Fenrirfeather

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About Fenrirfeather

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  1. Finished Observation, so I am going to talk a bit about this game with only 6k tracked owners. To touch upon what I wrote in my earlier post, Observation puts you in the shoes of Sam (or SAM), a seemingly amnesiac artificial intelligence that is tasked to survey, aid and monitor a low orbit space station, originally boarded by a human crew to circle Earth. Your name, in truth merely a handy acronym for Systems Administration & Maintenance, is used with affection by crew members such as the one who you meet at the very beginning at the game: Dr. Emma Fisher. The two of you awaken alone to confusion, destruction and mayhem after what Emma suspects to have been a collision that has left your station, the Observation, tumbling through space and clearly damaged. Albeit you are an AI and initially restricted to viewing the station through the many cameras on board, Emma relies on you to stabilise the station together with her, as well as to figure out what has happened to you two. In the game, you interact with the character Emma by being her literal eyes around the space vessel and that means that in the beginning, you are switching from camera to camera a lot, checking out your logs for error reports and reporting them back to Emma with a special response mode. You're hooking up to still-functioning hatches in order to open and close them, secure clamps to keep the station together and eventually track down the rest of the crew (or what is left of it) and untangle the mystery of what happened to Emma's/your station. Without spoiling the plot, I will say as a bit of a sci-fi/horror nut, I enjoyed where it was going and the very last scenes were a welcome surprise. There's a lot of floating (call it "Walking Simulator 2.0), vast, dark and empty space all around you, some spooky alien, some death and a wicked blend in which it all comes together at the end. Observation is currently available as part of PSNow in Europe (Germany), so maybe check it out.
  2. That topic title brings back memories. 🎃 I’ll join and lock in these three games. Lone Survivor - you are a nobody home alone with the occasional cat visitor right in the middle of an apocalypse, surrounded by abhorrent creepers and you are damned to wear a surgical mask that transforms your face into what looks like an everlasting, all-encompassing massive and disturbing grin. How much more spooky could it get? Observation - you're an amnesiac AI with the trust-inspiring name SAM that (who) is reactivated from slumber on a damaged, crippled low Earth orbit international space station and the warning signs, floating debris and the missing human crew members make it clear that you'll be having your (non-existent) hands full with doing what's right and saving the day! ...or do you? Yuoni - didn't many of us test the merits of urban legends, sneak into abandoned locations and dare each other to summon a ghost at night? In Yuoni, you're put in the shoes of silly elementary schoolers who're summoning a wishing ghost while having themselves a great fun time - until they don't.
  3. Oh yes, thanks for the heads up! The trophy for defeating all enemies is tagged as missable in the guide on PST at least but it’s been nearly a month since I last played Akiba’s Beat and I’d forgotten all about that one missable trophy by now, so I appreciate the reminder! I truly would not fancy a second playthrough at this point, when a number of other, lengthy JRPGs are still waiting in my backlog.
  4. I'm hopping on board with the following games (for now): The Tenth Line - 8% Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy - 23% Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition - 0% Akiba's Beat - 26% Hungry Giraffe - 28% Final Fantasy XV - 10% Some thoughts on each entry:
  5. The 100% game Destiny of Spirits. The game was an all-online gacha that was released for VITA in 2014 and promptly shut down a year after in 2015. It has been unobtainable since. Some niche boards on GFAQs hyped the game and I was absolutely caught up in the movement. The game was casual fun and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up again today. To be fair, this wasn’t a particularly revolutionarily creative gacha, it certainly didn’t have mind blowing graphics (but it had real nice looking portraits of the spirit characters that you collected in-game and it did try to cater to a multi-national crowd by incorporating folklore from various corners of the world) but it was on VITA which, at that time, was a valid reason to embrace it and hype it to the moon.
  6. This isn’t a series here yet but there are actually two entries in the Aqua Kitty series according to the dev: the first being Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender DX, followed by the recently released Astro Aqua Kitty. As you can see here on the developer’s website, the same breed of Astro Kitty cats from Milk Mine Defender have launched into space in this newer game.
  7. Anodyne Yes, the trophies are glitched in an odd manner. No, that absolutely positively need not deter from playing the game, as there is an amazing trophy guide available right here on this site and a video walkthrough that when followed dutifully holds your hand on the path to earning every trophy in one single playthrough. Anodyne is something else: it's an RPG but it's short, its mechanics are simple but encourage some out-of-the-box thinking here and there, the tilesets of ingame maps are also simple yet vibrant and harmonic but speeding through the game like a super hyper squirrel, there may not always be enough time to give credit for all that where credit is clearly due. When I wasn't smacking things with my broom left and right, I had my eyes glued to the tablet with the instructive speedrun video. The game is on PSNow right now; what's holding you back?
