E3 had only been going for a day, and yet, it felt like we were all overwhelmed by the sheer number of announcements from both Sony and Microsoft, and while the internet argued (and still is) over which one did better, we were witness to the last of the Big 3; Nintendo.
And just like the previous 2, a slew of announcements were made, but really most of it were things we had already expected, plus some eShop titles.
In any case, for those who missed it, here is the rundown, first, for Wii U:
Super Mario 3D World – For the first time a 3D Mario title with multiplayer capabilities, it will be developed by the same team that worked on Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS, it will allow for use of 4 characters which include Mario, Luigi, Toad, and for the first time in over 2 decades; Princess Peach, a new Power-Up: the Cat Costume was revealed, seemingly adding some new level of gameplay with it. Scheduled to launch this December.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – The only real surprise this E3 for Nintendo was this game, marking the return of character Dixie Kong, Retro Studios takes on this series once more, attempting to bring more Donkey Kong the Wii U, with an improved graphical look, this game is set to be released this November.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD – An improved version of the original 2002 hit for the GameCube, bringing new items such as the Tingle Bottle, which allows to send messages to Miiverse by using a bottle and dropping it in the ocean, also faster sailing mechanics. Scheduled to launch this October.
Mario Kart 8 – Apparently ditching the silly titles for good, this new game adds a new gameplay element with anti-gravity, and marks the return of bikes to the series, will have great online integrated to Miiverse. Available Spring 2014.
The Wonderful 101 – Created by Platinum Games, this title focuses on combat between Wonder-Red, and the group of heroes working for him, using them to attack enemies while looking and sounding like a classic superhero comic book. Launching September 15.
Bayonetta 2 – Also developed by Platinum Games, showing the main character’s new look as well as some combat, looking as chaotic as ever. Game launching 2014.
“X” by Monolift Soft – Aiming to be an open world title, and adding the ability to control humanoid robots, this title that is being developed with Xenoblade experiences to mind, seems to aim for a higher bar than that title. Available 2014.
Wii Party U – A party game, involving different tabletop games, this Mario-partyesque game will launch this October.
Wii Fit U – Just what it sounds like, set to be released this December.
Pokemon X Version and Y Version – For Nintendo 3DS, the biggest news is about Pokemon, that will release this October, the game has revealed the already speculated Fairy type, which will become the 18th type in the series.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – (Not shown on the stream) A nice throwback title to the prequel of A Link to the Past, in this title, Link will be able to travel along the walls, allowing for different tactics to puzzles. Out this holiday season.
Yoshi’s New Island – (Not shown on the stream) Offering a variety of art styles, Yoshi returns in his 3rd adventure for the Nintendo 3DS. Out this holiday season.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – The 4th game in the Mario and Luigi series, this will add the ability to jump into Luigi’s dreams, game out August 11.
Outside of those, there were also quite a few third party tittles glossed over, here are the tittles that you may have missed:
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Ubisoft – Wii U – Oct. 29
Batman: Arkham Origins – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – Wii U – Oct. 25
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – Nintendo 3DS – Oct. 25
Deus Ex: Human Revolution -Director’s Cut – Square Enix, Inc. – Wii U – 2013
Disney Infinity – Disney Interactive – Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS – Aug. 18 (still making titles for the Wii?)
Disney’s Planes – Disney Interactive – Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS – Aug. 6 (DS too?)
Just Dance 2014 – Ubisoft – Wii U, Wii – Oct. 8
Rayman Legends – Ubisoft – Wii U – Sept. 3
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – Wii U Nintendo 3DS – Fall 2013
Shin Megami Tensei IV – ATLUS (Index Digital Media, Inc.) – Nintendo 3DS – July 16
Skylanders SWAP Force – Activision Publishing – Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS – Oct. 13
Sonic Lost World – SEGA – Wii U, Nintendo 3DS – Holiday 2013
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist – Ubisoft – Wii U – Aug. 20
Watch Dogs – Ubisoft – Wii U – Nov. 19
Well hope nobody was disappointed. Ericyo and I, are very excited for some of these upcoming games and had a great time working to bring you, the audience, as much information on Nintendo as possible. We will continue to do so in the future.
Today, Nintendo aired their conference online, aimed towards both the gamers and the media, the conference was rather short, and rather unimpressive in comparison to Sony, but it did end not with a bang, but with an explosion.
After the smoke cleared, we got a first look on Super Smash Bros, set to be released for both Wii U and 3DS next year, showing some minor gameplay along with 2 newcomers to the series: Megaman, and Animal Crossing villager.
