Review: Stella Glow (Nintendo 3DS)



Putting together my top-10 list of must-have RPGs on the 3DS, this one definitely makes the cut if not an honorable mention. Originally released back in 2015, I came across the Demo last October on the eShop.  The Demo covers all of the first chapter of the full game, which is also the game’s tutorial. There is no data to carry over since you don’t get access to inventory + item storage until the second chapter. In terms of storytelling, this game is top-notch. It was developed by Sega but published by Atlus.

The story has a diverse cast. Through unique sidequests, all the playable characters are well fleshed-out. If you want to max out your Affinity Level with everyone in a single playthrough, you will have to wait until New Game+ though. Speaking of, the only thing carried over each playthrough is your money though with New Game+ you gain more money and EXP. Nothing else.

Prettymuch, once you’ve beaten the game twice (it has two endings) you’re done with the game. Once you max out your relationship with someone, you can just save after downing the final boss and reloading that file to pick another paired ending to see. I saw Lisette’s and unsurprisingly, she and Alto get married and settle in Mithra. Lisette’s mother jokingly implies they need to start making babies.

The main villains for most of the game are the Harbingers: Hilda, Dante, Dorothy and Hrodulf. You find out when she’s first introduced that Hilda is a Witch just like Lisette, Popo, Sakuya and Mordimort. Or is she? One interesting clue you get in the Second Chapter is there ARE supposed to be five witches of 5 Elements: Water (Lisette), Wind, (Popo), Fire (Sakuya), Earth (Mordimort) and Time (Hilda). At a certain point in the game, Hilda reveals to Alto she IS the Witch of Time as well as the Witch of Destruction she’s come to be known as (among other things I won’t spoil!).

During the game’s climax a traitor is revealed and the Harbingers end up joining Alto and the others. I won’t spoil the details but yes, Hilda does become a playable character along with Dorothy and Dante. The Mysterious Artificial Being Giselle will join Alto once you’ve maxed your relationship with a certain character before the game’s climax.

There is one interesting change from the Japanese version that is indirectly referenced during the game’s Hot Springs scene (I know, they seem to be in every JRPG these days LOL). I’m talking about Ewan, who is in the Men’s Bath but shown wearing a towel to cover “his” chest. Apparently, the original plan was for it to be revealed Ewan is really a girl posing as a boy when you max your relationship with him. This was removed from the finished product though.

Another thing of note–and this IS a MAJOR spoiler–Alto is revealed to be the Hero Elcrest. A huge clue to this is when you tune a Witch during battle, Alto’s eyes are Golden just like Elcrest’s. 1,000 years earlier, Elcrest was severely wounded and almost died (The official record states he died after the final battle). The Water Witch Francesa used her Qualia to heal him in the area that eventually became Mithra. We do know Alto was discovered by Risette and her mother 3 years before the start of the game and had no memories of his past life as Elcrest. Once he regains full access to him past self, the two become one. Hilda kinda figured it out early on but didn’t say anything since Alto clearly couldn’t remember his past self.

Overall, I give Stella Glow a 9/10. The lack of a proper New Game+ is why I took a point off. Being able to carry over Items and Orbs at least would have been nice. It’s a definite must-try though. An added incentive to buy it digital is you get a free Theme with the game. I bought mine physical though so…yeah. If you’re into Strategy RPGs you will not be disappointed with Stella Glow.



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AtGames releasing another Classic Sega Genesis Console [UPDATE 7/28/2017]

UPDATE 7/28/2017: In a scathing first-look review, Gamespot is telling consumers not to buy AtGames’ Sega Genesis Flashback. Read the article for details but one thing I overlooked is the fact that like the console they released last year, this one comes with almost two dozen unlicensed third party games mixed in with Genesis and Game Gear titles. Gamespot Alleges is not only AtGames intentionally misleading consumers by advertising 85 games (45 Genesis, 12 Game Gear and the rest third party) but the console itself has a ton of technical problems.

Based on this, I have removed my endorsement of the console. Unlike Nintendo’s Classic Consoles, the Genesis ones by AtGames lack Quality Assurance and is a cash grab. Why Sega allowed this is anyone’s guess but fans of the older consoles are clearly the target demographic. If you still have an original Genesis you really have no reason to buy this overpriced knockoff that apparently can’t even emulate physical games well.

…This should come as no surprise after the one released last year. It will retail at $80. Not only does it come pre-loaded with 85 games but it also comes with the ability to play almost all physical Genesis games (!). So, if you happen to have any Genesis games in the closet for Nostalgia this might not be a bad investment.

AtGames seems to have both learned their lesson from the previous one as this one reportedly only comes with Genesis and Game Gear games. It seems they also got cleared to include many third party games that weren’t included with the previous release. Here is the list I pulled off AtGames’ website:


