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Monday, March 19, 2018


Shiin is one of my insta-order games based purely on the cover art. Yeah, I'm still a sucker that way but as a big fan of horror games, how could I resist? I was even stupid enough to pre-order the PS4 version just for the extra goodies. I really should cancel that but then what about the 25 minute voice track CD?

There's one born every minute
As much as I love every horror game, especially on the Vita, I have to say this one was ultimately a disappointment. Given that it's by EXPERIENCE, you might expect this to be some kind of DRPG with horror elements. While I didn't expect quite that much, I was hoping for something at least with some exploration.

Your stats like the cake are a lie
If you've played Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, the gameplay is very similar to that game. There's a few rooms, hallways, and the like but that's about it. You move your flashlight around and investigate stuff. You can also pick an item to use from your backpack. Sometimes you have to make choices called Deadly Choice where you will die if you make too many wrong choices. No biggie because you can pick retry and try again though you may have to skip some text. That was a bit annoying.

 Need a hand? Haw haw haw haw!
The one unique part of this game is the boss fight at the end of each chapter. Given the clues that you pick up in your investigation, you have to pick the correct items to use every turn. However, it's nothing more than making educated guesses given the clues and retry if you don't pick the right items.

If this game is not a DRPG at all, it's not even a great ADV game. While Book of Shadows has its flaws, at least it had some character development and voice acting. I liked the fact that this game had characters of every age and gender and no qualms about killing any of them if you make the wrong choices. But there's almost no voice acting and very little dialogue. In fact, the entire game is very short and I beat it in a little over 10 hours while taking my time.

Think of the children!!!!
Thankfully, they released a new chapter that was free for a limited time and also included in the PS4 version. Since I was all up in the latest gaming news, I was able to nab it right away but the free download period is already over for the Vita version. (Sorry, fellow Jhipsters.) With the new chapter, I was able to enjoy the game for a few more hours and frankly it sorely needed that extra content.

Score: 2.5 oh I forgot to mention all those naked women in the game out of 5 (14 hours to beat)

Even ghosts have the decency to cover the important bits
In the end, despite the short length and all its flaws, I enjoyed the game. It has some great art that oozes with atmosphere. The story while minimal, at least had a satisfactory ending. And while the music lacked variety, the songs that it did have were excellent. The game was not that scary either so it might be a good one to try for those easily spooked.

Good music but apparently not in the CD soundtrack (LOL first comment)

The downloadable last chapter also hints at a new aberration so perhaps there's a sequel on the way. I hope EXPERIENCE can use this first entry as a starting point to a more fulfilling series. I appreciate they tried something new but would hope they do a more thorough job the next time around.

Hey, you girls see my wallet? My money vanished like a ghost!
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Taiko no Tatsujin Portable(太鼓の達人 ぽ〜たぶる)

The Taiko no Tatsujin games are pretty fun when you have a giant taiko to bang on, though Japanese arcades are always so loud that the fun is diminished cause you can't hear jack. However, on home consoles, it becomes a rather simplistic rhythm game that's pretty limited musically. I mean, there's only so much you can do with just BOOM and CLACK. I know next to nothing about real taiko drumming but I don't think these games are exactly an accurate representation.

I tried this on my PSP and now I need a new one #Patreon #HALP #$$$

While it's fine as a mainstream, newb rhythm game, I find it pretty lacking compared to oh say for example, Beatmania (#fuckKonami?). Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like the game only has super easy songs. I definitely can't clear some of the more difficult songs in Oni mode. However, the issue for me is that the base mechanics are a bit too basic. So when my Closet of Shame™ started running out of room and I had to purge some shit, the taiko games on the PSP were the first on the chopping block.

Some of the songs on the first portable version is for me a nostalgic trip back in time to 2005. Those were the years I was actually living in Tokyo so it's not even fake nostalgia. Songs like マツケンサンバ really takes me back.

Oh god, now I feel really old. Still damn catchy though.

Of course, I was ignorant gamer at the time so I was mostly busy working overtime and playing mainstream DS titles like animal crossing and brain age. I didn't even know about the PSP, so big FAIL on Sony's marketing division there.

