Quick look, Review

Review: Blaster Master Zero

Game: Blaster Master Zero

Developer: Inti Creates

Publisher: Inti Creates

Platforms: 3DS, Switch (reviewed)

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017 (Jap) March 9th, 2017 (US EU)

Price: $9.99

Blaster Master released for the NES back in 1988. As I wasn’t even a thought in the 80’s I didn’t pick up the Sunsoft title until sometime in the late 90’s. My number one memory of Blaster Master was its difficulty. I mean, maybe I’m overplaying it, I was a kid after all. I don’t recall getting past the third or fourth area in the original. So when Blaster Master Zero came out on the Nintendo Switch, I couldn’t wait to dive in, once I was done with Zelda of course.17362773_1482790535066635_1101775072318594247_n

Blaster Master Zero keeps the more absurd parts of the original titles setup. You play as a young man named Jason, who on some future mutant infested version of earth, stumbles upon a frog he names Fred. Fred jumps down a hole leading to a massive underground facility. In said facility, Jason locates Sophia III, a tank with some impressive firepower, along with a mysterious girl named Eve. With Eve and Sophia III, Jason begins his journey to find Fred, and inevitably stop the evil mutants.

Zero has that old Metroid feel, that I love. You’ll move across a 2D plane both in and out of your tank in search of mutants to fight and upgrades for both Jason and the tank. Upgrades and maps for each area are usually found in caves that can only be entered while on foot. Once you enter these zones, you’ll shift to a top-down perspective that is, unfortunately, Blaster Master Zero’s greatest weakness.17457383_1482790215066667_1579743541823612364_n

I never thought the top-down segments of the original Blaster Master were especially fun, and that remains true in Zero.  Don’t get me wrong, the sprite and environment designs are nice but the gameplay is unchallenging and sort of dull. You gain a vast amount of weapons throughout your journey and the way weapon use is tied to your current hit points forces you to fluctuate your weapon use, but the enemies aren’t very challenging. I’d much rather play more in tank mode, and unfortunately for me, only about two out of the nine bosses are fought in Sophia III.

The early parts of Zero are essentially an exact remake of the original game as far as I can tell. As I progressed through later areas with ease, I started to wonder if later areas had been dumbed down. After some research, It seems entire areas had, in fact, been retooled. Mostly beneficial improvements were made, the map is a bit more guiding about your next objective but you have access to no mini-map, so it doesn’t feel too coddling. Checkpoints are also more abundant, fall damage is still very punishing outside of the tank, so be careful.

For anyone with familiar with the Inti Creates Megaman inspired game Gunvolt, the inspiration in the art is clear as day.17362565_1482790915066597_3499186190672335031_n

Blaster Master Zero is a fun adventure in nostalgia. It gave me an opportunity to finish a game that has evaded completion since I was in elementary school. It doesn’t feel challenging in the way the original did but it is certainly a step up from that horrid Wii version Blaster Master. For $10.00, it’s a fun game to fool around with once you’re done with Zelda, but nothing phenomenal.  If the Switch had a larger library I probably would’ve abandoned Blaster Master Zero about two hours in, I’m glad I didn’t though, and if you have any love for the original it’s worth a look.

Score: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

 

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Review

Review: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

Game: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

Developer: Yacht Club Games

Publisher: Yacht Club Games

Platform(s): PC, Mac, 3DS, Wii U, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)

Release Date: Spring 2017

Price: Free! (kinda)

When the original Shovel Knight was released back in 2013, it garnered a whole lot of attention because of its style. For those unfamiliar with Shovel Knight, the “style” I’m referring to would be the similarities, both in look and gameplay mechanics that Shovel Knight has to platformers of the 8-bit era like Megaman, and Super Mario Brothers.

