Tag Archives: NIS America

Natural Doctrine

'Natural Doctrine' Releases This September

The PlayStation 4 is going to have a pretty light rest of the year, which is thanks to several delays of some pretty big titles. This, however, makes smaller games on the schedule more intriguing. Natural Doctrine, then, could be the Playstation 4 game that will get some added exposure due to there really being nothing else going on for the system.

The game has been available in Japan, though over there its reception was less than glowing. Still, there have been plenty of games that don’t get well received in one place and then are loved somewhere else, so that’s really not much to judge a game on.

Natural Doctrine is a tactical RPG developed by Kadokawa Games and co-published by Kadokawa Games and NIS America, which has me intrigued due to the quality that these people are capable of producing. The game involves a universe where humans battle other races with magic and swords, with the protagonist named Jeff setting out to vanquish goblin dens to clear access to resources that will benefit the survival of the human race.

Natural Doctrine will release on September 16th for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection (PlayStation Vita) Review – Oh Dear Lord…

Throughout my experience as a gamer and especially a game writer I have never had to deal with something like Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection. It’s essentially a game of stats, where you must make the right decisions in order to get the optimum stat increases with each given opportunity. Done the right way, this could be a really zany and funny type of game along the lines of the Nintendo DS’s Elite Beat Agents. Unfortunately, this game was not done the right way.

The concept of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is simple (and strange): you are a student who is just about to embark on a summer vacation that will be filled with nothing but gaming when you are suddenly summoned to a world called Gameindustri (clever) by 4 goddess-like Console Patron Units (CPUs). These 4 CPUs rule the realm of Gameindustri and each represent one of today’s major consoles, though they are in a bit of deep water. An idol group called MOB48 has passed the CPUs and taken the most shares of Gameindustri, as a result. So, the goddesses want to become idols with your help to win back the shares and return everything back to normal. Got that?

The 4 ladies you have to deal with all feature firm-yet-super-naive personalities as there is no question in their minds that they are going to be pop idols with your help. I ended up with Vert as my “idol” and her character ended up being someone who was a confident and hard worker that had a hardcore gaming attitude. As a result, I had to make sure that she stayed focused on her work and still had the amount of time she wanted to go on gaming marathons. This is the part of the game that I liked the most, because the characters (for the most part) are pretty likable and it’s entertaining to see what they have to say.

Producing Perfection

Unfortunately, the majority of the game has you performing the same actions over and over again which makes everything very tedious. As the producer you have the the following options to perform with your idol: work, lesson, relax, move and concert. Work increases your fanbase while lesson increases personal stats like vocals and rhythm. When you have done too much working and stress has built up you need to make sure that you choose the relax option to bring those stress levels down, as high stress levels result in diminished returns in both work and lessons. Move allows you to relocate to one of the other Gameindustri nations in order to reach new audiences, which brings up new scenarios for the characters to go through. All of these scenarios are implied, however, as you don’t get much more than a quick bit of dialogue showing that the event took place.

The most hands-on option is concert, in which you actually witness your idol performing a song. You get to chose the stage, what your idol wears and stage effects that all effect the audiences engagement in the show. However, your main job is to control the camera and come up with dynamic camera angles for the audience, but the game’s registration capabilities seem really limited in this area. Most of the time I just kind of moved the camera angle around wildly like a nut job and it resulted in me doing better than I did when I was actually trying to get good angles. Thus, the one aspect of the game that has true gameplay is broken.

And you must repeat this process day in and day out to increase your idol’s stats and rise her to the top of the charts before 180 in-game days pass. A day passes after one action has taken place, so the days pass rather quickly. I had no problems getting my idol to the top of the charts way before the 180 days passed, though it still felt like a complete grind because of the lack of depth in these events. You’re basically just selecting one of the 5 options, checking out which stats go up and repeating that process… over and over and over again.

Producing Perfection

Apart from the main mode you also have a Viewer Mode, which is perhaps the most weird part of the game. You are just given a screen of an idol of your choosing that you can touch and watch them react in a bunch of random and disturbing ways. It’s one of those things where you really just kind of scratch your head wondering why it’s in the game at all. I guess in a game that has literally no gameplay engagement something like this can pass as an actual “mode”, but on planet Earth this is completely lame.

