Madden 21 Review


It’s been quite a while but I finally got the next Madden game! I’m still behind as there’s one more I need to get but it felt good upgrading. I’ve been playing a lot of Madden 20 so this way I was really able to see what had changed. On the whole I would say Madden 20’s a little better but it’s close and I still had a blast with 21. I ended up playing through an entire season and won the Super Bowl so I can really say that I got to experience the game all the way through. I won’t be forgetting Madden 21 anytime soon, that’s for sure!

There is a bit of a story mode with how you go from college to the pros but the cutscenes are still completely unskippable so it didn’t really seem worth it to go through this mode. I went through the normal Franchise mode instead and played a season that way. I then went into the only offense version since I don’t care for defense quite as much and it worked out pretty well I would say. I didn’t win every game and the system did well in making some teams tougher than others based on their record. So this really became apparent by the end of the season.

I found myself running the ball a lot because throwing always feels risky in the newer Madden games. The throwing mechanics definitely did seem to be a bit different now as you could actually miss some automatic type throws if you held your control stick too much in any direction. I get that it makes the game a little more realistic but I was not a fan of this. Just let me throw the ball and I’m set. I know you have to have a balance here but Madden 2004 and Madden 2013 should be the templates for that. They were absolutely perfect with throwing the ball. I would feel comfortable just airing the ball out.

That’s something that the newer Maddens haven’t encouraged in a very long time. Throwing slants is good but a deep shot up the middle? It’ll get picked off or blown incomplete pretty much every time. There’s almost no reason to even try attempting the pass which is a little disappointing. I love throwing the ball but it’s just smarter to run it in this game. I must have ran for over 60% of my plays in every game and it turned out well. I had Zeke run for over 200 yards on 4 different occasions and I’d usually run for close to 100 with Dak.

Running is fun too of course but not quite as epic as throwing the ball. To me that’s where the heart of Madden is as it’s all about making the right read at the right time. Most times there will be someone open but whether you notice that in time or after you throw the ball is really the deciding factor here. Still, I don’t throw much because the defenders can all jump 6 feet in any direction and just snag the ball out of anywhere. It’s crazy just how good they are and they have lightning fast reaction times.

Fortunately running the ball is still a blast so there’s that. The gameplay is just absolutely top notch so even if Madden were to keep on throwing out the same game every year, I would still have a blast with it. I just wish online play wasn’t an added cost or I would be having a lot of battles online. As it stands I don’t really get a chance to do that but if Madden 23 ends up coming out for the Switch that would be excellent and fix everything.

Outside of the normal games there are a bunch of other modes of course. We have an NFL street kind of experience as a new mode which is interesting. I don’t feel like you get a whole lot out of it compared to the normal games though so I wouldn’t say that it’s really a winner. More options is never a bad thing though and it doesn’t take away from playing the normal games. You’ve also got the story and all the online content so you won’t run out of things to do.

I will say that you might want to turn off injuries while playing through Franchise mode though. I decided to keep all settings as default but there were so many injuries during the games that it was crazy. I must have lost close to 10 people for the season which seemed excessive. Then there were a ton of injuries during the game that would hold them out til next week. It did make the playoffs a little more difficult but fortunately I got Zeke back for the championship and I never lost Dak. If I lost Dak then things might have really been curtains for me.

One feeling that the game really captures 100% is how some teams will stuff the run. There was one game where by halftime I had 12 rushes for 18 yards which is just sad. I eventually had to give up on the run and I ended up losing that game but for the most part I won all my games thanks to a very healthy blend of running and passing the ball. You need that kind of balance if you want to capture a win. Of course if you practice hard enough then you can probably win any which way. Fortunately there aren’t many fumbles going on either. That can feel cheesy since it’s an error that you couldn’t control so it should always be a rare event.

Naturally the game still puts a lot of effort into the graphics and how realistic the presentation is. I like how much detail is on the screen whether it’s your player’s stats or the team as a whole. You see a live sports ticket on the bottom of the screen as well and of course it’s fun to hear the commentators. Naturally they can improve and it’s no secret that EA has been very lazy with the series but it shows how good the fundamentals are. They could just keep copy and pasting the game over and over again and it would still end up being amazing. I would like to see what EA can do if they really try though. To date the best games are 2004 and 2013 so I’d like to see if they can ever be surpassed.

Overall, Madden 21 is definitely a blast. The series is as good as ever and you’re bound to have a lot of fun here. The content is almost literally unlimited and you can always try different plays and teams to freshen things up. Hopefully one day they can remove the unskippable cutscenes and also make the franchise mode a little more extensive. Do that and the series will just keep on getting better and better. I know Madden has the potential for even more greatness!

Overall 9/10

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review


After all of these years I have finally gotten to experience the hype of Xenoblade Chronicles 2! It’s one of those games that I’ve had an eye on for a while but never really got around to playing. I was certainly missing out as this game did the unthinkable. It beat out Final Fantasy XIII and Kingdom Hearts II as my favorite RPG of all time. This game is now the king of its genre which is absolutely not something I was expecting going in. The game just delivers with so much content and fun all the way through.

The game starts out by introducing us to the world which is not in a good spot. Everyone lives in the clouds and the only “land” around are giant monsters. People live on them as continents but as you can imagine the space is very limited so the world has a population issue. Rex is a scavenger who goes around trying to salvage some spare parts to make money. One day he is recruited to help a group called Torna out in a rather dangerous expedition. Rex agrees to help out but the group double crosses him and murders the poor guy when they come into contact with the Aegis.

So in this world everyone uses a humanoid weapon to fight. The Aegis is the ultimate weapon and so they seem to want her for nefarious ends. Fortunately Rex was quickly able to make a contract with her so their lives are now linked. The Aegis’ name is Pyra and she asks Rex to take her to Elysium. He is happy about this as well because with a new land, perhaps he can help the world find some new space to live. The two will meet many companions and have to fight against a ton of enemies to get up there but neither one plans on giving up.

The game’s story took me almost 60 hours to complete so you can bet that there are a lot of other things going on here. The story is always changing dynamically and does a good job of really getting you invested. There are several factions so even the various villain groups are always trying to get in each other’s way. One of the elements that really got me on board was how likable all of the characters are. We have a bunch of really fun villains running around and of course the heroes are solid too.

