8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans Review


It’s time to look at a DBZ game that has always been quite well known as an underratted classic. Just about every threat I go to about great DBZ games there is at least one person naming this game. People seem to love just how in depth it went as well as the solid gameplay. While I’m not ready to call it the best DBZ game I will say that it is great. Ir’s too bad that they couldn’t have covered more of the story than just the Saiyan Saga, but you’ll likely never see such a detailed lookthrough in any other game. It’s impressive how much is shown here and the gameplay is pretty tight.

The story actually starts with some adventures from Dragon Ball. The main part starts when Raditz shows up halfway through the way though and we learn that more Saiyans are on the way. Goku and friends will have to surpass their limits if they want to beat these guys, but the problem is that time is not on the hero’s side. They will only have an hour to get ready and that’s a really short time table. Still, the heroes have been through worse odds before and come out on top so they won’t let this get to them.

So the gameplay is similar to the turn based style of Pokemon, but more interactive. I’d say that the Mario & Luigi series is a good benchmark for this one. The reason for that is because you can click buttons at the right time to minimize damage which is always an interesting change. If you get really good at blocking then you’ll need to do less grinding than someone who isn’t able to react in time. It adds some strategy there. Then you’ve also got the line-up strategies. You can have 3 people in the front and up to 5 in the back although you’ll never get a full party of 8 in the game. You will probably figure that having 3 people in the front at all times is your best bet, but there is actually a good reason to only have 1 at times. The EXP you get in battle is evenly split up between the characters in your active party with the backups only getting 10% of it. So if you’ve only got 1 guy in the front then he will get massive amounts of EXP. It helps a lot with leveling.

Typically I kept my whole group of 3 in the front though. If the other members die in one hit for the boss fights then you’d be in trouble anyway so at least this way it kept the fighters close. At first in the game I would lose to the boss each time which would then require more grinding. The game can be difficult so expect to have to level up quite a lot. There are numerous strategies to try out though and a vast level up tree. What abilities you decide to improve and rank up will play a huge factor in how your character turns out. Personally I decided to just max out attack power for everyone and I always ignored the other stats. Good attack will go a long way right? That’s the way I figured it. Unfortunately when you beat the game you are taken to right before the final boss so you can only control Gohan, Krillin, and Goku. Everyone else that you trained up is lost forever unless there is some way to find them again. That part’s a little unfortunate.

Most of the game you will just need to figure out on your own as you play through. I personally say you should max out one special attack for each fighter first. Then work on unlocking ultimate attacks by powering up other techniques and you should be good to go. Definitely buy a good amount of potions for the end game because you’ll be going through 5-6 boss battles in a row. Losing in the middle of those would have definitely been rough if you ask me. I recommend being around level 50 to make the battle go smoothly and be careful with the Kaio-Ken. It’s the best move in the game but if you can’t finish the opponent off before it runs out you are most likely doomed to be defeated since you can’t move or block for a few turns.

There is a lot of content in this game and it took me around 20 hours to conquer the main story. Should you decide to do the bonus content like fighting Broly and maxing everyone out it’ll take even longer. This is not a short game so you’ll have a lot of replay value here. Even without playing any side quests you’ll be here for a while since I didn’t really do any of them myself. The game can be a bit pricey online but at least you know you’ll be getting a great game.

Meanwhile the game doesn’t cheap out on any other areas. The graphics here are quite good. One thing that might drag on for you are the explanation points and other symbols that show up after every line in the cutscenes. Hold down the R button to speed things along, but let go when clicking on the dialogue or otherwise you’ll skip some lines. Doing this helps to make the cutscenes go by pretty quick. All of the attacks are flashy and I like that you can see the improvement as you level them up. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty good. The boss battle against Vegeta was great and I also liked the general danger theme that plays constantly. The basic boss theme is also sound. It’s just a very well rounded array of tunes.

Overall, Attack of the Saiyans definitely lived up to the hype. It’s a classic DBZ RPG that can hold its own with the best of em. I managed to beat the game on Friday the same day that Kakarot arrived so it was good timing. Now I can effectively take a look at the PS4 version of the RPG. I already know it’s going to be a top notch game for sure. While I’m sure most of my readers will be picking this one up, I’d say you should also buy Attack of the Saiyans if you’re a big fan of the series or if you just like RPG titles. It’s a lot of fun with really sound gameplay mechanics.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dusk Diver Review


It’s time to look at a game that I hadn’t heard of before receiving for Christmas. From the aesthetic and cover right away you get that anime vibe which is always good. I tend to get more excited for games like this with a colorful art style and lots of cinematics. Usually these games are on the long side, but surprisingly this one is only around 6 hours or so. I nearly beat the whole thing on New Year’s, but the final hour took one last batch to complete. It’s definitely a great game with a solid post game plan.

The game focuses on the lead character Yuma who suddenly finds herself in a world filled with monsters one day. She is able to transform into a Super Saiyan type fighter and with the help of a cat defeats them. We then learn that there is another world that exists parallel to the human world and there are a few deities who fight them off every day. Somehow Yuma was thrown into this world and now the deities are unable to transform back into their true forms while she is around. Until they figure out a way around this Yuma will need to do the fighting for them. She agrees to do this while she’s on summer vacation, but once she has to go back to school that’ll be it for their agreement. The monster incursions have started happening more frequently and with greater intensity though so Yuma is going to have to bring her A game to this.

Just judging from the general plot and the huge hub world I’m still surprised that the game is so short. It just feels like we could have had a few more chapters thrown in. It’s better for the game to be direct and end early rather than forcing a long length on us though. As I mentioned earlier there is a lot to do after you beat the game anyway. You can train up your partners and work on getting all of the PS4 trophies. This should take you a long time to accomplish so that’s always something to consider. I didn’t even get to visit a fraction of the shops or learn just about any new skills during the game. I just focused on maxing out my attack power and taking it from there.

Lets talk about the gameplay though. This is your classic 3D beat em up. Each chapter starts with a few conversations with the deities and then you go to the other world through a dimensional rift. The only way to enter these rifts is to have some dragon scales with you so be sure to grab them when the Boss tells you that she senses one. Typically she says that once per chapter and to enter a rift that’s usually all you’ll need. There were 2-3 times where I needed to grab 5 or so, but running around the hub world and getting them doesn’t take up much time. It does make me think that this whole gimmick was rather pointless, but I’m thinking the developers really wanted to show off the town and figured you may not check it out otherwise. It’s probably true, but I still don’t like forced collectibles. It’s not nearly as intrusive as in platformers though so it’s not a big deal here.

Once you’re in the other world then you turn into the blue flame haired Yang Yuma. You’ve got your standard power attacks, standard moves, and a summon which brings out a guardian to land a quick combo. It’s like an assist in a Capcom Vs title as they’ll quickly go back into the air until you summon them again. It takes a block of energy but they do a lot of damage so it’s usually worth it. The big incentive with these guys is they chip away at an enemy’s armor really quick which is very handy. I always use them to get rid of the enemy’s armor and then finish the opponent with my final smash. It takes 3 bars, but does a ton of damage. Even bosses tend to lose a full bar of health if you’ve destroyed their armor. The armor regenerates quickly so be sure to smash it entirely before going for damage to save time. It’s a good tactic and I should know because I S ranked all of the missions except for 1. (Got an A….)

