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Video Game Backlog: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono Limited Edition (PS Vita video game review)

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For fans of “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san” will find the same humor and fun from the anime series in the video game.  While not deep or difficult, if you can find the Limited Edition of “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijoshigatai Game no Yona Mono” for a low price, you’ll find this video game box set worth owning!

Images courtesy of © Mages/5pb. All Rights Reserved.


VIDEO GAME TITLE: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono Limited Edition

TYPE OF GAME: Visual Novel/Dating Sim

PLATFORM: PS Vita

DEVELOPER: Mages

COMPANY: 5 pb

INFO: Single Player

RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2013


Back in 2009, “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san” (Nyaruko: Crawling with Love) was released as a light novel series in Japan.

Written by Manta Aisora and illustrated by Koin, the series is inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft Lovecraft mythos and in Japan, a total of 12 light novel series, several manga adaptations, several seasons of anime and OVA’s have been released (the most recent is “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san F” which was released in Japan on June 19th).

And in 2013, a PS Vita video game titled “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono” is inspired by the 2012 anime series by Xebec was released in Japan only.

The Limited Edition of th video game will come with the PS Vita game, a CD soundtrack, a PET Bottle case (monster pouch), two photo cards with codes (one for “Haiyore! Nyarkuo-san: The Caos” and the other for Yomecolle.jp) and a DLC code.

Created by Mages and published by 5pb., the game is dating/visual novel-style of game.

The story of “Haiyore! Nyarkuo-san” revolves around a high school teen named Mahiro Yasaka, who for some reason, is being attacked by aliens.

A Nyarlathotep, named Nyaruko, a formless deity of chaos who takes the shape of a silver haired high teen has been assigned by the Space Defense Agency to go to Earth and protect Mahiro.  So, in order to protect him, she takes residence at his home, but in the process, starts to fall for him.  But she goes a bit overboard in her love for Mahiro and is easily jealous when other aliens come to visit.


The main characters of “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san” are:

  • Mahiro Yasaka – The main protagonist who is under Nyaruko’s protection.  He has the ability to throw forks to stop aliens and for some reason, his appearance attracts aliens.  He often is put off by Nyaruko’s advances and tries to not get close to her due to her appearance, not being her true appearance but one of many.
  • Nyarlathotep/Nyaruko – An alien from Nyarlathotep sent by the Space Defense Agency to Earth in order to protect Mahiro.  She is formless and can take many forms, but she takes the form of a teen with long-silver hair (that also becomes an antenna).  She is a top agent and her expertise is in CQC (Close Quarters Combat) and transforms into a superheroine with black armor. She is deeply in love with Mahiro and wants him to have a baby with her.  She is also jealous of others who get close to Mahiro.
  • Cthugha/Kuko – An alien from Cthughan who takes the form of a red-haired girl.  She is the archnemesis of the Nyarlathotepians but for some reason, she is deeply in love with Nyaruko and takes a form of a teenager named Kuko Yasaka and calls herself Nyaruko’s wife.   She is a hardcore gamer, has the power of fire and also uses drones that fire lasers.
  • Hastur/Hasta – An alien from Hastur who is a male and takes the form of a girl with long blonde hair.  He is the son of the owner of CCE (Carcosa Computer Entertainment), a famous video game company.  He has feelings for Mahiro and despite his shy deameanor, he has the power of air and wind and is quite powerful.
  • Ghutatan – From the planet of Ghatanothoa, she is childish and takes the form of a little girl and is clingy towards Mahiro.
  • Yoriko Yasaka – A monster hunter and is friendly to the aliens and lets them live in her home, if they are their to help Mahiro and protect Earth.  She is a huge video console fan and an expert with throwing forks.
  • Luhy Distone – Worked for Cthulhu Corp. and is now a vendor selling Takoyaki.  She is quite powerful.  She takes the form of an older, sexy woman with green hair.
  • Takehiko Yoichi – Mahiro’s friend who often gives him advice.
  • Tamao Kurei – Known as the “Walking Speaker” because she likes to spread gossip.  Despite having feelings for Mahiro, she often tries to help Nyaruko get closer to Mahiro.
  • Shantak-kun – Nyaruko’s pet monster.  He can be huge or small and be a vehicle for Nyaruko and friends.
  • Nodens – A space smuggler that wants to kidnap Mahiro and use him to star in a yaoi film.  He sends the monsters known as Nodens after Mahiro.
  • Nyaruo – Nyaruko’s older brother who is deeply jealous towards his younger sister and is sick that she is superior to him.  He wants nothing but to kill his sister.

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The gameplay follows the first season of the anime series and there are ten primary episodes, with additional episodes that can be opened in the game.

During the game, you will be given a few answers and your answers will play heavily into the ending that you receive.  So, if you answer questions that favor Nyaruko, Kuko, Hasta, Ghutatan, you will receive a flag.  The more flags you collect, the better the chance of receiving that character’s ending.

After each episode, you get to play a slot machine that can add an additional flag or short story to the game.


 

 

 

The controls for the primary game are fairly basic.  Circle button to continue, X to get back into the main menu, move up and down to scroll up and down to select an answer.


 

 

 

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The graphics for “”Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono” utilizes artwork from the actual anime series but also stills of various locations and scenes.  The character design and backgrounds are on par with what you see in the actual anime series, but the primary animated segment is the opening sequence.

The video game is fully voiced by the Japanese anime series voice talent.  So, if you enjoyed the anime series, you’ll no doubt enjoy the voice acting by the seiyuu.


 

There is replay value for in the fact that if you want to get the main ending for each character, you’re going to have to play the game over again.  And once you complete the game, then you will open up a shooter game known as “FORKS GEAR” but also a purikura like booth which you can take pictures with the characters, gallery and music audio player.

But for trophy hunters, the game is not difficult to obtain, but it is time consuming to play all ten episodes just to get an ending.  Fortunately, you can put each episode in “skip mode” if you have viewed a scene already and bypass the dialogue.


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I found “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono” on sale at a Trader shop in Akihabara for a great price for a limited edition box set.

While I had no previous knowledge about the visual novels, anime or manga series, when I first started the game, I found it to be quite hilarious and fun.  And of course, because of the unusual storyline, it led me to watching the anime series and it’s a lot of fun.

But the question many of you are wondering if this game is worth getting.  For one, if you are into visual novel or dating-sims, you may enjoy it.  Considering that the LE sets are cheap, you get some swag that makes it worth purchasing.

As for the game itself, it’s not deep in storyline.  There is no unique story and you will not get too far in the dating aspect (as the concept of the show features Mahiro not wanting to be close to any of them, but treating them all as his friends and guardians) of the game, but you can go on simple dates.

But part of the allure is the game’s humor, voice acting and additional content not seen in the anime series.

I do admit that after the first playthrough, trying to get everyone’s ending is tedious and cumbersome, because you play the whole game over again and you can’t skip through dialogue/text but because of so much dialogue/text, it just plays it at fast speed and you find yourself feeling that the game is taking longer than it should have if better auto-skip functions were included.

It’s not the most difficult game to load up on trophies either, because the first play of the game, one will notice that they are racking up trophies like crazy.  It’s just when you have to replay the game in order to get an ending, the gameplay becomes cumbersome.

As for if the game is import-friendly, like most visual novels, the game is all in Japanese and features heavy Japanese text and dialogue. While those who watched the anime series with subtitles can get by and play the game and select answers and see what result they can get.

Also, with the Google Translate app, you can easily take a picture of the answer and get a translation but for the most part, the order of answers don’t change and you can easily figure out which answer is for Nyaruko, Kuko, Hasta or Ghutatan most of the time (I say most of the time, because sometimes Luhy, Kirei, Yoichi are thrown into the mix but not so much).

Personally, because of the fact that you can purchase the limited edition for under $30 on eBay and much lower if you visit a Trader store in Akihabara, I found the game to be worth playing.  I found the overall dialogue to be hilarious and fun and some of the choices to be unusual (ie. Mahiro having to wear one of the girl’s bathing suits/bikini), especially leading to the unexpected bad ending.

If you are a fan of “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san”, then definitely see if you can import the LE version of “Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Meijōshigatai Game no Yōna Mono”.

Momoiro Clover Z coming to Anime Expo 2015 in Los Angeles

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From Anime Expo: We are excited to announce Momoiro Clover Z as a Guest of Honor at Anime Expo 2015. They will perform on Thursday, July 2nd at Nokia Theater L.A. LIVE and will be joined onstage by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS as special Guests of Honor.

Momoiro Clover Z and KISS, collaborated on the single “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” released earlier this year. Momoiro Clover Z is also known for the theme songs of “Dragon Ball Z” and “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal”. This Anime Expo concert marks the third time Momoiro Clover Z has performed internationally with previous performances in 2012 in France at Japan Expo and in Malaysia at HARI BELIA NEGARA.

Tickets will be released for sale in early June on the Anime Expo website:www.Anime-Expo.org

PS3 Video Game Review: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

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“Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far! While I do recommend the latest incarnation of this game, its list of improvements over last year’s “Dead or Alive 5” is not groundbreaking and the fact that DOA5 owners can’t upgrade to DOA5 Ultimate via DLC is unfortunate. But if you area DOA fan, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is an enjoyable game and I definitely recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2013 TECMO. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

TYPE OF GAME: Fighting

PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360

PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 6GB (two files need to be downloaded)

DEVELOPER: Team Ninja

COMPANY: Tecmo

RATED: M for MATURE

RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2013

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 ULTIMATE heightens the signature DOA fighting style with the inclusion of new modes from DOA5 Plus, dynamic new stages, and deadly new fighters to deliver the ultimate in fighting entertainment. Players will take on the roles of their favorite DEAD OR ALIVE fighters – as well as combatants new to the franchise – in an intense, action-packed brawler set in visually striking locations from around the world. The famed DOA hand-to-hand combat is enhanced with new content that extends the experience. Along with a rich array of single-player modes including story mode, DEAD OR ALIVE 5 ULTIMATE offers online options with arcade-style matches, tournaments, and social features making it the most definitive DEAD OR ALIVE experience to date.