  1. Adventure in the Park
  2. Air Hockey
  3. Alex Kidd in High Tech World
  4. Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  5. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  6. Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
  7. Alien Storm
  8. Altered Beast
  9. Arrow Flash
  10. Baku Baku Animal
  11. Bomber
  12. Bonanza Bros.
  13. Bottle Taps Race
  14. Break the Fireline
  15. Bubbles Master
  16. Cannon
  17. Chakan: The Forever Man
  18. Checker *
  19. Chess *
  20. Columns *
  21. Columns III
  22. Comix Zone
  23. Crack Down
  24. Cross the road
  25. Curling 2010
  26. Decap Attack
  27. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  28. ESWAT: City Under Seige
  29. Eternal Champions
  30. Fantasy Zone
  31. Fantasy Zone The Maze
  32. Fatal Labyrinth
  33. Fight or Lose
  34. Fish Story
  35. Fish Tank Live
  36. Flicky
  37. Gain Ground
  38. Golden Axe *
  39. Golden Axe II
  40. Golden Axe III
  41. Hangman
  42. Hexagonos
  43. Jack’s Pea
  44. Jewel Magic
  45. Jewel Master
  46. Kid Chameleon
  47. Mahjong Solitaire
  48. Maze 2010
  49. Memory
  50. Mortal Kombat
  51. Mortal Kombat 3
  52. Mortal Kombat II
  53. Mr. Balls
  54. Naval Power
  55. Phantasy Star
  56. Phantasy Star II
  57. Phantasy Star III
  58. Phantasy Star IV
  59. Plumbing Contest
  60. Ristar
  61. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  62. Shining Force
  63. Shining Force II: The Ancient Seal
  64. Shining in the Darkness
  65. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  66. Snake
  67. Snowboarding
  68. Sonic & Knuckles
  69. Sonic 3D Blast
  70. Sonic Chaos
  71. Sonic Drift 2
  72. Sonic Spinball
  73. Sonic the Hedgehog *
  74. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 *
  75. Sonic Triple Trouble
  76. Spider
  77. Super Thunder Blade
  78. Sword Of Vermilion
  79. Tails Adventure
  80. The Ooze
  81. Vectorman
  82. Vectorman 2
  83. Virtua Fighter II
  84. Wall-Breaking
  85. Warehouse Keeper

* Genesis and Game Gear games are different from each other.


I bolded the games I knew were Game Gear games, mainly because I either owned them during the mid-1990s or at least heard about them. The short-lived Game Gear was technically superior to the Game Boy during its lifespan. It wasn’t the first handheld console in color (Neo Geo’s Wonderswan Color was the first) but it was the first to have a built-in backlight. Who remembers those night lights Nintendo made for the Game Boy Pocket and the first-gen Game Boy Advance consoles? LOL. Anyway, the Game Gear only lasted four years because of its crippling weakness: It was so powerful, it could drain six AA batteries in 2 hours (!). I had an AC Adapter and it lasted a few months at most. Sega released rechargable battery packs to help offset this but they proved to be a fire hazard and could damage the handheld from overheating.

If Sega wasn’t releasing a new console every two years and actually fixed the problem, they could’ve given Nintendo some serious competition in the handheld market for the rest of the 90s. Then again even if they did, the release of Pokemon Red and Blue/Green in 1996 probably would’ve killed the Game Gear anyway.

Getting back on topic.

Noticably absent from the above list are Street Fighter II (all 3 Genesis releases), Streets of Rage (all 3 games), Sonic 3 (strangely Sonic and Knuckles made the cut) Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles combined) and Shining Force: Sword of Hajiya (Game Gear release). While yes Street Fighter belongs to Capcom I’m sure that if they asked, Capcom would’ve greenlit having Street Fighter II + Champion Edition + Super Street Fighter II included. Fun fact: Street Fighter II Turbo is the SNES equivalent of Champion Edition (Super SFII was released on both the Genesis and the SNES). Phantasy Star I, III and IV making the cut is HUGE as they’ve only been re-released a small handful of times compared to II.


Nether Realm Studios owns the rights to the Mortal Kombat franchise so…yeah. Would’ve been cool if they could’ve gotten EA Sports to let them include Madden, Jordan vs. Bird, Coach K and NBA Jam. One can dream!


Nintendo and Sega suddenly making retro versions of their old consoles is for more than just nostalgia. There’s a demand for it first and they’re aggressively combating piracy head-on. These days, folks hack their smartphones to run NES, SNES, Genesis and in some cases PS1, N64 and Dreamcast games. Nintendo keeps re-releasing their older games to make them accessible. Mind you, there will always be a percentage of games from the older consoles that can never be re-released due to licensing reasons.

Activision famously remade Goldeneye 007 several years back since the original couldn’t be re-released due to the license holder–Rareware–had since been bought by Microsoft. When Nintendo re-released Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo DS, Conker and Banjo were replaced with Dixie Kong and Kiddie Kong (The latter last seen in Donkey Kong 64) since Microsoft now owns the rights to Conker and Banjo (Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day have both since been re-released on Xbox Live). Rareware is a 2nd party company within Microsoft just like Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem) is within Nintendo.

In closing, the Sega Genesis Flashback comes with two wireless controllers but is also 100% compatible with wired controllers. So again, if you or anyone you know has physical Genesis games they’ll work. The digital games have Save Anytime plus the ability to pause or rewind (Save State prettymuch). Finally, you use an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. I’d say this console would make a good buy for either a hardcore collector or someone who played the original Genesis but doesn’t play video games much anymore. Outside that, you’re better off getting a Wii U in my book.



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Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse (Nintendo 3DS)

…Only a handful of times can I recall one of Atlus’ flagship RPG series getting a direct sequel. 2013’s SMTIV (also on the 3DS) getting one was a pleasant surprise.

SMTIV:A takes places a year after the events of SMTIV and it is assumed the third path was taken. Speaking of, you can import clear data from SMTIV to SMTIV:A. Like the first game, there are three endings in SMTIV:A. You have the Lawful Ending (side with Merkabah), the Neutral Peace Ending (side with Flynn), the Neutral Anarchy Ending (side with Dagda) or the Chaotic Ending (side with Lucifer). If you’re doing either Neutral Ending, at a certain point you will be forced to side with Dagda or Flynn.

…I do want to say this about the ending I got: Your final opponent will be YHWY. In other words, God himself. Literally.

I believe I made a comment on this this when I reviewed SMTIV and Devil Survivor Overclocked: This game has overt athiestic and agnostic overtones those who practice Christianity may find very offensive. That said, as a reminder this game is a work of fiction. Like all of Atlus’ RPGs that feature beings from not just Judeo-Christian lore but the mythologies of other religions, SMTIV:A doesnt really try to teach or persuade the player in regards to whatever they may or may not believe at the time.

