Disgaea: Hour Of Darkness Is Headed For PC At Long Last

Big news for PC players, as NIS America has announced that Disgaea: Hour Of Darkness will be coming to the platform this February.

While the game is simply listed as Disgaea PC on Steam, the screenshots and descriptions are all identical to that of the first game in the series. The game even includes all of the extra content from Afternoon of Darkness, which was the PSP edition of the first game.

While things will be mostly the same for the PC version there are some enhancements that need to be noted. Among these are improved UI and textures, mouse/keyboard and controller support, cloud saves, achievements and more.

Danganronpa 3 Announced At TGS 2015, Coming To Both PlayStation 4 & Vita

The awesome Danganronpa series continues, as Spike Chunsoft announced at Tokyo Game Show 2015 that Danganronpa 3 is on the way.

Interestingly enough, this new visual novel will be releasing for PlayStation Vita AND PlayStation 4, which marks the first time the series has appeared on Sony’s home console. It makes sense, as it means a LOT more people have a shot at experiencing what will more than likely be a sweet game.

There’s no news on the release date for Danganronpa 3 yet, but you can check out the announcement trailer for the game directly below.

Condemn O.R. Condone – Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PlayStation Vita)

The first two Danganronpa games for the PlayStation Vita are two of my favorite games that you can find on the console, without question. Featuring characters that are *completely* out of this world and a story that constantly had my head exploding, both games are visual novels that are able to just *be* visual novels due to the strength of the writing. However, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is a spin-off that takes place between the first two games and is no longer a visual novel, but a third-person shooter. It’s a big change for the series, though it wasn’t pulled off as well as it could have been.

This time around we’re controlling Komaru Naegi, who is the little sister of Makoto from the first game. The game begins with her being imprisoned in an apartment for a year and a half, which is a result of “The Tragedy” that we learn about in the first game. After months of being alone, a Monokuma robot eventually breaks in to try and kill her, but she’s able to escape and is soon provided with a hacking gun to take on the army of Monokumas roaming the streets. And this is what the majority of the game consists of: gunning down wave after wave of variations of Monokumas in third-person combat that’s serviceable, but definitely not good enough to keep it interesting for very long.

While I have nothing wrong with third-person shooters, in a series that previously featured a fantastic visual novel experience which culminated in incredible courtroom debates, this game just doesn’t offer a good enough replacement. As you are wondering the streets of Towa City to try and escape with your sidekick Toko, the mechanics involved are pretty basic. If you see a Monokuma running at you then you stop, point your gun and aim for the weak spot in the eye. You’ll get variations of bullets that allow you to do things like make the Monokumas dance to distract enemies, knock them back so they drop their shields, or even hack into them to manipulate them into attacking other enemies. However, the controls are pretty clunky and the combat itself isn’t challenging or deep enough to really make it all that fun.

The challenge is further diminished when you switch to your sidekick Toko, who acts as a summon that you can call on to deal devastating damage in a short amount of time until her charge runs out. I rarely found myself in a position where I *couldn’t* use Toko, and when the standard boss fights came around at the end of each of the game’s five chapters I was able to beat them to a pulp with Toko without any fuss at all. It is great to be able to go nuts on a hoard of Monokumas, but Komaru’s hacking gun is usually plenty to get the job done thanks to constant ammo and health drops. It also doesn’t help that the taking on hoards of Monokumas gets repetitive after a while, even if the game does offer up new versions of Monokumas that require you to take them out with slightly different tactics.

Fortunately, the game is able to throw in some puzzles that will actually require you to use your head if you want to get through them in one go. There are dozens of rooms you will come across that will have Monokumas lined up in various position and you need to figure out a way to take them all out at once. These rooms can be very tricky to figure out, and result in what is probably the most satisfying gameplay element that Ultra Despair Girls has to offer. Other little puzzles are strewn throughout the game that will require you to figure out passwords to move on, and one in particular towards the end really had me stumped. I wanted to just kick down the friggin’ door because I was being an impatient idiot, but eventually I figured it out and I stopped crying. It was these brief moments that gave me the sense of victory that the first two games regularly did, and I loved that.

