Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Second Look at Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. Also, get your own customized game swag!  


Games: I recently covered Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus over at @Gamecritics, but in a very unusual turn of events, I continued to play it after I finished the review… That's wildly out of the ordinary for me, and after having spent another 20 hours past the point at which I wrote my opinion, I feel like I have more to say on it.

Now, this isn't to say that my review is invalid… Not at all. I feel like I gave it a super-solid breakdown based on the time spent, and I'm still happy with my final verdict. Absolutely. But, there were some details and small things I've grown to appreciate that were not immediately noticeable until after I had spent even more time going through the game with each character and seeing more of the Visual Novel chunks.

Although I touched on it in my review, I think one thing that’s really brilliant about the game is how small in size it is.

I've never liked Musou games before, but for some reason this one really clicked with me, and it had nothing to do with the naked ladies. As I was trying to think about why this one was so enjoyable when so many others bored me to tears, I came to the conclusion that the gameplay comes in perfectly bite-sized portions, so that fatigue never really gets the chance to set in.

It also helps that the 15 characters in the three starting schools feel wildly different from each other, even though they all share the same basic moves – a light attack, a strong attack, a jump, a ground pound, and a dash. However, despite this similarity, how they’re implemented and how they play are starkly different. Going further (and another example of how time revealed more) the girls of the Crimson Squad aren’t even selectable until after the player has completed the story mode three times -- something like a 20-hour investment. Once they’re unlocked, they’re an even more obvious example of how technically different the shinobi are.

Take the snake-eyed Hikage, for instance… She has lightning-fast knife attacks, a poison shot, and one of her special moves is to turn completely invincible as she goes into a primordial rage.  On the other hand, Mirai is quite fragile, but packs a machine gun inside of her umbrella. She needs to play very much like a sniper, and can only dash backwards, further emphasizing her lack of ability to engage directly.  Although I have my preferences when it comes to the characters, I found that spending time with each of them was well-rewarded, and I admired how much variation there was between them. 

Another aspect that didn't come to full fruition until I had gone through the story mode a second time (and was only enhanced with a third and a fourth) was just how much nuance there was to the writing, and how much attention was given to the story mode and backstory of each ninja.

While I thought they did a fine enough job in the content that I saw, I was quite impressed when I found that some of the ‘tropey’ characters ended up having more depth than I would've expected. The oversexed pervert character (well, one of them, anyway) actually had some good motivation underneath the surface stuff, some of the ‘focused’ characters had elements of self-doubt, or questions about their beliefs. It ain’t War & Peace, but there's more humanity in the writing than it had any right to have. In fact, after playing for another 20-ish hours past the point of review, I think I would probably re-characterize the game as having a heftier visual novel aspect -- probably another reason why this one has hooked me when other Musou games haven’t.

As an experiment, I decided to try Hyrule Warriors after being so thoroughly wrapped up in Senran... I wasn't sure whether this newfound appreciation was a change in my taste or if there was more to it than that, but after putting an hour into Hyrule, I wanted no more of it. 

It felt busy but shallow at the same time, none of the characters struck me as interesting, and the mechanics did not feel as complex. I don't know if that holds true over the course of the entire game, but it just wasn't as fun to control these characters, and the stages felt like they dragged on for-eh-ver. Of course, to be fair, I didn't spend enough time with the game to unlock extra weapons and some of the 
character modifier items and so forth, but then again, I wasn't really motivated to.

Although I'm sure many people will be put off by the T&A factor in Senran Kagura, I have to say that portion of the game was only noticeable for the first half an hour or so… After that, it just washed over me and I was more focused on trying to figure out the best playstyles for each character, practicing getting the countering down, and figuring out the best times to use ninja transformation or when to go into a Frenzy. I was even quite curious about how the story turned out! 

In hindsight, I feel like I should give the game and the developers more props for the things that are done exceptionally well, and I do think it's one of the few games in recent memory that genuinely got better with more time put into it.


In other games news, I recently started Styx: Master of Shadows. I’d been looking forward to it for some time, but after the first hour and a half, I haven’t been back to it. 

So…. Yeah.


Misc: I’ve mentioned it on Twitter a few times, but my wife has started making handcrafted videogame shirts, and she’s taking orders.

You can check out her site and see what she’s made so far, but she can do just about anything and she’s happy to take custom orders. Basically, if you don’t’ see a design you want, just email and ask! She can probably whip it up for you!

I wore this shirt yesterday!
If you’d like a shirt, sweatshirt, pair of socks, coffee sleeve (or whatever) with your favorite game-related thing on it, drop her a line.

