Black Clover Quartet Knights Review

Black-Clover-Quartet-Knights-JP-Box-Art_05-28-18-600x758
It’s rare that I pre order games. Honestly there are probably only around 10 or so that I can think of at the moment. I’m only counting games that I actually paid for so pre orders for Christmas or my Birthday don’t count. Off the top the games that I can think of are Super Smash Bros 3DS, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Pokken, Street Fighter V, Star Fox Zero, Black Clover Quartet Knights, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, Sonic Forces, and Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet. There may be a few more that I’m missing but that’s basically it. Considering that this spans a time frame of around 10 years, you can see that I basically only started pre-ordering recently. It’s definitely fun to get a game at launch, but it’s also risky if the game ends up being underwhelming or just not worth the money. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I actively regret any of these or anything like that, but some were certainly more rewarding than others. I’d probably say that (not counting Super Smash since those would be the easy answers) Pokken was probably my favorite one. I definitely spent a lot of time with that game and the PVP was just a lot of fun. Definitely good times remembering when you didn’t have to pay to go online. Getting off topic though, lets talk about Black Clover.

The story has our heroes head to a cavern after stopping a villain named Mars when they are split up from Captian Yami. Asta and Noelle break through the rounds of enemies and find him, but now he has de-aged 14 years. What could have happened to him in the moments it took them to find him? They don’t have much time to rest though as a group of terrorists known as the Eye of the Morning Star have decided to team up with a mysterious lady from Yami’s past. Asta doesn’t have time to worry about the specifics here as he has a kingdom to save.

The story is extremely short as it is just 10 battles long and you’ll clear it in around 2 hours. I was a little dubious after finishing up the story. Naturally I know that the main point of this game is the online play so I wasn’t going to harsh on it too much, but only 10 levels? Fortunately by beating the game you unlock an alternate route with Yami which adds 8 more levels. After that you also get 2 “extra” levels so in total the game is a little closer to 4 hours which is nice. That definitely makes a difference. There are also other offline modes to play which extends the length. Each character has a challenge tutorial which is fairly easy and lets you get used to the characters. I’ll definitely try doing all of them at some point, but that may not happen for a while yet. Still, it does extend the game’s length.

Of course, this may go without saying, but you will enjoy the game a lot more if you have online play activated. After all, this game’s not exactly as mainstream as Naruto or DBZ so if you want to fight a bunch of people online you’ll want to do it right away. If you want until everyone is gone then it will certainly be way too late at that point. The offline content may last you around 6 hours and a little more if you decide to beat every level on hard mode. That may not seem like enough for your $60 dollar purchase, but the quality of the game is high so I don’t think you’ll feel bad about it afterwards.

For example, this game does have fully animated cutscenes which was definitely a blast. Not many games do that so I can only imagine how difficult it must be. We also get a bunch of CGI cutscenes and still illustrations as well. I definitely think that quite a bit of care was put into this game. The story is short but memorable. The graphics are definitely quite solid and are in the familiar Bandai style. If you like how the Naruto/Seven Deadly Sins game looks then you’ll enjoy this one as well. The soundtrack is a little less impressive though as there is only one really rocking theme. The lyrical song for the final boss is all kinds of hype. The other themes are all very forgettable. I think the game should have just brought in a bunch of themes from the anime, that would have certainly worked out well.

I haven’t even talked about the gameplay yet so I should get on that. It’s a pretty fast paced fighting game. It’s in squads format so you go 3 v 3. You want to construct your team carefully as you have mages, fighters, healers, and a different kind of fighter. My favorite characters to play as are definitely fighters and healers are the worst, but naturally you want a balanced squad. It plays a bit like a beat em up I’d say or Dissidia if you are familiar with that game. You have roughly 4-5 attack options so there isn’t a crazy amount of options to use, but this’ll help you memorize them quickly. The game is easy to start while being difficult to master which is definitely a good balance. I definitely enjoyed the gameplay a lot although I am definitely a sucker for fighters. They always just manage to hit the right notes which is why I always try to snag them right away.

Overall, Black Clover Quartet Knights is definitely a great game. It is on the short side which is unfortunate, but it’s a short game that really excelled in its presentation and pacing. For example, I’d say that a lot more effort was put into the actual story than Blazblue. It’s around the same length but ends up feeling a lot more like a complete adventure. I’d still be pretty hyped for a sequel after playing this one. It’s a shame that there isn’t a local multiplayer though. It seems like that would have been really easy to program in even if it would be tough to keep track of everything on only half a screen. Better a crunched option than none at all right? (Well, I guess critics would take shots at it anyway, but the devs can ignore those) If you don’t have the game yet then I definitely recommend checking it out. If you don’t have online and feel that the length is too short, then I get that and you should probably go get a different fighting game. Any of the old Naruto Ninja Storms would work in that case and will be cheaper by now.

Overall 8/10

Advertisements

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Crystal Bearer Review

download (1)
It’s time to look at a Final Fantasy title. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous Crystal Chronicles title that I played so I was a little worried when I first realized that I had the next installment. I watched the trailer and quickly changed my tune though since this one actually looked pretty solid and promising. Fortunately it lived up to the trailer and is actually a spin-off that you can be proud of.

You don’t need to have played the first one to get into this title since Crystal Bearers takes place 1000 years after the first. Additionally the first game didn’t really have a conventional plot so you weren’t gonna miss much either way. The plot follows a kid named Layle who is a Bearer. This means that he has special abilities (In this case Telekinesis) and is also built to be a lot more durable than the average human. There are only a few Bearers left since humanity hunted them down and they don’t get along with the humans. Layle is a mercenary who takes whatever job he and his partner are given.

At first this is a simple task but on one protection mission he is attacked by a mysterious robot. This robot is a part of the Yuke tribe which was eradicated years ago. She wishes to bring them back and Layle isn’t even sure if that is a bad thing. The government definitely doesn’t want that though since it would mean conceding power and territory. Either way both sides need the 3 legendary jewels to meet their objectives so regardless Layle is tasked with obtaining them. He will have to outwit a mischievous Selkie in order to do so though. Once he gets the jewels, who should Layle give them to?

I thought the game did a good job of making the plot engaging right from the start. The opening cutscene is a lot of fun and gives more action than the entirety of the last game. This title has fun with the motion controls and uses them for a bunch of different mini game style levels. You could be sure to find many different gameplay styles which always kept the game fresh. Naturally I still prefer traditional controls to motion based anytime but this one was definitely smoother than many others that I’ve tried.

The graphics are pretty solid. The characters appear to be on point and the energy effects look good. The hub world is nice and bright and makes for a pretty good forest kind of landscape. It’s not going to go down as the best looking Wii game but is definitely solid enough to be noted. As for the soundtrack, it is mostly low key, but we do get two hype boss battle themes. I’d also say that the soundtrack never feels dull outside of the hub world so it definitely works well.

The game is reasonably long at around 10 hours. It may not sound all that big for a Final Fantasy type game, but I did skip all of the enemies and certainly didn’t get any powerful equipment. I actually didn’t buy anything at all since naturally I didn’t have enough money for anything good. It did feel satisfying though to just coast through the game at the equivalent of level 1. The reason why this is feasible is because aside from the initial tutorial enemy mob he rest are all completely optional. Aside from them there are only two bosses. That will be the most difficult obstacle to overcome and it will take you many lives but the bosses keep whatever damage you dealt so eventually you will find a way to claim victory.

As per Final Fantasy tradition the final boss does suddenly become rather high tier and cosmic. It’s always a nice treat to get a flashy climax like that as not only does it make the game more memorable in the long run, but it’s always fun to have a space battle like that. It’s good that Layle was so powerful since he could take it in stride. It’s also a fun change of pace to be the overpowered character for a change. You’ll notice right away that he seems a lot stronger than the rest of the cast and you’d be right. By the end only one character can actually give him a real fight and even then Layle still has the edge.

