Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

gits_trailerThere has been quite a few good science fiction animes to come out from Japan.  Ghost in the Shell was one of them.  Starting out as a manga, the anime adapted the source material and went in its own direction.  Using elements from cyber punk like cyborgs and brain hacking, it  became a instant classic around the world.  It is not surprise that someone would want to do a live action adaptation.  It is also not surprising that, even though it is an international collaboration, a Hollywood actress was chosen to star in it.

Ghost in the Shell is an 2017 science fiction movie starring Scarlett Johanssen,  Takeshi Kitano, Michel Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche.  It is directed by Rupert Sanders.  It is based on the Ghost in the Shell multimedia franchise, pulling it’s inspiration from the various version, but with an original story.  It is released by Paramount Pictures.

Set in the not so distant future in a culturally diverse city that could be future Tokyo (on not;  they do not specify), it focuses on a woman given the name Mira Killian (Johannsen).  Involved in a terrorist attack which killed her parents and severely maimed her body, she is saved by a company called Hanka Robotics.  She becomes the first fully augmented human, with a robotic body and a human brain.   Employed by a government agency called Section 9, she obtains the Rank of MAjor and leads a squad of mostly cybernectically enhanced personnel.  When a mysterious hacker called Kuze, starts to target and kill employees of Hanka, the Major and her team-mate, Batou, try to track him down.  But, the Major discovered that she as a connection to Kuze, somewhere in the past that she barely remembers.  As she goes deeper into this mystery, she starts to question her memories, even her own name as she discovers a secret at Hanka that they will to anything to keep hidden.

Ghost in the Shell is a fast paced movie that does not forget it’s anime roots.  In fact, there are several shots and action secrets that were based on scenes from the 1995 movie, from the building of the Major’s body to the fight sequence in the water..  The visual are very futuristic, with the city skyline dominated by holographic signs and billboards.   It looks very futuristic but still very much in the realm of probability.

The storyline is good.  There is nothing too out of the ordinary, given the source material.  There are a lot of movies with heroes with a mysterious past with benefactors that are hiding secrets.  The Major is pretty somber but as she questions her past, more of her emotions show.  The rest of Section 9 is used sparingly, save for Batou who acts like he did in the original anime.  They even show how he got his cybernetic eyes.

Now, the major complaint about the movie is the “white washing” of the Major.  They could have easily cast an Japanese woman I the role, but with Hollywood, they would like a marque actress to star in such a project.  ScarJo is pretty popular right now and has international recognition.  The creator of the manga even says he didn’t mind th casting (but that could be the money talking.).  The movie does explain her name change and it will be up to each viewer to decide if they accept it.  But, there is no reason to thing that a future Japan could be more heterogeneous place.  Western films like Blade Runner had a future America where Japanese was spoken widely.  Putting aside the guilt of past colonial aspirations, what is the difference from that setting to the one here, if it is set in future Japan?  Anyone familiar with Ghost in the Shell knows that each iteration is different for each other.  The manga is different from the film.  The film is different from the T.V series.  Even Arise differed from Stand Alone Complex.  This is just a different version of the Ghost in the Shell story.

Ghost in the Shell is not perfect, but it is a decent science fiction movie.  If one can get past comparing it to the anime, it is an entertaining movie.  Scarlett Johannsem is a decent actress, but one cannot argue that she looks good in tight outfits, which she wears plenty in this film.  The call out to the original are well done and Aramaki is pretty badass for an old guy.

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Ghost in the Shell opened 31 March 2017.  It is rated 14-A in Ontario.

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PS Vita/PS4 Review: Gal*Gun: Double Peace

Gal*Gun: Double Peace is a Japanese first-person on-rails shooter developed by Inti Creates and published in the West by PQube.  It is a sequel to the original Gal*Gun game published in 2011.  The game is available for both the PS Vita and the PS4 video game systems  This review is for both versions.

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Note:  This Review is not a paid review and only is my opinion.  All screenshots were taken with either the PS Vita or PS4.

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Ekoro, the angel with great aim but poor trigger control.

Gal*Gun: Double Peace puts you in the role of Houdai Kudoki, an ordinary, rather unremarkable student at the Academy (which I’m sure is some college or something…).  When Ekoro, a student angel assigned to bring love to one of the students, accidentally hits Houdai with 32 love arrows, he finds himself the target of affection of all the girls.  Ekoro explains that, because of her mistake, he has until the end of the day to find his one true love or be alone forever.

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The demon-hunting sisters , Shinobu (l) and Maya (r)

Houdai’s best chance for love resides in two sister he had known since childhood, Shinobu and Maya.  But they are both demon hunters, unaffected by the effects of the love arrows and are both emotionally aloof when around Houdai.  They are also busy trying to hunt down a novice demon, Kurona, who is causing more mischief.  Houdai has until dusk to get through to one of the sisters to show their true feelings and find true love.  He only have to avoid love-mad students and teachers, and any other trouble Kurona unleashes.

