Star Wars The Force Unleashed II Review

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It definitely didn’t take too long to get to the big sequel to the original Force Unleashed. I enjoyed the first game quite a bit so I was excited to see what the sequel brings to the table. Ideally a sequel should always be just as good or better in every way. This sequel managed to pull that off in all areas aside from the plot. Is it enough to get that extra star and nab a 9 or will it continue to elude the game? Time to find out!

The game starts with Starkiller waking up in one of Darth Vader’s training rooms. The Sith explains that this Starkiller is the only clone to have been a success and that the original Starkiller is dead. This clone has all of his powers and memories and Vader will make him destroy the Jedi. Clone or not, Starkiller decides to escape instead and manages to find his old resistance teammate, the blind Jedi. The Jedi claims that Vader is lying and Starkiller is the original. Starkiller’s not sure what to think about all of this, but the main heroine is in trouble so he decides to launch a full scale attack on Vader’s base. Ultimately, his origin won’t matter as long as he can save her.

I don’t really mind the game keeping it ambiguous as to whether Starkiller is the genuine article or not. It adds a little tension and who doesn’t want to see some of that in the story. As long as it isn’t overplayed, it works well. Unfortunately, the story still was a step down from the first. It’s still cinematic and feels like a movie, but it’s a movie that doesn’t have much of a plot. It takes a while for Starkiller to decide what to do and by the time he does, the story is over. You could sum up the game’s story in a few sentences. Starkiller returns and meets up with his old pal. The two of them make it to the resistance base, but it was destroyed. They head over to Vader’s base and blow it up as they save the heroine. That’s really all that happens in this game.

Of course, the game was quite short so it was never going to have the same amount of content as the first game. Still, I was expecting a little more. Admittedly, part of the fault is in the fact that I thought the game was more about choosing between good and evil the whole time like in the Shadow The Hedgehog game. It turns out that only the ending matters like in the first game so it’s quite different from what I had assumed. The game is supposed to be roughly 5 hours long and that sounds about right. Hardcore gamers can finish it in one sitting although it took me 2. 5 hours of straight gaming may have been something I did more back in the day, but that is really a long time to be sitting down.

Granted, the ending is quite great just like in the last game. I ended up obtaining the dark ending. I wanted to make the hero call of course, but then the villain started to goad me on and I decided it was time to end him. A pretty shocking moment occurred and honestly it was all handled beautifully. As always the blind Jedi was supremely annoying, but I suppose that couldn’t be helped. Personally I’d say that the Starkiller in this game is a clone. It’s not really a spoiler since I know people have gone either way with this although most see it the way that I do in this case. That being said, he may have been more likable than the first one.

The gameplay is a lot smoother than the first game and I was hoping that would be the case. It’s the same core gameplay as it’s a 3D hack and slash title where you have other abilities at your disposal as well. You can shoot lightning and harness the force to protect yourself. This time you have 2 Lightsabers and you can switch out their crystals to give the weapon other special abilities. I recommend the extra EXP ones since those really add up by the end. The combos are a lot more fluid and the tutorial is fast while also being comprehensive. You’ll really feel like a Jedi Master as you slice through dozens and dozens of opponents.

There are a lot of cubes to find and trophies to collect which should add to the replay value. It has about the same kind of bonus content as the first game so there’s not much new to be on the lookout for. Just grab all of the cubes that you can and level up. It’s considerably easier than the first game as well I might add and that is probably because of how much smoother it is. I died quite a few times in the first game because my lightning wouldn’t lock on, but that’s never an issue here. With the original’s story this would instantly be a 9. As it is, it is a close call. The gameplay is amazing, but the experience is relatively short.

You probably figured this from the first game, but the graphics are still quite great. They have improved from the first title which is saying something. This is definitely pretty high end even for the PS3. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable though. Surprisingly both games didn’t really have any memorable tunes. I guess this game had to have a weakness somewhere right?

Speaking of weaknesses though, I did think that some of the quick time events were a little too hard. Not in terms of timing as that was pretty normal, but the events where you had to press a button really quickly. I just couldn’t push it fast enough and had to keep trying different ways until I finally nailed it. There were around 3 bosses like this and they just didn’t feel fair or balanced. I can’t imagine how a kid would get through these levels. I definitely have to respect their button mashing skills if they pulled it off.

Beyond that, I am still a big QTE fan as always. Personally I think it makes the boss fights more epic. I know some don’t care for it and I can see the negative side (Losing near the end of a long QTE sequence and having to do the whole thing over again) but it’s certainly still a positive in the end. As for the story which I keep taking subtle shots at, I just felt like the writing for Starkiller was a little all over the place. At times he was fairly quiet and treated like an experienced veteran. Then he would suddenly talk and then he wouldn’t stop as he panicked about everything and did a ton of yelling. The former is what I expected of Starkiller while the latter just feels out of character. He’s just a lot more emotional than I would have expected at times although he still makes the rational choices in the end.

I did say that I liked him more than the first Starkiller though and that’s because he’s just a little more intense. He makes the controversial decision to abandon the alliance so he could save the heroine instead, but it’s a move that I can go with. The rebellion is always falling to pieces anyway and they were okay with sacrificing her so naturally that was not okay. Starkiller made the right move. The game’s ending is quite dark no matter which ending you ultimately ended up going for. Naturally mine was incredibly dark but probably the more hype ending. It just seems like Starkiller can’t catch a break. I’d love a sequel to this game, but it seems like it isn’t to be.

Overall, The Force Unleashed II did everything you could ask for from a sequel. It tightened up the already solid gameplay to make it even better. It improved the graphics and still gave us a full cinematic story. There’s also a good amount of replay value here and none of the trophies are too crazy. You’ll have a blast from start to finish. Even if the story isn’t quite as intense as the first game, you’ll still be pretty reasonably hooked during it and the climax ends the game with a bang. Now if only we could get a multiplayer mode.

Overall 9/10

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Dragon Ball Fusions Review

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It’s time for a big Dragon Ball game. The concept of fusing characters together to form even stronger ones is certainly nothing new. People have thought about that for years with Marvel and DC even getting in on the act. Until now fusions were quite limited though, but this game changes things on that regard. It’s finally a game built around the concept so you can fuse everyone together for quite a lot of interesting results. While it’s a very different kind of Dragon Ball game compared to the others, it certainly ends up working out quite well.

The story follows a Saiyan Warrior named Terry. (At least that’s his name in my version) His rival is Pinich and they have decided to enter the Intergalactic tournament. Fighters from across time and space have been invited to attend but each group must have 5 members. Terry decides to form his team with Goku from the original Dragon Ball series, Pan from Dragon Ball GT, Goten, and Trunks. It’s a pretty potent team and they will be the ones who appear in all of the cutscenes but you will be able to switch them out pretty early in the story. Alas, getting to the tournament will be difficult as the heroes must get a lot stronger to prove that they are ready. To this end, they must recruit a great number of fighters and shatter all of the sky barrier preventing them from reaching the tournament. Legendary villains like Broly, Omega Shenron, Frieza, Cell, Buu, Janemba, and many others seek to block their way. Fortunately Terry has more potential than the whole franchise put together so there’s no way that these guys could hope to stop him. Will they win the tournament or does Pinich have a good plan up his sleeve?

The stakes may not be very high until the end, but the story is still fun. The game certainly chose some unique members to be on the main team. I can see why Goku and Vegeta didn’t make it since they’d probably be a little too strong. The series seems to take place around the Resurrection F arc of Dragon Ball Super. It’s cool seeing Terry have allies from the various Dragon Ball titles. We got to cover the original, Z, and GT. I suppose we didn’t get any Super characters because most of them are still technically DBZ characters. The climax is pretty fun as we get a really cool super form for one of the fighters. It was also a very challenging boss fight. The real final boss wasn’t quite as difficult compared to that one since nobody had healing abilities, but it was still tricky.

Lets talk about the gameplay. Instead of the typical beat em up DBZ style, this game is more of a strategy title. Think the Mario/Rabbids game coming up or Yu Yu Hakusho. You move the characters around and attack. When you attack, you decide what direction to launch them in and the opponent gets to guess which way he should block. You always have to tactfully decide which direction is best based on where you think the opponent will block. Bouncing opponents off of each other will get you bonus damage. YOu also have an Ultimate Fusion attack which can defeat most foes in a single hit, but be warned that it means all of you teammates lose a turn so you have to fend off 5-10 consecutive attacks. I’d recommend only using it when you know it will defeat at least one character. You also have Zenkai Attacks which quickly turn the game into a 3D Brawler like Tenkaichi 3 for 10-20 seconds. It’s pretty neat although it clearly wasn’t the game’s focus so it feels hastily put together. You must defeat an opponent with this attack to recruit him/her to your team.

What makes the gameplay a lot more exciting than other tactic styled games is that you aren’t limited to moving your characters one turn at a time. You can attack from anywhere with a few exceptions so the game is very fast paced. The weakness of this style is typically that battles can take forever, but this one feels more exciting. Yes, the battles still can be quite long so you’ll have to have a lot of patience with the game, but it’s usually very fun. The only matches that I don’t really enjoy are when the opponents have instant regeneration. Then you have to win in one turn which can take a while to set up. Sadly the later levels started spamming this quite a bit, but the battles like this are still few when looking at the grand scheme of things. I definitely got hooked on the gameplay by the end.

