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Disclaimer: Game came from my own collection

Miitopia is a game that I had been unsure of when I first learned of its existence. It made sense that it would exist but I had no idea how it would function. After seeing footage though, I was hooked as this game really did have a chance to be great. After playing through the main story line, I have found that this is really a great game.

Miitopia is a solid RPG title that brings in Nintendo’s beloved Mii characters into their own Fantasy set game. This game thrusts your main character, who can even be you, onto a grand adventure. With many different jobs to choose from, it is up to you to pick the right job for you. Joining you are 9 other characters who you can make anyone you wish. Make them friends, family, celebrities, anyone you choose, and you get to pick jobs for them and eventually change jobs. Another big part of this game is the relationships that form. Pairing up characters can be done in the inn or out in the field and even in battle. Your characters relationships can really turn the tide of battle in your favor or your enemies. If all your characters hate each other of course you won’t get all of the extra damage.

The story itself is a solid one, involving an evil lord played by whoever you choose, stealing the faces of people everywhere. You can choose a character for this demon or have it auto picked. My villain ended up being Team Flare’s Boss Lysander of Pokemon X and Y fame. This villain is powerful and you will need to gather and train your friends. An interesting thing that happens is when he comes and spirits your friends away multiple times. This forces you to choose a new job and start journeying with three new characters.

Along the way, you will meet a variety of other characters who help you, while journeying through dungeons to find keys and other lost items you eventually defeat your foe. But like in most JRPGS the story is far from over as a new boss appears. Since I don’t plan on spoiling it though, I will just say as soon as this boss is defeated, you will be granted more character slots. With new characters to raise this game becomes infinite in a lot of ways. You can always start the game over, or you can grind levels of new characters in the same file.

There is always new quests to take once the boss is defeated. There really is so much to do as there are even extra jobs to find. This game really is something to be played. You not only get to cast the characters but the randomness of it all is just fantastic. Miitopia is out now on the Nintendo 3DS Family of Systems. So gather your miis and head out on a quest to take down the Dark Lord!

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Aug, 2017 At 06:44 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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There is always that one game. It is the game that you loved and played constantly, the game that enthralled you, that made you say “Wow, this is awesome”. That feeling of joy when you play that game is hard to recapture for multiple reasons, and chief among them is that your memories make the game seem better than it really was. This often leads to remasters that go overboard in updating a game’s look, only to make the game look less like the memories and more like a modern game. It is for this reason, I was nervous when I heard Blizzard would be remastering StarCraft 1. I was worried that too much would be changed and it would defeat the purpose. I am happy to say that I was wrong in that regard.

StarCraft Remastered actually managed to take the game and redo the art in a way that doesn’t betray the original game and does feel like a big improvement. The sprite based artwork has been redone with a heavy emphasis on detail and you can see the textures and amazing artwork much better. It even manages to give the game’s sprites the illusion of 3D at times. This is aided by a zoom in feature that has been added to the game which, when used on units and areas, shows just how much work went into every last part of the game. I am absolutely amazed at the excellent job done with this, and Blizzard’s team did great work. The new lighting effects really make things pop, and it just brings me so much joy to play this.

Other changes to the game include missions being preceded by new 3D talking portraits in the ready rooms. The ready rooms have also received an awesome makeover, which helps keep things fresh. As well, ranked multiplayer has a ranked Elo number that reflects wins and losses, with matchmaking working extremely well in this version. Best of all is that most of the custom maps are still here.

Now for the bad part ( for some). Some of the game’s features are very dated in terms of mechanics, due to not updating things such as unit pathfinding. This can create some annoyances, and there is an adjustment back to how things were played before, but to be honest it feels right that the gameplay was left this way. It may be alienating to some more casual players, but it is how StarCraft was meant to be played, and fits with this game being StarCraft as you remembered it.

 

In the end, I had a blast with this remaster and truly appreciate what Blizzard did. I must fully recommend this game to everyone.

 

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Aug, 2017 At 02:47 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The Zero Escape series is a well liked series of games, that often ask the player to constantly rethink their actions. It has unique ideas and the gameplay is just so different. Traditionally, the series has been on handhelds, but now Zero Time Dilemma has come to the PS4, and it brings with it some of the most chilling yet inventive gameplay in the series.

