Sword Art Online Calibur Review

As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10


Secret of Mana Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Play Time 20h 3m
PS4 Trophies 30/38
669737 GP
Characters Met 41/46
Enemies Met 90/121
Weapons Unlocked 52/72

Character Stats

Terry Level 60
Masamune Level 6
Dragon Lance Level 2
Chakra Hand Level 0
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 1
Hammer Whip Level 0
Were-Buster Level 0

Terry Jr Level 60
Masamune Level 9
Dragon Lance Level 6
Chakra Hand Level 0
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 3
Hammer Whip Level 0
Were-Buster Level 0
Gnome Level 7
Salamando Level Max
Undine Level 0
Sylphid Level 2
Dryad Level Max
Luna Level 0
Shade Level 0

Terret Level 61
Masamune Level 0
Dragon Lance Level 0
Chakra Hand Level 2
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 1
Hammer Whip Level 4
Were-Buster Level 6
Gnome Level 8
Salamando Level 8
Undine Level 8
Sylphid Level 8
Dryad Level 8
Luna Level 8
Shade Level 8

Secret of Mana Review

The Secret of Mana is an RPG that I had heard of in passing but never focused on too much. It just got lost in the shuffle next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Well thanks to the HD PS4 remake I have finally gotten to play it. It’s definitely a great RPG as you would expect and the real time/turn based mix will remind you of the .hack series.

I renamed the main characters so bear with me here. Terry is the chosen hero who is finally able to wield the Mana Sword. Everyone is shocked and dismayed because once the sword is lifted the world is supposed to fall into ruin. Terry meets a girl named Terret who needs help in stopping a witch to rescue the hero named Dyluck. Unfortunately this is a dead end but she must continue on her quest and since Terry has nothing more pressing to do at the moment he agrees to join her. Finally, they run into a sprite known as Terry Jr. who was scamming people for money. We show her the error of her ways and add one more member to the party. Now we must attack the enemy fortress and save the planet!

The gameplay is a blend as I mentioned earlier. You have a number under your character. Once it rises to 100 you are free to attack again and deal some damage. While you can attack sooner than that, it will almost definitely miss and even if the attack lands it will be weaker. Furthermore, the count will go back to 0 so waiting it out is just the better option. Also, you should start leveling up your magic early on as it is incredibly useful. Level them all up if you can, but you should focus on 1 in particular to get it to a high level early on. The Gnome magic was really useful for me, but each boss is typically a different element which is why you want a lot of them.

Equipment is extremely handy in this game as well and is basically mandatory to clear the game. You want the top of the line stuff and if you think you can beat an area without purchasing some armor then wait til the next village. Each village gradually adds better equipment options so you save a lot of money by just waiting. Of course, earning money is actually pretty easy in this game so it’s not something that you have to worry about that much. It will come naturally. Likewise, the EXP grind here isn’t bad either. It will go very quickly. That’s why you just want to stay at the top of your game since the A.I. won’t help much. They tend to just get crushed very quickly throughout the game.

Terry is a reasonably solid main character. He does actually talk and everything so he has a real personality. His personality is that he’s a hero and while that may not be all that deep or anything, the character means well. We do get a random plot twist involving his Mom which was kind of out of left field, but Terry took it in stride. Terret is a solid heroine. Her whole adventure is about saving the legendary Dyluck which is a nice twist of events. You rarely see the heroine have to go and save the famous hero and I can definitely get behind this. Shockingly they don’t even try to get you into a contrived romance with her as Terret only has eyes for Dyluck the whole game. I can applaud the title’s restraint here. Terry Jr probably has the least time to get really good, but she’s not a bad character. I still don’t get why she is referred to in the plural sense, but I don’t want to assume that it’s a translation error. Either way, she helped to raise everyone’s spirits.

As far as the villains are concerned, I would have liked them to have had more screen time. The villain group shows up out of nowhere and half of them are defeated quite quickly and without a chance to really show off their personalities. The King who makes a deal with the main villain wasn’t very smart, but made for a decent antagonist. Thanatos is the main villain to watch out for and he is definitely pretty strong. I like the design and he made for a cool antagonist. Then we have the Team Rocket trio who felt really out of place. They weren’t quite as hype as the others.

