I recently stumbled upon a game that surprised me with its presentation, cultural flavor, and overall fun. Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble for the Sony PSP was the perfect game to play after finishing Yakuza 5, as there are similarities between the two games, although Kenka Bancho is distinct in many ways. Though there are many entries in this series, this is the only one we've gotten in North America. Let's check it out!
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As a fan of story based games, I have to say that I love a game that takes you on a ride. Catherine is the kind of game that you can sit back with, relax, and watch an incredibly compelling social dilemma unfold before the protagonist's eyes. Lately, I've been thinking about companies from Japan. So many people have been crying out about the doom and gloom of the market and how Japanese development has been lagging behind while the Western world advances. This couldn't be further from the truth, as Atlus is one of Japanese gaming's oldest surviving names, but fastest risers in the global market. Persona 3 got the name out, Persona 4 kicked the door open, and Catherine broke the door's frame. Persona 5 is currently one of the most anticipated Japanese developed games since Atlus presented its masterfully crafted initial trailer.
Catherine was released in Japan and North American in 2011, with Europe and Australia getting a release in early 2012. The plot revolves around infidelity and is one that many of us have likely heard about, if not experienced first hand. Vincent, the games protagonist, gets caught up with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed young beauty named Catherine one night after all of his friends leave him alone at the bar. From here, the player chooses whether he wants to court her for the long run or remain faithful to his girlfriend, Katherine. The girls represent the ideologies of "Law" and "Chaos." Law is doing the right thing no matter how much it might hurt; Katherine is a structured being in complete charge of her life and represents Law. On the other hand, Catherine is more of a loose cannon that Vincent can't seem to get rid of no matter what decisions you make; she represents Chaos. Which one of these ladies will you choose, or will you choose the single life?
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Steambot Chronicles, or Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki: Bumpy Trot as it was originally named in Japan, is a Playstation 2 game developed and published by Irem in Japan, Atlus in North America, and 505 Gamestreet in a few countries in Europe. There is also a spin off on PSP named Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament, and an odd tie-in puzzle game on PS2 and PSP named Blokus Portable: Steambot Championship (one of only four games published by Majesco on the PSP in the USA).
A quick look at the back of the case of Steambot Chronicles shows the game being marketed as an open world RPG, and that is correct in a way. The game starts off as linear as any other RPG that's been made and then opens up. It's similar to the opening dungeon in Elder Scrolls, but drags on much longer. In this long opening sequence, you'll visit all three of the main towns, many of the back areas, and explore most of the world by the time it's completely opened up. Once an area is open, it may be visited at any time afterwards, and as a result, money can be hoarded this way.
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