Kimi Ni Todoke: Season 1 Review

Ah! The starting years of High School in Japan! It’s the beginning of Spring and the School year starts in Japan. Cherry Blossoms blooming across the fields and friendship is around the corner. First love is just near the first base! Your life has just pretty much begun and on to the road of your dreams. Well thats what I use to think of High School and to think of Japanese romance stories. Well heres our official Anime review!

Kimi Ni Todoke (君に届け) a title that translates to “Reaching to You” is a story about a young girl named Kuronuma Sawako; a girl thats gentle, kind, smart and pretty but she is misunderstood upon entering High School. She is mistaken as a frightening girl like a ghost or a supernaturalism figure; misinterpreted by her looks and the way she tries to communicate with others.  Sawako is a just a girl who enjoys ghost stories and tries to put herself out there but fails to do so… She is only noticed by one person a boy named Kazehaya Shouta a popular guy amongst his classmates and really popular around girls too. He is kind and social person in the series and he understands Sawako and tries to help make her fit in and get to knows her well for who she really is. Sawako manages to be understood better when she meets Kazehaya in High School and manages to make some friends. Delinquents like Yano and Yoshida Chizuru who become major characters in her friendship and Ryu a quiet, small talk, tall and athletic guy. Thus bonding a friendship group between these characters.

The anime is pretty much a Romance mixed in with slice of life and comedy to it. You have a shy unpopular girl and a popular charming boy trying to get to know each and grow closer bit by bit in the first season. I find really adorable in cases when he can get any girl he wants but Sawako is a really big interest in Kazehaya mind. Whats starting to be a close friendship is about to be something closer but it takes time. Which the anime portrays progression on the relationship that they grow closer to each other but are they good enough for the next step? Theres an invisible bond between Sawako and Kazehaya such as finding a lost puppy and naming it together could be signs of future parenthood. Which in these cases it’s predictable sign that they are truly meant for each other.. It’s a 25 episode anime and it’s only the first season and the manga is on a bigger large scale. Love and friendship can’t be rushed in amount of time. The anime has it’s tender moments, slow durations and other character arcs showing other people’s stories in between alongside with some funny and dramatic episodes. As Kazehaya and Sawako grows closer, not only it’s going to be one be succession but problems along the way with jealously and drama. Episodes where they just hang out and get to know the friendship group. The season is pretty much just the starting point of it all till Second season shows up during the winter quarter.

The anime art is very beautiful in many ways and tries to be similar to the Manga version done by Shiina Karuho. It stands out simple and looks more naturally done compare to other Anime’s out there that really too much on blur and computer added effects. Looks more hand drawn as Shiina Karuho would of done it. The anime art kind of tries to portray the all the characters pretty well and fits right in with the setting. It’s original and respectful to the Manga and it’s creator in my opinion and thats what I love about the anime version even though it does look a bit renovated a bit.

It has some famous voice actors like Daisuke Namikawa as Kazehaya known in roles such as Gantz and Black Lagoon. Mamiko Noto as Sawako who has been in Elfen Lied and Clannad. They even had the famous Aya Hirano voice act a character in an arc of the story. Not only it has these great actors but a lot of other famous actors in the series and they do a fine job voicing these characters and giving them an animated personality.

As a guy watching and reviewing a romance anime, I highly enjoyed this one. It was touching, laughable and some cases tearful.. Made me feel frienship and love can bloom together whether anyones differences. Though it has some slow starting points and some arcs that interrupts the story, I wish they could of organized it some ways through order and pace but overall it’s good.

Well this Anime gets a 8.7/10

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Castlevania: Lord of Shadows Review

I reviewed Castlevania: Lord of Shadows for the PS3, developed by Mercury Stream and published by Konami.

[Story] Gabriel Belmont voice acted by Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, 28 Weeks later, Stargate, Trainspotting) , plays a member of the Brotherhood of Light , a group of Holy Knights who defend and protect people against supernatural creatures. Marie, Gabriel’s wife (Natascha McElhone) was murdered by one of the supernatural creatures. She is trapped between both worlds (Heaven and Hell) and she needs Gabriel to set her soul free. She is a guide throughout the game to help Gabriel achieve his destiny. His goal is to travel to the destroyed land and slay three great evils of the Lord of Shadows. You meet other characters one is named Zobek who is voiced by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: Voyager) who incidentally is also the narrator. There are two masks known as the Devil and God masks that are entwined in the plot. Gabriel seeks to piece together the God Mask in an attempt to bring back his dead wife. Little does he know what dangerous secrets await him. The story was well done even if takes a little to get into don’t just drop it after the first chapter.

