Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica The Battle Pentagram (Vita) Initial Impressions

On the same day, two action games arrived at my home. It’s Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica The Battle Pentagram for Vita and Drag-On Dragoon 3 for PS3.

I tried both for a bit but went a little further with this game ^^

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This is the second Vita game I know of that disables the screenshot feature (the first one being Tokushu Houdoubu). I think disabling the feature is pretty stupid since nowadays there are even hardware-modded Vitas that allow capturing of videos anyway.

I gotta say, although the ‘landscape faces’ of Madoka series look pretty okay in 2D, it’s actually pretty creepy in 3D ^^;

The 3D action part is passable (maybe not if not backed by the franchise). The worst part is the animations, which feel stiff. The nice parts are probably the atmosphere and the music (but these really come from the anime/movie, right?).

Even the nice opening movie is apparently taken straight from the movie itself.

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This is one of those games where you’re running around enemies while melee-ing or shooting them (hit-and-run), and you have to wait for cool-down periods before you can use the special attacks again (resource management). This gameplay probably has its root from western games since my friend who plays more western games once made a strikingly similar game.

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The special attacks expend MP but the MP recovers slowly (hitting enemies or getting hit by enemies doesn’t even speed it up) that you might be inclined to use Soul Gems. You start by carrying 10 Soul Gems in a mission, and you can use 1 gem to recover MP or 3 gems to revive when you’re down.

The game also adds ‘artificial difficulty’ by introducing time limit. Basically the game’s over when you’re down and can’t revive or when time is up.

You can bring a partner to battle. You can get benefits from the partner’s Support Skills (buffs) and depending on relationship level, do combination attacks.

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This game is quite RPG-like as there are 5 magical girls to level up, raise their stats with bonus points, upgrade and unlock their special attacks, etc.

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The controls are pretty weird. Although you would be able to understand why the controls are the way they are when you play, I think they should have come up with better solutions, such as utilizing touch screen to lock-on like Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. The worst part is there are special attacks that you can only activate by flicking the left analog stick and pressing attack button simultaneously, but it’s pretty hard to pull off consistently. Not only that, sometimes you may accidentally pull them off too, which might mess up your resource management since these attacks also consume MP.

The visual novel part is fully voiced. I sometimes find the voice acting too cheesy but I guess that’s also the way it is in the anime and it’s part of the appeal.

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The prologue part should be a recap of what happens in the movie/anime since the plot moves very fast, with the difference being in the ending. Supposedly Madoka is dying in the final battle and before she dies, she wishes to Homura that the 5 magical girls could’ve trusted one another more and joined forces in the final battle in order to create different outcome. Homura then sets to fulfill her wish as she returns to the past.

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The game flow is set such that it takes place in a month (before the same final battle), and for each day, there are daytime and night periods. On daytime, you pick from several stories to increase the girls’ relationships, while at night you enter a dungeon. The characters’ relationships carry over to next playthroughs, so I guess the idea is to keep replaying until you max all relationships and get the best ending, I guess.

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The relationship level diagram:

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You increase relationship levels by selecting stories that include the characters you want to increase, and by making them partners in missions.

I hope there are no missable events that you have to create a separate new save to unlock it. I hope there are no bugs as well… ^^;

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