The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night Review

The Spyro trilogy continues with The Eternal Night. It’s been fun going through the Spyro journey and now I am one step closer to finishing up the whole series. This game gets surprisingly difficult to complete near the end as well. The bosses really pack a punch and most can take you out in a few blows. Fight with a lot of tactics and you’ll be okay though.

The game starts with Cynder being upset with herself for being the big villain in the first game so she runs off and then the kingdom is attacked by a bunch of apes. Even the dragon elders are no match for them so it’s time for Spyro to claim victory. He will need more power though and so that leads to him falling into the world of dreams to get all the elemental powers. Once he is at full strength then he will be able to save the world unless it is already too late. With some vague prophecies at work as well, Will Spyro be able to come out on top or is he in for a rough surprise?

In terms of gameplay this one is very similar to the last game. You still have your combo attacks and projectiles at the ready but this time the enemies won’t just watch as you get ready to fight. No these guys are going in hard now and I died many times during the game. They don’t have a lot of hit stun so when you attack you have to watch out for the immediate counter attack. If you play it wrong then you’re really going to be in a bad spot. What I would recommend is really putting your time slow to use. Yes, in this game you can manipulate time, causing it to slow down to a crawl. It’s really quite handy.

It’s not unlimited though and will take up your energy gauge really quick. Almost like a blink and you’ll miss it kind of speed. So you do have to keep that in mind but it’s still extremely handy. Try a lot of run and gun techniques. Slow down time so you land a combo and then just run out of there. Rinse and repeat until the enemy goes down. The game will walk you through all of the specific element attacks as well and you’ll get the hang of things the more you play the game. Just know that even once you are used to the gameplay style it will not be a walk in the park. This is the kind of game where you really need to work for your victories.

I’m not even sure I would have been able to beat the final boss if not for a glitch showing up at the perfect time to save me. The last boss was really fast and his attacks dished out a bunch of damage but then all of a sudden we were both trapped in a circle where I could hit him but he couldn’t hit me back. I was able to exploit this until he went down and let me tell you it was no easy feat! I had to press the attack button so many times that my thumb was exhausted but I can tell you that it was definitely worth it.

The game’s length is not too long but still ends up being decent. I want to say we had it beat in around 8 hours. That’s considering that I died a whole lot so if you end up being a whiz at this game then you could beat it sooner but I wouldn’t expect to get out of those levels without a scratch. There isn’t any replay value as beating the game takes you back to level 1 so this will all be about your story experience. Most of your deaths will be legit but there were a few times where I died due to some gameplay issues. There is like a 1 in 3 chance that your second jump won’t register in which case you will fall to your doom. It seemed to happen to me quite a bit. If you’re not perfect with the timing then you will sink like a rock so watch out for that.

In terms of the story I suppose this makes sense as the middle of the trilogy because not a lot happens compared to the first game. There are prophecies and a big cliffhanger to set up the third game but if the apes don’t come back then they were more like filler villains to buy time. It’s impressive how strong they were but I’d like the dragons to get some hype back. It seems like they lose to every invader and you’d expect these guys to be made of sterner stuff. Dragons are still supposed to be the strongest animal out there right?

We do get some more lore building on the purple dragons and Spyro himself gets a super form so that was pretty cool. I hope it ends up returning for the third game, that would be great since you don’t get to play as him a whole lot here. In theory he will really hit hard though and every platforming main character needs a super form at some point.

A nice quality of life feature here are the constant checkpoints. When you make a game that’s really hard then it is imperative that you have a lot of checkpoints so you are never thrown too far back into the past. It can be very tragic to have to play the same parts over and over again when these aren’t present. You can also skip cutscenes which is great. You do usually have to watch a few seconds so the skip can load but I’ll take it.

For the most part the soundtrack is more on the forgettable side but the end credits theme was great. It was super emotional and I can’t say that I was really expecting that. It’s a song that has aged really well and it’ll be tough for any Spyro track to top that one. Still if any could do it, it would be the third game as we get the big climax to the saga. Little did people realize that the Spyro series would basically end there.

Overall, Spyro: The Eternal Night is a very solid platformer. Perhaps the devs grew tired of everyone talking about Crash was so much harder so they decided that this time they would get the last laugh. Even if you don’t normally play Spyro, I’d recommend this game to anyone who wants to really test their platforming chops. It’s not easy to make a 3D platformer difficult, particularly one where you can slow down time. Your reaction times will be tested extensively and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you beat this game. It’s all executed well so you won’t be frustrated even when you lose. No matter how many times it may take, you will be ready!

Overall 7/10

Kao The Kangaroo Review

I always enjoy myself a good platformer. It has to be the safest genre out there aside from fighting games in that you know you’ll always have a good time here. It’s a very non risky gameplay style because whether it’s high budget or cheap you’ll be having some fun. Now this one may not be AAA but it was good. The game could be a little glitchy but at the end of the day I had a good time. It’s a short game but one that makes the most of each hour.

The game revolves around a kangaroo named Kao who was having a good time in the village but unfortunately his father and sister have both vanished. His mom pleads with him to stay but Kao has to learn what happened to them. He finds a pair of gloves with incredible magic power and decides that he will save the world and reunite his family. He is warned by a wise old man that the gloves may corrupt him and even turn Kao evil but he isn’t worried. Kao knows that he is strong of heart and can accomplish anything.

So the game has 4 worlds and each one has 3 levels and then a boss. You should have the game completed within a few hours max so it’s not very long but the levels are well designed. I had a fun time playing through them and I may even go back for the Platinum at some point. You can run, jump, and punch so all the basic controls are here. You can also wield elements to solve puzzles and of course take down enemies. I would have liked to have seen more elements but it was probably hard to fit too much in before the game was ending.