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In 2012, the release of “Dead or Alive 5” was highly anticipated as it had been 15-years since the release of “Dead or Alive” to be followed by “Dead or Alive 5+” for the PlayStation Vita. But a year later after the release of the first game, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” for the PS3 and XBOX 360 has now arrived and not only is it a much better game than the original, it features five additional characters plus enhanced tag team mode and more!

DEAD OR ALIVE HISTORY

Dead or Alive, the 3D fighting video game flagship title from Tecmo and developers Team Ninja has continued to go strong since its introduction back in 1996 when it was first introduced in the arcades and on consoles such as the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

Inspired with fighting gameplay similar to AM2’s “Virtua Fighter”, the games would emphasize on fighting mechanics, combos, air-juggles and most importantly, it’s countering system.

During the first game’s initial release, “Dead or Alive” was best known for its characters including Ryu Hayabusa from Tecmo’s “Ninja Gaiden” video game series, the series would also be known for its sexy female fighters and their bouncing breasts. While controversial at the time (note: There were other Japanese fighting games that incorporated the bouncing breasts), it would become the trademark of the series and to be less offensive, “Dead or Alive” would have a clever setting in the options to set an age of a person in order to give less or more bounce. The game would lead to a remixed version and allowed people to open up many unlockable costumes for the characters including remixed stage design and new characters.

“Dead or Alive” would introduce people to Kasumi and her half-sister Ayane, both are rivals. And for Ayane, she despises Kasumi for becoming a traitor to her own clan. While Kasumi, harbors no ill feelings towards her sister. The game would also introduce players to professional wrestler Bass Armstrong and his strict upbringing of his daughter Tina, who would follow in his footsteps.

The original plot of “Dead or Alive” would revolve around the first Dead or Alive Tournament and its main protagonist would be Raidou, Ayane’s biological father and the uncle to Kasumi. It is revealed that Raidou raped Kasumi’s mother Ayame, and Ayane was the daughter from the rape. In the first “Dead or Alive”, Kasumi was the winner of the tournament as she killed her father. It was revealed that Bayman would kill DOATEC chairmen, Fame Douglas and that Bayman was working for Donovan.

By 2000, with the release of “Dead or Alive 2”, Tecmo would introduce interactive stages and also showcase tag team mode. Released for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2, another remake of the game titled “DOA2: Hardcore” was released and would be an update over its more inferior Dreamcast version and the game . But the second game would receive one more tweak in 2004 along with the Sega Saturn version of the first game which was released on the XBOX with the title “Dead or Alive Ultimate” featuring a new character named Hitomi and also online mode.

The plot for “Dead or Alive 2” would feature a storyline of the chaos that had taken place in the world since the death of Fame Douglas, the sponsor of the “Dead or Alive” World Combat Championship. And now a new person who is corrupt and evil has announced the “Dead or Alive Championship 2” tournament.

The main antagonist would be Dr. Victor Donovan who is responsible for the death of Fame Douglas. As the later of DOATEC’s anti-Douglas faction and head of the Development Department, he created a state-of-the-art military fortress where Project Alpha and Omegas were developed. For Project Alpha, he created a Kasumi Clone (who would be one of the bosses) known as Kasumi Alpha. But also featured is the evil Tengu who has escaped from the Tengu World into the human world to create chaos and rule the world.

In 2003, the third “Dead or Alive 3” would be released as an XBOX exclusive was a minor update from “Dead or Alive 2” but featured longer counters and less emphasis on juggling combos. The game would also introduced four new characters.

The plot of “Dead or Alive 3” features the aftermath of Ryu Hayabusa stopping Tengu, but the Tengu of Destruction lead to a dense cloud covering the whole planet in darkness. The corporation known as DOATEC has lead to the development of Omega Project: Project Alpha and Project Epsilon, courtesy of Dr. Victor Donovan.

Victor plans to create a superhuman known as Omega, based on Genra, leader of the Hajin Mon ninja clan and foster father of Ayane. Meanwhile, Dr. Donovan kidnaps Fame Douglas’ daughter, Helena (who would inherit the position to become DOATEC’s new chairperson). Helena is challenged by Donovan to win the third DOA tournament in order to gain her freedom. Bayman seeks revenge for Donovan for using him to assassinate Fame Douglas. It is also revealed that Hayate, brother of Kasumi and Ayane was subjected to experiments by Donovan for his Project Epsilon and that Project Omega, was an augmentation of Ayane’s foster father Genra into becoming the ultimate DOA fighter known as Omega.

In 2005, “Dead or Alive 4” was released for the XBOX 360. The game would feature 22 characters (including new characters Kokoro, Eliot and Lisa plus an unlockable character, “SPARTAN-458” from the “HALO” series) and feature six game modes including “DOA Online”. All moves were updated and tweaked and also become the first main series game to be rated M for Mature.

The game would feature Helena becoming the new DOATEC chairperson, while Donovan was working Kasumi clones for DOATEC as part of Project Alpha, a project to create the perfect fighter. The original Kasumi clone known as Kasumi Alpha has now been turned into the evil Alpha-152, the ultimate DOA fighter.

Which lead us to…

DEAD OR ALIVE 5

“Dead or Alive 5” is the first DOA game to be released via multi-platform since the second game back in 1999. Developed by Team Ninja minus “Dead or Alive” creator Tomonobu Itagaki, the new game would be directed by Yohei Shmbori.

The fighting game would feature 25 characters. 18 characters from the “Dead or Alive” universe and would introduce new characters Rig and Mila but also feature Gen Fu and Alpha 152 as unlockable characters. The video game will also feature three major characters from AM2’s popular “Virtua Fighter” fighting video game series, Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan.

The story of “Dead or Alive 5” takes place two years since the last “Dead or Alive 4” tournament. Despite the destruction of the DOATEC TriTower HQ, despite the dissoution of the DOATEC Biotechnology Division and the Projects Alpha, Epsilon and Omega that Dr. Victor Donovan had control of and most importantly despite Helena now being the chairperson of DOATEC, it appears that someone is still working on those projects. Who are these individuals?

Meanwhile, Helena plans to hold the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, hosted by Zack, in honor of the rebuilding of a new DOATEC.

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Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

For “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the game now adds five more characters which include “Virtua Fighter” character Jacky, “Ninja Gaiden” characters Momoji and Rachel and “Dead or Alive 4” characters Leon and Ein.

The story remains the same as “Dead or Alive 5” which is one major storyline and you can’t choose which character to play but you get to experience all fighters. But that is where arcade mode comes in and one can play solo or play Tag Team. While there is no upgrading from “Dead or Alive 5” to “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the game does reuse your save, so you don’t have to play storymode or try to unlock every clothing item again. In fact, the last game ofered 114 costumes iwth the game, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” will come with 231 costumes. Players will need to compete and win to unlock the entire section.

Ultimate also offers more in terms of character animations especially in Tag Team (Arcade), pair Hitomi and Leifang, Lisa Hamilton (or her wrestling luchadora persona “La Mariposa”) or Tina Armstrong, Ayane or Eliot, there are opening and ending sequences that allow interaction, otherwise pair people who don’t match or have no relationship and only the character that you played, actually does the speaking while the other just stands there.

There is a more intuitive training mode, for those who want to learn all the moves for the characters but also the inclusion of “Power Launcher” for juggle combos. Online mode also adds Team Battle and a slight variation of trophies in which 50% of them should be quite easy for most people to achieve, while the other 50% requires more time spent online (such as fight 1,000 matches) and on training mode (complete everyone move which is difficult).

But the biggest addition and for those who want to try the game is “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters”. A free download (a little over 3GB) which allows people to play four characters: Kasumi, Ayane, Hayabusa and Hayate and the option to pay and download additional characters. While you can pay to own more characters, you’ll save money in the long run by purchasing the entire game (there are two download files available on PSN which include the Core Fighters and the DOA5 Ultimate which is about 6GB and can be need to be downloaded on PSN).

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Gameplay modes are a slightly different this time around for “Dead or Alive 5”.

STORY MODE:

Story mode is no longer playing a single player for their storyline. Now, it features a chronicle story mode that features every character and duration of this storymode takes about 4 hours. In the beginning, you can select two types of modes for casual gamers or those who are very good at fighting games.

As for the story, while the main story focuses on the Dead or Alive 5 tournament, there is also an underlying story of someone continuing the project of Donovan. Other storylines revolve around one wanting to win the tournament or wanting to find someone and fight them.

While each character’s storyline tend to have a connection with others. Story mode features anywhere around three matches or more with each character. There are missions that optionally can be played that requires you to pull of a move 1-3 times (which gets more difficult as you progress). Missions include, throwing someone while in crouch mode three times or blocking a hit three times.

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FIGHTING MODES:

ARCADE MODE: Arcade is a mode where you can play a character and take on other characters. By beating the game with that character, you unlock new costumes and titles. There is Solo or Tag Team mode. The latter which is the best to use if you want to unlock one character’s clothing easily. During your match on arcade mode, the game will also alert you if someone had sent you a challenge/throw down (a blue symbol on the bottom right corner) or a chance to level up by going against a competitor online (via red symbol on the bottom right). You can turn the throw down alerts off for either solo or tag team modes if needed.