Then the game spared no expense in having a bunch of fights during the cutscenes. I always like to see the characters going at it even outside of gameplay and this title delivers there. The battles are always very intense like when we fought Morag and then fighting against Jin later. The guy being able to go past the speed of light was an incredible moment because it showed how the heroes were badly out of their league. Every time they would get stronger, so would the villains. There was always a ton of suspense at every moment.

The soundtrack was also absolutely top tier. There are so many great themes throughout the game. You have solid battle themes, emotional themes, and victorious themes. These really went in during those battle cutscenes as well. It goes without saying that the graphics here are also really good. It definitely feels like a modern game through and through. You’d never mistake the graphics for anything older than current gen. No chance of that.

The game is already long as I mentioned and there is a ton of post game content to go through. You’ve got the friendship events, side missions, leveling up further, etc. There’s also a whole paid DLC story but I don’t count that directly as replay value since it’s not actually on the disc. If it was then that would be a different matter. So if the game takes you 60 hours then you’ll have spent 1 dollar per hour which is a really good deal. How can you go wrong there right?

Rex had big shoes to fill in since Shulk was the main character of the first game but I would say he did a great job in this role. Rex has a lot of confidence and ends up being a character who will really inspire you the whole time. He never gives up on his dreams and fights hard. He does lose confidence at one point but for the most part he is always ready to get in on the action. Then you have Pyra who is a fun heroine and of course she can fight really well as the Argis. The two of them have a fun dynamic as friends.

Then there’s Mythra who is the more confident version of Pyra who has unimaginable power. When she appears this is a really big tipping point in the game. I had a lot of fun playing with her in the party but the game does give her a big limitation which is that you can’t use her final smash while you’re indoors. A lot of bosses are indoors so that does hurt a bit.

One of our main companions is Nia who was a member of Torna but fortunately joined up with us. She’s always a fun character and liked to mess with Rex and Pyra. There is a twist regarding her character which does hurt quite a bit near the end of the game but all in all she is definitely someone you can trust to have your back. Zeke started out as someone who didn’t seem all that impressive but by the end he looks rather good. It was also good to have him on the squad although by the time he joined up the villains were so powerful that he didn’t seem to get a lot of wins.

Morag has one of the best entrances in the whole game. She appears as the most powerful driver in the land and gives the heroes their first real big battle. It was also a solid moment where Rex chose to trust Pyra instead of delving into her past. Morag would go on to become a very reliable ally for the heroes throughout the adventure. Then we have Poppy who is a fun android. The fact that she is an artificial blade comes in handy on more than one occasion.

There are quite a number of villains in Torna. Some of the members don’t even appear until you’re deep into the game but once they show up, they make their presence known. The two most impressive villains would be Jin and Malos. Both of them have detailed backstories to explain what is going on here. For Jin, he’s extremely fast and determined which makes for a solid villain. He’s also got an honor code so you couldn’t ask for a much more impressive guy. He steals the show for the villains. Malos is also solid though, I like his confidence and he makes things tough on the heroes many times over as the game goes on.

Of course there are many more characters and events going on but you’ll want to play the game for yourself to see how that plays out. Now, what is the gameplay like? Well, that’s the only part of the game that I wasn’t all that impressed with. It’s sort of a turn based RPG, but one that operates in closer to real time and is part auto battle. So you try to stay close to the villain and your character will start automatically attacking. You can then choose special attacks and combos but a large part of the game is pretty much 100% automated.

I’m more used to seeing that on the mobile and not in a console experience so it took me for a bit of a loop. There is still a lot of strategy to it and I want to underscore that the game can still be quite challenging. That said, it just wasn’t my ideal gameplay style. I’d have preferred to have gone with traditional turn based or more of a fully real time style like Kingdom Hearts. If the game had gone in either of those routes then I think it would have ended up being quite a lot better for it.

Seeing as how this is the gameplay we’ve got though, then the next step is that you need to master it as soon as possible or the final bosses will really take you down a few pegs. I delayed learning about the orb system until the final chapters but then I had to use it. It’s difficult to describe so pay a lot of attention during the tutorials in the game. Effectively, you have to launch a combo of a level 1, level 2, and then level 3 special in the correct order to plant an orb on an opponent. Then when your team combo gauge is maxed out, you can use a unity attack. If you break an orb then you get to attack again and this goes on for up to 3 orbs. You can have more but they don’t seem to trigger extra attacks.

One big tip I’d give here is to constantly have your blades out on scouting assignments. It’s a great way to always be building up some funds and extra XP. You’ll need every bit of that in order to beat the final bosses who really jump up in terms of difficulty level. You won’t be breezing through them the way that you would have done so against the earlier villains. When the game’s difficulty jumps up, it is always very sudden as opposed to being gradual. So one minute you’ll be dominating and in the next you will be getting wrecked.

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game that will take a while to beat. You really have to fully understand the gameplay style and how to make the best out of every character. You will be engaged with the story right from the jump though. It’s just extremely solid from start to finish and the ending was also the perfect way to end things. With Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on the rise, I can now say that I’m ready for what comes next. I don’t see how it can beat 2 though. If you haven’t played this game yet, I would say that you should change that as soon as possible!

Overall 9/10

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review


Mario Kart 8 is a game I’ve been meaning to get for many, many years but it just didn’t work out. Well, that paid off in a way because then it came out for the Switch so I got to get the updated version there. The Deluxe version brings Link and everything unlocked from the jump. Throw in the smooth online and it really does feel like a Deluxe edition here. You are bound to have a lot of fun while playing through this one.

Now on one hand with everything unlocked from the jump you may feel less incentive to go and actually play through all of the cups but it also means that you can really relax and do everything at your own pace. You can play the tournaments, jump into online battles, play vs mode, etc. There is absolutely a lot of content here so you certainly won’t run out or get bored either. The amount of stages here must be a record. I’m not sure if that is a fact but at least it feels like this must be the case.

I’ve played a whole lot of stages and I’m not sure if I’ve played them all yet. Then there’s also the character roster which is just as impressive. I set a challenge for myself to play as every character before doing that review and so I took them all for a spin. It’s really cool to play as a guest star like Link here. I can definitely understand why people are getting hyped for a Nintendo Kart. You can’t go wrong with guest stars and it just enhances the amount of fun you can have. Characters are mainly cosmetic as well so you might as well throw them in.

