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My history with Japanese developer Imageepoch is no secret. They’re a developer that started with noble ambitions, creating fun RPGs, but then totally lost track of what people wanted from those games. Imageepoch then collapsed on itself before it could release its final game, Stella Glow, leading Sega to step in over in Japan and publish it themselves.

Atlus picked up the title for western release, and here we are with Imageepoch’s last hurrah.

A spiritual successor of sorts to Imageepoch’s Luminous Arc SRPG series (the brand is in Marvelous’ hands now), Stella Glow follows the story of Alto, a young man with no memories of who he is or where he came from. He lives together with Lisette, the young woman who found him three years ago, and her mother. Despite his lack of memories, Alto is not living an unhappy life, spending his days helping out around the village. One day however, a mysterious witch named Hilda appears before him, heralding the end of his once peaceful life, and the beginning of the end of the world.

Was Imageepoch able to pump out one last quality game before shutting down, or is this another swing and a miss?

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In recent years, Falcom has become something of a Ys and Kiseki (known as Trails in the west) machine. As a recent fan of the developer’s games, I don’t particularly mind, especially considering the overall strong quality of their titles. That said, I recognize that there are old school fans who have been patiently waiting their turn for revivals of their favorite Falcom franchises. Xanadu is one such series.

Let me make this clear for the records: Tokyo Xanadu is a lot of things, but it is nothing like the old Xanadu games. It’s an action RPG, but outside of that very general similarity, they are almost nothing alike. 

With that out of the way: Tokyo Xanadu combines the storytelling style of Falcom’s Kiseki games with high speed action RPG gameplay, but does this mix of styles work?

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While they’ve existed for decades at this point, light novels are still a relatively new concept in the west. The closest English-language equivalent is a young adult novel, but even then the comparison isn’t one to one. I wrote about it in-depth here, but light novels are effectively the middle ground between manga, anime, and traditional books. They’re huge with kids anywhere from elementary school age to college age, and plenty of adults enjoy them too. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that one of the biggest light novel publishers, Dengeki Bunko, would want to capitalize on their immense stable of IPs.

And what better way to do a crossover than with a big ole fighting game?

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is Sega’s latest 2D fighting game, featuring characters from 22 different Dengeki Bunko light novels. In this seemingly endless sea of new fighting games, does Fighting Climax manage to stick out among the rest?

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There’s an unbelievable quality about the fact that it’s 2015 and we’re talking about Utawarerumono again. 

First released in 2002, the original Utawarerumono was a cross between a visual novel and an SRPG for the PC, developed by Leaf, the studio under Aquaplus. It turned out to be quite the success, and in 2006 Utawarerumono was re-released for the PlayStation 2, with a brand new combat system designed by Sting, and full voice acting. This version would go on to sell over 100,000 copies, riding off the popularity of the anime adaptation airing around that same time. In 2009, the game would get ported to the PSP, and that was the last we heard from the franchise.

Until now.

Some thirteen years removed from the original release, and here we are talking about a sequel. 

As it turns out, it’s pretty rad.

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Do you like dancing?

I love dancing. Dancing is cool.

Apparently the cast of Persona 4 also enjoys dancing. As it turns out, they do it pretty damn well too.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a rhythm game developed by Atlus, and has the honor of canonically taking place the furthest on the P4 timeline.

If this is the last game we get featuring the P4 crew, I can think of a host of much worse ways they could close out this series. Let’s bust a groove.

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Mamoru Hosoda has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Japanese film. Responsible for films like Digimon Adventure: Our War Game and One Piece Movie: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island, mainstream cinema goers didn’t really get to know him until The Girl Who Leapt Through Time debuted. It didn’t take long for critics to cry out that he was the next Hayao Miyazaki, something that seemed to happen every time a new, fresh director emerged from the shadows. As was the case with most of those other directors, assigning Hosoda the label of “next Miyazaki” was ultimately a disservice to both him and the Studio Ghibli powerhouse.

The last two Hosoda films, Summer Wars and The Wolf Children, were both stories about the power of family. The former took a look at the bigger picture of what a family is, while the latter was a more personal story about a single mother’s experience raising two children.

Mamoru Hosoda’s latest, The Boy and the Beast, is yet another tale about family, and in some ways is interesting as a companion piece to The Wolf Children, but it’s also more than just that. It’s a martial arts film. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a tale about coming to terms with the people around you.

It also happens to be a damn fine film.

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Shinji Higuchi’s live action adaptation of Attack on Titan is a trainwreck. The characters and their motivations are all wrong and the setting misses the mark. Higuchi and his team took the basic premise, humanity is trapped behind giant walls while hiding from man-eating monsters, and threw the rest out.

If you come into Attack on Titan looking for an accurate recreation of your favorite manga or anime, give up on that immediately.

But hey, at least we got a fun little kaiju horror flick out of it.

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I don’t particularly associate Marvelous with rhythm games. They’re undeniably a very prolific publisher (just look up their list of releases), but stuff involving pressing buttons to music isn’t exactly well tread territory for them. This makes their latest release for the Vita, IA/VT Colorful, a bit of a surprise. Starring the Vocaloid IA, it’s similar to Sega’s Project Diva series in that you play through one of the character’s many user-created songs, pressing buttons in time with the rhythm. Along the way, you unlock more music, more outfits for IA, new UI shells, and all sorts of goodies. It’s basically what you expect from a modern rhythm game.

Interestingly enough, the lead producer on the project was Kenichiro Takaki, known primarily for his work as the producer on Marvelous’ Senran Kagura action series.

IA/VT Colorful finally released on July 30th 2015, after what seemed like an endless series of delays. Was it worth pushing the game back so far, or did IA’s video game debut turn out to be a complete and total train wreck?

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D3 Publisher is by no means a AAA studio, and that’s OK. Their Simple series has been around for decades at this point, delivering weird, bargain priced game experiences. Earth Defense Force is a franchise beloved both here in Japan and out west for its B-movie aesthetic and feel.

None of these games are polished experiences, and sometimes that’s OK as long as the underlying game is fun.

Their latest release for the PS4/PS3 is the opposite of fun.

It’s negative fun.

Nega-fun, even.

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Bravely Second is a funny game.

Over the course of my 55 hour return trip to the land of Luxendarc, I found myself laughing out loud more often than I could realistically keep track of. If that sounds like a decidedly different experience than that of the first game, trust me when I say you’re not wrong. While it may share locations, characters, and assets with Bravely Default, Bravely Second forges its own path.

And it’s all the better for it.

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