Most anticipated games for 2017

Valkyria Azure Revolution (PSVita)

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I’ve been waiting for it a lot more politely” since the horrendous Autumn demo. The Action-RPG focus that has been reconfirmed doesn’t fit with Valkyria’s universe, and the battle system itself is fishy at best. Yet the prologue on PSVita was a little more satisfying, so maybe we can end up with a decent RPG of cool design.

Cyberdimension Neptune (PS4)

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The moment of truth for the Neptunia IP. Compile Heart took more than 1 year to think, work and offer us a game powered by Unreal Engine 4, which is a visual revolution. Still, little is known is this Action-RPG taking place in a MMORPG itself. We don’t know how the developers have calibrated fan-service and innovation, two key-elements to drive the series forward. The producers made very clear promises not to disappoint fans, so they better stick to it and avoid bland compromises this time.

NieR Automata (PS4)

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The demo was exactly what I expect from this game : precise and rich gameplay, Platinum touch in the camera work, an attractive main character, a intriguing world… March can’t come soon enough.

Nights of Azure 2 (PS4)

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Not especially a high priority until a few weeks ago, Gust’s next game suddenly made itself indispensable by its latest video. The least you could say is that there’s quite some “movement” here… Gameplay also looks like to benefit from dramatic improvements as the tag battle system seems quite lively with lots of charming allies. The developer was undoubtely right to postpone it.

Musô Stars (PSVita/PS4)

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How not to be excited when the spiritual successor to the excellent Orochi Warriors 3 Ultimate is almost within reach? For the first time, KoeiTecmo picks characters in all their IPs for a single action game. We’re therefore gonna be able to ease our stress on dozens of ennemies with unexpected dream teams involving Plachta, Oka, Kasumi or Marie-Rose to cite a few.

Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash (PS4)

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Already called Splatoon PEGI18 by some, the sequel to Senran Kagura Estival Versus trades ninja weapons for water guns, in which you have fancy models like snipers. Takaki-san likes it wet (well, wet cute girls at least) and promise to deliver aquatic entertainment with a few surprises here and there.

Gun Gun Pixies (PSVita)

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While the general feeling of Cyberdimension Neptune remains shrouded in mystery, Compile Heart’s new PSVita exclusive is very clear from the start. Part of all the nice projects lately, Kochiwa producer presents a game close to action Netpunia U, with some novelty in the plot. You play as two very tiny alien girls whose mission is to infiltrate a girls’ domitory, which means a lot of private life scenes.

Blue Reflection (PS4)

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Boasting Gust’s most advanced 3D engine to date, Blue Reflection comes at us as a turn-based RPG featuring magical girls fighting dark demons. Like Persona 5, there will be lot of emphasis on spending time with classmates (including a clone of Hifumi, in a somewhat younger self).

Dungeon Travelers 2-2 (PSVita)

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Only game that ever had me shut down a handheld system in a hurry while I was commuting, Dungeon Travelers 2 had to reconfirm its direct sequel. It’s now official and the base scenario should keep providing juicy situations : the main character of the first game, Freid, has lot to the final boss and was turned into a insolent young boy. All the girls of the previous game have turned into demonic women. Let your imagination do the rest.

Wipeout Omega Collection (PS4)

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Quite nostalgic of the legendary futuristic racing game, the reveal of this ultimate collection at Playstation Experience was pure delight. I can’t wait to compete again on board those distinguished little ships for more speed, violent weapons and cool techno music.

Legend of Heroes Sen no Kiseki III (PS4)

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Falcom will need to be particularly clever if they want to justify Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel III as a PS4 exclusive. Graphics are barely sharper so no one will believe that a Vita version wasn’t possible at this point. Despite Altina’s already confirmed return, believe me that I’ll be extra harsh on this.

Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

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Yes, I’m still waiting for Final Fantasy XV. The game released end of November isn’t FFXV, because it fails to comply with basic rules of FF. No choice but to wait until Hajime Tabata fixes his mess by eventually offering a more compelling experience, with an enhanced narrative and more playable characters.

Dragon Quest XI (PS4)

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While FFXV has seen rampant westernization, Dragon Quest XI is so faithful to its roots that I’d want to hug it. Here’s what I call a JRPG cast with varied styles of characters, and the first trailer clearly shows it will remain true to its genre.

I’m also eager for Ni no Kuni Revenant Kingdom (PS4), Gran Turismo Sport (PS4), Itadaki Street (PSVita), Tekken 7 (PS4), Gravity Daze 2 (PS4), Happy Manager (PS4), Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4).

