Unboxing and Giving Away the Gorgeous Cupid Parasite LE Set

It’s a grand time to be an otome game fan with the recent slew of releases we’ve been having this year, and we have more on the way, which is definitely cause for celebration. 🎉 Following the long break after releasing Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms, our friends at Idea Factory International understood the assignment and has delivered to us the wonderful game that is Cupid Parasite for all of us to partake and enjoy!

What’s Cupid Parasite about? Don’t worry, I’ve got the deets for you:

In the heart of Los York, a glitzy, trendsetting metropolis that sits on the cutting edge of culture and couture, one daring marriage agency stands apart from the rest in success rate and in style. The Cupid Corporation.


As Cupid Corp’s top bridal advisor, our heroine consults the city’s most in-vogue singles to make their wildest romantic dreams come true. But she has one secret which she can never share. Her true identity is Cupid, a descendant from Celestia sent here on a heavenly mission.

INT. SCENE. 5 A.M. Cupid Corp’s president’s personal office:
Get these five people married. Do that, and the promotion is yours. You’re the Cupid of Cupid Corp, are you not? Our top bridal advisor. I trust this is within your ability?

Only this time, our heroine has been tasked with her biggest challenge yet: handling the matchmaking, and this the fates, of the infamous Parasite 5. After a series of unimpressive interviews and workshops, they concoct the perfect plan. Parasite House, a shared home created for reality TV centered around the lives of the Parasite 5 and their romantic exploits.

Leading these hopeless men to marital bliss proves to be a Herculean task even for great Cupid herself! Can she live up to her name and keep her identity a secret at the same time?! Find out in the most divinely unpredictable romantic comedy of the millennium! ❤

Two cuties!

Can confirm: this game really does bring in the laughs with the outrageous bunch that are the Parasite 5! And sure, the guys looks incredibly handsome, but all the women in the game? My GOD. They’re all gorgeous! 😍 10/10 would kiss! You can find out more of my thoughts on the game by watching what I’ve played so far on my Twitch channel.

While I’ve been enjoying what I’ve seen from the game, my pals at Idea Factory International sent me the gorgeous and colorful Cupid Parasite Limited Edition set for me to unbox and show off for y’all to see:

The set is so colorful and vibrant!

Here are the set’s contents:

  • Nintendo Switch Game (with reversible cover)
  • Collector’s Box
  • Steel Game Case
  • “The Parasite’s Guide to Los York” Hardcover Art Book
  • Keychain Set
  • “Radio Lost York Presents: Pillow Talk”
  • Exclusive Trading card

The best thing about the Pillow Talk drama CD? It comes with the translations via an exclusive link that you get with the CD. We’re being fed so well! If you want more cool releases like this to happen, get your very own copy of the beautifully vibrant Cupid Parasite Limited Set today!

While this guy looks incredibly intelligent and capable, he’s dumb as rocks when it comes to love!

“But Elly,” you may ask, “what if I don’t have the money to get this set?” Worry not, my dear reader, for I have the solution to this problem.

And that solution is… none other than a GIVEAWAY! Yes, that’s right, the cool folks at Idea Factory International sent me an extra Cupid Parasite Limited Edition Set to be given away, so now you’ve got a chance to win your very own copy! If you want to try your luck, click the link below to enter the giveaway:

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

The only caveat: US ONLY, PLEASE! 🙏 [GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED. Congratulations to our winner, Shelby K.! Thank you for entering!] Shipping stuff overseas is pricey, and I’m assuming even slower than it’s been due to the pandemic making everything delayed. Good luck!

Wow, indeed!

Many thanks to the amazing crew over at Idea Factory International for making this giveaway possible! Don’t forget to follow them on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube to keep updated on their latest release and events.

Until next time! ✨

Who are you looking forward to romancing? Do you also want to slap Ryuki and Allan? Let me know down in the comments!

I’m Going Ape Over Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania’s Roster

Tune in for monkey business 🍌

Gather around y’all, it’s time for experience some marvelous monkey magic in the upcoming Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania! And it’s indeed magical because this release is the HD remaster of not only the first Super Monkey Ball, but also Super Monkey Ball 2 AND Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. With this year being the 20th anniversary of the Super Monkey Ball series, it’s the perfect time for some monkey mayhem!

If you’ve yet to experience the world of Super Monkey Ball and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s what SEGA has to say about this upcoming title:

Roll through wondrous worlds with AiAi and friends as you race to stop monkey mad scientist Dr. Bad-Boon from blowing up Jungle Island! Join the all-star monkey team of AiAi, MeeMee, GonGon, Baby, YanYan and Doctor as you bounce, tilt, and roll your way across hundreds of delightfully crafted levels and mazes. It’s monkey business for the gang – play solo or with friends as you take down Dr. Bad-Boon and steal back your beloved bananas!

• Experience more than 300 stages from Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2 and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe.

• Go Bananas with 12 fun minigames including Monkey Racing, Monkey Soccer, Monkey Bowling, Monkey Baseball and much more!

• Challenge your friends as you compete for top monkey on the online leaderboards!

• Customize your character and Super Monkey Ball to make it your own!

• Immerse yourself in the Super Monkey Ball world with creative comic book-style story telling in Story Mode.

The Super Monkey Ball games are pretty easy to pick up with the simple objective of rolling to the goal as fast as possible, while collecting as many bananas you can grab. That being said, as you move on from stage to stage, the difficulty REALLY ramps up, giving you a bigger and wilder challenge than the previous one. Also, get ready to fight your friends in the multiplayer mode, because things will probably get real heated!

But enough about why you should pick up this game, there’s something real important to discuss here. It’s time to address the monkey in the room.

I’m getting increasingly more and MORE hype for this game to be released due to their character reveal trailers.

Yes, you read right: CHARACTER REVEAL TRAILERS. Why does this feel like an unveiling for a fighting game with each reveal they do?! What is going on here?!

Ah, of course Sonic would be included as a guest character, that makes sense. But what makes this especially appealing is that he’s not the only one joining in to do some monkey business—Tails is also here, which is sure to make a lot of fans happy! To wrap up this guest appearance in a nice package, instead of collecting bananas, you’ll be speeding through the stages to collect as many rings as you can. The neat thing here is that you’ll be able to unlock the Blue Blur and his two-tailed sidekick while playing through the game; it won’t be a paid DLC sort of deal.

Wonder who else they’re going to include in the game…

Woah, a nod to Jet Set Radio?! Okay, did not expect to see this at all! Beat joins the gang as he skates through the stages, collecting spray paint cans (how cute are those?!). I sure hope there’ll be some of the music we all know and love playable in this game, so we can jam out while skating our way to sweet victory. Just like Sonic and Tails, Beat will be unlockable through normal gameplay.

Okay, so we had someone we didn’t expect, who could be next…?

I…

I’m sweating, I’m not gonna lie here. Just look at him. Look at him collect those Staminan X bottles. Look at those tiny little legs. Look at him go. OhmyGOD.

Kazuma Kiryu is in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. This isn’t a fever dream, it’s REAL. Alright, so this was the feeling I was talking about earlier when I said that this really feels like a fighting game character reveal, with each announcement being MORE out there than the last one! As soon as this was announced, I thought of the time I got to interview Masao Shirosaki and I asked him about the possibility of adding some of the Yakuza characters in a future Super Monkey Ball game:

Read the rest of the interview here!

I wonder if this was planned from even back then! But wait, why not also add Majima?! Sonic will be in the game with Tails, so where’s Majima? Alright, alright, I’m already being treated to a good time with this game, given that Kiryu’s gonna be in it, so I won’t be too greedy… for NOW. Oh yeah, Kiryu will also be an unlockable character in the game. He’ll be the first one I’ll choose to unlock, that’s for sure!

Alright, there’s a lot of SEGA love going on with these character reveals. Who’s gonna be next?

There’s that ATLUS representation I was expecting! Morgana makes his entrance to loot treasure chests in the world of Super Monkey Ball!

Look at those leggies!

I can’t stop looking at Morgana’s running animation as he stares into space.

Unlike the previous characters revealed, this is where the paid DLC characters come in. Morgana will be available on November 2nd for $4.99. Will Morgana tell us to go to sleep when a stage is finished? Please, NO.

