It's a common behavioral trait among us gamers to loathe intrusive advertisements within the games we play. We tend to think that the developers are total sellouts and that they taint the gameplay with ubiquitously annoying marketing gimmicks from their money-hungry sponsors, coming in the form of either a poorly conceptualized corporate avatar or direct injection of the product in question as a key item.
However loathsome it comes off as, the fact remains that it is oftentimes a necessary evil. Also, you have to admit that some gimmicks actually work and enhances the experience instead of taking away from it. For instance, if you take a battle-oriented galge like Twinkle Crusaders and crowd their existing female populace with the femme fatales of Dengeki Bunko and other greats from Ascii Media Works, what do you get? Twinkle Crusaders Starlit Brave!!, a mish-mash of moe madness packed in a bonus UMD from the limited edition pack of Twinkle Crusaders GoGo!!
While we're on the subject of exceptions, allow me to point out a second reason that I would even consider shelling out dough for a console galge: The mini-game/s within it is enough to keep me hooked to it long after I've finished the story proper. Given the fact that very few galges have halfway decent mini-games, this particular aspect hardly comes to mind. ToraDora Portable! was the last game that had that kind of thrill, since the Taiga beat-em up provided me with countless hours of total stress relief.
Lillian's Twinkle Crusaders (more commonly known as Kuru☆Kuru) was an eroge that set itself apart from the rest because of it's plainly presented but insanely strategic battle system (similar to the static bash-em ups in older Megami Tensei games). It underwent a couple of revisions and was later picked up (and overhyped) by Ascii Media Works along with Kadokawa games, released once more as Twinkle Crusaders GoGo!, a CERO-compliant incarnation. (I'd say family-friendly, but the dizzying array of panchira CG in this game might raise a few eyebrows towards that wording choice) Anyhoo, on with the review.
Sure, tell me that my love for the genre isn't strong enough, but I have a simple rule for galges: If I have immediate access to the PC (eroge) version, then I won't even bother touching the console version if one was ever released. People with enough knowledge of such games would know where I'm coming from. I'll only be satisfied with panchira if it was all the game can ever offer.
However, I'm not beyond making exceptions to that rule if the galge offered something more profound than just the Hentai scenes. Kana ~Imouto~ is one such exception. It moved me so much when I first played it (and in saying so might just reveal my approximate age to you folks out there) so when I heard that it was being re-released for the PSP, I jumped at the chance to experience it again.
I have to admit, despite being a longtime RPG fan, I haven't been playing one in ages. After finishing Tokyo Mono Hara Shi to game-breaking proportions, I've mainly stuck to Galges and Otoges since my schedule has become rather hectic and offers little free time to get serious with dungeon crawls and grinding.
Nippon Ichi's Criminal Girls got me back on the RPG loop before it was too late. The sprite-based graphics and gameplay are bland to say the least, looking like they were merely recycled from a PSX (or maybe even a Super Famicom) game... but it's most controversial aspect is the heavily marketed appeal to moe and S&M fans: Punishing "bad" girls.
For the longest time, music games seemed out of place with the PSP system, and for good reason: You can't really expect home console peripherals to work with something small, and even a person with insane finger dexterity can't hope to properly use a shrunken equivalent.
Of course, there are some people (like me) who still wish to rock out while doing something with the system short of just using it as an MP3 player. Out of the few companies who dared to try and cater to this need, Sega stood out with the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series. Aside from music, there were also several fanservice extras in between which gave fans a lot to do. Riding on that advantage, they later came out with K-On! Houkago Live!! to appeal to fans of the recently concluded moeblob anime.
Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 ~Kowareyuku Machi To Kanojo No Uta~ is the third in a series of action games by Irem that emphasize people beating the odds to prevail against whatever Mother Nature has to throw at them. It's categorized as a Survival Action game, a relative first in my book since I never picked up on any prior Survival Horror games.
The first two were released in the PS2 and upon stateside exposure were horribly westernized, repackaged as Disaster Report and Raw Danger respectively. Hair colors and names were changed, but road signs and other stuff remained Japanese. Here's hoping this one never gets touched by the perpetually dirty and lazy hands of the localization outfits. Besides, I plan on making a wordy translation FAQ/Walkthrough of this game when I've uncovered all of it's little nuances.
As a kid, I loved action figures. Who didn't? Your imagination flew pretty much everywhere as you had your toys confront each other, regardless if it was tied in to the cartoon that the figure was made from, or a totally different universe that you make up on a whim. Even up to adulthood, I still enjoy collecting figures, albeit to a more subtle degree and a significant difference in taste, especially leaning towards the moe side.
