Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dragon Quest VI: Realm of Revelations (NDS)

Dragon Quest games are an interesting concept to me.  At the core, each game is essentially the same.  The combat rarely changes in a drastic way, the enemies seem familiar, and even the plot doesn't get too crazy.  Despite all this, this series is a core for any RPGamer.  When people ask what a classic RPG is, Dragon Quest often makes the lists.  This game is no exception.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  Save the world, rescue people, high fantasy adventure, etc.  What sets this one apart is the fact that the world is split between the real world and the dream world.  This mechanic is used numerous times to tie the whole overarching plot together.  There are some pretty predictable plot twists during the game and at times it seems kind of cliche but it never feels stale.

Combat is similar to the other games in the title.  The player has their team of four combatants and controls what they do.  Each character feels unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses.  One of the new things in this game is the vocation system.  Basically, the player picks the vocations for the team at a certain point in the game.  These can be switched as needed but a lot of time it is better to pick one and master it.  Each of these "trades" feel different and a lot of the basic ones are needed to unlock the fancier ones.  Each character can be any of the vocations but some perform better than others in them.  For instance, Carter is naturally strong.  So making him a warrior or attack type vocation suits him better than being a mage.  That doesn't stop the player from making Carter a mage and it is sometimes fun to experiment.  As the "trades" level up, characters learn skills that they keep.  This really lets players customize their team.

The music isn't too memorable.  If you have heard a Dragon Quest game before, this will sound incredibly similar.  The art is also very similar.  This is not a bad thing.  The game definitely benefits from being on the DS.  It is nice to be able to play this game on the go, especially since it is on the longer side.  There are some post game things to do and lots to keep players busy, so it is well worth the money.

For what it is worth, this game is great.  It seems generic at the core but there is a lot there to make the experience unique for each player.  The typical humor for the series is still there and the enemy names still make me chuckle.  If you like RPGs or Dragon Quest, this is an excellent entry to the series.  Having it portable doesn't hurt and it is definitely a great addition to any collection.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Steins;Gate (PSVita)

Visual novels are often viewed as something that is very niche and uninteresting to the masses.  I feel that this game is perfectly acceptable to anybody that enjoys a good story.  Although sometimes it is hard to follow, it has lots of characters and a tale that keeps you interested.

As a game, this is pretty simple.  Follow the story and sometimes answer questions or send emails.  These actions can lead to different endings and it is worth it to try to get all the endings.  It gives you a complete picture of the whole story.

I can't really talk too much more about this without spoiling too much.  If you have the time to play this and like visual novels, this is a must have.  It is really good.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Devil May Cry HD (PS3)

Twitch combat and combo based action games have never been my forte.  I'm terrible at them.  I have a hard time doing combos in things.  So when I decided to get the Devil May Cry trilogy for the PS3, I thought I was going to have a super hard time with it.  I was right.

The first game for me was brutal.  My scores for the various challenges were pretty bad.  I lost to a lot of the bosses numerous times and I had to use cheap tactics and items to win.  The game itself is solid though.  The combat is fluid and when the player whiffs on an attack or dodge, it is their fault not the games.  Albeit, there are some rooms where the camera was in an odd place and an off-screen enemy rushes without little notices.  I don't remember anything feeling cheap or downright frustrating.

The story is kind of unique.  Demon hunter Dante is investigating a castle or whatever.  Things happen, people get killed, and things gets saved.  Some of the scenes get cheesy with how over the top it is and some of the dialogue is questionable but this is what the developers were going for.  Opposed to the darker feel that Devil May Cry 2 had, this one is a little pulpier.

There is a lot of game to play and lots of ways a player can push themselves.  Multiple difficulties, lots of challenging parts, and different ways to play.  In a lot of ways, this game is like God of War but much more refined.  The combat is much tighter.  Sure there are some flaws with the combat and sometimes the platforming was sketchy but the game as a whole is solid.  I enjoyed myself as much as I could for a type of game I am absolutely terrible at.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

Another game and another legend.  This time set in the lands of the Minish.  I have to admit, this is still one of my favorite Zelda games.  It came out in a time in my life when I had all the time in the world to play games and it was great.

The concept is still the same as previous Zelda games.  Go around collecting treasures, tools, and artifacts.  Once you have them all, you fight the big baddie and save the world.  This one is a little different in the fact that you have the Minish Cap.  This allows you to shrink in certain parts of the game to see the world from the tiny Minish point of view.  This is kind of unique because some things are only doable as a mini-Link.

The items this time are all kind of unique as well.  There are favorites like the Lantern and then new ones like the Gust Jar.  Using these items to solve puzzles is a series staple.  Each dungeon is unique, my favorite being the ice dungeon where the boss is something that is very iconic to the series but as a Minish, it is a much different fight.

