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By Jonathan Balofsky On 17 Feb, 2017 At 01:13 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Nioh has had a long road to get to where it is now. Originating as a film project by the late Akira Kurosawa it eventually became a game by Koei ( later Koei Tecmo) but it was filled with development problems from the start. Finally, the game was given to Team Ninja who not only completed it, but crafted a fine experience. Nioh tells the story of William Adams, based on the real life sailor of the same name who went to Japan and was appointed a samurai by the Shogun. Adams was a fascinating man in real life, and his visit to japan had longstanding ramifications for the country, but that is not what we are here to talk about.

Nioh, the game, is a beautiful piece of work. This was evident from the first taste of the game people received, but Team Ninja just kept making it better. While some call this a Dark Souls clone, that is not fully accurate. It does take some influence from those games, but it also borrows elements from other series like Onimusha and Team Ninja’s own Ninja Gaiden. This is a very story driven game and that is apparent from the start. Before I played, I wondered why the developers made William an Irishman in the game, considering the historical Adams was English and there was cultural tension between the groups. But upon playing the game, I realized that the game takes not only from Japanese lore and mythology but also from elements of Celtic lore and myth. The similarities between the two cultures are played up and that was a nice touch.

But enough about that, let’s get to the gameplay. This is indeed a difficult game much like everyone says, but it is also extremely rewarding. You have to plan your every move and factor in your ki, but there are times where the game brings in some action elements unlike other similar games. It helps give Nioh a unique identity and feeling and that is appreciated.  The different weapons and armor systems as well as the spirits must be balanced properly and this can be a struggle at first. But if you keep at it and realize what the game has to offer, this becomes one of the most enjoyable games ever played.

Visually the game is stunning and you can choose to have better visuals and a locked at 30 framerate or try for 60 fps but lose some visual quality at the expense of other visual enhancements. I do not have the PS4 Pro so I cannot comment on the boost the game gets from that hardware. I can comment that Nioh has some haunting music and excellent battle themes.

All in all, Nioh is amazing. With numerous historical domain characters including Yasuke, the historical black Samurai, who encounters William, to Hattori Hanzo and even more, the game weaves an excellent tale. It even takes the time to throw you for a loop more than once and shows that the developers did their research into history and mythology.

In conclusion, I give this my highest recommendations. This game is just absolutely excellent!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 17 Feb, 2017 At 06:01 AM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Lately I find myself playing games more outside my comfort zone. I do this because I want to expand my field and experience more of what gaming has to offer. Thus when given the chance to review Neo Atlas 1469, I jumped at the opportunity.

To begin this game is not what I was expecting. I thought it would be like the Uncharted Waters series, but it is actually closer to a mix between visual novel and RPG, with strategy elements blended in. This can be a little strange to adjust to at first, but once you get used to it, you will find this to be an enjoyable play session. The protagonists are likeable, even if they aren’t fully 3 Dimensionally developed, and the gameplay is just a charm to behold. What makes this stand out though is the sheer amount of what you can do. The game makes numerous different quests available and there are several ways to proceed.

I do have to say that the visuals are lacking and this can be annoying, even though the game does try its best. It doesn’t make the game that much worse but I did feel the immersion break a few times. That said, I still had a lot of fun, and as someone who has been reading up on nautical history and folklore, I love all the little details this game has within. I don’t say this about many games, but this is one I can see myself coming back to time and again. It just feels right, and that is without mentioning the music even. The music just gives the game a true feel of adventure and helps bind the experience together in a way that just feels complete.

In the end, I had a great time with this game, and must recommend it. You will not regret playing this at all.
Disclaimer: A digital copy was provided for this review.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Feb, 2017 At 04:46 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Retro games are becoming more and more common these days, but for every Shovel Knight, we get ten that just fall flat. With that in mind, I was worried about Alwa’s Awakening and did not know what to expect. I had seen the images and videos but it didn’t give me a sense of what the game would be like.

I have heard this game be compared to Shovel Knight in terms of a throwback to the NES days, but I do not feel that is an accurate assessment. To me, this game is much more of a throwback to the games of the Turbo Grafx 16. The look and sound of the game just feel like a game one would find on the system and as someone who still loves to play Turbo Grafx 16 games on an actual Turbo grafx 16, this is a great thing.