Zero Time Dilemma is a masterful example of storytelling in gaming, but it goes beyond just having a good plot and writing. No spoilers will be given, but the game introduces new ideas to keep things fresh and players on their toes. The gameplay constantly shifts between different narratives, and the blending of them works so well, that you are constantly given a deeper and deeper sense of immersion. That isn’t to say the writing is not as good as the previous games, because it far surpasses it. There are new  ideas introduced, and the gameplay is extremely challenging, but players who have been through the previous games shouldn’t have that many problems.

I will say though, that if you have not played the previous games, then you might want to play those first. There are a lot of references to the previous entries and as such, a new player might be confused. You will still be able to play the game, but you will not be able to appreciate the full extent of the story. Of course, given how great the series is, you should definitely give the older games a look. Once you do, you will appreciate the game much more and have more of an understanding of what to do.

I must say that on the PS4, this game looks amazing and sounds amazing, and the game does take advantage to present itself in a much higher quality than the other releases of the game. Is it enough to make you double dip? Probably not, but if you have not yet checked out this series, then you really should. It is a challenging series and not for those who want a lighter experience, but  rather for players who want to test themselves. This is worth a look.

 

 

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A review code was provided for this game.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 17 Aug, 2017 At 10:06 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Sonic hasn’t had a good time as of late. Many of his games have been lacking and the fans have been divided. There were many who felt Sonic belonged in the past……and others took inspiration from that idea. Sega had worked with indie developers on ports and remasters of the original Sonic games in the last few years. These games were well received, and thus an idea was born, a new game would be made from a remix of classic levels with new ideas and content. The result is Sonic Mania, a game that returned to the past and proved why we fell in love with Sonic.

Sonic Mania is a beautiful tribute to the original games, and serves as a what if? type game, for what kind of Sonic we may have seen on the 32x or Sega Saturn. New ideas such as the drop dash are brought in and they fit wonderfully with the gameplay The new stages and content feel right at home in a Sonic game, and I have to give a lot of credit to the developers for doing this so well. In addition, the games pays homage to various Sega and Sonic games in a variety of ways, from small shoutouts, to a major point that I will not mention due to spoilers. The game definitely keeps things fresh and changes things at the right pace.

There are some issues, namely the Switch version has some delay when interacting with the home button and share button, and there are some bugs that still managed to seep through. It can get annoying but I have not personally noticed anything gamebreaking just yet.

One thing I must comment on is how the game has so much replayability to it, just playing the stages gives you many ways to progress but Playing as a different character really does change things up, especially if you play as Knuckles. It adds a lot to the game, and makes me want to keep playing and experience more. From the boss battles, to the levels, there is great music and animation. The tunes in this game are great and just give you an immersive feeling.

Sonic Mania is a Sonic game that just feels right, even with the bugs. It is a well made game and looks great, and has the right mix of nostalgia and new. It really does help remind people why Sonic became an icon. This is the best Sonic game made in years and I hope Sega continues this. You should definitely check this out.

 

This game was reviews on the Nintendo Switch.

 

By John Kinsella On 16 Aug, 2017 At 10:16 PM | Categorized As NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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This is the first day of the rest of your life. This opening line begins this crazy adventure., where our hero Stan is in the kitchen with his wife Pam,. They are discussing dinner, when he passes out and soon wakes up in another form. Upon landing, he is told to consult with a tree who grants him power, where after jumping into a portal, it begins. The dangerous journey through an unforgiving land.

Enemies appear and at first they run, but soon enough it doesn’t matter. They fight back, and they want you dead., and the game eventually begins locking you into battles. In this vicious game, there is no tutorial, you need to figure out how to play it and fast. Think quickly, as when you die you are sent back to the last checkpoint. Funny thing about this game, it sets you off on your journey on hard mode, and hard mode is beyond challenging. A true master might complete it…might.

In this game, you have three attacks. A quick dash which is fast but weak, a whip which draws enemies close, and a heavy attack which is clearly slow yet strong. Leveling these three up doesn’t actually help you on he surface, it just gives you more combos to unleash on your unsuspecting foes.

The characters are interesting in their own ways. You meet a few at the start and then more are peppered in. They are all a little weird and I think that is a good thing. The story of Stan is a nice diversion from the fighting chaos, and it is a story that will have you question things. It unfolds as you progress through your neon hell, and you learn how Stan is actually doing above.

