Should I Buy? – Papers, Please


One of the more interesting indie titles of late, in both premise and execution. You play as a nameless, faceless border control officer of Arstotzka who is tasked with following the labyrinthine bureaucratic procedure that is verifying migrants for entry into the country.

The idea of a game based around checking passport dates and work permits for a dystopian government is a hard sell, but I’m about to try my darndest anyway. The main bulk of the game is in its story mode. Over a period spanning about a fortnight in game, you begin your job and are forced to contend with the ever-changing rules, smugglers, terrorists, recurring characters, a shadowy organisation and the volatile political condition of the world away from your desk.

Much like Super House of Dead Ninjas, there’s a perfect blend  of game-making at play here. Mechanically, the strict time limit to each day, the necessity to pay for food, rent, heating and occasionally medicine for your family of five and wage based on applicants processed juxtaposes with the necessity of taking your time to check, double check and cross reference every last detail of what can be up to half a dozen forms. This ensures you’re always on edge and never quite have enough money to make all ends meet.

Then comes in the moral choice aspect. Some scripted characters have sob stories that may or may not be true, and as the adjudicator of who enters the country it’s up to you whether to deny the possible murderer, or admit the woman who claims to be the husband of the man you just admitted. Nice as it might be to play hero, doing so works against your own interest, as an incorrect entry or denial will cost you money out of your own wages. And the family is so very hungry, your wife is sick and Tiny Timyevski’s birthday is just around the corner…

The world you inhabit is a grim place. As bad as Arstotkzka is, there’s a reason people are fleeing the region enmasse to gain entrance. This is where the game’s narrative strength comes into play. At the end of each day, you get your wages and pay your expenses. Hopefully you can pay for food and heating after rent, but maybe you can’t. Uncle Festeronyev may have to forgo his medicine, if it means the rest of the family get to eat tonight. There are one off events that happen here too that will tax your moral centre, like your niece needing a new home.

There are other events during your work day that serve to create a plot you can participate in, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. It does, however, serve as proof that even the cardinal rules of storytelling can be broken. You have only limited agency in the mess that is this region. You’re not the hero of any of the game’s stories. You’re a minor character at best, just trundling along, trying to keep your family alive while others are involved in murder, terrorism, rebellion and desperate romances.

To give the game’s story mode even more recommendations, it also has a branching personal story for you. By making certain critical errors or proving your loyalty to different groups, you can achieve twenty different endings. Many of them are variations on the same event, but others can radically change not just the ending but some of the in-game days. My first play through, I took a large bribe and got tattled on by my neighbours and sent to a debtor’s prison. The second time, I tried being helpful to the scary Ministry of Information officer and got myself arrested and interrogated for my trouble. The third time, however, I got through to the end of the very last day with a squeaky clean record of loyalty to Our Great Arstotzka. Even if Tiny Timyevski and Uncle Festeronyev did die of disease along the way.

If you get Ending 20, you’ll unlock the Endless Mode. In this, you choose one of three challenge types and one of four levels of complexity. In Timed, you try to process as many applicants as possible in ten minutes. Perfection will fail you for making a single mistake. Finally, Endurance sees you earn a single point for every correct judgement, with every mistake losing you a set number based on its severity and ending the game when you enter negative points.

I’ll admit that after finishing the story I just wanted to process some more paperwork, and once you find the challenge and difficulty to suit you, it can have that “just one more game quality” but without the narrative framework and moral complexity, the game loses a lot of its charm.

That said, once you’ve unlocked a day in Story mode, it’s available for reply any time you want form the main menu. And the story is so unobtrusive that any reply of the Story mode doesn’t have that “ugh now I have to do THIS mission and watch THAT super long cutscene” problem a lot of larger games have.

