COGEN: Sword of Rewind Review

It’s time for a platformer with a pretty fun time manipulation gimmick. In a lot of platformers you really focus on running to the goal and dodging attacks but in this one you actually have the ability to rewind as you may have guessed from the title which is really fun. Additionally since the game is built around that premise, it’s actually very well balanced so you aren’t just being extremely overpowered while slicing through the competition. This game has a lot of replay value and it’s actually quite a bit of fun to go back and work on those levels. I ended up getting an S rank on 6 out of the 10 levels which went over better than I had expected.

The story follows a girl named Kohaku who wakes up in a strange world in a cybernetic costume. She doesn’t really know what’s going on but there is a talking sword named EXEBreaker who wants her to break the system. Kohaku is fine with doing this but what is this system and what’s going on? As you go through the game this will all be explained. You even have to go up against your father and Kohaku will have to make some tough choices. It isn’t going to be possible to make everyone happy this time around so she can’t just press on ahead without a plan.

There are 5 main levels and then 5 SP levels so there are 10 levels in the game. Each level is reasonably challenging though which is exactly why you have the rewind feature. As Kohaku you have a single life point so taking any damage automatically means you lose. Fortunately you have 3 seconds of rewind time in the vault and so you can use that to quickly get back in the action. Of course if you die while you have no rewind time left then you go back to the last checkpoint. You passively gain your rewind time back up to 3 seconds once you use it so as long as you don’t die too often then you’re good.

Of course with the way these enemies attack that can be easier said than done. Other times you may find yourself in a death loop accidentally and be doomed. This can happen when you are squished by an object for example. So plan things out well or you will jus get yourself in a jam. On paper I know that sounds easy but that’s why this game stands out. The levels are really well designed to keep you from cheesing it. You do have to actually get a hang for the controls. I would say the gameplay itself reminds me of Mega Man Zero a lot. You can dash, back dash, crouch, use your sword combos and you have a double jump. Basically if there is a movement option then odds are that you have it.

You can cover a lot of ground and so the actual platforming will normally be easy while the real danger is sticking away from the enemy robots. Once you beat the game then you unlock a super mode which makes all of the levels a lot easier. This is perfect for earning S ranks and all of that plus it’s just fun to have a laser cannon instead of only relying on the sword. Just be careful that you don’t get sloppy as it can be very easy to relax your guard when you have a better weapon.

I died numerous times against the final boss for that reason. It’s just hard to go back to the sword when you’re used to the lasers. Also I kept getting trapped by this portal attack the boss uses and it turns out that I wasn’t supposed to go inside it. See, I thought that was just the next phase of the fight and so I always let it suck me in but apparently that’s a trap. It’s actually kind of clever when you think about it. I can tip my hat to the developers on that one.

The base game is reasonably long since those 10 levels are not a walk in the park. Then you have a lot of good replay value with trying to get the Platinum here. It’s definitely a difficult platinum but one that looks achievable. I would say to give it a go and see how you fare. Even without that, the base game was still fun enough where you will have a great time. I really enjoyed the story all the way through. It’s a pretty fun sci-fi premise with a lot of fun twists scattered all throughout the game. The cast is fairly small but memorable and each character brings something to the table.

By splitting the 10 levels into two sets it also helped you get used to two different fighting styles. For example in the second half your rewinding abilities are much more limited so you really have to focus on your pure fundamentals. Just running in won’t be helping you out much at all because you can’t spam rewind the way that you could. Then at the very end of the game you get the third gameplay style which is a lot of fun and I’m glad it was added to free play.

The graphics here are definitely very solid. The art style really gets the sci-fi feel across very well. It has that Mega Man vibe without feeling like a clone and all of the character designs are on point. The soundtrack is also very good with a lot of solid rock type themes. I actually need to look them up later since it would be a lot of fun to listen to those tracks again. On a technical level the game holds nothing back.

Overall, Cogen really delivers on everything I could have wanted here. It’s a fun side scroller with an intense story and a lot of fun gameplay. The rewinding gimmick is one that never feels annoying and in instead it’s really innovative. The game had a very specific goal in mind and executes on all cylinders. I really had no issues with the game at all and highly recommend checking it out. Hopefully at some point we can get a sequel here since there is still a lot of potential all around.

Overall 8/10

Asdivine Menace Review

Whenever there is an Asdivine game that is a direct sequel it’s really cool to see. It’s not everyday that you get to see what happens after the heroes have saved the day. It has certainly happened like in Golden Sun but I would argue that it is still more on the rare side. Of course the whole Asdivine series is interconnected by the two goddesses from the first game and it’s cool to wonder where everyone is at these days. We do see a cameo of the cat but since Zack and the heroine took over the roles later on maybe this takes place early in the continuity. It could also be a multiverse setting. Either way that’s not important to this game but it’s fun to think about.

The game starts with Izayoi waking up after the 100 years slumber he had to take from the first game. He saved the universe though so things should be good but unfortunately that isn’t the case when he wakes up. His powers still haven’t fully returned for some reason and the Murk (Shadow energy that corrupts all) is still around. Then a goddess from another universe arrives and explains that things are getting worse across all of the dimensions. Izayoi decides to go and tells the other gods to watch over the universe while he’s gone. This writes out the cast from the first game so don’t expect them to do much aside from quick appearances here and there. Instead the main cast is this goddess, a shrine maiden, and a mysterious little girl who accompany Izayoi. He must check in on all 4 of the universes and take down the main villain.