VERSUS MODE: You choose who you want to fight. Fight with a friend via solo or tag, up to four people can play.

TIME ATTACK MODE: How many characters can you beat in the shortest amount of time.

SURVIVAL MODE: Fight as many characters per stage (10 characters per stage). If you lose, game over.

TRAINING MODE: With a lot of moves, you can utilize the training mode to not only learn moves but open achievements. Ultimate now includes free training, command training, tutorial and combo challenge.

ONLINE MODE: You can fight against anyone around the world via a simple match which you can start fighting immediately, a ranked match, lobby match and enable spectator mode to chat with other players.

Online training mode now offers 2 vs. 2 tag mode. Players can also battle in ranked tag matches in order to become #1 in the world rankings. Separate from solo matches, in tag matches Grade Points (GP) are earned for both team members with each win counting as two toward unlockable costumes.

DOA players can now attain the new “Prize Fighter” ranking. Four different ranks can be earned by winning consecutive ranked matches: Bronze Fighter, Silver Fighter, Gold Fighter and Platinum Fighter. Prize Fighters can earn extra Grade Points with wins and those who defeat another Prize Fighter receive a GP bonus. Grade Points have been updated to now allow for players to earn up to Grade U from S+. Bonus GP’s are rewarded when fighters move to the next grade level.

Also added to online competition is “Character Points” (CP) which displays a player’s skill level with each character. With the inclusion of CP, players can check if they are using their best character and see where they place in the world ranking.

Tecmo also made improvements to online mode enhance gameplay and provides a smoother experience regardless of a player’s network connection and also cutting search times to find opponents ranked matches and unranked throw downs.

EXTRAS: Now on Ultimate, one can be a spectator and watch a matchup online, take photos for your album, watch accessed movies from story mode or arcade, see your fight record and assign title(s) for your character during online matchups.

 

 

Controls are similar to previous “Dead or Alive” games. One button to hit, grab or throw a character. The game does include a power attack if you are under 50% health and knock them out (or into) a danger zone (and fall to another part of the stage). But there is a cliffhanger event, in which a character grabs on to an object on the stage before falling out and use it to activate an action sequence.

The game also utilizes a new critical system, such as critical stuns, critical combos and critical bursts. Which definitely affects gameplay and one needing to think quickly of how they would counter if a critical move is performed.

Overall, controls for a character in “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” are quite smooth during gameplay. I was pretty impressed of how responsive the characters were. The more difficult holds takes a while to get down especially the critical system, but the tutorial mode will help you through that.

During Online Mode, most matches went very well, surprisingly I did not have any significant lag of the many games I have played both DOA5 and DOA5 Ultimate, very few matches in which I had any experience with lag.

 

 

The graphics for “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is fantastic! There is a lot of detail in the character models. This is the best I have ever seen of Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, Tina, Zack and others. When you fight, the characters get grimy and dirty, they also sweat and you can easily see the drips of sweat through their skin or falling towards the floor.

The stage design is also excellent and pleasing to look at. I felt that previous games including “Dead or Alive 4″ felt too repetitive when it came to the arenas. But this time around, with the interactivity of an area and how detail many stages loo, I was very impressed!

If I have to be nitpicky when it comes to graphics, it would be for some of the text in story mode. Even playing on a 51” 1080p TV, the grunge typeface used for the text was a bit difficult to read at times.

As for audio, “Dead or Alive 5” sounds great!

Audio is crystal clear and you can easily change the audio to Japanese or English. Dialogue is easily understandable and while I am used to the Japanese voicework, which is awesome! The English dub is very good. So, fore those wondering if Tecmo provides both vocal soundtracks, they do!

As for sound effects and ambiance, some states are more immersive than others. Especially one stage that involves tanks and artillery being shot out.

Audio in story mode is crystal clear and for the most part, dialogue and music are also very good.

“Dead or Alive” games are known for replay value, due to the amount of costumes given for each character. For completionists, not only will they be playing “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” for long periods of time to get all clothing or titles but even the trophies/achievements which one requires one to play up to a 1,000 matches or the new training sections which require quite a bit of a challenge to learn various moves. But because of the online competition, one will want to play the game over and over to master a character or characters in the game, so replay value for “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is high!

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Having had a chance to play both “Dead or Alive 5” and “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the latest game in the series is much better than its predecessor. But not a whole lot?

The additional characters, stages and songs are a major plus and they have beefed up the training mode considerably and you get the Power Launcher move in which people can do more juggling combo attacks. But “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” also introduces players who just want to test the game thanks to its free Core Fighters release on PSN.

With that being said, as a new game and not a game that could have been updated via DLC, previous “Dead or Alive 5” players have to purchase “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” and can’t just pay to download the additional characters. “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is a more enjoyable game with better fight mechanics over “Dead or Alive 5” but previous owners will have to repurchase the game.

With the incorporation of “Virtua Fighter” characters, one would hope Tecmo Koei will someday add accessory or clothing customization. While it’s great to have these unlockable costumes and some that need to be purchased online (which are mostly bikinis and Christmas outfits), people are going to want to see more if they are going to have to repurchase the game for another $39.99. Other upgraded versions of other games did not cost as much and with the fighting game genre so competitive, you really need to stand out. And I believe clothing and accessory customization and more than five characters would be a welcomed by fans.

As a long time fan of the series, one who has put a ton of hours into this series since the game has first came out, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best DOA game made so far! From the look of the characters, how smooth they play and the learning curve to learn other critical moves is impressive!

As a big Helena, Ayane and Kasumi fan, I simply love the gameplay and how I was able to to chain combos and after getting beat after a string of hits, being able to counter right back and just barely win. And it’s one thing to be able to be excited about how smooth the game plays during offline mode, but then going online and taking on many people and seeing how smooth gameplay was online with these characters, I was very pleased!

And on the topic of characters, I love the fact that “Virtua Fighter” characters and “Ninja Gaiden” characters have been added. I’m still waiting for the “Dynasty Warriors” and “Fist of the Northstar” characters hopefully show up but Koei definitely has a characters they can tap into and bring to the DOA universe but also room for many new characters to be created as well!

And let’s discuss the stages. When “Dead or Alive 3” was released, it definitely broke new ground with the multiple level within a level scenery and with “Dead or Alive 4”, while the scenes looked amazingly beautiful on the XBOX 360, for me, the stages were very good and improved in graphics tremendously. But with “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” (and DOA5), I love how different the interactive arena’s were. Some levels could take a good amount of beating or certain move to really knock someone out to another level. Nothing is too easy, you need to learn those stages where as previous games, you pretty much knew that if you can sidestep and knock a character to a certain direction, they were going to fall. But the cliffhanger moves definitely bring some excitement to the stages. But this time around, you really need to figure out the arenas and how to take advantage of the surrounding environments.

Graphically, I love the detail of the stages and how the lighting effects were done. I felt the arena’s in tandem with the beautiful character designs really made “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” such a visually stunning game. Audio was also well-done!

And as the game is visually stunning and gameplay is the best so far in a DOA game, for those who did care about the story of the series, Team Ninja, went all out in crafting a storyline that is much more easier to understand and makes sense than prior games.

To tell you the truth, past “Dead or Alive” games were getting near “King of Fighters” status in terms of storyline forgetfulness. But this time around, because of how the story mode was presented, you know what is going down with each character. And there are some twists and turns in the storyline that make you wonder who is truly “dead or alive”. Is the story much more coherent after playing Story Mode? Well, this is “Dead or Alive” afterall.

DOA5U_groupE_02_Prize-fighter.jpg_EN

So, the big question now is if this game is worth purchasing? The answer is “Yes!”. And the good news is that if you want to try the game, you can download “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters” on PSN for free and start playing immediately. You won’t have Story Mode but you will be able to utilize four characters and see if the game is worth your time.

But what if you owned “Dead or Alive 5”? The answer is also “yes” but also depending on how important the new stages and five extra characters are for you. There is also more added to training mode, new animations, new music and other changes included to online gaming mode.

Unfortunately, there is no DLC to upgrade your game or purchase the additional five characters or modes, you simply have to buy a new game and I know this may be disheartening for some, but it’s where a lot of companies are going with their fighting games, albeit it would have been much better if “Ultimate” was offered for a much cheaper price but that is subjective.

Overall, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far!

But is “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” a major step up from “Dead or Alive 5″…slightly. But it’s still an enjoyable fighting game but is definitely in need for newer enhancements, more new characters than the five and beefed up training mode provided for its pricepoint.

Still, I love playing this game and wholeheartedly recommend “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”!

PS3 Video Game Review: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2

“Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” is a game that long time fans will be proud of. It’s a game that manages to bring Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s popular, violent and exciting manga series to the video game world with efficacy and combining it with KOEI’s “Dynasty Warriors” style of gameplay. Unlike the first game, these are the characters and the battles that fans want to see and play! If you are a fan of “Dynasty Warriors” games and a big fan of the manga or anime series of “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star”, give this game a chance, because I really enjoyed it!

Images courtesy of © 2013 KOEI. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2

TYPE OF GAME: Fighting

PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360

PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 9GB

DEVELOPER: Koei

COMPANY: Koei Tecmo

RATED: M for MATURE

RELEASE DATE: February 5, 2013

Kenshiro and over twenty other characters from the Fist of the North Star series are ready to unleash rage in another game from Tecmo Koei. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 has Legend mode that covers the entire manga storyline from the Raoh Saga to the Land of Shura. Dream Mode has original storylines made just for the game that often focus on minor characters from the Fist of the North Star series.

“Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” is back! And with the sequel comes a whole lot of changes to the overall gameplay but most importantly, an epic storyline that is heavily-based on the popular “Hokuto no Ken” manga series from Tetsuo Hara and Buronson.

The second video game adaptation features legend mode, over 20 playable characters, new moves, dream mode plus online co-op and versus play.

“HOKUTO NO KEN/FIST OF THE NORTH STAR” HISTORY

In 1983, the manga “Hokuto no Ken” (Fist of the North Star) was unleashed in Japan. Illustrated by Tetsuo Hara and written by Buronson, the manga series was serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump” from 1983-1988 and has spawned anime TV series (one which lasted over 150-episodes from 1984-1988), two films, OAV’s, novels, video games and more.

Needless to say, in Japan, the story of “Fist of the North Star” has been a big part of Japanese pop culture as it was a story that showcased good vs. evil in a post-apocalyptic era in which the world is now unstable with fear running rampant across the land. Where power is justice and power ruled. Those without power are left in fear. Those who have power command great armies or a ragtag group of the men who have succumbed to evil.

So, popular the manga/anime series, the antagonist Raoh can be seen like a Japan equivalent to characters such as Darth Vader, Cobra Commander or even Megatron. Villains with power and despite being evil, their fan following is tremendous. In fact, Raoh is so popular that back in 2007, a mock funeral was held for the character in order to promote the theatrical release of “Raoh Den Gekito no Sho” (a retelling of the final battle between Kenshiro vs. Raoh). And thousands of people attended the mock funeral, and many genuinely mourned Raoh as a man who touched their lives (despite not being a real person).

And suffice to say, both Kenshiro and Raoh are the two primary characters that are featured in this latest video game, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”.

The storyline featured four adoptive brothers who were taught the “Hokuto Shinken” (aka “God Fist of the North Star”). The four are eldest brother Raoh, Toki, Jagi and Kenshiro. With the main storyline focusing on the eldest, Raoh and the youngest Kenshiro.

In the series, Kenshiro has been chosen as the successor to the martial art known as Hokuto Shinken, a martial art that is 18-centuries old and involves using the body’s 708 vital pressure points to either destroy or heal a person from within. Kenshiro is a man who is in love with Julia and instead of having a happy life, his evil brother Jagi uses his influence over Kenshiro’s good friend Shin, who is from a family which is a rival to “Hokuto Shinken” known as “Nanto Seiken” (aka Sacred Fist of the South Star). If Hokuto Shinken is the Yin, Nanto Seiken is the Yang. Two can’t exist without each other.

In the storyline, Kenshiro has been seen as the younger brother who is not at all strong. His brother Raoh has chosen the path to be a conqueror of lands, Toki who is the healer is thought to be dead (due to radiation poisoning) and Jagi, the jealous older brother of Kenshiro who is upset his younger brother is thought to be a better fighter than he is.

So far in the storyline, Kenshiro’s girlfriend Julia was kidnapped by Shin and Shin defeats Kenshiro and leaving him for dead.

The first video game “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage” is similar to the Dynasty Warriors games from Koei Tecmo. The game introduced a LEGEND MODE which followed the original manga series in which you played Kenshiro (or other characters) as the story progresses, building up your characters skills and your character while gaining additional special moves. With each character you encounter, once you beat a level, the key opponent/major character will be added to DREAM MODE, and those characters will be playable. And an additional CHALLENGE MODE in which one can play Kenshiro and take on a string of opponents.

The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360.

And now, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of “Hokuto no Ken”, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” has been released courtesy of KOEI TECMO.

FIST OF THE NORTH STAR: KEN’S RAGE 2 is the second game of the series which was developed by Koei, not Omega Force (who did the first game). Unlike the first game, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” is available for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Wii U (digital distribution only), while available as a physical release for the XBOX 360. Also, the release was only two months after its release in Japan.

I will be reviewing the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

GAMEPLAY:

There are slight differences between the first and second game. While the game keeps to the “Dynasty Warriors” theme, the game has removed the option to jump and is replaced by a dodging system. During a game, characters can find hidden scrolls to help add to their character’s abilities. After each battle with a key rival character, one can learn a signature move. Saving the game takes place after a major chapter and while a chapter can be long, there are interim saves, but unfortunately, interim saves will not start where one has left off but at the beginning of a chapter.

As for the modes featured in the “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”:

LEGEND MODE

This is probably my favorite part of “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”. The first game didn’t really explain characters all that much, but this time around, KOEI decided that the story would be a primary focus for Legend Mode.

And instead of featuring short stories, KOEI allows for more character development, by allowing you to play these other characters. But most importantly, developing a long story that covers the remainder of the “Hokuto no Ken” storyline revolving Kenshiro and his brothers.

So, one can possibly expect anywhere around 10-20 hours of gameplay, because some of these chapters are long, cut scenes also can be long but the biggest part that made me enjoy this game even more, is the fact that KOEI featured the following the manga series:

  • Kenshiro meeting Bat and Rin as children
  • Kenshiro storyline involving Shin and Yuria
  • Kenshiro taking on Rei and also introducing Mamiya
  • Kenshiro taking on those who represent Nanto Goshasei
  • Kenshiro taking on his three brothers Jaki, Toki and Raoh + other opponents
  • The Golden Celestial Storyline featuring a grown up Bat and Rin and the Falco storyline
  • The Shura storyline featuring Kenshiro taking on those who know Hokuto Ryuken, and introducing and including battles with Jukei, Shchi, Han, Hyoh and Kaioh
  • Conclusion of the Bat, Rin Mamiya and Bolge storyline

These arcs are quite long and if KOEI wanted to, they could have easily stopped at the Raoh storyline and save the other for a third game, but instead, the Shura/Hokuto Ryuken is featured in “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”.

The object of LEGEND MODE is to play Kenshiro and going through what was featured in the manga series. Similar to Dynasty Warriors, hordes of enemies come from every direction and your character begins with either 3-4 signature moves. Using your buttons, you can do straight hits, combo moves, grab, taunt, etc. Scattered in each area are chests that contain a chicken or bread (for extra health), a canister (for extra aura) or scrolls that can enhance your character.

You can equip five scrolls and each scroll may have 1 to 4 symbols. A green heart for extra life, a yellow flame aura which allows one to have a quick recharge to pull off a signature move, a red fist for attack, blue shield for defense and purple for technique.

Some scrolls allow for a special ability, such as RECOVER which can allow your character to recover faster, STAMINA for added stamina during battle, others that activate more defense, better aura when you are low on health and more. Scroll levels start at level 1 but as you progress, you eventually find scrolls that feature higher levels and adds to your character’s life, aura, attack, defense and technique points.

But LEGEND MODE is a straightforward story mode with long cut scenes after each battle or after a segment during a fight against a key rival character.

To explain the bar segment (as shown on the image above), on the bottom at the screen during a fight with a key rival character character, you will notice their red health bar is broken down by three (or four) segments.

When one bar of segment goes down, the main fight will stop, transition to a cut-scene and feature a storyline in which Kenshiro or an opponent will get stronger, question a character’s fight style or continue a storyline with a new revelation.

Because LEGEND MODE follows the manga series, this style is much different than other games which allows you to take on a key rival character, fight to the death and then a cut scene.

Some are major opponents, captains or low ranking commanders and thus, some will not have a save point until after the chapter ends. While there are interim save points, this is not one of those games where one has 10 minutes to play and hope they can find a save point. Sometimes, some chapters are quite long, so for those wondering if they can play a game and save at any point of game, this is not one of them.

The game also allows other type of gameplay instead of fighting. Some levels ask for one to be stealthy and sneak and kill an enemy guard without being detected, another allows objects to be thrown at an enemy from the distance and some enemies rely on different strategies and standard hits or kicks may not work. Other levels have you protecting a child or a wounded comrade, while moving through a violent area.

But as the story progresses for Kenshiro and friends, LEGEND MODE is the most satisfying part of “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” because of how much of the manga is presented in this mode.

DREAM MODE

Dream Mode allows one to play with characters that were opened up in LEGEND MODE. The story is similar for those who have played Dynasty Warriors in which you are presented with a map which show where enemy forces have occupied several bases. Your job is to take back five of the bases (after beating the first base, you are joined with soldiers who fight for you) which have around 50 people plus two commanders or captains and after taking back five of the bases, you then take on a key rival character (which sometimes is followed by a second key rival).

The good news is that your soldiers actually do some fighting. Where in the first game, even if an opponent is nearly dead, you could never trust your soldiers as they seemed weak. And a lot of time, you had to go back to the bases you have beaten and reclaim them. The issue is not the case with “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”.

You can play over 20 characters (which represent Hokuto Shinken, Nanto Seiken, Hokuto Army, Hokoto Ryuken, Lone Warriors and Others), many characters who are available after beating their storyline in LEGEND MODE and level them up (all are level 1 with the exception of Kenshiro who maintains the same level for those who played LEGEND MODE first).

But the object is to defeat each map level by controlling your character on the map, reclaiming about five bases from the enemies and taking on the key rival for that area on the map. It’s important to note that two simultaneous bosses/key rival characters on screen have been removed but there are two simultaneous commanders or captains that are featured during battle.

The bad news for those who loved the missions of the first game, the missions are no longer featured in DREAM MODE. It’s now focused on claiming bases and taking on final key rival in that map area.

You can choose from a STORY MODE, FREE PLAY MODE and ONLINE.

