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A PSP Video Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる)

If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this is a must buy! Highly recommended!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Namco Ltd.

COMPANY: Namco

In Japan, one of their top music games featured in the arcades and for consoles is “Taiko no Tatsujin” which began back in 2001 and even the US had a single release titled “Taiko: Drum Master”. The game allowed people to take taiko-like wooden stick and beat on the drums. As the song is displayed on the screen, if you hit the drum in the correct moment, using the correct hit, the better points and ranking you will receive.

Of course, the easier the level, the fewer drum hits you have. The more advance, the level the more drum hits you will see on screen. In 2005, the first “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” was released for the Sony PSP. Featuring the cute “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters from the video game series, the concept of the game is fairly easy. Instead of using sticks, you use the buttons from the PSP.

GAME MODES:

To begin the game, you select your saved player which will then take you to a screen feature the various game modes. Please remember that in Japanese games, circle button is the main button to select the various modes as opposed to the X button.

The game modes are as follows (reading from Japanese right to left):

Purple – Save Game Mode

Blue – Items Mode. See what items you have opened up.

Light Blue – Wireless Multiplayer Mode – Play against 2-4 friends.

Green -This is like a practice mode where you hear the Taikou drum character singing a traditional Japanese-like song alongside with a guy and you can practice your hits along to that song and get a good score.

Orange – A challenge mode which you play several games which adjusts to how well you do in each game.

Yellow – Mini Games – There are a total of three mini games. In the Factory Game, the PSP is turned vertically and you use the analog stick to control levers in which rivets drop into a steel cup. In the sumo game, you go against another sumo wrestler and you will see colored circles. Hit the appropriate taiko drum button (in coordination with the color you see) to make your sumo do a move. The faster you go, the better your chances of winning. The third game is the dancing disco dog. He will dance and then the screen will pause showing which button you must press on the directional pad or the main buttons. As the game progresses, it gets faster and more multiple buttons must be pressed.

Red – This is the main game in which you select the song you want to play and choose the difficulty. Beat each song to open up more songs!

GAMEPLAY AND CONTROL:

To play the game, you will see the drum beats come by. Once those drums land in a circle on the left, you must press the corresponding button(s) at the same time.

If you see blue drums, that means shoulder buttons must be used. If you see red drums, then the directional pad and normal buttons must be used. Small drums means hit the drums quick, bigger drums means a longer hit.

If you see a stretch of yellow, that means you hit the drums via the direction pad, shoulder buttons and buttons as fast as you can. You see a red drum with a bubble, it means hold down the direction pad down while you hit the buttons on the right of your PSP as quickly as you can to pop it.

If you see a bell, then you move your analog stick left and right as quickly as you can.

BUTTONS:

Left Shoulder Button – Hits the left rim of the drum

Right Shoulder Button – Hits the right rim of the drum

Left and Right Shoulder Button – Hit both at the same time if you see a full light blue drum.

Directional Pad – Hits the left side of the drum

Any buttons on the right side – Hits the right side of the drum

Directional Pad and Buttons – Hit together when you see a full red drum come by.

GRAPHICS:

The game features animated graphics of the “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters. The colors are vibrant and the animation is pretty cool.

AUDIO:

“Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” features a lot of cool Japanese music. This is not for those looking for American songs but for those familiar with the J-Pop or anime songs in the game will have a blast. This is not a complete list but you can select from J-Pop, anime, variety or classic tunes. The vocal songs are from the original artists. There are a total of 45 songs with more than dozen songs that can be downloaded from the Japanese website. Granted, the songs are not mainstream but still, it’s cool that people can download music online. Included are songs such as:

Whiteberry – Hana Matsuri

D-51 – NO MORE CRY

Porno Graffiti – Neo Melodramatic

Ai Otsuka – Sakuranbo

Undergraph – Tsubasa

Orange Range – Hana

EXILE – Choo Choo Train

Mi – Mirai no Chizu

The Blue Hearts – Train-Train

Kageyama Hironobu – Cha-La Head-Cha-La (from “Dragon Ball Z”)

Matsuya Hiroko – Lum no Love Song (from “Urusei Yatsura”)

Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Rewrite (from “Fullmetal Alchemist”)

Crystal King – “Ai wo Torimodose!!” (from “Fist of the Northstar”)

Yoshimi Iwasaki – “Touch” (from “Touch”)

T.M. Revolution – ignited (from “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny”)

Lupin the Third Theme ’78 (from “Lupin the 3rd ’78”)

QUEEN – “We Will Rock You”

Britney Spears – “I’m A Slave 4 U”

If I don’t Understand Japanese Can I Still Enjoy This Game

Actually, yes. It’s an easy game to figure out. It may seem a bit daunting at first with all these screens but you can literally figure it out yourself. Overall, the game and the mini-games are easy to get into and there is not much in terms of reading that a player needs to do. There is dialogue from the Taiko drum but it’s mostly cute phrases on how well you do.

Overall, “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” is an enjoyable music game for the Sony PSP. For those who enjoy music/rhythm-based games will how much Namco was able to fit into this game and the fact that you can play wireless and also download songs online is a major plus. The fact that you can play various mini-games is also a major plus.

The game offers quite a bit of challenge depending on your skill level but even for those who are not that good at music/rhythm games can easily get into the basic levels and still enjoy the game. And you can open up more songs, more sounds (to replace the regular taiko drum sounds) and more.

Personally, there really is no negative I can find with this game. If I had to nitpick, may be more songs…but still nearly 50 songs is still pretty good. As for gameplay, It’s a game that anyone can get into and have fun and not have much difficulty. If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this game is highly recommended!

OVERALL: 97% out of 100

PROS:
+ Game is easy to get into for people of different skill levels.

+ Cool animated graphics, cool music!

+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly

+ Three mini-games

+ wireless multiplayer (up to four people)

+ Downloadable songs are available

CONS:
– There could have been more songs but that’s being nitpicky

PSP Video Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2 (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる 2)

If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this is a must buy! Namco managed to improve from the last “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” PSP game. Highly recommended!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2 (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる 2)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Namco Ltd.

COMPANY: Namco

In Japan, one of their top music games featured in the arcades and for consoles is “Taiko no Tatsujin” which began back in 2001 and even the US had a single release titled “Taiko: Drum Master”. The game allowed people to take taiko-like wooden stick and beat on the drums. As the song is displayed on the screen, if you hit the drum in the correct moment, using the correct hit, the better points and ranking you will receive.

