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Archives for : April2012

1stglance PSP Video Game Review: Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou (クロヒョウ 龍が如く新章) from Sega for the Sony PSP

First glance, fans of the “Ryu ga Gotoku” (Yakuza) games will enjoy “Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou”. While the game can be figured out on the action-end, like other “Ryu ga Gotoku” games, it is high in dialogue and those not familiar with Japanese may miss out a lot on story, but with the artwork, you can still figure out what is going on. But overall, a pretty cool game so far and will follow up after completion.

TITLE: Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou (クロヒョウ 龍が如く新章)

DEVELOPED BY: syn Sophia

PUBLISHED BY: SEGA

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2010

In Japan, the “Ryu ga Gotoku” (“Like a Dragon” or aka in the USA as “Yakuza”) are popular video games that has a strong fan following since its first release from Sega back in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2.

Although not created by Yu Suzuki, fans have considered “Ryu ga Gotoku” as somewhat of a spiritual successor to the “Shenmue” video games as it allows a character to travel around the city of Tokyo, enter shops and also get involved in a number of fights and missions.

And as the “Ryu ga Gotoku” games continue on the Sony PlayStation 3, fans have been clamoring for a portable version and thus in 2010 “Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho” (translates to “Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter) was created.

Of course, there is only so much of the game especially the “Ryu ga Gotoku” world that can be captured in a portable version but developer syn Sophia has done a wonderful job in incorporating the city environment, the numerous battles and fighting in a Sony PSP game. Instead of CG animated cut scenes, artistic paintings (with movement) similar to the “Metal Gear Solid” PSP release have incorporate are also incorporated into “Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou”.

As the sequel “”Kurohyo 2: Ryu ga Gotoku Asyura hen” has been released in March 2012 for the PSP in Japan, I figured that prices for the first game have come down enough for me to import it.

“Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho” is a game that revolves around Tatsuya Ukyou. A young man who literally leaves his friends (more like beats them up) and wants to be known for being a kick ass loner in the Kamuro District.

One day, life for Tatsuya changes when he comes up with an idea to attack a Chinese loan shark and take his money. Tatsuya manages to do just that but unfortunately, he ended up killing Toda Naoki, the director of the Kuki Group (in league with the Tojo Association of the Yakuza) which sends Tatsuya in a maniacal laugh moment. As he leaves with the stolen money, unbeknown to him is that someone hiding inside the room had video taped him.

As Tatsuya goes to spend some money and ride his motorcycle, a few yakuza are waiting for him and taser him with a stun gun. When he awakes, he finds out that he has been video taped and his murder of Toda Naoki has been captured. So, Tatsuya has been blackmailed by another yakuza who wants Tatsuya to take place in a few fighting tournaments and win.

And so far, this is how far I have gotten with the game today.

GAMEPLAY:

“Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho” operates differently from the previous “Ryu ga Gotoku” games a little but also shares so much similarities that those familiar with the PS2/PS3 games can pretty much figure out this game despite it being in Japanese. The good news is that there are dialogue that will show the button that will have to be used. So, you will undergo fighting-based mini-missions that lead to a full test and by completing these, it will lead to more points in making Tatsuya a better fighter.

At level 1, Tatsuya can fight but he can also easily grow tired and leaving you open for attack. So, the object is to build his fighting level up and this is by roaming around the Kamuro District and getting involved in many fights. Call it grinding, but through these fights, you can increase Tatsuya’s fighting skill. As for the mini-missions, some require you to learn how to punch, kick, to block, to pick up objects on the ground to use as weapons, to stare down an opponent, to throw an opponent, etc. And these gradually get more difficult as you increase your level and get further into the game.

Once again, this will require trial and error for those who can’t read Japanese but it’s not difficult to figure out at all.

And similar to “Ryu ga Gotoku”, while roaming around the city, there are always some bad ass waiting to fight you and when you surpass a level, you can either increase your fighting skills, go to a new level or get money.

There are various shops to purchase drinks or food for stamina and health and also various shops and even clubs to meet women.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics are good. While the hi-res graphics are not going to make it into the portable version, what syn Sophia did was make the cut scenes utilizing artistic paintings similar to the “Metal Gear Solid” PSP games. While the games feature a lot of voice acting and for those who played a “Ryu ga Gotoku” game, you know that the games are dialogue heavy. This is the same for “Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou”. While I am sure that many of those who do not understand Japanese will be missing out on the storyline (and you can’t skip but can do a quick forward), the graphics of the cut scenes work. But hopefully future “Ryu ga Gotoku” games for the Sony Vita will be able to feature the actual CG that the PS2/PS3 games have.

