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By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Sep, 2016 At 12:36 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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Steins; Gate is a visual novel game, originally for Xbox 360, that has now come to Steam. Visual novels are not usually a genre I have been very interested in, but I had heard good things about this game. How does this hold up on Steam? Well, not bad actually.

Steins; Gate feels a lot like a choose your own adventure but more immersive, if that makes sense. There is minimal gameplay until certain moments when you must make a choice or perform an action, which is actually kind of similar to some TellTale adventure games. Where Steins; Gate stands out though, is in the story of the game. Spoilers will not be given here, but this is one of the most immersive stories in a game that I have ever seen. It is in depth, detailed and full of twists and turns where you least expect them.

The music is this game is top notch, with their being character specific music as well.  The music sets itself well with the scenes and what is happening, but can get dull at times. The sound effects are also good but sound somewhat artificial even for a game. Visually the game is stunning and still looks good despite coming out years ago, and this is a testament to the art style chosen for this game.

Overall, this is a good package with some minor stutters that keep it from being absolutely perfect. I would suggest checking it out on Steam, especially if you never played it before. It is well worth it.

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This week marked 30 years of the Castlevania series, a series near and dear to my heart. My first time playing this series was actually with Circle of the Moon on the GBA when I rented it while on vacation one year. It didn’t make a lasting impression on me, nor did Harmony of Dissonance some time later. The moment I became enthralled with Castlevania wasn’t actually when I played a game in the series. No, it began when I opened the pages of Gamepro one month and saw a preview of Castlevania Aria of Sorrow. I don’t know why, but once I saw those preview images I knew I had to play this game when it came out. And play it I did, becoming obsessed with finding every secret, getting every soul and so on. This was a game that hooked me and made me a fan of the series.

I did not own the original games on the NES or Super Castlevania IV on the SNES, but thanks to the virtual console, I have been able to play these classics. I think they still hold up well, to an extent. Castlevania 1 is punishingly hard, and 3 is even harder but added so much innovation. Simon’s Quest is of course the black sheep of the series but it did lay the groundwork for what would come later with Symphony of the Night. These are all amazing games on the NES, with the first game being an amazing homage to classic horror cinema, an aspect that while downplayed later on in the series, is still there even in recent entries.

Super Castlevania IV was where the series really got good. It was still hard, but now it was fair. Your failures were your own fault, and the bosses still a challenge but no longer unfair. The music was some of the best in the entire series and everything seemed on a greater scale than before. This continued with Rondo of Blood and Bloodlines. While some feel Bloodlines is not as good as IV, I think it is on equal ground. It had its own contribution to the story and helped make the novel by Bram Stoker canon with the games. It was the goriest entry in the series but also one of the best designed.

Rondo of Blood was the big transition in terms of storytelling. It didn’t just introduce cut scenes, it also introduced hidden stages which was a game changer for the series. It led directly into Castlevania SOTN as well. SOTN changed how the games were played, but it did so by combining what came before in Simon’s quest, Dracula’s Curse and Rondo of Blood, with elements of the Zelda series. It led to that style of games being called metroidvania, instead of just metroidlike.

The series has been put on hold by Konami, and with Koji Igarashi having left, it seems unlikely we will get a new entry. But we do have IGA’s upcoming game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, to look forward to. Castlevania may have turned 30 this week, but the series still brings in new fans every day!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 26 Sep, 2016 At 12:40 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, News, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No Gravatartitans-tower

This is another of RCMADIAX’s games for Wii U and like with my previous review of an RCMADIAX game, I will keep this brief. Titans Tower is better than Shooty Space but is still an unoriginal concept and to be honest, RCMADIAX can do a lot better. This game is based off a Flappy Bird model and like Shooty Space, might hold your attention for a few minutes, but then any excitement you had quickly goes away.

RCMADIAX has been accused of putting out a lot of shovelware onto the Wii U and that is a accusation that is hard to deny. Still, there are good games from this developer. Blok Drop U is a great puzzle game, Avoider and Panda Love are simple games that are deceptively addictive, and of course Super Robo Mouse is an outstanding game. I understand that game development takes time and money, both of which are in short supply with small operations, but I hope that RCMADIAX can do better in the future. Less licensing of  game engines for quick turnaround and more games with original thought to them. They don’t all need to be like Super Robo Mouse, after all Blok Drop U was the game that made me a fan. A game that goes back to the roots would be a welcome change. There is so much potential for this developer and I do not want to see RCMADIAX become “that dev” who just puts out shovelware.

