9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review


It’s time to take a look at the second Disgaea game. After the first adventure I knew that it was time to jump into the second one. It’s a tad shorter than the first but by the end my playtime for both of them was basically on the same level. One big difference though is that the second game requires less grinding. At the same time, it’s also in part because I understood the mechanics better and had a more balanced team. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a mage on the team. I got one named Marcia in this title and she saved me more times than I can count.

The story starts by introducing us to a human town that has slowly been corrupted. Now all of the citizens are turning into monsters and it is the work of Overlord Zenon. Adell is the only human on the planet who has been unaffected and he takes this as a sign that he has to be the one to find Zenon. His Mom tries to summon Zenon but they accidentally summon his daughter Rozalin instead. As Rozalin is bound by the contract to stick with Adell for a while he promises to get her back to her father. This way they will both get what they want. Can he really trust this Princess though?

Along the way the duo meet quite a few allies to help in their quest. First up is Tink who is a demon frog with a split personality. He’s definitely a little on the crazy side and is easily the weakest character of the group. He never pitches in when it counts. Then you have Adell’s little siblings Hanako and Taro. Hanako is always calling Taro named and looks up to the demon lord Etna. She is a reasonable enough character I suppose and could be worse. Taro is too lacking in confidence and the fact that his goal in life is to be Razalin’s servant doesn’t really bode well for his character.

One character that shows up later in the game is Yukimaru. She is an assassin who wants to end Lord Zenon once and for all. Her ice abilities are pretty fun and her gimmick isn’t bad. Basically she says zam at the end of every sentence. Her brother also shows up on a similar quest although he isn’t nearly as heroic as she is. By the end of the game Yukimaru is one of the only characters who can keep up with the main two so I recommend keeping her in your party. As a character she is fun to have around as well.

One of the most enjoyable characters is Etna though. Since she was from the first game that made her appearances extra special. Initially she shows up as a guest star character who is at a crazy level 1000. She even takes down Zenon which is immensely impressive. I was glad to see the old characters get their hype since they didn’t get to be main characters this time. Etna is still as ruthless as ever though as she constantly destroys her minions. While she may be hanging out with the main characters for most of the game don’t mistake her for being some kind of hero. She’s definitely just in it to get more power and destroy Laharl once and for all.

Laharl gets a much smaller role as he only shows up for a quick boss fight. It’s still an amazing scene though and reminds you why he is the Overlord. Ultimately Laharl actually meets his match though. I would have liked to have seen him fight longer, but it was a decisive loss for him. Power isn’t everything and he probably could have used some of his old pals to help even the playing field a bit. Part of what makes Disgaea 2 so much fun is how epic these scenes are. It has the advantage of being a sequel to it can utilize the nostalgia of bringing the old characters back like this.

The amazing soundtrack is also handy for this. Etna gets a cool insert song whenever she appears as well and it fits with her amazing boss fight where you are completely helpless. It also builds the atmosphere as well. Axel gets a similar theme that’s really hype and of course Laharl brings in some of the themes from the first game. Despite just playing that one I can see how nostalgic that would be. The game also has a fully animated opening which is pretty awesome. You don’t really see those as often as you’d like. It’s got a little more shipping in it than you’d expect but the action is really hype and the lyrics are catchy. I’ve listened to that theme quite a few times.

Axel The Dark Hero is basically the replacement for the Dark Adonis. He’s another guy who thinks he is the rival to the main character. His story is a little tragic as he just wants to be rich and famous but things never tend to work out for him. When he finally does get his success everyone says he made the wrong choice. I think they were all just jealous to be honest. While I wasn’t a big fan of Axel at the start the game does a good job of developing him into a quality character. By the end he was quite enjoyable. I still prefer the Adonis but they were close.

As for Overlord Zenon, he’s a very unique villain. He takes a lot of losses throughout the game and gets beaten up so badly you keep wondering if the guy is really such a feared Overlord. It’s an interesting take because he clearly isn’t the strongest villain out there, but he’s just strong enough where people fear him. It’s a nice theme that Disgaea has done with the villains. Zenon makes up for this weaknesses with his near immortality and to be clear, he is still immensely powerful. He’d probably be top 10 for the fighters we’ve seen so far. His master plan is definitely twisted but really interesting. I don’t think I’ve quite seen such a plan before and his target’s reaction to it is also amazing. This fighter wasn’t phased in the slightest.