Now I mentioned that the game is glitchy. For the most part I don’t really care about glitches much as long as they don’t really impact the game. Sonic 2006, Frontiers, and Pokemon Scarlet are all known as games with glitches but they never impacted the gameplay so I wouldn’t really take note of them. The only reason why I note it for Kao is because I had to redo an entire level due to a glitch at one point. Basically the game doesn’t freeze time while you are talking to someone so I got attacked by minions before I could finish the cutscene. As a result the guy didn’t give me the gem and I couldn’t talk to him again so I had to restart.

Then other times the audio would cut out and you would get these loud static noises so I had to really lower the volume on the TV. These things are pretty noticeable so I would say the game could have used some more time on the debugging phase. Fortunately these are still rare in the end so they won’t really hold the score back either. At the end of the day I would have liked the game to have been longer but it still delivered on giving me a fun adventure which is all that I can ask for. As long as I can have fun then that means that the game did something right.

The story may not be the most original out there but it works out. Kao’s sister is one of those tough characters with a lot of personality so I can appreciate that. The old guy is very wise with all of his teachings so he’s about what you would expect as well. Kao’s father looks bad since he couldn’t master the gloves and got wrecked so easily but I’m sure he’s a good guy. The main villain is super forgettable though so you won’t be afraid of him or anything. I liked the gloves though, he made for a fun side kick.

There are a lot of elements here that would lend themselves over to a sequel really well. I can’t say that I’d be there day 1 or anything like that but I would definitely have a good time with a sequel and would buy it at some point. There isn’t a lot of replay value here though. I suppose you can go for the Platinum trophy which involves getting all of the collectibles. This should take you a few extra hours I’d say but even then not a whole lot of them. You’ll be done with this in a flash

The graphics look good. The character models are on point and I do think that they put a good amount of effort into the backgrounds. It’s a game that visually holds its own at all points. Then the soundtrack is also good. I’d give a special shoutout to the voices though. I loved Kao’s accent and he had this gimmick of overaccentuating the accent on every other word. It made for fun listening and it also makes the character more memorable. He’s not afraid to take risks and go after the villain so I’d give him some good props there. He won’t be winning any awards but he’s better than characters like Crash and Knack.

Overall, Kao The Kangaroo is a fun game that I could recommend to gamers of all ages. It’s a fun platformer that is very simple and straight forward. So you can just appreciate the levels as you jump around and get to the end of the game. I’d have appreciated a few more hours of content to really make this one last but at the very least you can’t say that they wanted to pad things out. The game does what it wants and then just ends after that. No dragging things out or just going on to keep going on and I can respect that.

Overall 7/10

RWBY: Arrowfell Review

Felt like I had to wait years for this game to come out! I was waiting a long time ever since they announced that WayForward would be helping out with this game. They’ve churned out a lot of all star titles over the years and then ArcSystems was also in on it? This was shaping up to be a game of the year contender and the definitive RWBY game at last. Unfortunately it feels like they ran out of development time early on as this feels a whole lot like a cash-in title. That was too bad but at the end of the day it was still a pretty good game. Not amazing in the way that I was hoping for but you’ll have a fun time here.

The story takes place in Volume 7 shortly after the heroes got their professional licenses but before the election since Jacque Schnee isn’t on the council yet. So it’s a rather tight timeline that we’ve got here. A lot of Grimm have been appearing lately including a new group by the name of BRIR so something is amiss. Ironwood asks Team RWBY to investigate what is going on along with the AceOps. The whole world is depending on them so the heroes have to be up to the task.

This is a fairly short game as I completed it in under 4 hours and I obtained the Platinum trophy around an hour or 2 after that. So there is very little replay value here. 100% completing the game in 6 hours and not having any kind of post game to complete is a bit rough on that front. You don’t want to be spending too much money on this one but fortunately it launched at $30 and I suspect that it will be a lot cheaper very quickly. That may feel like shots fired but it just feels like the price would dip quickly. That said it is still RWBY so I would advise you to get this game immediately.

One of the issues with the story here is it feels like Rooster Teeth told the devs they couldn’t do much of anything because the game takes place too recently and they didn’t want to mess with continuity. That’s why it would have been best to make the game not canon so you could just go all out with the plot. As a result it’s not always the most grand of stories. I liked the new villains introduced here in Team BRIR and the final boss is fairly solid in his own right as well. Only issue is that there is a bit of a mystery on who the villain is so any original character made up for the game is deeply suspicious. It makes things just a tad too easy if you ask me. I would have skipped the mystery angle from the jump.

The script also reads like it was created from someone who didn’t actually watch the show. The characters tend to be out of character and it just doesn’t make sense. I’ve never seen Weiss be so upset at Penny constantly. She seems to be really antagonistic to the robot right from the jump for no real reason. It’s a bit bizarre to be honest. Now this may all be sounding a bit dicey but we’re here for the gameplay right? That part is fairly good. It reminds me of the old Cartoon Network web games from back in the day. You can run, jump, attack, and use your semblance. You can also switch between the 4 girls at any time and you need to as each one has an ability needed to get past an obstacle.

It’s like a budget version of Shantae. The hit stun is pretty large so try not to fight any opponents by a ledge or you are definitely falling down. There’s no EXP in the game so you should try and skip all of the enemies that you can. The only benefit to fighting them at all is that they drop coins which is useful for buying items but getting money is quick either way so not much to worry about there. You can buy skill points and heart upgrades that way though. Make sure you buy them all as you’ll need them for the platinum. All of the levels have chests with skill points. You may have to walk a few steps out of your way to get them but I recommend doing this because then the Platinum is even quicker after you beat the game.

