yakuza kiwami 2 review
March 6th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The saga continues…

Yakuza. The name brings fear into the hearts of many. One of the longest running games in history is the center piece of the game with the same title (feels like this has been done before). Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the latest remade title in the franchise serving as a remake of the sequel originally on PS2. Released worldwide on December 7th, 2017, the remake carries a lot of updated visuals and a few updated gaming mechanics. Published by SEGA and developed on the dragon engine, Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the adventure of Kazuma Kiryu.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

One of the most powerful components of Yakuza when it originally released on PS2 was its graphical fidelity. It looked more stunning than 90% of the games on the market. Yakuza Kiwami 2 keeps the long running series history of incredible graphics very much alive. As an official remake it is exciting that the development team used the same engine as the most recent release. Everything in the background pops with just enough vibrancy to coexist with the forefront objects. Emotions can truly be seen in the faces of every character including the useless NPC’s on the streets. Cutscenes transition to gameplay incredibly smoothly.

STORY: 2/2

The game picks up immediately after the events of first. It continues to build the relationships established in the first game with little room for new comers. Without spoiling the events of either game, Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story really starts to flesh out who Kazuma Kiryu really is. It also gives the player a lot of back story to some of the major antagonist who were involved in the first piece of the story. From start to finish the experience is emotionally captivating.

AUDIO: 1/2

As an American gamer with interest in Japanese storytelling, the lack of American voice-overs is still a bit of a disappointment. The subtitle translation is still nearly flawless. The sound of the city is slightly lacking and in many points can feel lacking and hollow. When the ambiance gets it right though, it gets it perfect. The chatting of people on the street corners about the fight that just took place really fills in the liveliness of the world. It’s pretty clear the development team has mastered the art of carrying assets.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

One thing that has to be addressed is that most Japanese game developers have an obsession with trying to fit in every possible gameplay mechanic in one. Yakuza as a series is no exception. Kiwami took the original and packed it with all the flavor from the newer games. While Kiwami 2 took the first remake and swapped out the story line. The over abundance of mini games still exist. The dynamic fighting styles are even more exciting with new over the top finishers. Kiwami 2 does feel a little bit faster paced in between the action, but that could be very subjective. Either way, It’s a remake that delivers on all its promises.

FUN: 1/2

Yakuza games, by non-fans, have always been treated like the Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. This comparison is a bit deceiving though. With a slew of different gameplay styles, the complexity of the game may be discouraging to many. Those who find themselves deeply ingrained in the story will enjoy exploring everything it has to offer. The fun factor in this particular series comes from the amount of depth to the Japanese culture that can be explored. As a pick up and play for a few minutes probably not the best option as it is hard to really get anything out of that. However, the game is fun enough to make the 3-4 hours of gameplay per sitting to get anything done is more than worth it.

Yakuza Kiwami set the standard extremely high for the remake world. Updated visuals put a brand new spark into the entry of an amazing series. Well balanced gameplay and outrageous unique elements keep the game exciting and fun during every session. The most powerful element of the game however is absolutely the story it tells. Loyalty, conviction, self development, and growth are all just a few of the topics that the narrative covers. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is proudly more of the same.

SCORE: 8/10

That’s a wrap for reviewing remasters.



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nintendogs on switch
November 8th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Not Quite.

Okay, so earlier we posted a fake photo on our Facebook page claiming to have found a new Nintendogs box art for Nintendo Switch. And… meh we’ve had better jokes than that. But it’s OC and that is what’s most important. Well, that and the fact that when making the Nintendogs on Switch picture, we discovered that a game just like the puppy sim is being made. Just not by Nintendo.

Imagineer is a company with a long history of publishing games for Japan from overseas developers. Since it doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting our Nintendogs any time soon, they stepped up to the plate. Little Friends: Cats & Dogs is the title. And boy oh boy is it cute. For those of you who have the misfortune of not owning a dog or cat, here’s the next best thing. The original 3DS game featured only a handful of options and had a confusingly large number of releases.

