PS Vita/PS4 Review: Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a third person hack-and-slash action game developed by Marvelous and published in North America by XSeed Games. It is a spin-off of the popular Fate multimedia franchise by Type Moon that started with the Visual Novel Fate/stay night(originally an eroge that was toned down for a general audience) that spun off into anime, manga and video games.  Fate/Extella is an indirect sequel to the spin-off game Fate/Codes (still available on PSN as of this writing.) and Fate/Codes CCC (Japan only).  This game is available for the PS Vita and the PS4 with cross save and cross download features.  It is playable on the PlayStation TV micro console.

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Start Screen on PS4

The Fate franchises has an underlying theme to all of its versions:  The is a mystical artifact called the Holy Grail (what it is can vary) and a war is fought over it.  The Grail chooses several people to become Masters.  Masters usually have some sort of magical aptitude, but their level can vary from person to person.  All of them, however. are able to summon a Servant.  A servant is a Heroic Spirit that become a legend in the past, present or even future.  They come from history, legends, myths or even from times not yet past.  These Heroic Spirits are not necessary good, but they have all made their mark on history in some way.  But the ultimate goal is to defeat all of the others and win the Holy Grail, which will grant them what they desire most.

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Servants are broken down into several classes.  There are Sabers (sword wielders), Casters (magic users), Riders (fast moving, sometimes with a mount), Archers (projectiles, not necessarily arrows), Berserkers (great strength and endurance), Lancers (lances and pole arms), and Rulers (able to command other Servants)

Fate/EXTELLA varies a bit from the core Fate storyline.  For one, it takes place not in our world, but in a virtual reality.  The Holy Grail is the Moon Cell Automaton, an ancient computer build by non-human hands and hidden on the Moon.  It generates a virtual world called SE.RA.PH.  Masters, called wizards, project their consciousness into this world and they bond with their Servants, who the Moon Cell Automaton pulls from the Earth’s history.

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Nero Cladius is one of the Heroic Spirits in Fate/EXTELLA
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Medusa is another servant that exists in SE.RA.PH

The second difference is  that the Holy Grail War is already won.  Set after the events of Fate/Codes,  EXTELLA sees the player takes the role of the Master who had won the Grail War and now rules over the virtual world of SE.RA.PH alongside the Servant, Nero Claudius.  A Saber class servant, Nero is very loyal to the protagonist.  She (yes, she)  gathered four other Servants (now existing independently in SE.RA.PH.) to help rule the new lands.  She has a ring, the Regalia that symbolizes her dominion over SE.RA.PH.  But things are not as simple as it seems.  Another servant appears with her own Regalia.  A Caster, Tamamo no Mae has claimed that she won the Holy Grail War along side her master, who appears to be the player character as well.

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Both Nero and Tamamo (the fox girl) claim to have won the Holy Grail War.

A servant sent as a System Administrator,  Archimedes explains that the player character was attacked in the real world by servants of Velber, the Umbral Star, a sentient planet that destroys every civilization it encounters.  It has returned to Earth after 14 000 years to lay waste to the planet and its Moon.  It split the player’s avatar into three parts, Body, Mind and Spirit.  Nero has Mind, Tamamo has spirit, and the body is in the hands of Velber’s servant, Altera.  The player has to help the servants reunite the three parts and hopefully stop the Umbral Star from destroying the virtual and the real world.

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Archimedes (standing in front) seems to have all the answers…

 

The main story is split into three parts, one for Nero, Tamamo, and Altera.  Each part has you fight in battles as you try to win by taking over sections of the battlefield and defeating the enemies within.  Each time to takeover a sector, you gain keys called Regime Matrices.  Collect 15 keys and you take over the area.  Lose 15 and the enemy takes over instead and you lose.  One you have 15, the Boss servant appears and you have to beat them to complete the level.  this is similar to the gameplay of Koei Tecmo games such as Dynasty Warriors.

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Tamamo has her own copy ofr the winning Master.

 

You create the Master of the game, but the customization is limited.  You can create the name and choose their sex, but that is all you can customize.  Other than you name and what sex you choose, the game plays the same with your servant expressing their admiration and love for you no matter your sex.  You are skill referred to as King or Master or Husband, depending on the character, though sometimes the female player character is referred to as Lady.