It goes without saying that the gameplay is quite excellent here. The controls are really smooth and you shouldn’t have a problem driving around. I notice that the game does try to make it a little easier on you here as it’s hard to drive off the road. The game will usually auto correct for you to make sure that you stay on the road. That’s definitely a very useful feature to be sure. I don’t think it is quite as good as say Double Dash where you really have to be careful to master your vehicle at all times but it does make sense in terms of making the game more inclusive for everyone to have a good time with. Double Dash is still my all time favorite game after all but it’s safe to say that Mario Kart 8 is the next best.

The soundtrack is excellent with a huge variety of songs to choose from. Every stage has its own distinct theme and nothing is reused here. You’ll hear a lot of nostalgic music throughout the game and of course modern twists as well. It’s definitely a game that’s very soothing to play with how peaceful some of the songs can be and even the fast paced tunes just feel good. This is a game where you can see how Nintendo put a ton of effort into every aspect. Naturally the graphics are included with that. The game looks quite excellent at all times. The gameplay is sharp and the stage designs really pop out at you as well.

For the online modes you can play in tournaments, single races, battle modes, etc. I tried all of the options and it’s nice to be playing against other opponents in real time. I played a ton of matches and didn’t experience lag in any of them. Imagine if Super Smash had that level of attention to it? Now that would really be something. It’s also fun how you have a little point total next to your name as you play through the stages. It’s not really a ranking since you don’t know where you stack up but it does give you something to aim for as you win more and more races.

As for the battle modes, you’ve got quite a few here. The most fun one is probably the cops and robbers game as you have to dry and get out of the area before you are whacked by the other team. You can free other members who have been captured though. The game seems to favor the team making the arrests here but you do need to have strategy and doing that online can be tricky. There’s also a capture the flag game which is fun. You have to try and hold onto it for a while in order to win. This can be tough if you’re not the first to grab it though. It’s not that hard to buy 20 seconds in the initial skirmish.

There’s also the bomb and balloon modes although unfortunately the balloon one is no longer about survival. I suspect the developers were worried about players dragging the matches out too long so they turned this into a pure score battle but I always liked the idea of a survival mode since it really makes you have to drive carefully to try and stay on top there. With a score system it’s a bit more chaotic. I don’t think you will be spending quite as much time here as in the races anyway though so it’s really just more ways to play the game and you can’t go wrong there.

Overall, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is definitely a great game. There is a whole lot of replay value here which you probably guessed from everything above. This is really a complete game in every aspect. I can’t think of a single weakness that it has and so Mario Kart 8 will really end up leaving a strong legacy behind it. You will be hard pressed to find a better racing game available and of course playing online with others is a lot of fun. The items ensure that you will have a fresh experience in each race. No two races will be identical after all and the item frequency is really quite high. The stages are the right length as they aren’t too short or too long. There really must have been hundreds of hours of research pumped into this and it paid off. The bar for the 9th game is really set quite high at this point.

Overall 9/10

Mega Man X Dive Review


I downloaded this game as soon as it came out in America but I hadn’t actually reviewed it until now because I wanted to clear all of the story levels first. Well, I’ve done that and so now it’s time to give my thoughts on the game. Needless to say this one is a definite masterpiece. It’s a mobile game that will have you spending many, many hours on it. The game is highly addictive and just a whole wave of fun.

There is a story mode here although it almost feels like a formality at times as it doesn’t really go anywhere. Basically you are the “Player” someone from the real world who has played the Mega Man games and knows them well. It turns out that someone is ruining the data for each of the games and causing anomalies. It’s now up to the Player to save the day along with Rico and Via, two characters who mysteriously look like existing characters. Can we really destroy all of the corrupted mavericks and is there something more behind the scenes?

At the time of this review there are 14 chapters in the Global version. Each chapter has 6 levels so that’s almost 100 levels and the story hasn’t changed much at all. At this point it’s clear that Via is hiding a lot from the heroes but they aren’t able to do much of anything to stop him so those plot elements may as well not be around. It is nice to see the Mega Man characters so that’s cool but you feel like they could do so much more with the concept. It’s extremely formulaic and with this kind of character roster there’s a lot of experimentation that could and should be done.

It almost goes without saying that the graphics are excellent. Mobile games have been knocking it out of the park in that area for a very long time so there’s no surprise there. The soundtrack is also a 10/10 with all of the amazing Megaman tracks at the game’s disposal. It’s really fun to hear all of those nostalgic tunes one more time. You won’t have to turn the music off because it’s just so catchy.

If you want to talk replay value, well there is a whole lot of that. Now as a disclaimer, if you want to play story levels or boss battles those do require energy so you can’t play them for an unlimited amount of time. You are given a free 80 energy pack 3 times a day though and can get another 80 from friends each day so that’s an easy way to replenish. You also get full energy from leveling up.

Aside from Story Mode, you have 3 modes in Challenge. Boss Battles, The Ladder, and Race Mode. Each mode is important to play each day to grab the rewards. Then you have the event modes, you can complete each permanent event twice a day and then the limited ones have a meter as well so you can usually clear those 3-4 times. The Raid feature was also just introduced into the game and in that one you can fight a giant boss and hopefully contribute a lot of damage to the team. The more damage you land, the more reward points you will get in the end.

There are also the online arena battles and you can play an unlimited number of those. Just keep battling and keep winning to rise up into the ranks and maybe even make it up to GA which is the highest rank in the game. Trust me when I say that running out of content is unlikely. Even just trying to complete all of the daily tasks to maximize your rewards will take a while. I’m talking 3-4 hours a day which is a serious commitment. I make sure to at least get 100 points for the day to open all of the daily prizes but I still lose out on a bunch of rewards by not doing the ladder and various other modes each day. I just don’t have enough time.

But the game does reward your dedication. You will level up quicker and gain more power if you play a lot. Your power level is incredibly important here because that determines how much damage you deal with each attack and how much you take from enemy fire. My power level right now is 424,000 which is enough to clear all story levels even though they have a higher recommended power level but it’s close enough where I need to work on that. I’m at level 78 right now, I feel like if I can reach Level 100 then the sky’s the limit.