  8. With YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World, I’m happy to bring a different flavour of embarrassment to the table. I had little knowledge of what to expect of the (apparently originally an eroge) game when I picked it up. Compared to other similarly extenuated (or censored, if you prefer) Japanese ADV games with erotic content that were eventually ported to PlayStstion, this one retained a certain small level of lewdness strewn in regular intervals through the extensive, markedly detailed and (somewhat) more tame inter-dimensional time travel/fantasy narrative that I was astonished to see present and intact. Also borderline lewd enough to let me dwell on the silly idea of what it would be like to play those passages in friendly company for laughs and possibly look into some briefly reddening, embarrassed faces.
  9. In case the issue still persists for you, you might want to try cleaning your cache. Your trophy card https://card.psnprofiles.com/1/LegendExeter.png displays no icons when I view it from my end.
  10. Akiba’s Beat My playtime: 3:53 Trophies earned: 1/45 The opening is Jpop-py colourful but going in with zero knowledge like I do now, it doesn’t tell much about what to expect from the game. From the title screen, Akiba’s Beat offers Japanese and English language options for both voice-work and text, same as the English versions of Akiba’s Trip 2 did. A very welcome addition, even if interesting to a small number of people only, probably. As soon as you hit start, your screen is bombed with various customisable options, ranging from text speed over difficulty to camera operation. Foregoing a slider for volume options, the game restricts volume management for background music, sound effects and voice acting to 4 default options. The chosen difficulty level apparently does not matter for trophies but I read that it affects EXP gain. (I picked Normal and breezed through the first proper dungeon.) The game explains that you can alter settings at any time. The opening starts with an edgy youth shrouded in shadows seemingly criticising humanity and urging to live out delusions made real. I’ve no idea what he’s rambling about. Firings this game up at midnight may not have been the greatest of plans, I suddenly tell myself. When the opening scene ends, I am in control of a boy with a blade in a sea of white. I can do nothing but run forward, towards a creature that looms ahead and gives off the clear vibes of an enemy. Although I suspected the setup would lead to an action battle in the normal dungeon environment, there’s a screen transition when battle is initiated. Surprisingly, the controls that are explained to me remind me of my good old favourite LMBS/linear motion battle system of the Tales of franchise! What this means is that your character movement on the battle field is restricted to a fixed line, one you can approach the enemy on or run down the opposite direction to distance yourself from the battle action. There’s a jump button, Aerial attacks, Around Step that allow you to circle around an enemy and even Free Run (that you might recognise from, say, Tales of Graces), pardon, Free Running, as Akiba’s Beat calls it. By pressing and holding the L1 shoulder button, the character your control is released from movement restriction on his or her fixed line and you can freely direct your character across the entire of the battle field. Same as with Free Running As in Tales of the Abyss, I quickly find that I am more comfortable with evading attacks by free run than use the designated guard button. This battle system is my jam, I can tell already and I will likely play more of this game when I am in the mood for some Tales even in the worst case scenario that the plot, characters and world turns out to be my personal skipfest. Skill activation and customisation also seem to be a near 1:1 adoption from the newer entries of the Tales of franchise. Skills are set to a combination of directional input of the L- and R-sticks in combination with the X-button. There’s little else to say about skills for this review because my character starts with just one single skill. Early in the game, a furry companions joins your party and starts commentating during your battles and during your runs through the dungeons, reminiscent of how a certain furred companion creature does the same in Persona 4. The clear difference between Akiba’s Beat and P4 being that the commentary in the former (so far) is more repetitive and only loosely corresponds to character actions in battle. The most strategically helpful the commenting creature has been (so far) is pointing out the total number of memories. His (?) voice is also annoyingly squeaky in English, as you’d expect from a floating pink plushie. The battle in my very first dungeon right after starting the game is very easy, the fight ends quickly, as does the next and I soon find myself at a door near the end of the small platform that my teenage boy called Asahi moves on in that dreamy sea of complete white. I keep running down straight floating corridors of white, fighting enemies that too are white until I am greeted by a familiar figure. Hat-boy (?) talks to me and I’ve no idea what any of it means when the scene cuts off abruptly and changes to seemingly perfect normalcy and a decidingly vulgar English interpretation/localisation. As someone who’s pursuits in acquiring a kitchen has been thwarted by the year long lockdown, the sight of one in the completely non-interactive but modern and nice looking one-room apartment bums me out a little. The apartment, as most areas on the games, are to be admired/looked at but there’s no interaction with the environment beyond a few NPCs. All looking, no touching. I exit the apartment to a place called “Electric Town Area” and it drives home the point that (at least this part of) the game takes place in a world modelled after Akihabara. An Akihabara where people were exchanged with pastel coloured, still and unmoving silhouettes that become transparent when I close in on them with my player character. The one maid that I meet further down the street is well fleshed out, nyan. She purrrrresents me with information about their nyaly opened meowcafe until a phone call interrupts our comeowsation and I’m being hurried to head to a location far across the map to meet up with a friend that will hand me a magazine. Save points are plenty in this overworld which is fitting my playstyle of playing most games in short bursts. As Akiba’s Beat is also available on VITA, the numerous save points