Dust: An Elysian Tail Review


It’s time to look at another Limited Run game. The company’s been on a roll with their releases. Asdivine Hearts has probably been my favorite thus far and even holds its own against most AAA rpgs. Dust certainly ranks very highly as well though as it mixes the classic 2D platforming with some good sword gameplay. Throw in a solid plot and you’ve got a winner.

The game’s premise revolves around a reign of tyranny that has enveloped the planet. Moonbloods are hunted by the evil empire across the planet and most have been exterminated. That’s where the main character steps in. He has complete amnesia and is unsure of how he got here. Based on his uniform it seems like he was a member of the villains but of course he can’t know for sure. This character meets up with someone named Fidget who decides to call him dust. Dust then meets up with a legendary sword that can talk and seems to know more than he lets on. Together with his new companions, Dust sets out to find the answer to his past as well as to stop the empire. Can he pull this off?

Right away you’ll see how there is a lot of heart put into the game. We have full voice acting and even some hand drawn cutscenes which was pretty cool. Additionally the graphics were pretty solid throughout the game as well. The character designs are on point and the levels are all very striking. There’s a good amount of variety to be found here. If anything, it’ll make you miss the minor characters like the first boss who had an awesome design but of course did not appear after that. The music throughout the game is also pretty nice. While the themes may not be ones that you’ll automatically remember as you finish the title, they’re all pretty original and fit in with the gameplay.

Dust isn’t afraid to be an emotional game either. Most of the bosses are characters who are being mind controlled by the main villain. Alas, it is tough to break this spell and Dust doesn’t even know about it at first so there is at least one casualty. The ending is also pretty intense and I’d say it wraps things up quite well. I’d certainly be down for a sequel. There’s definitely a lot more that can be done in this universe even if the empire plot wouldn’t return.

Meanwhile the character cast is strong. As I mentioned, the one shot bosses are pretty solid. Then you have Dust who is pretty similar to Link. He may not remember his past but that doesn’t stop him from jumping in to try and help everyone else out. He’s very skilled with a blade and his design is good. Fidget is not quite as exciting as the other characters, but she’s actually helpful which is good. For the little sidekicks like herself, the goal is always to try and have them support the main leads. That means Fidget should be strong enough to be helpful while still being weak enough where she doesn’t overshadow Dust. The game achieves the balance well. If anything the sword is the weak link here. He basically knew everything from the start, but plays dumb for the duration of the game. I question how he knew everything and I could see that being a plot for the next title. He probably has some dark secrets of his own.

The main villain is also pretty decent. His name is General Gaius and he leads his fleet to conquer the world. The game plays him up to be a bit more sympathetic than you might expect, but at the end of the day he’s definitely still a villain. He’s the kind of antagonist who doesn’t really see himself as being evil, but evidently he stepped down the wrong path at some point. The final boss fight is definitely a challenging one as he keeps on getting up no matter how many times you put him down. I had to go back and train for a while although I probably overdid it because when I came back he was a breeze. It’s why grinding pays off in these titles.

As for the gameplay, I’ve already talked a bit about it. Dust really shines with how fast paced the gameplay is. You can really choose how to approach a match. You can run into the enemies and go for big combos or you can blast them from afar. The larger the combo the more exp you get though so try not to get hit. Obtaining EXP is pretty easy here so if you’re ever stuck just go back to fighting minions for a while and then you’ll be fine. The toughest part is deciding which power ups to go for. The game does force you to keep the stats within reach of each other but you still have some control from within. I personally liked upgrading attack the most as beating enemies quickly is the best, but of course that does hurt your combo chances so it’s a double edged sword.

The main story will take you around 7 hours so it’s a pretty reasonable length. There are also a lot of side missions you can do and you’re certainly welcome to continue leveling up your character as well. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here after the initial adventure, but if you did everything on the way to the ending then that should buy you a few extra hours. You’ll probably be extremely overpowered by the end if you get the best equipment and max out the level.

Overall, Dust is definitely a very fun game. I would definitely like to see more 2D platformers where you use a sword instead of the classic buster. This one shows how you can do it effectively. The story was also pretty engaging and having voice acting always helps push the title into the next level. If you haven’t played this game yet then I definitely recommend changing that. It’s a title that I would recommend to any and all gamers. You just don’t want to miss out on this one. It’s another big hit for the Indie circuit. I’ve had pretty positive experiences with them so far and expect that to continue.