The only real flaw that the game has is the map. It’s one of those maps that is really zoomed out the whole time so you never truly know where you are. Honestly I still fail to see the point of it in general since it certainly won’t be helping you get to your objective. You will likely end up wasting some extra time during these moments but stick with it and you’ll be just fine. Of course when the map is the only serious issue that you have you know that the game is quite solid.

The controls may not be amazing but they get the job done. To use your TK abilities you have to point at the screen and then twist the remote in the direction you want to throw someone. This does allow the TK abilities to be a little more intricate than someone like Silver, but I’d certainly be cool with just having one button be what activated the power. Then based on what you press next is where you will throw them. There are also racing levels where you will really want to make sure you turn effectively. The toughest mini game is certainly the one where you have to help the heroine win a game if volleyball though. Those bullies were tough!

I didn’t really touch on the characters so let’s look at the big ones. I didn’t trust Layle’s friend the whole time since you just got the feeling that he would end up being a traitor. Well, it didn’t happen so I have to say that he was quite good. He risked his career for Layle and even held his own against a Crystal user. The guy is often out of the loop but still helps out whenever he can.

The Selkie is a nice character to have around as well since she always provides a lot of witty banter. She may not have powers but she gets by well enough with her wits. You almost feel bad for her by the end since she is searching for someone who doesn’t care to be found. That’ll probably feel like a big let down. I can’t say that the main villain was all that inspired but he isn’t bad. At worst he is just rather generic and doesn’t stand out as much as the others. His abilities are definitely very good though and the guy is persistent. He is absolutely not backing down without a fight. The Princess felt like a waste in comparison though so nothing really needs to be sad about her. She didn’t add anything to the story.

Layle was a fun character as expected. He’s definitely not the nicest chap around but he is certainly very direct and to the point. Layle knows that he is ultra strong and just rolls with it. Nobody ever pushes him around and he only does what he wants to do. He’s certainly not your average main character and that’s a good thing. This guy’s definitely got quite a lot of personality to him. I certainly found him to be a more engaging character than the mysterious Yuke. He will end up going down as one of the more likable Final Fantasy leads alongside Cloud and Lightning.

Overall, Crystal Bearers was a lot of fun. It’s definitely the kind of game that is certainly going to age very well long term. While the map is a bit of a hindrance at least you have the moogles who do their best to put you back on the right path to victory. The gameplay is fun and the story is on point so you really can’t ask for much more than that. You certainly don’t need to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy this game and I’d recommend it to any platforming fan. Even though I played without beating any enemies I would probably recommend beating a few just to stay on the safe side. That final boss is no joke.

Overall 8/10

Freedom Planet Review

header
It’s time to look at a fairly recent side scrolling game that I was able to nab for free on the Wii U thanks to the MyNintendo Rewards. I can’t say that I had ever heard of the game prior to getting it, but it’s considerably better than I expected. It’s not that I expected it not to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for the game to have such a satisfying plot with so many cutscenes. The voice acting also helped it excel to the next level. It’s a very complete game that has a solid amount of difficulty while always remaining fair and balanced.

The game starts off by assuming that you are familiar with the characters and the setting. That’s always a good approach and even though it would be impossible since this is the first game in the series, it shows that the writers already have a pretty good idea on the background behind the characters. I’m sure we’ll be learning quite a lot about them in the sequels. For now, what you need to know is that Lilac is the main character. She’s a powerful dragon who has the ability of super speed at her disposal. In an instant she can cross large distances like Sonic. When an alien crash lands on the planet and warns her that an alien invasion is coming Lilac prepares to help. The problem is that both kingdoms on her planet refuse to co-operate and her friends aren’t strong enough to help her. It’s time for Lilac to save the world!

The gameplay is your classic 2D side scroller. You run and jump as Lilac as you attempt to get through the level. These stages aren’t always linear though as you may have to go back and forth to find card keys or find where the true path is. Most games of this style put in a lot of pit falls to trip you up and that’s actually the main area where the 2D Sonic games tend to falter. This one makes no such mistakes and the only level where you even can fall is the final one. The rest are fine so you can just focus on speed blasting through it. As far as attacks go you can trow out a slicing attack, skyward uppercut, ground dive, and even a super charge. The charge gives you invincibility against almost any kind of attack and is really handy against bosses.

However, the best attack in the game is certainly your helicopter move. Just double tap the jump button to activate it and deal heavy damage. The move does have a lot of end lag though so against the final boss use it with caution. The bosses are all quite diverse with a lot of different attack patterns to memorize. The game doesn’t bother with recycled animations or levels the way that some games do. This one has a lot of heart and you can tell that the developers did everything they could with what they had on hand. The gameplay is just a blast and it’s easily one of the best 2D games I’ve played in a long time. In terms of sheer gameplay it even dominates popular franchises like Sonic, Kirby, and Yoshi. Mario’s still the best in the genre, but I dare say that this has a solid shot to be 2nd. Of course, it’s a little soon to be saying that after one game so we’ll see how the sequel holds up. Hopefully it is ported over to the MyNintendoRewards shop soon.

The graphics are very solid as well. The character designs are on point and the sprites are very polished. It’s the kind of game that is easy to look at and everything is clear so you always know where the obstacles are. The enemy designs are also a lot of fun. Even when there are a bunch of enemies on screen the game rarely lags which is quite impressive as well. We can’t forget about the soundtrack and that holds up just as nicely. The themes are all very fast paced and really get you into the heat of the moment. On a technical level this game doesn’t falter.

Then we get to the length of the game which is reasonable. It’ll take you around 4 hours to complete the game. Of those 4 hours around 1 hour will be comprised of cutscenes. As I mentioned earlier the story is quite extensive to be honest. Some levels have huge breaks in between them with the multiple cutscenes and they do a good job of getting you invested in the characters. There’a good amount of replay value here as you can play as Lilac’s two friends who have unique levels and a different story perspective. Maybe it would help you like them as much as Lilac although that seems doubtful. You can also try to collect all of the badges and cards which would likely take quite a long time to do.

Time to quickly talk about the characters. Lilac is a selfless hero who is always charging into danger. She feels that by jumping into the fray like this her friends won’t have to, but they aren’t happy about this since they have to bail her out. I agree with Lilac’s logic here even if the friends aren’t really on board. Every time they try to help they get taken hostage or something so Lilac taking point makes sense. Her dragon abilities also make her considerably powerful. She’s definitely the best character in the game.

Then we’ve got her best friend Carol. Carol is more about having fun than saving the world, but she’ll tag along with the lead to keep her out of trouble. Carol’s a decent character, but she does crack midway and basically ends up proving Lilac’s point about why she shouldn’t be involved in this. Carol can fight reasonably well though and makes for a good assist when she has finally calmed down. The only member of the trio that I didn’t care for was Milla. Milla is more of a kid than the others and gets rather scared by what is happening. The game may have plans for her, but she doesn’t have as much potential as the other two.

Torque is the alien who crash landed in the first place and I can’t say that I’m a fan of him either. The guy is constantly yelling at the natives to work together, but his planet was the first to lose so he can barely talk. He always seems prepared to destroy anything to stop the villains as well so I can’t really call him a hero. Add that to the fact that he isn’t useful in a fight and the guy is basically just around to slow everyone down.

