Category Archives: Reviews

JOURNEY

DEVELOPED BY: Thatgamecompany

PUBLISHED BY: SONY Computer Entertainment

DIRECTOR: Jenova Chen

ARTIST: Matt Nava

Aaron Jessie

COMPOSER: Austin Wintory

RELEASE DATE: March 14th 2012  ( EU )

PLATFORM: PS3

Little over a month ago I decided I’ve taken enough of a break from writing and re-start this short lived Gaming Blog. To be honest with everyone, the first few post were just my version of “BETA testing” to see how this blog would be received, I had to decide on a tone that fit and something that wasn’t as tiring or debate centered.  In the time I spent drafting around my feeble existence in the Gaming Universe, I somehow managed to have my PSP stolen. Well great I thought to myself. The Gods of Gaming have spoken, I was to work my way back up again.

So I set on a Journey across the ocean in search of the truth. To be specific, I went to France and picked up a PS3 Slim 160GB for myself from the VIRGIN Store.  I didn’t get any games so when I got back home and hooked it up I just starred at my now burned up Debit Card exhausted of funds. I depleted what little I had left in it to buy myself  Thatgamecompany’s  latest release. “JOURNEY”

About 10 minutes and 15 Dollars later I find myself in the world of Journey expecting to see a dialog box pop up and tell me what to do…

No such luck…

I knew I shouldn't have eaten those Mind Controlling French Fries!

Instead a controller just faintly shows up showing you how to control your character… and… that’s about it. I find myself in the middle of a dessert feeling … to be honest, kind of lost.

BUT I MUSTN’T FEAR ! A quick scout of my surroundings reveals the faint shadow of a building? This game instead of giving you a bunch of answers just gives you questions really, lots of it.  In the form of “What the fuck now?!”

After a while of walking around down it’s quickly evident, how beautiful this game looks. The sand, the cloth you’re character is wearing floating in the wind.

And without the game having to pop up this huge ass dialog box saying “GO THERE! THERE!’ the game assumes ( quite rightly ) that you have to head in the direction of this Mountain with light spewing out of it’s mouth like it’s a Bat Signal.

I was sort of disappointed to find no such Bat Signal.

So 2-hours later, the game’s done. There isn’t much to say about this game, since I’d just be spoiling everything else for you.
The game isn’t in the traditional sense a “Game”, I would call this a game at all to be honest, and that’s a good thing. Journey is as the name suggest, a Journey, you have to experience it on your own. The world of Journey is stunningly beautiful.

Regarding the Multiplayer ?

Though it’s fun to run into another player suddenly while playing it’s really more fun to be alone, it just excites the experience that you’re alone. Journey may well reflect your inner loneliness as a gamer and show you what wonders we can do to fill in that loneliness with beautiful fictional worlds we all want to escape to.

Or maybe I’m just full of shit. The game doesn’t show you who that other player really is, it does nothing to tell you how old he or she could be, you can’t talk to each other. Merely use these feebly audible shouts your character can do ( which is all it can really do ) to signal each other. Not sure how you’re supposed to respond to it either.

Finishing the game will only then reveal to you who you met online, and you’ll probably notice that you actually met more than one person. The game actually shuffles the players that you meet, you think you’re playing with the same person when in reality you’re just bumping into other just as lost gamers as you.

Visuals : 8/10

Controls : 7/10 ( There isn’t much to say regarding it since there isn’t much to begin with )

Music : 8/10

Re-play Value : Disappointing amount of trophies really, but worth the Journey.

Overall Panda Points : 7/10

Thatgamecompany is really no stranger to these artsy games though, they’ve spun out beautiful pieces such as Flower and Flow before. Flower is another definitely must try if you’re into that, uhmm, Hipster *Cough* thing?

Why does this remind me of Japanese Hentai?

Written by : @kingofcuteness

Katawa Shoujo


DEVELOPED BY: 4 Leaf Studios

DEVELOPMENT TIME: 5 Years

DEVELOPMENT TEAM SIZE: 21

RELEASE DATE: 3rd January 2012


It’s pretty much common sense that the more time one spends in creating something the more likely it is to come out nicely. Most of us shat bricks when we heard that Skyrim spent around 5 years in development. The game ended up boasting a fuck-tonne of quest and more than 300-hours of ignoring any life you may or may not have had knowing what “reality” is.