Of course, the easier the level, the fewer drum hits you have. The more advance, the level the more drum hits you will see on screen. In 2005, the first “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” was released for the Sony PSP. Featuring the cute “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters from the video game series, the concept of the game is fairly easy. Instead of using sticks, you use the buttons from the PSP.

With the first release of “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable”, I absolutely loved it! Not only do you get plenty of cool music but three mini-games, downloadable content, wireless multiplayer and more! Granted, I was thrilled to hear that there would be a sequel, but the question is how far can Namco go in improving it. Can they improve the game? Or would it simply be the same game with more songs?

GAME MODES:

To begin the game, you select your saved player which will then take you to a screen feature the various game modes. Please remember that in Japanese games, circle button is the main button as opposed to the X button for primary button selection.

The game modes are as follows (reading from Japanese right to left):

Purple – Save Game Mode

Blue – Items Mode. See what items you have opened up.

Light Blue – Wireless Multiplayer Mode – Play against 2-4 friends.

Green -This is like a practice mode where you hear the Taikou drum character singing a traditional Japanese-like song alongside with a guy and you can practice your hits along to that song and get a good score. This mode has changed from the first game that instead of just the one selection, now you can practice with the other songs featured on the main game plus select various practice modes that can rank your skills.

Orange – A story mode mini-adventure game in which you interact with characters from the “Taiko no Tatsujin” world and by answering the correct answer and each answer can change the storyline and give you a different ending.

Yellow – Mini Games – There are a total of four mini games. In the balloon game, you are a turtle who makes animals from balloons. Press the right button and do the correct analog stick movements without popping a balloon. In the cake game, you are served three cakes shown at the beginning and then mixed up. You are then served the cakes. The cakes that are good, you hit the regular buttons to eat it, the cakes that are bad, you hit the shoulder button to toss them. For the daruma doll game, you set your PSP vertically and you drop things on the dancing disco dog who has his arms holding the items. Like building a tower but making sure you drop the items in a row without it tipping over. In the paper airplane game, the Taiko no Tatsujin character rides on a paper airplane. You control the plane via analog stick and make sure it flies a long distance without crashing.

Red – This is the main game in which you select the song you want to play and choose the difficulty. Beat each song to open up more songs!

GAMEPLAY AND CONTROL:

To play the game, you will see the drum beats come by. Once those drums land in a circle on the left, you must press the corresponding button(s) at the same time.

If you see blue drums, that means shoulder buttons must be used. If you see red drums, then the directional pad and normal buttons must be used. Small drums means hit the drums quick, bigger drums means a longer hit.

If you see a stretch of yellow, that means you hit the drums via the direction pad and buttons as fast as you can. You see a red drum with a bubble, it means hold down the direction pad down while you hit the buttons on the right of your PSP as quickly as you can to pop it.

If you see a bell, then you move your analog stick left and right as quickly as you can.

BUTTONS:

Left Shoulder Button – Hits the left rim of the drum

Right Shoulder Button – Hits the right rim of the drum

Left and Right Shoulder Button – Hit both at the same time if you see a full light blue drum.

Directional Pad – Hits the left side of the drum

Any buttons on the right side – Hits the right side of the drum

Directional Pad and Buttons – Hit together when you see a full red drum come by.

GRAPHICS:

The game features animated graphics of the “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters. The colors are vibrant and the animation is pretty cool. There is more usage of the character with the added story mode of the game. Also, the animation from the mini-games are pretty cool as well.

AUDIO:

“Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” features a lot of cool Japanese music. This is not for the players looking for American songs let alone English-based song but for those familiar with the J-Pop or anime songs in the game will have a blast.

This is not a complete list of what is included int he game but you can select from J-Pop, anime, variety or classical tunes. The vocal songs are from the original artists. There are a total of 60+ songs with more than dozen songs that can be downloaded from the Japanese website. Granted, the songs are not mainstream but still, it’s cool that people can download music online. Included are songs such as:

Remioromen – Konna Yuki

Sukima Switch – Zenryoku Shonen

Ai Otsuka – Frienger

Bump of Chicken – Karma

Ken Hirai – POP STAR

Kumi Koda – Butterfly

Spitz – Robinson

Kobukuro – Sakura (from the anime series “Eureka Seven”)

CAT’S EYE (from the anime series “CAT’S EYE”)

Dramatic (from the anime series “Honey and Clover”)

Zankoku na Tenshi no Te-ze (from the anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion”)

OZONE – Dragostea din tei (Koi no Maiyahi)

If I don’t Understand Japanese Can I Still Enjoy This Game

Actually, yes. It’s an easy game to figure out. It may seem a bit daunting at first with all these screens but you can literally figure it out yourself. Overall, the game and the mini-games are easy to get into and there is not much in terms of reading that a player needs to do.

The second game does include a story mode mini-game which requires a person to read Japanese but that is more of a side-game featuring the characters and is not an integral part of the game. So, this is possibly the only part of the game that requires a person to know Japanese but for the main part of the game, it’s easy to learn and get into.

Overall, “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2” is an enjoyable music game for the Sony PSP. For those who enjoy music/rhythm-based games will how much Namco was able to fit into this game and the fact that you can play wireless and also download songs online is a major plus. The fact that you can play various mini-games is also a major plus. But what is more impressive is how they added to this game and also improved on it.

The game offers quite a bit of challenge depending on your skill level but even for those who are not that good at music/rhythm games can easily get into the basic levels and still enjoy the game. And you can open up more songs, more sounds (to replace the regular taiko drum sounds) and more.

Like the first game, there really is no negative I can find with this game. If I had to nitpick, I wish there were more commercial, mainstream J-Pop songs but overall, they mixed things up in terms of J-Pop, anime, classic and there is a lot of downloadable music for this game as well.

As for gameplay, It’s a game that anyone can get into and have fun and not have much difficulty. If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this game (and also the other game) are highly recommended!

OVERALL: 98% out of 100

PROS:
+ Improvements made since the last game

+ Game is easy to get into for people of different skill levels.

+ Cool animated graphics, cool music!

+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly

+ Four mini-games

+ Two player Co-op

+ More Downloadable songs are available

CONS:
– There could have been more songs for a certain genre but that’s being nitpicky

Nintendo DS Video Game Review: The World Ends With You

“Stylish, unique and very fun to play. For those who dig Japanese pop culture and artsy games, will definitely enjoy this game. From a unique storyline to capturing a side of Shibuya on a video game never seen before. Highly recommended!”

