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A few things I like about Akiba’s Trip ⊟ 
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is sort of a Yakuza-type modern-day Japan RPG thing; it attempts to be salacious, but also about otaku; it’s well-written (at least, in localization) but incessantly talky.
Uh, also, it took a long time for me to get into the actual gameplay, and then froze before I remembered to save, which is maybe half my fault. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t exactly know how I feel about it.
But I know there are some things I really like about this weird game.

Akihabara: I’ve visited Akihabara three times – not enough to know the layout, but enough to recognize some landmarks and get a vague notion of where a few places are. Akiba’s Trip recreates Akihabara just as I remember it (admittedly, minus a lot of the crowd, and in somewhat simple graphics). Even better, you can actually go into some of the real stores, even if just to buy a t-shirt.
Combo finishers: Combat isn’t as smooth as I would want from a pure brawler, but it’s all right. It’s serviceable, if a bit laggy. Combat, by the way, involves punching and kicking the clothes of enemy “synthisters” until they’re damaged enough to be easily ripped off piece by piece. When you successfully remove an article of clothing, if any nearby enemies are also damaged enough, you can hit a short QTE and remove some of their clothes. This kind of dramatic auto-combo stuff just feels fun. As for the bonus you get for high combos – enemy underwear – whatever.
Clothing: As you’re also a light-sensitive Synthister, your clothes have an in-game function: they’re your armor. Every item of clothing has its own defense level; you can get more from battles or shop for clothes. But the best part of this is that every item you wear reflects on your in-game model. So if you want to look a) fresh-to-death or b) hilarious, you can. 
This Pepper Lunch ad

Seriously, Pepper Lunch is amazing. Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I go to this fast food establishment, where you cook plates of steak, rice, corn, and delicious seasonings to your taste by stirring the contents of the sizzling hot plates around. The best. And this game reminded me of it.
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A few things I like about Akiba’s Trip ⊟ 

Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is sort of a Yakuza-type modern-day Japan RPG thing; it attempts to be salacious, but also about otaku; it’s well-written (at least, in localization) but incessantly talky.

Uh, also, it took a long time for me to get into the actual gameplay, and then froze before I remembered to save, which is maybe half my fault. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t exactly know how I feel about it.

But I know there are some things I really like about this weird game.

Read more

E3 first look: Akiba’s Trip’s male “strip portraits” ⊟
Thank you, Hatsuu, for the first image of the new “strip portraits” created by developer Acquire for the western release of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed.
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E3 first look: Akiba’s Trip’s male “strip portraits” ⊟

Thank you, Hatsuu, for the first image of the new “strip portraits” created by developer Acquire for the western release of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed.

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Xseed and Natsume keep making E3 weirder ⊟

Seeing two new Harvest Moon 3DS games from different publishers — Story of Seasons from Xseed, and Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley from Natsume — at this year’s E3 is already odd, but the companies had more announcements today that will make the show even more interesting for handheld fans.

Who expected Natsume to announce A-Train: City Simulator for North American release? Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like, a city and transportation simulator for the 3DS. It’s developed by Artdink, makers of Aquanaut’s Holiday and a number of titles that rarely make it to the West.

Also odd: Xseed announced its localizing another PSP RPG (Natsume is bringing its own PSP RPG to PSN, Kemco’s End of Serenity). It intends to release Brandish: The Dark Revenant, a remake of Falcom’s more-than-20-year-old action RPG, on PSN some time in 2014. The publisher will also put out Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit, that rhythm cooking game for PS Vita, as a digital release this winter.

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Story of Seasons pre-orders open ⊟
If you want to get your hands on the next generation of not Harvest Moon, pre-orders are now open for the game at Amazon. 
I’m not 100% sure the boxart on the Amazon page (and above) is the real cover, but I mostly wanted to point out the logo – it’s so different (though not so different that the words aren’t popping off of a wooden board)! And there’s no subtitle in Pink Mouse… this is all going to take some getting used to.
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Story of Seasons pre-orders open ⊟

If you want to get your hands on the next generation of not Harvest Moon, pre-orders are now open for the game at Amazon

I’m not 100% sure the boxart on the Amazon page (and above) is the real cover, but I mostly wanted to point out the logo – it’s so different (though not so different that the words aren’t popping off of a wooden board)! And there’s no subtitle in Pink Mouse… this is all going to take some getting used to.