Review – Valkyria Chronicles

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War. We see that all the time in games. But seldom we see war from a different perspective. Valkyrie Chronicles is one of those games which gives some sense : rather than shooting souless avatars or giving orders to micro units, Sega’s game does its best describing the hardhisps of war, the dramatic consequences of ideology, the importance of strategy. A PC version and a remaster later, it has become legendary.

Aika

Valkyria Chronicles is a turn based tactical-RPG absolutely unique, partly because it swaps the traditional heroic-fantasy for a military conflict like World War II. It’s a bit like Fire Emblem transposed in 1935. A powerful Empire decides to invade the peaceful principality of Gallia so as to get its abundant resources. The general mobilization is stated and the player takes command of a battalion of 30 characters (the number of soldiers to be deployed varies), everyone having a true personality and a small background. Your men are divided between five classes : Recon, Assault, Mechanic, Anti-tank and Sniper. To that you have to add your own tank which is a unique unit, commanded by Welkin Gunther, the hero of the game. As you might guess, each type of unit has different statistics (HP, evasion, defense, speed, etc.) and its own gameplay. The various roles are varied and it’s up to you to make the best use of their particularities while keeping strategic positions, because any blunder can quickly mean death.

Catherine

That is a very important aspect of Valkyria Chronicles compared to its PSP sequels : the characters die definitely after 4 turns if their HP is zero, or if an enemy reach them in that state. Like in Fire Emblem, the player feels close to the characters. They have a personality, they have a reason to fight, they have dreams, they have values, they’re not “units” like in a RTS game. The player is sent to war in its true meaning, taking heavy decision in a context of high pressure. But you can save your game anytime, which reduces the challenge.

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The missions are nevertheless difficult, and extremely varied. There’s urban warfare, plain warfare, desert warfare, a landing, a large trench battle, sniper confrontation, infiltration and rescue! The Empire, overwhelmingly superior in both men and equipment, leaves no moment for rest. You’ll face artillery fire, mine fields, tank squads, powerful (or even invincible) generals or crazy prototypes. War fog is present and makes the strategy even more immersive. The gap in forces and the feeling of total and merciless war brings tension, but is also very rewarding when you see the victory screen after 1 hour of intense struggle. The war atmosphere is reinforced by the regular transmissions from your buddies or the ones you intercept from the enemy.

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The gameplay is actually more complex than in Fire Emblem. Adding to the complexity if coordinating the various specializations, you can call back your characters and mobilize others to fit with your strategy. This can be done from or base camp or intermediate bases to take from the enemy. Be careful, because the Empire will also call reinforcements at every occasion! You also have to bear in mind that the game is in full 3D, and thus has depth of field : you need to consider the reach of the weapons, height, obstacles when setting the frontline. Snipers and armored vehicles will have you progress while staying in cover, ideally behind your own tank.

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Every character has “potentials” that make them more or less efficient in certain environments/situations. Some of your soldiers don’t appreciate each other and their stats will diminish if they come together on the field. Marina, for example, likes to be left alone and becomes more precise when she’s far behind your lines. Some are better in natural environments, some others perform better in urban warfare. Others are used to darkness and will be very useful during operations at night. Those are some of the many parameters you must take into account on the briefing screen.

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In case you need it, you can trigger a boost of stats on one your several units, or force other actions. When you are in a defensive position, it is useful to issue the “everybody defends” order to beef up the resistance of your men. The “retreat” order is also very important as it can save a KO’ed ally who would be too far to be rescued. Those orders consume Command Points, which depend on the mission and the number of officers you have deployed. Here again, Imperial generals will also issue their own orders.

In Tactical-RPG, there’s RPG. Sega’s work is partly one because each class gains experience points and can level up at the training camp. As the campaign is rather unforgiving, leveling sessions will be possible in skirmishes, non-mandatory maps which replay the main missions in slightly harder. You’ll also want to pass by the R&D center to improve your weapons. Being a peaceful country, Gallia possess unreliable equipment at the start : sniper rifles and rocket launchers lack precision, machine guns lack power so headshots will be key to victory. The Edelweiss (your tank) will need upgrades as you progress in the story to keep up with the Empire’s machines. You can also take some weapons from enemy aces, elite soldiers hidden here and there.

