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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Quick look

Thoughts on my first few hours with the Nintendo Switch

I’ve had a full weekend with my new Nintendo Switch now and even between working and gearing up for PAX East I’ve found plenty of time to get aquatinted with the hardware. I’ve also become thoroughly familiar with a particular piece of software *cough* Zelda. The success of the Switch seems vital to Nintendo after the Wii U being generally regarded as a failure and I feel confident in saying that at the very least the Nintendo Switch is a competent piece of hardware with a small software line up.

The hardware looks nice; it’s sleek, and doesn’t look like a cheap toy, my biggest complaint about the Wii U tablet. It feels good in your hands when in tablet mode, and removing the Joy Cons are simple. It is worth noting that the Joy Con strap locks which attach when you’re using the controllers independently can sometimes be a real pain to remove, be sure to take it slow to avoid breaking them. The Switch also includes a grip to slide your Joy Cons into while playing in TV mode. While this is certainly serviceable, it is far from ideal. The Switch Pro Controller is pricey coming in at about $70.00. It’s expensive, I know, but if you can afford it, I would highly recommend it. I can’t imagine playing Zelda in TV mode without it.

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The Pro Controller

 

 

The Switch Dock serves a multitude of purposes. It’ll charge your Switch, connects your Switch to the TV via HDMI and also houses three USB ports, two on the side and one in the pack along with the power adapter plug and HDMI port. The Switch slides in and out of the dock super easily; but you run the risk of the dock itself scratching up the screen over time, so a screen protector is a must. The Switch kickstand is also flimsy at best, I just don’t trust that damn thing.

The Tablet screen is sharp as hell, and although I haven’t had much use of the touchscreen as of yet it, it’s been responsive. As far as general performance goes games look incredible both on the TV and tablet. Zelda did seem to occasionally drop a few frames in TV mode but nothing game breaking. Battery life appears to be somewhere around the three-hour mark when playing a demanding game like Zelda, so smaller games have nowhere to go but up.

The user interface or UI is the cleanest I’ve seen from Nintendo to date. A simple taskbar similar to the PS4’s UI is present over a plain white background from which you can easily access accounts’ installed games and the Eshop. The Eshop has no catchy music track R.I.P.

On the software end of the spectrum, it’s more quality over quantity at this point. Zelda is the flagship title and in the course of one weekend has drained about thirty hours of my life, and I’ve only completed one dungeon, the game is massive and beautiful. Super Bomberman R may seem a bit pricey but is a fun and challenging competitive game both locally and online. I’ve also played around with Snipperclips, an awesome co-op puzzle game exclusive to the Switch and Fast RMX a pretty damn fun stand in for that new F-Zero game we’ll probably never get.533265-nintendo-switch

Should you rush out to by a Switch? If you’re a Zelda fanatic, it might be worth it for that alone especially if you don’t have a Wii U. I always rush out for day one hardware, but it might be worth waiting to the average gamer. Holiday 2017 will surely see some bundles including one with Super Mario Odyssey. The Switch is a solid piece of hardware, and I love it but unless you’re clamoring to play Breath of the Wild on the preferred platform then waiting may be your best option.

 

 

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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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Review: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Game: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Platform(s): Xbox One, PlayStation 4/PSVR, Microsoft Windows

Release Date: January 24th, 2017

MSRP: $59.99

It’s 2017, That is a fact. It just feels important to remind myself that I’ve finished a Resident Evil game in 2017 and don’t want to gouge my own eyes out. Capcoms horror franchise has a lengthy and rather fascinating history. The first game is fantastic, the second equally so, the third sound in its own right, the fourth is one of the greatest games ever made. It’s the fifth and sixth outing that feel a bit out of place. Five takes the formula of four and adds Cooperative play. While it isn’t a terrible experience, it loses something that I can’t quite put my finger on that made four so fantastic. Six is a metaphorical dumpster fire, I couldn’t even bring myself to complete it. All of this said I was apprehensive about the seventh installment in the series. It’s still early in the year so it may be premature to say, but Resident Evil VII might be the biggest surprise of the year, Capcom knocked it out of the park.

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The bridge to the old house is a tad unsettling

 

In Resident Evil VII you play as Ethan Winters who, for once is no cop or soldier but your average Joe in a shitty situation. Ethan’s wife, Mia went missing three years ago under mysterious circumstances when Ethan receives an Email from Mia claiming she is alive and in Louisiana Ethan sets off for the Baker residence down in the Bayou to find his wife.