And you start asking this question…

It was...

But Skyrim IS an open ended sandbox styled RPG that required the utmost attention paid to every aspect of the game to ensure quality and a minimum amount of glitches and bugs. ( Pfft, what am I talking about? It’s Bethesda after all )

What if that same amount of attention was paid to a far simpler game? What if you took a Romance Novel and added Anime visuals to it and made into a game similar to R.L. Stine’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of Goosebump books?

They made me piss my pants as a kid... no joke.

It seems that 5 years ago, a group of people who may or may not have met each other on 4chan decided that they’ll do exactly this. The results is Katawa Shoujo ( Disabled Girl ) , a Visual Novel  styled game, a genre of games that may be sightly alien to those of you outside of Asia.

The game put a demo out a couple of years back, and even then it gained a bit of a following. A simple DeviantArt search will reveal that despite it’s mere couple of days since release there is already an impressive amount of fanart available. The game puts you into the shoes of Hisao Nakai, a Japanese High School boy who suffers from a congenital heart defect that forces him to be sent to a school for disabled children where you’ll be given the chance to pursue the love of 5 incredibly beautiful girls each with their own unique stories and personalities    disabilities.

These girls…

From left ; Lilly, Hanako, Rin, Shizune and Emi

The game starts of a bit bland sadly and if you’re not patient you may quickly lose interest, as the game quickly jumps into a depressing self-pitying monologue by your character. Once you get pass this and arrive at the school gates however, you will quickly gain a strong interest in what comes next as you’re shown what seems to be the front of a beautiful school, which from the couple of scenes you won’t notice but, SPOILER ALERT : All the backgrounds will seem like a picture but they really aren’t!

You will then be introduced to the first girl available to be pursued. Which by the way I want to point out how well character introductions are done in this game, I like how you were given a lot of time getting to know each available girl thoroughly before you were introduced to the next girl. The game dedicates the entire first ACT of the game getting you acquainted enough with each of the five girls to be able to make a decision on who to pursue.

Oh, by the way, it is possible to LOSE in this game during this first part, you can die. I won’t spoil that for you though, it’s quite fun really.  🙂

I must stress though, this game is NOT a dating-sim and it isn’t even an eroge to begin with. You will be treated to some sex-scenes towards the end of the game, assuming you get the “good” ending for the girl you choose to pursue in ACT 1 of the game…

What do you mean "no sex"?!

When playing this game, you’ll want to be patient and go through all the scenes as if you’re reading a book, and trust me. That IS good thing.  The game is split into four different parts. ACT 1 till 4.

Act 1 does the necessary introductions and girl choosing.

Act 2-3 will be mainly story with some decisions to make thrown here and there. These parts are full of dialogues and heavy monologues especially if you chose the Rin path. This is basically the novel part of the game. The game is very well written and you’ll be constantly stumbling upon very quotable lines you’ll want to tweet and and post on your Facebook straight away! The game uses the theme of disability and shines it directly under a very serious and mature light. ( As in totally not sex but rather heavy thoughts in dialogue and metaphors )

No sex yet? Sure.... Sure~

Act 4 ( IF you get an Act 4 ) will be the climax of the story ( no pun intended ) and be straight run towards the end usually with your character going back to the self-pity but not as bad to show that he has learned from the people of the school, specifically the girl you pursued. 

Which yeah, is the part where you MAY get the sex. Yes, you can fail here too.

Moving on from sexual innuendos, another thing I like about this game is the atmosphere created by the simple but effectively used Soundtrack that sticks to a rather serious tone but it works even through the humorous sections of the game. I wouldn’t mind purchasing the soundtrack for this game, so uhh, 4 Leaf Studios, Soundtrack album please? 🙂

The game is surprisingly long compared to other visual novel styled games I’ve played and took me around 6-hours combined ( distractions from external sources included ) to finish one character path. So you’ll be pretty much glued to this game for the entire night, or day… but I don’t recommend this on your desktop at work…

Overall I’d say this game is very well produced for an independent game studio and it’s a bit of a tragedy that 4 Leaf Studios has stated that it will be the only game they will ever make. The lack of Voice-acting slightly turned me off and I feel that the introduction to the the main character itself requires a LOT of work.

Plus there’s no reason NOT to try this out especially if you’ve never tried Visual-Novel games before since this game is ABSOLUTELY FREE!