TITLE: The World Ends With You

CONSOLE: Nintendo DS

RATING: TEEN – Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Welcome to Shibuya…

Wake up, shaken up, plastered on asphalt

Phones can’t block the voices of the masses

Seven days left between you and Death

Better race, place, Reapers won’t give up the chase

Welcome to Shibuya in the latest video game release for the Nintendo DS by the folks at SquareEnix. The game was developed by the team (Jupiter and Square Enix) behind the successful “Kingdom Hearts” games and features character designs by Nomura Tetsuya and Kobayashi Gen.

Many are familiar with Nomura’s work from his character designs of “Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X”, “The Bouncer”, “Parasite Eve” and of course, “Kingdom Hearts”.

The game focuses on the character Neku, a pessimistic, anti-social type of person who somehow ends up in the alternate side of present-time Shibuya. For those familiar with the anime “GANTZ”, you can see where I’m getting at (sans the licky licky dog and the carnage).

Neku doesn’t know where he is but he knows that he has these mysterious pins and meets a girl named Shiki who is also in a similar predicament as Neku and both learn that if they don’t complete missions within seven days together, they will be erased (killed) by the Reapers.

Nevertheless, Neku and Shiki go through Shibuya taking on monsters known as “noise” and accomplishing their missions.

GAMEPLAY: The main parts of the game is based on “pins” which are literally buttons that allow a character to use a special move. By fighting more monsters, you build your pins level. So, for example you have pins such as “pyrokinesis” which allows you to use your stylus and by dragging an empty space on screen, you create a path of flames.

“Thunderbolt” allows an enemy to be struck by lightning, “Force Rounds” which is shooting a bullet at a monster, “Shockwave” allowing to slash an opponent and countless number of pins that allow you to use a variety of special attacks.

So, during a fight with a monster, on the top screen is Shiki and the bottom is Neku. A glowing green ball randomly highlights a character from time to time, thus you play both characters.

By winning, you build up your level and stats.

The overall gameplay in a way kind of reminds me a little of the NES game such as “River City Ransom” (Downtown Neketsu Monogatari) when it comes to the city sequences and shops which increase stat attributes. The cool thing about this game is that it mimics Shibuya with the crowded city dwellers walking around. You get Hatchiko the dog, you get the AX-Shibuya concert hall (know as AX-East), 109 known as 104 and many more Shibuya-references

Where “RCR” had a variety of stores in that game, “The World Ends With You” also features a variety of stores in Shibuya that allows you to purchase clothing and food to increase stats.

And of course, because it’s in Shibuya, that means you can hit trendy shops, expensive shops and gothic lolita shops. Some clothing only are unlockable if you complete certain quests, some clothing also give points. May it be defensive, offensive, health or some sort of increased attribute.

And the names of the people working at the stores are a play on names of popular Japanese performers. Tak Kimura, Yumi Sheena, Aily Ueno, Ayu Hamaguchi and the list goes on.

GRAPHICS: The world of UG (Underground) Shibuya and the fact that they incorporated the crowdedness of people walking through Japan and each character, even minor characters all in different outfits and stylish. Very Shibuya-esque. The overall environment of the buildings and street corners are very fun to see on this game. But most of all, Nomura and Kobayashi’s character designs are just really artistic.

SOUND: The sound is pretty cool. You do get a bit of the audio of the characters but during a battle or just walking around Shibuya, a full song is playing in the background. In fact, the game features a variety of songs which was great to see done for this game since Shibuya lifestyle is also big on not just style but also music. The main song is sung by J-pop artist, Jyongri and features a variety of musical artists for this game.

CONTROLS: This game requires you to use a stylus. When you see multiple “noise” monsters on screen, using the stylus, you are constantly clicking on the screen when the monsters are around to send a lightning bolt, bullet or some offensive attack on them. But once you get a hang of the controls, the game becomes much easier.

Currently, I’m on the 4th day of the game and enjoying it immensely.

Personally, I’m glad that Square Enix released this game in the US. It’s so different from their “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest” games that I hope that this will be a beginning of a series that will spawn several more “THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU” sequels or unique games by the creators.

I really enjoyed the J-pop references to the names of the characters and the style of fashion clothing offered from the ingame stores.

But I still have more game to go but so far, putting several hours into this game already, I’m really enjoying it. The game features unique gameplay, cool character designs and just the overall game because it is so different.

So, for what I have played so far, I’m enjoying it a lot and this is a game that Japanese music fans, Japanese pop culture fans wouldn’t want to miss. Even those who dig Japanese style of video games. This one is very cool!

UPDATE: I beat the game and seriously, the whole entire game from story to gameplay was so fun. To see your character level up and of course, the clothes one can purchase and the overall challenge made this game so enjoyable. Definitely one of my top games made for the Nintendo DS! Hands down!

+ Unique game. Fun, trendy, stylish, cool character designs and great gameplay!

+ Captured the cool, trendy and capturing the crowded but yet cool side of of Shibuya and allowing the character to try on Japanese fashion but also the various clothing stores was cool to see!

+ Easy to pick up and learn

+ The music actually are songs sung by the artist. No midi or instrumentals.

– The price. The price of this game is $39.99 for a DS game. This alone, may sway people to not want to purchase it because it’s expensive for many gamers.

– No option to select to Japanese dialogue

Nintendo Wii Video Game Review: Furu Furu Park

What could have been a fun Wii game with interesting and cute mini games gets lost in translation with the removal of two key single player modes for the US release.

VIDEO GAME: Furu Furu Park (ふるふるぱーく)

COMPANY: TAITO / Distributed by Majesco

RATING: E (Everyone) – Cartoon Violence

Spin It! Shake It! Swing It! Even Rev it? Your Wii Remote is your golden ticket to the Furu Furu Park from retro Taito classics to quirky new experiences, this collection of ultra fun mini-games features outrageous characters and unique gameplay challenges that will keep you oving!

30 Mini-Games in All!

Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Sonic Blastman, Pocky & Rocky, Pinch Hitter, Super Karate, Safe Cracker, Rev the Engine, Skateboarding, Camel Maze, Swan Runner and many more.

Compete against a friend in 3 different multiplayer modes, including the Love Challenge that lets you test your compatibility

I am typically fond of video games with a Tokyo flavor. The more Japanese games-style games that are over-the-top, I certainly welcome them. One such game that we had such high hopes for is “Furu Furu Park” a Wii spin-off of a Japanese arcade game titled “Mawasunda”.