When you have enough super meter you can also transform into a magical girl. I was surprised that we got 2 different super forms here, but it’s fun enough. All of your stats greatly increase and you also get another super attack. For some reason it’s weaker than your normal one, but still fun to have. The main value here is just in your normal attacks getting so much stronger. You can really just rely on them to an extent although the form doesn’t last very long.

The game’s only fault may be that some parts aren’t super polished. At times when you click on X to get the next text to come through it won’t work so you have to click again. There are also a lot of typos in the text so I don’t think anyone actually reviewed it. Some people are pretty big grammar sticklers so they wouldn’t like that, but it doesn’t really bother me. It would have been an easy fix, but it’s mostly just letters left out here and there or ones that are close to each other like a v instead of a b.

As for the game’s cast, it’s fairly compact. There are a few deities with Leo being the main one. He’s a good coach type character who is always around to help Yuma out. Leo and Boss tend to keep way too many secrets though. I don’t see why they didn’t come clean with Yuma from the start as it would have saved them a lot of trouble. The other two deities are pretty good even if they never get quite as much to do. Running into the villain base was definitely not their smartest decision though.

Then you’ve got Yuma who is a really fun lead. She tends to take everything in stride which is good. She’s not the type to panic or question every little thing that happens in the monster world. For her it’s just another job. I’m glad she was the lead and not her friend. Her friend seems pretty pointless in the game as she just shows up for free food now and again and also tends to faint a lot. I suppose you need a friend like that to make the main character look even better, but Yuma was already solid so I don’t think she really even needed the help. Finally you’ve got the little girl who shows up near the end. She’s a fun character although if you’ve played Crystar then you probably already know how her character arc is going to go. She’s a good example of a quirky character who doesn’t go over the top and so manages to be a fun character to have around.

The graphics here are definitely really nice. The town looks vibrant and the same can be said for the gameplay. The level and character designs are on point and there’s just a lot of color here. You’ll know you’re playing a PS4 game right away. Then you’ve also got a pretty nice soundtrack. It’s very fast paced to the point where even Yuma’s ringtone is a battle song. Then you’ve got an anime opening type track which plays sparingly during the game as well. There are certainly no complaints here.

Overall, Dusk Diver is a fun game. I can’t really say that I had any complaints with it. Buying the game at full price may cause you to be a little upset at the length, but otherwise it’s not short enough where I’d feel like I was ripped off. By the time you get all of the trophies you’ll likely have been here for quite a while as well. I’d definitely recommend buying this game. Odds are that you probably haven’t heard of it before now either so the more people that play the game the better. Maybe that way people will start spreading the word. If the game ever gets a sequel them I’d definitely be up for that.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Asdivine Hearts 2 Review


After a long time since playing the first game it’s finally time to take a look at the sequel for PS4 thanks to Limited Run Games. The first one was super memorable for me thanks to its really impressive UI and menus. The game is just super streamlined and has every feature you could want in an RPG. This one is a great followup even if the plot isn’t quite as good as the first one. Some of the characters can be a bit much, but either way I would definitely still recommend picking up this game.

The game takes place 2 years after the first one. Zack and Stella haven’t seen each other in that span of time, but they are called together once more by the light goddess Felix. She explains that something is wrong in a parrallel world so she wants their help in investigating. The dark goddess Nadia will be accompanying them as well as Uriel from the last game. Celine has to stay back this time to help with preparations for the Star Festival. The heroes enter the portal and find that the other world is freezing over thanks to the powers of a new deity. They will have to stop this guy at all costs, but is there more to this threat than meets the eye?

Naturally the plot expands quite a lot from the general premise as you would expect from any long RPG. This game is quite a bit shorter than the first one and you’ll probably beat it in half of the time. Still, at around 12 hours the campaign is still long enough to get your money’s worth as well as a bunch of twists and turns in the game. Whenever the climax approaches (We get 3-4 different climaxes) the game always draws you into the excitement thanks in part to the music. The soundtrack is pretty limited, but the tunes that we do get are quite terrific. I could hear the enemy theme on loop for hours and the final boss theme is suitably hype as well. The game does a good job of really selling you on the game ending before a twist suddenly throws everything for a loop once more.

The graphics are also very good. The cutscenes are told through image illustrations like a GBA game, but the character portraits definitely look like they are in HD which is good. Everything just looks shiny and modern which I think it a must for any big PS4 game. The gameplay graphics are nice as well even if I don’t look at the effects all that much since I have the game running at high speed mode. The attacks look great, but the animations do tend to take a while so after you’ve seen them all once it makes sense to just skip past them.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard turn based combat system. Each character gets to attack and you can use various skills and techniques to speed up your turn or slow the opponent’s down. Each character can learn a ton of attacks including physical skills, magical skills, unity skills, combo skills, etc. By the end of the game your menu will be pretty cluttered with how many different kinds of moves you can activate. In most games this could be overwhelming, but Asdivine Hearts does a good job of never letting it get that far. Part of how it does this is by allowing you to control everything. You can put your guys on automatic for fights, you can skip fights with weaker fighters altogether, text speed, etc. Everything is customizable which is awesome.

I’ve never seen a game that can make grinding so effortless. Then you’ve also got other featured like gardening which increases your physical stats, tickets which gets you rare items, and power jewels which can be traded for great items like doubling your EXP for the rest of the game. I highly recommend buying all 3 copies of that as soon as possible. This is one game where you should never skip a fight because you’ll want to do as many as possible to get those gems. Trading them in gets you the very best rewards. Even with all of this the final boss is pretty difficult though. A lot of their skills will really test your abilities and put your skills as a player to the mettle. They seem to have almost unlimited durability and even with my characters at level 90+ I was having some real difficulty. The final bosses took around 30-40 minutes to conquer which was pretty crazy.

The main character cast is good for the most part. Zack is still a great lead who always does the right thing. He has a lot of confidence and usually comes up with the best plans out of the bunch. Even with his companions being a little crazy he never lets it get to him and always stays ready as the leader. Stella is a good main heroine as well even if her whip gimmick feels a little forced at this point. At least she is a little bolder than in the first game and also doesn’t get quite as jealous as last time. It would be nice to see her use her light powers a little more though.

Then we have Uriel who is the best of the training companions. She’s honest about her feelings the whole time and her subplot about being a little worried since she is a human was pretty emotional as well. Uriel was a good companion to have around. Then we have Felix who isn’t quite as solid as the others. She’s a goddess and yet she is always a few steps behind the other characters in just about everything. How can you be a deity and still not be prepared for what’s going on? That just doesn’t work and it makes her look pretty bad the whole time. Her whole fur gimmick is definitely not great either.

Then we have Nadia whose core personality isn’t bad, but her obsession with Felix gets to be a bit much. The game loves giving everyone a different creepy gimmick like this which can get old very quickly. Lets not even start with the character who wants everyone to stomp on her. (Or him. It’s hard to tell with some of these characters) The problem is that these traits start to take over the characters very quickly so it has to appear in every cutscene more than once. A lot of the cutscenes get pretty iffy as a result.

The villains are good at least. As I mentioned there are quite a few twists with each villain getting a different “All according to plan” moment which is nice. The hype music also really sells these scenes so that the game can get quite epic when it needs to be. As a result I can’t say that the story was bad. Really it is great during serious scenes and then pretty bad when it’s back to slice of life mode. Hopefully it can be a bit more balanced in a potential third game as this is the only thing holding the game back from a full 9 star title.