The graphics are quite good as well. There are a lot of character models in the game and they did a good job of making most of them look unique. The made up characters do look like rip offs at times, but some of them weren’t bad. It was cool seeing so many characters from Dragon Ball history as well. Everyone’s chibi style worked well without being too cartoony. I can’t say that I was as impressed with the soundtrack though. It’s pretty limited and since the game isn’t too short you’ll hear the tunes a little too often. It would help if I liked the themes, but I didn’t for the most part. I liked the epic theme for the final boss though. (Not the actual final boss, but the one that threatened the multiverse)

There’s a lot of replay value here so you’ll have a lot to do. Doing everything in the game should easily take you 40-50 hours I’d say. The main story mode is about 18 hours long. After that, you can get to work recruiting everybody. There are a ton of actual characters to recruit and then all of the NPCs as well. Then you can fulfill all of the training requirements, buy all of the clothes, and beat all of the secret bosses. I wouldn’t bother with some of these things, but recruiting everybody sounds like a lot of fun. I recruited over 50 people by the end of the game, but no named characters. I didn’t actually do any side quests although I imagine most of them will be quite easy at the moment. I certainly would have done it already if there were trophies involved and as it stands I’d probably like to go ahead and do some more of the bonus content someday. Likely not anytime soon though.

It feels pretty good to play a high quality title like this one after a lot of average-below average games lately. This one I would play for fun to level up and prepare for future bosses or just recruit extra people. It’s a game that I would look forward to playing each time. It may not be up there as the best DBZ game because there’s just too much competition but it may be the best DS/GBA/3DS DBZ game aside from Extreme Butoden and even then this game could claim victory. That one had the better gameplay but it was a little limited due to the 3DS control scheme. Fusions was just handled really well and having a full original story certainly helped. While Terry didn’t have much of a personality, Pinich felt like a real character by the end and he wasn’t bad. Perhaps a tad generic and lacking in honor, but at least he never went down the dark path or blamed Terry for anything. He took his losses better than expected. There are some power level issues in the story, but we’ll just say that Goku and friends were holding back so they wouldn’t hurt Terry’s feelings. Then everything makes more sense. I am a little upset that Terry never became a super saiyan though. That was a huge missed opportunity since everyone else basically could by the end.

If there’s such a thing as too much content, I’d maybe say that there are too many attacks in the game. It’s not such a bad thing, but you get to learn new attacks after every fight. You can save them for later, learn them, or just drop them. I usually learned the ones that looked good and dropped the rest because saving them felt like such a hassle. There are various loading screens for each action and I just didn’t feel it was worth it. The problem is that each attack has a ton of different variations. There can be over 10 different Kamehamehas that have different special abilities. That isn’t even counting other versions like the Super Kamehameha. It would be nice if you could just level up your abilities instead of hoping an enemy can drop you a better one at some point. It’s not a big deal though because you can ignore this for the most part and do quite well. It’s not really something that you have to worry about.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Dragon Ball Fusions. It may not look like it would be your thing from afar since the whole strategy turn based combat thing isn’t for everyone, but it’s pretty fast paced. I think they did as good a job with this game as they possibly could have. The huge amount of content in the game is also quite impressive as well as it assures that you won’t run out of stuff to do. It’s going to be a little rough not having a DBZ game to play for a while, but maybe it’ll be time to finally go back to the Card games that I own for the GBA and DS. That gameplay may not be quite as good as Fusions, but maybe it’ll have aged better than I gave it credit for. Perhaps…..

Overall 9/10

Saint Seiya Soldier’s Soul Review

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It’s time for a cool fighting game that didn’t get a US retail release, but luckily there are other English speaking areas around so we can always count on them for backup. Between the great story, graphics, and gameplay, there is a lot to love in this game and not a whole lot to dislike. There is a lot to do here so it completely justifies any price that you may have purchased it for. Even if you are not familiar with Saint Seiya before this, the game walks you through just about the whole series.

All right, lets launch into this. The main Story Mode covers the 3 big arcs from the manga as well as one from the anime. You play as Seiya and the other Bronze Knights as they take down many foes who appear before them and work to protect Queen Athena. They go to the depths of Hades, to the beyond of Atlantis, and even to Olympus to protect their queen. The heroes die a lot and go through many trials, but they always get back up. That’s the true skills of warriors like these. It’s easy to see why people consider this to be a classic version of DBZ. Each chapter in Story Mode has between 11 and 20 battles and most of those battles are a best of 3 or even best of 5 once in a while. You’ll also have some levels that are just cutscenes so those are fairly easy. I believe that there are 49 levels total by the way.

Getting all S ranks is actually fairly easy this time around. That shouldn’t give you a lot of trouble, but completing all of the bonus requirements before a battle will be fairly difficult. Some of them involve doing long combos or blocking a lot. It won’t take an extreme amount of grinding to obtain though. If you want the Platinum trophy, most of your grinding will be in gathering titles and obtaining money. You have to buy just about everything in this game and money isn’t extremely lucrative. Still, that’s why it’s good that this game has very smooth gameplay and replay value. The story mode took me around 10 hours to complete and I expect that trying for the Platinum would probably take me up to 30 or maybe even 40 hours. I don’t intend on getting it anytime soon, but I do want to buy all of the characters so we’ll see how close that gets me to the Platinum in that time frame. I already purchased all of the stages so characters are definitely next.

Okay, lets get back to the gameplay. It’s a 3D fighting game like DBZ. You can attack your opponents with quick attacks, power moves, or energy blasts. You can string them together to make some fun combos and you also have burst moves, which are effectively special attacks. Charge up your meter enough and you can use a final smash. Most of them are a little too slow to be useful since you can just block them, but the Gold Saints get instant attacks, which are really handy. Naturally you can block, dash, teleport, jump, and more in addition to hand to hand action. None of the combos are too over the top so you don’t have to worry about dying after one mistake. Nevertheless, it is important that you know when to strike and when to evade. The story mode is fairly easy, but you’ll get your real challenge once you tackle the Galaxy Cups and Survival Mode. Those do not hold back at all.

The soundtrack is incredible and makes the game that much more epic. The actual theme selection is a little limited, but they are all good. They put you right in the battle and help to emphasize the high stakes that are at play. The graphics also look pretty good. They have that fun PS3 anime brawler look to them and the energy attacks are fun to watch. It’s not the kind of game that’s going to outshine Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy in the graphics department, but it is still all on point.

Aside from the main story mode, we also have the Gold Saints mode. You get to play as each Gold Saint in 3-4 battles. It’s mainly a way to see how they interact with each other after the drama in the main story mode. It’s a fun little adventure although some of the fights can be a little repetitive. The normal Story Mode was also a little repetitive with how every arc followed the same formula, but if it works….it works. Seeing the heroes split up and take out the villains will definitely be a lot of fun to see in the manga and the anime. The series kept on increasing the power levels to the point where it got pretty crazy. (In a good way)

As mentioned before, there is a whole lot of replay value here. By the end, this game will definitely be up there with some RPGs when it comes to length. Unlocking all of the characters is definitely my top priority and I already have all of the stages. I probably won’t bother with buying everything else for a little while, but I can see myself coming back to this title and earning more trophies at some point. I also got the PS3 version so I can go online and take some people down for the count as well. You have to love the PS3’s smooth online, the other companies could learn a few things from them.
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Overall, Saint Seiya Soldier’s Soul is a great fighting game. The gameplay is fairly deep and there is even an equipment system that will add to the strategic element of the game. You won’t run out of things to do here and the character roster is very impressive. I believe that there are over 70 characters to be found here and almost as many stages. With all of the technical aspects like the graphics and soundtrack being good as well, there’s really nothing to dislike here. I would call it one of the best PS3 fighting games. On a pure gameplay level, I’d say that it is better than J Stars and it is certainly a better overall game than PS All Stars. I have to still give Raging Blast and Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm the edge though. It’s definitely a must buy for any fighting game fan and I hope that more series get to have a big budget fighting game like this one. I think Bleach has earned a chance by now.

Overall 9/10

Pokemon Go Review

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It’s time to finally review the big app sensation of the last few months. I played it quite a lot and got all the way to Level 32. The game’s starting to die down now with the cold weather stopping many players so now felt like a good time to review it. I’ll still be sticking with it but my pace has slowed quite a bit so if anything, I’ll just add updates whenever I reach a new level. I can certainly say that it has lived up to the hype although I’ll admit that it was a rough road at first with all of the bugs. The game isn’t 100% smooth yet, but we are getting there and the game continues to add updates. As this is an App game, the review likely won’t be all that long, but still longer than most similar titles.

You are given some Pokeballs to start the game with. You catch Pokemon and every time you do this you get 100 stardust and 3 candies for that Pokemon. You can use stardust to power up your Pokemon and you can use the candy to evolve them into stronger forms. You can transfer duplicates that you don’t want to the Professor. As you level up in the game, you’ll get more items like Great and Ultra Balls as well as access to stronger levels for your Pokemon. The end goal for players is usually one of two options. The first is to simply complete the Pokedex. That’s my end goal although it is certainly a very tough one. I don’t count Regional Exclusives, but even so you have to get lucky to catch some of the rare ones like Snorlax and Lapras. The other goal is to get to Level 40, which is quite the achievement as well since the EXP needed for each level grows tremendously as you go through the game. I’m at Level 32 and I believe that means that I am just barely over half way or maybe not even there yet.

