Author: Jahanzeb Khan

Breath of the Forager – Windbound – Humble Opinions

It was only a matter of time before the clones showed up, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly a paradigm shift in open-world gaming; so it is only natural that other aspiring game developers and designers would feel inclined to emulate it. Windbound is perhaps the most obvious of these, but to call it a straight-up clone would be a little unfair. Sure, the tribal-infused, cel-shaded visuals are obviously inspired by Nintendo’s worldwide hit and the general feel of the adventure is similar—minus the epic set pieces of Hyrule or a demonic incarnation of Ganondorf—but Windbound takes a far more grounded approach, with the focus being on survival rather than discovery. Windbound starts off with a storm at sea, as our hero finds herself drowning into a watery abyss—before seemingly getting a second chance at life after passing through some sort of afterlife portal. Early on, it becomes clear that this island-survival game is a rogue-like adventure, which means there are multiple chances at this life for our resourceful, yet …

Pineapple Express – SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated – Humble Opinions

Reading the title alone could dehydrate someone. There are a lot of SpongeBob video games—a lot. While the release cycle has slowed down to a halt, in the previous two decades there was no shortage of these damn things on any platform. Most of these games weren’t great, but among them was a decent 3D platformer called SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom released for sixth generation consoles way back in 2003. It was flawed for sure, but certainly a lot better than most other games bearing the barnacle IP namesake. Over a decade later, they decided it was worth revisiting the game and bolstering it up to reach its full potential; the end result is SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. Where the 2003 original was a serviceable platformer at best, the 2020 rehydration effort pays off in Krabby Patties—as the game can now claim to be a legitimately good platformer. That’s even in the presence of modern classics like Yooka-Laylee, A Hat in Time, and Super Mario Odyssey. The most apparent …

Academic Warfare – The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III – Humble Opinions

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has been quite the tetralogy and an immensely ambitious one too. Imagine if Shin Megami Tensei: Persona had the rabbit-hole content density of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; that’s basically what The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel achieves—and very successfully so on all accounts. The localisation journey of this series has been a long one, initially starting out on PlayStation platforms where it gave the late PlayStation Vita quite the RPG showcase, before completing the rest on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. For Japanese players the tetralogy is fully complete, with our side of the world getting both Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II in 2016; now in 2020, we finally get III—with IV due for a localisation release sometime in 2021. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III takes place only a couple of years after the dramatic events of its predecessor. For consistency’s sake, you can get the previous entries remastered on PlayStation 4 along with this …

A Kid and Not a Squid – Ninjala – Humble Opinions

Any time a game is promoted as “free-to-play”, the grizzled gaming veterans among us raise our eyebrows; the youngins on the other hand wouldn’t have it any other way. Ninjala is among the many recent slew of these titles; but, unlike the money-grubbing exemplars of this rather exploitative model, developer GungHo have created quite the tempting “free” proposition. Splatoon quickly became one of Nintendo’s quintessential IPs—ever since its Wii U debut—and is still as strong as ever: with Splatoon 2 being part of the first-year lineup for Nintendo Switch. When Ninjala was first revealed, it turned heads and rolled eyes as the similarities with Nintendo’s squid-kid shooter were just far too obvious. In the build up to the eventual worldwide launch—and after many delays—those similarities are very much still the case, but to the extent of Pepsi being similar to Coca-Cola. Right on the title screen graphic you see a soda ad with the caption “Taste the Difference”. Subtle. Ninjala may resemble Splatoon in its style and use of fonts, but when you get right …

Aye – Robert the Bruce – Humble Opinions

Braveheat—the classic medieval Scottish pride film starring Mel Gibson—was on TV the other night. The film was meant to depict the conquests and campaigns that took place under the legendary Scottish knight, William Wallace, as he fought to liberate Scotland from the rule of England. As entertaining, epic, and charming as the film was—for all the right reasons—the fact of the matter is that it simply was not an authentic depiction of the real William Wallace, nor the events that transpired during his legendary knighthood. Sadly, his legacy has now become synonymous with Gibson’s charming crocodile smile, much to the dismay of the Scots who revere the legacy of William Wallace and his contributions to Scotland’s odyssey towards freedom. In the very same film was the conflicted Scottish king Robert the Bruce, portrayed by actor Angus Macfadyen, depicted as a cowardly and indecisive young king—which ultimately was a disservice to who he really was historically. Still, there was a layered and conflicted nature to his character as someone caught between England and Scotland. Braveheart ended …

Sebastian Was Right – Shinsekai: Into the Depths – Humble Opinions

Shinsekai: Into the Depths was one of the many, many launch titles for the Apple Arcade subscription service; then developer Capcom figured, why restrict this neat little underwater adventure to just one service when there are fifty-three million plus Nintendo Switch owners who would love another unique take on the Metroid formula. At its core, that’s what Shinsekai: Into the Depths really is: a Metroid-style adventure with its own signature gameplay style, but still emphasising exploration above everything else. Where most of the world is obsessed with outer space, this neat little adventure from Capcom appreciates just how little we know about the sheer depths of the oceans. Under the sea, down where it’s better—so they say. As an Aquanaut—and a sole survivor of a long lost civilisation—players venture into the depths of the unknown, as they make their way through the mysterious remnants long submerged into the deepest of waters. As much as it is about discovery and wonder, this mute Aquanaut must also deal with the looming disaster of an underwater ice age of …

Hadou-Ken Doll – Street Fighter V: Champion Edition – Humble Opinions

I think at this point there are more editions of Street Fighter than there are Ken dolls in this world. Not that it’s a bad thing, because in the past each new edition of a canonically numbered Street Fighter felt like a true sequel in every sense. Most modern fighting games have now migrated to a free-to-play model, some more shamelessly than others, but the 2016 launch of Street Fighter V on PS4 as a “disguised” and overpriced free-to-play title was an utter disappointment. The initial game at launch was so incomplete that the quintessential arcade mode would only come months later as free DLC; Capcom were quite generous that way. Since then, there was Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in 2018 which was probably what the 2016 game should have launched as a bare minimum, and from there things got a little better…and also a little confusing because Arcade Edition on PS4 would subsequently get released in arcades. So basically the arcade version of the Arcade Edition. Give it a moment, it will sink …

The Love for One’s Own Sound – Sonic the Hedgehog – Humble Opinions

I honestly believe the Sonic we ended up seeing in the final cut of Sonic the Hedgehog was always the original intended design; the shock trailer with the horrifyingly “realistic” depiction of the iconic blue blur was always a deliberate publicity stunt. It worked, and “Gangsta’s Paradise” never made it to the final soundtrack. The question of “what if Sonic was real?” had been asked before, which the 15th anniversary disaster Xbox 360 release of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) tried to answer with very limited success. I’m certain a large fan  base out there enjoyed the misguided romance of Sonic and Princess Elise. Remember kids, there’s nothing cooler than finding anything you want on the internet but always leave safe search on…always. Jim Carrey ended up playing the part of Doctor Robotnik, mainly because he realised that it was always predestined for him to take on the role since the very dawn of existence itself. A profound existential force may have played a part here, but against all odds and speculation the man once known …

Fire Pro Wrestling World – Review (PC)

If there’s one thing you may have noticed on SnapThirty, it’s that at least once a year, we are absolutely floored by Japanese pro wrestling, or Puroresu if we were to use its sanctified term in the Land of the Rising Sun. Sanctified is probably the right word here to describe Puroresu, particularly New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The pop culture barrier-breaking sports entertainment that dominates the global perception of professional wrestling is primarily thanks to the efforts of WWE, which has transformed wrestling into an all-encompassing global cultural phenomenon. Honestly, if the entirety of the world can get along simply by the virtue of sharing a passion for a glorified soap opera featuring intense physicality, then I have yet to see a better avenue to achieve world peace. Puroresu, unlike sports entertainment, is very much set in time-honoured tradition. For better or for worse, it is set in its old ways by treating the art of pro wrestling not as some form of entertainment, but a true disciplined lifestyle, akin to that of choosing …

Brief Guide to SEGA RPGs

  With the latest entry in SEGA’s much beloved Valkyria franchise (video games, anime, manga, music, you name it) recently hitting stores titled Valkyria Revolution, on the Xbox One, PS4, and even Vita, now is as good time as any to really appreciate the deep and rich catalog of RPGs released under the SEGA flag. SEGA may not be the king of video games as it once was in an era gone by, but over the course of its 30+ year existence it has created some of the finest role playing adventures that deserve the same acclaim as any of the best role playing epics by Nintendo and Square-Enix. So here’s a quick and dirty overview of RPG franchises and games by SEGA that are worth any role player’s time. Valkyria First Game: Valkyria Chronicles (2008 / PS3) Most Recent Game: Valkyria Revoluion (2017 / PS4, Xbox One, Vita) Best Game: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (2016 / PS4)   Shining Force First Game: Shining Force (1993 / Mega Drive) Most Recent Game: Shining Force Feather (2009 / DS) …

Nintendo Switch Review Roundup

So the Switch landed on March 3 2017 and we’ve been so busy selfishly enjoying the games for ourselves that we forgot to share our thoughts! So to cheat a little, here’s a quick little catch up of the major Switch releases we’ve seen thus far. It’s great that the Switch has had a slow and steady release cycle, gives a chance to savor the releases and catch up on the writing. So here’s our quick stop review guide! The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild All the hype, all the accolades, all the praise… all of it worth it. Living up to the hype is one thing, but far exceeding and surpassing is almost unheard of, and the latest in the legendary Zelda franchise accomplished just that without breaking a sweat. The open world template is an innovation of the Western gaming sphere, with Japanese developers too having a go at adopting this widely accepted and appreciated style of video games. Open world gaming is quite simply the only genre that has showcased …