Trailer suggests a cel-shaded look for the 3DS version, while the Wii U seems to have character more akin the original Wii version, differences haven’t been really pinpointed, but we will keep you informed as we receive more information.
The game is set to be released next year, with no specified term.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is nearly upon us North American gamers, and as such, many of us are already thinking of things such as the name of our town, the clothes we’ll wear, and even the flag we will design to show the uniqueness of our town.
However, the first thing you have to do when you are set to arrive in the town, is answer Rover’s questions.
These are simple questions that to many, don’t actually hold any importance, but they are more than you would think.
Your character’s face will be changed according to your responses, there are a total of 12 different outcomes for your characters, and here they are, shown for each gender.
Click the picture to enlarge.
And the 2nd row…
And the last 4…
With this, you can choose the way your character’s face will look in the game, use of this list is up to the player, making your experience a controlled one right from the get-go, give it a try tomorrow, when the game is finally released.
Whenever a conversation is brought up about Game Freak, these colors are used in sentences to specifically talk about the games that they’ve worked on, those games being Pokemon specifically.
And that’s about it, at least from what most people know, as they are a group specifically known for Pokemon, and nothing more.
I mean, who remembers Pulseman for the Sega‘s Mega Drive? Or 2005’s Drill Dozer for the GBA? (admittedly, these games were released in dying consoles in their respective times, so it‘s fair to say those wouldn‘t be remembered much).
But after some welcome changes in Game Freak’s internal structuring, employees were allowed to create new titles (while still working on Pokemon, mind you, that’s never going to change). And just like that, development began on this new game (surprisingly, this game was the brainchild of James Turner, who was the guy who created both Golurk, who is now loved by fans, and well… Vanille… But that’s besides the point).
That game, is called HarmoKnight.
Unlike anything previously created by the team, this title is a different breed altogether, not an RPG, not an action/adventure title, but instead; a rhythm/sort of platformer..
The story (yes, it has a story) put you in the control of Harmo, who after a meteor crashes on the planet, bringing along an evil entity known as Gargan that corrupts the planet, is send to deliver a note-shaped staff that has the ability to defeat this evil being to Symphony City, where someone who has the potential to become a HarmoKnight should be.
In all honesty thought, the story is forgettable, as are the characters, I applaud the effort to bring some sort of story telling, but it just falls flat and it just feels tacked on, then again, no one buys a rhythm game for the story.
The gameplay is where is at. You control Tempo, using only the A and B buttons, gameplay sometimes gets switched around every few stages to keep the game fresh, you are in control of a mine cart, other times you control an archer and fire away at far off enemies, and other times you use a drummer and a monkey… Yeah, don’t take this game seriously.
There are also boss stages sprinkled throughout the campaign, these stages are actually on the easy side, thanks to the fact that the game gives you the timing for each, another complain from these stages, is that you must always hit the last note, if you don’t, that means an automatic fail, which brought a frustrated grunt out of me more than once, since I had done it perfectly until then, fortunately, the stages aren’t overly long, so it’s not that much of a problem, although a skip for the first part of the track (EBA style) would have been nice.
(Don’t mind the German translation here)
The goal of each stage is to collect the most notes possible, this can be done by grabbing the notes floating around, hitting an enemy with the staff, as well as the instruments around the level, if enough are grabbed, a Royal Note that is needed to advance is received, this sounds easy enough, but this game is unforgiving in its rhythm and timing, if the hits are off by even a little bit, you will miss and will be damaged, or the target will bounce off completely missing the note, unlike past Nintendo rhythm games, this one can be a bit tough to master, even after I finished it, I still had trouble going through it.
How does the game look? It looks great! The graphics sport a cartoonish style that fit the lighthearted atmosphere of the game, even the enemies look silly for the most part, the models are well done and visible enough when they appear on-screen, allowing you enough time to react in order to hit them in the face while following the rhythm.
In the sound area? Well… The sound cues are great, but the music itself is not the most catchy music ever created, I would go as far as to say it’s forgettable, I honestly cannot remember any of the tracks outside the Pokemon bonus tracks (which are a welcome addition to the game) and the Final Stage, which is only possible due to my repeated failure.
Another thing I noticed that other reviewers didn‘t address, was that the music in certain stages was recycled through each level, only being very minimally different, and the stages themselves being slightly altered, which is a lazy thing from the music department to do, seeing how the music was already forgettable enough, this is okay in games where platforming is key, but not in rhythm games, where music must definitely be good.
The game itself is also rather short, but for an eShop title, the length is to be expected, although the price tag of 15 bucks will surely put off some people.