Okay, this being the first DLC character, there has to be more SEGA or ATLUS characters they can put in the game, right?

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE???

How does Hello Kitty even fit into all of this?! Is it because the Yakuza 0 actor for Awano once gently cradled a giant Hello Kitty plush in his arms? You know what? I’m not even gonna question it; I’m going to EMBRACE IT. After all, I’ve loved Hello Kitty and Sanrio since I was a kid, so I totally WELCOME the iconic QUEEN that is Hello Kitty. She’s also going to be one of the DLC characters, but she’ll be available when the game launches on October 5th for the price of $4.99.

Okay, at this point, I don’t know what else SEGA is going to throw our way. I just can’t seem to figure it out anymore. Will the next character be just as surprising as freakin’ HELLO KITTY???

Apparently the answer is a big “YES!

I would’ve never thought that Suezo from Monster Rancher would be making their appearance in this game! And they collect little CDs too instead of the bananas! Must part of Monster Rancher‘s 25th anniversary celebration, which by the way, did you know we’re getting re-releases of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX this December? What a wild time for gaming, huh? Anyway, Suezo will be another DLC character available on October 19th for the price of $4.99.

You know, I thought there would be a bit more SEGA representation with the guest characters. Surely, there will be more SEGA-related characters making their way in, right?

…Well, I mean, I guess I wasn’t wrong! But I didn’t think it would be like THIS!

Now you too can be legendary, when you play as the systems loved by the whole world over: the Game Gear, the SEGA Saturn and the Dreamcast. I will say, though, that not having the systems move while in the ball is kiiinda lazy? Or at least have the SEGA Saturn and Dreamcast open their disc trays when they reach the goal. Or have the Game Gear collect batteries. This DLC set is humorous, but it could’ve been even MORE humorous, you know? That being said, this trio will be available on October 5th for the price of $4.99.

There’s still a bit before Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania releases, so who even knows if more characters will be announced? As you can expect, I’ve got a few suggestions of my own for future DLC guest characters (besides Majima, of course).

We’re already getting to play as the SEGA Saturn, so why not put the legend himself in the game? Just imagine: Segata Sanshiro could be running around collecting SEGA Saturns while the theme beloved by all plays in the background. It would be AMAZING!

But let’s think of a character that might actually be a possibility, so here’s one who’s been on folks’ minds since the character reveal trailers began to drop:

Hatsune Miku being in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania would be a no-brainer. She would be an excellent addition to helping celebrate Monkey Ball‘s anniversary as she runs collecting leeks from stage to stage! With who’s been announced so far, I have a gut feeling that Miku might be in the game as well. I just hope I’m right, fingers crossed!

Whether SEGA announces more characters or not, I’m definitely looking to pick up a copy of Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. The game’s gonna be ridiculously fun, and I’m very much looking forward to playing it on my Switch! If you’re looking for a fun monkey magic time, you can get Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania on the following systems:

Keep up with all the monkey madness by following the official Super Monkey Ball social channels over at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch.

Until next time! ✨

Are you going to be picking up Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania? Who do think will be announced next? Who do you want to be in the game? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article, and you want to see more cool stuff like this come to life, consider supporting my Patreon. I have a lot of cool stuff planned, and I would love to make it a reality with your help!

Make Your Wishes Come True in the New Tears of Themis Event

It’s time to beat the summer heat with a cool and sweet new event in miHoYo’s Tears of Themis! The game’s release was met with high acclaim, with 668,238 folks pre-registering to play. Not bad for miHoYo’s first ever Romance game, huh? To keep the celebrations going, the global version’s first ever event, Summer Breeze, has recently started! There’s a bunch of stuff you can earn that will definitely help out your starting deck if you haven’t downloaded and played Tears of Themis yet (get a move with that, will ya?!).

Summer Breeze

Sure, getting all sorts of items and materials to level up your cards and beef up your deck sounds great, but that’s not all you’re here for, right? It’s all about that shiny new event-exclusive card you can get, featuring everyone’s favorite handsome rich brat, Marius! And along with that, you can get a chance to have a special Invitation of the guy of your choice. More on that later!

As you complete tasks in the event, and even doing non-event exclusive tasks like spending your AP, you’ll gain special experience points that will go towards your event level. What you earn all depends on that level, so if you want to get all of the event goodies, make sure to complete all of the tasks! As with any mobile game, there is MORE you can get if you spend a bit of cash…

If you choose to fork over the $14.99, you not only get 1,000 EXP, but you also get 3 Tears of Themis and access to more and better prizes as you increase your event level.

I Want to Play a Game

While you can get the EXP from various tasks while the event is going on, the best way to earn the points is to play in the special event itself! The event is styled in an adorable board game fashion, where the objective is to make as many rounds as possible on the board to raise the level of the wishing tree during the festival, and as you guessed, the higher leveled it is, you reap more rewards. Each cell you land on will do different things:

  • Wealth Cell: Earn a random number of Wishing Coins
  • Supply Cell: Earn one extra die
  • Gift Cell: Earn random materials
  • Multiplier Cell: Activate a random multiplier for a set amount of steps
  • Luck Cell: Free item from the wish list
  • Job Cell: Initiates job to be completed; complete it within the listed rounds to get a prize
  • Riddle Cell: Answer a question to get a prize

‘Round and ‘Round You Go

You move to each cell by rolling the dice, and you can change who accompanies the MC at any time, which I highly suggest you do, because of the different reactions to any jobs you end up taking! Along with their reactions, you’ll get some humorous and heartwarming conversations as you keep going around the game board.

If you thought you were only be going for a nice stroll in the city without any debating, you thought WRONG. Festival employees and impostors lie in wait for you to debate with. Rewards earned through these debates depend on the damage dealt, so if you’ve got a real good deck, expect a nice payout! Along the way you might also encounter the fabled Odd Grandpa (yes, that’s what he goes by). Answer Grandpa’s odd question, and you can get a rare item or a debate buff for future battles on the game board. Be kind to Odd Grandpa, okay?

Make Your Choice

Keep a memento of your time at the festival by getting an Invitation of your fave guy in super-cute chibi form to adorn your main menu with! While you can get the chance to earn one Invitation by completing the event, you’ll only get… ONE. So, if you’re like me and really like more than one character, you might be considering spending a little bit to nab that extra Invitation while the event is going on. Prices start at $9.99 for one invitation, $17.99 for two, $23.99 for three, and $29.99 for the full set of four.

¡Qué Dulce!

The Invitations change the music and the background of your main menu screen, and it also shows up on the banner of your player profile. It’s also interactive; tap the screen and the characters will do a little something for you! 💖 Here’s an example of Luke’s Invitation. It’s just too adorable for words, y’all!

Dazzling Summer

And finally, what you have been waiting for… the special summer gacha cards! If you have the cash, this is where you’ll likely spend it, because these cards are so incredibly GORGEOUS.

Don’t believe me? Take a look below for yourself!

I still can’t get over how pretty the art is in this game. 😍

The Summer Breeze event is going on for 14 more days, so if you’re just now downloading Tears of Themis, there’s plenty of time to join in the festivities! Download the game today on Google Play or on the App Store. And if you want to keep updated with the latest Tears of Themis news, make sure to follow their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Don’t forget to join their Discord server too; they tend to do giveaways on there, so don’t miss out!

Until next time! ✨

Have you been playing Tears of Themis? Which event card are you aiming to get? Let me know down in the comments!

Omake:

Some the riddles you’ll have to answer at the event are a bit too much.

Can I get uuuuhhhhhhhhh… borger. 🍔

If you enjoyed this article, and you want to see more cool stuff like this come to life, consider supporting my Patreon. I have a lot of cool stuff planned, and I would love to make it a reality with your help!

7 Reasons Why You Should Check Out Tears of Themis

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The mobile otome gaming world is about to get a serious shake-up this week that will delight many otome game fans. Why is that? My dear reader, let me enlighten you with what will grace our mobile devices this Thursday. miHoYo, the famed developer behind big hits such as Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact, will be releasing the international version of Tears of Themis, the studio’s first Romance game with a detective twist!

Here’s Tears of Themis‘ game synopsis:

 

Stellis, a city that rose from the clash of civilizations.