hopefully enable gamers who decide to play that version to save often for a “pick up and play” playstyle. As I’ve replayed Akiba’s Trip 2 not long ago, navigating the streets of “Akiba” comes easy. If you played the game, you may find it as funny as me to have an NPC silhouette call for blood donations near UG. Compared to AT2, Main Street is now a quieter place with nothing but human-shaped pastel silhouettes. Asahi, the character I am controlling, has dropped out of high school and lives his days out as a full-blooded NEET, hoping to NEET-it-out forever. In his interactions with NPCs, he’s portrayed as friendly, a little slow, a little guillable and incredibly passive - at least he acts like such in the beginning of the game. During yet another trip out of Asahi’s NEET shell and into the outside world to meet a friend, he comes across a peculiar phenomenon right outside the station. A pair of giant speakers is floating in the air above his head, a cheerful girl chats him up over the issue and the next moment he is face to face with a talking pink pig plushie wearing a pink sweater. The very plushie that is the squeaky battle commentator. Some random musicophile guy is found to be the cause of the strange, floaty phenomen called a “Delusion” and as it so happens, Asahi appears to be a Delusioner capable to shattering Delusions, so the poor teen is swiftly whisked through a handy magic door into the random guy’s Delusionscape. The dungeon looks fine but backgrounds and visual effects are not overwhelmingly detailed. To be honest, it’s anything but a looker. Reaching the end of the dungeon and defeating the boss, the Grand Phantasm, that lurks there clears the first dungeon and Asahi and his unlikely new companions leave it, effectively returning the station to normal. The girl explains that by nullifying it, the world’s been saved from the delusion. Asahi’s initial reaction to the ordeal he’s just gone through is one of desinterest and flat out refuses to get involved further than he already had, until he notices in shock that the Sunday that should have been over with midnight isn’t over, that the date hasn’t moved on, that it’s not Monday but Sunday all over again! I turned off the game at this point but I expect it to continue in the fashion of a teenager with magic powers living out Groundhog Day. The English VA is fine, the translation is wild and occasionally borderline vulgar, but the overall tone of the dialogue between party characters is often ranging from lighthearted to silly. A point of annoyance, however. Upon loading my save, VA and text always default to English (on the North American PS4 version that I am playing). Adjusting language options on the main title screen before starting a new game or loading a save is mandatory if you intend to play anything other than with English text and VA. The main menu has an event log wherein short summaries of the events in the main story are archived which should prove to be a nice, quick read up upon returning to the game after a break. And I know that I’ll need it because while the battle system has me wanting for more, there are a number of other games that I’ll likely end up playing first, such as Yu-no and NieR. In the meantime, Akiba’s Beat will go back into my backlog and sleep there a little longer.
  11. Gravity Rush (on VITA) My playtime: 03:02:52 (according to my auto-savedata) Trophies earned: 14/64 A short, belated review incoming here. Everyday life has been making me woozy and caused me to miss the deadline for this review, but if there ever was a game on my KYC list that would not benefit in particular for a full review, it is this one: Gravity Rush. The game I’d played a demo of when the VITA was yet a fresh, young babe, full of possibilities. All those years ago, the demo never succeeded to rouse my interest, as I found it bland and boring for reasons I do not remember anymore. As a consequence, I’d slept on this game until this day and until this KYC, for which I’d wanted a somewhat long non-traditional turned based RPG game on VITA that also had been tucked away in my backlog for far too long. Gravity Rush seemed to fit these two criteria nicely. And I gotta say, I’m glad to have given this game a proper chance. This time, I was engaged from the very first scenes and when I was following the middle-aged man with Kat through a tunnel filled with silhouettes of people who made confusing comments about a crow that’s like the glitter cat by my side, I was already wondering where this journey through the strange world of Gravity Rush would take me. By merely mentioning that I had started playing Gravity Rush, I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia by gamers who’d played the game (on VITA or the remaster) at some before, as well as multiple handy tips of what to expect and what to keep note of. Playing a popular game like this one relatively many years after release meant that the resonance was great. Else I wouldn’t have known to start my adventure with a search for crystals to help upgrade several of my abilities early by combing the city from head to toe (and even upside down). The prospect of having to complete every challenge in the game with a gold medal eventually appears to me as a tall order from where I am in the very beginning of the game, as I’ve no luck scoring high enough for the bronze reward alone in the race and sliding challenges yet. My first and only attempt at sliding was a wonderful crash galore into every available wall left and right head-on. I do prefer the motion controls to the right stick for controlling the camera (and thus my aim when I fling Kat across the map), so I’ve figured that the next time I give those two types of challenges another try, I will get up and dance across the room in hopes that it’ll make me more comfortable with and less conscious about the control scheme. This is a KYC game that I’ve already decided not to bury in my backlog after the event as, despite this past week making me busy-whoozy and not in the mood for action gameplay in the evenings, I had a fantastic time when I played. The story (so far) is a little barebone but the huge, explorable city and the unique gameplay of denying normal gravity more than makes up for it. As does the presence of Kat’s black glitter cat companion, of course! Now, the next stop for me, right after reading up on all your reviews since last week on some games that I happen to have played myself (and loved) and on others that I’m curious to get to know about, is going to be the JRPG Akiba’s Beat (played on PS4)!
