichi’s character model is the only one that looks unfinished but everything else is very polished and holds up quite well. The soundtrack is excellent with the full anime opening being the intro music. I definitely appreciated that nod and in general it’s all very high energy so you’re always right in the thick of the action. It makes every duel even more enjoyable and for a mobile game the key is making the game easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice. This game achieves that because you’ve always got time for a quick duel. I think card games really excel in the card game format and this one is no exception.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard Zero is a great game. You’ll have a lot of fun here and even if you’ve never played before you’ll be fine. The game gives very detailed tutorials and the online community will also be more than willing to help you out. There’s a good amount of support here and a lot to do. I’m definitely confident that you will be engaged for the long haul. Right now I’m pretty busy with Final Fantasy VII Remake but Zero was definitely a whole lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the game grow. As with most mobile games this is where my journey will end, but it was still a pretty fun experience.

Overall 8/10