Modern tech has given it its radiant neon lights but also cast long shadows of obscurity. Lately, there has been an abnormal increase in the number of mental illness cases as well as incidents that threaten Stellis’ social security.
Many gentle and good people of Stellis have somehow grown violent and volatile.

These incidents may have been recorded, but they are often drowned out in a flood of data.
Yet someone took notice of them and compiled them for detailed analysis…

Codenamed “X-NOTE”, the project aims to peel away layers of obscuring data and reveal the hidden truth beneath.

When all is put on the scales of the law before Lady Justice, you will be the one to weigh their crimes in the balance.

 

Given miHoYo’s track record, this game is bound to not only look amazing, but be incredibly addicting as well, right? I’m happy to report that it’s indeed the case! I was lucky enough to play in the game’s beta period to check out what it was all about. And my dear readers, it’s very much worth your time to play Tears of Themis. In fact, I’ll give you 7 reasons that will surely convince you to check the game out on its release day.

 

It’s Ace Attorney Otome


That’s right, I said it. I didn’t stutter. Tears of Themis is basically Ace Attorney… but make it otome. Interesting characters that make you want to find out more about them? Check. Addictive stories that keeps you playing? Check. Investigative scenes that reveals the truth to be used in action-packed trials? Check. Handsome guys that do things that makes your heart beat a bit faster and blush? CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!!

In the game, you will take the role of a junior attorney at the Themis Law Firm and work with their gorgeous companions as you solve cases that take place in Stellis City together. You will get to investigate crime scenes and question witnesses and suspects to obtain clues and testimonies for use in court. Prove the innocence of your client and triumph in the name of justice!

The Art Is GORGEOUS


And when I say “GORGEOUS,” I’m not kidding around! 😍 I mean, just look at how pretty Luke is as he tinkers away fixing stuff. Wow! Folks already know that miHoYo’s animation shines in their other titles, so you can expect to see more quality work through their Live 2D animation. And even if there was no Live 2D animation, the art alone already is captivating enough! I would easily buy an artbook of this bewitching art, and even merch featuring the guys as well!

Everyone say a big “THANK YOU” to the Genshin whales who opened up their wallets for their waifus and husbandos to help make this game so insanely pretty. They’re the real MVPs here!

The Main Cast ALL Look HOT


HELP! They’re ALL insanely HOT! 🔥💦

You know how in every game, as you play, there’s this ONE character that captures your heart and is your absolute favorite? Y’know, the very moment you pick your husbando or waifu. Well, I think this might be the only time where I’m seriously having trouble picking a favorite guy… because not only are they all incredibly good looking, but they are all such intriguing characters that have all captivated me in their own unique way. I don’t think there’s been another game that’s done this to me. So if you’re going to ask me who my fave is, don’t expect an answer. Or maybe expect me to say “all of the above!” And that’s including the very pretty MC.

Speaking of the MC…

The MC Takes No Shit


She is beauty, she is grace, she will lawyer off your face!

Tears of Themis‘ MC is captivating in a lot of different ways. Her desire to protect the city of Stellis and its citizens with her skills is admirable. Sure, she’s only a junior attorney working her way up, but she’s definitely not to be underestimated. She’ll leave no stone unturned when looking for info to aid her client to victory. She’s not one to be trifled with! The way she puts the main guys in their place when they happen to overstep their boundaries is POWERFUL. She’s also a kind, empathetic and friendly person to those around her. And on top of that, she’s very beautiful! I’d date her for sure! 💕

The Voice Acting Is Top-Notch


On top of Tears of Themis being an entertaining eye candy of a game, it features an all-star voice actor cast for the main guys. ✨

Japanese Voice Actors

Luke Pearce CV: Kaji Yuki

Artem Wing CV: Suwabe Yunichi

Vyn Richter CV: Fukuyama Jun

Marius von Hagen CV: Ishikawa Kaito

Chinese Voice Actors

Luke Pearce CV: Titus Jin

Artem Wing CV: Zhao Lu

Vyn Richter CV: Jiang Guangtao

Marius von Hagen CV: Yang Tianxiang

Korean Voice Actors

Luke Pearce CV: Kim Jiyul

Artem Wing CV: Jang Minhyuck

Vyn Richter CV: Min Seungwoo

Marius von Hagen CV: Han Shin

I know most folks will focus on the Japanese cast more, but don’t go ignoring the other voice options, because they’re quite amazing! When I played the Tears of Themis beta, I chose to play with the voices being in Chinese, and those voices suited the characters so well; I was smitten! I ended up keeping it on the Chinese voices for the remainder of the beta.

There’s Plenty of Activities to Do


Sure, you could just go through the main story of the game, but that’s not the only story to experience. There’s other stuff you can do in the game to help keep things fresh.

You can practice your debating skills before defending your client in court to earn some leveling rewards for your cards, plus it also serves to test out whatever new teams you put together to see if they’re effective. Additionally, there’s another mode called Trials of Themis, which is a cute looking pixelated style mode to serve as a simulation for the bar exam, so you can expect more debate battles as you earn resources and power-ups to face the big bad boss at the end of it.

As you level up certain cards, you’ll unlock stories related to those cards to read. You could witness Marius being a model in a photoshoot, or go on a date with Artem in a haunted house, or have Vyn teach you the basics of pottery, or try your hand at paintball with Luke! Reading those stories will increase the affection level for the chosen character, which in turn will unlock even more personal stories to check out. 👀

And speaking of raising affection levels…

You Can TOUCH the Guys


Yes, you read that right: YOU CAN TOUCH THE GUYS. And guess what? Touching them, raises their affection level. Simply amazing, right? Ah, but don’t get too excited; it seems you’re only limited to 1000 affection points daily for all the guys. So you’re going to have to keep visiting them and… wait, maybe that’s a reason to be excited! Along with that, you can also play minigames with the guys, like rock-paper-scissors and Old Maid. Their reactions while playing these minigames are so dang CUTE, so make sure to get a game or so in while visiting!

Have I convinced you to try out Tears of Themis yet? I sure hope so! I haven’t been this excited for an otome mobile game since Mystic Messenger. And that game kept me hooked for a very long time, which is something I’m sure Tears of Themis will also accomplish.

Tears of Themis will have its global release this Thursday, July 29th. So what are you waiting for? Get ready for its release and pre-register today to claim some in-game goodies when it’s live! And if you want to keep updated with the latest Tears of Themis news, make sure to follow their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Don’t forget to join their Discord server too!

Until next time! ✨

Will you be playing Tears of Themis this Thursday? Which character is most interesting to you? Do you have a new husbando in the horizon? Let me know in the comments!

Omake:

Here’s a little Artem to keep you motivated today! 😊

Striving for Perfection in Guilty Gear -Strive-

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It’s no secret that Guilty Gear is one of my favorite fighting game series, and watching the series grow and evolve throughout the years I’ve played the games has been a delight. As I mentioned in my review of the beta, I found a lot of my friends through playing fighting games, and Guilty Gear was a HUGE part of that. The landscape of games, both fighting and otherwise, has changed dramatically since the first time I played a Guilty Gear game, and Guilty Gear -Strive-, arriving on the scene in the awkward point of time in which many players are neither entirely on the PS4 or PS5, comes at a time when games in general are facing a new shift. It’s been a year since any major fighting game tournament or event, meaning that fighting games are being played solely locally with people in one’s small social bubbles, or rely on netplay to get any life. In the span of the 2019-2021 timeline, this has led to frankly a lot of good fighting games getting totally forgotten or buried by netcode and low interest; turns out, big events drive a lot of players to a game.

 

So where does that leave Guilty Gear -Strive-? Well, that question might depend on how you appreciate Guilty Gear’s unique brand of fighting game, and that includes the way it approaches being a “complete” game at launch.

 

Story Mode_1-sm

 

Strive picks up, quite literally, from where the last game leaves off narratively. Gameplay wise, though, there are a few changes, the most notable being the somewhat slim character roster at launch, although there are promises of upcoming DLC characters following the game’s release, so it’s possible that the game will develop to a far more robust roster than what is available at launch (which is great, because the story mode hints at numerous characters who look like they’d be an absolute blast to play as!). But one of the more odd parts of reviewing this title was the roadmap to the release of the game; much of this review is being compiled after a few final hours with the game, as much of the game is not actually on ‘disc’, but instead part of updates patched into the game.