  12. Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition My playtime: 03:01:10 Trophies earned: 0/19 As if in tribute to popular classics on the (S)NES, Ara Fell starts in the middle of affairs and in the dark of night, when Adrian and Lita brave the soggy weather and thunderstorm on their quest to loot underground ruins for a magical artefact. Whereas the bits of conversation make it clear that Adrian is focussed on a job to retrieve the treasure, Lita’s carefree and casual comments hint at that she’s tagging along for reasons other than business. As it would be, the teenage girl Lita is the player character who you’re controlling. In the course of Adrian’s and Lita’s conversation as they near the ruins, they briefly touch on a number of topics including the lore of the game’s world that the player isn’t acquaintanced with yet, such as vampires and the danger of being out and about after the sun went down which seems to hint at events possibly to come. Inspecting your surroundings thoroughly, both right at the beginning and also later in town, when more of the map opens up to you, is rewarded with more bits and pieces on history of Adrian and Lita’s world: Ara Fell. Between the two characters you’re introduced to in the game’s prologue, Lita is the lively one and the spunkier of the two, whereas Adrian quickly presents as more thoughtful but also more anxious and wary. As video game mechanics would often have it, it is the player controlled and more adventurous Lita who finds a promising lead to the wanted artefact and discovers a hidden entrance that opens a part deeper into the ruins. And although at this point the playtime hardly clocks 10 minutes, Ara Fell unabashedly throws its most charming aspect at you, the player: it’s incredible attention to detail for a game originally built in RPGMaker (2003, just a guess). If you’re familiar with the resources used in RPGMaker in the 2000s or have been part of the scene, the chipset/maps you’ll likely have recognised right off the bat. Life is breathed into the maps by little animals running back and forth; there are butterflies and fish found all over in great number, as well as indescribable particles here and there. Besides weather effects such as rain and lightning (which you may toggle off if you so desire) there are other, overlay effects to simulate the direction of light. Interactive harvest points are designated sparkles on the maps that you can search for items. Similarly, ripples in the water serve the same purpose and your character, Lita, can dive at that to retrieve an item. As you enter the ruins and Lita automatically notes on a sparkling harvest point on a wall in form of a crystal that you can mine, it’s nice to see that the crystal that was previously intact changes to a broken tile after having mined it. Exploring the ruins in the prologue with Adrian and Lita, you have to overcome some minor hurdles, including jumping over small gaps which is something only Lita can do. At one point, you dive into the water and continue swimming down the path through the ruins which is a simple but welcoming change of pace during exploration. The prologue is designed well in regards to introducing you to not only the characters but also to quests, the option of crafting and the battle system. When Adrian sustains a minor injury soon after entering the ruins, you, as Lita, are tasked with collecting three items to help your friend in need through a special portion you brew up for him. In order to obtain all relevant items for your strange concortion, your short solo adventure handily introduces you to the battle system. To this day I still remember clearly that the Grandia (1) battle system was held in extremely high regard (it sure was hyped in thr early 2000s) and I can’t deny that the instant I saw Ara Fell’s own battle system, I did feel reminded of certain aspects of it. That’s not to say the acclaimed DC/PS1 game that I had in mind was an actual source of inspiration for the developers, of course. The battle system uses a turn gauge on the top of the screen which enemies and characters move along at individually determined speed, until their turn comes up and they’re ready to choose and perform an action. The range of possible character actions during a turn are standards for many (J)RPGs and personally, thanks to that adherence to standards, battle actions felt self-explaining and intuitive. Some MP is recovered at the beginning of every turn while in battle and HP and MP are fully restored in-between battles. An “injury” sustained by dying in battle, however, lowers a character’s stats until the affliction is healed at an Inn. When dying multiple times, a character sustains multiple injuries, shown as small bandaids, that lower more stats in return. I found out when I let Lita die twice alone in the prologue and suddenly, glaring red numbers greeted me on the status screen. Battle animation can be fast-forwarded by a toggle option in the menu. And I firmly recommend that “fast” mode to everyone who considers to pick up Ara Fell, as skills and normal attack animations are still discernible, just slightly faster. Upon level up, you will be made to allocate points to a character’s four stats. Agility and Wisdom seem to be widely discussed as the important stars by the playerbase but I haven’t looked into it much yet. Staring on Expert, the highest battle difficulty available, is required for a trophy. Unsure if some extra grinding would turn out to be necessary further down the line, I spent a fair amount of time levelling up Adrian and Lita in those ruins of the prologue. During that 40 minutes to an hour, the music struck me as fitting teh atmosphere just fine. The