My games of the year 2016 (GOTY 2016)

Best Action game

GOD EATER 2 RAGE BURST_20150308231448

God Eater 2 Rage Burst (PSVita/PS4)

Without a natural leader like Bloodborne last year, hard to choose between the three great ones today. But God Eater 2 Rage Burst somewhat stands out, because of its memorables momenta and heated battles. Full of adorable characters and playable in coop, it goes well beyond the hunting genre to become a great saga.

Runner-up : Fate Extella (PSVita) & The Division (PS4)

Best Shooter

Battlefield™ 1_20161110225149

Battlefield 1 (PS4)

In Spring, I would have bet anything on Overwatch for this title. But that was underestimating DICE’s efforts to make Battlefield not only innovating by its theme, World War I, but also a thrilling sniper experience thanks to the best TDM maps since I know the series. The remarkable atmosphere and the gorgeous graphics are just the cherry on the cake.

Runner-up : Overwatch (PS4)

Best Strategy game


Kan Colle kai (PSVita)

Kan Colle kai is the new Advance Wars. The addictive management of units and the desperate defense of positions brought me tears of joy when the final trophy popped. Gifted with rich and unique design and having a game system as enjoyable as Pokemon plus outstanding challenge, Kadokawa’s game is one to remember.

Runner-up : Pokemon Sun&Moon (3DS)

Best RPG


Persona 5 (PS4)

Persona 5 being my first «true» Persona game (after Persona 4 Dancing All Night last year), I hadn’t how massive this series was. And here it is, the hype is 170% deserved, because Persona 5 is an RPG like you seldom see. Great narrative & characters, fantastic combat, dream-like design, deep game system, overflowing content… the new King of JRPG is here!

Runner-up : Tokyo Xanadu (PSVita)

Best puzzle game


Rose and the Old Castle of Twilight (PSVita)

After a superb Yomawari, Nippon Ichi Software is at it again with Rose and the Old Castle of Twilight. Not adventure this time but pure a 2D platformer featuring lots of puzzles for hours of intense brainstorming, with far better controls than The Firefly Diary.

Runner-up : Ace Attorney 6 (3DS)

Best Sountrack

初音ミク Project DIVA Future Tone

Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Future Tone (PS4)

The tracklist in Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone speaks for itself : in the 228 tracks, you’ll surely find dozens of your liking. Every J-pop style is widely represented, with a lot of novelties compared to portable Project Diva games (Hôkai Utahime, Gothic and Loneliness). Yet this PS4 game also features classics like Remocon or Envy Cat Walk.

Runner-up : Hatsune Miku Project Diva X (PSVita/PS4)

Best graphics

Tom Clancy's The Division™_20160320231035

The Division (PS4)

Open world of impressive scale, The Division is visually the most striking game I’ve seen this year. Ubisoft re-created New York with great realism and the post apocalyptic touch makes it an immersive experience.

Runner-up : Battlefield 1 (PS4) & Hatsune Mike Project Diva X (PSVita)

Best innovation


Overwatch (PS4)

When Blizzard does something, it rarely fails. Overwatch is a competitive FPS like you’ve never seen before. Close to an RPG by its characters and skill mechanics, it allows for a great variety of gameplay blowing everything else in the genre. You’ve got an innovative set of roles like defenders (D.Va) or support characters of which the recently added grandma Ana is a stunning example.

Runner-up : Mary Skelter Nightmares (PSVita)

Best narrative


Persona 5 (PS4)

Persona 5 is the master of suspense and intrigue. The passion in those personal destinies, the will of the characters, the bond uniting them, all this conjugated with the onimous plot set by wicked elites is a delicious cocktail that you keep pouring during dozens of hours.

Runner-up : Tokyo Xanadu (PSVita)

Best atmosphere


Rose and the Old Castle of Twilight (PSVita)

Nippon Ichi Software is at its best when creating dark and crooked universes. Rose and the Old Castle of Twilight is no expection and delivers gloomy art that chills the bone : blood, death and despair are the key elements here. The developments, the very logic of the game and the touching conclusion make it emotionally beautiful.

Runner-up : Battlefield 1 (PS4)

Best design


Kan Colle kai (PSVita)

While Persona 5 sure blows things out in terms of design, I might stick to Kan Colle kai for this one. Really unique concept with risqué fan service included, Kantai Collection does a great job drawing friends and foes, and decorating your HQ is a lot of fun too.

Runner up : Persona 5 (PS4), Mary Skelter Nightmares (PSVita) & Pokemon Sun/Moon (3DS)

Best game you might never play


Kan Colle kai (PSVita)

I’m actually pretty sure you won’t play Kan Colle kai, unfortunately. Kadokawa has already announced that the game would be pulled back from shelves, further evidence that relations with the IP owner aren’t exactly easy. You still have a few weeks to order an import version and a fat kanji dictionary with it.

