Reviewer: Ryan Green
Read our review here. Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart was a side story in the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise, focusing on the Noire character this time around.
There's fan service, and then there's Hyperdevotion Noire. This game had such a light story, the whole thing seemed to be a long, drawn-out effort to get to the soft nudity as quickly as possible. Characters were mostly single-note in personality, and many forgettably so. Couple this with simplistic gameplay and odd difficulty spikes, and you're in for a rather miserable time.
The art style, as overtly-sexualized as it was, was actually pretty well done. Who wouldn't get excited to see a female version of Solid Snake?
A more fully fleshed-out combat system would have been much appreciated. Eliminating some filler characters and scenarios, and enriching the stories and personalities of the remaining, core group of characters, could have made the story more palatable.
Reviewer: Zarmena Khan
Read our review here. Jungle Rumble was originally a smartphone game, and it shows on the Vita. For starters, the game is played with the Vita in a portrait orientation, which is pretty awkward. But there are more reasons why it scored so low.
Despite claiming to be a rhythm game, Jungle Rumble could very easily be played without the sound even on. This is obviously a problem, because if the listening experience to a rhythm game isn't central to its enjoyment, the point is kind of lost.
Being a mobile game, it was designed with pick-up-and-play mechanics, so it can be played whenever you have only a few moments, such as on the train, waiting in line somewhere, in the bathroom, etc. Some of the puzzles also proved to be pretty challenging, forcing you to plan ahead as you leapt from branch to branch.
Take a look at Patapon, and see how it got rhythm games in mobile form to work so well. If you get the rhythm integral to listening to the song, then the result is a much more rewarding game. Make the gold medals a challenge instead of requiring only a few playthrough of a level to achieve.
Reviewer: Mark Labbe
Read our review here. Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a pretty typical dungeon crawler, with one huge exception. The girls you play with can unlock special powers by beating "temptations" with a whip while they lay in provocate poses.
Beyond the eye candy, the RPG system in place here is nothing special. From our review, Criminal Girls "Adds nothing inherently new to the JRPG genre." The hyper-sexualization of the girls in the story is going to likely be offensive to Western sensibilities as well, though given the target audience many players will expect (and even want) to see it.
Innovating with a less generic battle system could have helped. Throwing out the awkward motivation section, and focusing on a more relatable story would have improved the game's reception, as well.
Reviewer: Heath Hindman
Read our review here. The Yakuza series has been generally well-received over the years. But this fifth main entry appears to have slipped in quality a little compared to its predecessors. This game wasn't released in February (NA and Europe get it later in 2015), but the review went up, so let's talk about it.
Yakuza 5 suffered from some serious pacing issues. For starters, there were several portions that consisted of 20 minutes of cinematics for every minute or less of actual gameplay. While getting the story across is important in a game like Yakuza, which is so rich in its setting, it got a bit out of hand. Some locations felt too claustrophobic as well, despite this being an open-world type game.
As usual, Yakuza is steeped in culture. This is the game you play when you want to feel yourself transported to Japan. Over-the-top action mixes with countless side quests to ensure you have plenty to do during your stay. The story, long as it may be, is actually entertaining, as well.
Make unimportant, unvoiced cutscenes skippable. I understand that you may miss a small piece of the story in this case, but giving gamers choice is never a bad thing. Some people play this game mostly to be able to free-roam in Japan while they are sitting in their living room in some other far-away land, and forcing a story too heavily is sure to leave a sour taste in their mouth. Including customization was a nice touch, but it appeared to only serve an appearance purpose. Making character customizations have some sort of meaningful effect on combat adds to strategy, and ensures your choices mean something.