Spade doesn’t get to do much here, but considering that he is the big rival I’m sure he will do more in a sequel. He seems to have a history with Lilac and his speed is on her level. I look forward to seeing him appear again soon and he is probably the only character who could possibly surpass Lilac. Finally we have Brevon who is the main villain. He’s certainly a brutal antagonist as he rips his opponents to shreds. I even feel bad for the prince that he mind controlled since the heroes never actually find this out so they end up beating him up and possibly destroying the prince since they thought he was just another villain. Brevon is certainly thorough when he conquers planets and is a very legitimate threat. He made for a great final boss, but getting on Lilac’s bad side was probably a big mistake here. There are other characters like the two governments but they weren’t quite as noteworthy. The body guard who was always talking back to Lilac seemed cool though. She would have made for a solid boss fight.

For one last point on the gameplay, I also liked the game’s continue system. Some games force you to restart the whole level when you get a game over, this one just sends you back to the check point. That’s definitely a good thing if you ask me since some levels are over 25 minutes long and doing the whole thing over again would have been quite the chore. Likewise if you die to a boss’ 3rd phase when you come back that’s the phase that you will start with. It helps make the difficulty a fun challenge as opposed to a tedious chore. With no huge punishment for losing you are able to experiment more.

Overall, Freedom Planet is definitely a really fun game. The plot is a lot of fun and I’m still impressed that there was full voice acting. Admittedly the sound did fluctuate quite a lot though so sometimes it was rather difficult to make out what was being said, but fortunately there are subtitles. Learning how to beat a boss through repetition is fun here and the game rewards defensive play in the meanwhile. If you rush in without a plan you aren’t very likely to succeed. Slow and steady wins the race. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend doing so. You will never look at the genre the same way again.

Overall 8/10

Blazblue Cross Tag Battle Review

61-EzzhDPiL._SX342_
It’s time to take a look at one of the most eagerly awaited games of 2018! The instant that the first teaser trailer came out I knew that this was going to be an all star title. RWBY characters were finally getting a chance in the spotlight and I was also finally able to experience the Blazblue fighting style. Needless to say the game is a blast. Unfortunately while the game was expected to be relatively low budget, I still did expect a little more than what the game had to offer. It’s a great title, but perhaps one that I cannot call masterful.

The premise of the game’s story is that every character from 4 different worlds have been kidnapped. Each world gets 4-8 different fighters who compete in a big tournament to decide all of their fates. The champion must grab all 4 of the Keystones and make it to the end. Sounds simple enough, but will this mysterious cosmic being really let them go so easily? You typically can’t trust these mysterious characters. Most of the characters here just want to fight so don’t expect most confrontations to end calmly.

There are 4 stories, one for each of the various series in the game. The stories have 8 battles within them and a general story in the background. Blazblue is the only story with multiple endings though. The stories are fairly quick at around 70 minutes each and only around 10 if you skip cutscenes. The cutscenes are pretty long and have voice acting which is great but each character only has 1 stock pose. This means that characters look like they’re about to fight in every scene even when it’s a peaceful discussion. The most obvious example of this is the Persona character whose illustration shows her throwing out a kick. You see this same kick for every single scene she is in. Most games come with at least 3 illustrations for exactly this reason and it’s actually a little crazy that this game only uses one. I’ve seen mobile games with what looks like a higher budget.

Also, the story doesn’t even make much sense at all. The high above being needs energy from the combatants in order to take over their worlds. She even has a rule in place that prevents them from fighting unless it’s a tag battle so as not to waste her time. Yet, she loses control of the characters randomly at times. Sometimes she is eavesdropping on the heroes to know their plans and sometimes she just doesn’t. She does such a glorious job of messing everything up that it makes it tough for you to take the game seriously. Her power level is just very inconsistent and most of the characters act completely out of character as well. I just think the story could have been way better and honestly it is the weakest part of the game. I wouldn’t even call the game low budget at all if not for the story. The story is what makes it appear that way with the writers just phoning in the plot and not really doing much with it. If we ever do get a sequel or a full fledged RWBY game, I hope they put ore thought into it.

The gameplay is your standard 2D fighter. You attack other players with long combos and finals smashes as you attempt to get their life bars down to 0. The battles are all 2 on 2 so tagging in and out adds to the strategy of it all. There are easy auto combos that you can use while you start the game, but eventually you want to move onto more advanced techniques or you will be doomed against the stronger foes. I have no complaints with the gameplay as it flows very well and is just very well done.

There are quite a few different modes to play here aside from the story. Naturally there is the training mode which is pretty handy as well as Tactics mode. There you learn combos and complete tutorials about the game. The vast majority of the game’s replay value is through it’s online and local multiplayer mode of course. Knowing this, most of the trophies in the game are obtained through these features. You can even obtain the Platinum in around 3 hours if you are truly rushing. If you don’t have online then you want to play a lot of multiplayer matches locally. If you are just playing for single player content then you will be done very quickly.

The game got a lot of controversy for locking half of the characters behind a paywall and rightfully so. The developers are basically just reusing the characters from previous games so it hardly costs them anything. I do appreciate the price of the game being reduced to help justify this, but it’s still not a good look. As a result you fight some characters in the game that you can’t even play as. We’ll see how much each character is, but I don’t think I will be purchasing any of them. I just don’t play the game enough to make it worth it as opposed to something like Smash 4.

One of the big positives of the game is its rich soundtrack. Blazblue has always had a bunch of great themes and now we get to hear the RWBY ones alongside it. Persona and Under Night’s themes aren’t bad either so it’s just a very complete soundtrack. It’s nice to have voice acting for all of the characters as well since it makes the game look more polished. The graphics are certainly top of the line so the game’s developers spared no expense in this arena. The Astral Finish move that each of the characters have looks great and the gameplay is very bright and dynamic. Even if some aspects of the game were rushed, these certainly weren’t.

Overall, Cross Tag Battle is a great game. You just have to decide on if you want to look at it in a glass half full view where you’re just glad that the game actually got made and licensed or in a half empty view where there is so much more that could have been done with it. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a game that I had a blast playing even if it was a rather brief experience. I’ll at least go back to unlock some more trophies and if I ever buy a month of PS+ to get some online trophies maybe I’ll even go for the Platinum. Surely getting to Silver Rank online won’t be that tough right? I’d recommend checking this game out if you’re a big fan of fighters or just want to be able to play as Team RWBY. That alone makes the purchase worth it.

Overall 8/10

Dragon Ball Legends Review

dragon-ball-legends-download-how-get-release-date-netherlands-tunnelbear-vpn
It’s time to look at a recent app game that was getting a lot of hype when it was coming out. Finally, Dragon Ball was getting a big fighting game that would take the world by storm. It felt like this was a long time coming. After playing the game for a while, I can definitely say that there is more to it than a lot of other titles. It still does have some limitations of course and is rather slow paced as you can expect from a game that will try to drag itself out for a few years, but it’s a solid way to spend some time and continue the story from Super.

The plot follows a Saiyan named Shallot. He has amnesia which is always a convenient plot device since this way he can start off rather weak and grow stronger as the game progresses. He doesn’t know what is happening, but fortunately Beerus is here to explain. There is a big tournament going on that spans all of time. Fighters have been brought over from every era in order to participate. The intent is to see who the strongest of all is…in theory. Actually, Beerus is being forced to do this by an unknown villain who has kidnapped the Supreme Kai. He wants us to figure out who is pulling the strings, but honestly that sounds rather difficult if this guy decides not to enter the tournament. Don’t focus on the plot too much I guess. Shallot is on board so he will now team up with Bulma from the original Dragon Ball series as well as Jaco to try and win this thing.

