Standard Review: eXceed 2nd – Vampire REX (PC)

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I first wrote my review of the first eXceed title back in 2014, and I took a lot longer to get to this game than I expected. Granted it is probably more absurd for me to have not reviewed another Senran Kagura or Persona game until now, but your Goddess works in mysterious ways after all, and by that she means that playing eXceed 2nd at this time was a spur of the moment decision without much prior thought.

It was quite convenient that I played through the first eXceed with my old crappy computer because I actually tried replaying it recently. That attempt was short lived because I realized that the first eXceed was not re-formatted for newer PCs. It was originally a 2005 title so ran well on my old crappy computer but was pretty much unplayable on my newer one. it is quite clear that the effort was put into the 2nd and 3rd games with the first one as little more than an afterthought, and having now played Vampire Rex I can see why. Read more

Aozora Meikyuu (PC): A Beautiful Trainwreck (Detailed Review)

Aozora Meikyuu | Title screen

Aozora Meikyuu is a short and brief ecchi visual novel by developer Yume Creations, a team name that I’m not sure exists because Dream Creations was taken by a rhinestone trimming company or if the devs were just total weebs. One can definitely get the impression that it is the latter since Yume Creation’s other games are also short ecchi visual novels with anime girls.  I want to make it clear I have nothing against anime tiddies and actually kinda liked Aozora Meikyuu, but it’s not a good game.

Aozora Meikyuu, which means “Blue Sky” in Japanese and leaves me once again unsure if the name was left in Japanese to avoid confusion with the similarly titled visual novel “Always the Same Blue Sky” that I also reviewed or if the devs are just total nerds, is something that I enjoyed in a “so bad its good” kind of way. More specifically, it is a poorly written and overall stupid mess, but it also has a unique charm that appeals to me as an otaku turned feminazi. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four (PC/360) – Through Hell and Back (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four | Tree

Oh the things you never expect. When I finished playing Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three, I stated that I hoped that this game improved upon Episode Three the same way Episode Two improved on Episode One. While it is definitely fair to say that Episode Four was an improvement, I simply did not expect one of this magnitude. There are several things regarding this game that I did not expect.

It certainly does not do anything revolutionary nor does it look particularly innovative, but when you actually play it, you realize just how meticulously crafted this game is. Yes it may appear to be another parody of 16-bit era JRPGs, but it is so much more in terms of execution. Not only does it have the signature humor of Zeboyd’s games, but it also has a story that is actually compelling on its own merits. When you add an outstanding soundtrack by Hyperduck Soundworks, the same people behind the soundtrack of Dust: An Elysian Tale, and some of the most addicting and precise battle mechanics in any turn based RPG; you end up with a game that might as well have been made to silence anyone who said these types of games are only made to pander to nostalgia. Read more

Standard Review: Nekopara Extra (PC)

I’d say I’m surprised it took me as long to get around to Nekopara Extra as I did, but I’m really not. This is just what happens when you not only have a ton of games to play AND write reviews for, but also are busy in several other areas of your life. I’m also so backed up on reviews that I’m basically writing this review a month after completing the game so my memory may be a little bit fuzzy in regards to the specific plot events, especially since Nekopara Extra is a pretty short game.

While Nekopara Extra is longer than Vol. 0, it is still pretty brief and doesn’t really feel like a full game. Then again, I don’t think Nekopara Extra was intended as anything rather than a brief prequel to each of the remaining entries. Nekopara Extra was a game offered as stretch goal of the Kickstarter campaign for the OVA based on Vol. 1. There was actually an additional stretch goal to make an additional animation based on the then non-existent prequel… a stretch goal for a stretch goal. The campaign fell short of the $1,000,000 dollars needed for that stretch goal, but the fact that a series of visual novels about catgirls reached $963,376 to begin with is quite remarkable. I doubt you’d see that kind of support for a Sakura Spirit OVA. Read more

Standard Review: Luigi’s Mansion (GC/3DS)

Luigi's Mansion | Logo

There are two kinds of people in this world; those that like Luigi’s Mansion, and people who hate fun. The first Luigi’s Mansion was apparently not well received when it originally came out since it wasn’t a sequel to Super Mario 64 and had some big shoes to fill. Luigi’s Mansion is not even in the same genre as Mario 64 so those comparisons only came up due to the fact that Mario platformers were previously released as launch titles for Nintendo consoles, and this likely lead kids to assume that Luigi’s Mansion was a platformer because it was a Gamecube launch title.

The Gamecube did eventually get a Mario platformer with … which apparently also had a bunch of people who didn’t like it because Nintendo fanboys are just unpleasable it seems… and also it’s kinda been close to two decades since it’s been released. This means that plenty of people have had time to examine Luigi’s Mansion on its own merits and many have rightfully concluded that it is a good game. Of course I always liked it to begin with and lost count of the amount of times I played it as a child, but what prompted this review was me playing through the 3DS port a few weeks before this was written.