The game itself is very simple. You’ll understand how to play it in a matter of minutes. What made it a sensation is the fact that you find Pokemon out in the wild and you can activate the camera so you can see the real world at the same time. I never use that feature because the battery drain is already quite high without considering that. It’s fun because it loosely tracks the distance that you walk and it’s a way to keep you active and about. You may walk more while playing the game because you want to catch Pokemon and get some more EXP. It’s a game that you can’t play quite as well indoors as outdoors.

If the game had been handled smoothly, I think it still could have been a big sensation right now. Unfortunately, the game has a tendency of shutting off, heating up your phone, glitching your gym battles and locking you out, and a whole plethora of issues. I’m not even going to go into them because you’re probably well aware of them thanks to the internet and how popular the title was. The only bug that really bothers me now is the Gym one. Whenever I try to take over a Gym, I’m blocked out because of a random glitch. It’s gotten to the point where I haven’t taken over a gym in a very long time. That’s tough on coin earning since it’s the only way to earn coins. I have a survey app which has helped quite a lot with that, but it’s still not a very fun issue to have.

I don’t want this review to give off a negative vibe though. As you can tell, I’ve played the game for a very long time. It’s a highly addictive title much like Mario or Pac Man and it’s a game that can last you for well over a year. They may raise the level cap when they add in future generations which could be fun or frustrating depending on how you look at it. That’s not til the summer though and I have my doubts on whether I’ll be playing that far into the future, but you never know. I don’t plan to delete the app even when I’m playing rarely so I can always go back and look at it. Ultimately, it is an app and those are great for passing the time. The game will likely be even smoother and more polished by that point.

The graphics for the game look pretty good. Considering that it’s a mobile title, everything is clear. The soundtrack is limited as it only has one or two actual themes. The main theme isn’t very good, but the other one is all right. I’d love the ability to add in your own musical tracks, but I play on mute 99% of the time so I suppose it wouldn’t actually make a huge difference to me in the end.

Overall, Pokemon Go was a sensation and I’m glad to have been apart of it. It’s definitely the kind of thing that you’ll have fun telling people about many years down the road. This is the company’s second project of this kind so I wonder if they’ll ever do another franchise. I doubt it would get quite as much traction since nothing is quite as big as Pokemon when it comes to catching them all, but it is a very successful formula. At Level 32 with 137/150 Pokemon caught, I’d definitely say that I’ve come far. If you haven’t played the game yet, then I recommend giving it a whirl. It’s not the same as when it first came out of course, but there are still a lot of lures around to attract Pokemon with and it’s better to start now than later. More players is always a good thing for the game since it means that the gyms will stay active and you’ll have actual competition. Just remember that Team Valor is the way to go!

Overall 9/10

World of Final Fantasy Review

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I finally finished up the Postscript in World of Final Fantasy and completed all of the Interventions in the end as well. I didn’t get to complete all of the townsfolk quests although I did almost all of them and I’m fairly close to completing the Colosseum as well. All I can say about that is that it feels good. World of Final Fantasy was a game where you really felt like going out there and completing it all. It was an excellent game and continues to keep the reputation of the Final Fantasy franchise high. I only really have one complaint with the game and I’ll mention it below. Beyond that, the game was just about perfect.

Lann and Reynn are two siblings who run a coffee shop. Life was pretty quiet and normal for them until a mysterious god walks in and asks for a coffee with a lot of sugar. The strange thing is that she entered the shop while it was still closed and had apparently been there for quite a while. She tells Lann and Reynn that they have lost their memories. The two heroes quickly realize that they have never actually seen anyone in their town and don’t have any memories either. The lady tells them that to regain their memories and find their parents, they will have to explore the world of Grymoire and capture a lot of Mirages. (Monsters) The two heroes do just that as they explore this huge world which crams together all of the past Final Fantasy universes.

Naturally, it’s not all fun and games. There is an evil group of monsters who wish to destroy the universe. They stop the heroes at every corner and there final plan will be difficult to stop. Lanna and Reynn have to beef up their attack strength by grabbing more Mirages, but they will also need the help of their friends if they want to win this round. Teamwork is the name of the game and who can stop these two siblings in that department?

At first I actually thought that this was going to be a fairly short Final Fantasy game. There are 21 chapters and each chapter felt rather short. However, this was not the case as you need to factor time in to grind up the heroes and power up your monsters. Not to mention that after the 21 chapters is a Final Chapter which is quite difficult. There are also many Intervention quests which act as epilogues for all of the characters and there are even some Main Story quests in there as well. That results in a bunch of cutscenes and the game spared no expense as we even get full anime cutscenes at several points in the game. I ended up completing the game in 35 hours, which is a pretty good length. That’s slightly longer than Ocarina of Time and White Knight Chronicles, but not as long as Skyward Sword or the Kingdom Heart games.

There is also a lot of bonus content to do. I don’t think it will take you all the way up to 100 hours, but probably to at least 50 and maybe even more than that. If you want to get the Platinum in this game, you’re going to have to master all of the Mirage Boards and find all of the Treasure Chests in the game. That is bound to take a while. The leveling up part doesn’t sound all that bad to me, but finding chests when minions are constantly attacking you will be quite the trick. I got over half of the trophies so I’m pretty satisfied. I’d like to go and complete the final two town quests and the rest of the Colosseum battles at some point, but that’s probably where I will stop. At some point, it would be fun to have the bragging rights for getting the Platinum here though. I imagine that it will be very rare.

I really think there might be something to the whole “Great Graphics can make a Great Game” argument. Naturally it’s not that simple and I wouldn’t be talking about just the graphics. However, couple that with a great soundtrack and solid writing and then you’ve got a masterpiece. See, an old PS1 game could have a plot that is just as good and a dynamite soundtrack as well, but without the graphics, it could get hurt a little. (Final Fantasy VII comes to mind, but that game had a whole array of issues with it so graphics was the least of its worries) On the other hand, a game can have a fairly boring plot, a nonexistent soundtrack, and unimpressive writing like Knack, but you can still be decently engaged thanks to the good graphics. So, I do think that graphics play a bit of a role and I do find that newer games draw my attention a lot more than old ones. There’s just something very high tech and awesome about new games. That doesn’t take anything away from World of Final Fantasy though. I’m just happy to add it to my collection of other modern games that are awesome. Cyber Sleuth, Pokken, Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Dengeki, etc. They feel crisp and solid through and through.

I mentioned that there was one area where the game could have been a little better. Are you ready for this? Well, I think that Cloud and the others should have turned into their Jiant (Yes, it’s spelled that way) forms at least once. Sure, it isn’t really them and they’re just using the bodies of this parallel dimension where they are all clones, but it would have been awesome. The game could have saved up one of its anime cutscenes for the final battle and we could have seen Cloud fight the leader of the Bahamut army. Obviously this isn’t a negative that will impact the score in any way, but you have to admit that this would have been awesome and was a bit of an oversight. We needed to see big Cloud wreck everybody!

Beyond that, navigating through the Mirages could have been a little easier. It’d be nice to mess with their Mirage Boards without having to add them to the party. That’s minor though and since the loading times are very quick, it’s not much of an issue. The game is also clear on what to do next aside from the Postscript. To save you some time, I’ll just say that you need to capture the 3 elemental spirits from the Colosseum before it’ll let you complete the game. The map will never tell you this and the game never really explains how to catch Mirages all that well. It tells you about how you have to wait for a circle to appear of course, but I assumed that it was like Pokemon. I figured that weakening them would do the trick, but apparently not. Each Mirage has a different catch requirement and I believe you can use a skill to find out each time or you can just go to Reddit and they’ll help you out. Those guys are always willing to lend a hand and they have a large spreadsheet for just that purpose. I think World of Final Fantasy should have gone the Pokemon route when catching Mirages as it’d be a little simpler.

The most convenient ability at the end of the game is certainly the power to travel wherever you want whenever you want to do so. You won’t have to walk around too much aside from when you’re clearing dungeons or catching Mirages. It saves you do much time and it’s a great feature. You can really customize your party roster and everyone’s abilities quite nicely which is another good addition to the series. The whole concept of stacking monsters on top of each other is a new one and I like it. It adds a lot of strategy to the gameplay so you have to really think about who you want to use in battle. I recommend training the small Behemoth dog right from the start of the game. He’ll end up becoming your best monster once you get his XL form. Seriously, I wouldn’t have beaten the final boss without him. He can take down half of the final boss’ health in one shot thanks to his Revenge attack which gets stronger as he gets weaker. Just use the Last Hit technique so he goes to 1 HP and then prepare to one shot any boss that stands in your way. It’s awesome. The final boss used a cheesy technique that reflected the attack in the end, but the damage was done and I got my narrow win. I shudder to think about how tough that boss would have been otherwise. It’s worth mentioning that the game probably has one of the best troll endings. If you don’t decide to play the Postscript, then you’ll be in for quite the experience.

