Breath of Fire II Review

I was really satisfied with the first Breath of Fire and I can safely say that this one is a really good sequel as well. I wouldn’t quite say that it beats the first as it loses out on at least one big quality of life feature but it’s still a really solid game all around. To compensate for that it does have the better story here. Either way if you like RPGs then you will definitely like this game.

It actually starts off with some Undertale type vibes as the main character and his pal enter a dark cave and things get rather trippy. You have an evil eye that it always running around, a giant monster that murders them, and things like that happen. Finally, a few years pass by and Tery’s (That’s what I called the lead) best friend Bow decided to become a bit of a thief. He is going to help this one guy who was already stolen from so in a way it’s like payback but it backfires and now everybody thinks he is a thief. Tery must quickly come to his aid and prove Bow’s innocence. Additionally Tery must find out why nobody remembers him and why his whole family is gone. Does it have something to do with the main villain?

There are a ton of monsters in this world so naturally it is not quite the kind of place that you want to be when things get tough. Tery got to meet one of the more powerful creatures in the tutorial after all even if he isn’t sure whether it was a dream or not. There’s this whole emotional system too where talking to people will light up or darken your crystal but there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it. Perhaps it alters your ending but I would have liked it to have made a bigger difference throughout the game. I appreciated how the game would get rather spooky at some points but ultimately it’s more for show than anything else.

The game is fairly long and you can certainly expect to take many hours to conquer it. Unfortunately the game doesn’t track your play time but it has to at least be 25-30+ hours. There’s a whole lot to do here, villages to help and party members to recruit. Additionally there is no easy way to bypass minions. So in the first game you could buy an item that stopped them from appearing for about a minute or so. I would stock up on as many of those as possible and it was a great deal but that’s not the case here. There is an item that (barely) reduces how often they spawn but it can’t prevent it.

Half the time it feels like the item didn’t do anything to be honest so it was a bit of a waste. It’s too bad they didn’t bring the item from the first game back because it’s just so much more peaceful when you’re able to run around and don’t have to worry about minions attacking. You can explore to get treasure and all kinds of things like that. Trying to run is usually not going to work so you have to keep rewinding until it does or you could just fight every minion in your way.

It is good for grinding I suppose. Speaking of which, be prepared to grind a whole lot here because the final bosses suddenly jump up a bunch of levels. They were not playing around but I would expect nothing less from an RPG final boss. Those are the kind of opponents that you want to go all out. Show us why you are the demon king or whoever the final boss is. The final battles are really an endurance test so buy as many potions, revives, and MP items as possible. I had over 100 items when you add in the amounts for each and I still barely made it. That was definitely not easy in the slightest.

The game’s ending isn’t super satisfying though. You can’t help but feel that Tery made the wrong choice unless there is some kind of true ending here. He overthought things but it did work as an intense twist of sorts. The game always has that uneasy feeling thanks to the prologue which shows just how effective it was even if the rest of the game plays it straight for the most part. The story is really engaging so you should be having a blast from start to finish. Tery’s companions were definitely really good as well and if anything the toughest part is deciding who to keep home.

Each ally has their own special ability which you’ll need on the hub world. One can fly, one can swim, one can jump, etc. So there will be times when you have to switch companions and you just can’t worry about it. Additionally some characters have a 1 on 1 story fight that can’t be skipped so if they are at a low level then that’s game over. You obtain shamans to power up your fighters but one if missable which can be disappointing if you didn’t get him. So if you see a chance to donate some money later in the game, make sure you click donate 20 times. If you don’t do that then you won’t get him at the end.

That’s really my main tips here, you should be able to get through the game with no real issues. The graphics are real good here and some aspects of the game have aged extremely well with the visual style. For example there’s one boss fight where you’re falling off a tower and then there’s a scene where Tery is running through the flames. You don’t see a whole lot of cutscenes using the sprites like this outside of combat so I thought that was pretty cool. The soundtrack is also good although as far as RPGs go I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton.

This is the kind of game that just freezes once you beat it so that means there is no replay value. Fortunately the main campaign is so long that this really is not an issue in the slightest. You’ll get to have your full barrel of fun here. The cast is fairly solid and of course Tery steals the show even if he’s the silent kind of protagonist so you won’t really see him talk here. You just know that he has what it takes to win.

