Top 5 Hand-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday

Top 5 Hand-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday

Black Friday has come and gone, but it’s not too late to set your friends up (or simply treat yourself) with a fantastic handheld game to keep you occupied throughout your holiday travel this year. Check out CGMagazine’s Derek Heemsbergen’s recommendations for the most immersive, addictive, and flat-out gripping handheld titles available now on a portable console near you!

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

Top 5 Hnad-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday
Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth – gameplay image via Atlus and Nintendo

A massive dungeon-crawling adventure, Etrian Odyssey V blends Dungeons & Dragons-style character-building with distinctly Japanese RPG sensibilities.

Why They’ll Love It: They’ll spend hours upon hours creating a party of super-powered custom adventurers…and then tens of hours more braving the treacherous Yggdrasil labyrinth! Etrian Odyssey V is one seriously dense game, with tons to see and do. Its signature map-making gameplay should appease old-school gamers looking for a meaty experience with a slightly analogue sensibility.

 

Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon

Top 5 Hnad-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday 1
Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon – gameplay image via Nintendo

Like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and their other “third version” counterparts before them, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the latest and greatest way to experience the addictive Pokémon phenomenon.

Why They’ll Love It: It’s Pokémon, but bigger and better than ever. Chances are, if your would-be recipient has even a passing interest in Pokémon, they’ve probably already checked out 2016’s Sun and Moon. Why not get them this year’s updated version so that they don’t have to drop the cash? Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon‘s myriad tweaks and additions are welcome, though perhaps not substantial enough to justify buying the game yet again, making it an excellent stocking stuffer for the financially conservative Pokémon fanatic.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

Top 5 Hnad-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday 2
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – gameplay image via NIS America, Inc.

The latest entry in the Ys series is a blazing-fast action RPG perfectly suited to the pick-up-and-play nature of the PlayStation Vita.

Why They’ll Love It: With its origins squarely back in the 1980s, Ys is a storied game series with some serious street cred. Lacrimosa of Dana continues in the proud tradition of its predecessors with swords, spells, and mystery aplenty. Because most every Ys game is a self-contained adventure, Lacrimosa of Dana stands on its own as a fast and frenetic adventure that should make any RPG fan happy. As a bonus, NIS America is currently at work on a revamped localization for the game, which should give it a renewed lease on life sometime next year. Did somebody say New Game+?

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

Top 5 Hnad-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday 3
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – gameplay image via Spike Chunsoft

The thrilling conclusion to the Danganronpa series brings another bizarre tale of high school murder to the small screen on PlayStation Vita.

Why They’ll Love It: There are few series out there more morbidly compelling than Danganronpa. With a grim, high-stakes story and excellent music to keep their blood pumping, your lucky recipient will be drawn into Danganronpa‘s bloody world in no time flat. Despite being a new entry in the series, V3‘s connection to previous Danganronpa games is a little more subtle, making it a fine entry point for newcomers. Chances are, though, they’ll want to go back for more.

Tobu Tobu Girl

Top 5 Hnad-Held Games to Give Your Friends (or Your Greedy Self) This Holiday 4
Tobu Tobu Girl – image via Tangram Games

A hyper-retro blast from the 8-bit past, Tobu Tobu Girl is an adorable, arcade-style Game Boy platformer freshly released at the tail end of 2017.

Why They’ll Love It: Whimsical and challenging, Tobu Tobu Girl hearkens back to classic Game Boy titles that were bursting with imagination. Plus, because Tobu Tobu Girl‘s physical edition is a limited, independent release, it’s sure to become a rare collector’s item. You’ll be giving a fun game and the gift of a financial investment! How’s that for a one-two punch?

Still unsure about what to get that special someone this Holiday season? For more suggestions, check out the CGMagazine Buyers Guide – Best of 2017 Edition, available for pre-order now, in print and digital formats. Get yours here.

