Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Party Game Sundays: Mario Party 10 (Part 2)

Man, it's been a super long time since I wrote the first part of this. Sadly the Party Game Sunday train did not keep rolling along as quickly as I had expected. For many weeks since I wrote about Mario Party 10 there have only been three of us, which wouldn't have been very conducive to playing Bowser Party. However, at long last we wrangled a fourth person in and I was finally able to collect the data I needed in order to conclusively say that Mario Party 10 is a super average game!

That's right, Mario Party 10 is average at best. It's not bad, it's not great, it's just super average. With that said I do think that Bowser Party is the best mode in the game, which is what I had been hearing from most people. Since we've already discussed the intricacies of the regular party mode I'm here to tell you all about how cool Bowser Mode is.

Maybe the next game in the series should be called Bowser Party.

Bowser Party is a refreshing change of pace from the regular Mario Party formula. Yes, something in Mario Party is refreshing. You can play with up to five players in this fun new mode. One person plays as Bowser and they use the Wii-U Gamepad. The other four players, or in our case three, all use Wii-remotes. This means that one person theoretically gets to have more fun, because they get to screw over all the other players in order to achieve victory. It's a really solid role reversal.

As Bowser the goal is to take everyone else out of the game. So the regular players take turns rolling the die as they normally do. They're working together to get as far away from Bowser as they can. Once their turn is over Bowser gets to roll three dice. If he catches up with the other players, then a Bowser mini-game will ensue. There are around 12 unique Bowser mini-games, which all involve Bowser trying to hurt the players. Each player starts off with a set amount of hearts, and once those hearts are gone they're out of the game. You can get extra hearts and revive downed players on the map, so no one is necessarily down for the count. The games are all actually pretty fun. My personal favorite is a game where Bowser tilts the Wii-U gamepad to control where pillars of fire go. The four regular players need to jump over and dodge as best they can, which can get pretty challenging. Almost all of the games have Bowser trying to hit people with things, but they're all different enough to stay interesting.

You do not want to get hit by Bowser!

In true Mario Party fashion there is a lot of rubberbanding. The regular players get extra hearts when they beat the boss at the halfway point of the stage, which is a huge help. Bowser on the other hand will be given extra dice to toss when his opponents get too far ahead. This makes it incredibly easy to catch up, which is frustrating for the regular players, but oh so sweet for the person who gets to play as Bowser. The most Mario Party thing ever happens at the very end of the stage though. If the four regular players make it to the end first then Bowser has to hide the party star inside one of three enemies. The player who's turn is is, must then select where they think it is. If the player guesses wrong, then they get sent back a bunch of spaces and are forced to try again, but with two enemies. It's infuriating that a new mode that is fun, ends up being concluded by random chance, but I guess that's just how Mario Party is!

For some reason you can't choose from all the maps, but you do have Mushroom Park, Whimsical Waters, and Chaos Castle. Each map has its own special features that make the stage feel different than it does in the regular party mode. For example, in Whimsical Waters the four regular players will get to pick from treasure chests at certain points in the stage. Some chests have nothing in them, while others have hearts. The player who is Bowser gets to draw "graffiti" on the chests, which is supposed to throw the others off. It's a cool mechanic.

Bowser can throw his enemies off by writing untrue statements on the screen.

So yes, I think Bowser Party is the best mode in Mario Party 10. As a whole I think that Mario Party 10 is an okay game. However, I definitely do not think that it is worth the full retail price of $50. It's especially not worth that if you don't have any friends to play it with. I can't think of anything more depressing than playing Mario Party alone. I definitely had a good time with my friends though, so I hope that this game gets some DLC maps and mini-games. In the few hours we played we saw literally everything the game had to offer, and it wasn't a whole lot...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Game Time - April 2015

It's official, I'm playing too many video games at once. I am continuing to play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Inazuma Eleven GO 2 Chrono Stones. I play Inazuma Eleven on stream every Wednesday. If you want to catch that head on over to www.twitch.tv/drac96

I am also continuing to play Bloodborne, but my feelings on it have shifted drastically. I am not having very much fun with it in the later sections of the game. I find it to be much more punishing in a bullshit way than the previous games in the Souls franchise. I'll end up doing a Game Time ID when I finish it. I'm still plucking away at it, but it will probably take me another month. I've been getting angry at it and have had to put it down several times...

I'm also playing Ori and the Blind Forest at a very slow pace, but that's not one of the games I'm going to talk about this month. The main "new" game I played was Mortal Kombat X. I played it very heavily the first few days after its release, but have not played it for at least a week as of this writing. It's a good fighting game with not enough content outside of the fighting to hold it down.

I've wanted to play Shovel Knight since its release and now I've finally done it. Never mind the fact that I bought it on the Wii-U and played twenty minutes of it. I don't count that. It was just released on the PS4 , Vita, PS3, and Xbox One. I purchased the Sony version and this time I actually played it! In fact, I liked it so much I did it in about three sittings. Man, Shovel Knight is a dope game.

The final game I'll be talking about this month is actually quite old. For some reason I started to think about the original Digimon World and determined that I needed to play it again. As a child I played it for a few hours and had no idea what was going on. The game seemed super lame at the time, but I now realize that it was actually super deep, unique, and original. It's insanely complex, but I'm having a blast figuring it out. I need to get back to playing it, so it's game time!

Mortal Kombat X

Note: Yes I realize most words are spelled with a K in this. That's how it's done in Mortal Kombat.

I've never been the worlds largest Mortal Kombat fan. Sure I've played almost all of them, but the series has never quite grabbed me like other fighting game franchises have. Well, that was until Mortal Kombat 9. That reboot brought me in and I played it a whole lot. It helped that I was living in college suite with friends who also played it a lot, because it was the time of the huge PSN outage. Outside of that though it had a ton of content to interact with. The story mode was a ridiculously well made retelling of MK 1-3, The challenge tower had hundreds of unique challenges, and there was a ton to unlock. Mortal Kombat X seems to have scaled that back quite a bit.