Check out Avoider , Panda Love and of course Super Robo Mouse for good games, and take a look at Blok Drop U for a fun puzzler.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 25 Sep, 2016 At 03:13 PM | Categorized As Featured, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No Gravatarshooty-space

This is gonna be a short review, but to the point. I have stated in the past how I have a love hate relationship with RCMADIAX games and this one continues the cycle. While I found Panda Love to be deceptively addictive, Shooty Space left me bored after five minutes.

The game is a basic shoot em up on the Wii U, with no end, one hit kill and random super enemies showing up that give you extra points. If you play for longer than ten minutes, you will lose all interest in the game. There simply is not enough substance to it that would keep a player hooked. That is not to say it is a total waste of a game. It is a game that would do well for short play periods, to keep you amused when lengthy play sessions of other games is not an option. That said, this would have been much better to have on the 3DS instead of the Wii U. On the 3DS, this would be perfect for a quick pick up and play session on the go, whereas a similar quick play session is less likely on the Wii U, due to it being a home console.

Overall, I was not too impressed with this game. It lacks substance and aside from short play sessions, is not fun at all. RCMADIAX can do better and even the smaller games like Avoider can be excellent experiences. I would pass on this unless you need another game just to keep you occupied for a few minutes. Do check out the aforementioned Avoider and Panda Love and also Super Robo Mouse (RCMADIAX’s best game), because those games will leave you happy and are worthwhile experiences!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 24 Sep, 2016 At 11:54 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments
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No Gravatartalent-not-included

Every so often, there comes an indie game that tries to do something a little out of the ordinary. Talent Not Included is an action platformer, which seems simple enough, but there is a twist in that all the action is in the form of a stage play. This twist makes this game one of the most unique indie platformers out there.

The game takes full advantage of its settings, moving from location to location is done in the form of a stage transition. This is a really cool twist on screen transitions in video games, and helps both bring you further into the game and at the same time, be taken out of it in a meta way. That’s not to say the game is easy, oh my no. This is a very hard platformer, although it tricks you by starting out easy enough.

What gives this game more of a unique flair is how it takes the different acts of a play and applies it to a video game, by having each act have a different playable character. This was a cool take on not just the three act set up but also video game tropes in general. Each character has their own motivation for doing what they do, and while it isn’t the best story in a game, it serves its purpose very well.

The music in this game is excellent, but I feel it could have been better by being more involved and giving you a sense of being in a theatre. Its good for what it is, but it feels light.  The game’s visual design is amazing and really ties into the theatre motif by having your progression in each scene ( the levels in each act) cause the terrain to shift as if on a wheel.

Do I think this is a game worth checking out? I think so. Its got a lot of potential for enjoyment and has a good unique hook. It is definitely worth a few hours of play.

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Drinkbox Studios has released some excellent games over the years including the amazing metroidvania style game Guacamelee!, and now have brought their latest masterpiece to Nintendo systems. Severed is a first person game focused on touch screen controls and a creepy atmosphere. How did it hold up in the transition to Wii U? Rather well actually.

When playing Severed, you will almost certainly be focusing exclusively on the gamepad and not the TV due to the emphasis on the touch screen. Severed is one of the best uses of the Wii U gamepad I have seen, especially since it takes full advantage of the touch screen capabilities while also giving you some traditional controls as well. The interactions with the environment happen in a variety of ways, such as swiping the screen to remove obstacles, find hidden gems and moving gears to open doors.

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The game has an amazing horror atmosphere and the music helps that. It gives you a sense of creepiness and a feeling that you are always in danger. There is always some terror waiting for you, lurking where you do not expect. The first person perspective combined with the way you move, work well with the music to create one of the best feelings of anxiety ever. I cannot say enough good about the music, it really does its job well.

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There are some negatives though. The game’s combat can be very difficult to get a hang of and can be unforgiving at times. Adapting to multiple enemies will take a lot of time and effort, as you will need to learn to keep moving and make certain enemies a priority while not ignoring other enemies. Its not all bad and once you get the hang of it, you can do very well. Its just that there is some difficulty in learning this. Its fun once that’s out of the way so be patient.

Severed is a great experience and I would recommend it, just be aware you will need some patience with it.

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No GravatarThe God Eater games have always had a cult following, stemming from its PSP origins over 5 years ago. Fans fell in love with its quirky, insane monster design and Monster Hunter-esque gameplay. God Eater 2: Rage Burst is the re-release of last year’s God Eater 2 with added features like survival missions, gear and extended story content.

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You are a member of Blood, an elite unit of God Eaters, whose sole purpose is ridding the world of Aragami. The Aragami are monsters that have completely taken over the planet. Aragami come in all terrifying shapes and sizes from people-sized demon plants to gigantic bug-dinosaur looking monstrosities. The awesome creature design makes every boss encounter more worthwhile, as the big baddies become more and more outrageous.

