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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Standard
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.

17310186_1476352275710461_5012503221123665196_o

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.

17192208_1476348542377501_5108031587393641291_o

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.

17309926_1476352639043758_4628412283479634219_o

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.

17192370_1476351242377231_218739750459112588_o

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.

17192641_1476351512377204_5329116620037131479_o

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
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.

nintnedo-switch-pro-640x360

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.

 

 

Standard
News

Twas the night before Switchmas

As I am writing this, I just got back from an excursion to my local Gamestop to check out their midnight launch for the Nintendo Switch. I pre-ordered the Switch on Amazon, so I can look forward to it in the morning. I did, however, neglect to pre-order a pro controller and thought I’d take my chances with the crowd.

Much to my surprise not only was I able to get my hands on a controller but they had plenty of Switches available for walk-in customers. A friend who was with me for the same reason was even offered a Switch mistakenly as he was being rung up.

img_0042

That’s about a fifth of the line outside my local Best Buy

 

Maybe my little local Gamestop was overstocked, or maybe we really won’t see another console shortage from Nintendo. It looked like another story when I drove by my local Best Buy to see the line, good luck to those folks.

At any rate, I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the Switch and good luck to those attempting to get their hands on one.

 

Standard
News

Nintendo Switch will have no Virtual Console at launch

While disappointed I can’t say I’m surprised, the Virtual Console will not be live when the Nintendo Switch launches on March 3rd.

“Virtual Console games will not be available on Nintendo Switch at launch, we will share more information in the future.” Said Nintendo in a press release earlier today.download

It really is a shame, I was hopeful that the vast number of classic titles available on the Wii U VC could help fill the light offerings of the Switch launch, but I suppose we’ll just have to hope Nintendo gets things together sooner rather than later.

Nintendo made a few smaller announcements in the same release. Shovel Knight and Fast RMX will launch on March 3rd with the Switch. They also noted that you’ll  be able to transfer funds from one Nintendo device to another once your Switch is linked up with your Nintendo account and all that. I’m sure that’ll be absurdly confusing.

 

Standard
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.

 

Standard
News

Looks Like Nintendo is Going All in on Fire Emblem

Nintendo’s Fire Emblem centric direct just ended and they had a whole lot to show for what was a mostly dormant franchise until fairly recently. It seems Nintendo is going all in on Fire Emblem in 2017 and that is all good with me.c2feju8vqaagjop

The first up was the next Fire Emblem game for the 3DS, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valeria. Echoes is a ground up remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game in the FE series which launched exclusively in Japan in 1992. It’ll be exciting for non-Japanese players to experience this title for the first time, especially considering its strange mechanics like dungeon crawling not found in your typical FE game. The game was built from the ground up in the style of FE Fates and will launch for the 3DS on May 19th, 2017, two new FE Amiibo of the main characters Duma and Mila will launch beside it.

fireemblemswitch_1_1200x500Next, we got confirmation of a Fire Emblem game in development for the Nintendo Switch planned for a 2018 release. No further details were provided, and it was revealed to have the working title “Fire Emblem for Nintendo Switch.” Working really hard on the names over there. Hopefully, we’ll find out more on that soon.

We then briefly got a new trailer for Fire Emblem Warriors but not much is needed, we all know what a Musou game looks like, and this one looks super pretty.fire-emblem-heroes-1

Last but not least was a look at Fire Emblem Heros a brand new FE game for smart devices. Now we’ve had our Super Mario Run and Miitomo, but goddamn does FE Heros look like a real game. The tactics based RPG looks at home on mobile devices and features gorgeous new hand drawn art as well as brand new voice work. The game seems to focus on pulling heroes from diffrent FE games to fight for you and will use a microtransactions system where you can purchase orbs to summon new heroes at random. The game will be out on February 2nd, 2017 for Android devices and come to Apple devices at a later date. You can preregister on Android right now. As well as vote for heroes you would like to see in the game over on Nintendo’s website.

 

Standard