While the 38 songs isn't exactly a terribly small list (the online songs are now all offline), most of the songs didn't really do it for me. It has the standard set of "classical" and Namco originals that are whatever and overall, the set was just meh for me. It doesn't help that Taiko sound effects don't really go well with most songs and the other sounds such as farts were not better. Not surprisingly, We will rock you was the best match for this type of game. For some reason, this one also has DBZ Head-cha-la. CHA LA! HEAD CHA LA! Ahem, excuse me, reflex.

Score: 2.5 I actually watched マツケンサンバ on TV (yeah, I'm a dinosaur) out of 5

There's nothing wrong with this game, it plays just fine and that would normally be good enough for a 3 average score but the rather lackluster song list brings it down a notch.

I unlocked all the songs, got up to Meijin rank, and cleared a fair chunk of songs on Oni difficulty mode and that's good enough for me. Now I have a little extra space to BUY BUY BUY some more games. Mission accomplished.

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Fate/EXTRA CCC(フェイト/エクストラ CCC)

The first thing that stood out for me in Fate/EXTRA CCC is that this sequel jumped from Cero B from the first game all the way straight to D. You probably won't notice it in the first few hours of the game but as a dedicated Cero D import collector, I went in apprehensive of any SJW fodder.

What sword fighting technique is this stance?
Fortunately, the sequel came out in that blessed but all too short period in history when developers gave up on localizing all but the most mainstream titles and practically deserted the PSP "Pirates of the Caribbean" ISO download orgy platform. This was the golden age before all this gamer gate nonsense when all non-jhipsters could do was whine and beg instead of complaining that a new game now costs (gasp!) $40?! Stupid Japanese developers!

Because niche means higher volume=lower price... #oxymoron

Ah yes, the golden years, when costumes could be unlocked by playing the fucking game and DLC was a cute idea that fleeced token revenue from only the most gullible. The days of blissful ignorance when nobody knew half the stuff Japan was pumping out like they have been since the mid 80s. When gratuitous panchira was nothing more than a few harmless pixels. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Can you imagine if Passionlip came out today?"

I claim not clickbait because this is not the first header image
Actually, I am very curious to see what characters will be making a comeback in Fate/Extella. I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction that I WON'T see Passionlip in current gen HD graphics. Nor will we see BB's way too mini skirt and the frequent low angle camera. Oh but it's totally ok because nobody is wearing panties, it's all leotards, right guys? *wink wink*

In communist Russia, panties wear YOU
Anyways, now that I got the obligatory old man ramblings out of the way, let's dive into the game itself. The first thing I want to address is the battle system. The first game gets a lot of flack for being nothing more than a glorified paper-rock-scissor game, a common shitaku-style 10 second analysis before moving onto the next paycheck er... I mean "review". I, for one, enjoyed the pattern matching gameplay and statistical risk analysis for boss fights. It sure beats the spam the "A" button and heal routine of other RPGs that typical gamers rave over *cough Earthbound cough*.

Ugh, another 50+ hours of this shit?
However, no matter how much I slack I gave the gameplay, I wasn't expecting the EXACT same thing in the sequel. I'm not asking for a complete different game (ugh Extella musou), but at least they could've made some tweaks, new abilities, ANYTHING to distinguish it from the first game. They recycled pretty much everything including the hougu, which in English is noble phanta... something blah blah blah.

Dunno where they came up with Noble Phanta... whatever
While the combat system is identical, including the already generic and boring enemy models, there's a bunch of tweaks that make this game much easier (eg mainstream) than the first entry. First of all, EXP doesn't have diminishing returns so grinding is now an option and you can retry if you lose a battle. What was Normal/Easy difficulty was also renamed to Maniac/Normal perhaps to make you feel better about being a gamer NEWB.

I actually look a bit younger than the grampa... a bit.

With the tight balance gone, CCC feels more like a TYPE-MOON game instead of an Imageepoch one. In that sense, the visual novel aspect of the game is massively beefed up. There's way more voice acting, which was one of my complaints in the first game. There's a new servant and a few costumes for each servant. Sure, you don't get a choice of dozens of costumes for only 300/400 yen each like the new games but they're included as part of the game (whoaaaaa).