EDITORS NOTE: A retail versions of some of these games were provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Derek Heemsbergen’s  reviews, such as  Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth and his second look at Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

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Spike Chunsoft Opens North American Branch In California

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Review

Japan-based video game developer Spike Chunsoft, the company behind the popular Danganronpa franchise, recently announced the formation of their North American subsidiary, Spike Chunsoft Inc.

The new North American office will open in California, the wholly owned office will be responsible for localising, marketing and publishing for the region.

Mitsutoshi Sakurai, President & CEO for Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. and Spike Chunsoft, Inc. said via press release:

“Ever since our merger in 2012, we at Spike Chunsoft have dedicated ourselves to creating fun and unique titles. Our world today is more connected than ever — we can play games with people across the globe and exchange information in multiple languages instantaneously. But even as information is more easily shared, the world still holds a wealth of undiscovered entertainment. As Spike Chunsoft, it is our goal to cultivate this potential into something new and memorable that transcends time, genre, and nationality.

Until now, our titles were produced in Japan and distributed worldwide by our business partners. But given how the instantaneous speed of information has become the norm, we believe that communicating with our overseas audience directly is a new avenue for us to create joy. Spike Chunsoft, Inc. connects us with our fans and their passion to producing more of the fun and unique titles the global community has come to expect from us. We can’t wait to say ‘Hello, world!'”

In addition to the announcement of the California office, a website has been put up for the new North American branch. Some recently released titles from Spike Chunsoft include Danganronpa: V3: Killing Harmony, Fire Pro Wrestling World and Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.

Future titles for the new North American branch will be unveiled at the Game Developers Conference in March 2018.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out  Derek Heemsbergen’s review of Danganronpa: V3: Killing Harmony.

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

First 15: Danganronpa V3 – Killing Harmony

First 15: Danganronpa V3 - Killing Harmony

Derek Heemsbergen takes you through the chilling introduction of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the latest game in the Danganronpa murder mystery series, that once again delivers thrills and bloody chills on PS4 and Vita.


Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15 – Dishonored: Death of the Outsider!

Like this video and want to read more about it? Check out Derek Heemsbergen’s Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review for PS4! You should also see what Derek thought about Ys SEVEN and Final Fantasy XII Remastered

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Danganronpa V3 will feature streaming and screenshot restrictions on PS4

Danganronpa V3 will feature streaming and screenshot restrictions on PS4

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will have streaming restrictions upon launch on PlayStation 4, preventing players from streaming and creating videos of the game beyond the first chapter.

These restrictions are in the interest of preventing spoilers, a representative of publisher NIS America told CGM, and have been imposed directly by developer Spike Chunsoft.

What this means is that both streaming through the PlayStation 4’s share features to stream the game, as well as screenshots, will be blocked beyond the first chapter. Streaming is blocked once the player reaches the first class trial, which is roughly four to five hours into Danganronpa V3’s story. According to NIS America, Spike Chunsoft will be taking down any videos with content beyond the first chapter.

NIS America said in a statement it will be releasing updates about relieving these restrictions in the future, implying streamers and content creators will be able to stream and take screenshots beyond the first chapter at some point.

Spike Chunsoft did not respond when reached for comment.

Earlier this year, Persona 5 had similar streaming restrictions, with developer Atlus preventing any native streaming or screenshots whatsoever, and requiring those streaming through third-party methods to only stream up to a certain point in the game or face consequences. The controversy ultimately forced Atlus to extend the point streamers could stream to a later point in the game within the first month of the game’s launch.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita on September 26th. The game is the first to feature a new setting for the series, after Danganronpa’s original story concluded in the animated series Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School last year.

For more on Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, check out CGM’s review, and for more reading on the series overall, check out our reviews of the PlayStation 4 remasters of the original games.