While the new gameplay elements don’t really shine through very well in this game, it is thankfully elevated quite a bit by another fantastic story and characters. Komaru and Toku’s bond that grows throughout the game results in some really funny and heartfelt movements, even if it does get a bit too cheesy at times and made me want to projectile vomit. Apart from them you have the Monokuma kids and leaders, who are all determined to kill all of the adults in the world and create a children’s paradise. The bat-shit crazy aspect of the first two games is perfectly replicated here, but the fact that a lot of it now involves children creates a creepiness that even goes beyond those first two games.

The story is also crucial to the first two games, as it sheds a ton of light on the overall story arc and provides plenty of revelations on both the game that comes before and the game that comes after it. It all culminates to a finale that, while maybe not as mind-blowing as the first two games, is still the highlight of the game and featured several twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. You never really *know* what’s really going on in a Danganronpa game until the end, and I was glad that I hadn’t had everything figured before the ending game.

While Ultra Despair Girls isn’t on the same level as the incredible Trigger Happy Havoc or Goodbye Despair due to the shift in genre, it’s salvaged thanks to another great storyline. You really feel like you are in a world that is completely off its hinges, and the dread of walking through the streets and seeing Monokuma kids dancing around the dead bodies of adults is something that chilled me more times than once. However, these moments are unfortunately mixed in with run-of-the mill third-person shooter gameplay that just isn’t a whole lot of fun when all is said and done. Still, if you were invested in the storyline that the first two games had to offer then you won’t regret playing through Ultra Despair Girls.

RESPECTABLE

Next Danganronpa Game Launching This September

NIS America has revealed that the next game in the Danganronpa series, called Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, will be coming to the USA this September.

While this game takes place in between the events of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, it will actually feature a stark shift in gameplay from visual novel to action adventure. Here’s the synopsis:

“Komaru Naegi, little sister to Makoto Naegi, has been imprisoned inside a mysterious apartment for over a year. One day, she is rescued by Byakuya Togami of Future Foundation, but the rescue is derailed by a sudden attack of hundreds of Monokumas.

Komaru soon discovers that the city has been taken over by a group of children calling themselves the Warriors of Hope. Their leader, Monaca, declares that the city will be the site of a Children’s Paradise, and to accomplish this, all the adults will be exterminated. Komaru teams up with Toko Fukawa to try to survive the rampaging Monokumas, escape the crafty Monokuma Kids, and uncover the secrets of the city.”

Even though this game will play much differently, that plot synopsis alone sounds just as amazingly crazy as the other two games in the series and I can’t wait to play it. Check out the Welcome to Despair trailer for the game below.

Condemn O.R. Condone – htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PlayStation Vita)

It’s one of the most punishingly-difficult games on the Vita, but those with a stomach for unforgiving puzzle platformers will find a lot to like in htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary.

Rarely do I happen upon games that truly infuriate me due to their dificulty. It seems like every game these days is designed to ensure that the player’s progressions is silky smooth, rather than presenting obstacles that the player must give their all to in order to overcome. Lately there have been some exceptions to the rule, with big-budget titles like Dark Souls and even last year’s indie-darling Shovel Knight reaffirming what great gaming is at its core.

htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary most certainly falls into the bin of most challenging games that I have played in recent memory, though some of it is warranted and some of it isn’t. This is a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer that has us controlling a young girl named Mion, who happens to wake up in an underground labyrinth with no memories of what got her there. Thus, it is our job to guide her to safety, though we soon discover that that is much easier said than done.

The quirk to this game is that we don’t control Mion directly, but we guide her by instead controlling two different firefly guardians named Lumen and Umbra. Also, the game’s default control scheme is entirely touch-based, meaning that you will tap where you want Lumen to go and Mion will follow. With the aid of simple-yet-clever touch controls, we’re able to guide Mion up ladders, over crates and through dozens of treacherous locales that are all vying to spell her demise. 

It’s worth noting that the visuals and level design on display here is extremely impressive, as the game’s world radiates a foreboding aura. The filter that we view the game through gives it an almost story book-esque flare, which I think works very well with the game’s theme that I’ll get to shortly. There’s a solid amount of variety on hand, as well, as we are witness to factories, forests and truly twisted areas containing horrifying imagery like dead hanging girls resembling Mion.