Adell is a great lead and one of the better main characters that I’ve seen in recent years. He’s just a guy who wants to protect his family and doesn’t need to have more of a backstory than that. He’s a very honorable main character who refuses to ever break a promise. While everyone doubts whether he is a human or not for the whole game he never has any doubts about it. His confidence is part of what makes him so solid and the game likely did subvert a lot of expectations with that. I was expecting some kind of twist by the end but Azell just didn’t need one.

Meanwhile Rozalin is a great heroine as well. At first she is constantly scheming to destroy Adell to protect her father but gradually realizes that he is not a bad guy. It’s a nice character arc for her and in particular she gets a pretty solid scene with Laharl. As royalty Rozalin refuses to back down to anyone. The only part that gets repetitive is the line “I’m a being of solitude” which gets old after the first 3 times. It gets spammed relentlessly in some games. That’s really the only thing I can say against the game though. This is pretty much a perfect adventure and the banter between Adell and Rozalin is a lot of fun. Disgaea 2 really does a superb job of balancing the hype scenes with more light hearted comedy/parody elements.

Wait a minute, did I skip the gameplay section? Well, the gameplay is basically the same as in the first one. You are in an overworld map view and your goal is to destroy all of the enemies on the square. You control up to 10 characters in a turn based combat system and use attacks and magic to defeat the enemies. You can gang up on an enemy or divide and conquer them. The tricky thing to keep in mind here is that only the opponent who actually destroys the enemy gets any XP. Everyone else does not so it can be very hard to keep a balanced party. I ended up having Laharl and Rozalin way higher leveled than the others. It takes too long to level everyone up so I just focused on having two. It’s rare where you’ll need more than 2 characters in a level if they’re strong enough.

A huge part of the game is the equipment you get though so make sure to buy the best of the best. It increases your stats way more than leveling up would. I also recommend focusing on attack power because it makes the grinding a lot faster. Also you should turn off the combat animations once you’ve seen them enough because it speeds the game up greatly as well. You’ll need to use the Dark Assembly to unlock higher enemies for the shop. If you want to pass any real bills though you’ll need to bribe them which can get expensive. It’s great for the post game though.

The main story is around 20 hours and then the post game is effectively endless. You can go up to level 1000 and there are so many things to do that it can get a bit intimidating. It’s nice to have though because if you really love the game then you can be here for quite a while. Disgaea never backs down from giving you quite a lot of content to deal with which is pretty awesome. The graphics are also quite sound and you can see how they’ve improved since the first game. It all looks quite clear and I look forward to seeing another upgrade in the third game.

Overall, Disgaea 2 is an excellent game and I would actually say that it surpassed the original. It’s very close in terms of characters but the story of the second game is just a lot more interesting and high stakes. I like the idea of every Overlord deciding to duke it out to see who the strongest one is. It’s a very complete story and one that doesn’t need a sequel but I’d like for these characters to show up again at some point. Perhaps the group would be seen as too powerful at this point but it would be perfect for a 2 on 2 fight, Adell & Rozalin vs Laharl and Etna. I’d definitely buy that. If you like a good RPG with tactical gameplay then I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 9/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness Review


It’s time to look at a pretty big RPG that I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while. Disgaea always looked like a blast and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Most RPGs tend to languish for a while though as I focus on the shorter games, but it was time to finally just jump in and this game was worth the wait. The game definitely takes a lot of strategy and grinding levels to get through but it always feels like you are making good progress here.

The game follows the demon prince Laharl. His dad died when choking on a pretzel and Laharl nearly got assasinated in his sleep, but the assassin messed up and didn’t give him enough poison. Laharl is now determined to prove that he is the Overlord as the rightful son of the former king, but he will have to earn this respect by beating up all of the other demons. An angel named Flonne is sent to assassinate him but she can’t go through with it because it doesn’t seem like a holy thing to do. She is determined to prove that even demons can experience love and other emotions so she tags along with Laharl.

There’s a lot of plot in the game, but needless to say it involves a lot of big battles with the humans of Earth, the Angels of Celestia, and even other Demons. Along the way Laharl, Flonne, and Etna gradually become more like actual friends and we meet other party members as well. Can Laharl ensure Flonne’s safety through all of this or will he see this emotion as weakness and ultimately leave her on her own? He’ll have to face his many insecurities along the way in this journey.

The story’s definitely solid here. The game has a lot of fun with the various accents that the characters have. The Dark Adonis (Or Mid-Boss as the characters call him) definitely has the best voice. He’s a very quirky character but one that works quite well. A lot of his scenes are pretty fun. I like how he laughs with such confidence and you can always count on him showing up in various chapters. He’s also one of the most deadly bosses as losing to him will cause you to go all the way back to level 1 and have to replay the whole game. Just reset the console at this point, resetting the game is not worth it if you ask me. There isn’t really any benefit to going through multiple cycles.

