PS Vita Review: Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni

This got your attention?


Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is a third person action game developed by Meteorise and published by Marvelous Inc. through PQube. It is part of the Valkyrie Drive media franchise created by Marvelous Inc, (Senran Kagura series), which includes this game, an anime and an iOS game exclusive to Japan. This game is exclusive to the PS Vita system. The game is PlayStation TV Compatible.

Sisters Rinka and Ranka arrive on the island

The overall plot of the Valkyrie Drive series is this: Sometime in the near future, a virus starts to infect teenage girls and young women. The virus is called the Armed Virus and can affect a girl in two ways: Some gain the ability to turn in weapons and some gain the ability to wield those weapons, if the girls are compatible enough. The ones that turn into weapons are called Extars and the one who can wield them are Liberators. Some Extars don’t turn into weapons: some turn into a vehicle or some just grown giant (as seen in the anime.) Some even have both the abilities of an Extar and a Liberator.  The governments of the world have decided to remove these girls and put them on artificial islands where they can learn to control their powers or be cured from the virus.


Extars have one thing in common, though. In order to transform, they must be compatible with their Liberator in order to initiate the transformation. To initiate the transformation, the Liberator has to bring their Extar to a state of “euphoria.” If you’ve read my review of Gal *Gun: Double Peace, you know that’s code for giving them an orgasm. Yes, an orgasm. The higher compatibility between the girls, the easier the transformation and the more powerful the Extar gets. In the anime, it is shown that some girls effortlessly shift between human and Extar form if they have the right partner. It even showed that an Extar could involuntarily turn into a weapon if the sight of an attractive Liberator turns them on. But that is enough of the back story.

Their Love is a Weapon

Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is set on the artificial island of Bhikkhuni (hence the title). It mainly follows two sisters, Rinka and Ranka, who have been sent there in order to be cured from their virus. Everyone on that island have a variation of the Armed Virus called the V Virus, which makes them both Extar and Liberator. Here they are put though various combat exercises in order to refine their powers as they are told the way to cure the virus is to master it. The sisters encounter others on the island like the mysterious Momo, the ambitious Mana, arrogant Viola, always hungry Manpukumaru and the serious Koharu. They all progress under the watchful eyes of the Four Pillar Gods, massive mechanical Valkyries that serve as teachers and opponents. Of course the girls pair up and strengthen the bond with their partners through touching groping and kissing. Yes, even the sisters because, Japan.

The Four Pillar Gods

The game play is similar to what was in the Senran Kagura games for the Vita. You go through the map, fighting off hordes of mostly female enemies, with the occasional robot dog, scorpion or some other mechanical contraption. You attack with the square button for light and triangle for heavy attacks. Circle launches the enemy into the air and X is jump for light presses or a dash towards locked on enemies if you hold it. You can explore the maps to find hidden items and areas (guarded by a robot keeper that recognizes the girls by touching their breasts), and to collect pieces of lingerie tokens, which unlocks underwear if you collect all the pieces in the level. Like Senran Kagura, there is clothing damage that stays through the end level cut scenes. Usually at the end, you face off against another pairs of girls. After each level, you are given a score, a ranking and experience points to split between the Liberator and the Exter.

Clothing damage stays through the end battle cut scenes

While leveling up the Liberator improves their speed, endurance and power, leveling the Exter improves the weapon’s power and unlocks the Valkyrie Drive. You build up you drive meter as you fight and defeat enemies, with combos yielding more power. Once the meter is full, you can initiate the Drive. There are four levels of the driver. First Drive is when the Exter turns into a weapon. Unlike the anime where the girl has to orgasm to turn into a weapon, in the game the girls just touch hands and one turns into the weapon. In fact, at the lower level, you don’t even start off in First Drive (even though you have a weapon), but you do as you get the Exter higher in the levels. You can activate the Drive 3 more times if you unlock the abilities for your Exter. Each stage of Drive is accompanied by a scene depicting you two characters: Second Drive has the Liberator touch the other girl’s breast; Third Drive the Liberator hugs the Exter from behind and nuzzles her neck; and Final Drive, the girls kiss (yes, even the sisters). In Second and Third Drive, the Exter loses a piece of clothing until by the final Drive, they are in their underwear. In the Final Drive, the underwear goes, replace by shining light to cover them up (like in Senran Kagura Estival Versus) and the girls launches into the air in ecstasy. You can also use the meter to do special attacks by holding L and pressing square.

First Drive
Second Drive. Yes they are sisters…and very close.
Third Drive
Final Drive begins with a Kiss, then her panties come off and she blasts into space!

The game has other modes as well. There is a hub you can go to change costumes, buy outfits and items at the store (including Lingerie) or look at unlocked art and scenes. You can also talk to the other girls here. Occasionally there will be hearts that you can collect for each girl which improves their affection level. Occasionally this will unlock a text and voice scene where the girls interact with each other. These could be about the girls challenging each other while training, day dreaming about an opponent’s boobs or directly asking Viola if the carpet matches the drapes, if you get what I’m saying. If you max out the affection level, you unlock a picture of the girls together. It doesn’t have much to do with the story, but is just fan service I guess.

Momo is getting a little too friendly with Viola.

Like Senran Kagura, you can customize the look of the girls. You can either buy items from the shop, unlock items buy playing the main game, or by buying DLC. Each girl only have one outfit, but you can swap them for a different colour version of the main one for any that you have unlock or bought. You can also add accessories like Senran Kagura and adjust their position on their bodies to create unique looks. There is even a DLC pack that includes many of the items available for Senran Kagura. If you’ve played Estival Versus and checked out the Miss Shinobi Contest, you know the things that can be done. As in Senran Kagura, you can interact with the girls in the dressing room in what is called communication mode. You can press the Square and X buttons to cause battle damage to their outfits or you can play the touching mini-game as you build up levels by touching various areas of her body, with the girl all the while calling you a pervert (as if you didn’t feel that way already.) There are 7 ranks broken down into various levels, from “Girl”, the lowest, to Valkyrie, the highest. Reaching level 20 (Lady) unlocks the heart catch mini-game, in which you tap on screen hearts as they fill up and before they disappear as the girl you’ve been…tapping is shown in the background in her underwear, quipping lines like “Oooh,” Ahhh,” and “That was the best massage ever!” Doing this unlocks various pictures, lingerie and outfits for that character. Other modes in the game include a survival mode and a challenge mode.