Overall 8/10

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Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes Review


After watching the anime, I was ready to go back and finish up the Sengoku Basara game I got a very long while ago. I’m a pretty big fan of beat em ups and it’s just very satisfying to blast away whole armies. Hyrule Warriors and Gundam have done the best with the genre because the over the top special effects just make it that much more intense. Still, Sengoku knows something about that as well and its predecessor Devil Kings for the PS2 was one of the most well crafted titles in the genre. This one follows suit and is a must buy for all fans.

As with most beat em up games, you can pick whoever you want and start the story. Each story has 7 battles and there are over 10 characters to play through. I chose Yukimura’s story of course. In his story, Yukimura is now the head of the Sanada clan while his boss is injured and he decides to follow his leader’s last request and take down Ieyasu’s army. Throughout the story he wonders if this is the right call though and if he should start to make his own decisions. He has dreams as a result and does a lot of crying. He even loses to Date Masamune once again. Yukimura eventually finds his resolve though and decides to keep going straight ahead to wherever this path will take him.

I’m not sure about the rest of the stories as I just did one, but Yukimura’s doesn’t have much of an ending. We end up having a draw with Ieyasu and both fighters just walk away. It wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. That being said, the actual story was pretty well done as we got some nice cutscenes throughout. I think the developers put a reasonable amount of effort into it. It’s also nostalgic to see the characters in the style of the anime. It’s too bad they couldn’t get all of the voice actors back, but they got most of them which is pretty impressive.

The gameplay is what you’d expect as you plunge ahead and take down hundreds of opponents. You have your standard attacks as well as your supers. The first levels are pretty difficult since you’re at a low level, but level ups come very quickly in this game so it’s not a problem for too long. It also makes you fight with strategy as sometimes you actually will have to retreat and get some health before going back to the boss. It’s always tough to retreat, but you gotta do what you gotta do right? The levels had a perfect amount of health items and size without it being too much. The attacks are also nice and flashy although they are a big step down from Gundam and Hyrule. The attacks don’t have the same widespread devastation that the others had, but I’ll take it over nothing. It is still trying to be semi realistic I suppose.

This game does also have trophies to collect, but good luck getting them all. It would certainly be a bit of a grind so I don’t plan on getting many more anytime soon. I should try to grab some to boost my rank up, but the Platinum is a little out of reach. This title certainly does have a bunch of replay value though. Playing through each story should take you around 3 hours a piece and then maxing everyone out and getting all of the equipment is another huge hurdle. The game’s going rate nowadays isn’t even all that expensive so it’s a bargain.

The soundtrack is all right. It’s rather forgettable, but it works reasonably well. I can’t recall a single tune but you’ll be so busy vanquishing the enemies in front of you that you won’t really care by the end. The graphics are pretty good as well. I’d definitely say that they’re PS3 level although they can’t shine as much as they could if it took place in a city. Why have we never had a beat em up in NYC? You have to admit that it’d be pretty awesome.

There’s not really much more to say about the game. It’s one of those titles that really just sells itself. The gameplay is really polished so fighting through the levels is a blast. I guess if I had one critique it would be that the story is a little weaker. Devil Kings was a lot more hype because he really felt like a big villain who was behind everything, but I guess you can’t have someone like that every time. Having the main antagonist be someone who’s also trying for world peace is definitely an interesting dynamic after all.

There’s also a lot of depth to the game’s gameplay that I didn’t even get to tinker with much. Not only can you equip better weapons as you go on, but you can equip accessories to them. I believe some give you extra EXP while others are more standard like more attack and such. You can have fun with a lot of experimenting there. It’s probably also a good idea to try out all of the characters to see which one you like the most. I believe Nohime was my favorite in the last one because using two guns in a game that’s usually all about swords is pretty fun. That being said, I always had to go back to my swords at some point.