The number of breeds hasn’t been listed. But from what we found, there will be 40 variations of hair patterns for each. All the animals will have distinct personalities. You will use the detached Joy-Cons to interact with them with a full range of of things to do with them. You can customize the room they are in. There are also more than 600 costumes and toys planned as DLC.

Currently, the only release information we have is that it will be released in Japan on December 6, 2018 for 5800 Yen. No idea when we will get a localized version, but we can only hope. Maybe if this sells well, we’ll get a Nintendogs after? Who here enjoyed Nintendogs and are you looking to play it on the go and on your TV screen? Let us know in the comments below, and check out the gallery.

Little Friends: Dogs and Cats

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September 11th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

The Yakuza team had previously teased the announcement of a brand new IP and the time has finally come. The new game is “Judge Eyes” an action game driven heavily by narrative story telling but including ridiculous mini games.

Judge Eyes see you playing as detective Yagami attempting to unravel a series of murders connected to one of his past cases. It is said the game will feature many familiar elements from the Yakuza series while bringing new investigation elements as well.

Currently scheduled for a 2019 release, we’ll have to patiently wait and see where the Yakuza team is putting their talent next.




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May 28th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

This week we pay respect to a legend.

As time moves forward people are moved on. This week we honor a man who was at the forefront of the gaming industry. Rest in peace Mr. Ted Dabney, co-founder of Atari, who passed away after a battle with cancer at age 86. We must also express ou feelings for John Bain, aka TotalBiscuit, whom also died from cancer at age 33.  The HardModeGamers, the Lucky Gamer Recap, and so much would potentially not exist without your contributions. Now this week’s Lucky Gamer Recap:

1. PGA touring with… not EA 

It seems those eager for more golfing games may be in a bad place. EA has lost the license to PGA Tour. The news came as Canadian developer, HB Studios, announced the addition of the tour to its upcoming title The Golf Club 2019. Rory McIlroy took the helm of EA’s PGA Tour series after they ended their partnership with Tiger Woods. And that game didn’t do well critically or commercially. Now, EA has lost the license completely but both sides claim the split was amicable. Meanwhile HB Studios is boasting that this validates they have the number one golf game on the market. Cool brag guys. 

2. Remember the Garbage Pail Kids?

Well, they’re getting a video game. That’s right the Garbage Pail Kids game was officially announced. Do you want to know more? Word, so it’s going to be a free-to-play card-battle RPG. There will be original characters as well as newer cards thrown in the mix. Developed by Jago Studios in collaboration with The Topps Company, the game is currently in Private beta. There is no official launch date but it is planned to be release on both iOS and Android markets. It seems like things from the 80’s really are making the strongest comeback ever. Shout out to Stranger Things and Hipsters for that one. 

3. Japan Exclusive: Dock-less Switch!

In a surprising turn of events, Nintendo has announced a dock-less Switch bundle coming exclusively to Japan. As most of us know, Japan is super heavy on mobile gaming. This move makes perfect sense in the idea of providing what the consumer wants. On the flip side it is definitely pretty self destructive considering they own the #1 portable console on the market. However, as far as I’m concerned this is confirmation of a Pokemon Switch game coming out this fall. Why else would they be so willing to ditch a core component of their hybrid console? No dock means it’s just a portable game console.

4. And there may be a new challenger… maybe.

During a recent interview with Bloomberg John Kodera, the new Playstation bossman, said he wants the company to continue thinking about portable gaming. He stated very clearly they are not discussing hardware specifics yet but they were carrying out experiments in the department. Could the next Playstation console be a hybrid like the Nintendo Switch? Quite possibly because this is also the same interview that sent the internet into a frenzy. A statement about the PS4 nearing the end of it’s lifecycle made everyone panic. Until they realized he was speaking from a sales of product perspective. The Vita is already dead, with physical game support and free Playstation Plus games already seeing an end.

