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Level-5 Trio Impressions - TGS 2012
09.21.2012

NATHAN SCHLOTHAN
NEWS REPORTER
MICHAEL BAKER
JAPANDEMONIUM COLUMNIST


Level-5

The Level-5 booth was both large and not exceptionally busy this Friday, at least not in comparison to its near neighbors, the Konami and Bandai-Namco booths. There was no wait time at all to try several of their titles, as long as you didn't want to try the newest Professor Layton game. Here are a few quick impressions.

Fantasy Life

First, this game has a decent character generator, at least within the boundaries set by the art style. it was easy enough to come up with a personal protagonist that looked nothing like the one for the person standing next to me. As this was Try-Out Day in the game, many of the features, locations, and characters in the town were unavailable, and explained as much when I tried to talk to them or use them. At the start, I was given a choice of lifestyles. Picking blindly, I first chose a relaxed lifestyle, then to live and work as a fisherman.

After finding the master of my chosen profession, I got a snazzy fish hat and my first quest: to go out and catch a rainbow trout. The master's assistant joined my party so he could lead me to the nearest good fishing spot. En route we chased down frightened sheep, squished oversized caterpillars, and got chased by giant bees. No matter what life you pick, it seems, combat will always be in the cards. It's just the goal that makes things different.

Fishing is handled with a simple mini-game much like those I've played in other games. There's a balance to maintain between strength applied and tension on the line, with the fish's stamina slowly wearing down. I caught my rainbow trout on the first try. Unfortunately, since this was just Try-Out Day, the Fish Master had a strict catch-and-release policy in place, so I never got to try it battered and fried.

Inazuma Eleven GO 2

I'm really starting to worry about the guys who make the Inazuma Eleven games. I played Inazuma Eleven 2 back in 2009, and it seemed pretty crazy then. Four games later, and you have to wonder how much longer they can stretch this. In my soccer battle against a band of mean-spirited time travelers, I pulled out all the stops to win, including calling forth the spiritual archetype of my team leader to provide a bit of divine intervention. This did not help my ability to understand the off-sides rule. Did I mention that this scrimmage took place on the Bridge of Orleans in 1429, my characters were all wearing chainmail before the match started, and my new best friend appears to be Jeanne d'Arc?

This demo didn't really work for me, and I think I know why. With the IE2 demo, I got to see how the story began, play a few scrimmages to get a better idea of the controls, and then had it all build up to where the crazy plot really kicked off. With this one, I really couldn't get a grip on the story that quickly, and the combat seemed to assume a better familiarity with the series, or FIFA, than I actually had.

Cardboard Senki Double

This one had zero story to work with, at least in the demo play. From the massive TV screen hanging over the booth, I was able to ascertain that hordes of LBX combat figurines were either under the control of terrorists or had just gone rogue en masse. This is a series that definitely falls within the co-op combat genre, and thus the demo version focused on this and nothing else. It was also the least populated section in Level-5's demesne. When I went in, the attendant had to ask if I actually wanted to play this, just to make sure I wasn't mistaken. I tried it anyway, and after one really fruitless battle against an LBX that looked like the spawn of a dump-truck and a Decepticon, I was left with an awful impression of my allies' AI settings. Then I realized that the PSPs to either side of me were showing my final demise versus Death-Dumper in slow-motion agony. The AI wasn't bad, I was just alone.

Four hours later, I returned with two guys I'd just shanghai'd in front of the Level-5 area. If I were to give this game a decent chance, I needed real allies -- even if I had to translate the control explanations to them first. While we lasted longer, none of us was particularly skilled with this sort of game. Death-Dumper sent us to the junkyard.

I'm sure Cardboard Senki Double is an excellent example of its genre, but it's a genre that I've never tried before. Thanks to this demo, I'll probably never try it again. Anyone who likes the Gundam Versus games would definitely have a better experience, though.



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