Sibling Rivalry: Nohr vs Hoshido


In Fire Emblem Fates, you can choose to ally yourself with either side: Hoshido, your birth family, and seemingly the obvious good guys; or Nohr, the family you grew up, and who aren’t as evil as their dark aesthetic would seem to suggest. Either way, you end up with four siblings – but which is better? There’s only one way to find out.

Big Brothers – Xander vs Ryoma










Both of your big brothers have access to legendary weapons, which turn them into one-man killing machines on the battlefield. Let your other units huddles together and attack strategically – with their strength, Xander and Ryoma can cut swathes through enemy forces without so much as breaking a sweat.

Personality-wise, they’re also very similar – determined to live up to the title of crown prince, each works hard at excelling in everything they do. Xander has the advantage of having grown up with the Avatat, however, which means they get to have endearing supports about how she would fall asleep at night after watching him train outside.

And when it comes to looks, Xander’s got it covered – he’s a gorgeous blonde hunk sat atop a mighty steed, whilst Ryoma looks, if anything, a little ridiculous in his elaborate samurai armour.

Winner: Xander

Nohr 1 – 0 Hoshido

Big Sisters – Camilla vs Hinoka










The fliers of the family, Camilla and Hinoka are very different. Camilla is an axe-wielding dragon knight, whilst Hinoka takes to the sky atop a pegasus whilst brandishing a naginata. Both require some work to be decent warriors – Camilla has a very low hit rate when you start out, whilst Hinoka is just plain weaker than other sky knights such as Subaki and Reina.

I persevered with Camilla, however, because I loved her even before I started playing Fates. It’s not just her amazing body – although that doesn’t hurt – but the wonderful cognitive dissonance of her looking and acting like a bloodthirsty killer, whilst also being sweet and overprotective of the Avatar and pretty much anything vulnerable. She’s just superb.

On the other hand, I think Hinoka might be my least favourite of all the royal siblings – in fact, there were large swathes of Birthright when I even forgot she was my big sister. She doesn’t really act the part or stand out from the crowd – in fact, she showed more personality and determination in the one battle against her in Conquest than she did anywhere else.

Winner: Camilla

Nohr 2 – 0 Hoshido

Little Brothers – Leo vs Takumi










Both of your little brothers have massive chips on their shoulders – they’re jealous that everyone loves the Avatar so much. With Takumi, this makes him somewhat annoying and difficult to get close to, but actually, Leo is a lot more likeable. From the beginning of the game where you tease him about his collar, to his supports where he takes the time to teach you about strategy, interacting with Leo is fun. Not to mention the fact that Leo never gets controlled by evil forces, unlike poor Takumi.

In battle, both take a bit of work to make them anywhere near as awesome as their big brothers. In Birthright, Takumi lags behind Setsuna for a while, until the effects of his legendary weapon really start to develop. Leo probably has the weakest of legendary weapons, but in due course he can dish out some impressive magical damage. Also, unlike Takumi, he gets a horse – the Nohrians love their horses.

Winner: Leo

Nohr 3 – 0 Hoshido

Little Sisters – Elise vs Sakura










The healers of the family, Elise and Sakura will be strictly on support duty until you promote or reclass them. Sakura is painfully shy and desperate to be useful, something which comes through in many of her supports. Elise looks like she should be the spoilt and demanding one, but actually, she’s inoffensive and worst, and at best quite upbeat and supportive – she even spends time working with the downtrodden underclass of Nohr. Elise also has the Nohr horse factor going for her, so whilst this is probably the closest run of the four play-offs, it’s still a win for the Nohr side.

Winner: Elise

Nohr 4 – 0 Hoshido

So there you have it – whilst Conquest is actually my least favourite of the three storylines, the Nohr siblings stand head and shoulders above their Hoshido siblings – and not just because they’re all riding horses!

Join me next time for the FE Fates Retainer Rankings

Dark Side Gaming Rant: Nier


Nier and his pals – a talking book, a foul-mouthed warrior and Jack Skellington Jr.

I think I’m supposed to like Nier. Back when it was released, all the reviews seemed favourable, and in the intervening years, people still spoke positively about it. And when a sequel was announced, I thought I’d better finally take my copy off the shelf and give it a whirl.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Continue reading “Dark Side Gaming Rant: Nier”

Final Fantasy VII: so they're remaking it at last

FF7 and I have a complex relationship. Back in my teens, I adored the game and played it endlessly, unlocking everything I could find, setting myself challenges such as beating Sephiroth without any materia equipped, and even scribbling in my Brady Games strategy guide in an attempt to make it more accurate and complete. Then in my twenties, I became bitter and cynical, and could only focus on all the frustrating and imperfect aspects of the game that made the reality fall short of the rose-tinted memories. Now, in my thirties, I have forgiven FF7 somewhat, because whilst it is far from perfect, it still brought me a lot of fun over the years.