When Yacht Club first launched the Kickstarter campaign for Shovel Knight which it hit in no time, the many stretch goals promised various campaigns for the Knights that the protagonist would face on his adventure. The first of which was Plague Knight. That campaign, in particular, fell flat for me, the mechanics behind playing as the alchemist Knight were diffrent but not inherently good. I was hesitant to try Specter of Torment because of this, but it is without a doubt worth it. It’s no Shovel Knight 2, but it is pretty damn good.17352455_1479007362111619_5275987195738371040_n

The story of Specter of Torment takes place prior to the events of Shovel Knight. As Specter Knight, the player will travel to new variations of familiar levels to fight and gather together the members of The Order of No Quater. The evil alliance of knights that our shovel-wielding hero will one day defeat. At diffrent points in Specter Knight’s adventure flashback sequences recall how Specter Knight became the ghostly knight and fell into the service of the Enchantress.

Much like Plague Knight, Specter Knight plays in his own unique ways. He can use his scythe not only as a weapon but as a mean to traverse the environment, propelling himself forward by slashing throw certain objects in the environment like lanterns, as well as enemies. He can also run up most walls for shorter distances. This mechanic most reminded me of Ninja Gaiden for the SNES. Specter Knight is also confirmed as a cool dude based on his ability to grind on rails in multiple levels using his scythe.17342641_1479006895444999_8598406556186564440_n

For those that have played either Shovel Knight or its first Plague of Shadows DLC, the first big change you might notice is the lack of an overworld map. Specter of Torment does not feature the Mario 3 style map leading you to each Knights domain. Instead of this Specter Knight simply chooses which Knight he will face next and is transported via a magic mirror, the whole level select screen feels a lot more Megaman inspired in this regard. In between levels you’ll be transported back to the Enchantress’ tower where you can buy new armor, health or darkness upgrades you may have missed in a level. A special vendor will also sell you new trinkets which give abilities like ranged attacks and self-healing in exchange for red skulls rather than treasure. There are ten of these skulls to be found in each level.

Specter of Torment adds some new gameplay elements to an already great game. It’s available now for free to anyone who owns the base game. If you’ve just picked up a Nintendo Switch, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is available for $25 and includes both Specter of Torment and Plague of Shadows. While Specter Knight’s adventure isn’t quite the sequel fans might be wanting it is well put together, fun experience. I’d recommend it to any fans of the 8-bit era, even if they haven’t played Shovel Knight before.

Score: 8 out of 10

 

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Review

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

 

 Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch(reviewed), Wii U

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

Price: $59.99

In 2017, it is fair to say that The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that Nintendo has kept pretty close to the chest.  While they’ve never turned out something truly horrible, the past ten or so years have seemed somewhat stagnant. Windwaker is a fantastic game with some slow points, Twilight Princess has some amazing Dungeons, but it’s bleak and dark art design left me wanting. While other titles like Phantom Hourglass tried too hard with gimmicks like touch based controls.  Most of these games are fantastic on their own merits, yet still, stick to concepts and gameplay elements Nintendo had been using since the era of the SNES and A Link to the Past.

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I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

 

After multiple delays on Breath of the Wild, which many had begun to speak of as Zelda Skyrim, I was starting to doubt how open or impressive the title could be. Well, Nintendo didn’t just tweak the formula of one of it’s oldest series. It threw the whole recipe out, and the result is a beautiful, breathtaking game, that feels like a new experience littered with charm and familiarity in the form of a few base concepts that still make it feel like a classic Zelda adventure.

The most obvious and arguably most welcome change to Breath of the Wild is how little it holds your hand at the start. Skyward Sword, the last big release in the franchise has a solid two or three hours of heavily scripted tutorial based gameplay. In Breath of the Wild Link wakes up from his one hundred year slumber briefly gets some direction from a cloaked old man( it’s dangerous to go alone, take this) and you’re thrown out to explore Hyrule at your leisure.17349714_1476346705711018_9193550976783032304_o

The first hour or so of the game does take place in a slightly more contained area. On the Great Plateau, the aforementioned old man will ask you to gather treasure from four shrines. Each shrine is essentially a mini dungeon that provides you with a rune that grants you a new ability. These abilities, include bombs,  the power to stop time, create columns of ice from water, and a magnet based ability for moving metal objects. A puzzle in each shrine will force you to prove you can use each rune competently. Once this is done, you’ll be granted a paraglider and turned out to Hyrule with a simple task, defeat Ganon.

