Video Game Review: Epic Seven

Details: Played for at least a few dozen hours. This is a mobile game you can play on iOS or Android. More information can be found at https://epic7.smilegatemegaport.com/

Score: 7/10

Epic Seven is about as generic a gacha, role playing game can be, except that it has very stylistic visuals and character design. It’s a very Blazblue, two dimensional style (which is unsurprising since the two games actually did a collaboration a while back). I play this game mainly to look at pretty sprites attack each other. As always, this review is written from someone who has spent nothing on this game.

As said above, this is a gacha role playing game. Primarily, this is a turn based role playing game similar to traditional Japanese role playing games like old Final Fantasy games. As this is also gacha, you need to roll for the characters to fill your party in order to progress through the story.

As with most gacha games, the game gives you some characters up front to play with, but all the really good characters need to be rolled/summoned/wished for… which generally requires spending real money. When I started playing, it was during an event where they were giving out a ton of free rolls. Other than the event, this game is generally pretty cheap with giving free rolls. Making wishes/rolling is generally very expensive in comparison to other gacha games.

There’s pity (a mechanic where you are guaranteed a good character/item if you make a certain number of rolls), but it doesn’t transfer between banners, something that even the notoriously expensive Genshin Impact does have (Genshin Impact is still worse in terms of pricing and free rolls). In essence, if you want to guarantee obtaining an advertised banner character, you need to save or spend enough to make one hundred and twenty wishes. At about thirty dollars for ten wishes, that’s going to cost about three hundred and sixty dollars to guarantee and advertised character. That is a lot. There are also many other ways to summon/roll for characters, but all of them require resources that are hard to obtain unless you spend real money. The only redeeming factors to this stinginess is that the recent event which gave out a ton of summons and that you get one free summon per day… which is not encouraging.

In regards to the gameplay, Epic Seven is notorious for being one of the grindiest games among all gacha games or this type. Games like this are inherently grindy, meaning that you have to replay the same thing over and over again in hopes of obtaining an item or advancing a level. Luck is a big factor in whether you get equipment that will help you progress, meaning that the amount of time you spend grinding away at this game could go on infinitely.

Edit: What I forgot to mention is that this is mostly an auto battler. That means that most of your time will not be spent playing, but watching the game play itself. You simply start a battle, hit the auto-play button, and the game does everything for you. Later on, you get a pet that lets you repeat missions so you don’t even need to restart battles. This is both good and bad as it saves time, but gameplay is mostly passive. With such passive gameplay, why bother even playing the game? Are you even playing? It’s sad that the auto-battle type of gacha games are so popular due to the repetitive, grindy, uncreative nature of such games.

Edit 2: I shoud’ve also mentioned that unlike other games in this genre, there’s no sweep system. A sweep system is where you can instantly complete a level that you’ve beaten before, obtaining the rewards from that level without wasting time. Epic Seven does not have such a system. Even though to can set a level on auto battle, you still need to watch the level play out in real time. There is no fast forward option either. It’s annoying and disrespectful of players’ time.

Progression matters not only to get through the single player content, but there is also a very big multiplayer component. If you are a player who spend nothing however, don’t even try to make any meaningful progress in the player-versus-player multiplayer mode. The most proficient players are those who have spent the most money on this game, more colloquially known as the “whales.” This is common for this type of gacha game as the more money you spend, the more powerful a player you will be. If you want to be one of the best players, you’re going to need to outspend people who’ve spent thousands, if not tens of thousands, if not even more than that.

The single player mode is fun enough, but still grindy. You need to keep in mind that the goal of this game is simply to make your characters or your team of characters stronger. This leads to the multiplayer where, again, you’re trying to get stronger. Which leads to the ultimate conclusion that you need to spend money because that’s the only way you can make any meaningful progression. Again, this is normal for this type of gacha game and if you are not prepared to throw away thousands of dollars, just play the game casually and don’t take it too serious.

Additionally, there is also a Guild mode where you can join a guild and participate in guild wars. This… also encourages the spending of real money. In order to be useful to your guild, you need to have powerful characters, which means spending money… you get the idea. In case you are unaware, gacha games are known as some of the most degenerate games with some of the most degenerate players. The purpose of the game isn’t to have fun, but to get money out of you. Fun is just a by product of that goal and successful gacha games generally have to balance giving you fun things to do while annoying the hell out of you in order for you to pay them to stop annoying you.