You can swap outfits.


As mentioned, there is tons of DLC out for this game, including the swimsuit DLC included in Japanese special editions. There is also DLC with adds Liberator Mirei and her Exter Mamori from the anime. Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid. These two characters can only be used together, much like in the anime.  They do not show up in the main story mode, but can be used to replay beaten levels

Mirei is a special DLC character from the anime.

Graphically, the game is on par with Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, meaning they are fine, but not as smooth as the later Senran Kagura game. The areas in game are fairly large and the load time between areas is not that long. The game does look good on a larger TV through a PlayStation TV and most of the touch controls can be done through the face buttons.

Mana (L) and Momo


Now content-wise, this game is a little more risqué than the Senran Kagura games. By risqué, I mean that the lesbian or yuri (as it is called in Japan) elements of the girls touching and kissing. While the Senran Kagura series has girls touching girls and there is some blatantly obvious attraction between some of the girls, it is not central to the plot. In Valkyrie Drive it is right there in the middle of all of it. But the game is not as explicit as the anime series. Watch an episode and you’ll be surprised that his was on a cable network (ATX, an anime cable channel) and not some OVA sold behind a counter. It is like an anime Game of Thrones, but with less violence, even less plot and much more lesbians. The game handles the transformation mechanics differently than the anime, but it have some risky elements with the two sisters being partners and all. Whether that’s so hot or super creepy is up to the player. Either way, XSeed (Marvelous Inc’s western arm) decided not to port this game so PQube had to step in.   They also aged up the girls, having the virus affect young women (meaning over 18) to appeal to Western sensitivity.  None of the girls look too jail-baity, unlike in Senran Kagura. Besides that, there are no other instances of censorship.

Sisters give each other massages all the time, right?

Another difference is that no matter who your Exter is, you still use the same weapon. In the game, each Exter changes into a certain weapon. Ranka turns into Rinka’s sword and Rinka becomes Ranka’s hell gauntlets. But if you have Ranka as Mana’s Exter, she is her bow. I understand it is to make the game less complicated, but I would have been nice if who you choose as your partner determined what weapon you get. It could even be a challenging game mechanic to force you to use a weapon you are not used to. But it was all about the girl on girl action, right?

Manpukumaru is always hungry


All in all, Valkyrie Drive is a good game that could have been better. It relies on the whole “weaponized lesbians” angle to pull in players but the story can be weak in places and the battles slightly repetitive. Not having who you choose as your Exter change your weapon is a loss for me, as I was hoping that was the case when I got it. I’m sure it was just to simplify the programming, but it was a wasted opportunity. I wonder if developer Meteorize just borrowed the SK engine to make the game since it looks so similar. Maybe if Tamsoft was involved, we would have gotten Estival Versus level graphics and unique weapons forms for each Exter, no matter who the Liberator is.


Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is out now. Physical copies can be bought online through Video Games Plus or Rice Digital. Rice Digital had the deluxe edition with an art book, which may or may not be still available. The game can also be bought through PSN.




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PS Vita Review: Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors

Criminal Girls 2:Party Favors is a Japanese Role Playing Game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America  it is a sequel to Criminal Girls: Invite Only, also for the PS Vita (and reviewed here)It was released physically on 20 September, 16 and on PSN on 11 October, 2016 in North America.  The game is PlayStation TV compatible.

Meet your new charges

As in the first game, you are a Reformation Instructor in Hell.  Your job is to guide the souls of delinquents, girls who have yet to commit a crime punishable by damnation, but are close enough to need guidance to reform.  Unfortunately you have lost your memory and suddenly fin yourself with seven delinquents to guide through hell.  Each are headstrong and resistant in their own way but you have to get them to work together to ascend the Spire.  The only issue is, you find out there should only be six girls…


Criminal Girls 2 plays exactly like the previous game, with you moving your 2d  characters through the mazes of hell.  Monster encounters random, except for boss fights and when it is needed to move the story along. The story is told though Japanese voice acting with English subtitles with 2D images of the characters with limited animation.  You explore the levels, only saving at camps at various locations.

Yurine is ditzy, but she seems to mean well.

The girls that you guide  pretty much follow the typical anime tropes as the first game.  You have the regular sized girls (Shinoa and Lily), the well endowed women (Yurine and Tsukyasa) and the uncomfortably jailbait-like ones (Kuroe, Mizuki and Sui).  Of course the girls are old enough to no get NIS in trouble.  Each character has their own personality as well. Shinoa is caring and trusting; Lilly comes off as a rich snob but does have a soft spot; Yurine is a bit ditzy but wants to help, Sui is sarcastic and analytical, Tsukasa is a bit of a tease, Kuroe is shy and talks through her donkey doll, Baron; and, Mizuki who is a clumsy girl who’s child-like nature makes motivating her creepy.

Mizuki skews young, doesn’t she…?

Combat is turned base and when you go into a encounter, the screen changes and you see four of your girls , two on either side of the screen and the monster(s) in the middle.  As the Instructor, you do not attack, you only choose which character to take battle advice.  That action will be take that round then the monsters go (if they didn’t attack first.  Some action have two characters attack at once.  You can also heal your girls with items or switch a girl out for another character.  These actions do not count towards the turn.  You can also use skill as spells that the character has learned.  After  the battle, the characters get experience to level up their hit points and CM points with can go towards items in the shop or to towards the motivation mini games.