The game’s plot starts off as a very simple one, to set things off and then you get into a great metroidvania adventure. As you progress further and further, you feel more and more like you are in a timewarp. You feel like you have gone back to the past, to play those awesome games that kicked ass ( sorry cinemassacre). The music is absolutely amazing right from the beginning, and never lets up at any single point. It is just pure audio bliss and a feast for your ears. The art is amazing and looks like something straight out of the 80’s/very early 90’s and just feels fun.

The gameplay is spot on, combat and controls, for the most part anyways. There are some issues, as the game feels slow at times but it isn’t. I realize how awkward that sounds but it is just how the game feels. Jumping can feel stiff yet work perfectly. I don’t know how else to say this other than the game replicates the feel of awkward controls, while having excellent controls. This may sound like a fun but, but it really threw me off for a while. As well, the hit detection is almost perfect but there are times where hitting the enemy doesn’t connect and you can get hit by the enemy instead.

Those issues aside, this is a great game and I had a lot of fun with it. The game feels like a throwback to one of my favourite systems and eras in gaming, and I cannot stop smiling while playing it. I must recommend it, as it is a game you will not regret playing at all.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 1 Feb, 2017 At 10:12 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I am a major fan of the work of Robert E Howard, the creator of Conan the barbarian. His stories felt alive and full of sparks that cannot be matched, and this has led many to create works based off his stories. From comics, and movies to video games, there has been Conan adaptations in multiple fields.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started playing Conan Exiles, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.  The game is immersive and allows a wide range of creation methods, and allows you to familiarize yourself with the universe of Conan. For a survival game with crafting elements, the game does a very good job and explains things to you well, without getting in the way at all.

It isn’t a perfect game however, but that is to be expected as this is not complete yet. The visuals need a lot of work and full bland and unalive. When choosing my character, there were a number of glitches I experience, and the control scheme did not interact properly all the time. That said, I did have a good time playing this. The multiplayer components are well established, and this feels like a much more concise version of Age of Conan, one that is good for single players.

I think the combat needs some work as the hit detection as way off, and some elements such as saving, were not exactly smooth. The big issues I have is that the game could have a more detailed start and feel less derivative of other works. There is so much that can be done with the Conan universe that, while they are exploring it well, it feels like the developers are only scratching the surface of what is available.

There is a lot of potential in this game and I will continue to follow it as it progresses, this is early access after all. I think it could end up as a major addition to gaming in general if it is polished properly. I just hope the developers take the criticism to heart.
A review code was provided for this review.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 9 Jan, 2017 At 11:17 PM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Beat em ups are awesome, let me just say that right there. I love beat em ups and when a game comes out that pays tribute to the best of the best of the genre. 99Vidas – The Game is both an homage and affectionate parody of the games we all grew up loving, made by fans of those games. But is the final product any good?

I cannot explain it, but 99Vidas – The Game has that charm that so few indie games have. It doesn’t try to recreate the classic games, but rather it takes the best ideas and does something new with them. You have four choices of characters and can play solo or in co-op. All the characters play differently and have their own unique elements and abilities. I had a lot of fun playing through the game and seeing what the various characters can do. There are references to classic series like Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Double Dragon and stages designed to play homage to those games. The game makes great use of shops by having them be end of stage events. This works well with a linear sider scrolling game and feels natural.

If I had any complaints, it is that the multiplayer can be a little chaotic at times, and the enemies have that classic beat em up annoyance, where they can attack through your attacks and trap you for multiple hits. It can be extremely annoying but it isn’t impossible to deal with.

The visuals are excellent. Thing The Scott Pilgrim video games but better animation and more fluid action. The humor is spot on and helps draw you into the action along with the loose story. The music is great as well and that is a must for any beat em up game. There is just so much love put into this game and it shows. This is a game for fans, by fans. I recommend it.

 

No GravatarThe following is an opinion piece and only reflects the author’s views and not neccesarily that of the rest the Real Otaku Gamer staff.

 

2016 was a big year for gaming. Some new franchises came into being, and some series received amazing sequels. Join me as I list my top ten games of 2016. Just a note, I will only include games that I have actually played, so no Overwatch or Uncharted 4. This list will also include indie games.

10) AVGN II ASSimilation

Angry Video Game Nerd adventures was a brilliant indie game and spoof of bad retro games. AVGN 2 picks up where the first game left off and builds on it to make a game that is bigger and better in everyway. A full worldmap, a lot more levels, new powerups and ecouraging of replays, and tons of crass humor that just makes you laugh. The game referenced more games, the AVGN movie and even Board James, and is a treat for fans of James Rolfe. I cannot say enough good about this game, it is a brilliant parody of bad games while being awesome in its own right.

