Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blade Kitten Full Game Review: She's back, she's bad, she's tough & she's mad!

It's been many years since the release of Blade Kitten episode 1 on consoles and PC. I'm sure most of you forgot it existed and those who remember probably keep bugging it's creator for episode 2 on consoles. Unfortunately... console owners will be chasing that cat up a tree for the foreseeable future. Luckily the PC version is on Steam for cheap and episode 2 is available there too and you don't need a beefy PC to run it either. I ran it on a AU$500 laptop with minor performance issues. The big question is... is the game any good and was the wait for episode 2 worth it?

The story of Blade Kitten is not too complicated. Kit Ballard is a Breaker(also known as a bounty hunter) who has come to Hollow Wish to take on work. After accepting a break for local wanted criminal Terra Li, she is ambushed by Justice Kreel(another Breaker) who takes her Breaker key(a Breaker's I.D and logbook for breaks) and blows up Kit's ship. Now Kit must get her Breaker key back, capture the criminal Terra Li and survive Hollow Wish.

Do you like Strider? I like Strider! Blade Kitten can be considered a modern clone of Stirder. The game has you climbing almost any surface to traverse the large levels. The levels in the game are fairly large, but ultimately linear... but they are littered with collectibles! The game was built with completionists and speed runners in mind with lots of collectibles to find within each level and easy to find paths that will easily beat levels in 10 minutes or less... and there's an achievement for getting all of the levels best times totaling less than 90 minutes!

Throughout the stages you'll collect Hex, the games currency. It's abundant and is used to upgrade Kit's health, stamina and used to buy new swords and outfits. There are A LOT of costumes in this game! Some can be bought, some are unlocked just by buying both episodes of the game and others require completing certain requirements. None of the costumes do anything to improve Kit's abilities, but it's still fun to change the outfit every once in a while. Weapons don't really seem different enough from each other to make too much difference at first, but in the end you'll choose the the one with the highest stats and never change.

Difficulty has been an issue for many a reviewer and player alike. The enemies A.I is not very intelligent, even the new enemies introduced in episode 2 have no improvement over the first one. Enemies aren't really meant to be something to defeat so much as an obstacle to avoid and the levels themselves aren't too difficult to beat either. There are a couple of mini bosses and boss fights in the game too... and they aren't to difficult either. All this makes the game sound easy right? Well... it isn't easy... but it isn't hard either.

The game isn't without it's flaws. The game has a ton of bugs that appear in the PC version I never encountered in it's console counterparts. Falling through the environment, blinding white glare during the final boss fight, busted scripted sequence that goes faster than it's suppose to be and getting stuck in various objects randomly. The game even crashed once on me because of the way I entered the area before a cutscene. There's also the floaty controls that a lot of people didn't like the first time around... it never bothered me, but I thought I'd mention it for those who hate it.

Despite the issues, the game's writing is very enjoyable. The dialog exchanges between the characters is enjoyable and I never tire of it. So many characters have such great lines! Fighting through the enemies can also be very satisfying, despite the bad A.I and the completionist in me had to obtain all the collectibles and all the trophies.

So... is Blade Kitten good? Yes... yes it is. Yes the game is not very difficult and seems buggier on PC then it is on the consoles, but it's cheap and you can finally play the whole game. You can get a fair bit of mileage out of the game and it's fun to try and beat your best times. I recommend you play through the game without hunting everything down in the first run, do a second run to find everything and them speed run like a boss! My opinion of the games hasn't changed much, but I still say it's a good game worth your time

Score 4/5

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Amiibo... The Destroyer of Worlds!

What are amiibo? Why do they exist? Why are people sending themselves bankrupt to buy the rarest ones from scalpers on eBay and other auction websites? These are the questions normal people are asking about the new generation of Beanie Babies and we all have fallen under the amiibo spell.

Amiibo for the uneducated, are plastic statues with a microchip installed into it's base. These microchips communicate with Nintendo Wii U and 3DS via NFC(Near Field Communication). It uses a similar technology to your Pay 'n' Wave/Pay Pass cards you use at the check out. Each amiibo has unique data written to it that reflect the character on it and work with selected games, most famously Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS.