Runner-up : none

Most disappointing


Sword Art Online Hollow Realization (PSVita/PS4)

You’d need to be really incompetent or seriously cynical to keep this unwanted «title». Mr. Futami Producer of Sword Art Online games, must be this kind of guy. Incapable of keeping the progresses made in Sword Art Online Lost Song, he’s badly rehashed Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment with Sword Art Online Hollow Realization : romoved playable characters, boring linearity, thin storyline, outdated engine… everything indicates he wanted to maximize profits by minimizing efforts. This logic seems actually be going on with Sword Art Online vs Accel World, the first screens of which are horrendous. This time, my money will go the more capable and ambitious developers.

Runner-up : Summon Night 6

mini Platinum-trophy Game of the Year


Persona 5 (PS4)

mini gold trophy Kan Colle kai (PSVita)

mini Silver_Trophy Rose and the Old Castle of Twillight (PSVita)

mini-bronze_trophy Tokyo Xanadu (PSVita)

Review – Persona 5


N.B : Pictures for this review were taken from the trailers and by taking photos of my screen (see last paragraph). Sorry for the lesser quality.

You have been betrayed. Here’s how Persona 5 starts : roughly ¾ of the game is a flashback telling how the main character, whose code-name is Joker, falls in the dire situation he’s in immediately when the game starts. The tension hence rises from the very start, foreseeing the mastery in which this fifth tale will be told.

The main character in Persona 5 is originally a quiet young man, but gets himself involved in a criminal assault case and gets the blame pinned on him. Released on bail, he must pursue its studies at Shujin high school without crossing the red line again to clear his record. He lives in resentment until being magically warped at night in the Velvet Room, supernatural place where a fishy character called Igor gives him superpowers. Joker can now jump in the unconscious of the most dangerous villains and force them to confess their crimes. Driven by the hatred of the man who had him wrongly accused, Joker establishes with his classmates Ann and Ryûji the kokoro no kaitôdan, a group of thieves who steal the unconscious to bring justice.


In Persona 5, the time is limited : the story lasts for 1 year in the game or so, and every dungeon will have to be cleared within 2 or 3 weeks, one day passing each time your enter a dungeon. Your target’s unconscious takes the form of themed dungeons, such as a casino, a museum, a castle… the goal being to steal the treasure hidden at its center in order to make the criminal spill the beans. You’ll therefore have to progress in the dungeon little by little, one day after another, taking advantage of safe rooms which work as checkpoints where you can teleport once you’ve unlocked them. SP (skills points required to use magic or various capacities) are the limiting factor : when you run of it, you can’t attack efficiently nor can you heal yourself. That would be the time you go back to reality and aim for a fresh start another day. There are items to recover SP while in a dungeon, but they’re extremely rare and believe me, you’d prefer saving them for the last battles.


The level design of those dungeons is quite good, especially the museum where in one sector you need to find your way from painting to painting, or also the casino which makes a clever use of the theme of gambling. Moreover, you’ll come across various puzzles, switches, slots machines… lots of original ways to keep high interest and enjoyable brainstorming in exploring the places. A small word on stealth : the game system will ask you to take ennemies by surprise. If you don’t, the alert level of the dungeon will rise and shadows (name of the monsters in Persona) will become stronger. Persona 5 being no Metal Gear Solid, this aspect is fairly minor as shadows can’t see very far. There are plenty of hiding spots so taking your foes by surprise is never difficult. In my walkthrough, alert level has never been a problem.


Fights are turn-based in a classic way. The point is to make the best use of your skills and magic to strike the enemy’s weak point, and support magic is also key to victory. There are a dozen of different elements to choose from and when you strike with the right one, it’s stunned and your character can play again immediately : that’s called the one more”. With that system, you can end the fight more quickly and therefore save your precious SP. Better still, when all enemies are stunned, your enter the negotiationphase. One shadow will ask you a series of stupid questions (like my girlfriend is waiting, can I go now?”). If you find the series of answers that pleases it, it will either abandon the fight or join you as a new persona.


While Joker’s companions have a set persona of their own, himself actually has access to a set of personas. He can welcome the shadows obtained by negotiation, and those can be merged to give birth to even more powerful personas in to keep Joker strong. Personas have their own weaknesses so your characters can be victim of a one more from an opponent. Then you must carefully choose the personas you will equip Joker with, because any KO of him means game over. Joker must have a range of varied personas in order to strike every possible weakness or withstand difficult encounters. You can also strengthen an existing persona, which makes it possible to keep your favorite ones (I did the whole game with Genbu, a shadow showing up in the very first dungeon), or even merging via internet to get personas that you might miss. There are dozens of different personas in the game, and their management is a tactical choice that makes Persona 5 rich in terms of battle strategy. It’s almost like Persona 5 was including a whole Pokemon game in itself.