For STORY MODE and FREE MODE, you can access one of the many characters and play up to 10 maps plus a challenge level for each character. The main difference between the two is that STORY MODE contains an alternate storyline with cut scenes.

At the time of this review, there aren’t many people playing ONLINE MODE at this time (for the PS3) but what is available is CO-OP PLAY and TEAM MATCH. The benefit of co-op is that you can access high level scrolls that are not available in the offline single player version of the game.

I do feel that KOEI is taking the risk of not letting characters be available for ONLINE MODE. You are forced to play LEGEND MODE first and literally beat the entire game before going into DREAM MODE which one can play Kenshiro. But I do understand the reason for this is because of the STORY MODE, which feature characters that can only be featured if you beat LEGEND MODE. So, it’s a restriction that does hurt the ONLINE mode.

It would have been nice to have two-player co-op but because of the restricti0n, it does make people focus on the single player aspect of the game much more.

Also, available is GALLERY which allows you to view artwork and movies that were saved after beating LEGENDARY MODE or STORY for DREAM MODE. You can also access SETTINGS to change difficulty, if you want a tutorial featured during play.

Also, DOWNLOAD for DLC content is available and as of right now, the characters Amiba, Nameless Shura and Han can be downloaded for $8 each.

 

CONTROLS:

For controls, you use the L3 stick to control your character, but most of the time, you will be using SQUARE and TRIANGLE to unleash a string of combos. CIRCLE to unleash your signature move and other buttons to dodge, taunt or grab/strike your character (which is important in facing off against stronger, same-size opponents, as you will need to do combos such as SQUARE, SQUARE, TRIANGLE, GRAB.

I felt the fighting mechanics for the second game is much better but this is subjective as some will miss the jumping ability of the first game.

While controls are fine and I rarely had problems, I did have issues with camera. Not all the time, but a few times during a fight against a major opponent, where I try to have my character pull off a string of combos, when the opponent circles around, it becomes a first person perspective. Granted, I could easily move out and re-position my character but during battles where timing is important, especially vs. Raoh or Kaoh, you don’t want these camera issues to happen and affect timing.

Once again, this did not affect me too much but it did happen a few times.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics for “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” are good (don’t expect big budget graphics like “Final Fantasy” or “Mass Effect”). But I enjoyed the character designs for this game. The characters compliment Tetsuo Hara’s character designs from the manga and I was quite pleased to see how the emotion and violence was captured in this video game.

Because it’s based on the manga series, most are 3D based characters that are featured as still images, but there are moments when the characters are in full movement and are speaking.

For people familiar with the manga or the anime series, the series is extremely violent and bloody. Characters are beaten, eyes are gouged out, heads explode, one scene has a character being drilled to death. So, for “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” you expect to see characters bruised, bloody and beaten and you see that in this game.

Did I experience lag? Just once, during a scene where there were a ton of characters, there was a slight lag and choppiness but other than that, I was quite pleased with the game because having played many other “Hokuto no Ken” games, his is the best I have seen of a game so far.

AUDIO:

“Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” was quite immersive. Listening it on a 7.2 system, KOEI definitely let a lot of the sound effects be utilized through the surround and rear surround channels. Dialogue was crisp and clear but probably the highlight is the voice acting. The Japanese voice acting is fantastic. From the emotion coming from Bat, Rin, Yuria and Mamiya, to the evil that comes from Kaoh. I was quite pleased with the overall voice acting for the game.

With that being said, not everyone likes listening to a video game in Japanese with English subtitles. And those who prefer it to be dubbed, like the first game, may be disappointed to find out that the game is only in Japanese with English subtitles.

REPLAY VALUE:

While I considered LEGEND MODE to be the main mode for “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”, the fact that there are over 20-characters that one can continue playing on DREAM MODE, adds to the replay value of the game. It’s been a staple of the DYNASTY WARRIORS type games to include so many characters, that you get your money’s worth and the fact that each character have their own fighting style (and these are NOT clone characters), is a plus. And the addition of an ONLINE MODE adds to the replay value of the game.

I was very fortunate to have grown up with “Fist of the North Star”. The manga series that was released in the U.S. from Viz Communications and the anime series released on VHS easily made me a fan, but it was the old Streamline Pictures animated film that introduced me to “Fist of the North Star” and that was back in 1991.

I was captivated by the Mad Max storyline, a post-apocalyptic world where power rules over cash and the world turned into chaos because of it. And like many other anime/manga fans during the very early ’90s, we also played the import games and one of the first import games that I purchased was the side-scrolling game “Hokuto no Ken: Shin Seikimatsu Kyuseishu Densetsu” for the Sega Mega Drive, which I still own today.

And when I visit Japan, suffice to say, I still tend to look for anything related to “Hokuto no Ken” (First of the North Star) and another fighting series titled “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”. And while both games have been released in arcades in Japan, I have hoped and long wished for the series to have an awesome video game release.

By 2003, with the release of the animated OVA series, “New Fist of the North Star”, I was hoping that there would be of interested in Japan for a new video game. While there was a focus on bringing it out as a game, moreso for pachinko.

By 2008, I was excited about the release of “Hokuto no Ken: Hokuto Shinken Denshosha no Michi” for the Nintendo DS, just to find out it was a digital comic which required touching vital points. In 2009, with the release of the animated OVA series featuring Raoh titled “Hokuto no Ken: Raoh Gaiden: Ten no Haoh”, I immediately purchased the video game which featured the characters of the OVA series and the game was a 3D fighting game, more on the “Street Fighter” side.

In 2010, I was excited to find out that KOEI would be releasing a “Dynasty Warriors” type of game but in the “Hokuto no Ken” universe and heavily inspired by the manga series. For me, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage” was awesome to see made for the current gen consoles, but what I wanted to see and play are the characters leading up to the final half of the series. Kenshiro vs. Shin, Kenshiro vs. Raoh, Kenshiro vs. Kaoh, etc.

So, when I started seeing the promotional videos from Japan for “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”, I couldn’t wait! Because the version I wanted to see and play for so long, is now here!

Before I continue with my review, I need to say that I’m not a “Dynasty Warriors” hater. Many reviewers who dislike the game, I feel should not be reviewing it in the first place. They score the games low, they hardly play it and every year, they talk about how the game lacks innovation and can’t understand why people play them.

I’m not that kind of reviewer. In fact, I have owned and played many “Dynasty Warriors”, “Samurai Warriors”, “Dynasty Warriors: Gundam” games, for a variety of consoles, and I enjoy playing the Musou games.

Perhaps it was because I grew up with games such as “Final Fantasy”, “Streets of Rage” and many others were you fought the same looking characters, repeat the same moves. I’m so used to playing Japanese RPG’s, level grinding for hours upon hours and I don’t mind it.

And while there are a niche group who will forever support these games, I know there are people who don’t and they are vocal about it in their review.

In my case, I enjoyed playing “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2”. In my opinion, this is the best game to come out featuring the characters and how awesome is it that the video game is based on the manga series.

The character design compliments Tetsuo Hara’s style, the voice acting is incredible and while the game leans more to the easier side (which can be fixed by difficulty select in the settings), the fact that Kenshiro has so many cool signature moves and find a way to defeat these herds of soldiers or psychopaths as quickly as possible is quite fun. But what made it worth my while is the LEGEND MODE.

I realized that KOEI could have stopped anywhere after the long arc which involved Kenshiro vs. his brothers, especially Raoh. But the story continued as it goes into the Falco storyline and just when you think that the game would end on a teaser for possibly a third “Ken’s Rage”, you are then presented a new long storyline revolving the Shura and the battle against those who possess the Hokoto Ryuken.

And just when you think the game was about to end, you are then presented with a new storyline revolving around the character of Bat.

Looking at my character profile and how long I have played, LEGEND MODE, I was near 20 hours. Granted, probably 18 hours at the most as those extra two hours was testing interim save and having to replay a level again and finding a way to beat Kaoh underground in a sulfur pit, but playing this mode alone, I felt the game was worth the money because the interactive cut scenes based on the manga were fantastic and for any “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star” fans, this longer LEGEND MODE was so, worth playing!

As for the DREAM MODE, this is where I can see some players being a bit upset with. The mission mode is no longer there, the hordes of enemies that are featured in LEGEND MODE are now broken up into 50-men armies, many characters are not available until you beat LEGEND MODE and because some people don’t want to get involved in a long storyline with long cut-scenes to access players for DREAM MODE, I can see a few frustrated gamers. And because of the lack of players, it won’t help much with the ONLINE MODE because everyone would have to play LEGEND MODE to unlock the characters.

So, I can see the frustration for some gamers for DREAM MODE in that aspect. But if you did beat LEGEND MODE, you realize that because the games within DREAM MODE for story relates to many characters that have yet to be opened, it makes sense why KOEI went this direction. But it was a risk for KOEI because it does hurt gameplay for those who want to play online immediately.

As for problems, the main problems that I experienced was just camera issues for a few matches against key opponents. The camera would switch to a first person view when fighting that it easily distracts your rhythm if you are trying to create a string of combos. Fortunately, it happened a few times and that was it.

As for lag, I didn’t see much of it. Only one time, where I can remember it going slow with so many things on the screen but other than that, I had no issues with the game at all.

But I think that where people may have difficulty with this game are outside of the game modes, are repetitive gameplay and the interruption of fights against key rival characters. Rarely do we see boss fights in a video game that stop the momentum and go into a lengthy cinematic sequence, but it does happen in LEGEND MODE a few times for a good reason. It adds to the storyline as it was featured in the manga, especially when it focuses on the turn of the battles. Where the opponent may be kicking Kenshiro’s butt but then all of a sudden, he finds a way to make his comeback. This is how those fights are set up, if you manage to beat the key rival character and see their health bar decrease by a segment (which I explain above in gameplay).