Both of the main leads are pretty good characters. Reynn does spend a lot of time insulting Lann throughout, but he takes it pretty well and it’s all in good fun. It’s just the dynamic that they have. She’s the calm and reasonable character for the most part, but she doesn’t like to be messed with and will enter full combat mode at that point. She actually taught Lann how to fight and defend himself so that shows how she was always a fighter. Lann isn’t very smart and all of the characters mock him as a result, but his heart’s always in the right place. He’s a lot more enthusiastic about saving the day and helping everyone out even if it means going out of his way. He’s also willing to make the ultimate sacrifice when necessary even if he jumps to that conclusion a little too quickly. I’d say that he was the best character from the new ones introduced in this game.

Tama is the animal mascot of the game and she is a fairly strange being who works for Enna Kros. She has the power to stop time and get the heroes to safety and can exploit a lot of game mechanics through her reality warping. She even has the power to create new timelines and mess with the past. The power never goes to her head though and she has a fun gimmick where she will use the word “the” in between words for no reason. It’s a gimmick that could have gotten old if it was misused, but I thought that the game did an admirable job. I actually liked Tama quite a bit and the execution was sound.

Enna Kros is a good high above being, but like most cosmic entities, she never really does much. Her reasoning is that Lann and Reynn are the heroes of the story so they have to do everything on their own, but she should really step in when the going gets tough. That is…unless she doesn’t have the large amounts of power that she wants us to thinks she possesses. It raises a lot of interesting questions. She was fun though and adding extra sugar to the coffee gives her some extra personality.

As for the villains, Brendires is the main one. He is a dark overlord who wants to take over the world. We don’t see a whole lot of him beyond that, but he works well as a villain and has a great design. He’s certainly very powerful since he took down Cloud and Lightning, but I’m calling plot hax on that. Even with a weakened vessel that houses his soul, Cloud should have been able to take him down. Brendires never gave up and had a lot of determination for a villain. He’s easily one of the cooler Final Fantasy end bosses. His two main minions were a little more on the bland side. The winged fighter got some hype for a while, but never did much about it. I do like the fact that she was the only one to get up after being knocked out the first time though. That’s considering that her vessel was supposedly putting up a large fight. The other villain reminded me of Fang from Street Fighter V. His constant rhyming was a gimmick that didn’t work and I couldn’t take him very seriously.

Naturally, all of the old Final Fantasy game characters showed up as well. They were all in character so there’s no need to say much about them. Lightning and Cloud are still the coolest two members. We got a tease about Sephiroth showing up and that could be a DLC quest at some point. It would definitely be neat to see him show up and thanks to owning the Day 1 Edition, we do have his Champion Medal. It’s a fun tribute to his ultimate attack from the original game.

Overall, World of Final Fantasy is a great game. I’d probably put it under both of the Final Fantasy XIII games, but it destroys VII and defeats X-2. It goes without saying that it beats the original as well and I haven’t completed any other main titles at the moment. The characters are good and the plot is engaging. You’ll be breezing through the game because it’s hard to take yourself away from it. It also has a great opening cutscene that is similar to a Kingdom Hearts intro. Even the little dance by everyone at the end is fairly intriguing since you’ll rarely get to see Cloud outshine everyone on the dance floor. If you haven’t picked up the game yet because you’re worried about the Chibi style or just dread playing long games, I’d recommend getting it anyway. It’s fine if you don’t play the post script since the normal ending is actually quite great since it’s so unexpected.

Overall 9/10

Digimon Cyber Sleuth Review

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Digimon has always set the bar very high for its games. I’ve played quite a few of them and they have all ranged from good to amazing. Digimon Data Squad was an all star title for the PS2. I actually only gave it a score of 7 back in the day, but now (With the power of nostalgia goggles I suppose) it’s easily a 9. Looking back at it, that was really the first big Digimon RPG that I played. Digimon World DS followed suit and that one was a lot of fun thanks to the fast paced turn based style. That one’s easily at least an 8. Digimon Racing was more on the mediocre side, but we had Digimon Rumble Arena 2 and World 4 to compensate. (I’ve still got to go back to World 4 at some point) I wasn’t a huge fan of Digimon Dawn back in the day and ended up selling it because I didn’t like the concept of having to devolve my Digimon before Digivolving them. I still don’t like that mechanic, but I’m mostly over it since I do enjoy grinding up the levels nowadays. Cyber Sleuth is another excellent installment in the franchise and you can make a solid case for it possibly being the best Digimon game.

Part of what helps Cyber Sleuth really rise up the video game charts is how long it is. The story mode took me around 48 hours to complete although I did spend a good amount of time leveling up and finding new Digimon evolution routes. Through the course of that time, it’s easy to get used to all of the characters and become more invested in the plot. It’s an advantage over shorter games like Knack. I’d like a sequel to this game although the next Digimon title seems like it’ll be a stand alone story once again. I’ m sure that I’ll grow to like the new characters by the time I beat that game, but I will miss these guys for a while. I still don’t have the Platinum trophy yet, but I’ve got my sights on it and I’m definitely getting closer. The toughest one is definitely going to be the 30 online wins trophy since I don’t have PS+. I’ll have to wait for the next free weekend, but that should happen soon.

Cyber Sleuth fully embraces the futuristic sci-fi feel that comes with the concept of Digital Monsters and it greatly enhances the overall experience. The soundtrack is easily the best one that I’ve seen in Digimon and ranks as one of the best video game soundtracks ever. Prelude to a Bloody Battle, Royal Knights theme, and Eater theme are three in particular that I recommend looking up. They really steal the show. There are also several themes that play during the mystery moments to help build up the hype. As I’ve always mentioned in the past, a good soundtrack can always help a game make it to the next level of quality.

Meanwhile, the graphics are solid. I wouldn’t say that they are amazing of groundbreaking this time, but everything looks fairly sharp. There is a noticeable lack of animated cutscenes though and I would have liked to have seen more. We never really got to see a fight in the middle of a cutscene and that would have certainly been a blast. Ah well, I suppose that’s something that can be improved in the next game that’s coming up.

As for replay value, there is certainly a lot of it. Not to mention that the game also has a lot of initial value considering how long the main campaign is. Once you finish that, you can work on grabbing all medals and trophies for the PSN. There are also many bonus missions that you can grab from your Digimon or a few more side missions where you help people out. There’s also the 8 part DLC mission pack where you help a girl save the world from the 7 Deadly Sin Digimon and also find out a twist about your computer correspondent. There’s even a Colosseum cup challenge where you can fight many characters that you’ve met through the game in very challenging matches. Yes, a lack of value is something that you’ll never hear regarding Cyber Sleuth. It’s a game that will last you quite a while.

As you’d expect, the gameplay is your traditional turn based title. You get to have 3 Digimon on the field at once, but you can command up to 11 in your party. When 3 die, you throw in three more, but you can also substitute mat any time. You’ll want to have some fast Digimon on your side since having extra turns is crucial to winning. You can have the strongest Digimon in the world, but it won’t mean a thing if you can’t get a single turn. Towards the end, the computer may have 7 turns before you get one and that can get very dangerous. I had to completely re tool my team. One trick that you’ll want to be familiar with is the Tactician USB with Gold PlatinumNumemon. You can get hundreds of level ups in minutes with that strategy which greatly reduces the amount of time that you’ll need to spend leveling up. It’s a must.

I’ll basically skip Terry in the characters section since he doesn’t have much of a personality. To clarify, he doesn’t talk much, but you can tell that he is a hero. He tries to save the villains while risking his life and always comes across as a team player. He can act a little oddly at times like pointing out that someone was drooling over a good food item, but otherwise he is solid. Kyoko is Terry’s boss and she is the one who gets him into the detective gig. She has a lot of connections and likes to throw out some real world knowledge in the game. She’s a charismatic character and her coffee gimmick works well. An important thing is that she can also fight when necessary.

Arata is Terry’s friend and he is very similar to Sasuke. He starts off as the tough and aloof rival who has a tragic past. He helps out the team quite a lot and really want to get to the bottom of the mystery involving the Eaters. He wants to save his friends, but slowly he realizes that more power is necessary. He is being left in the dust of Terry and Nokia so he sets off and slowly starts to be corrupted. He goes as far as to eat one of Terry’s Digimon friends and it’s hard to see how he’ll go back to the side of good. Terry gives him some hero speeches and everything, but it is hard to forget what he did to the Digimon. Arata’s a solid character, but he really didn’t get a whole lot of responsibility for his actions. He got off a little too easy.
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Nokia is another one of Terry’s close friends and she wants to be friends with as many Digimon as possible. When she finds out about the Digi Eaters and the Digi World going into ruins, she decides to amass an army to protect them. She gets a very large role in the plot as a result and even gets a Mega level Digimon before Terry and Arata. She becomes the heavy hitter for a while and that was unexpected. She’s actually a better character than Terry and Arata by the end. Her plan’s a good one even if it is a little naive since you certainly can’t trust everyone. Her one downside is that she can be way too overconfident about how attractive she believes herself to be and constantly rubs it in when talking to her two friends. Aside from that, she’s always eager to fight (When she has the upper hand) and sticks up for Digimon through to the very end.