Papers, Please is  a bit pricey for a 5-6 hour Story mode’d indie title at $10, but it’s an intelligent game that deserves to be played and discussed far more than just about every AAA release of this generation. It’s available on both Windows & Mac OS X from Steam & gog.com

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Stuff You Should Really Be Into 4 – Too Many Darn Sequels


Time to level. I haven’t been updating much because I kind of got out of the groove with reviewing what with being a third year university student and all. That said, I have played a lot of games this year like Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Transformers: War For Cybertron, Inazuma Eleven Far Cry 3, not to mention the news 3DS I bought myself. So maybe you’ll be getting more reviews soon. But until then, I’ve recently discovered a treasure trove of my new nerdvana: retro videogame webshows. So here’s some of the stuff I like in no particular order.

Pat the NES Punk

Where The Angry Video Game Nerd uses excessive swearing (and if you don’t mind/like/can get past that, his show is pretty damn great), Pat uses excessive self-deprecation.

His purview is NES games, believe it or not. He reviews games good, bad and somewhere inbetween. If you’re interested, you can find his stuff on YouTube, Blip, retroware.tv & thepunkeffect.com

PushingUpRoses’s A Second Look At

A reviewer of old PC adventure games, PushingUpRoses also has a pretty large amount of Let’s Plays with various webshow folk you might be familiar with like Paw. Her stuff can be found on YouTube, Blip and retroware.tv

Note: Her Let’s Plays are not on retroware.tv

RinryGameGame’s…er…stuff

General 8 and 16-bit game stuff. Sometimes it’s reviews, other times it’s discussing things like censorshipin Nintendo games or stress-testing NES carts. It’s an enjoyable mix.

Only a small about of Rinry’s stuff is up on retroware.tv, the rest can be found on her YouTube channel.

Roo of the Clan of the Grey Wolf’s 16 Bit Gems

Another retroware.tv contributor, Roo creates the 16 Bit Gems show. Which, believe it or not, is dedicated to reviewing SNES games you might not have heard of but are, well, hidden gems. That last sentence has too many commas, doesn’t it? Oh, well, you’ll, live, probably,.

His Blip channel contains a lot of vlogs and such, so you might want to stick to watching his stuff on YouTube or retroware.tv

JewWario’s You Can Play This

A show dedicated to 8 & 16-bit Japanese games that you can import and play. Ever wanted to know which Japanese Famicom platformers to import? I haven’t, but I do love seeing periods of gaming history I’m all but ignorant of!

His stuff is on Blip, retroware.tv and YouTube.

The Video Game Years

A collaboration documentary project of many retroware.tv contributors which goes through video game history year by year and talks about the various milestones and oddities along the way. Available on retroware.tv & Blip, as well as the retroware YouTube channel.

One last thing

While I like what little of 8-Bit Alli there is so far, it’s still a very small amount. Put her under the “ones to watch” category, I guess. She’s also on retroware.tv & YouTube.

Another last thing

These content producers do so off their own backs and are only paid via ad revenue. If you’re going to watch their content, please disable any ad-blockers you normally use for these sites, or at least for as long as you’re watching there stuff. Watching on Blip will give them a better cut of the proceeds than YouTube, and if you do use an ad-blocker on Blip you’ll be forced to stare at a message about ad-blockers for 90 seconds instead of watching a 30 second advert, so it’s really not worth it.

Should I Buy? – Super House of Dead Ninjas


Before Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure I was never a platforming fan, but I had to try that one out because, well, take a look for yourself:

So I gave Super House of Dead Ninjas a try on Steam when it was their Daily Deal and I am so very glad I did.

SHoDN is a retro throwback to 2d platformers full of fast paced ninj-ing where you die a lot A. Lot. It’s a quasi-sequel to the flash game House of Dead Ninjas, so if you liked that this is strictly an improvement.

The premise is simple. There’s a giant tower full of monsters which many people enter in hopes of finding great treasure, but never return from. You play as Ninjette, a female ninja not looking for fame or fortune but instead investigating the disappearance of the legendary One-Armed Ninja who previously entered the tower.

You progress down the 350 floors of the tower, fighting enemies and bosses, collecting powerups and trying not to die. Ninjette is certainly fleet of foot, and she needs to be as you’re on a timer that summons Death should you let it run out. This is where the principle difficulty of the game rears its head. Taken by themselves, the individual enemies and traps are really kinda easy and predictable. But you need to keep moving at high speed, meaning it’s your own damn fault if you forgot that enemy needs two hits, or you didn’t press the down attack in time, or you weren’t patient enough to wait that extra fraction of a second.