 

This update structure is sort of odd for the release of a game, although most players at launch won’t know the difference, as players who buy the game will have access to the most up to date version of the game so far. Patching games, particularly fighting games, isn’t really anything new either, but it’s somewhat new to me, in the sense of reviewing a game, to find out that 95% of the story mode isn’t actually available without an update, or that fairly large changes to gameplay balance are not what I spent much of my time playing. In this case, Strive is a challenge to review, because, for example, air dashing in what I spent most of my time with is totally different to how it is now in “release” form (for the better, I assure you), but that makes me feel….Bad? Because it sort of implies that the playtesting I did for this review is speculative at best, and useless at worst.

 

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Strive’s launch roster is Sol, Ky, Axel, Zato-1, Milia, Faust, May, Potemkin, Ramlethal, Chipp, Leo Whitefang, Giovanna, Nagoriyuki, Anji, and I-No. In my review of the Beta, I mentioned that I was pretty happy with this roster, as it showed a depth of playstyles and the unique ways in which Guilty Gear characters play, ensuring that the characters you have to pick from are all visually and mechanically distinct. My opinion on that is still pretty much unchanged, but I will say that the roster feels very small and somewhat incomplete compared to other Guilty Gear titles. Perhaps due to the focus on narrative in the newest installments of Guilty Gear, the roster of main characters stays mostly static, but gone are some of the new, more inventive characters that made their mark on Xrd. That being said, this is roughly the same amount of characters as Xrd at launch, and it seems like the DLC roadmap is setting up to follow a similar development pattern to Xrd, where new characters are introduced as the game matures.

 

Perhaps my one complaint here, though, is that this roster lacks much in the way of “new” playstyles, especially after some of the unique characters from Xrd like Raven, Kum, and Answer; instead, characters play roughly the same as they always have, but without much in the way of experimental new characters. Giovanna and Nagoriyuki stand out as interesting diversions from the returning characters, but otherwise players who are used to Guilty Gear will find that many of the characters play in similar manner to the way they’ve always played, albeit with some simplification in many cases. Strive is the most accessible Guilty Gear game so far, with each character (roughly) sharing a command pool; there are no complex, baroque commands, but instead most characters make use of QCF, DP, or half-circle inputs, sprinkled with a few instances of charge attacks here and there. Strive is easy to pick up and learn, which is great, as many of the other factors that make Guilty Gear unique (Roman Cancels, Dust attacks, etc.) are still here, urging players to focus on general mechanics and strategies rather than relying on playing characters who are “easier” to control than others.

 

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That said, balance seems to be something I found odd in Strive, which is made odder by statements by the design team about characters, such as Sol, being “stronger” than other characters simply so new players can have easier times playing the game. In my experience playing the Beta, Potemkin and Sol were far more dominant than other characters, and in the limited time I’ve had in netplay before publishing this, that still seems to be the case. I’m curious to see how that affects the overall health of the game, although I would say that Sol’s “buff” isn’t entirely overpowering, just noticeable in terms of how much damage he can dish out off very little work. Potemkin, of course, is Potemkin, meaning that if you aren’t sure of how to match up against him, you’re probably going to catch a lot of Ls.

 

Of course, balance discussions on launch day are kinda pointless, but what I will say is that for the most part I found netplay was successful about 70% of the time. The lobby system is the same as the Beta, and this tended to leave me with lots of confusing reasons as to why my matches wouldn’t start; in some instances, I was never able to get matches when I would initiate them, but would get them by joining other lobbies. Then, suddenly, it would reverse to the opposite. In game, I had some fairly great connections, and found that netplay worked really well. This was similar to my experience in the Beta, so I’m not surprised, but I do think the netplay is really solid once you get into a match, meaning that there’s a good chance of getting high quality matches frequently, and playing with friends across the internet should give consistent, high quality gameplay.

 

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In the wake of COVID-19, netplay is almost more important than other facets of a game, given that many events are still cancelled, and many players are unable to travel or go to even local events. While things are always improving, I do think the slate of recent fighting games that have had really solid netcode are starting to show the ability for fighting games to achieve high quality matches that are far closer to real life matches than ever before, and Strive is certainly up there. Interestingly, I found Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown’s recent updated online to be easier in terms of actually getting matches, but I also had slightly weaker matches (with more delay and occasional disconnects) compared to Strive. That said, my experience with Strive is limited by launch day patch accessibility, meaning that as more and more players get the game, the netcode may or may not hold up under the increased player load. Still, I believe netplay is one of Strive’s strongest qualities, and players looking to get in lots of real-time play against people online will find the game very rewarding in this regard.

 

When it comes to other modes, things get a little more complicated. Arcade mode has players fighting off against a set of enemies, with losses and wins occasionally diverting your journey along Hard, Normal, and Easy paths. This also results in different endings, meaning that someone wanting to see everything may need to actually lose certain matches on purpose, which was an interesting mechanic. Survival is also back, tasking players to survive as long as possible against increasingly difficult CPU opponents, and Training brings various modes along with it, from standard training dummy style practice to various challenges.

 

The oddest standout, though, is Story mode.

 

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Players familiar with the Xrd Story mode will know what’s coming, but for players who are new to Guilty Gear, or unfamiliar with how Xrd did things, Story mode in Strive is essentially a long animated movie, rather than a mode in which you play or control any part of the outcome. This is both natural and unnatural, as Guilty Gear has always prided itself on a deep and fairly complex lore, but it also feels awkward to again be asked to simply sit around and watch a movie that has no real bearing on the game you’re playing other than providing that back story. In many ways, the story feels even odder in the sense that you aren’t, in your own matches, really playing through what is happening in Story mode in some parallel way. In fact, Story mode features so many characters who are unplayable, but unique, that it almost feels like some sort of separate movie set in the same universe, but without most of the notable cast. If anything, the Story mode feels like a potential hint at upcoming characters, as some of the Story mode stars are really unique and interesting looking; it would be a shame if, in the long run, these characters simply existed only in Story mode and never in any gameplay capacity.

 

Story-wise, the narrative really drags in spots, and also relies on you knowing excessive amounts of Guilty Gear lore to get even moderate value out of. Overall, I think Strive‘s full story will be interesting for the lore implications, but players who never interact with story modes will likely not find themselves missing out on anything here, which is sad. There is a full glossary of characters, terms, and world building to look at if you get confused, but in all honesty it feels like a LOT of work for something that has no impact on the game itself

 

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So what is my overall impression of Guilty Gear -Strive-? Is it a must buy? If you’ve been following the Guilty Gear series from its first game, the answer is a resounding YES! But for anyone looking to get into the series for the first time… my answer’s a bit mixed. Strive doesn’t do a whole lot to get new players interested in the game’s world. Strive’s Story mode makes little sense to anyone who has never played Guilty Gear before, and there aren’t many other ways to interact with the characters, meaning that a new player’s options are to either dive into the enormous amount of encyclopedic information, or give up and just play Versus mode against friends or CPUs. I think this is perhaps the biggest downside: Strive is only going to attract people based off of friend recommendations and suggestions of playing together, but isn’t going to clearly win over new players against games like Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, Tekken 7, or Street Fighter 5, which either provide easy accessibility or pure, no frills gameplay to get started with.

 

That said, Guilty Gear -Strive- is an excellent game, one that features some of the cleanest “anime” fighting and a visually gorgeous product in motion. Replays of matches look great and dynamic, and I can only imagine how hype events playing Strive will be when the crowd gets into the matches that finally visually match up with the excitement. I think that players curious to try Guilty Gear (yes, even despite my above warning) should absolutely jump on with Strive, as the roadmap shows a consistent set of updates that should keep new content slowly trickling in and a generous lifespan to the game, meaning new players can start to learn and develop as the game grows, rather than worrying about it immediately dying out or being replaced by something else.