But still, even with all of my complaints, I still can’t let this game go, using two buttons is simple enough, but mastering it has been a blast, I still think this franchise can do better, a sequel that deals with all of the issues this game has would be welcome, Game Freak, so when you are not working on Pokemon X and Y, that would be appreciated.
In conclusion, this is a game that I would only recommend to rhythm game fans, and for that matter, MAYBE Pokemon fans for the bonus tracks alone, although I don’t expect those guys to shell out 15 dollars for this game, it’s still a pretty solid entry that it wouldn’t hurt to have on your 3DS, but you really wouldn’t miss anything by waiting for the game to go on sale.
The Nintendo Gamecube released around 12 years ago, one chilly November day, and it came with quite a few games that have by now become well known classics; Super Monkey Ball, Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2, and Wave Race: Blue Storm, these are but a few examples of the launch lineup, but there was another game that caught the attention of the media.
It was a rather odd move from Nintendo, releasing a game not starring Mario, but instead starring his lesser known brother Luigi? What madness is this? So focused was this mindset, that the game received average reviews for the most part, something that was strange for a series made by Nintendo, bringing the series to an untimely demise.
But the real question is, why were the responses on this game mixed? Well, the answer is simple; the game was too different, it was something that many gamers and critics could not comprehend at the time, the usual Mario staple was so engraved into everyone’s minds, that the sheer oddity of this game was just… Unprecedented? I think that is the correct word to explain that reaction.
Another such example of oddness would be another tittle from Nintendo: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, which was heavily criticized back then over its graphical style.
But still, many gamers embraced it (Wind Waker received a similar response), and they found something special in this title, and slowly, more were able to see how strangely appealing this game actually is, and so, after 12 years of waiting, we have a sequel at last; Luigi’s Mansion 2, or Dark Moon, the “edgy” and unnecessary subtitle given to the game here in the states, is finally out for the Nintendo 3DS.
The game begins with Professor E. Gadd, the scientist from the previous game that helped by giving Luigi the original Poltergust and the Game Boy Horror, now he occupies himself with studying ghosts, and everything is fine and dandy. That is until the Dark Moon (a mysterious crystal that hangs in the sky) is “mysteriously” shattered, the ghosts lose control, quickly wrecking havoc, and causing the good doctor to hide in a bunker. Unable to find answers, he unceremoniously calls on Luigi once more, who hesitantly agrees to go into not one, not two, but 5 mansions, and perhaps, find some answers.
Unlike the previous game in which you could explore one giant mansion at your own pace, this one uses more of a mission structure, basically treating each mansion as a world of sorts, and each mission as a level. Fans of the original will be turned off by this, but I feel like the straight path approach is more to the game’s strength. In any case, there are many secrets spread in each mission, allowing those who want to put the time to find them do so.
As Luigi, you can do a few different things in order to find secrets, as well as ghosts to capture; you can of course, suck and blow away things with your vacuum, you now also have 2 types of flashlights, the usual that allows you to frighten ghosts by flashing them with it, and the new Dark-Light flashlight, which allows you to reveal hidden objects in the environment. To those unfamiliar with this series, unlike pretty much every game with a Mario character in it, Luigi cannot use his supreme jumping skills, of course, the skill is unnecessary, you’ll be surprised how much you can do with the vacuum alone.
How does the game look? Pretty good, not the best, but it manages to do what it’s supposed to do, still, it looks great with and without the 3D, environments look detailed, and things like lighting effects and slight details like Luigi’s shadow help immerse you more into the mansions, which hold a rather eerie feel that in occasion, can be legitimately unnerving. The game runs smoothly for the most part, but when there is too much on-screen or there is a particularly crowded cut-scene, you notice a slight drop in the frame rate, it’s not game breaking, but it’s something to note. The ghosts themselves are very basic in looks, simply being different colored blobs of goo (minus a few exceptions and the Boos themselves), but each has different patterns and ways to attack, and the game introduces new variations of them, that spices up the gameplay as the difficulty appropriately ramps up.
The sound of this game is nothing to brag about, still, the music fits the style of the game, being more fitting to show the atmosphere than just to sound good, which it still does to some extent. Another thing to note is the sound effects, which sometimes go unnoticed, such as the sound of an object falling, or Luigi’s own footsteps, and maybe even the Toad’s squeaking sound whenever they move, it’s small details like this that do to the game’s favor.
The best thing in this game? I’m going to go with Luigi himself, of course. Luigi’s over the top reactions to everything, the short burst of slapstick humor thrown in (much to our hero’s chagrin) and the way he hums along with the music, I must admit, he oozes personality, something that his brother Mario has never had in any of his games, and something that Luigi proudly triumphs over in this one, it adds to the game’s charm.
