I've played quite a few games in the Guild series, a group of bite-size, somewhat experimental games published by Level-5 (of Professor Layton fame). Weapon Shop De Omasse was a surprise because people generally didn't expect it to be localized since it featured so much text. I'd generally enjoyed the other entries in this varied series, and it got a glowing review from NintendoLife, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The game is sometimes billed as a rhythm game, but the rhythm part is pretty small compared to the rest of the game. The conceit is that you're an apprentice in a weapon shop and instead of going on a typical RPG adventure you're responsible for supplying a small cast of adventurers (and a steady stream of NPCs) of weapon rentals and reading about their adventures. So the game is actually much more like a visual novel, than anything else (albeit with an entertaining and quirky cast). The writing is consistently entertaining, often parodying the RPG genre itself as well as modern social media (the adventurers record their posts to the Twitter-like "Grindcast"). Deciding which weapon to forge for which adventurer takes only a small amount of brain power, as does forging itself. Pretty soon you settle into the "rhythm" of the routine, and reading the adventurers' reports while working on mundane tasks like polishing returned weapons becomes very relaxing. The characters are memorable and the writing generally amusing. Although not often laugh-out-loud funny, the game is generally entertaining, and at something like 10 hours long (much less if you don't read every line) it doesn't wear out its welcome.

I think the reviewer at NintendoLife was a bit overgenerous, but I do appreciate that this is a game that tries to do something a little different from the norm (and succeeds). Not an unequivocal recommendation, but fans of games like Phoenix Wright should enjoy it.

Forge these Weapon Shop De Omasse links:
- Miiverse community
- There aren't any walkthroughs written up, but the GameFAQs board for the game has a lot of info, esp. about the postgame which includes a couple more quests for all the characters but seems to require excessive grinding

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Six games into the Art Style series, and I still have yet to encounter a dud. My sixth game was Art Style: precipice (aka Art Style: KUBOS), and it's a change of pace as it has a sort of platformer feel to it. This game precedes the game Catherine, which has a similar type of cube climbing mechanic (at least from what I can tell after playing through the opening sections of that game), by about a year and a half. In any case, in general your goal is to get your little character to ever higher floors while avoiding being crushed by falling cubes and having the floor fall out from under you. Along the way you also defuse bombs to collect your one block-clearing attack, make lines to get bonus points and health, and push and pull cubes around to try to complete the aforementioned advantageous lines.

I wasn't sure what to expect, fearing at worse a sort of tedium like I'd felt while playing Wario's Woods, but the game was (as usual) wonderfully addictive, esp. once I found out that you could actually move blocks around. Getting the ending of the main mode was wholly satisfying, and although the endless mode is entertaining, it's much less of an essential experience. The game, as I've come to expect, is polished until it gleams, but also has some moments of charm and chuckles. In short, it's a classic Art Style experience, and one I fully relished.

The geniuses at skip Ltd. game have produced a game that is every bit as enjoyable and unique as any of the others in the series. This game, like many in the series, would be ripe for multiplayer modes, and would also be a perfect fit for the glasses-free 3D of the 3DS. Also, although I'll be revisiting it for the endless mode, just one or two more modes would've pushed this up into my greatest games of all time list. In any case, this is easily one of the best games I've played in a long time, and although I only have one other DSiware game in the series left to play, I'm glad I still have the rest of the WiiWare and GBA games to look forward to. It's safe to say that my growing love for this series is only rivaled by my love for Nintendo's core series like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, and in many ways surpasses them as each game is completely distinct. I have a feeling I'm going to have to take up proselytizing for this series on a regular basis in the hopes that it gains new converts and hopefully new entries!

Surmount these Art Style: precipice links:
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entertaining (and philosophical) review at Kotaku

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Playing Pokémon Shuffle reminded me that I've had its predecessor, Pokémon Battle Trozei (aka Pokémon Link: Battle!), for a while but haven't really spent much time with it. I'd been pretty unimpressed with Pokémon Trozei, which appeared on DS, and really wasn't expecting much from the sequel. My complaint about the original game was that it was a typical match three but felt very simplistic and repetitive and had very little variation. At that time I'd said, "all in all the game could work as a 'my first puzzle game' for young pokemon fans, but hard-core puzzle-game fans should pass this one up even if they’re fans of all things pokemon."

Pokémon Battle Trozei introduces a few new elements, but ends up being even more of a snoozefest than the original. In this game you have target pokémon that appear at the top of the screen, and the first match in your chain determines the type effectiveness of your "attack" (using the by-now familiar type hierarchy of the games). You can also bring one of your captured pokémon into battle, and some have special effects that provide small benefits. The chaining system is the same as the original, and is as easy/mindless. Clearing the entire board nets you many more points, but even after playing the game for several hours it still felt like whether or not I had the right pieces to clear the box was more a matter of luck than skill. Some stages have secret requirements for unlocking extra 'mon to collect, but the requirements can be completely obscure and stupid, which was annoying to say the least. Getting an "S" rank on a stage does take multiple tries, but there are no immediate rewards for doing so.