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  • Source amazon.com
XSEED publishing the next Harvest Moon ⊟
Only it’s not called Harvest Moon, because Natsume owns the name. Instead, Connect to a New World will be known as Story of Seasons when it comes out in North America this year for Nintendo 3DS.
XSEED is owned by Harvest Moon developer (and Japanese publisher) Marvelous AQL, so I guess it makes sense for the company to pick up the series. I do wonder if there’s a sizeable audience of Harvest Moon fans who don’t pay as much attention to video game news, and who are going to miss out on this one. But at least you know where to go for  cute alpacas.
XSEED also recently published Rune Factory 4 – another farming-based sequel to a Marvelous-developed series once published by Natsume in North America. Hope you’re alright, Natsume.
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XSEED publishing the next Harvest Moon ⊟

Only it’s not called Harvest Moon, because Natsume owns the name. Instead, Connect to a New World will be known as Story of Seasons when it comes out in North America this year for Nintendo 3DS.

XSEED is owned by Harvest Moon developer (and Japanese publisher) Marvelous AQL, so I guess it makes sense for the company to pick up the series. I do wonder if there’s a sizeable audience of Harvest Moon fans who don’t pay as much attention to video game news, and who are going to miss out on this one. But at least you know where to go for  cute alpacas.

XSEED also recently published Rune Factory 4 – another farming-based sequel to a Marvelous-developed series once published by Natsume in North America. Hope you’re alright, Natsume.

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  • Source ign.com
Akiba’s Trip includes dual audio, dual ‘strip portraits’ ⊟
The Western release of Akiba’s Trip, the game about exposing Akihabara’s mind-vampires to deadly sunlight via stripping, will include both Japanese and English audio tracks on both systems. Neat!
I’ll let XSEED explain the other new content: “the inclusion of illustrated ‘strip portraits’ for all prominent male side characters, providing equivalent gender balance alongside the game’s existing female portraits. Once these have been viewed during normal gameplay, players may also use them as wallpapers for their in-game smartphones.”
Speaking on Twitter about the new portraits, Brittany “Hatsuu” Avery said “I worried that they weren’t going to be half as sexy in that ridiculous way as the girls’, but no. They are. They totally are.”
I don’t think the above picture is a boss portrait; it’s from a cutscene.
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Akiba’s Trip includes dual audio, dual ‘strip portraits’ ⊟

The Western release of Akiba’s Trip, the game about exposing Akihabara’s mind-vampires to deadly sunlight via stripping, will include both Japanese and English audio tracks on both systems. Neat!

I’ll let XSEED explain the other new content: “the inclusion of illustrated ‘strip portraits’ for all prominent male side characters, providing equivalent gender balance alongside the game’s existing female portraits. Once these have been viewed during normal gameplay, players may also use them as wallpapers for their in-game smartphones.”

Speaking on Twitter about the new portraits, Brittany “Hatsuu” Avery said “I worried that they weren’t going to be half as sexy in that ridiculous way as the girls’, but no. They are. They totally are.”

I don’t think the above picture is a boss portrait; it’s from a cutscene.

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Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus comes west digitally and physically ⊟

I guess Senran Kagura Burst worked out for XSEED, as the publisher is following up with the Vita brawler Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus this fall. The 3D brawler features four different opposing schools of shinobi, and four-player online multiplayer.

It’ll be primarily a PSN release; however, XSEED is doing a limited physical release, called the “Let’s Get Physical” edition, with “a soundtrack CD and “Shinobi Syllabus” containing profiles of the shinobi students, gameplay strategies, and illustrations.”

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Ragnarok Odyssey Ace on Vita/PS3 April 1 ⊟

XSEED revealed the North American release date for Ragnarok Odyssey Ace: April 1 on both PS3 and PS Vita. The two versions can play multiplayer together, how fun!