As for the city, the city is also painted (no light flickering or crowds in a certain store can be seen) and while not as crowded in terms of people walking around like the PS3 game, the shops can be entered and there are people strolling around. So, the city doesn’t look empty at all. Characters and people you encounter are well-painted and also the action sequences look very good as well considering this is a portable game.

As for where to go around the city, fortunately a map is shown of which shops are open, A green indicator of where your character should go and other indicators of where you can’t go.

AUDIO:

The voice acting is great for the game and the music as well. There is a lot of dialogue but I suppose it may not mean so much if you can’t understand Japanese.

IS IT USER-FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE READING PLAYERS

The game can be played by those familiar with the “Ryu ga Gotoku/Yakuza” games and through trial and error, many will be able to figure things out as there are arrows of where to go, indicators on the map of where you can’t go and also during mini-mission battles, buttons to use are shown onscreen.

Otherwise, storyline may not be as understandable to those who don’t know Japanese and even for me, because it’s a dialogue heavy storyline, even I sometimes I miss out on the conversations and wish I could rewind.

I am such a big fan of the “Ryu ga Gotoku” games and I have been wanting to import this game for quite awhile now and with the drop in import price because of the release of the sequel, I’m glad to have imported it. There is probably no chance of these two games coming out in the USA, as the PSP is literally kaput and Sony focusing on the Vita, unfortunately “Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou” is another game that joins the list of many other cool Japanese games that won’t come over stateside.

While the USA does have it’s following for the “Yakuza” games, I suppose that Sega felt it wouldn’t do well in the USA and the fact that the USA has been lukewarm to PSP releases, it’s a shame!

But fortunately for “Ryu ga Gotoku” fans, this game is not difficult to figure out, sure you’ll miss out on the dialogue but I would imagine that those following the storyline can figure out bits and pieces of what’s going on through the artwork.

As for the fans who have been debating on whether or not to get the game, I say “go for it!”. With the sequel now out, you can find the first game much lower than before. I saw one with no manual and case for $22, while I paid around $34+$4 with shipping from Japan. But for those who enjoy the “Ryu ga Gotoku” games, in my mind, to have a portable game set in the same world with the ability to fight and roam around the city is pretty cool.

Of course, I’m just a few days into the game and I will do a more comprehensive review after completion.

PSP Video Game Review: Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus

Of the many Beyblade video games I have play by far, “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” is the best version out there! Challenging, fun and features many characters and Metal Fight Beyblades. Plus its inclusion of the special edition Metal Fight Beyblade Vulcan Horuseus, makes this video game worth owning and importing for Beyblade fans!

TITLE: Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus

PUBLISHED BY: Hudson Soft.

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

RELEASE DATE: 2010

Beyblade, the popular brand name of spinning tops created by toy company Takara Tomy back in 2000 which led to many collectible plastic spinning tops and even several video games. While the popularity of these tops started to dwindle by 2005, in August 2008, Takara Tomy knew they needed to inject some life into this once popular brand and thus creating metal versions of the spinning tops.

And since then, with intriguing engineering, these metal tops as part of the Hybrid Wheel System and known as “Metal Fight Beyblade” have once again pulled in many new fans into Beyblade competitions and with a popular animated series, needless to say, more video games were created and released.

While “Metal Fight Beyblade” video games have been released in the Japan and the United States for the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, only one Japanese game have not made it stateside and that is “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” made by Hudson Soft back in 2010.

And as a father who has a son that is hardcore into Beyblade competition and has a large collection (and having a father who often is involved with his child in practicing Beyblade battles), I’m a bit more open than most viewers are towards the toyline and video games. And part of the reason why we were interested in this Sony PSP video game is that it comes with a special edition of Takara Tomy’s “Vulcan Horuseus” metal Beyblade.

So, we got lucky in importing this from Japan and purchasing it on eBay for a pretty low price.

Having played the various Beyblade games since the Sony Playstation version all the way up to the Nintendo Wii version, I can easily say that “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” is possibly the best Beyblade game that was made and unfortunately, the version that many people in the United States will probably not see and will need to import.

The good news is that this video game is import friendly and while there are conversations in Japanese, for those who can’t speak or read Japanese, can easily play this game and complete it.

