SEGA’s long running Yakuza franchise is finally giving its previous PlayStation 2 exclusive title a much needed remake on the PlayStation 4. Today we dive back into the world of Kamurocho to see if a trip back to 2005 is actually a trip worth having. This is our early review of Yakuza Kiwami.
Rez is a one in a million game. A vision so confident, so bold, and so focused only comes around every decade or so. Released on the Dreamcast in late 2001 in Japan, ported for all regions on the PlayStation 2 in 2002, rereleased in HD for the Xbox 360 in 2008, remastered for VR on the PlayStation 4 in 2016, it’s now fully featured, fully formed on Steam and Windows in 2017. Rez Infinite may not technically be in the SEGA family on account of series rights apparently now owned by Enhance Games, but the legacy started with Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s concepts makes it only fitting to honor it here.
It’s a modern marvel, at once distinct, yet familiar; unique, yet clear in its inspirations; as awe-inspiring as it is clearly dated. Standing head and shoulders above its contemporaries in concept, presentation, and vision, no game comes close to it; before or since.
For the record before you hit the jump, there are certain features of Rez Infinite for the PC that I will not, and cannot review. Trance vibration is functional but I do not have the controllers for it, nor will I talk about the VR features of the game. The screenshots are also a lower res 720p than 1080p, apologies. Now, let us dive into synesthesia, and experience Mizuguchi’s masterpiece.
Night Trap is an odd little gem that has a cemented history in gaming. While the game has garnered mix reactions over the years, those that have played it will all tell you that its the leader of FMV games from the 90s, being one of the most popular games in the genre. 25 years after the initial release, Night Trap is finally getting a remastered port for modern platforms including PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One. Today we give you our review of Digital Picture’s Night Trap, brought back to life 25 years later.
I have no doubt that many reviews released today for Sonic Mania, releasing August 15 to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and releasing August 29 to PC, will chart the ups and downs of the Sonic franchise, make mention of the recent Sonic Boom games, and make the assertion that Sonic has not been good for a long time. I also have no doubt that reviews like my own will smugly mention such reviews in an attempt to show how I’m coming at Sonic Mania from a more educated and informed place. Really, I just wanted an intro paragraph and now that that’s done we can get to what we’re all here for: my review of Sonic Mania!
The Valkyria series has had a rather shaky history. The original game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles, was released in 2008 on the PS3. The initial release on the PS3 was met with generally positive reviews, but it was lacking in terms of sales. The game was notably praised for it’s more free movement via the BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones) system, being somewhat of a successor to the battle system in Sakura Taisen 3 and future titles. Later Valkyria Chronicles would receive better success with the later PC port in 2014, along with being successful enough to spawn two sequels on the PSP simply called Valkyria Chronicles II and Valkyria Chronicles III respectively.
But after a bit of a hiatus, the Valkyria series is back with a new installment on the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Xbox One (Western exclusive), more specifically a spin-off game that shifts genres from a strategy RPG to a more traditional action RPG, while retaining some familiar Valkyria elements. Is this game a revolution like implied, or should it stay oppressed?
A Puyo Puyo game, released in the west. Such a strange sentence to type out in the context, due to the Puyo Puyo franchise being one of those notorious cases of a series being stuck in Asian shores with maybe the rare localized title or import title that quickly comes and goes. The last time a major Puyo Puyo game was in American and European territories was the 2004 title Puyo Pop Fever, and since then the series has been quiet. Aside from the occasional table scraps like the port of Puyo Puyo Tsu on the Wii Virtual Console, the version of Puyo Puyo Tsu in SEGA 3D Classics Collection, and the Puyo Puyo 39 minigame in Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX, the series has otherwise been absent.
But that all changed with Puyo Puyo Tetris, a game that has existed since 2014 on multiple systems. Unlike other Puyo Puyo games prior, Puyo Puyo Tetris gained notable attention in western territories for years. It might be a case of a silver lining in an otherwise rough year for SEGA or the controversial practices the Tetris brand has been associated with, or just it being a very fun game, but regardless Puyo Puyo Tetris was requested for localization for quite a while. But now it is 2017 and we finally have the game in western shores, more specifically for the popular Playstation 4 and Nintendo’s recently released Nintendo Switch.
After such a gap between the game’s original launch in 2014 and the 13 years since the last time a major Puyo Puyo title was released in the west, is Puyo Puyo Tetris the comeback that has been long overdue, or was there a reason why western fans were were denied Puyo Puyo for so long?