But the game is not without its small flaws, as I noted earlier, the frame rate drops when action gets too chaotic on-screen, another thing is using the gyroscope to look around, it’s not quite as intuitive as it was in Ocarina of Time 3D, in which I actually PREFERRED to use it, another problem with it is that it’s also used to cross chasms by using wires, and this honestly, brings the game to a halt, as you have to accommodate yourself properly to do it correctly, or you will fall… A lot. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a fantastic single player, but Next Level Games went the extra mile to give it an extra inclusion; the ScareScraper.
In this multiplayer mode (which you can play local, as well as online) you can play 3 different modes; Hunter in which you catch all of the ghosts on each floor. Rush, a mode where you need to find the exit before time runs out, and Polterpup; in which you need to find the ghosts dogs and catch them before time runs out.
It has some competitive aspects as well, as capturing more ghosts, getting more loot, and not fainting, net you a bonus reward of Gold at the end of the match, which goes into your vault. But as entertaining as this can be, it is nothing more than a small distraction at best, as it becomes repetitive quite quickly, it really depends on the player finding entertainment on the same environments each time, still, I would recommend to play this in small doses.
Overall, this game is excellent, it brings something rather different to the table, it’s entertaining, and like I said, it can be quite spooky at times, no joke. Next Level Games did a fantastic job by developing this one, they put effort, and it shows, as it feels like a game MADE by Nintendo themselves. I highly recommend this one, but not only for you Nintendo fanatics, but also for those who want a different experience.
It’s been 3 weeks since the release of the Nintendo Gamecube, it’s one of those winter nights where you stay inside and decide to play a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Melee by yourself, because face it; your social life has been corrupted by this game, and you finally have a legit excuse to stay inside.
You finish Classic mode for around the 20th time, and after the credits roll, you find yourself challenged by a new character, you become excited and want to find out what sort of famous Nintendo star you will square off against.
The match starts, and you find yourself fighting what seems to be a swordsman, you pause the game and stare at the screen puzzled, but you carry on. You defeat him, and you get that message: “Direct from Fire Emblem, it’s Marth, the swordsman supreme!”
You put the controller down and read the message a few times, trying to get what it all means, until you finally ask yourself.
“What the hell is a Fire Emblem?”
This question plagued more than a few gamers minds back in the day, some found the answer, some didn’t, and in fact, most didn’t know what Fire Emblem was… At least until 2003, when the first game (or so we were told) in the series was released.
The game hit store shelves and received positive reviews, but it did not succeed in the sales department, still, it did well enough, guarantying a sequel by the name of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (which sold quite a bit less I must say) a game in which we’ll focus today.
Released in 2005, this game wasn’t as highly praised as its first international outing, but it continued selling well enough, getting even more games out for the international market.
Without getting into any intricacies of the complicated plot, you control main character Eirika, a princess whose kingdom is suddenly attacked by a neighboring ally kingdom, after quickly running out of options, she flees her homeland along with a few of her knights, with the intent to seek help from their allies in the land of Frelia.
The game is an Strategy/RPG affair, you move characters on a grid based field, taking them closer to the enemy where you then can proceed to eliminate them using a variety of weapons such as swords, lances, axes, and even bows, there are a few extras such as healers, but normally, each item has a certain advantage over other weapons, adding more strategy to this already tense game.
Why tense you ask? Because you have to be careful and not rush in, or you are very likely to get yourself killed. This wouldn’t normally be a concern, but if Fire Emblem is notorious for something, that certain something can certainly be the infamous “permadeath” which basically means that if one of your characters dies in battle; they stay dead for the rest of the game. There is no revive items here for you to use.
This is both a good, and a bad point for the game, and the series in general.
Quite a few players enjoy the excitement that comes with risk, and of course the satisfaction of surviving with all of your troops, it gives you a sense of triumph. But it’s also a double-edged sword, as many will despise repeating a Chapter because they lost a member. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was only a random member, but the game makes it so that you care for them enough by giving them a personality and slight backstory, not to mention including a few of each class, making them nearly invaluable, so you more than likely feel bad when you lose a certain member of your army.
The game knows this well and it will use it against you, as you may just restart the whole battle just to finish it with your team complete. It can be rather intense affair if you don’t know what you are doing, and you will probably regret going on the offensive carelessly.
The game’s graphics aren’t’t expectacular by any means, the sprites outside main characters are all generic, looking the same for every member of the class (fighters all look the same) static character portraits are different though, at least giving them each some sort of difference of their own.
