The Dragon Quest Summer festival took place this past weekend. Square Enix announced a sequel to the surprise hit Dragon Quest Builders. The game is tentatively titled Dragon Quest Builders 2.
We don’t have a release date, but Square Enix did tease several new gameplay elements. The first game combined Dragon Quest RPG elements with Minecraft building. The sequel doubles down on that and adds additional features like:
- Underwater diving
- Up to four player cooperative play
- a huge increase in the number of blocks that can be stacked
- a Breath of the Wild style glider to help with traversal
The biggest news, however, to come out of the announcement is that it will be coming to both the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. Its a perfect system for a game like this. Dragon Quest Builders is a game that encourages lots of small trip out into the wilds looking for materials. The hybrid console will give players plenty of opportunities for that. I can absolutely imagine playing DQ Builders on my Switch in handheld mode while watching football or something similar.
You can watch the gameplay demo that was livestreamed at the event below.
Tokyo RPG Factory has announced the release date for Lost Sphear, the follow-up to I Am Setsuna. It was only announced a handful of months ago, but it appears that development on the game progressed very quickly.
Lost Sphear will be released on PS4, Switch, and PC on January 23, 2018.
Tokyo RPG Factory’s first game, I Am Setsuna, was given a luke-warm reception last year. Though it was highly anticipated, it ended up being a disappointment to many because it was too heavily focused on nostalgia.
Lost Sphear is a game that, by all appearances, looks like it is being made in the same mold as its older sibling. It is being developed in a deliberately retro way hoping to evoke fond memories of the golden age of RPGs.
With all that said, I can’t help but be optimistic when I look at the trailers for the game. Take a look for yourself!
The story revolves around a boy whose village disappears right around him. He then embarks on a quest to help restore the missing pieces of the world. Even if Lost Sphear struggles the same way I am Setsuna did, I think it offers many interesting gameplay possibilities. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long to find out as the game comes out less than 6 months from now!
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
Square Enix to Release Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Digitally for the PS4
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is being released as a digital exclusive for the PS4 on May 23rd. This game is part of a long running RPG series with a blend of Sci-Fi and Fantasy themes wrapped around an action based combat system. This game is rated T for Teen for animated blood and some mild violence but is otherwise family friendly to play around younger gamers. This is about as intense as most Avengers or Star Wars movies for sake of comparison.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was an RPG where you could get very deep into the weeds with crafting mechanics and mini games, but the combat system features three computer controlled characters while you controlled a character with two buttons that can be assigned various attacks for a simple and fun experience.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a game a remember well even though it came out more well more than a decade ago. Laser aiming devices and shotgun blasts were used alongside magical dimension doors. Space ship captains fought side by side with court wizards and quirky animal sidekicks. This game takes an escalating story that spans galaxies and adds a final mid game twist that redefined the perspective of the entire series before and after it.
Square Enix is adding additional features to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time like adding trophy support, the ability to share screenshots and video, along with remote play. A word of caution to trophy seekers is that this game has some optional content that is incredibly difficult and will either having you pull out your hair or pull out a game guide. Expect some cameos and references from other Tri-Ace/Square Enix titles in the deeper parts of the game as reward for those willing to complete the grind.
What do you think? Is this a game you’ll
1 – 6 Players
Surrounded by a lush and dangerous forest lies your keep. A castle like no other (since it is yours) is the envy of all. Especially the besieging armies of Goblins, Trolls and Orcs! Can your Archers, Knights and Swordsmen defend your keep from these warmongering monsters before they destroy it or before you panic?
There was a time when I had all the time in the world to play tabletop roleplaying games. You know the type, the epic battles between orcs and elves, goblins and raging barbarians whilst sitting around the table drinking Mountain Dew. Since becoming a parent, those days have been shortened to momentary spurts normally filled with searching for the dice a wandering toddler absconded with.
Board games like AFF[Talisman] or AFF[Mage Knight] fit the bill, but can take hours to play, losing most kids in the process. Of course, you can also check out games like Hero Kids and AFF[Adventure Maximus] but that might be a bit much for a quick game, especially if you don’t feel like being the ever-dreaded Dungeon Master. This is where AFF[Castle Panic!]* slots in! All the adventure, none of the hassle!
AFF[Castle Panic!]sets up to 6 players in a realm where all sorts of fantasy creatures are attempting to breach their castle. Players then work together to defend the castle from being taken by an army of orcs and trolls and goblins and their leaders.
The board is composed of concentric circles split into three colors, red, green and blue, with 2 60 degree arcs per color, numbered 1-6. Each ring represents a different type of defender, Archers, Knights and Swordsmen, the outermost ring is the forest (the home of monsters) and the center-most is the castle towers and it’s defensive walls.
What makes AFF[Castle Panic!]a bit different than your normal dungeon crawler is that all of the players represent any and all of the defenders. Each player has a hand of cards (4-6 based on number of players) which represent the varied warriors set to fortify the castle’s defenses. Players can then attack monsters with the cards that match the space the monster occupies.
A turn begins with drawing up to your maximum hand size, optionally discarding a card to draw a new card, and optionally trading 1 or 2 cards (depending on how many players). After these hand manipulations, you can play as many cards as your hand allows. Which could result in many monster deaths or injuries, building or fortifying walls or staring frustratedly at a bunch of soldiers you wish you could put in a nice new color of uniform.