I'm not fucking stupid, you bundled all this on Switch port #boycott #fuckSwitch
Each servant also has their own ending in addition to the standard and CCC ending. However, the biggest flaw in all this new content is that you have to play through the same bosses to view it. My first playthrough was 50 hours but I ended up playing through it twice more for a whopping 105 hours in total. One major problem is that the CCC ending is almost impossible to unlock without a guide and a lot of the story just doesn't make sense without all the events you need to trigger for that ending.

After the first playthrough, I did look up how to get the true ending but fucking google decided it was a good idea to shove spoiler screenshots of the hidden final boss right in my face. Usually, I don't have this kind of issue for Japanese-only Jhipster games but I guess the fate franchise is too mainstream, what with this Fate/GO smartphone bullshit. I quickly closed the offending tab and decided fuck it, I'll try a second playthrough blind and BOY was that a mistake. After another 30 hours, while I did get to see Caster's ending, the true ending was nowhere to be seen. With some more careful googling, I found out that I missed an event in the VERY FIRST CHAPTER. Here we go, round 3, this time, might was well see how the new servant works out story wise. UGH. At least the hougu for the new servant is pretty damn cool and I even got my otome fill. This new servant is SUCH an asshole and you can't help but fall for the "bad boy" even if he does make you sleep pathetically huddled in the corner.

Score: 3.5 Ok, they're not leotards, I admit it! The girls are wearing regular panties and you can see them OMG OMG OMG!!!! out of 5 (50 hours to beat, 105 hours total played).

While the gameplay was recycled, I at least still enjoyed the boss fights even though I didn't enjoy having to replay the game over and over. Caster though is so fun to play because she requires a bit of strategy and is always one step away from dying due to her low HP.

Whoa, Dの食卓 reference? (Sorry non-jhipsters)
In the end, the graphics looked great for the PSP, the music was not bad at all, and the story was interesting enough. Yeah, the story was about girls, girls, girls and their girly problems blown up to have enormous consequence but I enjoyed it. In addition, due to the triggering nature of the content, I'm 99% confident this will never see an English release so +0.5 Jhipster optional points there. What exactly is so risque? Well, minor spoiler but how does "global cum" sound? You'll have to fight the final true boss to see for yourself.

Maybe they'll localize, after all we haven't had good clickbait ad $$$ in a while
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dragon Knight(ドラゴンナイト)

Dragon Knight is a DRPG where you save the kingdom/town of Strawberry Fields by defeating Dragon Knights. No literally. Dragons that are also knights (spoiler alert?). Personally, I think the game would have been much better if it had SPACE Dragon Knights but I digress.

The knight jumps into the dragon's mind... or something
Because I'm retro old-school, I first played through the original PC version. Not surprising for this type of game, but the kingdom/town is comprised solely of women. Now, I'm not sure how that works since Luna's mother is in the game and hence they must have some way to reproduce. Either they have some secret scissor magic (LOL) or maybe they hire out for some umm... outside help.

Luna, hate to break the news but your dad is... um... a test tube
One of the major problems with the PC88 version were the long load times and significant lag. The game was sluggish even at a blazing FOUR MHz so I dialed up the juice in my emulator all the way up to eight, count em EIGHT MHz!! Maybe the PC98 version is much better but I always have issues with those emulators.

There's really not much to say about this game except that it's a very, very simple RPG with one attack and one heal spell, no items, and limited equipment. Now, as far I as I could tell, there is no automap feature and while I would love to map stuff out myself (ugh no), I have a life so I looked up the maps on the Suupaa Information Highway.

Nothing like a BACKLER to fend off them monsters
It's essentially a DRPG version of 闘神都市 except without all that sex. In fact, there is no sex whatsoever as you're practically a saint, saving all these women from the goodness of your heart. #WhiteKnight #FriendZone #ClosetSexOffender

What? Clothing? THE NERVE!
Unless, you're really insistent on seeing some nipples, it's better to just play the PCE CD remake as it has an expanded story and nothing is cut. In fact, a lot of stuff has been added including bits of fabric or hair in some key strategic spots. I do have to point out that the the PC R-18 version has one image that probably won't be legal today thanks to America's proud work in changing the Japanese sexist laws. Thanks America! I won't put up the image of the match girl here so you'll have to play yourself if you're curious.