It’s a pretty fun plot because this was also foreshadowed back in the first game. It had that creepy ending with a girl appearing and she’s the main villain here. Her backstory is also kinda tragic so you can see why she got this demented. Of course it’s another cast of “Sad story but you’re still evil bro” moment but I appreciate the game giving her such a tragic backstory where you can really see why she went the way that she did. It would have been tough to have been on her own for so long. The story evolves quite a lot as you play through it and we have a pretty big cast here. Izayoi is as oblivious as ever and one of the characters is also super oblivious in nature which makes for some fun dialogue. On the whole this game does lean more into the shipping than some of the other Asdivine games but the core story will tide you over. It’s a good premise here and the game takes advantage of the fact that you are playing as a super powerful god this time around. You aren’t going to back down when the villains show up and that’s how it should be.

Of course the whole “I’m depowered!” trope is a bit annoying since at full power this would all be trivial but you do understand why they went in this direction since ordinarily Izayoi could just wipe everyone out. My counter would just be to make the enemies all scale up to gods though. It would be interesting to just make this a big fight between gods of all sorts of dimensions. There is still a human villain here as well but he looks really bad the whole time. Yeah he is being suckered for a good portion of the game but he was suckered too easily and it doesn’t take away from what he was doing. The guy doesn’t have a lot of strength of heart and do I don’t cut him any slack here.

The graphics are really good here as expected. I really like the way that the cosmic realm looks and of course it has one of the best tracks in the game as well. You really feel like this is a big battle to end them all. The fights are also really tough and the game notches the difficulty level a few layers higher to really make the whole thing feel authentic. No expense is spared for this game and you appreciate that. All of the tracks are excellent as you would expect too so the game really has no weak points. You definitely feel like going for the true ending as a result. I went for that right away and even with all of my level ups it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I’ll try getting the rest of the true endings at some point.

The length is fairly standard for an Asdivine game at around 15-20 hours. You shouldn’t have a problem really diving through the game and by the time you get the platinum as well we’re definitely looking at closer to 30 hours. It’s a fun experience all the way through and well worth the price. The gameplay is top tier as always with Asdivine. The game doesn’t have some of the quality of life features that the others have but it’s got the ones that matter like battle effects and reducing enemy encounters in the wild. Then when you want to grind you can increase the encounters.

The only mechanic I never really used was Unison here. You could merge magic attacks so you do them all in one turn but then the other characters did not get a turn so I never felt like it was worth it. To me it just seemed like using your normal attacks but with more steps so why would I really need to do that? I’m sure there is some benefit but I couldn’t really figure out what it is. Just focus on leveling up and buying all of the EXP upgrades. Do that and you should be good and ready to take on any challenger. Some bosses may still take you more than one attempt but that’s normal so fight hard and just keep pressing forward!

Overall, Asdivine Menace does a great job of following up Dios and it’s a blast to see the old cast again. It would have been nice if more of the old characters could have participated as well. Maybe in a third game we would get to see the extended cast of both games team up. That would be a blast and to this day I’m waiting for an Asdivine game where the protagonists of all the games get to team up. Now there would be a game for the ages! Trust me, it would be incredible and probably a 9 star game right out of the gate. The longer we wait on doing this, the more leads there will be to crossover so I suppose that’s a plus. I definitely recommend picking up this RPG.

Overall 8/10

Asdivine Cross Review

Asdivine continues to churn out hit after hit and this is one of the better ones in a while. I thought the characters had a really good dynamic going for the most part and was one of the stronger dynamics since the original Asdivine Hearts which will still go down as one of the best RPGs of all time. This one isn’t quite ready to challenge the original of course but it’s still a very strong game all around. With classic end of the world stakes going on and all of the usual quality of life updates this is a game you don’t want to miss.

The game revolves around a thief named Harvey who is really good at what he does. So good that the son of the leader of the guild wants him out of the way and is always trying to get him captured. This time he succeeds but Harvey is broken out along with a girl who claims to be the princess of the kingdom. Problem is that a shapesifter/look-alike has taken her place so she is not currently wanted at the castle. Harvey will have to help her out since his thieves brigade’s motto is to always protect a lady at any cost. He’s not thrilled about this assignment but will do his best. Along the way the heroes will meet up with some allies and enemies as they get closer to unraveling a giant conspiracy. It wouldn’t be an Asdivine game without some cosmic threats on the way right?

Right off the bat we do have a lot of the usual quality of life features that make the games so much fun. You can reduce enemy encounters, turn off battle effects, and more to make walking around and the villain encounters more fun. Grinding up to the max level just doesn’t feel like a chore this way since you can keep on getting stronger and stronger. There are also a lot of different abilities from unity attacks to skills, magic, etc. So you can have fun building your character in a whole variety of ways until you find the one that really sticks with you. Then once you are strong enough you really feel like you can do anything. It’s one of those games where you really feel your strength as it increases which is nice.

The Asdivine series also has fun experimenting with a bunch of features to keep their games feeling different. For example one had a tree that you would raise to get stats every 8 hours, others have weapon merging to make them stronger, roulettes, combo attacks, etc. They’re always features that you don’t have to use of course but they make the game more balanced overall and I appreciate them being there. Trust me it’s a great thing to have. You’re only going to get one final smash during a battle so you have to decide if you use an offensive one that deals mega damage or a support type that restores everyone’s health and boosts their stats. Personally I really liked the support one for once because restoring everyone’s health is huge.

Grinding to get the levels also benefits you in slowly earning currency that can be used to buy online items or saved to use as an extra life mid battle. I recommend using it to buy all of the EXP upgrades and then after that it’s really up to you. I’ll typically buy other permanent upgrades but I recommend skipping on money since by the end it is inevitable that you will have more than you know what to do with. Don’t make the mistake of of wasting your coins on that since they are tough to come by. Extra lives are also super handy because even at around level 300 I was getting beat by some of the opponents. These games can really be challenging if you don’t have a plan up your sleeve.