While the harrowing levels of razor-sharp saws, viscous shadow monsters and stomping machinery don’t exude any kind of warmth, it’s the scattered memory fragments that are sprinkled throughout the game that provides a much welcome respite from the madness. These memories are displayed in a more pixelated art style and show us Mion’s life before all of this happened, and while there is no dialogue to give context to what is going on it is still easy to comprehend that these were much happier times for her.

While guiding Mion with Lumen through the regular world is challenging all on its own, where the game truly gets interesting is with the use of the shadow world and umbra. As you navigate the game’s various levels you will come across obstacles that simply cannot be surpassed by regular means, which leads you to use the shadows to alter the scenario. When you control Umbra with the Vita’s rear touch pad you are able to traverse through the shadows of any connected objects in the area, which often allows Umbra to reach switches to open new paths or alter an obstacle that would otherwise get in Mion’s way. It’s the combination of both the regular and shadow worlds where the game’s puzzles are the most clever and head-scratching, forcing you to constantly think outside the box to overcome the difficult challenges.

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…And difficult doesn’t even begin describe what this game brings to the table. During my playthough, the routine typically consisted of me reaching an area, dying in it dozens of times, then finally getting through only to reach the next area where the same routine repeated. This game is punishingly-difficult due to the fact that Mion can only be hit once, the touch-controls are pretty slow and sometimes unresponsive and each area is packed to the brim with things trying to kill you. As a result, my experience while playing a lot of this game was stressful, as you have to be so precise in a game where being precise isn’t the easiest thing to do.

There are even a few bosses at the end of some of these incredibly-difficult stages, and they are just as hard as the stages that preceded them. These battles typically consist of Mion dodging the bosses attacks and falling objects, while capitalizing on the very brief windows of opportunity to pull off a move that will hopefully damage it. Much like the regular stages, these battles contain a lot of trial and error as you have to figure out for yourself how to bring the baddies down and execute your plan as perfectly as you can.

There are a couple excursions throughout the course of the game where you are separated from Mion and have to control Lumen through a series of mazes, and they are some of the most aggravating sections I have ever played in a game. This is due to the fact that you can’t touch any walls or your die, and the paths that you traverse through are incredibly narrow. To add on top of that you often have to be moving quickly in order to avoid various harmful objects, making these segments far too excruciating than they need to be. This is made worse by the game’s aforementioned dicey touch controls, which will regularly have you performing actions you didn’t mean to that will inevitably lead to your death. 

htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is easily one of the most fascinating games that the Vita has to offer, but it is unfortunately hampered by a punishing difficulty that can feel cheap due to the game’s lacking touch controls. The game’s visuals and level designs are top notch, and the interesting mechanic of switching between regular and shadow worlds leads to some great puzzles. Even though the game has no true dialogue, I nevertheless found myself immersed in Mion’s adventure and truly touched whenever I would stumble upon one of her memories of happier times. It’s often infuriatingly difficult, but I would still recommend those with high toleration and admiration for truly challenging puzzle platformers to give this one a shot.

RESPECTABLE

Condemn O.R. Condone – Criminal Girls: Invite Only (PlayStation Vita)

While the game features decent enough combat mechanics, the game is unfortunately buried in offensive sexualization and repetition.

I would consider myself pretty in-the-know when it comes to RPG Dungeon Crawlers. There’s something gratifyingly simple about making your way through a seemingly endless amount of floors while battling your way though an equally endless amount of random encounters. I love the genre and I love that developers are willing to go back to it in an age where such a genre is near the bottom of the hot list. So, Criminal Girls: Invite Only seemed like it would be right up my alley, having heard very little about the title other than its genre.

Well, lets just say I was surprised.

While Criminal Girls: Invite Only is very much a dungeon crawler, the gameplay exists in a world that is sexual to an uncomfortable degree. The game is about a group of girls that have been banished to hell and your character is tasked with reforming them by “motivating” them and having them battle through many levels filled with baddies to battle. What is the “motivation”, you may be asking? Well, since all of the girls are criminals and want nothing to do with you, the only way to get them to battle is to take part in a mini-game where you whip them (among others variations of the same formula) in various sexual poses that concludes with them making sexual references.