Nintendo obviously created amiibo as a reaction to the Skylanders and Disney Infinity craze that has taken over the wallets of parents everywhere over the past few years. These toys unlike Skylanders and Disney Infinity have been released in short supply and in some countries cases... made exclusive to specific stores. This has caused a gold rush to occur where people are buying them up in bulk and selling them at extreme mark ups on internet auction websites. These scumbags have been profiteering from Nintendo's stupidity and making thousands reselling the rarest of amiibo at 500+% mark ups and even selling the common ones at double the retail price.

The main reason amiibo are huge at the moment from my perspective seems to be aging Nintendo diehards obsession with needing official Nintendo collectibles and kid's love of toys and technology. Yeah, that's why the rarest are selling so high on eBay. Scalpers on eBay are making the most of Nintendo diehards need to have all the amiibo(because we just need the whole set damn it!)  and some of us are so desperate to complete the set... we're willing to pay anything for it.

Worst of all is that most people buying amiibo... aren't buying amiibo for it's functionality, but because they are Nintendo officially licensed merchandise. Admittedly I've only opened 50% of my amiibo myself. I... I just can't find the use of most of them worth while at the moment and will open them as the use becomes worth while. See, collectors have this crazy mental condition where they usually buy things and never open them from the package to preserve the artifact to prevent it's degradation. Some will even buy 2 of each thing so the can also have a display/use set that they will open up and a set to gather dust in a storage locker or cupboard.

Amiibo are an interesting idea in theory, but what they are used for is kinda... terrible. See, amiibo don't really work like Skylanders or Disney Infinity toys... they work much differently. In Super Smash Bros they allow you to "train" a computer A.I character, Mario Party 10 uses them to unlock new boards and play as the figure used... and constantly rescan them, Splatoon uses them to unlock challenges, Mario Kart 8 uses them to unlock costumes. You get the picture yet? Amiibo are in essence... physical downloadable content! Now this isn't bad in theory, what's bad is that Nintendo just isn't manufacturing enough to fill demand, let alone enough to fill store shelves for the uninformed to blind buy. I admit that Nintendo is starting to produce more, but for a good number of us... the damage is already done!

So there you go. Amiibo are the new big thing and will probably be so for quite some time. DLC packed toys with lots of ugly practices shadowing them. They look good, they add extra content to Nintendo games and they are financing a community of scumbags retirement. Are amiibo worth the hassle? I... just don't know. I haven't gotten much use out of them but they are cool to look at. Look... if your kid wants one, buy it. Simple.

Dust settled on E3 thoughts & what happened to me all this time?

Hey guys! What happened to me? Well... I've been busy with this thing called LIFE! It happens, you people should know that right... right? Anyway I've been distracted with things in life you may not be interest in, but doing the geeky stuff that makes me me. Yeah I haven't done a game review in like... 6 months or any posts in that long, BUT I'm going to try and fix that. Remember guys, I don't get paid to do this, no one funds me and this is pretty much a hobby. Anyway... on to the E3 stuff.

E3 happened! The people more influential than myself have all said their pieces and I thought I'd get my 2 cents in now that they've all shut up. Before I continue, NO THIS IS NOT A FULL RUNDOWN OF E3! Just my thoughts on the presentations and lists of games I'm excited for. There's a bit to go through, so let's get this ball rolling.

Ok! So the press conferences were all interesting but I'm only going to focus on the big 3 and not all the other stuff... I.. I don't want to write forever. Need I remind you, I DON'T GET PAID TO DO THIS! Now there were some good and bad from each, but let's talk Nintendo first.

Nintendo has received the most flak from fans and journalist alike. I think Nintendo's Digital Event was fine... but what ruined it was that most of the games were already shown or announced prior and it just didn't feel as special or magical as Nintendo usually is with the Nintendo Directs. To make matters worse was the fact that they arguably didn't even bring any A grade games. There were plenty of games shown, but not many that the majority of fans would fawn over. You got to admit, the whole Muppet Iwata, Reggie and Shigeru was kinda cool! The games I'm most excited to play are,
-Starfox Zero
-Legend Of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
-Hyrule Warriors Legends
-Super Mario Maker
-Metroid Prime: Federation Force

