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Games to Look Forward to Next Year

Or more specifically, games that I’m personally looking forward to that will be releasing next year. Anyone who’s been reading my posts long enough should already know that I’m anime trash, so if you’re fond of JRPG titles, be sure to check out the titles below!

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Persona 5; ATLUS; PS3/PS4

Persona 5 has been delayed. A lot. At this point, Persona fans are just hoping that the game will make an appearance at some point next year. Thankfully, all of these delays hasn’t made the hype for this long awaited game die down. There’s a lot to look forward to in the next Persona game: an improved battle system, gorgeous graphics, a catchy jazz-inspired soundtrack, and appealing character designs; this game has a lot to offer so it’s no wonder fans of the series are anxious to get their hands on it. Now if only Atlus could stick to their release schedule instead of announcing a new release date every few weeks.

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Tales of Berseria; Bandai Namco; PS4/Steam

Tales of Berseria brought up a lot of hype with it’s announcement, the biggest one being that it has the series’ first solo female protagonist. Awful as her outfit may be, Velvet’s already made a pretty good impression personality-wise through the brief 2-episode special that was inserted in Tales of Zestiria the X. It also brought back a lot of mechanics from older entries that fans have been wanting to see again for years, including cooking, waiter mini games, and *gasp*; are those in-game costumes?! You get them from beating a mini game?! You don’t have to pay for them?! *Ahem* So, yes, there’s a lot to look forward to in Berseria, especially for older Tales fans, so I definitely look forward to picking this up…when I get a PS4.

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New Danganronpa V3; Spike Chunisoft, PS Vita/PS4

Much like Berseria, the latest entry in the Danganronpa franchise has the first female protagonist in its main series (I say main because the franchise has had female protagonists before, just not within the main numbered games). Now with a new set of quirky, talented students, new murder mysteries to solve, new game mechanics to spice up class trials, even more Monokumas than before, and an entirely new setting (or so Kodaka claims), New Danganronpa V3 has a lot of fans excited and ready to shout out “That’s wrong!” when the game releases next year. With its January release in Japan, hopefully we’ll be seeing this entry in English sometime in late 2017.

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Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns; Marvelous / XSeed; Nintendo 3DS

Originally known as Harvest Moon, this franchise was renamed Story of Seasons when licensing rights transferred from Natsume to XSeed. There are still titles going by the name Harvest Moon produced by Natsume themselves, but if you’ll notice, the quality isn’t quite up to par compared to previous entries in the franchise. Story of Seasons, however, retains the charm the series is known for and will no doubt continue with this next entry. It follows a similar format to Tale of Two Towns by giving the player the option to live in more than one town, three this time, as the title states, all of which feature its own culture, festivities, and set of marriageable candidates. The most ground breaking new feature, however, is the fact that the protagonist actually has a family here, a mother, father, and little sister. That’s right, you have parents now! And a sibling! Oh, and XSeed is giving out a capybara plush as a pre-order bonus. How can I say no to that?!

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Atelier Shallie Plus; Gust / Tecmo Koei / NIS America; PS Vita

Yet another franchise best known for its laid-back atmosphere, this particular entry is actually a remake of the original that was released roughly two years ago. It offers the player the choice of choosing between two female protagonists, both of whom are nicknamed Shallie. The remake offers new costumes, dungeons, bosses, characters, and an expanded story line that promises to answer the questions left hanging in the original game. This is especially helpful, since this entry acts as the finale to the Dusk trilogy, reinforced by the fact that it brings back Ayesha and Logy as playable characters, both of whom were absent in the original game save for a brief cameo. I haven’t played the original since I knew that a Plus remake was inevitable, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this entry ties up the Dusk trilogy.

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Akiba’s Beat; Acquire / XSeed; PS Vita/PS4

I have never played Akiba’s Trip and have absolutely no intention to ever so much as touch it. Akiba’s Beat, despite being a successor to that game (thankfully) seems to have no ties to it other than sharing the same setting. What got me excited about this game was how the gameplay seemed to combine the Tales Series‘ combat system with the Persona series, and based on the preview videos I’ve seen, it’s looking like the battle system will be just as fun to go through. And once again, XSeed is offering an adorable plush of the game’s mascot character as its pre-order bonus. You’re killing my wallet here, XSeed.

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Summon Night 6: Lost Borders; Bandai Namco / Gaijinworks; PS Vita / PS4

Last year, Gaijinworks did the unthinkable. It localized two PSP games and released actual physical copies of them. One of those games was Summon Night 5, which I’m currently playing through. Despite its age, the game play is still a lot of fun and having multiple endings, two protagonists (a male and female), and four partners to choose from at the start of the game give it a lot of replay value. Summon Night 6 will undoubtedly feature that same amount of replay value as well as improved graphics, mechanics, and a full English dub, and as soon as I’m finished with Summon Night 5, I’m sure I’ll be itching to revisit the world in this game.

