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Review: Mana Khemia Alchemists of Al-Revis

By: blazemanx Jun 7, 2011 | 5 Comments

Take all the great features from previous Atelier games while removing their flaws, and you have this gem.

Mana Khemia, Alchemist of Al-Revis, also known as Atelier Iris 9 to some, is the latest installment of Gust's old-school alchemist based RPG. The previous 3 PS2 games that NISA localized for us were all fun, but had their fair shares of flaws. This game however, renewed the emphasis and importance of alchemy like the earlier PS1 Atelier games did, and keeping many key features from the newer Atelier games, while removing most of the flaws from those games.

Story
The story itself is somewhat slow. In fact, story seems almost non-existant at first. You're just some random kid who was invited to join the prestigious Al-Revis academy for alchemists, and the rest of the game's plot pretty much revolves around your school life. The pacing is divided from story events, to classes and free time. You have to complete your class assignments to move on, if you do really good you might have free time to do whatever you like, and finally a story event happens at the end of each chapter. Bits by bits of the story and the enigmatic past involving the main character and his cat companion gets slowly revealed throughout each chapter's event scenes. Eventually it leads to some interesting plot twists you weren't expecting. Overall, while the story won't win any academic awards, it's decent enough to pay attention to, and despite slow pacing, I believe it works wonders for this game.

Sound
Ken Nakagawa, the composer for the previous Atelier games, have outdone himself in this title. If you've played any previous Atelier games, you should be able to pick up to his style and can instantly recognize the similarities. The music fits each scene perfectly, with the happy tunes inside the school, to goofy music from humorous cutscenes, to serious themes from dark moments and so forth. The game also has over 3 main battle themes, a tough foe music, various boss themes, and a lyrical final boss theme. They range from upbeat themes, to rock, to sad, to fierce depending on the opponent. Not only that but the game's intro movie and certain events during gameplay also contain many J-Pop songs, and whether you're a fan of J-Pop or not, they sounds pretty good that it shouldn't cause anyone to turn their volume off. 

The sound effects are mostly the same from previous Atelier games. There are of course plenty of new sound effects for some new special moves here and there. But for the most part you should recognize all these if you played any Atelier games. 
 

Graphics
This game is a 2D games as you would expect. The sprites and mapping tiles were for the most part recycled from Gust's library, but important story characters are all new. The maps now make use of depth of field, which you can see trees or whatever in the background moving at a different pace than the screen, which is nice.

However the special moves and animation received a huge improvement, things are definitely smoother and eye candy is everywhere. Some special moves contains some pretty impressive 2D animation scenes as well. Long story short, if you're a fan of 2D, this game delivers them in great style. If you're not a fan of 2D graphics, you might learn to appreciate the aesthetics and simplicity of these graphics, as they certainly gives off a feel that 3D graphics cannot grasp.

Gameplay
If you've played any previous Atelier games, you would know exactly what to expect from this game. As you've noticed on the summary for this review, I claimed that Mana Khemia takes the best features from previous Atelier games while removing their flaws, now I'll explain how.

For starters, the emphasys and importance of alchemy, which was always a deep part of any Atelier game's well , gameplay. As I've mentioned, you have to take classes and pass them to advance. These classes for the most part are like tutorials that teach you the basics of the game, and depending on your performance you get a grade for it. The higher the grade, the more stamps you get on your...report card I guess. If you match the quota for your report card, you won't have to take any more classes for the rest of the chapter. Later, once most of these tutorial classes are done, they will involve a wide range of tasks from alchemy, to battles, to gathering items.

During free time, instead of classes, you can take on jobs, and these works exactly like the guild job system from Atelier Iris 3, where you either hunt down a powerful monster or gather/create certain items, or items with certain attribute, and give them to someone, with money as your reward. Once you're done with all available jobs you can spend time gathering items through mining, digging, fruit gathering and more. The cafeteria also have an NPC that spread rumors, and depending on the rumour you chose for him to spread, will give you a permanent bonus, until the rumor gets changed. Bonus range from battle bonuses, to parameter increase, to discounts at stores. You can also spend time with your teamates to learn more about them, their past, their troubles, or simply goofy cutscenes. 