 

You’re not alone in your God Eating, your teammates all fall into the typical J-RPG spectrum of personalities from the stoic team leader, all the way down to the ditzy scantily-clad bad-ass who really likes to eat. I’ll admit at first I eye-rolled at a lot of the writing but the team aboard our flying fortress, Friar, did grow on me.

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There are really good character moments in between mission that reveal a lot of your crew’s motivations. Early on a teammate concocts a scheme to stage a meeting with a visiting pop-star. The humor in Rage Burst balances the grim reality of monsters displacing people into ghettos worldwide in a way that I really appreciated.

In order to fight the good fight, God Eaters use God Arcs, a Swiss-army type weapon system that houses a ranged weapon, melee weapon and shield. It’s a neat system that lets you change weapon types on the fly. Managing your God Arc becomes a herculean task considering the endless combinations of weapons you can craft and upgrade. I found myself loving the Buster Sword/Sniper/Shield combo.

If you want to really kick ass, you need to be able to effective switch your God Arc weapons suit your needs and being able to identify a specific Aragami’s weakness and when to press for the attack. I found that memorizing the attack pattern of each monster is the best way to get results. Combos and charge attacks on big melee weapons like hammers and scythes do crazy damage and feel good when you catch a monster from behind.http://realotakugamer.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=24449&action=edit#titlediv

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Each mission lets you bring in up to 3 computer controlled teammates that do a surprisingly good job of not being a hindrance and I even opted to recruit actual players for harder missions via online co-op. I suggest bringing in some buddies early on since the beginning missions are so utterly boring.

Rage Burst’s biggest letdown is in its mission design which is basically just from an arena filled with monsters. The first few hours are a bit of a drag since you can essentially sleepwalk through most of these conflicts, considering you don’t really need to use of the advanced combat techniques until you’re 8-10 hours in. I found myself having to replay a bunch of these missions in order to grind out loot and crafting materials.

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The customization options for Rage Burst are dense. The player-created protagonist has access to literally thousands of outfit and weapon combinations. There are plenty of loot and game rewards replaying mission in order to gain higher ranks scoring better loot. Join an online game and you’ll just how ridiculous and/or awesome you could potentially look.

Rage Burst also isn’t a great looking game. Most of the mission reuse the same locations, so just get used to fighting in the same bombed-out city landscapes for a good long while. This is a shame considering the character and monster design are so fun and full of personality.

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There is a rather steep learning curve. Advanced techniques are not explained all that well unless you do some digging in the database and become intimately aware with the all the System Terms. It was only after playing for about 10 hours that I figured out exactly what Bursts actually do. Other skills like parrying and using Zero Stance would have saved me a lot of heartache if I knew where to look earlier.

It’s easy to lose a lot of time playing God Eater 2: Rage Burst. If you can make it through the painfully slow start, you can find a deep and addictive action-RPG that could compete with the likes of Monster Hunter. This is all assuming you’re patient enough to put with a boring start, frustratingly steep learning curve and sub-par visuals.

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No GravatarCapcom’s Street Fighter V was a game I was extremely excited for. It promised to be bigger and better than anything before it in the Street Fighter series, but what we got was less than expected. The game lacked so many basic modes and was extremely difficult for a newcomer to get into, despite Capcom saying they wanted to make it easier for newcomers to get into the series. It was a complete disappointment to me and it was the first time I ever felt upset at buying a game digitally, since I could not return it. The incomplete launch was such a turn of to me that it caused me to question if fighting games were for me.

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I had been getting into fighting games more and more over the past year but SFV killed all excitement I had for the genre. I began to wonder if it was even worth getting into, or if I was wasting my time. Aside from Mortal Kombat, few fighting game  were very welcoming to newcomers and casuals, or to fans who are not hardcore players. I thought “Okay, maybe this is just how the genre is now” and was willing to accept that. But then it all changed.

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When SNK’s King of Fighters XIV was announced, people mocked it for its graphics and wrote it off as a waste. But it slowly but surely began to win people over, people who were tired of what the genre had become and wanted something different. When KOF XIV came out, it was a revelation to me. This was a fighting game that I could learn and get into , and hardcore players and casuals alike could enjoy for different reasons. SNK sacrificed visuals to make the product the best they could in terms of substance and I found myself enjoying fighting games again.