There is definitely a lot of replay value here. Beating the game will take around 12 hours as mentioned, but if you intend to platinum the game you can expect to double that amount of time. Increasing everyone’s trust levels will take time so I’m thinking the best way to get everyone’s ending would be to save right before the end and give all of your trust items to one person. Then after the trophy pops you reset the game and do the same for each other character. Some of the other trophies will still take some time though. The game’s excellent gameplay mechanics for encounters and such do make it easier to explore and find all of the chests though. It’s a much more manageable Platinum than what you would see in most other games which is definitely appreciated.

Overall, Asdivine Hearts 2 is a really fun game. The gameplay is out of this world and the level of customization that you have at your disposal is quite impressive. It may all feel a little overwhelming at first, but I think the developers did a great job of making it all as straight forward as possible.The actual story is a little on the weaker side though with the characters going a little too overboard on how desperate to be quirky they can be. Still, it’s never too bad I guess and you can always just quickly skip through the dialogue when certain characters show up. You can set the text to instant so you blast through the conversations and you can then prep for the actual cutscenes that are important. I’d definitely be game for a third title in this series but with how overpowered the heroes are at this point it’s hard to see what could possibly be a threat to them at this point. I’m sure the developers can think of something though.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Top Spin 4 Review


It’s definitely been a little while since I played my last Tennis games. I really love playing this sport in video game format due to it being one of the few ones where you can just play 1 v 1 in almost all the modes. Win or lose, it all comes down to your skill and there are no RNG factors to take into account. It’s a little weaker than Virtua Tennis, but by the end of my playthrough I did start to really get used to how this one works. The timing mechanics may not have been my thing, but at least they were implemented well unlike the latest Mario Tennis game. It was tempting to stick around and keep playing this title, but at least for now I’ve just got to put it down. One of these days I’ll certainly be back for it.

There are a bunch of modes to play here like King of the Hill, Exhibition, Training Academy, or the full career mode. I dabbled around in all of them in order to get some trophies but the bulk of your time will definitely be spent on the career. The training mode lets you play through around 26 levels which gives you a good understanding of the game. I highly recommend playing this one before you go into the other modes. Most of the time I skip the tutorials, but in general I feel like they are extremely handy for sport games. You want to have a deep understanding of the fundamentals if you are going to succeed. Once you have cleared them all you also get a shiny trophy.

King of the Hill is a good mode when you’re playing with friends. It’s effectively a mode where you try for 3 points and it keeps switching everyone out round robin style. Whoever gets a certain amount of wins first will end up being the king. Then there’s Exhibition mode where you can just play a lot of matches for fun with friends of the A.I. With that taken care of, lets take a look at the career. Career mode is very expansive as it takes you through a list of activities month by month. At first you won’t be a high enough rank to enter the big tournaments so you can enter the small ones or train your skills at charitable events. As you win tournaments or do these events your rank, level, and fanbase will increase. All of those are important for different things. You’ve also got criteria that you need to clear in order to hit the next status. For example “Win 3 tournaments” and you’ll go from beginner to novice.

I cleared 2-3 ranks before I eventually put the game down. It’s really fun because you can feel your character improving and the difficulty of the A.I. as you go through the game. If you win a tournament without being defeated you’ll typically move up 7 spots and you start out at around 100. So you’ll be #1 before long provided that you go undefeated. I would expect you will probably lose to someone before you reach the end, but if your fundamentals are good then maybe you’ll be okay. I lost in the semi’s during my first 3 tournaments, but then I aced my last 5.

You also get EXP which you can use to level up your stats and I highly recommend doing this. Increasing your level also allows you to hire new coaches which gives you little bonuses during matches as well as extra EXP. It’s never anything major, but little by little all of these bonuses begin to add up and before you know it you’ll be a true threat in the court. That’s your end goal and it’s definitely something you’ll want to keep in mind as you go through the game and try to be the best.

It’s a bit late in the review, but lets look at the gameplay for this title. Naturally the rules follow the real game of tennis so the goal is to hit the ball past the other player. You move your player to where the ball is and you can return the shot through a variety of different methods. A drop shot which is a low ball, a lob shot, or just a power move up the middle. I always went with power shots as the A.I. is great at blocking the rest, but there’s a time and a place for each one of course. You can also use control strikes to hit the ball where you want it to go.

The main difference here compared to other tennis games is in the timing. Hitting the ball early or late will increase the chance of you hitting it out of bounds. It’s a mechanic that can be pretty annoying until you get the timing down. Sometimes you’ll hit the ball and you feel like you did a good job, but it’ll sail out of bounds anyway. This is mainly if the opponent hits the ball really hard which is why I always opt for that approach as well. I’d be cool with this mechanic not being around, but it doesn’t hurt too much.

My big gameplay tip is to always go for the advanced serve. It’s almost impossible for the computer to return it without being knocked off balance so you can easily win the point on the next shot. Beyond that, just stay close to the baseline and only rush up when you see a volley that needs to be slammed. The gameplay is just a lot of fun and it’s my second favorite sport next to Football for playing at least. I could play tennis matches for hours and hours.

Sadly getting the Platinum in this game will probably be impossible since there are a bunch of online trophies. I assume the servers are down, but if they’re up perhaps you could coordinate with other trophy seekers to get them all. Even so I did try to get as many trophies as possible. There’s a ton of replay value here since the actual gameplay is so much fun and of course you can just keep doing more and more matches forever and ever. The game never really needs to stop so it’s a great bargain since you won’t need to pay a whole lot to get this game.

Overall, I highly recommend checking this game out. At first the gameplay may seem a little too intricate but as you play the game you’ll get addicted. The best way to start the game out on the right foot is to play through the tutorial. It does a really good job of explaining the various mechanics so that they make sense and seem pretty fair. After doing that you’ll be able to cruise through the first part of the career mode without issue. It’s all just so much more enjoyable once you know what to do. As long as you like the game of tennis you’ll definitely love this game. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever tennis game I end up getting next.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid Review


It’s time to look at the big Power Rangers crossover game for the PS4. This one seems to have a similar plot to the Shattered Grid comics so I wonder if it’s an adaption of sorts. Either way as someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about Power Rangers except the fact that it’s an awesome franchise, it was a blast getting to play this title. The gameplay is top notch and the story is exciting. The series manages to capture a lot of energy in every scene and really ends up being a total success.

The game starts with Drakken showing up and murdering Rita. He then decides to wipe out all of the Power Rangers from the various timelines so he can steal their Morphers and take the power for himself. With all of these abilities he will be the strongest ranger of all time and that will put him in a good position to rule the universe. The original Power Rangers are going to have to put a stop to this but they can’t do it on their own. As such they call in the other Rangers and now a battle for the multiverse has begun.

It’s been a long time since I got to play a classic Arcade story like this and it feels good. The last time was probably Street Fighter V. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to just jump into the next fight rather than running around a hub world. This game takes you from fight to cutscene back to more fights. It does make for a rather short story, but a satisfying one nonetheless. The crucial parts you need to have with a story like this is a solid group of characters and exciting music to amp you up for each fight. Power Rangers delivers here.

The soundtrack is top notch. It’s a rather small array of themes, but each one will boost your adrenaline and get you ready for action. Then you’ve got the graphics which are nice and very flashy. Everything looks good both in the actual gameplay and for the illustration cutscenes. I feel like there was a pretty good budget behind this game and the developers effort paid off.