Alchemy for the most part is the same from the previous games, except for one new feature. Each item made through alchemy will have an ether level, and depending on the level, the condition of the item or ability the item contains will be affected, while the effect will remain teh same. This means that when making higher level items, you could get different attributes on the newer items to inherit depending on what ability the ingredient had, which leads to more possibilities. This make use of Atelier Iris 3's common skill feature, where each equipment can have up to 2 skills. Mana Khemia broaden on this and give you 3, 2 support skills and 1 common skill. Common skills are skills you can use in battle, such as healing, elemental spells, or support spells. Another new feature for the alchemy system is that each ingredient, when making the item, will have a wheel spinning, and depending on the element you land you, can affect the either level to go either up or down or no change. You can also enlist the help of your teamates, and each have various effects while creating items, such as auto increments or decrease of ether level, to changing all elements on the wheel to a certain color.

You no longer level up in this game, instead you have what's called the Growth Book. It is very similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid system, but instead of attaching nodes, you have to create items through alchemy. If you have made the item at least once in your lifetime, the node will be open, and you can fill in the nodes with AP earned through battle to increase your stat or learn new skills. This means that your parameters and battle prowess is now all dependent on alchemy, so you will be forced to go deep into the system if you wish to make it through the game.

The battle system take Atelier Iris2 and 3's time card system. The order is determined by the cards. However now you once again have SP for your specials instead of a skill gauge that everyone shares. During battle, you can have 3 characters fighting at once, while have 3 in reserve. You can tag your reserve in once their card if lit up. Characters in reserve will regenerate their SP at a fast rate. It's not a problem as SP gets consumed very fast in this game, meaning you will have to swap a lot to balance out everyone's SP. You can also do things such as support attack and defense, where a character automatically do an attack after an action and tags in, or a reserve character shielding you from an attack. All these actions can only be done if your reserve character's card is lit up, once someone is tagged out, they will need time for their cards to fil up.

The burst system from AI3 is also back, but went through a much needed fix. Instead of each hit filling up 1 node on the burst gauge, all attacks only fill up a tiny bit, while exploiting enemy weaknesses will fill it up by a large margin. Once burst activates, you will get a condition for your final burst. The condition varies from attacking, using certain element, to buffing allies and more. The final burst gauge next to the burst gauge will fill if the condition is met, and once maxed, you can do a Final Burst, which is like a character's super move. Doing so will automatically end burst mode so use it when its almost over. Your final burst also gets carried over from battle to battle if you haven't used it, so you can automatically use it once your burst gauge is filled in your next battle.

 Final Verdict: Buy IT!

One of my all time favortie RPG games this game has multiple endings depending on which character you spent the most time with during freetime. The game also has a bonus dungeon where you can fight cameo battles from Atelier Iris 3, which is a nice fanservice. Last but not least, you will have to do a lot of exploring if you wish to complete the item list. Beating the game wil unlock the game's OST, art gallery, character art, item and enemy list and ending list. 

I think this is a MUST for any RPG fan so you guys should totally check it out. Let us know what you think and dont be a jimmy.

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blazemanx

Hsien Ko in marvel vs capcom 3?

By: blazemanx Jan 26, 2011 | 22 Comments

is this a sign that Hsien Ko is in?

this is NOT a confirmation but i have some neat little footage.

i was browsing the web and i came across some images that seem to be similar to the sentinal pic in the regard that it might be fake but YOU be the judge dose it seem fake?

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blazemanx

Cody, Guy and hugo shown in SFxT cinematic trailer

By: blazemanx Jul 21, 2011 | 7 Comments

will cody, guy and hugo be in?

This video is super badass it features cody, guy and hugo. Now this doesn't confirm them but im willing to bet that they weren't put in there for nothing. Lets hope they make it in. Let us know what you think of the trailer and don't be a jimmy.

Community Review

blazemanx

Review: Arcana Heart

By: blazemanx Jun 26, 2011 | 8 Comments

One of those rare games that you always wanted to play but never knew existed.

Back when this game was on the brink of release i happen to come across it via internet ad it looked awesome so i looked it up. I saw the trailer and thought to myself " I must own this" the gameplay looked awesome and an all girl cast was a interesting change from the norm. Simply put it was money well spent and im here to tell you why.......read on.