“Mawasunda” was released on the Nintendo DS as “Turn It Around” and now we have “Furu Furu Park”, the US release to feature 30-mini games and for Taito fans, there are some classics that get the mini-game spin that we can’t help but be excited.

Unfortunately, our enthusiasm started to wane when we found out the “Ikemen Challenge” which was part of single mode in the Japanese version, where you had to wow a girl (ala dating sim) and win mini-games to win the girls affection. Of course, possibly to make things more politically correct, Majesco chose to remove that part of the game from the American version of “Furu Furu Park”.

For Okonomi mode in the Japanese version, you had 24-mini games which you would challenge yourself to open up the locked mini-games but for some reason, Majesco chose to remove that and just give you all 30-mini games to play.

So, all mini-games are opened up in single player mode (called “Free Play”) and what is left is you choosing a game and play for a minute or two and then go on to the next mini-game.

One thing we do like about the mini-games is that they are challenging and some games are so wacky and over-the-top, you can’t help but laugh or smile about it. Also, for Japanese pop culture fans, there is the inclusion of Japanese-style games such as the two sushi games, takoyaki game and more.

Another thing that I liked is the price point. $19.99 is pretty low for a Nintendo Wii game and also, some games are easy enough for toddlers and young children to learn and play.

There are some games that utilize the wii-mote and nunchuk really well but some games that you really want to play (especially games such as “Arkanoid”) are really hampered by terrible controls that the games are simply just not fun to play.

Now, of course there are other modes in single player such as “Challenge Mode” which you choose five games and impress the judge who will rate your style of gameplay.

For dual play mode, there are three choices. There is “Free Battle” (competing with another friend in playing any of the 30 mini games. “Love Challenge” is where you battle against a friend and play mini-games to test your compatibility in the eyes of Afro Love. “Panel Attack” where you face off against your opponent in split screen and turn-based competition.

So, there is somewhat a party game mentality with this game (although only two players) which is not bad. But I’m quite bummed that they really changed things with the first player mode.

J!-FACTOR:

Japanese pop culture fans will love the Japanese style of gaming and wackiness such as the sushi games which three people eating at a Zaiten-sushi (conveyor belt) want a certain sushi (sushi shows up on top of their head) and with the wii, you try to rotate the conveyor belt to give them what they want.

The Takoyaki cooking game is something that seems so “Cooking Mama” like but yet cool to play because it’s so easy and fun.

A wacky game titled “Hammer Throw” features three men with afro’s and your character must swing the afro men in a javelin-like competition and wherever the afro-sporting guys land, you get points. Get 200 points, you win.

Another game titled “Snow Cone” is where you motion your wiimote like a lever to make a lot of variations of shaved ice.

“Pocky and Rocky” features a NES style of game where you shoot enemies. “Bubble Bobble” is like the classic and “Dragonfly Hunter” features dragonflys which you use the Wiimote to make them dizzy and Afro dragonfly’s that you flick off.

And there are many other games that find a use for the Wiimote.

For me, the price point was low, the mini-games interesting and fun but some games just hampered by the janky control.

Also, the removal of the challenges and other single player modes that were on the Japanese version but removed from the US version is just not cool at all!

But you take what you can get and “Furu Furu Park” is not horrible. For it’s price, it’s a game with a lot of mini-games but the potential just lost because Majesco just removed the other single player modes. Why? Who knows…

Another thing that I didn’t like was that on free play, if you lost and want to retry, you are taken back to the main screen, selecting the game all over again and having to repeat each time you complete or lose a game. Why not just give an option to retry. For me, the time you waste having to go back to the main menu after each game, just to replay a game just totally blows.

But for those who enjoy games with Japanese culture elements, like we do…then the game can really be fun and at the price point it is right now, it is one of the cheaper WII games out there that utilizes the Wii mote in a variety of ways.

POSITIVES:

+ 30 cute, wacky and Japanese style mini-games with some Taito classics included

+ One of the cheaper Wii games at $19.99

+ Mini-games utilize the Wiimote in a variety of ways

CONS:

– Removal of the Single Player Modes that were on the Japanese version, but eliminated for the US version.

– Bad controls for a number of the mini-games

– Other issues in the game that made us want to shut our Nintendo Wii off

PSP Video Game Review: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS

Words can’t describe how awesome this video game is! If you enjoy tactics-based RPG’s, “Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” is a must have!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS (ファイナルファンタジータクティクス 獅子戦争)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

COMPANY: SQUARE ENIX

RATED: T for Teen – Blood, Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

INFO: 1 player, Memory Stick Duo 512KB, Wi-Fi Comaptible (Ad Hoc – 2 players)

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

One of the best known tactical RPG’s that was released on the original Sony PlayStation was released for the Sony PSP.

“Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” is the latest of the new Ivalice Alliance Project that first started with “Final Fantasy XII” for the Sony PlayStation 2 (note: the actual latest from the project since the release of the PSP FFT is “Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings” for the Nintendo DS) which are games that take place in the world of Ivalice.

But before we get into all that, let’s do a little rundown of the history of the game.

“Final Fantasy Tactics” is a game that came out on the original Playstation back in 1998. The game was unlike previous “Final Fantasy” video games which were RPG but in this case, the game was strategy and only allowed movement on an isometric plane and your character could move up, down, left or right on tiles. Also, the video game was turn-based but what people loved about it was the fact that it was a game that featured a cool storyline, cool gameplay but also something very unique and different in the “Final Fantasy” series. And it also helped that the game included obtaining Cloud of “Final Fantasy VII”.

Throughout the series, you control Ramza and other fighters which can specialize in different jobs. From squires, they can become knights, archers, white or black mages and much more. And the game is not for the squeamish because for those who love grinding and building their character levels, FFT required strategy because as you advance in level, your enemies also advance in level. You end up spending time finding ways to level up your characters, learn new jobs and finding ways to beat the opponent which is not easy at all.

The storyline is about royalty, kidnapping of a princess and helping Ramza who comes from a power family go on the search for the kidnapped princess. Throughout the game you meet characters but at the same time you can enlist characters and build their levels and whatever job you select them to be, take them on battles and help grow their abilities by earning JP points which allows you to obtain certain abilities from a job. Also, by partnering with other people in your group, the other characters learn other jobs as well, so you can help different characters, learn other jobs.