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Girls are rushing to express their love, sometimes violently.
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Let them get too close, they will hit you, kiss you, or express their love  which drains your strength  (Ribbon DLC costume shown)

 

In order to fend off the love-sick mobs of girls, you have to shoot the girls with pheromone shots from your… well, I don’t know where they come from.  Do you use a finger gun?  Shoot them with a sexy look (Blue Steel!) or do you point at them with an…appendage or some sort?  Well, anyways, you shoot them with your love gun (heh) until they collapse in euphoria.  That’s what the game tells you but it just another way of saying that it’s an orgasm gun.

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In Doki Doki Mode, shoot the girls in certain areas to raise their euphoria until they can’t take it anymore.
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Get their euphoria high enough and they will give you the “double peace” like this teacher.

One you have satiated enough ladies with your pheromone shots, you build up enough energy to go into Doki Doki Mode.  This stuns all the girls on-screen and you can select up to three girls for a mini-game in which you can shoot pheromones at specific parts of their body until the org-… achieve euphoric bliss.  If you do this in time to at least one girl, when the time ends, her euphoria will explode knocking out all of the girls on-screen.

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Some girls are under demonic influence. Zoom in and shoot the mini-demon first

Additionally some of the girls are under the demon’s influence and want to abuse poor Koudai.  These girls are stronger and more resistance to the pheromone shot.  You have to zoom in and find the mini-demon that is controlling the girl.  Take out the demon and then you can euphoria the hell out of her.

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Occasionally there are mini-games, like try to get Shinbou unstuck from a window,

Of course, throughout the game you have to win over one of the sisters.  Both love you, but each has a reason to deny that love and not get involved with anyone.  You have to say the right things to her to raise her affection rate.  Say or do the wrong thing and it could lower it.  You can also improve it by helping them out in a mini game.  These mini-games usually involve you shooting demon bugs off their bodies and help them out in some way.   You could be helping Maya get herself unstuck from a demon trap or bide your time  looking for a way to free Shinobu from the demon’s control while she…steps on your junk while in her underwear.  Oh Japan…

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You have to scan all over her body for those mini-demons.  All.  Over.

 

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She isn’t putting out a cigarette with her foot

The game adds replay value by having multiple paths and multiple girls to woo.  At first only Maya and Shinobu are available, but as you beat the game multiple times, options to woo them both at the same time opens up.  You can aso take a path to win over the angel, Ekoro, the demon, Kurona, or have them both.  You can also chose another path to find a random girl, if you unlock it.  There are multiple ending for each choice, too.

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Replay levels in time attack mode

Other modes are a time attack mode for all the levels you played and a speed one for each of the different paths that you beat.  There is alos a dressing room, where you can change the attire of any of the girls in the game with outfits you have unlocked or purchased through the DLC.  There is also a collection mode where you can see so stats in the game, what endings you have unlocked and view art from the game.

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Like this one.

Another option in Collection mode is the Student Roster.  Here you can see the names of all the students and teachers that you encounter.  As you play the game, you unlock more girls and you can find student hand books to tell you more about them.  You can also zoom in on them in the game to unlock information like their height, measurements (B-W-H) and weak spots which is handy in Doki Doki mode.  Unlock enough and you can even get an option to ‘fantasize’ about them, in which you view their 3d model, pose them and change the background.  You can even poke them on the Vita’s touch screen, if that is your thing.

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If you know enough about them, you can “fantasize about your fellow students or the teachers in the Student Roster

The versions of this game for the PS Vita and the PS4 are exactly the same, but each has their drawbacks.  The Vita version is slow to load, taking over a minute until the game actually starts up.  The PS4 version loads much quicker, but there are parts in the game in which the screenshot and video recording is disabled, such as when Shinobu is humiliating you while in her underwear or during the end scenes.    You can still screenshot in the PS Vita during those spots.  While both games have a good translation overall, there are no subtitles during the mini-games and, unless you speak Japanese, you don’t know what they are saying, though the games does tell you what to do.

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Screen shot from the PS Vita
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Video capture and screenshot are blocked in Fantasy mode but you can still the pictures on the PS Vita.

The graphic are good, if not spectacular.  It has a solid anime feel to the art design and you could be excused for not knowing it was make with the Unreal Engine middleware.  The graphics are bight and crisp and I did not see any glitches or slowdowns in either version.  The graphics are a bit better on the PS4, however, but that is how is should be.

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Shinobu in the torn Uniform DLC

This game features a cross save functionality.  You can upload your PS4 save and download it to you Vita and vice versa.  All of the DLC are cross buy as well, meaning you get it for both versions.  Currently the DLC is mostly costume for the girls.  You can buy them individually or in sets of four.  There are two sets available for purchase with one costume, the ripped uniform being only one not included.  There are also DLC for reducing the girls’ breast size (Angel’s Cutting Board) or increase it (Demon’s Meat Buns.)  Then there is the Pheromone Z DLC, which allows you to see through clothing (which you can already do, if you keep your reticule on the girl long enough.)  This one cost $90!