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Male or female, Tamamo is a loving wife to her Master

Each of the servant characters have the standard light and heavy attacks (Square and Triangle, respectively) that can be chained for combos.  As the character levels up you gain the ability to do longer combos as they are unlocked.  The Circle button activates the Extella Maneuver; as the little blue bars beneath your health fill up, you are able to launch an attack that hits all the opponents around you.  The more bars you have build up, the longer you can string the attacks..  Finally, X is jump.

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End result of a Extella Maneuver

 

There are also two special attacks.  First is the Moon Crux (L2 on PS4, L and X on the Vita)for the three main heroines in with they temporarily transform into a more powerful version of themselves and gains special effects like flames or ice with their attacks.  The other servants don’t transform, but become more powerful until the bar  above their health empties.  The other special attack is the characters’ Noble Phantom.  Throughout each level, there are Red crystals with a circuit part that fills a graphic  next to the character’s health.  Once you get three of them and complete the circuit, you can press R2 (or the circuit symbol with the Vita’s touch screen) to activate the attack.  Each characters attack is different and they tie into that character’s legend or backstory.

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Nero transformed during the Moon Crux
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Nero begins her Noble Phantasm

Besides the main story, you have two other modes.  The side quest allows you to play as any of the other servants you have unlocked in story mode.  There is also a Free Mode, in which you can replay any of the missions you have beat with any character that you have unlocked.  Missions may even have side missions give by other servants that will increase you affinity with them.  There is also a gallery, which you can watch any of the cut scenes you unlocked, look at character models or read up on terms in the Fate Extella setting.

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Each servant besides the main three have a side story.

There are alternate costumes available as paid DLC for the game, with more coming in the weeks to come.  You can change the costume between missions and the character’s looks will reflect the costume in most cut scenes.  Even the character art in the dialogue will reflect the costume you are wearing, which is a nice touch.

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First Week DLC features swimsuits for the girls and two of the guys.

 

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Even the art reflects the costume (Shackled Bride outfit shown)

This is a pretty fun game.  Fans of Dynasty/Samurai/Hyrule Warriors will enjoy the same hack and slash gameplay in this title.  The three storylines and the ability to replay levels  adds some value to the game.  The characters are all interesting, once you get over some of the interesting changes to some historical figures.  Nero being  a woman is not that surprising; in the original Fate anime, the Sabrer in that series, Artoria (who is a hidden character in this game), was the legendary King Arthur.  Iskandar, the King of Conquerors, is large and imposing, but historically, Alexander the Great (who is  based on) wasn’t that tall though his exploites were larger than like.  The most interesting interpretation was Elizabeth Bathory.  A Hungarian countess distantly related to the (historical) Vlad Dracula , she was accused of murdering young girls to bath in their blood to remain young.  In the Fate world, she returns looking like a teenage girl with dragon wings and tails and a desire to become a pop idol.

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Saber from Fate/stay night (Artoria Pendragon) is a hidden character in Fate/EXTELLA

 

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Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood to stay young.  Bet she didn’t want to look this young!

Both the PS 4 and the PS Vita versions play the same.  Of course, the Vita version cannot show as may enemies on screen as the PS 4.  In fact I find the Vita version a bit easier because of that.  Both versions have an option to upload your same so you can transfer it to the other system.  Gameplay on the PlayStation TV version lets you use the controller like in the PS4 version.  All of the DLC the is or will be available for this game will get you both the Vita and PS4 version

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The PS4 version can have more enemies on screen
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Artoria in her swinsuit

 

Fate/EXTELLA: the Umbral Star is available now  both in a physical release or digitally on the PSN.  The Digital version will give you a theme for the system you bought it for and either the Shackle Bride outfit for Nero (PS4) or the Cold Blooded Warden outfit for Gilgamesh (PS Vita).  Both the physical version comes in the Noble Phantasm edition, which I will review separately.

4/5

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PS Vita Review: Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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First Drive
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Second Drive. Yes they are sisters…and very close.
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Third Drive
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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.

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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.

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You can swap outfits.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

3/5

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

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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.

 

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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.)

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The girls play beach volley ball

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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.

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Increase your funds through gambling at the casino
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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.

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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.

 

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

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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.

3.5/5

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

 

PS Vita/PS4 Review: Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

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SENRAN KAGURA ESTIVAL VERSUS_20160319111111

 

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!

 

PS Vita Review: Moe Chronicles

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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