Yokai Watch 2 review

It would perhaps be atypical for a review of Level-5’s latest hit game that fails to mention the cultural phenomenon that Yokai Wach has become and whilst the gameplay is of utmost importance in a videogame review the two are perhaps inseparable, for the reasons that make the franchise so popular in the first place also aid the game into becoming as colourful (I mean more in regards to characters than actual palette) as it is. I digress. Fast-forwarding into Yokai Watch 2 and after the amazing anime song intro and a much more streamlined menu screen (the options from the first game such as the photo app are now selectable on the in-game screen) and things start familiarly, very familiar indeed.

However unlike countless Legend of Zelda sequels, fast-forwarding is perhaps the most appropriate term as you find yourself reunited with Jibanyan (the ghost cat) and Whisper (the ghost, er ghost), rediscover the gacha machine and locate the actual yokai watch in seemingly record time with the first few minutes of the game not only fast paced but intuitive and super super charming. It’s here where my inseparable comment becomes apparent due to not only the amazing character design but the characteristics of these designs (Jibanyan is an absolute comedic delight, for example early in the game during a story scene where Jibanyan isn’t integral to the particular scene you see him climbing up then sliding down the slide!).

It’s not just Jibanyan’s antics that delight the player but the simple exploration which again to use a Legend of Zelda reference the game often seems like something Shigeru Miyamoto intimated from his childhood to use in the early adventures of Link. Other than the above which is implicit in the design of Yokai Watch, what is explicit is often equally as delightful. The battle system is much the same as the first game and is a joy to implement (equally so for a non Japanese speaker) where you have six party members and rotate three in (and out) of battle. Special moves are executed via the stylus where you either sketch a symbol, rotate clockwise, tap the coins or point a clock dial. The requisite JRPG simple attack, item or run are of-course all present.

Navigating around Yokai Watch 2 is rather simple as the player mostly follows arrows in order to complete certain quests. This is however both of benefit and a problem to the non-Japanese speaker as while navigation is often made much simpler, the mandatory nature of some of the quests require a knowledge of Japanese language for instance an answer to an early question (ひもじい) is required and a few hours later a priest requires you to purchase a たけのこ (bamboo shoot) in order to progress. Obviously this can become problematic where only language knowledge, a Japanese friend, Miiverse, YouTube user GameEmpireHD or even luck is your friend.

Other than these occasional language barrier issues, Yokai Watch 2 is mostly as pick up and playable for English speakers as the original game is. Many improvements are made over the first game including traveling between areas via Japan rail (I absolutely love the service!) plus several mini-games such as the already talked about (elsewhere) bike riding and pole climbing games but also a couple of rhythm games (both short but excellent) and the fun Yokai Watch Busters (which is also a separate online multiplayer game). The other online (and local) multiplayer mode is a simple battle mode similar to the in-game battles except (obviously) against another human player.

Graphically Yokai Watch 2 is absolutely excellent. Whilst far less assuming than say Monster Hunter 4 in screenshots, in-person it is astounding with excellent 3D effects and soundtrack on top. Not all is ideal as the player can run through lamp posts and the sound occasionally glitches (I expect the latter to be patched) but other than the aforementioned language issue; Yokai Watch 2 is an incredibly fun JRPG that not only feels fresher to play than Pokémon X/Y, it doesn’t feel as padded out. The character designs are also arguably more consistent than recent Pokémon games with Jibanyan capturing the imagination of this generation like Pikachu had past. Yokai Watch is the real deal.

8.5/10

Review by Bri Bri. For more information on Yokai Watch 2 go to http://www.youkai-watch.jp/yw2/

Aruite Wakaru Seikatsu Rhythm DS review

Known as Personal Trainer: Walking in North America and Walk With Me! Do You Know Your Walking Routine? in Europe, Aruite Wakaru Seikatsu Rhythm DS is a QOL experience coming packaged with two Activity Meters and co-developed by NSD (who most recently worked on Miiverse) and Creatures Inc. (Pokémon X & Y and earlier Mother 1 & 2!) and more interestingly for me (hence the reason why it is being reviewed!) is that it resembles Tomodachi Life with the same Mii character being used to ‘play’ the game as in the original DS Tomodachi Collection.