[Gameplay] The combat system in the game gives me a very Bayonetta feel for the dodging that can cancel out any simple attacks. I quite enjoyed the battle system a lot more than God of War 3’s because of the skills you can buy with exp. You use a cross that has a whip attached to it which does remind me of the Blades of Exile in God of War 3. BUT and this a big but the extreme variety of skill moves you can buy in the game make the combat seem fresh rather than just constant button mashing that make your thumbs hurt with agony. I enjoyed using light and shadow magic because you can combine your simple attacks and heavy attacks with the magic which opens up more choices to defeat enemies. I especially enjoyed the Holy Cross attack which I saw a similar move in Dante’s Inferno’s teaser trailer where you summon a bright shining light with your cross which makes your enemies burn in the light. This move will become extremely useful for the vampires you face. Unlike most 2D Castlevania games this game is not a platformer, it is a hack and slash and very linear though you do have some room for exploration to find gems to upgrade your health, light and shadow magic bars. The thing that I especially liked in the game was the puzzle aspect the puzzles in the game at times were extremely challenging and clever. You had the option of a hint but where’s the fun in that? The only complaints I had were the camera sometimes became a nuisance when you were in enclosed spaces and the camera would not help you find where to go next like it would in God of War series.

[Presentation] The way the game is presented is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the game so much. The scenery they have in the game is really well done graphics wise. Unlike most Castlevania games this takes place not just in the Castle which is funny since the name is Castlevania but don’t let that make you frown upon the change in locale. You visit besieged towns, forests, castles, deserts. And all the locations are very interesting. The Graphics for the overall game is pretty good. The player models are mediocre but the scenery is extremely pretty which makes you not care about the characters. The soundtrack they choose for the game is an orchestra style. Unlike the 16-bit in the old Castlevania’s I do not think the soundtrack was bad though for a soundtrack which included a lot of songs most of them sounded very repetitive. Though the boss battle music never got old I still think a little more variety should have been chosen for the soundtrack. And I also want to add how I liked the camera in the different environments when you were in rain you would have raindrops on the camera and in the snow you get a frostbitten camera which made me get a cool “oooo and awweee” effect.

All in all I quite enjoyed this game I pre-ordered it and played through it getting about half the trophies. The trophies in the game are challenging since you have to complete trials to get most of them. I give Castlevania an 8.4/10: 7.5 story, 9 combat, 8 presentation. I strongly recommend this game to people who enjoy hack and slash’s though most old school Castlevania fans will be annoyed by the lack of free exploration. But that doesn’t mean all old school Castlevania fans shouldn’t give this a chance it might shock you about how polished the game is.

Alpha Protocol Review!

Alpha Protocol, the new espionage rpg released by Obsidian games and co-developed and published by Sega in June,1, 2010. Obsidian games known well for Knights of the Republic 2 and known for a developers of game sequels and RPG’s. I was quite surprised that Obsidian was going to make a game of their own that wasn’t a sequel with their own original concept and direction. Luckily for me I manage to scoop this game on Clearance on the PC for less than 20 dollars at an Local target. Well after completing the game right away I share my experiences with it on the PC and some console experience of it.

[Story] The story of the Alpha Protocol is centered around the main protagonist Mike Thorton. Who is lured in the secret organization from the game title “Alpha Protocol” which is private group of intelligence gathering and espionage with no links to any country’s forces and such. You start out in the story on top secret mission when you find out your own organization was lying to you and betrays you. So you are presumed Dead and now working for Alpha Protocol getting helped with your ally Mina Tang. Micheal Thorton, the main character you can make him as you want him too. Whether you choose his involvement in the story as Bad ass professional, Suave sweet talker, an Elitist, or a funny ass douchebag. Which whatever you try to make him in the story I have a feeling he’s mainly a narcissitic  two dimensional character the developers had in mind even though that sounds negative it actually kind of funny. Mina Tang the other character who is besides you is an intelligent supporting character who is sometimes blunt and feministic at times. As the game’s motto says “Choice is your weapon” you choose your involvement in the game with dialogue options which you can decide how you want to play it. Decide your allies and choice option in the games. For that aside I will explain the gameplay more later on. Overall the game story is very cliche and unoriginal something I’ve probably seen a hundred times. Cheesey dialogues, Cheesey characters and funny scripting. This game isn’t serious to be honest and it’s has so many puns it’s funny.