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Project Diva Future Tone; Sega; PS4

When I was in high school, longingly looking at playthroughs of Project Diva on YouTube, I never would have expected that any of the games would ever be released in English. Now, a few years later, Project Diva games have been consistently localized and with each new release in Japan, a localization announcement is sure to follow. Future Tone offers new songs, modules, improved graphics, and new mechanics that’s sure to get rhythm game fans and Vocaloid fans alike brimming with excitement. While I am excited for it, I’ll probably hold out a bit longer in case a Vita port is announced, as I find that these kinds of games tend to be easier to play on portable devices.

 

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Really Bad Chess – Fun Stuff!

If you’re a fan of traditional board games, you might get a kick out of this one. Really Bad Chess has been getting lots of popularity lately. And the name explains exactly what kind of game it is. It’s chess with a really weird twist. You are given random chess pieces to go against an AI who’s also given random pieces. All the same chess rules apply, though. So use your wits to win. As you win, your “rank” increases, but the AI gets better pieces in turn. The AI doesn’t play smarter, but you definitely need to with the increased difficulty. Sadly, the game is only available for iOS right now, so find your nearest iPhone or iPad and download it. Have fun and see if you can become a really bad chess champion!

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The Difficulty in Adapting Video Games in an Animated Format

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when transferring a video game’s story, characters, and lore into a different medium. Here are the four biggest factors to look out for when adapting a video game into an anime.

Retaining the Original Art Style

Each game has a unique art style that, at times, translate better in video game format than in an animated format. Maybe the original character designer’s art is too difficult to mimic, maybe the character designs are too detailed, or maybe the animation studio doesn’t have enough time or money to meticulously draw every single tiny detail on a character’s outfit. These changes can range from slightly different to “they may as well be different characters”.

Trying to Appeal to an Established Audience

Unlike cartoons or anime that debut without a source material, shows based on video games already have an established audience that the show may prioritize appealing to over new fans. This is more prevalent in video game adaptations compared to manga adaptations, since the latter is much easier to adapt in an animated format. All the animator has to do is read the manga and decide how to animate certain scenes, but for the most part, most of their reference images are drawn for them. Not so with video games. Animators have to figure out how to include game mechanics, how to animate character movement and expressions (especially if most of their reference come from character sprites), and most importantly, how to retain the game’s original atmosphere. Unfortunately, animators try a little too hard to retain all of the parts of the game in the anime, confusing new fans and irking established fans who were probably hoping to see some new content (and probably weren’t impressed with how the game mechanics were awkwardly inserted in an animated format).

Pacing

Video games have a lot of hours packed into a single disc. There’s a lot of ground to cover, a lot of exposition to make, and most of the time (due to the party member system prevalent in most games), a lot of characters to flesh out. Writers have to figure out how to smash all of this content within a limited time frame, usually within 13 to 26 (if they’re lucky) episodes. Due to the limited time frame, sometimes certain events or plot points have to be cut out, leaving behind massive plot holes. Sometimes certain characters get more focus than others, making them seem one note in comparison to their video game counterpart. Sometimes, they might even just assume that only fans of the game are watching, so they probably don’t have to bother going into more detail about an important event or plot point, leaving behind new fans scratching their heads in confusion. For video game adaptations, time management is key and every single episode needs to be meticulously thought out if the writers want to be able to produce a coherent story whilst appeasing new and established fans alike.

Bad Animation

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He probably would have preferred a higher animation budget.

Sometimes an adaptation has all of the things that could make it succeed. It has great voice acting, good pacing, and is able to effectively keep the game’s original atmosphere and properly translate the game mechanics into an animated format. But there’s one huge thing that prevents it from becoming the perfect anime adaptation: bad animation. Viewers find themselves distracted from the story because the main character’s face is off model, or the way the characters are running looks really awkward, and did they seriously forget to color in that character’s shoes? This is especially bad for established fans of the games, who have probably been waiting years to see their favorite video game characters walk and talk. But not like that.

So, will we ever be able to find the perfect video game adaptation? Probably not, but one can hope…One can dream…

Why Aren’t There More Female Protagonists in Video Games?

Ah, yes. The age old question. Why aren’t there more female protagonists in video games? Besides the typical game that gives the player the option to choose their gender at the start of the game, are there any that completely follows the narrative from a female character’s perspective? Men get Call of Duty, Kingdom Hearts, Grand Theft Auto, even the first Pokemon game lacked a female player option. But what about the female gamers? What strong, inspirational protagonists do we get?

None.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Put your pitchforks down. Us female gamers do in fact have a good number of female protagonists to play as. Unfortunately, most of them were designed not to cater to a female audience, but to cater to a male one. There certainly have been some improvements over the years. Tom Raider’s Lara Croft has finally decided to switch to wearing sensible pants as opposed to impractical short shorts. Child of Light brought us the lovable and appropriately dressed Aurora. Final Fantasy gave us a strong and well dressed protagonist in Lighting. But for every single well dressed female protagonist, we get five more that look like this: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9nkCd3Eiicc/maxresdefault.jpg (warning, image is NSFW) Yikes.

Games for Girls

While much more rare compared to the wide variety of games clearly targeted towards males, from First Person Shooter to RPG to even rhythm games, there certainly have been games that in the past that have appealed more towards a female audience. Cooking Mama, Style Savvy, Otome games (dating sims geared towards women), and games based on popular franchises like Barbie and Disney Princess all have a female audience in mind when they were conceived.

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The Atelier series is an interesting case…It’s a long running RPG franchise that’s consistently provided likeable female protagonists with each entry. If you’d asked me seven years ago, after Atelier Annie‘s launch, if I classified that series as one that’s specifically geared towards women, I would have said “Yes” without hesitation. Ever since Atelier Rorona‘s release shortly afterwards, the series seemed to shift into a different direction. That much was clear with the risque art provided as pre-order bonuses in Japan. Don’t get me wrong. Rorona and her successors are still very likeable heroines. And while Atelier Rorona still seemed to acknowledge its female audience by implement mechanics not unlike what one would find in an otome game, later entries abandoned this entirely. While one could still make the argument that the games appealed to female consumers, Atelier Sophie pretty much threw that notion out of the window with its sheer lack of pretty boys and increase of inappropriately dressed female characters.

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Harvest Moon, now renamed Story of Seasons, is also a franchise that has appealed to women for several years. Much like the Atelier series, it has a calm, relaxing atmosphere filled with friendly, lovable characters that the player can potentially romance. But much like Pokemon, Harvest Moon‘s first game only featured a male protagonist. The first game to feature a female protagonist quite clearly favored her male counterpart (the game ended once the female character got married whereas the male character would be able to continue the story past marriage, to name one of many unfair mechanics). Games that followed would separate for boy and for girl versions, with male centered game being released first and the female version being released as an updated release. Island of Happiness and its successors would all follow the same format as the current Pokemon games. A recent survey conducted on the game’s official twitter indicates that 77% of it consumers are female and play as a female character. With these statistics on hand, you’d think the developers would give up on trying to push the franchise as one that appeals to males right? Wrong. In manga adaptations, the male is always chosen over the female, spin-offs to the game (Rune Factory and Innocent Life) only gave the player the option to play as a male (it took 6 games before Rune Factory gave players the option to play as a female at the very start of the game) and promo material such as commercials and the game’s opening cinematic similarly favors the male protagonist. Despite its overwhelmingly large female fanbase, one has to wonder why the franchise doesn’t just give up and realize that its a game that appeals to girls? That leads us to our next topic.

Preferential Treatment Of Male PCs over Female PCs

In video games that give the player the option to play as a male or female, commercials , promotional materials, and subsequent comic and television adaptations will always favor the male player character. In the character trailer announcement for Robin in Super Smash Bros 4, female Robin was literally added as a footnote at the end of the trailer. And guess who was chosen to be immortalized as an amiibo figure? Male Robin. Surprise, surprise.

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There can be a number of arguments made as to why the gaming industry chooses to market its characters like this. We could say that they’re sexist, that male gamers pay more for related merchandise than females, we could debate for ages, but one thing remains clear: this preferential treatment isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to female gamers who love and adore a game as much as their male counterpart and isn’t fair to younger girls who are currently being taught that it’s okay to view women in media like this, because that’s how most girls in video games look! They’ll grow up thinking that video games are for guys because they never see any female protagonists in video games. But they’re there, either in the background or wearing barely there clothing.

 

 

Tap My Katamari – Fun Stuff!

Just found another adorable game that brings back memories. Any fans of Katamari out there? I remember playing this funky game on my old clunky PS2 back in the days. Well, now there’s an app to bring back the charming little characters and their weird head shapes. The app doesn’t necessarily recreate the same gaming experience Katamari Damacy and its sequels made, but that doesn’t make the game any less of a great time waster. It’s such a simple game, free of the frustrating levels that can come with other puzzle games. All you have to do is tap-tap-tap or wait out of game to make coins and progress. Also, I can’t forget to mention the inclusion of great background music.

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modded Minecraft then and now.

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Minecraft has been successful since the very beginning but nothing took off more then the addition of user made modifications to gameplay. very soon after the release of the game tons of java developers got to work on making mods so big that in many cases they could be a game all by themselves.In the youtube Minecraft community all the videos that did the best had some aspect of modded in them.The game became a big thing partially because the platform allowed people to do anything, and that includes making the game their own.Inside the community there were a handful of developers that cornered the market on modding and they had the largest franchises like tinkers construct or thaumcraft.These mods were used to create mod packs which were an accumulation of hundreds of mods all added into the game. These packs give the player literally infinite possibilities on what they can potentially do.This travelled well into early 2014 until the addition of the 1.8 version of Minecraft. In past updates the modpacks would work on a earlier version of Minecraft until some of these newer updates changed the way the code was written substantially. After that updating the packs to work on newer systems became painfully tedious.It became quickly impractical for the modded developers to update their mods.Essentially they would have to completely rewrite the mods from scratch in order to have a newer version of it. As a result the mods updated to 1.8 became extremely limited and not as expansive as the mods available on the previous version. All the staple mods that were seen in previous packs were either not in the new update or they were smaller diminished versions of what they were. The result of this is most of the modded community have decided to stay on the older versions rather then trying to adjust. This has caused some real issues in the community because of how important the modded community is to the whole franchise.The modded players were all looking for word to playing on a better version of Minecraft with better performance but instead they are forced to stay on an outdated version in order to continue enjoying what they did before.Possibly newer versions of the game like the upcoming windows 10 version will create a more friendly platform to build on for a new generation of modded developers

Minecraft 1.11 snapshot release

 

Mojang is calling the newest version of minecraft the exploration update,its very exciting to those of us dedicated to the game.Of all the new edition si think the shulcker shell chest will be a new mechanic we will play with for a very long time. I’m excited for what the community will do with this tool. the shucker chest is made from killing a shucker and getting their shell. you surround  a chest with the shell and create a shucker box. The valuable thing about the shulker box is that it will allow you to break the box and retain the components inside it similar in nature to an ender chest thus allowing you to carry another inventory with you as you explore. I think most people will find the alpacas to be the most exciting. people like their pets and the alpacas are definately interesting. The features are all surrounding exploration for sure. Th cartographers make it more fun because it gets annoying aimlessly walking to find something that is super rare but with a cartographer you can find the location of things like ocean monuments and the new mansions easier and discourages people from cheating and using different structure finding tools in minecraft which is great.as far as updates go its not a massive one but its got some things that will most certainly keep us interested for a while.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Tales Series

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With the first season of the anime adaptation of Tales of Zestiria coming to a close, the Tales franchise has received a new influx of interested fans. This is a guide for those who want to get started on the Tales Series.

I’ll be recommending recent games that are easier to acquire. So I won’t be recommending any games that have never been officially released in English or games that are only available on PS2 or earlier consoles.

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Tales of Symphonia / Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Available on: PS3, Steam

The longest game in the entire franchise and the first to receive the 3D graphics treatment. Given how old it is, the gameplay isn’t as solid as later games, and it suffers from having irritatingly difficult dungeon puzzles to solve, but otherwise, it’s got a solid story and great characters that makes it still worth playing even to this day. The sequel, while less loved and more contested, offers improved gameplay and models, but suffers from having a less compelling story than its predecessor. It’s also much shorter, and while the battle aspect of the game play has improved, it’s party setup took a step down by only giving the player two permanent party members, the rest of whom only join for brief intervals until they decide to permanently stick with you in the final chapter. I personally still found it to be an enjoyable entry to the franchise despite its faults and still felt that it had a good amount of twists and solid character writing.

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Tales of the Abyss

Available on: 3DS

Abyss was the first in the franchise to ditch the 3D chibi models and opt for a more proportionate look. Gameplay is much more improved, and while the dungeons still have puzzles, they aren’t nearly as frustrating to solve as Symphonia’s. It also has the best story and character writing that the series has to offer. While not as long as Symphonia, Abyss is still quite long, allowing for further world building and character exploration that later games tend to skimp out on. Luke will get on your nerves the minute you start playing the game, but trust me, he gets better.

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Tales of Vesperia

Available on: Xbox 360, PS3 (never left Japan ;-;)

Having never played this entry due to my lack of an Xbox, myknowledge about this game is quite limited. What I do know about it is that it’s held in the same high regard as Symphonia and Abyss and is still incredibly popular among Japanese and western fans today. Protagonist Yuri was so well received in Japan that he actually had to be banned from the official character popularity poll because he won every single year since his game’s release. I’m also well aware that there’s a PS3 remake that has over double the amount of content that the original lacked….but never left Japan. The fandom’s still pretty bitter about that. Oh, but most importantly…You can play as a dog.

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Tales of Graces f

Available on: PS3

Widely regarded to have the cheesiest story in the franchise, but fans will often also begrudgingly admit that it has the best battle system. Battles are fast paced, with an array of commands that could be inputted instead of simply smashing “o” to activate special attacks and “x” to perform regular ones. The title system (a system that improves a character’s stats depending on the bonuses it gives) is also the most refined of its kind that the series has to offer. Unfortunately, this is the only game in the franchise that makes use of it. So, yes, while Graces may not have the most solid writing in the series, it’s definitely the most fun to play through, especially with friends (it makes those cheesy cliche moments seem even funnier).

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Tales of Xillia

Available on: PS3

The biggest gimmick for Xillia is the inclusion of two protagonists and the introduction of the first female protagonist in the series. While both paths follow the same story, it’s well worth playing through both sides since both characters have scenes exclusive to their story line. Jude’s side focuses more on character development while Milla’s side focuses more on world building. This game also introduces a “link system” that literally links two characters to allow for special dual attacks. However, this link system also makes the game less fun to play with three extra friends, as the second linked character is automatically set to an AI. That said, the dual attacks are fun to watch after initiated, as they differ depending on the characters linked together, and the after battle quotes tend to favor linked characters which adds further depth to the characters’ relationship and reflects how they’ve grown closer as the story progresses. Speaking of story, while Xillia felt rushed and lacks a lot of things that main entries in the franchise are likely to have (it doesn’t have a bonus boss from previous games, it has the least amount of unlock able costumes, it doesn’t have any mini games); Xillia 2 manages to pick up the slack and fill in the plot holes left behind by its predecessor, so Xillia is still most definitely a title worth looking into.

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Tales of Xillia 2

Available on: PS3

Widely regarded to be the darkest in the franchise (it’s the first to actually feature blood), Xillia 2 picks up roughly a year after the events of the first game. The gimmick this time is a silent protagonist, whose responses can be chosen by the player. The choices the player makes can affect both the game’s ending (five, the most in the franchise) and Ludger’s relationship with other party members. Gameplay is much the same as its predecessor, however, Ludger is given the ability to switch between up to three weapon types during battle. His chromatus form, while activated for a limited time, also offers game breaking abilities that will make the player want to keep him in their party at all times (not that they have much of a choice, since he’s stuck in there until you beat the main story). Xillia 2 still definitely has its flaws in terms of writing, but it improves on a lot of things Xillia lacked and while not on the same level as Abyss and Symphonia, I’d still give it a fairly high rating.

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Tales of Hearts R

Available on: PS Vita

While not on the same level of cheese as Graces, Hearts’ story definitely isn’t going to win any awards. Thankfully, the fun gameplay more than makes up for it. Battles are random, a rarity among modern RPGs, but worry not, as every single battle is guaranteed to be an enjoyable experience. Characters jump around to slam enemies down from high above, dual attacks can be initiated through the vita’s touch screen, and the ease in which weapons are distributed (simply through leveling up the characters’ stats!), makes this a solid entry to the franchise. Unfortunately, the game suffers from bad translation errors, several of which mischaracterize important characters and NPC’s alike. It’s faithful to the original script for the most part, but one wishes that Bandai Namco’s translation team could have at least tried to stay truer to text.

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Tales of Zestiria

Available on: PS3, PS4, Steam

This one’s a little harder to recommend to newcomers to the Tales franchise. It’s a game that limits the co-op that Tales games usually offer due to the armatization system (a system that fuses two characters together and is more or less required against tougher bosses). Its battle camera is difficult to control and I found myself at numerous points (both when playing solo or with a friend) staring at wall and wondering if my character was actually hitting the enemy. Its story, while not bad, isn’t particularly good either. One thing it did get right were its characters. They’re all likable and play off each other really well and it has some of the most attractive character designs the series has to offer. The tracks composed by GoShiina are also worth mentioning, they’re really great at setting the mood from fast paced boss fights to more emotional scenes and make trudging through dungeons seem less tedious. While definitely not the best the series has to offer, I’d recommend picking it up once you’ve tried out the other games the series has to offer. Especially since it serves as a direct link to the most recent game in the franchise, Tales of Berseria, which will be released in English in early 2017.

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