As an otaku, you probably have a long list of items to spend on, from manga to merchandise. While reading this article, you may notice that the aforementioned list quickly swells as it comes to include the vast universe of video games. Manga is a very flexible money-maker, since the producer has the opportunity to expand from a single earner to multiple inlets of cash from various sources. Since there are too many games to present in a single article, I have divided them into a series of articles for the peace of dial-up connections.
However, there are certain rules to the list:
- The same franchise will not be featured more than once on the same article.
- The same developer will not be featured more than once on the same article.
- The same producer will not be featured more than once on the same article.
- The same game will not be featured more than once in any article.
- The items on the list will be ordered randomly and not in any order of preference or such.
- One item in the list will be a direct anime-to-game adaptation instead of a game fashioned towards otakus, not more not less.
- Spoilers shall be restricted, and spoiler alerts shall be boldly visible.
Furthermore, most of the items in every article will be tried and tested by me personally, so that I know what I’m writing. All reviews are original and authenticity is guaranteed.
Now that we have the formalities out of the way, let’s jump into the list.
1. Valkyria Chronicles 2
Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a PlayStation Portable classic. The game is a tactical turn-based Japanese role-playing game (JRPG), the second in the ‘Valkyria’ series of video games developed and published by Sega. It is laced with shooter elements and futuristic, innovative concepts tied firmly together by an intricately woven story-line. The soundtrack of the game matches the themes it represents, such as war, progress and mostly a light, fun mood. During conflicts the soundtrack is nearly inaudible, but lingers in the background. The plot is truly impressive and unique on its own stead, as it holds the interest of the gamer firmly with everything that happens in the game, while having a strongly rooted central focus on the protagonists.
The game takes place in the fictional continent of Europa (loosely based on Europe) in 1937. In the ensuing war between the two superpowers of the region, the Western Atlantic Federation and the Eastern European Imperial Alliance, a minute land called the Principality of Gallia lies sandwiched. Gallia (as it is referred to) is no small town, however. It is richly laden with Ragnite Ore, an important energy source in the game. Therefore, both the superpowers vie for this piece of land. Gallia is also home to the protagonist, 17-year-old Avan Hardins. Little is revealed about the cheerful boy, apart from the fact that his brother, Leon Hardins, a soldier at the prestigious Lanceal Royal Military Academy, has passed away due to unknown reasons. The details behind his death are classified and are only known to men of high posts. Therefore, Avan decides to enroll himself to the Academy and seeks to know about the death of his brother.
From this point onward, the player follows the role of Avan in defending the Principality of Gallia and how he moves up the ranks and uncovers shocking details about the Gallian Civil War and the Second Europan War. The story features one of my favorite plot-twists of all time and in my view, the best build-up and climax written in the history of gaming. I will try hard to restrict myself from giving away anymore details about the plot itself, but the story is wonderfully written and is critically acclaimed too.
Art Style and Graphics
The in-game graphics are above average, but do not push the limits of the system. However, that does not matter since the focus is more on the story and turn-based gameplay than on the in-game visuals. I constantly mention and specify them as in-game visuals (which are actually pretty good, just not as good as God Of War, or Tekken) because the animation and sprites look amazingly authentic.
The game, as mentioned before, involves shooter elements wrapped in a turn-based cocoon. The game has you controlling Avan and his classmates, who can all be leveled-up in classic RPG-esque manners, i.e. by using those characters frequently, having them gain experience and consequently leveling them up. The controls of the game are very simple, although there are some complexities which a veteran can take advantage of.
The game has its characters divided on a class-based system, with four main classes – Scouts (high mobility, low damage), Shocktroopers (medium mobility, medium damage to infantry), Engineers (high mobility, low damage, ability to heal characters and vehicles) and Lancers (medium-high mobility, high damage to infantry and vehicles, low ammo). These classes are further divided into sub-classes which are then divided into sub-classes too. This allows the game to strike an excellent balance between the characters and their various abilities. The personality of each character also affects their abilities and their abilities are enhanced when you do missions associated with them.
If I had the money to buy a PSP and this game, I’d buy it. On the spot. Or wait for the PC Remaster to come out.