One major plot point is that you have to choose a side. Destroy the Mana Beast or destroy the Fortress. I felt like the game couldn’t really decide which the right option was as the Fortress is evil from the start, but by the end of the game we decide to destroy the Beast instead to balance things. This was part of the main plot and it made no sense. Now, I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened with this game and that is probably what made the plot feel rather off at times. It’s unfortunate but that’s also part of why I consider this RPG’s plot to be one of the weakest RPG plots in a while. It takes a little bit to get going and then once it does it’s like we’re playing an abridged game. Not to the same extent as Sonic Forces fortunately, but enough that parts of the plot feel weird like with the Beast. Personally I would have helped the guy, but apparently he was going to destroy the planet in the process so I suppose that wasn’t a viable option. Then we have a guy named Genma who talks tough throughout the game, but never actually got to do anything. Ah well, at least he looks rally tough.

The graphics were switched from sprites to 3D character models which usually works pretty well, but perhaps not in this case. The boss designs looked a little more intimidating in the original version and the colors were nice and sharp. As far as the cutscenes go, the characters don’t actually move their mouths while talking half of the time. Not a big deal I suppose, but basically it had the art style of World of Final Fantasy without the detail. I guess if this allowed the game to come out a few years early then it was probably worth it. As far as the soundtrack goes we have quite a few tunes. Each area has a different theme and they all work pretty well. They are classic rpg style themes so they should remind you of the good ole days.

The length of the main campaign is roughly 20 hours give or take so it’s definitely a solid amount of time for the rpg. You will almost certainly need to grind by the end so I’ll give you a pro tip here. Max out your Dryad skill since you cannot defeat is he final boss without it. I made it to the final boss without leveling it up at all which meant I had to go back and grind it out. If you level it naturally then it won’t actually feel like a grind. You’ll probably end up shaving an hour or two off as well. For replay value you can probably nab most of the trophies to end up with the Platinum. Out of the 38 in the game, I think around 26 are obtained just for completing the game. That’s a pretty solid number if you ask me. If you want to get the Platinum then you need to make a backup save before you beat the Blue Dragon as there are some rare item drops that you can’t go back for. It’s probably a good idea to defeat every new enemy you see as well to register them. Getting the Platinum here isn’t hard at all but it does take a little time and nobody wants to replay a 20 hour game just to get one missed trophy.

Overall, Secret of Mana was a pretty fun game. As far as RPG stories go the plot was rather weak, but the gameplay was still enjoyable. I just love RPGs in general as leveling up and grinding can be a blast. I can see why they got so big back in the day. Many RPGs will end up being quite solid by the end since you get used to the characters as you shared so much time together. This one is no exception and there is certainly a lot to do. Even without replay value, the story length justifies the price that you paid for it. Maybe I’ll get to play some more Mana games in the future. Until then, I recommend checking out this game and seeing what the Secret of Mana has to offer you. It’ll test your mettle one way or the other.

Overall 8/10

.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Review

The .Hack series continues with this next game. Getting Outbreak was no easy task given how expensive these games are, but I knew that it was time. It took a little while to relearn the mechanics and weird element system (Fire beats Water?….) but once I got those out of the way I was ready to dominate. It’s a really fun game even if it’s the shortest one.

I can’t give a great previously segment since I’m hazy on that myself but more and more people are starting to behave oddly. The World appears to be having an impact on the players’ minds. The Mods have decided to shut it down, but doing that would ensure that the people in a coma stay that way which would be unfortunate. Kite decides that the team should strike one last offensive at Cubia and the army of Databugs, but the only way to succeed is to have Helba, Wiseman, and the Mod on board.

Beyond the main plot there are a ton of subplots looming in the background. The Cat user from the previous games is deteriorating more and more as the games go by. At this point she doesn’t have long until she is completely corrupted. Her friend is worried but there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do about this situation. Then you have other characters who are trying to get treasure or other rare items and want Kite’s help with this. One character is even planning to leave the game which would be tragic. I did a few of the side missions. They’re not all that long so it wouldn’t be a problem to do them, but I’ll just put them off til the final game. Then I may have fun saving all of them if I need more rare items or I’ll just try and take the final boss head on.

The gameplay is exactly as you remember it with the unique mix of real time and turn based combat. As I mentioned, it will take you a little longer to get used to it if you haven’t played the game in a whole because there are certain nuances that make this game more complex than others. You will have to keep switching your party tactics since your A.I. Allies are completely dependent on this. Then you’ve also got to remember the types. Basically there are many pairs of two elements and both elements are good against each other. Water beats fire but fire beats water. Using the elements is absolutely required and will help you take down bosses. If you don’t use the elements then I’d say that you are really in a pinch.. It’s just such a massive game changer.