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection can offer slight entertainment in very short bursts, but playing the game any longer than that results in extreme frustration and boredom. There is no true interactive gameplay to speak of and the little that you actually do control must be done far too many times. The game’s likable characters make some of this tedium easier to swallow, but for the most part this is a game that should be avoided by just about everyone.


Dangranronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PlayStation Vita) Review

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PlayStation Vita) Review – *Sound Of Jaw Dropping On Floor*

The genre of the visual novel definitely isn’t one that I or many gamers see a whole lot of these days. The last visual novel that I played was Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the DS, and that great game came out back in 2007. However, it was an incredibly engaging game due to its unique mechanics and ability to suck you in and really make it feel like you exist in the setting of a mystery.

If Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc reminds me of Hotel Dusk, it’s only in that they are both visual novels that control similarly and involve mystery. That’s really where the similarities end, because the ride that Danganronpa takes you on is far more strange, twisted and demented than just about any other game that I have played. As soon as you turn this game on, you know that you are in for an experience like no other.

The game begins with our main character Makoto Naegi arriving at an elite High School called Hope’s Peak Academy, which is a school that only accepts the best of the best students. Makoto is simply average in every way possible, but he got picked to join the school as a result of a raffle in which he was chosen to join the school as the ultimate lucky student. However, when he arrives outside of the gates of school everything turns south very quickly.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Hope's Peak Makoto

When he regains consciousness, he finds that he and 14 other students are trapped inside the school with no way out. A demonic teddy bear named Monokuma informs them that they will be spending the rest of their lives inside this school, and that if anyone resists they will be killed. However, the one way a student *can* leave the school is if they murder another student and get away with it. If they do get away with the murder, then they “graduate” and the rest of the students are punished.

Thus, throughout the course of the game you and the other students will be doing anything they can to find a way out of the school, while also trying to keep in high spirits and trust each other. As the game goes on the evil Monokuma will introduce incentives for killing someone, and that is when things truly hit the fan and several deaths follow.

It’s not a spoiler to say that many people will die in this game, and it is up to you to figure out who killed them in a trial that takes place at the end each chapter. This aspect of the game is similar to the Ace Attorney series, as you have evidence that you have discovered over time that you must use to prove or disprove the scenarios of the case. These trials are lengthy and intense, and every single one of them left me in awe at how intricate and devious they were.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Trial

Writing is extremely important in a genre such as the visual novel, and Danganronpa‘s writing is nothing short of phenomenal. Every character is so well-written and fleshed out just to the point that you can understand them without knowing too much about them. The characters have so many layers that will be revealed (or not) throughout the course of the game, ultimately leaving you with a much different opinion of them at the end of the game compared to the one you had at the beginning.

The visual style is that of an anime that you will find in many Japanese titles that gives everything a bright and deceptively friendly look, but that is exactly what makes the horror within so much more shocking. The visuals are only appealing on the surface, as when you get close enough you will see that just about everything in this game is twisted and horrifying. My only gripe with the visuals is that developer Spike Chunsoft decided to go with pink blood and this made many of the murder scenes less shocking, in my opinion. I often times wondered why the blood was pink rather than completely being mortified by the murder, and the color of the blood should have been just about the last thing on my mind in that situation.

Exploring Hope’s Peak Academy is also very engaging, because after each chapter a new floor of the school opens up that contains more secrets for you to unravel. Sometimes the things that you will find will be relative to the upcoming trial, but other times you will find things that will help uncover the secrets of the school, itself. There is so much detail in every room inside the school, making the search of every nook and cranny extremely exciting and imperative.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Students

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is easily one of the most jaw-dropping games I’ve ever experienced, and is a definite contender for game of the year. It doesn’t have the gameplay of a typical game you come across today, but the writing, visual style and immersion factors are so riveting that it more than makes up for it. This is a game that completely sucks you in, forcing you to question just as much as the other characters are about what the hell is going on. If you own a PlayStation Vita and are looking for an experience that will continually shock you, then look no further than Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.


Disgaea 4

'Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited' Coming To PS Vita This August

NIS America has revealed that the enhanced version of Disgaea 4, called Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, will be making its way exclusively to the PlayStation Vita this August. The game is set to be released both physically and digitally.