So the story was really good and that’s one of the things I really enjoyed about the game. Sometimes these titles will go a bit too far in trying to make all of the characters very quirky and zany but this one was mainly keeping the characters feeling real. There is one that gets to be a bit too tsundere by the end which could make you shake your head a bit but otherwise the cast all interacted well. I enjoyed seeing the stakes get higher and higher as the game went on. I’m sure you will see some of the twists coming before the title ends but maybe not all of them. Either way it still makes for a fun adventure cover to cover.

The graphics here are also very solid. I always enjoy the illustrations used for each character portrait. It would be nice if the game ever went a bit farther to have some kind of cutscene during the game. That would just go a long way to making the game feel a bit more special. It’s not necessary of course but would be really effective since it hasn’t happened before. One of the highlights of the game is the soundtrack as expected. The Asdivine games always have a tremendous ost with a ton of really fast paced tunes and this one is no exception. The tracks really hit you with a lot of power in an instant and it works perfectly. I highly recommend looking up the tracks on Youtube when you finish the game.

The story is a good length at around 15 hours or so and then there is a good amount of replay value in trying to unlock all the endings. My only slight complaint here is that unlike most of the other games where you just keep reloading and fighting the main boss, for this one you actually have to play the whole game again on new game+ mode. I thought that was a bit odd and feels a little forced since it was never like that before. It’s not a big deal because you don’t have to play the game again but it seems like a way to extend the replay value a bit without needing to.

Overall, Asdivine Cross is definitely a great game. It’s an RPG that is a whole lot of fun to play. The aesthetic, combat, and soundtrack are all top notch. Kemco knows how to really get you invested into a game and they spare no expense on the fundamentals. In some ways the game will feel familiar and that just makes it even better since you know that all of the other games you’ve played in this style have been fantastic. So naturally that would be the case for this one as well. Hopefully it gets a sequel like some of the others have at some point because there is definitely a lot more you can do with this cast.

Overall 8/10

The Lego Movie 2 Review

It’s time to dive into the Lego Movie game. I haven’t played a whole lot of Lego games. They’re fairly safe platformers that don’t try to be too ambitious and give you a good time but at the same time they never seem to really be able to match the big titles. There are so many of them that it could make for a good theme someday but as it is this would be the weakest one that I’ve played. It’s not bad by any means, but as I said it’s just rather basic.

The game starts off with the Lego world being invaded by all kinds of crazy enemies. Only the two main characters from the first movie can try to save the day since Batman and the rest of the heroes have all been scattered to different planets. They must be found and assembled before taking the fight to the villains but it won’t be easy. Do they really have what it takes this time? The game doesn’t go much more into the plot than that though and most of the story only appears very suddenly during the final cutscene which was an interesting move. I can tell you that I had not seen this before but ultimately it felt a bit lazy. They could have easily tried to throw in some more cinematics and a plot to this. The main character doesn’t even get to speak outside of grunts because there isn’t much to say although the heroine talks a lot.

Let me jump into my first main issue with the game which are the unskippable cutscenes. Right when you boot up the game you are greeted with a very long intro that can not be skipped and this happens every time you turn the game on. Then during the game whenever there is a tutorial you have to listen to a full speech and there are a lot of tutorials. This is an easy quality of life miss for the game since in this day and age there should never be so many moments that are unskippable. You should always give the player some way to get around that because if you don’t then that’s just going to be annoying.

It was a rough first impression. When it comes to the gameplay I can’t say that I have very many issues though. You use the legos to create objects and move through the stage. It’s all rather easy to understand and there are less characters with specific abilities than in other Lego games so that helps in keeping track of things. There are even some boss fights here which can be fun as you have to create specific objects to defeat them. They don’t always explain everything so get ready for some guessing but on the whole it’s handled well. I would have liked more bosses though.

The game is very short. You should be able to beat it in a few hours, maybe 4-5. There is some replay value in trying to get the Platinum trophy though. I’m not sure exactly what that entails just yet but I think I’m going to aim for that one. It seems like it would be a fun little thing to do that wouldn’t take very long. It does help to make the game a bit more worth it and the price is fairly low so you also have that to consider. If this was full price then I would be a little harsher but for the price it’s a decent value.

It’s hard to really gauge the graphics since the Lego style will never look amazing or anything like that but it’s clear enough. I was able to always know what was going on and keep moving from there. The soundtrack is more on the generic side and I don’t think that you will really love any of the tracks or even remember them to be honest. It’s very by the numbers in that respect and you can tell that the game is just playing it safe on every turn. Nothing wrong with that but you’ll never be a great game by doing that. You have to go a little farther and try something dynamic.

That sums up the game in a nutshell. You’ll have a good amount of fun the whole time if you just want a fun little platformer to play but there are so many better ones out there that you will never quite feel like this one is a title you would search out. For some things the game does well, I like the map/compass. It always tells you where you should be going and I appreciate that. The collectibles are clearly labeled and all of the menus are very easy to understand. You could put this game down for years and I bet you would still understand exactly what was going on after that. This is absolutely one of those games and some of the level designs are also decent. I actually liked the DC world where it’s just a bunch of houses and roads. It felt like something out of a classic Gamecube game which was great but other levels were more on the generic side.

Overall, The Lego Movie 2 is a decent game but it just doesn’t do anything special enough for me to call it very good. It ends up being stuck right on the edge instead of really going anywhere. If you’re looking for a little game to keep you entertained then you can’t go wrong here. That being said, you can do better so keep that in mind. Buying one of the main Lego games like Batman or Star Wars would also end up giving you a lot more content but hey maybe you should go and check them all out. The prices for the Lego games actually aren’t that bad nowadays.