Overall, This was a really fun game. It really captured the essence of what a beat em up is all about. You pretty much always had a choice of going straight for the boss or sticking around and helping your army take on the generals. I decided to savor the experience and took down all of the generals in each level before going for the boss. What made this possible was how quickly the enemies went down and that the levels weren’t too huge. I think it was a perfect blend in both cases. I played the game on Normal so it wasn’t a walk in the park but it wasn’t a brutal grind either. The map size was also good based on how fast you can fun. A bigger map would still work well as long as you can dash a little faster. Naturally there is also a co-op mode so if you really want to lay devastating damage to the armies with a friend, it’ll make the game that much better. Co-Op was basically made for beat em up titles like this one. If you don’t own this game yet, you should definitely fix that.

Overall 8/10

Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End Review


It’s time to finally play another Pirates game. It’s been a very long time since I’ve played an installment in the series. I got this game for my birthday 2-5 years ago which shows you just how large the video game backlog is at this point. The game is decently fun and I thought that it went about as far as it could within the realm of the movie cash in. With quick time events and actual fights in the cutscenes, Pirates is a solid step above the average movie tie in while still being below the average AAA game.

Jack Sparrow is a pirate who is disliked by just about everyone. He has made enemies within the government and among the other pirates as well. Still, Jack tries to get past all of that as he works to find the 7-9 pirate Lords so that they can gather up their skills and defeat Davy Jones. There are a lot of betrayals amidst as most of the pirates are corrupt and even the “good” characters like Will Smith and the main heroine can’t be trusted. All of them betray Jack at one point or another.

I can’t stand Jack Sparrow in the movies. He’s incredibly annoying and one of the saddest characters to ever lead a successful film series. (Not number 1 though. I think we all know that James Bond deserves that honor) The game does a better job of handling his character though. Jack comes off more as a troll than anything else here and he keeps hit wit about him even as he faces ultimate doom. Let’s just say that the way that the game ends may prove to be a rather dark fate for Jack. I can a[appreciate the ending here.

The gameplay is slightly 3D while also being slightly overhead. I’d prefer complete 3D of course, but it was fairly close to that so I won’t complain. You’ll spend most of the game just swinging your sword around as that is enough to get the job done. If you want to change things up, you can also throw knives, bombs, and shoot bullets at your opponents. They aren’t necessary, but they can save you a little time once in a while. The time is absolutely minimal though. Most of the levels are combat missions where you will just have to defeat a certain number of foes. Others will have you walk around town as you look for clues. It helps if you’ve seen the movie recently so you will know exactly who to talk too and where to go, but it’s not necessary. The towns aren’t all that large so you’ll be through them in no time.

There are around 12 levels and none of them are very long. A few good hours of playing the game should be enough to beat it. There is some replay value at least as you can go back to try and win all of the quick time events and get all of the treasure and characters. It’s not something that particularly entices me, but I can see the appeal. I’m at least glad that they did add extra characters to obtain. I also still want to give the game some credit for the quick time events. They were definitely pretty fun and added an extra notch of effort to the game. The cutscenes also actually had some fighting in them on several occasions. Some have aged better than others though as one cutscene involves a big fight between several individuals, but none of them appear except for Jack running around and doing a little flip as he attempts to shoot. It’s hard to get what is happening here, but….I guess we’ll assume that Jack won.

It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but it is scary just how many memorable moments they are. For better or worse, I definitely remembered most of the plot here. I still think that the main heroine is incredibly shady since she murdered Jack Sparrow, but later tried to claim that she didn’t mean it. It’s all fine and dandy here since dying just sends you to Davy Jones Locker, but it was a little hard to buy her act. Most of the characters are fairly hard to swallow though and it may just be that I can’t take them seriously at the moment.

There isn’t much of a great soundtrack to be found here. You’ll recognize some tunes from the movies I suppose, but for all I know, they are just public domain music that sound like Pirates. At the very least, it gives you something to listen to as you go through the game. The graphics are quite good though and it reminds me how unfortunate it was that the PSP never got more popular. The console was definitely closer to a home console than anything else and it certainly had a lot of potential there. This game is proof of that, but alas, Sony got destroyed by Nintendo in the console wars and the PSP met an early demise.