First I'll talk about the story. Once again the Mortal Kombat team has shown that they know how to make a fighting game story. You advance from one fight to the next with almost seamless transitions. Although they have now added in quick time events for absolutely no reason. So when you want to just be watching the story sequences you have to be constantly on the lookout for quick time events or you'll die. It detracts from the experience quite a bit, because you can never really feel at ease with paying full attention to the story. Now, I think the story of MKX was okay, but it was definitely not on par with MK9. I realize that MK9 was the retelling of three games, but the story of MKX feels super flat and by the end i was asking myself what the purpose of it all was? Not a whole lot happens. Sure, you get introduced to the new characters, but it all feels very low key. You get to learn all about Kenshi's son, Jax's daughter, Sonya and Johnny Cage's Daughter, and Kung Lao's descendant. They're all surprisingly well developed. There are a few other new characters was well, but most of them are overshadowed by the returning cast.

Everyone still picks Scorpion online...

In MK9 when I finished the story I went right into the challenge tower and started testing my luck. I was able to do that for a long time, but in MKX there was almost immediately nothing left for me to do. Well that;s not true. There is just nothing that I actually want to do. Instead of set challenges in a tower there are now multiple towers with varying objectives. The game throws random "Kombat Modifiers" at you and you have to persevere. There's never any rhyme or reason behind any of it, it's just a bunch of random toggles that the game is turning on and off. In one of the more frustrating towers I played the screen would flash black every few seconds like a strobe light. That's not challenging it's just super annoying. What really sucks is that the towers are truly random, because they cycle out on a daily and weekly basis.

Outside of that though you still have a ton of unlockables in the krypt, but it takes forever to earn any Koins. I have absolutely no desire to grind for koins and I'm certainly not going to pay an extra $20 to unlock everything. It almost feels as if the lack of koins you get was done on purpose to push the micro transaction aspect of the game. Hell, you can even buy tokens to do "easy" fatalities. You can pay real money to hold R2 and Square to do a fatality. Let me tell you, fatalities aren't that hard to do. I main Kenshi and his basic fatality is back, back, forward, back. I can literally push back and forth on the d-pad and it will come out. If you need to pay for a token to do that then you probably shouldn't be playing a video game in the first place.

The fatalities are brutal and easy to pull off.

With the rage out of the way I will say that the core fighting of the game is great. It feels much faster than MK9. For me faster fighting games tend to be more fun, so I enjoy the fighting quite a bit. What's even cooler is that each character has three variations. Each variation has a few of the same basic moves, but outside of that they have exclusive moves. This means that technically each character is viable, because if they're outmatched in a match-up one of their variations should be able to handle it. So now you don't have to stop using your favorite character if you're getting schooled and it makes everyone viable. That would be the case in an idea world if the game was balanced perfectly. As far as I've seen it seems to be fine, but I don't necessarily know how it actually is in competitive play.

So I played this game a few times and don't know if I will continue to do so. As you probably know by now I never really stick with fighting games long enough to get good at them. In this case no one I know other than my brother likes this game enough to keep playing it. That means that I don't really have anyone to play with locally who is around the same skill level as me. MK9 just seemed like a much more complete product for people who don't want to get super competitive.

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is a testament to what KickStarter games can be. A group of guys set out to make a love letter to 8-Bit platformers and they succeeded. I've seen numerous kick started games fail to live up to their original promise. Shovel Knight delivers exactly what it promised and it's incredible. The easiest way for me to describe Shovel Knight is that it's like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and Zelda all rolled into one. You play as the aforementioned Shovel Knight. He is a blue knight who weilds a shovel as a weapon! His best friend/girlfriend Shield Knight is taken from him while they are on a quest. She is believed to have been killed by an evil amulet. Crushed by the loss Shovel Knight decides to stop adventuring. During his absence the Evil Enchantress and her Order of no Quarter rise to power and are terrorizing the land. Shovel Knight decides that he must come out of retirement and defeat the evil that has overtaken his land!

You start the game and are immediately put into a stage. Shovel Knight has all the basic abilities you'd expect. He can run, jump, and kill enemies. As you may have guessed his shovel acts as his weapon. You can use it to hurt enemies and dig into the ground or walls. This is helpful for finding treasure and hidden areas. While jumping you can push down to have Shovel Knight pogo like Scrooge McDuck in Duck Tales. You can use the pogo attack to bounce on enemies and hurt them repeatedly, but it can also be used to make tough jumps as well. Other than that you can get special items similar to the powers from Mega Man that use magic to use. These items are not necessary, but you can buy them to help you out and complete optional levels.

This is the track from the first level of the game. It's amazing on every level!

Once you beat the first level the world map is opened up to you. It's a Super Mario World style map, so you can pick which level you want to go to. There are tons of optional levels, a few towns, and the Order of no Quarter levels. The town is useful for upgrading your health, magic, and buying items. There are also a few extra things you can do like turning in the collectible music sheets to the bard in order to get money. Other than that there are just a bunch of NPCs who will say random things to you. Later in the game there is also a town that sells armor and shovel upgrades, so you want to be collecting as much as possible.

The Order of no Quarter levels are where you'll be spending most of your time. They are similar to Mega Man levels in that they are themed around their boss. In addition they all have knight at the end of their names, just as all Mega Man bosses end with man. For example one of the early levels is King Knight and his level is themed around a castle filled with gold. One thing I like about these levels it that they're super long and quite challenging. They're not frustrating, but you do need a certain amount of skill to make your way through them. In order to ease the burden of dying there are various checkpoints throughout the levels. If you do die you'll go back to the last checkpoint you passed. Instead of losing a life as a penalty for death you'll lose a fraction of your money, which you can make your way back to and pick up if you want. However, if you want to prove how much of a badass you are then you can shatter the checkpoints for money. That means you won't be able to use it anymore.