The reason why the OP Super versions of the characters were not brought into the mix is because the villain is apparently keeping tabs on them so Beerus doesn’t dare approach. Of course, you may be wondering why they haven’t just shown up yet anyway as they one shot everyone. So far we have only been running across guys from Arc 1 of DBZ so surely they wouldn’t be much of an obstacle. The in universe reason may be that the place is simply so massive that you can have a bunch of battles going on at once, but out of universe it’s just that the game wants to trickle in the characters arc by arc. I hope they speed it up a little though because it feels like otherwise this will be one of those games that dies out long before it hits the final arc.

Part 1 just ended earlier today so I’m not sure how long the wait will be until Part 2. Hopefully it’s just a short wait so then the game’s plot actually will be able to move. If it’s like Fire Emblem Heroes then we can expect a new chapter every 2 weeks and since each part is 7 chapters then we’ll finish a part roughly every 4 months. That’s quite a bit of time so hopefully it is a little quicker than that. While the plot may not be very believable it is a fun one so I’ll give the game some props there. I’ll also give it some more for making Shallot an actual character as opposed to someone with no actual name that has no real personality. He even talks a bit as the game does include a bit of voice acting. (To be precise, Shallot talks a lot, but you hear him once in a while)

Shallot is a decent enough character even if he is pretty rude the whole time. He’s constantly yelling at everyone and can’t seem to really grasp the concept of power levels. Since he couldn’t even beat Nappa at first, what makes him think that he can take on someone like Beerus? There’s being confident and then there’s just putting up a weak front. His Zenkai Boosts are fairly good though as he went from Raditz level to Zarbon in a single part. Maybe by the end of the second part he will be up to Final Form Frieza or something. That would definitely be neat.

We also have the rival character who shows up for a bit. He’s an interesting figure who is more of a specialist than a fighter. He can teleport and use various magical spells to complement his sword based fighting style. He ran off though and I don’t recall his name at the moment, but I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of him. There is also Dark Shallot who shows up near the end. It seems that he might be the future version of the normal Shallot so that will make for a fun match. He’s considerably stronger than the heroic version which is to be expected, but fortunately Goku put him in his place. Since this is Super Goku he should be leagues stronger than any of these fighters.

The graphics are pretty good and the game certainly put a lot of effort into them. The opening cinematic is excellent and wouldn’t look out of place in a big budget title. The gameplay animations are smooth and the character models are on point. Meanwhile the soundtrack is a little weak, but hopefully they will add more tunes soon. Mobile games don’t tend to have a lot of them, but I’d certainly like to see that.

Then we come to the gameplay. It is your typical tap fighter, but with a few extra gameplay wrinkles to make it more unique. You are given some cards during the battle. They come in 4 types, punches, ki blasts, special attack, and status change. They are fairly explanatory, but once you get hit by the punch or ki blast you are stuck in hit stun and must eat a full combo. Each fighter has 100 energy so if you get hit by the first combo and they have 3 more cards with energy totaling less than what they have left you must eat 4 combos in a row. You can potentially beat an opponent in one shot like this. Most fights are 3 on 3 so use your strategy here. Do you want to use your combo right away or save it until the final fighter? Then you’ve got burst rush which is essentially a one hit KO attack in most circumstances. You only get 1 per battle so use it wisely. Then you’ve got dodging and character specific abilities which don’t need cards. There’s a lot to master here so try to get used to it all. I definitely find the gameplay pretty fun. It’s probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a true 3D fighter on the mobile since there is no control stick to use.

Your character levels also matter quite a lot here. Each character can go up to level 1000 and at that level your attacks do massive damage. There is almost no way for a weaker fighter to beat a stronger one if the gap is wide enough and your levels stick with you online as opposed to other games. At the moment I am 10-0 online, but most of my opponents were bots. Supposedly that issue was fixed today so I imagine my win rate would drop if I went back. Maxing out anyone will take a long time unless you pay since materials and Zenny don’t just grow on trees. Of course if you play the game enough then of course you can speed up the process.

As far as the game modes go you have the main story and PVP. You also have mini stories that follow the DBZ anime without the OC character (Up to Nappa at the moment) and daily missions you can complete for extra energy and characters. There are also Adventures where you send a character off for a few hours and they bring you back items in return. Then we have actual Missions where you get rewards for completing objectives. There are even more modes in store for you but that’s the general premise. When it comes to replay value this game is basically infinite but of course it can also be easy to burn yourself out if you play it too hard. Now that I’m caught up with the story I’ve dialed it back a bit like with Sonic Forces. That game eventually died completely but this one should at least live as much as Fire Emblem Heroes until the story is over. I just check in every other week to play the latest story although in Dragon Ball I’ll try to at least keep the daily streak alive for the items and keep sending my guys off to train to get the easy level ups.

Finally, I have to give the game some props for how they handle reused fighters. In Fire Emblem Heroes it’s annoying to get an old hero because it is basically worthless. You just have to trash the fighter for a few feathers, but you need 20000 to actually have something to use them on. Here the copies help to limit break your character. It’s possible that once the character is maxed then the copy won’t be of any use, but at least I feel like it’ll be a long while before that happens. There are also many parts of the game that I still don’t understand and likely won’t, but people who love to find out everything will have a blast studying this game.

Overall, Dragon Ball Legends lives up to the hype of being one of the big mobile games. I’d certainly say that it does a much better job of that than Sword Art Online did. (Review pending) In that game’s case it was simply a little too ambitious. Dragon Ball is definitely a title that I would highly recommend. There is a lot to do here even if the story is fairly early on and with the Broly event starting today this is your perfect chance to bet on your luck and hope you get him. As there aren’t many characters right now the odds of getting the one you want is pretty high. (I got Broly on my daily draw)

Overall 8/10

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Review

71Rv1JHX-kL._AC_SL1000_
The famous Professor Layton has finally found himself on the 3DS. While the last game may have not been quite as good as the others the series has never disappointed with its puzzles. This game is no exception and is a fine way to continue the story. At long last we are even introduced to the tragic past of Layton and 5 games in you could say that we were about due for it. This is the first Layton game to have fun switching up the gameplay style as well as we get a 3D racing level and also some overhead Mummy fights. I think Level 5 definitely has the right idea here as throwing in an occasional level like this is pretty fun.

This Layton game starts out with the hero receiving a letter from his old friend Angela. She wants him to hurry over because a villain known as the Masked Gentleman has popped up and is performing dark miracles on the town like turning people into horses and warping people away. Layton heads over but the place brings bad memories. The past that he had hoped to forget had finally caught up to him and he will have to face his fears head on!

The game plays out like some of the recent superhero shows as we jump from the present to the past a lot. For example one chapter will be in the present while another is in the past. In that sense, you could say that Layton solved the present mystery a bit quicker than usual. I suppose the number of viable suspects wasn’t too large so that helped his case. There were really 3 Big suspects here. First is the childhood friend Angela who seems obsessed with the Mask of Order and seems eager to give it to the gentleman. Next is Randall, the kid from Layton’s past who seemingly died, but his body was never found. Then there is Randall’s butler Henry who snagged his treasure and best friend after he died. With the whole town at stake Layton can’t afford to just sit around.

It’s a pretty solid story for sure. Layton’s backstory is definitely rather tragic. He did give up hope even while the other two friends kept looking for Randall, but I guess from a scientific point of view his odds weren’t great. He has been gone for a while after all. Layton chose to forget about the place for around 18 years until now. Layton did do everything that he could though. He would have been able to save Randall had the kid only let go of his treasure. Instead we saw that it was worth his life. It’s just hard to feel bad for him especially since he never had his priorities straight in life. Even if it made everyone worried he wanted to be rich so he would lie to everyone and take huge risks. It was only a matter of time before this caught up with him.