In the end I had to give this game much lower marks than the original Trozei game, and far lower than Shuffle which I found generally enjoyable (although also mindless). There are only a handful of new mechanics, and they don't help in the least in keeping the stages from all feeling completely identical. The game doesn't even have the unique presentation of the first game, or any other hint of characterization for that matter. It's at times like these that I lament my completist tendencies as this was one that I, and the world, would have been better off without.

Match these Pokémon Battle Trozei links:
- Review at NintendoLife: Apparently there are some people who really enjoy this game. The mind boggles.
- Miiverse community
- Entry at Bulbapedia

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I'm not RPGs that much, but NintendoLife's high praise of The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave and its colorful, very Nintendo-like presentation, convinced me to try it out (not to mention it's by Genius Sonority, the developers behind such familiar Nintendo games as Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon Shuffle).

I was more than a little bit leery of the game as I'd read that there's little to no story (or characters). This turned out to indeed be the case, and at first I was bored with catching Denpa men and tackling very straightforward dungeons. Before too long, though, I found myself being completely charmed by the cheery style and presentation, and having fun managing my little fraternity of Denpa men. Each Denpa man has different stats and abilities, and putting together your team and outfitting them to take on the next dungeon and survive the game's simple element-based system is satisfying. Firing up the hunting mode in a new area (which is necessary, as the game actually uses nearby Wi-Fi signals to generate catchable Denpa men) becomes more alluring when you start trying to track down rare abilities. The game alleviates the fairly high encounter rate by providing two options for auto battling (using special powers or just using regular physical attacks), which definitely helps move things along at a nice pace. The game has a pretty smooth difficulty curve, assuming you explore every part of the dungeon's map (even the optional parts), and it also lists what level your party should be at for each dungeon.

The game does a pretty good job of making each of the first few dungeons have a different feel, but about 2/3 of the way through the recycling of enemies and the sameness got to be a bit too much and I've decided to table it for now. I definitely enjoyed my time with the game, and although it's basic as far as RPGs go, I was surprised at how fond I became of it despite its lack of a story or characters. It's a testament to the developers' design that the polish (including the music) and charm of the game makes this a decent time-waster, and one of the better games I've played during the first six months of this year.

Catch these The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave links:
- Awesome trailer. That trailer reminds me a lot of the similarly awesome trailer for the game Muscle March.
- Entry at Wikipedia
- QR codes on official site

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Zen Pinball 2 was one of the earliest games I downloaded for my Wii U, helped in part because it provided free timed trials of every table. Since I'm a Marvel fan in general, picking up the "Vengeance and Virtue" 4-table set was a fairly obvious choice, mostly because it included an X-Men table. The Ghost Rider table feels kind of basic, but the Thor and Moon Knight (whoever that is) tables are pretty fun. But I don't really know those comics and since I wasn't getting any of those other references I pretty quickly went back to the X-Men table which uses the IP quite well. The table has tons of fun nods to the long history of the X-Men, such as a mission centered around the Phoenix and "appearances" by long-time series villains such as Mystique, The Blob, and Juggernaut (and Magneto, of course).

The X-Men table is pretty complex, and activating missions range from fairly easy to fairly complicated. Although missions kick things up a notch, activating (and at times completing) them can be pretty tedious (in particular, spelling out "UNITE" over and over again by hitting the same ramp again and again gets boring fast). The graphics are very good and there's a wide range of camera angles that you can set; the ball physics work pretty well; the voice acting is quite good; and the animations make the game nicely distinct from realistic pinball games. The game has two flippers at the top of the screen as well as the bottom screen which makes the game much more of a challenge, but also helps keep things more interesting. The upper flippers are positioned in such a way that even with the variety of camera angles it's a bit difficult to find one that's completely satisfying, but that's a minor gripe.

All in all this is definitely a polished package, and although I obsessively played the X-Men table for hours on end (and strained my hands in the process), even when I learned the ins and outs of the table I still found it to be a bit tedious and I'm guessing it's probably not as fun overall as some of the others in this set. I don't know when I'll dust this off again, but I'll probably review the other individual tables separately when I get around to spending more time with them.

Unite these Zen Pinball 2 links:
- There's an in-game guide to the X-Men table, but here's a comprehensive guide from the official site
- Miiverse Community
- Review at NintendoLife
- Official site for the Marvel pinball games
- Entry on Wikipedia
- Page on official Nintendo site

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