2. Yandere Simulator
Yandere Simulator is a stealth-action stalking game. It is a PC-only game so far, and is currently still in development. In fact, all the names in the game, including the very name of the game itself are only placeholder titles. The game is to be considered quite incomplete, since only the basic gameplay mechanics and graphics have been formulated and implemented so far. Therefore, it may not be fair to judge it now. The game is free for testing on PC. You may find the download for the launcher for the game here. The developer, who calls himself YandereDev (real name Alex) is single-handedly working on programming the game. The final game will be very complex, according to YandereDev. Therefore, it is unlikely to be ported to mobile platforms. The game may be ported to consoles depending on the results of a Kickstarter crowdfund, since the process of making a console game has a huge price tag attached to it.
The game takes inspiration from the Hitman series, the Yakuza series, and many other games and incorporates their features to avoid too much darkness and provide a break from the seemingly perpetual cycle of stalk-kill-clean-repeat. It also excels at doing so.
The game has not revealed a concrete plot yet, but it concerns Yandere-chan or Ayano Aishi (placeholder name), the pretty protagonist of the game, whose objective is to make her Senpai “notice her”. More importantly, she has to make sure that Senpai-kun OR Senpai-chan (gender choice will be available in the final game) does not notice anybody else. Yan-chan has 10 rivals whom she will have to eliminate, the methods of which will be elaborated in the gameplay section.
Yan-chan is shown to be an emotionless girl, who experiences a change when she feels a “longing, a yearning, a desire” for Senpai, and will do anything – even kill – for his love. Apart from eliminating the competition, she is also determined to seem normal in front of her schoolmates, and therefore commits herself to activities such as cycling, reading manga and playing video games, although she finds it mundane and boring. However, when she focuses on a target and kills her, Yan-chan gets visibly insane, and avoids Senpai as much as possible. She wants to preserve her reputation as a normal schoolgirl, and this is exactly how Yandere Simulator draws in the player.
Art Style and Graphics
Yandere Simulator uses the Unreal Engine and has good graphics, technically speaking. Polygons are noticeable here and there, but I have only tried the latest debug test build version of the game, which was released on September 1. The art style of the game is classic anime style, comparable to the aforementioned Valkyria Chronicles. However, the games do have a huge generation gap, so it is unwise to compare the both of them. The character models have been created by various people, with a lot of help from the community (that numbers to more than a million people, as per YandereDev’s YouTube channel) that follows the development of the game in the form of brilliant artwork, and even usable 3-D models submitted to YandereDev. The visuals of the game change as the player continues murdering students in the school, and it gains darker shadows, less saturation and hue, and enters a more gray-scale-like shading as the students become increasingly aware of a serial killer on the loose. YandereDev calls this feature of the game “School Environment”.
There are multiple small graphical details given to objects and characters in the game that reflect the Japanese culture presented in the game. And then of course, we have school uniforms. The game lets you choose between a set of five uniform styles in different colors, from the classic sailor uniform to traditional black robes. The uniforms are well made to suit students of different shapes and sizes [some of those sizes are unrealistically huge (and firm)] and don’t appear to be weirdly “stretching” over them. The school also has a design reminiscent of Japanese schools as portrayed in anime, with the main building having a rectangular design riddled with numerous clubs (all of which serve a purpose in the gameplay), from an occult club to something as innocent as a cooking club. The entrance to the school houses small lockers for students to keep their shoes in (again, serves a gameplay purpose). Beside the school is a huge running track and garden (both are important gameplay elements). A little farther away from the school is a full dressing room and shower room, where students have a change of clothes (a school swimsuit, a gym uniform, the normal school uniform and the option to go nude) and can bathe in what can only be described as a bath house. The game pays attention to detail, which results in a great deal of authenticity, which contributes to the yandere feel of the game.
The game, at its core, is a stalking game, where you can achieve objectives by following your rival. You can eliminate your rival by simply attacking her with a weapon, electrocuting her, faking her suicide when you actually murdered her, helping her by hooking her up to another boy, bullying her into suicide, framing her for a crime you committed, getting her expelled from school by ratting out on her when she breaks the school rules, or even sedate her then kidnap her, keep her in your basement where you have the option of torturing her for anywhere from 30 minutes to 18 hours continuously to break the human in her and reduce her sanity to 0% and then bring her along to school and make her kill a student and then kill herself, or kidnap another student and make her kill your rival. These are just some of the ways to eliminate a rival. There are a lot more methods to be implemented in the final game, depending on the kind of financial support YandereDev receives. All of this is a lot tougher than it sounds because while the game relies on surrealism, it also relies on realism, which means you need to clean the evidence.