 

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Personally, I’m excited to dive into the world of Guilty Gear fulltime again, and I do want to see the rest of Story Mode, but I think a lot of what you’re getting with Strive is a promise, more than a finished package: the promise of more updates, of future events, of a growing scene, rather than something complete in box on arrival. The game itself is great, but the rest of the package will need time to develop and see how things grow from here, to truly know what to expect. Still, between patches and updates, a truly special game can spring out of this growing seedling, and hopefully there will be lots of excitement to come from Guilty Gear -Strive-.

 

You can get get Guilty Gear -Strive- on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Steam

Many thanks to the wonderful crew at Arc System Works for the chance to check out the game early! Keep in touch with what they’re up to by following them on TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitch

 

Until next time! ✨

 

Who’s going to be your main character on Guilty Gear -Strive-? Any of the new characters’ caught your eye? Let me know in the comments!

Better Run Home to Mama Now! Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is HERE!

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First released 14 years ago (yup, THAT long ago!), Virtua Fighter 5 was the latest entry in the storied franchise that introduced many players to 3D fighting games, as well as numerous other historic firsts that today litter the fighting game world. Virtua Fighter is perhaps one of the most historically important fighting game series, but struggled to stand out against flashier titles like Tekken and Dead or Alive, as 3D games became more and more common. Virtua Fighter, in many ways, built a strong following based on the depth of its gameplay, but tended to lack an ability to crack into being a global hit that would rival Tekken or Street Fighter when it came to competitive popularity and following. The depth and technique of Virtua Fighter was also possibly it’s biggest flaw, with publishing and development issues from SEGA not helping things.

 

Enter Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown. Celebrating SEGA’s 60th anniversary, this graphically updated version of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown harnesses the power of the Dragon Engine (that’s right, the one engine used in the Yakuza games) to deliver a damn good-looking fighting game, updating the animations of the original with stunning graphics and framerate. So, should you get Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown? Well, that question has two answers. One: If you are a Virtua Fighter fan, you already downloaded the game and you’re just reading this while it downloads, or you just woke up and saw my tweet and are now going to download the game. Two: You’ve never played a Virtua Fighter game, and you’re not sure. Well then, my friend, I think this review is for you.

 

Buckle up!

 

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If you’re new to Virtua Fighter, the game may seem almost simplistically barebones upon first glance. There’s really only 4 modes (well, 5 if you count the Training mode) of play when the game boots up: Ranked, Unranked (or Rooms), Arcade, and Offline Versus. There’s no story mode, no challenges, nothing to unlock, just pure, unadulterated combat. When the game loads, the first thing you’ll notice is that half of the menu is eaten up by a screen replaying actual ranked matches that are happening while you decide what to do. You read that correctly: the main menu contains a video player that displays actual, live ranked matches that are going on as you’re online. It’s a simple, yet beautiful, way to sell what Virtua Fighter is all about: fighting, and becoming stronger.

 

This strength is also a weakness, though. The lack of single-player, or “Easy” content, like Street Fighter and Tekken’s story mode campaigns, means that Virtua Fighter is likely going to scare off players who aren’t interested in spending the time to master the systems and characters of the game. There’s only the Training mode and Arcade mode to entertain you, but otherwise you need to find another person to play against to fully enjoy Virtua Fighter. Thankfully, Ultimate Showdown takes advantage of another update since the initial release of Virtua Fighter 5: better internet.

 

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In my time with the game, I found internet play to be smooth; even in times when I thought the person I was playing against had a poor connection, I found that the matches felt good and I encountered little to no lag. To my understanding, the particular netcode that SEGA chose for this relies on various Google internet hubs, which may be a double edged sword: people living near the hubs will get great connections, while those who don’t, will likely have a rough time. For what it’s worth, I never experienced anything bad or even egregious, and found playing online smooth and easy to do. While spectating games, I also noticed little slowdown in the matches between other people, and spectating people’s rooms (if available) was a pretty interesting way to get a sense of how other people were enjoying the game overall.

As with all reviews, though, I think it is fair to say that my experiences are based on playing against people who also had the game early (thanks to the fine folks at SEGA!); as the game gets wider release, I assume there will be higher numbers of occasional internet hiccups and bad connections. Take my experience with a grain of salt, but I will stand by the fact that I had no real lag or disconnects during my time with the game, and would gladly play it online any day. New players will probably find this welcome news, as easy to access netcode and consistent games is the best way to engage with Virtua Fighter 5 and continue to play the game; perhaps my biggest worry was that the internet play would be terrible, and immediately ruin the game, since there isn’t much else to do other than play locally with someone else, which, since COVID is still a thing, is not exactly easy to do unless the people you live with love fighting games.

 

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In between matches, players can learn character via the Training options, which provides a standard Tutorial that goes over basic game concepts, and some more complex tutorials that ask players to learn the moves of each character by executing them. The training mode is not exactly robust, but it provides a very good foundation for learning the game and each character. Virtua Fighter is a 3 button game (Punch, Kick, and Guard), meaning that the technique comes from executing certain button presses and directional controls with finesse, rather than memorizing various input commands for special attacks. Virtua Fighter is also fairly different from Tekken’s “dial-a-combo”, in that it often asks players to include directional inputs, timing, and other things that break the flow of simply hitting the buttons in the correct order, and instead responding to various game flow changes and momentum. One of the more confusing aspects of Virtua Fighter for a lot of new players is the fact that blocking is based on pressing the square button, and that players need to learn to block High/Medium/Low attacks with correspondingly correct Guard inputs.

 

Virtua Fighter’s insistence on using realistic (ish) fighting styles is perhaps another great selling point: characters are all unique, with various ways to play and styles to learn. That comes also with the caveat that some characters make far better introductory characters than others; Akira, the poster boy of Virtua Fighter, is also one of the more difficult characters to play, with lesser known characters like Jean or Goh provide greater accessibility to new players. While many games will have players talking about who they “main”, Virtua Fighter rewards some level of experimentation, with more complex characters offering more seasoned players a higher skill ceiling at the cost of ease of play, and other characters offering easier access but potentially diminishing rewards over time. Either way, the best advice is always to go by the Rule of Cool: pick the character you think looks the coolest, and learn them!

 

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This is, of course, sometimes easier said than done. However, while Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown doesn’t innately have this feature, something that I can suggest is that if you’re truly interested in trying to learn Virtua Fighter, there is a vibrant and intense community out there waiting to help you out. While fighting games often get reputations for fairly competitive and unfriendly communities, Virtua Fighter’s skill ceiling and lack of bells and whistles generally leads to its players being fairly chill in a lot of cases–perhaps, quite frankly, because they can’t afford to scare people off–and there are many great Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown combo videos and guides out there, as well as tons of streamers likely returning to the game with an easier online option to play. In lieu of a brand new game, Virtua Fighter has never had a better way to get into the game than Ultimate Showdown.

 

So where does that leave a totally new, never tried Virtua Fighter before player? Should you get this game? Well, my answer is… It depends. I know that’s not a great answer, but let’s try and divide this into two camps. Are you a fighting game player (new or old) that wants to delve into a deep fighting system that rewards your practice and time with the game through improvements in your rank and skill, but offers little else to do? If you think that sounds like fun, then yes, absolutely play Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown. If you think “I’ll probably get bored”, then I don’t know if Virtua Fighter is for you, but there is a silver lining here: PS+ users can get the came as part of your PS+ membership, meaning that trying the game, and deciding whether you want to stick with it or not, is technically a question of the time it would take you to download it than any real monetary cost other than your probably already existing PS+ membership.

 

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Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is an excellent update to an already amazing game, bringing the graphical quality of the game in line with the technical and rewarding gameplay. The netcode (at least currently) seems stable and responsive, meaning that you’ll find many new opponents, rivals, and potential friends to play against. So don’t be scared–stretch out those fingies and prepare yourself for some martial arts mayhem! If you’ve got a PS+ membership, you can download the game for free, and you can grab the additional Legendary Pack DLC for $9.99. If you don’t have a PS+ membership, you can still grab the game + DLC for $29.99.

 

Thanks again to the amazing folks at SEGA for chance to get an early look at the addictive fighting game that is Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown. Don’t forget to follow them on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube to see what they’re up to.

 

Until next time! ✨

 

Are you picking up Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown? Are you a returning VF player or a new player? Let me know in the comments!

Touken Ranbu Online Now Available in English!