My main gripe with the game is that it can get very repetitive. After a while, you’ll realize that you are just slashing drone after drone with the exact same attack. There is no reason to use anything other than the standard slash so you can essentially fall asleep while pressing the square button and you’ll wake up to find out that you’re okay. The enemies deal a good amount of damage, but that’s only when they can manage to hit you and you have a lot of meat to replenish your health anyway. Adding more of the quick time events would break up the monotony I believe and maybe throwing in some minigames as well. I do believe that there are some included in the title, but they either didn’t make it into story mode or the quick time events count as minigames. Either way, I wasn’t curious enough to check them out.

Overall, At World’s End is a fun little game. It’s the definition of a weekend rental from Blockbuster. You’ll have a good time playing it, but once you complete the game, there is no reason to keep on going. You can always find better games if you really want too so the initial play through is all that you need. The production values in this game are impressive so if you don’t own the game yet, then I’d recommend picking it up. You can definitely get it for a pretty good price at this point. I have a few games that I’m working on at the moment so I probably won’t be playing the sequel for a while, but it is definitely drawing closer now.

Overall 7/10

Hyrule Warriors Review

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It’s been a while since I played a good hack and slash game. The last title would likely be One Piece Unlimited World Red, but you could also consider that one to be more of a hybrid between an action game and a beat em up. The last big one that I played would likely be Devil Kings or the PSP version of Dynasty Warriors. It makes sense that this one would be really chaotic like the classic Dynasty Warrior games since it’s from the same people. They’re still the best at making beat em up games and I can safely say that Hyrule Warriors is the best game on the Wii U right now! (Smash Bros will change this in time, but Hyrule Warriors can enjoy the view from the top at the moment)

The plot involves an evil sorceress named Cia. She is descending upon the land of Hyrule with her dark legions and they’ve already enslaved most of the planet as well. Princess Zelda is forced to recruit one of the soldiers to help her and Impa as they fight on. This soldier is pretty courageous and his name happens to be Link. Once he dawns the legendary hero’s get up..he is ready to claim victory! The situation won’t get any easier for the heroes as the fight continues across whole dimensions. Old enemies like Zant, Dark Link, and Ghirahim show up while old allies like Princess Ruto and Agitha appear as well. Amidst all of the chaos, you can count on Ganondorf showing up at some point as well. The heroes will have to muster up all of their strength to defend the universe and luckily they have a skilled warrior aiding them by the name of Lana. What secrets is she keeping from them?

I am glad that Hyrule Warriors only has one main story as opposed to the usual format where each character gets their own adventure. The latter can get old pretty quickly and a lot of the scenes tend to be shared or similar so everything takes a lot longer to complete. This way, you can enjoy the true story and watch the heroes interact. Different stages will require you to play as different characters, but Link naturally stays as the lead for most of them. There are 17 levels in the game. Each of them can take 15-20 minutes and I usually tried to shoot for the former since that almost guarantees you an A rank in Adventure Mode. (Good practice for the future right?)

I already mentioned that the game is a hack and slash, but I’ll still explain what that means for the gameplay. You will typically wield a sword, but other characters also use magic spells and short blades. You are then launched into a giant area where you work to secure certain spots as you attack the army. You will have many allies as well who will help you secure the enemy’s territory. It is crucial to invade the strong hold of the enemy before they reach yours. There will also be sub missions during the level at times, which are typically helpful in winning the battle. Sometimes, the victory conditions will change as well so you should always be on your guard.

In essence, this means that you’ll be doing a lot of button mashing. After all, you’ll defeat over 1000 enemies in each level so you need to really enjoy this kind of gameplay. Luckily, it’s definitely one of my favorite types as it would only lose to something like Budokai Tenkaichi 3’s epic style of fighting. Of course, I tend to like most action genres so they’re all pretty high up in the ranks, but especially so in the case of hack and slash titles. Each character will have a super attack as well as a few combos to unleash during gameplay. You will be equipped with an endless supply or arrows, bombs, hookshots, and boomerangs to help you overcome obstacles as well.

There are also a lot of things to do once you beat the game. First off, you can go into Free Mode to replay the levels with other characters. Each level has 2 Gold Spiders (1 is not available until you complete the story) as well as two heart pieces hidden inside. The Gold Spiders are used to unlock illustrations, which unlock other things. (I believe that a stage is one of the unlockables) After you’ve beefed up your characters a little more, then you can hit Challenge Mode or Adventure Mode.