Everything is for the purposes of storytelling. I can laugh at the game’s depictions of Lucifer, Satan and YHWY–not the images but how they are portrayed–because Atlus fictionalized all three characters for the purposes of the game. That and they went with the viewpoint most athiests and agnostics as well as many Christians have about God in general for YHWY’s in-game depiction. By that I mean the belief that God is the reason for all the suffering in the world in short. I’ll speak more to this mindset on My Blog on The Bible at a later time if you’re interested. By the way the game’s audio censors “YHWY” on purpose and this is a nod to the belief God’s Holy Name should never be spoken aloud. Of course, God goes by many names. Other than YHWY he is referred to as The Creator in SMTIV:A.


…Anyway, moving on.

Like I said before, SMTIV:A takes place a year after the events of SMTIV. In addition to Flynn chosing the Neutral Path, Flynn took out the Ashura-kai and the Ring of Gaea’s leaders (both of which are required to get the Neutral Ending in SMTIV but you only have to take out one or the other for one of the other endings). SMTIV:A isn’t Flynn’s story, though. It’s Nanashi’s (Japanese for “No Name” since the protagonist is an orphan), whose story begins with death.

Nanashi is ambushed and killed by a powerful demon. On his way to the Underworld Nanashi meets Dagda, a powerful being who makes him an offer he literally can’t refuse: In exchange for bringing him back to life, Nanashi becomes his Godslayer. In other words, Nanashi will have the power to slay Gods as well as powerful Demons. Mind you, Dagda has his own reasons for doing this and they will begin to become clear when the Divine Powers are introduced. Because of this, you are not allowed to die. Dagda will simply bring you back each time (unless you play with instant Game Over at 0HP). Speaking of, toward the end of the game you will enter a dungeon where Dagda’s power to rez you will be blocked. Try not to die in there. LOL.,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-06777.jpg

Like SMTIV, the game is both fully voiced and you can freely adjust the difficulty (which has no bearing on the game’s story). I always play on the easiest difficulty level until I have seen all possible endings. When I want to be challenged, then I turn up the difficulty. I’ll speak more to this in a video blog later this week.

Also like SMTIV, there is DLC. Some Free but mostly paid. Aside from the usual Macca/Levels/AP grinding maps, there are some additional quests with optional but interesting story content. Of course, it makes sense to do the story DLC aftet you’ve cleared the game at least once. Certain knowledge is assumed, after all. There is also a Demon Market Map where you can buy high-level demons. Unlike the ones use fuse, these ones are not bound by level restrictions. So, you can use them right away. Do note that there are some who are locked behind story progression and naturally, getting a few requires seeing all the endings.

The game has at least 30 hours per playthrough weather or not you use the grinding DLC Content. Unlike SMTIV, 98% of the game takes place in Tokyo. You do pay Mikado a visit at a certain point in the game so…yeah. Forgot to say this but you do not have to have played SMTIV first to play SMTIV:A. Everything relevant is explained for you prettymuch. As a reminder, this isn’t Flynn’s story but the new protagonist’s.

Overall, I gave Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse a 9/10. It’s a solid, complete RPG weather you played the first game or not. The game being fully voiced is just icing on the cake. It also directly advertises the first game for those who may not have played it. I wish there was more opportunities for both protagonists to work together but not a big deal. The religious overtones aside, it felt more with this one than the first that Atlus had to prove the 3DS is worthy of “adult-oriented” games. That’s the vibe I got anyway. There were a few over the top moments I can’t mention due to plot spoilers but they’re few and far apart.

Overall, it’s worthy of getting a 3DS just to try in my book. It’s available as both a physical game and a digital download so…yeah.

Posted in Atlus, Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS, Review, RPG, Serene Adventure, Shin Megami Tensei, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starcraft Remastered to arrive August 14; Original Starcraft now FREE

Last week, Blizzard announced the HD Remake of the first Starcraft game + its expansion Brood War will be released together on August 14. This comes a few months after Blizzard released the original Starcraft 1 game + its expansion FREE to download. Yes, Blizzard is giving away the original Starcraft–previously retailed at $20–absolutely FREE. All you need is a Blizzard account to download the game. If you’re thinking of getting HD Remake–selling for $15–it may be worth playing the original first.

The above designs are preorder bonuses and should look familiar to those who’ve played StarCraft II. Now, the obvious question to ask is “Why should I buy the HD Remake when Blizzard is giving away the original game?” The remake has FULL Blizzard network integration in addition to the graphical upgrade while the original game does not. That’s why. Another is it will be modder friendly just like StarCraft II. It’s the same game fans of the original remember with a fresh coat of paint and the ability to play with others or talk to friends playing a different Blizzard game.

If you never played the original, it may be worth getting. Plus, you can still play the original free of charge. I actually downloaded the original last weekend so I can point this out: The remake will use the Blizzard Desktop app but the original does not. You’ll have to keep that in mind. While it is true all of the story events in StarCraft are touched on in StarCraft II, this way you get to play them. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

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Postgame Review: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia


Yeah, BOEY! Pun intended.

While it is true Nintendo has alot–and I mean A LOT–of experience remaking old games (Starfox and Pokemon both come to mind), never before has Nintendo taken a game from the 8-bit NES era and modernized it like they did with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. For those who might have missed the Fire Emblem Direct earlier this year, this is a remake of the Japan-only Fire Emblem Gaiden–a game that was up until now considered the Black Sheep of the Fire Emblem series. Why? Because it was released the year after the SNES had been released. The game pushed the NES to its limits and was ahead of its time for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows if Valentia is called Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero King in Japan. The game takes place between the events of the first two Fire Emblem games (Shadow Dragon and Light and Shadow) on the continent of Valentia. The Whitewings Sisters and the origin of the Triangle Attack that’s been staple in the series–Palla, Catria and Est–are playable characters. They get mixed up with some pirates while visiting from Archanea–where the events of the first two games starring Marth take place–and end up helping Celica on her mission.