Current State and Future of Japanese Video Games

With E3 2017 setting the big picture for video games in the next 5 years or so, and with recent trends and new hardware, it’s time to stop and identify the current trends in Japanese video games and what we can expect to see from the Land of the Rising Sun. Let’s accept one cold, hard reality: games like Minecraft, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto not only get glowing reviews from Famitsu magazine, but they also comfortably make it to the top ten charts of Japanese video game sales. Deny it all you want, but dating simulators and bullet hell shooters are an acquired taste by Japanese gaming standards even. The sales figures speak for themselves, heck Minecraft for the Switch was the most downloaded title in Japan over the past few months! The point I’m trying to make is that Japanese gaming is changing, and there’s been a stronger unification as to what humanity enjoys in the digital medium. Let’s have a look at some of the major ones shall we? World …

NJPW Dominion 2017: Okada vs Omega II – The Greatest Story Ever Retold

There is a difference between good and great, a lot of things that are good are absolutely stellar but what’s truly great is what stands the test of time forever. You’re only as good as your last gig, and sometimes we have to make a choice and find the passion and drive to create something that is truly larger than life, to create something that is quite simply immortal. Wrestling as an entertainment platform is one that melds fiction and reality to create something that suspends our belief better than any form of entertainment, there is nothing that can compare to sports entertainment. Whether it is WWE or NJPW, the lore underlying them has a life of its own. It’s like anime in the real world, there’s no better way to put it. Earlier this year I, and the rest of the wrestling world, had the pleasure of being absolutely blown away by the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11, an absolute classic between The Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada and Bullet Club Boss Kenny Omega. The …

Snap Discussion: Nintendo Memories

It all started with speculation of the Nintendo Switch, which then lead us to take a long trip down memory lane where each of us shared our memories growing up with Nintendo systems. Looking back on it all, Nintendo certainly has been with us through the good times and bad, and now with the Switch that tradition continues stronger than ever. We all shared our favourite games, our treasured memories, the people we shared those with, and in the case of McGlone, he had to exploit the Multiverse Theory to extract memories. All compiled here for your convenience, revisit all of our Nintendo Memories. Nintendo Switch – Switching Up The Future of Gaming NES Game Boy SNES Nintendo 64 Game Boy Color Game Boy Advance GameCube DS Wii 3DS Wii U -30-

Nintendo Memories: Wii U

Kane Bugeja Bayonetta 2 Look! On the store shelves! It’s a Wii! It’s a new controller! It’s an entirely new console with a similar name! And so began the Wii U’s downfall. Which is a shame, because it’s not a bad console, it just had terrible marketing. Still, I have one and I enjoy it, so…that’s something. Though it is still objectively another quirky gameplay gimmick, it is one that…I was going to say “works in theory” but I just realised that I’ve never actively used the gamepad screen for anything. Barring my initial introduction to the system and a Mario hide-and-seek mini game, the Gamepad has more or less served as a large, unexpectedly comfortable controller. The simple fact that it is directly below a player’s normal range of vision prevents it from truly bolstering gameplay as a second screen and its limited range hinders its capabilities as a surrogate main screen, leaving the console as a shell of what it could be, living under the misconception that it is a small addition to …

Nintendo Memories: 3DS

Kane Bugeja Pokemon Rumble Blast Once touch screens and motion controls have come and…somewhat stayed, what is next in the world of gaming? 3D. Like in the movies, but also just as forgettable. Okay, maybe that’s a little unfair, but, from personal experience, 3D really did not change anything about my handheld gaming experience. Apart from the curiosity that spurs me to check each game’s 3D mode once, I almost exclusively plays sans this feature, despite owning a 3DS. Of course, as is probably the case for most people, I own it for the games, not the additional dimension. Thus, I will forever be thankful that there is a slider to easily remove this feature from any and all games. Handhelds are designed for travel play after all and being forced to hold one steady at an exact distance from your face is very counter-intuitive. Yes this has been fixed with the (poorly named) New 3DS, but still, you know what I mean. As far as games go however, I really enjoy the 3DS. As …

The Esoteric Breath of Video Games

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the first open world Zelda game. That right there was the first reason why I lost complete interest in it since day one. Well great, another open world video game in a market where have one too many sandbox adventures. These games are all about excessive space, most of it serving no real purpose to the gameplay or game design. Be it role playing games, first person shooters, or straight up action games, we have seen far too many open world games and it’s become the most saturated sub-genre of gaming. Given the power of current technology, they’ve done away with intricate level and game design, instead providing vast amounts of nothing to traverse through. It’s hard to invest yourself in these sandbox worlds when they feel so devoid of life and meaning. Origins There were exceptions, and I don’t know if I would call this an open world game per se, but Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 2 thrust players into a desolate land, …

Nintendo Memories: Wii

Kane Bugeja Red Steel 2 The Nintendo Wii, the experimental console with the funny name. You see, because Wii sounds like…you know, nevermind, you know what it sounds like. But what it also sounds like is a brand new gaming experience, full of movement and exercise and…sitting down lazily swinging your arms around, pretending that you’re standing up. Yet another gameplay element/gimmick subsumed by gamers overall aversion to physically enacting the movements of characters. You know, because if we could actually do the things videogame characters could do, we’d be doing them. Man I wish I could double jump. Digression aside, one of the most inherently Wii experiences I ever had was through Red Steel 2. One part Western, one part samurai film, this game brought forth the Motion Plus, an add-on designed to improve the Wii’s motion tracking. Which was somewhat of a success. Though Red Steel 2 was definitely one of the more complete motion gameplay experiences I’ve had, there were certainly times where swinging wildly outclassed intention and skill. Still, even ballistically …

Nintendo Memories: DS

Luke Halliday Bomberman DS The Nintendo DS is a console I hold near and dear to my heart. Not only do I have so many fond memories playing with my brother and sister with the system, the Nintendo DS was the final gift I received from my grandmother before her passing. She has terminal cancer and the last gift she got for us all before her time had come was a Nintendo DS for each of us. She knew how much we loved gaming and she was happy to support our passions and was always a big proponent that what’s fun is good. With the Nintendo DS I got a few games; Nintendogs, Super Mario 64 DS, and Bomberman DS. The latter of which became the go to game for me and my siblings. We spent hours and hours blowing each other up, it was us against the COMs but it felt like us against the world. We use to pretend that we were playing online against people around the world, even though the game …

Nintendo Memories: GameCube

Luke Halliday The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker So finally we have made our way to the little purple box that could. The GameCube holds a very special place in my heart, in fact I still consider it my favourite video game console of all time. I spent countless hours diving into the wonderful worlds of the GameCube, I don’t really know quite where to begin even. My first interactions with the GameCube came with a display unit at my local Kmart, I watched on with keen fascination as kids lined up to play Smash Bros Melee on the system. Eventually me and my younger brother got our turn and were blown away by how much the game had improved upon the original. This would be a common theme for my other ventures on the GameCube. While the GameCube didn’t feature some revolutionary controller or gimmick, it revolutionized with its games, taking the familiar faces of Nintendo and doing something wildly different with them. Whether it be the water wonderland of Super Mario Sunshine, …

Look Alike: Sonic the Hedgehog OVA retrospective

Between 1994’s excellent Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the SEGA Mega Drive and 1998’s Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast (which marked the Blue Blur’s resurgence in glorious 128 bit 3D), the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise was basically stuck in purgatory for nearly 5 years. The SEGA Saturn almost had a major Sonic title in the infamous Sonic Xtreme, which went through a literal development hell before it got cancelled. The lore on Sonic Xtreme would need its own article honestly. Originally planned for 1996, the cancellation of the title left SEGA and developer Sonic Team literally scrambling. So to fill the years between 1994 and 1998, SEGA gave Sonic fans a series of… consolation prizes if you will. There was Project Sonic on the Saturn comprising of three games: Sonic 3D Flickies’ Island, Sonic R, and finally Sonic Jam. The topic of Project Sonic would need its own article, but let me enlighten you with this in the meantime: you know the developer that makes all those LEGO video games year after year? That very same …

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King – Review (3DS)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was a historic release when it landed on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006 for many reasons: it was the first Dragon Quest video game under the SquareEnix banner, it was the first time Dragon Quest did not have to use its Western placeholder of Dragon Warrior for legal reasons, it was the first Dragon Quest in full 3D, and it was the first Dragon Quest title to feature a full English dub and an excellent one at that too. Dragon Quest VIII did for its franchise what Final Fantasy X did for its own: upping the production values and realising the fantasy setting to its full potential. For many including myself, it was our first foray into the brilliant fantastical world of Dragon Quest, and it honestly felt like the first true encounter with the Japanese Role Playing genre. Over a decade later Dragon Quest VIII makes it way to the 3DS with a truckload of new features  and improvements to boot. Back in 2006 I’d think you were …

Splatoon 2 Global Test Fire Set for March

Splatoon took the gaming world by storm when it landed on the Wii U in 2015 and still remains as widely played 2 years later. Not that two years is a long time mind you, if anything Splatoon is a game that would have an active community for 5 years or even longer. Still, with a new Nintendo system and Splatoon being one of the company’s freshest and most successful new IPs in a long,long time, it makes sense for a sequel to kickstart the Switch and give it plenty of momentum. I’m kind of sensing that the existing Splatoon community isn’t exactly thrilled by the sequel or a new Nintendo console… because as I was playing Splatoon over the weekend (I finally hit level 13!) I noticed some not so flattering graffiti… most of them had a common theme of depicting the Nintendo Switch as an evil sorceress of sorts… a Witch if you will… OK they’re literally calling it the “Nintendo Witch” with artwork depicting the Switch console riding a broomstick. I honestly …

Nintendo Memories: Game Boy Advance

Kane Bugeja Zoids: Legacy The Game Boy Advance was a console that certainly lived up to its name. Compared to its predecessor, the GBA was a powerhouse console. At least from the perspective of a child. The graphical upgrade was amazing and games utilised colours to a far greater extent than the console named after such a visual mechanic. Combine this with the cavalcade of games, both old and new, and you’ve got yourself a handheld that saw the Game Boy era to a powerful end. In the mix of awesome games that made this console, such as Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald, Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury, Sonic Advance 3 and (obviously) Bionicle: Maze of Shadows, there was one game that stood out to me more than any other: Zoids: Legacy. Terribly translated and damn near indecipherable for anyone who had not seen the series, Legacy was a hot mess of an adaptation. And boy did I love it. Still do. With Zoids games few and far between, I am so glad that I said …