You also get to collect things throughout the game. There are points where you might see something shiny. Dare you go collect it? You’ll always face more enemies, so best be healed up first. The bosses of course are all different and you will need to use all your skill to beat them. This is another unforgiving part of the game. While this game is ridiculously hard, it draws you in. It keeps you wanting to play it even if for only awhile. It punishes you but you can’t stop from coming back.

I will say that the game looks amazing as well. It’s such a shiny game and the world you explore looks great. The music however is not great. With only the title screen track and a main track it could have been better. Though the main track does change throughout the game subtly. Phantom Trigger is a game that will offer you no hand holding. But it is one that when you succeed at even a portion of, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Not a game for everyone with it’s hard hitting roguelike form, but one you may just want to try.

Phantom Trigger is available today on Steam and The Nintendo Switch. So come on, go save Stan, you get to be a Ninja in hell.

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I am a fan of The Elder Scrolls series as should be well evident from my articles by now. Instead of talking about a particular game today however, I wanted to do something else and discuss the various DLC expansions released for the main games. I will not be discussing Elder Scrolls Online at this time, but may do another list in the future. This list is purely my opinion, and I ranked the DLC based off of quality, what it did for the game, how well it was received, and how well it held up years later.

 

 

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

 

 

Without further delay, let us start with Number 7.

 

7: Hearthfire 

Hearthfire is a great little DLC, but there is emphasis needed for the word little. It doesn’t have a huge amount of content like the other expansions, but what it does offer is some new followers, new houses and children to adopt. It isn’t the most exciting DLC but it does help the role playing experience and does allow a greater degree of immersion. There isn’t much to talk about. Its a nice way to build on the game but there isn’t much to it.

6: Knights of the Nine 

Knights of the Nine was the first major expansion for Oblivion and it was well received at the time. However, I honestly feel it hasn’t actually held up as well as the main game or what came later. To me, Knights of the Nine feels like an attempt to bring Morrowind’s narrative style to Oblivion in a way that just didn’t fit. The story was good, don’t get me wrong and the expansion did offer a neat experience, but it just has not held up as well as others. It is also rather short and doesn’t feel as well developed as the other expansions, bar Hearthfire.

5: Tribunal

I can hear the anger already. Tribunal serves as a direct sequel to the story of Morrowind, one of the most acclaimed games in the series, so how could I only put it at number 5? Well, to be honest, it isn’t very good. I rated this above Knights of the Nine because of the fact that the story is a continuation of the events of the main game and is very important for that reason. That being said, the expansion has a lot of issues, a story that feels ill plotted at times, and game mechanics that take you out of the immersion. It is an important DLC but not one that I particularly like.

4: Dawnguard

The top 4 DLC expansions are all amazing and I had a hard time choosing which to put in number 4 through 2, but I came to the conclusion that Dawnguard fits best in this spot. The vampire threat is a big departure from the main quest of Skyrim, but the story does actually build on the lore of the game and the series in general. It introduced amazing characters like Serana, explored the history of Skyrim and the Falmer, and showed us the truth about the soul gems. It had an atmosphere of adventure, tough enemies and great new abilities. Plus it overhauled the perk system and due to the choice you make early one, there are two ways to actually explore the DLC.

3: Bloodmoon

The 2nd expansion for Morrowind is far and away the better one.  This is the first time we are introduced to Solstheim and the Skaal people among other things. Bloodmoon introduced the Lycanthropy ability to the game and offered a unique area that felt large and yet different from the main game. it felt new and different and had a great charm to it. The quests were great, there was a lot to do in the expansion and it brought a lot of innovation. It does not get the attention that Tribunal gets, which is a shame because it is a far better expansion, as it is better developers, has a better story, and a much better sense of immersion with more choices for the player.  It has aged better than tribunal and is simpley a better experience.

 

2: Dragonborn

The third and final dlc expansion for Skyrim, Dragonborn is set once again on Solstheim, only 200 years have passed since Bloodmoon. You can now see how things have changd, while exploring a familiar setting for players of Morrowind. As with Bloodmoon, there is a lot to do in this expansion, but it goes beyond as we get an epic plot that discusses the nature of the Dragonborn more, awesome new abilities and shouts, great new weapons and armor and more. This isn’t even mentioning the excellent quests and characters that are in the dlc. Reviving Raven Rock gives a real sense of accomplishment, and honestly, this feels like proper semi sequel to Skyrim more than Tribunal felt like a continuation of Morrowind. This is a story that emphasizes how things have changed and how you are the one to help make things right.