Yuuko is another one of Terry’s friends although she joins in a little later. She starts off as a mysterious figure with another tragic past, but gradually she becomes one of the main characters. She is rich and has connections to the shady organization which helps the group out quite a lot. She’s more reserved than the others (Even Arata) so it takes her a while to get used to how everyone acts. By the end she starts to embrace her emotions a lot more, which makes things a little tricky for Terry at times since she threatens him quite a bit. Her character arc is a good one even if she sometimes has to slow her pace down to let the main characters keep up.

Matayoshi and Date are a Detective and Cop who help out from time to time. They can both be quite annoying though and usually their appearances are the signal for filler to come so you just want them to go away. They do nothing, but slow down the plot. Another problem is that they both have to obey orders so they put Arata in a bad spot and really set him up to turn into a villain. None of them have any Digimon either so they end up just being liabilities in the long run.

Kishibe is one of the main villains and she certainly gets a huge role. Whenever someone has a huge role, they typically get a big plot twist. Nokia, Arata, Terry, Kyoko, Kishibe, and Yuuko all have very big plot twists by the end. The twist certainly helped me take Kishibe a lot more seriously than I had. Post twist, Kishibe is a cool villain. Before that I couldn’t take her very seriously, but her plans certainly were well thought out. Suedouis the other big antagonist. He wants to remake the world so that there is no sadness, but to do that he has to erase free will and force humanity to evolve. He’s certainly a villain even if his motives aren’t the usual “Destroy the world.” goals. He’s an annoying villain since he is extremely weak, but the heroes never try to stop him and just tolerate his existence the whole time. He does help them unravel some mysteries after all, but it would have been nice to have seen the heroes try to arrest him or something. He gives out a lot of meta speeches by the end and explains the Digi Eaters origin. See, they are multi dimensional beings who have limitless power and even Digimon can’t stop them. It’s all decently interesting, but in the end it’s not as if it matters all that much aside from wiki purposes.

Zaxon is one of the big hacker groups who stand in the way of the heroes at times. Their leader, Yugo is reasonable, but most of the Zaxon members are corrupt anyway. Zaxon tries to stop the main villains on their own though, which makes for a very epic level since you had several groups fighting at once. Kishibe’s group, Zaxon, Terry, Arata’s group, and Nokia’s posse. It was certainly one of the best parts of the game and I always like to see multiple groups duking it out at once. It adds in an extra dynamic since it’s not just a classic 1 vs 1.

Jimmy Ken is an annoying villain. He speaks with a lot of slang which must come across very oddly in the original Japanese version. His theme is catchy, but he’s mostly just a thorn in the hero’s side. He never actually contributes to the plot either so you can think of him as a pre arc boss. The game is so long that it can afford to have a bit of a long pre arc while the plot slowly starts developing in the background. Even so, I was glad when he completely disappeared as the plot really started going.

We can’t forget about the Royal Knights either. Seeing as how the humans sent the Eaters into the Digital World where they started eating all of the inhabitants, it makes sense that the Digimon King would send out a counter attack. The Royal Knights mission is simple, they must destroy the Human World to stop the source of the Eaters. Let’s face it, the human world isn’t ready to repel this invasion so it is up to the main characters now. Once this plot started, the game had reached its Apex of hype. We got a lot of really cool themes and also some epic cutscenes. Naturally, I had already enjoyed the game quite a bit before they showed up as this was at around Chapter 11 I believe, but the game’s second half really took off. The Royal Knights are great characters and even if they always end up being on the antagonist side, they are quite the epic group. If they ever attacked as one, they would be nearly unstoppable. Plus, it’s hard to blame them being so upset with the humans after so many Digimon were massacred by the Eaters. The humans are always causing trouble on other planets.

Finally, we have the Eaters. They eat data so they are very dangerous for Digimon to battle. One hit can be fatal and their sheer numbers are impressive as well. The big Eater Queen is even more deadly than the rest and made for an epic final boss. I remember the boss being super easy though thanks to the super grinding and some of the earlier bosses had been trickier. Ignoring that though, it was a climactic way to end it all. The humans will be glad to have the Eater threat gone as well. A big of a running gag is that humans kept on dying throughout the game. Terry was always to slow to save anyone so the body count by the end is incredibly high. It was actually pretty funny at certain points, but the humans should have really ran a little more. The Eaters are incredibly slow after all.

Then we’ve also got the crossover characters. Mirei is actually a main supporting character as she gives out quests from time to time and is in charge of the Digi area where you can train your Digimon. She even gets some character development in the final DLC quest as she lets the power get to her head and temporarily turns evil. The power was simply too much for her. She doesn’t have much of a personality though so you may not have much of an opinion on her by the end. Sayo joins the cast thanks to the DLC missions as well. She’s the main rival in the Digimon Dusk/Dawn game (I still need to go back and complete that one!) and she gets a lot of hype as being very powerful. Her Dianamon did beat all of the Legendary Sin Digimon on her own after all. The fact that she wasn’t supposed to defeat those Digimon is still pretty baffling and I don’t buy it. Sayo seems like a good character even if she may be overconfident, after all..that’s a good quality to have.

Rina is the final big crossover character and she’s from one of the big Digimon titles that never made it to the U.S. She’s definitely very scatterbrained and overly cheerful, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t fight. Rina can hold her own against any of the big fighters in Cyber Sleuth and she is the only reason that the heroes were able to take down the fastest member of the Royal Knights. Her Ultra VForcemon (Close enough) proved to be the strongest Digimon of them all. Her world doesn’t look as interesting as Cyber Sleuth’s though, but it was cool to have her as part of the cast. The game went all out with the crossover effect.
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Overall, Digimon Cyber Sleuth is a great way to spend 50 hours. The plot is very engaging and the game feels like a lot of effort was put into it. (Unlike Star Fox Zero) If you want even more of a challenge then you can always try out Hard Mode. I’m not sure that I would recommend it unless you have a lot of time to burn though. The game gets significantly harder and the opponent’s health bars go up as well. Boss fights can take around an hour and if you don’t have the best possible team with you, it could be game over. I’ve heard quite a few stories about how insane hard mode is, but you would definitely have some serious bragging rights if you can pull it off. I now await the next Digimon game and in the meantime, maybe I’ll finally get around to getting Digimon Championship!

Overall 9/10

Pokken Tournament Review

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Nintendo has churned out another winner folks. The Wii U has gotten a lot of heat over the infamous Gamepad as well as the lack of third party games, but it’s always very easy to forgive these oversights when you look at the first party titles. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the greatest game of all time and Mario Maker is an all star title as well. Pokken continues to set the bar very high and isn’t afraid of those other titles. In fact, I’d say that this game beats Mario Maker and it’s automatically my 2nd favorite Wii U game. It has a lot of replay value and I can definitely see myself playing it for a very long time. This one’s a keeper all right.

Pokken is a mix of 2D and 3D fighting. There are two phases which have different rules and strategies so the game is deeper than you would expect. In 3D mode, you want to either overwhelm your opponent with projectile spam or quickly hit them with a close attack. 2D mode plays more like Street Fighter and you have to really think about which move you are going to use or it’ll all be for naught. The game has a bit of a rock paper scissors mechanic so it’s all about out thinking your opponent.

Your standard attacks beat out grabs. Grabs beat out Focus Attacks. Focus Attacks beat out Power Modes. Power Moves usually beat out strong moves and strong moves are basically pointless, but I’m guessing that they beat out standard ones. String them together for combos and then you also have the Burst Mode at your disposal once you have enough meter. That mode essentially gives you super armor on just about all of your attacks as well as a great final smash which can eat through just about every single attack. I highly recommend using it after performing an unsafe combo, the opponent will try to punish you and that’s when the final smash really comes through.

I’m not usually a fan of the classic Rock Paper Scissors for fighting games, but it’s implemented well here. It doesn’t feel like luck and it’s really more tactical than anything else. Conditioning an opponent feels more important here than in Super Smash as you want to lead an opponent to your destination. (For example, spending the first 2 rounds of a set always going for a Focus Attack when getting up to set up the grab for the third round where you’ll go for a strong combo instead.)

An interesting choice that the game made was to include a level up system. I suppose that this is a feature that has always been in the Pokemon games so getting rid of it may not have gone over well with the older fans, but it does give you a bit of an advantage online. It actually applies to your online “For Glory” mode and that means that the person with the higher leveled fighter has the edge. The level caps at 100 and you should have that after 2-3 days, but until then you better watch out. You can choose to use your level up points on Attack, Defense, Synergy, or Support I believe. I put everything into attack so my Final Smash is truly awesome now!

The bulk of your playtime will likely go towards the local multiplayer mode or online to fight with friends and rivals as you rise through the ranks. I really like how the leaderboard rankings are set up because it’s less discouraging than some other games. For example, a loss won’t get rid of any of your points until you make it to C rank. That’s when the true struggle will begin. This differs from a game like Street Fighter where you’ll lose points each time you lose and one loss can force you to have to make up a lot of ground and you can even lose your rank. That can happen here, but it’s a little safer and going on a losing streak is just as tricky as going on a win streak due to the solid matchmaking algorithms in place.

Right now my For Glory Win% is around 80% and I’ve made it to E1. I expect to be in the D ranks by tomorrow and my progress will likely start to slow around that point as the opponents will get a lot tougher. The rounds are short and fun so it’s easy to play this game for hours and hours. It’s easy to see how streamers can keep on playing in front of their audience for so long. It’s the kind of game that has unlimited replay value.