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a great follow up to the original. I would probably still learn towards the first game as a whole even though this one had the better story. Breath of Fire is certainly one of those games that could do well with a modern sequel or remake. After all stories about dragons are always cool and this one has plenty of them. It’s a very challenging game so you do need to keep your guard up but then making it to the ending is that much more satisfying.

Overall 8/10

Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom Review

Kemco has delivered quite a lot of amazing hits over the years and this one is no different. It’s definitely very different from their other titles in a few ways which I’ll get into, but it nails it. This is really trying to cross the classic RPG style with more of a gathering game you’d think of for mobile or online gaming. It works really well in doing so.

So the game follows a kid named Volker. His father died in an accident a while back and so he had to start running the blacksmithing operation on his own. At the same time he always wanted to be an adventurer though and is at a cross roads. Fortunately his best friend says she will man the shop while he is away and a fairy also shows up to help out. Now Volker can focus on being the best in both fields and along the way he may uncover some conspiracies. At the end of the day he wants to keep his kingdom safe, whether it is through creating equipment for them or by clearing quests. Will he be able to do this?

The game’s hub world has several areas including the shop, mission area, infirmary, food store, the arena, the dungeons, and the workplace. Each area has tasks that you can do once a day. For example you can enter a dungeon once a day and you can eat once a day. When you are ready to go to the next day you can head home and build a lot of equipment to sell which triggers the end of the day. The typical flowchart here is that you will complete a bunch of ordinary missions which involve building things for people until you get a story mission. The first story mission is always to investigate a dungeon which means getting to the final floor. The second story mission will be to fight a boss at the end of it.

The story missions are unlocked by completing a lot of normal missions. There are 296 missions in the game and you need to complete almost all of them in order to unlock the final story mission so prepare yourself. While combat is important, just as important is having a lot of materials at the ready so that you can build things as needed. Each time you complete a dungeon you unlock new materials. Also be sure to stop at every store each day in order to trigger cutscenes that move the story forward.

As you can probably guess, this means you will be moving around a lot. You will also have to spend a lot of time crafting weapons and shifting materials from one form to the next. There isn’t a lot of downtime here, you’re always just pressing on to the next thing. You gotta be ready for that without a doubt. It’s more fun than it sounds though so you’ll like it. At the very least I get a kick out of it. You usually have to do this kind of thing in mobile games and it can take hours sometimes as you have to allocate resources and then just wait it out. If you’re not used to that kind of thing then it may seem tedious. I would go as far as to say that this is the tipping point of the game. Whether you love it or not will depend on how much you enjoy crafting objects.

Trust me, you’ll be crafting a lot too. I nearly completed the 100% secret gallery (Made it to 97%) by the time I beat the game because I had to cook so much. Also, the game is difficult. I had all my guys maxed out at level 99 and I still barely beat the final boss. In a sense this is because I didn’t fully master the different concepts in the game. There are just so many from the prayers you use before battle to the orbs you equip to each piece of your equipment. Each character can choose 2 classes out of 12 in order to build a solid formation and each formation can be altered. There are also active and passive skills that you have to choose.

That sounded like a lot? Well it’s even more imposing while playing. So I did my best and crafted a team strategy that I thought sounded good but if there had been any more bosses then I may have had to rethink that a bit. They really were quite difficult and the final boss took over 30 minutes. It doesn’t help that a lot of the bosses like to heal themselves or summon an infinite amount of minions. You often have to decide whether to go for them or the minion first. Each strategy has its ups and downs in that respect.

Also, they love going for the paralyze option and if that happens then your character can’t attack for 3 turns. Definitely watch out for that since it gets really tricky. The challenge never feels unfair or broken though. You’re always left with the thought that you could have assembled your team better in order to win. So as you can tell I liked this game quite a lot. It’s just a very great all around experience and there’s so much to have fun with. I very nearly got all the trophies along the way.

Now if the game has a weakness it’s that there isn’t much of a story for about 90% of the game. There are hintings at one for a while of course but it never really happens until you’re at about the climax. Then we get a cosmic being and some nice action but it’s all at the very end. It’s clear that the story wasn’t really the focus here. The focus was definitely on the whole harvesting/gathering aspect of the game. It’s a fun aspect of course so I’m glad that they handled it well but a nice story would have been fun to have too. As it is the cast is incredibly small since the rest of your party is made up. Because of that there are just a few characters around the hub world and a villain or two.