The graphics are pretty solid. The character models for the characters are surprisingly low quality but the actual level designs and everything are fun. I wish we could have gotten full voice acting instead of the old text boxes for most cutscenes but one treat is that we do get real fully animated cutscenes in each chapter. Now that was cool and it made you feel like the game did get a big budget somewhere in there that just dwindled over time. Those cutscenes were one of the highlights in the game. Then you also have to consider that the soundtrack here is pretty cool. I liked the new lyrical song that popped up during the first level. It’s really catchy and a lot of fun. There are a few other lyrical songs that weren’t really my thing but I did applaud the effort. It was still impressive to get these in there. So I give the soundtrack a thumbs up because of these songs and it makes up for the repetitive minion theme that plays for each ambush.

I said to skip the villains but that isn’t possible during ambushes of which there are a few in every level. These are points where you have to beat everyone before you can go forward. A bit tedious no doubt but they go down quick. The problem is that you’ll have probably maxed your character out after the first few levels so your attack doesn’t get any higher while the minion health bars just keep increasing. It makes things a little longer even if they are easy to dispatch. I did lose a life once on one of the last bosses though so it’s not a total cake walk. For the most part you can just spam the attack button and beat them before they can drain your health though.

Ruby has the best semblance here as she can go through enemies so I would spam that as I blasted through the levels. I ended up using her the most by far. Blake’s copies are handy though since you can attack in 3 spots at once. Weiss has the worst attack unfortunately but she is good for reaching high places. Yang is strong but her attack is too short ranged so it’s usually better to use Ruby.

Overall, Ruby Arrowfell is one of those games that should have been a whole lot better. Put in the right elements and this would easily be a 9 star game. It didn’t go that route but I would still say to check it out. It’s a pretty fun game that probably would have been a really massive hit back in the GBA era. Now it just feels more standard. The gameplay is good and the big cutscenes help to carry the game. They keep things from getting bad for this one but unfortunately it looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer to get a definitive RWBY game. I know that it will eventually happen though.

Overall 7/10

Time Crisis 4 Review

It’s been a fun marathon through the Time Crisis series but we have now made it to the end. I’ve owned this game for many years so it’s nice to finally play it. I’ll say this, the game is considerably better than the first 3, there’s no question about that. First person shooter games still aren’t really my thing but this one adds a bit to the mix. Instead of being a pure rail shooter you can actually move around during some of the levels so that was nice.

There is the normal arcade mode here but also more of a complete mode. This one adds in levels for the American agent which are fully 3D and add to the story. So in the usual rail shooter levels you play as the VSSE agents and then you play as the secret service guy for the others. The game has 15 levels as a result which is definitely longer than the others. Now if you had to beat this in one shot that would be crazy so fortunately this one actually has a save feature!

That was a game changer. No matter how fun the other games could be, it was always annoying to not be able to save. Until you got a bunch of game overs you knew that you would effectively be spinning your wheels for a while. The levels here can still be tough but there is less pressure since you can try again. Additionally the levels are also quite a bit shorter so when you die it’s not like you have to play large portions of the game again.

There are some new mechanics here like the insect battles and fort fights. The insects are more on the annoying side so I’d be cool with the series dropping this for the sequel. It could be really difficult to deal with them and they take up a ton of bullets. Then for the fort battles there is a lot of moving around and it feels almost a bit random. Good thing the girl lets you know what direction to check because otherwise that would be really difficult. The normal shooting sections tend to be a lot more solid if you ask me.

I really liked the new 3D sections though so those are easily the highlight. You still do need to use some real strategy here though. Don’t just run in and expect everyone to go down immediately. You have to conserve your bullets and keep on moving forward. There are checkpoints and all but you don’t want to have to lose and see how far back you go. The game isn’t quite as hard as the last two though so you should be okay. Those are still really hard to match.

Naturally the graphics are really solid here. We’re finally in PS3 world and we keep the big cinematics that the last game had. You can be guaranteed some kind of cinematic before each level and some have more after the level as well. The story may be a little dry as you’re just out to stop another criminal organization but I’m not exactly sure what the best way to spice it up would be. I don’t think the plot itself is the issue but it doesn’t really stand out. Maybe have the villains get a little more colorful with their designs? I thought that the 3rd game had the best villain designs personally.

There isn’t a ton of replay value here. Even if you really like the gameplay, it’s going to effectively be the same experience each time. I suppose you could just work on getting a better high score but there are probably other games in the genre you could play instead. Still you should be able to find the game for fairly cheap and so then it’s a good value. You’ll have fun playing through the story and it is the longest game in the series which is impressive in its own right. You should always strive to be longer and longer right!?

As the end of the day whether you like it or not will depend on if you like the genre. So long as you do then the high production values will carry the day. The good characters and cinematics help to hold their own. My advice here would be that in some of the levels the timer is generous so just hide when the insects show up. It’s hard to react quickly enough to hit them before they hit you. So instead wait until they have finished their attack and then go for the win. That would be the ideal way to handle this and you will not be looking back.

Overall, Time Crisis 4 is a pretty good game. It’s certainly my favorite game in the series. At the end of the day I can’t guarantee that I will really remember these games all that often since they’re more the type of game that you play through and then it goes back in the closet but it still is good. If they ever brought another one to consoles over here then I’d be interested in playing it. Perhaps the ole muscle memory would kick in and I would start dominating it. That would be ideal at least. In the meantime it’ll probably be a while before I play another FPS so we’ll see which game comes next.

Overall 7/10

Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End (PS3) Review

It’s time to check out Pirates of the Caribbean! This one sat on my backlog for ages because I technically already played the PSP version a while back so I didn’t want to effectively replay the whole game too soon. This way I gave it enough time where it pretty much felt like a brand new experience. It’s a fairly solid cash-in. It suffers from some of the issues you’d expect like some of the mechanics not being thought through all the way but on the whole I would say that the game is fairly fun. The length is decent for this kind of game and since you can probably get it for just a few bucks, it’s not a bad deal.

The game’s main plot deals with Jack being in trouble once again but after being betrayed by a close ally he is actually destroyed this time. He is now in Davy Jones’ locker which is sort of like another dimension. The land of the dead is like an endless desert and so the characters decide to quickly go back and save him. They’ll need to save his life once and for all before finally taking down the heart of Davy Jones. Can they really handle this kind of pressure against such a dangerous opponent?

