Arcana Heart 3 almost review

It's a slow day, so I am going over the vast VAST amount of unfinished video game thoughts I have written about various titles. If they are in a relatively comprehensible state, I'll polish them up a little and post them here. 

Arcana Heart 3 is here, and with it the Pokemon curse has been lifted. Now, instead of having animals fight, we are having women fight. Oh geez. I, hmm. Ahem.

Okay. I own Arcana Heart 3 now. Grabbed it off of a nice CAG deal. Thanks OP. For the many of you who do not know what Arcana Heart is, from the best I can understand, the creators of Guilty Gear and Blazblue created a game in which Sakura (of Street Fighter) was the main character (I know that is sort of the premise of the fantastic Rival Schools/Project Justice series, but that's another article). We have the titular 'Heart' a young, short haired, incredibly deadly teenage girl, complete with school uniform. She is the Sakura which the game more or less revolves around. The roster is filled out by 22 more characters. All female, and ranging from the surprisingly cool to the incredibly ridiculous.

I began with story mode, and I was quickly lost. I guess that '3' is in the title for a reason. If you have played a fighting game before, you know how unimportant yet absurdly convoluted storylines can be in this genre. For this game specifically, it appears Japan is going to blow up, or sink, or something. It's up to the twenty-three women (and girls) to either prevent, or allow this to happen, depending on level of evil.

Some of these characters have really interesting character designs, well others, don't. Rest assured, you are not buying this game for the storyline. The boxart should have told you that. Normally a fighting game wouldn't lose points for a bad plot, but ARC is behind the mind warping storyline of the BlazBlue universe. Maybe the writers of Arcana should go peek at some of the notes the BlazBlue guys have, it would really kick this game up a notch above generic anime storyline.

The game is fun, I played it a lot. Very addictive, especially with friends of course. There are interesting mechanics, and combos, cool things I would like to see implemented in other fighting games (Homing button holler!). But, admittedly, it's a little hard to focus on that since there is something else that needs to be addressed.

I received the package in the mail, in a simple cardboard casing. I tore it open, and came face to face with the collectors edition boxart.

Nope, I don't see any sexism here.

The bonus review category for this game is sexism. So is this game sexist, or not? I honestly don't know what to think. On one hand, the costumes are not as bad as expected, but what I expected wasn't much.

As you can tell.

Though by percentage, it seems the worst offenders are no more than the normally male dominated character line ups of other fighting games. So even though the amount of female fighters in this game is larger, the amount of scantily clad ladies is generally the same. So it seems clear that if Arcana Heart 3 is sexist, it is about the average level of sexism in fighting games.

In essence, all the masculine character archetypes from other fighting games are just females now. That does mean that you get a very diverse cast of women in the game. Of course one could also argue that ARC just gave all the male characters breasts as shameless pandering.

The characters do get back story, as I mentioned earlier, and that only complicates matters. One of the characters went to MIT at the age of ten, so go women right? Although this character also dresses as a playboy bunny when she fights inside her giant mech. She's smarter than I am, who am I to judge what an MIT graduate wears? It's all very confusing.

For instance, that scantily clad woman, Mei-Fang, in the picture above. She's actually a robot! Is it sexist to expect a robot to fit a stereotypical gender role if she was built as a specific gender? Then you have to consider she was built by female scientists as well. Are we talking about sexism still, or are we too far into robot country now?

See, it's as if the creators skirted the issue by filling the game with insane Japanese nonsense. I guess in the end, the sexist connotations in this game aren't  particularly relevant. I think women have bigger things to worry about, like that whole getting paid less than a man for the same amount of work thing. I will state that I believe that every fighter, man or woman, would do best to just wear something practical in battle.

So, for having to make me weigh the arguments for and against this game being sexist and likely making myself look sexist in the process, and for giving me a headache, this game owes me a bottle of aspirin. So this game gets a 4.99 (the price of said aspirin) out of 10.

Nintendo DS - Lunar Knights game review

I have decided to post a review I did recently for the game Lunar Knights for the Nintendo DS, It is the first review I have ever done for a game. I did not include a score because I feel like giving it a score takes away from the actual review of the game. Let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoy it!