In the way it was implemented, I didn’t mind so much. Unless one was low on time and had to leave or go to sleep, I can see why some may get frustrated because you could only save after the end of a chapter and some of these chapters are long. It would have been great if interim saves would allow for a restart where you last saved, but because of the way the game was built, it’s not possible. That was probably the only thing that did make me frustrated, not knowing how long the chapter would be and if a save would ever come. There were times it took a long while just to get a save point.

Graphics were good, not great but the character design compliments Tetsuo Hara’s work from the manga series. Audio was very good as it utilized the surround channels, but another caveat for some, may be the fact that only the Japanese dialogue with English subtitles are included. While the Japanese voice acting was fantastic, those who dislike having to read subtitles, may have a problem with this game not having an English dub.

But the positives outweighed the negative for me. I’m an avid gamer who enjoys “Dynasty Warriors” type of games and I’m a big fan of “Hokuto no Ken”. While, I’m not sure if “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage” will continue, especially with more stories that can be explored with “New Fist of the North Star” and “Fist of the Blue Sky”, if this is the final game in the “Ken’s Rage” series, I feel that KOEI gave “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star” fans a game that was exciting and a storyline that kept to the manga series with efficacy.

As for differences between the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 version, the PS3 is not available on physical media in the U.S. but as a digital download on the PSN store, while the XBOX 360 is available in physical media. While I did not play the XBOX 360 version, I can say that the PS3 version is over 9GB long and you will need to have at least 18GB free to install it.

People who hardly play the “Dynasty Warriors” style games, may it be “Dynasty Warriors”, “Samurai Warriors”, “Dynasty Warriors: Gundam” or even “One Piece: Pirate Wars” will always complain about repetitiveness and to tell you the truth, that has been going on since “Dynasty Warriors 2” for the PS2.

“Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” is not perfect but by no means is it terrible. I’ll proudly say it’s the best “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star” made so far. The LEGEND MODE is a reason enough to buy this game alone and the DREAM MODE was like extra content that added to replay value and I love that. But for those in it for the ONLINE MODE, will be disappointed and will say, do not buy this game if your priority is online gaming or online co-op.

Overall, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2” is a game that long time fans will be proud of. It’s a game that manages to bring Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s popular, violent and exciting manga series to the video game world with efficacy and combining it with KOEI’s “Dynasty Warriors” style of gameplay. Unlike the first game, these are the characters and the battles that fans want to see and play! If you are a fan of “Dynasty Warriors” games and a big fan of the manga or anime series of “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star”, gives this game a chance, because I really enjoyed it!

PROS:

+ The Best “Hokuto no Ken”/”Fist of the North Star” game made so far!

+ LEGEND MODE is awesome and fans of the series will no doubt love it. 15-20 hours of gameplay for LEGEND MODE alone.

+ “Ken’s Rage 2” features more characters that many of us have been wanting to play!

+ Fantastic voice acting! And respectful design based on Tetsuo Hara’s manga designs.

+ Better fight mechanics than the previous game.

CONS:

– ONLINE MODE for DREAM MODE requires one to play through LEGEND MODE first.

– Camera tends to go astray a few times.

– Mission mode removed from DREAM MODE and 50-person battles per base may seem to easy.

– Some may find the halting for more cut scenes during major key opponent battles to be bothersome.

PS3 Video Game Review: Dead or Alive 5

“Dead or Alive 5” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far! It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5” is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before. “Dead or Alive 5” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 TECMO. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dead or Alive 5

TYPE OF GAME: Fighting

PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360

PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 5.6GB

DEVELOPER: Team Ninja

COMPANY: Tecmo

RATED: M for MATURE

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 marries the signature fighting style of the popular DOA series with stunning new graphics, new online features, and new martial arts techniques to create a strong new direction for the franchise.

It has been over 15-years since the release of “Dead or Alive” and now, “Dead or Alive 5” for the PS3 and XBOX 360 is now here! Featuring a more coherent storyline, excellent gameplay and wonderful graphics, suffice to say, “Dead or Alive 5” is the best game in the DOA series thus far!

DEAD OR ALIVE HISTORY

Dead or Alive, the 3D fighting video game flagship title from Tecmo and developers Team Ninja has continued to go strong since its introduction back in 1996 when it was first introduced in the arcades and on consoles such as the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

Inspired with fighting gameplay similar to AM2’s “Virtua Fighter”, the games would emphasize on fighting mechanics, combos, air-juggles and most importantly, it’s countering system.

During the first game’s initial release, “Dead or Alive” was best known for its characters including Ryu Hayabusa from Tecmo’s “Ninja Gaiden” video game series, the series would also be known for its sexy female fighters and their bouncing breasts. While controversial at the time (note: There were other Japanese fighting games that incorporated the bouncing breasts), it would become the trademark of the series and to be less offensive, “Dead or Alive” would have a clever setting in the options to set an age of a person in order to give less or more bounce. The game would lead to a remixed version and allowed people to open up many unlockable costumes for the characters including remixed stage design and new characters.

“Dead or Alive” would introduce people to Kasumi and her half-sister Ayane, both are rivals. And for Ayane, she despises Kasumi for becoming a traitor to her own clan. While Kasumi, harbors no ill feelings towards her sister. The game would also introduce players to professional wrestler Bass Armstrong and his strict upbringing of his daughter Tina, who would follow in his footsteps.

The original plot of “Dead or Alive” would revolve around the first Dead or Alive Tournament and its main protagonist would be Raidou, Ayane’s biological father and the uncle to Kasumi. It is revealed that Raidou raped Kasumi’s mother Ayame, and Ayane was the daughter from the rape. In the first “Dead or Alive”, Kasumi was the winner of the tournament as she killed her father. It was revealed that Bayman would kill DOATEC chairmen, Fame Douglas and that Bayman was working for Donovan.

By 2000, with the release of “Dead or Alive 2”, Tecmo would introduce interactive stages and also showcase tag team mode. Released for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2, another remake of the game titled “DOA2: Hardcore” was released and would be an update over its more inferior Dreamcast version and the game . But the second game would receive one more tweak in 2004 along with the Sega Saturn version of the first game which was released on the XBOX with the title “Dead or Alive Ultimate” featuring a new character named Hitomi and also online mode.

The plot for “Dead or Alive 2” would feature a storyline of the chaos that had taken place in the world since the death of Fame Douglas, the sponsor of the “Dead or Alive” World Combat Championship. And now a new person who is corrupt and evil has announced the “Dead or Alive Championship 2” tournament.

The main antagonist would be Dr. Victor Donovan who is responsible for the death of Fame Douglas. As the later of DOATEC’s anti-Douglas faction and head of the Development Department, he created a state-of-the-art military fortress where Project Alpha and Omegas were developed. For Project Alpha, he created a Kasumi Clone (who would be one of the bosses) known as Kasumi Alpha. But also featured is the evil Tengu who has escaped from the Tengu World into the human world to create chaos and rule the world.

In 2003, the third “Dead or Alive 3” would be released as an XBOX exclusive was a minor update from “Dead or Alive 2” but featured longer counters and less emphasis on juggling combos. The game would also introduced four new characters.

The plot of “Dead or Alive 3” features the aftermath of Ryu Hayabusa stopping Tengu, but the Tengu of Destruction lead to a dense cloud covering the whole planet in darkness. The corporation known as DOATEC has lead to the development of Omega Project: Project Alpha and Project Epsilon, courtesy of Dr. Victor Donovan.

Victor plans to create a superhuman known as Omega, based on Genra, leader of the Hajin Mon ninja clan and foster father of Ayane. Meanwhile, Dr. Donovan kidnaps Fame Douglas’ daughter, Helena (who would inherit the position to become DOATEC’s new chairperson). Helena is challenged by Donovan to win the third DOA tournament in order to gain her freedom. Bayman seeks revenge for Donovan for using him to assassinate Fame Douglas. It is also revealed that Hayate, brother of Kasumi and Ayane was subjected to experiments by Donovan for his Project Epsilon and that Project Omega, was an augmentation of Ayane’s foster father Genra into becoming the ultimate DOA fighter known as Omega.

In 2005, “Dead or Alive 4” was released for the XBOX 360. The game would feature 22 characters (including new characters Kokoro, Eliot and Lisa plus an unlockable character, “SPARTAN-458” from the “HALO” series) and feature six game modes including “DOA Online”. All moves were updated and tweaked and also become the first main series game to be rated M for Mature.

The game would feature Helena becoming the new DOATEC chairperson, while Donovan was working Kasumi clones for DOATEC as part of Project Alpha, a project to create the perfect fighter. The original Kasumi clone known as Kasumi Alpha has now been turned into the evil Alpha-152, the ultimate DOA fighter.

Which now leads us to…

DEAD OR ALIVE 5

“Dead or Alive 5” is the first DOA game to be released via multi-platform since the second game back in 1999. Developed by Team Ninja minus “Dead or Alive” creator Tomonobu Itagaki, the new game would be directed by Yohei Shmbori.

The fighting game would feature 25 characters. 18 characters from the “Dead or Alive” universe and would introduce new characters Rig and Mila but also feature Gen Fu and Alpha 152 as unlockable characters. The video game will also feature three major characters from AM2’s popular “Virtua Fighter” fighting video game series, Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan.

