<![CDATA[A-to-J Connections - Gaming]]>Fri, 19 Jan 2018 03:16:46 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Doki Doki Literature Club: Write to the Heart of Your Girl]]>Fri, 19 Jan 2018 03:03:27 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/doki-doki-literature-club-write-to-the-heart-of-your-girl
Player(s): 1
Platforms: PC (via Steam)

"Will you write the way into her heart?"
​That kind of question is a typical start to most generic visual novels. In fact those who haven’t played it yet can probably already figure out what personality each girl has, their roles, and how to please them. You wouldn’t be too far off either, or so you would think at the start of the game. Strangely enough, this game has ways of taking strange turns, so before you go to check it out or read the rest of this, bear in mind that this game has disturbing images not suitable for everyone.
So, you start off with your given name and are thrust into a typical high school world. Of course, your childhood friend is the first girl you meet. Sayori is going to be your clumsy, dull-headed-but-full-of-sunshine, girl that you walk to and from school with. The sunshine may or may not be true, but that’s for the player to find out.
 
After a few scenes and story building, Sayori asks you to join a club she belongs to. You accept. Like any harem dreamer, the club is filled with a total of four girls. Sayori, who is the Vice President that you already know. Yuri, the quiet and shy one that takes reading and writing very seriously. Natsuki, the baker and "jerk" of the group. And the President of the Literature Club, Monika. Just Monika.

Just Monika.

Not sure what happened there, so let’s continue.
 
You go through the game like normal, though there are bits of interesting interaction. Rather than make a choice that leads towards a path, the president tells you to write a poem, which is almost what you do. You’re taken to a screen where you get to select ten different words. In this, the girls on the left side of the screen will jump with happiness if you use a word that they like. While you’re not actually writing a poem, you’re appealing to them with the use of literary skills.
Using intellect to appeal to a girl? Are you mad!?

You do this a few times and start to get close to a girl of your choice. As it seems to get more and more colorful, that is when the game decides to take a grim turn for the worse. One wishes to tell you the story sequences, but it is not one’s wishing to ruin it for those seeking to play this. However, it is quite interesting if not disturbing.
 
For anyone thinking they can’t afford it, it is free on Steam. How is that for a kicker? A free game that challenges the way Visual Novels are played and it’s free. The sad part is, it is also a very short game. While many visual novels are known for dragging themselves out, this one ends quickly, though at a key point in which it’s supposed to.
Let’s talk about Team Salvato.
 
Team Salvato is manned by three people. Dan Salvato, Lead Developer. Satchely, Character Artist. Velinquent, Background Artist. One can claim these are not likely their real names and you could be right, but these people are the creative geniuses behind Doki Doki Literature Club. It is unknown where they plan to go from here, but the best wishes to these creative people.
 
And let’s not forget that the game itself has won a few Awards. That’s right, a free game got a lot of votes from people and was a part of IGN’s video game awards. Doki Doki Literature Club won IGN People’s Choice (most player votes) for every category it was nominated for: Best PC Game, Best Adventure Game, Best Story, and Most Innovative.
 
Now while you can argue a visual novel being an Adventure Game, it seems IGN has a threaded reasoning for such. You should investigate that yourself. But either way, there is no denying that it was a huge success for even such a short game.

-MCV Driver


Story: A+
Graphics: B
Sound: B
Value: A++

OVERALL: A

Pros:
+Free!!
+Creative Storytelling
+Innovative Interaction

Cons:
-Very Short Game
-Slow moving gameplay can be a turn off
-A Slow Start

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<![CDATA[The Witch and The Hundred Knight 2 Coming to North America in March]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/the-witch-and-the-hundred-knight-2-coming-to-north-america-in-march
NIS America has a release date for "The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2"! The sequel to the 2013 PlayStation 3 title will be arriving in North America on March 27, 2018 and in Europe on March 30 exclusively for the PlayStation 4!
About the Game:
Follow Hundred Knight in its journey through a witch-ravaged world. Young girls are contracting a strange illness and awakening as witches, causing mayhem across the region of Kevala. Along Hundred Knight's side are two sisters: Amalie, an agent of an organization who opposes witches; and Chelka, the witch who awakened in Amalie's younger sister, Milm. Uncover the mysteries of Kevalaas you protect them both from harm.Delve through dungeons and landscapes teeming with fiends and monsters, looking for equipment of legendary power. Grow stronger with help from Tochkasand Facets that will give an advantage in combat. Chain attacks together with the unique weapon system that welcomes weapon change mid-combat. The fate of Kevalais in your hands, brave knight.

