Thursday, January 29, 2015

Month Overview: January 2015

 Games finished in January 2015:
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst      8.0
Guilty Gear Judgment                                                       8.0
Power Stone Collection                                                     8.0
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution       7.0
LocoRoco                                                                          7.0 
Patapon                                                                             N/A
Super Mario 3D Land                                                        8.5
Lunar - Silver Star Harmony                                             8.5
Evolution Worlds                                                              3.5
All Kamen Rider Generation 2                                          7.5
Bit.Trip Complete                                                               7.0

 It was a decent month, mostly games I liked or had fun with. Evolution was a total letdown! I had been aching to play it for so long... And finally, finally I can say that I finished Lunar - Silver Star properly, a game I started over 5 times on the PS1, heh! AND KAMEN RIDER GENERATION 2 WAS BADASS. BADASS. For some reason, I also played... rhythm games, and Patapon totally broke me, I had never felt so defeated before, not in recent memory anyways. I might, MIGHT give it another go later down the road, something about leaving a game unfinished doesn't sit well with me.

 Game of January 2015:
 This game is an improvement on almost every front of the PS1 version... yet I found myself wanting to play the PS1 version again. It's quite obviously nostalgia, but... I can't fight it. Still, Lunar 1 was a fairly solid RPG, but Lunar 2 will forever be number one in my heart, I just liked the cast a whole lot more. But then again, Dragon Master Alex is badass.

 I loved All Kamen Rider Generation 2. I wanted to give it an 8.5, but the game just isn't deep enough.... it's hard to explain, I loved the game, but I know that it's far from being a great beat'em up. Still, it's my blog, so I should be able to do whatever I want.... Ah, whatever. I kept playing this game long after I finished it, and I still find myself longing to play it again right now. It's just so much fun, you get so many riders, even if at their core they all play the same, and having an ally rider of your choice alongside you.... I dunno, I just love this game.

Review #201: Bit.Trip Complete

 Run, Forrest, run!
 The Bit.Trip series is often regarded as one of WiiWare's premiere titles, it's made up of six very different games(Except one of them), but all of them follow a storyline and are developed around chiptune music. Yes, Music, you might even consider them rhythm games and you wouldn't be too far off. But that's not everything that these games are, these are arcadey games through and through, with a very minimalist aesthetic and a difficulty curve that harkens to the NES era.

 'Complete' is a physical rerelease of all six games bundled in one disc. This isn't just a compilation, it also includes a bevy of unlockables, art, letters(That basically explain the story behind each game and how it ties up to the gameplay and music, very cool.), videos and music. Speaking of music, packaged alongside each copy is a disc with the soundtrack. Futhermore, now there are three difficulty settings per game, which makes most games more lenient without turning them into a cakewalk, and 20 tough-as-nails challenges for each of the six games.
 All six games share a couple of mechanics between each other. For instance, every game but Runner and Fate feature 'levels', scoring points will make you go up a level, while missing beats will make you lose points. The higher you go, the more hectic the visuals will get, and the better the music will get(which is a huge motivator to do well, since the music is pretty dang amazing), which, at least in my case, made it harder to discern the next patterns... which is, probably, while going into the lowest level, Nether, makes everything go black and white, allowing you to get a better focus in order to avoid a game over. And avoid a game over you'll want, only one game has checkpoints, die in any other game and it's back to the beginning of the stage, and stages are particularly long, to make up for their scant quantity(Usually 3). One little thing I enjoyed was that a lot of bosses are throwbacks to other games, like Arkanoid, Missile Command or even Pacman!

 As previously mentioned, the games have a very minimalist aesthetic. Every game but Runner and Fate have a very simple look, using simple geometrical shapes made up of very few pixels, not unlike something you'd find on an Atari, but more colorful, with fancier, but not by much, backgrounds. Runner and Fate have more complex forms involved, and use way more colors. The music is excellent in every single game, with various simple themes to convey the story each game wants to tell. The way the beats of the music are tied to the gameplay is very pleasing, makes you want to do good in the games to get the most of it!.

 Bit.Trip Beat: The first game, you control a paddle on the left side of the screen, and your object is to bounce off the oncoming bits. This game is played with motion controls, something I wasn't particularly fond of, but I managed to find a somewhat precise way of holding the Wiimote by using my fingers. This is probably one of my favorites... and, in my opinion, the hardest game of the bunch, still, it's incredibly addicting and oftentimes hypnotic! There's three very long stages, and bit patterns eventually get devilishly hard. Can be played with up to four players, but the paddles start getting shorter, two players is just the right amount of players if you want to have an easier time!

 Bit.Trip Core: This time around you shoot beams. Using the directional pad you can choose to shoot a beam up, down, left or right, and try to hit the bits as they move onto the beam sweet spots. It was fairly fun and challenging, while the gameplay is completely different, it's still similar to Beat's.
 Bit.Trip Void: In this one you play as a black circle, moving around with the analog stick, you must collect the black bits and avoid the white ones. Collecting beats makes you grow bigger, but you can press the A button to collect your points and shrink back. Why wouldn't you shrink all the time? Because the bigger you get, the more points you'll get, so you'll want to put off shrinking as much as you can, since touching a white beat will not only get you closer yo going down a level, but will revert you back to your original size and you'll lose the points you had amassed! Supposedly this game had checkpoints, but they didn't work for me, every time I'd use a continue I'd still start back at the first segment of the stage I was playing.

 Bit.Trip Runner: Easily the most complex game, both in looks and in gameplay. It plays like the endless runners you'd find in many App games, that the screen scrolls automatically to the right and the only thing you have to do is jump. Except that in this game you must also Slide, block or even kick different obstacles while trying to collect gold pieces. This game is way longer than the others, but the three stages are divided in 12 sections(Thank god!). This game is almost as hard as beat... but not as satisfying. I mean, the first two worlds are excellent, I must've retried the first boss over fifteen times and I wouldn't give up because of how much fun I was having. But the last two stages of Level 3? They felt cheap and I just started getting frustrated and annoying, they were just hard and cheap without being fun. Still, it's only two sections in 36, and that's not counting the secret levels! One of the best games in the series. There's no 'levels' in this one, if you touch any one obstacle is back to the beginning of the segment!
 Bit.Trip Fate: The bleakest game in the series, it's also the easiest and the least fun. This time around, it's a sort of on-rails shooter. The stage scrolls automatically, very slowly, but you are free to move over a 'wave'. It's an... interesting mechanic, you are free to dodge, while restricted to the wave. You shoot by aiming with the Wiimote and pressing the A button. There's 6 levels in this one, but they are fairly short.

 Bit.Trip Flux: The series had reinvented itself four times already, what would it do for the last installment? Fittingly, it closes the circle by being just like Beat, but this time around the paddle is on the right side of the screen. There are other differences, there's new Round bits, or Avoid Bits that you must, well, avoid, and all bits are white in color this time around. Oh, and there's checkpoints, which make it much more accessible than Beat, which is not to say that it's easy, some patterns are waaay harder than Beat, but the checkpoints make it more tolerable.
 While I love Arcadey games, these certainly aren't my type of games. That said, the Bit.Trip games were a fun little adventure that took me through Commander Video's life. Sadly, the high difficulty and the retro aesthetic makes it a bit hard to recommend to most people, but if you are even slightly interested in the premise, it's worth a look, just be prepared for a challenge. And do totally delve into the unlockable 'Letters', the backstory behind each entry is too engrossing to pass out on!
 7.0 out of 10.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review #200: All Kamen Rider Generation 2

 It's been almost three years since I played and finished All Kamen Rider Generation on the DS, time sure does fly by! AKRG2 was released simultaneously on both the DS and the PSP, but for reasons known only to me, I opted for the PSP version. One would think that the DS version, being the lead platform, would be the superior version, but you'd be surprised.

 The game has a story. But it's also in Japanese, so I've no idea what it's all about, but hey, over 57 Kamen Riders get united in one game to kick butt, do you really need to know why? The game is divided into 6 Worlds, with 5 to 7 stages each, and an unlockable 'Another' world with about 10 more stages. It sounds like a lot, but stages are pretty short, I finished the initial 6 worlds in 3 hours, but clearing the 'Another World' lengthens the game, even if there's nothing new to see. Still, for this type of game, the length is alright, it ends just before it gets boring. Each stage can also be replayed on 5 different difficulty settings for added replayability. Just as with the previous game, each stage has a mission, but this time around character unlocks aren't tied to the fulfillment of these, so if you can't read Japanese(Or find a translation), it's no biggie. The previous game had some run 'n jump stages that scrolled to right automatically, which have been removed... mostly. For some reason, there's only two of these in the entire game, which makes you wonder why even bother? They aren't very fun anyways.
 All 28 Riders from the last game are back, and each one has at least one new attack. There's 29 new characters for a total of 57. The core of the game remains the same, you, alongside a partner Rider of your choice, go through each stage killing every single enemy that stands in your way. There's a new mechanic, which I like to call jump cancel, by jumping mid-combo your Rider will dash forward, allowing you to start your attack chain anew, it's fairly simple, but it's fun to execute. It's a fairly brainless, uncomplicated game, every character plays basically the same, but there's so many of them, and it's so much fun to play as your favorite Riders! 

While I appreciate how they blended the different forms of each Rider on their special attacks, I wish every Rider got the same treatment as the then-new Riders. OOO, W and Fourze have complete form changes, with new weak combos and entirely different special attacks, as a matter of fact, Fourze can customize his four special moves from a rather wide variety of options.
 I though All Kamen Rider Generation was gorgeous. I was wrong. The game looks a hundred times better on the PSP, the sprites look much crisper and better defined, while the backgrounds are smoother. The difference is almost like night and day. Almost. While the DS version suffers from slowdown every now and then, there's none to be found on the PSP. The DS does have its advantages, however, since the PSP is a disc-based console... there are load times. Engaging in the 'form change' menu for OOO, W or Fourze will make you go through two loading screens, they last 3 seconds at most, but they can get a bit annoying. Using Super Moves also requires going through two loading screens, problems that the DS version does not have. It's not a deal breaker, but it's something to keep in mind.

 Graphics in the game are amazing. The 3D backgrounds are rather bland, but a huge step up from the barren stages from AKRG 1, but where the game really shines is in the characters. Sprites are very well animated, and look amazing in motion. You get to look at your favorite Riders, fighting recognizable enemies in glorious 2D. And on the PSP, it looks phenomenal. The music isn't anything special, but for a licensed game like this, it's alright, but would it have killed them to include music from the shows? Voice Acting is done by different actors than those from the shows, which is a tad disappointing, and for some reason, they don't sound very good.

 While the gameplay received mostly small tweaks, it still feels like a better game than its predecessor. More moves on each character, the new jump-cancel mechanic makes creating combos a possibility, more stages and more appealing backgrounds, and over 50 characters. It kinda makes the old game obsolete. Still, what you see is what you get, this is a beat'em up, if you don't like the genre, you'd better look elsewhere.
 7.5 out of 10

Now Playing: Bit.Trip Complete & All Kamen Rider Generations 2

 It's... it's different.
 Let it not be said that I abandoned the Wii! After cementing what I already knew with Patapon, that I've no rhythm nor can I keep a beat, here I am playing a Rhythm game! I hate myself. It's hard to say how I feel about it, I just beat 'Beat', after countless retries. There's something hypnotic about it, once you get in the 'zone' and your arms begin reacting by themselves. I like it. What I could've done without were the motion controls, but oh well.

 I liked All Kamen Rider Generations 1, it was simple to a fault, and while every Kamen Rider was basically the same, there were loads of characters. Now there are even more, and I can already see new animations in Kamen Rider Knight. Oh! And the older characters? Everyone got at least one new move, which is kinda neat, but the characters work more or less the same. BUT WHO CARES, THERE'S MORE RIDERS! I played the last one on the DS, but I jumped ship on this one, the good? Sprites and backgrounds look much sharper, and I haven't come across any slowdown whatsoever. What's not so good? Load times. Characters with menu-based forms, like OOO and W, bring up loading screens during gameplay. Heck, even engaging in Super Moves brings up a loading screen. And while the music sounds pretty good, the voice samples sound terrible.
Sadly, as much as I'm loving the new characters(KAMEN RIDER KNIGHT! SHADOW MOON(Eventually), IXA!!!!!), and the new moves(KIVA'S THREE KICK COMBO IS BADASS), it feels just like the first one, heck, the stages feel the same. In a way, it feels more like an expansion than a sequel, but then again, I only finished the first World.

Review #199: Evolution Worlds

 A generic name for a forgettable game.
 Evolution Worlds is a Gamecube port of Evolution 1 and 2 on the Dreamcast. Two RPGs for the price of one sounds too good to be true, and it is. The game itself is rather dull, but even then, this 'compilation' has suffered from cuts, mostly on the Evolution 1 part of the game, making it the least ideal way to go through these games... or is it?

 The premise of the game, well, the first part, revolves around Mag Launcher, the last heir of the renowned Launcher family, a family of treasure hunters, tasked with taking care of the mysterious mute waif Linear by his father. In this world, there are weapons called 'CyFrames', which most party members use by the by, that come in many forms, Mag himself wears a gigantic robot arm on his shoulder. There's an ancient artifact known as "Evolutia", of  which many adventurers dream of finding, Mag included, but an army(where do they come from exactly?) eventually comes to Mag's town in search of leads. The second game is even worse, featuring a very underdeveloped and shallow villain. Evolution 1 certainly gets the raw deal here, as the 8 dungeons have been reduced to three, which also translates to longer cutscenes in order to convey more information. It doesn't work very well. Both stories are generic, predictable and dumb, trust me, you've seen these plots thousand of times before in animes or other games, but done much better. The dialogue is laughably bad, often times redundant and reiterative, with some fantastic logic thrown in the mix(' I don't want to hurt you!' so she's gonna destroy the world! MAKES SENSE.). The main cast doesn't get it much better, they are as underdeveloped as the supporting cast.
 The game mixes Rogue-Like dungeons with RPG-like battles, but these elements don't mix very well. Rogue-like games feature simple dungeon designs, usually randomized, with nothing else to do but walk around trying to find the stairs to the next floor. This holds true with Evolution, but while combat is very fast paced in rogue-likes, in Evolution touching an enemy means loading the turn-based combat arena, finish the turn-based battle, and then load the dungeon again. It gets boring fast. Dungeons have virtually no puzzles, there's the occasional hidden wall, and the very last dungeon introduces moving platforms and, for the first and last time in the game, poles that a character(That you get only moments before this last dungeon!) can grapple to and from. Oh, and the game doesn't tell you that he can even do it, so you have to figure out by yourself what the hell those poles mean, and that this character needs to be in the lead in order to use them. Fun. Another elements borrowed from Rogue-like games is the very limited inventory capacity, which makes you be more mindful about what to keep and what to throw, and trap tiles that can hurt you or heal you if you step on them. And you'd better have an extra 4 blocks of memory on your memory card, as 'Interim Saves', which means saving and quitting upon going up or down a floor in a dungeon, takes up a whole other file, unless you plan on going through 15 floors in one sitting, which is very boring.

 Combat is a fairly simple affair, firstly, there's 'party formation' on a 3x3 grid, characters on the front lines deal and receive more damage than the ones on the back, as expected. Battles pan out as any other turn based RPG, you have your basic attack, item, skill(Spells) and Defense, with the addition of 'Talents', which work just as spells, but instead of consuming FP, they have a time-based cool down. Defeating enemies rewards you with experience points, sometimes items, and TP. TP is used to learn new skills, what's more, you can learn them mid-battle, in which case you'll be able to use them for no FP cost on that one time! Money is earned by clearing dungeons or selling items.... but party members beside Linear and Gre will take money every time you clear a dungeon, with up to 80% of the prize money being taken away! Basically, money was needed to upgrade CyFrames, so I just wound up using Gre all the time. Hilariously, on both 'last dungeons'(What would be Evolution 1 and 2 last dungeons, respectively), the game takes away Linear, for plot reasons, which means you'll have to use at least one underleveled party member. Neat. It's not that big of a deal anyways, since they level up pretty quickly and the game isn't hard, but it's a hilarious curiosity.
 Graphics are very, very dated. They don't look very well, and the animation is nothing to write home about. That said, I do have a soft spot for this type of early-PS2 era graphics, so I kinda liked them, reminded me of Okage, but without the engrossing art style. Music is fairly decent, but ultimately forgettable. Voice acting.... is bad. At first I didn't much care for it, it didn't seem terrible, and for a cutesy game like this, it was alright.... but then the second game happened, and at the end of the game it tried taking itself too seriously, and repeating lines you've already heard before, but... they were delivered so poorly.

 Now then, I admit to not having played the games on the Dreamcast, but just as Evolution 1 was reduced to three dungeons, there's weapons and items missing from the Evolution 2 side of the game, but I doubt the extra dungeons and cutscenes from Evolution 1, or the extra weapons from 2 would've change my experience with the game. If anything, more dungeons would've made me tire of the game sooner, and dislike it even more. At the end of the day, Evolution Worlds is a very forgettable game, nothing is particularly broken about it, but it doesn't do the things it does very well. It's just another RPG, unremarkable at best and dull at worst.
 3.5 out of 10

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Now Playing: Evolution Worlds

 Engaging man mode.... No interim-save run!
 So, yeah, I remember watching ads for these games on Xpert Gamer and EGM, and longing to play them... now's the time!

 Firstly, turns out it requires 4-8 blocks on the mem card to save your game... which kinda sucks, since I only had 4, which means no Interim Saves, and on the longer dungeons... it's gonna suck. That aside, I'm liking it. The graphic style reminds me a lot of Okage, which is always a plus, and everything is so goddarn cute. The gameplay is fairly interesting, it's a mixture of Rogue-like with RPG, which works surprisingly well.

 One thing I'm not fond of however, is that in order to get both games into this version... Evolution 1 got compressed into three dungeons, which translates into over 20 minute long cutscenes, which can drag. The plot is predictable, the voice acting is overdone(But it kinda works for this cutesy game), but I think the gameplay more than makes up for that.

 If you'll excuse me, I've a military base to raid.

Review #198: Lunar - Silver Star Harmony

 In your dreams, all things are real unless you dream they are not!
 I like the Lunar franchise as a whole, but my favorite entry is definitely Lunar 2. That doesn't seem to be the case with the developers, Lunar School? Never even got a PSOne remake. Lunar 2? Was remade once on the Saturn and PSOne. Lunar 1? It had a PSOne/Saturn remake, a GBA remake and now, finally, a PSP remake. Now then, the Lunar and Lunar 2 I'm familiar with are the PSOne versions, I loved Lunar 2 and went on to finish it more than a couple of times, while Lunar 1... I started it from scratch quite a number of times, but never got too far, it just never managed to get a firm grip on me, unlike Lunar 2. Which means, I will be comparing this remake to what little I remember about the first one.

 The story puts you in the role of Alex, a town boy who dreams of adventures alongside his talking,winged cat-pet named Nall. In particular, Alex worships Dyne, the old DragonMaster and one of the Four Heroes that saved the world in the past. In the world of Lunar they worship the Goddess Althena, giver of life and protector of the people. I could delve a bit deeper, but I would spoil some things... not that this remake cares. New to this port is a Prologue in which you get to play as the legendary 'Four Heroes' who banished the great evil that threatened Althena and the world.... and also gives away a couple of plot twists and devices. If this is the first time you go through the game, you probably won't mind, but as someone who played the older version.... I think the way the plot developed was better on the older version, plus, unlike the rest of the game, this prologue has a very cheesy dialogue, it was pretty bad. The rest of the game however, feels more in tune with Working Designs original translation, with less pop culture jokes, which is pretty alright. While the plot revolves around saving the world, as 99% of RPGs do, the central theme of the game, nay, the franchise is love, and it's kinda charming, without getting too corny, to this day.
 So, where to start.... The game is a fairly straightforward RPG, go from town to town, through dungeons, while battling baddies and bosses. Encounters can be seen as single enemies on the dungeons, touching them will engage in combat. The combat system has been slightly tweaked from the PSOne version. Just as before, formations are important, as some enemy attacks my go in straight lines or attack areas, so it's a good idea to keep your five characters spread out. You can still order them to move around by defending, but the 'battle grounds' are much smaller. The rest is pretty much the same, you have your normal attack, spells, items or even let the CPU order your characters around. There's a new feature in the form of limit-break like attacks; receiving damage will make a yellow gauge increase, fill it and it allows you to use a very powerful attack; these are pretty over powered, but they take a while to fill, so you don't get to abuse them much.

 One common complaint I've heard is that the game is easier. And it's true, it is easier... for the right reasons: They trimmed off the fat. Lunar and Lunar 2, as much as I liked them, required grinding, for money and for levels. You don't need to grind anymore, gaining money and experience points is much faster, and bosses aren't as cheap, dungeons have also been redesigned to be less maze-like, which is a good thing. Making a game hard because you need more levels is stupid, that's not a real challenge. That said... bosses used to have different animations while you picked your move, which were hints as to which attack they would use next, sometimes your only chance of survival was to use 'Defend' when the big attacks where gonna happen... not anymore. They kept the different animations on the bosses and enemies depending on how they were gonna attack, but the overall damage was decreased so much that you don't really need to defend... which is a shame, as every boss battle and encounter became very automatic, I just kept repeating the same strategies over and over and over again, forcing the player to defend or move aside to evade strong attacks would've added some variety and challenge to the battles.
 Another little thing that bothered me a little was the enemy AI. Y'see, you can see the encounters on the dungeons, and they are always the same enemies. The same group of enemies(Say... 6 fish-monsters) would ALWAYS act the same, every time I engaged the battle. Targeting the same exact party members, which made some fights play out in the same way over and over again. And while the game is rather easy, not once did I see the Game Over screen, sometimes enemies love to gang up on one of your party members.

 Lunar: Silver Star Harmony's presentation is stellar. Graphics have been redrawn from the ground up, and they look gorgeous. Animation is very smooth, and these characters had never looked so detailed before. Still, and I fully admit I'm probably blinded by nostalgia, I miss the old sprites, they were so small, cute and charming! So, yes, technically, these sprites are superior in every way, but the kid in me misses the old ones. Music... man, Lunar's OST is phenomenal, and every song is here, intact... no, remastered, now they sound even better. Two songs have been retranslated, sung by the same singer, and they sound pretty neat.... but I loved the older Opening so much, I didn't quite like this one as much... the other song(The one Luna sings in the boat) sounds much better though. There's new voice actors! And they are better in every way, not surprisingly as Working Designs had to work with friends or relatives... still, I felt as if there was less voice acting than on the PSOne? I might be wrong, but there were very few voiced scenes this time around.
 Quite probably, this is the best way to experience Lunar: Silver Star right now. With the older versions now been so expensive, this is the way to go. It helps that the entirety of the script was kept intact, although I could've done without the new prologue scene. They also got rid of all the mindless grinding that it required, which is always a plus. That said, people that experienced the older versions, like me, might find themselves longing them, but this one is, probably, the better game, just that the older one was so charming that it's hard to let go! For first timers, it's a no brainer, get the PSP remake and never look back.
 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Archile's Grab Bag - Unconventional Confirmation Edition

 Now then, I don't normally do these for random packages, but seeing how I got a decent haul... why not?
 Pokemon Omega Ruby: I don't really need to say anything about this one I reckon.
 Megaman Anniversary Collection: I already talked about my history with the series, so there's no need for that, but hey, this one includes both Arcade fighters which were awesome. AWESOME.
 All Kamen Rider Generations 2: The first one wasn't anything special, but I liked it, and since I love Kamen Rider, I knew I had to have it. Why on the PSP? The DS version is upwards 50 bucks, I got this one for about 10.
 Custom Robo Arena: I been meaning to dabble in the series for a while new, and since I could get it for cheap... why not start with the DS version?
 Bit Trip Complete: Rhythm games are not my... jam, but for nine bucks I couldn't say no. I just couldn't, it wasn't physically possible for me to say no.

 Oh, and Megaman Sidescroller Marathon confirmed. I'm also gonna go through Zero and ZX again, because... WHY NOT?!(I really need to stop saying that.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Archile's Grab Bag: Mega Package

 YEEEEEEEEEES New first package of the year.
 Evolution Worlds: FINALLY. Back in the day, I used to buy whichever gaming mags I could get my hands on, and during the PS2 era, ads for Evolution 1 and 2 would often pop up in Xpert Gamer and EGM, and I was always intrigued. But then again, I didn't have a Dreamcast, and I still don't(Which I hate! The Dreamcast seems like a console made FOR me.). Regardless, thanks to the Gamecube remake, I can finally try them out!.... Kinda, it seems it's not a very good port, Evolution 1 has been condensed into a cut scenes, and levels, bosses and items were cut. Oh well, at least I can try it out!
  Megaman X8: Only played a bit of it on the PC, it seemed alright.
 Megaman X7: I remember liking this one a whole lot when it was released, but it received mostly negative reviews. True, younger me probably couldn't tell a bad game from a good one, but I could tell that Megaman X5 wasn't nearly as good as X4, so...
 Megaman Network Transmission: Megaman Battle Network/Rockman.Exe is a series I always wanted to get into. I played the first game on the GBA a whole lot, but never dabbled in the multiple sequels. If only Capcom would release some kind of Battle Network collection on the 3DS.... regardless, I've been curious about this one for a while, as it seems it mixes Classic Megaman with the Battle Network mythos.
 Megaman X Command Mission: The only Megaman X game that I never even touched, yet, I've been mighty curious about it! Megaman. in an RPG? Do. Want.

 Megaman is a franchise I'm deeply enamored with. The first game I played was Rockman 3 on the Nes...knock off we used to own. I remember being the only one in the house that could beat it, and that I did over and over again. I loved Rockman 3. I skipped the SNES/Genesis generation, which means that X1 to X3 were lost to me, but come the N64/PS1 era, I stumbled upon Megaman X4 on PC(I was a Nintendo kid!) and boy, was it incredible. I loved this new 'Zero' character and his sword, I would eventually beat Megaman X4 with all four characters(X, Nova X, Zero, Black Zero), it was quite probably one of my favorite games at the time. Graphics were amazing, music was hypnotic and the gameplay was top notch. It helps that I was too young to notice just how bad the Voice Acting was! With the advent of the PS2, I was finally able to play Megaman 8, X5 and X6. I think I hate X5, but I remember spending a lot of time with it, collecting every single armor piece, fun times! as for X6, I can't remember much. It was at this time, more or less, that I was also able to try the old Megaman games and catch up. Needless to say, I love Megaman, and I've been itching to play all of them in order...

 Now then, I'm not the best when it comes to foreshadowing, but come Tuesday or Wednesday, Megaman Anthology might arrive to my doorstep. And I might do something once it gets here...

 Sidescrolling Megaman marathon confirmed.

Review #197: Super Mario 3D Land

 Everybody loves Mario, but if you don't... what's wrong with you? Now then, Super Mario 3D Land is an interesting game as it mixes many elements from both 2D and 3D Mario games into a fairly entertaining game.

 You know the story. You do. Peach has been kidnapped, Mario to the rescue. There really isn't much more to it than that. As for this adventure, it is a 3D Mario game, much like Mario 64, but there is no overworld, just a normal stage-select map with no branches or hidden routes. The '3D' on the title isn't just for show, this is one of the very few 3DS games that make the most out of the 3D feature, it's not a must, but it certainly makes for a more impressive game, and there are a couple of hidden rooms that abuse the perspective so that the 3D mode will allow you to see it 'correctly'.
 3D Land is like a gigantic love letter to the Mario series as a whole. If you've been following the plumber's adventures throughout the years, you will recognize a ton of stuff. Besides the Tanooki/Raccoon tale power-up, with the return of some enemies that haven't been seen for years, like Super Mario Bros 3's sub boss, nods to older games, like the castles where you must hit a button to destroy the bridge Bowser's standing on or having to jump on a flag pole(This time on a 3D plane!!), or even Yoshi's Cookies making an appearance as platforms! Needless to say, you will recognize a lot of stuff, which is not to say that there isn't new stuff. There's new enemies, new bosses and a new power up, not to mention the entirety of each level being completely new.

 The game plays similarly to other 3D Mario games. This time around, Normal Mario has no melee attacks, so jumping and butt stomps are his only means of offense, but finding power ups, like the Tanooki Suit, Boomerang Flower or Fire Flower will grant Mario more offensive abilities, and in the case of the Tanooki Suit, hovering. The object of each level is to reach the Flagpole at the end, but each level also houses 3 hidden coins. 'Hidden' is a bit of an oversell, most of these are lying in plain sight, I managed to find every coin by myself. And that's just fine, as the game will, sometimes, force you to reach a Coin Quota in order to continue. I'm a bit of a completitionist, so coins were never an issue for me. Beating the game unlocks 8 'special' worlds... which are made up of 'remixed' stages from the 8 normal worlds. Honestly, they were different enough as not to get too repetitive, however...
 Collecting the three coins on each level or having 8 worlds made up of remixed stages could be seen as 'filler', but I felt it was alright. What's not alright is having to play the entire game again as Luigi in order to unlock the final level. Some levels appear up to three times thanks to the Special worlds, and then you have to play them, at least, 3 more times with Luigi? That's just padding. Which is rather disappointing considering that the bonus level is the most challenging level in the game, and one of the most fun. Challenging is a bit relative, I died very rarely in the game, not counting the last level, but it's not until you play with Luigi that you realize just how easy the game is. The Tanooki tail, the most common power up in the game, makes the game a breeze, allowing you to skip past some obstacles. Speaking of Power Ups, Nintendo should've implemented some kind of in-game store, as having to replay Stage 1 to get more Tanooki suits over and over and over and over again wasn't much fun. Being punished for being sloppy is fine, but there should've been an alternative way to get power ups, particularly when some of the coins require specific power ups, not always found on the stage in which the coin is hidden.

 The game lasts about 6 hours, if you collect every coin on the 8 initial worlds, doing the same for the other 8 bumped it up to 10, and then redoing the game as Luigi knocked it up to 12, and then I spent about another hour to beat the last level. Six hours was fine for a platformer game, and I really liked the 8 'special' worlds, even if they were just rehashed. The last level was a blast, and don't trust boards, spent over a hundred lives on this stage? Please, it's challenging, but it's no 'The Perfect Run'(That level was amazing!), I must've spent 15 lives at most.
 This is a Nintendo game, so it's no surprise that the presentation is nothing short of outstanding. Graphics are clear, colorful and extremely appealing. The lava looks particularly good, and being a Mario game, it'd better! The use of the 3D capabilities of the 3DS was worthy of praise, and while sometimes it does feel as if they throw too much stuff towards the screen, because 3D, it didn't get annoying. The musical is standard Nintendo fare, ton of classic tunes and a couple of new ones(Or maybe just songs that I hadn't heard before!), all in all, it's a great soundtrack.

 Super Mario 3D Land is a fantastic entry in the Mario franchise. It's fun to play, it's rather lengthy, with fun levels filled with both new and nostalgic elements that Mario fans will be delighted to find. I wouldn't call it a must-have, or a Mario essential, but it is a great game.
 8.5 out of 10

Monday, January 12, 2015

Now Playing: Luna Silver Star Harmony

 Not too shabby.
 I confess, I love the Lunar franchise. I also confess, I never finished Lunar Silver Star. Lunar 2 is one of my favorite PS1 RPGs, but for some reason Lunar 1 never had the same pull Lunar 2 had. I got as far as the people in Meribia getting turned to stone, which means I never got to see Alex become a Dragon Master.

 Anyways, so far I like it. I like the new voice acting, the sprites are amazing, the animation is gorgeous. That said, they lack the charm the PS1 sprites had, but no biggie. The combat received a noticeable overhaul, the arenas are smaller, and the 'multiple attacks' don't seem to work very well, which kinda sucks. A new addition are 'limit break'-like attacks, which I think could be a neat addition, I haven't really used them a whole lot, but I hope Alex gets a new one once he becomes a Dragon Master, as right now his Limit Break looks like Hiro's Sylvan Sword-thing! There's also a new prologue that adds nothing to the game, but spoils future plot twists, it wasn't needed, and the dialogue in these scenes was pretty cheesy, I might've cringed a bit.

 Regardless, it seems to be a pretty faithful port as far as the story and overall 'feel' of the game, the dialogue lacks some of Working Design's charm, but it seems to be in lieu of what they used to write. Speaking of charm, the opening song is sung by the same gal that did the PS1's song, but it has new lyrics! I... I prefer the old one, but it might be nostalgia speaking, as every word is pretty much engraved on my mind

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Defeat: Patapon

 I tried.
 Patapon broke me. I tried, I swear to god I tried, but stage four kicked my butt, so I went back to grind... and my prey kept escaping because I kept dropping the beat. And even then, I was started to get annoyed at having to bob my head or sing along to keep the beat, looking at the edges of the screen somewhat helped, but I'd mess up the drum inputs or I'd just drop the beat. Because I suck and I've no rhythm.

 So... yeah, Patapon broke. No review, I only played about 20 minutes, so I shouldn't. Still, this game broke me, it broke everything about me. I don't think I'll ever want to play a rhythm game again. I'm just too bad.

 So... yeah, Patapon, congratulations, you broke me. You broke Me.... Well, guess I'm gonna go cry myself dry on the corner. Because I suck.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Now Playing: Patapon

 It's gonna break me, I can feel it.
 I can't keep a rhythm, I admit, I am no musically inclined in the least. And it shows. This game is gonna break me, eventually, I can feel it. I love the sounds, the Pons, the music... But the gameplay? I can't keep up with it.... unless I sing along and, in the process, make myself look like a dumbass. I'm gonna give it another chance... not like I have a choice, I will finish it, that much I can promise, eventually, even if I dislike it.

 Still, it's not a bad game, I think, just not one I can enjoy.

Review #196: LocoRoco

 What is a LocoRoco? Even after playing the game, I still can't say. It's a blob-like, head-like being that likes to sing, and it comes in different colors. It also likes to eat bugs, burgers and some sort of fruit that makes it grow larger, allowing it to divide itself in smaller LocoRocos. That is a LocoRoco. I think.

 LocoRoco is a platformer, of sorts. You don't take control of LocoRoco itself, but rather, you tilt the screen left or right by using the shoulder buttons. Pressing both buttons at the same time will make LocoRoco jump, and by pressing Circle you can make it divide itself in many LocoRocos, assuming you have enough to spare. Y'see, throughout each level you'll find orange fruit, eating one of these will increase LocoRoco's size(1-20), which is also the amount of LocoRocos it can split itself into. The game is very similar to Kirby, in a sense, since finishing each level is incredibly easy, but to achieve 100% on any given stage is a whole 'nother story.
 Levels hold many secrets, from hidden routes, through certain walls that you can go through, hidden breakable walls, and three MuiMui on each stage that bestow you with more parts to build LocoRoco's house. The hidden routes are, usually, much harder than the normal routes, with tougher platforming sections, more obstacles or areas that you can't backtrack to, forcing you to restart the level if you want to attempt it again. There are also secrets behind sleeping sentient beings, that require a certain amount of LocoRoco's to wake up. There are very few enemies, but they take but one jump against them to defeat. Hitting pointy enemies will take a couple of LocoRoco's away from you, but if you manage to catch them soon, you can recover them. Taking a hit when you are only one LocoRoco in size will result in game over. Truthfully, I only saw the Game Over screen once on the latter levels, but I was being careless.

 The game lasts about 7 hours if you aren't aiming for 100%, which is more than enough for this kind of game. There's a bunch of extras, like other five different LocoRocos, while they play the same, they sing different songs and emit different sounds, which is kinda cute. Then there's the customizable LocoRoco house which has some extra collectible parts! And three minigames that are fairly lame, but it's not like you have to play them.
 LocoRoco is beautiful, very colorful and everything is so happy! Everything is made up of very simple shapes, but it's just so cute, even the enemies are adorable. The soundtrack is... adorable as well, it sounds like little chipmunk voices singing on the background, and each LocoRoco has its own song, and they are all so cute. IT'S AN ADORABLE GAME, that's the best way to describe it!

 I liked LocoRoco. It ain't my kind of game, but I appreciate Sony being willing to invest in weird games like these, Journey, Patapon and the such. And I believe it's an excellent IP for the PSP, if only they'd bring it back for the VITA...
 7.0 out of 10

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review #195: Naruto Shippuden - Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution

 Filler done right.
 Another year, another Naruto game... well, technically, this is the second Naruto game I'm tackling in 2015 and the third one I played in less than 364 days time. But I digress, this is, potentially, the last Naruto game on the PS3/X360 generation, and while it is a filler game, it ain't completely terrible.

 There's three main modes: Ninja World Tournament, Ninja Escapades and Free Battle, there's also on-line if you are into that, but I tend to cover mostly offline features, so yeah. Ninja Escapades is made up of three different stories: Akatsuki's Formation, Shisui/Itachi's past and Team Minato interacting with Kushina, all three of them are told via anime cutscenes, they aren't the best animated scenes you'll ever see, but it's original animation and they are more than passable. As for the stories themselves, they are fairly bland and unconvincing, however, I kinda liked the Team Minato/Kushina one, and it was the only one that didn't have a single battle peppered through its duration. Free Battle on the other hand houses: Vs, Survival, Tournament, League and Practice, pretty much the same mainstays from the other games in the series.
  Ninja World Tournament actually is two modes in one, the aforementioned World Tournament and a separate Storyline involving this new character, Mecha Naruto. It lasts about 2 hours, and it's terrible, I found myself laughing at some of the most dramatic scenes, since they were so poorly written. Ninja World Tournament takes place in 'Festival Island', and they made some tweaks to the overworld exploration. For instance, Festival Island is now made up of four big areas, and the character you choose now runs much faster than Naruto did in Ninja Storm 3. It makes finding Missions much, much easier, and exploring the Island is much more fun since it's faster and it has more variety in its geometry, plus, there's 'Mission Stores' in order to find even more side missions. Speaking of stores, sure was annoying when you had to buy stuff one by one... now you can buy it in bulks! And I haven't even mentioned the main event, the Ninja World Tournament. It's divided in 6 classes D, C, B, A, S and S+, naturally, you need to begin from Rank D and clear them from the bottom up.

 The fights in the World Tournament are unlike anything else you've seen in the Storm series, these are 4-man battles, in which dealing damage translates to making orbs fall from the enemy. At the start of each battle, each character has 1000 orbs, and if you drop to 0, you lose. These battles usually are fought in group, and after a battle is done, the next character in your team has to fight another three enemies, while the orbs you got in the last round carry over to this one. At the end, the fighter with the most orbs wins. As you go up in ranks you'll also have to deal with 'obstacles' in the form of NPCs and orbs that allow you to use Ultimate Jutsus or Awakenings. It's definitely different, and this mode has proven to be pretty hit or miss but I liked it... mostly. Y'see, you can't play this mode with other players, nor can it be found under 'Free Battle', plus, at latter levels, the CPUs just gang up on you, it can get quite annoying, which is why characters like Kimimaro, who cover wide areas with their attacks, become very strong. Another issue I had was with the targeting, you can lock on by pressing on the right analog stick, and then switch targets by moving the analog stick around, but switching targets was pretty sloppy, and kinda cumbersome in the heat of battle when you have three guys aiming at you, two of them being outside your vision area!
 There's been a lot of changes, so I'll start with the smaller ones first. Now you can customize your character, which sounds awesome, but it sucks. Customizing means equipping up to three items on your character, most items being Anbu masks. Ever wanted to have Naruto wearing a mask, with two other masks on his shoulders? Now you can. It's really lame. Most accessories aren't even cool. Know what would've helped? Allowing you to change the colors of the characters, say, giving the Raikage Gaara's colors, or maybe even a Black Bijuu Naruto, that would've been awesome and would've made up for the very limited amount of items. For some reason, costumes were removed from Ninja Storm 3, to be honest, most costumes sucked, Napoleon Sasuke? Cowboy Naruto? But why would you remove stuff? Probably so that they could justify selling the swimsuits again, yes, they sunk that low. Speaking of DLC, why would they charge for the Pre-reanimation/Reanimated costumes? The only characters that had any noticeable change, besides their eyes, where the Tsuchikage and the Raikage, these costumes should've been on the game from the get-go. At least the Jinchuriki robes are pretty cool, those are good DLC... except that you need to update the game to use them, so you better not uninstall the game unless you want to download the patches again in order to use the DLC that you bought! Awesome.

 As for positive changes, there's a new 'Counterattack' mechanic which is pretty neat, and if you manage to predict an attack and counter it, you will leave them open for attack... and they can't substitute out of it. Some special team combinations(Like Gaara/Tenmari/Kankuro or Hashirama/Madara) now produce some very epic team ultimate jutsus, even if it's just for eye candy, it's gorgeous eye candy. But the biggest change of them all.... They divided features. Ultimate Jutsu, Support Drive and Awakening, you can only pick ONE of them to take into battle. Each style has its own nuances, Ultimate Jutsu types can cancel out of their attacks to use a Jutsu, Awakening types can Instant Awakening(Now everyone has a generic Awakening, and some characters that used to have special Instant Awakenings(Nine Tails Chakra Mode) are now reduced to a generic IA) and the Support Types can change between offensive and defensive at will. I am most definitely not a fan of this change, I hate how some characters that had unique IAs before now have generic Awakening, and I dislike having to sacrifice a feature in order to use another. Oh, and the dumb ring-outs and anime stills when offing an enemy with an Ultimate Jutsu are back, sadly.
 I can't say that this is the best Ultimate Ninja Storm game, but it is the one with the most characters available to date, which is a huge selling factor to most fans. It's most probably the last Naruto game on last gen consoles, so if you like Naruto and aren't planning to upgrade any time soon, it might be worth it. While I don't like some of the new tweaks, most were pretty damn good, and while it is another filler game, it has much more content than Generations.
 7.0 out of 10

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review #194: Power Stone Collection

 So... what's a Power Stone?
 Power Stone is one of the many, many great Capcom Arcade games that never saw a port outside the Dreamcast... until the PSP Collection. Collecting everything Power Stone, Capcom yet again delivers a fantastic PSP package. Power Stone Collection includes Power Stone 1, Power Stone 2 and the three VMU mini-games in one neat package, alongside a couple of extras in the form of official art.

 Power Stone is an Arena based 1-on-1 fighting game. As with most games of its ilk, there's a bunch of weapons that you can collect in order to defeat your opponent, but the game's main feature are the Power Stones. Defaulting at three(5 on the Sequel, but you can change it in the options menu), gathering these stones will temporarily transform your character into a super version of him or herself. It's not as simple as it sounds, as getting knocked down will make one of your stones fall down, allowing your enemy to grab it. All in all, it's a fairly fun game, and the version featured in this Collection allows you to unlock the new comers from Power Stone 2, which sounds awesome until you play as them. Y'see, these 4 unlockable characters play just as they do in Power Stone 2, with a simplified control scheme, which translates to less moves, and they are much, much slower than the other characters. Basically, they are completely outclassed, making them a pretty worthless extra. As for ways to play it, there's Arcade, Versus, Training, Ad-Hoc Vs, Training and an unlockable 'rear view' Arcade Run.
 Power Stone 2 builds upon Power Stone 1, now you can play with up to three other players/CPUs, it features even more items and weapons, more characters(Kind of a null point since you can unlock them in this PSP port on the prequel!) alongside interactive stages that feature transitions into other areas and even vehicles and turrets! The controls have been simplified, reducing attacks to just one button and removing one of the two normal attacks of a character's super form. While characters move a bit slower, when playing with 3 other enemies, it's barely noticeable, and that's how you should be playing the game this time around. Weapons are more prominent than before, as even gems will appear inside chests instead of simply spawning on the ground, unlike the first game. As for Modes, there's a 1-on-1 Arcade run, 1-on-3 Arcade run, Versus, Adventure(A slightly altered 1-on-1 run, Ad Hoc, Training and a Network-only Bomber battle).

 Power Stone 2 only has five stages, which as fun and multi-tiered as they are, they can eventually get old, but you can unlock four other stages(Only for use in Vs or Practice) for a total of 9, which isn't so bad. You can also unlock the two Power Stone 1 bosses, and they are much faster than the characters in this game, plus, they have more moves, kinda making them a bit too good when compared to the rest of the cast. All things considered, I think I like Power Stone one a little bit better, but I'm sure Power Stone 2 is the better multi-player game.
 As much as I enjoyed both games, I had a couple of gripes. First of all, the loading times are a bit long, particularly on Power Stone 2. And the other one, which I thought was worse, is that they didn't rework the 'guest' characters to fit the other game. Power Stone 2 characters in Power Stone 1 are useless, they are too slow to even stand a chance, and their reduced movesets make them not as fun to use. Capcom should've, at least, increase their movement speed. The same goes for the Power Stone 1 characters in Power Stone 2, they are much faster than the others, with more moves, was it too much of a bother to put them in line with the rest of the cast? These features could've been a really cool bonus, but as it stands, they are a very disappointing extra.

 Both games use the same engine, as far as I could tell, which means that they look the same. Not that it's a bad thing, as both games are very colorful and good looking. Stages are pretty creative, specially Power Stone 2's with their multiple transitions. The characters, sadly, aren't very creative, they are fairly generic, and slightly uninspired, their super transformations are much, much better though, still, let's just say that there's a reason they never made it to Capcom's VS games. Music, while hardly Capcom's finest, is pretty good and upbeat, very fitting of the games.

 Power Stone Collection is a great way to get to play the Power Stone games, you even get official art and the VMU mini-games. Still, it doesn't necessarily make the Dreamcast ports obsolete, as the new unlockable characters are fairly disappointing and not worth double dipping into the series.
 8.0 out of 10