As for secondary activities, Persona 5 here again is insanely rich. Base-ball, fishing, retro gaming, small jobs, fitness and even a series of crosswords (very hard in Japanese, trust me). That of course isn’t the full list, but every of those activities serves one purpose : increasing Joker’s human qualities : dexterousness, kindness, intelligence, charisma, guts. Those statistics will allow you to deepen the bonds with other characters, playable or not. Persona 5 indeed makes you meet numerous NPCs with their own substory. Elegantly represented by tarot cards, those partners will bestow you useful passive skills : pre-emptive gunfire, negotiation assist, cover, healing bad status, allowing a ally to play one more turn… Those cooperations are of critical importance to your adventure : I think the game would have been 3 times harder without Hifumi or Kawakami.


Persona 5 regularly features school part, where Joker is unlucky enough to be tested by the teacher every single morning! Teachers who are absolutely remarkable characters with their exuberant design and their hilarious behavior. That’s where Persona 5 turns into a gold mine of general knowledge, because you’re asked cranky but yet very interesting questions. Which quantity of gold has been extracted since its discovery? Where in Japan can you see the sun first? Which is the density of stars in the universe? All those are of course trick questions but you’ll amazed at the number of astonishing truths they bring ! Geography, history, biology, technology, etymology… everything’s there and the game will test your memory in written test that deal with the same topics from a different angle. A game within the game, another one.


Contrary to others JRPG far less polished (or not finished at all), Persona 5 takes geat care in managing its characters and the balance of the narrative. The formation of the party is very progressive, with one new character every 10-15 hours or so. Each of the 8 playable characters has thus ample time to be well introduced with a whole chapter to know their past and goals. You come to know them all, and reject none. The members of the kaitôdan show strong cohesion and draws the player’s sympathy like few RPGs do. All that is of course illustrated by numerous cut-scenes and dialogs that create a strong bond between the character, hence a growing emotion until the beautiful ending.


NPCs also have a story of their own, with here again the same eagerness to know more and the tension when it unfolds. The only disappointment in terms of characters is Futaba being locked the traditional navigator” role, so not playable. I think this artificial role should be removed because it leads only to the misuse of a excellent character. By the way, her commentary is far less good than Morgana’s.


But Persona 5’s true genius is its ability to handle humor and suspense at the same level of awesomeness. Atlus has cooked us a real treasure of humor with loads of hilarious exchanges between the characters, surprise effects like in Futaba’s chapter. Let’s also mention the negotiations with the shadows, because Joker’s scathing answers are truly delicious. Dubbing, while far from being extensive, is lively. Voice actors and actresses inspire an original personality to each character : Morgana’s tone is over-the-top, Futaba speaks real fast which gives away her otaku life bent on her computer, and Joker rarely speaks but his lines in combat mark his strength as leader. Atlus did a critically right choice in snatching those original voices.


But Persona 5 is also the master of suspense thanks to an increasing tension in its main story. The kaitôdan‘s breakings happen as cases of dementia and suspect deaths become a major worry for the country. You come to understand fairly quickly that high-ranked individual are acting behind the scenes are plotting nasty stuff and the heroes will have to deal with increasingly formidable opponents. The game has a strong Death Note taste in itself with Akechi Gôrô, a young and brilliant detective that appears to have strong leads in its investigation against you. The story parts involving this character are almost as good as Takeshi Obata’s manga. Atlus won’t even hesitate to place bad endings, or scenes that are false endings the keep the pressure on the player, whose feelings become mixed between passion and fear of what can happen. Persona 5, it’s also equally tricky and epic fights, boss streaks that will drive either to madness or ecstasy, challenges as unexpected as exhilarating, and of final boss of a magnitude and complexity you’ve not seen since a while. Impossible to fully translate in words what came into my head while experiencing such memorable, such perfectly designed direction and challenge.

Persona 5’s main scenario has also a moral sense in the way it illustrates a generation gap : the one of the post-war economic boom and Japan’s Lost Generation, where greatly enriched adults, blinded by power and money, looks down and the young and refuse to pass the baton. The kaitôdan symbolizes the will of young people to break outdated rules and rebuild a fair society. There’s indeed between the lines a criticism on a disillusioned society, people unwilling to take a stand and hiding in the comfort of bestowing the power to unscrupulous elites. The heart of the problem raised by the story is about the capacity of mankind to fulfill its destiny… or not, and Persona 5 has some brilliant allegories.


From a technical and artistic point of view, the game is still very good, but uneven. Let’s say it straight, Persona 5 on PS4 doesn’t seem to look any different from a PS3 game, the character modeling for example being mediocre at best. A close sight to the main characters clearly show 3D models far below what we could see in Tales of Berseria one month earlier. The dungeons fare better but aren’t ultimately impressive, despite some cool style, especially in the casino where cards are litterally raining around you. Animations on the other hand feel much richer and more detailed, like critical blows and other funny gestures.