Story: 10/10

Kudos to Nintendo for this one: Anyone who’s played Fire Emblem Gaiden will tell you the story was bare bones. Nintendo took the existing story and not only fleshed it out but gave every single character–both old and new–a detailed and fleshed-out backstory. Here’s a few noteworthy ones and be warned, there are MAJOR spoilers.


  • Alm: One of the game’s two protagonists. He leads The Deliverence against the Rigelian Empire to the North as well as the corrupt Zofian Military. Alm’s surprisingly straightforward and clever despite both his upbringing and his lineage. He is the Hero King who would unite all of Valentia.
  • Celica: One of the game’s two protagonists. She leads her allies and friends on a mission to find out what happened to Mila, the Divine Dragon on Zofia. Celica hides a secret even from Alm: She is real Princess Anthese, who the Zofian Knights are searching for. Celica finds herself forced to chose between sacrificing her life to save Alm or watch the whole world burn.
  • Masked Knight: One of the new characters in Shadows of Valentia who didn’t exist in Gaiden. He is revealed to be Conrad, Celica’s brother and prince of Zofia. Having long thought the other dead, Conrad aids Celica on her mission before eventually joining her as an ally.
  • Faye: One of the new characters in Shadows of Valentia who didn’t exist in Gaiden. She has a seriously crush on Alm. If you see their A-Rank support conversation, Alm admits he’s known she had feelings for him for some time and since she clearly didn’t take the hint, he plainly turns her down.
  • Mycen: A former Rigelian Knight who found himself the caretaker of both Alm and Celica. When Alm decides to join The Deliverence and fight against the Rigelian Empire, Mycen suddenly disappears. When the two meet in Zofia Castle and later Rigel Keep, it’s revealed Mycen was far more privy to the goings-on of Valentia.
  • Emperor Rudolf: The Emperor of Rigel, the northen Kingdom of Valentia. Emperor Rudolf personally leads his army in an attack on Mila’s Temple, binding her with the power of the Valentian Falchion. In a cruel twist of fate, Emperor Rufolf is slain in battle by his long lost son: Alm.
  • Zeke: A mysterious knight in the service of the Rigelian Empire. Heeding a cryptic message from Emperor Rudolf, Zeke joins Alm after he rescues his friend Titania from harm. This is the same Zeke who also appears in Archanean Fire Emblem games.
  • Duma and Mila: Both are Manakete who are worshipped as God and Goddess. Dragons have a long lifespan and this both a strength and a weakness for them. Over time, they will lose their minds and become a threat to mankind. Such was the case with a certain dragon in Fire Emblem Fates. Such is the case with Duma in the final battles of the game.

….I could go on.

There are subtle references to the events of at least 3 other Fire Emblem games for those who’ve played them to spot:

  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Most obviously, the continent of Valentia is present-day Valm. Walhart’s backstory isn’t all that different from Alm’s when you think about it. Perhaps the biggest hint is Alm promotes to the Conquerer Class–the same as Walhart but with different weapons. Alm can use Swords and Bows while Walhart can use Swords, Axes and Lances. In the postgame town, one of the villagers also references the Valmese invasion that takes place halfway through Awakening.
  • Fire Emblem Fates Revelations: This is a MAJOR spoiler for those who haven’t played the third route in Fates but the big bad you fight at the end with the combined forces of both Hoshido and Nohr is the Divine Dragon, Anankos. Around the time Azura lived in Valla, Anankos succumbed to madness and turned his rage on mankind. Shortly after Corrin was born, knowledge of the third kingdom was lost to a powerful curse to protect Nohr and Hoshido. By the time Shadows of Valentia begins, Duma has succumbed to madness. Mila sacrifices herself to cancel out her counterpart’s power and is dead by the time Alm and Celica find her in Duma Tower.
  • Fire Emblem: I mentioned this already by Shadows of Valentia/Gaiden takes place between the events of Marth’s two games. Zeke and the Whitewings are originally from Archanea obviously.
    Fire Emblem Sacred Stones: It was viewed as an homage to Fire Emblem Gaiden. It’s so obvious where the inspiration for Sacred Stones came from at the time it was released back in 2003 on the Game Boy Advance. The traversible map and dual protagonists are the dead giveaways so…yeah.

The Dungeon Exploration mechanic is a pretty cool feature in both the original and the remake. One can only hope it’s used again in a future Fire Emblem title ^_^

Soundtrack: 10/10

Easily the best part of the game for me. Every track from the original game was upgraded.


Here’s March of the Deliverence, which is Alm’s pre-promotion battle theme music:

And the original version from Fire Emblem Gaiden:

Exact same song. All they did was use a real orchestra. There was nothing to add beyond that.


Here’s Celica’s pre-promotion battle theme music, With Mila’s Divine Protection:

…And again, the original Gaiden version:


As you can see, the conversion is near-flawless here, too.

Shadows of Valentia is also the first Fire Emblem game to be fully voiced–not a bad honor for a remake. All dialogue is voiced including most of the optional interactions with villagers. How cool is that?!


Difficulty: 9/10

Despite the graphical facelift, Nintendo went out of its way to preserve the original game’s level of challenge weather you play Classic (fallen units are lost forever) or Casual (fallen units return after battle). Unlike the later games, Gaiden didn’t have a Weapons Triangle and neither does its remake for that matter. Spells also cost HP unlike the later games. As a reminder, you automatically lose the battle if the main Lord–in this case–Alm or Celica–lose all their HP. It’s an instant Game Over.

What keeps it from getting a Perfect 10 is how overtuned the final battle and the final battle in the postgame dungeon seemed to be. For the purposes of reviewing the game, I did my first playthrough on Casual with the Normal Difficulty. Even though I had access to DLC Content for EXP grinding as well as the DLC-Only 4th-tier classes, I struggled to clear the final battle and was curb-stomped in the final battle of the postgame dungeon.