The areas where the battles happen have a look of an over the top view map, showing the different areas in the field such as grassy fields (which can give you advantages) it is laid out a lot like a more complicated chess game where you have to find the best spot to move to, which is basically what it is:
A huge game of chess, where strategy is needed to survive.
There isn’t much more to say about this game, and honestly, I can’t really recommend it to players nowadays, what with the superior Fire Emblem: Awakening being out for the 3DS (which has a difficulty mode for novices, so anyone can get into it). This game is worth a shot if you want to check out the Fire Emblem experience back then, but if you had to make the choice, the 3DS game is your best bet.
It’s a time in which it has slowly gained more recognition, depending less on the 3D it marketed with, and focusing more on the games, that as most of us know, is the main focus AND the selling point of any system. Because some may not know this, but it had an abysmal start. A trend that other gaming devices followed, not learning from the mistake this particular handheld committed.
But we are not here to compare these systems, instead, I’d like to talk about what Nintendo did to dig themselves out of the hole they had sunk themselves into. It was an easy thing to do (albeit a somewhat risky decision) they lowered the price of the 3DS, allowing many to grab the system and increasing sales for an actual profit. But as it turns out, there was a small detail they hadn’t taken into account.
Only 4 months had passed since its original release, and of course, earlier adopters were furious.
So Nintendo did something odd; they announced something called the “Ambassadors Program” a sort of way to appease to those fans they had enraged by doing something so unexpected by, well, responding with something just as unexpected by giving the loyal fans free games.
20 games were given to these “ambassadors”, 10 NES games with titles such as the original Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda were part of that deal, but that’s not the focus here, since most fans were looking forward to the other 10 of the bunch: The Game Boy Advance titles.
This will be a weekly article, reviewing those games released for the system, that ideally, play like their original GBA counterparts. This will also be encouraging you, the readers, to perhaps find them and give them a chance if you can.
In any case, I will start today with my favorite game of the bunch – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.
Originally released for the GBA back in 2005, Minish Cap was the last title in the series to use the over the top perspective it had been known for, and unlike previous Zelda titles, it did not get the publicity it deserved, thanks to the Nintendo DS taking it away, since the system had just been released at the time. But 7 years later, thanks to the power of downloadable content, many of us were able to relive, or in the case of many, enjoy for the first time, this Zelda adventure.
The story starts with Princess Zelda visiting Link at his home, where she asks him to go with her to the Picori festival, an event that is celebrated every 100 years in the land of Hyrule. You spend the time hanging out with Zelda in the festival, looking around some knickknacks here and there, until you finally get your shield.
After the festival draws to an end, and a tournament (that happened off screen) winner has been declared, a ceremony is held for the winner, who is given the privilege to touch the Picori Sword as a special price, this is a sword that rests upon a tomb of sorts. But as it turns out, the winner is actually an evil mage by the name of Vaati, who opens the tomb, releasing monsters into the world, and then proceeds to turn Zelda into stone, defeating our hero while he is at it.
The Zelda story is slightly different, but the good ol’ Zelda staple remains: save the princess, save the world.
The game controls as well as any other Zelda title in the veil of Link to the Past, you move with the control pad, you assign items to buttons A and B, as well as having a roll with R to increase your speed and to dodge attacks faster, kind of like in Ocarina of Time.
But there is yet another element included in this title, and that is the Minish Cap (you know? The one from the title) and is a pivotal item of the game. On your way to the first dungeon, you find a lone talking hat being attacked by a pair of Octoroks, after saving it, it joins you (by riding Link‘s head and giving him his iconic green hat), and gives you the special ability to shrink down in size by stepping in special stumps.
This ability alone adds a clever integration of puzzles on dungeons, or even in the world itself. Being able to go through small holes in houses and finding small creatures called Picori (the same from the festival), or even activate a switch from another room, an entrance that the normal sized Link would never be able to get into, this alone creates a new way to navigate the temples.
As always, there are items, like the usual Boomerang, to Bow and Arrows, and of course, to newer items such as the Gust Jar, an item which you get in the first dungeon that allows you to absorb dust, shells from enemies, or even travel in lily pads One thing I like about the items in this game, is that they are used outside of the dungeons they came from and are actually useful in getting to different areas, unlike other games in the series where once they are used in the dungeon, and then they are useless pretty much everywhere else… I’m looking at you Twilight Princess and Spinner.
On the graphical side, this game brings the art style of the Wind Waker to the portable system, and it fits the game well, creating colorful environments, and even giving the enemies and NPCs a certain charm of their own.
