Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review #117: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - All Star Battle

 JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a bit hard to review, y'see, while it looks and plays like a fighting game, it's a JoJo game first, and a fighting game second. CyberConnect 2 did an amazing job in creating a game from fans for fans, but does that mean that they made a good game?

  At it's core, this is a 1 on 1 3-D fighting game. You get a simple three attack buttons, a sidestep button and a Style button. As for the mechanics, it has a very basic chaining system, light attacks chain into heavy attacks which can then be cancelled into Special moves which in turn can be cancelled into Super moves(Heart Heart Attacks) or Ultra moves(Great Heart Attacks). Furthermore, while you can use the Sidestep button to sidestep at any moment, pressing back just before getting hit will instantly sidestep the attack, while performing a fabulous pose, allowing for a swift counterattack. The Style button is a fairly fun addition, as it behaves differently depending on what type of character you are using. There are Ripple Users(Style allows to charge Meter or unleash EX versions of the special moves), Stand Users(Calls forth a "Stand", a spirit of sorts, which usually changes up the whole moveset while active), Vampirism(Can restore White health after a while and suck HP to restore its own), Pillar Men(Similar to Vampirism, but instead of sapping HP, they get special modes) and Horseback(Can ride horses) still, there are exceptions, like Hol Horse who is classified as Stand but plays very different to stand users, or Old Joseph who uses a Stand and the Ripple, or Cool Ice and Dio(3) who have both Stands and Vampirism, heck, Cool Ice's Stand plays nothing like the other stands! There is a lot of variety, both in movesets and styles, almost every character of the 42 plays very differently from one another, even though the "repeated punch" special move is shared by most of the cast(It is a staple of the series after all!). Needless to say, there's bound to be at least one character that suits your style.
 Delving deeper into the mechanics, there's also an Easy Beat combo, mashing the Light Attack button will produce a small, simple combo that usually(but not always!) ends in a Heart Heart Attack if you've got the meter to spend. While I'm not a huge fan of this, since you can't turn it off, the combos are fairly simple and easy to pull off, so it's not like it gives them a huge edge, and lets you play as a character even if you don't know how to use him/her. There's also more advance mechanics, like Flash Cancel, that lets you spend meter to cancel a combo, or the Stand Rush to fight as your Stand performs an Special move. There's a bit of a comeback mechanic in the form of Resolve and Rumble modes, both modes are activated automatically after a character's health drops below a certain threshold(30% for Rumble Mode, and 20% for the few that have Resolve Mode) and offers a wide variety of buffs. It's not necessarily a game-changer, but I wasn't too fond of the mechanic. Furthermore, each stage has a different gimmick(Which can luckily be turned off!), usually some sort of telegraphed attack that deals damage to any player on its way.

 The game contains: Arcade Mode, Story Mode, Campaign Mode, Versus, Practice, Customize and Gallery. Now then, Versus, Practice and Gallery are pretty much self-explanatory, so I'll talk a bit about the others. Firstly, Arcade Mode, which is a simple ladder-style mode in which you fight 8 random opponents, with no real reward besides money which can then be spent in Gallery Mode, simple yes, but keep in mind that the Japanese version didn't have this mode. Then we get Story Mode, as I'll explain further, CC2 went the extra mile when it came to fanservice in this game, which is why it's so surprising that this mode is so barebones. While it goes from part 1 to 7(And makes up a scenario for Part 8 where Josuke faces off against the other JoJos), you do get some preface before each battle... in the form of short text snippets. There's no accompanying images, no panels from the manga, no character cut-outs, just dry, flavorless, bare text. The story rushes through events, mentions characters that aren't even featured as NPCs and does away with them in a matter of sentences, which kinda makes you wonder why even bother mentioning the character if it won't be a big deal at all when it comes to this mode. It tries to make up for it by having "Hidden Missions", the objectives usually have you use moves that were used when the fighters fought each other in the Manga, which rewards you with extra money and unlocks stuff for you to buy in the Gallery Shop.
 After you are done with the oh so very short Story Mode, you'll have unlocked every character(which is a good thing) and "Another Story Mode", which is the same mode, with the very same text snippets, but you play as the opponent this time around, superfluous at best. After getting done with this short mode, the next mode is... Campaign mode. This is where the game placed all of its Microtransactions. Yes, a full-priced game(except in the USA) has the audacity to place Microtransactions. Campaign Mode is the only place to unlock the real cool extras, like the taunts, colors and costumes. "But this is so much better than having to buy the costumes!" kinda. Y'see, in order to gain the cool extras(Colors and Costumes) you need to defeat bosses, and by defeat I don't mean "Defeat them in battle" but drop their HP to 0. Unless you spend Energy from your 10-stock battery, you'll only deal 250 damge(They have HP ranging from 1500 to 15000). Bosses are found at random(You can buy microtransactions to up the chances to find them, and if you don't find them after using an item... too bad, its gone for good(The game does give you a very few of these for free after playing a lot in this mode)), and the most damage you can do is 4000+ using an entire Battery.... This is a very, very disappointing mode, I spent more time waiting in order to milk the bosses as much as I could. I spent more time waiting than playing. And look on the bright side, after Namco closes down the servers, this mode is gonna be gone for good, alongside all the unlockables, so you better get cracking right now!

 As for the extras, most of the alternate costumes are merely cosmetic changes, so even if they wanted to sell them to you, they would've had trouble finding an audience that wouldn't complain! To be fair, these costumes are based off on the covers of the different volumes of the Manga, so while, most, are small variations, they are very neat references to the manga. The taunts, as well as the poses, are ripped straight from the manga, so extra points for that as well. Even the alternate colors(You start off with 2 per character, and can unlock 2 more for every character in Campaign Mode) are based off the manga. Furthermore, the art pieces in the gallery are all very high quality and look really good. Finally, there is a disappointingly 9 DLC characters, while I'm usually against this, I think the amount of work CC2 put into fanservice was very well worth it, plus, the core roster gets all the essential characters, while the DLC are merely fan-favorites or Araki favorites(Like Shigekiyo!) that aren't really needed.
 The game is drop-dead gorgeous, there's no two ways about it. Models look fantastic, and almost every move, every pose, every word they speak was taken straight from the pages of the manga(There are a ton of videos showing where moves and poses are from!). The game uses a special cell-shading that looks fantastic, the coloring is bright and colors look very liquid, it tries to look as a moving manga and it very well succeeds, there's no other game that looks like this. Keep in mind that JoJo is known for its very extravagant and flamboyant male characters, there are a lot of rather feminine poses and pink alternate colorations, so not everyone might "get" what JoJo is all about, which would be a shame. It sounds too good to be true, and it kinda is, there is a cost for such beauty.... the game, a fighting game at that, runs at 30 FPS with occasional framerate drops when it gets too hectic. Serious fighting game players might scoff at that, but remember, this is a JoJo game first and a Fighter second. The Soundtrack is fairly extensive, with a ton of very good and fitting pieces, but if you are so inclined, it possess a custom-soundtrack option. Voice-acting is Japanese only, but top-notch in quality, most characters were recast(Like Giorno, no longer voiced by Paku Romi) for the better.

 Needless to say, as a I huge JoJo fan and a huge Fighting game fan, I adored this game. The framerate drops, easy beat combos, stage hazards, long Great Heart Attack animations and flamboyant characters will probably turn off a lot of Fighting game fans, but fans of JoJo look no further, this is the game you have been waiting for. And hey, we got an even better deal than the Japanese, we actually get an Arcade Mode! which is something, as the lack of modes is fairly noticeable, and the Campaign Mode was downright disgusting, but the gameplay was so good, and the amounts of fanservice(The good kind!) were off the charts.
 8 out of 10.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review #116: Dexter's Laboratory - Robot Rampage

 Done with it in a spell.
 Remember Dexter's Lab? It was a fantastic series, back when Cartoon Network actually showed Cartoons, and the Cartoons were actually good. Robot Rampage is, unmistakably, an Elevator Action reskin. For some reason, Bam! saw fit, when bringing Elevator Action to USA, to make it a Dexter game, which is a bit baffling as Elevator Action actually had an audience.

 There actually is a story for the game, Mandark has taken control over Dexter's lab, and Dexter must now gather the keys, discs, passwords or what have you in order to defeat Mandark and save his laboratory. There're four stages with four levels each, in each you must either climb down or up the building, while looking for red doors, which possess either the keys that you must gather, or optional weapon power ups. Levels have an assortment of elevators, which both you and the endlessly spawning enemies can use to ascend or descend through the levels, escalators and later on, gaps and alarms. Dropping from distances beyond one floor will outright kill Dexter, which is why you must make use of the elevators and escalators throughout the maze-like buildings.
 You can play as 3 different forms of Dexter, plus an unlockable character. Each character has slightly different running and jumping stats, so they allow for experimentation, although you are not allowed to change characters upon death. As for the weapons, some are more useful than others, so you might want to avoid weapon-possessing red doors once you finally get a good one! Another thing to keep in mind, is that sometimes, avoiding getting hit is impossible, but infinite continues soften the blow. As a whole, I liked the gameplay, it's a very fun Elevator Action game, the red doors being randomized on each playthrough allows replays to feel a bit different. The game can be beat in an hour or two, but there's no battery save or passwords, so you must finish it in one sitting.

 The presentation is disappointing on two fronts: the graphics themselves are unimpressive, with minimal animation and the fact that it doesn't make the most of the license. The only character from the show you'll recognize is Dexter, sure Mandark makes an appearance in cut-scene form before each Stage, but he isn't even the last boss. The enemies are simple generic robots that don't even borrow from the show's artstyle, so it ends up being a missed opportunity to make a good Dexter game. Music is... average, sorta generic, and it gets old after a while.

 All in all, as far as Elevator Action games go, this is a pretty average version. The Dexter reskin is superfluous at most. If you are looking for a Dexter game, this is not the game you want, but if you want Elevator Action on the go, this is not a bad choice.
 6.0 out of 10.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Archile's Grab bag - Cosmo filled Saturday in the evening Edition

  Ain't this the best way to wake up in the afternoon?
 Ragnarok Odyssey Ace: Wish I could say more than "It looked really neat", but I can't....
Saint Seiya Omega Ultimate Cosmo: I despise Saint Seiya. I loved it as a kid, but there's not way an adult can like that train wreck of a series, BUT, I do love the concept behind it. Do you know the best thing about the games? You get the concept and not the poor execution. While this game is based on the Omega series, which fans hate... one has to remember that Saint Seiya fans actually like Saint Seiya, so what do they know? And hey, this game looks much better than Brave Soldiers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Now Playing: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle

 Must... not... let... fanboyism... get... over... me....
 The game arrived to my door today, and I've already logged in a... respectable amount of hours. All characters are unlocked now, by the by. So... first things first: the North American version got the short end of the stick, it has the worst cover(Japanese cover has Jotaro with the other JoJos imprinted on his clothes, my fave, and the North American one is, basically, the European one but zoomed in on Jotaro and Star Platinum, so that you can't see the whole of their fists, it looks terrible).

 Then... the worst I can say about the game, is that it has a incredibly bare bones story mode. Dragon Ball Budokai 1 had the best Story Mode I've seen in an anime-based game, while Budokai 2 has one of the worst. JoJo's is in the middle of the road between both, it ain't bad, but it's so disappointing. Stories are briefly told and rushed through a few text windows. It introduces non playable characters that add nothing to the mode just to do away with them through text, which feels dumb. They could've at leas used some panels from the Manga, or character cutouts, SOMETHING besides just text.... The good news is, after you finish the story mode, you are greeted with a very stylish credits roll it's one of my favorite, if not my favorite credits roll ever, it looks phenomenal.

  As for the best the game has to offer, the gameplay is top notch. It runs at 30 FPS, with occasional dips when the screen gets crowded, which kinda sucks, but it looks so good that I didn't really mind, it's not like the game aims to be a competitive game. And this game offers a ton of fanservice, the good kind of fanservice, not the one that aimed at perverts, but the one aimed at the fans of the show. Every move, every line, every pose was taken from the Manga, which is amazing. There are tons of little details, like Gold Experience Requiem not being affected by  Made in Heaven, or how the faces characters make when hit with Gold Experience's punch are all taken from the manga.... It's a downright amazing effort by CyberConnect2.

 Bottom Line: My thumb aches, and there's nothing I love more than an aching thumb after playing fighting games for a while(I really should've dusted off my Arcade Stick...). I love this game.

Archile's Grab bag: JOJO FINALLY ARRIVED Edition

 I'm reusing yesterday's package photo, sue me.
 DmC - Devil May Cry: This game had quite the tumultuous release, didn't it? And it was all because of the hair. People will always cry foul, that that was an excuse that the devs used to make people with "real" complaints look bad, but c'mon, they started hating the game when all they had seen was the redesign, and once the demos and footage from the game started rolling in, they finally got real ammo, but the initial complaints? All about the hair or how Dante looked. I liked the very first redesign, but after they showed how it looked like the game director's, then I understood why people disliked it so much.... And then they slightly redesigned Dante again, so that he wouldn't look like Taneem(The director) anymore. And nowadays everyone gets mad about the tiniest littlest thing, like the scene with the wig, where those that disliked the redesign started calling it a slap on the face. I've been a long time fan, and I thought that scene was hilarious, even more so since Dante ends with white hair, learn to take a joke, like Bad Boxart Megaman in Street Fighter X Tekken, sheesh.
  OutRun 2006 - Coast 2 Coast: I'm not a racing game guy, I mean, when was the last time I had a Racing game in one of these? Regardless, I've always had a soft spot for the Outrun series, and this one looks pretty nice.
  JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - All Star Battle: IT'S FINALLY HERE!!! YES, JUST INSTALLED IT, YES YES YES!
  Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2: I loved Tenkaichi 3, and after trying out Raging Blast 2's demo, I thought that they had ruined the controls. I tried the demo a second time, and while I didn't hate the control as much, I wasn't convinced. I was convinced after seeing how many people where saying that the controls were actually simplified, so I shouldn't have been having so much trouble with them....
 Dexter's Laboratory - Robot Rampage: Elevator Action+Dexter's Laboratory, two things I used to love. I never owned this game, but after reading about it in a Magazine, I knew I had to had it... but I never did. I did manage to get a ROM and play it on an emulator, and I liked it a ton, but way back then, I wasn't savvy enough as to buy online.... So I might as well fulfill my childhood now!

Now Playing: Crimson Gem Saga

 Jojo should be arriving today....
 I haven't had much time to play this month(Pretty clearly), and I'm gonna be focusing on Dark Cloud 2 and Jojo once it arrives, so this one will be relegated to those times when I'm feeling lazy and just wanna chill while watching TV. Anyways, I digress, Crimson Gem Saga, alright so far.

 I've logged 30 minutes(an hour, technically, as I'll soon disclose) and, while not impressed, I'm liking it, kinda. Know what I despise? How encounters work. As soon as an enemy sees you, and they seem to, sometimes, have eyes on their backs, an exclamation mark pops over their head, failure to make contact with them before they dash towards you means that you'll get ambushed, and if there is more than one enemy, prepare to suffer. I met my end after half an hour, in which I didn't think I'd need to save, this way. Getting ambushed is way to hard on the player, and getting the first hit is nigh impossible when enemies seem to be able to detect you at any time. It's incredibly annoying, especially since I only have one character so far!

 As for the combat, it's very simple, as straightforward as it gets in a turn-based RPG, so no complaints there. Killian, the main male lead, is quite likeable so far, he has this "Second place" complex due to his rival always getting first, no matter how hard he tries, it's easy to relate and root for him, even if he arrived late to his graduation due to partying the last night! The thief elf was as stereotypical as it gets, lame uninspired skimpy bikini design coupled with the "pretend to be nice and rip everyone off" attitude, which makes her pretty bland in comparison to Killian, nay, makes her bland in any and every regard.

 Overall? Not impressed, not disappointed. It has a pretty b***in' opening by the by!
 (And you know it's got to be badass if I have to reduce myself to cussing about it!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review #115: Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Gundam Next Plus

 I swear to god, I've been in love with the series ever since Federation VS Zeon!
 Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Gundam Next Plus is the prequel to the Gundam Extreme Vs I've talked about on this blog oh so many times before. It being an older game in the series, specially when it comes to fighters, could mean that it's an outdated game, luckily, this isn't the case.

 Gundam VS games are unlike most fighters you've played. Matches are played strictly in 2 vs 2 or 1 vs 1 battles, the first being the most popular on both casual and higher-level play. Matches are played on a 3-D environment, with the camera situated on the back of your Mobile Suit and a target locked onto either of your targets. Basic controls use only four buttons and the analog stick, you have a close-combat attack, a long range attack, boost(Used to fly or move around fast) and switch target, pressing two buttons of the first three together produce other special functions depending on which of the 66 units you are playing as. Matches are fast and furious, very arcadey, the object being to deplete the 6000 cost gauge of the enemy players, you do so by destroying their suits. Mobile suits cost 1000, 2000 or 3000 points, and upon death, are subtracted from the gauge, this means that if both player pick a 3000 cost unit, only one of them can die and only once. It's a very simple concept that makes for some very entertaining fights, the smooth and simple controls just ease you into the groove, as mastering the game can be quite harder, as you have to make a lot of resource management.
  Coming from Extreme Vs, this is slower game. It's not necessarily a bad thing, the game is quite fast on its own. Another big difference lies in the basic gameplay, for starters, there is no soft-dashing(Double tapping) in this game in order to cancel moves, instead, all actions can be cancelled by boosting. A rather minor change, is that every suit in this game has an Assist unit that they can call upon for various functions. As expected, Arcade Mode is completely different, Routes in this game are set from the start, so you can't jump from route to route, but each route usually has a healthy amount of alternate stages, so in a way, this game has more stages than Extreme Vs, even if it isn't as flexible.

 After you are done with Arcade Mode, you have a basic Multiplayer Mode and a fairly in-depth Mission Mode. Mission Mode has about 60 missions with many stages each, some even have secret stages and alternate stages. In this mode you pick a group of four Mobile Suits(You can change the team before starting a Mission) and you can upgrade them as you go along. There's plenty to do in this mode, and there is a lot of variation, you may find yourself defending targets, chasing extremely fast targets, normal death matches , trying to grab pink circles, having to endure a certain amount of time at 1 HP, and plenty of others, definitely a much better mode than Full Boost's Trial Mode.
 The game does have a couple of issues, even though they don't hamper the overall experience, they deserve to be mentioned. The most harmless lies in the rather long loading times, they are not terrible, but for a portable game, when you are on the go, they can get quite aggravating. And secondly, there's a couple of framerate drops when there is a lot going on on the screen at the same time. Special stages that pit you and an ally against three opponents are specially taxing, but as long as you don't get all five units on the screen at the same time, you'll be Ok.

 This is a very pretty game, playable Mobile Suits look fantastic, but the unplayable "fodder" units look terrible, it's very jarring when the camera pans from a playable suit to a unplayable one. Stages are very detailed, even if most are not very interactively. The soundtrack is fantastic, with plenty of licensed music from the anime series, and the voice actors reprise their roles from the anime.

 I'm not gonna even try to hide it, I love the series, you could take away all the mobile suits and replace them with generic soldiers(Or metahumans, like the upcoming Rise of the Incarnates) and I would still love it, because it's pure arcade gameplay goodness, and I won't get tired of it anytime soon.
 9.5 out of 10.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Good bye, DS and Wii online play

 If the Wii is not going to be remembered for something, it's gonna be due to its Online Play. But that doesn't mean that I didn't have fun with it.
 To start with, Monster Hunter 3 was, easily, the most fun I had playing Online on the Wii. While I never finished the Single Player campaign(And now that Ultimate Monster Hunter 3 is out, I'm, probably, never going to!) but boy, did I spend hours upon hours Online, at night, hunting with strangers! Dying actually made you feel bad about it, since your death meant reducing everyone's reward, we'd usually type "sorry" every time any of us died. Whether we managed to slay our prey or fail miserably at it, hunting in Monster Hunter 3 online was endlessly fun.
 The Conduit was a very, very average first person shooter, being on the Wii, a console that had such potential for FPS games, yet lacked decent ones, allowed it to shine. Sadly, it had no offline multiplayer mode, but it made up for it in a very average Online mode. Looking back on it was probably a terrible, terrible multiplayer FPS game, but there was nothing quite like it on the console. I spent more time than I'd like to admit playing both with friends and strangers.
 Say what you will about its balance, Mario Kart Wii was a phenomenal multiplayer game. I've many fond memories of this one, playing with people all around the globe(And the game actually showed you from where each opponent came!), plus, the game also allowed you to bring a buddy with you for the ride. I'd usually go online with my sister and play against other people, heck, once me and a friend went 2 on 2, Sibling duo VS Sibling duo to claim superiority. While Monster Hunter 3 was the game I loved playing online the most, Mario Kart Wii was the one I spent the most time with.
 Ah, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it did away with so many things that made Melee good. It was much, much slower, the random tripping was incredibly stupid, and to top it off, playing online was such a hassle. But when I finally managed to get it going, I had some fun 1 on 1 battles with a friend of mine. I won every time, and nobody can say otherwise. Funnily enough, I'd always try to play with Items off/Final Destination, while he'd go for items and any stages!
 One my favorite 2D fighting games ever made, Tatsunoko VS Capcom was a game that I tried to play online... but with my connection, it was downright impossible to get a good conection. But I tried!
 Anime licensed games are, usually, very shallow affairs... That was not the case with Bleach : The Blade of Fate, it was a neat little game, with a fair amount of depth and very decent balance. It also got a sequel in the way of Bleach: Dark Souls, but I never bothered to go online with that one. Playing this one online was... interesting, to say the least. The boards I frequented had a very elitist attitude that quickly rubbed on me, we'd look down on players that used Auto combos and/or used Cards. I remember that I'd always pack my deck of cards, but would only use them in retaliation if the opponent used them first, otherwise I'd stick with my "Cards are for scrubs" motto. I remember that I decided to main Hitsugaya, while I learned to despise him in the series, probably because Bleach got really bad during the latter parts of Las Noches, I wanted to main a character that wasn't Ichigo(Since everyone was using him!) but that had a ton of tools for rushdown, and Hitsugaya fit the bill quite nicely, with a wide assortment of tools for any situations, I quickly took Hitsugaya online and never looked back! By the way, back in the early DS days, games would often allow you to draw a symbol that would be shown online.... I managed to create a very decent Zangetsu.
 I always felt that JUMP Ultimate Stars was in incredibly overrated game, but I'd still frequent the boards, and just like it happened with Bleach BoF, it developed a very elitist community. Breaking combos using cards was frowned upon "If you are caught in a combo, you are to let them finish it", looking back on it, that was quite dumb. There were also issues with people who used any of the big three(a Trunks koma, and two others that I can't remember, I think Seiya was one of the three too?), as they were deemed Over Powered. Regardless, I've quite the funny story with this one... I joined a match, just like any other, and I didn't realize it at first, but the other three players were just idling by, until I killed one of them, and the other three proceeded to gang up on me! I'd later learn that Japanese players, in order to farm points, would enter matches without fighting each other, just waiting for the timer to run out, taunting on the spot was the "signal", and if a player tried to beat the others, they would gang up on him. Ouch.
 Mario Kart DS was one of the first games that I played online on the DS. While it was a fairly fun experience, it was filled with hackers everywhere! I remember this one guy in particular that had infinite Bullet Bill items. Prick. I remember making a very badass Archile icon to use as my symbol online.
 When I was younger, I fell in love with the Megaman Star Force trilogy(Sadly, that love is somewhat gone by now) and while I never battle online against other players, I did go online to register Brothers on my games in order to make my Megaman stronger. Back in Star Force 1 I didn't know the online use of Favorite Cards, poor fellas that registered me got stuck with some lame Sword chips, while, thanks to them, I got access to their Mega Chips, and even Event-Only chips, sorry guys!
 While, design-wise, I hated Pokemon Pearl, the underground minigame was the most fun I've had with an activity in a Pokemon game. Ever. Online really made me appreciate this game a whole lot, logging around 200 hours(By the by, I've logged over 400 hours in Pokemon Y thanks to the online. I hate myself.) due to online trading. I've lots of fond memories sending my Legendaries to cloners in order to get trading material, and then managing to obtain everything I needed in order to 100% percent the Pokedex(Which I didn't do. But I did in Pokemon Y!). I also did some charity trades to people that didn't have anything I needed, but I was just paying it forwards.

 In 3 hours, 31 minutes and about 40 seconds at the time of writing this, the DS and Wii online play will be forever disabled. Here's to celebrating Nintendo's poor, but at least functional, first foray online play, I can't speak for everyone, but I had fun.

Archile's Grab bag: I wanted Jojo but it didn't arrive today Edition

 Obligatory Package Photo, move along now....
 Spectral VS Generation: I'm not familiar with either franchise, but I've been wanting to play this one for quite a long while now! Seems like a pretty neat, oldschool 2D Fighter, even if poorly balanced.
 Rengoku II - The Stairway to H.E.A.V.E.N.: Finally I brought this one over, poor thing was all alone in Miami waiting to come into my hands.
 Dragon Ball Z - Ultimate Tenkaichi: Not only one of the worst Dragon Ball games ever created, it looks like a terrible, terrible game. But the graphics look downright amazing, and it's finally reasonably cheap, so I said... Why not?.... I think I'm a masochist.
 Dragon Ball - Tenkaichi Tag Team: Since I bought a bad DBZ game, I needed to buy a good one to balance the force... or something. I tried out the demo, took a bit to get used to it, but it's good.
 Jeanne D'Arc: This one... I've been wanting to play it ever since I've heard of it, before I even bought the PSP. To be fair, I used to love Strategy RPGs, but that love is long gone, still, my... nostalgia? demanded me to play this one.
 Half-Minute Hero: Looks mighty interesting, and people keep talking about it to this day(Maybe because it got a sequel, heh), so why not?
Kenka Bancho - Badass Rumble: Look at the name. Badass Rumble. How could I not get this one?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review #114: Hexyz Force

 'tis been a long time, eh!
 For today's entry, I present you with Hexyz Force, a RPG for the PSP by STING, developers of quirky games like Knights in the Nightmare and Yggdra Union. Presently, Hexyz Force is a rather expensive PSP game to get, but is it worth it?

 Set in the world of Berge, players are granted the choice between following Levant's search for the Stigald fragments or Cecilia's quest to protect various Monoliths. While both characters go through the same dungeons, fight many of the same bosses and don't get any exclusive dungeon, both stories are radically different. Each character gets a different supporting cast, with different personalities, even the themes each story deals with are different. Cecilia's definitely the most lighthearted one, but Levant's gets darker themes, such as racism and treason. While the last two chapters are pretty much the same between both characters, heck, both parties merge together so that you can choose between all eight(And maybe an extra ninth...) characters, depending on which character the player decides to follow will leave a noticeably different impression on the story.
 Hexyz Force is a decidedly linear JRPG, while there are more than a couple optional sidequests, they are few in quantity, and since the game uses the, sadly, all-to-common list-based world-map, you always know where to go, and while backtracking is a possibility, you cannot go to new places unless you are told to, getting lost is never a problem. Furthermore, the game keeps a Log on the main menu, so that you can access the last conversation that characters had in a cut-scene, so you can just look in there, pretty handy. The game doesn't make use of shops, instead, you make your own equipment. As you travel through dungeons, defeat enemies or search towns for goodies, you'll come across materials that you can then fuse into equipment. Fusion is a very simple matter, you just go into the Fusion menu and search on the list for anything you can make, double tap X and you get a shiny new equipment piece.

 Combat is fairly interesting. While at the end of the day it matters little, you can position a three-man party on a 3x3 grid, the closer you are to the enemies the more damage you'll deal and receive, it never amounts to much as the game isn't particularly hard. Then comes the matters regarding equipment, Weapons and Items(Healing items, damaging items, etc) must be equipped on a character before engaging an enemy. Each character has four different slots for weapons and items. Weapons come in two varieties, Ragnafacts and , well, normal weapons. Weapons and Items behave the same way, each one has a set amount of abilities and a set amount of durability. Each ability consumes a different amount of Durability, and when the durability reaches 0, it breaks. Durability can't be repaired. Ragnafacts on the other hand consume RP, consider it mana, and as long as the character has mana, you can use its skills. Ragnafacts never break, and unlike other weapons, you can level them up with Force Points. RP never becomes a problem, the game completely restores your HP and RP every time a character levels up, and the game usually has HP/RP restoring fountains before bosses, and after leveling up their Resonance a bit, their basic skills end up consuming 0 RP. Lastly, there's a gauge that rises as you take or deal damage, and can be used to unleash powerful Burst attacks, think of them as Limit Breaks unique to each character.
 Force Points are the major currency in the game. You can earn it by killing enemies or by converting items into FP. And you can then spend it in leveling up your Ragnafacts, heal the party(HP only), or on certain objects in the overworld that react to FP. The game also has a very handy feature, holding R will fast forward any dialogue, cut-scene dialogues included, and tapping R in-battle, will make everything go twice as fast, making grinding, assuming that you really need to, a non-issue. Skipping also becomes a necessity in Levant's story, as there is a very nasty bug that will make the game freeze during a mandatory conversation unless you skip it(You can then read it in the logs, so no worries). Annoyingly so, freezing seems to be a rather common occurrence in the game, when tackling the optional bosses, do not hold the R button as the screen transitions into battle, or the game will most likely freeze. Fairly annoying. On a more positive note, both Levant and Cecilia get 3 endings each, so that's something.

 The game employs fairly cute and simple, but surprisingly detailed, character models. While, on a technical level, it's not very impressive, it does look very good, and it's a very colorful game. Environments are nothing out of the norm for the genre, but they get the job done, and while there are more enemy palette swaps than I would've liked, most major bosses look fairly menacing. There are also a few anime cut-scenes that play every now and then, and they look pretty decent. Music is quite good, you won't be humming the tunes any time soon, but it does have some enjoyable songs. There's not a whole lot of voice acting, only during anime cut-scenes and a couple of lines before major boss battles or after battling, but what little there is, it's quite decent.

 All in all, Hexyz Force is a neat little JRPG. It does nothing out of the ordinary, but what it does, it does fairly well, it's a shame about the freezing glitches.
 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Gundam Next Plus Impressions Final Part

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

EZ8 Gundam
  Extremely(heh!) similar to Extreme Vs, if not downright identical. Beam Rifle mode definitely isn't as good, melee wise, as it is in Extreme Vs, and I'm fairly sure that it moved faster in cannon mode as well.

NEW Gundam Ground Type
 While Full Boost introduced this unit as a DLC clone unit... it's almost a bit clonish in this one as well. Just like the Ez8, it has two modes: Cannon and Machine gun. The biggest difference is that it has terrible melee, instead of, well, passable melee tools. Machine Gun mode doesn't even have a beam rifle, but it retains the Missile Launcher while in cannon mode. Me, being a Melee fan, would much rather play as Ez8, even though I like how the Gundam Ground type looks better. Ah well, I really couldn't care less if they decided to bring this one back in Maxi Boost, it was fairly similar to the EZ8 in this one, and it's even worse in Full Boost's DLC.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00

Gundam Exia
  It's... in some ways better, and in some ways worse than in Extreme Vs. The Boomerang is more unreliable, the melee doesn't seem to be as good or easy to cancel into other moves and Trans-AM is a one-time only sub weapon... BUT when it uses Trans-Am, it becomes much better than in Extreme Vs, faster, stronger, and with longer and better combo strings that keep it on the move.

Gundam 00 Raiser
 As of Maxi Boost, Setsuna has 4 Mobile Suits and Lockon Stratos has 3. The amount of suits it gets is downright appalling. I don't have a problem with 00, I've a problem with the rest of the series not getting more reps! Gundam G? Gundam Wing? Heck, even Char could use his NightinGale... Alright, Rant over. How does 00 Raiser fare? I LOVE IT. I was fairly indifferent to it in Extreme Vs, but here it's a completely different suit. It's permanently in Raise mode, and it has two modes, one that shines at mid-long range, and one that is a melee beast. It also gets Trans AM, and while it's not as good as Exia's Trans-Am, it can be used more than once(If you survive while it reloads!). I like this suit, fun to play as, and really, really good, shame we are stuck with 00 in Extreme, probably an excuse to get Setsuna two Mobile Suits in one.

Reborns Gundam
 It's good, but not as good as in Extreme Vs. For instance, switching between modes is temporary, long range mode lasts as long as you have boost. It doesn't have such a large moveset, but it does have a nice array of tools, Gerobis, Trans-Am(One time only, turns normal beams into gerobis), funnels, and good melee. All in all? Really good, but not quite as good as in Extreme Vs.

NEW Gundam Virtue/ Gundam Nadleeh
 This one is relatively odd. While in Virtue mode, it's slow as molasses, and three of its weapons consume the SAME ammo gauge, with a max of 3 and the kind that slowly reloads. It can purge its armor to turn into Nadleeh, which is a much better, and faster suit, but a suit that hasn't got a whole lot of different tools. It's surprising that we are on the third iteration of Extreme Vs and this one hasn't returned, the devs aren't shy about their love for 00, and there's no other suit like this one in Extreme Vs.

Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Gundam Next Plus Impressions part 8

Mobile Suite Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Gundam Alex
 Almost identical to its Extreme Vs counterpart, except that now he has an assist. Eh, I dunno, while I like the Alex's design, I always felt he was a tad to weak in Extreme Vs, and it's no exception here.

NEW Kampfer
 I don't usually like long-range only units, but this one... is really neat. It has a shotgun, a bazooka, a sort of grenade... I like it. It also has a whip with bombs? One time use only, but its quite strong. It also has a slashing dash that can be followed up with a bazooka blast or a shotgun shot. Its biggest short-coming lies on its mobility, which is really, really terrible, both boosting or dashing. Overall, I really like it. It looks badass, and has interesting gameplay, and no suit really takes its place in Extreme Vs, this one really needs to return!

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory

Gundam Dendobrium Stamen
 Almost exactly like the Extreme Vs version, however, I think that the cable sub-weapon had an ammo gouge in Extreme Vs? Well, it doesn't here, you can use it indefinitely!

Gundam Physalis
 Bummer, it's missing a bunch of tools from Extreme Vs, and the Beam saber enhancer works differently, instead of being a sub-weapon, it now charges itself after a couple seconds of not using it. It does have better mobility. For long range, besides the nuke, it only has a very weak minigun and a 4 ammo assist-cannon based attack. Fairly lame.

NEW Gundam Zephyrantes / Gundam Zephyrantes Full Vernian
 The Zephyrantes is a very interesting case, not only is it different from Extreme Vs, but it's entirely unique among the other suits. How? It starts as a 1000 cost unit(Zephyrantes) and when it respawns, it does so as a 2000 cost unit, Full Vernian Zephyrantes(It has been switched back to this format in Maxi Boost). Zephyrantes has a very basic 1000 cost unit load out, a machine gun, the head machine guns, a beam sub-weapon and average melee. Once it enter Full Vernian, it switches the machine gun for a beam rifle, gets better melee, better stats and a new charge weapon and new special melee attack. It's an interesting unit, but both movesets are not very interesting.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Gouf Custom
 Exactly the same as in Extreme Vs, except that it has an assist attack now.