After a year of delays and wondering if this game would come out at all (StarCraft Ghost anyone?), my copy of Kantai Collection Kai finally showed up at my doorstep last week. I was ecstatic, exuberant, and other words that mean that I was pretty pumped about it! I plugged the cartridge into my Vita, feeling that oh-so-familiar feeling of new game excitement, and then… nothing. My Vita chose this time to tell me it had terminal cancer, and was on its way to the big arcade in the sky. I managed to resuscitate her via the forbidden art of “rebooting”, but the writing was on the wall. On Thursday February 18th 2016 PS Vita #2 passed away (I’m not good at naming things). With the proper amount of grieving (all of 3 seconds) I resolved to get a new one from the local Gamesmith in town (like a blacksmith, but with more acne and less muscle).
After I acquired PS Vita #3, I was overjoyed to be able to FINALLY step into the world of KanColle Kai. Right off the bat I realized this game was just similar enough to the browser game to feel familiar, while being just alien enough to be a challenge to veterans of the franchise. There are three difficulties to start out on, and I consider myself a solid “Normal” guy so that’s what I went with. After that you choose which “mode” to go start with (Kai or Classic). Not being able to read Japanese this decision haunted me, but all it really boiled down to was which starting ships I wanted. Classic starting ships are all the destroyers from the classic KanColle starter set (plus about 3), and Kai gave you the choice between the three Sendai sisters. Being a Shigure fan myself I went with Classic mode.
From here I began the arduous journey called “the tutorial”! In most games the tutorial is simply a part of the game that shows you the ropes, while making you feel like a god for beating the weakest thing in the game. While KanColle Kai’s tutorial really isn’t that much different it is entirely in Japanese, so needless to say I had no idea what they wanted me to do. Due to this I was forced to play my least favorite game, “match the kanji with the wiki site” to find out what I was supposed to do. I’m still not done with the tutorial too, there’s this one annoying part that wont go away no matter what I do (yes I tried google translate). So for now I’m stuck till the wiki gets more fleshed out, or until I accidentally stumble upon the (probably very simple) solution.
Even with the language barrier I’m having a pretty good time with the game. This could be because I’m a veteran of the browser game, but I think that once newer players get the hang of it they will enjoy it too. For those not indoctrinated, it’s essentially a game where you collect “ship girls” (named for various WWII ships) like Pokemon and grind them up in level to acquire resources… to make more ship girls. Look when you say it out loud it sounds boring, but you get attached to your fleet girls and engrossed in clearing stage after stage. You get a feeling of exultation with every map cleared, and a feeling of sorrow every time one of your girls takes major damage. The game is part strategy and part gamble that draws you in with it’s unique charm and challenge.
The whole game takes place on two maps, the strategic map and the secretary map. The secretary map features your secretary ship (the flag ship of your fleet, and is the area where you can build, maintain, and organize your fleet(s). This map is pretty much exactly like the screen from the original game. The strategic map is completely different though. On this map your fleets can move around in turns, rather than the timer based gameplay of the browser game. Each area on the map has (at least) 4 maps for you to conquer, and these areas lead you into the battle screens. Combat in this game boils down to giving commands to your girls, and then the game rolling dice to see if/how much damage you do to the enemy and vise-versa. Basically choose the right girls for the job, choose their attack pattern, and then pray to Poseidon that they win.
Obviously this game isn’t going to win game of the year (apparently they only give that to Madden and Call of Duty), but if you enjoy a good grind filled game to get you through lunch this is the way to go. It’s just simple enough to enjoy in your off time, and just challenging enough to not become a total bore. The language barrier is annoying at first, but once you learn what the buttons do it’s not nearly as troublesome. It’s understandable that not everyone will want to play this game, and even if they wanted to not everyone that wants to has a Vita to play it on. If you’re one of the few who enjoy their Vita, and all the glorious Japanese content it provides, then this is a game you can’t afford to miss. Especially since Sony has come out and said they’re pulling the plug on Vita development, which you know is going to impact third party development like KanColle. Sony WHAT THE ACTUAL FU-
Ahem. Thanks for checking us out guys, and let us know what you think about KanColle, the Vita, and Sony in general in the comments/social media pages! You can find this, and many more import games, from Play Asia (no we are not sponsored). Keep your eye out for upcoming events in post, as well as our live streams on Twitch! Well I’d love to stay and ramble on about KanColle Kai more, but I have fleet girls to attend to. Excuse me.