When you first jump into Resident Evil VII, you’ll immediately notice some big differences from past games in the series. For one the first person perspective allows for the feeling of larger immersion(especially in VR) and tighter shooting. It’s the first hour or so of the game that feels very diffrent than the standard for Resident Evil, though. You’re alone in a dark house and unarmed. Not even a knife to make you feel like you stand a shot at fighting back.

Combat can feel a bit clunky at times but works overall it works well enough, aiming is tight enough, and you’ll never encounter large hordes of enemies, encountering even three or four at a time is rare and usually an indicator of a time to flee. Unless of course, it’s a boss encounter. Good rule, if the door is locked, you’re probably in a boss fight so good luck.

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this is fine

 

Control wise anyone familiar with a first person shooter could pick up and start playing right away. Connecting item boxes make a return, like Resident Evil games of the past inventory management, plays a huge role. As you progress, you’ll find bigger backpacks upgrading your inventory size. You can have up to four weapons equipped for quick access on the D-pad. Gone are the days of jumping to the inventory menu to equip a new weapon. You’ll save at Cassette players instead of typewriters( the future is now?). In “Madhouse mode” a difficulty unlocked upon completing the game you’ll need to carry cassette tapes with you to save.

Combining item is a useful tool, not only for inventory management but for staying alive. Green herbs are present while yellow and red have been canned. The item creation formula is simple. Chem fluids plus green herb equals healing ointment, chem fluids plus gunpowder equals ammunition. You’ll even be able to pick up separating agents to reverse the process.

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Oh Clancy, we hardly knew you

 

You’re constantly hunted in Resident Evil VII. Jack Baker, the patriarch of the Baker Clan, will hunt you throughout the main house sort of like Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. You’ll have to deal with other members of the Baker family depending on what building you’re in, but Jack made me the most uneasy, always wondering whether or not he’d come crashing through the next door was nerve racking.

Resident Evil VII has collectibles as you’d expect. Aside from documents that shed more light on the story you’ll be able to find 18 antique coins that you can use to unlock things like health upgrades and a special Magnum for that extra punch.

Resident Evil VII is at times unsettlingly beautiful. I was playing on a PS4 pro and on a TV those darks are dark, HDR is an amazing technology. Character models looking amazingly realistic to the point that you occasionally get that uncanny valley effect. If you play on VR you’ll be trading some visual fidelity but I assure you the immersion is worth it.

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Gator needs his gat

 

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic sound direction in Resident Evil VII. PSVR is the best way to play(we’ll get into that below), but I can’t stress enough play with headphones regardless of whether you can play in virtual reality. The sound of footsteps in the distance, the creaks of an old house and even the wind blowing through an open window are enough to keep you on edge.

“Resident Evil VII will sell you on VR”

As the majority of people playing the newest Resident Evil will not have the pleasure of playing with a PlayStation VR headset, I thought it would be best to talk about VR in its own section as it does feel like a different game.I can’t stress this enough, Resident Evil VII is VR’s killer app. Resident Evil VII will sell you on VR.

Of all the games in this long-standing series, most would say they remember the layout of the Spencer Mansion, the setting of the original Resident Evil the most. For me I can now say I remember the Baker residence in a much higher detail because I didn’t just look at it on a screen, I was in that house. If you took me to a physical representation, I could tell you exactly where Grandma’s room on the second floor is, after you’ve somehow tricked into going into that building of nightmares that is.For anyone with doubts about the legs of VR technology, Resident Evil VII is the proof that it isn’t going anywhere. It proves a handful of things, a first person shooter in VR can work and feel great, the sense of immersion VR can bring is the next big thing in games, and finally, first person horror in virtual reality is scary as hell.resident-evil-7-4

Controls in VR are simple enough since the game doesn’t support the PlayStation Move controllers it works mostly the same. To aim you’ll use your head movements rather than the thumbstick which feels great, It’s honestly more natural thank a typical aiming mechanic. To move your field of view you can flick the right stick to turn thirty degrees at a time( it’s possible to turn this off in favor of natural smooth scrolling, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you enjoy vomiting) although strange you’ll adjust quickly, and it feels natural in no time. You can also adjust how much you jump per flick in the settings. The standard thirty worked well for me personally. Making movement comfortable is the most important part of a good VR experience, and Capcom nails it here so much so that my time remaining in VR has gone up dramatically. My longest consistent session of Resident Evil in VR was about five hours, prior to this I’d never been able to stay much longer than an hour.

It took me around ten hours to beat Resident Evil VII, had I done my original playthrough in the standard TV mode it would probably be closer to eight. The tension and fear Capcom manages to build for VR players is unparalleled. I’ve found myself playing a horror game in a way I’d never played any other. Walking down halls slowly, gun drawn, pushing open doors slowly, feeling a slight sense of relief whenever I stumbled upon a safe room or some ammo. I’m by no means a coward, but this game had me on edge constantly.

