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Rawr, Trauma Team preview! That's right, demo with Atlus, this time for a Wii game of no small consequence. You guys know the Trauma Center series, yeah?

The new game, Trauma Team, is pretty much in the same franchise but will be taking on a more realistic approach with 6 playable medical fields, each with its own doctor:
  • CR-S01 - Surgery
  • Gabriel Cunningham - Diagnosis
  • Maria Torres - First Response
  • Hank Freebird - Orthopedics
  • Tomoe Tachibana - Endoscopy
  • Naomi Kimishima - Forensics
They've each got some backstory too. CR-S01, for example, is a former inmate and alleged mass murderer who has no clue what the heck he did or who he is. But he IS a brilliant surgeon, so there's that.

Naomi is actually a character from one of the older games, which some of you may remember. The demo we went over though covered Diagnosis, so we got to see Gabriel Cunningham in action.

LINK: Trauma Team (Wii) Preview

Oh, and just a heads up, we've got a review for Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth coming sometime next week. Late, I know, but it only arrived from Capcom a couple days ago, and the preview needed to hit our front page first.

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So, this weird indie game called Zeno Clash hit Steam last year. Atlus apparently found it perfectly suitable, being a fan of crazy games themselves. Thus, Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition is born, with all the original crazy + more crazy.

Sadly, there's no extra story content, which is what I was personally gunning for; the original had a good basis, but the ending felt empty, lacking true resolution. More than anything, I would have liked to see more of Father-Mother and it's children, perhaps where it all goes after you beat the game.

Still, the addition of co-op to the Challenge Modes is pretty awesome, and they've expanded the attacks and weapons lists. Check out our preview with Atlus and ACE Team's Carlos Bordeu~

LINK: Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition (XBLA) Preview

Later today (Friday), we're doing another demo with Atlus. You know Trauma Team? Yeah, we're previewing that, so expect our feature on it over the weekend or Monday.

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The last time I played a Castlevania game it was way back on the NES. Can't remember exactly which one but I do remember getting stuck on a boss that had a head-like thing that bounced around. It was a hard game I never finished.

Now on the DS I hear about these newer Castlevania games. The series is said to still be quite hard so I decide to try it out once again.

Well, the game certainly is difficult. Perhaps not 8 bit difficult - especially since I can easily spam healing items simply by stockpiling cash and unloading it all at the local shop - but it's certainly a step up from other DS offerings. I died. I died a lot. Every boss so far has killed me at least once, but usually more. Even generic enemies can be quite challenging when you're being rushed by mobs of them and that has led to a few deaths where I got careless.

One irritating aspect is when fighting enemies near the edge of an area's screen, which happens a lot here. Get hit and you risk getting knocked back into the previous area. Wouldn't be so bad if the enemies didn't fully regenerate when you leave a screen.

Glyph system seems pretty cool, by allowing me to mix up varying attack methods. Generally the game seems free enough to allow me to basically spam the same kinds of spells against almost everything, so it's more of an enjoyable option to throw in hammer/lance combos. The support glyphs have some interesting adventuring properties and the gylph sleeve lets me set up three combinations and switch quickly between them.

Level design is pretty solid so far though not as much room for wandering off the beaten path yet. They are opening up more as I progress though so that's likely to change.

The story is a bit confusing at the moment though. Albus is currently playing the role of antagonist, but I've absolutely no idea why. Perhaps this will be explained later on, but right now I'm totally in the dark.

Game looks promising. It addresses the difficulty issue many games suffer from and a rather atmospheric setup to boot.

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Figured this might a nice addition to my user reviews - providing some thoughts on first impressions I get from playing games, and seeing if my opinion stays the same as I continue to play.

The one thing that concerns me right now about Rune Factory 2 is the fairly poor NPC interaction. One of the strengths of Animal Crossing was that the NPC villagers were varied. There were limitations, but they did cycle through quite a number of phrases and would randomly mention different items or people. By comparison Rune Factory 2 feels very weak, as most people so far just seem to repeat the same phrase or two all the time. Granted they do say other things if I give them something or pick a bulletin board task, but I want more variation when I just chat to them, so that chatting to them feels more than being something I have to do.

Must admit that the actual range of tasks seems more impressive than the traditional Harvest Moon game. An issue I'd had with past HM games is the lack of stuff to do outside outside of farming. It's not that they didn't have other activities, but rather that they were very limited and most tended to get as repetitive as the farm work could. RF2's RPG elements may not be as fleshed out as more focused RPG elements, but it's a worthwhile distraction, and then mixing in farming, mining, cutting, fishing and running errands for the villagers and I'm seeing a more widespread choice of tasks to accomplish.

Was kinda hoping the touch screen would make item management easier, but apparently it's harder than it looks to click onto onfield objects to interact with them. Seems easier just to use the button layout once I got used to it. Dual screen hasn't been that helpful thus far either. The overworld map isn't very telling aside from displaying the location name, which could have been done on a single screen. Dungeon maps are limited by the fact that right now the dungeons aren't that complicated, although I note that various paths appear locked off so that might be subject to change later.

The pause subscreen is very handy in here. I can keep track of various aspects like items, relationship levels and settings in here. A bit odd that it doesn't remember my preferences for relationship sorting but otherwise it helps to see stuff here. Button layout is more friendly than FOMT too, so I don't accidentally give an item to the wrong person when they are close together or end up throwing a precious item away. The targetting cursor also makes it clear where I'm aiming.

In short the gameplay's running smoothly so far, but I haven't played long enough yet to determine if the game can keep the pace going well enough. I'm hoping NPC interaction picks up. Maybe if I start taking on more bulletin board tasks I might start to care more.

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