These four core abilities will replace the old Zelda system of finding new tools and weapons in dungeons. It’s easy to be skeptical of this change, at first I was worried that with all of these powers front loaded that sense of discovery would be lost. The feeling of realizing you can hit a distant switch with the boomerang you just acquired would be gone. Instead, I found over time that the sense of discovery comes from other places. With these four runes, you can solve the puzzles in all of the Shrines, there are over 100 in total.

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Keep an eye on that stamina wheel

 

With these runes in hand and the paraglider at Link’s disposal, the game essentially tells you “here are the tools, go explore this world.” You’ll find that the only thing stopping you from going where you want is Link’s stamina meter. The little green circle is something you’ll constantly have an eye on as it is important for almost everything you do. Stamina is drained when running, climbing, swimming, and paragliding. It’ll recharge after a brief rest, but you don’t alway have that option. Mountains that seem insurmountable can be tackled early on if you’re smart about looking for outcroppings to rest at on your way up.

What you will be climbing most is the Sheikah Towers. These towers glow bright orange and fill in portions of your map and turn blue when activated with your Sheikah Slate. These towers don’t fill in your map in the traditional open world game sense, and that may be one of my favorite things about Breath of the Wild. Sheikah Towers will only fill in large map features like mountains and bigger bodies of water. You’ll have to spot things like Shrines and villages from these and other vantage points. This task is easily accomplished using multiple pins and stamps available through the map screen. I used these tools a whole lot to mark shrines, as well as, mineral deposits, enemy camps, and places that just looked interesting. Unlike other open world games Breath of the Wild doesn’t populate your map with a million things to do. This feature of spotting and manually marking encourages more exploration and is a ton of fun.

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The Zora Prince is confirmed best character

 

More changes come in the form of Heart Containers. While you’ll still receive Heart Container(the item that increases Link’s overall heart count) for defeating dungeon bosses, Heart Pieces are gone altogether. For those who have played past Zelda titles, you’ll know that finding four pieces of a heart( five in Twilight Princess) out in the world would add another heart as well. In Breath of the Wild, you will receive Spirit Orbs every time you complete a shrine. For every four you acquire you can visit a Goddess statue to upgrade either your hearts or stamina pool. These Statutes can be found in most towns, as well as the Temple of Time.

Weapon degradation also presents a new take for Zelda. Swords, shields, and bows all degrade and break over time. For this reason, you’ll wanna be grabbing anything you can get your hands on early on. From Travelers swords to Bokoblin clubs, grab whatever you can. Armor, however, is forever. Some armor is acquired through story quests, and other sets can be bought in towns.  Link’s clothing factors big time into the weather system of the game. Wearing metal in a lightning storm can result in an electric shock, having wooden equipment out in the heat of Death Mountain can cause it to go up in smoke. You’ll also have to dress accordingly in super hot or cold environments, or Link will take damage over time. You can also buy or craft potions to resist the heat or cold temporarily.

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Sneaking up on foes deals extra damage

 

Cooking adds an interesting but not overly complex layer to surviving in Hyrule. You’ll no longer discover hearts out in the open to refill Links health. In place of this Link will have to eat like the rest of us. Raw materials will work just fine, but to really fill up those hearts and maybe add a little bonus effect, up to five ingredients can be cooked in a pot over a fire. Cooking isn’t exactly complicated, raw meat plus rock salt equals salted meat. While combining a Moblin horn with and Octorock tentacle will result in something barely edible.

Breath of the Wild, for the first time, features, cutscenes with full voice over, with the exception of Link himself. These bits of story are shelled out from flashbacks that Link can experience via twelve memories locations that will cause Link to remember events from 100 years ago. These sequences are great and lend themselves to the incredible writing of the game. Even in basic conversation NPC’s are loaded with smart, funny things to say instead of one generic comment. They’ll react to Link based on what he is wearing or doing making them feel more alive. Link doesn’t speak aloud ever, but his dialogue options are often quippy dry humor that I enjoy quite a bit.

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Am I a chef now?