[Graphics] Alpha Protocol features the Unreal Engine 3.0 one of the popular engines that developers use. The graphics of this game seems far apart from this other current generation games by a lot. The architectures is pretty decent but the levels seem nicely decorated but you notice that the textures are undetailed. Look far away you notice just a slab of color and not much done to it and when you go closely you might notice some little texture but it seems like they didn’t go back and make this more detailed with the 3.0 engine. There isn’t really any dynamic lighting as you can see they put random lights and glow and added some motion blur when you move to make it look fast and cover up the minor details they did. Character models are decent atleast in models and facial expressions during dialogues and movements. A better job could of been done better for this project…

[Gameplay] As a game putting Espionage RPG below their title, the game is mainly a 3rd person action shooter than an RPG. The Role playing elements come from dialogue choices on making your decisions and character relationships you try to make. Where you select how you want to respond base on what emotion such as Suave, Professional, threat, casual and so forth. They don’t display a whole sentece reply so most of the time you don’t know what thorton is going to say up his sleaves. As from playing the game It’s mostly going to be a cheesey heroic line or a very big pun… As for the other RPG element you get costumizations options on changing thortons look, equipment and upgrades for leveling each time. One problem is customizations is limited and small and weapons end up looking the same. You choose Thortons fighting history as a Soldier, Spy and such to create a pre skill tree for him in stats. As for the action part it’s mostly a shooter more or less where you engage mission after mission running and gunning, the game doesn’t really structure the AI well too play stealthy. So picking the spy class isn’t going to work well. The Ai sometimes will just find you automatically , shoot you, run back or appear out of no where at times. It features some mini games for hacking and lock picking where in hacking you find corresponding codes in sets of letters or find a circuit by order and number and locking picking you move the joints to corresponding lines to unlock a box or so. Missions are fun at first but gets repetitive fast as possible. Boss fights are usually the same as the Boss runs behind guards and in circles to draw you of course you just gun them down.

[Sound] Voice acting is so far decent and not bad. I enjoyed Thorton’s voice as he gives out his puns, sarcasm and flirtacious remarks. Although the dialogue conversations can get long sometimes and they will just say random things to keep it going you can skip by pressing the mouse button. The tones of most characters are just like cartoony and not serious most of the time. I wouldn’t say monotone but not really an emotionally acted out.

So for the score Im going to give this is a 7/10!

Though I’m being a bit lenient I guess it was kind of fun but repetitive. But it did have some pretty funny diaologues that me laugh and the characters were funny to me. If your up to a cliche story action game but don’t care for story or repetitive game play, check out Alpha Protocol!

Heavy Rain (PS3) Review

Indigo Prophecy

For the long line of games for the Playstation 3 games coming out with things starting off with “Heavy Rain” ! For the past few weeks I have been playing this game addictived in high doses and playing for hours in one setting. It is just so amazing, I’ve never really experienced a cinematic thrilling game like this! French developers “Quantic Dream” has done an amazing job and I give them props for making such a great game. You may know Quantic Dream if you played titles like “Indigo Prophecy” on PC, PS2 and Xbox which Heavy Rain has a similar concept and style of play. Indigo Prophecy and Omikron (Nomad Souls on Dreamcast) were good games but always arriving late on generation line. Which gets over run by newer games and people put more focus on that, I’m glad they manage to release Heavy Rain at a good time where they finally get some recognition and honor. This review may contain minor beginning spoilers.

[Story]: The story starts out peacefully for Ethan Mars a loving father with two sons and a wife. Happily living in solemn peaceful life as an architect. His life changes forever since his first son dies and his life splits apart in to poverty and despair. With only one son he fears his past and hope not to lose him again till one fateful day he went missing, to the hands of the “Origami Killer”. The Origami Killings has been going out throughout the world of Heavy Rain as brutal murders happening to many children left dead with markings and an only trace of an Origami figure on one hand. That is the only trace of the killer. Ethan isn’t the only character you control through the game there is other protagonists that follow through the story with their own bio and role in the mystery. As you can control worried father, beautiful insomniac journalist Madison, Private eye detective Scott Shelby and a FBI agent Norman Jayden. As they play out their roles it all intertwines slowly together but each time you play the game it is different for everyone. Base on decisions you make how the story turns out. So there is multiple replay values in finding out the Origami Killer case.

[Graphics]: As I put up some screenshots of the game, you can see how fascinating the settings are and how flourescent. Everything you see in the game is in game graphics and not different from the cutscenes. The whole images and visuals is all there and it is truly amazing. I just feel deeply lost in Heavy Rain’s atmosphere. The world feel like it is full of life when walking through a crowded area and every npc feels different and full of everyday motion. You can be running through the rain and you can see how nature interacts with environment as your character clothes get darken and wet. The Nature, physics, architect and art is just so magnificent! Even the character models are by far one of the greatest I ever seen in game. The engine gives them very human tones such as blush, skin tone, sweat and moisture. It just makes them so real and you watch your characters give emotion as near real as it can get. The game runs very smoothly and perfectly, not many tears or frame drops.