Similar to my recent review of Intelligent Systems’ Atsumeru Egaocho (http://www.japanese3ds.com/post/91817737179) it’s difficult to know how to review a piece of software in 2014 with regards to context as the model is obviously now outdated in relation to its initial 2008 release. The Activity Meter doesn’t have any kind of screen like the recent Wii Fit U Meter (or even the Pokémon Mini for that matter) nor does it do anything that the 3DS itself really should do although it is compactly sized (slightly smaller than a GBA cartridge) and comes with a neat detachable clip.

The aim of the game is as the Western names imply and requires you to take your Activity Meter with you (up to four can be used with additional pairs selling for cheap) which can be used for friends/family and even pets! Sync the Activity Meter to your DS/3DS and create your profile (one Activity Meter = one profile). Unfortunately much like playing the original DS Tomodachi Collection, you need to create your Mii from scratch but once done the game really begins to take shape. Typically for a first party game, the presentation is amazing with a cute Activity Meter being your in-game guide.

The first mode is Check Your Rhythm mode where the Activity Meter (the in-game one) reviews your daily walkage. He then asks whether you’ve eaten sufficiently today before giving you an animal relevant to your walking prowess. Where-as in Atsumeru Egaocho I facially resemble an elephant (!), on review day in Aruite Wakaru Seikatsu Rhythm DS I resemble a tortoise! Thank you Nintendo! You then choose an emoticon for the day from laughing to happy to sad. Your Mii then reacts to whichever emoticon you chose. There’s actually a daily goal by the Activity Meter if you so wish.

The only other gameplay mode is Records which is slightly more than just displaying your records as as well as viewing them you also get to play with them. The View Records is split into Rhythm Details, Calendar, Rhythm Graphs and Step Graphs feeling very much like the 3DS Activity Log in layout. The Play With Records promises more than it delivers but does give the player the Walk the World mode where your actual steps taken correlate with your Mii forming animals and flowers etc (100 in total) by taking in-game steps. The graphics/animation are really charming although little gameplay is involved.

Similarly the Illuminate! (with exclamation mark!) mode lacks any real gameplay where you just watch your Mii on the treadmill with his/her steps correlating again to real-life steps made with the aim of generating electricity in your neighbourhood. Rankings is similar to the many rankings in Tomodachi Life with seven categories of your Mii challenging his/her friends, family or pets! The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode is obviously now redundant as is really the game as a whole in 2014 although it does have its uses (well singular use) and is full of the graphical charm and presentation you come to expect from Nintendo.

5/10

Review by Bri Bri. For more information on Aruite Wakaru Seikatsu Rhythm DS go to http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ds/imwj/index.html

3D Fantasy Zone II W review

Sega’s twelfth 3D Classic and once again developed by M2. Fantasy Zone II was originally released for the Sega Master System back in 1987 although this version is based on the 2008 PlayStation 2 remake. Whilst I enjoyed the original 3DS remake (http://www.japanese3ds.com/post/80441531671) I felt it only warranted a six out of ten although this sequel promises several improvements including better controls, survival after being hit with a special weapon (you merely lose the weapon), light and dark modes (more on this later) and an excellent all new score attack endless mode

The story mode (Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa) is set ten years after the original Fantasy Zone where after ten years of peace, panic returned with a new invading army called the Menon people who begin to build a new fortress. You (Opa-Opa) must return to the Fantasy Zone and destroy their dastardly plans. Gameplay-wise it’s pretty similar with ten enemy bases needing to be destroyed on each of the eight levels which then reveals the end-of-level-boss. You can fly from left to right or right to left on your quest with the same shops opening up after ¥2,000 is scored.

The light and dark modes remind me somewhat of the Child Catcher where they vary in both difficulty and rewards offered. Both are effectively the same game (as in the same destroyed/remaining enemy bases) and either can be warped between. Despite the improved controls in turning Opa-Opa, this non-centralisation again adds to the game’s frustration which unfortunately prevents 3D Fantasy Zone II W from being up there with Steel Empire, the PC Engine R-Type or even the Famicom Recca as the top shmup on the 3DS. Fortunately though, M2 have an ace up their sleeve.

Fantasy Zone II: Link Loop Land as the score attack mode even has its own story: a new planet has been discovered in the Fantasy Zone and something something Google Translate gold rush state by several people of the adventurers of the star. Anyways Opa-Opa has took off to the planet declaring “I do pay the debt!”. Similar to Super Mario coin rush mode you must try and collect as many coins as possible, score as many points as possible and (more importantly!) survive as long as possible. Armed with a three-way-shot (later upgradeable to an ace twelve) the game has all new layouts and bosses.