So the gameplay is your average 3D platformer. You run and jump across levels while occasionally using the action item to operate levels and such. The levels mainly feature a lot of combat as you take out scores of minions that try to get in your way. Most of them you can beat in a single combo so for the ones that you cannot, you must beat them with one of your super attacks. Otherwise they will continue to get up endlessly while also summoning an army of the undead along with them. You’ll want to always target the super fighters right away because otherwise the fights really are endless.

Since there is no EXP system here there isn’t a value in fighting against those extra enemies so you’ll definitely want to keep it moving. You can even try to skip enemies when the level is in a platforming section but at least beating those is very quick so that shouldn’t be a big issue. The best attack to use is two sword strikes, one punch, and then a sword strike. This 4 hit combo will defeat any enemy so it’s really good to memorize it. As you can probably guess, the combat itself will be very repetitive in the end as a result since that’s what you will be using in each level over and over again.

There are 11 levels in the game and each one is around 15-20 minutes long. After that there is no replay value though because there is no level select or anything like that. It’s too bad since there are secret collectibles and treasures in each level but you’ll need to play with a guidebook because otherwise just missing one would mean that you have to play the whole game over again. There aren’t any trophies to try and earn either so you don’t really need to worry about that.

The soundtrack has all of the usual Pirates themes within it so they can be catchy enough. The game does a good job with the constant cinematics as well. If you haven’t seen the movie there are a few parts that will likely confuse you as the game will randomly skip some things but otherwise has a good amount of detail. In that sense I thought it had a bit more of a budget than the average movie-tie in. Perhaps not by a lot but I’ll take what I can get.

I enjoyed the combat quite a bit during the levels and the platforming wasn’t bad. Pro tip, make sure you turn off motion controls. There was one level where I was stuck for ages before finally turning that off in the settings and then everything was real smooth. Motion controls are almost definitely not worth it and this is a classic example of that. You have to balance on beams and such so with motion controls it was a bit too delicate. There is one big gameplay weakness either way though.

The boss fights! So the way these work is a bit different. You’re playing a reaction game where the opponent hits high, medium, or low. You have to quickly swing the joystick in the direction he does to counter it but the timing is incredibly precise. Often times you will feel like you made the move in time but it just didn’t work. This happens again and again and when you lose you have to usually watch a quick unskippable animation. I died many times to one of the boss fights and had to watch the death scene countless times.

I do like that the game always respawns you close by but the boss fights didn’t feel well designed. The reaction windows are way too small and when you’re attacking it all seems very chance based. Sometimes you can land a lot of normal attacks without waiting for supers and other times the computer will block every strike. The boss fights just aren’t fun and are the only thing that really felt like there wasn’t enough time put into it. If the boss fights had been just like the normal fights then I dare say this would have been a blast. It’s just a shame that this was not the outcome.

Be that as it may, the boss fights are a small part of the overall experience so as long as you have fun with the other gameplay styles then you’ll have a good time with this one. It definitely adds a bit of a difficulty spike to what’s otherwise a very easy game. For the most part you’ll be breezing through everything so this will at least prevent you from beating the game too quickly. Just in a very artificial way.

Overall, At World’s End definitely plays better on the PS3 than the PSP. I feel like there were also a lot more cutscenes and depth here so it really is the definitive version. If you’re going to get this game, make sure you get it on the home console. It’s so cheap that it’s worth a purchase and you should walk away fairly satisfied. I’m not the biggest fan of the pirates series but in a video game any franchise can shine so long as the gameplay is on point. I suppose we’ll see if there is ever another console pirates game in the future.

Overall 7/10

Valkyrie Elysium Review

I remember when the first trailer for this game came out I knew that I had to get it. It looked like a really fun 3D action game with a cool plot and everything. Something just out of the blue that had a super amount of potential. Well, I got it day 1 and it was a lot of fun. I do think it could have maybe been a bit longer to really go into the tory here but all in all it was still a quality title. I could see myself going back to grab some more trophies at some point and the battle system was crafted well.

The story starts with the game introducing you to the Valkyrie Nora who is sworn to fight under the command of Odin. Odin and Fenrir had a powerful battle that nearly reduced the planet to ashes and both of them sustained absolutely massive damage. Fenrir is now returning and Odin fears that he will need to move quickly to regain the advantage. He tells Nora to go and cleanse as many souls as she can since each one will power Odin up. Additionally she needs to find the 4 artifacts of power and as a bonus, destroy Fenrir if she can. This is a really tall order but Nora will do her best.

Right from the start you can see how Odin is rather shady and he keeps on throwing more and more tasks at Nora. When he mentions that she needs to destroy Fenrir as well you can see how crazy this is. If Odin himself couldn’t defeat her, then what hope does a Valkyrie have? He gives us a trusty rope that can in theory take Fenrir down but that’s still not a whole lot to truly change the tide of battle. At best it’s a confidence booster I suppose but you still feel like that could never possibly be enough.

Fortunately Nora meets with lost souls along the way that she uses to aid her in battle. By the end of the game she has 4 souls who help her and they each try to get Nora to act more like a human. Initially Nora is virtually emotionless and just following orders but as the game goes on she starts to question things more and also show more empathy. So the character arc here is pretty solid. Nora even gets emotional to the point where she has an outburst by the end but fortunately apologizes for it.

The way the gameplay works is it’s a 3D fighter where you attack with your sword mainly. You can eventually switch weapons as well but there aren’t a ton of them and I mainly stuck with the sword since it handles so well. You can summon one of your 4 fighters for 30 seconds which then changes your weapon to that character’s element. You can summon all 4 of course and keep summoning them but they all take up some of your energy meter. When it runs out then you can no longer summon anybody so keep that in mind.