Overall 6/10

Knighthood Review

All right it’s time to talk about a mobile game that sort of came out of nowhere and ended up being a blast. It’s the kind of mobile title that’s definitely very addicting with a whole lot of content to keep you busy. The campaign is likely upwards of 100 hours, I only just beat it now and I started the game back near the end of February. The iPhone sadly doesn’t track play time past 10 days, but I’m at 30 hours played over that time to multiply that by 6 for the 2 months and that’s even close to 200 hours. Especially considering that I was putting even more time in at first and you’ve got a big grind here. Of course that’s only the beginning as any player would tell you.

So the basic plot here is that you are a new knight ready to serve the kingdom and make a name for yourself. Your timing couldn’t be better as the kingdom is in desperate need of help now that monsters are invading. The legendary knights of old have all turned evil except for one who is determined to train you to be the best there ever was. Still, you will have to travel across several continents and defeat all of the knight masters. Are you up to the task?

The story is fairly basic but I do appreciate the fact that there are some actual cinematics here. Near the end of the game you even have a big team up among all of the characters you have met thus far against the main villain and it’s actually kind of hype. So the game’s story does hold up and the best part is that it’s a story which actually “ends”. Well….after you beat the main game there is a post game which seems to have a story of its own and there is a bit of a cliffhanger if you were to end after the main story. So it’s not 100% finite, but at least you could say you beat a saga as opposed to some games that like to just go on forever. From the start of Knighthood you know exactly how many levels there are and it helps you plan things out.

Now what is the gameplay like? Well, it’s a turn based RPG and you have 4 kinds of attacks. You have your weapon attack based on what you have equipped. Then you have your punch and the power is based on the gauntlet you have equipped. Then you have the hero abilities based on the heroes you have unlocked to fight by your side. Finally you have the Rage ability which you can charge up using your punch and then use for great results. This is an extremely simplified version of the controls though so expect a bit of a learning curve as you jump in. The game does a good job of being intuitive though so while it may be hard to explain it all in text, as you’re playing it will just make sense. Trust me on this, it’s a very smooth experience all around.

As you level up all of your stats improve so you really feel stronger each time. Mainly what will slow you down from beating it all in one shot is that you will run out of materials. Materials are used to strengthen your weapons and armor and the material you need changes every 10 levels. Additionally you need rank up materials as you approach the next 10. There are 9-10 different modes that you will be playing daily in order to grab materials but so you have to realize that this will be a gradual process. You won’t be getting everything at once, that’s just not happening. A lot of these are time gated as long as you’re a free to play user so keep that in mind.

That said, the game doesn’t feel very pay to win because you can eventually access all materials. You are given a good amount of currency each day so just spend it wisely. Additionally this is a game where most of the content is really PVE (Player vs Enemy) so it’s not like you’re watching other users beat you up all the time. There are two main PVP modes though in Arena and the Guild Wars. Note that you are fighting an A.I. in this case though so they aren’t live battles. Live battles would be cool but I’m glad that’s not the case here because I’ve experienced that in other games where the wait times get crazy. (Mega Man X Dive)

The Guild Wars can be rather unbalanced depending on your opponents. They need to work on the matchup criteria a little more. I’ve been in two Guild Wars so far. In the first we dominated 100% so we got every single reward (Which was awesome since I was a young player at the time and it gave me a huge boost in materials) but we got destroyed in the second one and couldn’t get almost any materials. So it can be hit or miss but at least you’re getting something either way right? The game can feel overwhelming at first with how much content there is but it’s ultimately a good thing because there is always something happening and there’s always a way to earn what you don’t yet have.

In terms of replay value it goes without saying that this game has a ton of it. With a main campaign well over 100 hours that’s a lot right there. Then the post game is guaranteed to take just as long I’d say. Put it this way, after completing the game I tried the first post game level and I lost in one hit to a normal minion. Needless to say the difficulty jump is quite extensive. Apparently the reason for this is that the post game came out like a year or two after the game’s ending so they were taking into account that people would have really upgraded their gear. There is something called “Mythic Gear” for example that is really strong but I’ve only obtained 1/9 of the gear so far so I have a ways to go.

Also in post game the enemies attack your health directly and that’s my weak point for now until I get some charms. Put it this way, my armor is at around 50000, but my health is at 10000. So you can take it down really quick when you’re skipping armor and that’s not something that level ups will help with much. So right now I am completely stuck with the post game and am just going to have to keep playing the side modes and leveling up my gear before I can get through. Once I have done that though, get ready! I’m going to be absolutely dominating, you can count on it. The max level in the game is 60 and at the time of writing this I am 48 so I’ve made good progress. Now again since this is based on the gear, just being level 60 doesn’t mean much as there will be 60s with much better gear than me.

For example I’m level 48 right now but most of my gear is around 41 and almost all of my heroes are level 20 or lower. So it takes a while to actually bump everything up, but I am getting up there. Slowly but surely is what I always say and you just gotta keep the grind up. As long as you complete the daily and weekly tasks each time you should really be good to go. Right now in my guild out of 17 people I’m the 14th strongest so I’d really like to boost that up but we’ll see. I’m pretty far at the moment.

Overall, Knighthood is a great game. The amount of content it has is just fantastic and that’s one of the positives of jumping into a game that has been going on for so long. Of course the only downside is you will be years behind the other players. For example I know I won’t be touching the upper echelon of players for at least a year or two because of how long the grind is. I don’t even know if I’ll still be playing the game that long. There are very few games that last that long, only Mega Man X Dive and Pokemon Go have pulled off such a feat and X Dive is nearly out of business based on the story ending so soon that’ll be gone too. In the meantime though I’m definitely having a fun time here and I would recommend this to players looking for a fairly unique mobile game. The rpg type combat here really is different from the average title and so it helps make the whole thing stand out.