The pogo attack is super handy.

Shovel Knight is the kind of game that needs to be experienced. If you have pretty much any modern console, or PC you owe it to yourself to play this game. The pixel art style and music mesh seamlessly to create a one of a kind throwback to the 8-bit games I used to love. I spent a majority of my time playing Shovel Knight with a stupid grin on my face that is coming back as I type this. I'm super excited that there is going to be DLC where you can play as Plague Knight coming out in the near future. I will definitely be down to play more Shovel Knight. Yacht Club games hit it out of the park with this one!

Digimon World

Recently I watched a video where someone was raving about how the original Digimon World was an amazing and original game. I did not remember the game quite as fondly as the madman in the video I was watching. Sadly I can't find the video I saw, but it did pique my interest, so I began looking up more on the game. What I found blew my mind. I guess Digimon World was a lot deeper than my childhood self could handle, so I decided it was time to give it another shot. Turns out Digimon World is an amazing game and I might need to make my own ranting and raving video about it!

The thing that upset me the most as a kid was that the game didn't follow the show. It was more based around the Digivice toys that were popular in Japan at the time. They came out in the U.S. as well, but were not nearly as popular. The intro shows two kids playing with their electronic Digimon toys and you as the main character look on in amazement. Later when he's home alone his Digivice glows and transports him to the digital world where he gets his very own Digimon. With very little explanation you're told that everything is not going super hot and you need to rebuild File City. That's pretty much the only stuff you're given to go on. Coming at this game now I have no idea how the hell anyone figured it out. Sure, some of the stuff is easy enough to figure out, but most of it is insane. I literally have a FAQ opened at all times while playing and I'll need to refer to it at least once every half hour!

Welcome to File City!

I know I'm talking this up, but it really is obtuse to start off with. So yeah, you've got your Digimon. Now what? Well, you need to train it so that it can take on enemies and you can explore the island. However, you have to worry about feeding it. In the beginning food is hard to come by. You get three pieces of meat a day in town, but other than that you need to forage for mushrooms outside the city. When your Digimon is hungry it will get a little bubble above its head with meat in it. After your Digimon has eaten it will eventually need to poop, which will be indicated by a thought bubble with poop in it. You then need to take your Digimon to a toilet so it can relieve itself. There are toilets scattered throughout the island. If you don't make it in time your Digimon will poop right on the ground, which isn't good. We'll get into why that isn't good later though.

The beginning of the game is super tedious, because all you can really do is train and scrounge for food. If you don't have a lot of food you can't venture very far and without training the enemies will trounce you. If you get beaten in battle three times your Digimon will literally die and you'll have to start training a new one from scratch. It's actually pretty brutal. In order to train the Digimon you take them to the Green Gym, which is on the outskirts of File City. There will be all kinds of signs, and each one if meant to boost a specific stat. You have Offense, Defense, Brains, Speed, HP, and MP to worry about. Each stat is self explanatory, except for brains. When your Digimon has high brains it will be more likely to learn new attacks in battle and will be able to accept more orders. When training you need to be careful that you don't make your Digimon too tired, because it can have negative consequences. So you need to rest every so often. Oh yeah, by the way there's an in game clock and a day night cycle. Each training session takes an hour, and each rest session takes an hour. At some point your Digimon will want to go to sleep, which passes six hours. When your Digimon goes to sleep is the only time you can save your game!

You need to feed your Digimon!

The purpose of training your Digimon is to get them strong, but you also want them to Digivolve so they look cool and get even stronger. This is where the game gets even more obtuse than it already is. In order to Digivolve into specific Digimon your Digimon must have certain stats and weight. Training, and pooping make them lose weight, while eating makes them gain weight. For example the other night I wanted to get the chamption level Digimon Leomon. In that case the Elecmon I was using needed to have at least 100 in Offense, Speed, and Brains. That sounds easy, but takes a crazy amount of training. On top of that you are only allowed one care mistake. That means can't miss feeding your Digimon, can't have them poop on the ground, can't train them too hard, and can't make them become sleep deprived. He also needed to be 20 pounds. The weight limit goes five pounds in either direction, so if my Elecmon had the stats, but weighed 14 or 26 pounds then I would get a terrible Digimon. See, because if you don't meet any requirements you get the terrible Numemon who has bad stats and eats poop (That's a real thing)! HOW WOULD YOU EVER KNOW THAT WITHOUT A FAQ!?

So once you figure out how the hell to digivolve your Digimon into something other than the terrible Numemon you then need to recruit people for File City. Out in the world you'll come into contact with Digimon who will fight you and then join the city, or join once you complete a quest for them. Once in the city they will serve a function such as an item shop clerk. You need to scour the land looking for these specific Digimon in order to bring prosperity to File City. You'd think that would be easy with a good Digimon, but much to my dismay your Digimon will eventually die of old age and then you need to train up another one. On top of that the game gives you no direction and you can explore anywhere at any time! It's a super fun game that has a lot of stuff you need to learn. With that said it's a highly original game that deserves more attention that it got.

The Hunt Begins Again?

I guess I'm going to keep playing Digimon World, because I have to see it through to its conclusion. Other than that the only full retail release I'll be purchasing in May is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Judging from the stuff I've seen on the game so far it seems like it's going to be a billion hours long. Hopefully I don't get tired of it like I did with Dragon Age Inquisition.

Well, it's been another month and I hope you enjoyed hearing me rave about Digimon World. I will see you all next month!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Game Time - March 2015

There have been many months recently where it's easy for me to choose three games to talk about. Mostly because I only played a few games. However, this month I played so much that I couldn't even to begin to get it all down in a post of reasonable length.

As most people probably already know I definitely purchased and played Inazuma Eleven GO 2 Chrono Stones. It's the newest European release in the Inazuma Eleven franchise and I streamed the whole game, well at least the story. If you want to watch that you can check out the archives on my YouTube channel. I am continuing to stream my post-game adventures on Twitch if you interested in that as well. There's been enough of that though, so I'll wait a bit before I talk about it on here.