Nintendo Memories: Game Boy Color

Frank Inglese Pokemon Crystal Pokemon is a franchise that I keep close to my heart even to this day because of its impact on my young life. As an only child with no Father and a Mother that had to work long hours to sustain our small family, it was Pokemon that gave me a strange, inorganic sense of companionship. I related to the young boy on the screen, travelling around the world with no-one but his trusty pets. It helped me deal with a lot of the trauma of my childhood and, in fact, still does so today. Pokemon Crystal, specifically, will remain my personal favourite Pokemon title to this day, it seems, not only because of its base excellence but because of the connection between myself and my now passed Father that it still represents. Prior to the release of the second generation, my Father took me on a trip into Sydney City to attend a small but impactful convention that revolved around Pokemon and the upcoming video game releases. For the life …

Nintendo Memories: Nintendo 64

  Frank Inglese Pokemon Snap My first true obsession, dating back to when I was far too young to be addicted to anything at all, was without a doubt Pokemon. My first ever Pokemon game was Blue, followed by Red and then Yellow. As I said; I was well and truly hooked. After receiving my Nintendo 64, it was Pokemon Snap that had me enthralled. My parents, being the ones who fueled the fire of my Pokemon video game dependency, didn’t necessarily know what the title was, but saw Pokemon and naturally believed it to be a good choice…it was! Pokemon Snap took players on a journey into the realm of Pokemon in a way unlike any previous game. It was NOT a turn-based RPG, for one, and you could not capture and collect Pokemon. It was, instead, a game about a young photographer who just so happens to live in the Pokemon world. For the very first time it felt like I, as the player, was directly interacting with the world I dreamed of being …

Exploring the Works of Osamu Tezuka

Now when it comes to manga there is a ton of great choices in the modern age, whether it’s a near endless Shonen series or a range of other genres to really sink into. There is no shortage of quality manga in the modern age, which is why digging through the trenches of the past can be an overwhelming task. After all, who has the time to dig through quality manga from every era? It’s hard enough to collect and read through the likes of 90s classic Rurouni Kenshin or the wealth of volumes that make up the Dragon Ball/Z manga. I mean, that’s just going as far back as the 80s… but manga goes all the way back to the 1950s! Is it worth going that far back? Oh absolutely. It’s a remarkable journey to experience the beginnings of manga firsthand, and to realize it wasn’t just good “back in the old days” or “better now than the outdated stuff”, but that manga always has and will be amazing. The god and creator of …

Ultra Street Fighter II Commemorates 30 Years of Fighting Excellence

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is one of the major releases planned for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, and it’s every bit as desirable as Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. In fact, the resurgence of games like Street Fighter and Bomberman (in the form of Super Bomberman R) is the reason why the Switch is a true return to gaming’s humble and exciting roots. Watch the trailer of Ultra Street Fighter II, you can see clips of the launch of Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES early on, and man was that a magical thing to experience firsthand. What’s great is that we get to relive that magic once more on the Switch, and just in time for the 30th Anniversary of the Street Fighter franchise (25 years for the flagship Street Fighter II itself). Ultra Street Fighter II looks to reinvigorate the gamer of yesteryear, and unite them with the current crop of fighting fans who have been enthralled by the likes of the hugely successful Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V …

Nintendo Memories: Game Boy

Jahanzeb Khan The King of Fighters 96 One of the coolest things about portable consoles back in the day was that despite them being technologically inferior to home consoles (and significantly so), developers still challenged themselves to bring 16 bit or even 32 bit video games to the confines of the 8 bit monochrome Game Boy. More often than not these transitions weren’t always ideal, but when developers were able to the successfully bring the home console and/or arcade experience to the handheld it was one hell of an achievement. Back in the day SNK and Neo Geo were the absolute kings of 2D sprites and animation, with their arcade technology being the cutting edge of 2D graphics, so much so that systems like the PlayStation and even Saturn struggled to run the highly detailed 2D engine of Neo Geo. SNK’s The King of Fighters series was red hot, and having The King of Fighters 96 on the Game Boy should have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. The game was re-imagined and optimised for the …

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers destined for Switch

You read the headline correctly, it is indeed a new entry in the Street Fighter II series which last saw a HD remaster/remake on the Xbox 360 and PS3 as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix back in 2008. When clips of a Street Fighter game were shown during the Nintendo Switch presentation, I assumed that the system was basically getting a port of that 2008 title. Little did I know that although it looked similar visually, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is an all new title for the Nintendo Switch (and an exclusive so far). It looks to share the same visuals and engine as the 2008 HD remaster, but as the title suggests it will add new content, in particular the “Final Challengers” that are apparently just Evil Eyu and Violent Ken (last seen in SNK vs Capcom: SVC Chaos). Who knows, maybe there’s other characters yet to be revealed. -30-

Super Bomberman Gets Revived For Nintendo Switch

Super Bomberman was a series that had not one but a total of five entries on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It had a bit of a Mega Man thing going for it with each game exploring new level themes and importantly introducing a new cast of boss battles for its single player campaign. Of course, Super Bomberman was mostly about the multiplayer, making great use of the SNES multitap device. Super Bomberman 2 was where this series peaked, and we have not heard from the series since 1997… until now. Announced as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and commemorating 33 years of the franchise, Konami will be bringing the brand new Super Bomberman R on March 3 2017. Bomberman will always be Bomberman, but it’s not a bad game to own when you get your new system because it still stands as one of the most enjoyable multi-player offerings. Plus it has got this cool new aesthetic going for it as a well as a single player mode featuring huge bosses. -30-

Nintendo Switch January 2017 Presentation Highlights: THE GAMES!

What an incredible showing by Nintendo! What a great time to be alive! Nintendo Switch is set to launch on 3 March 2017 with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, ARMS, and 1, 2, Switch! confirmed as launch titles with more to be announced as we quickly head into the historic release. Demo events are planned worldwide so we should be able to try the system over the next couple of months. The price point is $US 299.99 and hopefully we will get a confirmed $ AU price point soon. I’m sure the stream gave you all the info you needed, so here are some quick and dirty game highlights from the stream! Splatoon 2 I honestly would have settled for an enhanced expanded release of the original Wii U Splatoon but it’s a full fledged sequel folks and it’s set for 2017! Looks great from what we can see and the added mobility and portability of the Switch system will certainly make Splatoon 2 a title we can enjoy all day every …

Nintendo Memories: Nintendo Entertainment System

As we count the weeks, days, and three months or so leading up to the launch of the Nintendo Switch, we at SnapThirty are going to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit each of Nintendo’s legendary system (except for The System That Shall Not Be Named). Starting off with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), we reminisce on our fond memories and favourite games. Jahanzeb Khan Castlevania Castlevania is best described as a video game that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and the debut title on the NES ranks comfortably with the likes of Mega Man, Contra, and Metroid as one of the leaders of 2D action platforming. Castlevania introduced a methodological combat mechanic situated in a ingeniously designed action platformer. Perhaps among the earliest horror video games, the original Castlevania had you take control of a tough as a tank Vampire Hunter by the name of Simon Belmont. Castlevania had all the right ingredients: unique personality and mechanics, sound level design, brutal and satisfying boss battles, distinguished aesthetics, and above …

Wrestle Kingdom 11 Was Bullet Hell

There are times when I am glad to be proven wrong, and Wrestle Kingdom 11 made me feel silly for having such low and cynical expectations going into it. Not only was it miles better than last year’s somewhat lukewarm Wrestle Kingdom 10, but it also blew the superb Wrestle Kingdom 9 clear out of the water. Wrestle Kingdom 11 taught me to never doubt the innovation and potential of underdogs. It also helped that the English localisation was great thanks to the solid play by play commentary from Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino. A huge improvement over the disastrous English commentary panel in Wrestle Kingdom 10 which featured Yoshi Tatsu of all people. Despite New Japan Pro Wrestling losing most of their top stars to WWE, Wrestle Kingdom 11 proved to be the best iteration yet all thanks to a fresh and unpredictable wildcard. Wrestle Kingdom 11 literally blindsided me with a main event that I am confident in calling as among the timeless classics of the modern era. The strong main event was complemented …

Starting the New Year with Wrestle Kingdom 11

  Before Wrestlemania, and hell before the Royal Rumble, there is no wrestling event that kick starts the New Year quite like Wrestle Kingdom by New Japan Pro Wrestling. Having become more widespread since Wrestle Kingdom 9, thanks to localisations efforts and the inclusion of an English color commentary team (which was great in Wrestle Kingdom 9 but certainly left A LOT to be desired in Wrestle Kingdom 10). We are now getting ready for Wrestle Kingdom 11, set to take place on January 4 2017 (January 5 for those living in the Outback) inside the one and only historic Tokyo Dome. It’s been said many times before, but this is Japan’s equivalent of Wrestlemania being held in New York’s  Madison Square Garden. Wrestle Kingdom 11 certainly has a lot of buzz for it, but the star power is lacking… thanks mainly due to some of the biggest NJPW stars of the last 5 years now becoming fixtures of WWE. So much of what made Wrestle Kindgom amazing is now missing, with the likes of …

Xbox 15th Anniversary: 15 Notable Japanese Xbox Games

It was nearly 15 years ago when Microsoft entered the console wars with its Xbox console, and 15 years later it currently stands in a pretty sweet position with the Xbox One console. During that time we saw the hugely successful Xbox 360 system and next year we can look forward to the Xbox Scorpio. A lot has happened in the last 15 years, but what has always remained consistent is the Xbox’s poor commercial performance in Japan. For numerous reasons the Xbox brand just doesn’t garner the same interest from Japanese gamers, and has consistently to this day remained the poorest seller in the land of the rising sun. Still, this is the 15th anniversary for all things Xbox, and these systems were graced with a range of excellent Japanese video games. Some were exclusive, some landed on the system first before any other platforms, and some in fact performed best on the Microsoft game box. In no particular order, here are 15 of the most notable Japanese games that graced Xbox systems over the …

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II – Review (Vita)