Finally, the way the equipment works is a bit too time consuming if you ask me. So here’s how it goes, when you want to change equipment you go to the screen as normal except you can’t see your current weapon’s stats compared to the one you are equipping. As a result you have to switch screens a lot to make sure you’re getting the right one. Upgrading a weapon or transferring effects also takes you to a screen with tons of weapons so you have to make sure that you’re grabbing the right one. The equipment part could be a bit of a pain so in the end I just ended up going for the ones that had the highest stats and called it a day instead of always looking to optimize. It just was not very user friendly.

Naturally the graphics are solid here. I like the illustrations and the levels look good. I wouldn’t say it feels as dynamic or polished as the Asdivine Hero titles but it still looks good enough. Meanwhile the soundtrack is good. There are some solid tunes here although a lot of the battles are so fast that you won’t get to hear it much. I tend to have the team set to auto battle in most fights because manually battling takes forever in this game. If they can’t handle the battle then I take the wheel as needed. Another small thing I like about the game is that there are keyboard shortcuts for everything and you move faster than the villains. So if you don’t want to fight some minions then you don’t have to. It’s the quality of life features like this that always put Kemco at the top.

Overall, Blacksmith of the Sand Village is definitely a great game. The way the very game is developed does mean that it won’t be for everyone though. I just get the feeling that not everyone is going to want to be spending some hours crafting equipment over and over which is understandable. It’s just so smooth and enjoyable though that you don’t even notice. I ended up having a very good time with the game without a doubt and would love to see a sequel. Just give us more of a story next time.

Overall 8/10

Breath of Fire Review

It’s time for an old school RPG. This one has definitely been around for a while but I just hadn’t had time to give it a shot before. Well, after playing it I can confirm that the game has aged well. The gameplay style is nice and retro with the story being rather solid. You don’t really see a lot of games like this one nowadays, at least not among the AAA companies.

The game starts with everyone in the village being murdered as per usual with just a few survivors making it out. Ryu’s sister decides she will go out to stop the Dark Dragon Clan in their wild quest to destroy the world. A long time passes and she does not return so Ryu is forced to take up the challenge next. He will need to team up with a lot of skilled fighters in order to make a difference but is he really just setting off on an impossible mission?

As you complete each area you get more and more allies to fight by your side until you’ve got a rather solid roster. It’s all done very methodically which works rather well. While the game may not be very original in some ways like the story and all, the fundamentals are just really strong which is what makes this game a lot of fun. For example the gameplay is just really smooth and in some ways it beats out some of the more modern versions. When you don’t want to fight enemies you can actually use up an item that prevents any random encounters for a little while. I thought that was a really handy item and there were no strings attached. Sure, you do have to spend money to get the item but it’s rather cheap and you’ll be swimming in money later on.

You get a map along the way and the ability to fly so going through the map isn’t super crazy. I will say that on occasion the game isn’t very clear on what you need to do next though. Because of how the game lets you mess around with the order of things a bit, sometimes you’ll miss out on an item or event that you need in order to go forward. When that happens it can be a bit annoying. It doesn’t happen often but in those moments it would be nice if there was a way to ship the item to a newer location so you didn’t have to run all the way back. Now that would have been ideal.

So it’s not like it’s all perfect here but at the end of the day it’s a very peaceful game. It’s one that you can just sit down and have a good time with at any point. IN general I feel that way about the retro RPG titles because I like the turn based system quite a bit. Beating up on enemies over and over again is a great way to build up your XP but it can also be very soothing at the same time.

For the graphics, I’d say they’ve aged well. The level designs are on point and I like how the characters look. The soundtrack is also decent although I wouldn’t say that any of the themes are very memorable. It could have used a little more energy to the tracks but either way it’s not something where I would give it a thumbs down for that. There isn’t much replay value after beating the game but the campaign’s fairly long so that won’t be much of an issue here.

As to the story, I thought it really took off once Goda and the group of villains showed up. It starts off a little slow as you beat up a bunch of forgettable villains for a while but then once the big villains show up, the game really raises its level. It also made you feel like the game had a good chunk of content left since for a little while there it felt like you were going to end it before a whole lot happened.

