Friday, February 28, 2014

Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost Impressions G, Wing TV-chapter.

 Dragon Gundam
  As per usual with G mobile suits, it's long-range and mid-range game is really weak, but performs great in close quarters. It has two new moves, a support call which seemed a bit eh and a beam attack. All its projectiles have poor tracking and low damage though.

 Master Gundam
 Has a new support call! The Master Gundam has fantastic close-range game, but performs poorly everywhere else. Even worse, it's slower than the God Gundam and with even worse projectiles yet costs even more.

 NEW Gundam Spiegel

 This unit is a ninja! Its proyectiles are Kunai, and his feet move so fast when dashing that you only see a blur, it looks awesome! His main projectiles have this unique property, that by following up with square+any direction makes him shoot its kunais in different ways. Overall it's a fun unit to play as, but not too useful.

Gundam Wing

 NEW Wing Gundam Zero(TV)
 Fantastic all around unit that performs great at any range. Color me surprised, it's not a complete clone of Wing Gundam Zero(Endless Waltz), while they do share most tools, they are used differently(EW's basic beam shot is TV's charge beam shot, the Rolling Beam attack is now a normal weapon instead of a charge move). The Wing Gundam can also hold the charge of the Beam move without needing to hold the Beam button, which is pretty useful, and it possesses Zero System that weakens enemy tracking on it for a really short while. Really good unit.

 NEW Gundam Epyon
 Epyon is extremely fun to use, with a incredibly strong and unique melee system(You keep on pressing attack and different directions to slash in different directions, mashing the attack button won't produce a combo as it has no natural combos!)... but it hasn't got a single projectile tool. Probably the worst suit in the game since Ranged combat is very important in Full Boost, it's still fun to use. It also has a Super Mode, that doesn't need to recharge and can be turned on or off at any moment, that grants it more range and, I think, attack power, at the cost of consuming more fuel. I love using the Epyon, but it's not an useful Mobile Suit.

BONUS

 Wing Gundam Zero(Endless Waltz)
 Has a new support assist. Behaves just like it did before, good all around unit, while it's not as easy to use as the TV Version, I actually like this one a bit more.

Review #98: Darkstalkers Chronicle - The Chaos Tower

 My first PSP game, yay!
 First things first: since I reviewed Darkstalkers 3 last year, and this game is more or less the same, this will be more of a comparison review so to speak. I will delve into the specifics of this game, of course, but I won't detail gameplay and what have you.
 Darkstalkers Chronicle is not just a Darkstalkers 3 port, oh no, this is more like a mash up of sorts. Y'see, you can actually choose to play under Darkstalkers mechanics, Night Warriors(DS 2 basically) or Darkstalkers 3, this translates to either two rounds, two rounds and keeping your energy gauge intact from round to round or just one battle with two life bars. Even better, you can use whichever iteration of the character you prefer under any mechanic, and if a character wasn't present in previous versions, he or she gets reworked versions of himself/herself. All of this translates to a lot of different ways to play the game, which is very, very neat.
 The game also contains every opening and every ending from each version of the game, alongside a good amount(88 pieces) of unlockable official art, which is extremely high quality and looks very crisp. Sadly, endings are hidden away in the Chronicle mode, for some reason beating Arcade mode will present you with a generic ending, so you must go into Chronicle mode if you wish to see whichever ending you unlocked, it's a minor inconvenience but it's worth mentioning. Speaking of Arcade Mode, the game doesn't have a lot of features, you just get Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, Tower and Training. All but Tower is self explanatory, Tower mode has you picking 3 characters and taking them up the aforementioned tower. Each battle has a different set of rules, depending on which rules you follow you'll take a different path and unlock a different piece of art. Your three characters restore a miniscule amount of health after each fight, so you must choose carefully how to proceed and which character to use. While there is a undeniable lack of modes, Tower mode is very fun and very replayable.
 Now, for the bad, the controls. The PSP's digital pad is not a good fit for all the complex motions required to perform the moves. The game offers a compromise in the form of "Easy" mode, which allows you to set a button to memory so that you can use any special move you set to it just by pressing it, among other niceties, but it comes at the loss of Medium Punch and Medium Kick. Speaking of special moves, there is no way to see a movelist anywhere but on the instruction booklet, very annoying, characters have loads of special moves and many don't follow the basic quarter circle forward/backward motions, a movelist would've been much appreciated, especially since trying out motions with the PSP's digital pad is annoying.
 The game looks beautiful, it always did, but coming from the PS1 version that had missing frames, this looks like a whole different game. The difference in the quality of the animation is undeniable, which makes this port look fantastic. Even better, it's uncensored, meaning that the blood is red and not white. Lastly, you can either play in full screen, which stretches the screen to match, or play with borders, but keeping the correct ratio. Honestly, the stretched image doesn't look bad at all and I chose to keep it that way.
 And that's about it, Darkstalkers 3 on the Playstation 1 was a fantastic game, but Darkstalkers Chronicle is even better. Sure, the controls are annoying, but that's the PSP's fault and not the game's, and I doubt you'll be playing tournaments on a PSP. I might've called the PS1 version the definitive version of Darkstalkers 3, I was wrong. This is the definitive version of Darkstalkers 3, and if you are a fan of the franchise, you owe it to yourself to get this version.
 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost Impressions F91, Victory-chapter.

 Gundam F91
 A bit on the frail side, but then again it's a 2000 unit. I didn't play much of it on vanilla, but it's an alright unit, has tools to battle at every range, but it's a bit slow. Overall? It's alright but I don't myself using it any time soon,

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam 

 Victory 2 Gundam 
 They nerfed him! Basically, less ammo and longer reload times. Victory 2 is a unit that shines when it comes to long range skirmishes, and he really needs to, as his melee is bad and it's mobility is on the slow side. While the overall tracking of his long range weapons is fantastic, it can temporarily engage into an Assault Mode that grants him a new Beam attack, but the tracking on this one is bad and the start-up is slow, his basic long range beam gets stronger though.

 Gun-EZ
 Gun-EZ was a unit that I've always liked for support, since it can send grunts to cover his ally. Sadly, the rest of it's tools feel samey, meaning it really doesn't have much answers to different situations. Oh, and engaging Burst Mode makes Uso and his V Gundam swoop in and provide beam support! Very straight forward, lots of beams, not bad but there are better 1000 units out there.

 NEW Gottrlatan
 I don't like Katejina as a character and I don't like Gottrlatan's design, but this is a very solid 2500 unit. Has good close-range capabilities and excellent long range tools, it can cover wide or narrow areas, very nice. It's mid-range game is a bit lacking however, as it's beams have a bit of a start-up and can't be cancelled once the beams/missiles are out. Still, very solid unit.

  NEW Victory Gundam
 It can shoot its body parts as proyectiles. I repeat, it can shoot it's limbs. The V Gundam is impossibly fun to use. It doesn't have many different tools at its disposal, and shooting the legs or arms seem to function basically the same, but it's fun, plus they deal a lot of damage. Engaging Burst Mode grants it a new charge beam attack, it's slow but powerful. Lastly, while you can respawn legs and arms at any time, if you shoot a pair of limbs without respawning the other, you'll engage into a ship mode. I've yet to discover its use, as it feels really useless, and you can cancel it at any time, so what's the point of it? Fun unit, might not be to useful, but really fun.

Bonus:

 God Gundam
 I played my fair share of God Gundam in vanilla, and he feels just as good. The vulcans have been removed in favor of an assist, I'm Ok with it. The Burst Attack was changed, actually, he now has two Burst Attacks, I'm Ok with this as well. I dunno, I like the new changes. God Gundam, as a unit, is probably one of the faster ones, and it needs to, as its long-to-mid range combat is quite lacking. Its basic beam attack is really strong, but hard to hit with and with mediocre range, its only long range attack must be charged and the tracking is not too good. On the flip side, hitting an enemy with the basic beam attack stuns them, leaving them open for a good melee combo or another shoot. I recommend the combo.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Now Playing: Little Big Planet(PSP)

 Oh boy
 I kinda played this game by accident, kinda, and got through the first level, so I might as well do this. I was never a big fan of LBP, the three-plane system never clicked with me, luckily, it's only two planes now, still annoying though. And since it's on a portable, no "traditional" co-op, which sucks unless you know someone else that owns a PSP.
 While I'm not a fan of LBP, I can appreciate the amount of charm that SackBoy has, and customizing him might be fun. Well, let's see if after going through the game my opinion changes, though I'm not hopeful, at least it was a freebie!

Now Playing: Darkstalkers Chronicle - The Chaos Tower

 You can never have too much Darkstalkers, right?.... right?
 Not gonna lie, so far it ain't nothing special. It feels like a souped up port of the Playstation DS version, you get to pick from every mode(Every iteration of Darkstalkers), but you also get every ending... shame it's hidden under a mode, which name's I've forgotten.
 I'm still trying to get used to the directional pad, something tells me that the PSP isn't a good fit for Fighters? Even though everyone would tell me otherwise, heh!

Archile's Grab bag, Portable Wednesday edition

  Two boxes!? HAPPINESS.
 Let's cut'em open.
 FILLED TO THE BRIM, I'M LOVING IT.
 Shadow Madness: I think I didn't particularly like this game, but I've been wantint to replay, and finish it, for a while now.
 Final Fantasy VIII: I loved this game as a kid, but something tells me I will find the Draw system a drag now, ah well, it has to be played again, my childhood demands it.
 Crisis Core - Final Fantasy: People say that it's good, but Squeenix track record as of late is pretty sad, still, I must play it. Please, don't ruin Final Fantasy VII anymore, they were meant to be stand alone games.
 Mobile Suit Gundam VS Gundam Next Plus: I've been a fan of the franchise since Gundam: Federation VS Zeon, so I just had to get it. Now I just need to get Rengou VS Zaft....
  Darkstalkers Chronicle - The Chaos Tower: There's no such thing as too much Darkstalkers.
 Mimana - Iyar Chronicle: I've no idea what this game is all about, but gameplay seemed interesting.
  Gods Eater Burst: Seemed like a pretty good Monster Hunter Clone, so might as well give it a spin. So many PSP games, if only I had a PSP...
  What could be on the other box?
  Kirby's Return to Dream Land: I wasn't planning on getting this one so soon, but the game's price was skyrocketing upwards, so I took a dive.
 COULD IT BE?! A PSP!?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost Impressions ZZ, Char's CounterAttack-chapter.

 Qubeley Mark II
 Very much improved since vanilla, Qubeley(Puru) is an excellent long range 1000 unit, has plenty of annoying proyectiles to keep the enemy at bay, plus, it's pretty bulky and fun to use.

 Qubeley
 Feels a bit faster than it's vanilla counterpart. Most of Qubeley Mark II's long-range options a gone, but it definitely has a better close-range game. While it's fun to use, there are way better 2500 units out there.

 NEW Zaku III Custom
 A fun 1000 cost unit to use. At the outset there's nothing special about it, but after about 10 seconds you can engage in a Power Up mode that reflects beams and enhances melee for a short while. Plus, it gets a stunner with a huge range. Still, I think it could've used a couple more long ranged options besides the Beam rifle and the supports.

 Char's CounterAttack

 Nu Gundam
 Even though it received a new move, it feels very much the same as before. It's a great all around unit that can fight at any range effectively and it's pretty straight forward to use. The beam shield is pretty useful!

 Sazabi
 Finally became a 3000 unit! The Sazabi is pretty fun to use and a great long-range unit with plenty of tools and options to cause havoc. What's even better, even though his melee is a bit too slow and might leave him open for enemy beams, he can cause some damage up close! Still, he is better at long range-mid range, but shouldn't be scared to engage head on.

Bonus:

Berga Giros
 Berga Giros suffers from having a good melee. 1000 units are supposed to be support units, that stay away but aid the more expensive units. Berga Giros has a pathetic main gun that deals little damage and has poor tracking, he also has missiles that are easy to dodge unless used at mid-range. His stronger long-range option is his support call, but these don't recharge until respawn. Sounds pretty bad, but he has a couple of moves that stun and have pretty low charge/reload time, these can help him get up close and deal larger damage or let the other unit engage safely. As a whole, I don't believe he is of much use, but dunking enemies with the drill is fun!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost Impressions Z-chapter.

 I'm liking Full Boost so much, that I wanna write my impressions on all the units. I talked about most of 0079 in my Now Playing entry, so I won't be covering them, instead...

Z Gundam
 A good, all around unit, I didn't notice anything particularly different from vanilla Extreme VS. I didn't hate it, but I don't see myself using this unit any time soon.

Hyaku Shiki
 My favorite Mobile Suit in the Gundam universe. A 2500 unit, it feels a bit weak amongst it's 2500 brethen. The Ion Cannon is as useless as it was on Vanilla, since the start up is too long. I dunno, I know that I used the hell out of this unit in Vanilla, but this time it just didn't click with me. I will be retrying it after I'm done, since it is my favorite mobile suit.

Messala
 The giant cannons on its back make it look bulkier than it is, even though it is quite a tall unit. It's an OK unit with a fantastic long range game and a decent melee.

 New Units
The-O
 This was actually DLC in Vanilla, but since I didn't buy it, this unit is pretty much new to me. As one would expect from this four-armed(He has two tiny arms hidden in it's battle skirt) behemoth, its long-range game is pretty weak, and his Beam Rifle takes a while to recharge, so make each weak hit count. It's melee, however, is quite fantastic, he can make some pretty long and strong combos with devastating results. When I first tried it, I hated it, coming from the Messala, but after getting used to it, he became quite fun.

Hambrabi
  The Hambrabi has both decent long range game and decent close range game, making it quite versatile. One of his attacks has him calling Dunkel and Ramsus, in their own Hambrabis, working alongside Yazan for a long while. Unlike other supports of their kind, Dunkel and Ramsus are invulnerable, so they'll remain alongside Yazan until their time is up. Not only do they provide a nice buff to the Hambrabi's long range damage, but they allow it to use the three-pronged attack that they used on the show! Very nice unit.

Gundam Mark II/Super Gundam
 One of the units I liked the most, so far. It's got a decent mid range/close range game by default, and it can call the G-Defender to transform into the Super Gundam for a short while. The Super Gundam takes a hit on close-range, but gains super beams to aid it in mid-to-long range skirmishes. It's all around fun and pretty decent.

Bonus:

Full Armor ZZ Gundam/ZZ Gundam
 While I didn't particularly like it in Vanilla, FAZZ was my go-to mobile suit in Mission Mode, when the missions got harder and I needed more fire power. Compared to its vanilla counterpart, it seems a bit weaker when it comes to damage output, but it keeps the same start-up as before. Full Armor ZZ Gundam was made for long range, as his movement speed is slow, and his close-game is pretty sad. Long-range is where it shines the most, until you purge the armor and turn into ZZ Gundam. ZZ Gundam gains more speed and a better close range game, bit it should still aim to stay in mid-range.

Now Playing: Tales of Destiny II

 'Salright.
 Seems the copy I've got had one scratch too many, as plenty of Farah's lines would skip... so I migrated to the PS3, and the PS3's reader did the trick. Technical issues aside, so far it's alright. Maybe I hyped myself for this game too much, as it's the Tales game that always eluded me, but I dunno, I like it, no doubt about it, but it wasn't "WHOA OMFG THIS IS AWESOME". Hopefully it picks up, I mean, I only invested about one hour...
 Voice acting is hilarious(In a bad way), graphics are plain, although some of Farah's sprites' expressions are very endearing. As for the engine, I like the new sprite style, Phantasia and Destiny used Super-deformed sprites, but this time they have more appropriate proportions. Combat itself is very Phantasia/Destiny-like, not a bad thing per se, but the new 3D Tales of have evolved oh so much. Reid, like the protagonists from all the classic 2D Tales of games, can use Axes, Lances and Swords, but I found it funny how people kept referring to him and his sword, yet his starting weapon is an axe.

Review #97: Wild Arms 2

Oh boy, another game from my youth. And it's another RPG to boot.
 It's no secret that I adore Wild Arms 3, it's one of my favorite JRPGs out there, but my first dip into the Wild Arms series was the second entry. Truth be told, I had never finished Wild Arms 2, but I finally put an end to that, I have finished it and am ready to write about it.
 This game is set on the Spaghetti-Western inspired Filgaia, you have your gallows-like-bars, cow boy styled NPCs and the music is very cowboy-ish, there's plenty of firearms and the main character's last name is Winchester. However, that's about where the influences go, the rest of the game features plenty of out-of-place technology and a bayonet wielding main hero! Just like in Wild Arms 3, at the start of the game you get to pick from one out of three characters, even though you have to go through all three of them, which will have you play through a small introductory chapter. When all three characters finally join together, ARMS is formed, a team of warriors that seek to bring down the evil group Odessa, that aims to place the world under their rule. There's a lot to the plot, and like every JRPG ever holds plenty of twists, all while seeking to answer the question of what is a "Hero". Sadly, the game's translation is pretty darn awful, at times the dialogue will be making sense, and bam, a totally dumbfounding line follows that makes no sense what-so-ever. Liz and Ard, two secondary characters, are a particularly bad example, as in the Japanese version they'd speak in proverbs.... which were translated in a very literal way, needless to say, their dialogue makes no sense, and it gets worse when the party follows suit. You can get the gist of the story, luckily, but be prepared to go through plenty of lines that make no sense in their context.
 Gameplay is easily the best part about Wild Arms 2, in a sea of me-too JRPGs, Wild Arms does it's own thing both in-battle and while exploring. For starters, towns and dungeons in the overworld are hidden at plain sight, you must douse your surrounding area and hope to find it. It sounds annoying, but you always get plenty of hints, and the places where things are usually have a slight decoloration, it hardly ever becomes an issue. Plus, later in the game you get a radar that shows nearby hidden items and town. When it comes to braving the dungeons, they are filled with puzzles. Each character gets three different tools that they must use in order to fulfill certain tasks or solve puzzling, tools range from Throwing Knives to Kicking Boots, Bombs, Fire Rods, Dashing Boots and a Grappling hook, among many others! Solving puzzles is very fun, and sometimes they can be quite the headscratchers.
 Combat is also very entertaining, as the are many factors to it. First of all, every character attains their Skills in a different way: Brad and Ashley must find cartridges that bestow them with new skills, and these skills consume bullets that must be replenished at stores or via-items, however, they can upgrade these skills. Lilka gets hers by finding hidding Crests and then engraving them with spells for unlimited use, Tim must slay a certain number of enemies while wearing the corresponding Guardians, Kanon's are unlocked as she uses her skills and Marivel must steal them from certain enemies. Furthermore, in battle there is a gauge called Force Points, which rises as you hit and get hit, and starts at the level you are in(Say Ashley is level 31, then at the start of every battle, his FP will start at 31). These skill require you having a certain FP, but do not consume it. However, each character has 4 unique Force Powers that do consume FP. Finally, bosses usually have different parts to them, defeating each part grants bonus experience points and gold, plus, disables some of their attacks(Not necessarily their strongest's). All these options make combat pretty entertaining, getting into fights was just fun.
 There's also a bit of customization in the form of Personal Skills. Every time you gain a level, you also obtain a point to spend on Personal Skills. Points invested can't be taken back, so you have to think carefully. Spoilers: HP UP is the most important skill in the game, and you must start spending points on it as soon as possible, as it makes you earn more HP per level up, this will mean the difference between surviving an attack or dying in one hit, it's easily a must for the optional bosses. Then you have about 12 different Guardians, some earned as the story progresses, but most must be found on optional dungeons. These guardians provide a passive boost to characters stat and grants them a unique special command to use in battle. Did I mention optional bosses? The game has a ton of secrets and hidden sidequests, plus eleven really tough optional bosses, these are incredibly challenging and fun to battle, and they, in turn, grant you the best items in the game.
 Graphics are pretty decent, on the overworld and dungeons, the characters are 2D sprites on 3D backgrounds. The backgrounds are alright, but the sprites are fairly plain with not a whole lot of expressions to them. Battles are fully in 3D, and while character models are quite chubby, it makes them quite charming. Monsters look quite good, and there's a lot of variety to them, you probably won't see them all in your first playthrough, even after trekking through the optional stuff. Music is nothing short of great, and while I wish that there were more tunes, what's in is really good, and used in all the right places. The last boss, for example, is extremely memorable thanks to the music that plays alongside the context and what happens during the battle.
 RPGs aim to rich and involving narratives, and maybe the original version had it, but thanks to the translation, the story and dialogue is one of the things that would put you off playing this game. The gameplay is so rewarding and fun that it pulls through, and there is a lot of hidden things to find and do, the dialogue may be terrible, but the gameplay is not.
 8.0 out of 10.

Review #96: Soul of Darkness

 For five bucks, you could do much worse.
 Gameloft is a Company known for their Mobile Phone games, which rip of various, often popular, games. Such is the case with Soul of Darkness, it's a Castlevania rip-off through and through, and isn't even ashamed of it. While Mobile Phones were the home of this game, it received a DSI port, which is the one I'm gonna be tackling.
 Remember how Dracula loves to take the Belmonts' betrotheds into his castle and having said Belmont get to the Castle, then taking him down? Same deal here. Except that the main character is named Kale and the Vampire is named Ritter. The story does pull a bit of a twist later on, but it's no biggie, story isn't the focus of the game, and it's just a means to an end. Curiously enough, you can actually take pictures and place real faces on the character's portrait, to often hilarious results.
 Soul of Darkness plays like a simplified, watered down Metroidvania. The game is divided in eleven, very short, stages. Even if the stages are pretty small, you do get a Metroidvania styled map on the bottom screen, but you won't really need it. Each level houses a couple of hidden Life and Magic Orbs, collecting four of either extends your Health and Magic bars respectively. The variety of stages is pretty nice, and puzzles while not hard at all, are decently entertaining, they usually involve using Magic, like the Ice Spear to create footholds or the Fire Sword to destroy fragile platforms. The game is pretty easy, as a whole, and the checkpoint system is very generous, it saves after you enter each room, and dying makes you restart at the room's entrance, with refilled health and magic bars. It's also a bit of a necessity, the game failed to load an event after clearing all the monsters, thankfully you can choose to "restart" from the checkpoint at any moment, after restarting and clearing all the moments again, the game proceeded as intended.
 Kale has access to two different weapons, an Ice Lance and a Fire Sword. You can switch weapons at the tap of a button, and each one has it's own combo and magic attack. As previously stated, Magic Attacks are usually used for puzzling, but the affinity of each weapon can sometimes deal extra or less damage on certain foes. Furthermore, defeating enemies or breaking certain objects produces purple orbs that can be used to upgrade your weapons. The game is fairly exploitable on this regard, as you can exit/enter rooms and completely make everything respawn, so that you can farm more purple orbs.
 While the game looks quite pretty on screenshots, the animation is actually quite choppy. The style they used is very Castlevania-like, which is a huge plus in my book, but in motion, it just doesn't look too good. Music and sound effects sound... cheap, as if not much care went into them, which makes sense as this game has roots on the Mobile Phone. Lastly, the game lasts 2 hours at most, with an unlockable hard mode. The presentation is easily this game's weakest aspect, luckily the gameplay makes up for it, as simple and shallow as it is.
 What can one make of Soul of Darkness? It's not terrible, it's fairly functional and at times entertaining, but there's nothing that sets this game apart from other Metroidvanias, it's also fairly short and uninvolved. But hey, for five bucks you could do much worse!
 5.5 out of 10