The original Disgaea 4 was well-received, but the PS Vita version will be bringing a whole lot more to the table. The following is a list of some of the things that Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited will add to the formula:

  • Brand-new scenarios that flesh out the backstory of fan-favorite characters
  • New characters and cameos of previous characters from the series
  • New spells, techniques and other gameplay enhancements
  • New music tracks
  • Hi-res sprites that look better thanks to the PS Vita’s screen

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is set to be released on August 12th in North America and August 29th in Europe.

Natural Doctrine

Western Trailer Debut For Kadokawa Games' 'Natural Doctrine'

Another JRPG is making its way to North America thanks to NIS America, and now Natural Doctrine has received its first western trailer.

The game does look very promising, as it reminds be a lot of old-school RPGs that I can’t get enough of. The game is being developed for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, though from the trailer it seems more like an early PS3 game.

Check out the Natural Doctrine debut western trailer below. [youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVMXzGgXnLY’%5D

Demon Gaze

Demon Gaze (PlayStation Vita) Review – A Dungeon Crawler With Modern Polish

The dungeon crawl genre of RPGs is one that you simply don’t come across that much anymore, which can probably be chalked up to the fact that there really hasn’t been any true advancement in terms of what the genre fundamentally is and the fact that the average gamer today has the attention span of a gnat. It’s rare when you come across a game that has you go through several floors of one area and utilizing trial-and-error to find your way to the end and hopefully find your target, which makes Demon Gaze such a welcome breath of fresh air for me. In a day and age dominated by quick action, quick action and more quick action, Demon Gaze makes you tirelessly rumble through maze-like dungeons that will in no way, shape or form hold your hand.

The story of Demon Gaze puts in you the shoes of a man named Oz, who wakes up in a dungeon with no memory of his past and now mysteriously has the power of a magic eye that lets him seal demons. You fight your way out of this unknown dungeon and are found by a woman who brings you to a place called the Dragon Princess Inn. The Inn is filled with a varied and eccentric cast of characters that are strangely interested in you, and then it isn’t long before you find yourself on a quest to trek through other dungeons and seal away their demon inhabitants.

From that point on you live at the Dragon Princess Inn, but living there is not free and every time you return to it you have to pay rent for your room. If you fail to pay the rent immediately then you will find yourself in hot water with the manager until you cough up the money. This makes you carefully consider your return trips to the home base, as the game discourages you from just wandering in and out whenever you feel like it.

Demon Gaze

You start the game off with Oz being the only character in your party, but as you gain enough money you can rent more rooms which allows you more party members in your team. When you pay the money for the new room, the manager will give you the option to either be introduced to a new character for your party that has a pre-determined name, race, class and stats, or you can choose the option to create your own character from scratch. I highly recommend using the latter option, because you will want to make sure that you have a well-balanced and varied party that all bring an important role to the combat.

Demon Gaze offers you a fairly simple pool of races and classes for you to choose from that all have their pros and cons in terms of actual combat. Oz is a Human, which means that all his stats (which are strength, intelligence, mysticism, vitality, agility and luck) are balanced and you have the option to focus on whatever stats you want to improve. However, you also have the option of choosing Elves that are good with magic, Dwarves that are good with physical combat, Migmies that are competent healers and Neys that are very agile. From this point you then funnel into the class options that will then give you stat boosts with certain weapons or armor. These classes are Fighter, Paladin, Samurai, Ranger, Assassin, Wizard and Healer.

A definite strength and highlight of the Demon Gaze experience is the cast of characters that you meet and come to know that reside in Dragon Princess Inn. These include the mysterious manager Fran, your sort-of demon-slayer mentor Lorna, the flamboyant and cowardly item shop owner Lezerem, the brave and kind weapon shop owner Cassel and many more. Throughout the course of the game you will become very attached to these characters, and there is a lot of attention that is put towards actual character development that will leave you with different opinions of the characters as the game progresses. Demon Gaze has a very whimsical visual aesthetic and comedic and silly dialogue that gives everything a light-hearted feel, but the game takes some truly dark turns that shock even more due to those sillier moments.

Demon Gaze

All of this and we haven’t even talked about the beef of the game: the gameplay. Once you dispatch from Dragon Princess Inn you will be spending the majority of your time in dungeons. You progress through these dungeons on a grid-based system, meaning that each time you move you are moving one square up, down, left of right. As you move along the grid you will come across icons that will signify that an item, enemy or note (you can leave notes to offer tips to other players online) is on the particular square, and when you step on the square you will discover what it is. Even though some enemies and bosses are often displayed on the grid, you will also come across the sometimes-too-frequent random encounters.

Now, in the battle system we are in a traditional turn-based combat scenario. You go through all of your characters and select the actions you will be taking, and when the turn begins the actions will play out depending on the stats of your characters and your enemies. What’s atypical about how Demon Gaze‘s combat is displayed is that it looks exactly like the character interactions look: like an anime picture. You have a picture of your enemies and a small picture of your characters on the side of the screen, and that is all you see of the actual combat. You will see things like weapon swipes or magic sweep across your characters’ or the enemies’ picture, and then you will hear an accompany yelp or grunt. I actually quite liked this aesthetic, because it made the transition between the narrative and the combat seamless.

The amount of enemies that you will be fighting at once varies greatly, as you will regularly come across battles that contain anywhere from one enemy to around 15 and everywhere in-between. These enemies can then continuously change their position on the combat line (front, middle or back) which effects their attack options and ability to be hit. Add to this the fact that enemies will also call in for back up often and you have some truly hectic and fun combat situations throughout each dungeon.

Another twist to the combat in this game is that you cannot be revived during battle. You can heal to your heart’s content, but when one of your characters’ health depletes completely they are dead until you exit the dungeon and have them revived by the mortician Prometh at the Dragon Princess Inn. It costs a certain amount of money to revive your characters that is relative to their level, so as the game goes on you will find that it gets more and more expensive to bring your deceased allies back to the world of the living. This makes it particularly scary when you find yourself deep within a dungeon and you are in a situation where one or more of your characters’ death is imminent, which then leaves you with the choice of either running out of the dungeon with your tail between your legs or soldiering on with a reduced party.

Demon Gaze

What truly gives this combat a unique twist is the use of Demons. Your quest has you sealing away the demons that you find often at the end of dungeons, but you also have the ability to call and utilize them in combat with items called Demon Keys. Demons have their own health system and a gauge that tells you how many turns they will stay with you in combat. If the demon gauge runs out before you put away the demon it will then go berserk and attack both the enemies and your party. When they are summoned they will act on their own, either attacking enemies or casting healing or stat boosting spells on your allies. They add a sense of spontaneity to an other-wise rigorously controlled combat system that works as a very nice compliment to it. Demons can also come out for a quick turn and strike on their own without being called, which is always good when you need quick pick-up.

The big challenge is when you come across the Demon at the end of the dungeon. These demons have very high amounts of HP and attack power, and often have some form or regular enemy defense with them. Some Demons will have defense items that will have to be destroyed before you can even touch them, and these defense items can be re-summoned as much as they like. These are situations where you want to make sure that you have saved up your Demon Key so it has a full gauge, because you are going to need to apply every resource you have to make sure that you have a solid shot of coming out the other end in one piece.

The spaces that demons are contained in are called Demon Circles. Other than just battling demons that are contained within them, they also allow you to use gems on them that will net you special items with the completion of the battle. These gems fall under 3 categories: Weapon, Armor and Special. This means that if you place a weapon gem on a Demon Circle you will win some type of weapon, an armor gem will net you some kind of armor and so on. You can progress and improve your weapons and armor solely through utilizing these Demon Circles rather than paying the exorbitant prices at the shops, which is a nice change from the usual pace. You can come across some really great items that you wont come across at the shops at all, so it’s even encouraged by the game’s own mechanics to acquire the majority of your weapons and armor this way.

Demon Gaze

Across the board, Demon Gaze is a mechanically sound dungeon crawler experience that also hoists a great narrative that mixes whimsy with despair really well. There isn’t anything in the game that marks a new era of RPGs or anything like that, but there are enough twists here to make it feel consistently unique and engaging. Like old-school RPGs of the past, it can regularly be very difficult and sometimes unforgiving with its tasks and challenges that it throws at you, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with the eventual success at the finish line is all the more great. Demon Gaze is a welcome return to a classic era of challenging RPGs that contains the sleek polish found in modern RPGs, and should be checked out by anyone with any sort interest in the RPG genre.