Rice Digital's Reviews
Some minor technical issues aside — like hair clipping through character models in a way that feels lazy and haphazard for a big release like this — there is more to like than dislike in Fire Emblem Engage thus far. My biggest worry, looking forward to the next several dozen hours of my life, is that some of the more interesting characters aren’t being introduced as early as I would like. But we shall see!
Whether you’re new to Neptunia or a grizzled old veteran like me, Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters is a must-play entry in the series — though in the former case I’d perhaps recommend at least playing through mk2 or Re;Birth2 first — and it’s a delight to see the series thriving. Here’s to many more years of Nep ahead of us!
As something of a scrub myself, I found that just a short time with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters for NES helped enormously with both my own sense of confidence and my understanding of some of the genre fundamentals. And while I’m under no illusions that I’m now in a suitable position to jump online in one of today’s fighting games and come anywhere even remotely close to participating on a competitive level, I feel like I’ve definitely improved. And that’s got to be worth something.
Like most of the other Neptunia games, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory stands by itself as a self-contained storyline and is as good a place to start with the series as any — though once again, you’ll likely get more enjoyment out of it if you play mk2 or Re;Birth2 at the very least beforehand.
As previously noted, there’s actually no need to play the first AI: The Somnium Files before jumping into Nirvana Initiative thanks to its excellent spoiler-limiting option — you even have to prove you played the original by answering a couple of questions about its finale — but, having now played both in immediate succession, I highly recommend that you plough through both as one big project. This is an exceptionally well-realised narrative world filled with absolutely wonderful characters — and after a while, you won’t want to leave them behind.
Hissatsu Buraiken is worth persevering with, though, because aside from its cumbersome boss fights, it’s an enjoyable game and an interesting twist on both the beat ’em up and top-down run and gun formulae. It’s presented well, has some catchy music and is a decent amount of fun in two-player — just don’t take it too seriously, particularly while you’re getting to grips with it, and there’s fun to be had for sure.
All in all, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is a well-liked installment in the series for good reason. It introduces some popular characters, it features solid mechanics, it has a great story and one of the most notorious endings in the whole series. Were it not completely superceded by its revamped version Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2, which we’ll talk about in good time, I’d recommend it unreservedly; as it stands, however, the latter version is not only easier to find today thanks to its release on PC, but it’s also a superior experience.
All in all, Hyperdimension Neptunia is a bit of a tough sell to people today due to its many peculiar idiosyncracies, but if you enjoy the series it is still worth exploring to see where everything stemmed from. In some respects it’s kind of remarkable that a game this odd managed to spawn such a formidable franchise, but I guess it’s testament to the lovely art, the solid writing and the imaginative, satirical setting that people still found things to enjoy here, even if they didn’t necessarily get along with the gameplay.
I could happily talk for hours about AI: The Somnium Files and the many strange and wonderful things that happen over the course of its various narrative routes. But I feel my own experience with the game was helped enormously by the fact that I didn’t really know what to expect going in to it, other than an awareness that a lot of people I know and trust really enjoyed it.
All in all, Nekketsu! Street Basketball All-Out Dunk Heroes is a solid entry in the Kunio-kun series, whether you’re playing alone or with friends. Its simplistic take on basketball makes it accessible and enjoyable even to those who aren’t big sports fans, and its consistent presentation and feel with the rest of the series gives it a distinct appeal that remains somewhat timeless.
In some respects, I understand why World’s End Club didn’t get nearly as much attention as Uchikoshi’s other work. But I also think a creative, interesting, title that keeps you guessing like this deserves a bit more “cult” status than it has. So consider this me doing my part in telling you that if you enjoy Uchikoshi’s other work, World’s End Club is definitely worth spending some time with; just don’t go in expecting exactly what you’ve seen from him in those previous titles, keep an open mind… and protect Nyoro at all costs.
All in all, this is just a great game that deserves some recognition for not only being highly enjoyable on its own merits, but also for successfully paying respectful and intelligent homage to a wide variety of retro titles. A hearty thumbs up from us on this one.
And that’s the beauty of Tetris Effect. It challenges you, sure, particularly on its higher difficulty levels, but it also feels like a game that wraps you in a wonderful sense of warmth, love and supportiveness. It manages all this without resorting to rosy-cheeked “wholesomeness” tropes, and instead through more abstract, ill-defined but no less potent means. As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect game to play in a darkened room, sitting beneath a blanket and accompanied by the warm glow of Christmas lights.
Unfortunately, none of this gets us away from the fact that this game just doesn’t feel like a Turtles game — and even taken on its own merits, it’s neither satisfying nor fun, particularly for the solo player. It is, of course, a welcome inclusion in the Cowabunga Collection because it’s just as important a part of Turtles history as the more well-loved titles in the franchise — but it’s probably not one you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time with unless you’re particularly determined to find the fun buried somewhere within.
Sure, that learning process might take a little while if you are coming into this expecting “Squaresoft does Zelda” — but once you truly understand what makes Secret of Mana an RPG rather than an action adventure, there’s a consistently satisfying and enjoyable experience to be had. And it’s one I’m glad I finally made the time to explore to the fullest — even if I am a tad late to the party!
Final Fight has aged extraordinarily well for the most part. It’s still one of the most beautifully presented games in Capcom’s back catalogue, with detailed backdrops and enormous, wonderfully animated sprites. The basic gameplay is straightforward but solid — though fans of later beat ’em ups may find themselves missing slightly later conventions such as the ability to run — and the sound effects are satisfying. My personal weak point of the game is the music, which is unremarkable at best and a nightmarish cacophony at worst.
Of course, there are still similar experiences being put out today, with probably the most notable high-profile one being the Forza Horizon series — though the feel of open-world racers like that will always be notably different from the more structured gameplay of classics like Blur. Likewise, the indie sphere has also been exploring the arcade racer genre for a while now — though most tend to focus a little more on its “vanishing point” heyday in the 16-bit era rather than provide experiences similar to Blur. In other words, there really is nothing quite like Blur out there in 2022.
But, aside from the lack of in-game explanation, this isn’t necessarily a failing of the game itself; it simply requires a bit of an adjustment in attitude from many other shoot ’em ups. Specifically, Metal Black is a game where you cannot be too proud to use your special weapons; the beam is absolutely integral to success. And once you get your head around that, the game is a lot of fun. Still absolutely bastard hard at times, yes — particularly once you get beyond the first couple of stages — but a worthwhile journey to make, and a piece of Taito history that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Super Woden GP feels like the sort of racing game you’d play when you got home from school and stay glued to it until dinnertime, at which point your Mum would yell at you for not doing your homework. It rewards persistence and commitment — and both of those can sometimes feel like they’re in short supply these days.