At the start of 2016 we got The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on the PlayStation 3 and Vita, a much welcome release in Europe and Australia, particular for the Vita that has all but faded from our store shelves. As long as strong releases like The Legend of Heroes exist, the Vita (and even the PlayStation 3) will continue to stick around. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel was a title jam packed with content, an RPG with as much gameplay variety and density as something like The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim, no exaggeration there. A huge cast of characters to interact with and take control of, a ton of compelling gameplay features to fine-tune your character in a way that is meaningful and not superficial, and above all a rich setting backed by a well-developed lore that fuels a plot and story which is as much about politics as it is about character development. If you haven’t done so already, do check out our full review of The Legend of …

Rare and Expensive Nintendo Gems on the Virtual Console

It’s easy to take video games for granted when they’re on shelves and easily available, but next thing you know that once $10 copy of No More Heroes in the Wii bargain bins is no more! And finding a used copy $40 or so on a random Sunday trip to the mall is considered to be a lucky day. Same goes for video games available for purchase on digital outlets, sure the price never hikes and you can download any given time, but digital games do get delisted (I had no idea that Tetris of all games had been delisted from the eShop due to licensing issues!). Right now you can find some of the rarest and most expensive Nintendo games right at your fingertips on the Virtual Console. In the past you’d have to fork out hundreds, if not close to a thousand, dollars on these games, but thanks to the eShop you can download them right now for mere pocket change. Digital distribution has its blessings for sure. If you’re not fussy about owning …

Shin Godzilla – Review

In the same way it takes an organised team of politicians, generals, and scientists to take on the behemoth that is Godzilla, we at SnapThirty felt that the task of reviewing a brand new Godzilla film simply could not be done by one person. Jahanzeb Khan, Frank Inglese, and Luke Halliday had the opportunity to witness the historic event that is the international release of Japan’s reboot of the historic monster franchise, appropriately titled Shin Godzilla to signify a new beginning and the most definitive, truthful, and memorable depiction of the movie icon himself. Shin Godzilla is every bit of a historic landmark release as the original 1954 Godzilla film. Shin Godzilla had a lot of high expectations to live up to, and the limited international release means not everyone will have a chance to witness it. Thankfully, Madman has taken the mantle to distribute the film all over Australia in major cities. It was initially meant to be a one night screening only on 13 October 2016, but thankfully more dates have been added …

Nanana’s Buried Treasure Complete Series – Review

Nanana’s Buried Treasure is a lot of things, but it isn’t predictable. This short 11 episode anime takes you into an utopian paradise of an island where people can live up to their potential and follow their dreams. On this island, a young person can get a new lease on life… but at the same time this lease must always be paid. Nanana’s Buried Treasure is an odd couple drama, an Indiana Jones style adventure, and even a murder mystery, all wrapped up into an interesting and unpredictable journey where the moment you feel like you’re about to get some answers, the questions suddenly change. In Nanana’s Buried Treasure the titular character is already dead… but her spirit lives on (not to mention, trapped) inside the room of a student accommodation where she plays video games all day and night, and is also somehow able to consume pudding. Now that’s an afterlife we can all hope for right? The SEGA fan in me just has to mention the fact that Nanana is shown playing real video games …

Hanging out with Sonic 25th Anniversary Plush (Toys R Us)

I don’t usually browse Toys R Us, especially since they stopped carrying video games several years ago, but today I stumbled upon some pretty sweet Sonic merchandise. Among them was a pretty fine official Sonic 25th Anniversary plush the was just recently released (had a “New” label on it) in the store, and it was just too good to pass by. Sonic’s 25th anniversary may not have been commemorated with an actual video game release, but SEGA and Sonic Team did announce and reveal not one but two huge Sonic games for 2017: an all new 2D adventure title Sonic Mania, and an all new 3D adventure that looks to be a follow up to the excellent Sonic Generations. In the meantime, some classic Sonic merch will satisfy until those games land. For a RRP of AUD $39.99, I was pretty pleased with my purchase, not to mention Mr. Sonic made himself feel right at home.   -30-

Import Duty: Waku Waku 7 (SEGA Saturn)

In an era where Capcom and SNK reigned supreme with 2D fighting games, other developers wanted to have a go at creating something different, but more often than not ended up making something that was kinda like Street Fighter or kinda like The King of Fighters. Among the wealth of fighters that were gracing different platforms and consoles, there was a little game called Waku Waku 7. Back then, it was hard to take Waku Waku 7 seriously as it would be the type of game you’d try once for curiosity’s sake. I had always seen this game around, it got a little bit of exposure thanks to it being a NeoGeo powered title, and back then you couldn’t go wrong with the crisp,detailed 2D that NeoGeo could produce. At most, Waku Waku 7 was a silly looking fighter with not much to offer in terms of roster or content, but years and decades down the road I wish I hadn’t taken games like it for granted. Look at the 2D fighting landscape of 2016, …

Resurgence of The King of Monsters: Godzilla

July 29 2016 marks the landmark release of Godzilla Resurgence, and in case you missed the memo, Funimation has picked up localisation rights which means we’ll get a subtitled release very soon in 2016… just in time for the Japan Film Festival in Australia if I am being realistically optimistic. It may be another few months for us, but it’s exciting to see a brand new Godzilla flick from Japan as a glorious reboot of the historic and iconic monster movie franchise. This is the first Godzilla film by founding studio, Toho, since 2004’s Final Wars. It may be some time before you see a review of Godzilla Resurgence grace front page of Snap Thirty, but in the meantime we’d like to present to you with a tribute to all things Godzilla: the movies, the video games, and the culture itself. Return of an icon: Godzilla Resurgence  Godzilla Resurgence looks to be the movie that fans always wanted, and it certainly has very high expectations to live up to. Billed as a reboot, everyone is naturally …

Welcome to Erion

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has landed in Australia on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 3, and despite it being a remaster of a game that was released 9 years ago on the PS2, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is every bit a landmark release in 2016 just as the original Odin Sphere was back in 2007. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir comes from Vanillaware, a studio that really made waves in 2007 when they released the 2D action RPG Odin Sphere and the 2D real time strategy game GrimGrimoire (not many people remember it but it was pretty neat). Later they would create the blistering fast 2D action game Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Wii, followed by the Dungeons and Dragons inspired brawler Dragon’s Crown on the PS3 and Vita. In between those games there was a promising PSP RPG called Grand Knights History which unfortunately barely missed an English localisation. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is their latest and is far from just an ordinary remaster of a PS2 game because it goes above and beyond in so many ways. What does the …

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir – Review (PS3)

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is the latest by Vanillaware for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita. The title is billed as a remaster of the original Odin Sphere which was released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2007 (2008 in PAL territories). To call Odin Sphere Leifthrasir a mere HD remaster of a nearly 9 year old game  is putting it very,very loosely, and it is in fact is a huge disservice to what the game really is. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is more than just a HD update to suit modern TV resolutions, more than just being the very best version of Odin Sphere (dare I say, perfection), and is more than just an expanded and enhanced re-release. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is truly a whole new game altogether. In fact, I feel they could have gotten away with calling it Odin Sphere 2 and no one would have argued otherwise. Whether you’re a fan of the original or a sceptical newcomer who is tired of seeing sloppy HD remasters, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir proves to be a truly a one of a kind experience that even …

Retrospective: Odin Sphere (PS2)

2007 was an interesting year for video games. The Xbox 360 was in its second year, the PlayStation 3 had just started its first year in the gaming market… and yet despite the hype surrounding High Definition gaming and next-gen visuals, the PlayStation 2 was still performing strongly despite its (by then) dated hardware. The interesting thing about the PS2 was that despite it launching before its immediate competition, it outlasted the clearly superior Xbox and GameCube. Not only that, it was barely phased by the presence of far superior competition in the Xbox 360 or even by its replacement in the PS3. Even as a gamer back then, and having an Xbox 360 with the likes of Blue Dragon in my hands, my PS2 was still getting plenty of usage. Instead of being placed in a closet as soon as I got my shiny new Xbox 360, I actually found myself getting more enjoyment out of a last generation system that year than I did from my new next-gen system. I wasn’t even compelled to …

Import Duty: Princess Crown (SEGA Saturn)

Vanillaware may have left their mark on the industry with Odin Sphere back in 2007, and once more with Odin Sphere Leifthrasir in 2016, but their first dance happened way back in 1997 when they were an internal studio within Atlus. Princess Crown was technically the debut game of the Atlus team that would eventually become Vanillaware and achieve great success. Princess Crown, however, was more than just their first creation as it even laid the groundwork to the Odin Sphere we all know and love. Princess Crown was released for the SEGA Saturn in Japan back in 1997 and was unfortunately not localised or released anywhere else. It would later receive a port on the PlayStation Portable in 2011 but unfortunately even that never left Japan. Still, if you were looking for a way to try the game then the region-free PSP version is probably the most accessible. Although, as a SEGA Saturn game Princess Crown was a special gem. Right from the opening moments, Princess Crown will feel very familiar to anyone who has …

Dai Shogun Complete Series – Review

Dai Shogun is a harem/ecchi/mecha anime taking place during the Edo period of Japan except there’s mechs powered by mythical energy. Protagonist Keiichiro is an all round tough dude who loves to fight, and works at a bathhouse owned by his grandma. Yes, just the bathhouse alone guarantees nudity in nearly all of the 12 episodes in some shape or form. Hell, the main mecha in the anime, Susanoo, has to launch from an area that is conveniently located next to the women’s bath area. I’m getting ahead of myself here, the point I’m trying to make here is that Dai Shogun is a case of a neat idea that does every possible thing wrong in its execution. I’m the last person to find ecchi offensive, in fact I celebrate it when it’s done with finesse like in Woman Named Mine Fujiko but then that’s an unfair standard to compare any anime with. Dai Shogun is ecchi overdrive, ecchi overkill… ecchi to the point of suffocation. With ecchi, honestly less is more, and Dai Shogun does …