Typically for M2, the 3D effect is awesome and the soundtrack -like the previous game- is again amazing. Fantasy Zone II is arguably a stronger game than the original Fantasy Zone and the remake is a stronger remake of an already stronger game although still the non-centralisation is an issue which caused me to utter a naughty word. The game is also rather short although not without challenge (four difficulty levels) plus each level can be completed with the light or dark mode. Link Loop Land is also an absolutely ace addition that should make 3D Fantasy Zone II W a must buy for all cute-em-up fans!

7/10

Review by Bri Bri. For more information on 3D Fantasy Zone II W go to http://archives.sega.jp/3d/fz2/

Denpa Ningen no RPG FREE review

The fourth Denpa Men game in less than two and a half years and the latest in a series of free-to-play software for 3DS after Darumeshi Sports Store, Initial D: Perfect Shift Online, Steel Diver Subwars and The Band of Thieves & 1000 Pokémon with both Bravely Default -For the Sequel- and Bukigami coming next week. Being F2P inevitably evokes an ethics issue with different generations of gamers having different levels of tolerance towards the model although this model has clearly met with some astounding successes on iOS. How to achieve such success whilst remaining within the realms of ‘good’ ethics is surely a benefit to both the developer and the player although it’s a balance that’s rarely met.

The 3DS has seen two kinds of F2P models thus far with essentially glorified demos (Darumeshi, Steel Diver and Bravely Default) offering paid content which is basically unlocking the full game and the more common model found on iOS (and found in Initial D) which basically unlocks items essential (or sometimes inessential) in progressing within the game. Genius Sonority have decided for the latter model where the full game is indeed free *but* items (Jewels) can be purchased in-game and allow the player to continue where s/he left off with a full party with full HP and AP and often essential in a boss battle. Two Jewels are available initially to the player (thanks Daan!) with the rest priced as such.

Being on average only ten months apart, the Denpa Ningen no RPG series also have to be weary of growing stale and whilst the fourth game is familiar territory to veteran players (many of the enemies have returned which isn’t necessarily a bad thing case-in-point Dragon Quest); but it feels somewhat fresh with a new menu (bottom) screen and a tinier island than last time around. Obviously you can still pet and house your Denpa Man but thankfully the game is more linear now with your party (which again begins at four and soon increases to six then eight) being sent on missions which may mean the game is less open world than previous efforts but at least navigation is inherently more logical than the third game.

Other new features in the game include time-limited stages which appear somewhat similar to the Professor Layton daily puzzles and local communication play for multiplayer (plus visiting friends’ islands). The game begins with you again moving around your 3DS to capture party members (my leader is a short buck toothed orange Denpa Man who doesn’t have any AP ability but he is super cute!) before leaving for the first dungeon. Being extremely short (and therefore thankfully removing the need to hand hold) and an awesome (cake!) boss before moving onto future missions where the difficulty is escalated with some towns and open world structure added alongside the main dungeon and boss(es).

Further additions to the game include limited HP/AP renewal found within dungeons (they disappear after being used the once) and in-game salesmen only having a limited quantity of items (for example only five potions). Both of which obviously ramp up the difficulty although cynically it appears less for tactical reasons but more so for the necessity to purchase further Jewels. More cynicism is instilled in the player a couple of hours into the game when the purple monkey boss in the fourth dungeon as good as takes out two party members (out of a then six) each turn. Shortly after defeating the purple monkey boss and you have to face a pink monkey boss who -you guessed it- also kicks your ass.

The obvious increase of the difficulty curve can seldom be overcome by the player’s improved tactics nor by grinding (replaying previous levels may grant the player more potions and Gold but seldom improves the player’s level) but in the need to buy (and quickly use) Jewels. Worse still is that you can’t appear to leave a mission until completing it without losing the effects of the Jewels you’ve previously used up (for example I quit the game on the fifth level after using up a couple of valuable Jewels but had to replay the mission from the beginning fighting the same boss again that cost me a couple of Jewels previously and went on to cost me a couple of further Jewels again).