There are a lot of other things to keep in mind as well like ranking up your characters, weapons, chips, lab skills, etc. There are just so many mechanics and items in the game that I wouldn’t even know where to start on listing them all. The key thing here is to use your materials carefully. Don’t just start using them all at once. In fact, I would say to hold onto your metals and anything that looks precious until you really start to learn how the game works. Especially because at the beginning of the game you are given a ton of rewards which quickly start to dry up. Definitely keep that in mind.

Still, here are two quick tips to help you get started. One is to always complete the daily tasks as best you can. They add up quick and get you the most amounts of EXP in a short amount of time. This includes cranking your free gatcha every day. The second is to always upgrade your armor, weapon, and chips every time you level up because those have a direct effect on your power level. Keeping those at the top is a good way to keep making progress.

Additionally, you will want to keep working on completing your gallery by playing as different characters and using different weapons because that really makes a difference. Each bit helps after all. Also, you gotta be patient with your metals. That is how you spin the gatcha to try and get a new character. Let me tell you, it’s a very brutal system where you won’t always have great luck getting a new character. I’ve spun the wheel many times and still don’t get the new characters. If you’re patient enough to wait until you have 25000 metals and use them on a dive fest banner then you can guarantee a character but that’s a lot of metals. For context you will probably get around 100 metals a day after you’ve cleared all of the main content.

There are always events running around which give more though so the wait won’t be as long as all that. Personally I just wait until I reach 1000 metals each time and just try my luck. I like to see quick returns but am determined to also stay as a freemium player. Spending money on the app just doesn’t seem worth it to me and I’m having a lot of fun anyway. This is the kind of game where you can still do really well as a freemium player. You might not be at the top of the ranks but you’ll be close enough.

Final tip, I almost forgot to mention this but it’s huge. If you don’t have time to play the game much in a day, don’t worry about it. You can auto skip levels in story mode that you have already completed with 3 stars and it won’t cost any skip pass. The rewards are lower but that’s well worth it for beating 10 levels in a second. The key thing is that you don’t want to waste your energy since you can turn it into EXP. So if you know you won’t play for a few hours, just auto skip all the levels with the click of a button to get your EXP. Note that doing this for special events will cost you auto skip tickets but they are so plentiful that you should just do that. The number one rule for gatcha games like this is that you don’t want to waste your resources if you can help it. So keep on skipping and you’ll see your levels rise at a steady rate.

Overall, Mega Man X Dive is really the dream game for any Mega Man fan. You can play through the levels as many times as you want and you can even play as fan favorite characters like X, Zero, Proto Man, Bass, etc. The roster continues to grow and as long as people spend money, this game should keep on going for years. I certainly hope it continues to go strong without ever stopping at least. You can expect this will be the one mobile game where I am in it for the longhaul alongside Pokemon Go.

Overall 9/10

Warriors Orochi 3 Review


Warriors Orochi has always been a pretty fun series. There was a huge gap between when I played the first two Orochi titles but this time I was determined not to wait so long. I took the plunge and grabbed Orochi 3. Fortunately the PS3 is region free so that worked out pretty nicely. Orochi 3 definitely has a very strong plot and it features time travel so that’s a win win. It’s certainly the best Orochi game so far.

The game starts off with Orochi returning but this time as the Hydra. This 8 headed dragon crushes the entire planet to the point where within 10 minutes of the game’s start there are only 3 heroes left alive. The rest of the Dynasty and Samurai warriors cast have been obliterated. This desperate mission ends in failure but the heroes are saved by a goddess known as Kaguya. She has the ability to time travel part of the way into the past but not so far back that we can prevent Orochi from returning. Using this bonus time we have to alert everyone to the true danger and bring the world to an era of peace. Then we will return to the place of the final battle only this time we will have more of a full roster at the ready. Can the heroes stop Orochi once and for all?

I love crossovers, beat em ups, and time travel. Mix all of that into one game and it’s not surprising in the slightest that this is an absolute win. First off, the story is just very grand in scope. Seeing this dragon show up and just decimate the cast was intense. Especially since these characters are all quite powerful in their own right. It may be a little hard to buy that they would all lose like this but when you factor in that they’re always fighting among themselves they probably were weakened by this point. While the game ends with everyone finally being at peace, something tells me that won’t last for the sequel.

The main campaign is fairly long at 29 levels and there is a good amount of replay value here as well with all of the bonus levels to tackle as well. Getting everyone to level 100 will take ages too although I don’t think there’s a trophy for that so no need to force yourself. There are over 100 characters after all so that’d be pretty crazy. By the time I beat the game I only had 1 person at level 100 so I think it’s safe to say that getting everyone over there would just be too long. I’d say the story mode is maybe around 7-8 hours. I didn’t count exactly and they don’t store the playtime but that sounds about right to me.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard 3D combat system so you will know what to expect. You rush into battle and slam into enemies using both standard and power attacks. You have super attacks as well but I recommend keeping that in your pocket as a combo breaker in case a boss lays a good hit on you. Typically they go down pretty quickly but if they do start a combo they can take off huge chunks of your health in an instant. You definitely want to respect their power and keep some distance between you and the boss. At least I would recommend that.

One of the most handy tools at your disposal is your horse. I recommend summoning him as much as possible so you can run through the battlefields at top speed. Doing this will help you reach your objectives quicker. After all, aside from conquering enemies you also have to protect your comrades. My strategy in each level was to knock out all of the officers but mainly not worry about the minions. I would still average around 1000 KO’s per stage so those come naturally but getting rid of the officers is key or your allies will end up defeated and you will have to start the level from scratch. Let me tell you, you do not want to start the level from scratch to be sure.

Naturally the graphics for this game are absolutely stellar. The character models are on point and the level designs are really striking. This is the kind of PS3 game where you can tell they spared no expense. It could easily pass for a PS4 title. Likewise the soundtrack is excellent. It’s no surprise as the Orochi games tend to sound quite excellent but this one really manages to even go above and beyond. The battle themes really get you into the action so you feel ready for what comes next.