Key Features:
Adapt to Your Surroundings - Switch between the Hundred Knight's six Facets to turn the tide in battle! Gather Tochkas, the indispensable minions, to aid you in your exploration.

Pint-Sized Powerhouse - Execute Depleturato finish off enemies and replenish your GigaCalories! Trigger your Third Eye and unleash the full power of Hundred Knight for a brief time. Leave enemies to tremble before your boosted speed, power, and skills!

Temper Your Strength - Forge new weapons with items from the field at your base. Pass Witch Petitions; granting you access to new Tochkasand other benefits!

For more on "The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2" visit the official site:
http://nisamerica.com/games/the-witch-and-the-hundred-knight-2/

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<![CDATA[Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition and Windows Edition Announced]]>Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:40:45 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/final-fantasy-xv-royal-edition-and-windows-edition-announcedAttention to all the FFXV players and fans. Most of you may or may not have heard about the PC version finally coming out for your windows operating system. Well, Square Enix has put out an official press release giving out the following details.

​SQUARE ENIX® opens up new ways for fans to journey through the massive world of FINAL FANTASY XV with FINAL FANTASY XV ROYAL EDITION for the Xbox One and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, and FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION, coming to STEAM®, Origin and Windows 10. The special editions feature the base game and over 20 game add-ons / DLC (downloadable content), as well as new features including an expanded map of Insomnia with new enemies and side quests and a first-person camera mode.

FINAL FANTASY XV ROYAL EDITION and FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION will feature*:

Expanded Map: Insomnia City Ruins – all-new side quests and enemies such as Cerberus and Omega will be available through the expanded map of the Crown City of Insomnia. Players will also take on the Rulers of Yore. 
A fully-controllable Royal Vessel boat, expanding the world of Eos and allowing players to explore the area between Cape Caem and Altissia. Players will also be able to fish aboard the vessel and discover new fishes and dishes. 
A new accessory that can activate the new action “Armiger Unleashed” - players will be able to unleash powerful attacks while the Armiger is summoned. After collecting all of the royal arms, players will be able to find an accessory in an unidentified part of the world, enabling access to Armiger Unleashed. 
A new first-person camera mode, allowing players to experience the game from Noctis’ perspective. 
More than a dozen pieces of downloadable content including weapons, Regalia car skins and item sets 
All season pass content including EPISODE GLADIOLUS, EPISODE PROMPTO, MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION: COMRADES** and EPISODE IGNIS 
Archive – players can review the “Cosmogony” stories scattered throughout the FINAL FANTASY XV world. Additional local myths and legends will also be placed in various new locations, allowing players to obtain more information about the world. 
Quest to obtain and Strengthen Regalia Type-D 
New Trophies 
The FINAL FANTASY XV base game 

Seems like they’re going to more than giving the PC a try. Looks like the world itself is going to heavily expand to new places and locations. Can you just feel the excitement!? They also released a few details about game preorders. Read below:

FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION* will be available for STEAM, Origin and Windows 10 for $49.99. Starting February 1, fans who pre-order the PC version will receive store-specific pre-order and early purchase bonuses. By pre-ordering through the Windows Store, fans will receive the bonus “FFXV Powerup Pack.” This pack contains items designed to power up the player’s performance in combat. By pre-ordering through STEAM**, fans will receive the bonus “FFXV Fashion Collection.” This pack contains a selection of outfits for the prince and his pals. Those who pre-order on Origin will receive the bonus “FFXV Decal Selection.” This pack contains an array of cool and colorful decals for the Regalia. More details on the early purchase bonuses will be available at a later time. More details regarding the pre-order bonuses are available here: http://sqex.to/FF15PC.
 
*Note that the physical version disc is an installer only. Internet connection as well as STEAM account registration is required in order to play the game. Any internet access fee or connection fee must be covered by the customer.
 