Your allies are a bit forgettable though. None of them really stood out for me. They weren’t bad but if you asked me to tell you their personalities I wouldn’t be able to say much more than the one sentence premise of their characters. It felt like they didn’t get to do a whole lot despite being around. The main character was the most interesting and even then he is fairly standard. The villains are definitely the more interesting characters here and the game has some twists and turns at the end of it.

As with just about any RPG you can expect that the final boss here is rather difficult. Make sure you’ve trained a lot and have the best attacks and equipment ready or you will be in for a rough time. If you lose you can always just go back to train of course but it’s always ideal to train first so you don’t have to backtrack for a long while. Particularly for the final boss where you would have to go trough the dungeon all over again.

Overall, I’m definitely ready to check out Breath of Fire 2. If you like a good RPG then you’ll definitely be a fan of this one. You’ve got all of the classic RPG elements here and they’re executed well. While some areas could have been better, I’d say it shines as a bright example of why the genre is so good. It would absolutely be worthy of being someone’s first RPG too as it would get them used to the mechanics. There really aren’t any downsides to this one so just go in and have fun.

Overall 7/10

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 9/10

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 56h 13m
Blades 17/40
Mercenary Level: 3

Character Levels

Rex Level 69
Nia Level 70
Zeke Level 70
Morag Level 70
Tora Level 70

World Levels

Argentum 2/5
Gormott 2/5
Uraya 2/5
Mor Ardain 2/5
Lefteria 1/5
Tantal 1/5

Paper Mario: The Origami King Review

At long last it’s time to check out the latest Paper Mario adventure. This was always going to be an emotional ride right from the start but I don’t think very many could have ever guessed just how emotional. I nearly got this game day 1 but the gameplay style turned me off from doing that. After playing through the game I can safely say that the gameplay is not very fun but ultimately the game still manages to be a good adventure. It easily has the best Mario soundtrack I’ve ever seen and I would go a step further to say one of the best Nintendo soundtracks out there.

The game starts off quite suddenly as Mario and Luigi head over to Peach’s castle only to find out that she has already been turned. The powerful King Olly has taken her down for the count and she has now joined the side of Origami. Mario and Luigi are tossed out as Olly seals the castle away and then ties down the world. Mario will now have to take down each of the streamers in order to save Peach. Fortunately he will have the help of Olly’s sister Olivia. Will they be able to save the day or are they getting into a situation that’s far above their respective abilities?

Well, the game doesn’t quite manage to match up to the sinister atmosphere that the first cutscene had. Then again, I wouldn’t expect it to. It was a really effective way to start the game up since if even Peach could be turned then that truly meant that nobody was safe. Peach is usually seen as the most pure of heart so you can see why this would be greatly concerning to all parties involved. From there we go onto the normal adventure but you won’t see Olly again until you start to get near the end of the game.

The Paper Mario games have always had pretty fun dialogue. I may give Mario & Luigi the slight edge but it’s close and this game does not disappoint. It has a lot of fun dialogue throughout the game and certainly a lot of puns to go along with that. the story will keep you engaged well enough as you’re going through it. The supporting characters aren’t even bad. For example, I liked Bobby a lot. He’s a bob omb who really means well and just wants some good friends. It takes him a while to get going but once he does, there’s just no stopping him. He adds a fun element to the whole adventure and I was glad to have him around. It’s a shame that he couldn’t have appeared longer.

Olivia’s not quite as interesting. She tends to panic a lot and doesn’t really adapt to the situation in the same way. It is probably the fate of being the main heroine the whole time though. After a certain point of appearing for such a long time, you’re bound to start faltering at some point. She can transform and fight though which puts her above some of the other sidekicks at least in a combat perspective.

There’s not much to say about Mario since he doesn’t talk here but Luigi gets his own sub plot about trying to find the key to Peach’s castle. You feel bad for him because you know from the start that this is doomed to be a gag so he won’t be helpful for a while. At least his misadventures do end up helping in other ways so it balances out. While it’s not a high bar, this probably puts him as looking better than in most games which is really crazy when you think about it.

Bowser’s role is rather small though which is too bad. The scenes that he does get here are great and true show stoppers. The whole time it’ll remind you why you wanted him to appear so much in the first place. He’s made for these kind of moments and it shows. Without Bowser things would not have gone well for the heroes. Kamek and Bowser Jr also show up with satisfying roles so fans of all 3 should certainly be pleased here. That about wraps it up for the characters aside from Olly.