All-in-all it’s such a shame as despite the almost necessity to purchase Jewels to continue (and probably totalling more than the cost of any of the individual games to do so), the game seems like an absolutely solid adventure improving on Denpa Ningen no RPG 3 in many areas and (again!) having a super cute protagonist, and whilst I may have bonded with said protagonist it looks like he may have to continue his adventure without my aid. Whilst some may look at the score and consider it hypocritical rating Steel Empire highly irregardless of its price-tag, there the game and the price could be separated. Unfortunately the two cannot be separated here with the ‘pay to continue’ method very well working in relatively short arcade games but absolutely can not work in a full-scale RPG.

5/10

Review by Bri Bri. For more information on Denpa Ningen no RPG FREE! go to http://www.denpafree.jp/

Weekly News Update

● Extremely slow week with the only new retail game announcement being One Piece Super Grand Battle! X which is coming this Winter by Bandai Namco Games!

● Lots of eShop announcements including Escape From Earth Odyssey (Ohno Odyssey) and Simple DL Vol. 31: Escape From the Karaoke Room, both due next week.

● Due the week after is Cubit the Hardcore Platformer Robot (known as just ‘Cubit’) and at a later date Castle Clout 3D which are again localisations of Western games.

● The only other notable news is Yokai Watch 2 selling another quarter of a million copies now totalling well over one and a half million after just eleven days on sale!

● The only review this past week was for the fun Hoppeland (6/10) but working on 3-4 reviews this weekend including Yokai Watch 2! And thanks for following!

Latest eShop Charts

01./00. Kirby Fighters Z
02./01. Yokai Watch 2 Hanke
03./02. Yokai Watch 2 Ganso
04./00. Yoshi’s New Island
05./10. Bike Rider DX2 Galaxy
06./00. DeDeDe’s Drum Dash Z
07./03. Pokémon Battle Trozei
08./04. Pokémon Art Academy
09./07. 3D Fantasy Zone II W
10./05. Pokémon X
11./08. Pokémon Y
12./11. Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life
13./06. Gacha Racing
14./09. Adventure Bar Story
15./13. Bike Rider DX
16./12. Super Science Escape Story
17./14. Gunma Yabou for Nintendo 3DS
18./16. Puyo Puyo!! Mini Version
19./15. Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS 2
20./18. Pokémon AR Searcher

Famitsu Charts Week 29

01./01. Yokai Watch 2 (258,554)
02./00. Gundam Tri-Age SP (24,019)
03./03. Yokai Watch (11,254)
04./02. Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS 2 (11,156)
05./04. Pokémon Art Academy (5,847)
06./05. Pokemon X & Y (4,438)
07./07. Monster Hunter 4 (3,508)
08./00. Hoppeland (3,059)
09./09. Mario Kart 7 (2,771)
10./08. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (2,496)
11./06. World Soccer Winning Eleven 2014 (2,397)
12./10. Mario Party: Island Tour (2,395)

Yokai Watch 2 totals over 1.5 million. 3DS hardware down to 41,502. Next week will see Toshi!

Next week on the eShop

Two games already announced for the eShop next week with Arc System Works announcing Escape From Earth Odyssey (the localised name for Big John Games’ Ohno Odyssey) which is an action puzzle game priced at ¥500 (see http://www.arcsystemworks.jp/arcstyle/ohno/) and ArtePiazza (Dragon Quest IV-VI DS) announcing the brilliant looking Accel Knights 2: Full Throttle which is a battle action game (well battling motorbikes with RPG stats!) and will also be ¥500 (see http://www.artepiazza.com/AK2/). I’ll update this post on Wednesday morning with the complete lineup!

Edit: several other game announcements including the Klon shmup Illmatic Envelope Dillinjah priced at ¥1,000, Simple DL Vol. 31: Escape From the Karaoke Room (which is another escape game) for ¥520 and the exciting looking free-to-play battler Bukigami which is of-course ¥0! No Virtual Console for the TWELFTH week running:-(

Tomodachi Tuesday


My wife is wanting naughties in @IKAY_SP’s island (http://streetpassberlin.wordpress.com)


Trying my best to set up a same-sex couple in Ikay’s island!


Gossiping about pink necklaces with Ganondorf in @thegaygamer’s island (http://www.thegaygamer.com)


Raining bacon on my Japanese island!


Pride celebrations on my Japanese island!


And on a date with David Bowie on the gay gamer’s island!


Add my Mii to your island and send pics to @iamnotagoomba to be featured in future week’s!