But hey, for what they were building, Tipping Stars does a lot of things right. My time was spent primarily on the 3DS version, but both look fantastic on their respective screens and play just as well. Some of the puzzles caught me offguard at first, but the challenge level is never overwhelming. It's just the right amount of challenge. The layouts could have probably used more diversity, but the backdrops help to alleviate any possible staleness going into later levels. The whole package is just… nice. Pleasant.
The series hasn't had many disappointments in its history (*cough*WanoGamlon*cough*... sorry, I meant to say The Wand of Gamelon) and Triforce Heroes certainly isn't one of them. It looks fantastic, it plays exactly how it should, and there's plenty of both material and challenges to keep playing for a long time. The Colosseum might be underwhelming, and the picture-taking stuff is basic, but the rest is damn fun. Now all I need are friends… *sniffle*
Really though, there's a lot of content here, and it's all worth exploring. The different character archetypes are all perfectly playable and fun to build up a personalized team with (my samurai is always named Sanjuro, in case anybody wanted to know). Difficulty might be off the scale at times, with the occasional enemy that will take going back to earlier floors to even think about taking on, and the shop gets pricey, but I can't honestly find much fault in this game beyond that. It's definitely too hardcore for many casual fans, but if you're the type that enjoys a sturdy wall to break down in the name of progress, then I hope you brought some padding… sometimes, love hurts.
If you're the type that wants to find and fight everything, Etrian Mystery Dungeon will keep you occupied for days and days. If you just need a quick fix here and there, it's a great five-minute excursion (or a few hours of digging down per trip). And if you like on-your-toes strategy, this will do you good. Really, if you like a deep experience with plenty of replay value in portable dungeon-crawling, this is about as good as it gets.
So if you like classic RPGs, there's no reason to avoid any of the Bravely games, and if you're not sure about this one for some reason, download that free demo and get crackin'. It's easy to pick up for a bit (even if just for "Chompcraft" on the loo) and play a few minutes, or play through an afternoon with. Or for nostalgia's sake, you can sit super-close to your old console TV with your nose practically on the screen to relive those JRPG glory days.
Curtain Call is a nice and "fixed" update to the original Theatrhythm, which while good already, is made better and with a few additional little tracks tossed in. Rhythm gamers will definitely find some challenge with the most difficult levels (though not anything lower, they're super-easy to perfectly combo). Final Fantasy nerds can still scratch that itch without having to dedicate three hours at a time to leveling up and reaching new towns, and for anybody else, it's an easy portable distraction worth the time and cash. Is it perfect? Nope. But it's more than good enough.
The best part? Trying to explain why this is your new addiction to pass time when you need a break from something bigger like Persona Q or Bravely Second. It’s a time waster, one that you dare not say… NEIGH to. Get it? If I leave on a joke, I get a carrot, so there you go. [*tosses carrot* ~Ed. Nick Tan]
By and large these are all minor gripes. The battle system is a lot of frenetic fun, the writing is sharp, and visually the game is that Level-5 cel-shaded colorful anime that looks fantastic. The 3D is unnecessary, but they appear to have learned from what was irritating in a game like LBX (recent as it was) and really worked to smooth out the rough and awkward edges. Aside from a few clumsy design choices, mostly regarding side mission requirements and scrounging around awkwardly for the few required missions, Yo-Kai Watch is a charming gem that's only helping bolster the claim that fun and full RPG experiences are only getting better on portable hardware. And it's a great and action-ish way to invite newer RPG players into the party without entirely scaring away the more hardcore fans. Just because it's cute and funny doesn't mean it doesn't get tense, like seeing a g-g-g-GHOOOOOOST!
For a game with so much content, it's at home on a portable screen, even if the 3D isn't anything to write home about. (And at the higher settings is actually pretty painful... like Virtual Boy painful.) Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is an impressive title to add to the 3DS library. Now if only we could get more noteworthy profile, non-port games to portable consoles in general (and the 3DS specifically) that would be greeeeaaaat.