Lunar Knights is a 3/4 perspective dungeon crawling hack and slash from Konami and Kojima Studios. It is basically a straight up dungeon crawler, but with several twists that I believe add alot of fun and strategy to the game. The game starts you off with Lucian the Swordsman, who is, of course, the brooding loner, as he infiltrates a vampire's hideout, this stage is basically a tutorial that gets you acquainted with the basic mechanics and controls of the game. The second chapter of the game gets you acquainted with the second main character Aaron, who is a gunslinger, and teaches you more basics about the game such as sneaking and Mic control. Once you get past the characters individual levels the game really kicks off.

CONTROLS

Switching between characters and elements is easy with the control set-up the game gives you. The 3/4 view can be a bit confusing at times, but the control options give you a way to try and manage it easier. Attacking is a straightforward process of tapping on the Y button, while blocking is handled by B. You will be using blocking quite frequently as you get further into the game. Switching characters is mapped to the select button, which is a bit clumsy to handle on the DS Lite but works well on the DS Phat. The Touch screen comes into play during specials which give you on screen instructions to execute powerful specials as well as during space battle in which you steer and shoot with the Stylus. The space battles would have been more fun in my opinion if steering was regulated to the D-pad, and shooting to the stylus, but the space battles are fun none the less. The Mic also comes into play, When your elemental lights up it can deliver a status boost or back up attack when you blow into the Mic. The Mic is also used during sneaking segments, you blow into the Mic and your character lets out a whistle to lure the enemy to that spot allowing you to slyly sneak past. All in all the controls are intuitive and do not take you out of the game.

GRAPHICS

The graphics and production value are some of the best I have seen on the DS, and for a third party game pretty much put all other third party games to shame. The game kicks off with a lengthy anime intro with some amazing music. Cut scenes are numerous and sprinkled throughout the game, which adds a nice touch and gives the characters more depth and feel. The in game graphics are well animated and move smoothly, even when there are many enemies on screen as well as many other things going on the frame rate never slows down. One problem is that many enemies are palette swaps making them fairly uninteresting by the end of the game. The game uses very well rendered 3D graphics for the space shooting mini game and sports a polished yet very different look from the main game. The graphics are great for the DS and it's amazing how many cut scenes they pack into this game.

SOUND

The sound is incredible, most characters have several spoken phrases and most NPCs have some as well. The music is very catchy and high quality, and the cut scenes also have a lot of dialogue and great sound. Lots of things like sword swings and footsteps also have different sounds in different environments, which adds well to getting really into the game. If you are a person who is easily annoyed by hearing a character say the same phrases over and over you may not care at all for the in game voice overs though. So to sum it up the music is top-notch, the sound effects are done well for a DS game, but still do not sound overly realistic, and the voice acting can get on ones nerves easily if you are the sort of person who is annoyed by that.

GAME PLAY

The most important aspect of the game of course, and definitely the aspect in which it delivers most! The game is fun to play, especially as you pick up more weapons such as the homing missile gun, and scythe which are very different from other weapons and add a nice variety to your strategy. The elements system that the game incorporates also adds more depth to one's strategy, in different weather and at different times of day certain elements become more powerful while some become far weaker. The game has a nice length of 10-15 hours (took me 18, but I am slow). There is quite a lot of replay value to the game though, upon completion of the game, you unlock hard mode, as well as a PLUS game which let's you start from the beginning with all weapons, money, and items intact. Also in PLUS mode you unlock Boss Rush mode as well as the epilogue Tower, which has you climbing a 100 level building riddled with enemies. If that isn't enough there is also a wireless battle mode which is up to four players on one card. There are also a couple side missions within the main game that will keep you busy, as well as trying to collect all the items. The gameplay definitely delivers in this game, and combined with all the other great qualities of Graphics, Sound, and Controls leaves one with a very memorable gaming experience.

ANALYSIS

The game is not strikingly new, but takes the old dungeon crawling formula and adds enough tweaks, production values and extras to make it stand out very well amongst all the other major DS titles. Unless you have a major problem with dungeon crawling adventures I highly recommend this game to all DS owners. Konami is definitely on to something with their vampire killing games for the DS! Basically Konami + vampires = great DS game