Senran Kagura as a series is something of a guilty pleasure for me, faults and confusion and all. At first glance… like the cover... it's a bunch of overly-exaggerated anime girls on a beach in skimpy outfits. A mission or two in, and it's overly-exaggerated anime ninjas on a beach in a contest to strip each other's clothes off. But eventually it reaches a story that's deeper than one expects from this kind of experience… then throws the mind back into the gutter for a bit. Because boobs, amirite?
I understand I shouldn't expect the depth of SRPGs like Disgaea to build up a team from scratch, but I would like to feel like I was a part of the situation and not simply watching like a coach from the sidelines. Once that's a possibility, I will totally be onboard with PXZ as a series. But as enjoyable as this can be one battle each sitting, it overstays its welcome. But I'm happy it exists, and takes the concept that established characters can be played with like the Play-Doh these devs may have snacks on as children.
It’s a nice package, and the 3D is proof that classic titles from what I consider the golden era of gaming can pop fantastically well on the 3DS. Next time, hopefully the selection can vary more broadly, making the package both worthy of a full price tag and hours of investment instead of a burst of nostalgia and the question of why my wallet feels lighter than it should.
The younger players amongst us should have no trouble picking up and enjoying some Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice. It’s geared toward younger kids, and maybe as a 32-year-old man with nostalgia brain, I want to try something a bit more. It feels short with only a handful of hours to work through each stage, many of the stages feel the same, and while the platforming isn’t bad, it’s like a small piece of candy: It’s gone quickly, no matter how nice it might taste. The game is somewhere between the classic franchise titles and the modern ones, but it holds truer to the originals, and y’know, that’s a good enough start.
The amiibo coming with the game is definitely a perk because it's friggin' adorable. The game is only an average experience. It has plenty of levels but many are the same kind of grind. Half of the non-platforming stages are fun, and the other are torturously placid. Environments do change from world to world, but the challenges are almost identical. It's not bad, but it's not great either. Could've used more "zip," I think.
For a quick fix, the solo boards really aren’t too bad, but at the same time they’re not much to write home about. Board game enthusiasts will find themselves bored quickly, the average player will only break it out when there are friends around—which is the point, and I guess with friends the skill-based games aren’t too bad—and Party aficionados will be able to scratch that virtual itch. For everybody else, unless you’re really planning on playing with others on the go, there aren’t many mini-games here worth playing more than a few times, so be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. Then again, Mario Party is a series that’s been on six different consoles (N64, Gamecube, Wii, GBA, DS, 3DS), so if you’re not aware of what’s going on by now, I can’t say I feel sorry for you.
Doesn’t mean I think it’s worth a full price tag purchase, but fans of the Joestars should find enjoyment in it. Everybody else, consult and test with your Bizarre Adventure-loving friend before dropping any coin on Eyes of Heaven.
At its heart, this is a game for the masochist players who, like me, keep trying to reach just one level further. Sure, we’ll be slaughtered, and there’s little we can do to fully prepare for every enemy that finds our soon-to-be-rotting corpses on the battlefield. But there’s something still cute about how dangerous an overpowered shadowy beast can be. I literally cheered when I survived my first night cycle (and was immediately slain in the daytime), but then I started back up again from the beginning, no progress having been made. This genre is almost a fetish for certain players, and this game presents as fervent an example as any can be. And that’s honestly its downfall, because it’s otherwise a good kind of challenging. I just wish it could feel like there was no way to get “good” at the game itself. You know, make it more "fun" instead of an instrument of pain tolerance.
I can see this being a fun distraction for fans of online competition, but I worry it could be “too Japanese” for a Western audience to take seriously, even from NIS. It’s not really “bad” or anything; it’s just too niche for its own good. I found some enjoyment in it, but after a few times playing through the story, it felt more tedious than anything. There’s not enough here to make me want to strive for greatness. Maybe if the devs had strived for it first, I would’ve stayed glued to my controller a bit longer.
While I do remember shouting, without irony, "I despise this game" during the crazy difficulty swings, looking as critically as possible it's not a terrible way of spending a few hours. (Though for reference, I haven't used that many taboo words in short, angry bursts since I learned the words being used.) If you're a fan of the show or manga, you'll surely find something to like in Burning Blood. If you're only a casual fan or have a friend who is, after some adjustments to the battle system, you should have some fun as well. Just remember that the story is an exercise in abuse: it'll give you a win before pushing your face in the dirt, and not always in the fun, big-kid-who-doesn't-know-their-own-strength kind of way.
For the few things it does right, like some variation in the mission structure and a control scheme that makes sense (even in a hurty way), it's just not that good. For a series that has worked so hard to make a great solo experience, even—especially—in its first-person outings, it’s incredibly unbalanced with a difficulty spike I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. And not in a challenging way, but in a “yup, I need multiple other people to cover me/back me up” way. Some of us enjoy playing FPS titles by ourselves sometimes, and I don’t want to feel relegated to a small handful of missions I might be able to work through on my own. Scaling the difficulty has been done since this genre began, so why it’s being bypassed now I have no clue.
If ever a game was made to put (mostly) buxom girls in bikinis and have them fight, this is the culmination of that. And hey, there's a time and a place for such things (again, LC comes to mind). Otherwise, there are so many other, better, more fulfilling beat-'em-ups to dive into. Why bother with this one-trick pony?
It would have been fine to integrate the storytelling in the play—of which there is absolutely none—and had a “meh” battle system, because that would bring this up a few notches. But instead, it’s little more than an interactive manga with some battles tossed into some of the most boring environments this side of Dragonball Evolution. In fact, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but give me Dragonball Evolution instead of Romance Dawn. At least then I feel like I’m playing something.