Is that one pixel going to make this blog NSFW??
I have to admire the fact that this game has different music for each of the 6 dungeon floors but man, PC88 music is not something you want to jam to for any length of time. I would put a link to one of the songs but nope, here's another screenshot, you horn dog!

There's like 3 other characters that look identical to this one
The PCE CD version is quite a faithful remake as all the dungeon maps are the same EXCEPT oddly enough the 6th floor. In addition to adding SUUPAA CD-ROM POWER voice acting, the game balance was also significantly tweaked. In general, the PCE version is almost TOO easy except for the weird difficulty spike at the black dragon. I grinded for a while there just to discover you only need to survive a few turns to win. MEH

Pretty much the same as PC except for, well try to guess.
Because of the addition of voiced dialogues, you can no longer change the main character's name from Takeru. A fair amount of dialogue was added with some minor plot changes including dialogue lines to hint at a larger story. Another big change is the ability for have a second party member. There's quite a few lines of dialogue in the original version where the main character complains that nobody ever tags around to help. I guess the developers took this to heart and decided to address his complaints. Also, the remake has automap though since I knew where everything was at this point, it was kind of moot (except the 6th floor).

This screenshot makes this look like an actual decent RPG
Score: 2.5  you're probably still googling "match girl" aren't you? out of 5.

I would say this game was a 2.5 including the remake given that it's based on a game from 1989. Yeah, the mechanics are dead simple but sometimes I'm in a mood to play a brain dead RPG without having to think about complicated shit like um... items. I had fun with it even though it's not a great game by any means.

SJWs in a rage right now might want to listen to these lyrics

Some extra screen shots cause, "Hey, I need to make some clickbait revenue too you know!!" I AM a "professional" after all!!

Pretty much the same as PC except for well... what do YOU think?
I tried to go back to the town and NUTHIN
Yeah, I actually finished this shit... TWICE. Don't know why
Next time, I'll probably just stick with the console shit

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Friday, February 9, 2018

Valis II (ヴァリスⅡ)

I thought Valis II on the PCE CD was also a remake of the MSX/PC88/Sharp X68k, etc. PC versions and that it was simply made before the remake of the first game. Fortunately, Wikipedia (.jp of course) set me straight and it was actually developed simultaneously by an entirely different team. The PCE CD version dropped the 「夢幻戦士」 part of the title and was named simply Valis II.

As a result, this is almost essentially an entirely different game and I guess there are pretty large differences in the plot was well (my in-depth 5 min wikipedia research). While I thought the cut scenes were awesome, the story in the PCE CD version made very little sense to me. Still, I have to give this one props for being WAY AHEAD of its time technically at least in the home console market (hail PC(88) master race). To have fully voiced cut scenes at the height of the FC days really makes those kids playing Goemon 2 or whatever seem like, well child's play.

Yeah, the window is small but try comparing it to FC games from 1989
Plus, Yuko is a strong female protagonist bad ass this time around so you can't go wrong with that... oh but bikini armor... never mind! Japan it seems was still stuck in the middle ages when it comes to women's rights. Thank god America had it all figured out by then.  #MeToo. #TooSoon?

NOT SJW approved
The music was pretty darn good as well and this game is worth a play-through perhaps just for the soundtrack alone. Given that this game came out in 1989, in the context of the time, this is a pretty damn awesome game. However, by today's standards, the biggest problem is that actual game itself isn't the best platformer out there.

Not gonna lie, I was jamming during this tune

I'm going to be straight up honest here. Since I discovered the save state feature in the PCE emulator on the Vita while playing Valis I, I couldn't help but use it heavily for the sequel. Yeah, I technically cheated but the game was not good enough in my mind to expend the same amount of energy replaying over and over, the "correct" way. Especially when you consider those god damn annoying tiny floating spikes in Act 5.

No seriously, fuck this shit
Playing this after the first remake was quite a step back in terms of both the in-game graphics and gameplay. Not just the lack of skirt physics, there is no longer a slide kick but the biggest problem was that the sword powers were very unbalanced. The power that can grow to the height of your character was so much more superior to all the other powers, that you want to avoid getting anything else at all costs. The projectile is huge and it even swallows incoming projectiles unlike the rest of the dinky, weak powers. My favorite homing missile from the first game was especially disappointing as it barely even homed and only fires one missile at a time even at max strength.