I couldn’t help but assume the postgame dungeon’s final battle had been tuned with the assumption players would either overlevel or at least had access to the EXP Grinding DLC Maps. The Status Ailments alone are a pain given only two characters can remove them but the enemies in that battle being able to 2-shot anyone not named Alm or Celica is a bit of a problem. LOL.


DLC Content: 7/10

You got your staple EXP, Money and Rare Item grind maps. They come in two flavors: One for the first two Chapters, the rest of the game. Then you have the 4th-Tier Classes for all classes including Alm and Celica. Then you have the four prequel maps, which takes a look at certain characters before the events of the game. There are even maps featuring characters from the Japan-only Fire Emblem Cipher Trading Card Game! I touched on this in a separate blog post but all the DLC content combined costs more than the game. Not a good look for Nintendo. It’s also why I took 3 points off this, more so given the grind maps that have been staple since Awakening.


Amiibo Support: 8/10

Alm and Celica have their own Amiibos, which serves two purposes. One is access to special dungeons you need their Amiibos to challenge. The other is to power up your Amiiino for summoning purposes. Alm or Celica can summon their Amiibos or that of Robin, Lucina, Roy, Ike, Marth or Corrin (when it’s released) to fight for one turn. I took two points off because of the restrictions: You can only summon a phantom fighter once per battle and it will only last for one turn. On top of that, Alm/Celica can’t act like a normal summon either. That makes it hard to justify using the feature at all when you think about it. Nintendo dropped the ball here.

Overall: 10/10

Despite it clearly being a remake and despite the overpriced DLC, Shadows of Valentia is a must-own for any Fire Emblem fan. If you are new to the series, I reccommend starting with Awakening though. Regardless, this is yet another good year to own a 3DS!



Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Fire Emblem, NES, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS, Retro Gaming, Review, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pokemon UltraSun and Pokemon UltraMoon coming to the 3DS November 17


…To the surprise of no one, the question of what the companion to Sun and Moon will be seems to have been answered. UltraSun and UltraMoon (U-Sun and U-Moon for short) come to the 3DS this Fall the week before Thanksgiving so be thankful ^_^

If I had to guess, Nintendo will enable Poke Bank compatability for U-Sun/U-Moon ahead of their release and likely when Pokemon Gold and Silver are released on the Virtual Console in September (More on that in a bit).

What do we know about U-Sun/U-Moon? This:

  1. They’re being released worldwide on November 17 on the 3DS.
  2. Solgaleo, Lunala and several other Pokemon will new forms. Presumably, the new Alolan forms will be based on Johto Pokemon to tie in with the Virtual Console release of Gold and Silver. Solgaleo and Lunala’s new forms have something to do with Necrozma by the way.
  3. There will be additional Pokemon that weren’t in Sun or Moon though it’s not clear if they will just be Johto Pokemon or entirely new Pokemon ala Black 2 and White 2 as well. I’m assuming both for now.
  4. The games will load faster when played on the New Nintendo 3DS or New Nintendo 2DS.

…That’s prettymuch it. We know nothing of the games’ story though to be fair, the games were just announced today (LOL). Will it be a whole new story like Black 2 and White 2 or will it be an enhanced version of the current story ala Yellow, Crystal and Emerald? Time will tell ^_^

This brings me to the other big news I care about: Per popular request, Gold and Silver are coming to the Virtual Console. Now, the question to be asked is will Crystal follow? According to a picture I saw while I was looking for the above image, I would be VERY suprised if Crystal’s release isn’t announced as well =O

Thanks to the Virtual Console versions of Red, Blue and Yellow we know Gold and Silver will emulate trading using the console’s wireless feature. I almost forgot the original Gold and Silver introduced the Mystery Gift feature, which allows two players to receive a random useful item using the Game Boy Color’s infrared sensor. The 3DS family consoles have an infrared sensor so this feature will likely return ^_^

The 2nd Gen Pokemon games are actually considered two of the best handheld games of all time for a variety of reasons. For those who either need a refresher or didn’t know, the 2nd Gen games introduced ALL of the following features that have been staple going on 20 years now:

  • The Steel and Dark Types: Magnemite and Magneton are Electric/Steel Types in the 2nd Gen games.
  • Pokemon Genders: Aside from Legendaries, 95% of all Pokemon are now Male or Female. Certain Pokemon always Male (Nidoking) or Female (Miltank) while there are some who are Genderless (Voltorb).
  • Pokemon Eggs and Breeding: That moment Pokemon went PG-13. LOL. One of the biggest mysteries in Pokemon Lore is where DO those Pokemon Eggs come from? No one has ever actually seen Pokemon “do it” so…yeah.
  • Egg Moves: With breeding comes the ability to pass moves known by the “Father” Pokemon on to the son. Want to put Dragon Dance on a Tyranitar or Charizard? Breed a Female Charizard or Tyranitar with a Male Dragonite, Kingra or Gyarados that knows Dragon Dance. Want to put Mirror Move on Blastoise? Breed a Male Corsola with a Female Blastoise. Of course, it may take a few tries to breed a Female Charmander or Squirtle. Seriously though, Tyranitar’s only worth using competatively with Dragon Dance (aka D-Tar) so…yeah. One round of Dancing is enough for Tyranitar to outspeed most Pokemon. Two rounds of Dancing = Team Sweep including the Super Legendaries (Mewtwo, Lugia and Ho-Oh).
  • Special Stat split into Special Attack and Special Defense: Due to how overpowered Psychic Pokemon were in the 1st Gen, not only did they get a true weakness in Dark Types but they were weakened even futher by splitting the Special stat into Sp. Atk and Sp. Def. The introduction of the TM Move Calm Mind in the 3rd Gen (raises both Sp. Atk and Sp. Def) kinda negated this until the 6th gen though.
  • Hold Items: Pokemon now have the ability to hold items. This all-important feature added an extra layer of strategy that must be accounted for.
  • Additional Poke Ball Types: The Fast Ball, Heavy Ball and their variations in later games began in the 2nd gen. This made it easier to catch certain types of Pokemon.
  • Two cover Legendaries: The 2nd gen introduces Ho-Oh and Lugia as the cover Legendary Pokemon. Unlike the games that came after it, you could catch both legendaries in each game. You could catch Lugia in Gold or Ho-Oh in Silver after speaking to a certain person in Pewter City after defeating the Elite Four for the first time.
  • Roaming Pokemon: Raikou, Entei and Suicune were the original Roaming Pokemon. After you encounter them for the first time in Ecruteak City, the three will run off in different directions. You may then randomly encounter one of them while traveling around Johto as long as your lead Pokemon is under level 40. They run as soon as you encounter them so it’s a good idea to open with a level 38 Ariados that is holding the Quick Claw. Open with Spider Web to prevent them from running away. The Quick Claw is insurance vs. Eneti (Fire) since Ariados is a Bug/Poison Pokemon. You might also want to have a level 70+ Pokemon with False Swipe (target Pokemon is always left with 1 HP), a Pokemon with Hypnosis and (alot of) Ultra Balls.
  • Pre-Evolutionary Pokemon: Pichu, Igglybuff, Cleffa, Tyrogue, Elekid, Magby, Smoochum and Togepi. They would later be joined by the likes of Riolu, Bonsly, Mantyke, Budew and Munchlax. Aside from Riolu, 7 of the first 8 “Baby” Pokemon don’t require special conditions like the others do in order to get them. Just breed two of their evolved forms or one of their evolved forms with a Ditto. Tyrogue will evolve into Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee or Hitmontop depending on its Atk and Def stats when it hits level 20. You can use vitamins to manipulate its evolution.
  • The Alphabet Pokemon Unown: The game’s first multi-form Pokemon, there were 26 Unknown though one for the “!” and “?” punctuations were added in Crystal. Unknown could only use the move Hidden Power and while not much good for battles, there IS a fun reason to collect as many variations as Possible: You could spell words! This made for some mischief among friends and classmates like sharing secret messages or spelling out swear words (LOL!).
  • Night, Day and the Days of the Week: Easily the biggest feature added the Pokemon games ever was the sense of Time. Why? Because there are certain Pokemon that can only be caught or evolved depending on the time of day. To go with this, there were events and services that were only available to you depending on what day it was. This most obvious being the Day Siblings: On each day and in a certain location in Johto you will run into someone who will give you a hold item. They only do it once but it’s ok if you miss a day: They’ll be back the following week.
  • Shiny Pokemon: For most Pokemon Vets, the Red Gyarados at the Lake of Rage was their very first Shiny Pokemon. That aside, so far there is a Shiny version of every single Pokemon EXCEPT the Alolan Cover Legendaries. The catch: You have a 1 in 6,000 to 15,000 chance of encountering one. For those who are wondering: Pokemon imported from the 1st Gen could be Shiny when sent to the 2nd Gen (!). What’s so special about Shiny Pokemon? Color aside, absolutely nothing ^_^
  • PokeRus: Who knew Pokemon could get sick? Even weirder, this is a Super-Rare virus you WANT your Pokemon to get. Why? Because Pokemon with PokeRus grow faster and have more stat gains on level up that’s why. Oh and no there is no cure. To spread it, simply place an infected Pokemon in your PC and fight a few battles. Repeat for each box. Perks aside, it’s pretty harmless to the Pokemon.
  • Cross-Gen Trading: Obviously I care about this the most (LOL!). After you visit the Ecruteak City Pokemon Center for the first time, you will be able to trade between the 1st and 2nd Gens. Aside from the 1st Gen Starters, Hitmonchan/Hitmonlee, the Fossil Pokemon, Mewtwo and The Legendary Birds (for the Pokedex) you can also get certain items when importing certain Pokemon from the 1st Gen. For example if you send the Pikachu you receive in Pokemon Yellow to the 2nd Gen it will come holding the Light Ball, which doubles Pikachu’s Sp. Atk (!).

…I’d say that covers everything more or less.

In short, Gold and Silver are must-haves if you have Sun/Moon or the 1st Gen VC games or both. Presumably the cross-Gen transfer to the 7th Gen will be one-way. The difference is if you already have the VC versions of the 1st Gen games, you can breed the starters, the Hitmons, Eevee + Evolutions, the Fossil Pokemon and other Pokemon you only had one of up to now.




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Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia’s DLC will cost more than the game itself?!


Serenes Forest broke the news yesterday: The DLC Content for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadoes of Valentia COMBINED will cost $53.50. If you want to say $9.50, you can buy the season pass for $44. As a reminder, the game costs $40 minus the DLC. The Alm and Celica Amiibo 2-pack costs $20. If you want all the DLC and the Amiibos you’re sending $104 or $113.50 in total, the price of the game included.

The obvious “WTH Nintendo?!” aside, most players will likely cherry-pick what DLC they get as usual. Yours truly will buy them all usual. It’s worth it to me. I have already alotted the necessary funds in my eShop account to buy the Season Pass when the game is released on May 19. That’s two weeks from tomorrow ^_^

To recap, all of the DLC in Fire Emblem Awakening costs $44. I own two copies of it–Physical on my Ambassador 3DS and digital on my other 3DS. I also have A physical copy of both Conquest and Birthright as well as the other campaign digital and the digital-only third campaign, Revelations. $20 per campaign so that’s $80 total. Oh and yes I have all the DLC times two so…yeah.

Again, it’s worth it to me. There was an 18-month gap between when I bought my first copy of Awakening and the second. I bought Birthright and Conquest at the same time. I haven’t yet decided if I will buy a second copy of Echoes but it won’t be later this year (LOL).