Level ups are important as well of course. While I was still relearning how to play I quickly focused on level ups. I got about 20 right away and that left Kite at level 70. That’s high enough for you to beat the game. Perhaps not easily, but it is achievable. You’ll still be a bit of a glass cannon without good equipment, but that is hard to get. I barely even notice the difference to be honest so just get used to carrying a lot of potions and revives around. You’ll absolutely need them and when your partners are running low on inventory you should give them some as well. Sharing is caring after all and if everyone is properly equipped it will make the whole journey a lot more manageable. The game’s difficulty is intense, but not unfair. Just have every element on hand even if it means lugging around extra equipment that you could have sold for more money. You can always find more ways to get money, but good equipment is hard to come by. Data Draining powerful enemies is probably the most efficient way of getting effective inventory.

The graphics are about the same as the other 2 which makes sense since it’s practically the same game from a technical standpoint. It looks good and the graphics have aged quite well. The glitch effects that occur when a databug shows up are still genius. It looks as if an actual glitch has appeared as the screen will go crazy and it sounds like a computer shuts off. It’s all very meta and really well executed. I’d like to see a modern game take a stab at something like this as well. With other big data games like Digimon and Sword Art Online still going, one of them should try to have an interface like this. I think it would work really well. There aren’t really any new tunes here or maybe there are and they just weren’t memorable. Either way, it’s very nostalgic. You’ll certainly remember hearing these themes from the first two parts and they’re still a lot of fun. I would like to have an extra theme or two, but the ones in the game are satisfying enough.

When it comes to the story length this game is a lot shorter than I was expecting. The first game was 25 hours long, the second was 15 and this last one was 12. I guess we’ll see how long the 4th game was but if it’s any shorter then it’s really going to breeze by. I also think I did more of the bonus content in the 1st game which helped its case. After beating the game there are a bunch of side quests to do here so there’s a ton of replay value. Leveling up and getting new equipment isn’t exactly a fast process either. It’s certainly worth the normal price. Granted, this game goes for around 50-80 dollars nowadays so you’ll want to think carefully on if it’s worth it or not. The game’s a lot of fun so I’d say it is, but don’t spend too much on it. Know your limits. It’s why I likely won’t be getting the final game for a while since it’s well over 100 dollars. That’s just way too much money for a single game and hopefully the price will go down at some point.

I have to mention one last time that it’s really cool how the game feels like an online MMO. There’s just so much to do here and the game keeps track of every little thing. How many objects you break, enemies met, etc. It gives you an incentive to just keep playing the game and you could easily cross 100 hours just by doing all of this. One slight improvement the game could make would be to allow you to get to the main menu without having to log out every time, but I guess that is for the added realism of being on your computer. It’s definitely pretty meta.

Overall, Outbreak is a solid addition to the .Hack series. While it is a little on the short side, the gameplay and story are on point as always. We’re one step closer to the climax now and I can definitely say that I’m a big fan of the franchise. I’m also looking forward to the GU titles as those definitely seem pretty action packed. Who knows, maybe I’ll do some of the side quests at some point while waiting for the 4th game. At least I leveled up a bunch ahead of time so when the 4th game comes out I should be ready to rock and roll. I just need to remind myself that type advantages are key and by putting that in this review I will definitely be prepared.

Overall 8/10

.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Play Time 54h 29m
Areas Visited 269
Grunties Raised 2
Grunty Foods 77
Encounters with Monsieur 3
Encounters with Grandpa 2
Symbols Activated 112
Treasure Boxes opened: 782
Items broken 585
Gott Statue treasure opened 16
Total Gift amount 90300GP
192/303 Monsters Encountered
41/76 Characters Encountered
16 Trades
Magic Portals opened 826
All Field Portals Opened: 4
All dungeon portals opened: 3

Character Levels

Kite Level 71
Mia Level 68
Orca Level 50
Marlo Level 69
Sanjuro Level 69
Nuke Level 68
Balmung Level 69
Moonstone Level 68
Piros Level 68
Wiseman Level 68
Elk Level 68
Natsume Level 68
Rachel Level 68
Gardenia Level 70
Terajima Level 61
BlackRose Level 69
Mistral Level 52

Sakura Wars: So Long My Love Review

This is one of those games that has been on the backburner for a very long time. I don’t even know how many years its been since I first bought the game but there were just so many that kept getting ahead of it. Well, the game finally made it to the top and I managed to complete it. I haven’t played too many visual novels, but it definitely can be a fun genre when handled well. The story is good and the characters are fun so it’s a good experience. Of course, the genre can only go so far without too much gameplay.