Score: 2.5 I guess the world wasn't ready for skirt physics before the 90s out of 5

I scored this one above the 2 mediocre score mostly because of its superior cut scenes and CD capabilities before even the SFC came out. Like many fellow non-Jhipsters, my first full CD-ROM experience came many years later with Myst on a machine that cost several thousands of dollars. It must have been real nice to be a Jhipster back in the day. Yeah, this game was localized I guessed and released on the TurboGrafx-CD in 1990 but who had one of those? Also, who wants that awful English dub anyways?

Me back in the day when I didn't know Japanese
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Thursday, February 1, 2018

AKIBA'S TRIP PLUS(アキバズトリップ・プラス)

AKIBA'S TRIP PLUS is the enhanced version of the first game on the PSP, not to be mistaken for the sequel, which was localized without the 2 (ala FF2 vs FF4). This game, unfortunately for the non-Jhipsters, has never been officially localized and probably never will be.

As avid readers of this blog would know, I've seen some dumb ass English titles so it's refreshing to see a title that actually makes sense and is even a clever play on words (albeit in ALL CAPS AGAIN). The way the title is formatted: AKIBA'STRIP, makes it pretty obvious that it was intentional. (No, it's not "Aki bast rip", dumbass.) I was pretty stoked for this game for the #gamergate clickbait revenue... err I mean for the clever concept but unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the hype.

This image is featured in my doctorate thesis that your tax dollars paid for. #journalism
First of all, even though the game is really short (I was able to beat it in a little over 10 hours), it took me YEARS to finally finish it. My biggest mistake was starting the game as I do all games on hardcore gamer difficulty. However, this is one of those games with multiple endings and a new game+ mode so starting the game on the harder difficulty was a very bad idea. If you had asked me how the gameplay was after the first 10 hours, I would've said it sucked donkey balls. Of course, no professional reviewer would state such strong opinions without playing through the entire game, right? (*cough shitaku cough*)

Honestly, with these textures, I'm not surprised it's only Cero C
Now that I've completed the entire game including all the endings, I can say that the combat becomes a lot more fun after you buy all the upgrades scattered throughout the various stores in town. My weapon of choice is the boxing gloves. If you hold R to always block, you look like a boxer. Once you unlock all the moves, you can skip around while blocking (aka "footwork") to dodge or you can block and go in for a 1-2 counter combo.

Definitely give this one time to unlock all the mechanics before you judge the combat as it starts out as a shitty "button mash and hope for the best" type of game in the beginning. And whatever you do, DON'T try to finish all the 5-star side quests on gamer difficulty without figuring out how to upgrade your equipment. This is done by selling weapons and clothes you stripped with +1 or more stats. This makes upgrades available in the junk store which you can use to add stats to your current equipment.

The OG version must have sucked pretty bad

As for the plot, there's a fair chunk of dialogue and all of the main story lines are voiced in this enhanced plus version. The story was nothing special but it was entertaining enough. I really like the artwork and illustrations even though the in-game models didn't really live up to the character design.

This game has a total of 5 different endings and I ended up playing through the game 3 times to see all the endings as they each have quite a bit of story. The first time was because I was playing blind and didn't know what I was doing. The second time, I figured out how to upgrade my equipment and decided to carry it over onto the third playthrough in order to save enough money to give to your imouto to unlock her ending. If you look up where the branching paths are, you can reach all the endings in two playthrough by keeping additional saves at the correct points.

Oh yeah, imouto time is BACK
One really neat aspect of new game+ is the ability to choose to play as any avatar from the game. There are some minor differences in dialogue if you play as a girl vs the default male avatar. It also unlocks a new "otaku" difficulty level which I didn't bother to try without any trophies to show for it.