Busou Shinki: Battle Masters is a PSP revamp of Battle Rondo, a netoge by Konami that borrowed key elements from the CLAMP classic Angelic Layer as well as the customization aspects of the Armored Core series. The game features moetastic dolls, lots of deadly weapons, and other things that figure/anime/game otakus will certainly rave on and on about.
Side-scrolling beat-em-ups are the last resort for fighting-game inept people like me. While most people would scoff at the thought of banging an attack button over and over like an amphetamine-crazed monkey just to fend off repetitive palette-swapped thugs, it can really serve as a great stress reliever. I remember the days when Nekketsu Kouha: Kunio-Kun, Double Dragon and Final Fight were the best things to ever come out of the genre, but it eventually grew stagnant and pretty much died with the advent of 3D.
Marvelous Entertainment's Ikki Tousen: Xross Impact (pronounced "Cross Impact") is a more recent side-scrolling beat-em-up I truly liked. Emerging from the shadow of a couple of lackluster games that came before it (Shining Dragon for the PS2 and Eloquent Fist for the PSP), the game features several new mechanics that correct the flaws of the aforementioned predecessors while keeping the things that actually worked intact.
Megami Tensei is the stuff that legends are made of. Originally a book authored by Aya Nishitani, it told the story of a computer prodigy who created a program that can summon demons to exact revenge on his enemies, but ended up sacrificing a girl whom he had a familiar connection with. This very tale served as the backdrop of the role-playing franchise created by Atlus, which set it apart from the other RPGs of it's time because of the contemporary backdrop and fiendish mix of sorcery and technology.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner was the first official spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series that was released for the Sega Saturn in 1995, serving as a thematic change from the first few games. It was re-released for the PSP in 2005 to commemorate it's 10th year anniversary.
Fighting games never were my strong suit. I didn't really get into the discipline of undergoing rote memorization of timing and combo strings, plus I do not compete with anybody aside from the A.I. Even so, I have at least two fighting titles that I'm confident with. One is Shiritsu Justice Gakuen, and the other is Dead Or Alive. What do they have in common? Aside from an easy-to-learn fighting engine, they also featured fanservice. JG specialized in panchira, while DOA had healthy servings of oppai.
Dead Or Alive not only spawned several fighting game sequels to it's name, but also a handful of titles devoted to nothing more than pure bikini and oppai peep shows. It all began with DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the now-extinct vanilla Xbox, followed by DOA Xtreme 2 for the 360. Dead Or Alive Paradise serves as the third installment of these shameless DOA games, and is officially the first one ever released for a portable console.
Atlus Japan always churns out the most innovative games out there. With their well-established Megami Tensei series (which later became Shin Megami Tensei), the company has gained a cult following among RPG fans in Japan, and overseas to a lesser extent. July 2006 gave Atlus mainstream exposure through Persona 3, which introduced fans to a concept that was unheard of prior: the melding of RPG and galge. It has since gone through a sequel and 2 revisions. They also introduced a female character in the PSP version to gain appeal with otome game fans as well.
Tokyo Mono Hara Shi: Karasunomori Gakuen Kitan is Atlus' recent RPG release that borrows a handful of elements from Megami Tensei, Devil Summoner and the Persona series while establishing it's own identity, making it unique but a bit inaccessible at first glance.
I'm not going to mince words with you here: serious (and some not-so-serious) non-Gundam war sims bore me to tears. I've tried games like Daisenryaku, Nobunaga No Yabou and Moe Moe Niji Taisen Ryaku. None of them have peaked my interest, and moe appeal couldn't save the latter because it depends on the generic stuff too much (and I'm not a big fan of mecha musume characters... I prefer my girls purely organic). If you enjoy some or all of the aforementioned, know that I have nothing against you and commend your far-reaching patience(or fanboy/girl-ism, whichever applies).
Idea Factory's Motto Nuga-Cel! seems like yet another moe-fied war SRPG ported from the PS2, but it put in a few hip recipes into the mix, resulting in a romp that is entertaining, and at the same time very challenging.
I've always been curious about otome games. Having played quite a handful of galge for the console systems I had before, I wanted to see what it was like to play a girl for once, and try to make a less-then-subtle appeal on the one bishounen I like the best. For Symphony ～with all one's heart～ Portable is one of Takuyo's earlier releases ported from the PS2, and the only title with both a galge and otome path.
Code Geass: Hangyaku No Lelouch Lost Colors is a galge based on the first season of the hit anime series, featuring full voice overs from the all-star seiyuu cast. Though the storyline remains intact, it's told from the viewpoint of another character who also possesses the power of the Geass. How he will alter the course of the war between Area 11 and the Holy Britannian Empire will be in your hands for once, though it remains to be seen if it can create enough of an impact to prevent the tragic fate of a certain main character. Anyway, let's just focus our attention on the here and now.