 

9) Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

The sole Nintendo game on the list, TMS #FE was a great RPG for a sytem starving for more of that genre. What was thought to be a fusion of Shint Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem’s play styles and elements, it actually turned out to play much more like Persona for the Wii U with the Fire Emblem as the personas and enemies. While some were put off by what the product was, it ended up being one of the best Nintendo games of the last decade. This was a brilliant game with a fun combat system and detailed plot that a player could lose themselves in for hours. This in many ways is a new IP with guest appearances from the FE characters, and hopefully this gets a sequel. Nintendo got themselves a brilliant RPG and this is one to be remembered.

8) King of Fighters XIV

While Street Fighter V got all the attention this year, it was actually SNK’s fighter that was the superior game. A complete experience and not barebones at launch, KOF XIV had something for everyone. It had good signle players modes as well as multiplayer modes, and there as inceintive to play the arcade mode with different teams to unlock secrets. The new characters were mostly fun and engaging and even some of the ones receivess less warmly turned out to be well thought out. SNK has been quick to fix any issues with the game, including fixing the online, and an upcoming patch to upgrade the visuals. As well, they have been evaluating fan interest in DLC characters for the game, so expect to see this title be supported for a while at least. This is perhaps the second best fighting game of 2016.

7)  Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

A late entry into this list, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was a major surprise to me in terms of how much of an upgrade it was over the previous entries. The visuals were bright and beautiful and the game was nothing like I expected. I don’t know why, but I believed this would just be a game on the scale of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, just with better visuals. It turned out to be a dramatic leap for the series and showed that Shantae can be a heavy hitter in gaming. Excellent power-ups, tons of replay value ( with even more coming) and a fun, engaging narrative, made this one of the best indie games of the year.

 

6) Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator

The greatest fighting game released in 2016, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator did something so few fighting games do these days, and did as much as it could to make itself accessible. The tutorial was unlike anything else and truly taught you how to play the game. The fighting was top notch and perfected from previous iterations, and the online was much better than ever. In fact the lobby system in the game was extremely innovative and helped make the experience much more worthwhile. While the story mode lacked the English dub of the previous title, it still was a welcome experience and did its job in answering details about the Guilty Gear story. This was just the most refined fighting experience in a long time and needs to be played by all.

5) Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

This game can be best summed up as bigger and better. Bandai Namco took all the positives of the first game while taking a look at what didn’t work, then went about fixing those issues.  The fighting feels more epic, the visuals are far better, and the story mode feels a lot more engaging this time.  With a large amount of characters, including some from Dragon Ball Super, Xenoverse 2 has something for everyone. Even the online is overhauled and this time it feels far more worthwhile to do co-op. It does reuse much of the original game but that isn’t a bad thing. This just feels like a better version of the first game.

4) Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

This one caught me by surprise. A game that combined the world of Digimon, with the design and feel of the Persona series, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a bold departure for the series. This game is one that I would recommend not only for Digimon fans, but also non-fans, as it is extremely accessible to all. The game feels like nothing else Bandai Namco has done with the Digimon series yet and I want more of this.  A detailed story, deep combat system and likeable characters, Cyber Sleuth has a lot to offer players of the RPG genre, especially those who are still waiting for Persona 5. This game was a hidden gem this year and I recommend it for all.

3) Shadow Warrior 2

This one is good. The previous Shadow Warrior was a game that helped get first person shooters out of the rut they were stuck in. It successfully revived the series while not compromising on what the original was, and made it a great experience. Shadow Warrior 2 makes the first game seem like a tech demo in comparison. Everything is on a grander scale, with vastly improved graphics and combat. The game uses a procedural generated level system to ensure no two replays are the same and it is better for it. This time around, there is a co-op mode that allows you to team up with 3 others and coordinate your playthrough differently. The best part about that is that the gameplay is scaled for co-op so it is never too easy or too hard. Also important is that the game does not act condescendingly towards people who play on easier settings. That is something that is sadly not common anymore.