background tracks never became a bother but overall, the music felt reserved and low-key. It’s there but it’s hardly memorable. Roughly an hour into the game, I finally managed to tear myself away from the grind, wrap up the prologue and begin chapter one which starts with a severe scolding towards Lita by her stern father, a reward for her little secret adventure along her childhood friend Adrian. The vocabulary is modern and while that’s no quite my cup of tea in Japanese style RPGs, I didn’t find any of the dialogue objectionable (so far). The style of character dialogue changes dependent on the individual talking and Lita’s apparently not-so-young and gruff father uses distinctively different language than his loud-mouthed teenage daughter. After several short events that have Lita returning to her home, much of the world opens up at once and harvest points and easy quests call from all over a well-sized town map. Free to do as I please, I spent at least one and a half hours exploring, gathering the many harvest (sparkling) spots, catching fish and diving for discovery points in the water. I talked to all the NPCs to get to know the world, read books of lore about the world of Ara Fell on bookshelves in homes I snuck in and I accepted simple town quests auch as fetching items or delivering notes to certain NPCs. NPCs with quests are easy to spot thanks to the ! above their heads. Some of these quests reward you with experience on top of gold and that pays off early in the game, when your level is low and EXP is yet scarce. Albeit useless in the beginning where I’d discovered a single crystal only, there is fast travel in the game (between those crystal). Another modern perk in this RPG that is so reminiscent of the (S)NES era is that it forgoes save points for an autosave function on top of the ability to make multiple manual saves from the main menu at will. My trophy count for Ara Fell is 0 at the time of this review and I dare say with that null achievement, I kinda failed the spirit of this event with what may be one of the shortest and easiest games on my chosen list. The most common trophy as of writing this is one awarded for harvesting 100 times which I don’t think I’m close to yet. The platinum trophy rarity is around 34% right now and the game is supposed to be rather short, with most playtime estimates ranging from 15 to just above 20 hours. There seem to be no missables that would require multiple playthroughs, as long as one makes sure to pick Expert difficulty upon starting the game. The game’s design is positively gorgeous with high attention to detail, the gameplay is a throwback to the JRPGs I’d played as a child and the sole reason for why I haven’t progressed far into the game, I can’t chalk up to this gem but only to my sorry lack of time to game more and sink into the beautifully detailed world of Ara Fell.
  13. While I’ve played a variety of ADV/hybrid visual novels on DS back in the day as that stuff is my favourite genre, the Phoenix Wright games (released from the year 2001 onwards) I’d deliberately steered clear of. The combination of the super poppy colouration of illustrations, the over-expressive character designs and what I thought was an absolutely hideous naming scheme (in English) had put me off and I glossed over these games without giving them a single fair chance. Boy, what a mistake it was! Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy My playtime: multiple hours that I totally lost track of Trophies earned: 7/31 It’s so good. I can’t put this game down. Hook, line and sinker. I bit, can’t let go. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is true to its name a collection of the first three Ace Attorney releases. First released in Japan for GBA from 2001 onwards and later rereleased in multiple territories for the Nintendo DS (and some). The collection holds all three games but has a single trophy list, with platinum rarity hovering just around 34% at the time of this post and over 11k owners in PSNP’s database. A lot more trophy hunters than that, however, seem to have come into contact with the games in the DS era. While I’m not familiar with those versions, I want to say that the visuals in this HD collection look clean and pleasing on a TV screen and the controls are just fine with a DS4. With that out of the way, onto the games itself! The game does not dwell on fancy opening scenes and does not immediately introduce you to the protagonist. Instead, the game starts right with the meat: before ever murder trial, there need be a murder! Lucky you, you can lean back because you’re presented with the murderer free of charge. You also learn of his plot to evade suspicion of the crime, evade to be out on trial and risk a guilt verdict - a charitable present of greeting that the game hands you just this once. The first case for the character you play as begins abruptly right after. It throws us into a twisted world where those unlucky to be at the wrong place at the wrong time get arrested on the spot and put on trials that, thanks to a new regulation, may last a maximum of 3 days, though most end in one during a single court hearing. And you, you’re Phoenix Wright! A fresh, new defense attorney under the caring wing of your far more experienced and awesomely smart, hot boss, you’re bursting with energy and conviction but you’re so wet behind the ears you’re practically swimming. At least your sense of fashion as in line with your new profession. After mere minutes into the game, you find yourself in a courtroom that, over the course of the first game, will become as familiar to you as an old friend and the very location you will hopefully be eager to return to time and