As with the last game we get a teaser for the next one. It’s the biggest teaser yet and that makes sense since the next game ends the trilogy. One last Aztec adventure for the heroes. In the clip we see the main villain of the prequel trilogy be defeated by a new villain. The new villain now has all of the locations needed to destroy the world. This next installment is definitely going to be a blast! The series has mostly been realistic with you just having to suspend disbelief for a bit at times. It’ll be interesting to see if the villain defies that in the next movie. After all, the villain that he defeated was able to contend with rapid bullet fire and that’s no easy feat.

The game has a great cast as you would expect. Layton is just as solid as ever and always reminds us that he can fight as well as he can think. Taking down the Mummy swordsmen was pretty impressive. Luke is a good sidekick as well and I do like the rivalry between him and Emmy even if it is rather one sided. Luke just never really stands a chance when it comes time to start trading burns. Emmy is the main reason why the team dynamic is better in the prequels than in the main game so I’m definitely happy to have her around as a main character. Her role is rather small here, but she still does get some puzzles of her own.

As for the new characters, Randall is annoying as you can guess. He isn’t reasonable at all but I already talked about him so we can move on. There is also Henry who may be rather loyal but quick to take everything the wrong way. He gets upset rather easily and makes himself look very suspicious this way. I guess he isn’t a bad character, but he could have been better. I actually preferred the Dalston character. He wanted to be rich while everyone was having fun adventuring and he accomplished his goals. He is now one of the richest men on the planet, you just can’t beat that. He also talks tough to the coppers and in general felt on the ball.

Angela is a good character if you view her more as a subtle antagonist. She definitely isn’t hear to make Layton feel any better as she spends the majority of her time making him feel even worse. It’s not always intentional, but at the same time in the past it seems as if it was. It’s hard to really understand her character at times, but she will always keep you guessing. Agent Bloom is a fun detective. He is very intelligent and the only police officer who is able to keep up with Layton step for step. He doesn’t appear very much, but it does seem like he will be in the sequel so that’s good. Layton doesn’t really have a rival so having this guy fit that bill would be fun. There are a slew of other supporting characters in the game that are all very solid as well. In particular look for the guy with the big, curved chin. His scenes are always amusing and his rigged puzzles are a blast.

As always the graphics are pretty solid here. It’s great to see fully animated cutscenes as always and we get some CG ones as well. The levels are all pretty clear and the puzzles aren’t too misleading. I still think it’s slightly cheating when the puzzle gives you 5 possible answers and they’re all wrong so the only way to beat the puzzle is to tap on part of it to make the whole thing break. I mean, technically I guess that works, but the false answers is barely legit. If the graphics were a little darker or more unclear then it would be tough to see the tiny cracks that serve as a hint. The controls are on point as well and basically this game does nothing wrong on a technical level. The soundtrack may not have any real new tunes in it, but that’s fine as the usual ones are pretty good.

The actual story is reasonably long as it’s over 10 hours and then we’ve also got a bunch of extra puzzles to try and conquer after the game is over. After all, it’s not like you have to complete all of them to clear the game. As with the previous titles in the series you can tackle any quest that you have not completed yet in the little house at the hotel. There are also a bunch of minigames that you can try to complete all of the levels in. By the time you have done all of this the game will likely be at 20 hours or maybe even longer. There’s definitely no shortage of content here.

Overall, This was a pretty exciting Layton game with a fun story that will keep you engaged the whole time. It starts out quite fast and never really loses steam. The only way you may not enjoy the game is if you don’t care for Layton’s past and I think the game handled it rather well. It’s the best of the prequel trilogy so far, but we’ll see how it holds up to the next game. As that is the final main Layton game I expect it to end with a bang. It certainly got a considerable amount of foreshadowing in this game. In case it’s not obvious, I would definitely recommend picking this game up.

Overall 8/10

NES Remix Pack Review

AFDE01
It’s time to look at an interesting video game collection known as the NES Remix Pack. It brings both NES Remix 1 and 2 which is a pretty good deal since both of those titles had quite a lot of content in it. The price isn’t bad for the collection as I got it for 20-30 as well and it’s roughly triple the length of Sonic Forces. It’s definitely fun to see them mashup the games in Remix mode or even the mini challenges from the classic games. It’ll really test your knowledge of the older Nintendo titles.

The main mode is pretty self explanatory in these games. You’ll start off with a few options like Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, and Mario 2 for example. Each of these games will have 7-20 levels depending on which game it is. You try to beat each level where your result will range from 1-3 stars. The more stars you get, the more games you unlock. The main mode in each game is known as Remix and there are around 45-50 of these levels in each Remix. (1 and 2) Once you complete those you will have completed the game but you can keep on playing to clear the bonus world and any leftover game levels that you haven’t beaten yet. Obtain enough points and you will also get all of the stickers in each game which will really prove that you have come far. The simplicity of the game’s menu is certainly something to take note of as it makes navigating through the games rather enjoyable. More games should strive for a similar menu.

An average challenge will range from 7 seconds to around 1 minute. You may find an occasional challenge that is around 2 minutes or so, but I can’t stress enough just how rare these are. The average challenge is around 20 seconds I’d say. For example, “Grab 8 coins in a Mario level” may be a challenge. Some challenges have multiple phases and if you get a game over during it you can continue but the price is that you will only get 1 star for your efforts. The game is rather lenient on stars so you can unlock the final level even if you lose during a bunch of the stages but naturally your goal will be to grab as many of them as possible.

Of course with so many games not all of them will be a hit. From the first game the weak links were Golf and Donkey Kong Jr. I just never liked Golf in any video game format as it always seems to really be luck based. I know there is skill involved here and I just need to learn the mechanics, but it’s just no fun. Donkey Kong Jr. is just a little slow for me and I can see why it never became much of a hit. On the other side of the equation I thought that Excitebike was even more fun than I expected it to be and Clu Clu Land was really unique. I definitely enjoyed that one quite a bit. The only challenge in the first game that was quite grating was the Donkey Kong level where you played as Link. I must have died 100 times there before I finally found an opening. There must be a trick that I don’t know about for that one.

In the second game, Wario’s Woods was the game that I couldn’t get behind. The controls were a little convoluted for my liking and the levels did tend to drag on quite a bit. It was like playing a really twisted version of Dr. Mario and I don’t really know what Nintendo was thinking on this one. All I can say is that I’m not surprised how the game isn’t very well known. I don’t see how it would catch on. The other game would be NES Golf, but I don’t believe I actually got enough stars to unlock that one. I’ll probably have it unlocked by the time I have my Stats page up, but I certainly won’t play it much.

Meanwhile it was cool to have Metroid included this time around and Link II was also pretty interesting. It’s a shame that it didn’t do well since a 2D Link series would have been fun to compete with the others. It was rather rough around the edges of course, but they could have ironed that out with sequels. It’s like how the original Mario games were a little slippery, but they’re a lot easier to handle in the modern day.

It’s important to clarify that the good games outnumbered the annoying ones quite easily. Also from the games that I didn’t care for, only the Golf games were truly bad. Donkey Kong Jr and Wario’s Woods may not have been my style, but it’s not like I actively disliked playing them. There is enough content here for everyone as even if you don’t like a game you can have fun with the rest.

As I mentioned, the length of the game is pretty good. The first Remix took around 6-7 hours and the sequel was only a little shorter than that. Couple those two together and you have a reasonably long title. Then there is quite a lot of replay value here as getting 3 stars on every level will take a lot of practice and you will likely get all of the stickers on the way to accomplishing this feat. I do think it would have been cool if there was some kind of two player mode though. I think that’s the only thing that this game is lacking. Competing in these challenges would be an absolute blast and would certainly increase the replay value of the title. Still, as a single player experience it is not lacking. There is also the Super Luigi Bros where you see how far you can get in the Super Mario game while backwards and the Championship Mode where you are given 3 random tasks and have to see how well you complete them. They won’t keep you for very long, but each bit helps.