I don't have an easy way to take screenshots so I jacked this Chinese version (like non-Jhipsters can tell)
Score: 2.5 can't wait to try out AT2 er... I mean AT1, oh not this FF number shit again! out of 5. (28 hours to beat all endings)

Yeah, the game definitely has some flaws and the concept behind this game was perhaps too much for the PSP to handle if they were hoping to go for something like an Akiba version of Ryu ga gotoku, err... excuse me, Yakuza (as non-Jhipsters call it). The map locations are extremely limited in size and while the graphics look pretty darn good for PSP standards, it didn't quite stand the test of time. Maybe Acquire didn't have the resources to make this game for the PS3.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this fun little title after I gave it a fair shake and persevered through the first 10 extremely frustrating hours. Plus, it was successful enough to kickstart the series and the sequel looks WAY better and closer to what they originally wanted to make (though I prefer the art style in this game). I'm looking forward to checking out the rest of the series.

This game is also available digitally on PSN which is the best version because you can remap the shitty mon-han camera controls to the right analogue stick on the Vita. Because I'm a sucker, I ended up getting that on top of the UMD. Of course, it's not an issue if you're a flithy emu DS3 controller pirate.

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Trails in the Sky SC Evolution (英雄伝説 空の軌跡 SC Evolution)


Sora no Kiseki SC Evolution is a fucking loooooooooooooooooong game. Got dayum! That's really the first thing I have to say after 118 hours of trailing in the sky... or something...

Game too long, doesn't respect reviewer's time. Score: 0 out of 5 -Shitaku
Of course, now that the original PSP game has finally been localized (oh, welcome to 2006, non-Jhipsters), you might think you can beat this game under 60 hours, but remember I'm playing through the main story like an audio-book and listening to hours and hours of professional voice acting takes a lot longer than the version that's now 12 year's old. (Sorry, non-Jhipsters).

Most don't know SC secretly means Shit-hole Countries cause Japan is racist unlike USA
I started playing Sora no Kiseki SC Evolution right after I finished FC, which is always a mistake. I mean, I always do this even though I'm always burnt out from the previous game and inevitably, I drop the game after a few hours. Though in this case, it didn't really matter because I had zero chance of finishing such a long RPG without dropping it at least 3 or 4 times (or 5... or 6). The only reason I was probably able to finish it was my vain attempt to catch up every time Falcom announced or released another game in the series. At any rate, once I got up to Chapter 5 clocking in at 60 hours, I got far enough in that I figured, fuck it. Time to GIT GUD.

Unfortunately, that's not a coincidence as chapter 5 is when you're done traveling the lands of Liverl for the 2nd time. Ala FF X-2 style, Falcom saved a buttload of work by recycling all the exact same locations from FC. It's reasonable to expect a game to start slow as it introduces the setting and characters so I gave FC a break for the slow start. However, I naively didn't expect to do the same thing AGAIN in the sequel. Yeah, you finally get to go to the docks at the Capital (big whoop) and that tantalizing locked room in the sewer of Rolent (spoiler: there's nothing in it), but 90% of SC's locations are recycled and milked to death. So while the highlight of FC was all the detailed sprite trinkets, I was definitely less impressed this second time around.

Wow, I didn't know Libeeru was spelled like that in English. I guess better then Liverpool?
However, what WAS impressive was the sheer amount of dialogue and how much of it was voiced. If you thought FC had tons of dialogue, you ain't seen nothing yet as SC probably has more than double the previous game. In addition, there's TONS more variation depending on who you decide to take in your party compared to FC which had fixed party members for the majority of the game.

The level of variation in the voiced dialogue was made possible probably only because the original developers didn't have to worry about voice acting. It only takes a dev a few copy and paste operations and a switch statement to code up "Let's go, A-kun and B-ko!", "Let's go, B-ko and C-chan!", "Let's go A-kun and C-chan!", etc., etc., etc. Some of the dialogues even depend on what you did in the previous game ala Mass Effect (before EA took a huge dump on it). When it came time to voice the Evo version, I really don't envy the enormous job that was in store, especially for poor Estelle-chan. I highly doubt that the newer games such as "Steel at its natural temperature" would have the same level of immersion, though I would be highly impressed if it did.

Notice the little pacman to replay the voiced dialogue. (Sorry non-jhpisters)
Falcom also could have taken the lazy route and decided not to voice at least the side quest dialogue, but nope, they soldiered through and even though the VA quality of the various NPCs sometimes sounds like Falcom friends and family members pitching in to help, I at least applaud the effort. Fei, the mechanic, is a hottie though cause she kinda sounds like my ex. (We broke up because they changed her illustration style to be based on the manga spin-off instead of the canon light novel.)