 

GAMEPLAY:

“Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” is set during a time when main protagonist Gingka Hagane wants to become the best Beyblade player. You start out at level 0 and you start off with the attack Beyblade, Galaxy Pegasus (W105R2F). You meet Kenta Yumiya and are challenged to go against his Flame Sagittario (C145S Stamina). You beat Kenta and then you eventually earn his Beyblade parts which you can then mix and match various pieces to go against other Beybladers you compete.

You eventually get to face characters such as Masamune (Ray Unicorno), Tsubasa (Earth Eagle) and many others who are featured in the manga/TV anime series and if you beat them, you get their parts which you can mix and match. You then can travel the map and take on various characters in tournament battles and by fighting, you level up your Beyblade skill and you get points, which you can visit the Beyblade shop and through random cards, purchase a card which will give you special parts that you can outfit your Beyblade with.

The main storyline is that as Gingka, you manage to beat other Beybladers and have caught the attention of a Beyblader named Nile, who has escaped from his fellow Egyptian-like group who want to take over the world with their huge, giant Beyblades. Eventually, Nile joins Gingka’s group temporarily in order to gain enough power and prepare Gingka for the battle against three nemesis before they take over the world.

Over 35 Beybladers can be opened up, including winning their Beyblade parts and also using your points to open up more secret Beyblade parts. You can save up to five customized Beyblades (and change them as many times as you like).

CONTROLS:

The game is divided into two types of competition:

A) Battle Competition: One on One or Team Battle (2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3, 3. vs. 1 big giant Beyblade)

B) Endurance Competition

I. COMPETITION

In competition mode, you are taken into a screen where you can see who you are going against. While you can’t select the stadium (which is random), you can change your Beyblade and customize it before a battle.

It’s important to know that you can have four types of Beyblades: ATTACK (best at attacking, low on stamina and defense), DEFENSE (High defense, attack and stamina are low), STAMINA (High stamina, attack and defense are low) and BALANCED (a bit of Attack, Stamina and Defense). You must customize your Beyblade to go against certain rivals. For example, a stadium may not have a wall on each side, so that means a heavy defense type can easily knock out an light attack Beyblade out of the stadium for a win. Or if there is a wall around the stadium, you will want to use a stamina which can outspin other Beyblades. Otherwise, Attack Beyblades can be aggressive and knock the stamina level of a Beyblade down and has a good chance of knocking them outside of the ring as well. So, it’s all about planning and knowing which Beyblade you want to utilize against other competitors.

Unlike the Nintendo DS games in which you use a stylus to plan your launches, for “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus”, you use the left analog stick and spin it in which you will see a level on the left go from you yellow to red. The higher you go, the better your spin will be and the better your stamina will be.

Then by pressing the circle button, when you see the rings turn purple (all rings come into contact), this will launch your Beyblade into the arena. While you have your Beyblades, you have to decide your strategy against your competition. Attack Beyblades are good at knocking down another Beyblade’s stamina and knocking them out of the ring. Low stamina means that they will not spin long enough and can lose by outspin. So, for example, Gingka uses Galaxy Pegasus which is great on attack, Kenta uses Flash Sagittario which is great on stamina. Knowing that a stamina will outlast an attack Beyblade, your strategy is then to hit him repeatedly until you can lower his stamina and possibly make your opponent’s Beyblade fly outside of the ring and thus getting a knockout win.

The battles are best out of five, so you need to win three matches.

While your Beyblade is launched, you can control your Beyblade to go up, down, left or right. And with the buttons, you can do the following:

CIRCLE BUTTON: Attack (causes Beyblade to rush and attack a Beyblade)

X BUTTON: Stamina (causes Beyblade to rush and hit a Beyblade and absorb a little stamina to your own and eliminating some of theirs)

SQUARE BUTTON: Defense (If you are going to get hit by a Beyblade, this will put a brief shield up for protection)

TRIANGLE: Defense Clash (If you are using a defense Beyblade, you can do defense clashes which is like an attack bounce, depending on the Beyblade, can be used to push Beyblades out of the ring).

And while battling, each hit and contact that you get against a rival Beyblade, levels up your meter. Once all three dots in the meter are lit up, you can executive your Beyblade’s special move by pressing L and R button. Once your Beyblade comes into contact with the other, you must input the button combinations you see onscreen. If pulled off successfully, you will eliminate a lot of power/stamina from your opponent.

Battles range from 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3 or 3 vs. one huge Beyblade.