So, the game was amazingly fun and addictive and it was no surprise that many people clamored for a new sequel to the game and five years after the first Final Fantasy Tactics game was released, came the spin off for the Game Boy Advance titled “Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced” which featured a simpler version of the popular tactics game. Then several years later, another Ivalice inspired game titled “Final Fantasy XII” which was an RPG game and not Tactics related was released.

In 2007, we have the release of “FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS”, a remake of the popular PlayStation games which feature hand drawn animatics with voice acting, 16:9 widescreen and and jobs (Onion Knight from “Final Fantasy III” and Dark Knight which is now available to learn for all characters instead of one character as in the previous game). The game also includes “Final Fantasy XII” character Balthier and “Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift” (for the DS in Japan) character Luso.

I have been addicted to this game for the past few weeks since it’s release and I’m just enjoying the game. But would you?

If you enjoy games such as “Warcraft”, “Starcraft” and other PC turn based strategy games and also enjoy games such as “Advanced Wars” for the GBA or DS, you’re definitely going to get into this game.

Not only does it feature cool characters, a cool storyline and awesome jobs, the certain chapters that you have to take on is fun and addictive and very challening. No gameshark on this one people. Get prepared for hours of grinding and building your characters.

One thing that you will notice on message boards are discussions of deleveling. For those who are wondering about this, by deleveling gives people a chance to go down a level because if you are level 1-20, your chances of increasing your abilities increase and by using a powerful character that has deleveled to level 1, gives you an opportunity to bring other characters in your team to a higher level and increase abilities as well with their new jobs.

Personally, I have chosen not to delevel and just playing this game for the first time through it. I’m now beginning the fourth chapter and certain final levels for the early chapters have been interestingly challenging that I won by luck at times by one shot. But at some times frustrating that I win a level but I lose a character.

Yes, unlike other games which if you character dies, you can still use them. Not on “Final Fantasy Tactics”. Similar to a “Fire Emblem” game, once your character dies, they’re dead. Granted, you can take that hard earned money you win and create another character with a similar job and build them up but it’s not the same for me, so I end up playing the level again and again until everyone lives.

This is an update to my first glance and blog while playing the game.

After finally beating the game, I found “Final Fantasy Tactics” definitely one of the most enjoyable “Final Fantasy” video game experiences that I’ve had in a long time.

In the beginning, I felt that this game was a bit difficult but one I started to grind (a term for playing for hours and getting into random battles to level up a character) away by having characters get to dragoon/samurai/ninja level, beating the game became much easier. Also, once you get the secret characters and the extra characters in the game, the damage caused by someone like Cidolfus Orlandeau or Meliadoul Tengille is devastating.

I was getting like easy one hit kills and with Cid getting one hit kills, some three at a time. So, granted, I didn’t want to spoil my gaming experience by using him all the time, but spending the time to grind and build everyone’s levels.

Granted, I was grinding long hours to get my characters to learn several jobs and build their levels but the overall experience was enjoyable as you strategize on how to defeat the opponent and know that you prepared a battle well with the characters you selected.

Is there room for extra gameplay when completing the game? Yes, definitely. Because there is room to build a character to get more secret characters, to get other jobs and so forth.

But here’s the thing, I highly recommend saving two saves of your game when you are not on a major mission. Especially at the end. Because once you get to the final level, you can only save during that battle and can’t go back to the map. So, you want that one save at the map and then the other used as a primary save.

Speaking of saving…definitely save often. No one likes playing for hours and leveling up to find out you didn’t save when your characters die and have to restart over from an earlier save. Don’t make that mistake!

But all in all, this game was fun but what negatives do I have to say about it? Not much, nitpicky if anything. With the release of “Disgaea” on the PSP which comes with an extra segment, definitely will entice someone who has played the game before to play it again. With “Final Fantasy Tactics”, we get multiplayer, new cut scenes with voices and new jobs but those who have followed the story would like to have some closure with the character of Delita. (Something happens after the credits end that will either make you feel hatred for him or feel that the character was pretty much expected to do what he did).

But that is the main nitpick if any that I could find. I’ve always wanted to see a final battle between Ramza vs. Delita but it is not meant to be.

I really didn’t mind the graphics and was not expecting any revamp ten years later. As much as I have been spoiled by awesome graphics with next gen consoles, I prefer to take gameplay over graphics and that is where “Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” delivers.

It’s not the easiest game for noobies but if you are an RTS or tactics fan, I definitely recommend this game! You’ll put a lot of hours into it but all in all, it was worth it!

Now for those wondering what strategies I used to beat the game without using deleveling or getting the Dark Night Job:

  • You want your characters to get to dragoon, samurai or ninja level. For Dragoon and Archer, DO NOT waste your time getting any level except the last one. Yes, grind away and have something powerful as a secondary power. For Ramza, I used Dragoon but mastered Samurai and had Samurai’s Idio powers as secondary. For another character, I had dancer as primary to get forbidden dance (and eventually all dances since it wasn’t so hard) and then while dragoon as a primary, used dancer to get extra JP during battles.
  • Learn Teleport! You will need to have a character learn Time Mage’s “Teleport”. This let’s you get around the map easily with no restrictions. Granted you could only teleport at certain distance close by but in battles indoor or in castles, works great! Works great if you are a samurai, ninja, chemist or white or black mage. I’ve used teleport for Ramza and used his samurai idio to cause damage. Also, a few knights to get in different areas for quick kills and chemists or white mages to heal people in my team who are farther away in the map.
  • Learn Dragonheart – Some like Shirahadori from the Samurai class but for your main characters, dragonheart (Dragoon) is great because the characters cast reraise. In other words, enemies kill your character, your character will come back to life. They won’t come back to full HP but by coming back to life, you can do that final hit or teleport somewhere else and heal yourself or have someone heal you. Works great on a character who can do multiple damage.
  • Grinding – Yes, you will want to get into random battles to get JP to increase your level for each job. To get certain jobs especially completing missions at the taverns, you’re going to need extra characters. You can buy extra generic characters and build them up. This works great especially in later levels because once your highest level character starts gets into a random battle, the enemies also are stronger. Thus I don’t use the main characters and use generics and build them up to learn teleport, chemist abilities for healing and then a powerful offensive move. Also, you will be grinding away for many hours in random battles.
  • Mustudio – He is very important because this machinist is integral in getting secret characters such as Final Fantasy XII’s Balthier, Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 Luso to name a few. So, when you get into a battle that is marked in red on the map, make sure Mustudio is there. In the end, I had Mustudio as a dragoon and secondary as a chemist (Item). So, make sure you don’t lost him in battle.
  • What to do with the money? – For all Final Fantasy games I have played, I have always bought potions and anything that can heal and have 99 (the maximum) of them in my posession. In Final Fantasy Tactics, your chemists will need these items. So, have a lot of X-Potions, Hi-Ether, Remedy and Phoenix Downs. As a chemist, you want to learn Phoenix Down and X-Potion first. As you win more battles successfully, you’re going to have more than enough money for armor. But if you are going to survive, you need a good defense as well as an offense and in order for that to happen, you want your characters alive. So, have all your characters become a chemist earlier on just enough to level up and learn those skills.
  • Save Often – I said it before and I’ll say it again, save often. Save after each battle on the map. Have two saves which you will need before heading to the final battle. One save created on the map and one before you go into battle.