Overall 8/10

Monkey King: Hero is Back Review

This game was definitely one of the more random ones that I ended up grabbing from Gamestop but when a title is just a few bucks you’re inclined to take a few risks right? Odds are that this would be worth the few bucks and naturally that was the case in the end. This is the kind of game that may not be great but it’s good fun and by the end you realize you had a good time with it. I’d definitely be down with a sequel to this one someday.

The game starts off with the Monkey King getting taken down by the gods so his powers have been sealed. A kid unseals him and the hero, Sun saved him but a girl gets kidnapped by the villains. The kid begs Sun to help out and at first this Monkey King can’t be bothered but as the adventure goes on he realizes that it is finally time to step up and be a hero. Without his famous powers will he really be able to win though? Only time will tell! One thing’s for sure, he will need to eventually find a way to remove those chains before it’s too late.

The story of the Monkey King is a classic one and this adaption does a good job of going through the motions. He gradually learns about empathy, kindness, and humility as the days go on. At first he is very gruff but gradually becomes a team player. It’s all handled rather well here even if it may come across as just a little generic. The story is fairly barebones as it is. Even the trio of characters have a fairly old dynamic with Sun being the gruff one, you have the guy who talks tough but is actually weak, and finally the kid who means well and is super cheerful but isn’t really cut out for tangling with the others even if he has the heart for it.

So you’re playing this one more for the gameplay which is fortunately pretty good. It’s a 3D action game where you take out enemies with hand to hand skills or use one of your attack powers. I highly recommend using a bench to fight most of your battles. Yes, you heard me right…. a normal bench. It’s surprisingly effective the whole time. It has a longer reach than your normal blows and also deals more damage so it’s kind of a no brainer right? Once you get hooked on it then you won’t want to use anything else. The only exception is a staff that you should unlock by the very end of the game. Once you have it, it is an immediate upgrade over the bench so you’ll never use it again.

You can upgrade all of your special abilities as you play through the game so choose the ones that you want to max out carefully since by the end of the game you won’t have enough points to max everything. Mainly if you go with a maxed out bench and staff then you should be okay. There are other fun abilities like your projectiles but they all just feel a whole lot weaker. Also, the game is more fun with those items because otherwise the game can feel a little too slow and clunky the whole time. I do have to say it’s a pretty valid complaint against the game. The core combat doesn’t feel super balanced or organic at times. Mix that in with how the game can actually be rather difficult and you can have a rough time here.

I only barely beat the final boss after a lot of cheesing and was nearly out of magic meter. Just one or two more hits and I would have lost. It makes for a spectacular story down the road of course and you feel good when winning a real nail biter like that but I can’t help but feel that I would have done better if the game was just a bit more polished. At times it can feel like you dodged an attack when you get hit or an opponent launches an attack with no real way to dodge it. The enemies also have a whole lot of health at their disposal and you feel like they would have calmed down on that a bit.

The free roaming parts of the game where you pick up collectibles and find things is okay but I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of effort put into that. The focus is definitely more on the combat. I do give the game a lot of props for making the final, final boss a blast though. There is a whole different gameplay style created just for that fight and it ends up making a real big difference. See, you can actually feel the power and high stakes behind the final boss due to this. It is worlds different from every other boss fight and that’s exactly the kind of feel and atmosphere you’re supposed to be going for with this. The game understood the assignment here.

Overall, The Monkey King is a fun game. I’ll admit that it gets off to a rocky start and you have to get used to the game so initially it was leading up to more of a 6 star slot but by the end the game came into its own and really surprised me. It’s still a fairly short game so you’ll likely have it beat in around 10 hours or less but it’s a complete title. It also helps that I got the game for around $5-10 which is a fair price for this title. If you see it for a price like that then I recommend grabbing it. There’s not a lot of replay value here beyond aiming for the platinum so I’d say to just enjoy the gameplay/experience and call it a day. At the end of the day that’s really all that you need/want here. The wii Monkey King game I played was more fun but this one still gave me a good time.

Overall 7/10

One Piece: Odyssey Review

It’s time to talk about Strawhat Luffy and the gang in their latest adventure. I remember thinking that Odyssey sounded like a lot of fun with how you would get to relive the old adventures in a new way. It was also bringing in the turn based combat system which is fairly rare for One Piece games as they usually go with a 3D action/beat em up style. It definitely does work well for this title even if I have some issues. Ultimately this is a great game but they really dropped the ball on the story itself which is unfortunate.

The game starts off with Luffy and the gang having a good time at sea as always until a storm knocks them off their course and they land on an island. A girl named Lim shows up and steals their powers with her cube abilities. In order to get their powers back they will have to defeat 4 legendary colossuses on the island and additionally they must relive some of their most dangerous adventures. Lim will help them do this by unlocking the memory world and her friend Adio is also glad to help in any way that he can. The whole thing feels a little suspect but the heroes figure they can get stronger and have some fun so it’s a win/win. Are they embarking on their final adventure?

The story’s a bit forced there but hey it’ll be fun to see Luffy and friends utterly demolish all of their old opponents like Lucci and Crocodile now that they are so powerful…right? Well to get around that the film says that the villains have all gotten way more powerful in their memories and of course the heroes have lost all of their new abilities thanks to the cube. So what that means is…every arc basically plays out in the same way. It felt like the laziest way possible for the writers to not have to think of any new scenarios which was unfortunate. What’s even the point of not just making this a direct adaption then. It just felt like the biggest cop out imaginable. The only arc with any real differences is the final one in Dressrosa and even then it was just a small change by adding 2 characters in there.

