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An easy recommend for all and sundry

MOST GAMERS are familiar with the modern dungeon crawler, with the likes of Diablo III, Torchlight II, and Path of Exile proving to be critical and commercial successes. That’s not to say that every release in the category follows the same formula; such notables as Class of Heroes, The Dark Spire, and The Lost Child are superb takes on turn-based exploration and fighting in elaborate milieus. They’re not for everyone, though; while compelling, they generally rely on the slow burn of an interesting story to keep players hooked, and their often-complicated battle systems can be a doozy to navigate through, especially for newcomers to the genre.

A wonderful blast from the past

WHEN producer Souhei Niikawa and principal programmer Yoshitsuna Kobayashi set out to make Disgaea: Hour of Darkness from scratch, they had no idea that it would stand the test of time. True, they were determined to meet the objectives set forth by publisher Nippon Ishi Software; they aimed to come up with a role-playing game that both adhered to popular mechanics and pushed the envelope in terms of execution. Even as they succeeded in doing so, however, they could not have envisioned an outcome that exceeded their highest expectations.

Time has not been kind

LONGTIME gamers remember Shenmue fondly for what it tried to achieve. The open-world adventure brawler was revolutionary in its ideas, trying its hardest to blend an engaging narrative, extensive exploration sprinkled with minigames of various types, quick time events, and combat sequences. Released back in 1999 as a Sega Dreamcast exclusive, it met with extremely positive praise, but somehow failed to parlay its critical acclaim into commercial appeal.

Aiming to please

AT THE TURN of the millennium, SNK Corp. came out with the two-dimensional SNK Gals’ Fighters on the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Designed to be the female version of the hugely successful The King of Fighters series, it was released near the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Needless to say, it was an attempt to boost flagging sales; it tried to widen the user base by making 10 distaff characters from popular licenses its protagonists under proven gameplay mechanics.

The undisputed king

LET’S FACE IT. The NBA 2K franchise is a venerable one built on both the intrinsic pull of its source material and the collective talent of its developers. Never has the National Basketball Association (NBA) been more popular, and its already immense global reach -- propped up by outstanding leadership and instantly recognizable marquee names -- continues to grow by the day. Meanwhile, Visual Concepts has turned the otherwise-vicarious experience of appreciating matches at the sport’s highest level into an extremely impressive undertaking.

Good intentions

THERE’S NO QUESTION that the Gundam franchise has become huge to the point of ubiquity. These days, offshoots of animation studio Sunrise’s intellectual property can be found practically anywhere, way beyond the small and big screens and into toy establishments, hobby shops, book and video game stores, and collectors’ corners. It has become so ingrained in popular culture that a 65-foot-tall Unicorn mecha in Odaiba stands as one of Japan’s biggest — literally and figuratively — tourist attractions.

A love letter of longing and living

WHEN KADOKAWA GAMES released God Wars: Future Past on the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 last year, it put forth a tactical role-playing game awash in Japanese lore. Its story, which began with a Queen’s sacrifice of a daughter to appease the gods and continued with the other daughter striving to find out why, offered a stunning look into the history of the Shinto-steeped Land of the Rising Sun. Parenthetically, the hope that the narrative would pull in and not alienate Western audiences was answered with success on retail shelves.

Fortnite fever may be cooling: market tracker

San Francisco, United States -- The frenzy over the phenomenally popular video game Fortnite may be easing, according to revenue estimates released Thursday by...

The best game in the series to date

IT’S NOT HARD to understand why Nihon Falcom and NIS America have moved to port Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana in the Nintendo Switch. Having seen the title generate positive reception upon its release on the PlayStation Vita in 2016, on the PS4 last year, and on the PC earlier this year, they understand its potential to reach a new set of gamers via the hybrid console. Their confidence is not unfounded, and not simply because they carry a lot of weight in the gaming industry. More importantly, their latest contribution to the Ys franchise has been praised as the best yet.

Fortnite phenomenon turns epic game developer into billionaire

TIM SWEENEY made Fortnite a phenomenon by doing something that sounds crazy: He gave it away. That strategy has made him a billionaire. In an industry...

The payoff is nothing short of sensational

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS is nothing if not peculiar off the bat. And it wears its strangeness proudly, assured of its capacity to unveil a masterpiece from an empty canvas by handing you the brush. As a truly sweeping god game from the mind of Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada, it melds its ambition with seemingly simple presentations; the visuals are colorful, if childlike, and accompanied by soothing keyboard acoustics, but its demands are such that a 20-minute tutorial is required for you to get going, and much longer after to experience comfort and confidence in what you’re doing. Once you get the hang of it, however, the payoff is nothing short of sensational.

Riding the rails

TYCOON GAMES aren’t for everyone, but it isn’t hard to understand why they have a loyal following. They’re flashy, and they’re capable of producing a surprising amount of fun and complexity. From Sim City to Zoo Tycoon to Roller Coaster Tycoon, the process of building something from scratch and seeing it thrive and prosper brings about catharsis. And, by the same token, Kalypso Media delivers.