5. Resident Evil Switch is cloudy with a chance of bad.

The good news: Resident Evil 7 is coming to Nintendo Switch. The bad news: Resident Evil 7: Cloud Version is coming to Nintendo Switch. The game that originally released on all the platforms isn’t getting a port. Instead Capcom is releasing something called, Resident Evil 7: Cloud Version, here’s the explanation. This is going to be a streamed game, much like PlayStation Now. Its a small download at only 45MB but obviously needs a constant internet connection to work. As of right now this is only coming to Japan (update: released in Japan May 24th 2018) which makes sense. They have the internet capability to support this, much like they did before with Phantasy Star Online 2. It’ll be really tough for this to ever work in America, but one can dream.

6. Madden NFL 19.

I know the NFL is in really hot water lately because of all the racism protest and stuff but that doesn’t stop the money train from running. EA officially, to no one’s surprise, announced Madden NFL 19 releasing August 10, 2018. The cover athlete honor has blessed, or cursed depending who you ask, incredible Wide Receiver Terrell Owens. There will also be a Hall of Fame edition of the game available for $80. The special edition comes with three days of early access, 12 gold team fantasy packs, an elite legends player, and more. This will definitely have some presence at E3 so if interested for sure tune in. 

7. School Shooting Game? Very Bad Idea. 

It never make sense to me when people claim that real violence is a product of fictional violence. The reference material for fiction is real life. Such is the case with Active Shooter, a game released on STEAM earlier this week. The game has been under fire for literally being a game about mass shootings. You can play as a civilian, a SWAT officer, or the active shooter. Tons of people were triggered over this. I can absolutely see why, but I still feel like the timing was wrong, the concept not so much. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. It’s kind of silly for people to feel like if they don’t like something it has to disappear completely. Don’t get me wrong I think it was dumb as hell for this game to release with the school shooter being a playable character. I think it’s worst that the civilian is a character. Either way, I’m hoping to get an interview with the Dev team so we can discuss it in detail.

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September 19th, 2017 by Vega Montanez

Vega tells chet:( all about the the cool and exciting, not to mention way-ahead-of-its-time features in Yakuza Kiwami, the HD remaster of the original story of the exciting series. We talk alot about the involvement of the plot, length of missions, and just how interesting the NPCs are. They are very interesting, it turns out. Oh, and stick around past the ending if you wanna hear some bonus conversation that was originally gonna be cut but just comes in after the bumper.




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September 4th, 2017 by Vega Montanez

Don’t you know that you can count me out?

Set in the critically acclaimed universe of Valkyria Chronicles, Valkyria Revolution is a third person action game with RPG elements. Developed by Media.Vision and published worldwide by Sega, Valkyria Revolution is a story-driven game with tons of in game lore. Released on June 27th, 2017, Valkyrie Revolution tells the story of a band of misfits who exact revenge on an imperial ruler by sending the world into a revolutionary war.

GRAPHICS: 0/2

Visually underwhelming, Valkyrie Revolution seems to have had no understanding of what it means to “meet the standard”. The overall imagery used in the game is very unflattering and bland. Character design is very anime-like cookie cutter pieces. It’s as if the formula for creating a JRPG was found covered in donkey poo. After finding the instructions, the development team happily grabbed said formula and did everything they could to follow it at the most basic level. Even the cutscenes look like they were pulled from an abandoned PS2 project and quickly slapped into the HD upscaling magic bullsh*t. Unfortunately, nothing about the visual presentation of this game is inviting, believable, or interesting. [Editor’s Note: It looks like a PSP game.]

STORY: 2/2

The story of Valkyria Revolution is told through a very unique lens. Narration is shared between a student studying the events that took place during the war and the great grand daughter of a teacher to the princess during the war who he interviews. Although the character development isn’t very strong, the overall story told is incredible. “The Five Traitors”, as they are labeled in the game, take advantage of economic struggles and imperialistic strongholds over their impoverished, to mask their revenge plot in revolutionary war. The dynamic of playing through the story as a student’s text book is fascinating enough. Add in the recounts from the great grand daughter and it inspires twist and turns in all directions. At times is easy to understand the motives behind certain individuals while other times evoke terror knowing this could very well be what happens in real life war. Overall, ignoring the lack of connection to the cast, the plot was very well written.