No objection still on the general design, which is the most groundbreaking in ages of JRPGs : high-end menus make it pleasure just to open them, personas are very cool too, character design almost always finds the right tone… Music is divided between somewhat bland melodies in the real world (the theme in Joker’s room is downright annoying), vigorous themes in dungeons and fantastic battle music. The tracks called Big Boss and Will Power are masterpiece and should be treasured for eternity. In the end, Persona 55 has only one true drawback : it’s hostile to freedom. No PS4share, no screenshot is allowed to come out of your adventure. Atlus denies the fundamental principle of the PS4, and the players’ freedom to share their experience. If the kaitôdan really existed, surely would they visit its totalitarian publisher.

Persona 5 lasted me 134 hours, it is the longest solo game in my carrier. Better still, those are 134 hours without any artificial filler, because many shortcuts prevents the waste of time. 134 hours of fully dense and intense JRPG, with always a whole range of possibilities. Persona 5 is a JRPG like you don’t see every year.

Unfinalized Fantasy XV



We’ve come used to day one patches. Developers fix the problems in their games after release, benefit of the internet age. Although it leaves the door open to some lack of polish, it’s clearly a progress compared to the time you were stuck with a freezing disc. But when Hajime Tabate patches Final Fantasy XV, it’s a whole different story.

Final Fantasy XV started strong in Japan with more than 700’000 copies sold first week (digital taken into account), and 5 millions shipped worldwide. The always tired-looking producer could have boasted about those figures, if he hadn’t said a little too much. In the short term, he wants to re-balance the gameplay in the 13th chapter, said to be something horrendous according to GAF. The mid term objective is to enrich the narrative with new cutscenes, in order to explain the destiny of some characters better. Last but not least, in the long term, key-characters of the narrative will become playable, and character creation is thought about. Yes, you read that right : SquareEnix is going to re-develop Final Fantasy XV in 2017. The game wasn’t finished at all when it hit shelves on November 28th 2016.


All this is disastrous of course. Lots of outraged players consider having been mocked. They’re right on this : they could live only part of the experience planned by the developers. They might start it again when the changes are in place, but nothing will replace the delight of experiencing a game for the first time. Some said they would stop playing at once, others congratulated themselves for cancelling their preorder, and some simply said they would “wait”. The latter, and that’s my case, are the big winners in this whole FFXV mess : next year, they’ll have the full Final Fantasy XV experience for half price, whereas day one buyers paid full price for half the content. In other words, they paid 60€ to be beta testers. No wonder many are screaming in anger today. It’s a huge blow dealt to SquareEnix’s brand image, and to Japanese gaming in general. A true national shame. After that, people will still be surprised that the Japanese gaming market digs year after year. How can it be otherwise when it creates its own deflation? Indeed, because of apparatchiks like Mr. Tabata (or Mr. Futami for Sword Art Online) who rush unfinished games on the market, the best thing to do is always to “wait”.


But all this is also, at the same time, absolutely wonderful. To be the true heir of the series, Final Fantasy XV lacked more playable characters, and gender equality. You’ve never heard of a main Final Fantasy that would have only one playable character. You’ve never heard of a main Final Fantasy where women would have a walk-on part. Can you imagine even one second Final Fantasy IX without Dagga or Final Fantasy X without Yuna? The setting of Final Fantasy XV is obviously freakin’ dumb as it is now, an abnormality usurping its name. The very good news is that now, we know that this was not the objective : Final Fantasy XV wasn’t doomed to be simply bromance stuff, SquareEnix just wanted to get the money earlier. I’d rather imagine that the key-characters include Cidney, Iris and Aranea. The developers were saying last October that they would “tackle the question of [playing as a female character]”. Character creation might also allow us to revive Stella or make Luna something else than a fleeting narrative object. That still leaves the problem of Gladio, Ignis and Prompto, only playable via paid DLC… … … hum, actually not a problem. How cares about those three? The deal is now fair and square, Final Fantasy will be Final Fantasy again, even though we’ll have to wait the “long term”. This pain in my chest, I feel it vanishing.

This day is the worst day, and yet the best day for Final Fantasy in recent memory. Tabata and SquareEnix have been deceiving people to get the bucks earlier. They discredited themselves in front of the world, public thunderstruck that they could sell them a game that wouldn’t be complete before months. Still, while the publisher didn’t lose its marketing tricks, it also hasn’t lost sight of what is a JRPG, and what makes a Final Fantasy. The looming clouds in the series’ horizon have cleared.

Review – Sword Art Online Hollow Realization


After selling more than a million copies of the previous games worldwide, BandaiNamco is fully aware that Sword Art Online is now a big asset of its JRPG line-up. By deciding to re-create Aincrad in Sword Art Online Hollow Realization, the publisher bets on nostalgia for this episode.


Invited by Seven to beta test a new virtual reality game, Kirito and his friends come to Sword Art Origin. This software being developed on Aincrad as base (where Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment took place), the infamous «death game» surfaces again in the form of a mysterious message saying «I’m back to Aincrad». This, and the arrival of a NPC of complex AI named Premiere will mark the start of troubles because the development of Sword Art Origin will soon go awry.



