Take A Bow (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call – 3DS)

Ooooooh, so this is what the first Theatrhythm game could have been. Curtain Call exists not only as a sequel done right, but also as an idea that the publisher finally realized had genuine potential after the original’s reception.
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While this is just a theory, it doesn’t take much to realize just how meagre an offering the first Theatrhythm was in comparison to its successor. I’m not speaking of just the song count; despite how significant three times the amount of songs is, that sort of content growth is expected. Curtain Call’s variety of modes on offer is what blows me away.
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It’s been a long time since I’ve played the first game, but there’s no forgetting its lackluster efforts at keeping my attention. While the songs and mechanics on offer were nice, it was pretty much a time killer; something to dip into for a bit when I had the chance. The Dark Notes were Theatrhythm’s attempt at creating a hook to catch me with, but the song’s it used grew repetitive as the mode built itself with a small selection of the game’s music. It was a drag, and a real stain on an otherwise terrific title.

Curtain Call farts on the first game’s lunch in that regard with Medley Quest, a mode that puts your party on branching paths with various “stops” (songs) along the way. Your team’s health bar is constant from song to song, with the goal being getting to the stage’s boss before dying. The stages are organized by length, meaning the longer the stage the more songs to play (and just one health bar to do complete it with). The rewards are constant, and the branches mean a return trip isn’t quite the same as your first time around.
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Also on tap is a very fun multiplayer mode. While it’s interesting to face off against the computer, it’s thrilling to take on your friends through the power of the internet. Just last night I played a few matches against Qoopa Klub’s Jeremy Johnson, and got my butt handed to me. As expected, you compete for points, but the wrench thrown into the mix is the power ups. While they’re easy to scoff at (and I certainly did at first), they add a lot of confusion to the mix, and the results are hilarious. Maybe those who believe Mario Kart is tarnished by the Blue Shell will take issue, but the power ups in Curtain Call do an excellent job of adding a bit of madness to the experience. The game’s rhythm targets can speed up, become hidden until the last possible second, and even shrink down before expanding back just when it’s time to hit the mark. If there’s a way to turn them off, I want nothing of it. What makes online play so appealing is that whether you win or lose, you can choose a Collectacard, which shows off some character artwork as well as providing an optional stat boost to your party members.

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Curtain Call is rich with content, shaming its predecessor with its collection of modes and trinkets. It makes sense that Square-Enix is billing this as the last Theatrhythm game, as I doubt anyone will be wont of more. DLC is on offer, so there’s even more on the way. You almost expect the cartridge to bulge a bit with all that’s on board.

I think Curtain Call is owed a standing ovation.

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Think Pink

It’s fair to say I really like pink hair.

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Soul Sacrifice Delta

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Destiny…which isn’t a handheld game…

Soooo…what does this say about me? I’m not sure, but I’m really enjoying the option to create a female avatar, and it’s even greater when I can dye their hair such a wonderful shade.

What’s even crazier is when some designer out there feels the exact same way.

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call…just wait until I unlock Serah

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The Wonderful 101’s Queen of Rage…Wonder-Pink, ladies and gentlemen.

So as crazy as I am, at least I’m not alone.

I’m not sure of why this is, but it is a recent development. For the longest time I crafted male protagonists, it just felt expected. But eventually it got boring. 99% of what I played cast me as a man or boy, so why waste the opportunity to try something else?

Another reason is my daughters. It wasn’t until I had them in my life that I realized how underrepresented they are in media (well, positively at least). Coraline, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away are my oldest’s favourite films, and should she see the games I’m playing, I want her to see a strong woman there too.

Despair Indeed (Danganronpa 2 – Vita – Review)

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair concludes with a photo finish, a spectacular ending that wraps the game up with one hell of a bow.

Unfortunately, the ending stands in stark contrast to the content that came before it. While enjoyable, the opening 20 hours of Danganronpa 2 are a far cry from its predecessor’s, and I found its early chapters disappointing upon comparison.

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Mechanically, the game’s structure remains the same. Each chapter opens with a new area to explore, a murders occurs followed by an investigation, and it all comes to an end with a trial. The efforts made to improve upon the first game come in the form of new and improved minigames. I only say improved as it’s a term the game itself makes use of, but that is a case of Spike Chunsoft putting the horse before the cart. Unlike the original Danganronpa, the trial’s minigames this time around are worse than a simple change of pace. Logic Drive, for example, is a boring tube slider that has players navigating a totally rad snow/skate boarder along a path, with answers to several questions represented as forks in your path. Another new mode has the player mash buttons to destroy an opponents phrases as they swoop past, only to be more reserved when the highlighted phrases that you can counter come into focus. All the minigames are long winded efforts to arrive at simple conclusions, and we would be better off if the game stuck to what it excels at. The same can be said of its predecessor, but in that case the minigames were less and obstacle than a bump in the road. The Improved Hangman’s Gambit (their words, not mine) is an exercise in frustration, with plenty of health being lost as the letters you collect to fill in the answer’s blank spaces collide into each other while your attention is placed elsewhere.