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Even tough it’s 8 years old and despite the level of details being far of today’s standards, Valkyria Chronicles still impresses me like it did years ago on PS3. The 3D engine, called Canevas, gives a watercolor effect that is still unique today. Your characters’ animation still feel rich and detailed, although we can’t say the same for the (very stiff) enemies. Contrary to an RTS game, colors literally blow out, notably in the magnificent real time cutscenes still unmatched one generation later. Beyond, it’s the incredible anime-like design that makes it so fabulous, and so rare in the strategy genre. It has exceptional characters, Alicia and Selvaria being some all-time favorites as far as I’m concerned. True, it’s not your daily western war game digest, but Japanese gaming fans will love it at first sight. Valkyria Chronicles is full of small visual details and this whole thing builds a universe of its own, desite the obvious historical inspiration.

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Let’s stress the following point : the story of Valkyria Chronicles is one of the greatest I’ve lived in my gaming life, and by far the greatest one when it comes to describe war. Solemnity and emotion are far heavier than the rare comical intervals in some chapters. As I write those lines, the remembrance of the strongest moments of this game are bringing tears to my eyes. The oppression of the conflict is perfectly rendered by the direction and musical themes like Valkyria’s Omen or War in the Empire. Parallel to that, some heroic themes like Final Decisive Battle beautifully illustrate the theme of reconquest. It’s one of the rare soundtracks that I have always with me.

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Last but not least, the great quality of Valkyria Chronicles is that it’s looking back at war in a wise manner. Sega’s game is a true and relevant allegory to the large European conflicts are their causes/consequences. Arms race, abuse of power, reckless ambitions, false diplomacy, ideology, war crimes… it is like the greatest war movies put into one game. The relation between Rosie and Isara warns very cleverly about the nonsense of xenophobia. Valkyria Chronicles refuses to be Manichean : your own country won’t hesitate to commit war crimes or send militiamen in suicide missions. Foes show honor and values, sadness is on both sides. This is war as it is never shown in video games, but should. As in Metal Gear Solid, it makes you think about war, not just live it.

Valkyria Chronicles is not a fine title or a hit game : it is an absolute masterpiece that I place alongside the greatest Final Fantasy titles. Beautiful in every aspect, fascinating by its design, exhilarating by its gameplay, deep in its meaning, it is fabulous like no other in its generation, and maybe also in the current one. Tells us how much in 2008, Valkyria Chronicles was ahead of its time… No, it is beyond time and space, it is eternal.

Preview – Valkyria Azure Revolution

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Pleasant surprise on this Wednesday 10th morning. Receiving a tip about PS4 Valkyria Chronicles themes, I peek on the Japanese PSN. There I do find the aforementioned themes… but also Valkyria Chronicles Remaster itself! That means the very anticipated Valkyria Azure Revolution demo is available too! Without any hesitation, I use the remaining credits of my digital wallet. The demo will download very fast, but I do need to work to throw all this money in the PSN. I’ll have to wait until the evening. Bad luck, Sega has locked the PS4share so I’ll mainly have to use official screenshots.

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The demo starts by giving an insight of the story : during the 19th century, in a fictional Europe, the Ragnite ore lead to an unprecedented industrial revolution because of its magical properties. Mankind quickly learned to fuse it with technology and armies soon came to develop equipment with magical capabilities.

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Like any coveted resource, Ragnite created conflicts. The Russian Federation (yep, it’s straight out spelled as Russia) progressively sought to blockade the Kindgom of Jutland. Cornered, the small state has no choice but to wage war and quickly sends its anti-Valkyria unit, Vanargand. Notice the wolf slaying the reaper on the emblem : in this new game, the Valkyria symbolizes death and not salvation anymore (although the Valkyria was already polysemous in the first trilogy).

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And to the frontline we go with our team of three : Amleth, the dark hero who swore vengeance against the Empire, Ophilia, the princess of crimson eyes, and Brigitt, former teacher and trained sniper. The gameplay is quite unsettling because it mixes Strategy-RPG and Action-RPG. I already see lots of comparisons with Shining Resonance, but let’s be serious, Valkyria Aure Revolution is a lot more than that.

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Your group will have to act so as to enter battle in the best possible conditions. It’s fairly important to be stealthy, use suppression fire, use cover to launch surprise attacks… because enemy soldiers aren’t dummies and can spot you from very far. Once you are in contact with an enemy unit, your characters will draw their blades and enter close quarters combat. Unlike Valkyria Chronicles, everything happens in real time.

