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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny Impression

'Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny' on PS2 takes me back to my care-free teenage years. How can a current-gen game take me back to the 16-bit era of gaming when I would mow grass for hours just to afford one game, just fire-up AI2 and you will see. So when I was younger I scammed... er, traded some baseball cards for my buddy's Sega CD. Unknown to him he left 'Lunar: Silver Star' in the drive. I fired this puppy up and was treated to what is still to this day one of my all-time favorite games. Everything about Lunar was RPG cliche, but from the opening anime sequence to Alex rise to Dragon Master, sweet, sweet bliss. (The remake by now defunct Working Designs on PS one was so freaking great.) Lunar had a big influence on my love of anime, and the feelings I have playing 'Atelier Iris 2' are very reminiscent of what Lunar used to do to me.

NIS America is a godsend to gamers like me, ones that cut their teeth on Atari, but really took a bite out of the 16-bit era. Between Lunar, Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy all on the 16-bit systems I was hooked. The story, the character design, the hours of building up character levels, the bitter-sweet endings... it was video game crack. NIS brings over games like AI2 that other companies would not touch, but thanks very much for doing so. AI2 begins with a lengthy opening animated sequence showing various character, settings and plot lines from the game. Press start and you're thrown into a quick couple of battles that force you to learn the battle system, then it's on to typical rpg fare with your main character as you wander around a few towns, talk to tons of characters and look for your brother... then the adventure begins. Quick battles (btw would be a perfect game on the PSP, hint, hint) a fun alchemist system (item creation) and odd mix of character makes for a fun romp. All in all it's the fun game play and feelings of nostalgia that drive me to put this game in our main spot on AOL Games, Anime Gaming Guide (posting on 04/26 in the afternoon).

Pick up 'Atelier Iris 2' if youconsider yourself an rpg'er, or even rent it. It's very rare to get an old-school game that is not part of a compilation of stuff we've seen. Take it for a spin, have fun with it then go back to waiting for the next Final Fantasy (or Blade Dancer on PSP). Good times.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grandia III Impression

Ok, right now I'm tied up playing three different games. While nobody can argue wit me playing Kingdom Hearts II and Star Wars: Empire at War who would have guess that third game I'm hooked on is Grandia III. So why am I hooked you say, well it all starts with the Opening Theme 'In the Sky' by Miz. Now I would love to get this in mp3 format, but no dice. I do have the next best thing. Watch the opening sequence here. Listen and see. The opening is just the beginning (duh) but this is a great game, a truly great RPG. It's kinda lost in the mix with Square Enix other big titles but don't miss this game. Really, go and pick it up now, good stuff, and I love me a good RPG. Well that's enough praise for now, just check it out. Good times.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Impression

Hola, quick note for you of a series you must take a look at. Distributed by ADV Films, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is a fantasy adventure that some may put off due to it's child like here, but this is no kiddie series. Now you may have heard the name Loki before as he's the Norse God that cause all kinds of trouble for his fellow gods (including Thor). You may also know him from Marvel comics (think ugly ass green outfit). Anyway, this is another take on Loki, a Loki that has a good heart, a Loki banished to Earth in child form for all his trouble-making. So, Loki is on Earth and a detective, solving paranormal mysteries, which usually involves some other aspect of Norse mythology. All work is done in an attempt to get back to Valhalla. This series is good fun as we get to see different Earth based child incarnations of various gods and some of the DVD extras are pretty sweet as you're treated to a crash course in Norse Mythology, to better understand the anime. Add it all up and you have a very good show, one I cannot wait to see every month, and trust me, I had my doubts. Great opening theme, love the character design.. you must check out this series, no joke, good times. Don't take my word for it, go and watch the trailer at http://us.video.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=1&pmmsid=1442840&_AOLFORM=w708.h344.R1.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Most Anticipated Anime, 2006 REVISITED

Some of you may remember that back in January I wrote about the anime and video games that I could not wait to get my hand on in 2006. Don't remember, take a look here, http://journals.aol.com/animesentinel/anime/entries/540. ANYWAY, since some of these titles have come out and the such it's about time I take a look back and realize how dead-on I was, and also how much of an ass I was on what I wanted. LETS DO THIS THING...

(I will only comment on items I've been exposed to thus far, so no notes yet for items like Okami and Trinity Blood. Numbers listed are my original rankings.)

Top 10 Most Wanted Anime
03) Naruto - I don't have the DVD yet, but I love spending my Saturday's watching Naruto on Toonami. The ONLY thing that pisses me off is how short the episodes are... and recap shows. Guess what, I know what's happened thus far. There is no reason to have two recap shows.
04) Macross - Pissed me off. I watched this on the Newtype DVD and I don't know why all of the sudden nobody in this show takes anything series. And the voices, sorry, I grew very accustomed to Harmony Golds voice cast. This is a case of my expectations being too high, that and nostalgia.
09) Hikaru no Go - Good action and pacing for an anime based on a board game. Makes me want to learn go, if only anyone I know had ever heard of the game :(
10) Eureka Seven / Desert Punk - I missed the boat on both of these, the are now in my Top 5, np. Eureka Seven (hitting on PS2 also) looks gorgeous, and Desert Punk, not since Slayers have I laughed this much during a show. Both titles, must have.