The offline modes are not quite as brilliant. There’s a nice tutorial/practice mode, but you may not want to spend much..or any time there. I recommend at least giving it a quick stop, but you should use Story Mode to practice your moves since it’s so long and the opponents in the first league won’t really fight back anyway. The plot of the story is that a mysterious Shadow Mewtwo has been challenging players and defeating them all. He continues to get stronger, which is a problem since it’s draining synergy, the life force of the planet. If he’s not stopped then the planet will blow up so the main character has to get strong enough to end this.

The plot shows up at the end of each tournament before finally coming into play after the third one. The plot is actually pretty enjoyable. The exposition was a little unnaturally long, but for the most part the characters were interesting and the universe was nicely developed. Shadow Mewtwo’s boss themes were also incredible and I’ll never forget the very first time that he showed up. It was such an epic moment and easily the best part of the whole story experience. Unfortunately, the gameplay of the story is what I’m not crazy about like with DBZ’s Budokai 2.

There are 4 (Possibly 5 from what I’ve heard) tournaments. Each tournament has you start by moving up the ranks as you face 5 opponents. You must then fight them again and again to move past that part and enter the 8 man tournament. After you win that, then you fight the Promotion Battle and then you rinse and repeat after a quick cinematic fight. It gets longer and longer and according to Reddit/Gamefaqs calculations, the story is around 110-120 fights long and that number will vary if you happen to lose during the run. I completed the first 3 tournaments so far and I’ll admit that I’m not too crazy about the prospect of going for the next 2. I will do them, even if only to get Mewtwo and the final support Pokemon, but the story didn’t have to be artificially extended quite so far. There was just no reason for it.

The short part that is actually the story is quite interesting though and I really would have liked the whole story mode to be about that. Maybe next time I guess. The voice acting has been chuckled at a lot online and I can see why. As one guy said for the first big promotion battle master, he sounded like he was eating while talking. The voice was very muffled. Still, it’s pretty funny and I’d say that the voice acting is pretty well done depending on how intentional it all is. I actually like Nia as she constantly rubs the losses in your face and takes credit for your wins. “You’re like a Magikarp out of water” “They made you their punching bag that time!” Those are epic quotes that may seem mean spirited, but that’s just who Nia is. It’s not personal, even when she gives you advice like “Keep your guard up” right before the opponent grabs you. You have the option to turn her off, but I can’t bring myself to do that. The constant dialogue is hype and she’s much better at her role than Navi. Mewtwo’s owner is also a pretty cool character. She’s a mysterious figure and even her ending is rather sudden so I guess that’ll leave some room for the sequel. Hopefully the main character gets to talk if there is a Pokken 2.

The gameplay is great, which is lucky for me because it makes this a lot more bearable than it would have been otherwise, but it’s still really long. My recommendation is, don’t lose when you’re in the main tournament phase. Trust me, it’ll make the whole cycle even tougher. You can cheese most of the opponents though, but make sure that you are truly good by the time the last tournaments roll around because the cheese tactics won’t be nearly as effective.

Each round earns you up to 20K and winning tournaments gives you significantly higher amounts. I’ve earned almost 10 million already, but the money goes very quickly. I don’t even know how many accessories and clothes you can buy, but it’s a lot and I’m nowhere near rich enough to purchase them all. That’ll come with time since the game is quite generous with the money. Local battles and friendly matches still give you the 20K so just play a lot and eventually you’ll have all the money that you could ever want. I can’t say that most of the clothes are anything that I would want to use for my avatar, but to be honest I haven’t looked through most of the choices yet.

The graphics for Pokken are very well done. It has the semi realistic look of Tekken while still being very bright and fancy. As you may know from the Brawl days, I’m not a super big fan of darker, more live action esque designs, but these stay colorful enough that they still feel like Pokemon and it does leave a trail of epicness for the fights to escalate to even greater heights. It’s part of why I like maining Blaziken so much, his fiery attacks look so great when you’re in the middle of a good ole fashioned fist fight. Blaziken was the very first Pokemon that I ever got in Pokemon Ruby, my first Pokemon game so he has a lot of sentimental value for me. He may be a low tier fighter next to most of the others in Pokken, but he’s currently my main and he’s taken me pretty far.

The soundtrack’s decent for the most part. I’ll admit that most of the stages are fairly unmemorable when it comes to the music and I tried to listen to a few of them on Youtube, but some of them just aren’t that good. Luckily, Shadow Mewtwo makes up for that with his incredible themes. I could listen to those for hours and the tunes are great enough to raise the whole soundtrack for me. Still, that’s reason enough for me to just call the soundtrack decent, it doesn’t really live up to my expectations of how good it would sound. Most of the handheld games have a better overall soundtrack.

As possibly mentioned earlier, there are 16 fighters. This is a really low amount and I’ll admit that a few of the choices were pretty underwhelming. Chandelure and that Fire Fox? Really? I don’t think they’ve earned a spot on the roster to be honest although I support Shadow Mewtwo and Pikachu Libre so..my opinion is a little unique. Unlike Super Smash where you’ll have memorized all of the attacks for all 50+ characters right away, it’s tricky to do that in this game since there are 4 different attack types for each character and then you have to double that for 3D mode + 2D mode while also accounting for their attacks in both modes while in Burst Mode. Simply put, it’ll take a while unless you make this game your top priority.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time with this game, but it’ll never be my top priority the way that Smash Bros is. I’ve put in well over 100 hours on that game just watching gameplay footage from the top players around the world. I’ve maybe put in 2 hours for that with Pokken, but I’ll really just spend my time playing it as opposed to watching. I am entering the Pokken event at Apex 2016, but I’ll see how far I can go as I am. Back to the main point, the 16 characters limit doesn’t feel as bad as it could. As it is, it’s very hard to pull out another fighter once you’ve chosen a main and do well enough to win the fight. I have pulled it off with my classic pockets, Pikachu Libre and Chandelure, but it’s tricky since I’m relying on pure fundamentals and button mashing.

Blaziken’s definitely my guy right now. He unfortunately has a very tough time against projectiles though. If I see any strong Gengars or Chandelure players, I can probably count the match as a loss although I’ll try to keep it real. I like Pikachu since he really has a lot of good projectiles and Libre’s command grabs make him a real threat. Each of the characters have their strengths with the only one that just feels weak is Charizard. He’s just soooo slow, although I pulled off a nice win with him online, I doubt I will play him again for a while. I still haven’t even tried out around 5-6 of the characters so I have to get around to that. This is the kind of game where you don’t spend much time choosing different characters since there’s not much merit to it. Just pick 2 characters to cover your matchups and you’re set.

By the way, you’ll want to stay active online or your ranking will plummet. You won’t lose points, but people will just leapfrog you. I made it into the 8000s on my first day, but then I took a break from online for a day to focus on the story. When I got back I was in the 14000s. I’ve since made it back to the 10000s, but it just goes to show how many people are playing it right now. I kind of want to make the top 1000, but that’s unlikely unless I really play it a bunch. I’ll probably look at the overall sales figures and then I’ll try to stay in the top 10% or 5% by the end. That’s a reasonable goal I’d say.

Overall, Pokken is a fighting game that you’ve got to get right away. The gameplay mechanics can be a little complex and overwhelming at first, but put in an hour or two of just fighting normally in Story Mode and you’ll start to pick up all of the little rules. It’s not a game like Virtua Fighter where you can play for days and still not pick up most of the terms. Once you’re in, you’ll see how much fun the game is. There may only be 16 fighters, but you’ll still have a tough time learning all of their attacks and now you can really prove your stuff with your main. The replay value is endless and you also unlock a lot of titles from time to time, which are fun to use online. There are so many choices that it’s tough to decide on one. Aim to become the world champ with your character and I’ll see you at the top!

Overall 9/10

Madden 2015 Review

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I’ve always been a big fan of Madden and it’s one of the only game series that can hold a candle to Super Smash Bros. No worries, Super Smash still is the greatest series of all time and it shall never be surpassed, but Madden would probably be my second favorite series. Madden 13 was phenomenal and while Madden 2004 is still my favorite, 13 was a close second. Unfortunately, Madden 2015 is not quite as good, but it’s still an excellent game and one that I can recommend to anyone without hesitation. There are more things to learn as the Madden games get more and more technical, but you’ll be glad that you entered this new world of fun.

One thing to notice is the fact that I got Madden 2015 for the PS4. It’s much cheaper to do so, but since I don’t have PS+, it also means that I can’t spend my evenings pounding away at the opposing team against real players. That’s probably for the best though since it can be quite time consuming. Recently, Sony gave everyone free PS+ for the weekend so I took advantage of that to play a few online games. I did quite well and went 4-1 if I recall correctly. The exact number should be on my stats and records page if I made an error here. I guess my Madden 13 skills have helped me get used to this one rather quickly.