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This is where the comparison with the other RPG from Sega makes sense. For example, if find the skill sub-menu on L1, allowing you to cast physical or magical special skills, as well as heal yourself. Bear in mind that there’s a limited number of magical slots to be used, so you might want to save your skill for critical moments. Let’s also stress that you can still use a firearm in close quarters combat, in case you’d want to attack from mid-range and avoid taking too much damage. You can lock any enemy with R2 with ease and the controls in general felt quite precise after a few battles, despite the large number of buttons to consider. Although it’s an introduction to the game, the challenge is no joke and your characters can fall very fast if are are careless (but it’s also true that the allies’ AI is a bit questionable in this demo). In case of KO, like in Final Fantasy XV, a simple slap in the back and they will be back on their feet. This is seriously ridiculous and I do hope the medic will return in the final version. Finally, note that after a game over, the player can retry the mission while keeping the acquired experience.

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Valkyria Azure Revolution introduces psychological warfare. Some of the action you take before going into close quarters combat can confuse, startle the opponents or make them angry. This way, they will be weaker, slower or less precise. For example, taking cover behind a wall and opening fire when a enemy group passes by causes panic to them for a while. There’s also a positive status called “bravery” in which the characters’ defense is raised for a short time, so that he or she can take more risks and sweep the enemy. Each party member has a secondary weapon (but with a limited number of uses) allowing him/her to get the upper hand. Ophilia possesses smoke grenades that can blind enemy soldiers, and Brigitt can take them out from afar thanks to her sniper rifle. I case she kills a sentry without being spotted, all the soldiers in the vicinity will be tense! Like in Samurai Warriors 4, the long bar on the top of the screen tells you on which side the morale is better.

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Technically speaking, it’s a lot sharper and more detailed than Valkyria Chronicles as you could expect, the Gouache 3D engine being a worthy heir of the previous Canevas in its painting-like aspect. True, the village represented here wasn’t anything impressing and the frame-rate did suffer a couple of times, but it’s still a nice sight to behold for a first contact. Also, the more realistic design gives a fresh feel to the series and a deeper immersion, a bit like when you jump from Advance Wars Dual Strike to Dark Conflict.

There can be no greater delight than getting back in the Valkyria series with the power of the PS4 and the unscathed war atmosphere. The game system arouses interest, because it looks very complex and necessitates to master two types of games at the same time. Needless to say, I’m hungry for larger campaigns even though the strategic side seems to fade away a bit.

But where do those names in JRPGs come from? (B)

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Sorry for the long wait! Let’s walk again the path of etymology and mythology the find the hidden truth in our games. A long quest which, believe me, is worth the effort. Be careful though, there’s a light spoiler about Valkyria Chronicles 3.

Bahamut

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Final Fantasy : Bahamut is the King of wyverns and dragons, but also a summon and a peerless opponent.

Origin : The Arabic Mythology

Bahamut is originally said to be a giant fish supporting a giant bull called Kujata. Kujata is also said to bear angels, hells and heavens. In the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons (1977), Bahamut is the King of good dragons, facing Tiamat, the Queen of evil dragons.

Bandersnatch

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Final Fantasy X : a species of wolf

Origin : From the Other Side of the Mirror, a novel by Lewis Carroll being the unofficial sequel to Alice in Wonderland.

The Bandersnatch is never really identified but its characters are the following : a long neck, a powerful jaw and ferocious behavior.

Basilisk

Basilisk

Final Fantasy X : a monster that can petrify your characters

Origin : Antiquity

In Naturalis Historia, Pline the Elder, Roman author of the 1st century AC, mentions a poisonous snake oozing venom behind it, that can kill by just staring. The basilisk is mentioned again later in European legends. In greek, basilisk means “king of snakes”. It is often associated with the Cockatrice, which can mean they’re actually the same monster.

Baten Kaitos

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Baten Kaitos is a remarkable RPG of the GameCube

Origin : Astronomy

It’s a star in the constellation of the Whale. It’s also called Ceta Zeti, Baten Kaitos being its arabic name, which means “belly of the sea monster”.

Behemoth

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Final Fantasy : Recurrent and powerful monster.

Origin : The Old Testament

Behemoth is a Biblical monster that appears in the Old Testament (Job. 40). Behemoth is the counterpart of Leviathan on Earth. Unconquerable to humans, Behemoth is said to battle Leviathan in the end. They would kill each other and their meat should feed the Just for eternity.

Belial

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Final Fantasy XII : Belial is the Fire Esper

Origin : Masoteric texts (fragments of the Hebrew bible)

In the first Hebrew texts BC, Belial is an adjective describing mediocre people, pagan worshipers. In the Scrolls of the Dead Sea (other Hebraic text of the same period), Belial seems to be a king of darkness.