Visually the game looks great. It uses a stylized, two dimensional sprite system that looks like it was hand drawn. I like the look. It looks like anime. There are in fact anime cut scenes throughout the plot.

The music is also pretty good. There’s voice acting in the game, but only for exclamation or battle cries, the kind of stuff you hear during a battle. The rest of the story is told through mostly silent text, like in a visual novel video game.

Because the story is told like in a visual novel, I found it mostly boring. I skipped most of it because I just didn’t care to read all the text and got tired looking at static images rather than hand drawn animations animations. I did watch the full animated cut scenes though because those were pretty cool.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game. I spent nothing and played through it very casually. I enjoyed all the free characters I got through the temporary event that just ended. I enjoyed the visuals and the art style of the game. The story was mostly ignorable. Most of all, I enjoyed the feelings of progression that I got while leveling my characters and seeing them get stronger, and that really is the primary driver in games like this. Even still, I felt ample pressure from the multiplayers aspects of this game to spend money to get stronger and that was annoying.

Anime Review: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Details: Also known as Hanyou no Yashahime: Sengoku Otogizoushi and 半妖の夜叉姫. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/41911/Hanyou_no_Yashahime__Sengoku_Otogizoushi

Score: 6.5/10

Yashahime is the sequel to Inuyasha, a fairly popular anime and manga that came out over a decade ago (maybe two decades). I watched the series when it originally aired and I enjoyed it at first. I soon lost interest as the story just dragged, pacing was an issue and no meaningful progression was made with the primary plot or the relationships between the characters. I’ve only watched a little more than a dozen of the episodes of Yashahime, but it seems like it is making all the same mistakes as Inuyahsa.

Some spoilers ahead.

Yashahime takes place around ten to twenty years after the ending of Inuyasha. In Inuyasha, a teenage Japanese girl named Kagome finds a magical well that transports her to Japan during the feudal period. This is a time of war, factions, and most importantly, magic and demons. When she gets there, she meets Inuyasha, someone who is half human and half demon. During Inuyasha, the two fall in love and eventually get married. Kagome decides to forgo the present and live the rest of her life with Inuyasha in feudal Japan.

Yashahime centers on the child of Inuyasha and Kagome, but more importantly, on the two children of Inuyasha’s brother, Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru’s children are born in feudal Japan, but one somehow gets sent to modern day Japan. That child grows to a teenager before finding a way back to feudal Japan. Now, that child has decided to travel back to feudal Japan in order to find her sister and making up for time lost.

The story is okay… but mostly boring. The original Inuyasha dragged on to such an extent as to drain me of any interest in the series. I watched Yashahime in hopes of something fresh or a revitalization of this franchise. Unfortunately, Yashahime is boring series and simply seeks to try and recreate the nostalgic feelings of what was present in Inuyasha. Yashahime is a series for only the most devoted of Inuyasha fans and even then, it is a dissapointment.

For most Inuyasha fans, they probably just want to see what happened to their favorite characters. While Yashahime does go into that a bit, it is a slow drip. They drop a small bit of plot progression here and there, but they mostly ignore the original characters and focus on the new characters. This wouldn’t be a terrible development, except the primary characters are kind of boring as well.

The animation is fine as is the voice acting. The original Inuyasha had this amazing, fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music here is good, but not as memorable as the melodies from the original series.

Overall, this series may attempt to attract new fans, but it mostly fails at that. Long time Inuyasha fans will likely mostly enjoy this series, but still be disappointed by the absence of their favorite characters from the old series. Personally, I did not enjoy this show and have dropped it from the shows I usually watch. I think it is also important to mention that this show is aimed at younger audiences, which may be why I– now much older than when I originally watched Inuyasha– find a lot of the humor and plot developments emotionless and boring.

Anime Movie Review: KONOSUBA -God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!- Legend of Crimson

Details: More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/38040/Kono_Subarashii_Sekai_ni_Shukufuku_wo__Kurenai_Densetsu and you can watch it for free at https://www.crunchyroll.com/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-794436

Score: 7/10

Legend of Crimson is a movie spawned by the fairly popular anime, Konosuba. While I greatly enjoyed this comedy, the movie was somewhat disappointing as it lacked that higher level of animation quality you’d expect from a movie. What’s also sad is that even though the humor is exactly the same here as in the anime series, I didn’t find it as funny. I think I just grew out of this type of humor and don’t enjoy it as much anymore.