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Nintendo quietly announces the New Nintendo 2DS XL

…Goes without saying I was too busy playing Persona 5 to catch this when news first broke the other day: A 2D variant of the New Nintendo 3DS is coming this summer. And I’m going to get it. As you guys know, I bought a New Nintendo 3DS XL last month. I still have the launch 3DS it replaced but as of tonight my former Ambassador 3DS will have a new owner. I still have my other standard 3DS but I was already thinking of buying a second New Nintendo 3DS but I’ll save $50 and get this instead. LOL.
This is what the back and underside look like. Like the 3D variant, the New 2DS will use MicroSD Memory Cards. Interestingly, there is a cover to prevent players from accidently touching the game card while playing unlike the New 3DS. As you can tell you also will not have to unscrew the back cover to insert your own MicroSD Memory Cards which is the case with the New 3DS.

As a reminder for those looking to pre-order and replace an older 3DS/2DS, you WILL need the older console to transfer everything to the new one so DON’T trade in your old/current 3DS/2DS. The process requires a computer, a MicroSD to SD Expansion Card (always sold as a pair) and of course the existing console + SD Memory Card. Use a computer to just copy everything to the new MicroSD Memory Card. After that, just run the Transfer Data App (In Settings) to complete the transfer. Whole process takes no more than an hour. Your eShop History, Themes, Digital Games and everything else and transferred over to the new console. Once the transfer is completed, the source console is factory resets. It IS a process that was only meant to be used ONCE, after all.

To the parents who may have been thinking of getting one, it’s kid-friendly. It has larger buttons and larger screens. The 2DS and the New 2DS are so-called because unlike the 3DS and New 3DS there is no “pop out” 3D. Aside from this they will BOTH play ALL DS, 3DS and New 3DS games perfectly fine.

Posted in Brendan Aurabolt, New Nintendo 3DS, News, Nintendo 3DS, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Postgame Review: Persona 5 (PS4 Version)

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…Wednesday morning, I got to the above screen. Then I gave it a Standing Ovation. Persona 5 is easily Game of the Year 2017. I will be shocked if it isn’t considered at least. An easy 10/10 despite being delayed for 3 years.

The interesting thing: The Soundtrack for Persona 5 was released on iTunes last  week. It’s $30 for the whole thing but I’d say only 16 tracks are worth getting. Those who’ve played the game know which ones ^_^
Like I mentioned in the first-look review, you play a high school student named Akira Kurusu. That’s his name for the Anime but as we know the names of Persona protagonists can vary. For example P3’s goes by Minato Arisato in the video games (Minako in P3 Portable for the PSP) but Makoto Yuki in the movies. P4’s goes by Yu Narukami in the video games and Anime but Souji Seta in the Manga.

Anyway, Akira finds out no good deed goes unpunished when he steps in to help a woman being harrassed. This act of chivalry backfires: The man Akira confronts presses charges against him for assault and Akira is put on probation for a year. Embarassed and ashamed, his parents send him to live in Tokyo. It’s later revealed the man who screwed over Akira has very big aspirations. I won’t say any more than that since I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t gotten too far in the game.

As the story unfolds, Akira meets other teenagers who like him were horribly mistreated or taken advantage of by adults. They decided to work together to reform society as The Phantom Thieves:

  • Morgana/Mona: The non-Human member of the group and its cofounder along with Akira, Ryuji and Ann. When Akira first meets him in the Metaverse, Morgana is trying to reclaim his lost memories. Like Teddie in P4 and Komoharu in P3, Morgana has his own Persona. That MUST mean he’s human…right? RIGHT?!
  • Ryuji/Skull: A former athlete on the school’s disbanded track team. Ryuji is a delinquent who was injured by a teacher on purpose, costing him a promising career in running and the track team. His resolve get payback is the turning point in his life and leads to him awakening to his Persona.
  • Ann/Panther: A half-Japanese girl and teenage model. Watching her friend’s suicide attempt at school is the turning point in her life and leads to her awakening to her Perona.
  • Yosuke/Fox: A talented young artist. After learning his master was nothing more than a fraud and a con artist, he awakens to his Persona.
  • Makoto/Queen: The Studen Council President at Shunjin Academy and younger sister of Sae Niijima, the prosector heading the Phantom Thieves Investigation. Turning a blind eye to horrible things going on at her school and the rumors about her take their toll. After getting blackmailed by as dangerous criminal, Makoto awakens to her Persona.
  • Futaba/Oracle: An incredibly talented hacker and adopted daughter or Sojiro, Akira’s guardian. Futaba became a shut-in after watching her mother die in front of her a few years earlier. Having watched the Phantom Thieves from a distance, she turns to them for help and eventually awakens to her Persona. She’s a non-combatant but provides support for the team.
  • Haru/Noir: The daughter of a powerful CEO. Unable to turn a blind eye to the rumors concerning the way her father treats the company and its employees, Haru takes a stand.
  • Akechi/Crow: A talented young detective. Despite hos charming demeanor, the popular student detective is a man of mystery. It doesn’t take long for the rest of the Phantom Thieves to realize there’s more to Akechi than meets the eye.

…Going with the game’s Emancipation, Prison and Thievery themes everyone’s Personas are based on outlaws. For example Ryuji’s is Captain Kidd and Yusuke’s is Goemon, who were real people. Morgana is named for a cat owned by Arsene–the name of Akira’s initial Persona–who was a famous thief in literature.

There’s a crapton of pop culture references to go with the theme. Speaking of, the real world connections for every person the Phantom Thieves…like I said in my First Look Review it’s massively relevant to what’s going on today in the world: What can you do but rebel when the game and the rules are the game are rigged and stacked against you from the beginning to ensure you lose? You rebel of course.

Easily the main draw of the game for me. After working with Persona 3, Persona 4 and their repective spinoff games Japanese Hip Hop Artist and Persona fan Lotus Juice passed on lending his vocals to Persona 5. Lotus Juice, who actually raps in English (He grew up in New Jersey and his accent is barely noticable) explained on Facebook he wanted to enjoy Persona 5 “as a fan this time”. Turns out the soundtrack was in really good hands.