Naturally the graphics are kept true to the original game counterparts so this isn’t exactly Madden. The main menu looks fairly crisp though which will remind you that this is a modern title. The games all look pretty good as well. The soundtrack is quite solid as well since the individual game themes have always held up well against the test of time. Then the remix levels add a little extra pop by distorting the stages and zooming in on the map. I loved the gimmicks they would add here to make the games a little more unique. One Mario level for example had a bright blue background which is a cool “What If” scenario. I think that would make a good idea for a future Mario level even if it’s just for a level or two.

Overall, NES Remix Pack is a great homage/tribute to longtime Nintendo fans. It’s a great way to experience their older titles in a convenient minigame format. It’s the perfect kind of game for on the go or to play here and there. The challenges are fun and exciting without being tedious. This is where the short duration comes in handy as even if you die a bunch of times it is not as if you have lost a bunch of time. It never feels like a waste either since most of the challenges revolve around skill instead of RnG so you know that with enough practice you’ll get it. It’s also not too difficult so it’s fine for kids as well as they may have some trouble but will be able to crack the level eventually. There was certainly a lot of heart and effort put into this game to really make it a finished product.

Overall 8/10

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Review

b769249b29794d6252e5802c796f27f1
It’s time to look at the new Sword Art Online game that recently came out. Fatal Bullet was definitely a game that I was looking forward to from day 1 since it promised to be a title full of action and excitement. Sword Art Online has always been a franchise with a ton of raw potential as it could churn out a 9 star product no problem as long as it played its cards right. Lost Song had been a little disappointing as the hype of the gameplay was reduced by some questionable moments in the game. Fortunately, Fatal Bullet plays it straight as all of those iffy moments (If they exist in this game) are relegated to side quests so you don’t actually have to see any of them. The lower budget may have also helped since the game was forced to stay on target. Anyway, Fatal Bullet actually ended up being a great game.

The story follows a new kid on the block named Terry. He’s always wanted to play a VRMMO game so why not head to Gun Gale Online right? His childhood friend Kureha promises to show him the ropes. However, on their first mission Terry manages to obtain the treasure which is a legendary A.I. robot named Terret. Kureha is mad about this since she wanted to be its partner but Terry made eye contact first so now there is no way to split the partnership up. Iconic players Kirito and Asuna are also upset since they were hoping to clear the quest but too late for that now. Terry quickly catches the eye of top players Zeliska and Itsuki and before long he is known as one of the best in the whole game..maybe even The Best. Kureha is jealous of this and tries to undermine Terry throughout the game while everyone else follows his lead. Terry aims to clear the ultimate once in a life time event quest that has just opened and it will also allow Terret to be reunited with her Mom. They’ll have to be careful though since a guy known as Death Gun is skulking in the shadows as well. Taking him down a few pegs will not be easy!

It’s always an interesting game decision to have the main character be an OC instead of the actual main character of the series. I’m fine with it once I start playing since Terry is just generally hardcore, but otherwise I probably prefer when they just stick to the normal lead. Terry is a cool character throughout though as he makes the heroic decisions when needed. He can be a little slow on the uptake though like when he somehow forgot that Itsuki was basically threatening him for a while there. I guess it’s because he’s portrayed as a big optimist so he always takes things in a positive way. That’s good for Terry I suppose. His main gimmick in this game is that he has a grapple hook which you can use to get to higher areas. I like the concept, but the execution was admittedly not on point. You’ll find that you never really use this gadget in the game because the range is rather short. It should have been longer if you ask me as then it would be fun to zip around the place. I’m sure that it’s fun for PVP though.

Unlike most SAO games, this one is a third person shooter. You can also use a sword to go up and personal but it’s almost always one of the worst options. It’s just a lot more practical to have a gun as the damage it deals is around the same as a sword but you can also be dodging gunfire while using it. A sword is a high commitment option that will usually just get you punished right away. I personally stuck with a hand gun and an automatic gun. Those two were the perfect combo, but I dabbled around with missile launchers, machine guns, and even a sword for a while. They all naturally have their uses, but Hand Guns just seem like the best bang for your buck.

Most of the game consists of you going to various dungeons across the world. You beat all of the enemies in a room and then move on to the next one. The gameplay is handled flawlessly as you can quickly run out of the room to regroup if necessary or plunge into battle. You can give your partners general instructions so they know what to do during battle as well and you can change their instructions while fighting so you don’t have to worry about getting hit. Also, there is no pausing in the game which makes it even more interactive. I mean, you can press the pause button of course, but time goes on normally so whatever you have to do, it can wait until you hide behind the debris. While the A.I. of your allies is pretty bad (probably intentional) the villains are quite smart. They will lead you into ambushes, call for reinforcements, or just generally fight in a tactical way against you.

I can’t stress enough that this game really understands how to be a good third person shooter. The levels are huge and you can move quickly which makes the gameplay feel a lot more dynamic. If there are any problems with the gameplay, it’s just that the bosses may have a little too much health. One boss fight took me almost an hour to complete and the rest were all fairly long as well. The guns just aren’t too strong. It’s a tough balance of course since the game doesn’t want you to mow through the enemies either, but taking a little health out of the equation would have been nice. Beyond that, the difficulty is high but fair.

This is probably one of the hardest games that I’ve played in a very long time. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat as one wrong move can set you back quite a few rooms where the enemies will respawn again. The checkpoints are close enough where this isn’t too bad of course, but it does make you want to focus on playing your cards right. Get too aggressive and you’ll be gunned down by the snipers. There’s also a nice mechanic that lets you grow into a true player. You have an assist option with your gun that will help you hit a target but it is at the cost of accuracy. This may sound contradictory, but basically it widens your gun range by about 50x, but you’ll end up missing a great deal of shots and you also won’t hit the weak point. You can zoom in to take your own shots, but then you can’t move too quickly. If you take the assist off you can control where you shoot at normal speeds, but naturally this is very difficult. I usually just kept the assist on and used the zoom feature for when I was fighting bosses and needed to hit the weak spot. This game forces you to make a lot of tough choices throughout the game.

One big example of this is how the level up system works. As you level up you are given points which you can put into whichever attribute you want. Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, etc. Once you put the points in you can’t take them out without going through some elaborate hoops to get a specific item. I ended up putting the bulk of my points into Strength and Agility if I recall correctly. You need to strength to hold the better guns and Agility is just awesome for many reasons. One of which is that you can eventually outrun laser beams which is incredibly handy. It’s very close, but my speed was slightly faster than the blasts by the end which helped a lot. I also dumped a lot of points into luck which I would probably take back if I had a second chance, but it sounded good at the time. It increases your chances of landing a critical hit.

The story does take a long while to get started which isn’t good news for fans who are coming in expecting a game with stakes. This isn’t the game for you then. Out of the roughly 18 hours of the game, the first 15 are just the characters having fun and messing around. They’re just enjoying the game and trying to level up. The whole Death Gun story only takes about an hour and the climax will probably be another hour or maybe a little longer. This is really just a slice of life game with a big climax at the end which isn’t unheard of. Many games take a similar approach like Kirby games to an extent and the payoff works so it’s a decent strategy. I’ll be honest and say that it would have been nice if the whole game was epic as opposed to just the ending, but I guess this franchise just likes its day to day adventures a lot.

There isn’t much to say about all of the returning characters like Kirito and friends since they are epic as always so lets just talk about the new ones. I already talked about Terry and why he is a quality character. Zeliska is a top player who prefers to play solo, but doesn’t mind being in a team with Terry and the others. She is always very polite and courteous to everyone as even though she is a top player she never let it get to her head. Zeliska is portrayed as basically being a perfect character and it works well. How I see it, you don’t need to have a flaw to be a quality character and Zeliska definitely plays a pretty important role in the game. You will see her plot twist coming a mile away though.

