Scum of the Brave – A Japanese Language Visual Novel You Can Kind of Enjoy

Japanese Visual novels are nearly impenetrable without the ability to read the language. They’re essentially choose your own adventure books with music and heavily recycled 2D graphics, which often makes playing one as a foreigner feel fruitless. It’s a lot of glazing over Japanese text while characters switch between one of a handful of frames overlayed on a static background. You can attempt to read the mood of the scene based off voice acting and what little visual information you can grasp, but likely you’re missing most of the context.

Scum of the Brave isn’t too different from the above scenario. If you aren’t willing to test your observation skills, you’ll likely come out feeling quite lost. Nevertheless, it does have some quirks that make it slightly more palatable to the foreign eye than your usual visual novel.

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Fire Emblem Heroes – Tapping Tiny Heroes to Victory

I wouldn’t say I’m a mobile game aficionado. I dumped six months into Puzzles and Dragons, played two months of Final Fantasy: Grand Masters and experienced the riveting Hill Cliff Horse, which was like being in a Gaia Online chat room… But as a horse. I was a very tiny and pretty horse with wings. Clearly I’m the most qualified to talk about Nintendo’s mobile efforts with Fire Emblem Heroes.

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Inaho Town: Dynamite Bomb!! – Strange People of a Certain Fighting Game

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The Japanese indie / doujin fighting game scene isn’t anything new or unheard of. While no Guilty Gear or BlazBlue in popularity, there are titles like Melty Blood that have gained at least some following. Inaho Town: Dynamite Bomb!! isn’t the most obscure doujin fighter either, yet it also lacks much fanfare. I generally go into doujin games expecting little, but found the title to be surprisingly accessible and competent for the genre.

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Drowning in Puzzles with Aqua Cube

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Most Japanese indie games haven’t been prevalent in the industry over the last decade. A growing Steam presence is starting to bring many of these games to light, but plenty have yet to make the transition. Until recently, they were almost exclusively created for low-print runs at Japanese conventions or, in the cases of digital distribution, shoved in the obscure corners of the internet. This includes Aqua Cube, a cute puzzle platformer released for PC back in 2008.

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Windy X Windam: Wasted Sprites

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(Image Source: IGN)

The Wii and DS have huge libraries. With over 100 million hardware units sold for each, plenty of publishers and developers were pumping out titles in an attempt to grab even a fraction of the market. I was almost solely focused on these platforms during their life spans, but still some games slipped through my cracks.

I never even knew Windy X Windam existed until I found it in a bargain bin the other day.

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ESWAT: City Under Siege — Duke Oda Powered Up

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(Image Source: The Old Computer)

I have a soft spot for everyday characters who play roles in extraordinary stories. Despite not being a super powered hero, chosen one or whatever excuse there is to overcome excruciating odds, they still contribute. Yet, not every person off the street who happens to do something important fills this role. To appreciate a character’s place, a broad enough perspective of the game’s world is required. There also needs to be a level of modesty in their actions and the influence they have.

ESWAT: City Under Siege for the Sega Genesis is quickly disqualified by featuring a character with a super-powered suit, but the game does give the player taste of his life before he gears up as an American Mega Man box art model.

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Blue Port J: A Charming Island Adventure

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I can’t help but wonder what thoughts run through your mind when presented with the promotional image for Blue Port J: Summer Sky Prelude, shown above. I’m preconditioned to be a bit suspicious of a Japanese games featuring young girls. It also doesn’t help that the developer, FoxEye, seems to have a sexual fascination with drowning.

No, please don’t leave! There’s a lot to Blue Port J outside of young girls in skimpy swimsuits.

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