PSP Video Game Review: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Absolutely beautiful cut scenes, a captivating story with average but often repetitive gameplay!

TITLE: CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII (クライシス コア -ファイナルファンタジ)

COMPANY: SQUARE ENIX

ESRB RATING: T for TEEN. Blood, mild language, mild suggestive themes and violence

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

THE STORY CONTINUES WHERE IT ALL BEGAN…

Welcome to the next video game inspired by the “Final Fantasy VII” series.

Taking a short break from the other “Square Enix” hit game “The World Ends with You” for the Nintendo DS, I immediately shifted gears to a game that I have been wanting to play and put some time into.

From the point of watching the beautiful cut scenes from the introduction, which are just as beautiful for CGI animation for those of us who watched “Advent Children”, I was as giddy as a “Final Fantasy” fanboy to see how things began and getting to know more about SOLDIER (the group that FF VII protagonist Cloud was a member of).

The story of “CRISIS CORE” takes place seven years prior to the events of “Final Fantasy VII”.

The Shinra Company is rapidly increasing its influence through its monopoly on mako energy and military might and establishing its dominance over the world.

SOLDIER is a group of skilled combat operatives within Shinra and those strong enough become SOLDIER 1st Class.

The main storyline focuses on the character Zack. A SOLDIER 2nd Class who dreams of becoming a hero and is under the guidance of 1st Class mentor, Angeal.

The group are dispatched for an operation in Wutai and the search is under for SOLDIER 1st Class Genesis. Also searching for Genesis is the SOLDIER 1st Class hero, Sephiroth. But all is not what it seems to be for SOLDIER as Zack is discovering.

GAMEPLAY:

One of the biggest criticisms against this game is that people call it more of an interactive movie. Unlike other “Final Fantasy” RPG’s, you control Zack and without really having to do any major legwork, you can access missions to various areas and take on monsters and Wutai.

Through these battles, you can grind to build your stats and on the battle screen, similar to a slot machine, when you get a certain combination of matches or non-matches, will either trigger an awesome offensive attack, a level up and more.

Grinding (which means fighting over and over again to level up stats) is done a lot during the game so far, which I have been taking on missions (while on a major mission) in hope to build my character and so far, so good

The main controls features you controlling Zack via your left stick, while the right trigger (which is used a lot) is for cycling through weapons, materia or using items on the fly while battling or during a resting time post-battle.

This is where things became a bit repetitive for me, as I am grinding through mission after mission, it seems the same over and over, hitting the enemy with my sword, dodging, repelling enemy attacks and cycling to the items to use a potion.

Granted, this is earlier on in the game and things are sure to get better as I progress more into the game but so far, I’m enjoying the game because of it’s storyline and cut scenes but the actual combat did become a bit repetitive for me.

Graphic wise, cut scenes are awesome, overall graphics are ok. There’s not exactly hardcore background visuals. When you fight, usually inside some building or outdoor setting but nothing that made me think “wow!”

The sound is very cool and I’ve been playing this game with headphones and when I first heard the “Final Fantasy” song after completing a mission play through, made me smile. And the overall music of the game has been pretty cool so far. Especially the overall sound… Very nice for a PSP game. As for dialogue, it’s English dubbed, so no Japanese voice acting.

J!-FACTOR:

Ahh, the J!-Factor. Heard no pop songs but the J!-Factor goes to the hair. Zack, Genesis and Cloud have cool hair! The character designs and the clothing for “Final Fantasy VII” is just too cool and overall very trendy and stylish.

There are two types of “Final Fantasy” fans. Those who play it because they love the cut scenes and storyline and those who play it because they like the gameplay mechanics.

I’m with the former. With each “Final Fantasy” game release, I feel that I just adjust with each game and truthfully, I don’t remember afterwards to the point of conversing with “Final Fantasy” fans of how this game had a better way of doing this and doing that.

What I do remember the most is the experience and the storyline.

“Final Fantasy VII” had me interested and just pissed me off at how it ended and it always surprised me when I watched or read game polls of a favorite of fans for their favorite “Final Fantasy” game and I always would ask “what about FF IV”? Heck, I enjoyed “Final Fantasy VIII” way more than “Final Fantasy VII” and enjoyed “FFX” even moreso.

But with the release of “Advent Children”, “Dirge of Cerebus” and even “Crisis Core”, my enjoyment of “Final Fantasy VII” has somewhat been appealing to me again.

With “CRISIS CORE”, you really start to see how things come together as a prequel to the main series and so far, the storyline has been captivating.

The gameplay experience, more tedious and repetitive of just grinding, blocking or evading attacks, using potions, fusing materia, etc. But yet, I keep playing because I want to know why Sephiroth became what he is. What happened to Zack and how Cloud fits into the picture.

So, possibly there is bias towards me enjoying the “Final Fantasy” series a lot and yeah, it seems like an interactive movie but I’m just really digging the storyline so far and any “Final Fantasy VII” will enjoy the storyline but for those who want deep gameplay, unfortunately this may not be that kind of game for you.

UPDATE: I have since beaten “Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core” and wow! What a story! I really enjoy the game and in some way, as the game progressed to its final moments, the game had a more deeper impact on me than earlier on. Now, some people may not like the game since it’s like an interactive movie and for those with a Blu-ray player can watch some of these cut scenes on the Advent Children BD release. But still, if you are a “Final Fantasy VII” fan, this game is worth picking up!

+ Very cool storyline so far…

+ Awesome cut scenes

+ Importance to those who follow “Final Fantasy VII”

+ Not much random encounters. It’s there but not too bad.

+ Easy to pick up and learn. Seems complicated but its not.