 

1: Shivering Isles

There was no other choice for the number one spot. Shivering Isles  is the greatest DLC expansion for an Elder Scrolls game so far. If Cyrodil felt like too much of a typical European fantasy setting, then this solved that problem by making the setting a bizarre would where madness ruled. It made Sheogorath into a fan favourite character and gave him some amazing lines. There was so much to do, and so many ways to do them. There was a sense of whimsicalness as well as a tragic undertone building up throughout the story. The ending was amazing, with Jyggalag being freed from his curse and the cycle of the Greymarch broken, and then your character ascending to godhood as the new Sheogorath. Nothing has topped this yet, and I doubt anything will. Shivering Isles could have been a standalone game and it would still have been amazing. There is a reason the fans love this one the most, and time has been very kind to it, unlike some other expansions. It is simply a masterpiece of game design.

 

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the list. Let me know what you think of it, and some suggestions you think would make good lists.

 

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and not necessarily the views of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 10 Aug, 2017 At 11:51 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Few fighting games have made as much of an impact as Super Smash Bros. The party/platformer/fighting game obviously had the big draw of being a Nintendo crossover, but the combat has gained attention as well, due to its unique nature.

As with any big product, fans have their own ideas for how to do things, and in one such case, a spiritual sequel came to be in the form of Brawlout. Brawlout takes what works from the Smash Bros series, and gives its own unique spin on it. It is a well designed fighting game and while it doesn’t have the unique characters of Nintendo, the characters of Brawlout have their own charm to them. The developers could have gone the easy route and made the characters generic but instead they actually do feel like characters.

The combat mechanics are mostly similar to Smash Bros Melee but the game does take some hints from Brawl and other fighters. This is not a bad thing at all, and the game feels less like a clone, than a tribute. I was concerned I would find the fighting bland, like with many tribute games, but instead I really got into it and had a blast. The game ran smoothly and the fighting was quick and without fault. Playing against others was fun and made me appreciate all the work the developers did.

Brawlout is amazing more when you realize it is still being built on, as it is an early access game. It doesn’t feel incomplete, but rather it feels like the developers just happen to have more they want to do with it and that is fine. I am eager to see what comes next in the game.  Some have said this surpasses Smash as a fighter, but that isn’t a necessary comparison. It compliments Smash by making you realize how well done both games are. That is a rare feat and Angry Mob games did well with this. I recommend checking this out.

 

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A review key was provided for the game

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Warning: This post contains spoilers

When DOOM released last year, it had a lot of interesting ideas and concepts in it. The multiplayer was not to everyone’s liking, but the single player was viewed as one of the best games ever made. It  featured great gameplay, amazing action and a good amount of energy. But what wasn’t acknowledged by many ( although some did), was the way the game handled the narrative. Namely, in a game that was a throwback to old school shooters ( and a successful throwback at that), DOOM had a surprisingly strong narrative that elevated it above being a mindless shooter. Many shooters have a strong narrative but DOOM succeeded in an area that few others do: Show, don’t tell.

The game contained large amounts of lore that you could find that detailed the backstory of the Doom Slayer and the demons. This is reminiscent of other games like Metroid Prime, but with one major difference. That is, Metroid Prime is exploration and adventure focused, while DOOM is action focused. Thus id Software essentially blurred genres while still keeping the game focused on action. Its been pointed out by people like Jim Sterling, that the Doom Slayer’s mannerisms make him a unique character in that even without saying anything and only really showing a pair of hands. It was just the way he moved, the way the camera was angled at certain times, that conveyed emotion and told a story without needing words. You could feel his anger in his reaction to what happened. He came off less as psycho who could only solve things by shooting, and rather as someone who honestly felt everything had to be stopped because he had seen the true extent of the damage that could be caused by tampering with Hell’s power.