One new feature from this game is the Kinship Stones.  These are halves of round medallions that you find the pieces to throughout the game.  By joining the pieces together you can influence the world in ways that will sometimes yield things like rupees or a Heart Piece but some are used to progress the story.  There are lots of these things and they are always good to keep around.

This was a good Zelda experience.  It expanded on the lore, seemed fresh for the time, and tried some new things.  I had tons of fun with this game when it first came out.  I then did a speedrun of it on my 3DS when I received it free for being a 3DS Ambassador.  If you get a chance to play this game, don't miss out.  It is a fun little romp through this big world.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Metal Gear Solid 2 HD (PSVita)

A death to call my own.  This game starts out strong and gets better.  I understand why the fans hate it and I can see why they would be mad but if you play this game now without the prejudice of the time when this was released, it is actually a well built game.

I should preface this with my usual, I'm very bad at stealth games.  I have never been good at being stealthy.  I gave the Metal Gear Solid a series because I enjoyed 3 a lot.  By the time I got to this game, I had already beat 1 and 4.  So I had seen the beginning and at the time the ending of the series.  This game is better than 1 but not as good as 4.  Still worth playing though.

The game starts out with the normal sneak around a boat as Solid Snake and fighting enemies or being stealthy.  Your choice.  Then events happen and the player ends up playing as a new character named Raiden.  You infiltrate an oil rig turned hideout called Big Shell, I think.  I can't really remember the places that well.  Anyway, per normal fair there is lots of sneaking, espionage, cryptic metaphors, bosses with gimmicks, and timed stuff.  If you played Metal Gear Solid 1, this will seem very familiar.

Where this game differs is the story.  It seems much more cohesive and understandable than series in known for.  There aren't any really memorable moments for me though.  Raiden just doesn't have the same appeal Solid Snake did.  I'm not saying this ruins the game as a lot of fans did when this first comes out, I'm just saying.  You could have replaced Raiden with Snake and the game wouldn't have been much different.

There is a lot to this game and if you are a fan of the series, play this game.  It has some fun things to do and I enjoyed playing it on the go with the HD version on the Vita.  It definitely does help explain things about Raiden if you only knew him from MGS 4 like I did.  Now get out there.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f 2nd (PSVita)

I was never really into rhythm games when I was growing up as a kid.  I wasn't good at music and I didn't do well when I was forced into taking band.  I played percussion and I wasn't good at it at all.  But I wish I had worked harder at it cause I do like music and I think playing an instrument or being musical in some way makes a person more well-rounded.  All that said, I didn't need to be musical to enjoy this game.

Hatsune Miku is a digital diva.  She sings and dances on screens all over the world and even has concerts.  The character was born from a computer program designed to pronounce all the syllables in natural Japanese speech or so I've been told.  Just as you can expect, some of the songs get a little rough and you can tell a computer is speaking when the words are being said faster than a human possibly could utter the lyrics.

The concept of the game is simple.  Hit the corresponding button to the beat and try to time it to achieve the best performance on each song.  The songs range from super fast electronica beats to slower more melodic tunes.  There are a number of other "Vocaloids" to play with and each has their own voice.  My personal favorite is Meiko but she isn't very popular, so she doesn't appear as often.  There are options to dress your Vocaloids up in various outfits and you can play through the songs in multiple difficulties.  I've never been able to best anything past Normal though.

There is a lot more to this game.  There is the sim portion where you hang out with your chosen Vocaloid and play games and stuff.  I honestly spent the least amount of time with this.  I'm sure it is fun for people that like that but I have a hard enough time dealing with my own life.  I don't know if I could handle taking care of a digital person too.

The key draw to this game is the music.  It is great, I love listening to Vocaloids sing.  Even though most of the music is very "pop", it still has its moments.  If you have a knack for music and enjoy rhythm games, you can't do much worse than this.  It is fun and the game doesn't lack in features.  There is enough variety to keep even seasoned rhythm fans busy trying to Perfect every song.  Support Hatsune Miku because this is likely the future of music in some form.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Super Mario Maker (WiiU)

This is the kind of game that should really appeal to me.  I love thinking of my own levels and being given the tools to a great franchise like Mario should seem like a dream come true.  The problem is, there is a limit to everything in this game and that only limit is your imagination.

The concept is simple, the player is tasked with building their own levels.  If you are impatient, you can get all the set pieces early but I did it the slow way and worked with the delivered pieces as they came.  After 7 days, all the pieces are there to play with.  Once you have them all, it opens the doors to complex levels that even I can't figure out how some of these are created.