The Defender of Earth, Gordon is also pretty fun. He has that very over the top hero voice that most shows use as a parody nowadays. He may not be very smart but his heart is in the right place. Some of his decisions towards the end of the game are questionable though and do hurt his character. Jennifer was fun, she’s definitely the real brains behind his team. She certainly likes to mess with Laharl a lot though. The only weak part of their trio and one of the weakest characters in the game is Thursday. He’s not nearly as entertaining although he has one or two good lines. He just takes way too long to get to the punchlines.

There are a solid array of villains here. I really don’t get the Seraph’s plan though. I can’t talk about the ending much so as not to give spoilers here, but the test wasn’t very good. It’s all a bit convoluted on his end and you can’t really justify any of it. The game has multiple endings so things will change a bit based on how you play the game. I got the standard ending which is definitely pretty emotional. I wasn’t expecting such a sad ending considering that there are a few sequels. So far they don’t seem to tie into this one very much though. It was a good emotional ending.

One side character that is a lot of fun is Kurtis. He doesn’t get a huge role but whenever he appears you know that something hype is about to go down. In general the game really turned up during this part of the game although all of the chapters were pretty fun. From the main 3 characters Flonne is the weakest one although she’s still reasonable. She’s definitely a bit on the naive side and can be quite pushy but she’s a nice friend to have. While I didn’t have a proper mage she was still reasonable for healing a bit at times.

Etna was another main character and she’s a blast. She narrates the next episode previews for most of them and likes trolling everyone. She’s completely unhinged so you never know if she will help out or stab you in the back. I suppose that makes sense for a demon though and Laharl always seems proud of her for that reason. She’s pretty entertaining and a good example of how to properly make a crazy character. Finally we have Laharl. He’s a bit whiny and self conscious because nobody ever pays him any respect but I liked him overall. He’s definitely quite powerful even if there are some enemies who are clearly above him in power. He may be the Overlord but that doesn’t make him the strongest. He gets a lot of development as the game goes on and we also get glimpses into his tragic past.

The gameplay is quite smooth. The levels can take a little while because of the nature of the game though. You command up to 10 characters at a time and levels can have up to 15 enemies. That’s 25 character turns you have to watch each time with unskippable animations for their attacks. It’s not as long as it sounds but that’s part of why you will be playing the game for around 30-40 hours. The game is quite long and there’s a huge post game to consider as well. This game can really last you just about forever if you stick around.

The level cap is 1000 which gives you a good indication of what to expect. One thing to note here is that equipment is more important than levels. Your top priority is absolutely getting the best gear you can. If you get stuck for a while on the final boss as I did then I recommend capturing some enemies and selling their equipment. It’s a great way to earn cash. There’s a lot of features I haven’t even touched on here like the Dark Assembly where you bribe senators. There’s a ton of things to do in this game but there are a lot of tutorials to help you out. It’s easily the most complex game I’ve played in a while and the best part about that is you really have a ton of freedom to play it however you like.

The graphics are pretty solid here. The animations are really good and some of the attacks get quite out there. It’s like you’re watching DBZ at times. Then the soundtrack is pretty catchy too. You’ll know the themes quite well by the end of the game but that doesn’t make them any less exciting. This is really a very well balanced game. There are no weak links to be had and it’s part of why I jumped right into the sequel. I’ll have a review for that one up as soon as I complete it.

Overall, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was really a great start to the franchise. It’s a pretty long RPG so you really have time to get used to all of the characters and master your Xcom skills. This kind of strategic gameplay is really satisfying to get through. You do need to really enjoy the gameplay to really get the most out of this game because replaying levels is effectively mandatory here. There’s no way you can beat the game without getting some good level ups and equipment. I probably spent almost half of my play time replaying levels and the final boss was still a real challenge. How difficult the game is will depend on how you build your team though. The best part of Disgaea is that you can play it hundreds of different ways with some loadouts being better than others. My mistake was not having a mage on my side which I made sure not to repeat in the sequel.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review


It’s time to look at a Mario game that came out quite a while ago. This was back during the first days of the Switch. I nearly got the game back then, but ultimately Fire Emblem Warriors won out and so this one took the backseat for a long time. After finally playing it I can definitely confirm that this game is a lot of fun. The plot may not be all that solid, but as every other aspect of the game is on point it's definitely easy to get into this one. There aren't a whole lot of strategy games quite like this one.