The difficulty of cleaning up depends on the method chosen by the player to eliminate the rival.I will elaborate only on the basic stabbing of a rival. First of all, you must make sure that there are no witnesses around, i.e. it’s a secluded area. If any witnesses are there, you must kill them too. This will reduce your sanity, which will make you visibly insane. Senpai cannot see you like this, otherwise he will reject you forever. Apart from sanity, you also have blood on your hands, clothes and fingerprints on your murder weapon. The body has your DNA on it too, and it is spilling blood all over the ground. So the first step is to dispose of the body and the weapon, which you can do by dumping them in the school incinerator or the garbage dump and then covering it with garbage bags. Then the next step is to get a mop and a bucket of water, then mopping up the trail of blood. During this process, the mop will get saturated with blood, so you will have to dip the mop in water to use it again. This will make the water in the bucket bloody. Also, try not to step in the blood or you will leave bloody footprints. After cleaning up the blood, dispose of the bloody water by pouring it into a basin and then changing your clothes in the dressing room, you have to clean the blood off your body by bathing. You can dispose of your bloody uniform using the incinerator. If you follow these steps correctly to perfection, you get away with the murder of a girl.
There are many peripheral gameplay mechanics implemented in the game to make it more fun to play. There are panty shots to take, panties to wear (I’m not kidding, it’s a feature in the game) bicycles to ride, clubs activities to participate in, mini-games to play, people to stalk, attributes to raise, manga to collect, people to bitch about on the Internet, a basement to torture people in, and many, many more things to do. The scope and flexibility of the game regarding the gameplay mechanics and what it allows you to do is incredibly RIDICULOUS. The game forsakes all control and gives it to the player, and there are very few games that have been able to do this to the extent that Yandere Simulator has done. And what we have seen is only somewhat close to the final game, which has a load of Easter eggs, challenges and weapons to collect and kill with. Yandere Simulator effectively bundles a megaton of features into a relatively small package simply by giving the gamer the reins.
Since Yandere Simulator is slated to release in 2019 (which is a really long way off), I would request you to download the debug test version of the game, and contribute to the development of the game. You could offer financial support to the developer, make a business inquiry (Even invest in it!) or offer resources to help YandereDev in completing this Behemoth.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
Some of you must have seen this coming a light-year away. A 3D-battle-arena-action game developed by CyberConnect2 and published by ye olde Bandai Namco Entertainment, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 certainly kicked up a storm when it released. The latest among the Ninja Storm series, the game garnered attention for its revamped gameplay and lengthy list of characters, both playable and non-playable. There are DLC and expansions available in the game, which unlock non-canon characters Boruto – Naruto’s son, and Sara – Sakura’s daughter. Fans of the Ultimate Ninja series will notice quite a few similarities, but it will feel like a new game due to the slight yet vital changes.
Skip to the “Art Style and Graphics” section to skip the spoilers. Read on if you have read Chapter 599 or watched Episode 343 of Naruto: Shippuden – “Who Are You?”. The story is canon, so I won’t go in-depth to explain it, but just the gist of it and what it feels like.
The plot of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 takes off where Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Full Burst had left. During the Fourth Shinobi War, Naruto smashes Tobi’s mask to show that he is actually Obito Uchiha. Kakashi and Guy explain to Naruto that Obito was a comrade of theirs, after which Obito explains that his actions are a result of Kakashi leaving Rin (Rin Nohara was part of Kakashi’s team). Madara appears next to Obito, and now it is Naruto’s job to take down the both of them, and stop them from ending the world.
The story of the game is explained in bits and pieces, here and there, slowly but surely. It is meant to be more of a cinematic experience with involvement of the user only for the fights, more than the user himself/herself creating a story line. This means that while the actual game lasts for 20 hours, there is an added experience with the cut-scenes. It also helps that the story is canon, so the player does not miss anything at all when switching from the anime to the game and back.