Madden still has the issue that I mention for all of the newer titles and that’s the fact that it’s really hard to go for the deep ball. It’ll only work if your player has a massive lead over the defender because the usual gap isn’t enough. If the receiver got 2 steps on the cornerback, you can still be sure that the cornerback will spin around and pull off an incredible jump to snag the ball away. The problem is that the receivers never fight for the ball so it will get picked off every time. Slant routes are typically a little safer, but again, your receiver better have a nice lead. Otherwise, the defender will make a leaping interception. I’m not sure what the game can do about this, but I’m sure that the code can be tweaked for future installments to make the receiver good once again. Just play Madden 2004 for a moment and you’ll see what I mean.

The good thing is that this does force you to consider the running game once again. In fact, I run in Madden 15 far more than I did for any of the other titles. It’s finally a very viable option here and maybe even a little overpowered. I played as the Cowboys for all of my matches and I could afford to run the same straight run over and over again. No matter how quickly the defenders would hit me, I’d have already grabbed 2-3 yards and typically that number was more like 7-8. Defenses simply could not stop Murray. It didn’t matter if I was playing CPUs or human opponents, my running attack was unstoppable!

This also set up the play action pass and I uncorked it once for a nice, deep slant route. It was a blast to see this actually work since play action plays typically fail miserably in Madden because your offensive line cannot hold out that long. Another play that I love to run is a random Hail Mary towards the start of the game. A lot of times the defense will be completely unprepared to deal with that so you can get an easy completion. Make sure to have your running back run a swing route to the left to cover your options though. If even he is covered, then you’ll have enough room to easily scramble for a nice gain. It’s really the perfect passing play if you ask me.

It should come as no surprise to you that the game’s graphics are top notch. EA spends a lot of cash to ensure that you are getting top of the line visuals during the game. It is definitely impressive to see how life like the field and the players are at this point. It’s not quite ready to pass Super Smash Bros for Wii U in terms of how awesome the game looks, but Madden is easily one of the leaders in the graphics field all the same. I can’t say much about the soundtrack because I’m just too into the game to notice such things at that point. The themes are typically fast, but you’ll barely notice as you start racking up the wins.

Aside from playing games or entering into the Connected Career where you can play dozens of games in multiple seasons, there is also a drills mode. It’s basically a tutorial that walks you through many techniques. It’s actually a lot trickier than the average tutorial mode and I can guarantee that you will learn something. It’s worth playing through each section here to make you a better overall player. Another mode lets you relive great moments in NFL history as you try to make a great comeback or stop other teams from scoring. This mode’s nice and challenging as well.

If you do have PS+, then that opens the door for you to play some online battles against the best of the best. Once you play against real life opponents online, it’s hard to go back. It’s just so fun and exhilarating! There’s also a MUT mode, which is where you can form a team of solid players from the present and the past to become the greatest of all time. You can enter leagues and it’s a blast, but keep in mind that you’ll probably be doomed at first as your quarterback may be Weeden while the opponent has Joe Montana or Troy Aikman. Eventually, you’ll be able to unlock those guys or you can just buy them, but I don’t recommend buying the DLC unless you’re seriously going to be playing the game for a long while.

The actual gameplay has been made to be very realistic and it works well for the game. My one problem is that it can be hard to change directions. I suppose that you can’t go 0-60 when turning in real life, but it’s always sad to watch your player to a little stutter step as they try to turn and then you get nailed. It cost me a safety in the game that I lost, which was most unfortunate. Still, it’s a fairly small complaint and you’ll just have a blast playing the games over and over again because the gameplay is simply that fun.

Madden continues to add more and more commentary as well as the occasional ad slogan to also make the game super realistic. There’s even a ticker showing the NFL game scores in real life that are completely updated. That’s very impressive. I usually skip the intro to the games because I don’t have time, but it is neat that the game will actually focus on the players and start to have a serious discussion as a pre game simulation. I feel like EA puts a lot of effort into these games even with a lot of complaints which would disagree with my statement.

Overall, Madden 2015 is a terrific game and it continues to hold the Madden legacy up in a positive light. It may be similar to older titles, but that will not change and I wouldn’t want it too. I’m very comfortable with Madden and I wouldn’t want there to be any drastic gameplay overhauls or anything of the sort. It just wouldn’t feel right if you ask me. If you haven’t played a Madden game before, don’t worry. It’s tough, but it won’t take an extremely long amount of time to get good. A lot of the game is just about outsmarting your opponent so you always want to think outside the box. I aim to get Madden 16 in about a year or so when it inevitably drops to around 10 dollars, then it’ll be time to snag it!

Overall 9/10

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Review

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I’ve had this game for quite a few months now and I finally managed to beat it! The game wasn’t that hard, but it was just tricky to make time to play it. This is definitely the definitive One Piece game at the moment and I even found it more fun to play than the Unlimited Red title. That one was also excellent though, even if the story mode wasn’t absolutely amazing like this one. Pirate Warriors 3 just had that epic feel about it and can hold its own against Ultimate Ninja Storm, Raging Blast, and Soul Resurrection.

This game covers the entire One Piece series up to the latest arc. There’s a fake ending here as the arc hadn’t ended at the time, but that’s fine since it still works as a solid ending and some of the big enemies of Luffy’s past (Blackbeard) get to show up as well. I’m pretty sure that the game’s writers liked Kizaru as his role in this game was certainly beefed up. If you don’t know the plot of the One Piece franchise, it takes place back in the golden age of pirates. The legendary Gold D Roger left some treasure and a kid named Luffy wants to find it. He assembles a crew and sets sail. Naturally, the pirates are outlaws so Luffy has to deal with the government as well as many evil groups of pirates who would stand in his way.

There’s a lot to do in this title and that’s always a good thing. Naturally, story mode will take up the bulk of your time and it’s decently long. There are 22 levels and they all range from 30-60 minutes. You’re certainly getting your money’s worth there and you can choose to replay the levels at different difficulties to try and fill in a treasure map on each chapter by completing various challenges. Each character can be leveled up as well and the coins that you get through the levels can be used to unlock super attacks or just increase some stats. If you want to play as a different character during the levels then there is also a free mode that you can get into.

As is becoming the fashion with these big beat em up games, there is also a mission mode adventure where you play through abridged versions of the story mode levels. There will be secret bosses here that you don’t run into in the normal story like Shanks. This mode is a lot longer than the story mode and likely more difficult although it’s hard to say for sure. If you’ve got the time, this mode is definitely worth checking out.

There’s also a shop where you can spend your money. Typically it would be a huge grind to buy everything, but this is surprisingly not the case in this game. You earn a lot of money in Story Mode just by completing the levels and this increases exponentially when you get S ranks in any chapter. I managed to buy all of the soundtrack themes, costumes, and bought most of the movies. I nearly cleaned out the shop and that’s without just about any grinding. (I did grind for a little while, but mostly spent the cash on level ups for other characters) You don’t want to forget about earning those PS4 trophies while you’re at it either. They seem pretty fair for the most part, but very, very time consuming. I don’t see myself getting the Platinum here anytime soon, but you never know.

That’s enough about the replay value and features. You get the jist of it. This game will capture your attention for quite a while. Next up, let’s talk a little about the gameplay. That’s the most important part for any video game and it is excellent here. I’ve never met a beat em up that I didn’t like and this can hold its own with any other. You have your standard attacks and power moves that you can link up into many different combos. Every character has a special attack and four special variations of normal moves. Then you’ve got double special attacks and final smash techniques. Every time you use a final smash with one of your teammates, they’ll stick around for the next one. If you play your cards right, this means that you can do a final smash technique with your whole crew by the end. Granted, you’ll never actually need to do this (Except for a trophy) but it’s cool to look at.

The gameplay is nice and fast paced. I’ll admit that I do miss the combos from the younger days though and I wonder how that works in Free Mode. The final few levels force you to play as the older Strawhats and while their attacks are ridiculously OP at times, I just loved how smooth the classic ones were. You’ll certainly be able to pick out a favorite character in terms of gameplay by the end and then you can focus on mowing down the enemies. If you defeat a lot of them in one hit, you’ll get a lot of ! bonuses, which are helpful for S ranks.

I liked the soundtrack a lot although it is very limited. It’s not nearly as engaging as the themes that you will hear in something like Transformers Devastation, but one theme can always make a difference. That’s what happened here as I love the “tense” music theme that plays whenever a villain appears. You know that things are about to get serious and the other themes aren’t bad either. The graphics are also pretty solid. It’s not quite Sonic Adventure 2 Battle or the streamlined style of Mario, but the Cell shading still looks decently good for the cutscenes. I’ll admit that it looks better for the gameplay though, but I’d love it if One Piece could borrow the flashier look of Dynasty Warriors Gundam or something like that. I dunno, something about the graphics just kept it a solid spot under most of the big titles that we get nowadays like Super Smash or Gundam, but they’re still not bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Overall, with the solid array of bonus content to keep you busy, this is a must have that is worth the high price. If you have not gotten into One Piece yet, this game is a great starting point as you can instantly get near the end of the franchise as you will almost be caught up. The gameplay is great and the game succeeds on the technical levels as well. It’s decently easy even when on hard mode, but that’s just because it’s hard to find that right balance of making it hard without being impossible. You still have to fight tactically on hard mode and grinding will have to be done to clear the game on that level. I look forward to seeing what the game does for the next installment. Hopefully they add a multiplayer option to the game though. Even if it’s not a vs mode, a co-op mode is always a nice option for the gamers. When you really dip deep into why this game is so good, it’s because Pirate Warriors 3 is just a lot of fun. Defeating the enemies by the dozens never gets old and you can easily lose yourself for a few hours at a time here.