Adventure Mode is very long and it’s even longer than Story Mode. There are well over 50 levels to be found here and they are considerably more difficult than what you would have encountered before them. You unlock more characters, heart pieces, and gold spiders here. You also get the chance to find some great weapons and earn more rupees. I’ve only played one level here so far, but it seems to be pretty fun. Anything’s worth it for extra characters right? Challenge Mode is similar since you will have to complete several challenges during a level. It’s not bad, but I don’t see the point at the moment. It’s a new DLC that was added into the game though so they may add more incentives for playing this mode.

The rupees can be really helpful once you go to the shop. You can unlock badges for each character based off of the materials that you own. (It costs money to use them) You can make some potions, which can help during battle. (You shouldn’t waste your rupees on this in my opinion. I didn’t buy any of them since the money would be better spent on the next option) The best way to use the rupees is to level up other characters. If you only play as Link and get him to around level 50, the other characters won’t have gotten any stronger. Instead of going back to play as them, you can simply level them up with rupees. The only catch involved is that you can never level up a character past your strongest character’s highest level. Meaning that you couldn’t level up Impa to level 51 through rupees until you got Link to that level. Of course, if you played as Impa and got her to level 51, then you could just level up Link accordingly.

Cia is the big villain to debut in this game and she’s a decent antagonist. I definitely find her to be more interesting than Zant and Ghirahim. Aside from Ganondorf, she is probably the best main villain. Her magical abilities are definitely powerful and she’s probably one of the only villains to ever talk back to Ganondorf and actually surpass him in fighting ability. There are circumstances involved of course, but it’s very impressive. She has a pretty sad ending, but such is the fate for all villains in the end.

Lana is a pretty cool hero. She’s infinitely more interesting than most of the allies in this game. Her story also has a few sad twists, but she stays pretty optimistic about her circumstances for the most part. She’s a solid addition to the Legend of Zelda series and it would be cool to see her appear in more titles. I don’t care for her gameplay that much since she’s a magic user, but her attacks definitely have good range.

I’m glad that they chose the Skyward Sword version of Impa to show since that is definitely her best incarnation. It’s good to see her as a hero. I didn’t really care for some of the allies like Princess Ruto, Darunia, or Midna. They don’t really do much during the game and I think that Hyrule Warriors could have presented us with more interesting allies.

One of the newer characters from the game that I didn’t care for was Agitha. She’s definitely the kind of character that I don’t care for. She’s not much of a fighter and she’s a little too oblivious about the whole situation. I could definitely have selected a better character to put in her place, (A Wind Waker sage would be cool) but at least her role is pretty small.

We also have the two main villains that work for Cia. Wizzro is a dark magician and he seems to be pretty weak physically so he has to rely on his spells. I was pretty surprised at how confident he was when he went up against Link, but some villains just don’t realize their true limitations until it’s too late. His design is definitely pretty cool and he’s a solid villain. He would be even better if he was a fighter.

That is why Volga is the superior minion. He’s works as a rival to Link and while he is evil..he does have honor. Volga wants to defeat Link in a fair fight and he is one of the more powerful Link villains. He has everything that I could want in a villain and that’s why it’s safe to say that he’s easily in my top 5 of all time. He’s probably even higher, but I haven’t really gone back to think of all of the opponents that have appeared before. Needless to say, he’s a pretty great character. Hyrule Warriors did a good job of making the new characters likable as I enjoyed Cia, Lana, Volga, and Wizzro and Agitha is the only one that I didn’t like.

An assortment of bosses also appeared briefly, but they didn’t really get to stay around for character development. Ganondorf is as tough as ever and this game definitely portrays him pretty accurately. He never retreats and he continues to dominate his opponents with pure power. He takes over a good chunk of the land with ease and it doesn’t take him long to bend Ghirahim and Zant to his will. His new character design really works as well. You get a sense that he is definitely Link’s biggest threat and while he may have suffered defeat by the game’s main villain, he definitely comes back from that. His true form is as tough looking as ever, but I still prefer him in humanoid mode.