For a simple experience, with multiple objectives per stage that can't be all completed at once (with a handful of exceptions), so it's good as a short-term distraction. Hitman GO is designed to be a temporary go-to for those times you're stuck in minor delays, like a doctor's appointment when you've arrived early, not the DMV or anything crazy. It'll do the trick, but aside from the lovely visual style, it's a largely forgettable experience. Not a bad one, but "oh yeah, I remember playing this" nostalgia after you've worked through the levels in the few hours it takes to shoot through.
Aside from some outdated appearance issues, JRPG cliches, and forgettable music, there isn’t anything terribly wrong with this game. The characters are charming, exploring is satisfying, the action is fast and engaging… this may not be the title that gets the Vita flying off of store shelves, but Tales of Hearts R is definitely worth adding to a pre-existing library. I may be one of the few still really happy with my PSP’s titles, but I’m growing quite fond of my PSP’s bigger little brother now.
It doesn’t have the same level of depth or detail a traditional LoZ game employs, but it’s satisfying, and I can see keeping Legends in my system for a long time coming. Sure, it can make you want to yank your hair out by the roots sometimes, but if it didn’t, would you really want it?
Though Kirby’s Adventure was super-easy, I still loved the hell out of it and I still do nostalgically. But it’s not 1993 anymore... even if sometimes I want it to be. Kirby: Planet Robobot isn't bad by any means, and it's still plenty fun, but it's akin to that song you loved in college or that book you read as a kid that changed your life. It doesn't keep quite the same appeal so many years later, as good as it still may be.
Aside from some faulty matchmaking, the package is a fighting game worth playing. It looks good enough and runs smoothly, and even when lagging, the online play is nice and clean. And it doesn’t bring anything new to the table (besides Nakaruru from Samurai Showdown in her console KoF debut, along with one or two other new faces), but everything it’s doing is being done right. Finally, King of Fighters is beginning to summon that feel SNK had harnessed generations ago, and it feels damn good. It’s going to have to innovate further to reclaim its crown, but at least it’s back in the court.
As far as old-style RPGs go, I Am Setsuna was worth looking forward to after the showing at E3 this year, and just as worth playing. All of the little elements to the nostalgia part of my brain have been tickled, and at parts of the story I was nearly ready to shed a tear or two. I don’t know how much this will appeal to younger gamers grown up on more sophisticated role-playing titles, JRPG or otherwise, but for anyone who can appreciate the legends Square (not Square Enix as much) put out generations ago, this won’t just scratch your back—it will tuck you into bed, safe and sound, just like the end of a good story should be.
It doesn’t offer the same personality and smile as Thomas Was Alone, but it’s lovely in the almost zen-like way that easy-to-grasp controls and a lack of direct pressure can create. Sure, it’s not difficult, nor is it as personality-driven as other HAL games like Kirby, but it’s a similar, simple charm. Even for the average puzzle-solving blockhead.
As far as remakes go, Square Enix shows time and time again how to do it right, and Dragon Quest VII for 3DS might be their best DQ revamp yet—a massive adventure packed with stories and characters, traveling across time and magical realms to plunge through volcanoes, caves, and underground lairs. I don’t see this appealing to a large audience who isn’t already fans of either the genre or the Dragon Quest series, but there’s nothing wrong with an old-school romp through swamps and slaying the hordes of palette-swapped enemies in the fields. Chicken soup for the gamer’s soul, y’know?
The amazing thing about the world of RCRDX is that all of the references made are overt and recognizable, yet blends into the background so easily. Witty throwback ZERO WING reference and almost-Little Mac's trailer on a billboard? Running people over with generic replicas of the Turtle Van or a Vespa scooter, then abusing the Mariachi just to take his guitar for some pitch-perfect head wounds? If you’re an old-schooler who needs a retro fix, there are very few games that can fit the bill better than RETRO CITY RAMPAGE DX.