As with most co-op games, it’s more complicated than that. At the end of each turn the monsters move closer to the castle in the hopes of breaching the walls and overtaking it. And each turn the defenders must try to last the next onslaught of malicious beasts they draw without losing their castle. Add to this mix giant boulders that destroy everything in their path and vicious plagues that infect the castle’s last hopes, and you have some interesting randomizing mechanics that mess with the normally predictable strategy.
It’s easy to strategize in AFF[Castle Panic!] because the linear movement is steady and foreseeable.. that is until you draw a “Move all monsters counter-clockwise” token or have a “boss” urge his minions forward. The good news is, each monster token you draw brings you closer to exhausting the pile, which brings you closer to surviving the siege. The bad news is, you still have to survive until they are all gone to win.
The primary goal of the game is to outlast the onslaught, but subsequently, the main game calls for declaring a “Master Slayer”. This title is bestowed on the player with the most points for tokens collected through monster kills, however; playing without this designation allows for fully cooperative play. The rules feature several cool variations to change the difficulty of the game, which is always welcome in more straightforward games.
AFF[Castle Panic!] is a basic strategy game with some cool mechanics and twists that make it fun to play. Being cooperative, with very little reading (most of the major cards can be identified by pictures and colors, and there aren’t many “special” cards), makes it a very good game to add to a family library. Encouraging children to look turns ahead in order to predict what will happen is a great skill to build reasoning and to grasp logical progression.
Also, there is some simple math and calculation involved in the strategy, each hit does 1 damage, but the triangular shaped monster tokens can take up to 3 hits. Engaging a younger child to turn the token to reflect damage can help solidify subtraction and number recognition skills. Allowing children to count up all of the points for “Master Slayer” at the end can reinforce grouping, higher levels of addition, and multiplication, as each monster type represents a different value.
For older children, being allowed to make decisions based scarcity, can be an invaluable exercise in resource management. As well, the game being cooperative with a clear winner, allows for the ability to make more complex and weighted strategic plays, since kills only count if you manage to live to count them.
AFF[Castle Panic!] is a great game to play together as a family. While it might not be the adventures of yore that you long for, it will keep your eight year old busy long enough for you to get a goblin-slaying-dice-fix.
*Gazebos not included.
Love cooperative games? Check out our other reviews here!
Hero Forge Games
Playtime 30-60 minutes
Hero Forge Games is at is again with the release of the expansion to their blockbuster Hero Kids – Space Heroes! If your kid is more into sci-fi than fantasy, or just wants to branch out to play a guardian of the galaxy far, far away, this is definitely something to put on your wish-list. As shown in their first teaser, the straightforward mechanics are staying the same, meaning parents and children will be able to dive into sci-fi adventures quickly. While the Space Heroes are compatible with the normal Hero Kids adventures, there’s also three new adventures specifically designed to make user of the new setting.
As with the base game, the expansion is is available in print and PDF versions via DriveThruRPG. While the base game is required to get the basic rules, the expansion has the now-standard 10 different characters to choose from (and cut-out paper markers for each character), along with a number of blank character sheets for players who want to draw their own characters. The expansion also gives details on the new skills the space heroes have, which experienced players can quickly find analogs for in the base rules.
If you’re not familiar with the base Hero Kids game, I’d recommend checking out our review. If you are, the biggest change you’ll want to be aware of is the introduction of Nadic-Binding, which is the Space Hero equivalent to magic (and may bear a resemblance to a certain Dark Lord’s “sorcerous ways”.)
Kingdom Hearts III is coming. It is coming slowly, but there is no denying that its slow glacial journey towards release is impacting the entire industry. Every scrap of information is analyzed frame by frame. Every interview is pulled apart word for word by every website and podcast that even thinks about video games.
It has been a very long time since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2. It has been so long, in fact, that many parents with young children might not have any idea what the game is all about.
For those in need of a definition: Kingdom Hearts is a franchise built around the unlikely pairing of Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Aladdin, and Donald Duck alongside characters from the Final Fantasy series like Cloud, Squall, and Auron. These characters embark on a quest that takes them through multiple worlds all themed after different Disney films.
Each game in the series has brought with it new experiences themed after different Disney properties. We battled evil with Steamboat Willie. We helped solve problems in the Hundred Acre Wood. We even hunted for treasure with Aladdin. But, things are a little different now. Disney has gone on a significant spending spree in the last handful of years. The recent purchases if Marvel and Lucafilm properties provides fans with a lot of possibilities for new adventures, heroes, and villains.
This has caused a lot of speculation regarding the potential inclusion of Marvel superheroes and Star Wars characters in the series. All of this speculation reached a high point recently when Tai Yasue, the game’s director, was quoted as saying “nothing is off limits” by Kotaku UK.
The possibility of visiting Tattooine, Manhattan, or Asgard is pretty awesome. Many of these characters would fit very well in a story about multiple worlds besieged by an evil force. It wouldn’t even be that hard to bolt the Kingdom Hearts fiction onto the Marvel interpretation of the Yggdrasil World Tree myth.
Personally though, I have a feeling that the most impactful addition to the game is going to be the all but guaranteed inclusion of the world of Frozen. Anna and Elsa are characters that seem like they were almost for this type of adventure. Also, Elsa is arguably the most powerful character in Disney history. A showdown between Elsa and Maleficent in a Kingdom Hearts game would be quite the sight. It would probably end up being the fantasy battle of the century (at least for me) and the increased power of the PS4 and Xbox One would result in a very pretty fight to watch.
What about you? What worlds would you like to see make an appearance? Sound off in the comments!