2) Dishonored 2

Dishonored was an amazing game but this one takes it to the next level. Dishonored 2 is an epic experience that offers so much more than the previous entry. You can play as Emily or Corvo, with both having unique playstyles. This allows for a lot more replay value, especially when you are given multiple ways to play with those characters. The visuals are far better and the overall presentation is excellent. Even the music is great and helps bring you deeper into the gameplay. This is the best stealth game released in a very long time, if not ever and the action elements are so expertly woven in, that it just feels completely natural to shift to attacking. The various abilities you get in the game just make you feel like a badass and that is a welcome feeling. The game brings so much to the table that I cannot say enough good things about this

1) DOOM

The absolute best game of the year bar none ( that I’ve played), DOOM shows you how to revive a classic IP. We were all worried about this game based off the beta, which only showed the multiplayer, as well as the fact that the game wasn’t given to critics in advance. The fears were for naught luckily as DOOM is amazing. Fast paced shooting, with gory action, yet a well developed character who doesn’t need to say anything. The game perfectly marries story telling and gameplay into one in a better way than Half Life ever did, and the result is amazing.  This just feels like a proper return to form, not only for the Doom series but for the FPS genre in general. Many have been too dragged down in storytelling or rote gameplay, but DOOM shows the right way to do it. An amazing soundtrack that really gets your heart pumping for battle, and an amazing arsenal that keeps things fresh. The game’s SnapMap function also brings a form of modding to consoles, as well as giving you an endless amount of content to play through. Bethesda and Id software have been consistently updating the game with both free updates and DLC and all of it is welcome. This is an absolute must play for everyone.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Dec, 2016 At 10:10 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Wild Guns is a classic game on the Super NES. One of the most bizarre mashups of genres, it proved to be an enduring gem that is still loved to this day. Natsume has now made a modern redo of the game for the PlayStation 4 as Wild Guns:Reloaded, and after purchasing it and playing for a while, I am conflicted.

The game has gorgeous sprite work and animation, and the music is amazing. Both feel like they are out of the SNES game, but to be more precise, they feel like how we remember the SNES game, versus how it actually looked and sounded. The soundtrack captures the weird west feel of the game, and the new characters and features of the game look great in the animation. Where I have issues with the game is in the controls.

The game just felt awkward to control, and that the setup was counter-intuitive. With characters like Clint, I had a difficult time playing due to the control scheme, whereas Bullet the dog seems made for people like me, who have trouble adjusting to the controls. I did spend more than a few hours playing and did start to get the hang of it, but I feel compelled to warn you that this game does take some effort to learn and you can not just jump into it.

Once you get past the control scheme and get into the game, you will need to do one thing. You must prepare to die over and over again because this is a hard game. And I like that. The difficulty isn’t because of the control scheme ( although that really doesn’t help matters at all) but because Natsume wanted to make this a challenging game. There is a ton of new content to this version and all of it really helps the weird west idea the game has. These range from horror themed levels to more steampunk themed levels. As stated, Bullet the Dog is a great new addition, especially for players who have difficulty adjusting to the control scheme. In fact, I must recommend using Bullet when first starting, since he helps you ease your way into the game and learn how to do things. He uses a drone to attack and can be easier to dodge with as well as attack enemies. Doris, the other new character, also has a great style involving explosives, although she takes some time to learn to use effectively.

You will die a lot, but once you learn how to progress without dying, you will find the game passes by very fast. That said, even though this is a short game, it is one that heavily encourages replay. This can be off-putting for some who want longer games with more content however, and that is understandable. That plus the confusing control scheme that takes a while to learn and intense difficulty, can be off putting to most players.  As well some may not like the fact that the game has SNES style visuals and a preserved soundtrack, although others like myself prefer this in the game. This is not a game for everyone and that needs to be said. I cannot recommend this for everyone but I can recommend this for people who like retro scifi games and are willing to put the effort in to learn and persevere with the gameplay. This is a hard game, and I am conflicted over its positives and negatives, but I do feel that if you can overlook the negatives, or can adjust to the control method and do not mind hard games that encourage replay, then give this a shot.

 

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was in development for a number of years. Funded via kickstarter and paypal donations, the game was incredibly ambitious in scope, but kept getting delayed. Many were worried that the game would end up being another kickstarter disaster, but after just five minutes of playing, I realized that the game was more than worth the wait.

Shantae HGH is a beautiful game, that must be stated. Forget how the series has looked in the past, this game is gorgeous beyond belief. The videos and screenshots do not do this game justice, the game has to be seen to be believed. The animation is so water-like and with a buttery smooth framerate, it looks unbelievable.  The music is also far above the previous games, with fully voiced tracks right from the very beginning ( and what a start it was), and throughout the game the music stays amazing. Some of the best video game music of 2016 is in this game right here and that is saying something.