©︎2015 EXNOA LLC/Nitroplus

That’s right, y’all, it’s finally time to unleash your inner Saniwa and forge these gorgeous swords as you embark in your Touken Ranbu journey. The English version of Touken Ranbu Online is finally available for all to play and enjoy! 🎉 With the game having been first released back in 2015, it really is a joyous occasion to be able to officially play and support the game.

 

As you can imagine, when the English release of the game was announced with a portal to pre-register, Johren got A TON of folks registering to ready up for the big day. Oh yeah, if you pre-registered, you were able to get all sorts of goodies today to help you be on a good start to getting your fave sword:

 

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©︎2015 EXNOA LLC/Nitroplus

 

Don’t worry if you didn’t get to pre-register, though; these items you can still get bit by bit as you play the game! 

 

Here’s what Johren had to say about Touken Ranbu Online in its release day PR statement:

 

Touken Ranbu Online is an online, free to play, turn-based, sword raising simulation game that centers around a sage who must battle an evil entity trying to alter history with the help of anthropomorphized swords that transform into heroic, sword-wielding men.

It has been dubbed a “Joseimuke” game after it created a sensation in Japan due to its rabid fanbase of women who were drawn to the “Saniwa” (the game’s protagonist), fascinated by the Japanese history, and enticed by the beautiful male characters. It now promises to make waves in the English-speaking gaming community.

The original Japanese version was released in 2015 and built an impressive fanbase of 1.5 million within a year. With this latest version, Johren is seeking to build on its already expansive number of users.

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The game was originally set to have a February 23rd release date, but it was delayed. What a surprise it was for Touken Ranbu fans that several days ago, a new date would pop up, and it was basically right around the corner! There was also supposed to be a media preview prior to the game’s release, which would’ve been nice to have to test and see if the game had any hiccups to fix, but it seems to have been difficult to arrange at the time. 

 

With the English version of Touken Rabu finally being live, there’s several of events and gifts going on:

 

Wait… this is actually synced with the events of the Japanese server?! That’s neat, but also really rough on new players, especially new players who haven’t ventured into Touken Ranbu until today. There should’ve been an event that’s friendlier on newcomers so they can ease into the game.

 

And of course, with the launch of the game, there’s a sale going on right now for items used to forge your darling new swords:

 

There’s plenty going on, so you’ll have no shortage of stuff to do on your first expedition in Touken Ranbu Online! If you want to play the game and haven’t registered yet, no worries, you can get set up by clicking here. There’s countless guides made available and shared by the wonderful Saniwa who are well-versed in the world of Touken Ranbu, so there’s no shortage of help and assistance! Now, go out there and create your dream sword husbando! 

 

Keep an eye out on the official English Touken Ranbu Online social media channels to find out more info on the current game events going on and upcoming news:

Until next time! ✨

 

How far have you gone into Touken Ranbu Online? Have you gotten your dream sword yet? Let me know in the comments!

Face Your Demons One More Time as Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne Releases This May!

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Rise up gamers, for the time is nearly here to reawaken your inner demon with Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster! That’s right my little Pogchamps, the release of the HD Remaster is closer than you think; you can play the game as early as May 21st. Seeing as March is nearing its end, the wait for this masterpiece of a game isn’t quite that long now. 

 

In case you’re not familiar with the game, no worries, ATLUS has the deets for you:

 

What begins as a normal day in Tokyo turns out to be everything but, when the Conception – an ethereal apocalypse – is invoked. The remains of the world are swallowed by chaos, as a demonic revolution descends into a broken city. Caught between a battle of gods and demons, the choices you make can bring life, rebirth, or death, and determine who triumphs.

This genre-defining, infamously punishing RPG is back and now includes: 

  • Remastered 3D models and backgrounds 

  • Additional difficulty settings for players of all skill levels 

  • Suspend save – save your progress whenever you need!  

  • Voiced audio – choose between Japanese and English VO 

  • An alternate branch featuring Raidou Kuzunoha

This release features fixes as well as patches implemented since the Japan release.

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I don’t know about you, but the suspend save feature is gonna save my butt so many times when I venture into the game, so it’s a welcome addition! “But Elly, what about the most important feature?”, you might ask. Say no more; I will answer the burning question on everyone’s mind: “Will the game still have Dante from the Devil May Cry series?”

 

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YES, Dante will be in the game! But along with that addition, here’s some other cool stuff you can expect to find in the Digital Deluxe Edition of the game:

  • Full Game Download

  • Exclusive access to the game four days early, on May 21

  • Maniax Pack 

    • Adds Dante from the Devil May Cry Series 

  • Chronicle Pack

    • Adds Raidou from the Devil Summoner Series

  • MERCIFUL Difficulty

    • Adds an easier difficulty mode

  • Mercy and Expectation Map Pack

    • “Little Master’s Mercy”

    • “Master’s Expectation”

  • Shin Megami Tensei BGM Pack

    • “BGM Pack 1: Shin Megami Tensei” (2 songs)

    • “BGM Pack 2: Shin Megami Tensei II” (2 songs)

    • “BGM Pack 3: Shin Megami Tensei IV” (2 songs)

    • “BGM Pack 4: Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse” (2 songs) 

The game will be released on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and on Steam. As an important note here, the Chronicle Pack is available in the base game for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch versions. The Chronicle Pack is free DLC for the Steam version only.

 

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The standard edition of the HD Remaster will also be up for grabs, but you’ll have to wait until May 25th to play it. Also, it seems like the standard edition is the only one to get a physical copy, leaving off all of the extra goodies, which is a bummer for someone like me who loves collecting games physically. As an additional bummer, it doesn’t look like there will be a big fancy limited edition set for the game either. Despite that, I’m still happy to see the HD Remaster actually getting a Western release, and I can’t wait to dive into it all over again!

 

ATLUS Director Kazuyuki Yamai released a special message for all Shin Megami Tensei fans anticipating this game release: 

 

 

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Pre-orders for Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster are NOW LIVE! 

 

If you want the latest on what ATLUS is up to, don’t forget to follow them on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube!

 

Until next time! ✨

 

Will you be venturing into Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne once more, or will this be your first time? Let me know in the comments!

 

INTERVIEW: Learn About How ‘Like A Dragon’ Localization Came to be

 

Let’s face it: Kiryu is a freakin’ LEGEND. Not only is he a badass guy who strikes fear in the hearts of pretty much everyone when he gets serious, but he’s also a very wholesome dad who teaches his kids at the Sunshine orphanage very valuable lessons, and does anything he can to protect them. That being said, there’s no one quite like Yakuza series newcomer, Ichiban Kasuga. With Yakuza: Like a Dragon being released on the PS5 today, new players will get to meet our dear darling dork, as the world of Yakuza expands more and more.

 

I had the amazing chance to chat with Yakuza series senior localization producer Scott Strichart about localizing this latest entry to the series, and of course, about our dear Kasuga as well!

 


 

How did you get involved with localization?

It was the summer of 2007, and after discovering the US office of ATLUS was just down the freeway from me, I applied there as both a localization editor and a QA Tester. I got the QA job. But, after a stint in the QA department, I passed the editing test, and I’ve been working my way in and around the Japanese games space ever since.

 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon seems like the largest Yakuza game so far. How did you approach the localization for it compared to the other games in the series?

Funnily enough, while it may be one of the longest games in terms of hours to beat, it’s not the largest by a longshot. That honor goes to Yakuza 5. But the approach we take for Yakuza game localizations is a pretty known quantity now, and all that changes is how big and who the team is. Of course, this one had a new battle system, a new cast, and a new city, so a lot of the standbys we relied on had to be done from scratch.

 

 

 

Aside from the English school scene, were there any specifically unique sequences you felt were challenging to localize?

So, early on in the game there’s discussion about an anti-yakuza law enacted called the “Kamurocho 3K Plan.” This was interesting because in Japanese it’s, “kuwasenai” (don’t let them eat), “kasegasenai” (don’t let them earn), and “kyojuu sasenai” (don’t let them reside). I struggled with this for a long time because it clearly had to be three things that started with the letter “k” in English too, or it wouldn’t be a 3K plan… So I landed on using the word “keep” to unify it. The English ended up being “keep them hungry, keep them poor, and keep them out.”