again, in order to prove your spectacular skills as the defense. It’s too bad that right off the bat, that sense of familiarity seems to be far off, as you’re extremely preoccupied with your childhood friend being on trial for murder and it’s all on you to clear his name. You need to be ready from the first minute because the game showers you with a bucketful of information about its courtroom mechanics, as if you weren’t drowning in novelty already. The 1st (and so far only) game in the collection that I played is broken up into 2 distinct phases that you are often automatically made to switch between: “courtroom trials” where you are arguing with the prosecution that bears ill will to your defendant and “investigations” that you can conduct with a chatty companion you’re joined by further into the game but with often little help from police and witnesses. Trials primarily depend upon how well you listen to the testimonies of witnesses, as it is on you to press them for more detailed information (by pressing L1) or to point out inconsistencies with information that you previously acquired during investigations or during the trial. Thankfully, you’re not timed, can read carefully through a testimony and even scroll back and forth through a witness’ statements before you have to make your choice. Although you have a small “life bar” that depletes with wrong choices, the opportunity to save is available near all the time and allows you to play without a guide if you wanted to. As any motivated lawyer should be, you will want to frequently check on your findings, collectively referred to in the game as “Court Records”, in order to present your evidence on the point during the trial. Make sure to keep all those photos, letters or parrots on hand that could help your defendant declared innocent and to point out liars on the witness stand. Your client depends on you! Humour in the game is omnipresent in the form of comic relief. What I first thought would put me off became entertaining quickly and succeeded in making me smile often enough. Wright is swinging to and from despair in rapid succession, witnesses’ testimonies are generally ludicrous and characters seem to be far off their hooker. As soon as you’re on the roll and the situation feels like you finally have gained an edge after examining the testimony, your opponent prosecutor is all too happy to put a swift stop to it. Investigations are conducted remotely similarly to those in the Danganronpa the Zero Escape series, if you happen to be familiar with some of these games, although both series place a much larger focus on interacting with your environment. Despite the similarities, Ace Attorney’s focus during investigations is on the characters and potential witnesses that you meet. You move back and forth between static backgrounds that represent different areas of interest to the current court proceedings and question possible witnesses. Not all of them are willing to give you a breather and speak honestly and openly. You often find yourself in between a rock and hard place, needing to squeeze or bribe bits of the truth out of your questionees. A juice rumour, a secret the witness would favour not to get out into the open or an ultra rare trading card may be helpful as a bargain chip but you will have to figure out ways to acquire all of these first. Occasionally, you point your cursor to an object of potential interest for your defense but as I played the first game of the collection, I found I’d rarely a need to examine the surroundings. The antagonistic party you’re facing off against is the prosecution. They’re generally mean and nasty and sometimes hot. It’s hard to talk about the most distinct and reoccurring characters as it’d give away the overarching plot woven into your day to day work as a fledging defense attorney for seemingly random defendants. Just so much for the plot that starts to unfold mid-game: in Wright’s battle of wits and trademark cries of “OBJECTION!”, he is brought up against someone familiar and precious to him, though Wright does not elaborate on this until events take a sudden, catastrophic turn around the time of the 3rd case in the 1st game. Wright’s profession as defense attorney is more important than ever before and his client is one he cannot possibly lose the courtroom battle for. Wright himself is an easy character and compared to some other non-romance VNs, you’re rather free to read into him what you want to. That is to say, he is not a blank slate which is proven over the span of the first game when he does react with clear concern when his comrades, and to a lesser degree his clients, are unfairly treated in the courtroom, are under pressure or even in acute danger of being on the receiving end of physical harm. In the same manner, Wright brings up and explains his just motive for becoming a defense attorney in a timely matter, his motives naive and childlike but not entirely unbelievable. Nevertheless, in the very first game that I’ve played nearly to completion, Wright is a little bland, especially when compared to other important, reoccurring characters. He does not exactly boast with personality, which leaves a fair amount of room for each player to interpret Weight’s actions to their personal liking. It makes him a likeable protagonist and his actions as an attorney worth to be invested in, if the player so wants to see him. His frequent comical outbursts, at least, are golden. I have doubts that I’ll be able to leave this alone completely until the end of the event, as I’m burning to follow up on the fates of the main cast in their adventures in court and I find myself wanting to keep on reading this like I’d be with a good book.