As for the actual gameplay, it’s basically a 3 on 3 Capcom vs style. You can utilize combos with all 3 characters or you can focus with one at a time. Sometimes it is handy to just do the 1 at a time approach because if you summon another character to help at the wrong time your opponent may end up blasting both of you at once. That’ll never happen if you stick to just one character, but typically the positives outweigh the negatives in using the full team. I also recommend going through the tutorial mode because button mashing may not cut it here.

The story mode is actually a little more difficult than the average fighting game as the computers show some actual intelligence. They won’t just walk into all of your hits, you’ll have to try to actually outmaneuver them. I actually did lose once against the final boss and that’s considering that I studied the combos in the tutorial mode and practiced a bunch of them. You’ll also want to do this so you can summon the Megazord. Fighting games in general are more fun when you know what you’re doing so you should just do it. Trust me, you won’t regret it! The tutorial only takes a few minutes so it’s worth doing.

Each character has a unique set of moves so you’ll want to play them all to see who your favorite character is. I got to play as most of the characters through the story and by far my favorite character was Jason. He can be a bit cheesy since he has some of the strongest moves as well as a lot of projectiles. Using him I was able to quickly get to Gold III rank online which felt pretty impressive. It’s just hard to beat those combos and then other characters have some pseudo infinite combos. If your opponent doesn’t know how to stop you from grabbing you can keep on doing that over and over until they lose. Once they’re in a corner there aren’t many options to escape the grab. It’s the kind of game where you can get very good very quickly, but watch out as there is always someone even better out there.

As I mentioned the story is short, but there is still a good amount of replay value here. This is a fighting game after all so you can go online and try out a bunch of matches. There are seasons that shuffle every few weeks/months so it never really has to end. The game is quite new so I don’t imagine that the players would leave too soon. That means you’ll have a lot of time to really practice your skills. You can also work on unlocking all of the titles by playing a lot of Arcade modes and trying each character out a bunch. I guess the bottom line here is that there is enough content to satisfy you as long as you play online. If you only do offline then you’d probably want to wait until the game is 20-30.

Overall, Battle For The Grid is a really fun game. It’s a nostalgic title in some ways as it’ll remind you of the old school fighting games. This one isn’t trying to re-invent the genre, it’s just got very strong fundamentals. When you pick the game up you instantly know what all of the modes are and where you want to go next. The main menu is very straight forward and the interface is super clean. It’s just a very well made game and one that serves as a great introduction to the Power Rangers series. I know it definitely helped remind me what a great franchise it can be. If you don’t have this game yet then you need to check it out. It’s one of the sleeper hits of 2019.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Sword Review


It’s time to take a look at the latest Pokemon main game. We’ve been waiting for a true Pokemon home console game for many, many years. It’s finally here and that alone is a great milestone. It’s definitely a lot of fun and a great game. Pokemon’s always just a blast. Game Freak did their best to sabotage the hype with their surprising lack of effort here though. I’ll go more into that later on, but cashed in or not, it’s just great to finally be able to play a Pokemon game on the big screen.

The game starts you off with getting your first Pokemon as always. Your rival is a kid named Hop who is the younger brother of the undefeated champion Leon. Naturally there is a lot of pressure on him as a result, but he is eager to make a name for himself. The two of you decide to conquer all of the gyms in the hopes of entering the Pokemon league and becoming the new champion. It’ll be tough, but the kids are ready to give this their all and won’t give up.

The gameplay is top notch as always. One of the reasons why Pokemon pulls off the gameplay so well is how fast everything loads. It’s something that the series had trouble with with XD and Colosseum as everything took a while to load but this one gives you the option to turn off animations. Once you do then the game is on full speed. It’s always a lot of fun to switch up your roster and figure out which attacks are best. A quality of life update here is that you can see how much damage and how much accuracy an attack has right away. It takes the guesswork out of the match. The hub world is solid and all of the mechanics are explained well. You won’t have to worry about missing out on something and this is why the game series still can’t be beat here.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the Pokemon games are the opening hours. That’s where you get to catch your first few Pokemon and slowly begin building up the team that you will be sticking with. It’s unlikely that you will keep the first 6 that you catch but eventually you’ll have a pretty solid roster. Typically you’ll be ahead of the wild Pokemon curve although there were a few I bumped into who were stronger than members of my party so I would ultimately make room for them.

This was probably my least balanced roster from all the games at least from a competitive standpoint. I had my fire starter, 3-4 birds and 2 ice types. Basically if I fought a thunder type things would get a little tricky. Still, these 6 were a blast and they all got their moments to shine. Scorbunny handled most of the foes and matches up well with Hop’s team. I don’t know if this was intentional but all 6 of Hop’s fighters are weak against Scorbunny’s attacks. Togetic came in clutch during one of the final battles as well though. Every game will typically have you running a different squad so it’s always nice to see how they changed. One day I should dig up my older games and compare my top 6 of each one.

The levels here definitely look really good. Everything is bright and vibrant. While the graphics are in the same style as the 3DS games, you can definitely see the improvements. This may not quite be Odyssey, but I’d give the animations a thumbs up. Everything is clear as it should be and it all looks high quality. The game makes the tournament feel grand and likewise for the big battles with the loud audience in the background and through the solid tunes. Naturally you’ve got the soundtrack which is really good. It’s a little too bad that they added chanting to the best theme in the game, but Youtube still has the pre-release version in case you ever need to give it a listen. Even without that this game’s soundtrack is great. Pokemon never disappoints with that.

Then we’ve got the characters. Hop is one of the weaker rivals since he doesn’t have the edge that the older ones have got. He beats Hau, but I couldn’t really give him much more credit than that. That being said, he gets a lot of character development and has improved considerably by the end of the game. His Pokemon roster is also pretty solid, I can’t think of another rival having a team with Level 70 Pokemon at the ready from previous titles. Hop may lose most of the battles he is in, but he always does manage to get back up.

Hop isn’t the only rival this time though as we’ve also got Bede. He’s more of a traditional rival who is very confident in his abilities. He’s the best rival of the 3 I’d say even if his character arc doesn’t have the greatest end. He does have a good fight in the post game story though which does help him restore part of his rep. It was just nice to have a more ruthless character to deal with. The third and final rival was Marnie. She gets the smallest role out of the 3 though and surprisingly misses out on the whole post game content. She has some pretty good abilities like the other two and had the potential to be the best rival if she had gotten more screen time. Maybe Marnie will get more appearances in the future or through DLC because it does feel like there is a lot more left to her story.

Then we’ve got the professor in training for the region Sonia. Sonia’s a good character, but like most professors she is just here to slow down the story. The story is a weak point of the game which I will get to in a moment. This is mainly due to Sonia as every time she stops the game to talk about the legends you wait for her to go so you can go back to catching Pokemon. Catching the Pokemon is still the most enjoyable part of the game along with fighting trainers after all and the lore is fairly generic so it never feels like something you’ve just got to know.

We can’t forget about Leon. He’s definitely a solid champion and does a good job of making a name for himself amidst a stacked roster. Naturally he won’t be overcoming Steven, Lance, Blue, Cynthia, or Iris anytime soon, but he’s probably the next best as he is an upgrade over Wallace, Alder, and Diantha. The fact that he is undefeated is also crazy because not losing a single fight is really unheard of. He also isn’t afraid to keep reminding that fact to everyone and the way he just casually tells the main character that he will be crushed is great. You can’t go wrong with having a Charizard either. He doesn’t have the air of mystery or thrill that the top champs have, but he does have the skills.

