Here at Punk and Lizard we love all genres with a passion that can only be described as slightly obscene, but I in particular have a soft spot for Japanese games. RPGs, Visual Novels – if it’s weird, whacky and there’s manic Japanese screaming blaring from the game, I’m content. Here are some of the great games I’ve had chucked at me over the last year and even platted. See if you agree.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
You seem to be the only one truly disturbed by the fact that you’ve been dumped on a desert island with the teddy bear you’d least like to snuggle under the duvet with.
A usually dim friend of mine said the game’s description sounded a little like The Hunger Games crossed with Cluedo, and that’s so completely accurate I wish I’d thought of it. I happily declare Danganronpa 2 to be one of the most unique games I have ever played. If you love narrative, crazy plots and murder mysteries, you’ll go crazy for it
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
The difficulty levels starts out easy enough but the smile will soon slip from your face like a sardine down a well-greased gullet. Disgaea 4 definitely has a pain barrier, but it is so worth levelling-up and pushing through it.
Whether you are an experienced SRPG player or a newbie to the genre, you will lose substantial chunks of your life to this game. Tell your friends and family it’s all for the power and good of sardines. I’m sure they’ll understand. Review
The Vita was made for indies and Japanese madness. Steins; Gate is a beautiful and memorable piece of madness that deserves awards for its storytelling. Every so often a game comes along and I lose my tiny little mind. Sometimes it takes me by surprise. Sometimes I see it coming. I saw Steins; Gate coming from seven worldlines away.
Beautiful graphics, great story, catchy music and a big fat loot drop of trophies including an attainable Platinum, Steins; Gate is as close to perfect as they get. Review
Anybirdie who is a fan of the Japanese visual novel genre will enjoy Hatoful Boyfriend. It’s fun, funny and fantastically unique. It gives me sleepless nights to think that many will turn their beaks up thinking Hatoful Boyfriend is merely a dating sim. It isn’t. Strong gameplay, original story, great writing and a twist so twisty your brain will never be straight again, Hatoful Boyfriend is the surprise of the year. Enjoy a dark mystery, embrace the romance, and be the wind beneath some lucky pigeon’s wings. Review
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed
Akiba’s Trip boasts one of the most spectacular and detailed environments I have ever seen on the Vita. Entertaining, original and smutty, this game is meant to be played with a smile on your face. It’s colourful fun that feels a lot less pervy than the title and description suggests. Yes, it mainly involves punching people in the face and disrobing them, but it’s not all about women in their underwear. It’s men too! Review
Natural Doctrine is genuinely and fantastically hardcore. If you’re an SRPG fan you’ll have a great time dying. If this is your first SRPG you probably should have tried Child of Light first. A few games in, however, and you’ll soon get the hang of it and you’ll be dying at the same rate as the rest of us. You need bottle to play this game. Bottle, endurance and brains. You’ll also be laughing at the cheesy dialogue, limping goblins and bubbling blood puddles, so make sure you enjoy that while you can, because Natural Doctrine will soon expunge that laughter and replace it with a gurgling death rattle. Awesome. Review
XBlaze Code: Embryo
The voice acting sounds pretty much perfect and pretty much what you’d expect. It’s pleasant to listen to and, don’t worry, there’s plenty of maniacal Japanese screaming, which is an absolute must. If a visual novel doesn’t have some weirdo bloke screaming like his mancave has just been invaded by a horde of fluffy kittens, put it in the bin and walk away.
Very occasionally, inferior visual novels can feel a little flat and lifeless after several hours of reading. Static images and lots of text don’t always grab you by the short and curlies. XBlaze’s fighting game origins, however, have influenced this visual novel in the best way possible. Prepare to have your curlies well and truly seized. Cut scenes are energetic, colourful and full of movement. There is lots of variety throughout the game so you won’t get tired of seeing the same old boring image. It’s a gorgeous looking game and with the exciting visuals and the staggeringly different endings, XBlaze does not at any point become a chore to play. Review
This article first appeared in Punk and Lizard Magazine. Look out for the next issue which shall be hitting Feb/March 2016!