I also got Bloodborne, which is incredible. It's exactly the kind of Souls game I was hoping it would be. The release of Chrono Stones really sidetracked me, so I haven't played as much Bloodborne as I would have liked to. Still, I played for around 15 hours and have loved it. Sure, I get incredibly frustrated dying to bosses over and over, but my deaths are well deserved. When I finish the game I'll definitely write up a Game Time ID and record a podcast with my thoughts, so look forward to that later this month!

With those two huge releases out of the way I still have a few games left to talk about. The first is Life is Strange, which is an episodic adventure game about rewinding time and high school life. So far I've only played the first episode, but it seems pretty great so far.

I've wanted to play Final Fantasy Type-0 for some time, but sadly it seemed like it would never be localized. Lucky for me it finally happened and I got it! To be honest I really only picked it up for the free copy of the Final Fantasy XV demo it was packaged with, but Type-0 is actually a really cool game. There's a lot going on and I haven't played a bunch of it, but what I have played I liked a lot.

Without further ado, it's game time!

Life is Strange

I tend to build up a lot of rewards points on my PlayStation credit card. I almost always spend the points on PSN cards. In this case I used the PSN card to buy the season pass for Life is Strange. It's an episodic adventure game about a girl named Max who discovers that she has the power to rewind time. She's attending a private highschool in her home town that she has recently moved back to. She doesn't really know anyone or have any friends. She is way into taking pictures, so you can snap photos of things around the world, which net you extra bits of dialogue and trophies.

This first episode is essentially to have Max learn about her special time-rewind power and introduce most of the characters, Each one of them seems pretty interesting and since it's an adventure game you'll want to talk to them as much as possible. The world seems really interesting, and I like a majority of the characters that have been introduced so far. I've seen a lot of talk on the Internet about how the dialogue is terrible, but I thought it was alright. I don't really know, but I'd assume it's hard to write natural dialogue for a high-school girl, or even guy for that matter. It's an awkward time in life.

Throw in the added bonus that Max has magic time travel powers and it gets even weirder. The time
rewinding mechanic is mostly used to solve puzzles. Any items you pick up will be retained when you rewind time, so it makes it easy to experiment with things. Where the mechanic kind of breaks down for me is that it makes choice somewhat meaningless. When given a major option you can rewind immediately afterwards, but once you leave the area you're stuck with the choice. Yes you have to live with the choice, but you can flip-flop beforehand making it less interesting.

I guess I don't have a lot to say about it other than I really liked the first episode. I played through it on stream, so if you want to check it out you can do that here. The second episode is out now, I just need to find the time to play through it.

Final Fantasy Type - 0 HD

It's no surprise that when you try to upscale a PSP game to an HD resolution it doesn't look so good. The textures in this game look absolutely awful, while the character models actually look quite nice. That's what I would have expected. I would not have expected that whenever you move the camera the motion blur is so severe it actually hurts my eyes! I'm not even kidding. Check out some videos of the game. I made one, which you can find here. I never get eye-strain or motion sickness when playing a game, but I sometimes have to look away from the screen or close my eyes while I'm playing.

That issue is a shame, because I think Type-0 is really cool! It's an action game where you play as a group of super powerful military students. There are 14 characters to choose from and each one has a unique weapon and fighting style. The game recommends you use everyone and keep them at a similar level so that's what I've been trying to do. The combat is simple, but fun. You essentially mash square Dynasty Warriors style and occasionally use triangle for magic abilities you can equip. It's not complex, but the act of figuring out how to do various combos is kind of fun. You can also absorb the souls of your fallen enemies, which can be used to upgrade things later.

The models look great, but the textures look like garbage!

Other than traditional missions to kill tons of dudes there are RTS style missions on the world map. You need to control and create various forces and direct them to attack enemy cities. You can run around the map as well and attack soldiers and infiltrate cities. So far this was probably my least favorite part of the game, because the controls are a bit clunky and nothing feels quite right.

What I do absolutely love is that you get to attend the military school when you're not on missions. There's a timer until the next mission and each interaction will make the counter tick down a bit. You can chat with students, tackle sidequests, or go to class and learn a bit. These character interactions are generally pretty interesting. The character interactions are my favorite part so far, because I really don't understand the story at all! Right off the bat they throw out about a million names of places and things and expect you to know what they are, when in reality it's all a bunch of gibberish. I'm going to keep trying to play the game, but the camera can be so off-putting that my play sessions tend to be rather short lived.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae

I've always said I wouldn't believe in the existence of Final Fantasy XV until I had a playable version of it in my hands. Now that it has happened I'm not nearly as excited as I was for a number of reasons. I'm still very excited for it, but most of my excitement has been replaced with apprehension.

See, this game has been in development for nine years. Games are known to get caught in development hell, but this specific instance is crazy. It started as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and years later is was re-branded to become XV. The whole time Square-Enix insisted it was still being developed even though the game had dissipated from all trade-shows and media coverage. What I'm worried about is that it's not going to be the same game it was originally intended to be. Hell, the demo is even vastly different than the trailer that was shown a few years ago at E3 when the title was changed to Final Fantasy XV.

That trailer made the game look incredible to me. The main character Noctis is flying through the castle throwing out tons of weapons and teleporting around in order to defeat enemies. There are tons of explosions and huge monsters. It looked like the Final Fantasy equivalent of an action movie. Prior to that when it was Vs. XIII they claimed that the game would be very bloody, dark, and gritty. All the trailers for Vs. XIII were super dark in terms of their color palette while everything for XV is insanely bright. Now, if you look at the demo and the things the game's director has been saying about the game I'm not so sure it's like a cool action game or dark and gritty. Well, it's certainly not gritty.