AUDIO: 2/2

Poorly written reason to connect with the cast is not the fault of the voice acting. Emotions were shown through heavily, even if the characters fumbled to have personality. The sound track was absolutely well composed enough to merit the collectors edition album that was included with the purchase. The orchestration on loading screens felt epic enough to keep interest levels high and direct enough to truly feel when one moment was ending and another beginning. And although the graphics struggled to provide a sense of realism, the sound effects did everything they could to make it feel like an actual war was taking place. Explosions, footsteps, and the sound of the people walking through the plaza, were all incredibly immersive.

GAMEPLAY: 0/2

Vakyria Revolution felt like a warriors game clone. Gameplay was very underwhelming, in the same way that most Super Smash Bros. clones fall short. It’s as if the development team played a few games of Dynasty Warriors and then decided they could replicate it based on their short experience. Characters move sluggishly and the active time battle slows down the fast pace action a warriors veteran would have expected. Battles are vastly underpopulated to account for the slower action events due to the battle system, however navigating the RPG element of having tactical skills wasn’t awful. Any character could conjure up a magic spell, pull out their assault rifle, or throw a grenade all from the same menu. One small gameplay element made things extremely interesting. Real death or perma-death. Anyone on the team, except the main character Amlet, could be killed in action and never return. That small element forces a tiny bit of strategy and awareness into a game that is completely lacking elsewhere. The flaw again returns to the lack of emotional connection any character which makes it difficult to care beyond losing the valuable time put into strengthening that character.

FUN: 0/2

Is Valkyria Revolution fun? Truthfully, for the type of gamer that loves a well told story with interesting plot twist, this game is stellar. It will be super easy to enjoy the vast world that the development team obviously put tons of effort into. For anyone looking for an exciting gameplay experience with a great story to go along with it, stay far away. As described previously, the teams attention to detail was impeccable for the story gameplay fell way off the wagon. In fact it might not have ever gotten on. To sum things up: interesting history, deep story telling, lackluster character development, and mediocre gameplay mechanics do not a fun game make. Great movie though.

Originally a tactical strategy RPG, the Valkyria series definitely took a major turn for the worst with Valkyria Revolution. An incredible story was not enough to save this game from its boring and repetitive gameplay. The lack of graphical exploitation also makes it really difficult to remain interested in whats happening on the screen. To many standard RPG team tropes remove any possibilities of connecting with the cast on an emotional level. Ultimately, this game failed to keep the value of a great series alive by spinning into something it doesn’t seem like it was ever meant to be.

SCORE: 4/10




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July 16th, 2017 by Vega Montanez

“Not Another Teen Movie” meets “Ocean’s 11” except it’s in Japan and it’s 90 Hours Long

In the universe of Japanese Role Playing Games there are an infinite amount of worlds that represent characteristics of Japanese culture. The Persona series is one that focuses on cultural tropes centered around the experience of being a high school student. Persona 5, published and developed by Atlus, is the sixth installment in the Persona series, which itself is part of the larger Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Released on April 4th, 2017 Persona 5 is part high school life simulator and part grind based monster slaying RPG tangled up in the web of an intricate story with an unbelievable soundtrack as additional garnish.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

Rather than join the over flowing bucket of hyper realistic games, Atlus has chosen to maintain its stronghold on the anime cell shaded art style that fans of the series have grown to adore. With a few refinements for good measure. The fluidity of character movement is hard to appreciate because it is consistently overshadowed by the gorgeous color popping visuals at every environment. Even when exploring thematic dungeons using a consistent color scheme and decor, every new area feels refreshing and exciting. When not exploring the dungeon, the developments team’s determination to recreate the city of Tokyo truly shines through. Train stations and public areas are populated by many unique NPCs. Distant locations never seem broken or incomplete at any point, and shops are full of vibrant displays representative of items the player can actually interact with. Combined with the music, which will be covered later, even the loading screens are enjoyable. The best part are the back and fourth seamless transitions between fully animated anime style cutscenes and in engine dialogue based scripted moments. The refreshing visuals make it possible to play and enjoy endless hours in the world Persona 5.