Finally we’ve also got the two villains from the post game story. I won’t say much about them here, but they do have the best cutscene in the game. It was a great way to introduce a threat to the game even if it came at the very end. When you see their designs you probably won’t be able to take them too seriously but it can’t be denied that their skills are the real deal. As they are post game bosses their Pokemon stats are through the roof. They’re actually incredibly powerful and it was pretty unexpected which is why it worked out so well.

Lets talk about the story now. That is the main weak point of the game as it is by far the worst story in all of Pokemon. There’s never been a main game with a worse story and naturally most of the spinoffs win as well. There isn’t an actual villain group this time. Team Rocket may not be the most serious group at times, but at least they do raise the stakes a bit. This group is only about cheering on their leader and aren’t actually criminals. Most of the game doesn’t truly have a plot beyond the whole “Get all the Gym badges” arc. It seems like the game traded having a real plot for giving Hop a big character arc. Most of the game’s plot happens off screen with the characters checking things out as you fight.

This may be for the best in a sense since the plot that we did have wasn’t all that interesting. Whenever the characters would look at another mural I felt like the game was repeating itself. So those parts are good to keep off screen. I think we should have had some real villains though. Even the villains we did get didn’t feel too genuine as they changed quite a lot immediately after fighting them. I also have to say that the plan didn’t make any sense even as far as villain plans go. The villain plot is so short that the game stalls by having you fight the same guy 4-5 times in a row. That really felt like the game was pushing it.

The story is at its best when you are fighting one of the 3 rivals. There may not be any stakes but at least they have some attitude on them. You are also defending Hop’s honor in some of these fights so that also makes it a little personal at least. Terry (The main character) definitely isn’t the type to back down. It’s interesting that they give you some options on what he says at times. We know that he is talking, but of course his personality will be way different depending on how you answer.

Now the big topic, how Game Freak did their best to sabotage this game. First off, it’s Pokemon so no matter what this was always going to sell amazingly well. The game is smashing records left and right. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get everything here as this could have been what Ultimate was to Super Smash. Lets quickly look at what Game Freak took away and discuss which ones were important. Game Freak cut out around 400 Pokemon, They cut off a large chunk of moves so there is less variety now, fewer attack animations, the over world map is one of the smaller ones in recent memory, there’s a very short post game selection, caves are basically extinct, and EXP share is on by default and can’t be turned off.

For the EXP share part, I understand why people are upset by that one even though it doesn’t affect me. Pretty much all RPGs have this feature on by default and with no option to turn off. Pokemon was unique in not having it and I’m extremely glad that it’s here. It’s way more of a hassle to train everyone up one by one even if it does make the game more strategic. That being said, there should always be an option to toggle this on and off considering how easy it would be. The attack animations being limited is a non factor to me. I turn those off almost immediately when booting up the game anyway. They make each battle take way too long. Likewise there are already a ton of attack moves in the game so I don’t need the extra ones.

The post game being so short is a little iffy. The main story part only takes around 2 hours and that’s pretty much it for the story section. After that you can tackle the Battle Tower and catch all of the Pokemon. Make no mistake, this will take a very long time, but it’d be nice if there was a bit more to do. The normal game takes around 20 hours and the post game is 2 so all in all 22 hours is a great length for any title. There’s not a lot of complaints from me on the length. Sure, it can be longer but you can say the same for any game. The map being super small is pretty noticeable though. I remember having caves with multiple floors and having fun driving around the world map. This game’s map just feels tiny with less areas to check out. Part of that could be just being younger when the other games came out and minus the caves the layouts could be similar. This one does feel a lot smaller though and that’s even with the bike moving way slower than it used to.

The absolute biggest mistake here was definitely getting rid of 400 Pokemon though. This is not something that should have happened. The developers proudly stated not too long ago that they future proofed all of the models so it would be easy to keep on porting them each time. They tried some damage control in recent interviews about how they re-did all the models, but Reddit quickly disproved that. The developers have been spinning a lot of yarns lately but the long and short of it is that they didn’t want to do the extra work. Perhaps there was a time crunch, but they should have been up front about it. It’s also odd that no other part of the game got big improvements as a result. With the time saved from copy and pasting 400 Pokemon you’d expect some new features, but there are none. Part of their explanation was that this way they could bring a fresh experience to the users, but that didn’t happen.

Pokemon Sword is effectively a portable game brought to the Switch. You could play this on the 3DS and aside from the improved graphics you wouldn’t notice anything different. If anything it has less features and content than some of the portables. I believe Pokemon Sun has virtually the same amount of Pokemon as Sword if not more and that was a portable game. This one definitely feels like it was rushed in some areas. Another hint to this is how broken the raid battle system is. It’s very hard to find anyone to join you in a fight which is crazy considering how new the game is and how many people are playing. There’s no way there aren’t 3 other players online at the same time. This seems to be a tech issue with the stamp system the game is using.

All right, lets wrap things up here. The main issue really boils down to the fact that Game Freak owns the Pokemon license and it seems like Nintendo can’t really do anything about it. As a result they don’t actually have to do all that much each time because the franchise is already legendary. In a sense they are like EA in that they give the game a fresh coat of paint and bring it back out to market. As this is the first home console release and there was some whispering during the initial announcement that it was originally planned for 3DS we can cut the company a tine bit of slack. A great game is a great game even if it was given a far lower amount of effort than such a big IP deserved. I just want a proper Pokemon game that has all of the Pokemon available in it though. A true Pokemon Master title where all of the Pokemon are available and we get a solid story and gym battles. That would be awesome.

One thing I’d like to see from the next big Pokemon game is some voice acting though. That’s something that basically all big RPG titles have nowadays. It was also weird to have a Gym Leader whose whole thing is that he’s a singer yet you can’t hear him. You have cutscenes of him silently singing. Voice acting would be a big change to the series, but I think that it’s absolutely worth it. It’s just the kind of thing that will really take the title to the next level.

You’ll definitely appreciate the difficulty level in this game though. While I did not drop a single fight, the computers were always at a very close level. If not for doing a lot of grinding in between gyms then definitely could have taken the edge at some point. This is one game where you will need to do some extra battles as you go through the story or you will end up tasting the sting of defeat. It may be the most difficult Pokemon game if anything as I can’t recall any others where the enemy trainers were always so close in level.

I almost forgot to talk about the game’s new gimmick, Dynamaxing. There’s also Gigantomaxing but it’s basically the same thing. The idea is that it turns your Pokemon huge and then you get to use big attacks. It’s a fun enough gimmick although it’d be nice if you could turn the animations for these off as well. It’s definitely not as good as Mega evolutions which are still the best, but I’ll take it over the Z moves. The best Dynamax Pokemon are the ones who actually get a new design like Charizard. The form just looks cool as a result and feels like a proper super form.

This game definitely gave me some good ideas for future editorials that are Pokemon related. Best champions, rivals, etc. In the meantime though here’s a list of the Pokemon main games from best to worse. I won’t be able to count the Pokemon Johto games or Black/White because those are the only 2 I have yet to play. Pokemon Ruby is definitely still my favorite with that game being perfect in every way. Second is Pokemon Fire Red, just a great game that takes you back to the basics. It was a nostalgia title done right. Third would be Pokemon Y which did a good job of bringing together a modern Pokemon game that took bits and pieces from all the others. Fourth is Pokemon Diamond. It didn’t really do anything unique, but it was just fundamentally sound. Fifth place is Pokemon Sword. A great all around game introducing the series to new audiences. Finally at 6th is Pokemon Sun. Still a great game but I did miss the classic Gym setting and the island angle didn’t really do the trick for me. Although that one did end up with the higher score due to the impressive story. In terms of pure gameplay and aesthetic it couldn’t catch Sword though.