It’s actually possible to get completely stuck in the tutorial as a result since you need them to get past one of the obstacles but there is no way to replenish energy in the tutorial. It was a rather odd oversight from the devs that I fell for but it was interesting all the same. Part of the strategy in the game is constantly changing your element to deal with the enemies in front of you. Additionally you can also equip up to 4 spells and use them to back you up with the various elements. I personally would have 1 heal, fire, thunder, and holy as my 4 spells. It’s easy to switch though so feel free to experiment.

Aside from combat you can also level up your character’s stats and the weapon itself. They all use the same energy currency so choose wisely. Typically I would upgrade the character and my weapons were purely a backup option. I figure having Nora as powerful as possible was always the best bet here. I feel like the game isn’t super easy to just pick up and play because of how much is going on but it does feel good once you’ve got the whole system down. You’ll be seamlessly transitioning from opponent to opponent.

That said, the final boss is still super tough though and gave me a real tough run for my money. For a minute there I thought I was going to have to go back and train but fortunately I was able to just barely clutch it out. I didn’t run from a single enemy in the game so I like to think that I was at exactly the level the devs intended me to be at for the final boss. The challenge is real but it feels fair and I do think that I could have mastered the mechanics a bit more to make things easier. I sort of learned it to the bare minimum needed to beat the game.

The game felt a little shorter than I expected though. Not saying it’s super short but you can likely beat it in under 10 hours. Each chapter tends to be around 30 minutes or less and there are less than 20 chapters in the game. So just keep plugging away and you’ll be at the end in no time. There are trophies that you can obtain to help with the replay value though and a lot of side missions and such. So there’s still a lot to do here including getting the true ending. Now this I’m not positive about since I haven’t looked it up but the way the game ends just feels a bit odd so I suspect that I needed to do more side missions. I was certainly taken by surprise though so it was effective if this was the game’s intent.

As a main character Nora is solid enough. She doesn’t have much of a personality for most of it but that’s part of the point really. Her evil counterpart Hilde is more interesting but also more annoying because she refuses to say much of anything. What good is it to know a lot of secrets and taunt Nora about being a pawn when you won’t fill her in? I thought Hilde handled the whole situation quite poorly and was really not all that smart. For all her tough talk, she was being manipulated just as much as Nora.

As for Fenrir and Odin, I thought the game did a good job of showing them as two sides of the same coin. They both really just want absolute power to dominate the masses and show what they’ve got. Neither one of them are heroes in the slightest and in fact you could just call them villains straight up. It would certainly be accurate which is part of why the ending is a bit funny. They don’t even disguise their sinister intentions the whole time either. They just do what they want when they want and can get away with it since they’re so powerful.

Overall, Valkyrie: Elysium is a pretty good game. It may have been a bit different than I was expecting in terms of length but I was still satisfied and would be interested in a sequel. I do think it’ll end up being a game that is largely forgotten to time though as it doesn’t do anything to really stand out in a genre that is brimming with tons of games at this point. The story is fun and all though so they should just keep on going with it and eventually this will be a home run hit!

Overall 7/10

Trinity Universe Review

Trinity Universe is a game that I had on the backlog for many years. It’s a long visual novel/rpg title so I had to wait for a good opportunity to check it out. Well, the future is now as they say and I finally got to take it out. This is definitely a game that has a high difficulty level so be prepared to grind a whole lot if you want to make it to the end. Fortunately the level ups come quickly and there are a ton of mechanics involved here so eventually you’ll be in a good spot.

There are two story modes here but I opted to play Kanata’s story. He’s known as the Demon Dog King and he has decided to rebel against his destiny. See, he was supposed to become the Demon God Gem but doing so would mean that he would lose his humanity and become…well a gem. So instead he wants to be a great adventurer and figures he can save the planet another way. Becoming the gem would have stopped the countless falling objects from obliterating the Netheruniverse but he figures he can stop them one at a time instead. Doing that would allow him to keep his humanity while also having a lot of fun. It’s the best of both worlds you could say but of course that means everyone is after him now.

It’s a fun story but the game doesn’t take it all that seriously. At its core this game is still part parody so the characters break the fourth wall and there are some jokes about the budget and everything. I wouldn’t say that any of the characters are all that great either. For the most part they’re good but if you pit them against any other RPG they’re probably getting taken out pretty easily. The humor is mainly the characters repeating their gags over and over so it doesn’t have the same energy and focus as a mainline Disgaea game. Now those would really have a lot of great dialogue throughout.

I also think they could have done a little more than the simple character portraits for all of the dialogue. A little movement or animation would have been nice but this is something that mainly comes with the genre/territory so I can’t go in too hard on that. The graphics look pretty nice once you’re actually playing the game so that’s definitely a plus. Meanwhile the soundtrack is a lot of fun too. I think they could have had more variety in the hub world though since there is only a single track that just plays on loop over and over again.

Fortunately the dungeons have a lot of solid themes. The encounter theme is good and there’s a solid rock one for the bosses. A good soundtrack is always important for these things. The game is also fairly long so when you mix in the difficulty level then you know that you will be here for quite a while. The gameplay mechanics are a bit complicated so it’ll also take you a little time to get those down. Don’t expect that you’re just going to wake up and start cranking out those wins.

So the main flow of the game is that you’ll watch a few events and then you’ll head into a dungeon. You run through the rooms as minions attack you until you get to the boss at the end. Beat him and the chapter will usually end before taking you to the next one. It’s a fairly straight forward approach but my advice is to always save when you go back to the hub world. Sometimes an event will trigger an instant boss fight instead of waiting for the dungeon and you don’t want to be caught with your guard down. Now that would be tricky.