When you’re not fighting there are still other bonus things you can do as well. One of those is buying new weapons or fusing your older ones into weapons with more slots and abilities. Your weapon is quite important in this game so I recommend working on that right away. Don’t worry about the money it costs because by the end of the game you’ll be swimming in it. At the very least there was never a point in the game where I was low on funds. There is also the tea shop where you can increase your bonds with the other characters but I never really tried that out. I think the bonds mechanic increases your strength when you fight with allies but admittedly I never really tried this out. I tend to run ahead of the others to try and shield them from danger while also getting the fun fights for myself.

Overall, Warriors Orochi 3 is fantastic. It’s a top tier game filled with a lot of life and action. The story is a lot of fun, the graphics are top notch, and so is the soundtrack. There’s a lot of replay value here and the gameplay is a blast. You can easily have fun just playing the levels over and over again. I can see how people would sink dozens and dozens of hours into these games. It would make for a fun ride to try and platinum it, but the trophy for beating all of the levels on chaos difficulty sounds a bit daunting. Maybe someday. Now just one more Orochi game and I’ll finally be caught up!

Overall 9/10

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review


After playing through Dynasty Warriors I knew that it was time to get more classic beat em up games from Kemco. One Piece was the perfect follow up. It’s a terrific game through and through with extremely tight gameplay. Every aspect of the game is just flat out amazing with a top tier soundtrack, amazing graphics, etc. There’s just nothing to dislike about this game. It really delivers and is an excellent tribute to the series. I would highly recommend checking it out whether you’re just a big One Piece fan or like the gameplay in general. It’s quite polished and I definitely look forward to the day they make a 5th installment.

The game adapts 6 of the story arcs from the manga. Naturally there’s no way you could hope to adapt everything from the series so there are a number of big jumps and such as you go through the campaign. They do manage to tackle all of the big stories though such as Marineford and Wano. For the arcs that are skipped the game gives you a quick recap so you know what went on through a set of cutscenes. The campaign is a pretty solid length so there is a lot of detail here. If you list any influential One Piece scene off the top of your head, odds are that it is in this game.

Naturally the gameplay here is your typical 3D hack n slash/beat em up. You pick a character and take down hundreds of enemies as you accomplish the goals of the level which range from defeating enemies to capturing territories. To capture a territory you must beat a large number of enemies in that zone and then take out the leader. This prevents further reinforcements from that area which is a pretty great help in these battles. I always prioritize taking over the area whenever possible. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and specials. There is also a very detailed power up system where you amp your moves up. I really focused on getting Luffy and Sanji to max as their battle styles were already really good so with the extra boost to their abilities it was like cake going through the levels.

The game likely anticipated this though so throughout the game you will be forced to play as many different characters. Then you have the tricky decision of using some of your resources to power them up even though you may never play them again or try to squeak by with level 1 stats. It can be a pretty hard decision. Also one thing to keep in mind when playing as Sanji is that he can’t do much against female opponents. The game even gives you a warning message if you try to play him in a level where they show up. I ignored the warning the first time and it got tricky. Effectively you can only offer a single strike and then Sanji immediately recoils. So you can imagine that defeating an opponent will take forever when you can only land a single move like that. Without the special abilities I would have been there all day so after that I was careful when to pick him.

The power up system also allows you to learn a bunch of new moves which are handy since a lot of them are better than your starters. You can also use transformations like with Luffy activating Gear 4. It’s a really handy move to have here. In terms of pure gameplay this has to be one of the smoothest that I’ve played in a long time. I would put it even above Dynasty Warriors 9 and Hyrule Warriors 2. Both of which tried adding some new mechanics which were fun enough but Pirate Warriors 4 is going back to basics. Just take enemies down right away. I would beat up to 2500 enemies in some levels. The best attack in my opinion is Conqueror’s Haki. Using that causes many enemies to instantly die and it also ignores any shields the enemy may have up. What can beat that?

Then you’ve also got an amazing soundtrack in this game. Pretty much every tune is amazing. I’ve been listening to the tunes online after playing through the game quite a lot. There may not be a ton of different tracks as I only see around 15 online but they are all just pretty amazing. You can feel the energy in each one of them and they really make you want to jump in and get on the action. You’ve got suitably emotional tracks as well. This has to be one of the most complete soundtracks I’ve heard in a minute. Naturally the graphics for the game are also quite good. The characters are striking and same for the various landscapes which are all unique and pretty accurate to the manga/show.

In terms of replay value there is definitely a whole lot to get through here. Aside from the main story you can also play a lot of stand alone adventures in the Treasure log and experiment with all of the characters. Obtaining the Platinum Trophy will also take a very long time. Right now you can get this game for under 30 so it’s definitely a steal. You won’t run out of things to do in this game for a very long time. The main campaign alone would justify the purchase so with all of that extra content you’re definitely good to go.

Overall, The only thing I could say that isn’t positive about the game is that for their original ending to the Wano arc it was pretty uninspired. I wasn’t a big fan since it felt like more of a cop out than anything. Otherwise everything about this game is just incredible. You’ve got a top tier soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and story. You would struggle to find another game in this genre with smoother gameplay than Pirate Warriors 4. It’s all just so clean and polished that you can’t help but get sucked in to the adventure. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. I intend to play some more beat em up games like this in the very near future so definitely be on the lookout for that. It’s going to be a blast!

Overall 9/10

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Review


Hyrule Warriors was one of the best games I played on the Wii U back in the day. The game had a whole lot of awesome gameplay mechanics at its disposal and the levels were intense. To date I consider it to be one of the best beat em ups I’ve ever played. The whole thing was just so seamless and I do love me a good crossover plot. This one is a very worthy sequel though setting us in the Breath of the Wild continuity. Finally we can have a big story with these characters. The story is a pretty solid length at over 10 hours. It took me around 14.5 although I did a lot of the side missions and bonus content because the game was so fun.

The story picks up right before the actual Calamity started. Link is a chosen knight of Hyrule whose mission is to protect Princess Zelda. He does so magnificently as he saves her from an enemy energy blast. Zelda needs to awaken her abilities foretold by prophecy in order to stop Calamity Ganon from wiping out the world. Her best bet in the meantime is to find the 4 guardians and have them awaken their machines of power. If they use these then the prophecy says they will win but has Ganon already accounted for them? We know that in Breath of the Wild the heroes lose so what can tip the scales here? We have a time travelling robot from the future who shows up in the first level so perhaps he will come in clutch.