Overall, Pokemon Sword is a great game. After waiting for 20+ years it’s superb to finally be able to play this game on the big screen. Pokemon is perfect for on the go, but it’s also perfect for the couch experience. It’s still the king of the turn based combat formula and by putting it on a big console hopefully people who’ve never had a chance to try it out before can also get in on the action. If you don’t have this game yet then you’ve definitely gotta shell out the cash and pick it up. You don’t want to miss out on the latest installment in the series. It’ll likely be quite a few years until the next one so you’ll want to enjoy it now.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Trine HD Collection Review


It’s time to look at the Trine HD Collection. Unlike most collections this game actually brought 4 whole titles in it which was pretty cool. I wasn’t too familiar with the games before although I did know the name. Now that I’ve played all four of the games it’s like I’ve gone from novice to expert in one shot. The games are pretty fun side scrollers and I can see why the series got so many games. They’re fun and will test your problem solving skills while giving you a fun little plot. Lets look at this one game by game.

The first Trine introduces us to the 3 main character. You’ve got a third, a warrior, and a mage. The Trine brings these three together and gives them immortality. The catch is that they must stick together now. None of the characters are thrilled about this so they all set out to find a cure. There isn’t a whole lot of plot in the first title. The gameplay is also the toughest out of all 4 of the games with not too many advanced features being added yet. Each of the three characters have their own unique talents and you can switch at any time. The brawler is a good fighter and he can slice ropes or beat up enemies. The mage can create squares out of thin air and levitate objects. The thief can swing across pitfalls and connect objects together with rope. You’ll have to learn how to master each character to deal with the puzzles.

Some of the puzzles here can be quite difficult. The levels are all pretty straight forward as you go from start to finish so the puzzles aren’t about figuring out where to go. They’re about figuring out how to get to your destination. For example you may see an extra large hole and you need to get across it. You may try swinging across with the third of creating a path there. Most of these puzzles have more than one way to get across which is fun. I would always try to cheese it with the mage by creating something and jumping across as it falls away. I feel like a lot of the time this wasn’t the intended route, but as long as it worked that was good enough for me.

You’ve also got upgrades here. You can re-distribute the upgrades at any time which was handy. Typically I would give them to the mage because his let you create up to 2 extra objects which further helps with the puzzles. A fully powered mage on your team is really all that you need in order to clear most level. The gameplay was really quite sound. Some parts could be rather difficult, but never too crazy. This is easily the toughest game in the collection so it really starts you off on a hard note.

Then you’ve got the second game. The heroes are called back into action as a kingdom is being overrun by darkness. The princess may not be what she seems and there are goblins everywhere. The heroes will have to stick together and use their abilities as a team once more. From all 4 of the games the stretch between 1 and 2 is the only one where the gameplay doesn’t change all that much. It’s pretty similar to the first one but the game is a bit easier. The controls have been ironed out further and you won’t be cheesing quite as effectively with the mage but there is less of a need to. You’ll be able to blast through this game pretty well.

With the third game things get changed up quite a bit. For starters the game is in 3D now. It’s a 3D brawler with quite a lot of fighting involved. As a result this is definitely the easiest game of the lot. It also felt like the shortest, but I suppose they’re all close. The goal is to get to the end of the level as always, but this time you will want to make sure that you stop and grab as many of the collectibles as possible. You’ll need a great chunk of them to be able to unlock the final level. I’m never a big fan of games forcing you to grab all these things. I like being able to just blast through a level and I’ll pick up the pieces for the Platinum trophy later on if I feel like it. Fortunately the collectibles are pretty easy to grab and they aren’t super out of the way. As long as you know to grab them right away then you should be good.

The plot here is the most ambitious. Someone has stolen the Trine and we have to get it back. We’ve got a character who may be related to the thief and people running around with dark energy. The story opens up a lot of questions, but unfortunately it ends rather abruptly. It seems to me like it was cancelled early on or funding ran out and they just had to release the game. It’s too bad that the fourth game didn’t continue the plot either. At this point it’s just not likely to ever get resolved. I don’t believe the 3D part was a big hit with fans either which was also too bad. 3D is just so much fun for any game. It takes the experience to the next level if you ask me. It’s hard to say that this is absolutely the best game in the series but it was a lot of fun. You’ll miss the puzzle aspect but you’ll love the combat.

Then we’ve got the final game. This one is a return to form as it plays like the first two. The gameplay has been further streamlined though and some of the abilities you initially started out with in the first two games have to be unlocked gradually as you go through the story here. The puzzles are back and there is a much larger variety of them than the last few times so you’ll have to be extra careful. There actually were some pretty tricky puzzles here so you can’t sleep on them. Approach the puzzles carefully and then you should be okay. One change that was probably inspired by the third game is there are now beat em up sections where you have to beat all of the enemies to proceed. You can expect them in each level so I wonder how the people who aren’t crazy about combat felt here. I always like a good battle though so I was definitely fine with this.

In this game we learn that a prince’s powers are going out of control. He’s able to turn dreams into a reality and unfortunately one of his nightmares created a shadow version of himself. The heroes need to get his powers under control or the whole kingdom is doomed. Alas, they aren’t strong enough to beat an unlimited imagination so they will need to go and find an item that can aid them in this quest. The heroes are pretty well experienced by this point so they are definitely ready for this challenge.

It’s really tough to rank these games, but I think this is the best time to do it. So ultimately I’d rank the games as 3>4>1>2. 3 wins the tiebreaker because I really enjoyed the hub world and the 3D gameplay was just really good. I like to see a clear progression as well an the checkpoints/easy level access was great. Game 4 is the most polished of the 2D titles and 1 beats 2 because I did really like how the puzzles were constructed.

As for the soundtrack/graphics, those areas are a little less impressive. I remember the main menu themes really well, but not much else. The games are going for a very old look so it’s intentional that this game doesn’t pop out the way that something like River City Girls does. I think the 3rd game looked the most impressive to me though. I think that’s because the game could show off more of the backgrounds this way. It all just looked so fresh and new.

If the game has any weaknesses it is that the characters aren’t very interesting. The same can be said for the plots of the first two as they didn’t really pick up until the third game. Even though Zoya is a thief and you can sort of tell what they’re going for with her character, she doesn’t get a lot to do. You don’t really buy into the mystique around her. Pontius is your classic strong but not very smart guy. He also doesn’t look too impressive most of the time. Being able to fight is great of course, but you need more than that to be a really likable character. Finally you have Amadeus who is always having a lot of trouble with his magic. He can’t perform the fireball which is still his lifelong dream. Hopefully some day he will be able to do it. In the meantime he does his best to help out, but is fairly timid.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of replay value in a collection like this. Lets say you beat the 4 games in about 20 hours then you can probably double that for the platinums. The Platinum trophy requirements actually aren’t that crazy here but they will still take some time. You’ll have to really master each level and if you’re going to get them all I’d recommend starting with the 3rd game. That way you can then focus on enhancing your 2D platforming skills for the other 3 games. You’ll be in good shape at that point.

