Sunday, August 25, 2013

Archview #49: Way of the Samurai

 Live by the sword, and leave a mark in history. Or not. It's up to you really.
 Way of the Samurai is a third person action-adventure game set in feudal Japan. You take the role of a nameless ronin as he arrives at Rokkotsu Pass, a place which is soon to see itself amidst warring clans and other unpleasantries. You will spend two days in this place, and your actions will determine how it all pans out, want to do nothing and watch it all unfold? You can. Want to fight and kill every NPC that crosses your path? You can. Unless they play a big role later, in which case you'll probably get to fight them later. Or not. You really have a lot of choices and options as how you want to go about each day, and that's really cool.
 As for the game itself, Rokkotsu Pass has about 6 different zones, and you are free to travel anywhere almost any time you want. Zones are big enough as to let you explore at your leisure, although they don't hold many secrets. You'll also get yourself involved in many conversations, and every now and then you get to answer. Answers carry weight here, so answer accordingly! Besides exploring, you'll probably see yourself involved in fights, in which case your Ronin has access to weak attacks, strong attacks, parries, kicking, blocking and jumping. You can also pick up objects like boxes or chairs and throw them, or food and restore your health. Combat is very intuitive, and feels nice. There's about 7 different movesets depending on your sword, which you can carry up to three of, and they are pretty varied.
 When fighting enemies, they will attack you one on one, following their code of honor, so you won't get mobbed upon. When fighting, you must also keep track of the tension on your sword. Having your attacks blocked, specially Strong attacks, makes the tension increase, fill the tension gauge and you lose a point of durability, if the durability drops to zero, your sword breaks. There are dozens of unique swords, each one carried by one of the unique NPCs, and if you want their sword you will have to kill them. There's also a Smithy that can enhance your sword, if you can pay his services(Or kill him if you don't have enough money to pay, he asks for the money after enhancing your sword after all).
 The game is very short, 2 hours or less short, but it's fun comes from it's replayability. There's about 6 different endings, and there are loads upon loads of factors that change the endings, change conversations or even conditions, even after finishing the game 6 times, there's stuff I haven't even seen! There's many unlockables too, from different heads and outfits, to a versus mode and characters for it, but it takes a lot of playthroughs to unlock, and I do mean a lot. It's also pretty unforgiving, while you can beg for your life if a fight isn't going your way, dying means losing all three of the swords you are carrying, and every time you continue your file, it gets deleted, so no save scumming!
 Way of the Samurai is a very old game, and a very plain looking one. It's not ugly, but it's boring. Characters are very simple, and so are the backgrounds themselves. The game also uses a very drab color scheme, so nothing really stands out. There's not a whole lot of music, but it's actually quite good. There's no voice acting, and considering the amount of unskipabble text there is added to how boringly characters flop their lips make for a very boring looking game. Disappoingly, while there are so many endings, all of them are images with text, and many of them share some images. Oh, and typos, there are more than a couple of them.
 As for complaints, the only real issue is the camera. Outdoors is fine, you use the right analog stick and move it around, a bit unwieldy but fine, but on some areas, mostly indoors, the camera switches angles(which you can't change) along the directional imputs, which make for some annoying moment where you try to move to another area, only for the angle and imputs to change and turn around. Very annoying.
 So yeah, it's an ugly, plain looking game. It's also very short, if you are not into replaying, don't even bother, it lasts 2 hours or less. But it's also very fun, combat feels just right, and collecting swords on each playthrough gets addictive.
 7 out of 10.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Archview #48: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

 Spoilers: I loved this game.
 Call of Juarez has a rather spotty reputation, with the third entry considered by many to be quite awful. For some reason, they decided to scale back on the budget for the fourth entry and went digital only, while approaching the series from a new angle. And the end result, frankly, I think is fantastic.
 Like previous games in the series, Gunslinger is a first person shooter with emphasis on Single player. And by emphasis, I mean that the only multiplayer of sorts to be found are the leaderboards where you can compare scores.
 There are three different modes: Story, Arcade and Duel. Story Mode is the meat and potatoes of the game, here you take control of Silas Greaves, an old cowboy who stopped by a bar and is now telling of his exploits. His adventures takes him to do battle with real life cowboys, like the Daltons, Jesse James and Butch Cassidy. The most interesting gimmick of this mode, is that it's basically a story, so sometimes Silas may remember that something happened in another way, or he could be corrected by other people that read about the ocurrance, thus altering the mission. Throughout each chapter, there are secret objects that grant the player Experience points, used to unlock skills from three different branches, and also give you little tidbits of history.
 Arcade Mode is more of an endurance round, there's about 10 different stages in which you must kill every enemy or outlast every wave of enemies. In this mode, you can choose from three different classes, each one has a different experience bar and skills to unlock, and a different starting weapons, though you can pick up weapons from fallen enemies. Then there's Duel, in which, as the name implies, duel other enemies in stand offs, there really isn't much to this mode, but it's there.
 The game plays like most other Modern First Person Shooters, you can only take a handful of weapons with yourself and your health regenerates if you don't take damage after a while. Besides Dynamite, which acts like grenades, Silas can carry two different types of weapons: Revolvers(Can be dual Wielded) and a Rifle or a Shotgun. There are not many weapons, but there are few variations(3 kinds of revolvers, both normal and sawed-off versions of the Rifle and the Shotgun), still, they feel good, which is what matters. Silas also has something called "Sense of Death", it regenerates with time, and when it's full, it let's you dodge a fatal shot. Then there is concentration, which fills by killing enemies, that allows you to slow down time and marks the enemies in red so that you can aim at them more easily.
 The presentation is easily one of the game best assets. The game has a cell-shaded look which looks fantastic. While the models for the common enemies are few, each major enemy looks really good. Character designs are pretty snazzy, and whenever a new character is introduced, he gets a pretty stylish intro. The stages themselves are very westerny, and many stages are a joy to look at, even though invisible walls("You are deviating from the story") keep you from going everywhere, are quite huge. Voice-Acting gets the job done, Silas is the one you will be hearing the most, and he makes for a great narrator. As for the music, it's very westerny and fits quite nicely. As for extras, most chapters are named after Western movies, so if you are into the genre, it's a pretty cool nod.
 There's not a whole lot of replay value, although you do get a New Game Plus, with increased experience gain and you get to keep all your upgrades. There's also three different difficulty settings, if you are into it. For what it's worth, there are many secrets, and the game last quite a lot, plus, it's score-based gameplay lends itself to repeated playthroughs, and Arcade Mode is a blast!. There's not much to complain about, maybe how some stages reuse assets, but then again it's a downloadable game with loads of content, or how the AI may sometimes spaz out. Honestly, neither thing bothered me, definitly one of my favorite games I've played this year.
 9 out of 10.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bound in Paper Quickie #10: Batman and Robin Volume 3

 The best one yet.
 (Includes issues #9 to 12 plus issue #0)
 Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
 Artist: Patrick Gleason
 These issues sees the dynamic duo tackle a group of criminals that are using Batman's symbol in order to cause havoc. What makes these criminals special, is that all of them have been injured and scarred for life by Batman and Robin, and now want revenge. There's also a more interesting sub plot that deals with Damian trying to prove he is the better Robin, as he challenges each ex Robin in duels of varying nature.
 As for the art, I really don't have much to say, it's what you have come to expect from Gleason. Ugly faces, but many dynamic angles and perspectives.
 I give it 10 Nightwings out of 10.

Bound in Paper Quickie #9: Batman and Robin Volume 2

 It gets better.
 (Includes issues 5 to 8)
 Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
 Artist: Patrick Gleason
 Continuing from where we last left off, Robin left to join Nobody, as he attempts to "free" him from the self imposed shackles Batman got him to wear. These issues have loads of action and loads of tender moments between Bruce, Alfred and Damian. It also explores a bit of Bruce's past, giving him a bit more depth, plus visiting Bruce's morale and why he chooses not to kill. Sadly, it also has a very cheesy moment, "Forgive me father, for I have sinned"? Seriously?
 Gleason's art started to grow on me, while I still dislike his faces, everything else is pretty on point. Batman VS Nobody was pretty epic. There's also a lot of neat visual treats throught the issue, so I'd say it's pretty nice.
 I award it 9 Batarangs out of 10.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bound in Paper Quickie #8: Batman and Robin Volume 1

 The Dark Knight gets a reboot too!
 (Includes volume 1 to 4)
 Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
 Artist: Patrick Gleason
 Not much has changed in Batman's world, the biggest change would probably be when and how Bruce met the four Robins. Regardless, these four volumes centers upon the eponymous heroes, as they try their mettle against "Nobody"(I read the Spanish translation, so maybe his name might be different), a phantom of sorts from Bruce's past. The story itself is pretty interesting, and the interactions between characters fantastic. Alfred proves to be quite snarky, Damian delightfully aprehensive and Bruce very stiff and brooding, just like they should.
 As for the art, it's not my cup of tea, I'm not a fan of Gleason's faces, but the style is fit for Batman. There are loads of blacks, particularily in the Manor scenes. Something I liked a lot, is how many of these blacks are avoided in daylight outdoors scenes, makes a nice contrast.
 I grant it 9 Red Hoods out of 10.

Bound in Paper #7: Aquaman 3

 Even better!
 (Includes New 52 Aquaman 9 to 12)
 Writer: Geoff Johns
 Artist: Ivan Reis
 What's new? Black Manta is trying to get the old Atlantean relics from "The others", a team of which Aquaman used to be a member. These four issues pack a whole lot of action, while still leaving some room for character developement, as Aquaman's past and his relationship with Black Manta is explored. The members of The Others don't really get much exposition, sadly, but they do have their own moments, heck, even Mera gets to do badass stuff.
 The art? Ivan Reis continues to grow on me. His art is fantastic, seriously, there's really not much else to say, since I've not a single complaint about it! And if you are into it, there are loads of fights in these four issues, and they look fantastic, Black Manta and Aquaman still the show, but even the others get their, smaller, chances to shine.
 I really have no complaints about these four issues. The pacing is fine, there's a lot of action, there's backstory... It has anything you could want... Except Nightwing, there's no Nightwing in here.
 Easily 10 Aqualads out of 10.

Bound in Paper #6: Aquaman 1

 (Includes New 52 Aquaman 1 to 4)
 Writer: Geoff Johns
 Artist: Ivan Reis
 Everyone should know that I love Aquaman. People who dislike him probably never read anything about him and just follow the popular misconception about him being lame. This reboot deals with that, Aquaman having to deal with people, both cops and criminals, considering him useless, and him proving otherwise. These four issues deal with the appearance of creatures from the deep, and Aquaman, alongside his wife Mera, dealing with them. While the plot isn't the most interesting, the characters are, from the secondary characters like Shin and Officer Wilson, to even tertiary characters that Aquaman meets at the bar.
 The art is... frankly, it's the best thing about these issues. While I'm still a fan of Bearded Aquaman, Reis manages to give short-hair Aquaman a regal, tough look. Every panel is a joy to look at, and the art is consistently amazing throughout all the issues, with nothing looking odd, while employing many perspectives.
 I give it 9 Aquababies out of 10.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Archview #50 aproaches!

 So, Archview 50 approaches and I wanna make it special. Kinda. Maybe. Hopefully. I've thought of two different... approaches: Either a game that meant something to me or a game that I was or am really hyped for. Going into specifics, I'd rather play a JRPG game of sorts, since I already played many of them this year and I hunger for more. Two games that I considered were Final Fantasy VII, which I player on the latter months of the past year and Persona 4, but I've already talked loads about VII and both games would score 10, no doubt about it, so I want something different.
 As for games I'm hyped about, there are two different games I'd like to make the Archview number 50, either Tales of Xillia or Dynasty Warriors 8. As for Tales of Xillia, I love the Tales series, and after not knowing if it would make it overseas, it would make it a nice conmemoration. But then there's Dynasty Warriors 8, which is considered by series veterans to be fantastic, and unlike most people outside Asia, I really love the series. I've covered DW 1, 6, 7 and SW 3, and do plan to cover the whole series(Which will take longer than expected, since the import laws changed, I hate Uruguay), so DW 8 means at least a tiny something to my blog. I think.
 Other games I considered, a bit less so, were: Pandora's Tower, Quest 64, Castlevania LoS MoF, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Phoenix Wright 5, SMT: Digital Devil Saga 1, Castlevania PoR, Bleach BoF and Zone of the Enders HD Collection.

 Pandora's Tower: I played and enjoyed both Last Story and Xenoblade. I actually sent E-Mails to Nintendo, as part of Operation Rainfall since I really wanted these games to come over. This would have some semblance of meaning, at least to me, so I wouldn't mind tackling it.

 Quest 64: I don't care that people hate it, this, along Final Fantasy VII, were my first RPGs and I still hold Quest 64 close to my heart, and wouldn't mind replaying it. The problem is that I have no Nintendo 64(Selling both the game and the system... Regret undying), and the N64 emulator isn't too reliable.

  Castlevania LoS MoF, Shin Megami Tensei IV and Phoenix Wright 5: These are the three reasons that convinced me to get a 3DS. And I already own 2 out of 3(Capcom, release PW in physical format. You must) so any of them is fair game.... although CV got mixed reviews, and I'm not a fan of SMT IV's microtransactions...

 Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1: This game has one of my favorite endings ever, even if it's a cliffhanger. I really wouldn't mind replaying this game, maybe even playing it with part 2 and reviewing the whole product? But on the other hand, I really would prefer playing something I haven't played before. Or that I own and have not replayed since buying it.

 Castlevania Portrait of Ruin, Bleach the Blade of Fate: The very first DS games I bought, I still adore them so, but I will leave Bleach: BoF for a certain piece I want to write about it and it's sequel.

 Zone of the Enders HD Collection: Zone of the Enders 2 is epic, and one of my favorite PS2 games of all time. And I could never really play beyond the... initial 30 min or so of ZoE 1(Long story)... So this would actually make this both a game I haven't played and one that meant something for me. This one is highly likely to be my Archview number 50.

 So yeah, loads of decisions. Archview 48 will be Call of Juarez: Gunsling and 49: Way of the Samurai, so number 50 is waaay closer than it seems. That will be my second personal milestone! The first one was a 100 blog entries. Oh well, onwards!

Archview #47: Evoland

 'sgood. 'sgood.
 (There was a better cover, but it kinda wet itself with pink pomegrenade, so.... yeah, had to whip up something quickly).
 Anyways, Evoland is an indie game that prides itself on being a homage to games of olde. As such, it's hard to specify it's genre, it's equal parts turn-based RPG, adventure game(A la Zelda) with a stage inspired on Dungeon crawlers like Diablo. On paper, it shouldn't work, but I think that the end result is worth at least one playthrough.
 The game's main gimmick, and the reason of it's name, is the evolution of gaming. At the start of the game, it looks like a Monochrome gameboy game and you can only move to the right, as you open chests, you get to go from 2D to 3D polygons, then textures, etc. It's a gimmick, yes, but each evolution is presented with an achievement and a short, occasionaly funny, description.
 As for the game itself, there's a very light story element(Which you must retrieve from a chest, by the by) about saving a certain town from a dangerous threat. The usual. There's two main gameplay styles, first there's the Zelda-adventure like. When inside dungeons(Which includes forests) the game plays like Zelda, you have 3 heart containers(You lose quarters per hit), and must solve light puzzle elements by using your sword, bow, bombs and sometimes, time crystals. Puzzles are very easy to solve, yet they are engaging, most of the time.
 The other style is a turn-based RPG. This mode is used on the overworld, and it's extremely simple, Clink, and Kaeris(With a name like that, and the clothes she wears, you just know what her fate is) when you get her, have 4 actions: Attack, Magic, Item and Run. Fights are very easy, and you don't even have to deal with MP, although I did find the encounter rate to be a bit too high.
 I found the presentation to be as charming as it was endearing. Characters have a super deformed look, both in 2D and 3D, and it's a very bright world. It's also nice to see how the same character and world goes through the various graphic evolutions. The music is fitting for the game, although hardly memorable.
 As someone once said, a reference is not a joke, so while the descriptions try to be funny, they rarely work. The game is also more of a tribute to games of old than a parody. Names, weapons, characters, places... all resemble stuff from other games, including Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Mana series, Dungeon Quest and others, there's even a level inspired by Diablo(Full of useless loot!). Frankly? I think it's a fantastic homage, even if sometimes it tries to be funny(On the achievement descriptions) but it falls flat on it's face.
 As a whole, it might be a bit too simple. There's not much to the game, sure, there's a subquest to get a heart container, a hidden dungeon, 30 hidden collectible Stars and 23 hidden cards(To play Double Twins, a minigame), but the gameplay itself is very shallow. As for the lenght, I found it appropiate. It ends just a little bit before it starts growing old.
 7 out of 10. Way better than any of the Xenosaga RPGS, just saying.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bound in Paper Quickie #5: Avengers VS X-Men vol. 3

 Quite interesting.
 (Includes A vs X 6, 7 and 8)
 Writer(AvX 6): Jonathan Hickman
 Writer(AvX 7): Matt Fraction
 Writer(AvX 8): Brian Michael Bendis
 Artist(AvX 6,7): Olivier Coipel
 Artist(AvX 8): Adam Kubert
 So, when we last left off, Iron Man on behalf of the Avengers, tried to do away with the Phoenix Force, but instead dividied it into five parts which went into Namor, Emma Frost, Illyria, Colossus and Scott Summer, the Phoenix Five. Now they use their powers to bring peace to the earth, although the Avengers don't agree with their ways.
 First off, the story in all three numbers is very interesting, as a matter of fact, I found the whole Phoenix Five story pretty fun, but these issues are focus a bit on the most interesting fights. Namor VS The Avengers is pretty cool and easily the standout moment of this issue.
 The art is very consistent, both artists have a very similar style, so it's there's no jarring change when you get to issue 8. Both artists are very detailed, the fights are pretty well drawn too, there's really no complaints in this area.
 All in all, it was a fun issue, easily deserving of...
 8 Onslaughts out of 10.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hey, I'm Listening #1: The Connection- Papa Roach

 More Papa Roach is always a good thing. Always.
 Papa Roach is my favorite band, everyone knows it. Am I biased? Maybe. I'm a fan, I love them, and that is why I can be critical of them. I won't ever like their very first songs, I can clearly see that "lovehatetragedy" was a very experimental album, and it didn't pay out very well(even though it has a couple of songs I really like). My point is, am I biased? Possibly, yes, but that doesn't mean that I am a blind idiot that likes anything that carries their name.
 Papa Roach is a Band that keeps changing their style from album to album, most of the time, and this album is no exception. Gone are the harsher, louder sounds from their previous outing, going for a more... electronic sound. It's not bad, it's just different. Also, at least personally, I didn't find some of the lyrics as inspired as previous songs, there are good lyrics, just not as great as some of Papa Roach's finest.
 It seems like the major focus of the album resides in break ups and failing relationships, at least 4-5 songs deal with said issues in various manners. Not that I mind, but it's quite noticeable.
 Funnily enough, seems the lead singer, Jacoby Shaddix, said that this album meant to "connect" the dots from all their previous works, but truth be told, this hardly sounds like anything they've done before, the sound is different, the styles are different... it feels very different.
 Regardless, I enjoyed the album. While Paramour Sessions still hold the number 1 spot for me, this disc is not bad, Before I die and Leader of the Broken Hearts are actually really good, however, they lack a heavy hitter like Scars or To be Loved.

Bound in Paper Quickie #4: The new X-Men

 (Includes: All-New X-Men #6, Uncanny X-Men 2, Uncanny X-Men 3)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist(All New X-Men): David Marquez
Artist(Uncanny X-Men): Chris Bachalo
 The issue opens up with All-New X-men, with Beast having brought the original X-Men from the past, in order to have 12-year old Cyclops talk with present-day Cyclops. The issue is interesting, showcasing Kitty Pryde trying to train the younglings and Wolverine having to keep track of young Cyclops. The next two issues are Uncanny X-Men, these two follow Cyclops and his rag-tag group, consisting of Magneto, Emma Frost and Illyana trying to add more mutants to their cause. Truth be told, All-New X-men is a tad more interesting.
 As for the art, David Marquez pencils are beautiful, but there are some really odd choices as far as panels go. Sometimes you are to read across both pages, then jump back to the right page and continue on the lower left page. It's a bit jarring and more often than not I found myself reading in the wrong order. Bachalo's art on the other hand, is a bit more cartoony, but it's not bad, and it certainly won't give you reading troubles!
 I give it 7 Cyclops' visors out of 10.

Bound in Paper Quickie #3: Kick-Ass

 It really is kick ass.
 Writer: Mark Millar
 Artist: John Romita Jr.
 Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave, a Highschool nobody who dreams of becoming a Super Hero, but soon he'll find out that it's not all glory. Kick-Ass is a very interesting read, with engaging characters and a ingenious set-up. Be warned, however, that it's also very vulgar, with cussing thrown left and right among other not to nice thingies, to be fair however, it does feel like a highschool student is narrating.
 As for the art itself, it's simply fantastic. Drawn by John Romita Jr, of Spider-man fame, he has a very distinct style, it's very cartoony, but I like it. Plus, there's loads of little details, like the scar that Dace aquires on his first outing that follows him to the last page of the comic.
 I award it with 10 Hit-Girls out of 10.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bound in Paper Quickie #2: Deadpool kills the Marvel Universe

 The tagline is a lie.
 Writer: Cullen Bunn
 Artist: Dalibor Talajic
 For starters, I've the Spanish version, and the tagline was translated to "The World's bloodiest magazine". Prior to reading this, I had read Kick-Ass in it's entirety, so I was quiet offended by the tagline, it's barely bloodier than your usual Marvel magazine.
 In this One-Shot, for some reason, Professor X decides to have a certain doctor treat Deadpool. Right here I take issue, I find it a bit out of character for Charles to do this. Next, said doctor turns out to be Psycho-man, who tries to make Deadpool his slave using his Control box, but it goes awry and causes Deadpool to "open his eyes". Honestly? The set-up is a bit dull, but the ending is better. What I found disappointing was how many of the killings are mere foot-notes or overly simplified. Sure, they didn't have enough time or pages to make him fight everyone, but Spiderman gets about 3-4 pages yet Iron-Man dies in an explosion, alongside the avengers. Luckily, the dialogue itself, specially what Deadpool gets to say, is pretty funny.
 As for the art, I'm not a fan. The art is very simple, at times it looks a bit on the ugly side, specially the faces. Also, some panels look funny and not in a nice way, poor Wolverine got the short end of the stick on the latter parts of the comic.
 I grant it 5 Deadpools out of 10.

Bound in Paper Quickie: Joker

 Bound in Paper Quickie: Joker

 Writter: Bryan Azzarello
 Artist: Lee Bermejo
 Joker is a one-shot centered upon the eponymous villain and Jonny Frost, an aspiring criminal that serves as the narrator. After Joker gets released from the Asylum, Jonny volunteers to pick him up, he soon becomes fascinated with the Joker and begins serving him faithfully as the Joker gets his territories back.
 The comic presents a more realistic portrayal of characters, this is probably the most human Croc has ever looked, and it has some very interesting redesigns, notably the Ledger inspired Joker. Interestingly, there are two different ink styles throught the comic, most of the time, it uses solid colors, but occasionally, mosly on close ups or important scenes, it uses a softer style, it's an interesting mix.
 As for the story, it's a very interesting read, witty dialogues and book ends. It provides a closer look to Joker's attitude and mentality via Jonny, our willing narrator. The more down-to-earth universe the comic takes place also makes for an interesting setting.
 I give it 9 Nightwings out of 10.

"First" Archimpressions: Way of the Samurau

 Oh... Umm, right. Blog, update I should, I guess?
 So, I used to like this game quite a bit. Getting reaquinted with it? Umm, it's good but slow and boring?
Yeah, sorry, new computer, busy playing games. And League of Legends. I'ma try to still update this thing. I hope.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Archview #46: Kengo: Master of Bushido

 'tis pretty decent, but not much more.
 There's no genre that completely adapts to what Kengo is, the closest you can get is, probably, a fighting game, but it's so much more than that. You have life bars, you have combos, you have an energy bar(Ki) and you even have a super move that requires said bar! However, it's far from it, I'd like to call it a "Sword Fighting Simulator", now stay with me, since while the fighting is a big focus of the game, it's not it's biggest.
 For starters, the first mode that's highlighted when you start the game is "Story Mode". Instead of being an arcade ladder of sorts, you are to choose from one of three different characters, and while their initial stats favor different actions, you eventually get to build them up however you like. After choosing a character, you choose an initial style, and then you are to take on the 7 different Sword fighting dojos. For each Dojo you have to use a wooden sword to defeat 10 opponents in a row, with little healing in between and then challenge their master, who you may kill(And earn the ire of his students, having to face them in combat with real swords) or make them surrender and earn their swords. Eventually you are to go into official tournaments and finally earn the mastership of your Dojo.
 Fighting students also reward you, sometimes, with moves from their style. You can use these moves to customize up to four different three hit combos, which you can alternate by hitting the four shoulder buttons. In Story mode you also raise your stats by defeating opponents, up to a certain maximum. Said maximum can actually be increased by performing various minigames. These get old and boring after a while, and you will need to increase your stats if you plan on tackling the harder fights.
 As for the gameplay itself, you have a attack button, pressing it alone executes your three-hit combo, while combining it with directions produce different single slashes. There's also a block/dodge button, a parry button and the triangle that executes your special move, after a very long wind up. There's also a Ki bar, it raises when you shout from afar, successfully hit your oponent or dodge his slashes, and it decreases by blocking or missing. If your Ki decreases to the minimum, you'll get slower and deal less damage. The most interesting feature of the game, is that you fight with either wooden swords or real swords, fighting with real swords can actually produce wounds that make the opponent bleed to his death!.
 The presentation is very minimalist and ugly. The character models look really bad and haven't aged all that well, and some animations look weird. Heck, characters don't even move their mouths when they talk. On the flip side, characters actually get bloodied up when they recieve damage. The enviroments are very simple, some walls actually look textureless, but they are interesting, to say the least. There's barely any music in the game, altough the ending theme is pretty neat. To be fair, the lack of music actually lends itself to the game, so in a way, it's a plus. The sound effects are actually very satisfying, so there's that.
 Besides Story Mode, you have Tournament(Survival) and VS. You can unlock a dozen or so characters by playing Story Mode, and they do have different movesets and stats, you can also import your Story Mode character if you feel like overpowering your opposition.
 Is Kengo a hidden gem? Nope, not at all, but if you are looking for a very japanese swordplay game, you can do no wrong with Kengo, specially if you want more after playing the superior, in my opinion, Bushido Blade.
 5 out of 10

Monday, August 5, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Kengo: Master of Bushido

 These are some ugly Samurai.
 So I didn't even read the manual, nor anything and rushed towards tournament mode, so that I could give my very first impressions. Well, "First", since I have played it before. For starters, this was an early PS2 game and it shows, characters are SO ugly, animation is pretty smooth thankfully.
 As for the gameplay? I kinda like-ish? There's a guard and an attack button, also an special attack but it takes ages to go off. L1 and R1 seem to change the posture? I will find out later. My only gripe is with the movement, once you close in, the analog stick behaves oddly.... I will have to play more and discover the why and hows I guess.
So first impressions? It's... decent? Feels a bit clunky, but it's serviceable. Now I'ma read the instruction booklet and play a bit more, cheers.

Archview #45: Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition

 Can I have the port of Real Bout 3 for PS1 please? You can keep this one in Japan.
 Lo and behold, one of SNK's earlier 3D fighters! The victim to the 3D treatment this time is Fatal Fury, and while it's not great, it could've been much, much worse.
 The game retains the Punch, Kick, Strong and Evade buttons from the 2D installments, however, the evade button instead of throwing you to the back plane, produces a side step of sorts, more like a roll really. The game has 2D roots so, naturally, it has an energy gauge that allows for special attacks. At the beginning of each match, the gauge starts at 50%, taking damage reduces it and dealing it increases it, however, the gauge will always try to stay at 50%, which means that if it falls below, it will raise slowly, and if it's above, it will decrease slowly, untill you max it out that is. Reaching 0% leaves you dizzy, while having it at "MAX" allows for Super and Overdrive moves. Overdrive moves consume much more gauge, but in turn deal massive damage. By using a bit of gauge, you can also use a counterattack, executed while blocking, and a "Fierce" attack that leaves the opponent dizzy.
 As for modes, there's only: Arcade, VS, Team Battle and Training, not a whole lot to do. For what it's worth, there's a couple of cutscenes during Arcade Mode, reminicent of the original Fatal Fury, plus, each character has an ending... that lasts 5-10 seconds and makes absolutely no sense, most of them anyways. As for the roster, there are 12 default characters and two unlockable ones, of these 14, 2 are new comers to the Fatal Fury Universe(3 if you include Mr.Karate(Ryo)). It's a bit disappointing, since Fatal Fury has a nice cast of characters that skipped this installment, where the hell is Blue Mary or Cheng?
 The game looks very decent, stages are the usual, for the PS1, endless 3D stages with 2D backdrops, at least they look quite nice, albeit a bit boring. Characters look really good, if a bit simple, but some animations feel a bit awkward. Then there's the official art for the game that actuall looks quite cool and unique, specially the loading screens. The music is very dull, and sound effects lack oomph, to top it off, voice samples are really low quality. All in all, the game itself feels as if it lacks... something.
 All in all, it's not a terrible game, and on the flipside, considering other 3D fighters from SNK and the 90s, the game could've been much, much worse.
 5 outta 10.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Archview #44: Dynasty Warriors 6

 Not as bad as they make it out to be, for real!
 Dynasty Warriors 6 is often times considered the black sheep of the series. For this entry Koei decided to change a lot of stuff, and while not all of it was for the best, some ideas were actually kinda good, yet never to be seen again. As per usual, before DW 7, you are to take control of one general and follow their story throught the "Three Kingdoms" era of ancient China, albeit all stories end with a "What if" ending.
 For starters, there are three different modes: Musou Mode(The story mode, only 17 out of the 41 characters get one), Free Mode(Replay any stage with any character) and Challenge mode. Challenge mode is more of a novelty, in which you can take one out of six challenges(Beat enemies without getting hit, collect items while avoiding horses, break stuff, etc) and compare your scores online. Truth be told, this mode is pretty sucky and no wonder it was never revisited again.
 As with every entry in the franchise, each stage is a battle of two armies(Rarely three), and you are a general on one of these armies. Your goal is, usually, to wipe out the main general of the other army before they kill yours, these usually means mowing down hundreds of units. Gone are the charge moves of previous games, here the Renbu system is introduced. You have two independant attack strings, a Square combo string and a more powerful, and shorter, Triangle string. Hitting enemies rises a gauge on the bottom left corner of the screen, and every time it gets full, you go up a level, which makes both strings longer. If you take damage, or don't hit anything for a while, the Renbu level drops. A lot of people made a big deal out the Renbu system, and while I'd take a traditional Warriors game any day, the Renbu sytem is not as bad as they make it out to be. Interestingly, generals now have "Grapple attacks", and by grabbing Tomes(Random enemy drops) you can use special attacks, these two features were, sadly, dropped in later installments. Finally, characters can also evade, Samurai Warriors style, but once again, this was dropped by DW 7.
 As for the stages themselves, now there is an emphasis on Sieging! Basically it boils down to defeating certain enemies, so that engineers can begin building ramming weapons, to bring down heavy gates, and ladders, so that you may climb up the wals and take down ballistas and archers. It's a lot more fun than it sounds, really, although it may wear out it's welcome after a while. Spread throughout the stages there are enemy bases, which spawn lesser enemies, that you can conquer, by bringing down their doors(You can break these by simply attacking them) and then defeating a ser amount of enemies. It's usually a good idea to do so, since inside these healing items spawn regularily and you just might need them.
 Graphically, the game is a bit of a let down. It might've seemed prettier at launch, but DW 7 completely blew it out of the water, regardless, most characters look alright, heck, these might be some of my favorite redesigns, and the models do them justice. Stages on the other hand look kinda cool, until you look closely at some of the textures... also, some of the special effects, like water, are just laughable. On the flip side, I'm pretty sure there are more units on screen than even DW7, but there tends to be heavy slowdown when it gets hectic. Music is, as per usual, fantastic and voice acting, as per usual, is spotty. There are some decent voice acting, but some of it is just awful(In a so bad it's good kind of way).
 There are plenty of characters to unlock, albeit most of them are clones and some of the unlock conditions can be a bit obscure, most of the time it consists on succeeding on some of the targets each stage has(3 targets per stage), but the game won't aid you. While some characters may be clones, their skill trees are unique, thankfully, but raising them to level 50 will take some time, though there are no real rewards for doing so, besides an alternate color pallette awarded at level 25.
 To be completely honest, Dynasty Warriors 6 is not a bad game, and while I can see why people consider it the black sheep of the series, I also believe that it did a lot of awesome things that were never revisited again, like sieging. Worth mentioning, this is the fastest I've been done with a Warriors game, there's not a whole lot to do. Casual Dynasty Warriors fans and haters will want to stay away, but fans should at least give it a try, the Renbu system is not as bad as people make it out to be. The game is not as bad as people make it out to be.
 6 out of 10.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition

 It ain't that bad.
 SNK never had much luck with their 3D adaptations, specially when it came to fighting games. Their worst victim was, probably, the Samurai Shodown series, however, unlike SS, Fatal Fury seems like a better fit since they've always toyed with foreground and background fighting, and the end result is quite serviceable.
 The closest thing to this game would be the King of Fighters: Maximum Impact series on PS2, it has endless stages, string combos and dodging, like a 3D fighter, but it also keeps the jumping physics, command moves and simpler "mash that button" combos from 2D fighters. All in all, it feels good, which is what matters the most, and the gameplay is not bad. Animations feel a bit weird, but nothing too major.
 Basically: I like it. The CPU is a bit of a bastard, specially Geese, even on easy. I wish myself luck unlocking Mr.Karate, but I reckon I will be able to outcheese Geese.

Month Overview: Game of July

Games completed in July:
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword                                            8
Star Fox 64 3D                                            7
Tekken Prime 3D Edition                                            6
Samurai Warriors 3                                            7
Kid Icarus Uprising                                            7.5
Kirby's Epic Yarn                                            5

 Decent month. The really "big" thing was me getting a 3DS, the console itself is pretty nice, but the three games I played are nothing special. Kid Icarus is almost completely amazing... except in the controls department, it makes it drop from a 9(It's THAT good) to a 7.5, I'd have gone lower but I really enjoyed it, whenever I wasn't wrestling with the controls that is. Also: Samurai Warrios 3, that was the biggest time sink of the month, 30 story modes, each one taking at least an hour to complete, and I tried to rush through the latter ones, since most of the cut-scenes and stages were repeats from other story modes...

 Game of the Month:
 I consider the Zelda series to be the most overrated videogame series ever. But for some reason, Skyward Sword trailers really hyped me up, luckily, the end result was almost as good. This could've been my favorite Zelda, but Nintendo overdid the motion controls. For starters, it will take a while before you get comfortable with them, and even then, they tried to shoe-horn it everywhere they could: Swimming, Rope-walking, Free-falling, flying.... it was obscene and unneeded. Despite that, I've never enjoyed a Zelda setting more, the NPCs were all unique(!!) and interesting, the art style was fantastic(Not as overly grim as Twilight Princess, not as Cartoony as Wind Waker, it mixed the best of both worlds!).... So yeah, it's tied up with Twilight Princess as my favorite Zelda. Twilight Princess has the controls, Skyward Sword everything else.

 One of the lowest rated games on this month, second only to Kirby's Epic Yarn, it's the most content-starved Tekken I've ever played.... and I can't stop playing it. With a portable Tekken 6, now I can play Tekken in short burts whenever I'm bored. It's much faster than going through console menus and loading times, and while modes are lacking, every single moveset is complete for each character featured in Tekken 6. So yeah, a bad Tekken game is still a great game, fancy how that works, eh!