**Note that the physical STEAM version will not come with the preorder bonus. The early purchase bonus will be included.
 
FINAL FANTASY XV ROYAL EDITION will be available for the Xbox One and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system for $49.99, and will feature a new package design by legendary artist Yoshitaka Amano. The “FINAL FANTASY XV Royal Pack,” including new downloadable content in FINAL FANTASY XV ROYAL EDITION, will also be available separately on March 6 for $19.99 via the Xbox Store and the PlayStation®Store. This purchasable pack allows existing players of FINAL FANTASY XV to enjoy the new features by applying the pack to the base game.


If you wish to find out more details or have any questions concerning the upcoming Expansion. Please visit their website at http://na.square-enix.com/
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<![CDATA[Acceleration of SUGURI 2 Comes to Steam In March]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:05:42 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/acceleration-of-suguri-2-comes-to-steam-in-march
Fans of bullet hell shooters! We have some awesome news for you! Our friends at Fruitbat Factory will be bringing "Acceleration of SUGURI 2" to Steam on March 7!
​Developed by 100% Orange Juice, the Steam version of Acceleration of SUGURI 2 will be remastered for full HD and have support for English, Japanese, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese. Also the game will have a 15% off pre-order sale! So if you're thinking about picking it up, now is your chance!
About Acceleration of SUGURI 2
Acceleration of SUGURI 2 takes place thousands of years after the events of Sora , when a new threat surfaces in a time of peace and brings together the casts of Sora and SUGURI .

Acceleration of SUGURI 2 includes:
● Fast-paced, tactical versus style bullet hell action
● Over 10 characters from the SUGURI universe to battle with
● Remastered full HD graphics
● Three game modes: Story, Arcade and Match Mode
● Shared Screen and Online (via Steam) multiplayer
● Improved multiplayer with rollbacks and custom input delay

Acceleration of SUGURI 2 comes priced at $8.99 and is available for pre-order on Steam with a -15% pre-order discount. Three original soundtracks from the SUGURI series - Accelerator , Realism , and SUGURI the Best are also available for pre-order from the Fruitbat Factory store , giving immediate direct download in addition to Steam DLC key. The soundtracks are priced $7.99 each.

Steam Page:
​​http://store.steampowered.com/app/390710/Acceleration_of_SUGURI_2/
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<![CDATA[MangaGamer Announces Release of Sorcery Jokers]]>Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:08:45 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/mangagamer-announces-release-of-sorcery-jokers
What would happen if the modern world gained magic overnight? That is a question that will be answered in "Sorcery Jokers" the latest adventure-themed visual novel from 3rd Eye and brought to us in English courtesy of MangaGamer!
Available today via an all-ages version on Steam, with a special 10% launch discount, the adult 18+ version can be picked up from MangaGamer's website! (Links below!) It launches with a price of $39.95 and is presented in full HD! We can't wait to get our hands on this one and we're sure you will be too!

About Sorcery Jokers:
If the world you knew changed overnight, would you be the same? With new powers suddenly at your fingertips, would you do what was right? Twelve years ago, when magic awakened in this world, many faced that question. Chaos reigned as crime waves surged and the government sought to control, shape, and harness this new power. Through their research, society gained Magitronics, powerful tools and conveniences powered by magic, and an Academy for the training of new Casters. Yet even now, others known as OutCasts refuse to bend to the government's control, using their powers as they wish. Which is the proper use of magic? Which faction would you agree with?

Explore this lengthy, battle-action story across six different perspectives, with new scenes and new opportunities opening up as you delve deeper into each character's life!
Sorcery Jokers
One day, all at once, magic entered the world as we know it. 

It's existence was not something known in secret circles - the current government announced it publicly, leading it to quickly become common knowledge. Now, we're in an age where magic is used as a normal resource and has permeated throughout many different industries and fields around the world.

This is a story about the fates of those who live in this magical world. Read on as six radically different people find their paths converging in this new world...