The story starts off with our hero Shinjiro Taiga. He has arrived in New York to be an usher at a famous theater. It turns out though that this theater is actually the headquarters for the New York Combat Revue. This team fights off all of the giant robots and aliens that threaten the planet. After the first mission goes terribly for the team, Shinjiro steps up to be the leader in place of the injured Ratchet. He may not have experience and the team may not respect him yet, but he will give the mission his all! As the game progresses he gradually begins to learn about his teammates and their tragic pasts. With a new sense of unity within the team, they will have to stop a fearsome demon known as Ranmaru from awakening the ultimate evil!

You can argue that the most important part of a visual novel is the cast. This is the one genre where the gameplay isn’t really the focus. There is gameplay of course, which I will talk about later but with bad characters it just wouldn’t matter. Fortunately the cast is solid for the most part. There are only a handful of characters that aren’t all that good and most of them are minor supporting characters as opposed to being the leads. Naturally we should start off with the main character.

Shinjiro is the main character and he’s a nice guy. He doesn’t really have any personality beyond being a nice guy who works hard. I suppose that’s all he needs though and I’m only judging him from the decisions I made. You have the option to make him into a fairly sketchy character if you wanted too. He’s not going to be remembered as one of the best main characters out there, but he’s a good guy and that’s good enough I’d say. He wants to protect his friends at any cost and is always quick to jump into a fight. That’s the kind of vigor you want in a main character.

Ratchet is a character who felt like she would be really important in the story, but surprisingly doesn’t get much of a role. She appears a lot more than the two girls by the front of the theater, but her actual importance is barely any higher. Still, Ratchet seems like a nice character even if I disagree with her decisions. She does care about the team and what she lacks in fighting ability she makes up for in tactics. One of the game’s paths apparently has her fight again towards the end which is cool, but in my story she never got back into the mech after the opening level. A shame since it would have been cool to have had her fight.

Gemini is definitely the main heroine of the game. She’s in the center on the cover, the game’s subtitle is referencing her, she’s the character Shinjiro ends up with in my story path, her subplot is the most important one and shows up in various chapters, etc. She is definitely the main protagonist aside from Shinjiro and she gets a ton of character development. She moved to New York to try and succeed in the Big Apple. Gemini grew up on a farm and has to adjust to the city but wants to prove that with hard work you can succeed anywhere. The other half of Gemini moved to New York to avenge her master who was murdered by the demon Ranmaru. See, Gemini was born with two hearts because she was supposed to be twins, but there was a complication during the birth and so the twins share one body. They are able to change places depending on which will is stronger. It’s an interesting take on the plot since usually it would just be that Gemini’s split personality isn’t actually real.

Here both Gemini are real people who are simply trapped in one body. I liked Gemini’s twin quite a lot and so officially I would put her as the best character. Gemini would be the second best though so it doesn’t matter too much compared to the others. The twin’s quest for revenge is just handled really well and she can actually fight without a machine which gives her a step over the others. It’s just a great plot and while of course it does throw in some romance you can avoid it for the most part. I chose to use Shinjiro as a good friend who was helping her through a tough time. The only rough patch of her arc is that we learn that her mentor was actually a pretty bad person so it turns out that Ranmaru was doing everyone a favor. Sometimes it is good to have villains around I guess. Gemini also owns a horse which gives her extra bonus points.

Sunnyside is the director of the team and definitely the shadiest character around. He jokes around so much that it’s hard to know when he’s serious. Perhaps he really would have destroyed one of the main characters in order to stop the villain. It’s just hard to say, but either way I can’t say that I’m a fan of his. He just isn’t a likable character and I can’t say that he did a great job of leading the team since he is always withholding things from them. Letting Shinjiro be the captain of the team was probably his best decision.

Diana is the weakest member of the main fighters. Her story arc is about how she doesn’t value life at first. She feels like since everyone dies eventually they may as well die right away. Definitely a rather grim way at looking at things. As a result, she lets the villains destroy a lot of birds in the process before she gets ready to fight. It’s just such a terrible plot because birds were the one creature that she was always really fond of and she still wouldn’t get up to fight. By the time she does it is simply too late. I couldn’t respect her as a character and there wasn’t much she could do to save herself at that point. Honestly, we don’t have to stop at main characters. She’s the weakest character in the game for sure. Her chapter with the birds is also what caused the game to lose one star with all of the animal violence.