It’s with both excitement and trepidation that I, like many others, await the remake that Square-Enix always claimed they wouldn’t make, even when it was inevitable that one day they would cave in and do just that. Earlier games in the series have benefited from remakes that brought them back into circulation and introduced them to a new generation. And certainly FF7 has always been a bit lacking in some areas, what with its simplistic 3D graphics and error-ridden English translation. But can a remake do the game justice? Will all the parts we love, or at least love to hate, be as we remember them? Can this game really be remade without turning it into a pile of trash not unlike the painfully bad FF13? All of these things remain to be seen, but rather than focussing on the major aspects of the game here, in this article, I’ll be looking at the little things that gave FF7 its distinct personality. They’re random, obscure, and wouldn’t be missed by casual players, but for good or ill, FF7 wouldn’t be the same game without them.

Continue reading “Final Fantasy VII: so they're remaking it at last”

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Revisited

Part One: Anton’s Final Letter

At the end of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, the hard-working farmer Anton tragically lost his life. As the residents of Forget-Me-Not Valley sorted through his effects, they found this letter, written shortly before his death.

Dear Celia,

If you are reading this, then it means the worst has happened, and I have passed away. Continue reading “Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Revisited”



Since time immemorial, the balance of light and dark has been protected by the Lumen Sages and the Umbra Witches. But in the modern era, all the witches have been hunted down and killed – all, that is, except the beautiful and enigmatic Bayonetta. Lacking her memories, all Bayonetta can do is search for answers whilst fighting off the servants of Heaven sent to hunt her down.

In a deliberate reversal to the demon hunting action of the Devil May Cry series, director Hideki Kamiya brings us an action game in which angels are the enemy, and the protagonist is a sexy, curvaceous witch. From combat to cut scenes, the game is ludicrously over the top at every turn, but just how much entertainment does it provide? Continue reading “Bayonetta”

Persona 4 fanfic: At the Stroke of Midnight

Inspired by Persona 4, with a little artistic licence taken. Were the main characters the only people to encounter the Midnight Channel?

“Hey, have you heard about the Midnight Channel?”

I put down my book and sighed. School hadn’t even started yet and already Mizuki was babbling on about another of her stupid rumours.

“Of course I’ve heard about it, Mizuki. You were talking about it just last week. A magical TV channel that broadcasts every time it’s raining at midnight. Honestly, of all the stupid rumours you’ve come up with, this one is the worst.” Continue reading “Persona 4 fanfic: At the Stroke of Midnight”

Odin Sphere

odin-sphereWar rages over possession of the Crystallisation Cauldron, an artefact so powerful that it once brought an entire kingdom to ruin. As conflict ensues between the Demon Lord Odin of Ragnanival and the fairy queen Elfaria of Ringford, five destined individuals are drawn into the conflict. Armed with magical Psypher weapons, these heroes must carve out their own stories in the annals of history.

An action RPG from the always excellent Vanillaware, Odin Sphere is truly a masterwork of a game, an immersive experience that looks gorgeous, sounds pleasant and is absorbingly addictive to play. A leading name in its genre, it remains one of my favourite games for PS2. Continue reading “Odin Sphere”

Muramasa: the Demon Blade


Japan, the Genroku era. As a power struggle unfolds over possession of the legendary Demon Blades, two warriors come to the forefront: Kisuke, a ninja with no memory of his past, and Momohime, a girl possessed by the spirit of murderous swordsman Jinkuro. As both go in pursuit of the power of the Demon Blades, they find themselves pursued by forces both human and supernatural.

Having been won over by the superb Odin Sphere (which I will review in the near future), I was eager to get my hands on more Vanillaware titles, with Muramasa being the obvious next choice. The third entry in an ever-increasing library of action RPGs with sumptuous artwork, Muramasa is an enjoyable experience, if lacking in the longevity of its predecessor. Continue reading “Muramasa: the Demon Blade”

Saya no Uta


Ever since the accident that killed his parents, nothing has been the same for Sakisaka Fuminori. The experimental neurosurgery that saved his life also altered his perception of the world, making it appear to be a hideous rotting hell peopled by vile monsters. Repulsed by the very people he once called his friends, Fuminori turns to the one person who looks normal – a beautiful young girl named Saya. But who – or what – exactly is Saya anyway?

The latest Nitroplus game to be translated into English by the excellent JAST USA, Saya no Uta was a much anticipated addition to my collection. The only question was, would it really be able to deliver on the hype, or would all the build up just lead to a disappointing anticlimax? Continue reading “Saya no Uta”