There’s something Iffy about this!
This year, Hey Poor Player was lucky enough to get an invite to Idea Factory International’s exclusive annual press event. The event was held deep within the bowels of the ritzy Rickhouse Bar in beautiful San Francisco, California. I teamed up with our resident cameraman extraordinaire, Nathaniel Torrencio, to travel deep into the epicentre of the anime booby game.
The event was held in a stylish wood-panelled basement complete with open bar. During the first hour, we were plied with free food and drink (including four varieties of fruity punch themed after Idea Factory characters). I couldn’t help but sample the punch – which was bracingly alcoholic – despite the desperate urgings of my cameraman, who pleaded with me not to get drunk before getting on camera. However, I felt justified in imbibing very large quantities of fruity liquor in light of recent – how shall we say – political developments…
As we mingled with the assembled staff and assembled journalists, we caught up with Casey Scheld, Scion of GamersHeroes.com. We also met Elly and Verdalish (and you should click this link because her twitter is yandere-ishly terrifying) of Tokimeki Radio. The hosts of Tokimeki radio regailed us of their love for Otome games, and how Verdalish once challenged a Japanese salaryman to a drinking contest (which turned out to be a bad idea). After we shared some drinks, Nathaniel – with a stern countenance – demanded I get sobered up to cover the rest of the event, and we gathered round to listen to the announcements.
There was a brief speech given by Idea Factory president Yoshiteru Sato. Mainly, the cheeky president thanked the attendant staff of IFI for handling the event, allowing him to come out to San Francisco each year and have a good time. Next up was a speech in Japanese from Dark Rose Valkyrie’s Director: Kenta Sugano, which was related in English to us from a helpful nearby translator. Sugano noted the difficulties in translating Japanese games to English, but was very confident in the staff of Idea Factory International and their ability to adapt Dark Rose Valkyrie with all its quirky idiosyncrasies intact! Sugano also noted how the innovative, addictive battle systems in the game would surely enrapture western audiences.
The Announcement Trailers
Sugano’s speech segued neatly into a trailer for Dark Rose Valkyrie – the first of four big release announcement trailers.
Releasing in Spring of 2017 for Playstation 4, Dark Rose Valkyrie features a star-studded team behind it, including “Tales of” scenario writer Takumi Miyajima and “Tales of” character designer Kosuke Fujishima. You’re cast as the leader of Japan’s covert Military Agency (ACID) and are tasked with saving the world from the deadly Chimera Virus. Featuring complex, real-time action-RPG combat, with customizable combo attacks and characters who can transform into more powerful split-personality alter egos – Dark Rose Valkyrie looks to really typify the brain-enslavingly addictive battle systems that director Sugano boasts of!
An innovative twist in Dark Rose Valkyrie is how in each playthrough, one member of your team will betray you. You’ll take part in a series of visual novel style interrogation sequences to discover the traitor in your midst
Next up was a trailer for Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, an Otome (a visual novel meant to appeal to women) game set during the Bakamatsu period in Japan’s original capital city: Kyoto. As the youthful maiden Chizuru, you’ll embark on a quest to find your father, and also improbably find yourself courted by twelve swoon-inducingly handsome bachelors who all want to win your virtuous heart. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a remastered retelling of the visual novel Hakuoki series first developed and released in 2008, and it’ll be released in Spring 2017 for Playstation Vita. With over 80 hours of gameplay and over 30 endings, it’ll be sure to bewitch your heart for many days to come!
It certainly seemed to excite the aforementioned cast of Tokimeki Radio, who both let out ear-piercing screams of joy at the introduction of every single one of handsome, sharp-chinned love interests. Of course, keeping our even-keeled journalistic composure, Nathaniel and myself resisted the urge to squee at the procession of devastatingly beautiful men on-screen, continuing to cover the event with a steely Anderson-Cooper-like temperament.
After all the beautiful boys, it was time to get back to some real meat-and-potatoes dungeon crawling once more with Mary Skelter. Taking place 666 stories below ground, Mary Skelter sees you navigating a vast dungeon (aptly called “Jail”) in an attemt to escape from the nightmarish creatures within. To combat your foes, members of your partner will be able to transform into the vicious Blood Skelter mode where they’ll have incrased stats, but the flipside is that if you stay in this mode too long, the character will go completely berserk!
As you’ll see in the trailer, provocative images, subliminally captioned with words like “filth” might give you a subtle hint as to the content of Mary Skelter! If you’re interested in going (much) deeper underground, then you’ll be happy to learn that it’s coming out for Playstation Vita in Summer 2017.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force was the most action-oriented title in the offing. An expanded version of the original Fair Fencer F, which originally came out for the Playstation 3 in 2013, this ARPG will now be winging its way to PC via steam early in 2017, featuring improved 1080p graphics. Fairy Fencer F distinguishes itself with its multiple endings, with three different stories to play – the goddess story, the Evil God story and the Vile God Story. Along these storylines foes become friends and friends become foes. With up to six characters fighting in battles at once, you’ll be able to switch between your gothic lolita girls and your overcoat-and-beltbuckle-wearing boys with ease. Check out the official opening movie below!