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Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three (PC/360/Ios): Something Completely Different (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode Three | Logo

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three may be a jarring experience to those that have played the first two. This is the case with Episode Three because the development of these games shifted developers, from Hothead Games to Zeboyd. While Zeyboyd is a smaller development team and clearly does not have as high a budget as Hothead, they are still well known for their work on Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu saves the world. Being a huge fan of those games, I naturally had some high expectations for this game and I was hoping that this game would exceed the quality of both the previous Penny Arcade Adventures installments and Zeyboyd’s previous titles.

Instead, Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three is a game that it is good in its own right and is definitely superior to the first Penny Arcade Adventures and Breath of Death, but does not hold a candle to Episode Two or Cthulhu Saves the World. It is hard to really say the game is a step back from Episode Two given that the games are quite a bit different, but in general, it does feel like a step down from the incredible experience that Cthulhu Saves the World offered. In addition, it feels like the game also suffers from simply not having the same budget as the first two Penny Arcade titles. When you add that Episode Three still retains some of the flaws of the earlier entries, you end up with a good game in its own right, but one that felt rather underwhelming. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two (PC/360/PS3): A Penny Saved… (Detailed Review)

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When I reviewed Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One, I did not have much good to say about it. The game had a solid battle system and some amusing dialogue, but it was sorely lacking in just about every other area. The plot was incredibly tedious and the game itself was a major slog. At the end of that review, I stated that I had no interest in playing Episode Two as a result of the first game’s failure to provide a quality experience. However, I ended up changing my mind seeing as how I felt as if I should at least play this one if I was going to play Episodes Three and Four simply for the sake of having the full experience. I did not have high expectations going into Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only did I find Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two to be a much more enjoyable experience than Episode One, but I would also say that it is among one of the better indie RPGs I have played. The funny thing about this, however, is that there really is not that much of a difference between Penny Arcade Adventures Episodes Two and One. At points, I have considered that I simply might have not been in a good mood when I played and reviewed the first game, but it turned out that Episode Two simply executed its various aspects better than the first game. In my review of the first game, I have criticized it for using a gameplay setup that I thought was inherently flawed. While technically my complaints do still apply, Episode Two did prove to me that it was indeed possible to make a good game out of that apparent “flawed system.” I am ultimately glad I decided to give this game a chance, and I encourage you to consider this one if the first game did not quite catch your interest. Read more

Standard Review: Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One (PC/360/PS3)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode One | Logo

To start things off, I will disclose that I am not too familiar with the Penny Arcade web comics or even the website itself. I have seen a small amount of the web comics but they did not seem to have any effect on the game itself for me. I would assume that big fans of the web comics may get a bit more out of this game. Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One, or simply Penny Arcade Adventures as I will refer to it from now on, is really not good enough to appeal to anyone who is not a big Penny Arcade fan. The game unsuccessfully tries to combine elements of point and click adventure games with turn based RPGs, and ends up as a game that fails as either of them. It is not necessarily a bad game, but I would not recommend it unless you are a hardcore Penny Arcade fan. Read more

Banjo-Kazooie (N64/360): Rareware’s Masterpiece (Detailed Review)

Banjo-Kazooie | Mumbo Mountain

I posted my review of Yooka-Laylee almost two years ago. I had some very strong praises for it despite the fact that I had not even grown up with Banjo-Kazooie and was only familiar with the game through a lets play.That lets play was very appealing though and I loved the style of the game and everything, the only reason I didn’t play the game until now was because I didn’t own the systems it was for and didn’t know how to use emulators. What recently got me in the mood to finally check this game out was seeing a certain leftist video maker stream another Nintendo 64 Collectathon by Rare for close to three days straight to raise money for a UK charity for trans kids, and if that doesn’t inspire you to play some vidya then I don’t know what will.

Predictably as fuck, I immensely enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie but it wouldn’t be an AnnieGal review without at least one hot take; Yooka-Laylee is a better game. This really SHOULDN’T be a hot take because Yooka-Laylee was made close to two decades later with much more advanced technology, but we live in a world where Donald Trump is president and Yooka-Laylee is a “failure in every way.” As an aside, I will eventually make a full response to Derek Alexander’s review but I’d like to play Banjo-Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 for myself before that. Read more

Standard Review: eXceed – Gun Bullet Children (PC)

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Exceed – Gun Bullet Children was a game that was originally released in 2005 in Japan. It did not get an official US release until 2012 when it, along with its two sequels, were published by Capcom and released on Steam and Desura. All three games in the series had their release on March 29th 2012. The first game in the eXceed series, eXceed Gun Bullet Children, was actually designed by a different developer then the second and third games in the series. It is easy to tell this based on how Gun Bullet Children plays when compared to its sequel. While I have yet to play the third game as of the time this is being written, I have played the second game and can make comparisons between the two. The main difference is that Gun Bullet Children is much more difficult and simplistic than Vampire REX. Generally I would be quicker to point to eXceed 2nd – Vampire REX for a recommendation than I would Gun Bullet Children, but the latter is still a good game in its own right, and for $3.00, it is worth checking out. Read more