 

Dungeons have been altered in a large way. In addition to exploring the fields of Hyrule taming horse and finding Shrines, there are four main dungeons you can conquer before fighting Ganon. Staples of the series like the Big Key and compass are gone completely. Your first task upon entering is to obtain a map. Getting the map gives you special control over each dungeon that I won’t spoil for you. It is also worth noting that each dungeon is 100% optional. You can take on Ganon without doing these but don’t expect that to be easy. Beating each of these weakens him significantly.

It can’t all be sunshine, Breath of the Wild does have its problems. For one, inventory management feels like a mess. Moving ingredients around and moving in and out of the menu to drop weapons when your inventory is full is a hassle. In addition, you’ll occasionally see some frame rate issues when playing in TV mode. Thankfully a frame drop here or there is far from game breaking, and the great moments I’ve had with Zelda far out way any of these minor gripes.

I explored Hyrule’s sprawling fields and mountains for close to 100 hours before I finally put Ganon down. I felt a slight disappointment in ending my adventure so I find myself going back to look for secrets and shrines I may have missed. I didn’t think that I’d be able to recapture the magic that games like A Link to the Past held for me as a child, but Nintendo made me a bright-eyed child again in my mid-twenties. Breath of the Wild is a game changer for Zelda as a series, and hopefully just the first steps in a renaissance for one of my favorite series of all time. Whether it’s on the Switch or Wii U, everyone should check out this fantastic game.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review

Review: Night in the Woods

Game: Night in the Woods

Developer: Infinite Fall

Publisher: Finji

Platform(s): Windows(reviewed), MacOS, Linux, PlayStation 4

Release Date: February 21st, 2017

$19.99

Night in the Woods is an adventure game with an all too familiar Kick Starter story back in October of 2013 the game from Alec Holowka, and Scott Benson quickly met its goal, and after two smaller supplemental games many people, myself included have been eagerly awaiting its release. That day finally came early this week, and I have to say I’m pleased with the end result.  maxresdefault

Night in the Woods is a narrative-heavy adventure game that follows Mae Borowski, a twenty-year-old anthropomorphic cat and recent college dropout returning to her hometown of Possum Springs. The base focus of gameplay revolves around exploring the town and interacting with its residents. You’ll have a lot of text to go through and not a whole lot of action to speak of. However, I think Night in the Woods beautiful art and the slight presence of 2D platforming elements help keep it from being lumped in with all of those “walking simulators” that I tend to shy away from.

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Story of my life

 

In addition to Mae, the main cast is mostly composed of Mae’s parents, her aunt a local policewoman charmingly referred to as “Aunt Mallcop” and Mae’s three close friends. Bea, convince an emotionally distant alligator, Gregg, a fox and convenience store clerk with a tendency for less than legal activities and Gregg’s boyfriend Angus, a tech savvy Bear with a pretty neat hat.

As I’ve said above the gameplay of Night in the Woods isn’t terribly deep. Walk around and explore Possum Springs make discoveries and talk to folks, all of which Mae will chronicle in her notebook. The real beauty of Night in the Woods comes in both its art and storytelling. The beautiful character designs od Scott Benson pop on colorful backgrounds that bring a cute charm and frame a surprisingly dark narrative. In addition, the soundtrack handled by Alec Holowka himself is some phenomenal work.

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Super pretty art

 

What initially seems like the story of a college dropout coming to terms with a world that moved on without her turns into a story about murder and secret societies. While these grander themes are important, it’s how Night in the Woods handles relationships and heavy themes like mental illness and abuse that really stand out. They also add a certain depth of replayability.

This replay value come through the small choices Night in the Woods presents the player with. These options are on less of a grand scale than say a galaxy-altering decision you make in Mass Effect and boil down to more of who you hang out with more often. If you’re closer with Bea than Gregg, then you’ll see a more developed character arc from that person.

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Also the story of my life

 

Night in the Woods is a cleverly written game that was clearly made by a team with a story to tell. While the gameplay is simple, it’s engaging in a way that is tough to describe, and the story paces itself in a way that keeps you all in through the roughly eight to ten-hour ride. It has room for replayability and cute charm all it’s own at twenty dollars it’s a steal that I gladly would’ve paid a full sixty for.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

 

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News

Target leaked the sequel to Shadow of Mordor

Although Warner Bros. has yet to announce a sequel to Shadow of Mordor we now know it exists thanks to Target. mbtqbe5xaudosr9v4ya2

The game is called Shadow of War, and as of right now you can still gawk at it on Target’s website despite no announcement being made.

