Review: Utawarerumono Zan is a complementary beat-’em-up

When it comes to visual novels, there’s a specific complaint that often comes up. People unfamiliar with the genre can sometimes be quick to point out how little "gameplay" there is in such affairs. It was a criticism volleyed at both Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth, two visual novels that didn’t offer players much agency, in terms of choices, and only occasionally broke up the narrative with a battle or two during appropriate events. Utawarerumono: Zan feels like a direct response to such this kind of grievance, but it might go too far when trying to rectify those gripes.

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Review: Sega Ages Space Harrier helps you rail against fantastic enemies

Space Harrier is one of those classic Sega games. The name is recognizable by anyone who has seen it in the 34 years since it made its arcade debut. Whether it is in an arcade, on a console or perhaps even in a Yakuza 0 virtual arcade, this early Yu Suzuki title has a sense of presence. There are plenty of reasons to remember it. Now, with the Nintendo Switch Sega Ages Space Harrier release, there is a refined version of the original game that takes optimized elements from past releases and a few optional gimmicks that provide a new way to look at the game, regardless of how good you may be at it.

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Review: Judgment makes a case for your free time

While there are many forms of critique, for many, the purpose of a game review is essentially binary: should you play the game? It’s something you have to decide for yourself, after absorbing all the information you can to make your decision the most accurate and fair one. So in a way, what you read should be presenting the best case for each outcome, letting you make the final…

Yeah. Judgment. You knew where I was going with this. Let’s get to it.

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Review: Atelier Lulua is the epitome of efficiency

Different installments in Gust’s Atelier series can find themselves known for different things. Atelier Firis was about getting more places to go. Atelier Sophie tries to make us realize why each recipe mattered. With Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, it can feel like the theme is efficiency. That extends to alchemy, exploring a world, telling a story and offering an epilogue to one of the better known Atelier trilogies.

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Review: Slash, spend, get a head in Lapis X Labyrinth

The latest release from the team behind the Disgaea series, Lapis X Labyrinth is a different sort of game for the studio, but one coated with similar trappings and aesthetics. It’s an action game in which you’ll make timed runs through areas to get loot and defeat enemies, but you’re still managing equipment with effects and maneuvering around a hub world taking the place of a more efficient (but perhaps less evocative) menu system. It’s got meters for special moves, reward-multiplying “fever time” and direction-based attack inputs, but you’re ultimately still equipping a small team of customized units and bringing them to a place to slash at gems and take out specifically-marked bosses.

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Review: Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission brings a Japan-only arcade experience to the West

It can be fascinating to drop into a franchise years into a deep, devoted fandom and view it without the knowledge or context of the past. Fans of Japanese games often have no other choice, as newer entries are localized and released in the West without its predecessors in tow. Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is definitely one of these, and its combination of cumulative elements and beginnings in a culture for which we have no equivalent makes it quite the peculiar case.

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