Hey, where's the Falcom friends & family cast credits?!
As usual, the game is chock full of side quests and not all of them are just filler. You'll probably miss a few hidden ones unless you are playing with a guide. The one for chapter 2 was an absolute BITCH, and was actually the most difficult battle in the entire game because FUCKING JIMMY dies in one hit and it's game over (hard mode ofc). There were literally times when you would lose the game even before your first turn. If I was smart and bought the accessories that prevent sleep and confuse for all 4 party members at the Capital, it would have been much easier as you can keep casting absolute guard on FUCKING JIMMY. Of course the store in Zeiss didn't have JACK SHIT. I finally made it with a bunch of Evade 2 Quartz and plenty of items for the status ailments after like 10 tries.

You know what was surprising though? Just by completing this optional sub-quest, FUCKING JIMMY takes his stupid pirate treasure to the museum and you can talk to him throughout the next chapter. Eventually, he ends up applying for a job at the museum. Presumably, none of this would have happened if you didn't complete the optional sub-quest and would have affected even a tiny bit of dialogue in Chapter 8. I didn't check but it would be almost impossible to see every tiny piece of dialogue in this game.

Music was not bad. A bit better than FC.

A couple variations I did check for fun was even a tiny change depending on the order in which you spoke to NPCs or party members. For example, when I spoke with the lady at the restaurant in Rolent, she mentioned her daughter wanting to see Estelle and Estelle replies, "Actually, I already said hi" based purely on the order in which you spoke to two NPCs. Most of these tiny variations in dialogue are voiced as well and really adds immersion to the world not unlike Fallout.

The attention to the tiny sprite details also added to the immersion. While I was a bit disappointed at the heavy recycling of the towns and locations from the first game, I still enjoyed seeing the various tiny expressions in the character sprites and the little accessories. This is the kind of game where if the character were to make an omuraisu (hypothetically speaking), you would see the tiny eggs cooking in the frying pan and a dot of ketchup on the finished product along with the salad.

As a Tiny Kitchen fan, I approve of this game.
The gameplay, while the same as FC, was more interesting as you get more powerful orbments. While in the first game, I almost ignored Arts because of how long they take to cast, this time around, thanks to upgraded orbment for 40-50% reduction in cast time, I made way more use of Arts buffs. Having absolute guard even in a small circle was almost OP as I just bunch my characters and cast after every attack.

As for the story, well, it as a bit of a disappointment honestly. There's nothing wrong with it and it's a perfectly fine, orthodox (what we call Jhipsters call "King's road") story. However, when you experience a story that spans two games and over 150 hours, you kinda end up having super high expectations on a grand finale. And let's just say, while the story wasn't bad, it was certainly no Xenogears. The new art and videos were a pretty good addition at least IMO. I mean, if it wasn't misogynistic that is.

Oh settle down, spoiler freaks, she's right on the damn game cover
While I really did want to give this game a score of 4 as a great game, the ending just doesn't deliver greatness. Also regarding the length, while I had fun with it and it's chock full of content, I'm a very busy man and I would like to move on to my next paycheck... err I mean review. I'm not doing this for fucking free you know? Oh oops, actually, I am doing this for free cause OH MY GOD I'm playing games... for fun?? CRAAAZY. So yeah, fuck you Kotaku, this game gets a 4 just for the hours of fun and entertainment.

Score: 4 ok sure why not but WTF is up with Ren's voice? Don't they have lisp speech therapy in Japan?? out of 5 (118 hours to beat)

Having said that though, I'm totally burnt out and I definitely WON'T be starting 3rd anytime soon. Maybe I'll get to it when Falcom releases Subzero Steel 6 Kai.

I mean c'mon, you get to see an NPC hungover, throwing up in the shower. GAMING GOLD!
At the end of the day, I had fun times with all the NPCs and the side stories. I just have to wonder how the story would have turned out if Joshua was ugly and not a fucking ikemen. Where's the representation for ugly, fat men in gaming today?! #GamerGate.


0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely