Tokyo Game Show 2017 has just ended after a 4-day frantic convention filled with hardcore gamers who want to have a taste of what’s the best to come from the Japanese gaming industry. While it’s not surprising for heavyweights the likes of Monster Hunter: World, Gran Turismo Sport, and Dragon Ball FighterZ to receive most of the spotlight, other less-known titles deserve a shout as well. I was personally at the venue to get more insight about these games while playing them, which prompted this list of 10 hidden gems that totally deserves your attention.
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Japan is always known to have a certain wackiness in their entertainment industry, and this applies to games as well. D3Publisher’s latest title in their Bullet Girls series is a testament to that, which will definitely appease fans of this genre. Bullet Girls Phantasia allows players to wield weapons and wreak havoc in the battlefield as a female high school student, with plenty of fan services going around. There’s even a close-up mode for you to see how “bad” the damage was done to your character’s outfit. The developers also went the extra mile to get their message across by having a rather “interesting” stage presentation.
Touted as the cat version of Skyrim by developer The Gentlebros, Cat Quest puts you in control of everyone’s favorite feline as you explore a 2D open world in search of loot, friendship, and the occasional glory. The gameplay mechanics are simple enough for a casual pick-up and play, yet there is a certain level of depth for more demanding players with different armors and spells to choose. It’s only out on Steam and iOS as of now, but fans can look forward to a Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 release sometime in the future.
Platform: PlayStation 4
D3Publisher’s Earth Defense Force series has always known to be a fun yet mindless and occasionally stupid shooter. Iron Rain sets to tweak that formula in a more positive way, featuring more scary and aggressive giant ants. I spent some of my time running away from them instead of charging head on and cause damage left, right, and center, which gives the game more substance than previous entries. Personally, I’ll never be a fan as I get easily disgusted by giant insects, but longtime followers will most probably enjoy the changes when Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain releases sometime in 2018 for PlayStation 4.
Platform: Android, iOS
Tactical RPGs is one of the best subgenres of role-playing games, and despite the making of so many great titles, the tide is not ending soon with Bushiroad’s latest game. Granadia Saga seems to have almost everything, including stylistic characters, an engaging story, and a battle system that invokes the best memories we had from Final Fantasy Tactics. Online PVP battles are also available so get ready to put in plenty of hours to this game when it launches later this year for Android and iOS. Unfortunately, Granadia Saga will only be in Japanese, but since when it ever stops us from playing the best exclusive titles from that region?
It’s not every day that you can see a game developer made potatoes as a staple of their IP, but that’s exactly what Daylight Studios have done with a third consecutive title revolving around this particular crop. Branching out from the weapon forgery and space exploring themes of the first two games, Holy Potatoes! What the Hell?! requires players to punish potato sinners and turn them into ingredients at hell, while cooking up special dishes to appease the Gods of the Afterlife. It’s a quirky hell-themed management game filled with its own charms, including puns that most people can instantly catch on if you are well-acquainted with pop culture. I personally hated them myself, but credits to the writer for displaying wit in her creative works. You can test your cooking skills when the game is released on Steam later this year.
Platform: Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Action RPGs are typically made of melee heroes combined with some range variations, be it archers or wizards, but what happens if you just want to shoot nothing but spells all the time? Nine Parchments allows you to do just that, as it revolves around the story of wizards in a quest to complete their spellbooks by collecting the nine artifacts, hence the title. You unlock more characters as you progress through the story, along with variations to your skill tree and items. It goes without saying that this format is not unheard of, but the vibrant world and the fresh-looking art style creates a certain charm for Nine Parchments, which the most hardcore of ARPG players would learn to appreciate. It is set for release on all major consoles on this year’s holiday season.
Bullet hell games have been one of the few representation of old-school titles, yet developers found no reason to abandon the genre with modern iterations of their own. Instead of the typical game where you control a few different ships against a horde of enemies and lasers to dodge, Phoenix II have at least 40 different ships for players to collect and use, each with their own unique weapons and abilities. This offers tons of replay value, which is made better with the daily random content generator. Even if you are not into all of the extra features, one does not need to be a fan to appreciate the glorious-looking graphics of this game.
TCG games are on the rise lately, and while choices might seem limited with popular titles such as Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Gwent and Magic: The Gathering Online, there are other gems in the market for you to try. Spells of Genesis employs an arcade-style gameplay with physics-based movement battle mechanics, and that’s not even the best feature as you can buy, sell, and trade cards with other players. This serves to be the game’s main attraction point, along with limited amount rare cards to induce the most hardcore of TCG players to invest in the game.
Warring kingdoms, a tactical playing board, and hundreds of cards. Combine them all in a game and you’ll get Stormbound, Paladin Studios’ take on the TCG genre. It might look familiar to Clash Royale players, but the differences are instantly noticeable once you dive into the game. Instead of having straight card-to-card battles, Stormbound requires you to be smart in deploying your units, as you have limited control once they are on the battlefield. The turn-based style will also suit the casual crowd who prefer a slower pacing of gameplay, while not deterring experienced players as their grand strategy being set in motion.
VR is a fresh and growing technology, and while it might still feel like a gimmick, this game might just change that perception soon. Zwift is a realistic cycling game that allows you to connect with other riders around the world, all from the comfort of your home. It is the fact that you really have to cycle and experience all aspects of the sport such as changing gears and riding uphill that fulfills the exercising needs of most gamers. Now of course, it won’t be cheap to have such a setup, but it’ll definitely be a worthy investment as compared to other VR games.