While this mechanic is disturbing enough in its own right, its made even worse by the fact that the mini-games themselves are dead simple and get dull quickly. What they essentially boil down to are square icons known as “temptations” popping up on various parts of the screen and you having to press either the spot on the front screen or the opposite back touch pad to clear away the square. As this is going on there will be a sexual picture of the girl you are “motivating” in the background that is covered in pink fog, and the more squares you clear the more fog that disappears and reveals more of the scantily-clad girl. What’s hilarious about the US localization of this game is that many of the images have been censored and the sexual audio during these segments removed completely, so the perverts who purchased this game solely for the T&A factor are going to be left in the cold.

Even though this aspect is disturbing, the results of it directly benefit your characters. While your characters level up through battle you will gain points to “motivate” them, and as you level them up through “motivation” you unlock new abilities for them to use. These moves are absolutely necessary through the course of the game, as they will allow you to do things like deal huge amounts of damage while also healing your entire party. The classic player-progression mechanic is there, it’s just disturbing that the big twist to make it fresh is so sour.

As far as the core gameplay is concerned, what Criminal Girls does with the genre is not much at all. The game consists of you trekking though levels with many different paths to take, while you occasionally find treasure chests, hidden items and switches to open new paths to progress. The level designs are very bland and don’t really do anything to stand out from each other, and to make matters worse there is a lot of backtracking that must be done that is directly tied to the game’s story.

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You’re trying to find other girls reform and they will always end up on the other side of locked door, which then results on you having to find a certain item of hit a particular switch to gain access to them. However, you will accomplish many of this through trial & error as each path you go down leads to a switch or item that doesn’t work, meaning you will be monotonously journeying through several different paths until you eventually hit the right one. While backtracking isn’t always a bad thing, how it is utilized here becomes grating and the fact that random encounters are frequent only serves to amplify that feeling.

Fortunately, the combat itself is pretty decent. You can have 4 girls in battle at once, with each turn giving you access to a random 4 abilities for you to use. Some options will let two girls attack at once, while others will allow you to unleash a special move to deal big damage. While it’s only a slight variation on what’s been done before, I found that it actually resulted in more strategic gameplay. When you never know which commands are coming up next it forces you to take advantage when a big move shows up, while also requiring you to be patient when they don’t. The monsters put up quite a fight in this game, meaning that perfect execution of the combat mechanics is vital if you plan on surviving.

Then there are the girls themselves, who are pretty stereotypical anime girls that all end up getting pretty annoying. While some of their interactions with you and the other girls can be entertaining, nothing is ever done to truly make you care for any of them. The game just displays them as bad girls that need a good whipping, more or less, and when all is said and done that’s all they really are. This fact is made crystal clear when you witness how some of them are designed, with bust sizes and outfits that are so unrealistic that it’s laughable.

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a game that may be enjoyable for a very specific crowd, but for the rest of us looking for an engaging gameplay experience this is pretty poor. I can’t figure out if the devs had poor mechanics and decided to sex it up to make it more interesting, or if the point from the beginning was to make a sexy game with standard gameplay mechanics slapped on as an after thought. While the core combat mechanics are pretty solid, this game is far too sexual and repetitive to recommend to anyone looking for a solid dungeon crawler.

OBJECTIONABLE

Check Out Some New Screenshots From ‘Disgaea 5: Alliance Of Vengeance’

A new batch of screenshots from the fifth entry in Nippon Ichi Software’s beloved Disgaea series.

The fifth entry in the Disgaea franchise, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, has just received a brand new batch of screenshots to get you hyped.

These shots show off a host of elements from the game; such as character customization, battles and character art. You can view all of the screenshots via a slideshow at the bottom of this post.

Disgaea 5: Alliance Of Vengeance is launching exclusively on PlayStation 4 on March 26th in Japan, though releases in other regions are expected to occur sometime in the third quarter of the year. The game is developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America.

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