  14. PlayStation Vita Pets My playtime: 04:28 Trophies earned: 13/34 Last time I promised that I’d have stories of doggy adventures to tell and the focus of this review is going to be on the vast map filled with a forest, tunnels, ruins and some more that player and pup traverse during the course of this adventure pet simulation hybrid game. Right after adopting your new pup of choice and while still learning the ropes of care for him (or for her), the game already hints at your future task of exploration by the means of a picture-book story that is presented to to you in text as well as read to you out loud. (mild spoilers for the overall plot from the first hour of the game) After we’d gotten rich for a “Tugging Toy” and built up Husky’s skill during playtime to pull objects, the garden gate to freedom finally opens and allows exploration of the forest beyond “Home”. The forest map is initially a blank parchment with a red X marking the point that Husky and I are tasked to reach; pathways, tunnels that provide the means of fast travelling across the map, “sniffing points” and other discoveries appear on the map as we set up through the forest on set dirt paths that we cannot deviate from but that never feel too restrictive and are well designed (for a semi-indie(?) 2014 VITA game aimed at a younger audience). The general travel speed is on the lower end of the speed spectrum, however. Some patience is needed when uncovering previously blank map areas for the first time, before fast travel becomes available. Where gates and toppled trees are obstructing the pathways, the pup’s various learnable skills, the instructions utilisable exclusively by making use of the touchscreen, come in handy. Sometimes a rabbit or squirrel scurries from side to side in font of us. The attention to detail positively surprises me and I try to prepare myself to capture the next small animal in a screenshot to get a better look at its design. When I do, I start to think that the rabbit looks decent. The paths are littered with collectibles, some of them royal stone monuments called insignias that you’re simply made to see and take a “photo” of but most of them are points to sniff’n’dig. Husky’s nose tells him of treasure and in turn, he happily tells me to assist him sniffing, as the game then immediately shifts to an overhead perspective for the new sniffing mini game. Digging yields fancy new sunglasses to put on Husky, as well as beanies, skirts, golden coins I’m tasked to collect or plain junk such as old cans and dirty, rusty license plates to cash in at the online TV store. I suspect that it’s the game’s subtle way of conveying a message: littering is bad. Digging points are everywhere and an opportunity to stop for one presents itself almost every minute while outside. Upon reaching the next designated mark on the map, player and pup are tasked to scrutinise the location for new leads on the king’s (and his loyal companion’s) hidden treasure. The puzzles primarily rely on using the pup’s multiple skills and tricks to solve them and are generally very simple in nature and easy to solve (for an older or adult player). One of these locations are “the tunnels”, a new location on the map that my loyal pup Husky and I uncovered on our most recent adventure together and where, to our both surprise, we were already expected by an unusual travel guide. (mild spoilers for an early in-game area and puzzle) Our guide demands that we follow him through the tunnels and although the mini-map is taken away from us without warning and our guide seems to lead us in circles, we’ve an easy time following him. The section is not timed, there’s no penalty for losing sight of the guide or going the wrong way and glowing paw-steps illuminate the path and serve to help (younger) players find their way. (Luckily, when we come back later to this particular location, the mini-map is accessible again as usual and there’s all the time in the world to discover the stone monuments, collect our sniff’n’dig points and to stop frequently for no reason other than to take in the ghastly, underground-like scenery of the tunnels.) The puzzle we arrive at eventually is the last obstacle between us and the treasure - and a simple one it is. Lucky for me, it’s Husky doing all the work after I spent all that time previously to build up his strength with the “Tugging Toy” at “Home”. (mild spoilers for an early puzzle) A huge treasure chest with a certain loyal companion’s cap and hints for the next location and puzzle await us at the end. From here on out, Husky’s rocking a fancy new look. There’s no doubt in my mind that Vita Pets is targeted at an audience much younger than a fair amount of trophy hunters and it does well to keep that mind when considering to purchase this game. The pup’s more silly than serious, puzzles are much more simple than thought-provoking, some typical pet simulation tasks can be neglected without negative consequences. But if you want to avoid constant moaning and demands of your new adoptee, occasional feedings, showering after returning from a trip outside and taking care of dogpoop are matters you will want to attend to in order to keep the pup’s chatter to a minimum. The trophies are easy and only mildly grindy, the platinum rarity is currently hovering at 23% (PSNP rarity) but with not even 4500 game owners, this game isn’t exactly a popular hit on VITA. This may or may not be in part due to the warnings of some suspected glitches related to sniffing points (possibly related to turning off your game mid-adventure, other than at home where it autosaves) and even a game-breaking bug in a later portion of the game (a bug related to the “mine cart” puzzle that’s possible to avoid, thankfully, if you know of it beforehand). Although the lack of cats in a game called “Vita Pets” - not Vita Pups - is disappointing if perfectly reasonable in regards to the focus on exploration and “(wo-)man’s best friend”, the game is nevertheless quite charming with its relaxing gameplay, its attentional to detail, the huge amount of voice-acting and the cheeky and distinct personalities the 4 kinds of chatterbox pups conveyed clearly through the well done voice-work and lighthearted dialogue. If you’re fine with a somewhat childish dog companion (or don’t mind doing a “trophy list clean-up” after an older kid played around), the game’s simple premise and easygoing mechanics are surprisingly entertaining.