Rosita is a fun character and probably the only main character that the game doesn’t try to pair you up with which is a nice change of pace. She’s basically just a kid so the bond with her is more of a father figure. She is a bounty hunter so Rosita is a tough kid. She wields two guns which she doesn’t hesitate to use. I still question how she was able to apprehend so many criminals but I guess if your gun skills are good enough then age quickly starts to become irrelevant. I feel like the voice actress probably had a lot of fun laying it on thick with the accent. It sounds rather fake, but is pretty fun. When used well accents can definitely make a character more memorable and I doubt I’ll be forgetting her voice anytime soon. Rosita is also very useful during the fights since her attack range is so long.

Then we have Subaru. She’s the quiet, but mean character who thinks she is above everyone else. I say “she” because I think it’s obvious, but a mild subplot is that nobody knows which gender Subaru is despite the character trying to make it obvious to everyone on several occasions. The game even forces you to ask her directly at the very end of the game to which she naturally doesn’t bother telling you. Honestly, who would in such a situation? Subaru isn’t a bad character, but I’d probably consider her to be the second weakest of the main 5 behind Diana. She just isn’t as interesting as the others and her episode wasn’t quite as fun. At least she can fight in hand to hand combat which is cool. The quiet character archetype can work well, but usually the livelier ones will end up being more enjoyable.

Cheiron is the law expert and she is always firm with everyone. She does lose a lot of credibility during her backstory though where she sells out to corporate and tries to destroy Harlem. The whole time this is happening you keep waiting for the twist where she is actually helping them out, but it never happens. She was apparently just brainwashed while getting her degree and forgot about the little people. It’s definitely well known that power corrupts, but it really hurts her character to see it happen to drastically. We put her back on the right path and she becomes a good character after that though. She’s quick to come to Shinjiro’s defense when the others take it a bit too far in their picking on him and she also serves as a mentor for Rosita. A rocky start is certainly better than a rocky ending as we at least got to see Cheiron improve during the game. She’s not the best member but at least she is a good one.

Ranmaru is the main villain of the game. He shows up in every chapter to mock everybody and keeps making threats. He’s technically very strong and so the whole team has to come together to stop him. I guess you could technically say that about most of the bosses though. While Gemini wanted revenge, she goes manage to spare Ranmaru as part of her development. I can get behind that, but it’s a bit of a stretch when the whole cast chooses to just let Ranmaru go. At least arrest the guy! This was a big mistake and is the reason why Nobunaga later gets revived. Ah well. Ranmaru is definitely a solid villain and he makes for a good enemy for Gemini. She definitely would have been outmatched without the others though.

Finally we have Nobunaga. He’s not nearly as interesting as he just shows up to say that friendship is fake before admitting that it’s the best thing ever. He doesn’t have a whole lot of time to appear so I guess it makes sense, but he could have been a lot cooler. Things also started to get a little weird when they brought reincarnation and time travel into the mix. Getting rid of that subplot would have probably been a good idea since it does come completely out of left field. That being said, he did give us some good fight scenes. Nobunaga’s design is on point and he is certainly a threat thanks to his high power level. It’s intense to see one guy taking on a whole squad of super powerful mechs.

So the gameplay mainly occurs at the very end of each chapter. There are minor quick time events during the chapter where you will walk a few steps from area to area or move a lever. There are of course many choices that you have to make, but I’m not even sure if I’d call that gameplay. I mean, it’s just pointing and clicking. Still, your choices will have an impact on the ending. I believe there are 5-6 endings so choose carefully as the game will force you to pair up with someone so it might as well be a hype character. I tried going for the friend zone, but the game denied me.

The main combat gameplay is Xcom style like in Mario vs Rabbids or other games of that nature. You control 5-6 robots and have to either destroy a bunch of generators, defeat all enemies, or take down a huge boss. Typically the big boss at the end will have several parts and you’ll have to decide which target to focus on. You can go straight for the boss core or try to take out the armor and limbs around it to make the boss weaker. It’s always a tough call and there’s no real correct answer. They can all be risky and you still have to watch out for the minions swarming you from all sides. It’s a really tactical game and you feel like a true leader. I definitely had fun trying out quite a few different strategies. The final level in the game is naturally the hardest and it took me quite a few tries to complete the level where you are protecting the ship. Just keep on trying out different tactics until you figure out which one works for you. Your allies’ strength will depend on how well you get along with them when you’re making decisions so it does actually encourage you to be nice to them. I got quite a few wrong answers with my partners which is probably part of why the levels were so hard towards the end. Still, I always have to give the answer that makes the most sense.