So the game really didn’t deliver on its premise at all. In a lot of ways it’s sort of like the bait and switch that Sonic Forces did back in the day. The present storyline with the Colossuses and the mysterious Adio was good at least. That’s the part where you can at least get invested in. If the gameplay weren’t so good I would definitely get a bit more annoyed at that though. Odyssey tried to fumble the bag there a bit that’s for sure. We did get a full cinematic fight near the end which was cool though. For a minute there I thought we were going to get another phase to the final boss fight but when it was all a cutscene I thought that was cool. It’s not every day that you get to just watch a pure fight like that after all.

The game is fairly long too and took me over 25 hours. There are 9 chapters here but they each have a lot of battles. Each battle can take a while since you can’t skip cinematics and all special attacks have a full cutscene animation to them. It can make the fights a little longer than they need to be but I’m guessing the devs wanted to show off what a good job they did. I totally get it even if I always love how the Asdivine series lets you turn off attack animations for that exact reason. One mechanic I liked a lot here is that using normal attacks fills your special attack meter. It’s something I don’t recall any other RPG doing so that was cool. It’s better than having to use ethers every turn.

The game also has a customization aspect to it as you can power up your attacks and skills using your level up points. You can also reset the points at any time if you want to distribute them in another way. Additionally you can equip items to improve your stats and make foods/smoke bombs to get stronger or make your opponent weaker. There’s a good amount of options within the game and so you’ll find that unlike most titles it starts out rather difficult and gets easier as you go. This is because you unlock more and more items to use as you go through the game and they easily outpace the enemies you’re dealing with. For example a level up may improve your stats by 30 but then you can by an amulet that increases your attack power by 1400. It’s like you suddenly jumped up tons of levels. Whenever I would see an item like that I had to grab it.

Then later on you gain the ability to merge two equipments together to keep both of their effects in one shot. That made things even better. So there are lots of ways to power yourself up. Finally there is the old fashioned way of leveling up by fighting enemies. The final area has minions that each give you close to 200,000 exp points which is enough to level up twice in every battle. It was crazy how the exp skyrocketed since that’s more than just about every boss fight in the game. You could say the game wasn’t very well balanced by the end.

That leads to one of my issues with the game which is that there actually seem to be “dead spots” where you are trapped in a place with no enemies to fight and no way to escape. So in theory if I couldn’t find a way to beat the boss then I would be permanently stuck. Any good game always needs to leave you a way out so you can go and train so that was surprising here. I could see that being a real big issue if I played on hard mode or something. It’s something any RPG needs to really be careful of because that would just be incredibly disheartening. I’d probably have to put my controller down right then and there.

Meanwhile the graphics are very solid here. The character models can be a bit stiff but we do get fight scenes with them so the game does know how to use this pretty well. Then you also have the soundtrack which is rather limited but still good. What this all tells me is that the game’s budget wasn’t super high or anything like that but they still did a good job in making the game fun so I have to give them credit there. That isn’t always easy. With an even greater budget I’m sure there is a lot more they could have done here.

As it is there is still a good amount of replay value here. There are plenty of bounties to be completed and collectibles to grab. At the end of your journey you can even grab the Platinum trophy which would certainly be fun to have. I’m not sure just how difficult this one would be to grab but if it’s not too high then I may go for it. I have already gotten the platinum for a few One Piece games in the past after all. Either way you can see how the game gives you a whole lot of content for your purchase so you can definitely buy the game at full price and feel good about it.

The game’s original characters in Lim and Adio do a good job of being very memorable. Lim may not be much of a fighter or anything like that but she has a classic character arc of slowly learning to enjoy the journey with Luffy and friends more instead of always being so analytical. Adio’s mystery gradually unfolds as you play through the game but ultimately he’s not really someone I liked all that much. Maybe in part it’s because the game was too obvious with where his story was going to go but whenever the guy was on screen you knew that nothing good was going to happen for him at least.

Overall, One Piece: Odyssey is a great game. At times the lack of budget starts to seep through but ultimately it’s a good chance to hang out with Luffy and the gang again. I think it did have some ambitious mechanics within it like every character having their own special ability. The game just could have done a little more with it. Mainly I’d just like them to follow their own premise a bit better and not just sabotage it right away. It’s just a very strange move narratively. Still, if you like One Piece or want to play a fun RPG, this one should be right up your alley.

Overall 8/10

Nickelodeon Kart Racers Review

I got this game almost for free thanks to some Gamestop points and a gift card so now I finally get to see what Nick is up to in the racing circuit. Unfortunately I can confirm that they weren’t up to a whole lot because the game is really not as impressive as you would expect. There just isn’t a whole lot to this game so it ends up feeling rather barren the whole time. There isn’t any real personality and it’s lacking in proper sound effects and replay value. Ultimately it doesn’t seem like it was quite ready for the challenge of trying to be the next Mario Kart but there is potential for sequel games.

When you jump in you’ve really just got two main options, free racing and the grand prixs. The gameplay is your classic 3D racing environment and it’s very much like Mario. You can drift with the R2 and L2 buttons and you pick up items along the track. Use them to smash up the competition and get to the goal. Of course the objective is to finish the race first and then you get the maximum amount of points. There are 4 races per cup but the final ones go up to 8. Each race is fairly quick though so you should blast through them. The difficulty level is also fairly basic. There is a lot of rubberbanding here though so when you’re ahead of the opponents be prepared for them to suddenly make a historic comeback to reach you.

I recommend keeping a boosting item on hand but don’t actually use it until you are close to the goal. That’s the best way to make sure that everything works out. It will work against any sudden surprises. The items have a decent amount of variety so I’ll give the game credit for having a ton of different items at the ready. It would have been real easy to have just had a few items so I appreciate their going the extra mile. I will also say that there are a reasonable amount of different stages here although they do tend to blend together a whole lot. I think it’s because of the slime that hits you in every level, it’s easy for the stages to start all looking the same once they’re covered in slime like that.