The music isn’t necessarily memorable as it just is… There. Outside the classic Zelda overworld theme, a few tracks come to mind in terms of how memorable they are. It’s not the best Zelda music, but it has its moments.
As all Zelda titles, this game has some good replay value, whether it’s getting the usual pieces of heart, or getting Kinstone pieces, which are gems to fuse with NPC characters, affecting the world somehow, whether it is opening a secret cave, or paving the way to a piece of heart. You can also spend your time looking for the Tiger Scrolls, which allow you to do more advanced combat techniques. And lastly, the figurine collection minigame, in which you use shells and bet them to get new figurines that give some small backstory and details about the characters in the game. So as you can see, there are a few things that will keep you occupied even after the game is done
Another thing I’d like to add, is that this game was developed not by Nintendo, but by Capcom, and I must say they did a fantastic job with it. I hope they work on at least another title in the series.
Now, while this game is great, it has its small share of flaws, or must I say nitpicks from my part. There are only 5 dungeons in the game plus the final dungeon, making it a bit shorter than others, not to mention its difficulty. I was not particularly confused on any of its puzzles, and heck, I did not die even once when fighting against enemies… UNLESS you count the time I attacked a cucco, it’s sort of sad that they are the most threatening enemy in the entire game.
Overall, this game is fun, and while it may be an easy game, it is a pleasure to play, not to mention that it is accessible to newcomers thanks to said difficulty. But if you are one who has not liked Zelda and its previous releases such as Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening, this won’t appeal to you. Still, I say you are missing something good here.
If you are one of the people who actually have an internet connection, and have not lived under a rock for the past 3 years, this should sound very familiar to you.
Three games that are what became of this project of sorts, which are Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, games that were released in Japan , and subsequently, in Europe and Australia afterwards, but not in America. BUT, thanks to gamers bitc- I mean, pleads, two of the games have been released, and Pandora’s Tower is close to being released here in the states as well, helping achieve what Operation Rainfalll set out to do.
You are probably wondering ‘What does this have to do with anything.’ and to be frank, it matters, because most of us might have gotten this game late on the console’s life, or maybe you didn’t hear of it, since there wasn’t much of a campaign by Nintendo over it.
Anyway, this is the review for Xenoblade Chronicles.
The game starts you in the boots of character Dunban, who is in the middle of a war against a race of sentient mechanical creatures called the Mechon, and the only way to kill them, is by using the legendary Monado sword that Dunban has in hand. In any case, this is basically a tutorial level where you are taught the basics of the combat system, because as it turns out, he is not the main character.
Instead, you begin on the shoes of character Shulk, an unlikely nerdy hero, and you begin your adventure in Colony 9. From here you go by your everyday life, doing different mundane tasks, as is the norm with every intro stage for JRPGs. At least until the village is attacked by the not-so-dead Mechon, who end up killing your love interest Fiora, and thus, Shulk begins his quest to get revenge on the mechanical beings.
What is really interesting about the game, is that from the beginning, you are shown that you are not living in your normal round, or even flat world, instead, you live in a gigantic God-like being called the Bionis, who the characters reference quite often throughout the story, but you won’t only be hearing from it, you will visually witness the being as you roam the fields of Bionis, sometimes, if you look up, you will be able to see the face of the God itself, not to mention its counterpart, the Mechonis, who is another being from the same veil that houses machine like beings, these two beings were in a war of sorts as well, and they killed each other off, becoming lifeless husks where life bloomed.
It’s quite a thing to wrap your head around.
On the technical side, Xenoblade has beautiful environments, you can see that Monolift Soft did its best to account for the Wii’s lack of power, of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t suffer, as the character models look simply ugly, and will remind you of PS2 and Gamecube models.
On the sound side, well, even if I am a fan of Yoko Shimomura’s music from Kingdom Hearts, Radiant Historia, as well as other titles, ACE+ didn’t disappoint either in this outing. Including orchestrated tracks, and combining the classic style of music, with the newer sort of instruments to create a magnificent soundtrack; that in this reviewer’s opinion, has become one of the best.
In the case of voice acting, it’s filled with it, and will appear in nearly every scene, the European actors who voiced this were excellent, and their acting doesn’t make me cringe when I listen to it, so that’s a plus. But in case, if any of you enjoy the original voices, there is an option to listen to the original Japanese voiced track instead.
On the gameplay side, you have quite a few things to get used to. You control Shulk for the first part of the story, but you soon will be able to switch characters, and in fact, keep Shulk out of the fray completely by switching him out, you can even control other characters as well for a different experience, as each has different moves and stats that will make your play through different.