STORY: 1/2

25 hours in, Persona 5 is “Not Another Teen Movie” meets “Ocean’s 11” in Japan. Although each segment individually provides an incredible narrative providing every reason to want to grind through the missions and palace presented, the overarching story still doesn’t exist. At the beginning a mystery began to unfold surrounding a series of strange events happening in the city, however that premise is quickly overshadowed by the issues that present immediate concern. The big issue with this story is that despite how incredible it may actually be, the amount of cutscenes and time invested doesn’t have anything spectacular going on. The plot bides its time a bit too long.

AUDIO: 2/2

First and foremost, the soundtrack composition throughout the entire Persona series has been phenomenal but, it was after Persona 3 that series become well recognized for its music. A never ending blend of upbeat jazz and subtle electronic vibes keep things exciting during the slower moments of the game while the intense scoring kicks pop in during battle sequences and heavy monologue. Every in-game object also comes with it’s own unique sound effects, whether it be footsteps, raindrops, or automatic doors opening. Each sound is instantly recognizable without question. The voice acting is also immaculate. Despite Japan’s culture surrounding the overly sexualized sound of females speaking, conversations sound realistic and the emotions portrayed easily resonate. Moments of anger, sadness, and joy truly shine through at all times, appropriately making it very simple to feel for the characters introduced throughout the game.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

Outside of the inclusion of the gun as an attack option in battle, there’s nothing new here. Persona 5 keeps the long standing tradition of being a lot of high school simulation with a heavy splash of dungeon crawling thrown in the mix. Fans of the series will be excited to learn about the additional romance options that have been added to the game and also to know that the day management system remains unchanged. Players can accomplish one task per time block per day to develop the statistics of their character and build relationships with NPCs that will help through out the game. One major change in the game can be found in the choice of setting. For the first time in the series, the development team has opted to go with a major city as opposed to the typical small town feel. This expansion, at first, can feel overwhelming but provides the inclusion of an immense amount of stat building activities that keep everyday feeling exciting and non-repetitive. Almost gone are the days of feeling the need to accomplish the same task over and over to build up one statistic, because now everything has multiple ways to build and some places even receive bonuses based on numerous in game decisions and real world timing. Unfortunately, most modern day gamers will be turned off by the turn based battle system relegating this game to a niche crowd almost instantly.

FUN: 2/2

Is Persona 5 fun? The answer is: obviously way more than it ever should be. Persona 5 presents the opportunity to explore the most awkward stage of most peoples lives and get everything right while including a story that only the player can be the hero of. Although it may be overwhelming at first, anyone who is willing or interested in indulging in the prospect of using every day to become the best person, at a social level and heroic level, will find it difficult to put the control down. Add to the mix, a compelling story that manages to dance carefully on the line of childishly ludicrous yet inspiringing and brilliant. Persona 5 keeps every battle mindlessly interesting while educating and entertaining. Ever wanted to be the smartest kid in class, the most charming person at any social gathering, or the most athletic player at any field? This game encourages the player to do that and then go out hunting demons at night with the people whose relationship to the player are most meaningful (because building strong relationships makes the teammate’s physically more powerful). What could possibly be more fun than that?

The world of JRPG’s is a sensitive place in which fan service, intricate story telling, and non-stop grinding dominate and Persona 5 has no problem claiming a seat in the top ranks. It’s quirky characters and dungeon crawling gameplay pave the way for a fantastic story full of emotion that is difficult to pull out of once it pulls you in. Arguably the most compelling parts of the game are the unique visuals and the fine tuned soundtrack, but make no mistake! Persona 5 will live on along side many others as a legendary game.

SCORE: 8/10




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