Gameplay:

The gameplay is great. At first, you may think that the game plays slowly, due to the fact that no one in this game moves at a very fast speed while walking. However, once you learn of a beautiful little move called the homing dash, things will really start to speed up. In fact, once you and your opponent start using the homing dash, the speed of the game may hit you hard in the face. Furthermore, this game has some of the largest fighting arenas I have seen. They are large enough spanning across, but just wait until you see how high they can get. In fact, if you launch your opponent in the air, rise up to meet them, and launch them again, it seems like you are going up the length of three screens! Let me say that again for emphasis...THREE SCREENS! These large fighting arenas can really make things more interesting, and it doesn't hinder you when it comes to pulling off awesome combos. There is also this thing in the game called the arcana system. With it, you not only choose a character to use, but also the arcana that your fighter will use in battle. This will give them a different set of arcana powers and abilities during fights. With the powers of the arcana, you can perform a wide variety of attacks, that include, but are not limited to, causing lightning storms, leeching your opponent's life, and even seeing them executed! However, you also gain some nifty abilities, like creating dopplegangers, being able to triple jump instead of just double jump, and even raising your defense. Also, there are four modes of play: story, arcade, versus, and practice. Another thing is that there are two actual playing styles. There is the normal Arcana Heart, and then there is Arcana Heart Full.

This is something I feel a strong urge to include, and for my own reasons. First off, let me say that there are those people that feel that the larger the roster, the better the game will be. But check this out...this game fits right up there, if not surpasses, some or most of those games with larger fighting rosters. This game has a total of 11 maidens to choose from. However, with the arcana system, and there being 11 different arcana to choose from, this brings you up to 11 characters with 121 combinations you can make! Not to mention that each characters has eight different colored outfits, so that adds a little more variety to it, as well.

Story:

Some fighting games don't really have a central story. You just go around to different arenas and beat the daylights out of people. However, a strong central story was not overlooked when it came to the making of this game. There is a great atrocity that is going to occur in Tokyo, and each maiden, a young girl who has the power to communicate with the arcana, tries to stop this from happening. Of course, each character has their own personality, so they are all in this for different reasons. For example, one fighter may want to stop these events from occurring because she does not want to lose any of her friends ever again. Another might be in it because she has nothing better to do. Yet another may throw herself into the battle because a large organization asked for her help. However, along the way, you will have to do battle with the other maidens, to ensure that you be the one to bring an end to this series of events.

Sound:

The sound for this game is great. When you hit someone with a light attack, it will sound like you just slapped them hard across the face. Hit them with a power attack, however, and you can hear the difference...the force and sound of the hit literally echo very loudly across the arena. Lightning crashes from the skies above. Rocks crumble as they hit your opponent over the head. Strong winds gust violently across the arena. All of this adds more realism than one would expect from a 2D fighter. A few people say that the music is not that great. However, it's something I don't really mind. True, some of the songs could have been better, but for the most part, it's alright. However, you will hear songs that include a softer song in a garden, an upbeat, nightlife tune for a market, and even a jazzy kind of dance tune. A few of these tunes really add to the atmosphere of the setting, but not quite all of them do. So, yes, I will admit that some of the songs could have used some work, but it's nothing really to complain about, and it doesn't really impact the score.

Graphics:

If you are one of those people that loves anime, then you should definitely look into this game. The characters are drawn in a very anime-like way. That is, until you get to the fights, in which case they lose some of that anime look, but not so much. The backgrounds are very colorful, and when you activate your arcana, they change entirely, giving you a whole new environment to fight in for a short time. Some of the arenas are just a bit plain, but, again, not all of them are, so that's a good thing to know. Arcanas, too, look very cool, and some of them even look a little intimidating. One thing I really want to comment on is the shadows. For many 2D fighters, a circle is just drawn beneath the characters, and you are led to believe those are shadows. However, the designer for this game obviously had a good idea of what a 2D fighter game's shadows should look like. They actually resemble the characters, and they move in the way that the characters do. For example, if a fighter sways back and forth, so will the shadow. If a character is walking, then the shadow will walk right along with them. These effects make the shadows some of the most realistic I have seen in a 2D fighter. When you throw all of this together, the graphics of this game come out to be something that is just pure eye candy.

Final Verdict: BUY IT

Arcana Heart is literally one of the best 2D fighters you could possibly get for PS2. When it comes to buy or rent, this game is easily one that should be bought. If you love animes, buy this game. If you love fighters, buy this game. If you love an all-female cast, buy this game. It is just too great of a game to pass up. So let us know what you think and don't be a jimmy.