Luckily this isn’t a one-hit death sort of game. You get a large life bar and three continues, with no insta-deaths in the game. Though death is frequent, the fact that it stems from your own mistakes instead of some ridiculous challenge makes it that much less frustrating, and when you’re ‘in the zone’ and kicking ass, you’ll feel like an unstoppable badass.

But this alone isn’t enough to give SHoDN enough replay value to justify the purchase. That honour goes to the horde of unlockable weapons. Ninjette has a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, a bomb and a magic spell at her disposal. Each of these has a range of different weapons to unlock and experiment with.  Do you want to use the Katana of Miffed Barbarians for that extra attack power, or will the longer reach and speed of the Taming Whip of Many Nuns win you over?

Trying to unlock all the new toys to play with will give you a good few hours more play time. Some are easy, some very difficult. Combined with the other unlockables like greater ammo capacity and new powerups, SHoDN has a lot to find.

As for the graphics, they’re a kind of pseudo 8-bit that look pretty darn good. They are kinda completely cheating by doing things not possible with 8-bit hardware, but the game looks great and the soundtrack is atmospheric and enjoyable. A free copy of the soundtrack for download is also one of the unlockables, by the way.

The game isn’t really that long. The main tower can be completed in well under half an hour if you’re good at the game, and while there are two difficulty settings and a few bonus areas this game is all about the replay.

The hardware requirements for SHoDN are low enough that you won’t need a powerful machine to run it. Though if your machine is really low end, you may still get some lag. SHoDN is real cheap on Steam, and easily worth the low price for plans of platformers and of hard, retro games.

Stuff You Should Really Be Into 3: Star Wars Reference


I, having completely infallible taste in everything ever, have come across a bunch of stuff that I think is cool and want to share with you all. I’m fantastic like that.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

A twelve issue Marvel Elseworlds miniseries, Nextwave is the story of a bunch of D list Marvel heroes and original characters forming the team Nextwave to take on H.A.T.E. It is the epitome of psychotic fun. I’ll take this over some “dark”, “mature” and “edgy” issue of whatever superhero or team DC has decided needs to be just as depressed and angsty as Batman any day.

It’s very difficult to find any words to adequately describe Nextwave, so below is an excerpt from the book. It has not been altered in any way.

Batman: The Brave And The Bold

A TV show dedicated to all that is wonderful and silly about DC Comics’ 75+ year history. It takes its name from DC’s old team-up book, and features the Caped Crusader teaming up with heroes ranging from mainstays like Green Arrow & Aquaman to more obscure characters like Detective Chimp & Bwana Beast. It also features some of DC’s wackier villains like Crazy Quilt & Ma Murder. Not to mention the fact that it has a musical episode with Neil Patrick Harris playing the villain. Yes. Batman had to stop Neil Patrick Harris from taking over the world through song. That is a thing that happened.

Teen Titans

I’m not talking about any of the comic book incarnations of the team, but rather their animated show from a few years back. Yes, it’s a kid’s show. Yes, the animation has a discernible anime influence. You know what else it is? Fun. And funny. With good characters, solid action and the most awesome theme song in kid’s TV history. Also, its quality is a lot more consistent than Brave and the Bold’s, which had three seasons with a lot of ups and downs.

Young Justice

I like superhero cartoons, OK? The first season of Young Justice impressed me for being a good team show with likeable, three dimensional characters and a tight story focus. The overarching plot of a villainous cabal called “The Light” can get grating, but overall the first season was fantastic.

The second season is a little less so, far too many new characters who don’t get enough time and far too many plot threads running. It’s still a good show, though it’s looking like it won’t get renewed for a third season.

Brows Held High

One of my favourite review shows over on TGWTG, it’s a series on art house films, delivered with humour and intelligence by Oancitizen. Check it out. It’s cool. And I said you should. So ner.

Do beware, there’s often sex and/or violence in the films he reviews. Censored, but still.