A polished remake

IT’S BY DESIGN that Vanillaware is best known for stylistic two-dimensional action-adventure games. In an industry proliferated with 3D titles, the Japanese developer has made a conscious effort to trod the less-beaten path. And, to its credit, it has had much success in this regard; via a proprietary programming process, it enables its artists to render pixel sprites in such a way as to uniquely project depth. It’s why gamers instantly took to Odin Sphere for the PlayStation 2 in 2007, as well as Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Nintendo Wii in 2009.

Well worth its price tag

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong KOEI TECMO and Omega Force were on to something when they unveiled Attack on Titan in 2016....

20-year-old series shows why it works

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong WITHOUT fail save for a brief interlude at the turn of the millennium, the Atelier series has churned...

A work in progress

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong THE NAMES Nihon Falcom and NIS America carry a lot of weight in the gaming industry. Both companies...

Definitive Final Fantasy needs powerful computer

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong FINAL FANTASY XV proved to be a surprise for quite a few quarters when it was first...

Gameplay flourishes where the story languishes

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong NIPPON ICHI Software distinguishes itself from other developers by the style of its games. Displaying its strengths...

Lindsay Lohan loses Grand Theft Auto appeal

NEW YORK — New York State’s highest court on Thursday rejected Lindsay Lohan’s appeal accusing the maker of Grand Theft Auto V of invading...

Noir on steroids

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong AS THE BRAINS behind such groundbreaking titles as Killer7, Killer is Dead, and No More Heroes, video game...

A lot better than its ancestry

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong IT ISN’T HARD to think badly of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet (SAO) just from saying the...

Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong THERE are a slew of popular free-to-play online card games currently out to tickle the fancy of...

Well worth its price

NIHON FALCOM is no stranger to Japanese role-playing games. Having been behind the successful Legend Of Heroes, Dragon Slayer, and Ys series, it was...

For a few hours of distraction

By Alexander O. Cuaycong BY WAY of background for the uninitiated: Project Shrine Maiden is a collection of manic-shooter video games published by Team Shanghai...

Last Recode: definitely worth its price tag

By Alexander O. Cuaycong IT’S difficult to pinpoint exactly how influential .hack (stylized in lower case and pronounced “dot hack”) has been as a series....

Recommended for first-timers

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong AT FIRST GLANCE, it’s not wrong to think of L.A. Noire as a spin-off of Rockstar Games’...

With exasperation comes satisfaction

By Alexander O. Cuaycong BEFORE anything else, a disclaimer: Nioh is brutally difficult. The Koei Tecmo action RPG adventure game is heavily inspired by Dark...

For Mask of Truth, story is both its greatest asset and...

By Alexander O. Cuaycong FOR THE REVIEW of the prequel Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, please refer to this link: https://goo.gl/zmGgHu Released in Japan in September 2016...

An interesting, yet annoying combination

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong FOR LONGTIME GAMERS, a new release with the Fire Emblem badge invariably means yet another foray in...

World’s hottest PC game could get locked out of China

THE WORLD’s hottest video game is set to be shut out of the biggest market. A Chinese gaming association said in an announcement posted online...

A game to try again, and again, and again

By Anthony L. Cuaycong WHEN BLAZING STAR was introduced in the late ’90s, arcades were already replete with shoot-em-ups. In fact, it could be reasonably...

Dangerous high school

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong IT’S TO SPIKE CHUNSOFT’s credit that Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony manages to bring uniqueness and originality out...

A game to sink your teeth into

By Alexander O. Cuaycong Total War: Warhammer II, the second offering in the Warhammer Trilogy of Creative Assembly and published by Sega, takes its lore...

Koei’s fan service

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong BACK in 1997, Dynasty Warriors was released on the PlayStation to much fanfare. Known for developing titles...

Value for money proposition

By Anthony L. Cuaycong CONSIDERING the thematic foundations of Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas, you wouldn’t be wrong to argue that it harks closely...

A game for both brains and brawn

VIDEO GAME REVIEW Yakuza Kiwami PlayStation 4 By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong EVEN FOR THOSE familiar with the Yakuza franchise, Yakuza Kiwami can come as a...

A party game

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong Life can sometimes feel short — especially, they say, when you’re having fun. If so, then nothing...

Chinese studio rivaling Nintendo rethinks games for the West

CHANCES ARE few outside of China have heard of NetEase, Inc., though it makes more money from games than Nintendo Co. Now it wants...

Advertised as a beat-em-up,Fate/Extella does just that and nothing else

VIDEO GAME REVIEW Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star Nintendo Switch By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong The Fate series has always had its foot half in and...

Indie games on sale offer great value for money

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong Game Review Darkest Dungeon Cooking Witch Death Road to Canada PC via Steam IT’S STEAM’S SUMMER SALE! Held every year during summer,...

Moral choices lead to unexpected ends

Video Game Review PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness PC (via Steam) By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong At first glance, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness does very little to distinguish...

Moral choices lead to unexpected ends

Video Game Review PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness PC (via Steam) By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong At first glance, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness does very little to distinguish itself...

Attempting to use Pokemon GO in the Philippines

By Zsarlene B. Chua FOR PEOPLE who grew up in the 1990s, Pokemon was a fixture in their lives. Our generation played with the cards...