 

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) Review—Truth Versus Lies

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) Review—Truth Versus Lies

A few years ago, I wanted nothing to do with Danganronpa. Its morbid premise—a neon-splattered killing game between sixteen talented high school students—sent chills down my spine. I wondered what joy there was to find in their suffering, to watch their faces twist in anguish as their friends’ bodies piled ever higher in a series of elaborate murder mysteries. It turns out that “joy” isn’t the right word to describe Danganronpa. It’s not a joyful sort of experience, but it is bizarrely compelling; to thumb through its virtual pages is to bear witness to humanity in the most stressful circumstances imaginable, and to awe at their ability to persevere through it all with the right mixture of cunning and intellect. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony carries on that legacy with a brand new killing game that remains both deeply unsettling and impossible to put down.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) Review—Truth Versus Lies 2
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) – gameplay images via Bandai Namco

Danganronpa V3 is once again an interactive visual novel that follows a group of high school students, each with an absurd title like “Ultimate Anthropologist” or “Ultimate Cosplayer,” who are confined to a school campus and forced to participate in an absurd game of kill-or-be-killed in order to win their freedom. The only way to triumph in the game is to commit a murder and successfully evade capture in a peer-moderated class trial, meaning that killers have to be creative in order to fool their classmates. If the culprit is unsuccessful, the punishment is no less than their own execution. This makes for a tense game of cat and mouse where killers reveal their true colours in dramatic fashion when their plans start to go awry. Suffice it to say, Danganronpa V3 contains all of the twists and turns fans have come to expect from the series—and more, really, but to delve into the nitty-gritty of its narrative would rob any prospective player of the authentic Danganronpa experience.

Whereas the original Danganronpa trilogy—which technically includes two main entries, a spin-off shooter, and a pair of complementary anime follow-ups—was centered around the warring notions of hope and despair, Danganronpa V3 is a thematic battle between truth and lies. At least one character is a compulsive liar. Others abruptly change their stories and lie to clear themselves of suspicion when they find themselves in danger. A new mechanic in Danganronpa V3 even has the player intentionally commit perjury themselves from time to time in order to manipulate other characters into changing their thinking. The idea here is that sometimes lies are necessary to find the truth, but the game makes it clear that a penchant for dishonesty comes with a psychological cost.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) Review—Truth Versus Lies 5
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) – gameplay images via Bandai Namco

Trial segments return as back-and-forth debates with a sort of manic energy I’d imagine Phoenix Wright might have if he tripled his caffeine intake and never slept. The game attempts to introduce a bit of variety during trials with a handful of mini-games, like a variant of hangman and a stilted Crazy Taxi analogue, but these ultimately feel like filler. Nothing, however, beats the rush of having an “aha!” moment when the disparate pieces of a mystery finally come together during a heated debate. My only real complaint about Danganronpa V3 is that navigating the academy during exploration segments quickly becomes a chore. Fast travel exists, but it’s buried deeper in the main menu than it should be, and travel points aren’t always convenient. More irritatingly, the feature is disabled outright at many points during the game.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) Review—Truth Versus Lies 8
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4) – gameplay images via Bandai Namco

Not much has changed in terms of presentation with Danganronpa V3. It’s still a visual novel with some light exploration and a story told mostly through static character portraits. A bright colour palette and wild character designs contrast with gruesome scenes of neon pink violence to create Danganronpa‘s signature atmosphere. Composer Masafumi Takada returns to score V3′s excellent soundtrack, a suite of melodies that oscillate between blood-pumping electronica and mood-setting murder-jazz. Its audio presentation is hampered slightly by uneven audio mixing that tends to drown out character voices; this can be alleviated somewhat by adjusting sound levels in the options menu, though it’s not a perfect solution.

Danganronpa V3‘s sharply written story undulates between fact and fiction with remarkable finesse. Just when things start to go the player’s way, the game has a tendency to pull the rug out from under their feet. This makes it a wildly unpredictable ride that starts strong and remains compelling throughout. I’m being tight-lipped about the details because it truly needs to be experienced first-hand; believe me when I say that this is one finale that Danganronpa fans won’t want to miss.


CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Derek Heemsbergen’s Ys SEVEN review and Tokyo Xanadu review!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First Fifteen of Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Danganronpa 1.2 Reload Review – Deep Twisted Remaster

Danganronpa 1.2 Reload Review - Deep Twisted Remaster

Danganronpa 1.2 Reload brings Spike Chunsoft’s excellent murder mystery series to consoles for the first time. These visual novels, originally released for the PlayStation Portable, are stretched to their visual limit on a bigger screen, but despite the occasional artistic failings, everything that makes these stories profound, clever, and worth experiencing is maintained on PlayStation 4.

Read moreDanganronpa 1.2 Reload Review – Deep Twisted Remaster

Spike Chunsoft Unveils Fire Pro Wrestling World and More at GDC 2017

Spike Chunsoft Unveils Fire Pro Wrestling World and More at GDC 2017

There has been a lot of interesting stuff coming out of 2017’s Game Developer Contest. From early concepts showing Breath of the Wild as a modern day Zelda, to No Man’s Sky receiving the innovation award with no one to accept it, to the revival of a much beloved Japanese wrestling game.

Read moreSpike Chunsoft Unveils Fire Pro Wrestling World and More at GDC 2017

Danganronpa Another Episode coming to PS4 next summer

Danganronpa Another Episode coming to PS4 next summer

NIS America has announced that it will be bringing Danganronpa spin-off Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls to PlayStation 4 not long after it ports the mainline games to the platform in summer of 2017.

Read moreDanganronpa Another Episode coming to PS4 next summer

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Brings 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward to PS4

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Brings 999 and Virtue's Last Reward to PS4

Aksys and Spike Chunsoft are bringing the first two games in the Zero Escape series to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita as part of a double pack called Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.

News of this comes from a post on the PlayStation Blog, which reveals that the collection will include Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, neither of which have ever been on PS4. While Virtue’s Last Reward is already available on Vita, this will be the first time Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has appeared on the handheld.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has been rebuilt from the ground up since it originally came out on the first Nintendo DS in 2009, and will feature HD graphics and both English and Japanese voice acting, unlike the original version of the game.

It is worth noting that this collection doesn’t feature Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma, the third and presumably final game in the series, which launched on PC, PlayStation Vita, and 3DS earlier this year. Those who purchase The Nonary Games on Vita will still be able to play the final Zero Escape, but if you’re looking to get the full story you won’t be able to do so on PlayStation 4.

The Zero Escape series revolves around nine people being trapped in an enclosed space and forced to play a life-threatening game by series’ antagonist Zero, whose identity serves as one of the games’ several mysteries.

This is the second visual novel compilation Spike Chunsoft is bringing to PlayStation 4, with Danganronpa 1•2 Reload offering Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to consoles players for the first time in 2017.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games will be available in spring of 2017.

For more on the Zero Escape series, check out CGM’s review of Zero Time Dilemma.

Danganronpa and its Sequel are Coming to PS4 Next Year

Danganronpa and its Sequel are Coming to PS4 Next Year

NIS America is bringing both Danganronpa visual novels to PlayStation 4 in the form of Danganronpa 1•2 Reload in early 2017.

This compilation will contain Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and its direct sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, bringing both to PS4 in North America, where the games have previously only been available on PlayStation Vita and SteamDanganronpa and its Sequel are Coming to PS4 Next Year.

Along with a standard edition release, NISA is selling a limited edition exclusive to its own store as well, one that features an art book, soundtrack CD, sunglasses, and other goodies. Those who bought special editions of either game before will see that some of the contents are identical, and should consider that before making a purchase.

Regarding whether PlayStation 4 fans could expect to see more of the series on the platform, NISA’s Jordan Vincent alluded to more Danganronpa through a post on the PlayStation Blog, signing off with “Is there more to come? We’ll see!”

Both visual novels focus on groups of high school students being trapped in an enclosed space by Monokuma, an animatronic teddy bear. In order to escape, one student must murder one of their classmates, while also managing to deceive the survivors about who the killer is. Players have to solve these mysteries and unmask the killer, while also having to watch the culprit suffer a brutal execution.