The demo starts with Noctis and his band of friends waking up in a tent in the middle of  a wide open plain-like area. A phone is vibrating and each character wakes up in a manner that lets you know what their character is like. Turns out the royal car has broken down and they're on a quest to hunt down a behemoth so they can get its horn and sell it for a ton of cash. So that's the entire goal of the demo. Other than the initial scene and a few where they're following the behemoth, and the closing cutscene there's little to no story involved with the demo. Sure, the characters will speak to you as you wander around, but that's really it. It's a shame, because all of the characters seem very interesting and all the information being released about the game make it seem like it's all about the group bonding as they travel across the land.

Hopefully these characters get the development they deserve.

A majority of the demo is dealing with combat. I like it, but I think that if it doesn't increase in depth it will get boring incredibly fast. For some reason Noctis has the ability to use thirteen different weapons, he can only use a few in this demo though. If you hold square, then he will kind of auto attack and do a basic combo. You can alternatively jam square if you prefer. In order to doge you have to hold L1 and you'll automatically dodge hits at the cost of some of your mana. Mana is also used to cast abilities, which are chosen from a menu similar to Kingdom Hearts battle system. Oh yeah, you can also parry blows by pushing L1 right before you get hit. What's weird is that it's kind of hard to die. If you lose all of your HP Noctis just kind of limps around holding his gut until one of his friends pats him on the shoulder. He then regains a fraction of his HP and can fight again. If you get hit enough in danger state you will then die, which only happened to me because there a billion enemies attacking at once.

Combat was fun, except for the part when you're fighting five or more enemies at once. My main complaint about the combat is that there are too many enemies in battle at once. You can lock on to a specific one to make things easier, but even then the camera kind of goes wildly out of control so it's not always worth doing. Focusing on a single enemy can work, but you tend to start getting hammered on by four or five others. It definitely doesn't help that your partners AI is horrendous and even if you stand directly next to them they won't always help you back up. The tons of enemies in a battle issue was compounded for me by how often enemies re-spawned in the overworld.

Check out all the nothing!

So now let's talk about the world. In this demo it was super bland. Like I said you're in a wide open plain. There are some sizable bodies of water and a forest with a lot of boulders but for the large part it's an open plain. You know what's exciting about an open plain? Nothing. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if the whole place wasn't so god damn huge. It takes forever to run anywhere. Yes I realize you can probably ride Chocobos around in the main game, but they definitely weren't in the demo so it was excruciatingly slow.

I will say the the game looks gorgeous despite having some real serious pop-in and frame rate issues. I'm sure all of that will be ironed out by the time the game is released though. What upsets me is that this game has been in development for nine years at least. I should realistically be praising everything about this game, but all I have to say is that I hope the full retail product is better than the demo. Sure, the combat is fun, but it got stale pretty quick. The full package will have more variety so I'm not super worried about that. The huge open world full of nothing is a very large concern to me though, because I hate that in games. There's no purpose to making a huge world if you're not going to put anything in it! Then there's the characters. For a game that's supposedly all about characters bonding and hanging out they sure didn't show off a whole lot of that! I don't know. I so desperately wanted to be in love with the demo, but I just couldn't do it. I hope that Final Fantasy XV is an excellent game.


Despite the fact that I have to finish Bloodborne, and Type-0 I'll continue to play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Chrono Stone as well. However, I'll obviously need to play Mortal Kombat X when it comes out in a few weeks.

I feel all talked out this time, so I'll just end it here. Have a good month, and see you next time!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Party Game Sundays: Mario Party 10 (Part 1)

Recently we've been taking a break from playing Party Games on Sundays, but today ushered in a new era of Party Gaming. We brought everything full circle and played the newest Mario Party release. I don't think I've ever talked about it here, but Party Game Sundays was initially started to play Mario Party.

One day we decided to play Mario Party, and then things spiraled out of control and we decided we had to play and own them all. Each week we would play another Mario Party game, which culminated with us playing all 9 on New Years Day of 2014. I never really liked Mario Party as a franchise, and I still don't. I do however recognize that it can be fun in the right scenario. 

Even though I dislike Mario Party I decided a long time ago that I needed to purchase Mario Party 10, and that we had to play it. We surprisingly played a whole bunch of it and that's why this is only the first part. We played the Mario Party mode and didn't even get to touch the cool new Bowser mode, which people seem to claim is the best part of the game. We'll get to that at a later date though! 

There's no party like a Mario Party! Well, maybe a doughnut party.

So, I went into this full expecting to hate every moment. I actually enjoyed myself a fair amount. Mario Party 10 is a fun, but deeply flawed game. For some reason it carried over most of the bad gameplay changes from Mario Party 9. Prior to 9 each player would individually roll a die and move the number of spaces they got on the board. The goal was to collect coins by landing on blue spaces, and winning mini-games. The coins could then be spent on stars, and items. Mario Party 9 did away with all of that. Instead all the players are seated together in a car and take turns moving it. Coins and stars were removed in favor of mini-stars. The player with the most mini-stars at the end of the board wins!

On the surface those changes don't sound terrible, but they have some detrimental effects on the overall flow of the game. Purchasing stars and using items actually added an element of strategy to the chaotic shitstorm that Mario Party tends to be. Mini-stars seem to take all of that away. You get them for passing certain spaces and winning mini-games. The problem that we seemed to have was one person would get off to an early lead and then keep the lead. Once you pass a certain threshold it's almost impossible for anyone to catch up. You can lose mini-stars quite easily, but at a certain point it just isn't enough.

Which leads to my other issue with the game, but this one is more just an issue with Mario Party. It's super random. The mini-stars make it even more random. If you're winning by a large margin like I said, then it's very hard for the other players to catch up. It is possible for everyone to lose half their mini-stars quite frequently. This can get super frustrating, because even though you you may be crushing it during the mini-games you can still get totally boned and lose for no reason. Basically what I'm saying is the game takes no skill to win, and it's random. At least before there was a stupid random element to the game, but you actually had to think about where to move and when to buy a star. This is just picking up mini-stars and hoping the game gives you a ton and takes them away from everyone else.