Itsuki is the other top player and he is portrayed as the complete opposite of Zeliska. He doesn’t play well with others and is always being sarcastic. He’s quick to put others down and it becomes apparent that Terry is the only person he cares about. He’s rather dismissive of everyone else. He’s always lying and joking around throughout the game as well so it’s hard to know what he is thinking. He’s very suspicious throughout the game and a potential sequel or post game DLC should definitely not try to redeem him. He’s too far gone at this point and Terry needs to make it his mission to take him down. Terry almost seemed sympathetic at the end, but I think that would definitely be a mistake and would end up hurting his character.

There is also Bazalt Joe who is another top player who always tries to steal Terret away from you. He quickly learns that this will never work out but you get to beat him up 3 times before that. He never really becomes likable or fun at all so this is one new character that I definitely could have done without. He didn’t actually add anything to the game if you ask me.

Then of course we have the childhood friend Kureha. Unfortunately she starts out as a decent character and then turns into a pretty terrible one. She is always trying to undercut Terry throughout and never learns her lesson. Even by the end of the game she is still holding a grudge and basically pays a high price for it. During the climax of the game you are given an option on which character you are going to make it your priority to protect during the final battle. Depending on who you choose is who you will die. In one version naturally this is Kureha. I just couldn’t sympathize with her by the end of the game because she was just such a poor sport the whole time. She really didn’t even try to support Terry.

The graphics are also pretty solid as you’d expect. The energy effects are nice and the character designs are on point. Here’s where we transition to a bit of a negative though. The game just feels like it’s relatively low budget though and the story was slapped together. A lot of fights are off screen and scenes will cut and restart rather awkwardly. There aren’t too many cutscenes considering how long the game is and most of the still images from Lost Song seem to be gone as well. While the graphics are good, they aren’t quite as amazing as you’d expect and don’t seem to have really changed at all since Lost Song. There just wasn’t a lot of innovation here. It’s not as extreme as Sonic Forces where the story was really sabotaged but I would have appreciated more actual cutscenes or more vibrant animation. This was supposed to be the next big SAO game after all. Personally, I’m guessing that they just used most of the budget on the gameplay at the expense of everything else.

The soundtrack is pretty solid if a bit limited. There only seem to be a handful of themes in the game so you better get used to hearing them quite a bit. I do like the danger theme and the main menu song. The rest are rather generic, but I suppose they get the job done. They never actually got annoying so I’ll give the game some credit there. A nice insert song would have been cool though. Of course, the game had an opening movie song like Lost Song. It wasn’t quite as good as that one, but was still really solid.

The main story is around 15-18 hours long which is pretty decent. If you stick around to get bonds with all of the characters and try for the Platinum then it should be well over 60 hours with the estimate being around 90. I don’t have that much time to drop on most games so I won’t be aiming for it, but at least the Platinum seems mostly reasonable. The only one that sounds like an insane grind is beating the game on Super Hard difficulty, but hopefully they let you just go to the final boss and then change the difficulty or something. Considering how much there is to do in the game it’s certainly worth spending 60 bucks. I won’t stay and explain all of the different features here, but trust me when I say that the game has a ton of depth. There are many skills to learn, weapon styles to master, and a whole lot to consider while playing in general. My advice is to save your money and SP until later in the game when you are a little more sure of what it is that you want. Until then just enjoy the game and try to get to the end.

Overall, Fatal Bullet is a blast to play. The gameplay is absolutely excellent and while the game may falter on a technical level at times it still holds up well against many others. The story can be a little slow, but it picks up by the end. At this point, SAO isn’t really known for its epic video game stories and you are just playing to see the characters again and enjoy the gameplay. There is a lot to do here so that’ll give you a lot of time with them. I’d definitely recommend checking this game out. It’s a game that you won’t want to miss! Since the game ends with a cliffhanger we definitely need a sequel where Terry settles the score. This could end up being a bit of a revenge run so the game might be a bit darker. (Of course, I haven’t seen the true ending yet so depending on how that plays out Terry may not be too upset)

Overall 8/10

Secret of Mana Review

5a2f210439dfcdf1404a9cc7f22ca44d_620_KR
The Secret of Mana is an RPG that I had heard of in passing but never focused on too much. It just got lost in the shuffle next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Well thanks to the HD PS4 remake I have finally gotten to play it. It’s definitely a great RPG as you would expect and the real time/turn based mix will remind you of the .hack series.

I renamed the main characters so bear with me here. Terry is the chosen hero who is finally able to wield the Mana Sword. Everyone is shocked and dismayed because once the sword is lifted the world is supposed to fall into ruin. Terry meets a girl named Terret who needs help in stopping a witch to rescue the hero named Dyluck. Unfortunately this is a dead end but she must continue on her quest and since Terry has nothing more pressing to do at the moment he agrees to join her. Finally, they run into a sprite known as Terry Jr. who was scamming people for money. We show her the error of her ways and add one more member to the party. Now we must attack the enemy fortress and save the planet!

The gameplay is a blend as I mentioned earlier. You have a number under your character. Once it rises to 100 you are free to attack again and deal some damage. While you can attack sooner than that, it will almost definitely miss and even if the attack lands it will be weaker. Furthermore, the count will go back to 0 so waiting it out is just the better option. Also, you should start leveling up your magic early on as it is incredibly useful. Level them all up if you can, but you should focus on 1 in particular to get it to a high level early on. The Gnome magic was really useful for me, but each boss is typically a different element which is why you want a lot of them.

Equipment is extremely handy in this game as well and is basically mandatory to clear the game. You want the top of the line stuff and if you think you can beat an area without purchasing some armor then wait til the next village. Each village gradually adds better equipment options so you save a lot of money by just waiting. Of course, earning money is actually pretty easy in this game so it’s not something that you have to worry about that much. It will come naturally. Likewise, the EXP grind here isn’t bad either. It will go very quickly. That’s why you just want to stay at the top of your game since the A.I. won’t help much. They tend to just get crushed very quickly throughout the game.

Terry is a reasonably solid main character. He does actually talk and everything so he has a real personality. His personality is that he’s a hero and while that may not be all that deep or anything, the character means well. We do get a random plot twist involving his Mom which was kind of out of left field, but Terry took it in stride. Terret is a solid heroine. Her whole adventure is about saving the legendary Dyluck which is a nice twist of events. You rarely see the heroine have to go and save the famous hero and I can definitely get behind this. Shockingly they don’t even try to get you into a contrived romance with her as Terret only has eyes for Dyluck the whole game. I can applaud the title’s restraint here. Terry Jr probably has the least time to get really good, but she’s not a bad character. I still don’t get why she is referred to in the plural sense, but I don’t want to assume that it’s a translation error. Either way, she helped to raise everyone’s spirits.

As far as the villains are concerned, I would have liked them to have had more screen time. The villain group shows up out of nowhere and half of them are defeated quite quickly and without a chance to really show off their personalities. The King who makes a deal with the main villain wasn’t very smart, but made for a decent antagonist. Thanatos is the main villain to watch out for and he is definitely pretty strong. I like the design and he made for a cool antagonist. Then we have the Team Rocket trio who felt really out of place. They weren’t quite as hype as the others.