There are quite a few twists and turns here as the game goes on so the story is always adapting. It’s a very engaging one and we have a lot of cutscenes here. As always Link proves himself to be an excellent main character. It’s hard not to like the guy because he really does have an incredible amount of skill and is always ready to jump into the fray. With Link by your side you can’t help but feel that everything is going to be all right. He’ll step up to the plate each time we need him to do so. Zelda is also a solid heroine. Her voice will take a little getting used to but as a character she is brave and does what she needs to as Princess. She can also fight on the battlefield alongside the others which I’d say is crucial. You’ve always gotta be able to fight, especially in a ruined world like this one. Otherwise you may just hold the others back.

Her father, the King actually gets a good role here as well. It’s rare to see him step up, but he does and it turns out that the guy can fight really well with a sword. I liked him quite a bit throughout the game. I can see why some may find him to be a bit harsh with Zelda but I don’t think he ever crosses any kind of line and had some good points. Zelda was quite nervous at that point and seemed to be dodging her duty. I wouldn’t say it was intentional and I don’t think he thought so either. He just wanted to get her back on track and the stakes were quite high because if they failed then that would be game over.

As for the villains, we have 3 main ones aside from good ole Calamity Ganon. The first is Master Kogha. He’s definitely trying for a charismatic comic relief kind of role here. He can fight decently well but doesn’t take things seriously a whole lot. He didn’t grow on me but I wouldn’t say he was bad. He may make you crack a smile once in a while but he’s not as funny as you need to be for this style of villain to truly work. Fortunately his sidekick Sooga is great and really holds up the villain side here. He’s a talented fighter who even gives Link a run for his money. The guy is incredibly loyal as well so Kohga is lucky to have him by his side.

The main villain here would be Astor though. It’s almost odd to call him the main villain because it feels like the guy doesn’t appear a whole lot here but he is the central focus. He wants to awaken Ganon and end the world. He doesn’t have much personality beyond that but he’s okay. I’ll definitely take most of the other evil Legend of Zelda mages over him. I did like his ability to conjure up shadow versions of the heroes to fight though. That’s a pretty handy trick especially if they are close to as strong as the real deals. Meanwhile Ganon doesn’t do much but it’s always fun to see the blight versions and the final boss has a pretty great design. I do look forward to having more of a sentient Ganon make his return at some point though. He’s just such an interesting villain when he can talk.

Meanwhile the graphics here are naturally top notch. The energy effects all look really good and you can feel the power behind each attack. It makes you have a blast while you’re running around each level. The cutscenes also look really good. In particular there is one cutscene where Link is in a 4 on 1 battle that is great fun to watch. It’s definitely as intense as it gets. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is also excellent. The soundtrack has a lot of different themes with a good range of action themes to emotional ones as well. In particular there’s one action theme I like a lot which tends to show up when the villains appear. It builds up the suspense quite nicely.

As for the gameplay, it’s sort of like the first game but a bit different. The game adds a new mechanic to the usual beat em up style which is the ability to use 4 skills mid-battle. Stasis, which freezes an opponent; Magnetism, which can manipulate metal; Freeze, which is pretty self explanatory but if you use it on the water it gets to be super effective; and Bombs, which blow stuff up. I really just used the bombs and stasis but both are incredibly useful. Bombs allow you to instantly chip away at an enemy’s stagger meter without having to worry about perfect dodges. Stasis freezes an opponent for a few seconds and you can use it every 10-15 seconds so I recommend spamming that one. It is useful in every different fight so not using it would just be a waste. This new mechanic is quite powerful though to the point where you will be using it incredibly frequently.

The game puts a bigger emphasis on this than your actual final smash which is probably why this is the first warriors game where it can be very hard to replenish your meter at times. I think they’re hoping you use the new mechanic a lot. Well, it’s definitely a fun one so no complaints here. All of the characters have very unique gameplay styles although that is the one area where I would say the game does falter compared to the first one next to the story. While it’s great that the characters have their own unique styles, some feel very difficult to use for battle. Zelda is the biggest character who’s like this. It’s hard to make heads or tails of what her attacks are actually doing in gameplay. Half the time it would be faster for me to just have Link cross the entire field to go and make a last second save rather than letting Zelda or any of the other characters fight in his place. I did like Goruk’s fighting style for example, but Link’s was easily the best.

As mentioned the game’s length is over 10 hours but there’s a lot of replay value that will extend this length. For starters there are over 100 quests to fulfill by gathering ingredients and rupees. Outside of that you will unlock shops where you can level everyone up and upgrade your weapons. These quests even boost all of your characters with more combos and hearts so I highly recommend doing some of these quests. They will help a whole lot when doing the campaign. I did just enough where I was able to go through the main story without dying but I came very close in the final level. If I hadn’t completed 100+ quests I am quite sure I would have died there. Not to mention that completing challenges also helps with increasing your level. There are a wide range of challenges to beat which are separated into categories for every 10 levels. I beat all of them for the first 2 sections and then randomly beat some in the next two. There are still a lot left for if I were to ever go back to these.

Overall, Age of Calamity is a fantastic game. There is a wealth of content here to play through and that’s always good to see. It’s clear that there was a lot of effort put into this game. The story is engaging and the characters are fun. The gameplay is top notch and the same is true of the graphics and soundtrack. When you have a game this balanced there just isn’t anything to bring it down. I do hope they continue making more Nintendo Warrior games because so far they have all been quite excellent. It’s a formula that you can’t go wrong with. If you haven’t bought this game yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 9/10

Fairy Tail Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent RPG that came out. Fairy Tail is a game that I was looking forward to for quite a long while. It’s one of those franchises that has an amazing story, top tier art, excellent fights, etc. It’s pretty close to a perfect game and I dare you to find a smoother one. There are a small handful of things that keep me from giving it the 10 star value of course like frame drops and such but overall you are bound to have a blast with this one.