Specifications:
Sorcery Jokers
Developer: 3rd Eye
Genre: Adventure
Price: $39.95
OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10
Text Language: English
Age Rating: 18+ or 15+

For More Information:
Steam Link
MangaGamer Link
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<![CDATA[SNK And NISA Partner To Release SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy In 2018]]>Thu, 11 Jan 2018 18:36:00 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/snk-and-nisa-partner-to-release-snk-heroines-tag-team-frenzy-in-2018
​In a partnership with SNK Corporation, NIS America has announced "SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy" which will be coming to both the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 in 2018!
The Nintendo Switch version will be available in both physical and digital versions while the PS4 version will only be available physically through a limited edition that can be purchased on the official SNK Online Store powered by NISA (currently in development), it will also be available digitally.

“NIS America is honored to work alongside SNK Corporation in spreading the SNK brand of gaming throughout NA and EU regions,” says Takuro Yamashita, President of NIS America. “Since 2003, NIS America has strived to spread Japanese culture through video games and we hope that our partnership with SNK will strengthen our bonds and ultimately, provide the highest quality Dtle for fans.”

SNK Company President & CEO Koichi Toyama stated, “I am very pleased to launch this partnership with NIS America, who has a proven record of delivering excellent results in the publishing and marketing of Japanese game content over the years. I am convinced that this collaboration will allow us to deliver the highest quality content to our fans.“

Diamond Dream EdiEon (Nintendo Switch/PS4) Contents Include:
◆ Hardcover Art Book
◆ Fatal CuDe Hat
◆ Towel
◆ Wrist Sweatband
◆ 2-Disc Soundtrack
◆ Tank Top
◆ Lapel Pin Set

About SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy:
Play online or with friends as SNK's iconic heroines in the brand-new 2 vs 2 fighting game, SNK HEROINES Tag Team Frenzy! Activate Special Moves with a single button, and make use of special items to change the tide of battle! However, the fight isn't over the moment you've chipped enough health away. Once your opponent is on the ropes, utilize your Dream Finish technique to win the match! Spectate on other bacles online, and wage on who you think will win using in-game points. Use your winnings to buy voice clips and accessories in an all-new costume system, and customize your favorite heroine to your heart's content!

Key Features:
◆ Assemble Your Heroines and BaXle Head-to-Head – A brand new tag bacle acDon fighting game is here! Players can participate in a four-multiplayer frenzy online or with friends!
◆ An Iconic Cast of SNK’s Female Characters! - Choose from a generous roster of female heroines from the SNK universe!
◆ Defeat Foes With Style and Elegance – Coordination is key, as players can choose from up to 100 different accessories for their characters. Accessories including cat ears, glasses, face paint, and new sound effects.

For More Information on SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy:
http://nisamerica.com/games/snk-heroines/
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<![CDATA[Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Gets A PC Release Date]]>Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:12:02 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/ys-viii-lacrimosa-of-dana-gets-a-pc-release-date
NIS America has announced a release day for the PC release of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA!
Mark your calendars everyone as it will have a global release date of January 30, 2018! This new PC release will feature game optimizations and the localization revisions that were announced last October. Fans might remember some issues with the initial localization and NIS America took these criticisms to heard and have adjusted the game's script, made adjustments to graphical text, and have even re-recorded some audio. These localizations will be made available across all releases, including the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita version.

As a special gift to PC adopters the following DLC will be made available for free for the first week of release! (Ending on Feb 6 10 AM PST)

◆ Adol’s Adventure Essentials DLC - Includes Adol’s Silver Armor, Adol’s Adventurer Clothes, and Adol’s Survival Kit
◆ Digital Mini Art Book - Includes a 32-page full-color art book
◆ Digital Soundtrack Sampler - Includes 5 tracks
◆ Laxia’s “Eternian Scholar” Costume

For More On Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA:
Official Website: https://ysviii.com
​Steam Page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/579180/

Check out these screens showing off some of the localization revisions! (Taken from the PS4 version)
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<![CDATA[Disbelieve No Longer! Umineko: Golden Fantasia Review]]>Mon, 01 Jan 2018 23:01:52 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/disbelieve-no-longer-umineko-golden-fantasia-review
Player(s): 1-2
Platforms: PC (via Steam)