 

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Soul Calibur 5 gameplay trailer

By: blazemanx Jun 3, 2011 | 5 Comments

we finally get a taste of what the next installment of the soul calibur franchise will look like.

In terms of looks it doesn't look that much different from SC4 but with a 2012 release date im sure it will be more polished and crisp. It also seems as though the characters are using some sort of special moves maybe channeling their inner street fighter?

so what do you guys think are you excited to about the 5th installment of the king of weapon based fighters?

let us know what you think and don't be a jimmy.

 

Community Video

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I'll make a DAN out of you

By: blazemanx May 11, 2011 | 9 Comments

For those of you who still doubt the power of Dan I DARE you to watch this video and not feel like a Dan!!!

Ladies and gentlemen this video comes to you from Cosmopanda's youtube page. The sheer awesomeness of this video can not be put into words. It will fill you full of strength and saikyo power and i promise by the end of this video it WILL make a Dan out of you.

let me know what you guys think.....awesome? not awesome?

Capcom Europe put up another new 'teaser' for Street Fighter X Tekken, which shows Julia from the Tekken universe.

so what do you guys think are you happy about her being put in the game?

Let us know what you think and don't be a jimmy!!!!

Community News

blazemanx

Dragonball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi!

By: blazemanx Jul 21, 2011 | 6 Comments

Dragon ball Z is back and stronger than ever!

Get ready for the new Dragonball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi. It features upgraded environmental and character graphics, with designs drawn from the original manga series. It releases Oct 25, 2011 and will be available on both PS3 and Xbox 360! I am a BIG DBZ fan and have always loved the tenkaiichi series with that being said im am hype for this. Are the any DBZ fans out there? Let us know what you think and don't be a jimmy.

Community Blog

blazemanx

me, myself and my fightstick

By: blazemanx Jul 26, 2011 | 6 Comments

what i think about my new fightstick.

Yesterday i got my TE fightstick in the mail and needless to say i was HYPE. Now im not a crazy guy i knew as soon as i started playing with a fightstick i wouldn't magically get better. Being a first time fightstick user i expected this to be awkward and very challenging but not this much. I practiced for most of the day with two games super street fighter 4 arcade edition and marvel vs capcom 3.

Now no matter which game it was my main problem was the actual stick. I could not really find a comfortable way to hold it thus making the most simple things like a hadoken motion very hard to do. The buttons were less challenging to get used to all i have to do is keep my fingers where they need to be. After playing both games i felt as if i did a lot better in MVC3 than i did in SSF4AE which was kind of weird to me since MVC3 is the faster game. Another thing that caught me off guard was how sensitive the buttons are i cant tell you how many times i did a different move than i intended to do because i was lightly touching the other button.

 

One of the things i really like is how big and sturdy it is. The art is awesome but i think its stupid that the xbox version has colored buttons it just ruins the the beautiful art. I had no idea it was going to be this tough be im willing to stick it out i don't give up easily. I really want to thank Gouki.com for the fightstick its awesome and its something im really going to invest my time in. If you guys have any tips for a beginner on a fightstick i would love to hear some.

 

2 on 2 battles?

IGN got their hands on some really cool footage of Street Fighter X Tekken. It looks similar to the dramtic battles from street fighter alpha 3 except its 2 on 2 instead of 2 on 1. I wonder if this is a special mode or is this a regular game mechanic? Either way it looks awesome i would love to know what you guys think. Let us know and don't be a jimmy.

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Batman Arkham City - Penguin Reveal

By: blazemanx Jul 21, 2011 | 7 Comments

Penguin joins the fray!

A little while back we saw that the riddler will make his presence known in this game. Now another one the classic batman villains makes his way into this highly anticipated game PENGUIN! Let us know what you think about the penguin wreaking havoc in arkham city and don't be a jimmy.

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First images of Jill and Shuma-Gorath in MvC3

By: blazemanx Feb 2, 2011 | 11 Comments

the first images of the DLC characters jill and shuma gorath

although its not much....its great to finally see in game images of jill and shuma gorath.

im really picking up the zero suit samus vibe from jill and shuma looks good i cant wait to see thier animations.


source:http://www.eventhubs.com/news/2011/feb/02/first-images-jill-and-shuma-gorath-mvc3/

what do you guys think?

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