Overall 9/10

Super Mario Maker Review

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Mario Maker got a lot of hype before it came out, but I’ll admit that I didn’t buy into it for a while. Like Splatoon, Mario Maker honestly didn’t catch my attention. It looked…okay, but I just skipped every video that Nintendo posted about it. I actually didn’t see more than a minute of any Mario Maker video, it just didn’t look that good. I’d buy it…someday. Gradually, the game got more and more press (I skipped the Nintendo World Championships, although I finally watched it about a week ago) and my cousin also got hyped about it. I figured that I’d get it for my Birthday (Which is about 6 months from now) but this is the kind of game that you want to have right away. The hype for it won’t die out anytime soon, but right now is when all of the activity is. Part of the fun is also playing levels made by your friends and vice versa so waiting would hurt that give and take a little. So, a little while ago, I felt sick on a Thursday and decided that I couldn’t make it to classes that day. While feeling sorry for myself and snacking on some munchies, I decided on a whim to go to Best Buy and get the game. (Along with the Gamer’s club) It’s definitely been worth the purchase and the game is a blast. Certainly one of the best Mario games of all time by default with how much replay value there is and how much effort was put into the game. That was a long intro, but I wanted to give some background info on this title. I seriously wasn’t sold on it, but the game turned out to be excellent and I’ll still be playing it weeks from now.

There’s no story mode here at all. One of those would be cool, but I’ll admit that it makes little difference to be for a Mario game. Yes, a story mode would be a good thing and it would help the game out, but it wouldn’t actually affect the overall score and it’ll barely be missed. The gameplay is why Mario games are so good and this one has the aesthetics of 4 different Mario games. Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. Right off the bat, I have to say that it’s impressive that the developers were able to incorporate all of these themes. It’s incredibly impressive that you can switch between these layouts at will as well. It feels like you’re playing multiple games and with fans already recreating the real levels from the original versions, it’s really like you own 4 whole Mario games along with infinite levels to spare. If you were wondering whether 60 dollars was overpriced for this game…don’t. Of course, with the Best Buy Gamer’s Club, I’ll never need to shell out another 60 again with the 13-15 dollars off each game.

There’s a lot to talk about for this game so let’s start with the technical part. The soundtrack is easily 5 stars. I would love to be able to pick which music would play in your custom stage, but it’s fine. You will barely even be able to tell which tune is playing because it so perfectly fits with the gameplay. The classic themes that you would expect from the Mario games are present and you’re even able to recreate music themes from many other franchises, which fans show off in their auto play levels. It’s really cool and shows that I still have more to learn about this game so that I can fully use the utilize this sound editor program.

As you would expect, the graphics are excellent. I know that Mario’s cartoony style is supposedly a lot easier to make impressive when compared to realistic graphics, but it doesn’t take away from how good it looks. I consider Super Smash Bros for Wii U to have some of the greatest graphics of all time after all and it’s a good part of why the game is so fun. Playstation All Stars could have learned a thing or two from the series…okay, maybe a few dozen things. On a technical level, Mario Maker cannot be beat.

You may be aware of this, but Mario Maker has 100 playable characters in the 8 bit style. Each character has a taunt, run animation, and a change in direction animation. Even while jumping, each character has an animation like Toon Link, who takes out his Deku glider from the Wind Waker games. Again, these little things are very impressive when you consider how many characters are in the game. Sure, some of them are a little uninspired like the mystery block, but fans will still have a kick out of this. It’s the ultimate Mario game with all of these details and as many people have said, the New Super Mario Bros Games could really end after this. Hey, I’ll still buy a new one as the professional levels are still a lot of fun, but anything they could do (almost anything I suppose) we can now do as well.

There isn’t really a main menu here, which I think is a little sad, but it’s not much of a factor. The main mode that you will be spending time in is Course World. This is where you can look up any course that has ever been made. You can search them by difficulty or just input specific stage IDs that you can find on the Nintendo Life website, which has a listing for just about all of them. (That the users upload of course, it’s voluntary) As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot of fun to play levels made by others and to trade tips. I’ve played a lot of levels by Destroyer14/Destroyer_199 and we try to make levels that the other can’t beat. Destroyer has succeeded so far so I need to make an impossible level that’s still fair. (Meaning, no invisible block spamming)

Another mode is the 100 Mario Challenge. It allows you to play 8 levels on easy and 15-16 on Normal mode. It’s a good way for the game to randomly give you a few levels to defeat and you have 100 lives to achieve this. There’s also hard mode, which is incredibly difficult as you would expect. The incentive to play this mode aside from finding new stages is that you unlock characters this way if you don’t have all of the Amiibos. I’ve unlocked around 15 characters so far and while I don’t think I will be getting all 100, it is a fun little incentive. There’s also the 10 life Mario challenge. The fun part about this mode is that you play levels that were pre set into the game. These are more or less professional which is nice. They’re a lot easier than most of the levels that you’ll see on the 100 Mario version, but then you’re rewarded for beating all of them with the 4 World Championship levels from the Nintendo event. Those are decently tough and one of them in particular was quite the challenge. Naturally *cough* I beat them all and unlocked the Skinny Mario variant!

The game keeps track of how many stages you’ve played, your number of tries accumulated through those tries, and the lives that you’ve lost. It’s a fun little statistic as you will try to get the numbers as high as possible. Not necessarily the lives, but even that I don’t mind getting as high as possible because it shows just how much you’re playing. Some levels I’ve played about 100 times before finally defeating, but it feels so satisfying when you finally beat a level that stumps you like that. The game also keeps track of how many stars (likes) you’ve gotten from the other players, which is useful because it affects how many stages you can upload. Initially you can upload 10 stages and that number doubles once you hit 50. The maximum amount is 100 stages at 5000 stars. That should take a while, but if you’re good at social networking, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are many people who will be glad to play your stage and star it if you do the same. There are also simply so many players that there’s a good chance people will get to play it. I doubt I’ll make 100 stages as I have the most fun simply playing the levels, but I’ll work to at least get 100 stars eventually. (I’m at around 6. I’ll start farming for them once I upload 10 stages.)

The game is called Mario Maker so I should talk about the stage creation part a little. It’s quite good and a staple for how all games should go at this mode. Of course, you’d need a high budget to recreate what Mario Maker has done. You can really do just about anything with the items that you are given and there’s a nice variety of them. You can throw a bunch of Bowsers at the opponent and have hundreds of blocks in the stage. You can alter the length of the stage and the possibilities are just so great. Whether you make a boss level, a puzzle one, or just an ordinary stage, you can make it all. I do have a complaint or two with this level. I feel like you should be able to zoom out so that you can look through your stage a little easier. It can be a little time consuming to look around , but this is just a bit of a nitpick. Considering how great the stage builder system is, it’s not much of a flaw. I just feel like you could improve it a bit that way, it would certainly make things easier for me.

It’ll be interesting to see what Nintendo does for this game as far as DLC is concerned. There is a lot that can be done, which includes more stage objects and enemy types. Adding slopes would be cool as well and who knows, maybe Nintendo will add some characters like Luigi and Toad for the modern layout. I could really see that happening since it wouldn’t be too hard to bring in their character models. Wishing for Sonic or Pac Man in the modern version would be wishful thinking at this point, but you never know I suppose. I doubt that I would buy any DLC for this game, Super Smash is really the only one where I take that plunge. Still, there’s always the chance if it’s big enough I suppose.

For those saying that the Wii U has no games, it may be time to finally quiet that tune. The Wii U may be an inside joke as every third party takes shots at it, but that hasn’t stopped Nintendo from assembling some great first party games. Super Smash Bros, Mario Maker, and Hyrule Warriors are all star material. Those games are incredible and alone make the system worth purchasing. Throw in New Super Mario Bros U, Super Mario Bros 3D World, Sonic Lost World, and the other games, then the Wii U is a very good purchase and worth your money. It can easily hold its own against the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of quality. I’ve spent more time on the Wii U at this point than I have for most of my other consoles with Super Smash Bros rapidly approaching 1000 hours. (Best game of all time) This phrase is thrown around a lot, but Mario Maker is worth buying the Wii U console for.

Overall, Super Mario Maker is a game that has lived up to the hype. Yes, it’s partially very hype inducing for me because my cousin owns the game and that sparks a nice competitive edge to the game. To an extent, all games are better with friends. It’s why you spend so much time playing the multiplayer aspects of a game. I still play Super Smash Bros just about every day with my brother and my cousin. In this case, you can think of the single player as a multi player mode in a way since everyone makes their own levels. You’re able to make 100 levels even if you can’t upload them right away, you can just store them offline until you get the medals. You’ll definitely find inspiration to keep on making more and more levels. This is a game that will remain relevant for years to come and I don’t see it really stopping until the Wii U servers are eventually taken down, but we won’t have to worry about that for some time now. If you haven’t picked this game up yet, then I highly recommend it. While I didn’t jump onto the Splatoon hype train, I jumped onto this one and I’m staying aboard. I highly recommend doing the same!

Overall 9/10