The game starts you off with the big battle against Hades. It’s an interesting starting point but I’m cool with skipping a lot of the early stuff. This way you get right to the heart of things without any kind of delay. That’s how it should be right? After you defeat Hades then it’s time for the big tournament. Fairy Tail has really not been doing well for the last few years after Natsu and friends were wiped off the planet for a few years. It’s going to take some time to get Fairy Tail back to being the #1 ranked guild on the planet but time is definitely one thing that they have a lot of. It may take some time but nothing’s going to stop these guys.

One of the aspects of the game that really works so well is how smooth the gameplay is. It’s a lot of fun just running around the hub world and completing the side quests. Two reasons for this are the convenience of movement in this game and how easy it is to collect resources. There are a lot of different areas to travel to, but you do have quick move points across all of the different hub worlds which is great. You are also told where the resources are so even though it is RNG on where they will appear in the level, you have a good direction of where to go. The instructions are very clear so you’ll never get lost here. There are also options you can use to streamline the game further by cutting out effects. Usually I do that after a while but this game was so much fun I opted to keep them on.

The gameplay is a classic turn based style. It uses turns based on speed so it’s similar to Megaman X Command Mission in that sense. I always thought incorporating speed was a good idea so it’s not just literally going play by play. It gives you more of a reason to actually use status effect abilities as opposed to just launching away at the enemy the whole time. Typically that’s still what I did though. In the hub world you can run around and interact with just about anything. You can also jump a bit but I’m not sure why to be honest as it doesn’t seem like you can ever jump anywhere. I guess they just wanted you to have the ability which is fun enough.

The story is dynamite of course as you tackle a lot of the big Fairy Tail moments and take down all of the opponents who would dare get in your way. Fairy Tail has always had an incredible story but it was held back by the consistent fanservice in the series. The game largely gets away from that. You do have two obligatory beach/pool scenes though so it’s not perfect. Additionally Lucy’s special ability to amplify your team’s speed is about doing a pose and some of the costumes can be tricky. The good part is most of this stuff is optional though so it doesn’t really get in the way of the game as much as it could have. That’s definitely a good thing because it’d be a shame for all of the positives to be overwhelmed like that.

There’s also quite a lot to do in this game. Going through the main story and the epilogue which is surprisingly long should take you around 21-22 hours. There’s a lot of grinding to be done if you want to get through the story easy enough. I went out of my way to upgrade all facilities and do as many side missions and bonding events as possible. I cleared all of the quests for B rank and lower as well as most of the A ones. Even with all of that, I was barely able to beat the final boss of the epilogue. That guy was Level 70 while my team was still in the 50s so his durability was crazy. I definitely recommend having your team a little higher leveled before trying to take down a guy like that. He’s definitely not going to go down very easily that’s for sure.

Leveling up isn’t that bad in this game though. For starters, even when a character is not in your party they get EXP. That includes characters you haven’t recruited yet. They don’t get 100% of the EXP your starters get, but it starts at 50% and by upgrading your facilities that number goes up to 80%. It’s why I recommend upgrading early because you get a ton of passive effects that all add up during gameplay. There are other areas to explore that I never even tried like the Pool which increases bonding and the Laboratory where you can synthesize new items. I got this game on the Switch so there’s no trophies but I do feel like I came pretty close to 100% clearing the game. It would probably still take another 5-6 hours I imagine to clean up all the side missions and character events but I definitely made a lot of good progress and it was definitely fun.

The graphics here are really nice. I would have liked to have had a few more of the big budget cutscenes show up but the fact that we get full voice acting throughout is very good. I always feel like that helps you get to the next level. The in game graphics are quite solid as well. The soundtrack is a little limited but there are some really solid themes in there. I just wish my favorite theme had shown up a little more often. It only appears briefly for some of the big fight moments. Still, With 48 tunes I suppose I shouldn’t say it’s that limited. It’s certainly a lot more varied than a great number of other games I’ve played.

Overall, Fairy Tail really focuses on being a very enjoyable game to play and that’s why it succeeds. The RPG format is one of the greatest formats in gaming because the longer the game is the more time you have to focus on liking the characters and getting used to everything. It’s really a fun journey and the game gets you hyped for the sequel. I certainly got nostalgic for Fairy Tail after this and have been watching some fun reactions to the manga’s big moments. Whether you’re a Fairy Tail fan or not I think you can get a lot out of this. That’s because it’s just an excellent game that was crafted really well. Context or not, you’ll understand what’s going on the same way you understand when starting out a brand new RPG that offers up a lot of questions. This is definitely a game of the year contender and has a ton of replay value which just strengthens the argument.

Overall 9/10

Dynasty Warriors 7 Review


It’s time to look at the next Dynasty Warriors title. It’s been fun going through all the installments from 2-now in this prolonged marathon. The series has come a very long way. I feel like the biggest gap was probably between 4-5 and then from 6-7. 7 is definitely the definitive Dynasty Warriors in my eyes. I’m still working on 8 so it’s not like I’m caught up with the series but at least right now 7 is going to be really hard to beat. It takes every mechanic of the series to the absolute height of where it’s ever been.

As always the story is basically the same and you get to pick from 3 different factions. I always pick the red team which I believe is Wu and so I get to really compare the stories. That said, I’ll be switching for 8. So to make things a little different here this game has a lot of cutscenes and cinematics. There is full voice acting on all of the lines. This ranges from the cinematic cutscenes to even just talking with the guards. It adds a whole new layer of immersion that you just didn’t have in the older games. We get a lot of character development and the story is also more in depth than the others. Some battles are so famous like the war of Chibi that you’ll recognize it while other side battles are finally given more screen time.

Now, none of this would be quite as powerful without some great gameplay behind it and 7 delivers on this front as well. The gameplay is the most explosive that it has been yet. There is now a dual wielding mechanic where you can switch weapons and keep your combos going. It helps keep things dynamic quite well while also working as a combo breaker. It also feels like this is the point where the series begins to feel a lot more like the other spinoffs such as Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors. Gone are the days where you had to watch out for minions. Now you’ll be taking them out by the hundreds. There was one level where I took down over 1000 warriors. It’s all just great and the gameplay is incredibly smooth. It’s hard to see the others improving upon it just because of how responsive it is.

