Sunday, July 5, 2015

Game Time - June 2015

E3 has come and gone once again, and many announcements were left in its wake. Like every year most of the really cool announcements won't become anything resembling a retail product for at least a year. E3 is the time of future hype, but doesn't necessarily do a lot for me now. If you didn't catch any of E3, or want to hear my thoughts I made a hot podcast! You can check it out here, or subscribe to Game Time With Manny on ITunes.

Sadly we live in the present. Due to that fact I've had to settle for playing the currently released products on the market. I mostly played The Witcher 3 this month, and ended up completing it the day Batman: Arkham Knight was released. I absolutely loved it and am very much looking forward to the expansions. I spoke a lot about that game in last months edition. This month it's all about the Batman. Much to the surprise of absolutely no one, the game is quite good!

The only other game I really put any appreciable amount of time into this month was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. While watching the Halo 5 demo during E3 I realized I had never played a Halo games campaign before. I have now completed the first game, and am close to the end of the second. I can see why people like the series, but don't really understand how it blew up so big.

It's Game Time!

Batman: Arkham Knight

For some reason I didn't play Arkham Asylum right when it came out, but I will never forget when I did play it. The Christmas after it came out my parents bought me an HD TV for my college dorm room. One of my friends had let me borrow the game to play over Christmas break, so Arkham Asylum ended up being the first game I ever played in HD. I wasn't expecting a lot from the game, but ended up playing it in three sittings. It would have been two, but I went to see a movie right before fighting the final boss. Arkham Asylum did so much so well. It more or less invented modern melee combat, and proved that even licensed games can be amazing when the developer does it right. It's crazy to think about how almost every single game with melee combat uses the free-flow combo system introduced in Arkham Asylum. The sequel Arkham city lost a lot of the charm its predecessor had on me. While it was cool to have a large open world to explore I missed the confined corridors of the Asylum. I skipped Arkham Origins and went right for Arkham Knight. It keeps the open world of the previous two games, but for some reason I like it a lot more.

The open world in Arkham Knight is the whole of Gotham, where Arkham City was a condemned part of the city used to hold criminals. While it was cool it just didn't feel right. The Batmobile adds to my enjoyment of the open world as well. Even though it's faster to fly around and grapple building with Batman I enjoy sliding around the streets, because the car feels so powerful. It helps that it can turn into a tank. I'm willing to say that I actually enjoyed the Batmobile segments of the game, which were pretty frequent in the beginning, but taper off towards the end. My opinion seems to be at odds with most other people though, because all I see is non-stop complaining about the Batmobile and all of it's tank fighting battles. Listen, the Batmobile is cool. At first it's kind of squirrely, but once I figured out how to drift properly I thought it was just fine. The combat scenarios are easy to maneuver in as well, because when it's a tank it can strafe with no issue. It has a powerful cannon and most enemies die in a hit. I can see the sequences getting annoying eventually, but the game isn't super long to begin with so it didn't have much time to wear out its welcome.

The Arkham Knight is a brutal villain.

As for the rest of the game it's standard Batman fare. The city has been evacuated because Scarecrow has threatened to release his fear gas on the city. This means that all the streets are free of civilians and filled with thugs to beat down on. You do still beat down on tons of thugs with the patented free-flow combat, so don't freak out about the Batmobile. I can't really talk about the plot a whole lot, because there are so many good character moments that happen in the game. For starters Batman gets hit with some fear gas early on and it has some pretty amazing side effects. There's also the new villain in play aptly named the Arkham Knight who is more or less a robot looking Batman. He has a grudge and desperately wants Batman dead. I was very excited to find out who he was, and the reveal did not disappoint.

I really liked the game, but still don't think it was as good as the original. Arkham Knight is still easily my second favorite though. There was just something missing from Arkham City for me, and from what I hear Origins wasn't a whole lot better. I truly hope that this is the last Batman game that Rocksteady makes. They keep referring to it as the end of a trilogy, but we all know that if Warner Brothers makes enough money they'll run the franchise to the ground. The ending to the game isn't conducive to another game, but in general I think that Rocksteady should be allowed to put their talent to work on a new franchise.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

After everything was said and done on the first day of E3 I took a trip to the local Gamestop. While there I picked up a second Xbox One controller, and a used copy of the Master Chief Collection. Halo 5 looks like it has a solid plot for its campaign, and since I have an Xbox One I figured I might as well find out what all the fuss is about with the previous games in the series. Yes, like everyone, I played my fair share of Halo multiplayer. However, I never owned an Xbox, or Xbox 360 of my own, so I've never really sat down to play through a Halo story. I have now done that co-op and don't really get how Halo got to be as popular as it is. I realize that the main appeal came and still comes from the multiplayer, but I'm talking purely about the single player story here.