Sports games were never high on my list in the gaming department. I do sports from time to time, so the feeling you get by performing them for real is lost in video games. As a kid, I went through mini-golf once, but I never pursued the main sport in general since it seemed like too much of a bore. Trying Fantasy Golf: Pangya Portable was a major step outside my comfort zone, but I'm still playing it up to now and haven't regretted a single minute of it.
(Since I loathe the US versions, I'll be using the JP terms in my review. If you can't follow, then tough. : P)
Persona 3 Portable is the second remake (and first PSP incarnation) of one of the most celebrated PS2 RPGs of all time. Instead of an epilogue, the plot is revised a little to allow for the choice of playing as a female protagonist. The new girl has experiences unique to her path, and many of the Commu links were changed to match. Some elements from Persona 4 were also incorporated, making the gameplay experience markedly different from the first two P3s.
Gundam Assault Survive is the latest sequel to the long-running Gundam Battle PSP series. The gameplay and controls haven't changed much, but there are several new features to make sure that veterans from past games won't get bored with this one. It not only features an expansion to the UC timeline scenarios, but there are also ones available for more recent incarnations, namely Cosmic Era (Gundam Seed) and Anno Domini (Gundam 00) arcs respectively.
Queen's Blade: Spiral Chaos is a strategy RPG based on the bishoujo anime and Lost World combat books by Hobby Japan. Since the game is made by Banpresto, the gameplay is almost similar to Super Robot Wars, but as you can very well see, you don't have robots, pilots and whatnot. Instead, you have a medieval setting populated by weapon-wielding, big-breasted girls, as well as a handful of lolis and a few sexy monsters, meaning that this game guarantees loads of fanservice left and right.
Given, I'm no hardcore fan of mecha games, but I'm not beyond sitting through one if it totally entertains me. Gundam Battle Universe is an expansion of Gundam Battle Chronicle, a latter incarnation of the long line of PSP Gundam games that focus mainly on the Universal Century timeline, which is favored more by fans than the alternate universes (AC, CE, Anno Domini, etc). Quite frankly, I don't really care which Gundam story the other fans love the most... personally, I found them all interesting. Now before we get off-topic, let's focus on the game.
Regardless if it's a US or Japanese one, edutainment games have always been a hit-or-miss platform. Despite every effort to make it as entertaining as possible, several have resorted to cutting out the quality and settling with just presenting the main subject, which in turn makes it too academic and therefore less fun for people like you and me. Still, there are a few noteworthy ones that were able to pass the message along without leaving hardcore gamers high and dry.
Kotoba No Puzzle: Mojipittan is one of the few successes in that respect. It was not just able to make it as an effective edutainment game, it created a nationwide craze in Japan that continues to persist up to this day. Mojipittan started out as a nondescript arcade puzzle game, but has become so popular that many versions have been released for various systems like the PS2, Wii, DS, PSP, and even mobile phones. The secret lies in it's innovative gameplay mechanics and hypnotically addictive background music.
I never thought that Toradora would come out as a galge, but lo and behold, here it is. Toradora Portable! puts you in the shoes of main character Ryuuji Takasu, who has lost most of his memories, even those of his relationship with resident tsundere Taiga Aisaka. Thankfully, despite the amnesia, he hasn't forgotten his cooking skills and the obsessive-compulsive desire to clean any mess he sees... conditioned reflexes, I'll be bound.
Rena Ryuugu's at it again. In her never-ending quest for finding cute things to take home, she comes across a mirror in the Hinamizawa Village dump site. After showing it to her friends, they find out that it has the power to grant any wish. So as usual, a fight ensues with possession of the mirror as the top prize...
Higurashi Daybreak Portable Mega Edition is actually a sequel of Higurashi Daybreak Portable, the latter being a port of a popular doujin game for the PC. Battles are conducted in a similar fashion to the 2-on-2 Gundam Battle series, so anyone that has experience with the aforementioned will have no trouble adapting to this game.
Yes, I'm also a fan of Lucky Star. A BIIG fan. This game is one of the reasons I decided to get a PSP in the first place. While Kadokawa Shoten's Lucky Star: Net Idol Meister isn't what I was expecting it to be, I gave it time, and my patience was greatly rewarded in more ways than one.
I came across video of the game Planetarian ~Chiisana Hoshi No Yume~ in a forum I went to, and it certainly had me curious. The design for the female character was superb, and it was made by Key, known for their popular galges (Kanon, Air, Clannad, etc). As soon as I started the game, it utterly shocked me. I sat through it in one night, and it still haunts me up to this very moment.