Stuff You Like

Another review show. Here’s the show’s description: “Ursa presents Stuff You Like, where fangirls + analysis + awesome examples of media = good times for all.”

The videos are a little short for my liking, but Ursa combines intelligence and insight with the enthusiasm of a fangirl. Highly recommended.

Needs More Gay

These things come in threes, OK? Another review show, looking at male homosexuality and its representation in the media. Again, a little short for my liking but if you’re interested in issues of media representation and such like I am, this is a good show.

don’t take it personally babe, it just ain’t your story

The second game from Canadian indie developer Christine Love, who also created Digital: A Love Story Analogue: A Hate Story. It has a title that annoys me for being very long to type and not having any capital letters, which upsets the pedant in me.

The game itself is a short visual novel where you play a new teacher who is given unrestricted access to the social networking accounts of your students, and face the dilemma of how to act on this information when it comes to helping them with their personal problems. I don’t like the thesis of its ending, or the way it forces you to read all your students’ communications, but its certainly an interesting experience and I hope we see more from Christine Love and her fascination with communication in the digital age.

Katawa Shoujo

I’ve already talked about Katawa Shoujo here, so I won’t get into it much here. It’s a visual novel in which you date one of five disabled high school girls. Please don’t be squicked out by the premise, this is a game that deserves attention and discussion.

Depression Quest

A short text game about suffering from depression. Obviously, trigger warning for depression. As somebody who’s had problems with depression, it does a pretty good job of showing just how hopeless and crushing it can be. If you do play this, please don’t treat it like a ‘game’ to ‘beat’. Make the decisions you would make. Play it through a few times, going through all the ways you could conceivably see yourself acting in those situations. Whether or not you have or do suffer from depression, it’s a good tool for helping to understand the issue.

*Sigh* Remember when I started this post and I was talking about superheroes fighting evil monkeys? Those were good times.

Should I Buy? – LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7


A brief look back over my posts will show that I’m quite the fan of Traveller’s Tales  series of LEGO games based around famous franchises. I was quite taken with LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 in particular for its emphasis on puzzles and exploration instead of the more linear, simple formula the earlier games had relied on. It wasn’t their best game, sure, but it was a fun experiment. So surely Years 5-7  must be a refinement on the original and a true classic of the series, right? Eh, not really.

It’s not a bad game by any means. It will occupy your time. It’s not that there’s a whole raft of problems holding it back, it’s more that Years 5-7 is just…going through the motions.

It recreates the films pretty faithfully, with the slapstick humour the LEGO games are so well known for. This does lead to some odd choices in order to fill out the necessary twenty four levels, but seeing a they’re pretty much all based around solving puzzles it’s not as noticeable or annoying as with other games.

A weakness of Years 1-4 was that the minimal fighting and lacklustre bosses meant levels often felt free of tension or danger and that’s certainly still present to an extent. There are more enemies added in when it makes sense, but the bosses aren’t really improved much. Most of them are just the same ‘puzzle’ recycled.

There is a true improvement on the combat, though, as Duelling has been added. You and your opponent stand in a circle and have to cast the appropriate spells to hurt each other. Again, it’s recycled without variation and is basically just another puzzle, but it does help to add variety and keep things fresh.

By far my favourite part of Years 1-4 was how Hogwarts was full of secrets to uncover, and as you learned new spells and abilities you could explore more and more. It helped pace the game and  give a real sense of growth to your main trio, seeing as you were almost always stuck with playing as them.  And yes, your characters do have to relearn a lot of their spells and there are special abilities you’ll need to get from buying other characters, but there isn’t the same sense of exploratory wonder any more.

Partly this is because your characters, despite the depowering, still have a large selection of powers off the bat. By the time you’ve played a good chunk of the story levels, you’ll have almost all of them. And finally, either finding all the collectibles is that much easier in this game or I’ve become some sort of LEGO game Zen master. Regardless, I got 50% in under two days without even trying.