Top Continuing Anime
01) Samurai 7 - Good stuff. Samurai fans rejoice, this is a true work of art.
02) Fullmetal Alchemist - HOT, HOT, HOT. Everything about their Erlic brothers is sweetness. I'm on DVD 8 and 9 right now.
03) Scrapped Princess - So-so ending. I found myself getting this anime not so much because I had to have it, but because I had already invested so much time in it.
04) Samurai Champloo - Great ending to a great series and I get to play the game very soon.
05) Loki Ragnarok - Really, from the opening theme song this beauty of an anime, it just rocks.
06) Tenjho Tenge - Hot babes, even hotter fights. My wife, an anit-non-Otaku, really likes this series.
07) Fafner - Good anime, but not hooking me in the ways I hoped it would

Top 10 Most Wanted Games
01) Kingdom Hearts II - This game is fu^$^%$^ awesome!
02) Naruto (Clash of Ninja, Ninja Council) - I love Naruto, and I love these games. Light on character options, but deep in gameplay, both the GC and GBA outings are good fun for any Naruto fan.
05) Black - I don't have the full game and the reviews were lower than I thought they would be, but the demo disc I have for this is a lot of fun. It really is, to quote one of my favorite game mags, Gun Porn.
08) Star Wars: Empire at War - The only PC game I've wanted in a long, long time and dear lord it's sweet.
09) Metal Gear (AC!D 2) - Great looking, a little easier. Everything I hoped it would be.

Most Wanted Missing the Cut --
- Shadow Hearts: From the New World - Everything I expected. It still just misses the Top 10, but one hell of a game.
- MS Saga: A New Dawn - Gundam, nuff said, but this surprised me as one hell of a deep RPG.

Taking me by surprise (new stuff dummy) This is a short list, but Grandia III on PS2 had me hooked with it's opening song and great gameplay. I'm splitting time between this and KHII right now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Eureka Seven on PlayStation 2

Have you been there yet, you know, that page I update? The Anime Gaming Guide on AOL Games has a new feature and this week it's 'Eureka Seven.'

Bandai's upcoming mega-hot anime title may seem like a strange choice for the main slot, but it's not. This past week 'Eureka Seven' for PlayStation 2 was announced and this press release got me so geeked I bumped 'Monster Rancher EVO' from the DL slot (sorry Tecmo, but ES was in my Most Anticipated Anime/Games 2006 list). Oh, speaking of this list, I'm going to revisit it, as EA was tied for #10, well that's moving up a few slots and others are moving down. Back to the announcement. The DVD hits on Apirl 25th, comes with t-shirt and CD (why would you buy just the regular DVD, don't be stupid.) It's going to be hot, and to see a game announced now, before the DVD is out and before the airing on Adult Swim is HOT, just freaking HOT! Take a look at Bandai's official Eureka Seven site, and tune in for more.

OH, WAIT A SECOND!!! There was another announcement this week. Ubisoft has picked up the licensing rights for 'Naruto' on Xbox 360. Yes, I know there are 'Naruto' games out there already, a GC and GBA game from Tomy, an upcoming PS2 title from Bandai, but this announcement is special. First, it's on a next-generation system. Not enough for you, how about Microsoft making a true push to appeal to Japanese type gamers and that market as a whole. Ok, so check out this conspiracy theory... Xbox is an American Gaming Machine. No good RPG's (traditional ones), tons of Mech-Assault-ish games, sports games and racing games. The original Xbox failed hard in Japan, only Bills money kept they system afloat (and Halo, another genre not too popular in Japan, that of the first-person shooter). The 360 will change that, and Naruto is the start. Don't agree, tough, this is my blog, start your own. Well, time to head home, I have a date with Sora, Donald and Goofy, later!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked Impression

It's been awhile but I'm back. In addition to getting the flu I've also had the joy of shoulder surgery. I chose to have this done, stuff needed to be cleaned up. Anyway from now on whenever I update the Anime Gaming Guide (http://videogames.aol.com/gamingguides/anime) on AOL Games I am going to blog right here and explain why, give my POV on the game I've just updated. So for this week the game I've put in the main spot is 'Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked.' Ok, so by now if you're reading this you've seen SC on Adult Swim or you've bought the DVD's. Sad to say the show is over, run it's course, that's the exact reason why I cannot wait for Sidetracked and why it's in the anime guide. From the first minute you watch SC you wan to pick up a sword and get down to the crazy hip-hop beats (and if you don't, whatever). The style, design... everything about this show is unique and just plain cool. This is a feeling of coolness not felt since you kissed Spike and the crew of the Bebop bye-bye. From what I've read so far, and what I will play very soon, this is not a hack-n-slash, generic, licensed game, it's innovative and different. Take this weird trio on a side-quest adventure while you fight with either Mugen or Jin all the while listening to thumping tracks that affect the combos you perform and combat itself. Genius game play idea and one that will truly carry on the feeling of the SC anime. Here's to hoping this game lives up to what I expect, and that's why it's on the anime guide.

'Kingdom Heart II' image? You noticed huh. While I updated the anime guide this week with SC last week's update was for 'Kingdom Hearts II' on PlayS 2. I will be taking this game for a spin tonight for the first time, but after playing the original and Chain to Memories this puppy is going to be gravy, just nice, brown, warm, juicy gravy on my gaming pallet. I don't have to tell you why this game is on the anime guide, it's great. (But James, um, it's not based on an anime.) On an anime, well yes, technically you're right, but have you read the manga from Tokyopop, seen the Card Game (coming soon, maybe, to the US) or seen any of the animated films that all them there Disney characters are in? There is a tie-in for this, and since movies like the Lion King just ripped off Simba the White Lion then this could be considered and anime tie. Stretch yes, anybody complaining, nope. That's all for now talk to you later.