The plot of the original Halo is lame. That's really the only way I can describe it. You play as Master Chief, but you don't really know anything about him. We know he's a Spartan, he's got an AI companion named Cortana, and he has to kill the Covenant. The plot is not very well explained, and then when the flood is introduced it gets even worse. The Covenant accidentally released a race of what seems to be a plant-like parasites that take over dead bodies. This is where the Halos come in. An ancient race of aliens created them to wipe out all life in the galaxy, because apparently that's the only way to stop the Flood from growing. That seems like a terrible plan and obviously Master Chief doesn't want to do that. Things get kind of real, and you end up destroying the Halo. Turns out there are more Halos, and they need to be destroyed too. That's where Halo 2, and 3 come in!

Man, the Arbiter is so dope!

So, the plot in Halo is very generic. You control a super human soldier who is on a quest to stop the annihilation of the entire galaxy. It's been done before. It's even worse that I hate the Flood with a fiery passion. They're not challenging enemies, they're bullet sponges. All they do is run at you while you pump round after round into them! It's not fun! Halo 2 at least mixes it up quite a bit. You still fight the Flood, but you can kill them instantly and easily with a single sword swipe. That brings me to Halo 2, which I think is infinitely better than the original.

From the jump it's very clear that Halo 2 had a much larger budget than the first game. It looks worlds better, and plays even better than it looks. It starts with a full CG cinematic, which the first game definitely had none of. My favorite part is that you get to play as a member of the Covenant who is known as the Arbiter. He's pretty cool and starts off with an energy blade. The energy blade is by far my favorite weapon and does work on the Flood. I'm somewhere near the end and the story is taking a turn for the weird. Recently Master Chief and the Arbiter spoke with a horrific plant monster. The world is actually being developed quite a bit and I'm much more invested in the story now. I know that it ends on a terrible cliffhanger that everyone hates, but it's okay because I can just go right to Halo 3 when I'm done.

Summer Drought 

There's always a point in the summer when all major retail releases dry up. We have reached that point. Do not fear though, because I'm getting at least two games this month and they're both incredibly weird. The first is the new Godzilla game for PS4, which looks like it will be a stupid fun time. The second is a hot import release for the Vita, because I can't resist a good rhythm game. Taiko Drum Master V should be a fun one, but what sucks is I don't think it's compatible with the Vita TV so I won't be able to stream myself with a stupid smile on my face.

As always I'll be streaming Inazuma Eleven on Wednesdays, and random old fighting games on Thursdays. I look forward to talking to you all again next month! Peace out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Game Time With Manny Episode 7 - E3 2015

E3 2015 is happening right now, but the press conferences are over. Most of the news comes from those press conferences, and boy is there a lot of news. I decided that instead of typing up a ten million word post I would dedicate the 7th episode of the podcast to letting you all know what happened.

This episode clocks in at just under 2 hours, because I talk a whole lot! I hope you enjoy!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Game Time With Manny Episode 6 - Digimon World

I put this up a few days ago, but forgot to make a post on the actual blog! Whoops! Anyways, here is the long awaited 6th episode of my hot podcast. This time I talked about my love of all things Digimon, but specifically Digimon World for the PS1.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Game Time - May 2015

This month I played two colorful happy Nintendo games and The Witcher 3, which has one of the most depressing and dark worlds I've ever seen. It was a confusing month, but I loved everything I played!

I'll bookend the post with Nintendo, with some sweet Witcher talk in the middle. Let's get right into it. It's game time!

Puzzles & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition

Man, I'm terrible at puzzles and Dragons. I can match three all day, but when I actually need to combo multiple matches together I'm toast. The point I'm at in this game sucks, because I actually have to do that! See, I'm fighting Thwomps, and if I don't kill them in four turns I due instantly! It sucks extra, because I only get three continues! I've died on this stage at least ten times, and can't seem to do anything about it. Despite that, I still think the game is pretty fun. It's essentially the exact same game as Puzzles & Dragons, but you have Mario characters instead.

For those who don't know Puzzles & Dragons is an insanely popular free to play mobile game in Japan. It makes a staggering amount of money every day. It's available in most other languages as well. I played it for a but, but had to stop, because the monsters I had weren't good enough and I didn't really feel like dropping any money into it. The goal is to match three, except the things you're matching are elements. You create a team of five characters and a helper in order to tackle a level. Each character will have an element associated with them, so when you match that element they will attack. Each character has an attack, health, and recovery stat. As you play and defeat enemies your characters will level up and get stronger.

Man, I don't have any Yoshis yet....

In normal Puzzles & Dragons feeding unneeded characters to the ones you use is one of the best ways to get experience, and it often needed to help them evolve into stronger forms. The Mario edition differs from that, because feeding your characters doesn't get them a whole lot of experience. They also will evolve by being fed items you can find as drops during the stages. All around it's a much more kid friendly version of Puzzles & Dragons, because up until the point I'm at is a very easy game. It helps that since it's a full retail game there are no bullshit mechanics keeping you from getting stronger either. Normal Puzzles & Dragons has a stamina mechanic, so you can only play so much in any given session.

This cartridge also has Puzzles & Dragons Z in it as well. I haven't played it yet, but I look forward to it. It's basically a Puzzles & Dragons RPG, so it has the same monsters as the mobile game, but without all the stupid free to play elements. I decided to play the Mario edition first, because it's supposed to be easier. Right now I'm not buying into that though, because I want to take my 3DS and smash it into a billion pieces. I should probably get better at the game!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For the first hour or so I really didn't like The Witcher 3. The movement felt awkward, and I didn't understand the combat. After an hour or so, something clicked in my brain and now I am absolutely in love with the game and its world! Everything is so dark and miserable, it's great! Seriously though, since the world is so dark and disturbing it makes everything a lot more interesting.

In case the name wasn't a big enough clue, you play as a Witcher. There are a few Witcher's in the game, but you specifically play as Geralt of Rivia. I had not played the previous two games in the franchise so it took me a bit to get up to speed on exactly who Geralt is and what's so special about him. Witcher's are highly trained humans who undergo a ritual to become infertile mutants. The trade-off is that they have heightened strength and reflexes. The entire goal of a Witcher is to kill monsters for money. Their emotions are extremely nullified, so they rarely show any kind of emotion, which helps with the whole heartless mercenary thing. Turns out most people don't like Witchers, and see them as money grubbing mutants. However, people will still contract them, because there are beasts that need to be taken care of.

Geralt is the definition of badass.

In this game though, the monster killing is only a secondary distraction. The main quest involves Geralt looking for his adopted daughter Ciri, who is being chased down by the Wild Hunt. I'm still not quite sure what the Hunt is yet. They seem like a crazy group of skeleton men who can fly and make everything around them turn into ice and die. They're pretty scary, so I can see why Geralt wants to save Ciri from them.

This is the first entry in the series that is truly open world, and for the first time in a long time I'm enjoying it. The world is insanely large and there are icons everywhere on the map. There is literally something to do around every corner and it's almost all worthwhile. You don't necessarily get good items from everything, but there will at least be some kind of story. The thing this game has that most other games don't is good writing. Almost every single quest I've come across has intrigued me. Everything has a purpose, or at least it seems to have a purpose.

The map in this game is huge.

Traversing the world takes a while to get used to. Geralt has an odd momentum to his movement, so he takes a while to get going and to stop. It's something I've seen a lot of people complaining about, but after the first hour of the game I have absolutely no issue with it now. It helps that there isn't any kind of precise platforming. You just have to get from place to place, Combat is relatively easy to control as well, but it can get pretty complicated if you want it to. Once you get close enough to an enemy you're essentially locked into combat and will begin to strafe around. Square will unleash a quick attack, and triangle will do a strong attack. Geralt also has magic known as signs available to him. I only use about two of them, but they all have uses. He can create a shield. shoot fire, and control minds. I'm playing on the medium difficulty, so I can get by with just kind of hammering on the quick attack button and blocking occasionally. On higher difficulties that's completely different though.

The game really wants you to prepare before you fight its bigger monsters. Like I said, I don't really have to, but I can see why you would want to. There's a whole alchemy system you can brew potions with that I've barely touched. You can make everything from healing potions to oils you can coat your blades with so that you can hurt ghosts better. Every monster will be weak to a specific sign and have some super specific way to defeat it easier. I've had myself some ten to fifteen minute battles, because I didn't properly prepare. That meant that I was doing way less damage than I could have been.

There are all kinds of horrifying monsters in The Witcher 3.

The Witcher 3 is a huge game, and I'm completely engrossed in its world. I can't reiterate enough just how terrible dark it is. One of the monsters in it is literally a miscarried baby. What's interesting is that it's just about Geralt and how he interacts with the world. There isn't necessarily a world ending event that's going to be taking place. Sure, you're trying to save Ciri but she can take care of herself. It's totally believable that Geralt could do all kinds of side stuff while looking for Ciri. I've been playing for like forty hours and I feel like I'm not close to finished. I seriously can't recommend this game enough!!

Splatoon

In my heart I will always love Nintendo, but for the past few years I've been questioning everything they do. They rarely ever take risk and if they do, then they do it halfheartedly. That all changed when they released Splatoon though. Nintendo launched a new franchise on their home console, and to top if off it's a fun online multiplayer shooter! Never in my entire life did I think that I would type a sentence like that. Never!

When I first saw Splatoon a few years ago I thought that it looked stupid. I'll be honest, I bought it thinking that I would hate it. I personally don't really like shooters, but I bought it to support any new IP Nintendo is willing to make. They hadn't made a new franchise on consoles since Pikmin for gods sake! Much to my surprise I started to play Splatoon and couldn't put it down for hours. A friend and I switched off every match and had an absolute blast.

Splatoon just looks like a fun time!

In Splatoon you play as an Inkling, which is a humanoid squid teenager. You get to deck them out in fresh clothing and shoot ink. At the beginning of a match you are randomly put with three other people on a team of four. The goal is to paint the stage your color. At the end of the match whichever team has more of their color on the map wins. It's so simple, but everything about it is satisfying. Nintendo must have focus tested the living hell out of this game. The movement, gun-play, stages, and match time all feel near perfect. Each match is only a few minutes long, so it never wears out its welcome. All the guns feel good, and the physics on the ink are great. You can turn your Inkling into their squid form and swim through your own ink at a decent clip, which just feels right.

As you level up by completing matches you can buy more clothing, and new guns. Clothing has abilities that will help you out a little bit, but nothing overpowered. Nintendo seems to be very keen on the idea that everyone is on the same level. They only have five maps in the game right now, because they claim the game is more fun when everyone knows what's going on. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen. The weapons are going to be changing your experience the most. There are tons of guns that shoot ink at a decent clip, and then there are paint rollers that cover a large area quickly, but you don't have any range.

The paint roller is a very powerful weapon.

This past Monday on June 1st Nintendo unlocked the ranked mode, which is different from the regular battle mode. It has you trying to control specific points on the map. My only issue with it is that I don't have fun while playing it. If you lose, then you get absolutely no reward. It isn't helped by the fact that it has a really severe rubberbanding technique. It's way more about getting kills once you've taken over the point, which goes against everything I think is fun about the game. The good thing is that you can just play regular battle if you want, but it has me worried about future mode that the game will introduce. It's cool that the two modes are so vastly different in what you need to do to succeed.

Splatoon has style. It reminds me a lot of Jet Set Radio, which is always welcome. I've been trying to play it once a day, which is normally something I don't really do. I am still having trouble comprehending the fact that Nintendo took a risk on this franchise. I really wish that other companies would follow suit, because this console generation needs something other than sequels to already established franchises.

All Aboard the E3 Hype Train!

Can you hear that sound in the distance? That's right, it's the E3 hype train! In just about two weeks E3 2015 will be upon us and I couldn't possibly be more excited. There have been very few leaks so far, so either this year is going to be super lame, or there are going to be a ton of surprises. I'm really hoping we get a ton of surprises, Keep your eyes on the blog, because I'll probably be posting some stuff during E3.

Other than that I'll be ready with another edition at the end of June!

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.

MORTAAAAL KOMBAAAAAAT!

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!