Bismarck

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Final Fantasy XIV : a legendary white whale dominating the Sea of Clouds

Origin : History of Germany

Otto Von Bismarck was the first Chancellor of the German Empire, from 1871 and 1890. He played a great role in the rise of Germany as a superpower and pioneered the Welfare State.

Borgia

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Valkyria Chronicles 3 : Borgia is the pope of the Yggist Curch, which worship the Valkyries. He secretly acts behind the scenes to prolong the war and extend his influence.

Origin : History of Italy

Rodrigo Borgia, known as Alexander VI, was the most controversial Pope of the Christian Church. From his election in 1492 to his mysterious death in 1503, his life had been surrounded by flirt and rape accusations and political assassinations. He himself died after a lavish banquet, presumably from poisoning.

Brynhildr

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Valkyria Azure Revolution : Brynhildr is a Valkyrie allied with the Empire

Origin : Scandinavian mythology

In the Volsunga Saga, a Nordic legend written around the 13th century, Brynhildr is a valkyrie who sides with King Agnar against Odin. Victorious, Odin erases her powers and locks her in a tower, but she will be freed by the courageous Siguror.

Review – Valkyria Chronicles 3

That’s what you call “coming after the war”. I finished Valkyria Chronicles 3 one year ago, so this is a bit late, but as Sega’s recent troubles further jeopardizes the western localization, it’s natural that VC3 would make the news again.

Those who’ve been turned off by the story of Valkyria Chronicles 2 (which was far from bad though) can be reassured (or not, since they will need to read Japanese). Valkyria Chronicles 3 comes as close as possible to the glorious first episode in terms of storyline. The concept of rival 遊撃隊 (which could be translated as search and destroy units) is quite appealing to begin with, but VC3 also features many deep and meaningful war-related subjects (betrayal, conspiracy, pursuit of freedom, war crimes, war censorship, etc). The characters (on both sides) are excellent and make the game emotionally strong. The relation between Kurt, Riela and Imca are extremely touching (I nearly cried, like in VC1) and you actually end up feeling sympathy for Dahau despite him being the enemy. Like in VC2, every character has his personal sub-scenario (even the secondary ones), which helps thicken the plot.

VC3 introduces many changes in gameplay. The most important one being the damage buff granted to your enemies. You can’t rush to the enemy base with a recon like it was possible in VC2 (and that was ridiculous). The gameplay becomes more coherent and the game harder, without stupid difficulty spikes like in VC2. While easy at first, it becomes progressively harder and then nightmarish in the second half, which makes it even more unforgettable. Another good idea is the absolute freedom you have to change classes. You don’t want Riela to be a recon? Then make her a sniper or whichever class you see fit, it’s your decision (and you can keep the passive abilities from other classes). The tank also changes a lot : you have more customization possibilities than ever (camos, canons, devices, etc), its anti-infantry capabilities have been enhanced since VC2 and it now takes 1CP however heavy the armor is. While I do think that 3CP per turn was stupid, 1CP seems super-cheap for the heavy tank (though the limited mobility makes up for that). In the end, I think VC1 was right with 2CP per turn. Fallen allies now can be redeployed almost immediately, while they were hospitalized for a long time in VC2. I’ve thought very hard on that, but again I think VC1 was right. However cruel it may be, people die in war, then so should your characters, and it makes it only more satisfying and epic when you succeed in protecting or saving them. You can now have more than 6 characters in the same mission (up to 9 if I remember well), which is a pleasant improvement given that I always choose 2 or 3 snipers. Last addition of VC3, special attacks are not as deadly as they look (especially the Valkyria Spear, which doesn’t OHK), but are nevertheless interesting strategic elements. Beyond all that, Valkyria Chronicles 3 is as addictive as ever.

Graphically speaking, VC3 is similar to VC2, which means very fine on PSP standards. The soundtrack is also in line with the series, with some really good tracks (Calamity Raven’s theme is my favorite, like the Empire’s and Garsenal’s were). The game is insanely long : it took me 130h to complete including all the side missions and DLCs, and I still have new game + elements to enjoy, such as Riela’s scenario (I chose Imca’s part in the first run).