Your party is made up of three characters, the other two will be controlled by the AI, but they work well, and you can give them basic orders such as regroup, or fall back. Your offense consists of a basic attack that your character does periodically, usually by swinging its weapon at the enemy, and mainly by using “arts” based on cool down, which charges them right after use after a set period of time has passed.
Another thing to note is character interaction, which plays an important role here, especially if you want to get ahead in the game, and the more your partner likes you, the more chances to fill the chain meter.
What chain meter you ask?
The chain meter bar located in the top leftmost part of the screen, by filling it up and activating it, you can use multiple arts, combining them into a massive attack that deals a huge amount of damage to the enemy, keeping the chain is up to you, as time button presses are a must. You can also use this to revive one of your teammates after they have been downed, or a warning sign when the Monado predicts an attack.
Speaking of the Monado, this game implements something not seen before; you can see the future, as the Monado will allow you to see when the enemy does a powerful attack that may end up killing your party, and as such, you can plan ahead by healing or using other abilities from the Monado itself that can lower the damage or even nullify it.
As you can see, the intricacies of the combat are numerous, and might take a person not used to this to fall behind with the amount of management necessary for this game. One of the things that helps this is, well, there isn’t healing items to speak of. When the battle is over, you automatically heal, leaving the money you earn to buy stuff like armor and weapons, but the currency itself falls flat, since soon, you will find yourself with large amounts of money that you will probably never finish spending.
While the mechanics of the game are numerous, and slightly intimidating at times, you will find yourself understanding them soon enough.
Other welcome inclusions to this game are for one, the ability to fast travel from literally anywhere in the world to key areas anywhere when you are outside of battle, making travel between areas much easier for anyone, the ability to save EVERYWHERE is also included, along with the ability to change the time from day, to night, and vice versa, as well as minor details like actually changing your character’s clothing by changing armor (a minor addition, but a welcome one).
Most of these might sound like minor additions, but the first two were welcome in case of backtracking and losing to a difficult enemy, of course, there is not a punishment for it, as you keep all of the experience and money earned.
In conclusion, if you are able to find it and I mean if, since the game is becoming somewhat of a rarity by now, this is a game that is worth picking up for ANY RPG fan, and to those who enjoy a good story, you won’t be disappointed, and it is eye candy for those who enjoy looking at the beautiful environments, just don’t pay attention to the characters themselves and focus on the music and beating that big monster on your path that might give you a hard time, and you will be having the time of your life.
Buying this game is worth it, while we wait for certain other game for the Wii U.
Suda 51 (or Goichi Suda), is simply known to the general gaming community as a very strange, far out developer, even in the eyes of Japanese consumers, what with such oddball games such as Killer 7, No More Heroes, Flower, Sun, and Rain (anyone? No? Just me? Okay…) and most recently, Lollipop Chainsaw for the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
Liberation Maiden is a surprisingly tame game in terms of craziness, that is of course, in comparison to his other projects, because this game is crazy in its own right. This game is the first in the contribution effort ‘Guild01’ retail card originally released in Japan, and Suda51’s contribution to the package itself, the separate entry was released for the Nintendo e-shop in other countries, and it’s available by the time of this review.
The story is an odd one, 100 years in the future, where Japan is in a struggle, trying to liberate itself from “Dominion‘s“ ruling. This is being taken care of thanks to Japan’s decision to get rid of their parliamentary system( with its limited Prime Minister powers), and opting for a President instead. Here, you control high school student Shoko Ozora, who has now become President of Japan after her father has been assassinated, and her job is… To take charge herself and destroy the enemy forces using a mech suit… Mike Haggar has got nothing on this girl.
Story aside, this game looks… Okay. Sure there are much better looking games, since the 3D graphics nor the 3D effect will impress anyone, but the style serves this one well, the graphics look a bit dark, but it helps set up the war-torn mood of game. The voice acting and cut scenes on the other hand are great, the animation having been made by Studio Bones, and the English acting being top-notch, even if there isn’t much acting (or cutscenes for that matter) in the first place, it’s easy to like the few lines they do have. The music itself is great, providing a compliment to the action, from the kick-ass first stage music, to its boss track, the rest of the game brings more great music like this, even showing some mellow music that fits the area you may be in.
Where the game truly shines, though, it’s the gameplay. You control Shoko with the Circle Pad, you strafe side to side by holding L, and you fire by holding the stylus to the screen, and lifting it when you need to release your shots, but do be careful, since the shots fired come from your shield itself, and the more you fire, the more chances you give an enemy to damage your actual health bar, it‘s something that brings some strategy to the equation, and it‘s something worth addressing. On the same note, I will admit it’s a bit odd to control at first, but you can quickly get used to this, and it works marvelously, still, the controls may or may not remind you of games such as Sim and Punishment, or even most recently; Kid Icarus: Uprising.