The main plot is that the Rabbids have infected Mario's world. They are contaminating everything and in particular this can be traced back to one Rabbid who has on a pair of glasses that allows him to manipulate reality. It'll be tough for Mario and pals to deal with this, but they are ready nonetheless. Bowser Jr. wants this rabbid for his own purposes as well though so the heroes will have to contend with him. Fortunately Mario and the gang have arm cannons now so they can blast away at any who would dare oppose them. It's definitely handy to have a long range weapon like this.

So in this game you control 3 characters at a time. You're put on an overhead map much like Fire Emblem and the goal is to strike at the enemies. Well, most levels are about defeating all of the enemies but some are simply about getting to the goal at the end. It's a turn based system and when it's your turn you are able to make a movement, launch an attack, and use a special ability. Once you've finished moving all 3 of your fighters then the opponent gets to have their turn. The villains can sometimes have up to 8 people on a team so they get a lot of turns in a row. Ideally you want to always be hiding behind a rock or something as otherwise they'll finish you off very quickly.

You always want to be thinking one or more turns ahead of the match. You also have to take into account that there are some variable features to look out for like critical hits or moves that have a special element to them. Usually it will work in your favor, but that won't always be the case. I hadn't played an Xcom game quite as advanced as this one before. The one I had played previously was on the GBA and it's definitely not as intricate. I can definitely confirm that I like this system. It's pretty fun and definitely challenging. You won't be fast blasting through this game so easily.

That said, as long as you patiently look at the enemy patterns then you'll be okay. I certainly did die a few times along the way, but after a loss you will always have a better idea of what to expect the second time around. Usually my plan was to keep my 3 members pretty close to each other so we'd overwhelm the opponents when they got close. My go to team was Mario, Peach, and Rabbid Peach. With two healers on your team you're ready to go for the win. Not to mention that the healers can also survive on their own for a while. There are multiple battles where 2 of my teammates died and I was fighting 2v1 or 3v1.

One of the most hype moments came during the final boss battle as rabbid Peach was the only one left against 4 of the big bruisers and the final boss. It was intense and it took me 22 turns because I had to rely on running and gunning it, but it all worked out. It was definitely a pretty intense boss battle. I did manage to beat it in one try, but it's no walk in the park. Going slow was really all I could do in order to ensure that I got the victory.

I also tried other characters along the way like Luigi and Yoshi. Luigi's pretty handy, but he feels like a glass cannon. Often times he would be the first one to be defeated. Then you've got Yoshi who is pretty good and a nice power hitter, but I just really needed two healers on my team. Only having one made things tricky. That's also because Peach tends to hit people with collateral damage a lot. I really love her high attack power, but with her eagle eye skill she would end up hitting me pretty much as often as she would hit the villains. The damage adds up very quickly and she is partially why Mario died after 1-2 turns in the final boss level. Gotta keep an eye on her cannon.

The graphics are definitely pretty sharp here. The colors are vibrant and the cutscenes that we get look really good. I can't say that I'm surprised since Ubisoft always runs a pretty tight ship. The same can be said for Mario games in general so there was no way this one wasn't going to look good. The soundtrack isn't quite as good as most Mario games, but maybe that's the Rabbid influence. It works well enough I suppose.

There's definitely a lot of replay value here as beating the story is just the beginning. There are many challenges to conquer and new areas to explore. There are also a lot of collectibles scattered across the levels so getting those will take a while. The main story is also pretty long. It's hard to say how long it took me to complete this one but it was at least 10 hours and likely quite a bit more. My Switch won't show the play time yet since it's still too new, but it'll show soon and then I'll upload that stat to the rankings. The game has also had quite a bit of DLC so you've got a good amount of content to work through once you play this title.

While the plot is still "Mario" I do appreciate the fact that there is a lot more dialogue than usual here. It gives the characters more personality and I'd like to see more of this in an actual Mario platformer title. The extra story details and such would definitely help and without the Rabbids to distract you it could really go far. Fans of Bowser may be a little sad at his portrayal here, but while he doesn't look tough it was nice to see him as the considerate father figure to Bowser Jr. In general Bowser always seems like a nice guy aside from the whole kidnapping Peach thing. Not really something you can overlook though.

Overall, Mario + Rabbids is definitely a successful experiment. Of course, that's mainly attributed to the gameplay. I'd definitely like to see more Mario games adopt this style. I can see how it would be a little tough for kids, but they do have an assist built into all of the levels where you can start the match with extra health for all of the characters. I think that should help the kids get through it a little easier. I definitely recommend not using that feature though because it will take away from your ability to adapt to the level. If you've got a crutch like extra health then you simply won't see the point in honing your skills. If you haven't played this game yet then you should change that. It'll give you a run for your money.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

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