All in all here’s the verdict ;

Visuals : 8/10

STORY: 9.5/10 ( Fucking Introduction spoils it )

Music : 5/10

Re-play Value : You’ll definitely replay this since they’ll be another 4 girls each with 2-3 possible endings to them 

Overall Panda Points : 7/10

The game can be downloaded here > http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/2012/01/katawa-shoujo-released.html

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BIT.TRIP RUNNER

DEVELOPED BY : GAIJIN GAMES

PUBLISHED BY : AKSYS GAMES

CREATIVE DIRECTOR : ALEX NEUSE

PLATFORM : PC/MAC/Wii/ Nitendo 3DS

Retail Price : USD 9.99

 Available Through : Steam / Wii Shop

 

 

 

 

When I choose to play a game, I always challenge myself to complete the main quest-line/game as fast as I can, if possible in one sitting surrounded by a dozen cans of Coke and the nearest McDonalds on Speed-dial.   I usually set the game on Normal and then only play the game again to get whatever I missed to aim for 100% completion.

That's 80-hours of my life spent not fapping.

Then a certain game studio… GAIJIN GAMES decides to come along and say, fuck that! We know how you do it bitch, and we’re going to make you our bitch by making you play a game that’s hard as fuck, eats up your soul in relation to how much of the game you didn’t complete on each level and make it  addictive, and trippy… like a drug… like acid.

The game starts of easy enough, it’s almost laughable. You take control of Commander Video and all you have to do is press the jump button and time that right. Do note however that I use the term “all you have to do” rather loosely. The game doesn’t tell you this, but GAIJIN knows you’ll do it anyway, you can totally get pass every level without collecting all Power-Ups or Gold-Bars but be warned…

The game has no check-points whatsoever or a “lives” system like most games. Instead, if you stall Commander Video mid-level he will basically go all Prince of Persia on you and simply rewind to the start, it doesn’t matter if you were merely 1 more obstacle away from the finish line, if you miss it, it’s back to square one, and here’s where you start flipping tables…

Fuck this, I'm going to Sparkle.

Same rules apply to boss-fights too, yes, as if the regular levels weren’t difficult enough, they had to have boss-fights,  but then again… what’s a platformer game without a boss-fight eh? ( A lot less frustrating )

However so, even if the game does tend to drive you nuts, it’s selling point is how beautiful this game really is. Not in the sense of *cough* Modern Penisfare 3, but rather more in the sense of being ACTUALLY CREATIVE with the art-style that combines 3D and 8-bit graphics. Combine that with the incredible Soundtrack that by the way features motherfucking ANAMAGUCHI on two of the tracks, and you get this incredible experience of wonder, nostalgia and awe mixed with I want to fucking flip all the tables in this house right now.

I mean, the game-soundtrack actually intensifies for every little thing you manage to do in this game, so getting a perfect score on a level actually means you get a perfect score! As in you know… a musical score…

Lets pretend this makes sense...

The best part? The game actually gets better with it’s difficulty, because it successfully rewards you with that feeling of accomplishment every-time you get pass a level. Here’s the math ;

( Number of Times Level Attempted x Gold-Bars collected ) x Tables Flipped = EUPHORIA LEVELS

There’s even this nifty bonus level you get that throws you all the way back to the days of the Atari =3

Warning : You will fail

There aren’t many controls to the game as this game is meant to seem like a classic NES game. So around 10-12 levels through the game and you’ll be less frustrated than in the beginning of the game. Oh, but then the learning curve for this game just laughs at you as the game introduces an extra move towards the end of the game that just fucks up everything you were used to up till then. So I suggest having a spare table if you want to finish this game in one sitting.

The game doesn’t have that many levels ( Around 50 ) but you’ll be playing this for a long time considering how many times you’ll be replaying each level. So that alone is enough reason to spend $9.99 on it.

Here’s my overview of what I think of this game .

Visuals : 8/10

Controls : 5/10

Music : 8/10

Re-play Value : As long as you haven’t won the game and have enough tables left in the house.

Overall Panda Points : 7/10

So if you’re the type of gamer that loves a challenge with a genuine sense of achievement at the end. Get this game, or if you already did get it during the 4th Humble Bundle and haven’t played it  yet, GET READY TO FLIP ALL THE TABLES!