Do you like Umineko? Do you like fighting games? Do you want both in one package? Well, for the few of you left, Umineko: Golden Fantasia, out now on Steam, is for you!
Umineko: Golden Fantasia originally launched in Japan way back in 2010 at Comiket 79 as a fun, kind of alternative universe sequel to the Umineko visual novel series. It's a 2D, tag-team battle based game, with support for up to two players. All your favorite Umineko characters are here, and the game features gorgeous pixel sprite animation for all of them. The recent Steam release is based on the CROSS version of the game, released at Comiket 81 in late 2011, along with all its expansions, featuring 19 playable characters with a wide range of various movesets for whatever play style you wanna specialize in. The game features an Arcade mode, where you fight through the story; a Versus mode, allowing for quick fights against CPUs or real opponents, both local and online; and a Training mode so you can learn those sweet sweet combos.
General gameplay mechanics are your standard fighting game affair, with weak and strong attacks, specials, and the likes. Health is mildly recoverable in regular combat, assuming you can avoid hits, and guard breaking is also available. What I found interesting was when you switched out characters, there were special switch modes. Depending on how the switch is triggered, you might gain a bonus pair attack or a special guard, making regular switching a valid part of your gameplay style. Along with this way a unique way to boost skills for a limited time, which could happen on a team member switch or by summoning the Metaworld. A character can summon the Metaworld by expending their special gauge, and things get wild. Visually, the background drastically changes, and you're given a few seconds of crazy skills such as resurrection upon death or unlimited special gauge to unleash powerful attacks. More interestingly, one's opponent can cancel out this summoning by triggering their own Metaworld summon in a quick enough timeframe, but at a much higher SP gauge cost.
The barebones story of the game centers around a new witch in charge, and trying to find out who that is. Each pair selected for battle gets their own unique story bits for this search. What does this mean? I honestly can't get super into it without going deep into Umineko lore, but rest assured the story is light enough that a player can ignore it in favor of playing more matches. However, if you're a big Umineko fan, this is a fun expansion on the universe, filled with all sorts of nods to the original VN series. Going through the story unlocks various things like characters, announcer voices, and so on.
This game is not without its highs and lows. Visually, I do adore the pixel sprites and the backgrounds. The way the backgrounds change when The Metaverse is triggered is a delight. The inbetween "trash talk" scenes are wonderfully drawn, and the use of color throughout is a highlight. Things run smooth, and the music and voice overs are top notch (continuing Umineko's tradition of great sound design). You can turn on a feature that shows fan art during the loading screens. However, gameplay feels slow, especially for an anime fighter. The hits feel good, but combat seems to drag on. For being a Steam release with a surprisingly good online fighting feature, the general configuration is a pain, requiring one to launch a separate config program to set up using a controller and even fixing the aspect resolution (which doesn't seem to do much besides stretch out the screen art to fit, with no higher resolution art actually available). The default battles are set for 3 health bars and 3 minutes, and oh goodness they are the longest three minutes every time. Combos aren't too complex, but for a game with very niche appeal that's probably okay. The English text isn't the greatest flowing and borders on cheesy and awkward, but keeping the Japanese voices with no option for a dub is a good idea
Overall, if you like Umineko and fighting games, this is worth looking into. Beyond that, maybe someone looking for a well built but slow fighting game could find something here. I do feel despite its limited appeal, it's worth checking out, especially in a sea of fighting games that are starting to feel less and less fun to play. It is a very well built game, and if you can look past the lack of modern conveniences, you've got a bright, colorful fighter at a pretty good price with a well rounded roster and great music.

-Janette G

Umineko: Golden Fantasia is available now through steam!

Story: C
Graphics: B+
Sound: A+
Value: B+


OVERALL: B+

Pros:
+Great sound design
+Wonderful pixel art
+Smooth running gameplay

Cons:
-Clunky config setup
-Slow moving gameplay can be a turn off
-Light story may disappoint fans of the VN series
Disclaimer: This game was provided to us by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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<![CDATA[Heart of Crown PC Review]]>Thu, 28 Dec 2017 03:15:10 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/heart-of-crown-pc-review
Player(s): 1-4
Platform(s): PC (Via Steam)

“In a brutal time, still ruled by sorcery and sword, there was an empire that unified the land and brought an end to a long era of strife. However, before he could cement a new era of peace, the great Emperor Hellard fell ill and died. He had not named his successor.
 