Link is pretty true to character. He started from humble beginnings and eventually showed Princess Zelda and the others that he is a true hero. I still say that he’s much more heroic than Mario and he really could be the most heroic character of all time. Of course, it certainly helps a lot that he never talks. He does have a moment where the Master Sword’s power goes to his head, but I can’t say that I disagreed with his actions. I think Link made the right move in attacking the enemy fortress by himself since he is the most skilled hero. Even then, Link never gave up until the bitter end.

Princess Zelda also looks pretty good. I’m glad that she didn’t just hide in the castle and decided to infiltrate enemy lines as Sheik. Sheik’s character design was pretty sleek here and I think the graphics did a good job of depicting it. She’s one of the few characters that I’ve played as aside from Link. (The only others would be Lana, Impa,(Maybe…I’m not positive) and Ganondorf) I do like Sheik more than Zelda, but they’re technically the same character so they’re both pretty good. Zelda is just suck in her leadership role more than Sheik so it limits her actions. Sheik is really free to do whatever she wants.

It’s easy to see why this is an all star title. The developers put a lot of effort into it as they added many easter eggs for the series. Compared to the average Dynasty Warriors game, Hyrule Warriors is lacking a little in content, (Especially the character roster) but that’s okay. It only looks bad when compared to that game. Compare it to almost any other title and Hyrule Warriors really looks good. Counting all of the modes, there are well over 60 levels and there are many other replay value factors to consider. Gathering all of the heart containers, Gold Spiders, and maxing out everyone’s levels will still take a very long time. This game easily has over 30-50 hours of content within it and the developers continue to add more. Challenge Mode only has one level in it so far so we can be pretty confident that more will be added in the near future.

The graphics are pretty solid for the game. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect Final Fantasy levels of animation here since a hack and slash game is typically known to have worse graphics than an RPG title. That’s because of how many enemies are constantly loaded onto the screen. We still do get a few big cutscenes that look really good. I definitely would say that the graphics are 2014 worthy and you won’t be wincing at anything. You can really take in the scenary and enjoy your visits to the various universes relating to the franchise. Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, and Skyward Sword levels are all featured in one game. I doubt we’ll ever see that again. (Unless this game gets a sequel, which would be pretty cool)

Naturally, this is a Legend of Zelda game so the soundtrack is very good. A lot of the tunes are very fast paced to keep up with the action and that’s what I like to hear as I shred the armies that stand in my way. You’ll hear many tunes that you recognize from older titles and the atmosphere will make you feel like you’re in one of the main titles for the series.

The only thing that could come close to a negative would be that the game’s opening level is a bit of a tease. We get a pretty grand cutscene that makes the game feel like an RPG. It almost hints at character development for everyone and a grand story. We do get a story of course, but it’s more of a backdrop to the fighting. It would be comparable to a Tekken story, but a little deeper than that. It’s still not the next Final Fantasy there. We only get 4-7 big cutscenes after that and the game became more of a hack and slash through and through. I still did enjoy the story a lot, but the first level really had an RPG feel to it and it will make you think about the next big LoZ title. Hopefully the tone is more like this game’s opening than the last few games. (Meaning that the enemies get to attack right away and the hero is already a pretty good fighter) I still wouldn’t call this a negative though since I did enjoy the story and just got a glimpse of how it could be even better.

Overall, I definitely consider this to be the Wii U’s top title. It had everything that I could want in a hack and slash title. I wouldn’t say that I had any real negatives with the game. Everything performed to my satisfaction and it’s an all around complete title. The gameplay is the smoothest that I’ve played in the genre although Dynasty Warriors Gundam is still my favorite since the moves are more devastating and colorful thanks to all of the explosions. Hyrule Warriors is currently one of the only true hack and slash games that I’ve gotten to experience and it’s nice to see how a brand new, 2014 one fares. This game also gave me a chance to dust off the Wii U and give it all of the new updates. I definitely recommend this title and I actually enjoyed it more than the main installments. (That being said, I will always remember Wind Waker as the greatest Legend of Zelda title due to its replayability and the sheer joy of playing it) If you’ve been waiting to buy a Wii U due to a “lack of games,” I would suggest picking one up now. (Hopefully this inspires Nintendo to really do a big crossover story with the Legend of Zelda series)

Overall 9/10