But it goes even further. As user, Sir Bill noted here on the SpaceBattles forum, DOOM actually has a large degree of moral ambiguity. Using the Argent energy means tampering with Hell, but Dr. Hayden has a point. The humans have been using it for decades and have devoted fields of science to it. There is no alternative available. The Doom Slayer has seen what horrors Hell can do, with the destruction of his home world being a clear example. Hayden is fighting to keep humanity alive the only way he can, and the Doom Slayer is opposing him because he has seen the damage and destruction this can bring. Both sides have a point and both are right. No words are needed about the matter because the game tells you this without words. It is a masterful case of showing instead of just telling, with the closest acknowledgment in the dialogue being part of Hayden’s reasoning at the end for banishing the Doom Slayer.

DOOM 2016 was assumed to be just an action game, albeit an awesome one, but now we can see that this game has subverted the expectations of what narrative in an FPS should be. Given all id Software and Bethesda accomplished here, I cannot wait to see what they do next. I doubt narrative driven FPS games are going to be the norm in the future, but this is an awesome way to do it, as DOOM, despite the gore and violence and high energy, is subtle in an area where most developers struggle to be subtle. That is skilled writing and I must commend the team on that.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Aug, 2017 At 11:30 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Retro City Rampage is a beloved indie gem and has now come to the Nintendo Switch. But does this version hold up well? Or is the game overrated? Well, if you saw the title, you might have a hint as to what I felt.

Retro City Rampage is many things in one. It is a demake of the GTA series as well as a loving homage to the 90’s and early 90’s. Pop culture references abound from movies, tv and of course gaming, but then there is the modern ideas that are celebrated as well. These include jabs, lighthearted and otherwise, at modern gaming, as well as references to other indie games. In fact, with some like bit.trip, this goes so far as including crossover content along with some internet personalities. It seems like an odd combination but it blends really well.

Gameplay is similar to the original GTA games but also with more throwbacks to the NES era to shake things up.  Platforming segments, swimming segments reminiscent of TMNT and more abound. But in addition to including parody, the game actually does have a decent narrative. It is completely bonkers but that is part of the charm and it just fits well. Plus running around in a rampage is oddly satisfying….and yes I realize how disturbing that sounds. But the best part of the game being a throwback are the cheats. Cheats aren’t done much today so this was a welcome addition. They will disable your ability to save, so it is more for having fun than completing the game. Enter some well known cheats from older games and you may be surprised.

The last thing I want to mention is how the game has a great 8 bit soundtrack and the developer went above and beyond to create and awesome audio variety for the game.it takes a great game and makes it even better, yes there are issues like the driving segments being awkward, but you get used to it. I fully recommend getting this on Switch!

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I am a massive Elder Scrolls fan, I think my past articles have made that clear, yet I hadn’t checked out Elder Scrolls Legends in any great detail before, besides a few minute here and there. I wanted to rectify that and really give the game some serious play time, and what I found was a game that I wish I had gotten into earlier. Still, now with the Heroes of Skyrim, it is a good time to get in.

Elder Scrolls Legends is a collectible card game, CCG, similar to Hearthstone, but with a unique Elder Scrolls charm to it. There is a strategy involved of course, but it also incorporates systems from the games and uses them in creative ways. The magika use has to be carefully considered, along with which cards to be used at which time.  There are of course different types of cards, such as support, action and creatures, which must be deployed in lanes. Mastering the different lanes is essential for doing well in this game, but also the Runes which will affect your card usage in different ways.

Elder Scrolls Legends has quite the interesting story, and while its writing does create some confusion about the overall plot of the series, it is still an interesting story and does provide some more insight of the backstory of games like Skyrim. Furthermore, the various unique events that occur in the game also provide more insight to some of the Daedra and other factions. If anything, TES: Legends provides a lot of insight into the lesser discussed aspects of the series lore and bring them to the forefront.

Now, for the Skyrim expansion, Heroes Of Skyrim,  I wasn’t quite sure what to anticipate, but found it to be an interesting take on the elements introduced in Skyrim and also making great use of the series lore from said game. It adds a lot to the overall game experience with the addition of new cards, and ways to use them. I know it doesn’t seem like I’m saying much about it, but to be honest it just feels like a great addition to an already fun experience.

Like I said at the start, I wish I had gotten into this game much sooner because I found it so amazing. I have a feeling this is a game I will be fond of for a very long time.

 

You can check out the game here