Konosuba is an isekai story. Generally in these types of stories, someone from the real world dies and is reborn into another world, usually a fantasy world. That person is usually granted immense power as isekai stories are usually power fantasies. However, this is a comedy and our protagonist is reborn into the new world with almost no power. Now, we get to watch our unfortunate, sleazy protagonist flail about while meeting other oddballs in this new world.

One of the funniest parts of this anime is watching these pathetic characters struggle. Most scenes usually start off with our protagonists confident in their ability to handle the situation. Then the true danger appears and we get to watch our protagonists crumble into a pile of cowardly dust. They play up this scene structure over and over again and mostly, it’s hilarious. It’s almost always funny watching an arrogant character knocked into the shadow realm of humility again and again. Also funny is watching how these characters start off trying to be decent human beings, but once a situation escalates, they degenerate into the vile of characters. The main draw of Konosuba is watching these cowardly, perverse, sleazy characters flail about as the world their in continues to throw them in difficult situations.

My biggest gripe with this movie is the animation. The animation quality is about the same as the anime series, which isn’t terrible. It’s just that you’d expect a movie to up the quality just a bit over an episodic series because a movie is just one big episode. I don’t know how their budgeting and time management went, but the higher quality of animation just isn’t here.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it could’ve been better. Also worth mentioning is that there is a lot of fan service in this show… though some of the fan service is turned around on you into a fairly hilarious joke. I won’t explain it more than that for fear of spoiling the plot.

Anime Review: Jujutsu Kaisen

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/40748/Jujutsu_Kaisen_TV

Score: 7/10

One of the most important things for a successful shounen anime is that the fight scenes are animated well. Jujutsu Kaisen does exactly that. Jujutsu Kaisen is your stereotypical shounen anime whose story is kind of a mashup of Naruto and Bleach (at least the first story arc in Bleach).

Jujutsu Kaisen takes place in present day Japan. A high school student’s encounter with the supernatural leads him to join a world filled with curses, sorcerers and monsters. He must now enter this world, train and become more powerful in order to fight supernatural bad guys.

The story is a very generic shounen story, to the extent that the first few story arcs are copy and pastes of story arcs from other popular shounen anime. Some examples of this redundant story telling is that the protagonist has a demon inside him (like in Naruto), all the characters are part of a school for other students with super powers (like Naruto, My Hero Academia, etc.) and the protagonist goes through a training arc where they explain how powers work in this world. It’s very uninspired and repetitive for the shounen genre.

However, fans of shounen don’t become fans just for a unique story, they want to see impressively animated fight scenes and this anime delivers on that. There’s only fourteen episodes at the time this review was written, but we’ve already gotten a few well done fight scenes. It’s one of those situations where there’s an obvious jump in animation quality when a plot relevant fight scene shows up. Animation is more fluid and more details and frames are noticeably added in.

Overall, Jujutsu Kaisen is average in terms of story, but I’d still recommend it for the fight scenes. If you like shounen anime Naruto, Bleach, or My Hero Academia, you will likely enjoy Jujutsu Kaisen. It’s one of the most popular shounen anime to come out in the past year.

Anime Review: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III

Details: This season is complete. Also known as Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka III and ダンジョンに出会いを求めるのは間違っているだろうかIII. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/40454/Dungeon_ni_Deai_wo_Motomeru_no_wa_Machigatteiru_Darou_ka_III

Score: 6.8/10

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III is the third season of this ongoing series. As a result, you should not watch this unless you’ve already watched the two prior seasons.

This story takes place in a fantasy world where the gods have descended on the world of mortals and recruited mortals into “families.” The main goal of these families is to honor the god leading that family and to descend into a seemingly infinite dungeon. Inside the dungeon are monsters and everyone wants to go down and conquer the dungeon for treasure and glory.

The most jarring aspect of this anime is the animation quality. Episode one was animated very well. Then the animation quality drops for most of the season until the last episode, where it gets only slightly better. It’s a mess. As someone who cares about animation quality, I’m tempted to just recommend watching the first episode and then quitting the rest of the season.

The story is okay. The protagonist finds a sentient monster in the dungeon and now we have to deal with the consequences of that as the society in this world has been brutally killing all monsters for thousands of years.

Overall, this was okay. If you enjoyed the last two seasons, then you should watch this just to see more of this fantasy world. Otherwise, I would not recommend this series to anyone who hasn’t watch any of the prior two seasons. Additionally, this season was so mediocre that I do not recommend watching the last two seasons just to catch up and watch this season. It’s not worth it.