The dev team defends this new yet old setting because they said they wanted players to experience an Aincrad from the start (in Hollow Fragment, you start at floor 76). The game system is roughly the same as in the first game on PSVita and PS4 : you prepare your gear and interact with your buddies in the town before teleporting yourself in the various worlds of Sword Art Origin. The only difference is that you can now bring 3 allies and not just one. But the fact that Seven is part of the plot suggest that Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is actually closer to Sword Art Online Lost Song than you might think.



Indeed, as in Lost Song, death in Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is not definitive : you can easily revive a fallen ally whereas in Hollow Fragment, any KO meant an immediate game over. While players in Sword Art Origin are safe, NPCs don’t come back the same. NPCs are a key element in this episode : there are dozens of them in the village and you can invite any of them in your party. BandaiNamco makes the risky bet that you’ll like them as much as the heroines. But in the end, an NPC is nothing more than a series of 0 and 1, and can’t have the charisma of a main character. Sword Art Online Hollow Realization clearly fails at delivering intensity in its narrative, which by the way accounts for a tiny part of the total length of the game. Nothing like the mature atmosphere and the suspense of the recent anime series.


The story actually doesn’t unfold before 30 or 40 hours. There at last you get a few (precious few) cut-scenes, but for most part you won’t have anything else to follow than character side events. Let’s say it straight, those events have a very light tone : slice of life only, the dark atmosphere of the Hollow Area doesn’t exist here. True, it’s fun at times but it never goes beyond the friendship and worries of your average teenagers. Another disappointment is the further use of live 2D for dialog. That means next to no cut-scenes in the scenario and rather boring scenes describing battles that aren’t shown. It feels cheap for a game that sells hundreds of thousands and comes from such a great anime. Even tinier series like Atelier have dropped that for years.


The (numerous) illustrations look a bit commonplace compared to what was offered in Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment. The latter was rated CERO C in Japan (CERO B for Hollow Realization) and had more risqué and more interesting artwork. It’s better investing in the excellent manga adaptations Sword Art Online Progressive and Sword Art Online Girls’ Ops at this point.

Let’s go into the field of Sword Art Origin. It’s not an open-world as we know it nowdays because each of the six themed worlds (forest, desert, citadel, etc.) are unlocked progressively, and themselves divided into smaller linear areas. Sword Art Online Hollow Realization never escapes its linearity and doesn’t give much freedom to the player. Objectives are all marked (giving very inaccurate information at times) and there’s no secondary quest that would invite you to explore further or go back in former places. The only entertainment lies in Event Fragments, random hunt quests in which you face tougher monsters. Those represent excellent leverage because you often get high-rank equipment.

The battle system is a mix of the first two episodes : it’s basically an action-RPG since you attack directly with square (Hollow Fragment was relying on auto-attack) but the action aspect is less rich than in Lost Song. On the tactical side, you get back the skill palettes from Hollow Fragment. L1 and R1 allow you to give orders to allies, including the now famous switch that switches positions between Kirito and a friend, then triggering a powerful attack. Even better, you can order all your teammates to fire at will for maximum damage. Linking attacks effectively sometimes leads to a skill chain, which launches a light spell of dramatic effect. Accuracy is a problem, because the lock isn’t effective and you’re likely to hit the void. Premiere is the only character that can «die» but here again the game is a bit lenient since you have 60 seconds to revive her. Far, very far from Hollow Fragment where any mistake had you start from scratch, giving real heat to battles.



The palette at the bottom of the screen contains the passive skills regarding the status of your character. There’s quite some room to cram everything you need to strengthen your hero. It’s possible to dramatically increase your attack, your defense, your HP, your resistance to bad statuses… Becoming such a superman necessitates that you analyse the skill tree, so large that you can only fill a fraction during the main story, and choose wisely the most effective items for your playstyle. So and despite a poorer gameplay than the past episodes in general, there is depth in Sword Art Online Hollow Realization.



You quickly understand that in the fight against the main bosses, rather interesting because more complex than before. Each of them has body parts that you’ll have to break in order to deal critical damage. You side with a large number of NPCs, which gives a real impression of raid as it is depicted in the anime. The boss fights get increasingly harder and you’ll have to be ready with the right abilities if you want to succeed. The final boss is absolutely ferocious and show a more unforgiving side of the gameplay, which goes in the right way because it arouses passion. Too bad nothing of this is felt during random battles or mid-bosses that are quite tiresome.



As much as Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is faithful to Hollow Fragment’s system, this status quo is in fact a step back if you consider the elements in Lost Song that have vanished without reason. In particular, how can you not be revolted by the fact that the twenty or so playable characters of the previous game are no longer playable at all? You are forced to play as Kirito : BandaiNamco has de facto divided the number of playable characters by 20… Worse, the bow doesn’t exist anymore! Shinon, sniper in the Phantom Bullet part of the anime and Archer in Mother Rosario is now stuck with a damn spear… So not only does Sword Art Online Hollow Realization limit the gameplay, but it also fails to follow the context.