[Gameplay]: Heavy Rain is a chapter leveled linear game, it isn’t open world or back trackable. You have actions you can do with objects around you by pressing the corresponding buttons on the screen. Using playstation six axis motion, the game can sense pressure and movements to make the game feel a little bit more innovative and interactive. Which is kind of unique but sounds like something that would fit more on the Wii’s motion or the upcoming playstation Move technology. Yet the Playstation 3 is a fitting platform for the title with it’s amazing power and six axis in my opinion. Each chapter you play as a different character with their thoughts that can help guide you or give hints in each setting, communication options and etc. To make this gaming experience your own unique play through which makes replaying a whole different perspective you play it.

[Sound]: Heavy Rain presents to you a very rich sounding experience. With emotional music that fits every piece with music composed by “Norman Corbeil” and other musicians. The American version of the game presents you different language options from English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Although you may be hearing people opinions about how the english sucks and how things are pronounced funny. Well to be fair I think they are over exaggerating a bit, yeah the game didn’t have support for American Voice actors but done it splendidly with French and British voice actors on the scene. You may hear a leak of British and French accents but the voice is by far really great, better than most games that use Americans voice actors itself.

Heavy Rain is an unique new experience on the PS3 that invents it own style and story told like none before. It’s a game that shouldn’t be passed and at least tried once. Those new to the noirish mystery genre it may be a rent but those who love rich story it’s a buy in my say.

*Reviewed on March, 24, 2010*

– Richard

Assassin’s Creed II Review

So the holiday season is coming up and I played and beaten two games this month. I checked out Assassin’s Creed 2 on the Xbox 360. Where I finally got my hands on it and able continue on the Assassin’s Legacy so let me give you my impressions on this game.

A nice view of the Villa. 

Assassin’s Creed 2]

First off I’ll start talking about Assassin’s Creed 2 on the 360. Before the game was released I thought it was going to be same old repetitive run and kill with the first game. The thing that kept me going onto the second game was the storyline, I have to admit the story is pretty impressive how they can fit non-fiction story with history and how it could be all be a conspiracy. So yeah taken from the first game you start off as the character “Desmond Miles” back in the Animas tracing his family tree through the eyes of a new ancestor. Etzio Firenzie Auditore in Renaissance Italy tracing clues back to the history of the first game. Well not to try to give out much of the story away I have to admit it is good and the momentum builds up.

The gameplay is pretty much solid as the first one but a few new tweaks to it. Battle system, equipment systems, and customizations has changed a bit… Yet not has much changed to the fighting and I was a bit Disappointed as the battles felt the same just that the enemies just took longer to kill. Yet you can learn new moves and new ways to fight but, it’s all not necessary as you can still counter attack on the chance or disarm a heavy armed soldier to kill them easily. I was hoping for a more newer fluid battle system. You can increase your performance by buying new armor to increase health and new weapons for damage also learn new moves from your battle trainer. You can pickpocket, blend near people to hide and even could invest in shops to may daily income.

Even though the battle may feel a bit familiar and the same but, the way you play isn’t the same. As you don’t get repetitive side quests until you wait further orders for an Assassination mission. You get a more redeeming style of quests in Assassin’s Creed 2 which is a big improvement to keep feeding the players to keep moving on. Missions don’t feel the same as you are given more obstacles, objectives and take on more action it makes the game more fun in my opinion.You can take on side missions, Contracts, find tombs and collect things.

The graphics are very renovating. As you have Renaissance Italy nicely scaled and detailed every block around the corner, you feel you are actually there and the towns feel lively. Everywhere you go it feels like you have never seen it before and you keep want to explore around. Voice acting is top notch all actors have a good tone and have rich Italian accent. Mixed with some Italian and mostly English dialogue, the voice acting is promising and I didn’t have any problems with it.

To wrap this up, I enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed a lot and glad at Ubisoft for improving the game. If you weren’t impressed with the first give the second one a chance. The game took me roughly around 10-14 hours rushing the story and probably 30 hours if you like collecting everything and getting the achievements. It’s a guarantee good buy but if your only going for the story it’s a good rent!