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With little else to fall back on, all focus is placed is placed on the story, which is hardly unexpected considering the genre. Danganronpa 2 boasts a wonderful cast, full of colourful characters the series has led us to expect. There’s some you love, some you hate, and others you can’t quite put your finger on. Nagito in particular is an interesting character, who early on appears to be more of a protagonist than your own avatar. The plot itself isn’t quite as strong, with plenty of blame owing to the environment. Taking place outside the harrowing school halls of the first game, Danganronpa 2 places its cast on an island getaway. As the “fun in the sun” atmosphere quickly gives way to a more foreboding one, so too does the game’s sense of mystery waste away. While the rooms and secrets of Hope’s Peak Academy unraveled slowly in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the sequel lacks that same drip feed. I never felt that there was some larger mystery to the islands, and the reasoning behind this setting seems to be an opportunity for the developers to craft a wider range of absurd attractions at each new island. While the story is good, it doesn’t manage to grab hold of me like the previous Danganronpa did. Instead of story that slowly reveals itself layer by layer, Goodbye Despair leaves all of its revelations for the very end. As terrific as the ending is because of this decision, it leaves a majority of the game without any means to keep the player motivated.
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I enjoyed playing Danganronpa 2, but I can’t help but walk away feeling disappointed. While it is just months that separate this release from its predecessor here in North America, years past in Japan before Danganronpa saw a sequel back in the PSP days. I’m surprised more couldn’t be done to craft a worthy successor, a game that raised the stakes despite the odds. I think back on Virtue’s Last Reward, a sequel to 999 that defied expectations without sacrificing what made the original so great. I recommend this game to you, despite its flaws, but I hope the series can make a stronger impression next time around.

Episode 71.5 – Final Fantasy Music Spectacular!

tylerohlew:

Ryan, John Nintendo, and Lindsey join you on the balcony to discuss Theatrhythm Curtain Call, a game made to celebrate the music of Final Fantasy.

Whether you’re a Spoony Bard or a Chocobo Champion, there’s no denying the beauty of Final Fantasy’s melodies. Make sure to listen, and watch for my own impressions soon.

Originally posted on Nintendo Fun Club Podcast:

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Left-click here to listen in your browser or right-click, then “save link as…” to download the episode!

Welcome to our Final Fantasy music spectacular! In honor of the upcoming release of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, we’re celebrating the legendary compositions from this long-running series.

Music:

Opening Theme (FF XIV)

Matoya’s Cave (FF I)

Eternal Wind (FF III)

Crystal Room (FF III)

Balamb Garden (FF VIII)

Bland Logo (FF Tactics)

Main Theme (FF V – Remastered Version)

Melodies of Life (FF IX – Piano Collection Version)

Rem Tokimiya (FF Type-0)

Fisherman’s Horizon (FF VIII – Distant Worlds Version) (I know, I said Dear Friends Version on the podcast oops)

Epitaph (FF VI – OST Remaster Version)

The Sunleth Waterscape (FF XIII Instrumental Version)

The Skies Above (FF X – Black Mages Version)

Qoopa Klub Episode 50: Fabulous Nova Crystallis (Final Fantasy XIII Special)

Special thanks to Tyler, Ian, Michael

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Text Adventures: The Story of Visual Novels in America

Hey, sorry about the dry spell! I was neck deep in my latest feature for the fine folks at USGamer.net. It’s called Text Adventures: The Story of Visual Novels in America, and it’s a look at the history of the genre, what it’s like bringing one to our shores, and what the future holds.

It gave me a chance to speak with Ben Bateman (999, Sweet Fuse), Mike Engler (Xblaze Code: Embryo), Phoenix Spaulding (Danganronpa 1 & 2), and Tom Lipschultz (Corpse Party). I think you’ll enjoy it!

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It’s Azure Thing (Azure Striker Gunvolt – 3DS – Review)

It’s incredible to have your expectations destroyed, to think you know what’s coming only to face something entirely different. I thought I knew what to expect from an action game like Azure Striker Gunvolt. While Inti Creates work on the Mega Man series spanned across several unique franchises, the gameplay remained largely the same. What we have with Gunvolt is a studio showing what they can build from the ground up. While expectations led me to believe I was receiving another take on Mega Man, Gunvolt is instead the start of something completely new.

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The strategy on display here is what makes the strongest impression. Gunvolts handgun is useless as a weapon, but it isn’t window dressing either. Instead its function is to tag enemies, effectively locking-on to the enemies and setting them up for the real damage. With your targets set, Gunvolt unleashes the Flashfield, a circle of electricity that acts as a barrier and a method to attack enemies from afar. Lighting shoots out from the Flashfield, connecting with enemies and draining their health bars. The attack lasts for as long as the associated energy bar lasts. For as creative as this is, the foes you face are what makes Gunvolt so special.

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