Something must change, or else the land is destined for war again! As a dignitary of the great Empire, you must find a way to preserve the peace and unity of the land.
 
The Emperor had no sons, but he has seven daughters, two of whom are imperial princesses, and all are possible successors. The time has come to back a princess, and get her on the throne! Whether she can gain the support she needs from across the nation and crush her rivals depends solely on you!”
Not a bad intro for a card game, wouldn’t you say? Heart of Crown, the deck building game from everyone’s favorite publisher: Japanime Games. Here they have created a PC version of that very game, with the help of a few backers, publisher Culture Select, and the all-powerful Steam platform.
 
Heart of Crown PC is just like the card game itself, and that is true of all expects of the game. It is a straight forward and simple PC version. All you have are two choices when it comes to playing on the first screen. Campaign and Versus. You also have Records for overseeing your online matches in both ranked and unranked. Config to adjust your settings. But they were kind enough to add the Steam Forums where you can report bugs or download the PDF on how to play the game. They even put a Discord link, so you can talk to other people and find others to play with.

There isn’t too much to the Campaign mode. After your matches, you’re awarded support points in which, when you collect enough of, you can draw a card and get a random cutscene involving said card. Not much else to that part of the game. It’s a small distraction and might give people the incentive to play more matches, but any follower of deck building games keep coming back to these games for a reason.

Speaking of, lets go into the ‘Heart’ of the game itself; Versus Mode.

You get three options when it comes the Versus menu:

Free Battle is the unranked part, allowing your host a room or join a room to play online. There has been some small trouble with the multiplayer function, so if you find yourself having issues, make good use of the Steam Forums link.

​Rank Match is to fully test your wits and skills against anyone willing for a strong Challenge. As Kalm-Kalm explains, it’ll record your results.

Vs CPU is to take on the game’s AI which is surprisingly a decent challenge, but then again, they know how to use every card fully.

Heart of Crown PC still allows you to pick out what cards go into the market with either a choice of the preset, making your own, or even throwing caution into the wind with a random deck. And for those wondering, the PC version does include the Far East Expansion pack, with more princesses and market cards to put more replay value into the game.
As said before, there isn’t too much to the game. It still carries the beautiful artwork that the card game had to offer, and the controls are smooth and responsive. Not hard to screw up for a simple game, but there are other games out there that have managed that.

However, there isn’t anything in terms of story or character building other than the skits you get from the Campaign and the monologue that sets the mood. Which you have read at the start of this review. The game was made just for the sole purpose of playing and enjoying a deck building card game.

While it can be a drawback on expanding what might be going on in this kingdom, its also refreshing to see the creators pushing the focus on what the game is, not what it should be about. Who knows, if they do decide to go crazy, next thing you know there’ll be girls on motorcycles wanting to play a deck building card game, and we all know where that dark alley leads to.
 
There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about the game. The readers who have an interest in these deck builders should check it out. For a price of $24.99, one really can’t go wrong with the kind of entertainment it can bring. It occupies little hard-drive space, so you can always come back to it when you feel like playing a relaxing game against the AI or some of your friends. If you’re not expecting a 4k cutscene, this is a game that should be tried out for the avid card player.


Gameplay: A+
Graphics: C
Sound: B-
Value: B
 
OVERALL: B

Disclaimer: This game was provided to us by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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<![CDATA[When Your Guardian Angels Are Cute Girls: Sakura Angels Review]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 00:51:59 GMThttp://a-to-jconnections.com/gaming/when-your-guardian-angels-are-cute-girls-sakura-angels-review
Player(s): 1
Platform(s): PC (Via Steam)


