Lousy Smarch Weather – PlayStation JapanStyle Smarch 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Seems like something comes up almost every month that prevents it. Well, I’m gonna shake off the dust, break off the rust, and fight this lousy Smarch weather to try and slap something together. よし! がんばるぞ!

Old Man Hindman Rambles About Weather for a Minute

I live in an old, old Japanese house that has this magical way of sucking cold from outside at the worst times of the year. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation, but I got my atomic m-ass handed to me in the later science classes, so it might go over my head. What I know is: every dang morning, every dang March and April, my house is ice cold. I allow myself to be fooled into dressing warm, but then step outside and… it’s like 18 degrees (that’s like 64 or 65 Fahrenheit for you ‘Mericans).

But enough about me, let’s talk about you! …And your need for game-related writings by me!

Quick game impressions:

Natural Doctrine (I’m playing it on PS4, but it’s also on PS3 and Vita)

Whooooowwweeeee, get ready for some polarizing comments and reviews when this thing drops stateside. Tactical RPGs (sometimes called Strategy RPGs, choose whichever you like) are my favorite game genre, so I’ve been interested in Natural Doctrine for a long time. Disgaea, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles, Yggdra Union, Tactics Ogre, mmmmmm, give ’em to me! Om nom nom nom!

The PS4 has some holes in its software lineup right now, and the Vita (which will also get this game) could use some tactical RPGs, too. My hype. So hype.

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…Which makes me dislike how long this game takes to get going. There are a lot of different takes and new spins on mechanics going on here, but the unintuitive controls and awkward interface get in the way of mastery. If things are difficult to master simply because they are hard, that’s fine, but when things are hard to master because the game just flat-out moves slowly, that’s problematic. Whenever I fire this game up, I know I have a 50% chance of turning it off feeling great, and a 50% chance of turning it off because I have a sudden urge to lie in the middle of a busy street. No middle ground so far. Import review will happen once I finish it. I planned on being done by now… but…enemy… turns… take… so… looooong.

There’s a good game buried under all this muck. I hope I can find the ending in a timely fashion. I’ve been playing this one thanks to Play-Asia.

Yakuza Ishin (Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin) (I’m playing it on PS4, but it’s also on PS3)

Oh hell yeah. This is my favorite PS4 game right now, hands down. It’s a damn shame there’s no international release date for this one, but you can always import. Kind of like Ryu Ga Gotoku: Kenzan, it has Sega’s awesome Yakuza cast playing fictionalized history parts. In Kenzan, it was the Musashi legend; this time around, it’s the story of Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji restoration.

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I could pick anything to rave about, but what I’ve been loving most is the gorgeous environments. Attention to detail has always been a strong point in the Yakuza series, and Ishin is no exception. Walking around Ishin‘s world invites a special feeling, like I’m being given a secret look at Kyoto circa 1865. I’ve been to several locations around Japan that have their old-time look preserved, and this game looks just like them — except with no-good ronin walking around looking for trouble. And oh, oh how good it feels to be the guy that stabs the trouble.

Look for a review of this one too, when I finish it.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (I’m playing it on Vita, but it’s also on PS3, Wii-U, and 3DS)

The 25th anniversary of the Game Boy had me hankering for some good old fashioned Tetris. And if Game Boy taught us one thing, it’s that Tetris is at its best on a handheld. (Now if only I could set my Vita to greyscale….)

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I’ve only got the demo of this one, but it’s fun. Grab it yourself off the Japanese PSVita PSN store, if you’re down. You go head-to-head against an AI opponent, each of you playing either Tetris or Puyo Puyo. Games can be mixed or the same, but I’m finding Tetris to be the easier. Every time I play Tetris and my opponent plays Puyo, I win. Conversely, every time I play Puyo and my opponent plays Tetris, I lose.

This might be because your opponent’s attacks in Tetris come from underneath you, meaning they don’t screw up something you’ve been working on. Attacks in Puyo Puyo, meanwhile, come from above, and have a way of really jacking your rhythm. There might be some game setting that the demo doesn’t include that can adjust this or even negate it, but as my play is only based on the demo, I can’t be sure. Or maybe the discrepancy could be that I just suck at Puyo Puyo but have over 20 years of semi-regular Tetris experience to fall back on?


Okay, so there’s that. Lot more views than news here, but I had to get back doing this somehow! If you’ve got requests for other JP game impressions/reviews, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.