No joke, this was the mini-star spread in one of our games...

All of that aside, the mini-games are actually pretty rad. Mario Party mini-games are usually pretty good and these are no exception. Mario Party 8 had a ridiculous amount of motion control and a lot of the games controlled like garbage. Mario Party 9 did away with that because of all the complaints and did everything with the buttons and d-pad. Mario Party 10 is in the middle. It has a lot of basic motion controls, and a lot of games that exclusively use the buttons. It makes for a wide variety of game controls and game types. We did everything from catch fish to hit golf balls. The game does a good job of varying the activities you're doing. It doesn't seem as if the game has a whole lot of mini-games to offer though. We only played a handful, but we started to see repeat choices and that's a total bummer. It was cool to see that each stage had its own unique mini-boss and boss mini-games associated with it.

The most infuriating part of the game to me is when you tie with someone in a mini-game. Instead of going into sudden death, or using some other determining factor to decide a winner you have to roll a die. Whichever person gets the higher number is the winner! I can't even begin to describe how annoying it is when you desperately need a win, but the person rolls one higher than you. No one deserved that win, because all you did was roll a freaking die! It's 100% chance! My main issue with Mario Party as a whole is that it's too reliant on chance. I realize it's a board game, but in most of them you still need to use strategy. Sure, the first 8 had some semblance of that, but 9 and 10 are completely devoid of it!

I feel like I end up saying this every time I talk about a first party Wii-U game, but Mario Party 10 looks incredible. The graphics are ridiculous, which makes each stage exciting to go to for the first time. The magic fades a bit if you look at some of the background textures, but that's not really the point. Nintendo is great with their art direction and it has been leading to some beautiful games. The sad part to me is that this game costs $50. If I wasn't going to be playing this with a group of friends who will play Mario Party with me again I never would have spent the money on this and if I had, then I would have been severely disappointed. Just by playing through all the maps, we were able to unlock almost everything worthwhile the game had to offer. Yes I'm saying this before having played what is supposedly the "best" mode, so I'll defer my final judgement until after I play it.

This image perfectly represents how I feel about the Mario Party franchise.

Look forward to part two next week!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Game Time - February 2015

I only played two new games in February. Sure, I played a whole ton of Inazuma Eleven 2 and 3 on stream, but this month I'm here to tell you all about the hot new releases I played!

Well, I guess the first one isn't so hot. It's technically not new either... I'm almost ashamed to say that one of the two games I played a ridiculous amount is One Piece Treasure Cruise. It's a mobile game, and it's not exactly what I would call an amazing game. It's not even that fun to play. I sure played the hell out of it though, and will probably continue to do so.

The game I played the most in February was just as I predicted in the last edition of Game Time, and that was Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I pre-ordered the New 3DS XL bundle from GameStop. The way GameStop does pre-orders for exclusive bundles is stupid, so I thought I wasn't going to get it until the 23rd. However, it came a week earlier than I had expected which afforded me a great deal of extra time to hunt monsters.

This month we only have two games to talk about, but I definitely have a bunch to say about both. It's game time!

One Piece Treasure Cruise

While browsing Siliconera I found an article about a stealth release of One Piece Treasure Cruise here in the U.S. Being a huge One Piece fan I downloaded it, no questions asked. I had nothing better to do, so I ended up playing it a whole lot the night it came out. Normally I download mobile games and expect them to be minor time killers, or something I'll play for a week and then give up on. It's surprising, but I genuinely like One Piece Treasure Cruise and will continue to play it for the foreseeable future.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's a great game. It's not. In fact, it borrows heavily from the Puzzles and Dragons formula. You collect units, some of which are generic pirates and marines, while many units are One Piece favorites like Luffy and Zoro. You build a team of six units in order to battle. In order to battle you need to tap the screen at the right time. Words fly around the character being attacked and eventually converge in the center of the enemy. If you tap your next unit right when the words converge you'll get a "perfect." You'll do more damage and be granted a multiplier for future attacks. 

The part where it's like Puzzles and Dragons is outside of battle. The way you keep your units, level them up, and evolve them are all ripped right out of P&D. Each unit has a stat and color associated with them. For example Luffy is red, which is the color for strength. As you play you'll collect units which you can feed to the units you use frequently. If you feed Luffy other red characters he'll get bonus experience for the color match. Once a unit reaches their max level you can evolve them, which obviously makes them stronger. 

In order to evolve a unit they must be max level. In addition you need to have the proper "evolution" type units. It's the same as in P&D, except the evolution units take the form of crabs, seahorses, dragons, and penguins. Each day of the week there are special levels where you can collect the things you need in order to evolve your units. Each unit you feed to another one costs in game money. The higher the level of the unit you're feeding, the higher the cost is. That's why you want to try to get turtles, which grant a ton of experience.

The team in this picture is nuts. No way they started with that...

Yeah, it's a mobile game. Each stage takes a certain amount of stamina and when you run out you have to wait for it to recharge. If you want you can pay 0.99 for a rainbow fruit. You can use them to refill your stamina, try to recruit special units, increase the amount of units you can carry, and come back to life when you lose in battle. So far there has been absolutely no reason for me to even think about throwing money at the game. They were having a launch event that gave a rainbow fruit every day. Now there's a new event for the game reaching 1 million downloads, which is also giving one fruit a day. Currently I'm sitting at 30, which is a ton. Shit, that would cost $30!

It's definitely not a masterpiece, and it's normally not even the kind of thing I'd play. However, I love me some One Piece so that's helping out quite a bit. The one thing that bothers me is how little content there seems to be in the game currently. It only goes up to the fight with Arlong, which is almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. For some reason they've decided to release one island a month, which is cool, except for the fact that the Japanese version of the game is way farther along. I know they need to try and sell each new batch of units, but it seems like they could have thrown it all out at once and had people going insane to buy a chance to get their favorite character. I'm not a mobile business man though, so what do I know?