Once the battle starts, the game becomes a turn based title. You have a certain amount of energy that you can use for different moves. Lets say you have 50 energy. Your standard attack takes up 10, special takes 12, and your power blow takes 15. You can use any variation of those until you run out of energy or skip your turn so next time you start with 100. The benefit to skipping your turn is that there are several combinations which turn into combos and deal mega damage. For example, 5 special attacks in a row would cost 60 energy but it would trigger a combo. Personally I always skipped a turn with all 4 players and then launched into big moves.

You can look up some combos on the pause menu but a lot of them don’t show up so just memorize them as you play through the game. You can also press R1 to try and launch a team combo right when you’re running out of energy. You then have to press the right button while the meter is in the green which can be surprisingly difficult. This only triggers if you’ve landed multiple solid combos already. There’s also a final smash with R3 but that one is tougher to use because it doesn’t always work. Once you’ve started one attack, the energy starts dropping automatically so make sure you don’t take too long to think.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to it but you can see how this game is really detailed the whole time. When you’re not battling you want to grab as many minerals and resources as possible. These are later used to synthesize new weapons and equipment. Those are super helpful so you’ll want to have them. The game does suffer from missing some quality of life features though like being able to directly compare the stats to something that you already have so be prepared for pausing and unpausing the game a lot.

Once you reach chapter 11 then you finally get the meteorites which is super helpful for grinding. The best thing to do is to grab a bunch of the ones that increase your souls so that you can beat one enemy and get 99 souls. Leverage that into creating a monster that will drop an AttackX3 which you can use to increase your attack power by close to 500. Rinse and repeat with every other stat until your guys are absolutely overpowered. The stat increases are way better than leveling up which is probably why the game locks them until the very end of the game.

This is a game where you will want to write a lot of notes or just look up a guide on the best places to grind and where each mineral spawns. Otherwise you’re going to have a tough time finding what you need and that can take a while. Also, be warned that the game does have a “dark” ending if you haven’t done enough. Based on the text it seems like you’re supposed to clear a bunch of side missions which I never really bothered with. It certainly makes for a unique ending though, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting things to play out the way that they did at all so it really took me by surprise.

As for the story, well it boils down to fighting Rizelea a bunch of times before finally uniting against a common threat. It’s a classic kind of plot that works well enough but the game is just going through the motions most of the time. As a lead Kanata is okay but rarely knows when to actually get serious. He’s also so strong that almost nobody is a threat to him. Rizelea is fun though and probably one of the highlights here. You can always count on her to steal the stage when she appears and get everyone to focus up.

Etna is always fun for just how over the top evil she is. She makes it quite clear to the others and to the audience that she is still a demon through and through. Flonne’s role here is interesting as she’s still in her more evil appearance from the end of Diagaea. I thought that was a nice nod to the continuity and it’s fitting that the guest characters would be some of the best here. Lucius is the dark hero and has a cool voice. I like the concept behind his character. He may not do a lot but he always talks tough which is appreciated it.

Tsubaki is incredibly loyal to Kanata and always takes his side even if she doesn’t agree with it. I suppose you have to admire her loyalty but sometimes it can hurt her character as I would like her to call him out more. Throughout the game she is hinting at some kind of secret plot but that doesn’t really go anywhere so either it’s in the true ending or was for a sequel. Finally you have Mizuki who tries her best to be the very hyper heroine but often falls flat. Half the time there is nothing for her to do so she’ll just make a random comment. The game’s very self aware about this and so I would say the concept behind her character was better than the execution. The script in general for the characters could be fun at times but really could have benefited from more actual animation.

Overall, Trinity Universe is a fun game. Mainly it’s solid because of the gameplay and how much effort went into that. It does come to a point where I think the game overcomplicates some things and could have gone for a more simple route but it’s still fun. The story also holds it back from taking the next step to an 8 because it can be a bit repetitive and never gets quite as emotional or intense as the average RPG. On that front it just can’t keep up but you should still find the characters amusing enough. I do give the title props for being almost fully voice acted even with so much dialogue and characters here.

Overall 7/10

Backgammon Live Review

Backgammon is a board game that I didn’t really know anything about until recently. I’m more of a Chess guy but I do like a good game of Stratego, Parcheesy (I know it’s not spelled that way but that’s how I say it), Checkers, Trouble, etc. You name it and I like playing it. Board games are fun in general but someone challenged me to Backgammon so I figured I needed to get good on it real quick. So I downloaded this app and learned the ropes. The game is definitely a little complex and there’s a lot of luck involved but I had a good time with it. It’s definitely a game worth playing.

So the general goal here is to get all of your pieces to your side of the field. You move in one way and the opponent can move in the other. Neither player can move backwards which is where a lot of the strategy comes in. The map is divided into 4 squares and you have pieces that start out on every side. So as you try to get your pieces to the goal, you can land on opponent pieces which sends them all the way back to the start. Their starting area will be your side of the field and vice versa.

There are 6 columns on each side and any column that has 2 or more pieces cannot be landed on by the opponent. So you can probably guess that a good strategy is to fill up as many of your columns with 2 pieces as possible. Then when you land on an opponent square, they may end up being frozen without a turn to play. You can’t get a piece back on the board if there is no space open after all so if you freeze up all of the columns then you almost guarantee victory. No guarantees 100% of course since the luck of the draw is around but it’s the strategy you probably want to use if possible.

There is a ton more to the rules beyond that so I recommend watching a few videos or studying up. This one’s not exactly a cakewalk to learn. As for the app itself, you can use it for local battles if you are next to someone but otherwise it’s mainly for online. You earn XP by winning, playing games, and eating opponent pieces. I was able to grind up to level 19 pretty quickly and 29 appears to be when you get the final unlockable so in a way it’s like I’ve almost beaten the game. I even won my challenge bout which was cool. The online battles are very seamless and I like the controls so the app is spot on there.