Ichiban’s name was also problematic at times, because the Japanese could make it pun off “number one” and “best” in ways the English just can’t. But we still found ways around this. For instance, in the dub, when Kasuga is in first in Dragon Kart, he shouts “Say my name!” which people probably think of as just a taunt, but if you know his name means “first” it has that little extra meaning to it.

 

How was localizing Kasuga in comparison to Kiryu? In my limited time with the game, I really felt like I could see a clear difference between them.

Yeah, there’s a stark and intentional contrast, despite the similarities in their backstories. You come out of that prologue and right into Ichiban’s life as a lowborn street thug in a branch yakuza family, and you compare Ichiban’s first moments on screen chasing a porn peddler to Kiryu’s, standing over Dojima’s dead body, and that contrast becomes really clear. Localizing Kasuga allowed for a little more levity, because we had to capture his heart, his naivety, and his “big dumbass energy” which I absolutely say as a compliment.

 

So the action menu spells SEGA after that tweet about it. You all seem like you really wanted to listen to the fans on this game. Are there any other secrets we might expect?

Haha, sometimes the fans (or in this case, other localization professionals) see the forest through the trees when we can’t, and that SEGA menu thing was just the right call all around. I’m happy we were able to make that happen. But while I’ve quickly learned you can’t please everyone, respect and appreciation for the fans who got this series here is a driving factor in every decision I make. Going back to as many of the original actors from 2006 Yakuza that we could get for the dub was another fan-oriented decision, though I admit it’s also because casting anyone to play Kazuma Kiryu in English was incredibly daunting.

 

 

The location of Like a Dragon is also new; were there any issues in trying to localize Yokohama to players?

You know what we really struggled with was which streets/areas to keep in English and which ones to localize. I kinda left this to the translators for the most part, but you’ll notice a bigger mix of English and Japanese street names in Yokohama than you’ve got in Kamurocho, which is primarily Japanese, outside of like, Theater Square. We were careful about capturing that from the real city.

 

Kasuga is far more emotive than Kiryu, in a lot of ways. His party, too, is very expressive, compared to the stoic casts in previous games. How did that change your localization?

For subtitles, we rely more heavily on the Japanese voice performance than the emotiveness of the character, and actually, because we had to do the localization prior to hearing the Japanese performance, which ended up causing me to have to go back through Ichiban’s dialog in particular to add a lot more exclamation points. The subtitles sounded really flat for a while there, which wasn’t matching Kazuhiro Nakaya’s energetic performance.

Meanwhile in a dub, since we were talking control of the jaw in the big movies anyway, we paid a ton of attention to the eyes. Ichiban’s eyes are very expressive, and that gave us a lot of insight into the reads we wanted from his English actor, Kaiji Tang.

 

Something I really loved about my time with Like a Dragon were Saeko and Eri. I have to admit that women didn’t always get a big role in Yakuza games, and Saeko in particular seems like an integral heart to this iteration. How did you approach localizing her character?

You’re right, she’s an integral part of the party, and it was important to capture what she was in the Japanese – a leading female who could hang just as tough as the boys, while still (literally) weaponizing her femininity with make-up and handbags. She’s classier than your initial three party members too, which makes her a little bit of a fish out of water at times, but those are the moments I loved the most, because she doesn’t ever doubt that she’s right where she needs to be.

 

 

Do you have a favorite Like a Dragon minigame or event? I got pretty addicted to the can collecting and business one!

Can Quest is great of course, but I love the sheep slapping movie theatre minigame. Those movies are so ridiculous, and slapping sheep while avoiding chickens to stay awake during a boring movie is just peak Yakuza.

 

How did the RPG influence change the localization process? Both in terms of how the game plays, but also the way that theme bleeds into the tone of the game?

Being an RPG just kind of exponentially multiplied the localization in a lot of ways, because suddenly there’s status elements, text strings and voice barks for when they are applied, persist, and cured, way more weapons, armor, and items, and instead of having just one character to worry about all that with, it’s seven. Yeah it’s tough, but me and most of the team cut our teeth on RPGs, so this was just a return to form, and in many ways, gave us room to flex that on the game’s deep love and appreciation for all things “RPG.”

 

Were there any issues with Kasuga directly referencing Dragon Quest so often?

We basically mirrored what the Japanese version did on that, because that was all worked out with the IP holders in Japan. But I was personally thrilled to see it, because I’d actually worked on the Dragon Quest series in a marketing capacity prior to joining SEGA. I have the utmost respect for the franchise and I recognize that much of the RPG landscape wouldn’t be what it is today without it.

 

 

Homelessness is obviously a serious issue, and Like a Dragon seems to be very sympathetic to the homeless of Japan. Were there any challenges in localizing the homeless characters? I really enjoyed the soup kitchen storyline for how it didn’t patronize the homeless characters.

As the team at RGG puts it, the Yakuza series is very much a “human drama” which means first and foremost, the characters have to be treated like humans. The series has always had a spotlight on the people who live in “the gray zones” of society – homeless, night life entertainers, dive bars, gangs… And like you say, you can’t tell their stories if you’re patronizing them.

 

Very important question: Who is your favorite summon? You can avoid spoilers if you want!

Oh man how do you pick just one… Nancy is great, Mr. Masochist is amazing… But perhaps a career highlight was the moment we made accomplished and venerated voice actors Erica Lindbeck and Patrick Seitz lend their incredible voices to a kink nurse indulging an adult man in a diaper throwing a tantrum. I have thanked them already but if they’re reading this…. Thank you again.

 

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to folks now that the game is available on the PS5?
I hope everyone’s enjoying it, really. That’s the best we can ask for.

 

 


 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is now available on the Xbox Series X | SXbox OneWindows 10, Steam, and PlayStation 4 & PlayStation 5. If you already got Like a Dragon for the PS4 and you’re planning to get a PS5 soon, you can get a free upgrade to the PS5 version.

 

Many thanks to Scott Strichart for taking the time to chat about this wonderful game, and thanks to SEGA for making this interview possible! Keep up with what SEGA is up to by following them on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube.

 

If you enjoyed this article, and you want to see more cool stuff like this come to life, consider supporting my Patreon. I have a lot of cool stuff planned, and I would love to make it a reality with your help!

 

Until next time!

 

Have you played Yakuza: Like a Dragon? Who’s your favorite dork, and why is it Ichiban? Let me know down in the comments!

Carry On My Wayward Son: Guilty Gear Strive Beta Review

Let’s ROCK! 🔥

 

The world of fighting games is magical. That feeling when you pick up your controller or fight stick and you find that one character that just *clicks* with you. The countless hours of training with friends as you level up your skills while building a community together. The KOs. The PERFECT KOs. The DOUBLE KOs?! And the growth that comes from the losses to make you stronger… Ah yes, the fighting game world is truly magical. ✨

 

While I try to play the latest fighting games whenever they release, there are a few series that are very dear to me. Guilty Gear is one of them, and what a series it is! My first encounter with the series was through a friend back in my high school days. “If you like King of Fighters, you’re gonna got CRAZY for this game!”, they said as they handed me their copy of Guilty Gear X to try out at home. “This is as good as King of Fighters? No waaaay!” I grew up with King of Fighters, so this better be good! Famous last words, because then the game decided to completely destroy me with its style, characters, setting and its rockin’ music. And Instant Kills being a thing? Now that’s what I call POGGERS. So when Arc System Works offered me a chance to play in the Guilty Gear Strive beta early, I knew I had to take the chance and dive back into the franchise I grew to love so much. 

 

Mankind knew that they cannot change society…

 

Guilty Gear Strive picks up after the last games in the franchise, upping the graphical touches and style of the game while revamping the fighting engine in small, but significant, ways. I should note here that I haven’t played the Guilty Gear series since Xrd; I skipped Revelator and Rev 2, so I’m unfamiliar with any changes made from Xrd to Rev and Rev 2. That being said, one of the things I noticed at first with Strive is that the game felt both familiar and foreign to me at the same time. My partner felt the same way, with both of us realizing that our old “mains” felt so alien to us now that they weren’t as easy to play as unfamiliar characters were for us to pick up and play. For myself, I kept trying to use old combos and inputs for Sol that resulted in whiffs and punished attacks as the things I expected to happen didn’t, and for my partner, Faust felt much the same: similar, but different. 