After all of these good things, is the game perfect? In one word; No. For one, the game is short, VERY short, coming at 4 stages and a final encounter (no, a boss does not count as a whole stage), also, the game can get very repetitive, as the stages themselves give basically the same mission every time, that is normally destroying “lesser spikes” and then engaging in a boss battle with a “greater spike” simply said, there is not enough variety.
So, do I recommend this game to you guys? Yes, while its short length is a glaring flaw, players who love beating scores will certainly love this one, for those looking for a meatier experience, well, it’s an Eshop game, but it might still not be your cup of tea, so try looking elsewhere, but for the asking price, you’d be missing up on one very addicting game.
First released back in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, Professor Layton and The Curious Village became a hit with owners in America, and since then, has released a subsequent game every year with great success, and after 4 games on the original DS, the series finally moves to the Nintendo 3DS.
Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask is the latest game in the series, and with the move to the 3DS, the presentation has taken an obvious upgrade/downgrade depending of the point of view of the person.
The game begins when the Professor himself , accompanied by self-appointed assistants Luke Triton and Emmy Altava, visit the desert oasis of Monte d’Or, where strange incidents have been occurring. Soon after their arrival, they are greeted by the mysterious Masked Gentleman, who apparently has turned many of the carnival attendants into stone, he soon flees and is followed by the trio, only managing to escape in a cloud of smoke, this puts everyone on a journey for the truth, where even the past might have some answers.
The presentation in the Professor Layton games is always top notch, right from the opening anime video sequence (the game contains many of them for your viewing pleasure) the art style is very distinct and charming, the music in the game (just as before) is some of the most “classy” sounding from any videogame, it’s soothing and can help you concentrate on the puzzles, and even it can be downright beautiful at times, as shown in this video.
The gameplay in this game is simple, yet difficult. You spend your time touching things on the screen, finding characters to talk to, searching for collectable items and hint coins (more on that later), and finding puzzles. The hard part (to many) comes from the puzzles themselves, and this is the meat and bones of the game, there are over 150 different puzzles that are found at different points in the game, some are optional, and many are required to advance, the puzzles are varied, and range from arithmetic problems, to use of logic, to observational puzzles that when solved, give out points.
Speaking of points, puzzles are given rank with points dubbed “picarats“, the more picarats it’s worth, the more difficult it is, the value of the picarats decreases if the player gets it wrong, but you can get a hint in the form of “Hint Coins” that give tips ranging from minor, to “this is the answer” in order to conserve picarats. And some may ask; what is the point of picarats? Well, picarats are used for post-game content, ranging from character profiles to in-game movies.
The game adds variety to the mix by introducing some minigames in the form of a Robot (lead it to the right spot using a limited assorted of movements) a Shop (arrange items in the correct pattern to make an efficient sale) and finally, Rabbit, (help a rabbit become a great actor in order to be allowed back on the circus). These mini-games aren’t necessary for game completion, but each can give bonuses, one of such is the rabbit, which helps you find Hint Coins, Treasures, and even Hidden Puzzles in other areas.
The story keeps you immersed, switching between the past version of Layton and his present self in order unlock the mysteries surrounding the Masked Gentleman, the mask, and the city of Monte d’Or itself, as the Professor, the player will come across many colorful characters that may help, or most of the time, hinder you, not with violence mind you, but with puzzles, since that seems to be the answer to 90% of your problems in this game.
This game also has some replay value, that’s right, replay value, because from the day of release for one year, players will be able to download a different puzzle a day, testing the limits of your intelligence each and every day, the difficulty varies from puzzle to puzzle, but some might leave you stomped.
One of the complaints in the game comes from the graphics, while not my personal complaint (this comes more from other fans) is one of the most controversial to longtime fans. The character designs being changed from static images to all out 3D models was a low blow to purists, who think it makes the characters to be clunky looking and somehow removes the charm found in the previous games.
Another complaint personally, is that the series has not shied away from the usual fare, it still works mind you, but there will be a time when it just won’t cut it, thankfully, Level 5 is a dependable company and I’m confident they will give us gamers something new in the future..
I give this game an 8 out of 10. It is a great game that will appeal to those who enjoy text based games with an interesting story, or those who enjoy a good puzzle. But those who are trigger happy keep away, most of the gameplay involves poiningt and clicking.
To those whose interest has been piqued, here is a video with the first 15 minutes of the game.