The first print of the retail Vita version will include a 25-song soundtrack CD. The PSN version won’t have that, buuuuuut will be $5 cheaper at $35. Here, enjoy this random weird phrase from the PR: “Players of the original Ragnarok Odyssey will be able to transfer their character’s basic physical features such as name, face and job class (but not clothing).”

Ragnarok Odyssey/Ace seem to fit the general action-RPG/Monster Hunter mold, at least based on the vague memory I have of playing the first game at E3 a couple years ago. I really wouldn’t mind doing some multiplayer adventuring…

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Reconsidering Senran Kagura Burst ⊟
Senran Kagura Burst is a bit controversial — where some see a cute 3DS brawler with an all-female cast, others see a sophisticated boob-jiggle delivery vector. Really, it’s a bit of both – the reality of even this game is more complex, and even paradoxical in some ways.
Among the most staunch defenders of the recent XSEED eShop release, and its growing universe of spinoffs and sequels, is someone who knows the game really well: Brittany Avery (a.k.a. Hatsuu), production assistant at XSEED Games, who worked on the Tamsoft-developed title’s localization and continues to engage with fans about it.
Her honest affection for Senran Kagura and its characters made me reconsider my own feelings about it — it’s not just the usual case of “dev (or publisher) likes own game;” she’s genuinely, infectiously enthused about it.
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“A lot of people have been harping on Burst for being completely degrading to women in every possible way, but as a female myself who has thoroughly played the game, it’s difficult for me to say that’s 100% the case,” Avery told me. “If it were a game where the characters had no variety to their personalities and their sole purpose to the in-game plot related to fanservice and nothing more, I’d probably just delegate it to the ‘designs are cute, but this game isn’t for me’ category and never really give the game a chance. I’m not one for just playing a game for the stimulating visuals and no story.”
In fact, she explained, the characters are “three-dimensional” young women. “In-game, they don’t go spelling it out in flashing lights or present obvious strong female clichés you see in Western movies like that one scene where a woman is suddenly knocking some one-note sexist dude upside the head to prove how badass she is along with a couple one-liners. It’s just this variety of great girls being who they are for the sake of being who they are.
Hibari (from the Senran Kagura anime)
“Take Hibari, for instance. I can’t say she’s my favorite character, but she suffers from self-esteem issues throughout the story to the point where the plot takes drastic changes due to her obsession with how others close to her perceive her.” The development of her character (and the existence of a character arc, period!) changes her from what might be perceived as eye candy to someone that could be identified with. “She changes and grows quite a bit as a character, and I think there are people that can relate to her story of trying to find her place in the world.”
Other characters like Haruka are more overtly sexy, but Avery says there’s more nuance to them as well. “When I first saw her, all I could think was ‘Oh, okay, I get it, she’s super sexy.’ Then you get to see how it’s not that she’s just sexy — she owns her sexuality. It empowers her, gives her this aura that makes her not just fanservice, but someone whose maturity and level of self-comfort demands respect.” Haruka also acts as a sort of older sister to her teammates. “I think there’s an audience that can relate to her having grown past that stage of constant confusion that’s a natural part of your teen and early twenties years.”
She’s thought about Senran Kagura Burst’s characters more than pretty much anyone, I think.
“What I mean in the end is really look at these girls,” she said. “This is the kind of variety you want in a game with an almost all-female cast! Look at all the weaknesses and strengths they have. Isn’t that kind of great? Isn’t that the kind of stuff we’ve been looking for in our female characters?”

