By Josh Speer / June 13th, 2019
We here at oprainfall are big fans of the fine folks at XSEED Games. No matter what genre you enjoy, they have something for everyone. That spark of creativity and willingness to take a chance is part of why we love them so much. So when me and my colleague Quentin were offered the chance to play their latest lineup of games, we jumped at the chance. But there was a lot to play, so we split the games pretty much evenly between the two of us. I focused on 4 titles – Granblue Fantasy: Versus, BurgerTime Party!, Rune Factory 4 Special and Senran Kagura Peach Ball. Keep reading to see how I liked my share of the lineup. For simplicity, they’re listed in the order I played them at E3.
I admit to not knowing a blessed thing about Granblue Fantasy: Versus prior to playing it, other than a few tangential details offered by friends. But when I played it, I saw a game with the art style of Guilty Gear and the simple to learn, hard to master mechanics that reminded me of a mix between Street Fighter and Smash Bros. It’s no huge admission that I’m no expert at fighting games, but even I was able to pick it up pretty quickly. I started with Lancelot, and was instantly a fan of his tricky dash move and good anti-aerial games. After playing him for a few rounds, I tried my hand at the generic fighter Gran, and found him equally useful, though not as cool as Lancelot. As someone who has yet to play any Guilty Gear games, I was incredibly impressed by the lush visuals, enough so that I was instantly disappointed to hear Granblue Fantasy: Versus is only slated to release for PlayStation 4. But if you already have that console and are looking for a tremendous new fighter, you owe it to yourself to keep an eye on this one.
Next up I played a new take on a very old classic, BurgerTime Party! I was familiar with the original game, but was a bit flabbergasted to see it revamped in such a way. They really went the full nine yards, and redesigned everything with a fresh, cartoony coat of paint. It almost reminded me of old school Disney or Cuphead. The “hero” Peter Pepper looks especially snazzy. But he’s not the only one upgraded, as his Food Foes are also back with a vengeance. There’s prickly pickles, horrible hot dogs and many more trying to stop Peter from making delicious burgers. Thankfully, now you can spray them with pepper to stun them, incinerate them with flame breath and more. I found that I quickly got the hang of the puzzle platforming, but that didn’t stop the difficulty from ramping up in later stages, with the introduction of gimmicks like ice ladders, conveyor belts and other new hazards. I was surprised how addictive BurgerTime Party! was, and even though I didn’t tackle it, there is a multiplayer mode to keep things fresh. When you factor in 100+ stages and best scores to topple, that’s a pretty tasty value. Best of all, you can order it hot and fresh yourself this Fall on Nintendo Switch. Highly recommended to retro fans or those looking for another party game.
I’m gonna preface this next part with a confession – I’m not a huge fan of sim or management games. It’s not that I think they’re worthless or poorly made, it just doesn’t fit my play style. I generally prefer more frenetic and challenging fare with dire consequences and dramatic stories. That said, there is definitely a large fan base for more casual games, and those players are sure to love Rune Factory 4 Special. I didn’t realize when I played it that the original game had released on 3DS some 6 years prior. In the demo, I was pretty much left to my own devices. This translated to me casting water spells randomly, picking up bags of plants and feeding them to a dragon, and essentially wandering around like a madman. Eventually I found out that I was supposed to be fulfilling the decrees of my subjects, and started to get the hang of things. If you played the original and wanted to know why to try again, for one this is a HD remaster of that game. It looks quite pretty. Another reason is they added Newlywed Mode, which allows you to deepen your relationship with your chosen spouse after marriage, as well as Veteran Mode. Sadly it’s still not my type of game, but if it’s yours, you can pick up Rune Factory 4 Special later this year on Nintendo Switch.
Last but certainly not least was perhaps my favorite experience at the XSEED booth, none other than the latest Senran Kagura game, Peach Ball! I actually hadn’t heard the whole premise prior to playing, so let me recap real quick. Haruka was a naughty girl and brewed up some experimental concoctions. Then a member of her shinobi squad accidentally sniffed it, and it altered her brain chemistry to think she was an animal! And of course, it turned out to be contagious. Cue some entertaining costumes and goofy circumstances later, and you have the premise for the latest Senran Kagura game. Much like Bon Appétit! before it, this entry doesn’t work too hard to take itself seriously, but the writing is still consistent and on point. None of these characters acts against their backstory, and their banter is utterly hilarious. And while I can’t say I understand how turning the chemically altered shinobi into pinball victims cures them, I won’t say it’s not a lot of fun. Cause even though this is a pinball game first and foremost, it’s also still a Senran Kagura game. Which means lots of fanservice, lots of bright colors and a strange yet well written story. If you’re a fan of the series or are just looking for a sublimely quirky game to enjoy, then you’re in luck. Peach Ball releases in early July on Nintendo Switch, and later on PC.
Like always, I had a great time joining the good folks at XSEED Games. Be sure to stay tuned for Quentin’s coverage of his XSEED titles, and keep tuning into oprainfall for more games as we cover them.
BurgerTime Party!E3 2019Granblue Fantasy VersusoprainfallRune Factory 4: SpecialSENRAN KAGURA Peach BallXSEED Games