FYI: She hasn’t found a reliable source for good hats yet, but she’s working on it. If YOU know a good hat wholesaler, any tips would be appreciated!  ^_^


Tin Man Games’ seventh Fighting Fantasy digital gamebook app, Caverns of the Snow Witch, arrives on the iOS App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore for Android, nearly 30 years to the day since the original publication of the paperback!
Tin Man Games has taken the classic Fighting Fantasy solo adventure and transformed it into an interactive digital experience, using their critically acclaimed gamebook engine. With animated page-turning, dynamic links, an automated adventure sheet to show changing stats and display magical treasures, the reader can also roll physics-based 3D dice to bravely battle the creatures found within the Crystal Caves and beyond.

Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is now available to download from the iOS App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android. It costs $5.99 USD/£3.99/5,49 €.

Tin Man Games maintain a site dedicated to their Fighting Fantasy apps at The Official Fighting Fantasy site can be found at Tin Man Games also runs a developer blog at


Hand of Fate, the Kickstarter-funded title from Defiant Development that seamlessly blends RPG, rogue-like and action-adventure elements with board and collectible card game features, will launch on Xbox One in January 2015 in addition to the previously announced PC and PlayStation 4 releases. 

Gamers who download Hand of Fate on Steam Early Access will be able to play new content created by industry luminary David Goldfarb, of Battlefield and Payday fame, prior to the game's official launch.  Goldfarb has designed original encounters, locations, items and a story which flesh out a hidden optional quest in Hand of Fate.

The Early Access build of Hand of Fate is now available for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam at a discounted price of $25 USD.

Information about Hand of Fate can be found at:


Deep Silver Volition knows all too well the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. For Johnny Gat in Deep Silver Volition's Saints Row: Gat out of Hell standalone expansion, the seven deadly weapons represent a means to devilish fun on his rampage through Hell. Can the Devil and his demonic allegiance withstand the persuasiveness of Johnny's unrighteous arsenal? Have a look at this new video featuring the seven deadly weapons and check out a description of the weapons below (don't be shy, curiosity is not a sin):

In addition to the trailer release, Deep Silver announced that Saints Row: Gat out of Hell and Saints Row IV: Re-Elected will launch on January 20, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for the software bundle, and PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC for retail standalone Gat out of Hell. Two different pre-order offers were also announce -- Purchase the new gen bundle for $49.99 with retailers such as Amazon, and receive two special DLC packs outlined below, or get the Gat out of Hell specific DLC when pre-ordering it as a standalone game for only $19.99.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell Devil's Workshop Pack
Tired of flying on the wings of a fallen angel? With the Devil's Workshop Pack you can fly on the purple wings of a Saint instead. Also included; Yorick, the flaming skull that acts as the source of Shakespeare's infernal might. Finally you can wield all of the power of Shakespeare with none of the iambic pentameter: what's not to love?

Saints Row IV: Re-Elected Plague of Frogs Pack
Take some mementos from hell with you to virtual Steelport! Rain amphibian death onto Zinyak's army with the Lil' Croaker, and look good doing it wearing either Infernal Guard armor or Hellish Princess costumes.

For more information about the Saints Row universe, please visit the official sites:



You can watch the Dragon Age: Inquisition The Hero of Thedas trailer at the following link:


It's time to take the fight to the Divine Empire as Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord, the strategy RPG for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system is now available in the Americas for $39.99. Despite having a "II" in the title, the game requires no knowledge of the previous title, as the story and gameplay are all self-contained within the 80-plus hours of strategic combat and visual novel-style storytelling in the original Japanese audio. 

Tears to Tiara II features:
·  More than 15 main characters to get to know as the story unfolds in the visual novel. 
·  Strategic turn-based gameplay will challenge the most battle-hardened generals 
·  The joint attack combat systems adds extra depth to the strategy gameplay, and makes for more replayability
·  Original Japanese language story and battle audio at a discounted $39.99
Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord is now available in North and South America for $39.99. Pre-orders and a limited quantity of launch edition games will come with the Tears to Tiara II Visual Works, a 31-page booklet that combines sketches, concept art, character designs and background visuals. More information on the game, combat systems and more are available on the official website,


Wondering what is going on with Amazon Game Studios? Well, let us tell you! Today we’re happy to show you three new games that will be launching this year— Til Morning’s LightTales From Deep Space and CreepStorm. These are creative, hand-crafted games that are fun to play, deliver interesting new customer experiences, and utilize exclusive Amazon technology. Check out the game trailers and other assets here:

GungHo Online Entertainment America (GOEA), a multiplatform publisher for the online gaming community, today launched a Steam Greenlight campaign for its side-scrolling, puzzle-based adventure PC game Dokuro. Already available on the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system and mobile devices (iOS and Android), Dokuro is expected to be released on Windows PC based on the support of the Steam community.