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Shinobu confronts Kurona

Let me rant here.  This is the worst case of nickel and diming people ever and that’s including horse armour and anything EA has ever done.  Now, there is no nudity in this game.  You can already see through their clothing if you zoom in and look at them long enough and you see their underwear.  If they are in swimwear or the ribbon DLC, there are hearts covering where the nipples would be and they still have panties on.  This DLC just makes it that the clothes disappear when you look at the girls through the site.  The developer, PQube, said that it was meant to be a joke and nobody should buy it.  So, why bother selling it?  Seems like a bad joke for a slightly lewd game.  You can get more value in a Season Pass for another game like Fallout 4 or Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.

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This should be enough for anybody.

Overall, this is a okay game.  Gal*Gun: Double Peace is bit of an ecchi (sexy or dirty) game with the ability to see through clothing, some of the dialogue choices if you want to play it at a creep and the questionable age of some of the girls, offset by the fact they are only anime characters and hey, Japan.  But, at it’s core, it is about childhood friends admitting their feeling have grown into love, if you play it that way.  The fact it is a on-rails shooter where you are pretty much along for the ride with the occasional choice turn giving you the illusion of choice takes away from it a bit.  But it is a fun ride and the multiple paths and collectables add replay value.

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What’s an ecchi Japanese game without Tentacle Monsters? Incomplete, that’s what.

Gal*Gun: Double Peace is only available in physical release through online shops or as a download on the PlayStation Network.  Check online for pricing.

3/5

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The girls can attack from afar with declarations of love…
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Or up close with kiss attacks.

 

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Gal*Gun Double Peace_20160804130128

 

 

 

 

 

PS Vita/PS4 Review: Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

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Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is a third person hack-and-slash game developed by Tamsoft and published in North America by XSEED/Marvelous USA. The game is available for both the PlayStation Vita handheld and the PlayStation 4 home console. It is the third Senran Kagura game on the PS Vita and a direct sequel to Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. It is the first game in the series on the PS4. The PS Vita version is compatible with the PlayStation TV micro-console. This review covers both the PS Vita and the PS4 versions.

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Ryona (L) and Ryobi (R) chase after the ghost of their dead sister and kick off this adventure

 

Estival Versus features all four factions from the previous game. After Ryobi and Ryona (from Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy) encounter their long dead sister at a strange ceremony in the woods, they are transported to a tropical paradise dimension. Soon the other Hebijo Girls find themselves drawn into a bright light into this dimension, as are the other groups; Asuka and her friends from Hanzo, Yumi and her Gessen classmates as well as Homura and the rest of the Crimson Squad. Each group are set upon by mysterious ninja, the same group that had attacked them before at the hot springs (as shown in the Senran Kagura: Estival Versus Original Video Animation, not included but you can find it online). The girls fight their way through and all of them meet up and encounter their mysterious host.

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Sayuri and Ryoki

The host is an old woman named Sayuri, a former Kagura or demon hunter. She is also Asuka’s maternal grandmother. She tells the girls that they are now part of the Kagura Millennial Festival, a 8 day celebration to honour those ninja who died in vain in order to give their spirits peace. The celebration includes a contest called the Shinobi Bon Dance, with each team competing against each other to see who can destroy the most shinobi platforms. Assisting Sayuri are Ryoki, the sister of Ryona and Ryobi who was killed by a yoma (demon) on a mission against Miyabi, and the Mikagura sisters, three shrine maidens with their own ninja arts and agenda. Sayuri should not be underestimated either because she holds power inside her.

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The Mikagura Sisters

The game plays pretty much the same as Shinovi versus, with some levels requiring you to defeat a group of enemies to be able to move on to your next objective within a large area or just a large battlefield where you fight until you win. Most of the time (not always) you will face off against up to three or the other characters and have to defeat them.  You still have tricks like Aerial Rave, where you launch you opponent and chase after and attack them in the air. You still have the three mode to fight in; Flash, where you fight in your normal form with no access to you ninja arts; Yang, where you use your shinobi transformation and have access to your ninja art attacks with increased strength; and Yin or Frantic, where you strip down to your underwear, increasing you speed, strength and power, but at the cost of your defence.

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Gameplay from PS4 shown

 

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Yumi at the start of her Shinobi Transformation…
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..and at the end.

New to the game is being able to fight in missions along a partner. Unlike Deep Crimson for the 3DS, this partner is totally Ai controlled and shifts between modes when you do. However, you can do an Fusion Aerial Rave, where if you touch the screen (or touchpad for PS4) when you or your partner initiated and Aerial Rave, both of you will attack the launched target no matter where you were. There are also new power-ups in the form of bombs. Besides the standard exploding bomb, there are bombs that inflict status ailments on you opponents like fire, ice or poison. There are even bombs that render you invisible for ten seconds . And there are context-specific finishers in most (if not all) levels. If you defeat an opponent near certain objects, the final blow will send them into that object for an comical, embarrassing cut scene, in which, of course, there are rendered naked.

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Miyabi and Imu do a Fusion Aerial Rave
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Yumi befriends an octopus in the one of the beach stages cut scene finishers

Here’s the Senran Kagura series’ main draw. Yes, the destructible clothing system is still intact. Each characters outfits can be torn away with enough damage. Powerful attacks will trigger a cut scene showing the character reacting. Unlike Shinovi Versus, the area you damage is not dependant on which type of attack you use (weak vs. strong). Outfits can be torn two times before the character is reduced to her lingerie and scraps of clothing. If enough of the costume was torn away and a powerful finishing blow was landed (or cut scene triggered) the character is stripped completely naked, with bright stars protecting their modesty.
The Shinobi transformation scenes are pretty much the same, too. There girls are naked once the transformation sequence starts, which is a magic girl trope from Japan since at least Sailor Moon (censored in the West) and the shinobi arts scroll appears, sometimes between their boobs, below their cleavage, behind their backs or appearing in…other areas. .We also get a close up of their outfits appearing onto their bodies with shots of their rear and chest. All the time any naughty bits are obscured either by a body part of by those glowing stars. Because, Lord knows, the world would lose its shit if they showed a nipple, animated or otherwise.

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You should see where she hid that scroll.

Customization is also a big thing in the Senran Kagura games and Estival Versus is no exception. You can customize your characters in the dressing room changing both their normal and post transformation outfits. Outfit and accessories can be bought with currency earned for completing missions. There is diorama mode in the dressing room in which you can pose up to three characters in the PS Vita or five on the PS4 and take a screenshot of them. There is also the touching mini-game in the dressing room. Using the touch screen on the Vita or on screen hands on the PS4, you, erm, well grope them until they like you (THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS IN REAL LIFE! DON’T DO THIS!!!) after which, if you touch their hands, you can “give” them a “kiss.” You can also tear off their clothing (DON”T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!) by rubbing them on the PS Vita’s touch screen with the handheld vertical, which I cannot get to work, or, on the PS4, where, with the grope hands activated, you turn the DualShock 4 vertical and… shake it up and down (think about it…) Subtle, this game isn’t.

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In the dressing room you can change the girls outfits like this pirate outfit
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Use those hands to touch the girls in this pervy mini-game. The full heart means she likes it.

There are also DLC available at launch, with four free outfits that are cross-buy (buy for PS Vita, get it for PS4 as well.  Additional characters are also coming with Naraku and Kagura from Seran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson and a special guest character in the form of Ayane from Dead or Alive, reciprocating the Senran Kagura costume DLC for Dead or alive 5: Last Round.  I’m sure there will be more outfits and accessories in the near future.

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Pose any girl and take their picture in the Diorama mode. You can have up to 3 girls on the Ps Vita…
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…or up to 5 on the PS4.

Despite all the fan service this game offers (and uses as a selling point) the story of this game is pretty good (yes there is a story!) Ryona and Ryobi’s relationship with their dead sister Ryoki is one of the main beats of the story. While Ryona is thrilled to have her older sister back, Ryobi is not, still feeling guilty for telling Ryoki that she hopes she dies before the battle that claimed her life. Of course all this character development is undercut with Ryobi verbally abusing Ryona and Ryona loving it and demanding to be abused more. Seriously, Google search Ryona (BUT NOT IMAGE SEARCH, for your sanity’s sake) to see what fetish her name can refer to. Feel free to GIS Ryobi. All you get are pictures of power tools, which I don’t think has anything to do with the character.

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Ryona knows how to ruin a moment.

There are other serious storylines for the other girls. Yumi and the Gessen girls have a part in which they encounter Kurokage, Yumi’s grandfather and teacher to all of the Gessen students. Miyabi also has a part in which she looks for the soul of her dead mother, who was killed by a Yoma when she was very young. Asuka also has her part to play, trying to figure out why her grandmother really brought them here and what her true motives are. But before you start to think you were getting some serious and deep storyline, it reminds you this is a Senran Kagura game with Katsuragi groping the other girls, Imu lusting after Miyabi and Haruka making up events like a panty-eating contest.

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Katsuragi’s lust for boobs knows no bounds.

Now it is time for a bit of a rant. Now, I am not a big believer in censorship. I think it is stupid that we are afraid of showing nudity more than violence. Now there is violence in this game but it is not graphic and the nudity is fan service, but very cheesecake and all the naughty bits are censored for our protection. Some have objection with how the girls are portrayed.. They are just drawing, not real people and there is enough plausible deniability they the school as post-secondary and all the girls are of age (why would they release this if they were not?). I personally avoid using characters like Ryobi and Mirai because the whole jailbait look is not for me. So, if a game like this gets released in the West, why isn’t Dead or Alive Xtreme 3? It is much less violent, nobody gets stripped (those there might be a few near wardrobe malfunction scenes) and the swimsuits aren’t that far off of what you see in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit video or, at worse, A Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show! Why doesn’t Koei Tecmo release it here? Marie Rose? Mirai is much worse and the official trailer for DOAX3 says Marie’s age is 18. How else would she travel to a tropical paradise alone? My only guess would be the Relationship System with the faux lesbian undertones. But I’ve gotten off track…

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A window pane preserves Asuka’s modesty, if not dignity.

Senran Kagura is a game that you must know what you are getting to enjoy. Like all the games in this series, it is Rated M and should not be played by anyone younger than 17. It is good clean dirty fun that is best enjoyed with a bit of irony and a whole lot of “oh, Japan…” It is a worthy sequel to Shinovi Versus and helps to expand the Senran Kagura universe. The physical release is the special Endless Summer edition which includes the game (either PS4 or PS Vita, art book, one of four sets of cards featuring the girls of each faction and a 2-disc soundtrack. The game is available as a digital download for each system for a cheaper price (I paid $79.99 for the Endless Summer pack for PS Vita and $49.99 for the PS4 game as a download on PSN.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus was released on 15 Mar 16 and is available on PSN or on online sellers such as Amazon. Some video game stores may have it in stock or can order it for you. Check your local retailer for details and pricing.

4/5

 

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You can do a lot with the diorama mode. It’s all implied, though
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Your thoughts have a lot to do with it.

 

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THE END!

 

Review: “New” Nintendo 3DS XL- Hyrule Edition

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The Nintendo 3DS is the current line of portable video game consoles from Nintendo, following the Nintendo DS before it as well as the Game Boy family of handhelds.  Coming out in North America in 2011, it boasted a stereographic 3D system that was designed to made the graphic pop out.  I was an early adopter of the system and I was not too impressed with either the 3D or the available games.  In fact, In the 4 years I have had it, I only got 10 games, mostly getting AAA games  (Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS), remakes of older Nintendo games (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) and niche Japanese games (Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and two Senran Kagura games), not counting the 20 Virtual Console games I got as an early adopter thanks to the Ambassador Program.  Mostly, it was I was mainly using my PS Vita as my “To Go” console, taking it with me the last two times I was “out and about” in the world.

With the newer games, such as Smash Bros, I found myself playing my 3DS more, but wishing for a model with a bigger screen.  So, the “New” Nintendo 3DS XL (released in North America February 2015) is that, XL meaning that it is bigger and the “New” indicating upgrades to graphic and performance with addition features not found in the older version.

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“New” 3DS Xl next to original 3DS

The XL version is larger, no surprise there with the two screens being bigger as well.  The layout or the controls and buttons has some minor changes.  The D-Pad and thumb stick are still to the left of the bottom screen and the face buttons (A,B,X,Y) are still on the right, with the left and right bumper buttons on the top edge of the lower half.  The Home button is still bottom centre beneath the lower screen, but has an elongated oval shape.  The Start and Select buttons have moved and are now below the face buttons.  Additionally, the “New” 3DS has a C-Stick, a little nub at the top fight of the lower screen that can be used to move the camera in some games as well as two more buttons ZL and ZR at the top by the bumper buttons.  The C-Stick and Z buttons work like the ones on the Circle Pad Pro, an add on that was used for some games in with a second thumb stick would be useful.

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Both systems open

Since it has “3D” in its name, lets talk about the systems 3D system.  Like the older models, it still uses the stereographic 3D system (essentially, it show two copies of the same image, one on top of the other to create “3D”) with the new Super Stable 3D system that detect the angle you are looking  form and adjust the image.  Like the older system, it game make it seem like it is 3D, with the new system helping to keep the effect if you move your head.  It works okay, I guess, but I am not a fan of it.  I usually play with the 3D turned off.

Other changes are the placement of the cartridge slot and SD card slot.  The game slot has moved from the top of the low half, in the centre, to the bottom left of the lower side.  The slot for the SD card is no longer on the left side of the unit, nor does it use standard SD cards.  The slot is not underneath the casing of the bottom half, near the battery and requires a micro SD card, either standard or HC (High Capacity) versions.  The unit does come with a 4 GB micro SD card already in the unit, so you don’t have to go out and get one, unless you have a large card in you old 3DS and plan to transfer to the new one.

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Back compartment open to show micro SD slot

The Transfer process is pretty simple and the steps are laid out in the instruction manual that comes with the system.  Under System Settings-Other Settings, select System Transfer on page 4 on both systems and follow the instructions.  It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour so it is best if you plug both in.  You have the option of re-downloading any titles you have on you old SD card or transfer it to the new micro-SD card using a PC (a micro-SD adapter and a PC with a SD card reader is required.   While transferring you will be treated to animations of little pikimans moving you data. So if you plan to upgrade to a new one and you have stuff to transfer, buy the new system first and do the transfer.  If you reformat your old 3DS before transferring, you will lose all of your stuff.

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Size comparison between micro SD and regular SD.  Canadian Quarter is there for scale

Other than that, it is just like the regular 3DS.  The new is the same, with the newer firmware adding themes that can be downloaded form the Nintendo eShop (some are free.)  The eShop does require you to have a login which can be used on the Wii U as well. Most software is tied to the console downloaded on, unless System Transfer is used.  Spot and Street Pass works the same as does all the software that is preloaded in new consoles.

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The design on the Hyrule edition is based on The Legend of Zelda. Figma Link not included

The one I got was a  “Hyrule Edition”, featuring a Gold faceplate with the Tri-Force symbol from The Legend of Zelda series.  This special edition is only available at EB Games in Canada (Gamespot in the United States) and cost an extra $25 than the regular “New” 3DS XL model.  It was on sale during the run up to Christmas and again, at least in Canada, during EB Games Boxing Day sale, in which you save $30.

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Themes like this Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask are available to purchase

The “New” Nintendo 3DS is a great system and has definitely gotten me to play more of my 3DS games.  The 3D is better, but still not my thing but the bigger screens are great, especially when playing Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS (that the games official title!).  I wish there was a screenshot option of this system as I’d would do more review on 3DS games.  Some games do allow you to take pictures and save them to the micro-SD cards, but there is no way to transfer them to you PC wirelessly.  While I do still prefer the PS Vita in that regard, games for that system are becoming few and far between.  The Nintendo 3DS library has a few gems that are not Pokemon or other “capture the monster and fight ’em’ type of games.  With old favorite getting remake  and new games, both first and third party that are not too kiddish (though I do enjoy the new Skylanders game) I may add a lot more games to my library.  And I might have to bring my 3DS along the next time work takes me abroad.

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While there is no system Screenshot feature, games like Super Smash Bros lets you pause the games and save pictures to you SD card

 

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While Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson have a photo mode to take picture of the characters in various outfit.  Nice clean photos…
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Yeah, not dirty at all…

 

 

PS Vita Review: Moe Chronicles

TItle Card
Moe Chronicles

Moe Chronicles is a First Person Role Playing Game developed by Compile Hearts and publishd (in Asia) by Sony Computer Entertainment.  It is the second game in Compile Hearts Genki series (which includes Monster Monpiece) though playing through the first game is not required.  It is not compatible with the PlayStation TV micro console.

(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures are captured in-game with the PS Vita’s screen shot feature.  This is not a paid review.)

Monster Girls are going Bad and attacking humans!
Monster Girls are going Bad and attacking humans!

Moe Chronicles takes place in a fantasy work where humans live alongside monster girls.  Monster girls are all cute girls that look human, save for some features like cat ears, wings or even a non-human creature they ride..  You play as Io, a young man who is a lazy dreamer who can’t talk to girls without looking like a creep.  When monster girls, who are usually friendly, start attacking people for no reason, Io is send out to find the cause.  Along with his childhood friend, Lilia, a pink haired monster girl, he sets out to solve the crisis so he can return home.

Io and his friend, Lilia
Io and his friend, Lilia

As they set out, Io and Lilia encounter another being investigating the monster girl problem.  His name is Otton and, well, the only way I can describe him is that he’s is a talking seal. A talking penis seal.  Just take a look at him!

Look at Him!!!
Look at Him!!!

That’s Exhibit A.  Now, you might think that’s just the way the cartoon seal was drawn and I have a dirty mind.  True, but, I give you Exhibit B;  Otton is a Panty Hunter.  That’s right, he defeats Monster Girls and takes their panties as his prize.  That thing around his neck?  That isn’t a bib;  that the panties of some poor Monster Girl he beat.  And then there’s the fact he ejaculates gold coin from the top of his head if he gets too excited.  More on that later.

 

Io can't help but admire the guy.
Io can’t help but admire the guy.

Combat is all menu driven.  Io doesn’t fight.  He can store his desire energy, release it to one of the party to increase their stats that round, use an item or order the party to escape.  The girls can attack, use a skill/magic attack, defend or charm, which increases Io’s desire energy.

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Otton has a simple goal.

 

The game has you explore mazes in a first person view, where you will randomly encounter monsters as you explore.  The monsters, drawn in 2D and with minimal animation vary and include bee-like creatures. UFO’s with faces and  blue monsters with a panty over their head.  You will occasionally encounter a monster girl, either at a checkpoint or an occasional wondering one.  There you can attempt to defeat it and have it join your party.

The battle screen
The battle screen
Even the monsters like panties!
Even the monsters like panties!