It seems that with every new release, the more popular that the Persona franchise becomes and it’s hard to believe that the franchise is now celebrating 20 years of greatness. Now with the release of Persona 5, we take another dip into the velvet room and live the regular life of a Japanese high schooler. I mean, isn’t this how it is over there? Today we review Persona 5 and see if this game was worth the wait.
Yakuza 0 takes us back to Japan during the 1980s, offering up a brand new tale in the Yakuza franchise. But with so many titles in the franchise, can Yakuza 0 offer up enough content to make it worth your money? Is this a safe game for newcomers? Hit the jump button and find out.
25 years has past by for the Puyo Puyo series (27 if counting Madou Monogatari). Originally the series was conceived as a modest puzzle game in the same vain as Dr. Mario or Tetris on the MSX and Famicom Disk System, before making it big with the arcade games Puyo Puyo and Puyo Puyo Tsu. Even after the demise of Compile at the beginning of the new millennium, SEGA would still keep up the legacy of the franchise with the occasional new game and merchandising. Enough so that Puyo Puyo is considered one of SEGA’s “core” franchises in Japan.
Now that it’s the 25th anniversary of the Puyo Puyo series, naturally a new game would be released to compliment this milestone. However the new game in the series, Puyo Puyo Chronicles, takes a slightly different approach from the norm while at the same time trying to keep things familiar for long time fans. Is it a worthy milestone celebration chronicling the series strengths, or a sign that this chronicle should end?
Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games was written by Ken Horowitz, who runs the long running SEGA-16 fansite. As a longtime Sega fan and lurker on various sites, especially before I started this blog, I was a huge fan of what Ken was doing at Sega-16. One of the biggest resources the site offers is a review for almost every single Sega Genesis game published. That’s quite the feat. While his work on getting a review for almost every single Sega Genesis game is amazing, I truly love his website because he interviews some of the most interesting people from Sega’s glory days. I first heard about the site when doing research on Sega Technical Institute, after finding his interview with Roger Hector about his time being director of the studio I started checking daily for more Sega historical content. Ever since then I have been a huge fan of the site, when I heard Ken was writing a historical Sega book we invited him on our podcast (listen to that below).
Prior to sitting down to write out this review for Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, the third Sonic Boom game and the second to appear on the Nintendo 3DS, I told myself I would not fall into the reviewers trap of carting out some year that pinpoints when the Sonic series “went bad”. Not only have far too many reviewers done this already, but often I feel they are incredibly misinformed. Sonic Boom was, and is, a product of SEGA of America. While Sonic Team members do have their names attached to the multimedia project, credit really should go to select SEGA of America staff, OuiDo! Productions, Big Red Button and Sanzaru Games. Past games like Colors, Generations and Lost World were completely separate, both in canon and production, and as such I think it is unfair to say that the failings of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric should sully the main brand.
Sonic Boom was a chance for SEGA of America to fully control a piece of the Sonic pie, and while some elements of the multimedia experiment fell flat, others were and are actually quite enjoyable, namely the TV series and the short lived Archie Comics adaptation. When Sonic Boom is at its best, it evokes the old Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon and early Archie Comics. Light, funny and self-aware whilst retaining the sense of adventure. Does Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice fall into this category? Did Sanzaru Games learn from their previous title? Am I going to ask questions with the promise of answers if you click “Continue Reading”? Find out in my review of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice!
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is not quite a sequel, side story, or even an expansion to the well-received Shin Megami Tensei IV.
If you took the movie Die Hard and filmed a What If ending showcasing what could happen if Reginald VelJohnson’s character Sgt. Al Powell had infiltrated the Nakatomi Plaza instead of waiting on the sidelines, then you would find yourself in a similar situation. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse uses this What If scenario to fine-tune the gameplay from its predecessors and treat players to a very satisfying RPG for the Nintendo 3DS.
SEGA’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X takes its popular IP based video game series to the PlayStation 4 for the first time, also available on PlayStation Vita. This review will be based on me playing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X on the PlayStation 4 and it being the first game in the series for me all I ask is: please be gentle! What did I think? Is this a good starting point for people that have been sitting on the sidelines for the last few years?
Lights, camera, action because it’s time to review Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X.
I have been complaining that SEGA should bring over the 7th Dragon series since it debuted on the Nintendo DS way back in 2009 and now we finally got our first entry with 7th Dragon III Code: VFD (which has been confirmed to be the last entry as well). The7th Dragon series had SEGA veterans like Rieko Kodama (Phantasy Star, Skies of Arcadia fame) and composer Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage series, Etrian Odyssey) involved to help craft the long running series. While we missed out on first couple games and a couple of spin-off titles; its nice to finally get to play a official localized version of the game.
But was the last game really worth the wait? Well, let’s find out.