Hanayamata Complete Series – Review

It’s good for what it is. That’s the safest thing a reviewer can say when they’re reviewing something that they have absolutely no interest in, and probably didn’t even enjoy, but have to say it because they need to be able to respect the genre and the fanbase. I did this when I reviewed that very interesting AKB48 anime a while back. Hanayamata falls in the same category as one of those school club anime like K-On!, and when I read the premise that’s exactly what it reminded me of. I did not like K-On!, not even in the slightest…. I mean an anime about a bunch of kids that start a band and succeed with ease, it’s hard to find that kind of optimism endearing, but I suppose that style of anime has its place when you just want to watch something light that portrays the absolute bare minimum of first world problems. I was expecting Hanayamata to be exactly that, where bunch of rich school kids start a little music/dance club and nothing but …

BabyMetal’s Metal Revolution

Hard rock infused with pop idol music isn’t exactly unheard of, but it’s never been done in the same way BabyMetal has done, as their brand of music has successfully stood out in an industry where nearly every music genre has become saturated with clones. For that reason alone BabyMetal deserves serious props for being a one of a kind Kawaii Metal band. Anyone listening to BabyMetal for the first time will most likely have been introduced to that one song, and I am of course talking about Gimme Chocolate!! There is certainly a shock value about it for sure, it’s a cutesy Pop Idol song with little kids backed by scary near-death metal music blaring in the background. Their synchronised dancing perfectly in synch with the relentless fury of the metal band. This particular song and music video has become the subject of far too many reaction videos on YouTube, with each reaction video being more annoying and unnatural than the last. That being said, Gimme Chocolate!! certainly succeeds at grabbing your attention, but it isn’t …

KARATE by BabyMetal is the Official Theme Song of NXT TakeOver: The End

I can’t believe I am typing this. Japanese kawai metal band, BabyMetal, is larger than life as it is, and they have silenced nay sayers and broken barriers in ways no one could have anticipated. I picked up their latest CD from JB Hi-Fi just the other day. There’s more I want to say, and believe or not I have a special article dedicated to BabyMetal in the works, but in the meantime here’s a piece of news that simply needs to be shared: A BabyMetal song is being used as the official theme for an American wrestling event, and it makes perfect sense. NXT TakeOver, which is the PPV series of WWE‘s NXT brand, has quickly become a must see event whenever it is held. So far there has yet to be a bad NXT TakeOver as each event has surpassed the last by leaps and bounds. We’ve written about NXT here at SnapThirty before, because after all, NXT is the only place where you can find three of the hottest Japanese wrestling stars: Hideo …

One More Time: Remembering Interstella 5555

I can’t explain exactly why I started doing this out of the blue, but lately I have been listening to a lot of Daft Punk‘s most popular album called Discovery… well not exactly. I’m not really listening to it per se, instead I have been watching its one of a kind visualisation called Interstella 555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Daft Punk are a rather mysterious electronic pop duo, and while the genre of music isn’t really my cup of tea (I’m more of a hard rock guy) I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by this production. Discovery itself was a concept album and Daft Punk, along with the legendary Toei Animation studio, turned their album into an anime feature that is Interstella 555. Each song was transformed into an episode, sequentially and chronologically linked from first song to the last. Something like this had not been attempted before, and I don’t think it has ever been done again, which is why Interstella 555 is something worth remembering and revisiting. The visual production and story direction comes …

We are Strangers of Sword City

Hello there, Stranger! Welcome to Sword City! Here at Snap Thirty we left no stone unturned in our coverage for Stranger of Sword City, the latest in the line of dungeon role playing shenanigans. This game is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the genre: pretty pictures and brutal enemies to battle. First and foremost, you definitely want to read our full review of the PlayStation Vita version. The Vita version was released digitally in AUS/NZ thanks to BandaiNamco. Next up, did you know that this game is also on the Xbox One but not on the PlayStation 4!? Stranger things have happened in the video game business. But it gets crazier… this game was on the Xbox 360 first! You can learn more about Xbox’s steamy relationship with Stranger of Sword City in our special piece covering the Xbox One version. Do you want to try your luck at winning a copy of this Vita RPG for yourself? Then check out our awesome giveaway! Last but not least… chime in on the Stranger of Sword City thread over at the …

Import Duty – Stranger of Sword City (Xbox One)

Stranger of Sword City is a first person dungeon crawler JRPG in similar vein to the countless other old school JRPGs that have really started to make their way out of their native country of Japan. Handheld platforms, the 3DS and Vita, have a growing library of these titles. Stranger of Sword City has made its way to Australia and all over the world as a Vita release, and for all intents and purposes most would feel like it was hand-crafted specifically as a another addition to Vita’s dungeon crawling RPG line-up. But as it turns out, Stranger of Sword City didn’t quite start out as a Vita game, let alone a game for a Japanese system, it in fact began as an Xbox 360 game of all things. Stranger of Sword City was released in limited quantities for the Xbox 360 in Japan only, which would shock most people considering Microsoft systems are commercial failures in the Land of the Rising Sun. The artwork and packaging was a thing of beauty, and I was …

Stranger of Sword City – Review (Vita)

Say what you want about the Vita’s presence (or lack thereof) in the current video game market but there is no denying that it is a treasure trove of unique games that you really won’t find anywhere else. When it all comes down to it, the Vita specialises in three genres: Visual Novels, Rhythm Games, and Japanese RPGS. If you’re into any or all of these genres, then the Vita was simply made for you. While there is usually very little in the way of physical releases, the Vita has simply embraced digital distribution for the better as many titles that would have been impossible to release and distribute physically can now easily make their way to the PlayStation store with minimum costs and fuss. Everyone wins really, small publishers can get games on the digital store without having to worry about retailers, and gamers get easy access to a larger library games they wouldn’t see on store shelves. When it comes to niche Japanese games in the aforementioned genres, digital distribution on the Vita is …

Dark Souls III – Review (Xbox One)

No game stirred up a more colourful word-of-mouth reputation than Dark Souls when it first landed in 2011. Dark Souls had an aura about it that masked the true nature of the game itself. This reputation created such a strong priori that the actual experience became a self-fulfilled prophecy. I am of course referring to the game’s difficulty that has become a modern day legend of sorts. Ask any one who has played these games and they will give you exaggerated views on how difficult they are, or you may meet several elitists  who will brag about how they breezed through the many boss battles. Not to mention, people have accomplished speed runs that have lasted just a couple of hours. So honestly is Dark Souls for real or is it all just hype? Well, it’s both but at the same time it’s really neither. It’s an action RPG where you traverse a fairly open but structured game world. You explore a dark and bleak world that is filled with secrets and treasures, where slowly but surely you get …

Import Duty – Raiden V (Xbox One)

When the subject of the Xbox brand in Japan is discussed, the word “failure” often comes up. Looking purely at sales statistics and market share, there is no question that the Xbox has struggled in Japan since its inception. The original Xbox performed poorly, and the Xbox 360 had a few moments of triumph before hitting a permanent slump. The Xbox One in Japan is, for the lack of a better word, hopeless… utterly hopeless. Despite the commercial failures, there is still a glimmer of silver lining in form of the Japan exclusive line-up of Xbox games. Now two genres dominate Japan’s Xbox library: visual novels and SHMUPS (i.e. shoot ’em ups or scrolling 2D shooters). Now if you don’t speak or read Japanese, you’re not going to get much out of the text heavy visual novels (such as that Psycho Pass game on Xbox One) but there is literally no language barrier in a genre of games where you control a space ship and blast anything on the screen. Sounds simple enough on paper, …

Pokken Tournament – Review

Pokemon Stadium on the Nintendo 64 was an awesome concept back in the day, given that the main games were confined to a tiny 8-bit handheld, having a console game that allowed you to engage in glorious 3D battles was godsend, allowing players to transfer their Pokemon team onto the N64 for some visually dazzling battles that pretty much played out the exact same way as the traditional turn based battles. Still, it was nice to see Pokemon come to life and fully animated. Now this concept probably has lost its appeal in this day and age given that the 3DS has provided gamers with a fully 3D Pokemon adventure in Pokemon X and Y, with the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Mon hopefully raising the bar higher. Still, back in the day we dreamed up a Pokemon game where battles would be a lot more versatile and free flowing than the restrictions of turn-based, something that would be more akin to the way battles were depicted in the Pokemon anime. When it was first announced that …

Aquarion EVOL Complete Series – Review

Aquarion EVOL is set 12,000 years after the events of the original Aquarion anime, and with such a huge time gap there’s not really a direct connection between the two series, but rather a strong spiritual connection. You could very easily watch Aquarion EVOL without watching the prequel, and that’s not to suggest that the original Aquarion was not a good anime, in fact Aquarion was a really solid series that succeeds for the most part at offering something new in the mecha anime genre, with a strong fixation on characters and their relationships, and using human emotions as a driving force for all the mecha action. Aquarion EVOL is consistent with that original vision, but this time the execution is so much better. Aquarion EVOL feels like a maturity of Aquarion’s vision, and is a much better show in every way in terms of the characters, pacing, visuals, music, and overall story delivery. While Aquarion can be considered to be good, Aquarion EVOL on the other hand can be considered to be something special. It …

Aquarion Complete Series – Review

Mecha anime has a few legends that nearly everyone knows about and nearly every anime creator tries to emulate. Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion are timeless classics and every time you try to watch some other mecha anime, you can’t help but feel like they try too hard to capture their magic instead of trying something new. Of course that’s a generalisation, there’s been some cool standout series like Gurren Lagann but not every mecha anime dares to be so unique and daring. Aquarion was a fairly ambitious project to create something that would become a legend in its own right, and while the sands of time haven’t been as kind to Aquarion as they have been to Gundam and Neon Genesis, Aquarion still manages to deliver a mecha anime that stands out in its execution. Gundam was all about overarching politics and technology, Neon Genesis was very much character driven and placed the onus on the mental condition of its cast. Aquarion feels like a mix of the two, as there is a self aware world …

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Review (Vita)

The Legend of Heroes franchise (known in its earlier years as simply Dragon Slayer) has been around for a long time but not widely known in the Western world. It wasn’t until the localisation of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky on the PSP that the series generated a real English-speaking fanbase. The latest in the franchise is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on the PS3 and Vita, which has  cross-save support in case you were planning on playing both versions. Honestly, given the tremendous size of the adventure it’s probably not a bad idea to have one copy on the telly and one copy on the go. Trails of Cold Steel is a dense RPG adventure epic that is jam packed with a ton of content. Hours simply burn when you play Cold Steel, it takes place in a rich setting, has a ton of characters, and there’s no shortage of activities outside of the combat. Modern RPGs tend to be all flash and all substance, and while Trails …