Developer Spike Chunsoft also released a spin-off called Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, a third-person shooter, on Vita in 2014, which subsequently came to North America in 2015.

While the franchise will continue in a new game called New Danganronpa V3 next year, Spike Chunsoft wrapped up the series’ Hope’s Peak Academy story with an animated series called Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy, which finished airing last week. While you will need to play all three games to understand it, the anime is available for streaming through Funimation.

For more on the series, check out CGM’s reviews of both Trigger Happy Havoc and Ultra Despair Girls.

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) Review

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) Review

When Volume 3 of the Zero Escape series, Zero Time Dilemma, was put on hiatus indefinitely in 2014 due to the series’ poor reception in Japan, I never thought that I would have the chance to finish the wonderful story set up by the previous two games. Now it’s here, in my hands, and I couldn’t be happier. Zero Time Dilemma is the best entry into the Zero Escape series and here’s why.

Read moreZero Time Dilemma (3DS) Review

One Piece: Burning Blood (PS4) Review

One Piece: Burning Blood (PS4) Review

It’s hard to not think of J-Stars Victory VS+ while playing One Piece: Burning Blood.  A spiritual successor of sorts to Bandai Namco’s anime crossover title from 2015, Burning Blood shares the same developer (Spike Chunsoft), and features similar 3

rd

-person, team-based, 3-D-arena-style fighting.  It also borrows several gameplay elements from its predecessor including its two-tiered level-up system for unlocking advanced moves and unleashing powerful ultimate attacks in battle.  One could even argue that J-Stars served as the perfect “audition” for Spike Chunsoft to prove they could make a worthy One Piece game since the series’ main protagonist Monkey D. Luffy was prominently featured in one of the game’s four campaign story arcs.  The similarities mostly end there, however.  While J-Stars only dabbled in the world of One Piece and explored a handful of its bizarre and colourful characters, Burning Blood takes an unprecedented deep dive into the One Piece universe, visually upping the ante on several fronts.   Its new-and-improved cel-shaded look closely mirrors the hand-drawn style of the manga, and its well-produced CG cutscenes use character models similar to those in game to provide a better sense of continuity.  Likewise, the game boasts dazzling animations that sell the impossible physical feats of Luffy, his pirate allies, and his enemies better than any previous One Piece game. Compared to J-Stars, Burning Blood is a modern, visual feast, and that’s certainly not a bad problem to have for a game in this genre.

One Piece: Burning Blood (PS4) Review 6Burning Blood is hardly a slouch in terms of content either.  With over 40 playable characters and 60+ support characters, almost every notable name in One Piece canon is represented in Burning Blood’s roster.  As a gracious nod to series fans, the campaign mode is focused around the long-running series’ 2010 “Marineford Arc” (a.k.a. “The Paramount War”), a pivotal chapter in the One Piece saga that decides the fates of several key characters.  Consisting of four separate yet simultaneous chapters starring Luffy, his adopted pirate brother Portgas D. Ace, mentor and rival Edward Newgate (Whitebeard) and the villainous Marine Commander Akainu, the campaign allows players to experience the Battle at Marineford from four different perspectives, plus engage in multiple side missions loosely based on story canon.  Players who want to dive into the game’s other modes need some patience, at least initially, as “Paramount War Mode” and the mandatory tutorial embedded in Luffy’s chapter must be completed before unlocking other modes, characters and items.  Beyond that, several characters can only be accessed after purchasing them with Beli, the official currency of both One Piece and the game.  Naturally, players earn Beli though winning fights and/or completing story chapters. Once characters are unlocked they can be incorporated into 3-person teams for use in the game’s other modes, such as “Free”, “Online”, and “Wanted” modes.  Conversely, “Campaign Mode” more or less follows the events of the Battle at Marineford, so most of the time players can only play as the protagonist of that particular chapter, and will only be able to swap in a pre-determined partner or call in support when the story demands it.