Yes , the Motivation system is back.  In order to get the girls to fight, you must motivate them with various punishments. There are five Motivational mini-games:  Scrubby Scrub, which you scrub soap off the girls; Spanking X, which is spanking two girls at a time; Slimeshot, which you spray your goo, er slime on the girls (that’s not suggestive…); and Shocking bondage, in which you shock the girls when they are all tied up.  As their Motivation level goes up, you unlock more attacks, magic or stat bonuses for that character.  You will have two types of skills, S Skills and M skills.  They can affect your character when you coach them in battle, enabling them to deal more damage (S) or reduce damage take (M).

Motivation makes use of the Vita’s touch controls.


Scrub their sins away.  This is the least creepy of the Motivations
As you progress in the motivation, you can unlock new abilities

The gameplay is like a typical JRPG.  There will be a lot of grinding to get up levels and to unlock abilities.  You can go up to 30 second without having a random encounter and when you start out with only one girl fighting, some enemies will be tough.  Getting enough CM points to motivate the girls will be your priority as your attacks will improve.  All characters get XP after battles so don’t worry if you tend to stick with your favourite four.

You get some XP.  You get some XP.  Everyone gets some XP!!!


Graphic-wise, it looks the same as the first game.  The dungeons change a bit from level to level but it can become a bit repetitive.  The monsters still look like they did in the first game, with some of them not resembling the creature the game says they are.  But, hey, you’re in Hell, scrubbing and spanking girls to redeem them.  Nothing has to make sense.

The art was redrawn to be less explicit

Now, it has to be obvious that his game must have been somewhat censored to be brought out west.  Japan has some different sensibilities that may not fly in the west.  So the girls have been aged up (or, more accurately, all traces of age have been removed and it is assumed that they are old enough to drink in Alberta at the very least.).  Some changes NIS admitted were redrawn art for the motivation mini-games, removing elements that might have been considered explicit, removing the yelps and moans from the mini-games ,and even changing the name of the Motivation system (originally it  was called Punishment.)  Compared to the pink mist obscuring the Motivation mini-game in Criminal Girls: Invite Only, this is acceptable.

Mizuki looks like a kid so Tsukasa treats her like one.
…That ain’t helping to change anyone’s mind.

Overall, this is a okay game for those who do not mind the tediousness of a grindy JRPG.  You definitely have to be in the mood for it if you want to get far in this game.  Looking back, I think I judged the first one a bit harshly, mostly because of the annoying censorship and the battle mechanics.  But I seethe strategy in the system now and the censorship is not as prominent in this game,.  But it is not a overly pretty game, save for the characters themselves.  It is a long, dark bland game, but then again, it is set in Hell.

Hell is other people.

Criminal Girls 2: Party Favours is available through online retailers, such as Video Games Plus and Rice Digital on online on the PlayStation Store.  There was a Collector’s Edition available as well as a standard copy.   Prices may vary by your country .

3.5 out of 5



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PS Vita Review: Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus Collector’s Edition [IMPORT]


Since the first game came out in 1996, the Dead or Alive series had been about fan service. The original game is known as much for Kasumi’s ample polygons and high kicks as it is for its throwing mechanics and fast 3D game play. This fact was not lost on the developer as in the next two installments, more female characters were added with sexy costumes. In 2003, Team Ninja decided to base a game around the girls and have an excuse to show them in sexy swimwear. That’s when Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the original XBox came out. Not only were you able to play beach volleyball with the girls and dress them into bikinis, you could also watch them frolicking in the sand or relaxing by the pool. Another one came out, called Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (XBox 360), which added more bikinis, more games (like pool hopping and beach flags) and more girls. Now, after a remake of the second game on the PSP (Dead or Alive Paradise), New Zach Island has reopened and we have new game in the series.


You might want to sit down for this.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 (DOAX3) is a beach volleyball/beach game/ girl watching simulator developed by Team Ninja and published in Asia and Japan by Koei Tecmo. There are two version of the game: DOAX3:Fortune, for the PlayStation 4, and DOAX3: Venus, for the PlayStation Vita. This review is for the PS Vita version. This game is NOT scheduled to come out in North America/Europe at this time. The copy reviewed is for the Asia region (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan) and was part of the Collector’s Edition. This version is multi lingual and the text will be in English if your Vita is set to that language. The game is PlayStation TV compatible and works on North American systems.

(Note: This Review is my opinion only.  I have no affiliation with Koei Tecmo, Play Asia or Sony.  All pictures were taken by me with my camera, or through the game.)

The girls play beach volley ball


The plot is pretty much the same as the last DOAX games: Zack has reopened his resort on New Zack Island and has left you (the player) in charge of the island. He has invited 9 of the girls from the latest Dead or Alive game (DOA5:LR) to enjoy a 14 day vacation and partake in the various activities. There are two modes to play: Girl Mode or Owner Mode. In Girl mode , the player, as the girl he chose at the start, can partner up with one another to play 2 on 2 beach volleyball games. The player will have to try to increase their relationship with her partner though winning volleyball games and giving them presents that they like, ranging from swimsuits, food, drinks or items. If the relationship is low enough, the girls’ partner will leave, and the player will have to find another partner. Volleyball is the place when the player can earn the most currency to buy new items. but other activities pay out as well. At night, you can play casino games like blackjack, poker and roulette.

Increase your funds through gambling at the casino
The shops contain swim suits that are specifically for your girl, though some might over lap with the other’s preference. Only Honoka would dig this cow pattern.

In Owner Mode, the player steps back as the owner, still choosing what event to do but not playing as the girl. You can watch them do the various activities, even taking pictures of the events. You also have to try to improve your relationship with your chosen girl through giving them gifts that they like. If you give them a swimsuit that they like they will even change into it on the spot. You have to keep your eyes closed. If you peek (press the circle button) they will get upset (obviously) and it will negatively affect the relationship. You can also give gifts to the other girls and your relationship level carries over to subsequent play throughs. You can switch between the modes at any time when not in an activity.