Microsoft's presentation was... so boring! I know I know, they just don't know how to appeal to a person like me. I spent the majority of my time watching the Microsoft conference on my phone murmuring to myself "Show me something that's not modern garbage... please!". No, it's not my retro gaming nostalgia stopping me from enjoying what Microsoft is shelling out, it's just that it's always the same crap. Microsoft DID throw out a curve ball though... backward compatibility is being rolled out on Xbox One! Yeah it sucks that it only supports a small amount to start with, but they finally gave an excuse for normal people to consider the upgrade to Xbone. They did show a couple titles I was interested in... but the Xbone is still not too appealing to me... but it's getting there. As for games I'm excited to play,
-Rare Replay
-Fallout 4(with mods)
-Xbox 360 games on Xbox One

Sony unanimously "won" E3 this year. They threw out all the stops and showed us so many games this year that were new! Arguable the biggest moments was The Last Guardian, Shenmue III Kickstarter announcement and the Final Fantasy VII remake. There were lots of games that really impressed me and seeing a couple have a PS Vita tag on them too made me happy that it isn't quite dead yet. The games I'm most excited to play are,
-Horizon Zero Dawn
-World of Final Fantasy
-Shenmue III
-Final Fantasy VII remake
-Uncharted 4

VR seems to have been a big thing at E3. Obviously I wasn't there to try it out. VR is something that doesn't really appeal to me, but it's nice to see it advancing the way it has. Sony is trying to milk everyone out of their money with Morpheus, Microsoft is going for augmented reality with it's impressive Hololens and Occulus still exists and is arguably the better version of Morpheus. To me, VR is going to be like 3D. It'll sell to tech heads and magpies, but ultimately be a niche thing most people won't bother with. I honestly think Hololens has the strongest chance of surviving out of the lot.

So that's my E3 opinions. Overall... it wasn't exactly a stellar E3, but it wasn't terrible either. Let's face it, the video game landscape is changing and the industry doesn't know where to go right now. Some think VR, others think an end to consoles and a few think a new boom is just on the horizon. Regardless, we video game players have plenty of games coming for a variety of audiences and we'll still have fun playing them.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hyrule Warriors(plus first 2 DLC packs) Review: A Completionist's Nightmare!

I love Dynasty Warriors games, I love Legend of Zelda games. You'd think I'd love this one right?... Right?! Well let's just say, I have a complicated relationship with it. So how does that translate into a late review of the game?

Do I need to sum up the plot? Really? Uhh! Zelda has a bad dream, Hyrule is under attack, Link shows up to save the day, Zelda goes missing, Ganondorf, new witch is in love with Link... Oh who cares, am I right? All you need to know is it's a slightly altered basic Zelda plot with Dynasty Warriors gameplay.

Yes... that's right. RUN FOR THE HILLS! IT'S A DYNASTY WARRIORS GAME! Yes, if you've played a Dynasty Warriors game before, you'll be right at home. The old hacko slasho, button masho is back in full force in the game and it brought along it's friends extreme repetition, stupid A.I and DLC. Musou games and DLC are a really sucky combination. I'll go over that later.

The major modes in the game are Legend, Free, Adventure and Challenge. Legend Mode is the story mode of the game. You play through the story with specific characters in missions based on the story they've concocted. You'll unlock most of the characters through this mode and it'll take a good 20 hours to beat(if you include the DLC scenario and hunting Skulltula's) and is very enjoyable. Free mode is just all the story missions, but you can use any character in any mission.

Adventure Mode is the true meat of the game. In this mode you unlock the majority of the heart pieces, skulltula's, weapons and a few extra characters and thanks to the DLC you can also unlock new colour palettes for each character too. You'll play through a variety of missions ranging from easy... to hang yourself insanely difficult! Yes, this mode will make you want to kill yourself with how difficult and demanding some of these missions are. To make matters worse... most of the items require an A rank to unlock... yes, A ranks on missions so difficult that you'll either become suicidal or murderous. In my case, I murdered my coffee table!

The missions you can expect in Adventure mode are very varied. The variety is actually really cool ranging from easy ones like "Defeat X number of enemies in Y minutes" to break your spirit "Don't get hit!: Beat the level... but they take forever to defeat!". Yes I paraphrased those mission types but you get the idea right? The variety helps reduced the monotony of the game's repetitive combat and missions... but not by much.