On the positive side, let’s stress that the hero’s look can be modified anytime. The character creation menu is rich and effective, allowing to give birth to your ideal protagonist in no time. That said, it stays as Kirito in the narrative, which is extremely confusing in case you choose a female character. Moreover, a man’s voice in the narrative is mandatory, so you have to deactivate it if you’re playing a girl. The multiplayer mode, which has you travel into Sword Art Origin with other players in order to defeat named monsters, is a good, profitable and entertaining way of enjoying your own avatar.



On PSVita, Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is even less convincing. Graphically speaking, texture quality drops seriously and character modeling is really poor in some cases. It clearly lacks polish if you compare with Sword Art Online Lost Song, released last year. We’re surprised to witness bland environments, while Hollow Area had complex architecture and breathtaking sceneries. Disarray at experienced the framerate hiccups, being progressively fixed thanks to 5 updates. On boss fights, the drop is astonishing… A funny way to thank Vita players, whose enthusiasm two years ago made the once Vita exclusive Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment a global success.



The result is of course a bit better on PS4. Textures are a lot sharper, especially in the town, but dungeons don’t feel really more impressive. Lightning effects and attack effects, on the other hand, look great. Character modeling show some progress but not enough : Premiere’s 3D model is still hideous, and graphical bugs are often spotted. No problem in motion though, 60 fps is guaranteed on the home console. Music is maybe the only department where Sword Art Online Hollow Realization performs well : symphonies are great and live up to the series, and field themes make the walk enjoyable. Welcome to SAO is so remarkable that you could stay in the menu for hours.

Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is the story of a publisher that makes AAA revenues while keeping making a AA game. Under-investment hurts this newest episode even more than last year, making it impossible to reach the greatness of the anime. The unacceptable loss of the new features brought by Lost Song leaves me crestfallen and the feeble technical side doesn’t help. A less-than-average Sword Art Online game that I can hardly recommend at full price.

Review – God Eater 2 Rage Burst

GOD EATER 2 RAGE BURST_20150220232736

In the long struggle to mimic the success of Monster Hunter and despite capable rookies like Tôkiden, the God Eater series has always been a solid 2nd so far. Although well behind Capcom’s champion, it still is one of the most popular action games in Japan. All that BandaiNamco had to do was to erase the image of a mere hunting game and offer a richer experience.

God Eater 2 Laura


In the distant future of God Eater, mankind is nearly extinct. Humans are being preyed by aggressive and monstrous creatures called Aragamis, which also possess evolving capabilities far beyond those of humans. The longer the war against the Aragamis lasts, more hopeless it becomes. To make it worse, a crimson rain starting pouring, infecting those under it with an incurable disease. God Eaters are mankind’s only hope to avoid destruction : those men and women are chosen for their ability to equip jinki, weapons borrowing Aragami cells and therefore the only way to fight them. God Eater 2 Rage Burst impresses immediately by its post-apocalyptic setting and its vision of the future, symbolized by its protean weapons as large as their bearer, and capable of morphing into a railgun or any high-caliber rifle.

GOD EATER 2 RAGE BURST_20160305001409


Inspired by this rich base storyline, BandaiNamco’s title features a complex scenario, far beyond your average hunting game. Let’s stress that the European branch of the publisher is rather generous at this occasion, because not only does God Eater 2 Rage Burst fully includes God Eater 2 (released in Japan in 2013), but they also give you God Eater Resurrection (the remake of the very first one) for free! You have the entire saga for the price of one game, no better deal. This sequel has quite a couple of twists to startle and fascinate the player : treason and drama are on the agenda, coupled with mature themes like human experiments, loyalty or sacrifice. Told with care, this tale is full of emotions, with political conflicts and frightening revelations. God Eater 2 Rage Burst follows with a dark atmosphere, but also touching thanks to Livie : the hooded girl has the power to adapt any jinki and see the past of the previous bearer.

God Eater 2 Nana


Having a good story is nice, but having a correctly-paced story is better. Let’s say it straight, God Eater 2 Rage Burst is loaded with uneventful missions that extend the playtime to 50 hours or more. Not especially a drawback provided you have fun with the gameplay, but it certainly does water down the narrative. To fill the void, nothing better than tackling character events. God Eater’s universe is full of buddies who have all a role, comic or dramatic. In particular, everything linked to Canon, a pink-haired girl whose aiming is terrible, has been tremendously funny. Eventually, the only sad news is that none of those characters are playable, the player being stuck to the avatar created at the very beginning. The character creation menu is fairly good and allows you to design a character you’d like, but what a shame given the numerous lovable mates…

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As for the game system, God Eater 2 Rage Burst is not an Action-RPG, but a pure action game since there isn’t experience to gain, and that the dexterousness of the player is way more important than improving his character. The only way to make your hero stronger is to improve his weapon. Your jinki will get new forms as you go further in R&D, kafkaesque system with poor ergonomy given the length of the item lists. Other problem, the necessary materials are scarce, the drop rate being at best 10 or 15%. The result is even more tiring sub-missions that we surely could have done without, spending hours to strengthen one blade not being very motivating. You can also allocate skills to your weapon and shield, skills that you get from relics obtained after the battles. Rise your HP, improve close range combat, stamina… the possibilities have been greatly enhanced since the original God Eater 2.