In terms of replay value I would say there is a good amount here because aside from the cups you also have unlockables in the form of each car part. You can get engines, wheels, tires, etc. There are a whole lot to buy and it takes a while to earn any money. The easiest way is to level up by winning a lot of races and I imagine that this will get more difficult the more you do it as well. So I expect this would be a fairly long grind by the end of it but it is nice to equip the parts and really feel the boost by the end. Each speed part definitely makes a difference when going up against the computers.

What this game is really lacking though are character voices, more cars, and more content in general. Customizing parts is nice but how about just giving us brand new cars each time instead? I think that would end up feeling a lot more fulfilling. Additionally I would also be on board with some kind of minigame mode similar to Mario Kart where you have another objective besides just the race. That could be do a lot to just make the game feel a little more expansive. Of course another big one is having more than 12 characters. That’s just not a big roster, particularly for a PS4 game. You feel like they could have done a whole lot more with this. I’d say Spongebob and TMNT individually could easily have way more than 12 characters when you think about it.

I think that would really be enough. At its core a racing game doesn’t have to be super fancy after all. Just put some wheels on the car and get us moving. That’ll be enough to do the trick in the end and everything else is about making it stand out. As a developer you want to be able to answer the question of: “Why should I play this instead of another racing game?” with some kind of definitive mechanic. It can be characters, fun levels, etc but you have to have something and right now I don’t think this one does have much of anything. I’ve played car games on the computer that felt like they had more depth but of course that could be my nostalgia goggles.

Overall, This was a good racing game but a bit more basic than I expected. It’s closer to the level of M&M Racing than Mario Kart which is a bit odd since you would expect this to be a big AAA title. That being said, I still did have fun. It’s just the kind of game that you would be having a lot of fun in short term rather than long term. If I bought this one day 1 then I’d probably have been far less pleased with the end result. For a few bucks though you can race as your favorite characters and earn a few trophies. I know there are 1-2 sequels out there so at some point I’ll grab them to see how they go. Who knows, if one of those adds a story mode it could really end up being the next big thing and that would be a lot of fun. Give me a quality story!

Overall 6/10

Ruinverse Review

Kemco always delivers on the top tier RPG gameplay mechanics. They have so many solid quality of life features that other titles would do well to adopt. This one is no exception and the gameplay is definitely at a high level. The only thing holding it back is that the story is definitely the weakest one yet. Mainly this is due to the script as the banter between the main characters can be rather painful. It’s the first time you will be enjoying the game in spite of the main cast.

The game starts with Kit and Allie investigating a cave. They come across a rather odd plaque and making contact with it knocks Allie out. When she wakes up she now has two souls. A mysterious guy is now trapped in her body as well and both souls can only switch when making physical contact with Kit. Naturally this is a bit of a weird scenario for the heroes but Kit figures they can find a way to split the two souls away again. In the meantime they will just have to live with this odd situation. Along the way they come into contact with a rather crazy scientist named Lexor, a talking cat/dog (Not sure exactly which animal he is. Maybe a fox?) named Toto, and a girl named Nana. Together this crew has to find the answers and save the world from demons along the way but do they have what it takes? It won’t be easy that’s for sure.

So why are the characters not all that good? Well first off you have Lexor who is absolutely obsessed with Kit’s body for medical research. One of the main problems here is that you never get to see the guy doing any actual research and there is no tangible goal in sight so he just comes off as insane the whole time. Since he is making no progress after poking and prodding Kit for so long then there just isn’t much point to the whole plot at large. It’s played off in more of a creepy way the whole time too and never gets funny particularly as Kit is begging the guy to let him go. That doesn’t make for a very humorous subplot now does it?

Then you’ve got the same thing going on with Toto and Nana. Nana is obsessed with Toto’s fur and constantly tackles him to hub the creature and pet his fur the wrong way. Toto constantly asks her to stop this but she never listens. Again it’s not funny since Toto clearly isn’t enjoying this at all. You could potentially try to make this work in an anime as we can see body language and facial expressions to maybe try and make this lighter but in a game it just doesn’t work.

The other issue with this is the repetition. It feels like over 70% of the dialogue are these two gags happening over and over and over again. There is never a break or a chance to rest after that goes on and it’s always distracting away from the story. It doesn’t matter how serious the moment is, Lexor and Nana will just keep harassing the other characters anyway and it takes you out of the moment. It definitely would have been nice if the characters had just been cut out to be honest.

There’s a decent story buried beneath all of that with Kit and Allie but it’s always brushed to the side. I did get to play through all of the endings here though so it was fun to see the various paths. Some definitely end on a rather sad note for the characters to be sure and no matter which ending you unlock, there is room for a sequel. Hopefully the characters just matured a lot since the ending so that the dynamic could be a bit better. The villains were solid enough though, they do a lot of planning and get some big moments.

Now with the gameplay we’re back to operating on a high level. The turn based combat is very smooth with minimal loading times and you can also speed the game up to triple speed at all times. Additionally you can also turn off surprise encounters in areas once you have completed them so after beating the game you can feel free to look for treasure chests and such at your leisure which is a nice feature to have. As a result the platinum trophy for this game feels like it is a very attainable one. It should only take a few hours after beating the game to unlock that one. Note that the planting trophy is the only one that will likely take you a while. You really have to wait a long while in order to grow enough plants to bloom. I had less than half of the amount I needed by the time I beat the game.

I would say the campaign is around 16-18 hours so it’s a pretty good length. There are plenty of areas here and additionally the game is also fairly difficult. I had to go up to around level 300 before I was able to complete it. Part of the reason for this is that your characters die really quickly even with some of the best armor so the only way around that is to continue bumping up your stats. I recommend opening every chest you find so that you can hopefully get some rare weapons and armor that can possibly bump up your odd a bit. Ultimately with enough time you can defeat every challenge though and that’s part of the fun of the turn based system.