As it’s a visual novel the game does have some pretty iffy choices at times. We get the usual hot springs mixup as well when the main character forgets how to be smart. Even the falling on top of someone cliche happens. Still, the game was fairly tame in this regard. It may have been because I would always give the safest answer, but that’s part of why being able to pick your response is always a good thing. It’s a minor enough element where it’s not a big deal. The harem elements of this game are pushed to the backburner which is a really good thing. You can still choose to interpret the game as everyone (except your final decision character) just likes Shinjiro platonically.

The graphics are really good. This game actually has full anime cutscenes scattered within which is really cool. A lot of the game’s cutscenes are just stills with voice acting after all so this shows where they spent their budget. The illustrations do look good though and the character designs are on point. Mix this all together and I’d say that the graphics definitely did a really good job. It may not be the next big thing or anything like that, but it’s solid enough.

It almost goes without saying since I’ve never heard of a short visual novel, but the game’s length is pretty good. It should last you around 15-20 hours I’d say. There isn’t any replay value since once you beat the game that’s it so it’s all about the initial playthrough. I mean, there are multiple endings, but would you really want to play the whole game again just for that? If that’s your plan, then it’s best to make multiple save files once you’re deep into the game in order to experience them all. There’s definitely enough content here to justify the price and the difficulty also ensures that you won’t blast through it too quickly.

Overall, Sakura Wars was a fun game and definitely fun to play through. The length was good and the gameplay was fun when it happened. Most importantly, the story was good so it was like watching a fun anime movie. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the visual novel genre. If you really need gameplay or don’t like long cutscenes then this won’t be the title for you. So long as you know what to expect and like the idea of this game then I’d say that you’ll definitely like it since the execution is on point. It’d be cool if we got another Sakura Wars game someday. Also, I have to give the game one final shoutout for making the whole thing take place in New York. That was really cool and it’s the only anime type game that I can think of which takes place there. Unless I’m missing something, I’ve now played two visual novel games. This one and Guardians of the Galaxy. I guess we’ll see what the third is!

Overall 6/10

Cave Story 3D Review

Cave Story is a retro side scroller that was a pretty big deal when it came out for the 3DS. I remember seeing it all the time back in the day. After all these many years I finally got to play it and it is definitely a pretty solid title. It has a good amount of difficulty which should challenge and frustrate even the most skilled players of the genre.

The game starts off with two “kids” (seemingly) chatting through their computers. One of them is locked up in a hut while the other one has managed to escape from the villain organization. Their predicament still isn’t great though as the villains are looking to kidnap Sue again. (The one who escaped) Fortunately, a Robotic soldier from the surface has shown up and decides to help these guys out. He will stop the nefarious organization and save the world. This soldier may be brave but is he up to the challenge?

One thing you’ll notice right away as you play the game is that the title is very cryptic. You are kept on a need to know basis as everyone makes references to past events or tell you parts of stories that you have to fill in on your own. As you talk to more and more NPCs you will likely have more and more questions. The game is definitely trying to set up a lot of lore and I’m sure it was fun for some people to decipher it all and put it in a wiki. I’ve always been content to figure stuff out in my own as well and don’t think the game/any form of media should spoon feed you all of the info. Let us figure out most of it on our own and only give the really crucial parts.

The gameplay is like the classic Mega Man games. It’s primarily run and gun as you go through the levels. It is part RPG though so it’s not as simple as merely running to the goal each time. You will have to talk to people and go back and forth to get the necessary items to carry on. The backtracking isn’t all that extensive though so I wouldn’t really worry about that part. You start out with a classic beam gun and quickly get missiles. How the game works is each gun starts out at level 1 and can be upgraded to level 3. Enemies drop the energy that you use to power up the weapon. Taking any damage will then cause you to lose the energy. Thus, the game highly rewards a patient approach as you try to clear the game without really getting hit. You gather energy quickly so it’s not as if you can’t afford to get hit but I like to see how long I can last. One thing to note is that level 3 of the upgraded machine gun you get later on allows you to fly by shooting at the ground. Unlike the jet pack, you can fly forever this way once you also get the quick ammo reload power up. There is apparently also a powered up Jetpack you can obtain which may do the same thing but I never found it so this is a great alternative. As you play you will have to decide which weapons you really want to level up. You can level them all up of course but there is rarely a need too. Some abilities like the sword slash feel like weaker alternatives to your regular weapons anyway.