 

The same basic system that’s in all Guilty Gear games is present here, with the four face buttons being mapped to specific attack types, as well as a fifth button that, by default, is both the Dust and Throw button. A new addition (at least to me, because remember, I skipped a couple of games!) was the dash button, which would cause your character to automatically dash forward. I found this really awkward personally, but on a PS4 controller it’s mapped to L3 by default, so maybe that’s why. Even still, manually inputting the command to dash just felt, well, normal, so I’m not sure how useful the Dash command is, but perhaps I don’t see the utility in it yet. Other than that, there really aren’t many apparent changes to the Guilty Gear experience; you can still Burst and Roman Cancel, with similar blocking and negative penalty mechanics as well. One new feature is the wall break, which will send characters flying to a new area of the map, and is generally a reward for the aggressor based on a particularly strong corner combo. 

 

Make way for the newcomers

 

The Strive beta roster had Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, Axl Low, Zato-1, Millia Rage, Faust, May, Potemkin, Ramlethal Valentine, Chipp Zanuff, Leo Whitefang, along with newcomers Giovanna and Nagoriyuki. I was pretty happy with the variety on display in the beta, as each character felt unique with their own playstyles. This, in my opinion, was always one of the strengths of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, as each character fits into specific archetypes, but plays totally differently from each other. Perhaps more than other fighting games, I always found this appealing about Guilty Gear, in the sense that I could find a character that I liked, and focus on them intently, knowing that they were wholly unique compared to the other characters on the roster. While their style might not be totally original compared to fighting game archetypes, the twists on each style (zoner, grappler, rushdown, etc.) that Guilty Gear applies still helps make them feel really fun and unique. 

 

While returning players will likely go directly to their old mains, new players to the franchise are in for a treat with the wild and eclectic collection of characters that Strive will offer, and returning players are still in for some surprises; personally, I’m really digging Faust’s creepier new look! Giovanna and Nagoriyuki were fairly interesting additions to the roster. In some ways Nagoriyuki reminded me of BlazBlue’s Hakumen, although I can’t say that I fully grasped how to best utilize his blood meter and playstyle. Giovanna, on the other hand, felt almost overly familiar to me, as her quick striking kick attacks almost felt like a combination of various SNK characters. I wasn’t surprised at all to see a lot of her in the beta lobbies, and players seemed to pick up on what she had available really quickly, meaning that I expect a lot of newer players may find her an inviting and easy to use character to get started with.

 

I’m ascending… literally!

 

In the Strive beta, players had the option to play through a short tutorial, use the basic training mode against a dummy (you heard me, Ky), and do local versus or online via lobbies. The offline options were fairly slim, but I appreciated the ability to play the beta locally, which gave us the most time to spend with each character and see what Strive had to offer. In what’s becoming an ArcSys staple, the online lobby system features a new, weird little menu overlay that lets you create a pixelated avatar to move around 2D lobbies with. This was really cute, although I did find occasionally knowing who was looking for a match hard to discern at first. The ‘tower’ that you enter ranks players by skill determined by your performance, which can have a somewhat deflating feeling when you lose a few matches and get demoted. That said, the game doesn’t stop you from moving higher in the tower if you want to, meaning that getting ‘demoted’ for experimenting with new characters won’t lock you out of the lobbies you had available to you before. I’m curious to see how this ranking system plays out in real time, as the beta featured a fairly small sample of players and meant that many of the ‘lower’ ranks of the Tower were totally empty, while higher ones were basically overpopulated! The lobby mini-game also promises some extra modes that weren’t currently playable, with the one I’m most curious about, fishing, sadly not being available during the beta test.

 

Once the lobby system started to make sense to me, I found that matches were fairly easy to get into. The game doesn’t let you pick characters before the match starts, so you have to select them in a menu first, and then look for opponents. This is pretty similar to other ArcSys games, like Granblue Fantasy: Versus and BlazBlue, but it’s bringing up just in case you like to switch between characters often. During the beta, I found that my success in getting a match going was about 50/50. I don’t think this was so much a Strive problem as it is a “playing a game online during a beta” problem, so I’m pretty okay with a 50/50 ratio to failed/successful connections, especially since once in a match, I only experienced 1 disconnect, and maybe 2 or 3 instances of major rollback and lag. Considering the pandemic addled world we still live in, fighting games are going to live and die based on their network capabilities, and what I saw in Strive’s beta made me cautiously optimistic that this quality of netplay would continue once the final game released. The sad reality is that this may not be true, as the larger player base is very likely not the same as the dedicated players in the beta this week, but hopefully things work out and Strive has a vibrant netplay community at launch, fingers crossed!

 

Get ready for a world of hurt

 

While it’s hard to comment on balance in something like a beta, especially one without a full roster, it does feel like most characters are fairly balanced against one another, with perhaps one exception: Potemkin. I was somewhat glad to see other chatter around people in the beta discussing this, but Strive’s version of Potemkin feels almost more oppressive than he usually can be, and my partner was shocked at how well they were able to resume playing Potemkin and get wins after having not played Guilty Gear in years. Although I doubt we’d go so far as to say he’s “busted” or anything of that nature, it did leave an impression that in the current build, it might be Potemkin’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Of course all of that can change by the next beta of physical release, so while it was an interesting observation, I personally am not worried about it being an issue in the final release; Potemkin was always a strong character, and I don’t see that changing much, except that his dominance in the beta is probably due to overperforming than anything else.

 

If anything, the beta certainly proved to me that Guilty Gear Strive has a lot to offer in a new, but familiar, way. Strive doesn’t shake up the formula in the way that Street Fighter V did, but instead provides a new take on the Guilty Gear formula. The same visual stylings are present, and characters speak and act in the way you’d expect, with big, overacted dialogue and familiar lines in battle. The infamous “Heaven or Hell” pre-match overlay is even more ridiculous now, with perhaps the most overwrought and weird phrase I’ve seen yet from an ArcSys game, but it grew on me in a very campy, silly way that still made me get hype for the gameplay!

 

 

One very interesting feature that the beta provided was the replay system. Strive saves a copy of every online match you play, and allows you to even follow players you’ve faced before to see their replays as well. In the offline mode, it gives you the option to save copies of the replays manually, and I have to say that I really dig this system. When your opponents are only online, labbing and keeping up with what they’re doing can be fairly difficult; with this replay system, you can create your own study tapes, hype reels, and other things, which was a feature I’d never really thought I’d see implemented into a game before. 

 

Since I was playing on PS4, this also meant that I could easily edit and upload the videos myself to various social media, meaning that it would be pretty easy for people to create gameplay compilations and combo guides too. I think this sort of innovation speaks to some keen insight on ArcSys’s part; while the gameplay is fairly core and familiar, the replay functionality seems to show that ArcSys is aware of the huge, fan-made support and materials that keep their games going, and being able to instantly save your replays for these purposes really feels like a step in an interesting direction there.

 

Strike a pose!

 

Of course, as the Strive beta was winding down, ArcSys teased us with the reveal of I-No, who I really REALLY wished was playable in the beta! I’m excited to see what comes next from Strive, and playing the beta convinced me to get myself a copy when it comes out and dive into the Guilty Gear world all over again. Only time will tell what the full game will hold, but I think the beta showed me a lot of what was under the hood and gave me a pretty good indication of what would come from the full package, which left me craving for more.

 

 

Keep an eye out for more Guilty Gear Strive coverage; if I get the opportunity, I’d love to take another look at the game and keep you all updated! And if you want to keep in touch with what Arc System Works is up to, don’t forget to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch! Oh, and if you played the beta at all, make sure to complete ArcSys’ player survey to give them feedback on how they’re doing.

 

Until next time! 

 

Omake:

 

Claire Redfield??

 

When I finished my avatar so I can go into battle with style, I noticed… that it kinda looks like Claire Redfield? How did that happen?! Totally unintended, but I’m more than okay with that.

 

Did any of you get a chance to play the Guilty Gear Strive beta? Who’s your fave character in the Guilty Gear universe? Let me know in the comments!