For example you unlock leaves to upgrade your character’s special abilities every few levels and by growing a tree. I recommend putting all of your money into upgrading the tree since long term that will be just as handy as any upgrade that you can buy. It’s how you get a lot of passive abilities and your ultimate moves. Each character has at least one big attack that can deal several thousand points of damage in a single hit. That is what you really need for the end game. Since the characters are permanently stuck as being glass cannons here then you need to maximize the amount of attack power that you can use in a single swing. So follow that and you should be fine.

Each character has a whole lot of special attacks so it may take a while to find your favorite one but that’s a good problem to have. You can certainly approach the game in a whole lot of different ways. Meanwhile the graphics are definitely solid here. The game is clear and you can always tell what is going on at all times. The soundtrack is also pretty good with all the usual fast paced Asdivine tunes playing throughout. You have solid boss themes and so that always helps to enhance the experience. You can really tell when things are getting grand based on the music tracks.

Overall, Ruinverse may not have a particularly good set of characters this time but the gameplay is really the most pivotal aspect and the title nails that out of the park as expected. The gameplay is incredibly smooth and highly customizable so you should be able to find your favorite settings right away. From there it’s off to the races and you will probably be tempted to go for the Platinum as well at that point because you’re so close. Why not right? Then you will have done everything the game has to offer. You should absolutely pick this one up whenever you come across it.

Overall 7/10

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Review

Trollhunters is a game based on a series that I never watched which always makes for an interesting way to play a game. That said, gameplay is always the most important factor here and it looked solid so I figured that I had a winner here. This is a fairly short game. There’s nothing amazing about it and it doesn’t stand out in some kind of special way but it still had something that I needed…a fun experience. Yeah this is just a very retro kind of platformer with no frills to it. You just jump in and have a good time.

The plot starts with a villain managing to steal a relic that allows him to cross space and time. The main character needs to put a stop to him so Merlin lends us a time map that can also allow me to time travel. Pretty handy right? With this I knew that I had a chance. You dash across the various worlds in order to find this guy and repair the damage to the timeline but be warned, he may not be working alone. Time for the biggest sci-fi battle of the ages!

I’m not sure exactly how long I’d say the game is but maybe around 4 hours or so? It felt really short as I was blasting through and that’s considering that I even managed to grab most of the collectibles along the way. In part I did this because they were pretty easy to spot so it wasn’t a big deal going back to grab them and also in part because I was worried that if I didn’t grab them then I would need them to unlock the final level. There are 4 socks and 3 trolls hidden in each level so I recommend grabbing them whenever you can. You definitely won’t regret doing so. They really add up. You can also obtain items for doing this.

Once you complete the game then the platinum trophy is within reach. I dare say you can platinum this game in well under 15 hours. You just have to replay the game a second time and get a few miscellaneous trophies but nothing that is particularly difficult. Just give it the ole go and you’ll be just fine. Now I haven’t talked about the gameplay much so let me take a step back here. It’s a 2D platformer as I mentioned earlier and you defeat any enemies in your way with the sword. Now you will also be doing a lot of jumping as you would expect here. You have assists which let you activate special abilities like making a statue to jump on or a skateboard to ride. You absolutely need these in order to proceed so you should try to get used to them right away.

Beyond that there isn’t much else to describe about the gameplay. It’s made to be as easy as can be so you just jump in and it’ll come naturally to you. Some of the bosses surprisingly don’t have a hurtbox so you can run right up to them and start smashing away with your sword. Most opponents go down in seconds as a result of this but for the final bosses just be prepared to dodge the slow attacks once or twice. Do that and you should be fine and well on your way to claiming absolute victory. There just won’t be any stopping you because this game is really not very hard at all. At the end you even get a random healing power-up which is completely broken so that’s why it didn’t appear until the end. If you had that the whole game then it would have just been plain unfair.

As for the graphics, I wouldn’t say they are anything particularly special. The colors are on point and it all looks good. It’s just your average TV-tie in kind of graphics. The soundtrack is also more on the bland side. You’re definitely playing this more for the impressive gameplay and level designs than anything else. It’s all crafted in a fun way where no levels have boring spots or poorly designed moments. Instead it all flows together really well so you can allow yourself to be drawn into the hype right away. The levels are also fairly short so none of them ever really drags on.

This is where the game shines. It’s simple but knows this and takes that to its maximum benefit. Sometimes it’s good to play a game that is scaled back where you can just relax and have fun. The story is also decent as well. The characters seem fun enough from what I’ve seen of them. Naturally I’d have loved fully animated cutscenes and all but I suspect the budget for this game wouldn’t be nearly high enough for that. It would probably be asking just a little too much out of this title.

The game’s not very glitchy at least but for some reason one trophy didn’t pop for me when I beat the game. I’ll be completing it again soon for a different trophy so I hope it pops up there. It would be a shame for it to have just been lost in the void like that. Just wouldn’t make sense and it must have been a fluke. Glitches are okay as long as there’s a way around them but when it interferes with my trophy hunting then we have a problem.

Overall, Trollhunters is a pretty good game. The gameplay is smooth and there was real effort put into this one. The only thing holding it back is that the game is very short. You will be done with it right away so make sure that you get a good price for it. This is not a game that you should be spending $30 or $40 on. It may have a fairly easy platinum which makes the game more tempting but you should be able to find it on a great discount. Trust me on this one, it’s worth waiting until you find the perfect price and then nabbing it. Hopefully they make a sequel to this at some point. I’d definitely check this out, particularly if the gameplay sticks around as this style.

Overall 7/10