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Can’t I just break these?

 

If you asked me back a few months ago When Resident Evil VII was first revealed what my thoughts were on it I’d tell you I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. Resident Evil 4 was my favorite game in the series, and it’s been all downhill from there. Much like Resident Evil 4, VII shakes up the formula, and it’s the step in the right direction both for Capcoms series and future of virtual reality.

Score: 9 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

Review: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Game: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Developer: Comfox & Bros

Publisher: FDG Entertainment

Platform(s): ios, Android, PC( reviewed), PS4, PS Vita(unreleased) Xbox One, Nintendo Switch(unreleased)

Release Date(s): November 14th, 2013 (ios), March 17th, 2015(Windows PC), September 7th, 2016 (Xbox One/PS4), December 15th, 2016 (Android), 2017 (Nintendo Switch), TBA (Vita)

MSRP: $5.99(mobile devices) $14.99(PC and console)

With a short lull in between all the big Resident Evils and other big titles on the horizon, I found time to give due attention to a little game that has been crowding my Steam library for over a year. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas was described upon its original release on ios back in 2013 as a beautiful mobile tribute to Zelda. I am not the biggest fan of mobile gaming; I’ll play on PC or console over my phone in a heartbeat. So it’s no surprise I hadn’t heard a damn thing about this game before it came to PC and even then it took me some time to finally get around to it I can at least say I’m happy I did, and you should too.

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Just be cool, nobody thinks you’re a Zora

 

Oceanhorn is most easily explained by its likeness to Zelda, specifically its similarities to A Link to the Past and Windwaker. In usual Zelda fashion, you’ll explore dungeons and fight enemies using your trusty Sword and Shield, bombs, and bow and arrow. Through a brief look at the environment and simplicity in the many islands, you’ll explore it’s obvious that this game was built on a phone, however, the addition of gamepad support has you feeling like you’re on a real Hyrule adventure in no time.

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Maybe the Zelda homage is too on the nose

 

Oceanhorn follows a young boy on a journey to find his father and defeat the legendary Oceanhorn, the last of the living fortresses. You’ll travel from island to island in search of three medallions you can use to call forth Oceanhorn. Traversing diffrent dungeons and puzzles.

Oceanhorns biggest weaknesses are in its camera perspective. The isometric viewpoints can make puzzles frustrating at times and bring progression to a frustrating slog. In addition to a camera built for phones, Oceanhorn’s likeness to Zelda can be as bad as it is good. It wears its influences on its sleeve sometimes it just feels like a plain rip off. Heat containers are just called heart containers, save for having no control over it everything about the boat design just screams Windwaker. Oceanhorn even uses the typical structure of a Zelda title, three dungeons to obtain three stones or medallions of legendary power. One of the races called the Gilfolk are very clearly the equivalent of Zoras from the Zelda series.oceanhorn-steam-screenshot-6

Oceanhorn does have a few key differences from Zelda, for one it has a leveling system. You’ll gain experience as you defeat enemies and finish goals outlined in your journal such as breaking a certain number of pots or knocking an enemy into the water to defeat them. As you level up you’ll be able to carry more ammo for weapons like the bow and arrow and unlock some new equipment like the pumpkin seed gun, a projectile weapon used to defend yourself from your boat.

Oceanhorn might be something of a lower quality Zelda clone, but it’s something charming in its own right. For the low asking price of fifteen dollars(as I wouldn’t recommend playing on mobile) its a short little adventure to tide you over until Breath of the Wild launches and best of all can be played on almost any device you already own. Oceanhorn has a sequel in the works, and I hope with a bigger budget, the team at Comfox & Bros make an excellent second outing.

Score:7 out of 10

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News

The Switch Is Coming

Tonight is the big night. At 11:00 PM EST we will finally learn all about Nintendo’s new console the Switch. I’ll be bringing updates once the big reveal is over and you can even watch it right here!

Until then all we can do is speculate and hope for an awesome line up of games, Mother 3, please. Let me know in the comments what you hope for the Switch while we wait for the big reveal.

 

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Return To The World Of Mass Effect This March

We finally have a solid release date for Mass Effect Andromeda, and it’s probably sooner than you expected. In a blog post today, Aaryn Flynn of Bioware confirmed that the game will launch on March 21st, 2017 in North America and on the 23rd in Europe.mea_sept20_6_pdp_screenhi_1920x1080_en_ww

Now all we have to do is hope it doesn’t get delayed which, if we’re being realistic is highly probable.

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