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

In April of 2013 I found myself deep in the clutches of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I tried the demo and for some reason that I can't truly explain it hooked me. Since then I've played over 400 hours of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which is by far the most played game on my Wii-U. Eventually the game's grip on me loosened and I moved on with my life. When I saw that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate would be coming stateside I was ecstatic. My body was ready to dive deep into the Monster Hunter universe again.

A few weeks prior to the game's release I began to feel some apprehension. I began to think about whether or not my love for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was something that could be repeated. See, this past year I played Dark Souls and loved it immensely. I actually think that Monster Hunter allowed me to appreciate Dark Souls, whereas I wouldn't have previously. I will reiterate, I love Dark Souls. It is now one of my favorite games of all time. Dark Souls 2 on the other hand I did not like quite as much. It wasn't as well put together as the original, and it was trying to emulate something I had played a loved. This is why I thought of Monster Hunter. Each iteration is very similar in terms of mechanics and general gameplay. What if my love of Monster Hunter 3 couldn't be replicated?

The Gore Magala is an awesome new monster.

I'm glad to let you know that my love of Monster Hunter 3 can, and has been replicated. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is everything I had hoped it would be and more! It's the same monster hunting action I loved before, but it has so many new elements that make it even better. For starters you can totally jump now. That might sound like a seriously mundane thing, but it completely changes the game. You can run off of edges, and in a Zelda-like fasion your hunter will fling themself into the air. In the air you can attack, ad if you manage to knock the monster down you can mount it! This triggers an animation of your hunter holding on for dear life. You have to repeatedly stab the monster until a bar fills up. The monster will struggle, so at specific times you need to stop attacking and hold on. If you succeed the monster will fall and you'll have free reign to beat it down for a few moments. It's pretty brutal, but very effective.

There are tons of nuances that people who've played the series will pick up as they go. There is one major change that benefits the series greatly though and that is the addition of a proper tutorial. Normally I wouldn't celebrate the addition of a tutorial, but for Monster Hunter it makes all the difference. If I hadn't looked up tutorial videos for the previous entry in the series I never would have been able to pick it up. There is so much that the series just assumes you know and at times it can be very frustrating. Now that's not really something new players need to worry about. Since the game has a legitimate story now there are characters who will tell you what to do as you go on hunts. There are tons of missions in the beginning of the game that are dedicated to teaching you all the basics, and even a bunch of later missions that teach you some sweet advanced techniques. There are even tutorial missions for each of the weapons that tell you what they do and what attacks are effective in what situations! It's crazy that it took the developers so long to put a basic tutorial in, but now new players can ease into the game. I'm sure there are a bunch of hardcore fans who are upset by this addition, but personally I think it's a huge step forward.

I still use the Great Sword exclusively.
Just like with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate I've played this game a whole lot so far. I think I'm sitting at around 85 hours right now. It's cool, because it seems like I still have a lot of content to get through. Somehow there are even more monsters in this than there were in 3, and there were a whole boatload in that. You can bet that when I'm not streaming Inazuma Eleven, I'm playing Monster Hunter. If you've never played the series before or are scared to try it you should read the thing I wrote when I first played it here.

And Then There Were Games

March will finally be the month when I begin to buy a ton of new games each month. Off the top of my head I can think of Final Fantasy Type-0, Mario Party 10 (*Barf*), Inazuma Eleven GO 2: Chrono Stones, and Bloodborne. At some point I will be streaming all of these except for Mario Party, because no one wants to see Mario Party, including me...

Anyways, I need to get back to playing Monster Hunter. I'll see you all next time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

General Update

I'm trying to create a Game Time With Manny brand, but I feel like I'm all over the place. Over the past few weeks I've tried to consolidate quite a bit. I now have a Game Time With Manny Google+ page, which is linked to my YouTube channel. I'm going to try and post everything I do there. 

On the Twitch front I've been streaming a lot lately too. I play a whole lot of Inazuma Eleven on my channel, and play fighting games with my friends every Thursday. I'll be doing mostly Inazuma Eleven until the end of March. Every stream is uploaded to YouTube after the fact for archiving purposes.

I've been tweeting a lot lately as well. I used to think Twitter was stupid, but it's actually very helpful for getting the word out. I tweet whenever I go live, which means that I don't clog up the blog with one sentence posts. Twitter is definitely a great tool that I need to utilize more often.

I don't know, I just wanted to type up a quick thing about what I've been doing lately. Definitely follow the Google+ page to see everything I have going on, and if you want to see me live stream following me on Twitter and/or Twitch would be your best options for that.

I'll be back in a few days with the February edition of game time.

Peace out!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Game Time - January 2015

January is always a slow month for new releases, and this is one January where I am totally okay with that. I have a lot of games in my ever increasing backlog... Good thing I'm not playing them and have opted to play a ton of old games instead!

So, as you may have noticed, I've been streaming a lot more often lately. I am trying as hard as possible to share my love for Inazuma Eleven. I streamed all the way through the first game in less than a week and now I've moved on to the second. You can always check that out at Www.twitch.tv/drac96

I'm still working my way through Sunset Overdrive, but my interest is waning as the game goes on. That's the only "new" game I've been playing. I've spent a lot of time replaying old games this month. I replayed Pokemon Snap a few nights ago, and have been going through the original Super Mario. However, I will be writing here about the Donkey Kong Country series. I had never beaten the second one before, but now I have.

To go along with my more frequent streaming I did a playthrough of the Grim Fandango Remaster. Even though I played through it a few months ago for Extra Life, I still felt the need to play through the Remaster twice this past week. On my first playthrough I just wanted to see what it was all about, so I went through the game to get all of the trophies and listen to the director's commentary. I then went through it again on stream and beat it in under five hours.

Buckle up, it's game time!