The story of “Dead or Alive 5” takes place two years since the last “Dead or Alive 4” tournament. Despite the destruction of the DOATEC TriTower HQ, despite the dissoution of the DOATEC Biotechnology Division and the Projects Alpha, Epsilon and Omega that Dr. Victor Donovan had control of and most importantly despite Helena now being the chairperson of DOATEC, it appears that someone is still working on those projects. Who are these individuals?

Meanwhile, Helena plans to hold the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, hosted by Zack, in honor of the rebuilding of a new DOATEC.

GAMEPLAY:

Gameplay modes are a slightly different this time around for “Dead or Alive 5”.

STORY MODE:

Story mode is no longer playing a single player for their storyline. Now, it features a chronicle story mode that features every character and duration of this storymode takes about 4 hours. In the beginning, you can select two types of modes for casual gamers or those who are very good at fighting games.

As for the story, while the main story focuses on the Dead or Alive 5 tournament, there is also an underlying story of someone continuing the project of Donovan. Other storylines revolve around one wanting to win the tournament or wanting to find someone and fight them.

While each character’s storyline tend to have a connection with others. Story mode features anywhere around three matches or more with each character. There are missions that optionally can be played that requires you to pull of a move 1-3 times (which gets more difficult as you progress). Missions include, throwing someone while in crouch mode three times or blocking a hit three times.

FIGHTING MODES:

ARCADE MODE: Arcade is a mode where you can play a character and take on other characters. By beating the game with that character, you unlock new costumes and titles.

VERSUS MODE: You choose who you want to fight.

TIME ATTACK MODE: How many characters can you beat in the shortest amount of time.

SURVIVAL MODE: Fight as many characters per stage (10 characters per stage). If you lose, game over.

TRAINING MODE: With a lot of moves, you can utilize the training mode to not only learn moves but open achievements.

ONLINE MODE: You can fight against anyone around the world via a simple match which you can start fighting immediately, a ranked match, lobby match and enable spectator mode to chat with other players. Including an Online Dojo where you can practice and train with other characters. Watch Mode allows you to watch replays of your match and take pictures. During my test of online mode, I personally didn’t notice any lag during matches. If you are competing in arcade mode and non-online mode, you will be notified if one challenges you in a match.

CONTROLS:

Controls are similar to previous “Dead or Alive” games. One button to hit, grab or throw a character. The game does include a power attack if you are under 50% health and knock them out of a danger zone (and fall to another part of the stage). But there is a cliffhanger event, in which a character grabs on to an object on the stage before falling out and use it to activate an action sequence.

The game also utilizes a new critical system, such as critical stuns, critical combos and critical bursts. Which definitely affects gameplay and one needing to think quickly of how they would counter if a critical move is performed.

Overall, controls for a character in “Dead or Alive 5”, control quite smoothly during gameplay. I was pretty impressed of how responsive the characters were. The more difficult holds takes a while to get down especially the critical system, but the tutorial mode will help you through that.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics for “Dead or Alive 5” is fantastic! There is a lot of detail in the character models. This is the best I have ever seen of Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, Tina, Zack and others. When you fight, the characters get grimy and dirty, they also sweat and you can easily see the drips of sweat through their skin or falling towards the floor.

The stage design is also excellent and pleasing to look at. I felt that previous games including “Dead or Alive 4″ felt too repetitive when it came to the arenas. But this time around, with the interactivity of an area and how detail many stages loo, I was very impressed!

If I have to be nitpicky when it comes to graphics, it would be for some of the text in story mode. Even playing on a 51”, the grunge typeface used for the text was a bit difficult to read. But I figure, this may be subjective.

AUDIO:

For the most part, “Dead or Alive 5” sounds great. Audio is crystal clear and you can easily change the audio to Japanese or English. Dialogue is easily understandable and while I am used to the Japanese voicework, which is awesome! The English is very good. So, fore those wondering if Tecmo provides both vocal soundtracks, they do!

As for sound effects and ambiance, I would have loved the audio to be much more immersive and surround channels to be used much more. But for the most part, dialogue, music and sound effects are crystal clear and are front-channel driven.

REPLAYABILITY:

“Dead or Alive” games are known for replayability, due to the amount of costumes given for each character. For completionists, not only will they be playing “Dead or Alive 5” for long periods of time to get all clothing or titles but even the trophies/achievements require one to play up to a 1,000 matches.

I’m going to come out and say it… “Dead or Alive 5” is the best “Dead or Alive” game created so far!

As a long time fan of the series, one who has put a ton of hours into this series since the game has first came out, “Dead or Alive 5” is fantastic in every category I can think of. From the look of the characters, how smooth they play and the learning curve to learn other critical moves is impressive!

The amount of moves these characters have are quite impressive. As a big Helene, Ayane and Kasumi fan, I simply love the gameplay and how I was able to to chain combos and after getting beat after a string of hits, being able to counter right back and just barely win. And it’s one thing to be able to be excited about how smooth the game plays during offline mode, but then going online and taking on many people and seeing how smooth gameplay was online with these characters, I was very pleased!

And on the topic of characters, I also was shocked that three major “Virtua Fighter” characters were added to the roster. Sure, “Dead or Alive 4” may have seemed cool for “HALO” fans with the addition of SPARTAN-458, but for me, the character really had no place in the DOA timeline. Because I knew that “Dead or Alive” was inspired by “Virtua Fighter” (and also “Tekken”), I was very impressed that three top tier “Virtua Fighter” characters were included. As a fighting video game fan, Akira, Sarah and Pai is not only a big surprise but just the ultimate nod to fighting game fans, and I’m sure in Japan, fans greeted the addition of these three characters with amazing enthusiasm as well!

And let’s discuss the stages. When “Dead or Alive 3” was released, it definitely broke new ground with the multiple level within a level scenery and with “Dead or Alive 4”, while the scenes looked amazingly beautiful on the XBOX 360, for me, the stages were very good and improved in graphics tremendously. But with “Dead or Alive 5”, I love how different the interactive arena’s were. Some levels could take a good amount of beating or certain move to really knock someone out to another level. Nothing is too easy, you need to learn those stages where as previous games, you pretty much knew that if you can sidestep and knock a character to a certain direction, they were going to fall.

But this time around, you really need to figure out the arenas and how to take advantage of the surrounds. But overall, I love the detail of the stages and how the lighting effects were done. I felt the arena’s in tandem with the beautiful character designs really made “Dead or Alive 5” such a visually stunning game.

And as the game is visually stunning and gameplay is the best so far in a DOA game, for those who did care about the story of the series, Team Ninja, went all out in crafting a storyline that is much more easier to understand and makes sense than prior games.

To tell you the truth, past “Dead or Alive” games were getting near “King of Fighters” status in terms of storyline forgetfulness. But this time around, because of how the story mode was presented, you know what is going down with each character. And there are some twists and turns in the storyline that make you wonder who is truly “dead or alive”.

And for those critics who say the game is not a big step from “Dead or Alive 4”, that surprises me because “Dead or Alive 5” improves in every category from it’s fighting mechanics, graphics and overall gameplay. I have to say that the fighting experience this time around compared to the last game is quite significant. I simply love this game!

Sure, If I had to be the most pickiest fighting gamer and what I wished was included in “Dead or Alive 5”, more characters and customization. “Dead or Alive 5” does have many characters at 25 including the added “Virtua Fighter” characters but in terms of original characters, there are only two, Rig and Mila (excluding Alpha-152). For a newer game, you tend to expect anywhere between four to six new characters. But once again, that’s me being nitpicky.

And in this day and age of modern fighting video games, customization is becoming a necessity for many gamers. “Virtua Fighter” has been able to achieve part of its efficacy through it’s engaging faux tournament battles but also the game’s ability to purchase items and utilize these items to customize and change the appearance of your character. And other fighting games started to incorporate that element. “Dead or Alive 5” would be one game, because of its many characters, that would have been perfect for item customization for its characters and also the ability to change a character’s appearance. I do feel that if “Dead or Alive 5” incorporated that element, it would have made this game close to being perfect!

Overall, “Dead or Alive 5” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far!

It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5” is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before.

“Dead or Alive 5” is recommended!

Nintendo DS Video Game Review: Love Plus (ラブプラス)

 

“Love Plus” is a fantastic game and definitely much more than I was expecting. Delightful, hilarious and just a fun game! Of all the dating simulators I have played from Japan, this one has to be the most enjoyable one yet.So, if you want to experience “Love Plus”, definitely give this game a chance!

TITLE: Love Plus

PUBLISHED BY: KONAMI

CONSOLE: Nintendo DS

RELEASE DATE: 2006

You may have heard of “Love Plus”, possibly one of the most popular Japanese video games to come from Japan in the last three years and people who are spending hardcore money because of the popularity of its characters.

“Love Plus” is a dating simulator created by Konami and was released on the Nintendo DS back in Sept. 2009. What followed was a “Love Plus” manga featured on five different Kodansha magazines. In June 2010, “Love Plus +”, an upgrade version of the game was released and since then, there have been soundtracks, artbooks, electronic chargers, DSi case protectors, an iPhone and iPad app and now a Nintendo 3DS version coming out soon.

And needless to say, I’m sure many of us were intrigued (or bothered) by an otaku who had a wedding ceremony as he married a character from his Nintendo DS. Or the guys who create birthday cakes for a character on her birthday or those who take their characters out for lunch or dinner. Strange as it may be… the game is quite popular not just in Japan but many people around the world are giving “Love Plus” a try.

