On…Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)

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Ni No Kuni, the RPG collaboration between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, sounded like the perfect game for me. So when I finally got home from university and had access to my PS3, I bought the game, started it up, and subsequently lost 40 hours of my life to the game. Ni No Kuni is everything I thought it would be and more. It is a gorgeous looking game with a fantastic soundtrack, and plenty of deep RPG elements to sink your teeth into. The story, which is animated beautifully, is compelling enough, but it is the combination of excellent humour and heartwarming moments which really sets this game above the rest. Overall, Ni No Kuni is a stunning success, and it is one of the best RPGs for this console generation.

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On…Lock’s Quest

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We’re all familiar with tower defence games right? They’re hundreds of variations on the genre both freely available as flash games and as fully fledged titles for various gaming platforms. Today I want to review a tower defence game on the DS called Lock’s Quest, which isn’t technically a full tower defence game but is more like a real-time strategy game with tower defence elements. There’s also some RPG like elements as there’s a lot of story progression as well as standard conventions like levelling up and unlock new defensive structures. As well as having solid and engaging gameplay mechanics, it wraps it all up with a reasonably compelling story and the huge variety in maps, enemies and structures keeps every level feeling fresh and innovative. Lock’s Quest was overlooked by many, but it received great reviews and is definitely a game you should consider picking up if you’re a fan of RTS games or tower defence games, as Lock’s Quest pushes both of these genres forward in new and original ways.

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On…Eternal Sonata

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I have never come across anyone who has played this game before. Released in 2007 originally for Xbox 360 and later on the PS3 (with more content), this J-RPG really didn’t make big waves. I still think sales figures are fascinating things and put these vague ideas I have about what’s underrated into perspective; so I am informed by VGChartz that in the UK, only 3300 copies sold and I own two of those copies (yeah I bought it for both consoles to get the extra content). Clearly not a runaway hit. Again, this is going to be another post lamenting an underrated game, as is my wont to do. Eternal Sonata is by no means perfect, and suffers from many of your standard J-RPG bug-bears, but the experience it provides with its gorgeous graphical style and the amazing use of its strong classical soundtrack all combined with a unique and rather surreal story is what makes this game.

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On…Radiant Historia (DS)

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Another hard to find DS game, this was a sleeping hit and was widely reviewed as one of the best RPGs for the handheld console market. I’m also quite a huge fan of Atlas games, having previously played Luminous Arc, Etrian Odyssey and Shin Megami Tensei. Atlas has a wonderful reputation for publishing a variety of interesting RPGs, and although Radiant Historia is less well known than the Shin Megami series, it really is a shining gemstone in the sea of otherwise mediocre and badly translated J-RPGs.

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On…The World Ends With You (DS)

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I used to play a lot of DS games. It was my primary gaming platform before I got a laptop capable of playing games, and my other consoles were occupied by my younger brother. But I feel like there’s a lot of DS games that went a bit under the radar and I wanted to highlight them more. The World Ends With You (or TWEWY, not to be confused with that awful abomination of a show The Only Way Is Essex or TOWIE) was a game that received a lot of praise and reviewed very well, and yet it’s one of those games which gets treated as more of a cult classic than a widespread one. When people think of the DS, you might think of Pokemon or Professor Layton or Nintendogs or Brain Training, but not TWEWY. In fact, I wonder how many of you have even heard of the game. I went and looked up sales figures and in the EU, it is absolutely pitiful. No wonder none of my friends who have DS’s ever played this game, apparently it sold only about 10k copies. Yeah, 10k in the whole of Europe! To put that into perspective, High School Musical 3 on the DS sold 7 times that amount, and it’s clearly not for its quality. I don’t know if it was just hard to find or badly advertised or something, but this game deserves to be a staple of the DS and it’s just not (at least in Europe, the sales were more promising in North America although still abysmal). So for all of those who have no idea what game I’m talking about, you’re really missing out on this wonderful, quirky and unique RPG which has fantastic gameplay combined with a truly immersive and stunning story, with a fantastic visual style and an absolutely sublime soundtrack (a rare feature in games, in my opinion, which really sets this game apart).

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On…Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (PC)

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I don’t know about you guys, you’re probably much more hardcore at gaming than I am, but sometimes I turn into a filthy casual gamer and get really really excited about games like Bejewelled. I think the lure of casual games like Bejewelled and Candy Crush and all those games in that genre of match 3 jewels/candies/tiles etc. can be horrifically addictive. Not addictive in the Skyrim sense where you’re fully immersed in a game and forget how many hours have gone past. Addictive in the sense that you play so much of it and then hate yourself afterwards. Did I really just spend 3 hours matching jewels on my iPhone screen? Well, don’t you worry, because there is a game called Puzzle Quest which takes the best elements of that addictiveness but assuages that feeling of guilt because what it does is give you a sense of progression and accomplishment. At its core, it is another match 3 game, but I don’t feel so bad playing it because it’s more strategic, it’s story-driven and most of all, it doesn’t look like a dumb glossy casual game.

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On…Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale

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I think I’ve decided to cover more indie type games than big AAA titles on this blog. Mostly because all that has been said on those huge games has been said, and I wouldn’t be adding anything. And also because I imagine those of you who like reading about games probably already know about the major titles and don’t want to hear me telling you what you already know. So, in that vein, today’s blog post is on Recettear, a weirdly titled game which I picked up as part of a Steam bundle (quick edit: I was told this hasn’t been in a Humble Indie bundle, I got it confused with Steam sales, my bad!) way back when. I think I got 5 games for £8 or so, which was an absolute bargain, especially because Recettear is worth all that and more. It currently retails for £12.99 on Steam which is a little dear, but if you see it in a sale, it’s worth a pick up. Alternatively, if you’re like me and weird and really love this odd genre of game, go get it now. I’ve put 40 hours into the game, and I’ve never even done the really end game stuff like some of the final dungeons. So yes, it might be a small indie game, but it will give you hours and hours of gameplay if you like it.

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