+ With materia fusing and other technical additions to bring up stats, definitely cool for those who like to mess around with things like that.

– Gameplay is average at best, gets repetitive especially grinding but this may mean a lot to those who value gameplay experience over storyline experience.

– Grinding. For those not familiar with grinding for an RPG game may not know that replaying missions over and over can build a characters level and stats but for those who hate the thought of grinding for hours may be tedious to then.

– No option to select Japanese voice acting.

XBOX 360 Video Game Review: SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS

“Finally, a tennis game featuring Sega video game characters with mini-games galore and some wacky fun that I would come to expect from Sega.”

TITLE: SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS

CONSOLE: XBOX 360

RATING: EVERYONE – Mild blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

As a person who buys a lot of tennis video games, I’ve been waiting for a tennis game featuring the characters from Sega video games.

With Nintendo’s popular “Mario Tennis” and “Mario Power Tennis” (or Mario Tennis: Power Tour for the GBA), Nintendo tennis games have been very addictive and fun.

So, I figured that Sega’s entry featuring characters from the popular “Sonic the Hedgehog” series plus characters from the “Samba de Amigo”, “Space Channel 5”, “Jet Set Radio”, “Nights” and “Super Monkeyball” series, we would get one hell of a tennis game.

One thing I enjoyed about “Mario Tennis: Power Tour” was the ability to start with a boy and girl and then train and develop the characters and take on character bosses and later on take on some of the Nintendo All-Stars.

Another game, “Tennis no Ojisama Crystal Drive” for the DS featured characters from the popular anime and manga series and taking on rival schools utilizing special tennis attacks and strategy.

So, I was wondering what direction “SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS” would take.

The overall gameplay of SST features Sonic and 15 friends in a game where you select a character and visit various courts that revolve around Sega video games and you play various mini games until you get to a tournament match which if beaten, will open up a character and additional stages.

Within these stages are mini games such as Puyo Pop which you must eliminate Puyos or certain colors of Puyos; Sonic’s court which feature mini games where you collect rings and dodging attacks; a “House of the Dead” court which you take out zombies with a tennis ball and collect various tennis balls that show up on screen which give you multiple tennis ball hit attacks and so forth.

So, for a tennis game, the approach is much different compared to other tennis games which rely on building statistics and taking on various tennis opponents. And because it was made by Sega, by no means was I expecting a Virtua Tennis clone but I was expecting more tennis challenges rather than wacky mini-game challenges that may or may not include something tennis-related outside of taking place in a tennis court.

The object is to beat about a dozen mini-games and then you get to a tournament. With each mini-game beaten, you open up more songs or the next level of that world. And then the main tournament to open up more characters.

And this is where things become a bit so-so. You really have to be a hardcore Sega fan to know who these characters are. Where Nintendo had tend to bring their other characters together for various video games, Sega on the other hand hasn’t really done that. Part of the enjoyment is knowing and enjoying the characters and fortunately, being a Sega fan, I know who the characters are but are they really that exciting?

When I opened up the porkly Gillius, an axeman from “Golden Axe”, my first thought was… “No way?”. Not that dislike Gillius but he’s not a character I would really want to play in a tennis game.

And through the tournament, each character has a special, crazy super move which is a bit more blinding and crazy compared to other characters with super special attacks from other tennis video games.

But for all it’s worth, it is a different tennis game compared to others and I would give them that credit. The colors of some of the courts are just beautiful, crisp and colorful.

But for an XBOX 360 game, what makes “SEGA SUPERSTARS TENNIS” a winner is the amount of achievement points one can rack up just by playing this game. And also interesting was to see how quickly this game dropped in price from $39.99 to $19.99 in a matter of a month or weeks. So, at $19.99 for the console version and $14.99 for the DS, it’s a very good price.

J!-FACTOR:

Well, if you enjoy Sega music, with each mini-stage beaten, you earn music. Sega hardcores will no doubt like that.

But for the J!-ENT factor, I guess having all these characters together in one game is a fun. But where’s Shenmue? Just kidding.

I’ve opened up so many character worlds and really stoked to have gotten this game cheap and to find out how gracious Sega is with the achievement points.

Granted, many people will probably want the Wii for the interactivity of the Wiimote but my major reason for not getting the Wii version was a bit of the frustration of playing Wii Sports Tennis and not getting the control that I wanted.

With the XBOX 360, the controls were easy to use (especially since you just really deal with one button and the right trigger for a special attack move) and again, the amount of achievement points you get from this game is just insane.

So, all in all, it’s an average tennis game at most. A lot of cool mini-games and so, this is more of an all out party game that is fun, colorful and wacky but just felt that maybe more cooler characters would have been nice. Not that Gillius isn’t a cool character, its just for a tennis game, not a secret character to get excited about. So, wished there were more cooler Sega characters included.

A fun game for its price point and worth playing for its generous XBOX 360 achievements points.

+ A tennis game bringing together the Sega characters

+ Very colorful and cool stages

+ Fun and whacky mini-games from the Sega video game universe

+ XBOX 360 achievements galore!

– Wish it was a little more in-depth of more of a tennis game where you feel achievement of starting from a tennis character and accomplishing tasks to be a better tennis player than just playing a dozen mini-games to get to a tournament.

– Secret characters were ok but wish they had more characters in it.

Nintendo DS Video Game Review: SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS (熱血高校ドッジボール部)

“Kunio makes a return to the US as with the whole Nekketsu and Hanazono gang for the latest installment of ‘Super Dodgeball’ for the Nintendo DS”

TITLE: SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS (熱血高校ドッジボール部)

DEVELOPER: MILLION

COMPANY: ARKSYS GAMES/ARK SYSTEM WORKS

CONSOLE: Nintendo DS

RATING: E for EVERYONE – Cartoon Violence

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

The Perfect Game for Multi-Player Mayhem! Compete in a traditional game of dodgeball against a friend or take part in a multiplayer street brawl with up to 8 players with a single game card.

Over 100 Ball-Busting Special Attacks! Dish out a variety of pain with over 100 special attacks with their own special animations and effects, like the Cactus Attack and Panda Shot.

If there is one video game series that I have always been fond of, it’s the Nekketsu series which has had over 20 or so games in Japan.

The Nekketsu series has its ties to the arcade machines but many more people who were playing video games back in the NES days will remember Technos fighting classics such as “Renegade”, “River City Ransom” and “Crash n’ the Boys” and “Nintendo World Cup” (of course, of all the Technos games released in the arcade and consoles the most remembered is “Double Dragon”) , games that were localized heavily in the US and never really carried the Nekketsu name but fans new by the superdeformed brawlers that it was a Nekketsu game with its hero Kunio of Nekketsu High School.