Sunday Without God Complete Series – Review

It’s admirable when an anime tries to go above and beyond with its setting and storytelling. It’s nice to see creators dare to create something really special, and go into the depths of certain tried and tested themes in order to get something really unique out of them. However, sometimes such ambitions tend to go a little overboard, leaving you with something that doesn’t quite feel defined or complete. There’s many cases of anime trying to overachieve, and perhaps the most beloved example of this is Neon Genesis Evangelion, and as acclaimed as it is, you can’t help accept that the original series blew up in its face. In fact, they had to rewrite the canon several times to repair the damage. Sunday Without God is unique for sure, but almost too unique for its own good. If anything, Sunday Without God tries so hard to set itself apart from everything that it ends up not really figuring out just what it wants to accomplish. A haunting and theologically grandeur world serves as the setting, populated …

Import Duty- Mobile Suit Gundam: The Blue Destiny (SEGA Saturn)

Gundam isn’t a Japanese niche, it’s huge all over the world with the same acclaim and widespread recognition as something like Dragon Ball Z. Whether it’s the anime, manga, or the huge selection of figurines and model kits that get their own dedicated section at Hobby stores, Gundam is a well-known commodity no matter where you are. That being said, fans outside Japan tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to video game adaptations. Over the past few decades, and even now, most of the good Gundam video games almost never leave Japan. We’ve seen a few games show up in local shops over the years, in particular the very undesirable Dynasty Warriors: Gundam spin-off/crossover series. Also at this point, a Dynasty Warriors re-skin is quite possibly the laziest way to make a video game, not to mention that playing as a mech in a Dynasty Warrios game doesn’t even remotely feel like controlling a mech. In fact, Luke Halliday has been trying to give away his copy of Dynasty Warrios: …

Shinsuke Nakamura Officially Joins WWE, First Match Against Sami Zayn

There’s been a lot of mumbling in the wrestling rumour mill lately but now things have come to fruition in the most spectacular fashion. Earlier this month Wrestle Kingdom 10 took place, which saw a phenomenal match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. Just hours after the event rumours started going around that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and a few other New Japan stars had given their notice and accepted offers from WWE. Not long after, Shinsuke Nakamura vacated his IWGP Intercontinental Championship which further added fuel to the rumours. However, following the historic debut of AJ Styles in WWE, it’s now been confirmed that Shinsuke Nakamura has signed with the WWE and will be performing for their thriving and popular NXT brand. Shinsuke joins the likes of Asuka and Kenta as part of WWE‘s ever expanding roster of international stars. Shinsuke Nakamura is a huge acquisition for the company, and his planned debut match will take place at the NXT Takeover PPV in Dallas, Texas. His first opponent? None …

Wrestle Kingdom 10 Was a Night of Redemption and Triumph

No wrestling promotion kick starts the New Year with a bang quite like New Japan Pro Wrestling with their traditional Tokyo Dome wrestling extravaganza, which has for the last decade gone by the apt Wrestle Kingdom moniker. Wrestle Kingdom is quite simply wrestling royalty, and easily the closest alternative to WWE’s Wrestlemania showcase of wrestling immortality. Last year marked the very first English localisation of Wrestle Kingdom, with Wrestle Kingdom 9 delivering an amazing night of superb wrestling action, all made accessible to fans outside Japan thanks to the great efforts of the English commentary team that comprised of Matt Striker and the legendary Jim Ross. You can of course read our full coverage of the amazing Wrestle Kingdom 9 and how much we enjoyed nearly every match on the card. 2016 started off with Wrestle Kingdom 10 on January 4th, and it was a night filled with familiar faces and champions, but more importantly the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 10 was a rematch of the unforgettable closer of Wrestle Kingdom 9: Hiroshi Tanahashi …

Rodea the Sky Soldier: We Reviewed it Thrice!

It started out as a review for the Wii U version of Rodea the Sky Soldier which, for all intents and purposes, is the primary edition of the game. But it ended up becoming a triple feature where all three versions of Rodea got their own review: Wii U, 3DS, and even the limited Wii release. The reason? They’re all very different games. All three versions may share the same story, levels, and bosses, but in terms of gameplay, mechanics, and design they are substantially different from each other, especially the Wii version. It’s also important to do this because Rodea the Sky Soldier is the biggest release by industry legend, Yuji Naka, in a very,very long time. Shigeru Miyamoto may have achieved more fame and commercial success, but during the great console war of the Nineties between SEGA and Nintendo it wasn’t just about SEGA vs. Nintendo, Mega Drive vs. SNES, Saturn vs. Nintendo 64, and Sonic vs. Mario… it was also about Naka vs. Miyamato: two creative geniuses attempting to outdo each other with innovative and fun video …

Rodea the Sky Soldier – Review (Wii)

Rodea the Sky Soldier was first announced as a Wii title many years ago, and after a slow development process and going through some publishers, it was effectively cancelled until Kadokawa Games, and later NIS America, jumped in to revive the project. In doing so, efforts were made to build an almost completely different the game for the Wii U and 3DS. Fortunately, however, the original incarnation of the game on the Wii received its final finishing touches, and was bundled with the first print copies of the Wii U release as a free bonus disc. So as it stands now, if you want to play the Wii version you need to grab a copy of the Wii U version while the first print stock lasts. As an additional, and very cool extra, you also get a reversible cover art with the Wii U art on one side and the Wii art on the other. The limited availability of the Wii version is a crying shame really, because out of all the releases the Wii version …

Rodea the Sky Soldier – Review (3DS)

It’s almost become customary to have a Wii U and 3DS edition of the same title launch simultaneously, with not only obvious cosmetic differences, but even differences in the controls and the way in which gameplay systems are implemented. We’ve seen this happen to Sonic entries on Nintendo platforms, with games like Sonic Lost World and more recently Sonic Boom. Capcom pulled this off with class when they launched Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate simultaneously on the Wii U and 3DS, with both versions being equally stellar. Rodea the Sky Soldier too joins this trend, as accompanying the main Wii U version is this 3DS version that shares most, if not all, of the gameplay systems and mechanics, albeit a few differences to make the experience more functional on the handheld. For all intents and purposes, Rodea the Sky Soldier on 3DS is the exact same game as the Wii U version, with all flaws and issues intact. That being said, Rodea on the 3DS does not feel like a watered down de-make of the Wii U game, …

Rodea the Sky Soldier – Review (Wii U)

Rodea the Sky Soldier on the Wii U is an unfortunate case of too little too late. For one thing, this was originally intended as a Wii game which then switched to the Wii U and not as a port either, but instead it was completely reworked in terms of gameplay systems and mechanics. Within the first moments into the Wii U release, you can’t help but admit that it looks like something that should have been released 4 years ago. Still, better late than never as the old saying goes, and the release of Rodea the Sky Soldier is most certainly welcome in Wii U’s ever expanding library of unique exclusives. That being said, Rodea the Sky Soldier is a very,very flawed release. It has moments of brilliance for sure, but for every moment of bliss there are at least five moments of irritating frustration to dampen the experience that Rodea the Sky Soldier intended to provide. Rodea the Sky Soldier  tells the story of  a great war between two kingdoms: Naga the Machine Empire …

Welcome to Paradise: DOA Xtreme 3 Screenshots

Oh happy days. This right here is how you use gaming technology to create a slice of heaven. It’s colourful, it’s uplifting, and positively joyous… it’s Dead or Alive Xtreme 3! The latest gallery of gorgeous high resolution images is surely a feast for your retinas, so nothing more needs to be said, enjoy the gallery below and be grateful that we live in a world where Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is a thing. -30-

Tanahashi and Okada to Clash Once Again at Wrestle Kingdom 10

The planets have aligned once more for the tenth Wrestle Kingdom event by New Japan Pro Wrestling, which is set to take place on January 4, 2016 and will once again kickstart the new year as one of the biggest wrestling events in the world (that isn’t Wrestlemania). As per tradition, Wrestle Kingdom 10 will be held inside the historic Tokyo Dome. While there is still a good three or so months to go until the PPV extravaganza, the main event has been set in stone already. The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 10 will feature a rematch that I quite honestly wasn’t expecting to happen so soon: Kazuchika “Rain Maker” Okaka will go one on one against his greatest rival in Hiroshi Tanahashi over the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. At Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tanahashi walked in as the defending champion and successfully walked out with the championship in hand after what was one of the best matches of 2014. Tanahashi needed to hit nearly ten of his signature High Fly Flows to make it happen, and challenger …

Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations Impressions

It may have taken a month after the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for it to launch, and it may have taken a few days to iron out all the bugs and really get rolling, but Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations is now fully functional and hitch free as of yesterday. I was struggling to even get into a match when the service first launched, but now the servers are are good to go and jumping to an online match is a smooth transition. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was already the greatest game even without the online multiplayer, but now the addition of Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations has made an already perfect gaming package even better. The character you take control of in Metal Gear Online is of the same appearance you design during the prologue chapter of The Phantom Pain. You’re then prompted to choose one of three character classes: Scout (sniper, long range), Enforcer (heavy arms, bombs), and Infiltrator (closed quarters, stealth). Right …

Asuka Makes WWE Debut as a Worthwhile Addition to a Flourishing Women’s Division

WWE NXT is the place where wrestling stars are born, and even seasoned veterans are born anew when they step inside the NXT ring. Wrestling in the independent scene for nearly a decade, the performer formerly known as Kana made her stunning debut on NXT‘s special extravaganza: TakeOver Respect in a match against Dana Brooke. Asuka made a special entrance while donning a Japanese doll mask, and it didn’t take long to see why she is one of the most respected women in the wrestling business today. Asuka goes into a match with killer instinct, all with an adorable smile on her face. She’s a living,breathing Yandere if we ever saw one. She’s adorable and also a beast, which makes her very scary. Asuka ended her debut match with a hold made famous by the legendary Bob Backlund: The Crossface Chickenwing. It’s a painful cringe-inducing hold for sure, and not many people latch it in with the same ferocity as Bob Backlund did during his prime, but Asuka is probably the only person to ever come close. In …

Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations Has Launched (AU/NZ)

Metal Gear Online has made its long awaited return in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain via a free downloadable update (around 2 GB in size) which adds the online multiplayer mode to the main menu, titled as Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations. Nearly a month after its historic launch, fans of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain have more reason to never, ever stop playing what is surely a contender for the best game of 2015. From its humongous single player campaign to the Mother Base which had online features of its own, the newly added Metal Gear Online mode potentially extends the lifespan of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom from 100 hours to… quite frankly… eternity. Stay tuned for our impressions of the new and improved Metal Gear Online when it’s fully ready to go. The servers are undergoing a tad bit of maintenance with most features unavailable at the time of writing, but it does allow you to freely explore the online map to get a feel of …

BlazBlue: Alter Memory (Series Collection) Review

BlazBlue: Alter Memory is based on the popular 2D fighting franchise of the same name. BlazBlue was one of the most important new IPs that emerged in the previous console generation. It shook up the quality and presentation of 2D sprites to bring the fighting experience as close to an anime production as possible. The visual ecstasy was wonderfully complemented by the silky smooth fighting system that made every fight a joy to behold and experience. One of the great things about the BlazBlue series is its emphasis on single player content and a heavily fleshed out premise, something that is becoming increasingly less apparent in the fighting genre. BlazBlue has spared no expense in providing players with an incredibly deep and lengthy story mode, an experience that is part fighting game but mostly a choice-based visual novel experience with a ton of text and dialogue to sit through. Import a copy of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend (we’re still waiting for that official PAL release, by the way) and you’ll be greeted with the entirety of BlazBlue’s …

Etrian Mystery Dungeon Review

The video game industry is no stranger to crossovers, and the trend only appears to have become more popular with time as developers bring their respective franchises together for an epic joint production. One of the earliest and most notable crossovers, Capcom and SNK cumulated their heated ‘90s rivalry by creating the ultimate dream battle that was Capcom vs SNK, pitching their celebrated fighting franchises into one mega 2D fighting package. Lately we’ve seen Virtua Fighter combatants make their way into Dead or Alive 5, but outside of fighting games we’ve seen some epic crossovers in the RPG genre with the likes of Project X Zone (Capcom, SEGA, and BandaiNamco), Kingdom Hearts (the still bizarre Disney and Square-Enix crossover), and with some unusual ones on the horizon like Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem. Another RPG crossover which only just recently graced the Europe and Australia/New Zealand region is Etrian Mystery Dungeon, a crossover between Etrian Odyssey (by Atlus) and Mystery Dungeon (Spike Chunsoft). A crossover between two niche and brutally challenging RPG makes for …

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Xbox One Review

Last year’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was an impressive offering in its own right, so much so that it’s arguably one of the better action games to come out in recent times. Of course, the game was dubbed as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, a teaser demo if you will. Back when Ground Zeroes landed, it was hard to predict just how much more Phantom Pain was going to add on top of what was already a pretty impressive showcase of game design and technology, and it was also uncertain whether all the talk of “open world” and “biggest Metal Gear game yet” was literal or simply mere marketing hyperbole. Experiencing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain firsthand, going in with the expectations you would have from a typical Metal Gear title, will truly shock you like no other game will. To put things into perspective, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, as impressive as its design and scope was, is merely a molecule when compared with Metal …

Jushin “Thunder” Liger Stuns Wrestling World with Impressive WWE Debut

On WWE’s NXT TakerOver: Brooklyn PPV, wrestling fans were graced with the presence of a legendary Japanese performer and for the very first time too. Many great things have happened in the WWE, and many Japanese wrestling legends have performed and been honoured by the biggest wrestling company in the world,  but to see the legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger perform in front of a sold out Brooklyn (New York) crowd in 2015 was unreal. If you were a complete newcomer to Japanese wrestling, and just casually watching the NXT product, you would have thought that this mysterious wrestler, dressed in a superhero (almost Ultraman) like garb was just one of the young performers on the card… well then you’d be wrong. Jushin “Thunder” Liger has been been a professional wrestler for nearly three decades, of course this is merely a persona and character, surely different wrestlers have assumed the persona over the last 30 years? Nope. Jushin “Thunder” Liger (even to my own surprise) has always been portrayed by the one wrestler who is now …

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Preview

The future of Kojima Productions and Metal Gear franchise may raise a few questions among longtime fans, but there is one thing for sure: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is on track for its mega release on September 1, and Hideo Kojima is on the front lines as always. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was an interesting release that not only set the scene for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but was a fine showcase of the drastically revamped graphics engine and gameplay systems. It’s been offered for free to PlayStation Network subscribers, and it’s currently a free download to Xbox Live Gold subscribers on Xbox One. It’s certainly worthwhile to pick up and sit through Ground Zeroes if you haven’t already, as all the heat regarding its apparent short length is exaggeration, because there’s definitely a lot of content to keep you busy, and more importantly it will make the wait for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a little easier. We had the chance to sit through the …

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ Review

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the latest feature film of the eternally popular Dragon Ball Z franchise and if this blockbuster release is any indication, then this franchise is nowhere near to losing any steam, and creator, Akira Toriyama, is still laughing on his way to the bank. The great thing about the Dragon Ball universe is that anything and everything can happen, and no matter what happens it’s always plausible and it always fits into the lore and continuity. The glue and pillar that holds the insurmountable mass of ethos together lies within the title itself: Dragon Ball. The seven mythical orbs, upon being assembled, summon the Eternal Dragon that is Shenron, who can make anything happen. This franchise was clearly planned ahead, and the 7 Dragon Balls are the ultimate foolproof contingency plan that can repair any plot hole. No other anime franchise can hold itself strongly with such simplicity quite like Dragon Ball. Honestly, that’s the endearing appeal of the franchise in general… it’s sheer simplicity which allows its audience to …

Psycho Pass (Xbox One) Confirmed for English Localisation

  After much speculation and wishful thinking it’s now official: the Psycho Pass video game adaptation will be getting an English localisation. Based on the anime of the same name, Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness is an Xbox One exclusive visual novel adventure, and is part of Microsoft Japan’s initiative to make the console cool among Japanese gamers. The Xbox brand has never enjoyed much success in Japan, and in fact its commercial performance has only declined with time. Still, the recent shake up of the Xbox division in Japan is pointing towards some positive changes, and the English localisation of Mandatory Happiness is indicative of the start of a beautiful new trend. The Xbox platform is no stranger to visual novels, but these have been strictly tied to Japan with no attempts at translating to other languages. Steins;Gate, which is now readily available in English, was actually an Xbox 360 exclusive for the longest time if you can believe. Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness will be receiving an Asian edition, which will contain Chinese and English …

Shenmue III Breaks the Internet and Sets Kickstarter Record, It’s Happening Folks

Nearly 15 years after the cliffhanger finale of Shenmue II on the Dreamcast (and later Xbox), the fabled sequel that’s been rumored to appear at every E3 conference in the last 15 years is now actually a thing. Shenmue III did show up at E3 this time… there will never be a Dreamcast 2 but there sure as hell is a Shenmue 3 now. Shenmue was never the biggest commercial success during its own time, which is why any chance of the series continuing was pretty much gone because the powers to be simply never saw any money in it. In fact the first two games had production costs so high that sales could barely break even to cover it. If anything Shenmue was ahead of its time, too ambitious and far ahead for gamers to really appreciate it for what it was. That being said, the right time and place for the franchise is quite simply right here and right now. Series creator and industry legend, Yu Suzuki, took the stage at the Sony E3 …

When Marnie Was There – Review

Studio Ghibli films explore a range of genres and themes, but if there is one consistent trend, its the exploration of what it means to be a child in this complicated and downright cruel world. Studio Ghibli films are all about the thoughts and feelings that one experiences in their childhood, and the power of using imagination to make sense of, and if not to ease, the harshness of reality. While these films may explore the ins and out of child’s mind and perception, you need to be an adult to fully understand and appreciate their message. So in essence, Studio Ghibli films are about what it means to be a child but are made for the viewing pleasure of adults. Make sense? When Marnie Was There has just received a theatrical release in Australia, and it joins Princess Kaguya and The Wind Rises as one of Studio Ghibli’s latest efforts, and it may be a while before we see them produce anything else. Not that it’s a bad thing, because creating a masterpiece takes …

Humanity Has Declined – Review

  Humanity Has Declined is an usual show, even by anime standards that’s really saying a lot. We’re used to the random craziness of anime but Humanity Has Declined doesn’t so much go off the wall, it’s in fact a very intelligent show… too intelligent from what you’re probably used to. I’m not even talking about vaguely plausible scientific and philosophical theories that many sci-fi anime have demonstrated over the decades, as Humanity Has Declined presents its stories and ideas with utmost simplicity, but underneath its surface is layers of subtle symbolism that demand astute observation to notice. Humanity Has Declined is socio-political satire with a heavy dose of black comedy, wrapped and presented as a colourful and vibrant anime. It’s so cute and magical on the surface and yet so shockingly cynical and dark underneath, and when you see the themes explored and the way the characters are presented, you can’t help but be caught a little off-guard. On your first viewing it’s entirely possible and understandable for you to decided not to continue watching, as the …

Dawn of the Arcana Volume One – Review

Dawn of the Arcana is a fairly successful Shojo series in its native territory, and it is actually the first series by author and illustrator, Rei Toma, to be picked up for an English localization. Running from 2009 to 2013, this series has garnered praise for being a fairly solid Shojo that’s situated within a pretty heavy political fantasy premise, along with all the relationship triangles and romantic shenanigans that you’ve come to expect from the genre. At a glance, Dawn of Arcana is like Game of Thrones with a strong feminine touch, which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you are. All 13 volumes of the series have been localized courtesy of Viz Media, and Madman has picked the series up for distribution in Australia and New Zealand. The first volume came out just recently, so let’s see if it leaves a lasting impression. Dawn of the Arcana tells a typical tale of two warring nations stuck within the confines of an island, with decades of bloodshed and animosity that …