Sunset Overdrive

It's official. I have been stricken with open world fatigue. Open world games are cool, but there is rarely anything compelling to do in the large open world, and the mission structure is almost always boring. Sunset Overdrive isn't really any different.

Yes, it has a whole load of style, but I just can't really ever get into it. The game is at its best when you're traveling seamlessly throughout the world. In terms of movement it reminds me of Jet Set Radio Future, but without roller-blades. For some reason the main character has magical shoes that allow him to grind on all surfaces, and he can inexplicably dash through the air. To me that's the best part of the game. The movement mechanics feel great, and make me as a player feel like I'm doing some legitimately cool stuff.

Traversing the world is fun, but shooting isn't.

Where it falls apart for me is that it is just another third-person shooter that takes place in an open world. Insomniac is great at creating zany weapons, but in the end you're still just shooting energy drink crazed monsters (basically zombies) with guns. It's even more frustrating, because almost every mission is a fetch quest, or deals with defending a single point. That sucks.

It's a shame the gameplay makes me feel this way, because I think Insomiac had some great ideas. The movement is amazing, and the world is filled with color and interesting characters. Normally these kinds of games keep me occupied, but I'm just getting a bit tired of them. I haven't played it in a few weeks, so hopefully when I boot it up later toady I'll feel refreshed. If not, I'll just have to take a break from open world games. It doesn't help that almost every release in recent memory has been open world...

Donkey Kong Country

During the SNES era I didn't personally own a lot of games, but I did rent a whole lot of them. I remember renting Donkey Kong Country one and two quite often. I personally was able to beat the first game, but never got a chance to do the second. For Christmas one year I was given Donkey Kong Country 3, which I still have now. I was also able to complete that.

New Years Eve Noukeo, Landers, and I were going to try and complete all three games on stream. However, Landers got sick, so we didn't go through with it. A few weeks later Landers and I decided to sit down and try to play through them all. We beat the first two games, but it took us nearly ten hours. We then went through the third game another day and that probably took us around two hours.

This isn't your Grandpa's Donkey Kong!

Just as I remember, these games are fairly difficult. Donkey King Country 2 is especially devious. The first two games took us a long time, because we weren't used to how the series handled at that point. If we did another run through, I'm sure we could do it much faster.

Prior to these play sessions I didn't like Donkey Kong Country 2 very much, but I've come around to it now. The music in it is incredible, possibly moreso than the other two entries in the series, which also have great music composed by Dave Wise. In fact, I'm listening to the song Klomp's Romp from the first stage of the game as I type this!

I feel that this series gets a lot of undeserved flak. People seem to think that the platforming hasn't aged well, and that the graphics look terrible. I still think the graphics look good, and they were top notch for their time. It's even more impressive when you think about how all three games were made within such a short time frame. The platforming is still some of the most satisfying I've ever played as well. It's something that's easy to learn, but hard to master. The series certainly ramps up in difficulty too. The first game starts easy and gets very hard. The second game starts easy and then immediately becomes punishingly difficult. We lost around thirty lives on a single level. After that we really had to step up our game. By the time we got to the third game I couldn't tell if it was much easier, or if your skills had just evolved from playing two.

This series is one that I have very fond memories of, and it was nice to see that reality matched up with my nostalgia for once. We're still planning on streaming it sometime, but we don't have any solid plans yet.

Grim Fandango Remastered

I'll say it before and I'll say it again, Grim Fandango is one of the greatest video games ever made. There are two games I attribute my continued video game obsession with, and they are The Ocarina of Time, and Grim Fandango. I first played Grim Fandango when I was around ten years old. It came out in 1998, and I played it a few years later. I was obsessed with Manuel Calavera and his journey through the Land of the Dead.

My dad worked in a computer store, and I would visit him there all the time and play a bunch of games. They mostly built computers and sold components, but they always had a shelf of software. It rarely ever sold, so the same games would mostly be there. One box that always caught my eye was Grim Fandango. Eventually I convinced them to let me play it, and I ended up with a burned copy of Grim Fandango. My dad left that job, but eventually went back to it a few years later. When he returned Grim Fandango was still there, and they decided to just give it to me. Sadly, I don't have the box, but I do have the original game discs.

I love all Grim Fandango related art.

It's been seventeen years since the game's original release, and now it has been remastered. The original publisher LucasArts was shut down when Disney acquired Lucasfilm. In a recent deal brokered by Sony the studio headed by Grim Fandango's writer Tim Schafer was given permission to remaster the game.

While I've played Grim Fandango countless times, many people have not. To make matters even worse it doesn't run easily on modern PCs. It only works, because fans have made programs and patches to get it to run. However, now anyone with a modern PC, PS4, or Vita can get in on the action. I've seen a lot of people complaining about this as a "lazy" port, but that's just plain wrong. As someone who's played this game recently I can tell you that the character models look a whole lot better. A whole bunch of lighting was added, you can play in 16:9, there are new camera-related controls, and director's commentary. Most important of all it's now available to many people in an easily approachable format.

I still think this would be the coolest tattoo ever.

I can't stress enough how much I think people should play this game. It is legitimately one of the best video game narratives I have experienced, which is helped by the fact that it's 90% narrative! The whole world comes together so well. Hell, it had incredible voice acting even in 1998! If you haven't checked this game out, you definitely should. At the very least you should watch my Extra Life stream where I played it.

Let the Hunt Begin!

There may have been no new games this month, there will be one in February. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate comes out on February 13th. Due to GameStop sucking, I won't be getting it until at least the 23rd. I won't get into it, but there's some stupid reason that they had to order the Monster Hunter 4 New 3DS bundle through their website. So I had to pay in full and get screwed on shipping!

I don't really care when I get it, because I'll get plenty of use out of it no matter when it comes. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was my first entry into the series and I played it for almost 400 hours. This game has more content, and new mechanics! I bet I'll play it for even longer than Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I'm very excited.

Next month be prepared for some serious Monster Hunter 4 talk. See you guys next time.