For now, we can assume that’s what Warner Bros. big March 8th announcement is about and get excited to take another stab at the nemesis system, also thanks, Target.

 

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Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle

Game: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega battle

Developer: Bamtang Games

Publisher: Bandai Namco

Platform(s): PlayStation 4(Reviewed), Xbox One

Release Date: January 16th, 2017

MSRP: $14.99

No doubt looking to score points for the sake of nostalgia and the fact that a major motion picture based on the original franchise is due out in March, Bandai Namco has released a downloadable 2D brawler based on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Mega Battle is a pretty simple 2D brawler in the vein of Streets of Rage and the like. The most apt comparison probably being the Power Rangers brawler for the NES and Sega Genisis. You’ll move across six levels, each split into three different sections beating up classic Power Ranger enemies like Puttys and some strange looking Knights, Birdmen and flying parasites from the Dark Dimension.

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Always a surfboard level

 

You’ll collect experience from defeated enemies and level up at designated stations provided by Alpha-5. You’ll be able to buff your ranger’s damage output as well as health, defense and stamina in addition to unlocking new and more powerful combos.

The basic level structure consists of two large brawler sections followed by the Rangers facing off against a monster first on foot and then in their Megazord. Megazord combat is the less than stellar shakeup. You begin in Tankzord form, each player has their own reticle and can fire at marked targets on the giant foe as well as destroy incoming projectiles. After this stage is over, you’ll move on to full-on Megazord combat, which, for me is the biggest disappointment.  While the amazing art of Mega Battle combined with the original theme while you battle a giant monster is awesome, these fights are bogged down to simple QTE button presses. Sure, in multiplayer every player has to get it correct to land a hit, but it still feels rather trivial.mighty-morphin-power-rangers-mega-battle-reveal-trailer-ps4-xb1

The art style of Mega Battle feel’s super cutesy and comic bookie. The characters and monsters all look beautiful, and you’ll have plenty of characters to choose from. Each Ranger has two models while unmorphed one for the first two seasons of the show and you’ll be able to play as fan-favorite Tommy Oliver as bothe the Green and White Ranger.

Mega Battle supports up to four player co-op which is most certainly the best experience the game has to offer. I played once through main story solo and once with a second player. The manic screens of repetitive enemies can quickly lose their charm over the roughly three-hour story if you’re playing solo, but half the entertainment comes from having at least one buddy to play with. You’ll be able to use powerful combination moves with multiple players, these are unlocked on the skill tree mentioned earlier.mighty-morphin-power-rangers-mega-battle-fighting-700x366-optimal

After beating the game, you’ll unlock boss rush mode as well as a special floor clearing mode called Rita’s tower. I only played around with these for a short while, but they add some extra playability to an otherwise short game. At a $15.00 price point, the six-level count is excusable, and the boss rush and tower modes add some fun after the fact. The story is also worth multiple runs for the sake of leveling up multiple characters.

If you want a closer look, my pal Tom joined me for a brief look at the games first level over on my Youtube channel which you can check out below.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle is a solid little game for fans of the series as well as fans of 2D Brawlers, it’s out now on Ps4 and Xbox One.

Score: 8 0ut of 10

 

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News, Uncategorized

I Am Setsuna Moved Up To Switch Launch

Of all the criticisms surrounding Nintendo’s  latest console its launch line up of only five games was probably the most founded. Well, it would appear we can now bump up that launch number to six.

Square Enix has confirmed that I Am Setsuna will be available day and date with the Switch Console, March 3rd, 2017.

So for those of you not up to date the Switch lineup is now as follows.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • 1-2 Switch
  • Super Bomberman R
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Just Dance 2017
  • I Am Setsuna

So we have a pretty great old school RPG up for Switch day one. If you’re unfamiliar with the title, you can check out my review of the PS4 version here.

 

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