I guess the flip side of this is that the game becomes easier as a result. That’s not really a big deal because you can increase the difficulty if you really need too. It’s also not like it’s a walk in the park either. You still need to make sure you follow the plan and don’t just do your own thing. Otherwise you may beat the enemies but your captain will die which will still result in a game over. So you want to keep a lookout. I didn’t notice any morale system here which would be a big change since the rest of the games had it. I always felt like the system never really helped you out though so I don’t mind losing it if that’s the case.

The graphics are pretty top notch. The attacks are all very flashy and really stand out. The levels have a great amount of detail within them as well which all works out pretty well. The cutscenes are excellent as I mentioned as well. The soundtrack is also great. That’s no surprise though as this series has always been particularly great with this. There are constant rock themes running around to pump you up and get you ready for the action that’s about to unfold.

The campaign should take you a few hours at least. There are 15 levels and assuming you beat each level in around 20 minutes then that’s about 5 hours give or take a bit. Since there are 3 campaigns you’ve got a 15 hour game then and there’s a ton of replay value. You can work to max out your characters or engage in a bunch of bonus levels. As long as you do that then you’ll be pretty much set. The game’s also very cheap at the moment so it’s not like you’ll have to be shelling out a lot to get it. For such a low price it’s absolutely worth it.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 7 blew me away with how much of an improvement it is over the last few games. Now this feels like a true PS3 experience and Kemco really outdid themselves here. No matter which faction you choose you are in for a great time. Fans of the beat em up genre need to get this game even if it may raise the expectations to an almost unfair level for other games. This is how you do a beat em up and it reminds me of how great this genre can be. I’ve played many beat em ups in my day and while this one won’t be able to climb to the top due to the story not being as strong as others, in pure gameplay it definitely holds its own with them.

Overall 9/10

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Review


It’s time to look at another Dynasty Warriors game. It hasn’t been so long since I beat the last main title so now it’s time for a spinoff. I’ve owned the Gundam game for a very long time and did complete two of the Arcade modes a while back. I never actually reviewed it though so I went in and did another one for the review. It definitely still holds up as an excellent game and there’s a world of difference to me compared to the mainline Dynasty Warriors games. Even the gameplay itself just feels a lot better which I’m not sure is because of the character models or for Gundam they had a higher budget.

So there are two different story modes for the characters. One is the classic story which is based on events from the TV show. Then you have the original story which is the crossover epic. The crossover story involves a planet that is heading towards Earth. If it lands that will naturally result in the destruction of both planets so Amuro is ready to put a stop to this. Char has arrived and is asking for help. Can Amuro really trust Char to help him save the world or is this all an elaborate double cross? Either way the stakes are high and so Amuro really doesn’t have time to worry about this. At the end of the day he has a world to save.

The story is pretty basic outside of the main premise. You see all of the characters from the other series but we don’t have any big interactions with them or any of that. I haven’t seen the Gundam shows yet but you do at least get the general feel of their personalities. It’s sort of like a tribute to the fans but I would have liked some more bantering. Part of the fun with crossover games like Marvel vs Capcom is seeing these little interactions/potshots at each other. It’s hard to say who my favorite Gundam character is at the moment but I did like Heero here. He was all about attacking and attacking until the enemy goes down which is a pretty good plan if you ask me. You can’t win by playing defense so he made some really powerful points here. All the characters look pretty fun as expected though.

The gameplay as I’ve already hinted at here is a classic 3D Beat em Up. The idea is to take over portions of the map to weaken the opposing army. After a while their general will come out and the goal is to defeat him. I recommend taking over as many parts of the map as possible, but you do want to be careful not to overextend yourself. In Co-Op this becomes pretty easy because you can split up and each take over half of the map. When you’re on your own you just have to remember that a lot of your allies are fairly weak and will be destroyed pretty quick. Fortunately you don’t typically lose the mission on account of that. If someone specific has to live the game will tell you in the victory conditions page. I recommend looking at this page before every mission. It’s always good to know exactly how the fight must go to win or lose so you know who to prioritize.

At its core I think that’s why I really love beat em up games. On the surface it looks like you’re just an overpowered fighter taking down armies, but when you drill in to the specifics it’s really about learning how to strategize. Unless you lower the difficulty to easy you’re not going to have time to help everyone. In these games you’re highly encouraged to follow the plan of attack. If you deviate then you’ll probably lose a lot of allies. A lot of time you have to keep zipping around which will even mean retreating at times because the bosses take quite a bit of time to defeat. If you make the wrong choice you may end up losing. Your character is a lot more formidable than in Dynasty Warriors which helps you deal more damage to the army, but even here I did have to retreat and regroup a few times. I also appreciated the fact that the A.I. here is a lot better than in Dynasty Warriors. They actually assist you in a meaningful way which I was happy about.

As for the graphics, they are definitely high end as you would expect. The robots all look good and the explosions are definitely pretty intense as well. The level designs are also really great to look at. I particularly like how they incorporated space into this as one level in particular actually has to fighting in the vast unknown. That’s certainly not something you would see in a normal Dynasty Warriors game for sure. There are also some full cinematics that play through the game which all look very good. The various Gundam designs are all pretty unique and it’s fun to see them engaging in battle. The soundtrack is fairly large and works well. Admittedly you won’t hear it a whole lot as you’re blasting through everyone but it’s there all the same. The themes are suitably intense for the big moments and will give you the energy needed to clear these levels.

For replay value the game has quite a lot of it. Each story mode should take you a little over 2 hours. You can multiply that X2 for the characters who have both stories and then there are around 20 characters or so which makes for a lot of levels. You can also work on maxing out every character to improve their stats and gathering the items. All of this will take quite some time so you really won’t be running out of content anytime soon. There’s simply way too much to do and it’s part of what makes this game the complete package. The company clearly put quite a lot of time and effort into this one which keeps on holding it up as one of the best beat em ups.

Overall, If you like a good beat em up game then you’ll love this title. The gameplay is very smooth and there is a whole lot of content to absorb here. Each of the character attacks are different enough where you’ll see the benefit of switching things up. I can definitely say that the sequels are higher on my list although right now they seem a bit overpriced so I’ll hold off on that for a bit. Playing as a Gundam is just a lot of fun because of how many attack options they have as well as the stage backgrounds. It all feels very high tech and sci-fi which has really held up over the years.

Overall 9/10