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When issues came up online, SNK hurried to make a patch and fix the issues, and every interview with the developers shows a love of gaming that is lacking elsewhere. KOF XIV won over skeptics and gained many new fans with its design. Anyone can learn it but it takes effort to master it and that is how it should be. It also happens to be a complete game with everything included at launch. DLC may come later, but there is already so much variety that if there is no DLC, there is still more than enough content.

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I was ready to move on and accept that fighting games were something I would never get into. But SNK rid me of that idea and made me realize that there are fighting games worth playing. I am particularly excited for Tekken 7 now and I will always be indebted to SNK for saving this genre for me.

 

You can read my review of KOF XIV here

By Jonathan Balofsky On 16 Sep, 2016 At 12:39 AM | Categorized As Featured, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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The Wii U gamepad has not been used as well as it could have been in its lifespan. Let’s get that out of the way before we go any further. When games that use the gamepad well come out, special mention is merited to celebrate this.

Rorrim on Wii U makes use of the gamepad in a very interesting way. Imagine two worlds mirrored to each other and one can be viewed on the TV screen and one on the gamepad. This may seem confusing and it is at first, but you can quickly catch on to what you are supposed to do and how to handle things.

Rorrim is a puzzle game that uses both screens to navigate travelling through dungeons, with the dungeon on the screen being mirrored onto the gamepad. You must navigate through both worlds at once and this can be difficult when you factor in obstacles and traps.  This is a thinking person’s game and each move you make ends up requiring a lot of thought being put into it. The wrong move made on one screen can cause problems for you on the other. This is a unique gameplay style and I appreciate the work put into this by the developers.

The music in the game is great and while it isn’t anything that stands out in a major way, it is still good music and can be appreciated by anyone. The art style is also good but does lose something due to the usage of two screens. Its not a deal breaker but it is something that is noticeable to me. Maybe others will see it differently though, and I admit I could be wrong.

Do I think you should buy this game? I think it is definitely worth checking out. It is a good puzzle game with a unique gameplay bent and that is always worth looking into. The game uses the gamepad better than many games from Nintendo and that alone gets praise from me.

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Do you ever miss those old pixel art “run n gun” games like Contra and Metal Slug? I know I do, but thanks to the indie scene I don’t have to rely on memories alone. Noitu Love Devolution is a great “run n gun” style game with an interesting control scheme that helps separate it from other indie games in the genre.

Noitu Love Devolution was made for PC but transitions well to the Wii U. You can use the Wiimote and nunchuck for pointer controls like a mouse, or you can use the Wii U gamepad for touch controls. I had to rely on the gamepad because due to switching TV sets, I don’t have everything set up to use the Wiimote. The only real issue there is that you don’t see the full beauty of the art style while looking at the gamepad, but when you more experience with the controls this won’t be an issue because you can look at the TV screen. The cartoonish artstyle reminds me of several WayForward games, but it is still very much its own thing. The game has an incredible soundtrack reminiscent of both classic and modern games from a variety of genres. The tunes both keep you going and get you pumped and help accentuate the cartoonish nature of the game at times. In that regard, the soundtrack accomplishes all the objectives a video game soundtrack has. This is not always the case with indie games but works out well here.

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As I said, I used touch controls with the gamepad when I played this. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they worked out fine in the end. The controls took a bit of getting used to and I messed up more than once, but eventually I got the hang of it. The game itself is a sequel but you do not need to worry about that fact and you can actually ignore that and view this as a standalone game. You play as a peacekeeper who must fight an invading enemy force. This sounds generic except the game is anything but generic. Full of action, humor and great music, I had a blast while playing this. The different locales you explore provide a lot of variety for the gameplay experience and the enemies have a unique flair to each one. The animation is smooth and steady, and that makes each stage stand out more. The bosses are great, the random switches in gameplay keep things fresh and the story is enjoyable. The only real issue I had is that the controls did take a while to learn.

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There are numerous attack abilities as well as defending abilities and the game offers an excellent optional training mode. I recommend checking this out because while you can jump right into the game, you will find yourself slightly confused with the controls. This is an optional tutorial but highly recommended. The game obviously is inspired by classic shooters, but you will often rely on melee attacks more, as well as grabs and throws. This adds a lot to the game and helps it stands out in my opinion. It also helps give more replay value by giving you more ways to go back and play differently.

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This game feels like a great throwback to the classic shooter games, especially Gunstar Heroes, but at the same time it also has forged its own identity. The action keeps going and you will never find yourself board with this. I think this is a game very much worth getting for any Wii U (or 3DS owner). My only warning is that the controls will take a bit of time to get used to. I will say that I cannot get the game’s music out of my head but I leave that to you to decide if you think that will be a good or bad thing.

 

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