A recipient of industry awards, including IGN's Best PS Vita Puzzle Games of 2012 and Just Push Start's Original Game of the Year for 2012, Dokuro is a zany action-puzzler that enables players to manipulate the game's environment and transform its diminutive protagonist between two forms - a nimble skeleton and a dashing prince - to solve a variety of puzzles in order to help an innocent princess escape the Dark Lord's fortress.

Dokuro challenges players to utilize both Dokuro's skeletal and hero forms to approach and tackle various puzzles, traps, spiked pits and boss battles to save the princess. With nearly 150 levels of escalating complexity and difficulty, Dokuro puts even the most seasoned puzzle and platform gaming veterans to the challenge.

To check out Dokuro's Steam Greenlight page, visit:

To download the game on its current platforms, click: PlayStation VitaiTunes and Google Play.

For information on GungHo Online Entertainment America, visit:


Starting now, Steam users can pre-purchase Techland’s upcoming open-world zombie action game Dying Light in a special 4-Pack bundle. At a price of three games, players receive four copies of Dying Light, one for them and three giftable extra copies for their friends. This promotion is a great way to delve into the world of Dying Light with a trusted team and get the most out of the game’s extensive multiplayer options.
Invasions by the Night Hunter are the asymmetric multiplayer aspect of Dying Light, revealed in the latest gameplay trailer.
Dying Light will be released in 2015 on January 27th in the Americas,January 28th in Australia and New Zealand, and January 30th in Europe and Asia.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die fans are amongst the most hardcore and tight-knit gamers in the world. In an effort to provide continued support to these players, FromSoftware and BANDAI NAMCO Games have worked tirelessly to make it possible for these most ardent of Dark Souls supporters to migrate their Dark Souls: Prepare to Die games, saves, and achievements from the Games for Windows Live platform to STEAM.
Pertinent details about the migration option from Games for Windows Live to STEAM can be found below:
·  Games for Windows Live users will be able to redeem their Games for Windows Live Tokens on STEAM to get Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition at no additional cost.
o To find your Games for Windows Live Token, please head to the support webpage at:
·  In the month of November there will be a period by which Games for Windows Live Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition users will be able to transfer their Save Data (character & progress) and Achievements over to their STEAM accounts.
·  Players will still be able to use their Games for Windows Live Tokens to redeem the STEAM version of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition at no additional cost even after the migration period ends; but game Save Data and Achievements transfer functions may not be available.
·  Games for Windows Live Rankings will not be transferred to STEAM.
The specific migration start and end dates will be available soon; however the migration period will begin sometime in November 2014 with more specific dates to come.
We will be sharing more information soon regarding the migration process in upcoming media alerts. 


If you're a fan of SENRAN KAGURA, get ready to slice and dice... up some delicious treats while rocking out to some funky beats! SENRAN KAGURA Bon App├ętit! is slated for November 11th in North America exclusively on the PlayStation®Store for $14.99, while the EU release by Marvelous Europe will launch on November 12th. The game includes the girls of Hanzo and Crimson Squad, complete with story routes for each girl to play through. If you're a fan of the straight-laced Gessen girls or the fierce Hebijo ladies, you can pick up the Gessen x Hebijo DLC pack two weeks later, on November 25th, also for $14.99. More info on the game can be found at the newly launched website at

We're also kicking off the SHINOVI VERSUS DLC schedule today with two content packs, and the first one's free! The "Shinovi Hairstyle Set" includes 20 new hairstyles, one for each of the core shinobi, all on the house. Alongside that, there's "Costume Set 1," which includes five different outfits (the Gym Clothes, School Swimsuit, Uniform & Swimsuit, Uniform & Thigh Highs, and Japanese Dress) for a bundle price of $5.99. The outfits are also available individually, for $1.99 apiece. Marvelous Europe will be releasing the same DLC on the EU store tomorrow, October 22nd.

That's it for this week, but hold onto your Hachigane, because next week, two new challengers will enter the fray...

To stay up to date, check out our official Facebook page!


Rainbow Skies (Vita)


The Phantom PI: Mission Apparition (great for kids!)

RIVE (wiiU)


How To Survive: Storm Warning


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