Rock Climbing is a new activity

There are missions, goals from either Zack (for the Owner) or from the girl to achieve. It might range from buying a girl a swim suit to winning a hand of poker with two pairs. When you complete the missions you get a reward of Zack dollars for the Owner. Missions given by the girl can increase her satisfaction level and you want that as high as possible by the end of the vacation. Any Zack dollars earned in Owner Mode is kept by the owner and the girl and owner have separate funds. If the mission is too had, or you do not have enough funds to do it, you can always cancel it.


Momoji is also here

The game features only 9 of the female fighters from Dead or Alive 5: Last Round: Kasumi, Helena, Ayane, Hitomi, Kokoro, Momoji, Nyotengu, Honoka and Marie Rose. Now the choice of which girls were in this game was apparently voted on through download of themes of the girls for the PS4 and Vita. in Japan. Unfortunately, my favourite girl, Mila, didn’t make the cut, but all time favourites Kasumi and Ayane did. It was a bit surprising that new comers like Honoka and Nyotengu won out over old favorites like Lei Fang and Tina, but it is not surprising and a little sad that little Marie Rose got the most votes. But it is all okay, because canonically, all the girls are over 18 in the game (Marie Rose included). It even says their age in the selection menu, so ogle who you want to. The oldest is Nyotengu, who is 1,018 years old (and doesn’t look a day over 25.)

Marie Rose: Upgraded from Jail Bait to Barely Legal

The graphic are good on the PS Vita. The game use a modified version of the graphic engine used in the PS4/XBOne versions of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (Soft Engine 2.0). Called the Soft Engine light, it helps to render realistic skin tones and effects like clothing wetness. It also helps advance the breast physics, giving them a more realistic, albeit slightly exaggerated bounce and the girls move. It also boast an advanced “booty physics,” meaning their butts are getting as much attention as their breasts. Though not as detailed as the PS4 version, the graphics run smoothly with the latest update with no slow down of glitches.

Behold the advanced Booty Physics!

The controls have not changed much from the previous versions. the volley ball and other mini-games control like they did in the PSP version with touch controls used to poke and prod the girls in gravure mode. IT not as creepy as in Senran Kagura Estival Versus, though. The second thumb stick allows you to manipulate the camera and in volleyball, move your partner around to better receive the ball. Note that, since this is an Asian version (and it is the same in the Japanese one),in the controls in the menu, Circle is used to select and X is used to cancel, which is the opposite of most Western release games. People who import this game should be aware of this.

Everything on the box is still mostly in Japanese, even the Asian edition. The game does include English menus and subtitles


Both the PS4 and PS Vita versions come in either a stand edition of a Collector’s edition. The collector’s edition for each version comes with different items. The PS Vita version, the Venus Edition comes with the game on a Vita card, of course. It also has a set of playing cards featuring images of Honoka on Diamonds, Kasumi on Hearts, Kokoro on Clubs and Nyotengu on Spades, with the Jokers being Zack. It also comes with a hard cover art book, Venus edition, featuring images of all 9 girls from the game (the text is in Japanese, though). There is also a Honkoa mouse pad, the type on which you rest your wrists in her ample bosom. There is also two download codes for DLC. The first is a bonus for early buyers of the game, featuring (for the PS Vita) and angel-themed swim suit for Honoka. The second is the Extreme Sexy Costume V set, featuring a new swim suit for all 9 grils that resemble leaves, vines and flowers. Now the PS4 version has different DLC (Costume set F and a Devil swim suit for Marie Rose) as well as a Marie Rose mouse pad, a different playing card set, different art book and, of course, the game for PS4. Note that the DLC codes will only work in a PlayStation Network Account for the Asia region (Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan), but entitles you to be able to download it for both PS4 and PS Vita.


The swag you get with the Venus Collectors edition
The PS Vita DOAX3 Venus Collector’s edition comes with this angel swim suit for Honoka
The Sexy Costume V Set DLC consists of these leafy bikinis for the girls
There is some variation in each of the girls’ V costumes

Now, because Koei Tecmo believes that it would not be received well in the West, due to recent events like Gamer Gate and immature boys posting derogatory things at women who are in the industry and ones that play video games, it is not receiving a Western release. I do not think that preventing this game from releasing in the west would change a damn thing, especially because online store like Play Asia has had record orders from people importing this game. Now, I have said it in the last two posts: I do not agree with censorship because a game has partial nudity (i.e. in bathing suits) and fan service. The only this that will change attitudes about sex and nudity is if we stop demonizing it. Look, I like Senran Kagura, but why is a game that allows you to fight and strip opponents (with other females) release out here when what is a pretty much a beach vacation simulator is deemed too racy? Why is DOA5:LR, which has scantily clad females (with more racy DLC costumes coming monthly) punching and kicking other fighters of both sex allowed when a game with some of the same girls playing sports and buying each other bathing suits is not? Our priorities are weird, if you think about it. Gun and violence are okay, but show a bit of skin and everyone freaks out. Might as well release DLC that has them all in burkhas.


And miss out on this?

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will not win any awards. It is pretty much the same game form 2003 with a altered cast , and better graphics and some new modes. But it is not a terrible game nor is it a morally reprehensible game. Sure, it has the women of DOA in some racy swim wear, but you’d see that at a resort in real life. They are not fighting, or plotting to kill each other. The worse this they can to is reject your offer to team up. It is not deep, but it is fun to see the ladies of DOA have some down time and not fight some evil plot to created bio-engineered ninja to sell as a weapon.  Just enjoy the virtual scenery and get some good picture of the girls while you are at it.

Pool Hopping plays like it did in DOA Paradise

Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3 for the PS Vita can be bought online through Play Asia.  Make sure you get the Asian copy, not the Japanese one if you want it in English.  Check their site for pricing and availability.


I can see all the hard work that went into “booty physics.”
Yup, high quality.


PS Vita/PS4 Review: Senran Kagura: Estival Versus



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.

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.

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.

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.

Gameplay from PS4 shown


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

Miyabi and Imu do a Fusion Aerial Rave
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.

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.

In the dressing room you can change the girls outfits like this pirate outfit
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.

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

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.

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…

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.



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




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

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


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

PS Vita Review: Breach & Clear

Breach & Clear
Breach & Clear
(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures were taken in game by my PS Vita and/or PlayStation TV.)

Breach & Clear is a tactical strategy game developed by Mighty Rabbit Studios and published by Gun Media. It is a digital only title available on the PlayStation Network. It is availavle for PC, Mac, Android and iOS as well. This is a review of the PS Vita version. It also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.

Choose from 7 real world SOF
Choose from 7 real world Special Ops Teams
The game uses real world Special Operation Forces such as U,S, Navy Seals, British SAS, and Canada’s JTF2. You use real world tactics as your team goes from room to room, neutralizing threats. Missions take place around the world, from Afghanistan, Turkey, China, Germany and beyond. Game modes are Terrorist Hunt, Bomb Disposal (fight your way to the bomb and defuse it within the time limit.), and Escape Plan (fight your way to the extraction point) You chose your teams load out and weapons and unlock more equipment to buy with in-game currency as you level up.

Each Operator has 6 stats that can be raised
Each Operator has 6 stats that can be raised

Equipment can be unlocked and bought wit in-game currency
Equipment can be unlocked and bought with in-game currency
Yes, your soldiers level up as you do missions. Each character has stats like health, accuracy and speed, There are classes as well like Team Leader, Medic, and Breacher and they have a special class-only stat, You gain 5 points per level to distribute between 6 stats. Each Special Ops group in the game have a bonus to certain stats.

Choose your breach point or hit them from multiple points.
Choose your breach point or hit them from multiple points.

Levels can have multiple entry points
Levels can have multiple entry points

Move are carried out in phases.
Move are carried out in phases.
Game play is broken down into phases. You plan you move out, starting at an entry point. into the room. You must take in account possible enemy location (they don’t appear unless one of your soldiers has line of sight) and cover from enemy fire. Each character can move only so far per phase but you can place points where their arcs of fire shifts to cover a door or hallway. Once your routes are planed you select “BREACH” and watch as it is carried out. You then plan out you next phase the same way until the mission is complete or all your team are down.

Plan your moves out an ensure you cover all the angles
Plan your moves out an ensure you cover all the angles
The graphic are good, but are similar to the mobile versions, The camera is a 3/4 top down perspective, with the ability to zoom in on the action. You can rotate the camera as you plan your next move, The camera zooms in automatically during your initial breach and when you complete the mission/ kill the last enemy

The camera zooms in at the start of the mission.
The camera zooms in at the start of the mission.
The game uses the touch controls, much like the iOS/Android version. You can use the touch screen to select your operator, plan your route, zoom in, out and rotate the camera. It works well. You can also use the face buttons and analog sticks, if you prefer or playing it on the PlayStation TV.

The last shot gets a close up.
The last shot gets a close up.
Overall this is a great game. Unlike the iOS versions, this is the full game with no micro transactions for additional levels, weapons or equipment and they are included. At $14.99 (CDN), it is worth the price and you get solid game with a fair bit of replay value. As it is a digital download title, it is available for the PS Vita on the PlayStation Store.


2015-05-20-182728 2015-05-20-182553 2015-05-20-182028 2015-05-20-181853 2015-05-20-175452 2015-05-20-175321 2015-05-20-175246

PS Vita Review: Criminal Girls: Invite Only

Criminal Girls: Invite Only
Criminal Girls: Invite Only

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a Japanese role playing game developed for the PS Vita by Live 2D and published by NIS America.  It is a remake of the Criminal Girls game released for PSP in Japan.  This game is compatible with the PlayStation TV micro-console.

In this game you are a newly hired warden in the most unusual place Hell.  You are tasked with the rehabilitation of 7 girls who died stuck in the middle of good and evil.  You goal is to rehabilitate them as you move those the maze like prison, fighting monsters beyond redemption.  Once you reach the top level and have rehabilitated the girls, they will be restored to life.

Kisaragi is one of the girls you hope to rehabilitate.
Kisaragi is one of the girls you hope to rehabilitate.

The girls don’t trust you however.  They even refuse to fight, even if they are attacked.  So as part of their rehabilitation, you have to discipline them so that they become an effective member of your party.  To do this, you take them into the rest area/infirmary and beat the temptations out of them.  You can tell this isn’t going to be your typical JRPG.

Ran is pretty stubborn and distrusts male authority figures
Ran is pretty stubborn and distrusts male authority figures

You start the game with four of the girls under your control.  While you get to choose one girl to automatically fight for you, the other three have to be disciplined to unlock their ability to attack.  To do this you must go to the save point (infirmary, which are purple portals appearing in different levels) and choose Motivate, Using C M points you gain from battle,you play a mini-game in which you touch the touch screen or real touch pad to whip the temptations, appearing as little creature on-screen.  You do this over a picture of the girl in a suggestive pose with their clothing in disarray.  So pretty much, this is an S&M simulation.

The Motivation mini game is a bit creepy.
The Motivation mini game is a bit creepy.

The rest of the gameplay differs a but from you standard RPG.  Once you motivate the girls to fight with you, you do not actually control them.  During combat, each girl will offer a suggestion on what to do, either attack or perform a skill.  Once you choose that, that’s your turn.  No other girl attacks (unless that was what the girl you chose suggested) and then the enemy goes.  When they attack, all enemies get a turn. Some of them will even attack before you do.  But you do get some advantages.  Item use does not take up an attack, those you can use one item per turn.  You can also switch girls at the beginning of every round.  So, if one of the girl’s hit points are low or their attack is ineffective, you can swap them out.  It definitely adds something to the combat, but the only attacking once or twice a round can leave you hurting all too easily.