As for the dice rolls, I dunno it can feel a bit rigged to me. There’s no way to prove it of course but sometimes I’ll totally lock an opponent down and they get the perfect draw to move out of my trap. It happens just enough where it doesn’t feel like luck but of course that can be luck as well. It’s pretty funny that almost every review accused the devs of cheating as well but they respond to each and every review that they don’t cheat. I won’t actually make the accusation here but it always feels fishy to have luck in an online game.

I even dare say that a lot of the opponents I’m playing are bots and not real people. Supposedly they’re all real but a lot of them look so generic that I have serious doubts on that. Surely I’d be meeting more people without an avatar right? The game does have a lot of limitations though like not being able to change your profile picture. You would have to link your account to a Facebook account but can’t do that without resetting your progress. So my account just has an empty avatar which feels hollow but I guess I can put up with it.

There are no stats beyond your level to keep track of like play time or total battles. I’ve probably put in about 10-15 hours I’d say but there’s no way to know for sure. The final annoyance is that your collectibles are temporary. For example I’ve unlocked a lot of dice but you can only use them 10 times before they go away and you have to buy them again. Since I like to be a completionist what I did was I just don’t use them after I buy them. I use the default ones that never run out but the whole mechanic just feels annoying and pointless. I want to be able to actually use my stuff.

I’ve also got a few lucky shakers and items but doesn’t “lucky” imply that I’ll be given better odds for using them? That doesn’t feel very fair and sounds like pay to win. Hmmmm….there are definitely a lot of pay to win stuff you can do here like buying coins to help you level up faster and all. The prices are absolutely outrageous so I’d never even consider buying something but it’s there if you want to go fast I suppose. It doesn’t affect me as long as the dice rotations are still fair so I’m cool with it.

At the end of the day this is a fairly basic Backgammon app which is really just here to allow you to play people in real time at least in theory. So I’d say it succeeds in that area and I have a good time with it. It’s as barebones as can be but it lets me play the game which was my objective in the first place. If you want to play Backgammon then this is probably the best way to do it. It looks better than the other apps at least but I don’t know that for sure without playing them.

Overall, Backgammon Live is a fun game. Don’t expect any frills or extra features beyond the matches themselves though. So just do your best and win a lot of matches as you get used to the game. It doesn’t have any annoying ads or anything like that so I can pretty safely recommend it. I’ll probably have it around just in case I get any challenges but otherwise it’s not a game I’d be actively playing. I can now call myself a Backgammon pro though! Luck or not you can count on me to get the Ws heh heh.

Overall 7/10

Pac Man World: Re Pac Review

When I heard that Pac Man World was getting a remake I knew that I had to be there. Pac Man World 2 is still one of the best platformers on the block. It was a really memorable game with a whole lot going for it. Great level designs, a cool story, great characters, etc. Could the original World actually beat it? I had to know. Ultimately I would say World 2 still wins but this is a fun game. I’d even say it beats the two Ghostly Adventure games rather easily. The only thing holding it back is how short it is at under 3 hours. I know platformers tend to be more on the short side but this just felt excessive. There is bonus content to work on though.

The plot revolves around Toc-Man ordering the ghosts to kidnap Pac Man’s family. Pac Man is definitely not amused when he arrives home and decides to save all of them. No matter where they have been taken it will not be far enough to escape from Pac’s wrath. He will go to the end s of the Earth if that’s what it takes so Toc Man better watch out. Each world has a family member waiting to be saved. You technically don’t have to save them but it helps a lot for the final boss. In fact I only barely won on my final heart pieces so without having these guys at the ready I would have been doomed. It would have all been over for me.

I do think they nerfed the cutscenes from the original game though. After watching the original, it was just better in every way. Pac Man’s yell was just plain iconic and it showed how much the whole thing broke him. He was real upset at losing his family and the reaction made sense. Then you have the fact that everyone is talking normally in the original but then they changed it to random sounds in the remake. Definitely not a good decision imo. It’s not something that would hurt the game itself as you could only know that by seeing the original but it’s a really questionable decision.

Back to the levels though, the biggest aspect to any platformer is the gameplay. This is much more important than the story when you think about it. To an extent the gameplay is always the most important but to the degree of which that is true will differ from game to game. The levels are all really solid as I mentioned before. Maybe 1 or 2 of them will give you some trouble but for the most part you’ll be blasting through. If you want to grab all of the collectibles in a level then that will take you more time. So you either go the direct route to beat the game or you take all of the twists and turns as you try to 100% clear it. The game doesn’t try to force you to grab the collectibles which I think is always a good thing.

Your controls are fairly basic so you should have the hang of them right away. You can move, jump, ground pound, and do a dash. Between those moves it may sound easy but there’s still some good ways to really get good at it. You don’t use the dash too much compared to World 2 where I remember that being a big deal but everything has its moments. Of course you can also eat ghosts when a power pellet is around. This doesn’t happen too often but it’s always a cool attack to use.

That said, the story is still fun. Having Pac’s family get kidnapped is certainly an intense way to kick things off. This game’s got a happy tone to it of course so don’t expect things to get too crazy but it still works well. Then we have the big climactic battle at the end and you get to see if Pac-Man is holding a grudge or not. The ending’s humor definitely lands really well.

The soundtrack is also a lot of fun. The sound effects are all nostalgic and the stage themes have aged really well. The graphics are also really good here and a good amount of effort was put into the game on all sides. The story may be short but there’s a lot of replay value in trying to get the Platinum trophy as I mentioned earlier. That’s sure to keep you busy for a while. At the end of the day the game is a lot of fun and that’s always the objective of every title. Hopefully if this game does well enough they’ll make a brand new Pac Man game set in the World continuity. Surely there is still a whole lot you can do here.

While I wouldn’t say the game is hard on the whole, the final boss is surprisingly challenging so you don’t want to let your guard down around him. I came super close to losing him. It’s really hard to land your bounce attack without actually getting hit at the same time. So I ended up going for a lot of trades there. I don’t believe it was the optimal way to win but a win’s a win right? As long as you can claim victory then you should be all set.