The other aspect of this game is to play levels created by all the other game owners.  These can range from simple jumping adventures to infuriating complex puzzle levels and everything in between.  I must say that I rather enjoy the well thought out levels.  Thinking of new ways to use an item or set piece or enemy combination is always a blast when the creator of the level uses them correctly.  Then there are some levels that are just so stupidly hard they no longer are fun.  Having pipes or doors that lead to nothing and the player has no way of knowing beforehand this will happen does not make a good level.  Trial and error is not fun.  Especially blind trial and error.

This is a good game if you enjoy building levels and creating ideas for others to play with.  Although a lot of the user created content is hit or miss, there is some fun to be had.  I do wish they wouldn't lock the costumes behind some stupidly hard levels but so far I haven't had too much for a problem getting all the special stuff.  If you are a fan of Mario, definitely get this game.  Get this game if you have a lot of amiibos too.  Those costumes may not seem like much but you can make some cool themed levels with them.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (NDS)

Dragon Quest games are some of the most simplistic and straightforward RPGs on the market and there is still a need for this series.  Yes, the combat has not evolved much but each title tweaks the formula just a little bit to make it a little bit better.  This title is no different.

Although the combat is the same as the previous title, there are a couple of new ideas here.  Along with the standard idea of selecting a command and watching combat unfold, there is also the concept of monster recruiting.  At the end of battle, some monsters may join your group.  These monsters are the replacements for party members as the game lacks anything outside the main protagonist and his family.

The story is very simple but does follow the main character through a large portion of his life.  It is interesting to see a character grow up and to follow the complete story from start to finish.  Some of the events do happen quickly and the ending is definitely as sappy as they come but it was an interesting tale to say the least.  Along with this story, the game has all the humor and puns from previous titles.

The music is pretty much the same as previous titles and the enemies are not much different either.  This game seems heavily recycled from previous adventures but that adds to the charm of the series.  It makes everything so familiar that you can't help but remember how to deal with certain monsters or just what each enemy will do with each situation.

As a fan of this series, I can say that this game is much more fun than Chapters of the Chosen.  The story moves at a nice pace with a couple of rough spots and it is kind of easy to get lost but the monster recruiting makes up for it.  I loved having a slime knight with me for most of the game and even using it to beat the last boss.  It is a great thing that a monster you find so early in the game can be useful the whole game.  More games should remember that.  If you are an RPG fan, definitely pick this up, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Metroid Prime (GCN)

This game and Super Smash Bros. Melee were the first games I had received for my Gamecube when I got it for Christmas one year.  I still have incredibly fond memories of this game and enjoyed every minute of this.  This was also the first First Person Shooter I ever played.

The premise is simple, Samus finds herself on a planet after losing all her abilities when attempting to escape an exploding space station.  Throughout the story, the player is introduced to the world and learns some secrets about Phazon.  It is definitely a good start to a trilogy.  It gives enough backstory so that the player is invested through the games.  A lot of what happens is fun and there are even some scary moments.  I still remember my heart racing while doing the section of the Phazon Mines that has to be done with the heat visor.

Just like a typical FPS, the player points and shoots at things.  This game differs in the fact that the action is not the main appeal but exploration and puzzle solving is.  It is a fairly simple game in terms of challenge but there are times where it can be tough.  Each of the bosses are no pushovers and there is definitely planning to each of them.

I still remember this game fondly and would love to play it again with higher resolution textures.  I don't think it needs much to make the game better.  The only really painful thing was getting all the scans but that was more of a challenge than anything else.  The focus on exploration and problem solving rather than running and gunning was a major plus for me.  If you have a chance to play this game, please play it.  It is a great game.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Minecraft (PS3)

How do you review a phenomenon?  A game that has no clear ending and is really only limited by your imagination.  Simply put, I can't.  I'll just speak with  my experiences with this game.

It started slowly, I built a simple house our of wood pretty close to where I spawned.  I didn't know what to expect.  I had seen the game before but never experienced it.  Little did I know that this game is addictive.  Just one more cave, one more block, one more chest.  Once I learned what to look for, I was getting my first set of diamond tools and trekking into the Nether.

That is the joy of this game.  Sure there is a last boss and it does take some work to get to but that really isn't the draw of the game.  The draw can be from building whatever you want to learning how to survive that first night easily.  Yes, the game isn't perfect and creepers are annoying but there is so much to enjoy from something so simple.  This game calls to my need to explore.  I wanted to see everything that my world had to offer and learn where everything was.

I think that is what makes this game so great.  A player can start with nothing and get everything just by looking.  They can build a house and do whatever they want.  There isn't really a set goal and there is no pressure to do anything.  It is the ultimate sandbox and I feel that it is really a good example of just how simple a good game can be.  It isn't the prettiest game in the world but it is fun.  I think so many developers miss that with the discussions about the best graphics and 60 frames.  Focus on making the game fun, if a game is fun.  I don't care how beautiful it looks.  Stop making beautiful boring games and just make something fun.