We review a lot of games here at Hardcore Gamer. It’s sort of what we do. Still, despite our best efforts, we can’t get to all of them. Games, both good and bad, fail to get reviewed and our poor readers are left to pull their hair out in throes of indecision when they come across something without the official Hardcore Gamer seal of approval. Playing through every game released in a month just isn’t possible, regardless of how frequently Steve threatens us and our families. That’s why it falls to me to look back at the past month and take stock of some of the more notable games we missed. Here, we will take the words of other professional critics and the gaming public to help judge games that managed to slip through the cracks.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Of all the games that managed to escape our critical gaze this February, this is perhaps the most egregious. Our favorite kind of games are “good” ones, and this one was perhaps one of the best released last month. Fire Emblem is the long running and well established tactical RPG series that only started getting released in the US and Europe because people really liked using Marth to hit Pikachu with a sword in Super Smash Brothers: Melee. Western audiences are very lucky that such a stupid reason finally caused the critically acclaimed series to receive an international release because all subsequent games have consistently been excellent. Fire Emblem: Awakening is no exception and has earned rave reviews from professional critics and gamers alike.
Fire Emblem: Awakening uses the same basic formula that made all the past titles so successful, but tweaks it in such a way as to make it more accessible to newcomers. You can play through some truly devilish difficulties or switch the difficulty down to casual, which not only turns down the challenge but also negates the series signature forever deaths. Not only will this save on funeral costs for your army, it should also provide a more friendly environment for casual fans of the genre. Those frightened the game is meant to offer a watered down version of the formula have no need to fear, as the already stellar gameplay was further improved and refined to make this perhaps the most complete Fire Emblem title to date. Further depth has been added to the game by the incorporation of emotional ties, which not only modify how some characters will perform with each other in battle, but leads to significant consequences including certain pairing producing offspring. These children can eventually be deployed into battles themselves, because nothing says wholesome Nintendo fun like breeding a child army. The player avatar is entirely customizable from appearance to voice, and you have the ability to switch between character classes to optimize your warriors.
Metacritic currently has the game at a 92%, making it one of the highest rated games on the entire 3DS. While there are currently 33 different reviews to browse through, there isn’t a single one that is mixed or negative. No one seems to be arguing that it isn’t thoroughly enjoyable, and the only discussion is about whether it is “a game worth buying a 3DS for” or merely a “gaming gem” that is “perfect for on the go sessions.” Those last two quotes are from a review that gives the game its worst score from any professional critic, and it is a pretty good sign when the worst thing someone calls a game is a gem. Numerous reviewers have praised its “refined, rewarding combat” and immersive (if slow starting) story, and most critics seem to agree that this is not only the best title in the series, but a frontrunner for the best strategy RPGs in years.
In fact, any criticism of this game is extremely hard to find, and for once even gamers seem largely satisfied. The user score on Metacritic is even higher than the critic score, and words like “GOTY”, “awesome”, and “melhores” (which I think is either Spanish for best or Latvian for “melhores”) get thrown around a lot in the user review section. That isn’t to say that everyone has been seduced by Awakening, as you can still find a smattering of negatives if you look through message boards or Youtube comments, a site well known for its coherent and well reasoned comments. If you dig through the comments of this video review thoroughly enough (something I don’t recommend without first putting on some sort of protective suit), you can find some individuals with notable gripes.
So we have someone that won’t recommend a game unless it prevents them from doing anything else and someone else who never played it who still hates the game (and spelling, apparently). The most valid concern here is the one about the feet, which appears to be a graphical limitation of the game. The graphics are somewhat mediocre, and the visuals were the one thing I wasn’t particularly blown away by. Other people had bigger problems with the game, including MJEmirzian who stated that, “Nintendo even went the extra mile and added pedophile fanservice in the form of a childlike 10 year old girl in whore’s clothing that can be married off and bred.” Uh…is that even true? If it is, I feel like at least one other reviewer should have mentioned the child sex ring that takes place in the game. That seems like a pretty major oversight on the part of the reviewers. I mean, what kind of game would promote the blatant sexualization of children?
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: Shoujotachi no Shoumei
If Fire Emblem: Awakening was our most blatant oversight, this was our most understandable. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: Shoujotachi no Shoumei is a game that was released late February for the Vita where the developers were apparently being paid by the length of the title. My Japanese is a little rusty so I have absolutely no idea what the title is supposed to mean, but I’m nearly positive you could remove like half of the words and still get the point across. From what I’ve been able to gather, this is a game about a group of 15 to 16 year old girls who you can dress up in different revealing outfits that fall off throughout the course of battle, and for some crazy reason they didn’t think that would fly with a Western audience. As it is currently only a Japanese release there haven’t been any professional reviewers that had a chance to sit down with the game and give their opinion on it. Luckily, the Vita is not region locked and you can still play it as long as you make a separate region specific account. Many people have imported it, so after scouring various message boards I was able to come across what the major selling point is supposed to be: boobs. Trying to find any real information about this game is like trying to find a needle in a boobstack, and almost all of the comments come down to something like this:
Scientists have spent ages pondering the same question. The touch feature that Babas013 holds in such high regard is your ability to molest the girls in the changing room via the touch screen, a feature which is sure to cater to a very specific group of individuals (i.e. lonely sex fiends). Not everyone holds the game in such high regard. As Xtreme-void sagely noted, “I hate censorship in this game. not even nipple show (sic).” Not even nipple show? I haven’t played a game with less than three nipple shows since I was ten, and that was Sesame Street Brought to You By the Letters X X X. I didn’t even know people still played games for reasons other than visible nipples. Who was this game made for, nuns? Youtube commenter shamlix comes at it from a different perspective, noting in OmniOmegaOB’s Let’s Play video that, “I don’t consider boobies as porn. its something that we shouldnt really not used to seeing it bare. support breastfeeding!!!” So there’s that. Whether or not there is a difference between breastfeeding a young child and ripping off a teenage girl’s clothing with a grim reaper scythe is really a matter of debate, but I think most scholars agree that you’re incredibly stupid for even thinking about it.
If you dig deep enough, you can find some hard to please chump that expects their ta-ta touching simulator to come with some actual gameplay elements and in that regard the reviews are more mixed. One commenter on the aforementioned Youtube video praised the game for feeling like a mix of Dynasty Warriors and Onechanbara (is that really a compliment?), but others are quick to point out that this lacks the huge enemy count or large stages that are typically associated with that style of game. The gameplay does seem more diverse than either of those titles, allowing for air combos or counters, and many have applauded the game for being easy to learn and jump right in to. The multiplayer mode seems to be less entertaining, drawing complaints that it feels like a “broken mess” where certain characters can spam specific attacks that make them essentially invincible to others.
From everything I’ve seen, this game looks like a simplified version of Dynasty Warriors with smaller action and larger chests. I can’t imagine what kind of niche this is catering to except a weird group of individuals that are tech savvy enough to own a Vita, but oblivious enough to not know that the Internet is basically nothing but porn and cat pictures. With the inflated price and deflated gameplay, I’d recommend avoiding this entirely.