My biggest problem with Years 1-4 was that if you needed another character’s skills while roaming Hogwarts, you had to backtrack all the way to a Polyjuice Potion in order to do it. Thankfully, Years 5-7  lets you use any cauldron in the Hub areas as any of the four available potions, and using a Polyjuice Potion gives you a wheel of characters who cover all the skills (provided you’ve bought a character with the necessary skills) to flick between with the press of a button. Problem though, why do I need to use a Polyjuice Potion before I can use this feature? It’s unnecessary busywork.

Should you buy Years 5-7? If it’s going cheap and you want a light distraction or are/have a rabid Potterhead in your life, sure. But it’s not one of the classics of the series. It’s an also-ran. It fixes a few problems of the original but fails to offer anything substantive or new enough to make it stand out.

In Which I Don’t Review Katawa Shoujo


A freeware visual novel/eroge based on the drawings of a doujinshi artist, developed primarily by 4chan users in which the player romances and, yes, sleeps with one of five disabled girls. Oh, and the title’s best translation into English is “Cripple Girls”.

Here’s a link to it.

Depending on what corners of the internet you inhabit, that was either a stream of useless gobbledegook or a series of alarm bells. But I’m here to tell you today that such fears are actually pretty unfounded. I’m not sure I can really say I’m a fan of Katawa Shoujo, but it is a brave, bold game that deserves credit for even trying to tackle its subject matter in the way that it does.

Yes, 4chan looked at porn and said “let us come together to make a respectful game about love, relationships and disability.” Also, dear 4chan users out there, I know I am riffing on the bad reputation the site gets but I know that you and the site are not the greatest hive of scum and villainy on this side of the galaxy. You guys do have some freaky porn, though.

And yes, while I’m addressing things I feel the need to point out two things Katawa Shoujo has. Romance, and sex. If you’re not into romance, then only a real interest in the representation of disability and disabled characters could possibly get you interested in this game. If you’re just here to get your rocks off with the sex scenes, they are both brief and rare. This game is not porn. And finally, if the inclusion of sex is a dealbreaker for you, then…well there’s an option to turn the sex scenes off but I wouldn’t recommend it as the sex scenes help give us insight into the characters and they can be just as important, if not more so than a lot of the surrounding scenes.

Down to business. You play as Hisao Nikai, a third year Japanese high school student who has a heart attack when a girl asks him out. Insert joke here. As it turns out, Hisao actually suffers from a form of arrhythmia and this is just the first time it’s ever amounted to anything. After four months of depressing hospital care, his parents transfer him to Yamaku High School for the rest of his final year, as Yamaku specialises in providing care and assistance for physically disabled students.

While there, events contrive to ensure he meets five girls. Hyperactive sporty Emi (a double amputee with prosthetic legs), artist and all around oddball Rin (who was born with no arms), Student Council President Shizune (who was born a deaf mute), severe social anxiety sufferer Hanako (whose right side of her body is covered in severe burns) and the half-Scottish Lilly (who was born blind). Your actions will set you on the path to a relationship with one of these girls.

I’m no expert on the subject of disability in general or any of the specific disabilities the cast have, so I can’t really say how good the representation of disability is here. From what I can gather, there aren’t any major criticisms people have with this game’s handling of its subject matter from a representational standpoint.

Still, this is the internet and I’m sure somebody does have a problem with it. Nothing jumped out at me, and to be honest the way that the game incorporated both the practical issues of life with these disabilities as well as using them to inform rather than define the characters was what kept me playing well after the point when the saccharine romance was losing its charm.

For example, in Shizune’s path, Hisao starts learning Japanese Sign Language so he communicate with her when her friend Misha (her usual interpreter) isn’t around. He realises how the loss of vocal tone means that a lot of conversational nuance is difficult or impossible and comes to understand why Shizune can be so blunt. He also realises the difficulty in using a rather rigid language to articulate complex thoughts and emotions, and how something like holding a box or eating lunch renders you unable to communicate. Through this, we’re given hints as to why Shizune is the way she is without it ever having to be stated through character conversations or ever outright confirmed as the truth as it relates to Shizune.