In terms of gameplay refinements however, Burning Blood feels like a mixed bag.  On the positive side, the actual on-screen combat is streamlined to 1v1 plus support (i.e. one fighter in the field with two swappable allies in reserve and a support character) as opposed to J-Stars’ 2-on-2 plus support.  This ultimately means less fighting with the game camera, as it only needs to track one opponent at a time.  This also means no longer being saddled with a less-than-reliable A.I. fighting partner, so you don’t have to constantly worry about where your wingman is on the battlefield, or having to keep him or her close and conscious so you can pull off ultimate team moves.  On the flipside though, there’s less spontaneity to fights without having an ally in the field with you.

Speaking of absent allies, don’t expect to see any of those 60+ support characters in battle either.  In Burning Blood, support characters serve strictly as buffs to your team’s special abilities or attributes, such as offering increased defense when in an “Awakened” (powered up) state, or granting a the player a one-time ability to use a “Unity Assist” (tag-team attack) without consuming any of his or her “Burning Gauge” (i.e. Super Meter).  While having a support character in your corner can be beneficial gameplay-wise, visually they are nothing more than a thumbnail on your HUD, fighting alongside you only in spirit.

What really left me salty after playing Burning Blood however, was that despite my previous experience with J-Stars and the many similarities that game shares with this one, I immediately found Burning Blood obtuse and unwelcoming.  Part of the problem is the game literally drops players into the convoluted mess of a story that is “The Paramount War” without even a passing introduction to the characters or the world of One Piece. It just assumes you already know everything, and know it well.  Lore-heavy words like “Haki”, “Time Slip”, “Impel Down” and “Devil Fruits”, are tossed about as if they are part of the common tongue. While players can unlock a glossary that explains many of these references, they have to exit the game to the main menu and enter “Collection” mode to access it.

One Piece: Burning Blood (PS4) Review 5Don’t get me wrong, I get that Burning Blood was made to cater to hardcore fans (no one expects a new Naruto or Dragon Ball Z game to start from the beginning every time), but the game makes very little effort to accommodate new players from a gameplay perspective either. For example, the crash course tutorial at the beginning of Luffy’s story chapter follows the same pattern every time. It quickly introduces a concept that players must grasp by simply reading on-screen text, then it promptly ushers players into a live fight, and expects them to perform the move or technique without any on-screen pointers as to what buttons to press.  In fact, at the beginning of the very first tutorial the game essentially informs you that all of its teachings are based on the default control setup even if you’ve configured yours differently.  The only controller buttons that are regularly displayed in the tutorials or move-lists are L3 and R3, while all other buttons are represented by different coloured rectangles with the in-game action that they perform displayed within them.  Players are simply expected to memorize the button’s operation instead of its actual symbol. If they forget, they’ll have to revisit the controller configuration screen to refresh their memory, and translate that logic in their head to the move list commands until they become second nature.   This was not as big of an issue in J-Stars, which frankly was more of a button-masher and had simpler commands overall, but Burning Blood is a meant to be a much more technical fighter, expecting players to make use of basic and advanced versions of guard breaks, player tag-ins, and more. So its puzzling that Spike Chunsoft would want to put more obstacles in the player’s way to learning the game and actually having fun.

If you’re a dedicated fan of all things One Piece, including its previous videogame incarnations, this game will likely satisfy your itch.  Its large roster and multiple game modes promise to keep One Piece devotees entertained long after they’ve completed every challenge in the campaign, and there are plenty of other goodies to collect.  The game’s “Paramount War” centrepiece is loud, brash, and so filled to the brim with Japanese machismo and melodrama about brotherhood, family and self-sacrifice that it’s almost sickening; just as you’d imagine a One Piece game should be.   On the other hand, if you’re completely new to the franchise, bear a strong dislike for story spoilers, or get easily turned off by steep initial learning curves in your fighting games, Burning Blood might possibly be the worst way to make your initial plunge.  Proceed with caution.