*Reviewed on December, 22, 2009*

– Richard

Bayonetta Review

Bayonetta

Hideki Kamiya the man who brought you Devil May Cry, brings you a new thrilling climatic action packed game Bayonetta! I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this game since TGS 07 and finally it’s here and I manage to get my hands it came out on US release date. Haven’t really got to played when I got but, I finally settled down and beaten the game. It was a joyful experience and I will explain it in a bit in this review post.

[Story]

I find Bayonetta concept a bit interesting and unique. The story of the game takes place in a paralleled world between earth and purgatory where you play as the main Character “Bayonetta” who lost all of her memories except all of her skills of a witch. Where she is pursuing her past in search of what happen between her and the two clans. The game shows flashbacks in each of the missions or so bringing you closer to the mystery bit by bit. Yet I feel like if I reveal any more of the story it might contain a bit of spoilers. The story is kind of quite interesting but it doesn’t build heavy momentum as the game has a lot humor and innuendos. So personally I can’t take the game seriously and enjoy all the erotic behavior of Bayonetta’s sense of humor.

PS3 Bayonetta with artbook and soundtrack.

[Sound]

The sound quality of Bayonetta is very good and no problems with the game. The game doesn’t have Japanese voice acting at all but, overall the English voice acting isn’t bad. Personally I love the British accent of Bayonetta and it’s done pretty well and the other characters has some good voice actors too. As for voice acting let’s not forget about the game soundtrack, the game features some pretty unique classy songs as cover songs of Frank Sinatra and some jazzy music. Which goes great for Bayonetta’s personality and goes with the flow with the battles. Great soundtrack if your into classic retro music redefine in a more pop kind of way. You can the soundtrack sold separately for a price as much as the game for maybe around 40-49.99. But it comes with about 150 tracks and might be more than you hope for especially for true fans.

[Graphics]

I was very fond of the art and style of the game. As I liked roaming through the flourishing colorful environments with polished lighting and shadows around the world. The game has different areas from a 1940’s architectural cities to erupting luminescent volcanoes and to reaches beyond. The worlds are outstanding and realistically detailed, running smoothly. Each level is nicely scaled and not hard to loose track or sight of where you are going. Well as there has been quite a talk about consoles comparison, Platinum Games the developer of Bayonetta originally worked on the Xbox 360 version as Sega did a port to the Playstation 3 console. Yet there might be a difference between the two. With Xbox 360 have cleaner shaped world with less frames dropping and faster loading times, with the PS3 with some grainy colors, different tone of lighting and some loading times. It still runs goods for both console and still a game to pick for whatever you have. Nothing seriously wrong that makes the game seem broken, but there might be chance for a fix on the PS3 version to improve visuals.

Bayonetta’s Climax moves were you can pull of Demonic combos on your enemies.

[Gameplay]

This must be the part that everyone been waiting for to here about Bayonetta as Hideki Kamiya director of the successful Devil May Cry was known for. I find the game controls easy to be adjusted to and the learning curve of the game to be simple as other games to compare such as DMC and Ninja Gaiden. Even New beginners of the game could pick it up right away and learn the controls less than a minute, you can even practice your moves with helpful tutorials on the side in loading screens or practice mode. As beating the game on Normal it wasn’t that hard and it was fairly simple as the combos and evasions were easy to get use to. Along with weapons combinations, upgrades and techniques which you buy from the “Gates of Hell” store in the game. There isn’t too many puzzles or upgrades/skill trees you really need to know which makes it good for a beginner. Great combos, evading enemy attacks to activate witch time and counter with moves is a great added feature which makes the game revolutionizing. you earn awards, gain scores, medals and prizes at the end of each level so you can compare to friends and people all over the world or buy costumes and upgrades. The game is really fun and game play is easy like I said it doesn’t take a veteran or genius to get started right away. It’s re playable as there is things you can unlock with costumes, bonuses and people looking for a more harder experiences try the getting all the achievements on playing it hard.

Overall, The game is rewarding and a must have for hardcore Hack n Slash fans. But the game lacked some obstacles such as puzzles which I hope for and was pretty short. Yet I highly recommend it for people to try it out as it’s a Climatic action packed thrilled game. This game is worth a buy if your a person who enjoys action again and again with some new features to improve game experience.

*Reviewed on January, 2010*

– Richard

Sugoi Waffles Podcast episode 1: Fallout New Vegas Impression show!

The Sugoi Waffles crew did a podcast of the upcoming anticipated game Fallout New Vegas developed by Obsidian and published by Bethesda Softworks. Here each member played through their first New Vegas run and give their impressions of the game. We have three members recording; Richard, Nathan and Will. Enjoy!

*Recorded on Oct, 23, 2010*

Download: Sugoi Waffles Podcast ep 1 Fallout New Vegas Impressions