II. ENDURANCE

While Gingka is traveling from battle to battle, a mysterious group challenges Gingka to endurance battles. These are timed races in which the user must use parts in order to win the race. It’s not as easy as rocks and other metal tops are there to get in your way and slow you down. So, using the parts that you have won, you must find a way to create the lightest, high stamina, high attack Beyblade (or balance Beyblade) and win each endurance race.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics feature non-animated cut scenes of each character from the “Metal Fight Beyblade” series (and newer characters exclusive to this video game). For the most part, the graphics are good for the Beyblade and arenas, a bit more detail than its DS counterpart.

AUDIO:

The game features some audio clips from the voice talent of the Japanese anime series. You can hear the clang’s between the Beyblades and the music. Overall, audio is OK but nothing great.

IS IT USER-FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE READING PLAYERS

Yes, the game is very easy and you can figure out this game via trial and error. The storyline may go over the heads of some players but the overall storyline is easy to figure out. If anything, the storyline matches what one would see on the anime series as Gingka is always positive and happy about meeting and challenging those with the Blader spirit. But for the most part, the game is user-friendly to import. Just remember that in Japan, circle button is the “main” button, not the X Button.

For fans of “Metal Fight Beyblade”, “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” is the better video game out there in my opinion. With the DS version, the games got really old as you get five or six battles, you use a different battle system (ie. Knockouts are 2 pts, outspin is 1 pt.) and when you open up a character, it becomes repetitive as you nearly play the same matches over and over again.

Not so with the PSP version. You go with the standard best of five games and it takes a bit of customization to win the game, so those who complained of the DS game of closing their eyes and winning each battle, it’s not going to happen in the PSP version. You literally have to be careful as each match is different, sometimes it’s one against three or two against two or three against one huge Beyblade.

And while it did get easier towards the end, when I had better parts and literally can use a stamina Beyblade to evade and outspin other Beyblades, the endurance battles are the ones that will drive players off the wall.

While the earlier endurance competitions were easy, you then had to plan your races by finding the best customization and often changing. For one, I found that the best endurance competitions utilized Beyblades with the lightest weight, the best stamina and the best control. And while obstacles are everywhere, with better control for a Beyblade means better evading. But expect to spend hour(s) on later endurance competitions as sometimes I felt I beat them by sheer luck after dozens upon dozens of tries.

As mentioned, there are over 35 characters, actually around 40 characters, but not all are playable. Over 35 are and after beating the game, you can find Ryuga waiting to take you on with his Meteo L-Drago.

As for replay value, once you beat the game you can play a free battle with all the Beyblade opponents you beat and use an customization in battle. But other than that, after beating the game, I was done with it. There was no re-playing the game to get anything else, other than playing Ryuga in order to get Lightning L-Drago and Meteo L-Drago’s parts.

But still, I had a lot of fun playing this game. There was certainly a good amount of challenge and those later endurance competitions made me go crazy (in a frustrated, pulling my hair out kind of way). So, what a thrill it was to beat those competitions and then beat the main three nemesis at the end of the game.

And also, a major plus is that if you enjoy the anime series, you will enjoy the video game but you also get the special edition Takara Tomy Metal Fight Beyblade, Vulcan Horuseus, as well, which is important for Beyblade collectors (note: a USA Hasbro version will be coming out in stores but will not have the awesome black style as the Takara Tomy version).

Overall, “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” is a pretty cool PSP game and while fans of the anime and toy series will enjoy it more, by no means is this an easy game made for children. It takes a bit of strategy to learn which parts will do better in battle competition and which parts will do best in endurance competition.

With that being said, I know casual players not familiar with Beyblade will purchase this. Part of the excitement that comes with this game is the familiarity with the characters but moreso knowing the Beyblades and their parts. Almost similar to those who play sports or racing games and love to purchase accessories or things that lead to better performance. The same goes for Beyblade as everything makes a difference in the video game, from the clear wheel to the tip. For example, the clear wheel in the real game may not matter much but in the video game, it can lead to extra stamina. As for tips, many view this in the real game of which will perform the best as attack, stamina or defense tips but in this video game, control will play a big part in the endurance competition.

And as far as the Beyblade games go, of all the games I have played since the PSX version of the older Beyblade series, “Metal Fight Beyblade Portable: Chouzetsu Tensei Vulcan Horuseus” in my opinion, is the best Beyblade game that has been made to date.

If you are a Beyblade fan, this game is not only worth importing, it’s definitely worth it!