Persona 5 Strikers
PlayStation 4 – 2020
Originally released as Persona 5 Scramble in Japan in 2020, Persona 5 Strikers would eventually make its way worldwide in 2021. The game is a collaboration between Atlus and Koei Tecmo, developed by Omega Force and P-Studio. As a result, the game has a lot in common with the Dynasty Warrior series. Gone is the turn-based combat of Persona 5, instead we have a hack‘n’slash action RPG where you have to mow down hordes of enemies. Set across the month of August, Joker meets up with his companions in Tokyo to spend his summer holidays. While in Tokyo, Joker, Morgana and Ryuji accidentally stumble a “Jail”, a cognitive reality similar to the “Palaces” from Persona 5. This kick starts the Phantom Thieves adventure as they travel across Japan to discover the true power behind these “Jails”. You’ll be joined by the original Phantom Thieves from Persona 5, along with two new companions. Each character has their own elemental style, with Joker being able to obtain personae with different elements, similar to how Persona 5 operated. Despite being a hack’n’slash action RPG in the vein of the Dynasty Warriors series, the combat never feels repetitive. You can ambush Shadows to give you an advantage in combat, there’s a wide variety of spells to use, as well as your melee combat and gun. The game also features “All Out Attacks”, which can be used to devastate large groups of enemies. Also added are “Show Time” attacks. These are built up through combat and can be unleashed to great effect. The game’s “Jails” are inventive and fun to explore, even if they are a bit linear. The art style of Persona 5 returns and looks as beautiful as ever. The game does offer a Framerate or Graphics option but while playing in Graphics mode I never encountered any framerate drops, something which does happen in Koei Tecmo games. The confidant system is gone, instead you have a “Bond” bar that levels up through side quests, main quests and combat. This can be used to unlock new abilities for the team. The side-quests are scaled back from Persona 5 but there is still a decent amount here, including ones that see you assist your team mates with different “challenges” (such as gathering sweets for Ann). The fantastic music of Persona 5 returns, along with some new tunes to sink your teeth into. The only issue I had with sound was that sometimes the background music would drown out the voice acting. It’s a great game and my favourite of the “Dynasty Warriors” style so far. The story is excellent and it’s nice to see the Phantom Thieves one last time.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Xbox 360 – 2012
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is another entry in TTF Games long running Lego series. All the familiar tropes are here such as secret characters, minikits, red bricks and gold bricks. The game’s hub takes place in Gotham City. Here, you can explore the city to find new characters, red bricks that unlock cheats and even vehicles to drive or fly. The map is a nice size and there’s just the right number of collectibles where it never feels overwhelming. You can also access the Batcave. From here you can progress the main story. Unlike the first Lego Batman game, this one’s main story is a single narrative. You’ll play as Batman, Robin, Superman and some of the Justice League as you attempt to stop the Joker and Kex Luthor. The levels have a little variety to them, from the standard side-scrolling smashing levels to on rail shooters. Each level also contains its own set of items to find that require at least two visits. The game looks crisper than the first one, with Gotham’s gothic setting well detailed. The music is great, if a little repetitive. It features some recognizable Batman tracks as well as the Superman theme whenever you fly as him. The game is the first in the Lego series to feature voice acting. The voice actors all play their roles well and the kookiness of the non-voice acted games is still here, if dialled down a little. Gameplay can be fun or frustrating. During the levels, the characters control well, with flight easy to master. In the hub world, it’s a different story. Flying is frustrating, with acceleration controlled by the A button and altitude and direction controlled by the right stick. This can be frustrating as your character can accelerate suddenly, making some of the gold bricks frustrating to collect. The game features split screen, which is a great improvement over the first game. Now you and a friend can explore the different areas without the game dropping you out randomly. Glitches are back and in our playthrough we had the game freeze, a level award us an extra minikit (we ended up with 11/10), a random gold brick just popped up with a glitched message and an Achievement unlock without us actually fulfilling the criteria for it. The game is fun, especially when played with a friend. It’s one of the finer entries in the Lego series but the controls just let it down.
PlayStation 4 – 2016
Atlus’ long awaited fifth entry in the Persona series is a wonderful experience. A turn-based JRPG with a compelling story, you step into the shoes on a young student who’s been wrongly accused of a crime. As a result, he’s been sent to live with a coffee shop owner in order to keep him out of trouble. As he begins his new life, he discovers there’s a hidden world built from people’s cognitive desires. Here, he and a group of friends will steal these people’s treasure and stop their distorted desires. Persona 5’s play style is slightly different from other JRPGs. Here, everyday life, such as school, friendship and hobbies are as important as dungeon exploring. In the real world, you’ll interact with several characters, call confidants. Building your bond with these will help you to understand the world but also unlocks cool features that will help you in battle. Taking part in hobbies and school helps to build up your skills and in turn, these will help you to advance confidants, make tools and unlock items. The dungeons are large and involve you making your way to the treasure before sending a calling card. The idea behind the dungeons is that you don’t do it all in one go but instead mix it up with real world activities. As the loading screen says, “take your time”. The combat is turn based but the main protagonist, Joker can persuade the games enemies, called Shadows, to join him. They each come with their own strengths and weaknesses, abilities and stats. These shadows can also be fused together to make even more powerful persona. The game looks amazing, from its in-game presentation to its anime cutscenes, and even its wonderful menu screens. The music is catchy, if a little repetitive. The heist music will get you pumped though. Persona 5 was my first entry in the series and it is a jaw-dropping experience, if a little slow in places. Overall, it’s a fun adventure that leaves you wanting more when it’s over.