Like I mentioned at the top, you can buy the full soundtrack for $30 on iTunes, which contains 32 tracks. I bought the 16 best tracks from the soundtrack via iTunes earlier this evening. Here are just six of my favorites, all performed or arranged by Lyn (personally reccommended by Lotus Juice for the job =O):


The cover track for the game. Persona 4’s is Pursuing My True Self (Shadow World in P4 Golden) while Persona 3’s is Burn My Dread. There is also an instrumental arrangement for this track.

…Such a smooth song =O

This song plays after the Phantom Thieves send their Calling Card to a target. The Instrumental Version plays during battles. It’s blood-pumping and fast-paced arrangement goes well with when it’s used in-game.


The battle music ❤

Persona 4 has Time to Make History and Reach Out To The Truth while Persona 3 has Mass Destruction. Like both games, this arrangement was purposely chosen and composed and it’s amazing ^_^

Easily the second-best track on the album. It plays during your free time. There is also a rain variant with just the keyboard and vocals.

I actually love the Instrumental version more:

…Lotus Juice loved the track so much, he freestyled to it. LOL. And yeah this traclk just BEGS you rap to it ❤

I LOVE this song. LOVE ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

It plays during special sequences in the game, most notably the  game’s opening escape sequence. It has an Instrumental arrangement as well becausse why the hell not?


…We were kept waiting for 3 years but the wait was WELL worth it. Don’t even get me started on the TIMING for the game’s release: A full month after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the Nintendo Switch were both released. Whoever isn’t playing Breath of the Wild will likely be playing this game. This is coming from someone who actually does have said game. LOL.

Atlus has received alot of criticism in regards to Persona 5 has received criticism for blocking gamers from taking screenshots or video of the game’s story content. There’s also the glaring problem in regards to time management when trying to work on social links: Story content forces time forward, preventing you from using time you could have used working on a social link. Things are a little easier starting in the second playthrough: Anyone you got a max social link with in the previous playthrough, you will receive items to speed up the process in the next playthrough. It’s certainly possible to max all Social Links in one playthough with some careful planning though.

P5 contains two mechanics that were big in P4 and P3: Mementos (The Tartarus in P3) and Shadow versions of people (Introduced in P4). It’s an overt nod to both games. Persona 5 also seen the return of the negotiation system, which has been absent from the Persona games for some time. The system ads an extra layer of strategy in battles. Also like Persona 3 and Persona 4 you can get in a relationship with multiple ladies. Those who dare to play around, beware: As the saying goes you reap what you sow. LOL.

A few days ago, it was announced Atlus has trademarked several new names mostly relating to Persona 5 and Persona 3 in particular. No question there will be more spinoff games but we’ll have to wait and see. Persona 5 was released on the PS3 and the PS4. Like I said in my First Look Review, I would not be surprised at all if a Vita port happens. It would be awesome to say the least!

Posted in Atlus, Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Persona 5, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Review, RPG, Serene Adventure, Shin Megami Tensei, Video Games, Vita | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Look Review: Persona 5 (PS4 Version)


Took 3 years but like only a handful of other games, the wait was worth it: Two years after the game’s release in Japan it was FINALLY released in North America this past Tuesday. P5 was easily the most anticipated PS3 game ever and one of the most anticipated PS4 games yet. I have both a PS3 and a PS4 but I decided to go with the PS4 version of the game to take advantage of the MASSIVE storage on my PS4 (1TB). The Persona recruitment mechanics are a throwback to the P1 and the Shin Megami Tensei series: When you Knock Down a Persona (called Hold Up in P5) you can talk to them. If this is your first encounter with them you can ask them to join you. Another method is beating them within an inch of their lives to the point they beg for mercy.

In comparison to the previous 2 Persona games (P4 and P3) the core mechanics are the same from Social Links to a calendar system to the Velvet room. The clear distinction is the Prison theme the game has. Things are prettymuch the same otherwise. P5’s open world is also MASSIVE compared to P4 and P5: The game takes place in Tokyo so…yeah. I played the game through the first major dungeon before I decided to write this analysis of the game. My postgame review…I imagine will be months away (LOL).

The basic premise of the game’s story is this: A fateful decision made by the game’s protagonist got him in trouble with the law and he was sent away to spend a year of Probation in Tokyo. A single mistake could see him hauled off to jail. The funny thing is the opening 3 minutes of the game clearly takes place much later in the story. The protagonist, who is the leader of the Imfamous Phantom Thieves is nabbed by the cops and brought in for questioning after a job goes horribly wrong. After being roughed up and drugged by the fuzz, a local prosecutor–who happens to be the older sister of one of the protagonists–interviews you. The flow of the story is everything that happened from beginning which you play.

Like I said before, I cleared the first major dungeon. That gave me a pretty good idea of a few things. The theme of the game is Emancipation. and Rebelling against unfair punishment and restorative justice. Along the way you encounter others with similar problems who will join or aid you on your quest to purge society of corruption. The interesting thing is the overt references to corruption and abuse of power are far more relevant today than they would have been 3 years ago. The game getting delayed twice is just a massive coincidence on that note. LOL.

My first playthrough…I can see it taking me two or three months to finish. I take it slow but as I noted with my previous blog I have 12 other PS4 games I got around the same time. So, yeah. I expect it will be some time before I see the end of the game. Of course, there IS also the remote possability P5 will get a Vita release. A guy can dream!

One last thing before I forget: You do not need to be familiar with the Persona series to play P5. It will help to have at least played P4 or P3 but is NOT required to play P5. I will say that if you are not a fan of traditional RPG mechanics in general you probably won’t like P5.

Posted in Atlus, Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, News, Persona 5, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, PS Vita, Serene Adventure, Shin Megami Tensei, Sony, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment