Monday, November 13, 2017

Game Time - October 2017

Is it halfway through November? Yes, it is. I realize that this October edition is very late, but cut me some slack I went on vacation! I had an absolute blast getting away from home! I went to a Halloween party dressed as Steven Universe, played Super Mario Oddysey a ton, went bowling, saw New Found Glory in concert, and ended the whole stint with a 24 hour stream for Extra Life.

Leading up to Extra Life I did not get a lot of sleep, and posting the donation and stream link here on the blog slipped my mind. However, it was a success nonetheless! Once again we had a goal of $200, but we literally doubled it and ended with $400. I said it during the stream and after, but I can't express my appreciation enough. As someone who doesn't stream or make videos very often it's absolutely crazy to see so many people come out and show support by donating.

We're here to talk about the video games of October though. The Switch has finally become exactly what I wanted it to be. The amazing games are piling up, and I want to snuggle with the thing at night. However, I can't let the Switch bogart all the attention, so I'll throw a bone to Shadow of War on the PS4. We'll launch into the video game discussion with Fire Emblem Warriors, bring the hype down a bit with Shadow of War, and then let the hype build back up and explode with Super Mario Odyssey. It's game time!

Fire Emblem Warriors

Every time I choose to write about a Warriors game I don't know why. There isn't a lot to say, because they're mostly the same. You play as a character and mash the same button a whole bunch to beat down thousands of enemies. Fire Emblem Warriors is very much more of the same, but now there are Fire Emblem characters! I used to find these games a guilty pleasure, but now I have come to terms with the fact that I genuinely love them. There's something so relazing about turning my brain off and mashing the same button for hours on end. Sure it's not hard, but it sure feels good to strike down foes with little to no effort like you're some kind of all powerful warrior.

Blindly mash and get tons of kills!

What's cool about FE Warriors is that it actually incorporates a handful of gameplay elements from the franchise it's drawing from. In case you're unaware Fire Emblem is a turn based tactical strategy game. In FE Warriors you control not one, but four characters. You can freely switch between them, but it's more efficient to open your map and give the units you're not controlling orders. This way you can focus on going ham while your AI companions defend or take over what they need to. It also makes use of the classic FE weapon triangle, which is another reason for controlling multiple characters per mission. Yes, you can beat enemies who you're weak against , but it takes forever. So if you bring the right characters into battle you can cover all the weapon types and never really run into trouble.

It's odd to see elements from the Fire Emblem franchise blend so well into a Dynasty Warriors game, but I guess it makes sense. Near invincible soldiers are the bread and butter of a Warriors game.

Shadow of War

I loved Shadow of Mordor and its nemesis system. Fighting orcs and having the game create dynamic rivalries was fascinating, and I couldn't get enough of it. Now that the sequel Shadow of War is here I'm not quite as excited as I thought I would be. Once again you take control of Talion, who is being inhabited by the spirit of the elf who forged the one ring. I am well aware of his name, but don't have the patience to try and spell it. In classic video game fashion you lose all the cool powers you amassed over the previous game and need to earn them back. I didn't even play the game long enough to earn them all again, because I just didn't want to keep going.

The fact that I didn't get way into this game continues to baffle me. The game is much larger and added a whole slew of new mechanics and content. A lot of the changes are interesting, but for some reason I just can't get into it. Part of the reason is that encounters with orcs in the original game felt special, and now in Shadow of War you can't turn a corner without running into a new orc to face off against. It happens so often that the encounters lose their luster and that's just a huge bummer. What's even more of a bummer is that all of the story missions are an unending slog. I still feel like the Lord of the Rings license isn't even needed for this game, but it's still here. You get to hang out with Gollum and Shelob, which is kind of cool I guess. The part where it turns sour is that all the missions are super generic and not fun. Have you ever wanted to follow Gollum around for way too long? If so, then this is the game for you! It's just a huge drag, because the draw of the game is the nemesis system and it isn't well implemented into the story at all. It's way more fun to run around the world like a moron and see what trouble you can get into.

The nemesis system makes its triumphant return.

This is one of the few games that I want to try and get back to, but right now I just want some time away from it. After playing a handful of hours I had to put it down, which made me pretty sad. Shadow of Mordor was one of my favorite games the year it came out, but this one just isn't doing it for me at all.

Super Mario Odyssey

I'm kind of distracted right now, because I have the TV near me playing Super Mario Odyssey speedruns. I have been enjoying watching Trihex blow through the entire game, but a few moments ago he brought up a valid point. He's doing the any % run, which means he's just trying to beat the game as fast as possible, but he doesn't want to be. He wants to move up to other categories that have him playing the game for longer periods of time, because he likes it that much. He wants there to be more Mario in his life, and I totally get where he is coming from.

This image makes me so happy.

Odyssey feels like the culmination of what Nintendo has been working towards with Mario for years. It has so much content that it's bananas, and a lot of it is catered specifically to long time Mario Fans. I won't spoil any of what that stuff entails, because witnessing it for yourself is magical. I won't lie, it was magical for me. Part of why I enjoyed Odyssey so much is that it made me feel like a kid again. It's a feel good game, and I felt good while playing it. What makes it special is that it feels both old and new, but in a proper blend. Mario 64 had you collecting stars, while Odyssey has you collecting moons. You still need to complete objectives to get them, but there are way more objectives now. You'll get them for beating a boss, but you might also get one for kicking a can the right way. There are over 800 moons to collect, which is mind blowing. It might seem a bit like overkill to have so many, but I personally think they're fun to collect. They give you a reason to explore, and you definitely don't need to get them all.

What really sets Odyssey apart from its predecessors is the fact that Mario can possess enemies with his hat. It's been possessed by a being called Cappy, which allows him to literally become his enemies. Yes Mario has his platforming skills, but now you can literally become a freaking Goomba. When you throw your hat and enter an enemy they wear Mario's hat and grow a freaking mustache. Possessing enemies allows for all kinds of new experiences that add a lot of fun to the game. That's what Odyssey is to me. It's a fun video game. A lot of modern games are cool and have a lot going on, but aren't necessarily fun. Mario Odyssey is exactly that for me. It's an amazingly crafted game with a lot of love, but above all it's just freaking fun to play.

The Wind Down

2017 has been a hell of a year for video games, and it's finally starting to wind down. There are very few games left that I want to play this year, and that is kind of relieving. I still have a ton of stuff I want to try and finish, but know I won't. I've finished a lot of games this year, but I have also found myself putting a lot of them down. I no longer have the patience to play things I don't particularly enjoy. In the past I'd power through games I didn't like just to say I did, but I think those days are behind me and that is probably for the best.

I'm trying to play through the re-release of the .Hack//G.U. trilogy right now, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting into it. The Steven Universe game is the only thing I'm actively playing right now, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. I would have finished it already if I wasn't trying to stream the whole thing. The new Pokemon games come out in about a week as well, and I'm kind of exited to play those.

It's hard to continue to be excited after beating Odyssey. As I said this year has been bananas, and I might have gotten my fill of what it has to offer, but I must continue on! See you guys in a few short weeks.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Game Time - September 2017

I've been waiting for the month of October all year. Tomorrow one of my best friends is getting married. Then at the end of the month I'm going on a week long vacation leading up to my 24 hour Extra Life stream. I have an action packed few weeks ahead of me, but before I can fully dive in I have to tell you about the games I played in September!

The month started strong with Monster Hunter Stories. I am still playing it every so often, but have not yet completed it. I never would have guessed that a Monster Hunter JRPG targeted at children would appeal to me so much.

Then a few weeks later Capcom dropped Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite. The presentation of the game and marketing leading up to its release made it seem like it was going to be a garbage fire. Unsurprisingly people are trashing it to the ends of the earth and back. The kicker is that it's actually super fun to play! I really like it.

The last game I played was Cuphead. The hotly anticipated indie release has finally come out, and it's everything I was hoping it would be. The 1930's cartoon aesthetic needs to be seen to be believed. In motion it looks stunning. On top of that the frantic boss fights are very fun and challenging.

We have a lot to talk about. It's game time!

Monster Hunter Stories

The fact that I love Monster Hunter is no secret. I feel deep into its trap a few years ago and haven't looked back. It's been a while since a Monster Hunter game has been released in the West, and for some reason Capcom decided to keep XX as a Japan only game. While Monster Hunter World will release in late January the only thing to tide me over until then was Monster Hunter Stories.

The Monsters you know and love are here, but they're small and cute now!

I normally never download demos of games, but I had to know what this one was about. What's crazy is that the demo is just the first five or six hours of the game. You can do almost everything available to you, and the progress even carries over to the main game. By the time the demo concluded I was hungry for more, and ended up getting the game when I otherwise wouldn't have.

I think the most surprising thing about it is that it is essentially a Pokemon game. You collect and battle with cute versions of all your favorite monsters from the series. It starts off very simply. Battles consist of choosing one of three types of attacks, either Technique, speed, or power. Each beats another, so you're playing roshambo. If you lose a trade the enemy still takes damage, but not as much as they would have. Each monster has its own tendencies, so just like Monster Hunter you need to learn each enemies habits to beat them effectively. As the game goes on the patterns get more diverse and you can mix things up by using skills of your own. It has a ton of charm, and while it's not the most complex game out there it manages to capture the charm of Monster Hunter in its own way.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

In my eyes Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite will be the new Street Fighter V. Everyone on the Internet will mercilessly dunk on it without having actually played the game. Alternatively it could be used as a case study in how to absolutely fail to market something effectively. From the start Capcom has mismanaged this games public perception. The models don't look great, but initially they looked even worse. Chun-Li's face looked so bad it quickly became a meme. It is also now coming out that the team was given a very small budget and an incredibly short time to develop the game (to the surprise of no one). When you add in the fact that the roster is largely old characters composed of re-used assets it's hard to see the game in a positive light.

Despite all of that, I decided to try it out anyways. My brother is an absolute Marvel vs. Capcom fanatic. Marvel 3 was the first fighting game he got truly good at, and I loved watching him play. Hell, I just love watching Marvel in general. So I am happy to report that this game has excellent gameplay. The fighting is good in this fighting game. I can's stress this enough. Yes, you only use two characters now instead of three, but the fact that you can tag your partner in at any time and continue your combos allows for so much creativity. The control has changed up a little from 3. You now have a light punch, heavy punch, light kick, and a heavy kick. Crouching heavy punch is a universal launcher, so doing sick aerial combos is still very easy to do. It's fast paced, and very fluid. It feels good!

Still screens look so bad, but it plays just fine.

Do I think this game deserves a lot of crap for the way it was marketed? Yes. However, when you actually play the game its easy to see that it's a good fighting game. I don't think it's wrong to like a fighting game because the actual game is great, but the content surrounding it is not. So far it has absolutely tanked in sales, but I am personally hoping for it to have a long tail. Like Street Fighter V they are going to be selling DLC characters. Capcom has a plan for this game, so thankfully I think we'll have many years of Marvel tournaments to look forward to.

Cuphead

Cuphead began development in 2010 and it is finally seeing the light of day. The 1930's cartoon inspired game was first shown in an indie game montage during a Microsoft E3 press conference. Details started to trickle out and it was revealed to be a sidescrolling boss rush game. Even back then it was said to be fiendishly difficult despite its playful cartoon look. At first there were only bosses, but the game was put back in the oven to add some platforming levels. I can safely say that the platforming levels are my least favorite part of the game, but the bosses are awesome.

Cuphead is a relatively simple shoot-em-up. You run from side to side and shoot magic bullets from your finger. The challenge comes from the fact that you need to keep shooting while simultaneously dodging everything that gets thrown at you. You begin each encounter with three health, and after three hits you're finished. In order to defeat your enemies you'll need to learn the patterns for each phase of the fight. Damaging enemies enough will get them to change up their strategy. It's cool, because you never know exactly how long a fight will go, but if you fail a progress bar of sorts will let you know how close you were to victory. To ease the burden of the game you can purchase different types of shots and charms to help in specific scenarios. The shots have varying damage and range, while charms will give you specific power-ups. While it's certainly possible to beat the game with the default shot and no charms it's not necessarily going to be easy.

If I didn't know better I would think this is a still from a 1930's cartoon.

The game is definitely about the gameplay, but it does have a story. It's actually surprisingly dark. Cuphead and Mugman sneak out of their home and visit a casino. They get on a hot streak in craps and think they're unbeatable. Turns out the Devil owns the casino and he challenges them to a bet. If they win, they get tons of cash, but if they lose he gets their souls. They obviously lose, but plea for their souls. The devil agrees to release their souls if the duo can collect other souls he is owed. So each boss you defeat is someone who owes their soul to the devil. Both this concept and the difficulty are in direct opposition to the beautiful and fun art style, which might be why everything works so well. This game controls like a dream and looks like you're literally playing a cartoon. Cuphead rules!

OCTOBER!

As I stated at the beginning of this fabulous edition of Game Time, October is upon us. I am unrealistically excited for Fire Emblem Warriors. I've been craving some mindless Dynasty Warrior action and now I can get it! However, the true best Switch game is also releasing. Super Mario Odyssey will be out right before the end of the month. I can't even begin to describe how ready I am to play a brand new 3D Mario product. It's been a long time since Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Odyssey looks like it's going to be a worthy successor.

What's even better is that both of those Switch games are going to be out in time for me to play them on a five hour plane ride. It will be my first plane ride with a Switch, and it should be a great time.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Podcast Episode 29 - Kingdom Hearts

After 15 years I return to Kingdom Hearts to see if I still like it as much as I used to. As much as I like to dunk on the series now, I still love it.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Game Time - August 2017

Despite the fact that games were coming out, I took the time to finish my playthrough of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. I did almost everything there was to do, and it took about 50 hours. Sometime in the near future I will be recording the August podcast about the experience. Let's just say that the game aged a lot better than I would have thought.

Outside of HD re-releases of PS2 games I played a ton of new stuff too. Sonic Mania, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Mario + Rabbids are all excellent games in their own ways. I didn't expect to like any of them as much as I did. Let me tell you why. It's game time!

Sonic Mania

It's crazy to think that Sega was once going head to head with Nintendo in the console market. The lovable plumber Mario was going up against the speedy blue hedgehog Sonic. Back then, Sonic was considered by many to be a great game. In fact, many people still hold the Sonic games on the Sega Genesis in high regard. It is the popular belief that Sonic lost its way when the series transitioned to 3D. I personally don't agree with that because Sonic Adventure 2 is my favorite Sonic game. However, even I can agree that the series took a turn for the terrible during the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox era. Sonic has been in a rut for years and Sega has largely been at a loss as to how to turn the franchise around. After years of failing to capture the Sonic nostalgia people crave Sonic Mania came along and changed everything.

Gotta go fast!

As someone who didn't own a Sega Genesis I don't have a huge amount of nostalgia for Sonic 1-3 like a lot of people do. Even without that I think Sonic Mania is brilliant on many levels. For starters it feels exactly like the Sega Genesis games of old. On top of that it combines classic stages with new and interesting mechanics. It's baffling that in 2017 I'm excited to play and talk about a Sonic game. Fans of the franchise have been burned so many times, but are finally being rewarded. Sega did the right thing by hiring the creators of Sonic fan games to make an official game. The movement and speed are top notch, and the music is superb. I can't praise it enough.

There was a period before Sonic Mania released where I began to question whether the old Sonic games were ever really good, or if they were just the best that Sega had to offer in the early to mid 90's. Sonic Mania quickly put my suspicions to rest, and actually reinforced how good the games were back then. The stages are huge and filled with a multitude of paths that most other platformers just don't have. It's nice to see a Sonic game both capitalize on nostalgia while trying to keep things fresh. If it was just a trip down nostalgia lane I wouldn't be nearly as impressed.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Naughty Dog as a developer continues to baffle me. I thought that I was done with the Uncharted franchise after the 3rd game. It seemed played out, and had a decent enough ending. Then 4 came out and blew me away. The game ended in such a conclusive way that I thought we'd never see anything from the Uncharted franchise ever again. Hell, they even announced they were making The Last of Us 2. Yet, here I am about to tell you about the Lost Legacy. It's my understanding that it started off as a shorter downloadable experience, but the team had so much fun working on it that it morphed into a full game similar in length to the original Uncharted.

The Lost Legacy follows Chole, the smooth talking Australian thief from Uncharted 2. I always found her to be one of the more interesting characters that didn't get a whole lot of screen time. She's in India trying to find the Tusk of Ganesh. As with all Uncharted games she has a sidekick, and it just so happens to be Nadine Ross one of the main antagonists of Uncharted 4. At first they're at each other's throats, but as time goes on they get to know each other. It's an interesting dynamic that makes for a lot of interesting banter between the two.

Chole and Nadine murder just as well as Nathan Drake.

At its core it's just another Uncharted game, which I thought I'd be sick of at this point. However, I enjoyed it from start to finish. Sure the climbing and shooting can get a little tired, but the character interactions and set-pieces are always top notch. If anything the Lost Legacy proves that Uncharted can be about things other than Nathan Drake. If they decided to continue the series and follow different characters 8 to 10 hour adventures I'd definitely be along for the ride.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

I want to start off by saying that I've never liked the Rabbids. When they first appeared under the guise of a Rayman title on the Wii I immediately disliked them. Weird, dumb, screaming rabbits just aren't for me. To be fair, they weren't supposed to be. They're geared towards kids. So when Ubisoft announced that they were actually making the long rumored Rabbids + Mario crossover for the Switch I was blown away. I was even more shocked that the game looked good, and I can confirm now that it is actually good. It's really good...

Mario now was a gun. That will never not be weird.

Normally Nintendo doesn't let anyone touch their intellectual property with a ten foot pole, so it's crazy to see what Ubisoft got away with. Mario and pals were given guns and turned loose into a strategy RPG similar to XCOM. It's not nearly as difficult, but it has similar mechanics and ideas. Everyone moves along a grid. can hide behind cover, and shoot. At first it all seems a little too basic, but once abilities and upgrades are introduced it can get pretty tough. The main thing separating it from XCOM is how the movement mechanics work. Mario and friends can dash through enemies to do damage, and jump off of their friends to trigger special effects and move further.

I've been having a lot of fun with the game so far, and it's even making me like Rabbids a little more. While I still think that they're not funny, I no longer get upset when they're on screen. In fact I think Rabbid Luigi is the best character in the game. His dash attacks do a ton of damage and steal health from enemies! Rabbids crossing over with Mario is not something I ever would have imagined, but somehow it works. Hopefully the general positive reception of the game makes Nintendo consider other collaborations and genres to enter the portly plumber into.

The Season is Upon Us

In years past the release of Madden in late August would signal a deluge of Fall video game releases. While that is still the case, game releases never really "dry up" anymore. However, I would say that the Fall is still prime time for Blockbuster releases specifically. For me personally September is a bit odd, because there are games coming out at the beginning and the end of the month. Nothing is really happening in Between.

The more obscure Monster Hunter Stories is going to be delivered tomorrow. Why Capcom decided to make a cute Monster Hunter RPG is beyond me, but I enjoyed the demo so I'll give it a shot. Then I pretty much have no interest in anything until Danganronpa V3 drops on the 26th, and then Cuphead a few days later on the 29th. There may be some other indie releases I pick up, but nothing comes to mind currently.

I'm kind of glad that I'll have a large gap between releases, because I'm a bit behind at the moment. Next time I write one of these I'll hopefully have played a whole lot of video games.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Podcast Episode 28 - Pyre

In this episode I talk about Supergiant Games' newest release. Pyre is an interesting blend of a visual novel and a fantasy sports game. At first it sounds weird, but it comes together into a very unique gaming experience.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Game Time - July 2017

This past weekend I went on a trip for a close friend's bachelor party. We went white water rafting, which is a bit out of my element. Despite that, I had an absolute blast. However, I did end up getting quite a spectacular sunburn. Even my knees are burnt... I am here now fighting through the discomfort to tell you all about what I played in July!

I am here now to fight through the mild discomfort and let you know what I've been doing. It's game time!

Spaltoon 2

When Splatoon 2 was first unveiled I was both excited and disappointed. I enjoyed the original quite a bit, but 2 just looked to be more of the same. Sometimes this works out for games, but the reason I liked Splatoon so much was because it was a rare new IP from Nintendo. Even more rare was the fact that it reached ridiculous levels of popularity on a struggling console (The Wii-U).

Now that Sapltoon 2 is out I can say that my initial disappointment has faded. I can't lie, it is certainly more Splatoon. Thankfully there are enough new guns, maps, and modes to keep me interested. The core gameplay is still the same as the original. You are squid kid and you need to shoot your ink all over the stage. The team with the most ink in the stage at the end wins. It's a simple concept, but it works surprisingly well. Some old stages return, but there are a fair amount of new ones as well. The same goes for weapons. The new weapon I enjoy the most consists of two pistols, called the splat dualies. They let you move quickly, and roll out of the way of enemy attacks.

Everybody gets merced by the Splat Dualies.

As for modes, the single player is a bit more involved this time around. It's still a bit weird though, because there are a ton of mechanics introduced in it that are never seen anywhere else. The new mode I enjoy the most though is the co-op hoard mode called Salmon Run. You team up with three other players to shoot down a bunch of Salmon and collect their golden eggs. It starts off relatively easy, but as you rank up it gets incredibly difficult. The bummer is that for some ungodly reason it's not available all the time. I just don't think any game modes should be locked behind a timer. Despite odd design choices like that, Splatoon continues to be a shining example of how stylish and interesting Nintendo can be.

Pyre

Pyre is Supergiant's third release. They started off with the action game Bastion, and then moved onto the strategy game Transistor. As crazy as it is, Pyre is another genre. It mixes visual novel and weird fantasy basketball. Very rarely do studios change up the games they make after each iteration, which is one of the things I love about Supergiant. There are things that you can always count on though, like beautiful art, and a well developed world.

The game takes place in a purgatory-esque place known as the Downside. People who have wronged or broken the law in the civilization called the commonwealth are banished and forced to live out their remaining days in the downside. That is, until you as a reader arrive. You as the player were cast down, because you learned how to read. The ability to read is forbidden, and you were found out. A group of weary travelers finds you broken in the downside and takes you in. Upon finding out about your ability to read they ask you to read a tome for them, which starts you on your path to freedom.

The rites start off easy, but get much more challenging.

You participate in a series of trials called the rites, which is the main focus of the game. In each rite you control three characters, but only one can move at a time. You start near your "pyre" which is a large flame that acts as your goal. At the beginning a large celestial orb drops in the center, and the goal is to run it into the enemies pyre. When you have the orb all you can do is jump, but without it you have an aura that if it hits enemies will remove them from play for a few seconds. There are a myriad of rules, but after a few games it;s easy to figure out what's going on.

The reason you're doing the trials is to earn freedom. After prevailing enough times you'll be given the option to send one of your party members back to the Commonwealth. The choices drove me nuts. On the one hand I really liked some of the characters, but on the other you're sending them away so you can't use or interact with them anymore. On the other hand you can fail the rites as well, but the game continues on anyways. It's an interesting experience that requires a lot of reading to get through, but in my opinion it was well worth it!

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix

I've been wanting to replay the original Kingdom Hearts for a long time, but I'm only getting around to it now. I don't have a lot to play right now, and the reveal that Toy Story 3 will be in Kingdom Hearts 3 got me really fired up about the series in general. I think once I finish it I'll record a podcast for next month with my thoughts on it as a whole after a full replay. In my mind Kingdom Hearts is still my favorite of all the games in the franchise. Back when the original came out it was such an interesting idea to marry Final Fantasy and Disney together in a brand new universe. At that time it was a simple story of light vs. darkness that got a whole lot more convoluted as the series wore on.

The reason I wanted to replay it was to see if my memories of the game were accurate. I personally always liked the original game more than Kingdom Hearts 2. Whenever I say that to anyone they scoff and don't understand my reasoning. As I stated above the idea of the original game is very innocent, but it's more than that. I think the gameplay is more fun. Playing this HD version now I still believe that. Kingdom Hearts 2 did add a lot to the combat, but it also dumbed it down at the same time with reaction commands. As much as I liked hitting triangle to see Sora bust out some cool moves it made every fight way easier. Sure the combat in the original is a lot of mashing the attack button, but the more abilities you get the deeper the combat becomes.

The original is simple, but in a good way.

This trip down memory lane has been fun for me so far, but a few things make me want to scream. For starters the camera is not great. Even with the added ability in the HD version to manually control the camera it still gets stuck a whole lot. It often feels like the real fight is with the camera as opposed to the enemies. I get that though, the game is old. The thing I can't excuse is how terrible Donald and Goofy's AI is during fights. Yes, you can change their tendencies, but it doesn't help. I have Donald set to use offensive magic as little as possible. Somehow he still enters every fight and then blows all of his MP spamming gravity. For a while in the beginning the two of them would enter every battle and then immediately die. It was baffling. Now that I've leveled up a bunch it isn't that bad, but man is it every frustrating.

I have not finished yet, but I stand by my words. I think Kingdom Hearts is better than Kingdom Hearts 2.

Waiting for the end

Normally there are a few things throughout August that I want to play, but somehow this year all three of the games I want in August come out right at the end. The new Uncharted DLC comes out the 22nd, but both Mario X Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Yakuza Kiwami come out on the 29th. So I don't really know how next month's edition will work out. I guess I could go really hard on these new games for a few days, but I might just wait to talk about them until the following month. I have no idea, but I look forward to seeing you next time.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Game Time - June 2017

June seemed like it went on forever. Somehow I managed to play the three games I'm going to talk about and about 60 hours of Final Fantasy XIV. The new expansion dropped, so I decided to get back in on the MMO action. I'm having more fun than the last time I played, but we're not here to talk about that.

2017 is shaping up to be a big year for fighting games tons of stuff is coming out and I'm playing all of it. I bit the bullet and got ARMS on the Switch. I had to know what it was all about, and I'm glad I did. The concept is really cool, even if I don't like playing it very much. On the other hand I also got Tekken 7 and it rules. I don't think Tekken can be bad.

After all the fighting games I needed a change of pace and picked up Hollow Knight. I enjoyed the journey even though it was filled with sadness and despair.

It was an interesting month, so let's start talking about it. It's game time!

ARMS

I did and still really want to like ARMS. Every time Nintendo creates a new IP I feel obligated to try it out. While I do find the character designs to be charming, I don't particularly enjoy the combat. It's not necessarily bad, it just doesn't really do it for me. The concept of ARMS is pretty simple. One day people woke up and had stretchy arms. They thought it would be a good idea to fight with their new arms, so they made a tournament. So yeah, you might with your arms in ARMS...

The character designs in ARMS are really cool. 

When the game was revealed there was a large emphasis on motion controls, which is the way I personally prefer to play the game. To play you hold a joycon in each fist in a punching grip. To punch you thrust out the respective arm, or both of them to grab your opponent. Movement is controller entirely by tilting in the desired direction. Jumping and dashing are performed with the bumpers, which can feel a bit awkward when you're tilting to move. The motion controls don't always work as intended, but they work just well enough. Traditional controls can be used as well, but I didn't find them to be particularly great.

By nature ARMS isn't as crazy as most other fighting games. Due to the fact that you're slowly stretching out your limbs to hit opponents there aren't really any combos to be seen. This means that the game is almost all about movement. Patience pays off, and I am certainly not a patient person. What bums me out is that there isn't a lot of content in ARMS. Really the only thing I can do is fight the AI, or get absolutely decimated by people online. Nintendo came up with a bunch of really cool characters, but they have almost no story or development behind them. Thankfully Nintendo is taking the Splatoon approach and will be updating the game for free over the course of its lifespan. It' s an interesting game, I just don't know if it's worth it in its current state.

Hollow Knight

When I first saw a screenshot of Hollow Knight I didn't find it interesting. However, after seeing it in motion I suddenly understood what it was all about. It has a stop-motion quality to it that I now can't get enough of. I wanted to wait and get it for the Switch, but the development of that version seems like it will be a little while longer.

Hollow Knight is a metroidvania style game where you play as a little bug dude with a nail. Your goal is to explore the ruins of a forgotten underground kingdom. Gameplay is relatively simple at first blush. You jump around and swing your nail at enemies. As you beat bosses more and more abilities are added to your arsenal until you are an unstoppable bug killing machine. The basics of combat are simple, but precise timing is often required of you. If you get injured in combat you can focus the stolen souls of your enemies to slowly regain health. This means that even though combat can be tough, it's not impossible to recover from most situations.

It's like you're playing a sad painting!

The atmosphere in Hollow Knight is universally bleak. You're exploring a defunct kingdom filled with sadness and death. Everything is drab and dismal, but in a way that I really appreciated. The color palette, music, and art all fuse together to make something that's appropriately depressing, but also interesting to explore. I really enjoyed my time with the game, even if it felt a little too difficult in spots. I also could have done without the Dark Souls-like mechanic where you have to run back to your body upon death. However, things like the simple yet-rewarding combat kept me interest throughout. I may even give the game a second go when it finally does release on the Switch.

Tekken 7

I really like Tekken as a franchise and Tekken 7 is no exception. The combat I've come to know and love is back again. Characters still have a billion moves each, there's a bunch of juggle combos, and the walls are super deadly. It's Tekken, but this time there's a cinematic story mode.

Everyone's favorite Tekken character the volcano returns!

When I first completed the story I left off with positive thoughts, but after some time to reflect I don't think it was that great. Yes, it has all the elements you'd want in a Tekken "story" like people being thrown into volcanoes and turning into devils, but it just didn't go as far as it could have. For starters a ton of new characters are introduced in this game and only three of them are even IN the story. What's up with Lucky Chole, and Shaheen? Who knows, because they're certainly not in the story. What really drives me up a wall is the narrator. He's a reporter who is trying to tie together all the random CG scenes as you play through them. His voice actor sounds like a robot. Every line is delivered as flat as possible. So you're getting all hyped up as you see people get punched through walls, but then you transition into a man talking super slowly with no emotion. It's a jarring transition that never works.

However, I will say that Tekken 7 still rules. Fighting in Tekken always makes me feel good. It's cool because beginners can play and have fun, but the level of depth in Tekken is nuts. I'll never be truly good at Tekken, but I'll at least have fun messing around with each character. The new additions to the cast are all fairly unique, which is always nice to see. I'm always down to play more Tekken.

Splatoon?

The summer lull is finally upon us. The only full retail product I will be purchasing is Splatoon 2 on the Switch. I'm eager to play new stuff on it, so that's cool. I'm just worried it won't be different enough from the original to justify its existence.

Supergiant Games new release Pyre is coming out as well and I'm pretty excited about that. It's like some weird NBA Jam and RPG hybrid. At this point I will play whatever the studio puts out.

Other than that I'm going to keep picking away at FFXIV. I completed the base game and am now moving into the first expansion. It's a lot more fun when its not just a series of bad fetch quests. We'll see how long my enthusiasm for it keeps up.

That's all I've got for now. I'll see you all next time!