Let’s finish with a thorny subject : DLC. Free in VC2, you now have to pay the punitively high amount of 600 yens for an additional scenario (and a character). It’s rather hard to swallow, especially when you know that Sega eventually ended up in the red. However, I can’t deny I was extremely happy with those. The additional missions are extremely well-thought and give some solid challenge. And, let’s be honest, who would say no to Selvaria, Yeager, Alicia or even Audrey? There’s even an mission that allows you to play as Calamity Raven!

Valkyria Chronicles 3 is one of the best games available (eh… actually not) on PSP. It is my favorite by the way, and as I’m writing those lines the urge to purchase the Extra Edition on my Vita is burning from inside me. But it’s not just that. Valkyria Chronicles 3 is, I think, exactly the game Valkyria Chronicles fans were expecting, which makes even more tragic and unbearable the fact that they might never enjoy it. 

Review – Shining Blade

I came across Shining Blade in a random Japanese game magazine. But from the SECOND I saw that article, I knew I would be buying Shining Blade.

That’s because I absolutely love the character design of this game. I know it’s a personal opinion, but seldom I’ve felt so great about a whole cast. The bad guys are also cooler than average : they might seem cliché, but their personality is really coherent with the cruelty of their actions. Graphics are OK for the PSP but far from Final Fantasy levels, and I think we could have had more artworks. Fortunately, Shining Blade is big about its characters. There’s a friendship level system in which your answers have an influence on the side events you can trigger. Those ones tell you more about the characters’ personalities and their relationships between each other. They are a lot of fun as they’ve been fairly well written.

On the other hand, the main scenario appears a bit flat : very similar to Fire Emblem or Valkyria Chronicles, it’s all about the reconquest of countries occupied by an Evil Empire about to resurrect an devilish dragon. Even though the campaign does have some strong moments (everything that involves Roselinde for example), it lacks that sense of grandeur that made the legend of its glorious models. Music is where Shining Blade really excels : for a game that is all about singing maidens, I guess it was pretty critical… But the original score is really worthwhile and adapts perfectly the situation. The 歌姫‘s song (see below) are really beautiful, Roselinde’s being just moving…

If I mentioned Valkyria Chronicles and Fire Emblem, it’s also because the gameplay is largely inspired from those two. Shining Blade was developed by Media Vision, who happened to have developed the fantastic (but still unlocalized!) Valkyria Chronicles 3. Therefore, you find many similarities : the personalities system is exactly the same (ex. Sakuya’s leadership : if more than two allies are present, her stats are up), the turn system uses CP-like crystals and the various classes find a heroic fantasy equivalent (ex. the swordsman class works like a shocktropper). That said, Shining Blade doesn’t fail to add some interesting features (variation actually). Duo allows your character to have a partner follow you without him using his/her movement points. Link attacks has you choose a partner within range to deal more damage. This is just in fact applying to all characters Kurt’s Direct Command of VC3. It’s still a very useful add strategywise. Another thing is that archers actually fire at enemies when those ones are moving within range, which VC3 snipers cannot do. However, middle-range units such as magic users can’t (whereas scout can). Wizards can also target multiple enemies (up to 8!) at once, and even close-range can deal up to 4 hits on different (but close) enemies. Every character has powerful attacks that uses Force points, and have various properties such as inflicting poison, etc. Last but not least, 5 characters are what the game calls 歌姫 (utahime) who can sing to support the rest of your party. It’s crucial during boss battles because their song negates the boss’ Force Field that greatly improves their defenses. But the singing character can’t move, attack or defend herself, so you «lose» one character which is sometimes a difficult choice to make. All that ends up in a really convincing battle system, and I expected no less.

But all that is ruined by one STUPID thing : it’s super easy! Enemies barely scratch you while you’re doing insane damage with just normal attacks. Even if some bosses can put some pressure (like the final boss, who made me sweat a little), Force attacks are so powerful that they can take them out in 1 or 2 blows! I some point I searched for the ultra-hard difficulty level, but there was none. This ridiculously easy difficulty setting is a major drawback because it affects the gravity with which you perceive the story and makes strategy almost useless : in most fights, you barely need to think your way to victory given that rushing head-on is the fastest way to it. We’re very far from the hellish missions of the Valkyria Chronicles series, which tasted SO good. In comparison, the dungeon accessible after you have cleared the game is more interesting : monsters do a lot of damage and you begin to prepare your turns carefully.

I finished Shining Blade in 35h straight so it’s still a fairly attractive game. But what PAINS me is that it failed to be a masterpiece simply because there was no bloody difficult mode. It’s a quite serviceable JRPG that takes smartly from both Valkyria Chronicles and Fire Emblem, but lives up to neither…