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Missions will always send you face one or several Aragamis in closed and relatively small areas. Therefore, all the fun in God Eater 2 Rage Burst will come from its fast-paced combat. The game features super high-speed action and you do have to dodge every few seconds or so if you don’t want to take critical damage. Half a dozen close-range weapons are available, from the very classic but reliable two-handed blade to the scythe introduced in this 2015 version. There are as many fireweapons, from light machine guns to railguns. No doubt that everyone can find its own battle style, and even vary to enjoy a different experience at times.

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In terms of active capacities, God Eater 2 Rage Burst allows you to modify the base combo of your weapon by adding Blood Arts. Those have different effects like throwing shockwaves, extend the reach of a weapon, healing or adding a devastating blow to a downed Aragami. The hoshoku will use the Aragami cells of your weapon : it will morph into a giant jaw that can bite the enemy. Very base of God Eater’s gameplay, it makes your character enter Burst mode, improving agility and stamina. This must be used as often as you can, even though finding an opening is not always easy. At such occasion you also gain special bullets taken from Aragamis, that are more efficient than average.

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But the big novelty in God Eater 2 Rage Burst is the Blood Rage state. Activating it is tricky and risky : you have to be at 100% symbiosis level or more with your weapon (which gradually go up by attacking normally) and achieve one or several covenants. The more convenants, the more powerful the Blood Rage gets.

Still, you have only 30 seconds to accomplish those actions (deal a certain amount of damage, bite your enemy, etc) so it won’t work every time since any interruption can ruin your attempt. It’s still highly rewarding because it can turn the tables in difficult missions : your character takes an angel form, becomes fully invincible, and twice as fast and strong.

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Even if you come to master all this perfectly, Argamis will make you bite the dust. Not only are BandaiNamco’s creatures strong enough to KO your avatar in a few blows, but they’re also astonishingly nimble. Even the most massive Aragamis move faster than you! Battles are violent and fast, every struggle is desperate and you need to adapt quickly if you want to win. Each Aragami has one or several elemental weaknesses : you therefore need to prepare your equipement so as you get the advantage, for example by manufacturing elemental blades or bullets.

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God Eater 2 Rage Burst also introduces two elements that make the game harder. The first is a resistance gauge that goes down everytime your avatar is KO. When it reaches zero, the mission is a failure even if your comrades are still standing. It was a necessary evolution of the gameplay since game over could virtually never occur in the God Eater 2 of 2013. The second point is that you now face survival missions, which actually are 3 to 5 battles in a row with no more recovery items than usual. The game lets you have only a limited set of potions, not enough to survive on the long term.

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God Eater’s bestiary is of uneven design. The art direction leans more towards a devilish and grotesque look for most of the creatures so we’re pretty far off Monster Hunter’s majestic dragons. Besides, it’s not that varied either, the same monsters being thrown at you regularly. That said, some fiends like the infamous Kyûbi are charimastic. The well-known mythological fox is so fierce that even getting close to it is risky. Worse still, some bosses can KO you in one blow, and those are the longest fights. In God Eater 2 Rage Burst, you’re not hunting, you’re the hunted.

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When it goes real hard, the best thing to do is to call reinforcements. God Eater is first and foremost a multiplayer series, so it’s quite easy to create a lobby and get some buddies to join you (or invite a friend). The online environment is rock-solid, with no framerate drop observed. Bear in mind that you can only progress in the story with players that have reach the same point as you. It’s possible to filter players so that you meet only people of similar level.

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Despite living in the shadows of PS4, the Vita version of God Eater 2 Rage Burst is comparatively the best one. The overall contents are the same, online is as good as on PS4 and of course, you can play wherever you are! Graphically speaking, the game looks better relatively to the system it runs on : the 3D of God Eater 2 is ageing a bit, but stays a lot above the average of portable games. The only drawback concerns the healing items : it’s not possible to use potion via the touchscreen, whereas Phantasy Star on Vita allowed it. On PS4, it’s quick and effective thanks to the touchpad of the controller.

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Clearly on PS4 the game looks average at best. While for financial reasons it’s difficult to expect that the PS4 version could have a 3D engine of its own, the devs could have at least corrected the character models a bit, since they look unrefined. As it is, God Eater 2 Rage Burst hasn’t progressed much technically compared to God Eater 2 in 2013 on Vita, the PS4 display being an HD slightly upscaled version of the former. The game is not even in 1080p but actually 1000p, which adds ugly black outlines on your screenshots. The dynamic sound environment will make up for it : the orchestrations of this action game are varied (rock, electro, symphonic…) and give an epic dimension to the fights. Kaketa mono for example concludes the hardest survival mission in a wonderful way. The frequent communications with the operator also make a great atmosphere. Pure art.

