Bandai Namco have some pretty big titles on the way, and we were fortunate enough to get hands-on with a couple of them.
At a recent Bandai Namco event, I got hands on with Dragon Ball FighterZ, Ni No Kuni 2, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: A Hackers Memory, and Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time.
Here are my thoughts on what you can expect from each of them:
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Release date: February 2018 (closed beta last weekend)
Genre: 2.5D Fighter
Dragon Ball FighterZ (DBF) is such a refreshing game to play. Most of what we’ve seen of this game so far has been flashy demos played by people who will far out-skill most ordinary gamers. The most pleasant thing about my time with DBF is that it was easy to pick up combos but could just as easily been played by ridiculous amounts of button mashing.
It’s every Dragon Ball fan’s wet dream. Polished intro, outro and supermove cutscenes. Your favourite characters lined up for epic battles in the most well-known locations. Smooth combat. Great voice lines superbly acted.
The premise of the battles is to use any opportunity you can find to charge your power to launch devastatingly powerful moves against your enemies. When I was playing against the CPU this was easy to do, but I could see how it might become more challenging in the heat of a PVP battle.
There isn’t really anything else I can say about Dragon Ball FighterZ other than it’s likely going to be a big, big hit with fans of the franchise and fans of good fighting games. The closed beta started last weekend – if you got your hands on the game then let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
Release date: 19 January 2018
Genre: JRPG with a little bit of real time strategy gameplay thrown in for good measure.
As someone who didn’t play the original Ni No Kuni, it’s impossible for me to compare it to the first one. That said, I didn’t feel like I needed to, given that it stood up as a unique, handsome and charming game based on the demo I played.
Each of the available demo missions in the game showed off a completely different aspect of the game. It was a really nice way of demonstrating the variety that it has to offer players.
In one of the missions you’re tasked with rescuing a character from the lair of some beasts. The mission is a combination of exploration (looking for the lair) and fighting the enemies in the area. When you enter a battle, either by running into an enemy in the overworld or by entering a planned encounter via cutscene, the camera angle changes, everything becomes sharper and you’re given much more control over the protagonist. In battle mode, you’re also able to carry out a variety of actions (such as throw giant magical balls at enemies and dodge) that offer genuine variation from the exploration mode.
The battles were fast paced, lively and challenging. Enemy variation was present and the boss was truly fun to battle against. The Higgledies (little elemental creatures) are an interesting mechanic which allow you to power yourself up, or cast special attacks at your enemies during battle. I also played a demo mission in which I had to fight a giant creature – this felt a bit long and grindy to me but it might be the case that it would’ve been quicker had I had more experience with the game.
Most surprising of all in Ni No Kuni 2 was the demo mission in which I had to lead a small army across a map. I controlled both archers and melee fighters and over the course of the 10/15-minute quest I had to learn to rotate my troops, prioritise different enemy types, use their special abilities (such as air strikes) and take out enemy bases. It was an interesting contrast to the standard action RPG game which I had thought I was playing.
Fans of the series won’t be disappointed with the next instalment. It’s clear this is going to be a well put together game in a well-loved genre.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth a Hacker’s Memory
Release date: Early 2018
Genre: Turn based RPG
I loved Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. It was the Digimon game I’d always wanted to play on home console (we don’t count the Nintendo DS games). Everything from the original take on a Digimon based story to the turn based combat that was both Pokémon and classic Final Fantasyesque really appealed to me. If you agree with me, you’ll be pleased to know that Hacker’s Memory is more of the same, if you don’t agree with me then the next instalment probably isn’t for you.
The demo mission involved me taking control of a handful of Digimon and investigating a power plant’s technical issue in the digital world. The exact same combat set up returns here with you running a team of three Digimon at a team (which you can switch with several additional substitutes) and fighting in turn based battles to defeat your foes.
The Digimon farm (where you can train your Digimon in certain traits) returns in the same format from what I could see, as does the ability to download Digimon once you’ve captured enough of their data by battling them in the wild.
Again, the art style is very nice, staying true to the design of the first game and the combat is fun. A couple of Digimon in the demo version were high level Ultimates which meant I was polishing off enemies easily with hugely showy moves. What’s not to like?
Hopefully the story of Hacker’s Memory, which runs concurrently with the previous game, differentiates it enough from the original. As strong as Cyber Sleuth was, I’m not sure it’ll be enough for anyone but huge fans of the series (like myself) if the next game doesn’t update itself beyond a few tweaks here and there.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time
Release date: 30 November 2017
Genre: Roleplaying sidescroller
Little Witch Academia is a side scrolling roleplaying adventure in which you act out a story from the popular Netflix anime Little Witch Academia. This is the game I played the least and have least to say about.
From what I played, the gameplay appears to be quite fun, with the protagonist having a choice of seven or eight spells. Each spell has its own cooldown and a different effect. For example, you could cause a giant icicle to leap from the ground or summon a magical bow with arrows to shoot your enemies.
The level design was very straightforward in the demo I played – it was essentially a short corridor littered with a few enemies in each section. There was also a secret passageway which took me to a small room with loot. I didn’t notice that the range of enemies had strengths or weaknesses as I played but that might have been down to my short time with the game.
Sadly, the boss fight was also a bit underwhelming. Avoiding its powerful attacks seemed almost impossible my magic seemed to barely phase him. Eventually I defeated him through sheer perseverance but there was no pleasure in it.
Maybe there’s more to the game that I didn’t get to experience in my short time with it and maybe there’s more to love about the game if you’re familiar with the anime – but either way, I wasn’t particularly excited for it.