From various sports games such as soccer and basketball, the most popular was the Dodgeball series. “Super Dodgeball” was one of those games that sucked a lot of quarters from gamers at the arcade and those with an NES back in the day, this game was just one of the most enjoyable sports games to own on the system.

The object of the game is a four vs. four battle in dodgeball which you have two buttons, throw and pass. Press both buttons and you can jump (and then jump and throw). By using the directional pad, you move your character around and then by stepping back, dashing and using a specialized attack.

Of course, part of the excitement of a Nekketsu game is fighting. And with crates, bananas, bombs and missles, you can use those weapons to your advantage against high power teams.

The releases of Super Dodgeball has not changed since Technos has gone out of business. Fortunately, former employees of the company formed “MILLION” and Million has since released two Dodgeball games. One for the GameBoy Advance and for the Nintendo DS with “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS”

GAMEPLAY:

“SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” features several modes:

  • Tournament
  • Vs. Match
  • Brawl
  • Locker Room
  • Options

In “Tournament mode”, you can choose one among two dozen or so on the country list or play Kunio’s Nekketsu High School team or Riki’s Hanazono High School team. And similar to the original NES version, the USA is the team to beat with an S rating while Kunio’s team has a B-rating and Riki’s team with a C-rating.

Where the arcade version allowed for controlling up to six players and the NES with three, fortunately the DS allows for the control of all four players. Each player has its strength and weaknesses (you have seven people in your team but four can play. You can switch teammates if you want) and when you play, you see a bar on top of the screen for each player.

If one of your players gets hit by the opponent with the ball, they lose a bar and when they lose all their bars, they are eliminated from the game.

With each win, you get money and the money can be used to shop for various items which can boost power, agility, stamina, catching, defense, etc. and can be equipped for that character.

You compete in seven matches, get to the semi-finals and then to the finals and win the tournament.

In “Vs. Match”, this allows you to use your team and go against other countries.

In “Brawl”, this is pretty much an all out brawl where only the best survives. People in your team/school vs. other rivals. Grab chains, bottles, baseball bats, trash cans or the dodgeball in a fight. Last one standing is the winner. And this feature allows 8-players to compete in multiplayer action with one DS card.

In “Locker Room”, you can create your own original team and characters.

For “Options”, mainly just audio changes.

CONTROLS:

With “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” for the Nintendo DS, there is really no use for the stylus. This is all about fingerwork. The only use for the touchscreen is to activate a major attack. Although, for those who are newbies may be looking towards a site like GameFaqs to learn how to activate a move because the manual, despite being a bit thick (because it’s in multiple languages), really doesn’t go into how moves are done.

I’m not really disappointed that there is no stylus usage because really, this game is all button-work.

GRAPHICS:

Well, “Super Dodgeball” is not a grame that you are looking for great graphics. Especially when the characters are super-deformed. In fact, people might think its comparable with what was released on an SNES console. But all in all, the game doesn’t look outdated or pixely.

I will say that for some reason, I felt that backgrounds were being reused a lot during the matches. Part of the fun of the NES games if I can recall was that each country had its own special background and I felt that some countries competing areas were just redundant.

MUSIC:

Like the original game, you do hear music specifically made from that country and I have to admit, I recall the original NES version, the music sticking in my head. But really, for the Nintendo DS version, I don’t think I really listened (nor did I really pay attention) to the music all that much.

OVERALL:

So, all in all, “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” is an enjoyable game that will help pass the time for a short time.

I emphasize “short” because I literally have breezed through the game in probably a half hour’s time. Fortunately, you can select easy, normal or hard difficulties and to add to the gameplay, you can create your team for hours of fun (note: you have three saving blocks).

As for multi-player, this is one of the major positive aspects of the game. The ability to go against others via DS wireless or DS Download Play. The game is not wi-fi in the sense that you can compete against people all over the country though. So, you can compete against friends in a match or via brawl.

A lot of the reviews have been average at most for “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS”. For me, there are several positive aspects that made me enjoy this game.

  1. Kunio/Nekketsu fans will be stoked to finally play the guy and fellow high school mates and rivals in this game and hopefully this will be a beginning to possibly more “Nekketsu” releases in the US.
  2. Back in the 80’s, especially with sports games on the NES, one of the games I loved to play were Jaleco’s “Bases Loaded” baseball games, Tecmo Football, SNK’s “Little League Baseball” and Technos “SUPER DODGEBALL”. Mainly because you played teams that are not “official licensed teams” and you sort of feel a bond with the team, noticing their strengths and weaknesses and take them to the tournament and just winning.
  3. “SUPER DODGEBALL” is just an overall fun game.

With that being said, as much as I enjoyed the game, I wish there was more planning that goes into the tournament mode. That would be wonderful if in a later installment, we actually see somewhat of a season play. More than eight games.

There have been exciting sports games from Japan such as “Tennis no Oujisama: Crystal Drive” which has you going against various schools but as you progress, they get harder and harder.

I really do believe there is potential for this game for some innovating gameplay because its more or less almost the same game twenty years later. I would like to see MILLION really spruce up the tournament mode.

And of course, the possibility to go Wi-Fi against others around the country would be awesome.

But of course, that all comes down to the company and what MILLION can afford to do.

Last but not least, I’m not sure if this game had a low print run but there have been reports of people around the country having difficulty finding this game. Hmm…

If anything, I hope MILLION continues to release more Nekketsu games. There have been Nekketsu collections released for the Game Boy Advance and I would be curious if they followed CAPCOM’s “Ace Attorney” direction and tweaked those collections for the Nintendo DS because I’m actually up for that.

All in all “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” is an fun game, a bit short but for what I was expecting to get, that’s what I got. Wished there was a bit more innovation in game play since the 1988 original’s NES release but take what you can get and I’m stoked to have a Nekketsu game stateside.

+ Nekketsu/Kunio is back!

+ Enjoyable and very fun to play

+ Multiplayer with a single card

+ Great game for busy people! Matches can last less than ten minutes.

– You will probably beat tournament mode in a half hour or less and locker room/create your own team mode a few hours.

– Not much innovation since the original 1988 NES release

– The manual is not going to help newbies all that much

– Would be great to have wi-fi competition with people nationwide