As for me, I actually became interested in “Love Plus” right after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan as I was reporting news from Japan and noticed several tech-ies and otaku were utilizing the Love Plus electronic chargers which I recently wrote about and the first thing I did was purchase the first “Love Plus” game for the Nintendo DS and see if it was to my liking.

When it comes to video game dating sims, I do have familiarity with them as I have played “Tokimeki Memorial” for the old PSX and also enjoy the elements that were featured in various video games. But suffice to say, I wanted to experience “Love Plus” to see why people are going ga ga over this game.

GAMEPLAY:

“Love Plus” is a game that is about you, a second year high school student who just transferred to Towano High School. After you name your character, enter your birthday and blood type, you then set the voice system which the female characters you meet can actually say your name. It’s important to note that the characters can’t just say any game, so you want to use this as a guide of what names can be used. I used my usual online gaming name ケネデイ アミス and because the game could only recognize so many names, I ended up selecting Ken (short for “Kennedy”) and “Ami” (short for Amith).

As a new student, you join the library committee, the tennis club and take up a part-time job at a family restaurant and you will meet three female students named Manaka Takane, Rinko Kobayakawa and Nene Anegasaki.

There are two story arcs to “Love Plus”. The first storyline is that you have 100 days to get one of these girls to become your girlfriend. The second storyline is what you are going to do with this girl, after she becomes your girlfriend and if you can maintain that relationship and make her happy. Suffice to say, the first part is a bit easy, while the second part does take a little more effort.

STORY ARC 1:

Everyday, you will have to plan out what you are going to do in the morning, noon, afternoon and at night. By the classes you take, the selections you make (ie. go to club committee meeting, going to work part-time at a restaurant, going to a tennis club meeting etc.) will increase certain levels in your stats. BLUE indicates fitness, GREEN indicates intelligence, SENSE indicates ORANGE and PURPLE charm. So, for example, if you start your morning off going to science class, you will notice an increase in INTELLIGENGE. Go to Arts and you will notice an increase in CHARM, go to P.E. and you’ll notice an increase in FITNESS. And over the course of time, you will see how these characters start to warm up to you.

I highly recommend using this guide as a good way to know of which class and extra-curricular activities can help your character get the girl you want.

First, let’s discuss the characters:

Manaka Takane

Manaka Takane is a second year student and a tennis athlete at Towana High School. She is also very smart. She’s a bit shy and always kind but she also tends to worry about her tennis match. She is also known as “Takane no Hana” (because she’s so perfect, guys feel they don’t have a chance) and she loves making pastries and playing the piano.

So, you know that she will be interested in a guy with a high interest in FITNESS and INTELLIGENCE. So, you want to focus on classes and extracurricular activities that relate to that.

Rinko Kobayakawa

Rinko is a tough girl. She is a freshman but a senior library committee member and can always be seen listening to punk music on her digital audio player. She loves fighting video games, music and Calbee chips.

Part of the reason why she is tough is because her father has remarried and she has a new mother and younger brother. She feels that she is unwanted from her home and that no one cares about her. She is always seen out at night because she doesn’t want to come home to a family that doesn’t want her there.

Rinko is interested in a guy with a high interest in SENSE, INTELLIGENCE and a little FITNESS. So, you want to focus on classes and extracurricular activities that relate to that. Primarily focusing on SENSE.

Nene Anegasaki

Nene is a third year high school student and works part-time as a waitress at the family restaurant Dixies. Nene is like the big sister for everyone when they need someone to talk to for advice. She enjoys cleaning around the house, watching horror films and eating Lozenge mints.

She is very calm and active and thus you want to make sure you take part in activities to CHARM her. Because she works often, you know you can find her at Dixies but also find her at night out and about.

Everyday, as you attend classes and partake in various activities, you get to have conversations with these young women. And judging by your choices, will determine if they will get closer to you or not. Gameplay for the first story arc is actually quite easy because most of the time, you are saying hello (with three or four version to say hello), trying to be supportive and joining them in conversations or just listening to them. If you can’t read or understand Japanese, a rule of thumb is to stay with the top 2 choices and you will be fine.

STORY ARC 2:

After you have one of the girls become your girlfriend, the next thing is maintaining the relationship. This is where things get a bit complicated because now, it requires you to set the time on your DS and making sure you meet your girlfriend on dates at that day and time. You are given two choices: Real Time Mode (this will match your DS clock) and Skip Mode (one day in the game is a few minutes in real time). The main difference though is that if you use Real Time Mode, you get to celebrate birthdays, holidays, school breaks. Also, you get to have more dream events.

So, in a way, it’s better to do Real Time Mode but the question to ask yourself is how much time can you put towards this game? Do you want the real experience? Or are you a busy person who can only play from time-to-time and not daily or at certain hours. It all depends on you?

In the second story arc, now everything is opened other than just your daily activity and e-mail. This time, you have a cell phone to call your girlfriend, you need to schedule a date and making sure you use a calendar to plan that date, selecting locations of where to take your date, selecting a time and doing research on the Internet via your computer.

While Real Time Mode allows you to live life daily on “Love Plus”, Skip Mode goes quickly and you can date your girlfriend as any times as you want to gain more affection and unlock costumes for her to wear.

And although my Japanese is OK, what helped me through the second story arc is using the following guide. I highly recommend it if your Japanese is not that good or you can’t read or understand Japanese at all!

CONTROLS:

Controls are very easy to select using the direction pad and clicking on the response via your stylus or finger. There are also times where you need to speak in the mic, well for Rinko this was the case. There was one point where the girl you like (before she becomes your girlfriend) needs to hear that you love her. So, prepare to say the following word in the mic a few times, nice and clearly…Aishiteru (I love you) or for Manaka, you will have to say “Zettai Uwagi wa Shimasen” (I will never cheat on you).

But once you get to the second story arc, this is where the stylus starts to come in play because you need to learn how to be a good boyfriend and kiss your girlfriend correctly and know what she likes (ie. feeling her cheek, touching her hair, etc.). I remember when I was with Rinko and the hand icon to “touch” came on. and I kept touching her shoulder, her hands and she was getting pissed off. It appears that there is an order of what the character likes to be touched.

Your girlfriend will be more vocal if she doesn’t like it and you will see indicators with pink hearts being good, green as OK and blue being bad. Don’t worry, you’ll get some practice time to see what she likes and doesn’t like early in the game (for the second arc).

GRAPHICS:

Graphics are good for what to expect on the DS. As most sims that I played tend to feature more of anime-like animation or stills, this one is animated via CG and there are mannerisms. Also, I like the various locations you can visit throughout the game such as going to a shopping area, cafe, conbini (convenience store), etc.

AUDIO:

Audio is very good. Good amount of spoken dialogue, crowd ambiance and the audio is utilized very well for this game! But where “Love Plus” excels is its voice acting by Saori Hayami (Manaka) known for her voice as Saki in “Eden of the East”, Wako in “Star Driver” and Lei-Lei/Hsien-Ko in “Marvel vs. Capcom 3”; Sakura Tange (Rinko) who is known for her voicework as Sakura in “Cardcaptor Sakura”, Kasumi in “Dead or Alive”; and Yuuko Minaguchi (Nene) known for her voice as Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) in “Sailor Moon S”, Tifa Lockhart in “Ergheiz” and many other video games/anime series.

The voice acting was delightful and fantastic!

IS IT USER-FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE READING PLAYERS

While I do feel this game, especially the first arc would be easy for non-Japanese reading players, the good news is that there are translations out there created by fans of the game on the Internet. I’m not fluent and my Japanese has waned a bit since my college years where I spoke and read Japanese quite a bit but I noticed that it does help to know the storyline, especially to enjoy the humor and the emotional parts of the game. But again, there are translations up online and I believe that anyone who wants to experience “Love Plus” can do so.

I began playing “Love Plus” and thinking “How will this be different than any other sim game?” and for starters, this is not some ecchi/hentai dating simulator, nor is it a sim that tries to focus on sex or fan service. It’s a dating simulator that seems genuine in that your character really works at trying to get close to these characters and winning their heart.

During my second playthrough (the first time was going for Manaka), I decided to go for Rinko. Knowing about her tough exterior, I was slowly trying to win her affection but you realize that this girl had quite a bit of personal problems back home and to see her get a phone call and get so upset and leaving, while you search for her and catch her crying. That was a surprise for me… You don’t really see these emotional moments in a dating simulator in this manner.

But what won me over with “Love Plus” was during your dream sequence and I’m not going to give it away but it was one of the most delightful things I have ever seen in a game where Rinko is your wife, and you have to head off to work and the things that she does to stop you from going to work and wanting to hear how much you love her was hilarious!

I really enjoyed this game and its a shame that Konami has no interest in releasing this game outside of Japan but you can find this game, especially for this first game, pretty cheap on eBay. Bare in mind, that there are special edition DSi package releases (which are sold for over $500 online but fans have bought them regardless of the price) and there is an enhanced version for the Nintendo DS titled “Love Plus +” which adds more scenery, dating areas but unfortunately, unlike the first game that has translations online, fans may not be able find that much material on “Love Plus +”.

And as mentioned, there is a Nintendo 3DS version coming out but it’s important to remind everyone that the Nintendo 3DS is region-blocked and while it depends on the publisher to make the game region-blocked, it is not known if the game will work on a non-Japanese Nintendo 3DS. So, for now the first two DS games will work on the various DS portable consoles.

Overall, “Love Plus” is a fantastic game and definitely much more than I was expecting. Delightful, hilarious and just a fun game! Of all the dating simulators I have played from Japan, this one has to be the most enjoyable one yet.

So, if you want to experience “Love Plus”, definitely give this game a chance!

Highly recommended!