Overall, The Trine HD Collection is definitely a title you will want to have. Being able to attain 4 games for the price of one is really a steal. It’s also pretty cool that you can get the entire series in one shot. While the games aren’t particularly long on their own, they end up being a pretty good length when you combine them. You won’t just be beating this one in the blink of an eye. If you aim to get all of the trophies then you can extend the time even further. It’ll be cool if we ever get a 5th game. If we do then I want them to finish up the story from game 3. The cliffhanger there was too good to just let go. The game easily had the best plot.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NBA 08 Review


It’s time to look at another NBA game. I bet you thought I had finished them all by now right? Well, I did temporarily get into some other sports like Hockey, but there were still more Basketball titles in the backburner. I believe I just have one left now so that’ll definitely be a good milestone to finish up. I actually only have 11 more sport games to go through and then I’ll be caught up. It’ll be sad to see them go but at the same time it feels like ages since I’ve had them around. Now when I get future sport games I’ll be able to dive in a little deeper.

There’s not much separating this NBA game from the previous ones. One thing that actually still confuses me is what the difference is between NBA 08 and NBA 08 Live. See, I played the latter before playing this one, but they both feel the same to me. One part of me thinks it’s like a game of the year edition, but another just thinks it’s a really slick decision of adding one extra feature to one version and calling it a day. Regardless I ended up getting both since back then I had lost track of which sport games I owned and ended up getting this version. Otherwise I’d be satisfied with just owning one.

The gameplay is pretty smooth and it hasn’t been super long since my last Basketball game so this time the fundamentals actually stayed with me. That was definitely a welcome surprise to be sure. I ended up playing the first 3 quarters of the first game and had a 6 point lead. Now you may wonder why just 3 quarters right? Well, the game froze on me in a rather odd glitch. I had just made a free throw, but then the ball fell to the ground and nobody went to pick it up. Everyone just stayed frozen and I did everything I could like calling a time out, substituting players, and switching sides, but nothing worked. Everyone was just completely glued to the ground and that was really curtains for me. It was too bad because I was looking forward to seeing my win and the nice presentation afterwards.

Ah well, I quickly went in and did half of a second game so I could at least feel like I did the whole thing. This time I had a much bigger lead at around 10 points. Part of why this happened is because the guy kept passing it to me and I would score. What I did was I positioned my guy right next to the basket. When I’d score the other team would try to pass the ball to their guy, but I’d intercept and score again. Honestly this seemed like a big weakness to the A.I. but it was hard to get it to work just right. Once it did work though, then it became consistent. I have to admit that it felt pretty satisfying.

The only part of the gameplay that seemed a little suspect were the 3 point shots. For some reason the players would never take a proper position with these. They would jump in the air and shoot as if off balance. All of the other NBA games I’ve played had proper 3 point shots so I don’t know what was up with this one. Perhaps there is an extra button or two that you have to press or it’s about the timing. I still landed a few shots so it’s not that bad, but it just looked rather off. I recommend going for slam dunks as much as possible anyway although the team definitely won’t make it easy on you. You’ll have to fight hard for each and every point.

As far as the graphics are concerned NBA 08 definitely isn’t holding back. The courts look really good and the animations for the throws are solid. Everything is very clear and no shortcuts appeared to have been taken in this arena. I can’t really speak to the soundtrack, but the sound effects were solid. You don’t really notice much while you’re playing with the music, but I believe the menus should have had some tunes going. Surprisingly the sport games do tend to pick up quite a few big songs to play in the background.

There is no end to the replay value as you may expect. While the online modes have long since been forgotten you can still test your skills in the various season and franchise modes. There are also in-game achievements to have fun with as well. They may not be quite as much fun as the PS3 trophies but it is a nice addition for those who still like to have some kind of incentives to playing. You can get this game for about a dollar so you don’t have to doubt the value at all. This will really work out quite nicely for you.

Overall, NBA 08 is really solid. I can’t say that there was really anything wrong with the game. It may look a little dated next to the newer games, but that also brings a certain level of nostalgia to it as well. It ended up making this a very balanced experience. I was also winning in both games which made the whole thing feel pretty balanced as well. The controls weren’t sliding away from me and I felt like the players were doing what I wanted them to do. It doesn’t get much better than that and if you’re looking for a cheap basketball game to test your fundamentals with…this is the game for you!

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

River City Girls Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent beat em up game for the PS4. The game always did look pretty solid ever since the first promotions for the game came out. WayForward and Arc SYS working on the game also ensured that it was going to be a great title. It does not disappoint. The game may be rather short but I think you could reasonably expect that based on the arcade style. It’s definitely a really fun game that doesn’t cut any corners.

The plot involves Kunio and Riki getting kidnapped by someone. Their girlfriends Misako and Kyoko get a text letting them know what’s going on so they quickly break out of school and will stop at nothing to find the guys. They may have to tear down the entire city to find them, but that’s fine by them. Whatever it takes they aim to get to the bottom of this. You’ll get a lot of fun backdrops as a result. The heroes go through the school, a mall, a boat, a music show, and more. Each location brings new enemies to beat up.

The gameplay is a very classic beat em up. You won’t have a ton of different moves so it’s about making the most of the ones that you do have. I bought a few moves near the beginning of the game, but I didn’t get anything after that. I’m sure the extra moves after that can be handy, but at the same time some moves will hold you back so watch out. I’m not sure if this is intentional, but take the move where you can pick someone off the ground and hit people with him. This one’s more of a hindrance than a help because it’s the same button as your standard punch. A lot of times I would be getting ready to punch someone and suddenly I’d be picking someone up instead. It’s not exactly a welcome surprise in those cases. Likewise while the Dab looks cool, it does mean you have to be extra precise with your kick so you don’t use this attack instead. I suppose it adds to the strategy although it’d be nice if you could turn off some attacks. Perhaps it’s possible to do so in the dojo or something.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward so you should get the hang of it very quickly. You’ll also see loose weapons on the ground that you can use to slam people with. I feel like the damage is pretty much the same as just whacking someone so you’ll rarely ever want to use it. The best combo actually seemed to be your standard 3 punches into a kick routine. I used that to great effect against every enemy and boss. It certainly paid off. When you’re surrounded by multiple opponents I recommend a tactical retreat. They’ll just land way too many blows if you stick around. Your best bet is to get out of the way and then make your way back towards them. If you hit them all at the same time you eliminate the risk of a counter attack. Dash combos will be your friend.

Each of the bosses also have a set pattern so once you learn that you should be good to go. The bosses are stil pretty tricky though and I needed food items for some of the latter ones. Surprisingly the final boss is pretty easy so I didn’t need any for her. Just keep on hitting her and try to dodge the kick counter attacks. It’s really not that hard to do so and then you’ll have made it through the game.

The story is pretty short and you can beat the game in about 4 hours. Granted there is still a lot of bonus content to explore here. You can go and deal with some extra fights to help your next door neighbor out. Additionally you can break a bunch of statutes and buy all of the collectibles. The platinum seems pretty achieveable here so you’ll just need to invest some extra time in and it’ll be yours. One thing to note is that when you switch characters your levels don’t transfer over so if you’replaying by yourself then I recommend sticking to one character.