When fighting the Monster Girls, you can either aim at their body to get them to faint or aim at her armour pieces.  if you manage to destroy a piece, Otton gets  excited and his excitement gauge, shaped as a heart, starts to fill.  If you manage to strip her down to here underwear, Otton gets really REALLY excited, his excitement gauge fills completely and starts ejaculating gold coins all over the Monster Girl. (See?  Penis Seal.).  From there you go into the Bumping Scratch mini-game.

Targeting her clothes can help end the battle quickly. And Otton likes it.
Targeting her clothes can help end the battle quickly. And Otton likes it.
Otton makes it rain!
Otton makes it rain!

For the Bumping Scratch game, you turn your PS Vita screen 90 degrees.  You rub the screen with the picture of the monster girl trying to find their sensitive spots, which will fill Io’s “Postive Desire” gauge as well as Otton’s.  If Otton’s gauge fills up, you will go into Nude Flash mode, where the monster girl is naked, save some well placed hearts.  This will fill up Io’s gauge faster.  If you fill it within the time limit, you mange to bring her to her senses and save her.  If not, she escapes to show up again later.

Nude Flash. The hearts protect her Modesty
Nude Flash. The hearts protect her Modesty

As you recruit Monster Girls, they will join you party.  If your party is full (you can have up to five Monster Girls in your party) they will go back to the in and wait for you.  Each Monster Girl gains skills as they level up.  They also have what is called Moe Traits, which can provide an advantage in certain conditions .  The Moe Traits run from Animal Ears and Innocent to Cute Butt and Tiny Tits.  Yes, having Tiny Tits can give you an advantage, in this case the ability to counter attack if Io’s Desire is over 45%

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The skill page shows both skills and Moe Traits

The graphics are simple but colourful.  As I said, there is little animation with the monsters you fight and the cut scenes use static images of the characaters with only slight changes to their facial expressions or animated question marks being used.  The levels all have 2D back grounds but each level varies in its design.  But the characters are well drawn and the art is good.

The 2D art is well drawn.
The 2D art is well drawn.

The copy I reviewed was an imported copy from Asia.  I do not believe it is coming out in the West.  However this version has the text and menus translated into English, and done quite well.  I haven’t come across any misspelled words or improper grammar.  The voices are still in Japanese, but that’s not that uncommon, even with Western releases.  With the PS Vita having no regional locking (unlike the 3DS) you can play it on any PS Vita, no matter when it was bought.

Some enemies will join your party. Making Pet Packs can give you skills.
Some enemies will join your party. Making Pet Packs can give you skills.

Moe Chronicles is an interesting game.  Sure it is weird (*cough* penis seal *cough*) but it is interesting to see a game like this fully intact like the Japanese release, but in English.  I doubt this game would ever see a Western release, with the partial nudity, the rubbing and the vocal phallic sea mammal,   I took a chance with this game and I can say it was worth it.

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Yes it did, Otton. Yes it did.

Moe Chronicles was released in May in the Asia region.  I bought my copy from Play Asia for about $55 Canadian.  Check online for availability.

4/5

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Nude Flash.
Nude Flash.

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PS Vita Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed

2015-05-19-144747 Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a hack-and-slash action game developed by Compile Heart and Tamsoft and published by Idea Factory International.  It is a spin-off of the main Hyperdimensional Neptunia series.  The games also works with the PlayStation TV micro-console.

Neptune and friends are back!
Neptune and friends are back!
(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures are captured in-game with the PS Vita’s screen shot feature.)

The game features all four or the Console Patron Units (CPU), Neptune, Noire, Vert and Blanc, working together to keep the land of Gamindustri safe from monsters.  Along with the CPU candidate sisters (Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram), the ladies are approached by two Gamindustri journalists, Dengekiko and Famitsu.  They are based on real gaming magazines from Japan and, of course, are incarnated as cute anime girls.  Together, the Goddesses and their sisters take on missions throughout Gamindustri and the reporters cover them, and sometimes participate themselves.

This is Dengekiko, based on the Dengeki PlayStation Magazine
This is Dengekiko, based on the Dengeki PlayStation Magazine

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Famitsu is based on one of Japan’s longest running video game magazines
Like all the PS Vita Neptunia games, the game is fully voiced in English, with the same voice cast as previous games (and the anime, if I am not mistaken)  Some missions have cut scenes that explain the storyline and  the characters talk in-game.  The voices suit the characters, but if you are a purist, a Japanese voice option is available.

You are rated on how well you do on your missions
You are rated on how well you do on your missions

Noire on the battlefield
Noire on the battlefield
The gameplay is similar to both the Senran Kagura (also developed by Tamsoft), and Tecmo Koei’s Warriors series with you slashing your way through many on-screen enemies.  The levels usually consists of a few small areas with your objective being anything from number of enemies killed, defeat a boss or collect a certain object.  Your enemies consist of such foes as dogoos, 8 bit aliens, clyde ghosts, and mecha robots, the usual enemies in the Neptunia series.