The platinum doesn’t look very hard so I’ll definitely work on it at some point but it could be a little while before that happens. I’ll probably work on the easy trophies first and then go from there. I do tend to mainly grab the Platinum trophies from all of the platformers though so this would be another good one to add onto the list. After all, how long can it take to beat all of the levels again right? Probably not too long I’d expect but of course I could be underestimating the difficulty a bit. If there’s any trophy for beating the final boss without getting hit or something then I’d really be in trouble.

Overall, Pac Man World: Re Pac is a very fun game. It’s nostalgic to play through this adventure and I would recommend it to anyone that likes to play a very wholesome title. You will get to learn a lot of the fundamentals about platforming while also just enjoying the scenery. There’s not a whole lot to say about the game because it’s so straight forward but that’s also part of why it’s easy to recommend. It’s hard to see anyone disliking the game. You’re able to pick it up and just start playing at any time.

Overall 7/10

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift Review

I had quite a few issues with the first Final Fantasy Tactics game. I thought the whole laws system was pretty bad because it really disrupted the flow of the game and the penalty for breaking the law was too steep. You had to reset the game a whole lot. This game was evidently keeping the laws in so I was a bit concerned but fortunately it’s all been overhauled. My issues from the first game have all been greatly reduced. I won’t say the game is without issues but when you improve the gameplay, it stands to reason that the game itself will almost always be better.

The game starts with the main guy being pulled into the world of Final Fantasy. Now he has to try and find a way out but in the meantime he’ll meet some friends and try to stop some villains. It’s a classic save the world story where at the end you figure the kid will go back to Earth. Yes, this is virtually thee same exact plot as last time. I was surprised that there wasn’t a different angle here. If anything the main character has less character than last time so I would actually say that the plot is a bit weaker. Considering that you usually play RPGs for the plot as much as the gameplay, that was a bit of a heavy blow.

I wouldn’t say the story ever really gets to be all that engaging. There are a lot of sub plots thrown in like a treasure thief who is always rather crafty so you don’t know if you can trust her. Then you’ve got the mature right hand man who seems to have a shady backstory where he may have worked with the villain group. Some interesting tales in there but nothing that really stands out. It doesn’t help that the game uses a day system with tons of optional missions so after a wile it feels like most of the game is filler. There are 300 missions in the game but I believe less than 30 of them are actually the story ones.

The majority of these missions are dispatch types which you send out your minions to go and complete. As a result there is no story to be had in those. Some are hybrid missions where you could dispatch or beat in person. If you go in person I’m sure there would be some bits of story in there but why do that when you can send your minions off? It’s a lot quicker to do it as a dispatch and just walk back and forth to have the days go by so the mission is auto completed. Tactics gameplay is always long by definition so dodging battles this way is what you will want to do.

So lets talk about the gameplay. If you’re unfamiliar with tactical gameplay, the idea is to move all of your characters across the gameboard so they can either make it to the goal at the end or attack opposing players. Everyone has a set number of tiles that they can move across and then you either attack or use an item. You win when everyone is bumped off. When the level starts you can activate a bonus like extra power but a law will then appear and you must follow it. If you break the law then the bonus will go away for the rest of the match. This is a big improvement over how it used to be. In the first game if you broke the law then your character was sent to jail and you have to break them free which took multiple fights. You had to actually fight people in order to free the captive which was no good. It was such a big waste of time whenever that happened and it’s why you would ultimately just reset the game instead of going through all of that work.

So here the law system can actually be ignored entirely because losing the bonus isn’t a big deal. It’s also one less thing to worry about because the gameplay is super detailed as it is. For example, there is a class system here outside of the level ups and you can unlock new classes by fulfilling requirements. This is really difficult and I barely unlocked any by the end. It’s definitely not for the casual players but at the same time, you will then come to a real hurdle by the end of the game because the difficulty level just spikes up. I was barely able to beat the final boss and that’s mainly because I found a cheese strategy.

Basically the boss can’t see you if you’re far enough so you have to get just close enough to hit her with arrows. She will gain full health infinitely whenever she gets too low so the trick was to get her down to about 30% health and then rush her after her turn. This way you beat her before she fully heals. Otherwise I couldn’t find a way to get around that move. Also, aside from getting full health each time she would also put a lot of curses on your characters which really made things tough. Then there’s a second phase which was also intense. I’m not confident I could win again if I had to do a rematch since it came down to the wire.

Tactics gameplay feels very satisfying to win but also very annoying to lose because of how long each round is. I put many hours into the game as a result of how long it was. I definitely advise you to do as many dispatch missions as possible to level up your crew. Whatever you can do to get stronger for the final bosses is well worth it. You need to be strong if you want to clear it.

The graphics are okay, I wouldn’t say they really take advantage of the newer gen portable consoles though. This doesn’t look much different from the GBA game and there are no cutscenes here. You’d think that this game should have some nice looking cinematics by now but it wasn’t to be. The soundtrack is also more on the bland side. I couldn’t really recall any specific tune from the game because it’s all just standard fare. The kind of music you would have heard many times before but without a nice twist.

The game does have a ton of content to get through though so no matter what price you got the game for, it will be a fairly good deal here. Outside of the main plot there are a lot of side content missions and such to complete which will further extend the timer as well. There’s no way to really speedblitz through this game on your first shot so just enjoy the full experience and have fun. It is a game that was made with a lot of effort, that’s for sure. While the story may not be all that exciting, I appreciated that the game fixed a lot of my issues with the first title through quality of life features.

Overall, Tactics 2 is a big improvement over the first one. It’s still not ready to take on the mainline games or rivals like Pokemon, but I would be up for playing a third installment some day. Lets just get a different story in one of these days. This game was on my backlog for a super long time so it feels good to finally have this one completed. Now I’m one step closer to being fully caught up with the whole franchise.

Overall 7/10