Each boss has patterns that you can learn and exploit through experience and quick reactions like the Mega Man games. There doesn’t seem to be much RNG (if any) in this title which is good since it comes down to skill. Even then I was glad that we got consistent save points throughout or it would have been a tough trek. As it stands, there are two parts of the game where you go a long stretch without a save point and those parts was tough. In particular, the triple final boss is really difficult and I definitely had to retry that one a few times. Find each boss’ weaknesses and learn how to win while taking minimal damage. It’s a considerable challenge, but I’m sure you can get it done.

The main character is a nice enough guy but of course he doesn’t have any actual personality. Sue seems reasonable enough but she basically spends most of the game getting kidnapped so it wasn’t her best role. The guy who was on the computer turned out to be a rather old guy and one who wasn’t very brave. When push came to shove he was ready to abandon ship and even offered us a ride home. I wasn’t having any of that and stayed in to fight. The bad ending was tempting to watch though, but I was on a mission. Either way, that guy is ally that you don’t want or need to have on your side. The villains were pretty interesting and charismatic though. Not really the main villain though, but his partners. The scientist comes off as rather generic. His plans aren’t bad I suppose and he had a good super form but he just didn’t look as cool as the others.

One big villain who kept showing up was this sentient Toaster. Perhaps the game meant for him to be a boom box or an oven but he looked like a Toaster to me so I’m sticking with that. He even had his own theme music which was really fun to listen too. While the Toaster’s redemption arc may be rather cheesy and hard to buy into considering just how mean he is, it could have been dragged out a whole lot more. He is the best character in the game for sure and you have to admire his drive and persistence. No matter how many times you defeat him he will come right back. Another villain who was cool was this evil fire mage/fairy creature who is bound to serve the one in control of the temple. As a result she works for the Scientist. She’s a good fighter and her abilities seem similar to that of Infinite’s. She doesn’t get to do a lot in the game but at least we do fight her once so that was neat.

The soundtrack is limited but fairly good. As I mentioned, the Toaster got the best theme in the game. It’s just excellent and really makes you enjoy the fights. The rest of the themes aren’t bad, but you will hear them a lot so get used to it or it’ll be a tough time. The graphics aren’t quite as good as the music though. The levels are all fairly dark and the sprites are small. This makes it rather easy to get hit by stage hazards and the like even when you would have dodged them otherwise. This happened to me a few times in the final level with the stone spires. The graphics aren’t bad, it’s just that the lighting was dark which hurts the overall look. It’s still bearable though and just make sure you play in a well lit area. I also wonder if it might just be my 3DS since screenshots of the game look fine. In my playthrough you wouldn’t have even known how the main character looks if not for the cover. It’s like it was zoomed out too much or my 3DS is getting ready to kick the bucket.

The game is reasonably long and took me 8 hours. I can’t say that there is much replay value beyond beating the game but there is enough. You can keep on chatting with everyone to find out more about this war torn world. You can also grab new weapons and I believe you do unlock a new level so that would be pretty fun. All in all, it’s definitely enough content to justify the price. The game will last you for a satisfactory amount of time and the level of difficulty will ensure you don’t beat the final levels too quickly. I died quite a lot in this game so I can definitely vouch for the game’s difficulty.

Overall, Cave Story 3D is a fun game. The gameplay is on point and I did like how the weapon levels worked. It’s a very unique take on the leveling system in general and one that I’d say works. The plot may be vague and even by the end you don’t know what the full situation is, but the mystery aspect can be enjoyable in its own way. You don’t always need all of the answers. I’d recommend checking this game out. It’s a very solid side scrolling adventure with a lot of options on his to play the levels thanks to your array of weapons. When in doubt, just fly. That’s my motto in this title.

Overall 7/10

The Powerpuff Girls HIM and Seek Review

The Powerpuff Girls is one of those franchises that was a little before my time but it certainly looked like a lot of fun. The style of the show also gives the series a lot of potential for games. I’m pretty interested in trying out the GameCube title but I figured I’d settle for the GBA one this time around since the big game slot was already filled for Christmas. The title basically spoils the final twist of the game but I suppose by then you’ve already played through the game so it barely matters right? It’s a decently fun game but one that is extremely short and just couldn’t live up to its full potential.