One major plot point is that you have to choose a side. Destroy the Mana Beast or destroy the Fortress. I felt like the game couldn’t really decide which the right option was as the Fortress is evil from the start, but by the end of the game we decide to destroy the Beast instead to balance things. This was part of the main plot and it made no sense. Now, I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened with this game and that is probably what made the plot feel rather off at times. It’s unfortunate but that’s also part of why I consider this RPG’s plot to be one of the weakest RPG plots in a while. It takes a little bit to get going and then once it does it’s like we’re playing an abridged game. Not to the same extent as Sonic Forces fortunately, but enough that parts of the plot feel weird like with the Beast. Personally I would have helped the guy, but apparently he was going to destroy the planet in the process so I suppose that wasn’t a viable option. Then we have a guy named Genma who talks tough throughout the game, but never actually got to do anything. Ah well, at least he looks rally tough.

The graphics were switched from sprites to 3D character models which usually works pretty well, but perhaps not in this case. The boss designs looked a little more intimidating in the original version and the colors were nice and sharp. As far as the cutscenes go, the characters don’t actually move their mouths while talking half of the time. Not a big deal I suppose, but basically it had the art style of World of Final Fantasy without the detail. I guess if this allowed the game to come out a few years early then it was probably worth it. As far as the soundtrack goes we have quite a few tunes. Each area has a different theme and they all work pretty well. They are classic rpg style themes so they should remind you of the good ole days.

The length of the main campaign is roughly 20 hours give or take so it’s definitely a solid amount of time for the rpg. You will almost certainly need to grind by the end so I’ll give you a pro tip here. Max out your Dryad skill since you cannot defeat is he final boss without it. I made it to the final boss without leveling it up at all which meant I had to go back and grind it out. If you level it naturally then it won’t actually feel like a grind. You’ll probably end up shaving an hour or two off as well. For replay value you can probably nab most of the trophies to end up with the Platinum. Out of the 38 in the game, I think around 26 are obtained just for completing the game. That’s a pretty solid number if you ask me. If you want to get the Platinum then you need to make a backup save before you beat the Blue Dragon as there are some rare item drops that you can’t go back for. It’s probably a good idea to defeat every new enemy you see as well to register them. Getting the Platinum here isn’t hard at all but it does take a little time and nobody wants to replay a 20 hour game just to get one missed trophy.

Overall, Secret of Mana was a pretty fun game. As far as RPG stories go the plot was rather weak, but the gameplay was still enjoyable. I just love RPGs in general as leveling up and grinding can be a blast. I can see why they got so big back in the day. Many RPGs will end up being quite solid by the end since you get used to the characters as you shared so much time together. This one is no exception and there is certainly a lot to do. Even without replay value, the story length justifies the price that you paid for it. Maybe I’ll get to play some more Mana games in the future. Until then, I recommend checking out this game and seeing what the Secret of Mana has to offer you. It’ll test your mettle one way or the other.

Overall 8/10

.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Review

150522-Dot_Hack_Part_3_-_Outbreak_(USA)_(En,Ja)-1
The .Hack series continues with this next game. Getting Outbreak was no easy task given how expensive these games are, but I knew that it was time. It took a little while to relearn the mechanics and weird element system (Fire beats Water?….) but once I got those out of the way I was ready to dominate. It’s a really fun game even if it’s the shortest one.

I can’t give a great previously segment since I’m hazy on that myself but more and more people are starting to behave oddly. The World appears to be having an impact on the players’ minds. The Mods have decided to shut it down, but doing that would ensure that the people in a coma stay that way which would be unfortunate. Kite decides that the team should strike one last offensive at Cubia and the army of Databugs, but the only way to succeed is to have Helba, Wiseman, and the Mod on board.

Beyond the main plot there are a ton of subplots looming in the background. The Cat user from the previous games is deteriorating more and more as the games go by. At this point she doesn’t have long until she is completely corrupted. Her friend is worried but there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do about this situation. Then you have other characters who are trying to get treasure or other rare items and want Kite’s help with this. One character is even planning to leave the game which would be tragic. I did a few of the side missions. They’re not all that long so it wouldn’t be a problem to do them, but I’ll just put them off til the final game. Then I may have fun saving all of them if I need more rare items or I’ll just try and take the final boss head on.

The gameplay is exactly as you remember it with the unique mix of real time and turn based combat. As I mentioned, it will take you a little longer to get used to it if you haven’t played the game in a whole because there are certain nuances that make this game more complex than others. You will have to keep switching your party tactics since your A.I. Allies are completely dependent on this. Then you’ve also got to remember the types. Basically there are many pairs of two elements and both elements are good against each other. Water beats fire but fire beats water. Using the elements is absolutely required and will help you take down bosses. If you don’t use the elements then I’d say that you are really in a pinch.. It’s just such a massive game changer.

Level ups are important as well of course. While I was still relearning how to play I quickly focused on level ups. I got about 20 right away and that left Kite at level 70. That’s high enough for you to beat the game. Perhaps not easily, but it is achievable. You’ll still be a bit of a glass cannon without good equipment, but that is hard to get. I barely even notice the difference to be honest so just get used to carrying a lot of potions and revives around. You’ll absolutely need them and when your partners are running low on inventory you should give them some as well. Sharing is caring after all and if everyone is properly equipped it will make the whole journey a lot more manageable. The game’s difficulty is intense, but not unfair. Just have every element on hand even if it means lugging around extra equipment that you could have sold for more money. You can always find more ways to get money, but good equipment is hard to come by. Data Draining powerful enemies is probably the most efficient way of getting effective inventory.

The graphics are about the same as the other 2 which makes sense since it’s practically the same game from a technical standpoint. It looks good and the graphics have aged quite well. The glitch effects that occur when a databug shows up are still genius. It looks as if an actual glitch has appeared as the screen will go crazy and it sounds like a computer shuts off. It’s all very meta and really well executed. I’d like to see a modern game take a stab at something like this as well. With other big data games like Digimon and Sword Art Online still going, one of them should try to have an interface like this. I think it would work really well. There aren’t really any new tunes here or maybe there are and they just weren’t memorable. Either way, it’s very nostalgic. You’ll certainly remember hearing these themes from the first two parts and they’re still a lot of fun. I would like to have an extra theme or two, but the ones in the game are satisfying enough.

When it comes to the story length this game is a lot shorter than I was expecting. The first game was 25 hours long, the second was 15 and this last one was 12. I guess we’ll see how long the 4th game was but if it’s any shorter then it’s really going to breeze by. I also think I did more of the bonus content in the 1st game which helped its case. After beating the game there are a bunch of side quests to do here so there’s a ton of replay value. Leveling up and getting new equipment isn’t exactly a fast process either. It’s certainly worth the normal price. Granted, this game goes for around 50-80 dollars nowadays so you’ll want to think carefully on if it’s worth it or not. The game’s a lot of fun so I’d say it is, but don’t spend too much on it. Know your limits. It’s why I likely won’t be getting the final game for a while since it’s well over 100 dollars. That’s just way too much money for a single game and hopefully the price will go down at some point.

I have to mention one last time that it’s really cool how the game feels like an online MMO. There’s just so much to do here and the game keeps track of every little thing. How many objects you break, enemies met, etc. It gives you an incentive to just keep playing the game and you could easily cross 100 hours just by doing all of this. One slight improvement the game could make would be to allow you to get to the main menu without having to log out every time, but I guess that is for the added realism of being on your computer. It’s definitely pretty meta.

Overall, Outbreak is a solid addition to the .Hack series. While it is a little on the short side, the gameplay and story are on point as always. We’re one step closer to the climax now and I can definitely say that I’m a big fan of the franchise. I’m also looking forward to the GU titles as those definitely seem pretty action packed. Who knows, maybe I’ll do some of the side quests at some point while waiting for the 4th game. At least I leveled up a bunch ahead of time so when the 4th game comes out I should be ready to rock and roll. I just need to remind myself that type advantages are key and by putting that in this review I will definitely be prepared.

Overall 8/10