The Enemies are varied, to say the least.
The Enemies are varied, to say the least.

Those are...HUGE dogoos!
Those are…HUGE dogoos!
At the start of the mission you choose up to two characters to play (some levels decide for you or limit you to one).  In battle you can switch characters at will (press down on the D Pad), building up their HDD meter. There is also a three-part meter the is used for energy for skill attacks using the L button and the face buttons.  As you take damage, your outfit takes damage and can eventually be ruined, leaving your character underdressed for the remainder of the level (more on that later!)

Noire (as Black Heart) and Vert team up!
Noire (as Black Heart) and Vert team up!
As in the other Neptunia games, the CPUs and their candidates can access their HDD mode, becoming powerful “Goddess” versions of themselves.  Even Dengekku and Famitsu have HDD forms (just tougher versions of their normal forms)  Their stats and hit points go up and they can access a special EXE Drive attack that drains the HDD meter, but causes a lot of damage.  Once the meter is drained, they revert to their normal forms.  Like the regular forms, if they take too much damaged, their clothes could become torn.

Noire is more than a match for the Mech in her HDD form
Noire is more than a match for the Mech in her HDD form

Neptune (As Purple Heart) going into her EXE drive
Neptune (As Purple Heart) going into her EXE drive

Nepgear in her Purple Sister form
Nepgear in her Purple Sister form
Now let’s get into that.  Like in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (which I reviewed in Dec 2014), the girls’ outfits can be damaged and “Torn”, leaving them in just their underwear.  Unlike Senran Kagura, the undergarments are indestructible, letting these girls keep some of their dignity.  Unfortunately, with there not being any human female enemies, the only way to get this fan service is by letting your characters outfits get destroyed.  It does have the advantage of increasing your attack and speed, but at the cost of your defence.  The game acknowledges this though, rewarding you with easier-to-tear outfits or “Torn Duds”, pre-torn versions of your outfits.  You can also get “Duds of Steel”, indestructible versions of their outfits

EXTREME WARDRODE MALFUNCTION!!!
EXTREME WARDRODE MALFUNCTION!!!

Too much damage can leave you exposed
Too much damage can leave you exposed
Now, much like Senran Kagura and the Warriors series,  you wade through tons of enemies.  Mostly, though, they don’t seem that exciting.  Slicing though a horde of dog-faced slimes, Pac-Man ghosts, flowers and Space-Invader enemies gets old quick, especially if they just pretty much run into you to do damage.  Sometimes they through out tougher version or giant versions of the enemies.  The robot enemies are a bit for formidable but mostly rely on sheer numbers to overwhelm you.

Uni in her Black SIster HDD form
Uni in her Black SIster HDD form

Giant Dogoo:  Threatening: No.  Annoying: Yes
Giant Dogoo: Threatening: No. Annoying: Yes
Their isn’t much customization for the girl’s outfits.  Mostly they have three versions of the same outfit, just in different colours.  You can unlock more outfits, but they are just the same ones, either easier to destroy, already destroyed or indestructible.  There was some DLC or bathing suits as well, with them, acting like an indestructible outfit.  You can also alter the girls’ hair colour (again limited to three choices and equip weapons earned by completing challenges or items they can increase or decrease stats.

You can alter  the costumes and hair to pre-set colours.
You can alter the costumes and hair to pre-set colours.

Costume Unlocks are preceded by News Bulletins from Dengekiko or Famitsu.
Costume Unlocks are preceded by News Bulletins from Dengekiko or Famitsu.

Costume Unlocks are preceded by News Bulletins from Dengekiko or Famitsu.
Costume Unlocks are preceded by News Bulletins from Dengekiko or Famitsu.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a good game, but it might be the weakest in the series.  All the Neptunia games have a funny story, great game play and fan service.  Action Unleashed can get a little repetitive ,with only the victory conditions adding some variety.  If there was some sort of end boss, a goal the girls were to reach, besides clearing monsters completing missions, I think it would be more exiting.  As a hack and slash, it is serviceable, but without a clear goal you wonder, “What’s the point?”

This.  This is the point.  Fan Service.
This. This is the point. Fan Service.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is available in digital or physical copies.  Check online for pricing in your area. 3.5/ 5 2015-05-19-170010 2015-05-19-170005 2015-05-19-165235 2015-05-19-165202 2015-05-19-152548 2015-05-19-152616 2015-05-19-150429 2015-06-28-161757 2015-06-28-161802 2015-05-19-170530 2015-05-19-170240 2015-05-19-224852 2015-05-19-223416 2015-05-19-220528 2015-05-19-220303 2015-05-19-220238 2015-06-03-223017 2015-06-03-221739 2015-06-03-221709 2015-06-03-221624 2015-06-03-220615 2015-06-03-220541 2015-06-03-214940 2015-06-03-215431 2015-06-03-215555 2015-06-03-220359