Gameplay is similar but also a little different to previous Shantae games. The game is less metroidvania ,and more linear and stage based., but replaying levels multiple times is greatly encouraged, especially since you can only access certain areas of the levels once you have the appropriate power-ups to go where you need. Shantae still attacks with her hair, which can be upgraded repeatedly, and she can use power-ups as well as magic to make things easier for herself. In fact, it is not smart to go into some of the boss battles without some attack magic. Speaking of bosses, they are amazing in this game and range from quirky to epic encounters, all of which are memorable ones.

With an amazing level design, and creative bosses and enemy A.I., Shantae : Half-Genie Hero has a lot going for it, but that is not all. The game still has that quirky sense of humor that the previous games had, but the story just makes it shine so much brighter. No spoilers here, but this entry in the series has the best writing yet by far. WayForward Technologies set out to create the ultimate Shantae game and they did. I honestly cannot find faults with it at this moment. If I did not recommend this, I would be an idiot.  Buy it now!

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Dec, 2016 At 04:28 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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In this day and age when so many classic game series get neglected, it is nice to see developers step in and take up the task of making games for fans of those series. Shattered Throne is a turn based strategy RPG that takes heavy inspiration from the Nintendo Wars series (known as Advance Wars in the west), while also bringing its own ideas to the table. The result is an epic game that is fun in both single and multiplayer and feels like a true successor to the Nintendo series without being a ripoff.

Like in Advance Wars, there is a grid layout ( one that will look familiar to many) where you position your troops and plan your attacks. Unlike Advance Wars, there are some big changes. For example, in this game there is unit progression within a level  where units gain xp for kills and level up. This is more reminiscent of Fire Emblem but fits nicely in here. There are also buildings with different purposes and some can be upgraded into different classes, thereby adding to the strategy elements. The game has a combo system that will increase the damage done to enemy units that are attacked continuously which is a great addition to the gameplay.

In this game there are three main factions. Human, Elf and Undead. All the factions have their own generals as well as units and buildings and act differently. This gives a lot of variety to the gameplay and helps keep things fresh. As well, some unique classes have traits that are theirs only, such as crusaders. The crusaders will attack enemies near a target as well as the target itself. And this is only one example of the variety within.

The multiplayer was a blast to use and instantly took up much of my free time, with it proving rather addictive. There is also a map editor and Steam Workshop enabled, so fan creations are easy to come by. This is one of the best spiritual successors I have ever seen I gaming and I will give this the highest praise I can. I wish Nintendo would hire the developer, Checkmark Games to create the next Advance Wars game.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Dec, 2016 At 07:13 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

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There is always some controversy when one game takes too much inspiration from another. With indie games modelled after well known series, this can be a serious issue unless there are mitigating circumstances.  In the case of Citidale: Gate of Souls, there are many mitigating factors, since while it is no doubt a Castlevania clone, it does have enough differences. As well, the fact that Konami has taken certain actions as of late that have proven controversial, has led some to feel this game is a justified creation.

Let’s not make any mistakes, this is clearly based on Castlevania and in fact, evolved out of a fan game version of Castlevania Legends. However, I feel the game does stand on its own merits and made enough changes.  The pixel art style is absolutely great, and the music is amazing. The music really reminds me of some of the best of the NES era and that is always a plus. It has a haunting nature to it, that just fits well with the setting of the game.

The gameplay is well designed and the game has an innovative hook. The game can be played entirely on the gamepad, with the TV showing an extended map that shows more areas and even hidden ones. Or if you want, you can switch the setup so the map is on the gamepad and a single screen is shown on the TV. The enemy design is good and the power-ups all work fine, but there is one issue. The game feels very slow moving at times, and I do not mean the pace. I mean the game itself feels like it is moving slowly. This can throw you off or be annoying, but it is not a major issue and you can easily adjust to it. It is just something to keep in mind.

Overall, I feel this is a game that follows the path fangames should. It changed itself just enough to stand as its own thing with its own identity. It feels different enough that I feel this is a legitimate game and should not provoke controversy. As for the game itself? Aside from the slow feeling, I liked it. It has great music, good action and enemy design, and was fun. I must recommend it.