Puroresu Getting Some Spotlight During Wrestlemania Season

If I have to explain to you what Wrestlemania is then clearly you’re not from planet Earth. Whether you watch pro wrestling or not, Wrestlemania season has been causing pop culture shock waves since the 1980s. The 31st annual Wrestlemania will take place in a matter of days now, with plenty of festivities leading up to it, including the Hall of Fame Ceremony. While Wrestlemania is indeed an American (Western) pop culture extravaganza, this year is a little special because Japanese pro wrestling is getting some well deserved props. Not only do we have one of the hottest Japanese wrestlers performing at Wrestlemania, but the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will recognize and immortalize the legacy of one of the greatest Japanese performers in the history of professional wrestling. Let’s talk about the present and future right now: Hideo Itami. This Japanese grappling striker made his debut on NXT, WWE’s developmental program, and has quickly become a must see performer. Formerly known as Kenta, this man already has a well established repertoire in Japanese wrestling industry …

Anime Month on Xbox One

March is a pretty big month for Xbox One, with the huge system update and the release of Ori and the Blind Forest… but wait this is Snap Thirty, what’s relevant here is that this month is Anime Month on Xbox Live. It seems that this is a very new and novel thing for the folks over at Microsoft, as they are introducing anime to the Xbox One crowd like it was invented last month. They have a special video titled “Understanding Anime 101”, so it looks like Microsoft really appreciates the general non-Otaku nature of the Call of Duty grizzled Xbox audience. There’s an episode of Sword Art Online available for free, a sale on Naruto Shippuden episodes, and a whole host of anime series like Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, and several shows across the genres of Sci-fi & Mecha, Action & Shonen, and Drama & Fan Service (their categorization by the way). All content is part of the the Xbox Video service (let’s not forget, however, that Crunchyroll is on Xbox One). …

Quick Thoughts on Nintendo Anime Channel

So the other day Frank drugged and dragged me into the game store just to buy Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in what was a re-enactment of Weekend at Bernie’s. I woke up with a copy of Monster Hunter in my hand and the 3DS already turned on, so I decided to just go ahead and play, and not question why Frank’s purple fedora was resting on my bed. But before I could get into Monster Hunter, my 3DS surprised me with a download it had done without my permission, it was none other than the Nintendo Anime Channel that I learned about at Nintendo Direct not long ago. This app is completely free, and in fact your 3DS will simply insist you own it. The 3DS YouTube app may have been useless, but the Nintendo Anime Channel proves to be otherwise. The Nintendo Anime Channel is a simplified streaming service that allows you to enjoy anime on the go, and the content here is Nintendo’s own home-grown anime product. At this point there are eight …

NJPW New Beginning Was The Beginning of the End

When your first PPV is a sure fire contender for Wrestling Event of the Year, like Wrestle Kingdom 9 was for New Japan Pro Wrestling, it sets a pretty tough precedent to be gauged on. Rather than saving best for last, NJPW unleashed their very best at the dawn of the New Year, creating a pretty tough act to follow up. Of course, the two events that took place on February 11 and 14, collectively and aptly known as New Beginning, marked a pretty important place in Japanese wrestling history. New Beginning was never going to be the same excess grandeur as Wrestle Kingdom 9, but as the name puts it so eloquently, the events that took place on 11th and 14th February respectively marked the beginning of something new, for better or for worse. The first event held on 11th February took place in Osaka, main evented by a battle for the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Hiroshi Tanahashi was quite literally on top of the wrestling world, defeating The Rainmaker last month in what …

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round – Xbox One Review

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is the final expansion to 2012’s Dead or Alive 5. While the game is available for last generation systems, the next-gen edition of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round on the PS4/Xbox One on the other hand is a whole different story, if not the real deal. The PS4/Xbox One edition not only features a wealth of new content but also a revamped graphics engine that takes advantage of the new technology. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round marks a less-than-ideal debut of the franchise on modern hardware, a distraction until Team Ninja unleash the inevitable Dead or Alive 6. Obviously for the uninitiated, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is the best possible place to start and a great fighting release through and through. But even those who were on board since the original iteration landed in 2012 may find the offerings of Last Round appealing enough to fall in love with the game once more. Dead or Alive 5 on last generation systems is still a visually impressive game, …

Hands-On with Dead or Alive 5: Last Round

For those of you who are going through cold lonely nights like our Frank Inglese (especially on Valentine’s Day), then fret not, come February 20 the fine gals of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round will be taking care of you (and most certainly not judge you). We recently had a chance to sit down with the final build of the title, and based on what we’ve played, fighting fans should be looking forward to the first next-gen debut of the celebrated 3D fighting franchise later this month. Now granted, this is a remaster of a game that came out some years ago on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and Last Round is in fact the third (and apparently final) expansion to Dead or Alive 5. Now until a true Dead or Alive 6 happens, this is what we’ve got for our DOA fix, but honestly Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is looking to be less of a consolation prize and more of a definitive fighting release for your Xbox One or PS4. Something …

The Wind Rises Review

I had the pleasure of watching The Wind Rises from Studio Ghibli during its original theatrical screening back in 2013, and it was a marvellous cinematic experience that really left a lasting impression. Watching it all over again in this Blu-ray release proved to be just as absorbing and magical as the first time. This is a two hour film with a slow burn pace, and yet every inch and moment of it will draw you in. The fact that it can do so on a second viewing is a real indication of how great this animated epic is. The Wind Rises comes from the mind and genius of Hayao Miyazaki, and this film is another glowing accomplishment in his already legendary and unparalleled resume of animated classics… if not his very best one. In this film Miyazaki challenges himself by stepping away from his comfort zone to create something that is a jarring departure from anything else he has ever done. The Wind Rises is a historical animated biopic, chronicling the life Jiro Horikoshi, …

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro Review

When you think about the most instantly recognizable names in anime/manga that have become global pop culture icons, then a few names like Goku, Doraemon, Astro Boy, Himura Kenshin, and I guess now even Naruto, immediately come to mind. Performance criminal and thief, Lupin is right up there as one of the true Japanese pop culture icons. Even those who don’t actively watch anime today will recall Lupin the Third with the same fondness as Dragon Ball Z. This charismatic anti-hero may be a thief for the most part, but he has all the charisma and secret agent mannerisms of Agent 007 from the Bond franchise. He breaks hearts, he sneaks around, and he somehow manages to save the world, all with a ton of class and sass. Now the original source material of Lupin the Third was strikingly dark and gritty despite its sly sense of humour. It was also sexually charged and provoking, and in fact no animated adaptation of the series captured this essence quite like The Woman Called Mine Fujiko, which is perhaps among …

Wrestle Kingdom 9 Was Wrestling Royalty

Click here to read our preview of the event.  Nothing could have prepared us for the incredible show that was Wrestle Kingdom 9 by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The first real localization of this Japanese pop culture phenomenon courtesy of Jeff Jarret and Global Force Wrestling. On ringside you had Jim Ross and Matt Striker calling the action for English speaking audiences, doing their very best to tell the stories and break down the language barrier. On 4 January 2015, NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 kick started the year with what is already the best show of 2015. Although that obviously doesn’t mean much at this point, which is why it pleases me to say that Wrestle Kindgom 9 is among the finest wrestling shows in recent memory, if not in the history of this global industry itself. Wrestle Kingdom 9 had the glitz, glamour, and production values of a star-studded Wrestlemania, and that’s no light analogy. But this was no Wrestlemania look-alike, because Wrestle Kingdom 9 embodies the sheer uniqueness and richness of Japanese wrestling, …

Gear Up for NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9

  This website is all about Japanese pop culture, and you’ve seen this place cover music, anime, video games, and manga… so what’s this pro wrestling doing in your Nippon culture haven? Don’t worry, we won’t be discussing the CM Punk Retrieval Arc any time soon… but we do want to bring your attention to the wonderful world of Japanese grappling. It’s not surprising that nearly everyone associates professional wrestling as a defining feature of the North American sports and entertainment industry, and of course most people would also appreciate the Mexican heritage of the phenomenon given the fascination with the athletic styling of Lucha Libre (and lest we forget Jack Black’s take on the art form in Nacho Libre). That said, to say that pro wrestling is as deeply embedded in Japanese history and culture just as it is in North America, Mexico, and even Great Britain, would not be an overstatement at all. In fact, Japan has such a huge pro wrestling industry that it has has dedicated fans all over the country from all generations. …

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends Review

The third and final chapter of the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy is aptly dubbed as The Legend Ends, picking up right where the cliffhanger finale of Kyoto Inferno left off. A fair spoiler warning to those who are about to read on, there will be references to the previous films so tread carefully. Kyoto Inferno ended with the frightening unveiling of Shishio Makoto’s ultimate weapon: a battleship equipped with modern warfare. Something that is completely alien to Japan. Shishio Makoto uses this powerful weapon to showcase the true extent of his terror, giving him the ultimate trump card against the crumbling Japanese government. What’s interesting is that this war machine was also introduced in the original anime series, except that Shishio never even got to use it because Sanouske somehow managed to sink the damn thing. Now in this movie adaptation the ship is put to great use as a compelling plot device. This is where The Legend Ends demonstrates a rare instance where taking liberties with the source material, and even executing ideas differently, can lead …

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno Review

The pressure couldn’t be any higher for the first Rurouni Kenshin live action to deliver on the unending popularity of the anime and manga. The 2012 self-titled movie debut managed to deliver on all fronts: the cast, the characters’ mannerisms, the beautifully choreographed fight sequences, all of it coming together in a way that left no fan unsatisfied despite some obvious omissions from the original source material and some creative liberties taken with it. Fans could not have asked for a better live action debut for Kenshin, a first of a trilogy that left us looking forward to more. Two years later in 2014, we have been treated to not one but two follow ups within the same year: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. These two films not only serve as a natural continuation to where the 2012 film ended, but they extensively and faithfully cover the most memorable arc of the anime/manga where Kenshin returns to Kyoto to confront his past, and to challenge a new adversary in Shishio …