  15. PlayStation Vita Pets My playtime (at the time of this review): just over 1 hour Writing an extra post about my initial impressions is not something I planned to do beforehand. Even so, I ended up with a bunch of notes I’d jotted down throughout the beginning of the game about the adoption process and the first couple steps with the brand new virtual dog. Few minutes into the game, I realised that in a pet simulation game for children/preteens, the very beginning is of bigger interest than it tends to be in other genres. So without further ado, here’s a pre-final review that focuses upon how child-friendly Vita Pets comes round the corner and how it introduces itself. We’re starting the game in first person perspective on our way to an unknown location. A location that quickly turns out to be the adoption centre, from wherein we’re greeted by a jumble of childlike voices frantically calling out “pick me!” in anticipation. The pups must have had polite “moms”: they don’t swear or pressure the player, albeit their constant demands for adoption are mildly annoying. To get out a few words in respect to the younger audience that this game seems to be aimed at: the game offers use of the touchscreen to get around and exclusive use of it works extremely well for me so far. Alternatively, the left stick serves the same purpose. Although the pups are walking chatterboxes that are more than happy to guide the player along, I’d say reading (ability to quickly decipher short, unfamiliar sentences) is mandatory to avoid frustrations. The game is very orientated towards meeting objectives that are primarily presented in and explained through text in small pop ups, often several at once are displayed on the VITA’s small screen. By default, no subtitles of the pup’s speech will be displayed but there’s the option to toggle them on from the menu. All speech is then transferred 1:1 into onscreen text. The downside to turning on subtitles is that there’s even more clutter on the screen when the pup has something to say right at that same moment when multiple other small text boxes also pop up at once. Let’s get back to the pups that are waiting for to become part of a new family at the adoption centre. There are only 4 breeds, each breed coming in 3 distinctly different colours and (what seem to be) vastly varying personalities, ranging from the loyal male companion to the bubbly shopping-girl. 2 breeds are all male, 2 all female. I’m able to look at all of them without being forced to make a choice right away and each and every pup is excited to present itself as the one best friend or me, in-between surprisingly serious reminders that a puppy dog is not just for today - it’s for forever. Too bad there’s no Shiba or Wiener Dog but I’ve an easy time to decide on one anyway: a tough-sounding husky pup with a boasting personality and dark grey pelt. Without further explanation or cutscenes to sit through, we’re then warped to “Home”. Vita Pets may or may not be a game you want to play in public. Or that you want your children or younger relatives to play within your hearing range for prolonged periods of 30+ minutes in order to limit exposition to noise pollution. Initial naming of your brand new pup is done by speaking the name OUT LOUD and clear into the microphone. The pup can be called by shouting its name into the microphone at any time later on and can also be given commands to sit, roll over or to “give paw” in the same manner. The pup cheerfully encourages the player and loudly comments on everything and nothing. Occasionally, the pup barks excitedly. Waking my pup, naming him and feeding him all earn me buddy points. Note that you’ll also be forced to take a photo of yourself for your new companion and many gamers are likely all too familiar with cameras having a pronounced dislike of bad lighting. A child may require the help of an adult at this point. An adult may end up with a photo of their grim scowl while trying to find just the right light source behind their back. Right outside the single room that is “Home”, there’s a small backyard garden with two doors but my dark Husky pup, lovingly named Husky with pure creativity, is unable to pull them open. It would seem he needs experience with a “Tugging Toy“ first. So back into the house and right to the incredibly modern online store display on our TV we go. Purchases on the store are made by tapping pictures of the items that are easy to recognise. The game clearly dictates progress and limits the ability of the player in the beginning by locking all but a very small number of basic purchases behind sky high prices. Whatever adventures lie beyond the high fences of “Home’s” small garden, they’re not initially available. It’s a shame we’re (yet) too poor a household to afford that tugging toy! For now, Husky and I will have to make due with the free ball toy and improve his “Fetch skill”, whatever it does. It’s too bad that Husky is most vocal about his limited satisfaction of my throwing skills. I’m beginning to think that the Husky is a rough one. Every couple of throws, Husky starts complaining about thirst, so one bottle of water after the other he receives upon prompt. He chugs the water down like a dried up tourist traversing the Sahara. I’m starting to think that it’s a little painful that I can only buy and hold a single small bottle of water in my inventory at a time. Fair enough, that’s an easy, nice mechanic to keep younger players busy. And that is how I spent my next hour: pouring water into the bottomless pit on four legs that I’d adopted, petting (done by rubbing my finger across the screen) highlighted spots across his entire body for buddy points and improving his fetch skill for even more buddy points. Gaining a good stash of buddy points to widen our radius of action seems to be the very first overarching goal of the game. All the while, the adopted pup never runs out of things to remark upon in his overly cheeky manner. I already came to conclusion: the Husky is a mean one. Not mean enough to send him back to the adoption centre yet, though. As an adult, the endless chatter gets tiring quick and at the time I wrote this, I was still stuck in the four walls of the small room that is “Home”. I’ve since escaped my confinement and ventured out into the vast woods behind “Home” where the focus of the game changes from simulated pet care to RPG-like adventuring, exploration and simple puzzle solving in loose relation to the pup’s skill level. More of that to come.