The game starts with the girls hanging out at school. Their teacher tells the class that they will have a Scavenger Hunt and whoever collects the most items gets a gold trophy. The heroes are hyped about this and begin collecting while thwarting the many thugs who hang around the school. Can the team save the world and their school reputation or have they finally bitten off more than can chew? One thing’s for sure, you’ll find out very quickly.

The game is only about an hour long. You can certainly complete the game in less time than that if you hurry. It took me around an hour, maybe a few minutes longer so I fit into the curve. That’s definitely a very short game by any stretch of the imagination. This is a big part as to why I can’t give the game a full 7 Stars. It’s over in the blink of an eye so no matter how fun it may be, it’s still an issue. I gave Sonic Forces a lot of heat and that game was at least 3 times longer. Sure, this is a gba game but even then you definitely expect a little more to be honest.

So the gameplay is akin to your typical side scroller. Think Teen Titans as opposed to Mario though. You fly around and beat all of the thugs up. You can fly up and down as well as left and right. Just bumping into an object that is in the list will allow you to obtain it. Every area has at least two story objects to find and they typically have collectibles for others as well. Talking to the people around town will get you the rest. The collection aspect is fun enough and as a kid I probably would have tried to 100% this game since is seems like it would take a reasonable amount of time to do. Seeing the characters get the Gold Trophy is sure to be satisfying.

Some of the bosses can provide a reasonable challenge if you just have one Powerpuff Girl left but this is nullified by the fact that you instantly respawn with all 3 members back to start the fight, it makes any battle trivial in the end since you effectively have 3 health bars at this point. I would definitely give the gameplay a pass. It’s pretty easy to pick up and play while still remaining enjoyable. It feels retro and nostalgic in a good way. That’s why it’s a shame that the game is so short. There’s a lot of potential here and you could draw some similarities to the Legacy of Goku series. Of course, that series also has a great level up system and solid transformations so it’s not as if this game was ever going to pass that one. Still, it’s worth thinking about.

The only issue I’d have with the gameplay here is that it was hard to navigate around town at times. There is a map of the various areas but it wasn’t created with a lot of thought behind if and doesn’t even show you the exits that lead to the various places. Even with the NPCs trying to be helpful you are likely going to waste a little time going from place to place. It’s sort of like Breath of the Wild where you can’t run for very long so prepare for a lot of “walking” (slow flight)

The graphics are okay. The Powerpuff Girl designs are on point and they did a good job of recreating the city. It actually holds up pretty well in this regard. Unfortunately the music is less inspired. There aren’t really any memorable tunes. The only music that will really get you going is the game’s opening with is basically the opening from the show, but abridged. I would have liked more cutscenes but at least we did get illustrations for the big bosses so I guess we take those.

Overall, Him & Seek is a fairly decent game. There aren’t a whole lot of scavenger hunt games so it was pretty unique. Nostalgic Powerpuff Girl fans will definitely get a kick out of this game as well. It’s a solid title that I would recommend but you definitely need to be aware of how short the game is before you agree to purchase it. It’s a single hour long so unless you find a great price it’s not worth spending a lot of money on. Even this review was short as a result since there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. There are plenty of other games that you could buy which would give you far more entertainment. That’s why my recommendation is rather half hearted as you could certainly buy other titles that handle the genre more effectively.

Overall 6/10

Asdivine Hearts Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 24h 3m
PS4 Trophies 6/15
Main Quests Completed 94/94
Side Quests Completed 0/?
Total Steps 226287
Enemies Defeated 1395
Skills Used 249
Magic Used 2095
Damage Dealt 35422
Damage received 6655
Max Hit Count 25
Max overkill count 10
Gold Spent 2186200
Treasure Opened 134

Character Stats


Level 70
Light Magic Level 52
Dark Magic Level 11
Clear Magic Level 1


Level 70
Light Magic Level 48
Dark Magic Level 1
Clear Magic Level 1


Level 70
Light Magic Level 1
Dark Magic Level 49
Clear Magic Level 1


Level 70
Light Magic Level 1
Dark Magic Level 47
Clear Magic Level 1


Level 70
Light Magic Level 1
Dark Magic Level 1
Clear Magic Level 52