Ironically, she notes, by decrying the game’s focus on boobs and ignoring the other facets of the characters, critics are themselves objectifying the characters. “It does get frustrating, because isn’t obsessively focusing on the idea that the girls in Burst are nothing more than breasts the complete opposite of what those who are against games that feature one-dimensional females or females completely second to their male leads are working to accomplish?
“Isn’t the only thing you’re accomplishing then objectifying the characters who actually have more to offer than what’s being blatantly marketed?” She argues that if there is actual objectionable content, critics should talk about it to help make future games better, while also acknowledging the successes of characterization.
That’s not to say that respectfully written characters are all there is to Senran Kagura Burst. “I’m also guilty of enjoying some of the more fanservice-y features of the game, only it’s more like I acknowledge that it’s sexy but personally find it cute or adorable,” Avery admitted.
“Still, if some men and women among our audience decide to start playing it to look at the bouncing boob physics or mess around with the sexy outfits in the Dressing Room, that isn’t for me to judge,” she noted, adding “I didn’t start watching Free! Iwatobi Swim Club for the deep plot.”
Avery acknowledges an imbalance in the marketing of fanservice toward male fans – there’s just an overwhelming majority of media aimed at straight men – while “female fanservice is more often fan-generated, but I think it’s a matter of balancing out that male/female fanservice if that’s a feature in your work rather than actively working to reduce any one side in favor of the other.” She also acknowledges the fact that different people have different comfort levels with the surface display of the game, which may prevent them from discovering the character development within.

“I think playing it has great potential to change people’s minds,” she said, “especially since the game actually has a plot that it plays almost completely straight, but there are guaranteed to be some people who won’t see past only what they want to see.”
In the end, then, the choice about how to feel about Senran Kagura Burst is up to the individual, preferably after becoming informed by playing it. And then, Avery suggests, those individuals should allow others to form their own opinions. “There are some who have the power to take a more neutral approach to the overall content of the game they disagree upon so others can form their own opinions but haven’t done so.
“That, I feel, is more detrimental to Senran Kagura Burst than the actual content of the game.”
Images from the anime (which I’m told is a bit more extreme with its fanservice) are via Zero Time and WeHeartIt.
This article was made possible by the generous donations from our Club Tiny members and support from readers like you!
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Reconsidering Senran Kagura Burst

Senran Kagura Burst is a bit controversial — where some see a cute 3DS brawler with an all-female cast, others see a sophisticated boob-jiggle delivery vector. Really, it’s a bit of both – the reality of even this game is more complex, and even paradoxical in some ways.

Among the most staunch defenders of the recent XSEED eShop release, and its growing universe of spinoffs and sequels, is someone who knows the game really well: Brittany Avery (a.k.a. Hatsuu), production assistant at XSEED Games, who worked on the Tamsoft-developed title’s localization and continues to engage with fans about it.

Her honest affection for Senran Kagura and its characters made me reconsider my own feelings about it — it’s not just the usual case of “dev (or publisher) likes own game;” she’s genuinely, infectiously enthused about it.

Read more

Three new Senran Kagura games coming ⊟

Marvelous AQL announced three new games for the Senran Kagura series, which I guess is now a critical franchise that the Japanese publisher feels justified betting a lot of money on.

The top four shots come from its new Tamsoft-developed 3DS brawler, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, which hits Japan on August 7. Gematsu says it’s “set in Kyoto, and two characters can partner up in the new [tag-team] ‘Pair Battle’ system and make use of ‘Joint Secret Ninja Arts’ attacks. [Local] co-op play is supported, as is full stereoscopic play.” Watch some gameplay video here.

As for the bottom two images, those are from Dekamori Senran Kagura, a “big breasts hyper rhythm cooking battle” coming to PS Vita via PSN. It looks like there will be two versions, one releasing on March 20 with 13 characters, and another on April 24 with 11. There’s a ridiculous trailer for that, too. Oh, and the third title, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus – Girls’ Selection, will be a multi-platform game for unspecified PlayStation consoles.

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  • Source famitsu.com

Tiny Impressions: Senran Kagura Burst

Senran Kagura Burst isn’t a great game (in fact, it’s a game by Onechanbara creators Tamsoft, and thus immediately suspect), but it falls into a genre I adore, with some well-executed traits that make it easier for me to overlook the obvious and many issues. Basically, it’s a game that addresses a fetish of mine.

Not that one.

Read more

Ys: Memories of Celceta out November 26 ⊟

Sure, this is a bit under the radar, especially considering its competition in late November (Xbox One, Super Mario 3D World, Zelda, Tearaway, everything else ever) but it looks really fun!

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  • Source blog.us.playstation.com