Getting back to that ‘saccharine’ comment…Don’t get me wrong, there are external and internal problems for both characters in every romance path that complicate and impede things, but the prose here is rather purple.  Thus, when things are happy or contemplative, saccharine. When they’re downbeat or introspective, angsty purple. While the dialogue won’t win any prizes, it’s not a purple as Hisao’s internal monologue and each character has a distinct voice. A professional editor would gleefully take pruning shears to the script, but it’s by no means unreadable.

Though for a freeware indie title from a team of non-professionals, the production values are rather high. Each character has a range of expressions and poses, the background music is pleasant enough and each path gets its own little animated sequence. The backgrounds do kinda suck, but I can forgive that.

This not a review is starting to sound an awful lot like a review, but I’m not really here to critique or pass judgement on Katawa Shoujo. Instead, what I really want to say is how glad I am that this title exists. Also, SPOILER ALERT.

Yes, each girl does have an ‘issue’ that their relationship with Hisao helps them face. This issue is always ‘letting somebody get close to me’, and may or may not be related to their disability. Instead, it’s Hisao who has to grow and change to ensure the happy ever after. He comes to Yamaku as literally and figuratively a broken-hearted boy, and each of his relationships help him find a way of coping with what he’s going through. And in doing so, he develops the kind of unhealthy trait you get from putting all your eggs in one relationship basket. Then it’s the girl he’s romancing that helps him snap out of it.

Take Hanako. She suffers heavily from social anxiety in addition to her burn scars. When the game starts, the only people she can bring herself to talk to are Lilly and Lilly’s sister and she regularly skips class to hide away in her room or the library. When you romance her, Hisao is too afraid of acting on his feelings for her because he sees her as too fragile for such things and is happy with just taking care of her. When you finally get to the big climactic moment of her arc, she tells you that it’s exactly that kind of condescending ‘care’ that’s stopped her from wanting to enter a relationship with you. She calls you out on seeing her as some scared child, and not a person and equal who, yes, sometimes needs time to herself or that little extra bit of TLC. The only way to achieve the happy ending is to have recognised throughout her path that your smothering approach might not be right, leading to your ability to truly realise your mistake and want to change.

Contrast this to when you’re romancing her friend Lilly. Because Hisao isn’t worrying over how to treat her or whether to make a move on her he treats her much like any other person, but becomes mindful of the fact that she likes her space and that not every silence has to be filled, or every absence checked up on. Because she has this new friend that shows she can interact with the world around her and her past experiences won’t necessarily be indicative of her future, she becomes much more open and outgoing than she started out as. She even joins a club and makes a friend outside of her little trio with Lilly and Hisao, something that is done firmly on her own terms.

Also, with regards to the sex scenes. They’re not porn, or even really erotica. Yeah, there is plenty of amazing first times and simultaneous climaxes to go around but there’s also scenes that are uncomfortable for the characters, whether it’s because they’re not emotionally ready or they’re trying something physical that doesn’t pan out.

And like I said earlier, the attitudes of each of the girls to sex and their actions in the scenes aren’t the sort of stuff harem animes are made of. The sex scenes are, by and large, used to inform the characters. Any titillation is really more a side bonus than an intended effect.

Also also, the  most you’re going to see is some boobs. Everything else just so happens to be out of shot.

Katawa Shoujo deserves to exist. It has earned its place in this world more than any of the dozens of mediocre AAA titles that get shovelled out every year. It deserves to be played and examined and debated. There are plenty of reasons not to like this game, be it the premise, its handling of disability, relationships, sex or female characters, the writing, the setting, the genre or the characters themselves.  But that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a go.

If you’ve got time to spare that is. Seriously, there’s a damn lot of reading to do to get through this one. It can be a good few hours before you even start a romance path. Thankfully there are dialogue skip buttons available in the menus for repeated playthroughs.

Should I Buy? – Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3


I don’t make any secret of the fact that I really like the Dynasty Warriors games and the associated spinoffs, something which is not common among a lot of professional reviewers due to how “formulaic” and “repetitive” the games are.