At the start of each turn, the girls offer suggestion on what to do.  Choose wisely
At the start of each turn, the girls offer suggestion on what to do. Choose wisely
Sometimes the girls team up for special attacks
Sometimes the girls team up for special attacks

The graphics are okay, with the levels having some variations.. You do not see the monsters on the map, unless it is an event monster or level boss.  During the fights, the monsters are represented by a static picture,flashing when they attack.  If they appear on the map, the monsters mostly look like a purple of pink blob. You can also find treasure chests while exploring the map, which have either items, skills or CM points.

This is Shin.  You have to do some motivational Maintenance to get her to fight for you.
This is Shin. You have to do some motivational Maintenance to get her to fight for you.

The characters themselves are done in the typical anime style.  On the map, they appear in the standard, super-deformed style (big heads, small bodies,), but appear normal during cut scenes and during, ahem, motivation activities.  The girls run the gamut of anime girl stereotypes.  While all have some part of the striped prisoner outfits in their costumes, their looks varies.  Some are waifish Lolita types while others are busty.  some have ill-fitting prisoner uniforms on while others are busting out of their clothes.  They only changed costumes for the Motivation mini game in which they wear gym clothes, those they seem to show more skin as you get higher in the mini game.

Tomoe is busting out of her prison...kimono?
Tomoe is busting out of her prison…kimono?

Now, I not that prudish when it comes to a bit of fan service in video games.  I didn’t mind the scantily clad females in games like Senran Kagura or the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.  As long as there is some sort of story or gameplay, it is all just ere candy.  But with Criminal Girls, there isn’t enough story for me.  The Motivation mini-game seems to be there just to shock and titalate.  You have to do it level up your character’s attacks,  Even though the Western version had been toned down by adding a pink haze and removing the girls’ yelps at you “spank their temptations”, it is still a bit disturbing,

The pink mist is NIS America attempt at self censorship.  I think it makes it worse.
The pink mist is NIS America attempt at self censorship. I think it makes it worse.

This is one of those game that is not for every one.  It is not for me.  The RPG gameplay is different, but a bit too frustrating with only being able to attack with one or two girls per round not choose what skills they used.  And with the Motivation mini-game being as it is, this is one game I won’t be playing in public or with an audience

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is available on a game card or as a digital download.  Check online for pricing.  It is rated M (17+) by the ESRB in North America.

2.5/ 5

2015-04-09-213512 2015-04-09-212514 2015-03-31-191502 2015-04-09-194318

PS Vita Review: Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) developed by Aquira and published by Bandai Namco.  It is based on the multi-media Sword Art Online franchise which includes light novels (short books for young adults), manga, two anime series and four video games, none of which are actually an online game.  Hollow Fragment is actually a remake of the third game, Infinity Movement, released for the PSP only in Japan, with additional dungeon, characters and a new area, the Hollow Area.

The Hollow Area is full of danger!
The Hollow Area is full of danger!

To understand the game you should know the Sword Art Online story.  In 2022 a Virtual Reality Game, SAO, set out invites for 6,000 players to beta test the game.  Your hero, Kirito, is one of them.  Once logged into the world of Aincrad, they discover they cannot log out.  The creator of the game announces that the only way they can return to the real world is to beat all 100 levels of the game and beat the boss.  If someone tries to pull them out from the outside, they will die.  If they die in the game, they die in real life.  Kirito gathers a group of friends to get to level 100, facing threats from in-game monsters and other players alike.

A typical town in SAO
A typical town in SAO

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment starts off with Kirito waking up in an area he does not recognize.  He remembers exploring a cavern in level 76,  but somehow he ended up here.  Running into another player, Philia, they team up to survive the area. They both discover the have a strange mark on their hand.  They explore the realm, called the Hollow Area by a mysterious voice, and complete a mission to rid an area of ogres and arrive at a sphere which lets Kirito return to level 76 where his friends await in town, including his in-game wife and fellow player, Asuna.

Philla is another player lost in the Hollow Area.
Philia is another player lost in the Hollow Area.

The game then starts properly, explaining what happened.  In a departure from the books and anime, Kirito faced off with the end boss Heathcliff (a knight, not the orange cartoon cat) for a change to end the game right then and there.  During the fight, the game glitches.  Kirito uses it to his advantage and as he is about to finish Heathcliff, he disappears.  Dismayed that they still cannot log off, Kirito and the other players move to the next level, where they find another town and discover they cannot go back down.  With a new area to explore and with old friends and new at his side, Kirito sets out to get to level 100, and explore the mysterious hollow area.

Asuna is very protective of Kirito, even though he tends to be a chick magnet
Asuna is very protective of Kirito, even though he tends to be a chick magnet

The gameplay and graphics are good, and use the PS Vita’s system well.  Since the game is supposed to be a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, there are a lot of “Player Characters” to interact with throughout the game.  You can even pursue romance options with one of the many, many, MANY female characters that find Kirito irresistible, despite it being known that he is (in-game) married to Asuna.  You can romance her, too.

You can interact with your companions to increase your relationship.  Take it to the next level!
You can interact with your companions to increase your relationship. Take it to the next level!

When you go out into the wilds of Aincrad, the fighting is in real time, with you pressing one of the four face buttons for attack, defend dash or stun.  As your character is pretty high in level, so are the enemies.  You can either take jobs from the job board in town or proceed to Level 100, grinding your way through the levels.  You can earn gold to buy newer weapons and armour or find rare items in the filed.  Shops in town level up as you do so you can find the appropriate gear for you level.

You can encounter many smaller enemies...
You can encounter many smaller enemies…
...or large bosses.
…or large bosses.

I have mixed feeling from this game.  First of all, having no idea of what Sword art Online was, I was lost from the get go.  I thought it would be more like Ragnarok Odyssey and was disappointed there was limited customization for the main character (and he looks his default look during cinematics.)  The start of the game was pretty confusing for a newbie, starting with the area that you start in and all the girls, well other characters to, but mostly girls, swarm you when you return to town. Once the cinematic explaining what happened  previously and the events on level 75 does the game make sense.  They should have started with that, then moved into the Hollow area.

Some girls you meet are overly friendly.
Some girls you meet are overly friendly.

The overall gameplay is enough to keep you playing/Feeling like a MMORPG, you can manage your equipment in menus and combat is fast and furious.  Other characters can help which comes in handy on the bosses.  You can choose your companion in town, equip them for battle and have then accompany you through your quest.  You can even do social interaction with them to improve your relationship.  This leads us to the dating sim aspects.

Sinon (fading in on right )and Lizabeth  are loyal companions of Kirito and wouldn't mind being more.
Sinon (fading in on right )and Lizabeth are loyal companions of Kirito and wouldn’t mind being more.

Like many JRPGs there are dating sim aspects in the game.  For some reason, Kirito is really popular.  Maybe it is because he is the leader and everyone looks up to him.  Maybe it is because he took on Heathcliff and lived.  Maybe it is his devotion to Asuna that gets the girls hot. Maybe it is his tight black pants.  No matter what it is, all the girls want him, even though this is just a virtual form, and the real Kirito’s cheetos-encrusted body is wasting away in the real world.  All of his female friends seem to harbour a crush on Kirito despite his being with Asuna.  From Lizabeth the blacksmith to Sinon the strong, silent girl to Leafa, who is actually Kirito’s cousin, who he though was his sister.  That’s just a few.

Leafa (on left), who you thought was you sister but is actually your cousin, also wants a deeper relationship.  And if that wasn't creepy enough, so does Silica (right) .  How old is she?!?
Leafa (on left), who you thought was you sister but is actually your cousin, also wants a deeper relationship. And if that wasn’t creepy enough, so does Silica (right).   How old is she?!?

The translation is good, but the Japanese voice over remain.  Sometimes the translation seems off, and I am not sure if the double entendres were done on purpose or was just a bad translation.  All I know is the words coming and come were used a lot.

Yui (right) is an AI in the form of a pre-teen girl.  She is very protective of Asuna and Kirito's relationship and calls them Mama and Papa.
Yui (right) is an AI in the form of a pre-teen girl. She is very protective of Asuna and Kirito’s relationship and calls them Mama and Papa.

Overall, it is a decent, and deep game.  If the point of  the game was to draw more into Sword Art Universe, it worked on me.  I definitely want to watch a bit of the anime.  Despite the rough start the game gets interesting as you proceed.  I bought it on sale during the PS Vita anniversary sale so the price was right. If you are looking for a MMO like experience in a portable game like Ragnarok Odyssey, you might like this.  If you are a Sword Art Online fan, this is right up your alley.

You like menus?  It has got menus!
You like menus? It has got menus!

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is available digitally from the PS Store.  It is also PlayStation TV compatible.  Checks online for pricing


Philla is another player lost in the Hollow Area.
Philia is another player lost in the Hollow Area.

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PS Vita Review- Concepton 2: Children of the Seven Stars

Conception 2
Conception 2


Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is a Role-Playing video game developed by Spike Chunsoft and published in North America by Atlus.  It is the second game in the Conception series, the first being only released in Japan.  Both games are stand alone stories, so there is no need to know the first game to enjoy the second.  The game was released in North America in 2014 and is available for the 3DS and the PS Vita.  The PS Vita version is the one reviewed here.

Rock Hard with Choltz , and the future mother of his Star Children, Fuuko
Rock Hard with Choltz , and the future mother of his Star Children, Fuuko

Conception 2 is set in a pseudo-futuristic world in which technology and magic co-exist.  The land is plagued by pockets of dark energy called Dusk Circles, which spawn demons that terrorize the inhabitants.  You play as a young man, named Wake Archus, but for this review, shall be referred to the name I gave him, Rock Hard (you’ll know why soon).  Rock is discovered to have the mark of the Star God on his hand, which means he is destined to fight these demons.  He is sent to a training academy/high school for such children to learn to defend their world.  It is discovered that Rock is special. While not rated as one of the top fighters (S-Rank) he is able to generate Ether, the opposite element to Dusk.  This enables him to enter the Dusk circles along with a partner and defeat the evil within, closing the circle forever  He is also unique in that he has an one hundred percent success rate when he “classmates” with an S-Rank female to create Star Children, miniature adventurers you take into battle.  For this, you are given the title, “God’s Gift.”  Women want you.  Guys want to be you.  Even the teachers flirt with you.  You are a cosmically appointed stud!

Even the Head of the Science Division is drawn to Rock's ether!
Even the Head of the Science Division is drawn to Rock’s ether!

Classmating isn’t a dirty as you might think, but it’s close enough.  With an S-Ranked female and a magical  matryoshka doll (think Russian nesting doll), you go through a special ceremony at the Church.  The students touch, the girl gets all glowy, and ta-da!  Out of the matryoshka doll pops out your cosmic crotch fruit- I mean Star Child.  You choose the child’s class (from gunslinger to mage to thief to healer etc) and even name them.  You need three star children to create a team to take into battle and you can have three teams,  Of course, the girl you classmate with determines the Star Child’s stats (and hair colour.)  So you  are encouraged to classmate with four different girls (with a few others later on in the game)

Rock meets the four S-Ranked girls that he will Star-Stud for.  "Ladies."
Rock meets the four S-Ranked girls that he will Star-Stud for. “Ladies.”
Girls glow when they are pregnant, right?  Same idea, I guess...
Girls glow when they are pregnant, right? Same idea, I guess…

Your initial choices in possible Conception buddies run the gamit of the usual anime girl stereotypes.  You have Fuuko, a pink haired girl next door type who was one of the first people you met.  There is the shy Narika, who has trouble saying no when others thrust responsibilities on her.  Then there is Ellie, who works for the Church and splits her time between her Church and Academy duties.  Lastly, there is Chloe, a genius type who, despite being only a teen, is also one of your instructors.  You meet and get to classmate with three other girls, Feene, Torrie and Serina, as you progress in the game.

Ever friendly Fuuko
Ever friendly Fuuko
Mysterious Ellie
Mysterious Ellie
Chloe wants to teach you things.  Seriously, that is her job.
Chloe wants to teach you things. Seriously, that is her job.
Shy Narika
Shy Narika

The battle system is like your typical turn-based RPG, but you party attacks in groups.  Rock and his partner (one of the S-Ranked females) attack as one, while the Star Children attack in their group of threes.  You can move you characters around  the enemy to find a weak point to attack from (usually the flank) or attack head on for higher risk/higher reward)  You can use magic or skills which you lean as you go up in levels.  You can end up in battle with multiple enemies and you can split your groups off to fight more than one at a time.

Position your magical crotch fruit to gain an advantage in battle.
Position your magical crotch fruit to gain an advantage in battle.
Rock and Fuuko attack as one!
Rock and Fuuko attack as one!

Between dungeons ,you can hang out at the academy, buying new equipment, managing your party, training, or classmating (giggity) to create more Star children.  You can also talk to other students including the girls you classmate with.  This helps to improve your relationship with the girls, as the more they like you, the higher your offspring’s stats are.  You often will have to talk to someone to advance the story as you continue the game

The Academy.
The Academy.

Conception 2 works well as a game.  The unique was you use the Star Children as you party members add a management element to the game.  Some might die and you need to replace them.  As more classes become available, you might switch out your party.  Different girls may result in higher stats, too. and the presence of their “mother” might give some an advantage in battle.  You have to keep this in mind as the game gets harder.

Stats depend on the mother's level and relationship with Rock.
Stats depend on the mother’s level and relationship with Rock.

Overall, this is a good game.  the premise is different, but it is not as over the top as some games.  Sure your characters battle armour may look like fetish wear (especially Chloe’s! ) but it fits in with the overall tone.  The voices are well acted in the English version and the game does not take itself too seriously, with some sly jokes and the girls sometimes have fun at the Rock’s expense.  Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is a great game for the Vita and even works on the PlayStation TV!

Whether it is in a Dusk Circle or a BDSM club, Chloe's outfit is dungeon-ready.
Whether it is in a Dusk Circle or a BDSM club, Chloe’s outfit is dungeon-ready.

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is available as a physical game or digital download.  Check online for availability and pricing.

Happy Birthday, C. Fruit. Now get out there and fight for Daddy!


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Review: PlayStation TV

(Note:  This Review is my Opinion only.  This is not a paid post, I am not a professional reviewer.  This is just one man’s opinion.  All photos were taken with my PS Vita and all screenshots were taken on the PlayStation TV.)

PlayStation TV
PlayStation TV

It’s been, what, close to three years since my review of the PlayStation Vita?  I remembered how I had such high hopes for this system.  And to me, it delivered.  There are some good games out there, some original, some ports, that make the system worth it.  But with smart phones and tablets becoming so prevalent, and with Nintendo’s ever popular 3DS, the VIta has struggles, at least outside Japan.  Sony, however, has tried to  make it an accessory to it’s home consoles, especially the PS4.  Remote Play, promised for the PS3 but never made it, is a big part of the PS4’s plan.  This connectivity, built in from the start, is the basis for the PlayStation TV.

With the PlayStation TV, you can stream your PS4 games to any TV your PS TV is hooked up to using remote play,  You use a PS3 or PS4 controller paired with the PS TV to control the games.  You cam even stream PS3 games through your PS4 using the PlayStation Now service (imagine the bandwidth fees!).  Like the PS Vita, the PlayStation TV acts as an extension or your PS4.

But, at its core, it is a PS Vita.  The interface is the same as the Vita, with the bubble icons.  It uses the PS VIta memory cards for it’s expandable memory (it only has an internal memory as 1 GB.)  There is a slot for your PS Vita games so you cam play them on a bigger screen.  It even up-scales the game to improve the graphics (a feature the original PS Vita had, but it was never implemented.)  Now you cam play your potable games on your home TV.

The bubbles are back!  Background:  My dog, Azrael
The bubbles are back! Background: My dog, Azrael

“But,” you might ask (or maybe not but… just play along!), “most Vita games have touch controls.  Do all Vita games work on the PlayStation TV?”  The answer is no.  From what I tried, PlayStation All Stars and Metal Gear Solid 2/3 HD do not work.  Samurai Warriors 4, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 & 2, Dead or Alive 5+, Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix, and Senran Kagura do.  Borderlands 2 did not work at first, but will after you update the title (even gives you the console control scheme!), so there is a chance more games will work.  For Touch controls, you click on L3 for front screen and R3 for rear pad controls, with a pointer appearing on screen.  With the PS4 controller, you can control the pointer with the touchpad.  It might be a little awkward, but it works.

You can adjust your controller settings here.
You can adjust your controller settings here.

Another thing that works are some of your PSP and PlayStation One games you have digitally on you Vita memory card.  These games, though up scaled on the PS Vita, might look a bit rough, especially some of the PS One titles, but it is nice to be able to play some Vita games on a larger screen.  Like on the PS Vita, you cam remap some of the controls for your games.  So you can map the D-Pad to the Right analogue stick and give some PSP games the control scheme it needs.

Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix works fine on the PlayStation TV, though there was a bit of slow down at first
Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix works fine on the PlayStation TV, though there was a bit of slow down at first
PS Store works like it does on the Vita.  You can use it to determine  some (if not all) of the games that are compatible.
PS Store works like it does on the Vita. You can use it to determine some (if not all) of the games that are compatible.

All and all, it seems the Sony is looking for ways to extend the Vita’s brand..  I do not have good internet at home so streaming of PS3 games from PS Now is not in the cards.  I hope to use it to extend my PS4 to the living room so I can game and watch for the mail.  The PlayStation Vita might give Vita games another chance (maybe convince some to buy it,) but it is a good way to extend you PS Vita gaming at home.

3.5 out of 5