Challenge mode only has 1 stage and it sucks... really sucks. It's not worth talking about at all. It's just a map where you get random challenges thrown at you. It's not worth playing at all.

The DLC packs released so far are the Master Quest pack and the Twilight Princess pack. Master Quest pack added extra story scenario missions based on new character Cia's role in the story. It also added the evil Master Quest map that will drive you insane with it's difficulty and a costume for Cia and Lana that spoils the story for anyone who hasn't played it(they are 2 halves of the same person) as well as Epona as a weapon for Link... and she's AWESOME! The Twilight Princess pack gave us Twili Midna(her form you see at the end of Twilight Princess) as a playable character, 2 new costumes for Link and Zelda(P.S. they both SUCK!), a new rod weapon for Zelda and a map for Adventure mode based on Twilight Princess that's just as evil as the Master Quest map!

Repetition repetition, gets into your brain. Repetition repetition, it'll drive you insane! The repetition in this game will deter many people from picking this up or playing it for long periods of time. While I can easily play for 4+ hours on this game, most people will probably get bored in less time. This game is exactly like junk food, you should consume it in moderation and be carefully when you over consume it.

There is a co op option in the game... but be warned! Co op can be a fun time... usually. Unfortunately Co op is plagued with a few issues. First off is the visuals take a beating! If you hate jaggies, you'll hate Co op. Next is the frame rate... it gets put through the shredder really bad here! It can get so bad sometimes, the game becomes nearly unplayable!! Split assets also means less enemies on screen... which means you'll have frequent moments of being in a room that's empty despite the face the map shows it's full to burst with enemies. In short, Co op is more of a thing to use when you need help beating a mission, not for everyday fun.

So is Hyrule Warriors worth your money? Well... it depend how loyal of a Legend of Zelda fan you are. I bought it because of my love of Zelda and Musou games, but find it so anti newcomer/casual player friendly. This game pulls no punches and goes straight for the gonadular region with laser focused precision. I honestly can't recommend it despite my love for the game. It's a great Musou game, but it's not a fair game. I recommend just waiting for Majora's Mask instead of buying it. If you still want it, you've been warned!

Score 4/5... but not recommended

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Love Mega Man? Then you NEED the comics!

I have to admit, I didn't start collecting these from day one. I actually started collecting these just a few months ago with the launch of the Dawn of X arc... yes, Mega Man X is what drew me in. Surprisingly, this is a great addition to any Mega Man fans collection. I for one, am glad I'm collecting these!

For those who don't know, Archie's Mega Man's comics follow the original series of games and expands the story from it's simple roots. So far they've tackled the first 3 games in the comics and introduces some of the Robot Masters from the more recent entries like Splash Woman and Oil Man. The story in these comics even use the Robot Master's weakness in the battles too, which I personally find pretty cool.

Interestingly, these comic books flesh out the world of Mega Man very well by giving each Robot Master their own unique personality and even make Rock himself deeper than just the jump 'n' shot man we know him as. Characterisation is probably the comics strong point since it really does an excellent job in both respecting the source material, while still adding their own flare to the series. I seriously thought the crossover with Sonic The Hedgehog was a great use of their creative freedom.

The art style in these comics is usually faithful to the original designs but each artist tried to add their own flare to mixed results. The artist rotation seems to happen with each new story arc and each story arc consists of 4 issues. Personally I prefer when the artist is more true to the original designs over adding their own style, not to berate the artists but don't stray too far from the first artists designs.

I really find the writing in this comic series extremely well done. Unlike most comics these days, Mega Man's writers have actually written these for all ages and isn't talking down to kids or treat older readers like children. I actually find these comics are better paced and written then comics from DC Comics... that speaks volumes, trust me! I found the story very engaging, so much so that I read the trade paper backs in 2 days! that's 6 main books and 3 crossover ones, each containing 4 issues!

As of the writing of this, there are 40 issues and most are in TPB form. They aren't too difficult to get your hands on if you're interested and I recommend getting all the issues in the Sonic The Hedgehog/Mega Man: When Worlds Collide crossover event. Best thing about these comics is that you and your kids (if you have them that is) can enjoy it together and it makes the original games even more enjoyable then they already are. Even if you're not a comic book fan, these are a must read.