What happens when your cute anonymous guardian angels have to reveal themselves to you in order to protect you from an evil threat? Well, Sakura Angels is what happens of course!
Picture
Your first meeting with the angels.
Sakura Angels is a visual novel that stars the faceless hero Kenta, who lives a fairly boring and lonely life only to discover he’s being hunted by shadow monsters. It’s during one of these attacks that his assigned angels, Hikari and Sayaka, reveal themselves in order to be able to properly protect him. After this event, the story unfolds as Kenta tries to come to terms with the supernatural nature of what’s going on around him, along with coming to terms with his own role in these dark events.
Picture
An 'accident' clearly meant to sate fans of revealing images.
Hikari and Sayaka end up attending Kenta’s school undercover in order to be able to keep a closer eye on him, and fun antics ensue. Neither of the characters are particularly unique. Hikari is the typical ‘I’m too serious for my own good but ultimately I’m the biggest softy there is’ character. Sayaka is the typical ‘I’m extremely bubbly and energetic and like to play pranks all the time’ character. There’s also a third character named Yuzuki who plays as the villain of sorts who is the strong, silent, mysterious and lonely character. The archetypes for all three of the girls is pretty standard along with Kenta being the typical bland and slightly perverted male you’d expect from a visual novel from the Sakura series. As is always the case with these visual novels, I feel like the number of characters is quite limited, which sometimes makes it hard to jump into the story. You can’t really make a living breathing world that feels immersive when reading if there aren’t other characters at least for the sake of having realistic interactions. Despite that, I do admit that there are times where external people are used in order to make you understand that it’s a complete world, but usually this isn’t executed very well.
Picture
That's a lot of options! All with no actual impact on anything.
Another sore point with Sakura Angels is the story. All things considered, the story isn’t too bad. It develops well enough, the characters have some fun scenes and everybody feels like they have growth by the end. It’s a marked improvement over how shallow and dull the earlier Sakura games have been. The biggest problem I have with the story is that it feel underdeveloped. The overall theme and flow is pretty good, with a good beginning, middle and end, but none of the interesting ideas are developed beyond being there to move the plot along. In many ways, this visual novel feels like an abridged version of a more detailed story. A more detailed story that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. What is present is satisfying enough to keep you going though, and the conclusion felt a lot more satisfying than I expected it to.
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Did they not bother checking how much text fits on the screen?
Sakura Angels is drawn by Wanaca. If you’re a fan of their artwork then you already know what to expect. The characters are beautifully drawn, with a good variety of expressions to match the story as it progresses and some very well-drawn gallery shots too. The backdrops aren’t particularly special, but there’s enough of them there to keep you interested and they are drawn very well even if they aren’t unique. The art is definitely something I won’t complain about here. There are, of course, some scenes that happen for the sake of fan-service, but despite being labelled as mature and having nudity, there aren’t any explicit scenes nor is there any actual nudity. One issue I do have, though, is with the text. Sometimes the text is so dense that it doesn’t even fit in the text box and falls over the menu text. The audio, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. It’s nice to have full voice acting, even if the voice acting is mediocre at best. The music is solid as well, which says a lot since usually I find music in visual novels to be grating. The bigger problem is the lack of sound effects. After having played Sakura Agent before this, where sound effects were used in a great way to facilitate story-telling, the dead silence of scenes in this one really pulled me out of the situation.
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Lovely, grumpy Hikari.
You might have noticed that I am not referring to this as a game, and have taken care in labelling it as a visual novel. That was done because unlike many other great visual novels, this one doesn’t have any gameplay. Sure, you have a couple of A or B decisions you get (that have absolutely no bearing on the story at all), but for all intents and purposes this is a linear read with no real interaction at all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re used to some of these higher tier visual novels that have a great balance of reading and interaction along with a sort of hybridized set of styles (like Danganronpa), then this won’t be the place to get it.
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A panty shot during an action sequence! Entirely necessary!
In the end, Sakura Angels is completely dependent on what kind of experience you’re looking for out of your visual novel. If you’re looking for a short, pleasant, slightly amusing read with some fan-service moments that’s overall a family friendly experience (no 18+ patch here guys) with a relatively solid story, then this is actually one of the better buys you can make in the Sakura series in my experience. If not, then there are plenty other options abound. Clocking in at 4 hours for a 100% completion, the $9.99 price tag is definitely a little steep. If you can manage to get it on sale for almost any price below that though, this isn’t too bad a visual novel to curl up with over the course of a night or two.

- Teepu


Story: B
Graphics: B+
Sound: C
Value: C-

OVERALL: C+

Pros:
+ Great artwork.
+ Solid story.
+ Voice acting.

Cons:
- Short.
- Not enough depth.
- Extremely linear with no real interaction.


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