BandaiNamco did the right thing in making God Eater 2 Rage Burst more than a mere hunting game. It’s a solid action game boasting fast and thrilling gameplay as well as a good (but badly paced) storyline. The bestiary is not the best in the field and the PS4 version could have looked better, but that doesn’t alter the intense and compelling gaming experience.

Special thanks to Akuma for his help during those long campaigns

Review – Gal Gun Double Peace


No one saw it coming, but here it is. The growing appetite for eccentric (and kinky) Japanese games in the West allowed the rise of new business actors like PQube, which is bringing Gal Gun Double Peace to our shores. That might not be the biggest game of the year, but I’ve cleared it last year and it’s worth a little mention.

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When I say “cleared”, that’s actually not that complicated since its main story lasts for approximately three hours. No big drama then : the main character called Hôdai (you, in fact since everything is from a first person perspective) is hit by a cupid trainee, Ecolo. Having been shot at full power, poor (?) Hôdai is immediately pursued by every single girl of the school!

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In this bizarre rail shooter, the player will have to calm things down by shooting… pheromones at the girls! There are 70 schoolgirls in the game, so fatally you’ll come across the same ones pretty often given the density of the levels. They all have a weak point (head, arm, thighs or… elsewhere) so you maximize your time and score if you’re accurate enough. If the girls come close to you, they will confess their love and that will have for effect to diminish your life bar. Aside of that, you’ll find between each chapters small requests from classmates asking you to find one particular thing hidden in the background. A little plus that gives a little more interest to the challenge because your spotting skills will be tested.

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The game also include boss characters against which you’ll have to be even more smart and precise. Nothing extraordinary, but a high score in those battles is required to get the best possible ending. Those sequences then appear has a real challenge for the player who has no choice but to seek the perfect. Unorthodox in its theme, Gal Gun Double Peace ends up being kind of classic in its gameplay. The shooting elements alone don’t really make a difference.

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Short, Gal Gun Double Peace still has a big replay value by having a dozen of different endings depending on your relation with the 6 main girls. You’ll have to choose between Hôdai’s childhood friends : Shinobu the sporty girl a bit tsundere, or her timid little sister Maya. Later in the game, you’ll be able to shift to a parallel route in which you can be more intimate with Kurona the demon girl or Ecolo, the angel responsible for all this mess. The last two characters are hidden and are to be discovered during the progression.

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The friend level necessary to obtain a true ending (or at least a good ending) depends on various factors. First of all, the answers you’ll give to the multiple-choice questions you’ll be asked will, like in a dating sim, impact your relations with other characters. Therefore, you need to try to guess which one will please your partner. The second parameter is the boss fights, in which you’ll have to do your best to achieve something. Last thing, you’ll have to be extremely precise in the character events. Those are particularly quirky situations in which you have to zoom on your girl’s body and shoot small icons, but avoiding hitting her directly! Those sequences can be replayed later in score attack mode.  

The big problem is that the progression system leaves little room for mistake : you have to be near perfect in everything you do. Otherwise, you have no choice but to restart from scratch. Because of that, the fear of failure lessens the fun. It’s pretty much impossible to find all the right answers in one walkthrough : if we set q the number of questions, the number of possibilities is 5q, and then the probability of a perfect score is 1/5q! Maybe not to that extend if you discard the obvious joke answers, but it’s so annoying that you literally have to read a walkthrough while playing… I do reckon that Gal Gun Double Peace should have had a lot more tolerance, especially in easy mode, so that non-veterans players can fully enjoy it too without having to redo it 20 times.

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That makes it a slight disappointed as far as I’m concerned, but Gal Gun Double Peace is by no means a bad game. It’s first and foremost an ecchi game and it does it really well. You have to consider it more like a fan-service interactive visual novel. Inti Creates’ character design for this game is wonderful and efficiently rendered by the modeling. This is not super amazing 3D of course, but it does look sharp and nice, and still technically solid for PSVita (the pictures of this article are all taken from PS4 though). Dubbing is quite fantastic too, partly thanks to Yui Horie who plays Ecolo’s role in a very cute voice. Kurona’s lines are also hilarious in her tendency to say DEATH instead of です in Japanese, and her natural inclination to make a fool of everyone. Illustrations, events and outfits reach high levels of sexiness and the game certainly doesnt hold back in being provocative, using hentai themes in numerous situations.

Short and frustrating in its gameplay, Gal Gun Double Peace is no less a very pleasant title for its target audience. Gifted with cool design and fun characters, it delivers its fan-service offering to the fullest, which may well make up for its drawbacks.