We got the chance to grapple with two of the to-be-released titles: Dark Rose Valkyrie and Fairy Fencer F. I had a brief chance to play Dark Rose Valkyrie, but between the labyrinthine menus and the entirely Japanese text, I was floundering around getting brutally beaten by a randomly encountered group of what appeared to be some angry-looking dung beetles.
My colleague, Nathaniel Terencio, also had a chance to get his eager paws on Dark Rose Valkyrie and Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. Here are some of his impressions! Take it away Nathaniel!
I got to play two game demos at the Idea Factory Int. press event in San Francisco, California, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PC Steam) and Dark Rose Valkyrie (PS4). Both games delivered the sort of quirkiness and charm that I enjoy in Idea Factory licensed titles so I was pleased with what I got to play.
I started off with Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force – a PC Steam port of the PS4 game of the same title. To start off with, I played the game on an Xbox One controller, which was hooked up to a PC, like most Idea Factory games. The control scheme is more suited to a console so playing it felt very smooth with a controller. From a technical standpoint, the game ran smoothly with no hiccups. While this is a demo, it is nice to see no drops in frames or freezes – a very good impression for a PC port. Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force’s gameplay is that of turn-based positional strategy and active combat. The best comparison would be to the Neptunia franchise of games also developed by Idea Factory. On the overworld, enemies are ever-present, and the player can choose to try to avoid the monsters, or attack them first, providing a small combat buff in the ensuing battle.
With a party of four, you take turns moving to your characters to the enemies. If a character is close enough, they can take an action against said enemy or aid party members. You may only move a limited distance each turn so planning positioning is important. After choosing a specific attack you may combo using another another specific attack from a set of three actions. This may be done up to three times from what I played. The combinations between chains of attacks are on a timer, and pull off different effects and visual spectacles depending on how you time each combination – encouraging you to try different combos for specific enemies and situations. The solid amount of depth makes what could have been a rather over-simplified combat system into something interesting. And we didn’t even get to delve into character specific skills, transformations, and items. Overall, the gameplay of Fairy Fencer F: Dark Advent is solid and while yes this a port of pre-existing game, as someone who has never played the original, I’m pleasantly surprised by what the demo offered.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is a strange mixed bag of potential and confusion. First off a disclaimer: the demo that I and my colleague Jonathan Trussler played was in Japanese, making it difficult to make a fair assessment of the demo we played. It was very confusing to make out text and actions so our playthrough ended in death. RIP our precious anime characters. However, I do have impressions of what I played, and despite the roadblock of the language barrier, I believe Dark Rose Valkyrie shows promise. Combat takes the form of a traditional turn-based JRPG, with positioning being a big factor in the combat. Unlike Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, position is based on formation rather than movement. Your party of four is positioned with two in the front and two in the back. Party members can swap between spots to take damage, set up different combos, or support other party members. Dark Rose Valkyrie was hard for me to gauge. The depth is there, but an already complicated combat system with the added difficulty of a language barrier made my playthrough almost impossible. I hope we get a localized demo in the future because the game is interesting and I’d very much like to make a fair assessment.
I wanted to save talking about visuals till last because that was the easiest to assess. Suffice to say, the games look great. I’m not too surprised because it is Idea Factory, and their anime aesthetic – whether you love or hate it (and I’m in the “love it” camp) – always has a real quality assurance to it. Both games have gorgeous character models and nice anime aesthetics for the characters, but unfortunately both games have lackluster combat areas and dungeons from what I saw. They were just a bit bland and featureless. Of course, where Idea Factory games in general really shine is the 2D art. While the anime-inspired art is subjective, it does look stunning technically whether you are a fan of the style or not.
I went to this event thinking there was going to be announcements or demos for something Neptunia related, but was pleasantly surprised to see some new and returning IPs. Despite my qualms I hope to play more Idea Factory titles, because they are so effortlessly charming.
After a night of good food, good booze, good games and new friends, we said our goodbyes and slipped off into the San Francisco nightlife once more like a pair of fedora-wearing private detectives in the noirish city gloom. Though we bid goodbye to the fine folks at Idea Factory International, our first trip to the event only fortified our erstwhile desire to cover each and every one of their anime booby games – whether those boobies be full and feminine or taut and masculine! Stay tuned to Hey Poor Player where we’ll bring you up-to-date news, previews and reviews of all Idea Factory International’s titles!