Usually I take umbridge with those words attached to a Dynasty Warriors game as I roll my eyes and go through the mental Rolodex of redesigned maps, new mechanics, tweaked movesets, overhauled weapon systems, brand new characters or gradual improvements in storytelling each iteration brings. But with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3  those words really do feel applicable, at least to the game itself.

By the way, if you’re a Gundam fan looking to see if your favourite characters, Mobile Suits, musical tracks or whatever are recreated for you to play with I’m afraid I hadn’t seen a single episode before playing this game so I can’t help you there. Also, I haven’t played the two preceeding DWG games so I don’t know how much has changed for this third installment.  I’m sure it’s a big deal to some of you out there that Ribbons Alamark and Char Aznable can go Mobile Suit-to-Mobile Suit or have Setsuna and Amuro fighting hoardes of Zukos back to back.

Despite the same huge cast of loosely connected characters and frantic button-mashing combat being in place from the DW franchise, this game feels a lot different from the main series.

All the battles take place on a handful of small maps, made up of connected “Fields” that you battle for control for. Whenever one side loses a Field, their special gauge at the top of the screen drops by a certain amount. Once below 50%, an army’s Ace Pilots can no longer respawn and the powerful laser cannons at their Headquarters are powered down, making it that easier to move in for the kill.

In and of itself, this promotes moving fast from Field to Field, taking them from your enemies and claiming neutral ones in a furious, explosion filled tug of war. Thankfully, this isn’t all there is to it, as certain Fields are special bases that confer bonuses to the army that control them and provide incentive to pick a certain route through the battlefield and prioritise your target instead of just hitting everything you come across with laser swords.

Given that the special objectives in missions are both rare and seem to revolve entirely around which random Ace Pilots seem to be on the field (i.e. only Seabook ever gets ambushed by ‘Bugs’ that you have to save him from) this rinse and repeat formula of field claiming isn’t enough to sustain long missions. Which probably makes it a good thing that this game *has* no long missions. It’s always the same few small maps to scrap your way through.

I can’t really call that a problem though, the game doesn’t go all out on a story mode that would make such missions necessary and the fast pace of the game will probably ensure you don’t notice. Given that you’re into effortlessly slicing through hords of giant robots with laser swords on Easy, or mastering combo strings and block timing and emergency dash on Hard, that is.

Often Dynasty Warriors games bore me because their pace can be too slow depending on my mood, so pumping the action to a break-neck  pace is pretty much the perfect method of enrapturing me. Of course, everybody’s tolerance for repetitive missions and button-mashing is different so while it worked for me better than just about any previous DW titles, you know your own limits on the subject way better than I could.

I mentioned the story mode not being up to much above, and it’s really not. Each character (seemingly at random) is part of one of several groups who band together after finding themselves in some mysterious alternate dimension, and start battling over control of several self-replicating facilities. Each group goes through exactly the same motions, so only the characters spouting the lines are really any different. I’m sure all the people forced together by the whims of fate means something to a Gundam fan, but as I said before I don’t have that connection to the source material.

Aside from the story missions (which will probably take you a few days to get all the way through, just going by the sheer number of them), there’s an array of extra ones for specific purposes. History missions let you replay battles from the different shows, Collection missions let you fight themed collections of Mobile Suits to get the Plans for certain types, Relationship Missions let you get a huge boost to your Friendship with certain characters, etc.

Oh yes, Friendships.  You can forge one with each character in the game and levelling it up to certain levels confers bonuses, like being able to call on them for special attacks or unlocking them as either your mission control or a playable pilot. The system for levelling them up isn’t entirely explained and as such seems a bit random, but I can’t really think of a better way it could have been done that wouldn’t have made the production team cry for a week and go on crunch for an extra six months.

The music? The same high octane metal guitars DW games are famed for. The visual design? A cel-shaded approach which often comes off more as a really great 3d anime than it does a cel-shaded videogame. Seriously, it took me a long time to realise it even was cel-shaded.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is no work of art, but it’s a fast, fun experience full of giant robots, laser swords and plentiful explosions. Except for the final boss. Seriously, even on Easy, that guy is some of if not *the* biggest bullshit, fake challenge I’ve ever come across in a videogame. Seriously, fuck that guy.

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