Naruto: Shippuden draws a very complex story with multiple facets and explaining this completely with comprehensiveness on the user’s side is not done very well even by the anime. It cuts critical moments from the manga. The same mistake is made by the game, which cuts some content. This results in occasions where the player is left wondering how events that occur are occurring in the first place. This is due to the way the script is narrated, with regular cuts and out-of-context scenes being given context only later in the game, which can only be reached after the game garners enough curiosity and interest from the player to play on.
So while you play the game, you feel like you are missing out on events only sometimes, whereas you have actually missed quite a bit of the story. Also, it is not sequenced very well, so it does not intertwine perfectly with the gameplay.
Art Style and Graphics
The graphics of the game is a monumental reason as to how the game retains the old, classic, ‘Naruto‘ feel while actually having an over-the-top gameplay system. The art style of the game is similar to the anime, but is not identical, since there is a shift from 2D drawings to 3D models of each character. Therefore, the characters appear more “smoothed-out” and less sharp. The characters also lack muscular definition and facial expressions. However, the graphics are excellent, with beautiful particle animation and character models. The physics of the game is aptly underestimated, and lends the game a floaty feel when playing. The graphics of the weapons and the characters, especially the Tailed Beasts have been given attention and are convincingly portrayed.
The backdrops have been obviously paid special attention. They appear to be hand drawn and also rotate with the movement of the characters around the arena. When playing the game, I actually realized how small the arena actually was, and how much space the backdrop took up. This automatically means that the backdrop is crucial to the game and the feel, it’s authenticity, convincing action, and other things among them. The backdrop conveys the time of day, the state of the environment, the nature of the environment and many more things which are indescribable. Therefore, the dynamic backdrop itself becomes a major selling-point of the game.
The gameplay mechanics of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 are very similar to Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Full Burst. It has the classic Bandai Namco tradition of QUICK-TIME EVENTS. It retains the basic movements, combos, actions and jutsu. However, the latest installment in the franchise includes a returning feature – the ability to Wall Run. The game now allows the character to fight the opponent horizontally on the sides of a wall – but now, simultaneous horizontal and vertical combat is available, with only one player on the wall, and the opponents on the arena. This is a new facet to the feature, since the earlier games did not have the ability to allow simultaneous combat. To solve this, both players were shifted to wall combat mode, so that the game could function in a sensible manner.
A more ground-breaking change in the game is the ability swap characters in and out of the arena while in-game. This is a bigger development in the game since it is the most obvious, new and unique feature to be added to the game. While switching out characters interrupts the flow of the game and feels glitchy, even gimmicky at times, it was a highly anticipated feature on the side of the fans of the series. This was due to many reasons, including the switch animation, the switch mechanics, and the implementation of the feature itself. Both characters share the same health bar, which means that if Character A is dealt with 20% damage and the player switches to Character B, Character B would have also sustained the 20% damage. This is a bit irritating, as it simply does not make sense.
Another set of gameplay mechanics new to the game include the Armor Break and Weapon Break mechanics, which allow the player to attack the opponent enough to break their protective armor and create clashes to break the opponent’s weapons. This leads to the opponent being more vulnerable to the player’s attacks and also leaves him/her with less effective combos and damage dealing ability.
A new system to perform elemental jutsu has been implemented, which divides types of damage according to the element of the jutsu performed. Different elements of jutsu have different effects and also carry a territorial advantage with themselves. For example, if the player uses Water Element jutsu in a related environment, the range of the attack increases. If you use Fire Element jutsu, you can burn armor away. At the same time, a burned opponent can strafe quickly across the arena to get rid of the fire. Even Water Element jutsu can do the trick. Additionally, the player can use Ultimate Jutsu and Awakenings the same way as you could in the earlier installments of the series.
If you are a fan of the Naruto series, you could consider buying a copy of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Storm 4. It is quite pricey, especially along with the DLC and expansion packs. At 60 dollars a pop, (3284 rupees, or 4597 rupees with expansions and DLC), the game definitely isn’t cheap. If you are a gamer who is looking for a game, you can pass on this one and look for something more dynamic and satisfying. A different franchise, perhaps.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you have any suggestions at all for the future editions please comment below. Constructive criticism is always appreciated.