As far as the graphics are concerned this game is top notch. Not only are the in game models and backgrounds really great but the game even has fully animated cutscenes. The comic book ones are also really shark and work extra well for the emotional bits. This is an area where the game really excels and the fact that it has full voice acting is really fun. I always feel like that helps to enhance the game even further. Then you’ve got the dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great songs to be found here and the sound quality is top notch. The game was basically booming out of my TV in every scene to the point where I’d have to turn the volume down a few notches. The game is incredibly high energy and you can’t go wrong there.

Then you’ve got the writing which is a lot of fun. As you’ve probably guessed the story isn’t 100% serious. You can see how the game pokes fun at the premise quite a bit here and there with the main characters’ proof on why Kunio and Riki have been kidnapped getting slimmer and slimmer. This leads to an incredible plot twist as the game ends which I did not see coming. It really threw all of the classic tropes out the window and flipped everything you thought you knew about the game upside down. It’s just brilliant and the script is really solid throughout the game. With the exception of the next door neighbor all of the characters are pretty solid.

Misako is the tough character of the group who is always threatening to beat people up. She’s actually a bully which several characters comment on. Nobody wants to mess with her because she’ll definitely take you to the hospital. Misako is a fun character to follow even if she may not be a traditional hero. At the very least she is trying to help the guys out so her goals aren’t so bad. Kyoko is a lot nicer but also a little dense in comparison. Things tend to go over her head. She can fight as well as Misako but isn’t as aggressive. Naturally I liked Misako a lot more, but I chose Kyoko at the beginning of the game so I ended up being stuck. From the way the menus looked I assumed Kyoko was gonna be the tough one. Ah well, lessons were learned.

Throughout the game you meet a lot of supporting characters and villains that you have to take down in each chapter. They’re all fun and quirky. I could see a full manga or anime being based around this game and it would be a lot of fun. While you won’t feel bad for the bullies or the villains, you will probably have some sympathy for the school girls who believe they are friends with Misako and Kyoko. They’re really nice at times and help us in our quests, but get absolutely no gratitude. Again this is partially foreshadowing for the twist ending I’d say but you hope they end up finding new friends soon.

Overall, River City Girls is a great game. It is really short which is the only tag against it, but it’s just so high quality that you can overlook this. It reminds me of the average Platinum game which tends to be fairly short, but gives you a lot of quality in that experience. (They do a lot of long games too, but I’m thinking along the lines of Transformers Devastation or the TMNT game. Their franchise titles are usually short) Where else are you going to get such smooth animations and gameplay? The humor is on point here and this is the kind of game that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’d definitely recommend getting it right away. Look at it this way, even if you don’t like it quite as much as I did, it’s not like it’s going to last all that long right?

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Masters Review


It’s time to look at Nintendo’s latest mobile adventure. Pokémon is one of those series that can really sell well so it makes sense to jump into the market. Just look at Pokémon Go after all. Unfortunately, this one does make some errors along the way which prevent it from being the ultimate title it could be. Still, it’s a great experience and one you may find yourself sticking with for a long time.

The basic plot of the game is that a big tournament has been announced which is called the PML. It is a 3 on 3 tournament with each trainer choosing one buddy Pokémon to team with in this grand adventure. The main character is a new trainer who has been steadily improving his skills. He quickly impressed gym leaders and elite four members and is one of the favorites to win the tournament. Of course to qualify he must first get all of the gym badges and then it’s off to the races.

The story is pretty good. I am glad that the game already covers grabbing all of the badges and the tournament has even begun. I am wondering how the game will stretch this story out for years like the other mobile games. Either we will keep fighting old teams who jump ship or Team Break will interrupt the tournament at some point. One thing that the game could have made clearer are the rules for the tournament though. Originally as it is a 3 on 3 tournament you assume that losing knocks a team out as you proceed. Instead when you beat a team their members are allowed to join you. That means you’re stuck in a lengthy loop if everyone keeps rejoining teams. I feel like once you have lost you should be eliminated from the tournament. By the end of the current campaign the main team may have up to 60+ teams which is pretty insane. This tournament definitely doesn’t seem all that balanced.

The characters also bring up a valid point about how the tournament organizer’s plan doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t believe in friendship or bonds so why did he make a tournament where it’s mandatory to have both of those? It just seems a little odd to be honest. Maybe it’s just his chance to beat all the opponents and prove that the bonds were fake, but it’s a pretty roundabout strategy.

Now when it comes to the soundtrack this game is top notch. It’s comprised of a bunch of awesome remixes for previous battle themes from games of all previous generations. Not a single one is left out and they are all quite catchy. I dare say that the soundtrack is one of the best parts of the game. I ended up turning off the special effect sounds and voices so I could focus on the music. A lot of these remixes even beat the originals. Then you’ve got the graphics which are quite incredible. This does not look like a mobile game and could hold its own with the mainline titles. The character models are on point and there is some actual voice acting so the game did get a good amount of effort out behind it.

I haven’t spoken about the gameplay much yet. It’s a turn based style similar to the main games only you’ve got a meter that lets you know when you can attack again. This way you are more focused on coordinating your attack strategies quickly instead of waiting for the opponent to make a move. Weak moves only take one bar of energy while the stronger ones take 3. Usually anything weaker than 3 is not worth using. Support abilities are crucial though so definitely bring those into play. The gameplay is easy to get the hang of so you should be fine.

There is a lot of content in the game aside from the story. (and the story is fairly long as it is) Every day you get 3 extra levels with 3 difficulties that you can play 3 times each for a lot of items which are used to raise your level cap. You’ve also got the permanent ones which you can play all day to further stockpile your materials. Each character you recruit comes with an extra mission that is basically a long cutscene. Leveling up each character is quick, but they’ve got multiple caps which can only be broken with a considerable amount of materials. Once you have to get the gym notes you are really going to be stuck for a while since you have to beat incredibly hard levels. These levels cannot be beaten on your own so you’ll have to jump into the online content which the game seems to be heavily pushing.

Unfortunately the online is the weakest part of the game so it’s too bad that it’s effectively mandatory. The online matches take forever because the speed is set to 1. I always have it set to 4 to make the matches go a lot quicker so by comparison 1 feels like we are moving at turtle speed. Even then the gym notes aren’t guaranteed so you’re starting to see the grind. This game definitely has a ton of grinding within it if you want to go far. I played for well over 15 hours and didn’t even get a single gym note. You need around 3-5 just to unlock the cap again.

The good news is that there is no energy meter so you can really play the game for as long as you want. Some speculate that this is why there is so much grinding and I suppose that makes sense. Still, I think the game overdoes it with the grinding. After you’ve beaten the main story up to the current update then it becomes really apparent just how much grinding you are expected to do. So, it’s definitely a tradeoff.

It’s still an addicting game of course, but one that could use more of an end game. It does feel noticeably emptier once you have beaten the main story and I know that I would never be all that thrilled about the multiplayer stuff. I like fighting other players but the co-op option won’t work if the speed is stuck to 1. Maybe that will change down the road. I imagine that this is the kind of game that will only get better and better as it goes on so there is a lot to be hopeful about here.

Overall, Pokemon Masters is definitely a great game. It’s got some flaws, but they are not enough to overcome the smooth gameplay and top tier music/graphics. This is a game that big Pokemon fans will get a kick out of for the story as well. It’s nice to see all of the classic characters again and in particular the team up with the Black & White main characters was really nice. I’m sure that when Red shows up that will be a powerful moment as well. This game will probably last years so maybe in a decade or so I’ll check back in and see how far the story has gone.

Overall 8/10