So for King Olly, I like the idea behind the character but I don’t think the execution is on point. Perhaps the opening cutscene set the bar too high but he just never gets back up to that level of hype. By the end you start to almost feel sorry for him which is rarely a good thing for a villain. No, this did not end up going over very well for the guy at all. It would have been cool if Bowser betrayed him and became the main villain for a minute there although I understand why that did not happen.

So the story is fun. It lasts for quite a while at 20+ hours and there is really a lot to do here. There’s also some replay value as you try to save all of the toads and get the collectibles although I’m not sure if there’s any secret ending or any kind of prize that would really make the journey worth it. Hopefully though because it’d be a shame if there was no prize at the end of the tunnel or anything like that.

For the gameplay though, this one is quite unique. You have to spin some wheels with a limited amount of moves to get the enemies in position and then you attack. There are no level ups in the game so there’s no point in fighting except when you have to. The wheel makes each match take longer than it should and it’s always sad when you can’t win in one turn because your attack power is not high enough. The worst part is you can’t exactly increase your attack power aside from finding new health power ups so that’s that.

Not having a level up system is always a mistake in an RPG if you ask me. The ability to grow stronger by beating minions is part of the whole point of the genre. When you take that away, it’s like you’re taking the heart of the adventure away as well. It’s just not right and it certainly doesn’t suit the game. Because of that, every minion encounter just feels annoying because you couldn’t get away fast enough. The wheel also never feels fun so you’re constantly wondering why it is even here.

At least there’s no mysteries during the boss fights like in Color Splash or Sticker Star where you’d have to backtrack to get specific items. You never have to completely run away from a fight here which is a very good thing. That would have absolutely been annoying otherwise. I don’t like to have to backtrack unless there’s a good reason for it. So the gameplay does hold the game back to an extent.

The graphics look really solid here. With the paper style the game may not end up trying to look quite as impressive as the average big budget game but it’s still all very clear. You certainly won’t think this is an older game. The real highlight is the soundtrack like I said earlier though. Listen to any theme in the game and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. The boss fights all pop out at you and it’s like you’re in a whole new world. The themes are heavy rock and get you into the zone. It even makes up for the bosses having the most uninspired designs and names imaginable because they at least sound hype thanks to the music. The game should be really grateful for such excellent tunes.

Overall, The Origami King is a fun installment in the Paper Mario series. I may not have been a big fan in some areas but it’s definitely an improvement over the last two games. I’d like the series to go a little more all out though like how it used to be with the first 3 titles. There’s no reason why your villains should just be ordinary appliance or why you need gimmicks with the gameplay. Give us a normal RPG gameplay style with a solid story and you’ll have a smash hit guaranteed. Maybe Nintendo doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the series without a gimmick but they really should since people would buy this regardless. If you like Paper Mario then you’ll have fun with this one. It’s still worth a purchase and it gives you a lot of value for your purchase. Now it’s just the long wait until the next one.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review

This game got a ton of hype when it was first announced. After all, Pokemon was finally entering the open world genre! That’s a really huge deal no matter how you slice it. I was definitely excited to see how this would go and I would say the game absolutely succeeds. I think there are a few small things that keep me from putting this at a 9 but either way it’s a big success and I want to see a sequel at some point. There’s just so much that you can do with this game.

The adventure starts off with Terry falling out of a portal and landing in Hsui. In this land, people are scared of Pokemon. There are two main factions, Diamond and Pearl. They both worship the all mighty Sinnoh but disagree on if that being is all about space or time. Terry ends up joining the Galactic Patrol which is a group that has recently moved into Hsui and doesn’t want to anger either group. As a result they do their best to help out whenever possible and now Terry will assist in this mission. Still, why has Terry arrived here? Is it possible that he’s a villain just here to stir up trouble for everyone? He will have to prove himself by completing missions which will raise his star rank. If he raises it enough then good things may happen.

There is a good deal of story here which is nice. I wouldn’t say it’s the most ambitious Pokemon story as that has to be Pokemon Black but a great deal of effort was put into this one without a doubt. For starters, there is a lot of good world building in Hsui and it all ties up nicely at the end. The supporting cast is also solid. Most of them may turn chicken at the end when the going gets tough but they’re all entertaining enough. A few characters get off real easy by the end though. So trust nobody and just keep developing your skills because not all of these guys are Terry’s allies. The game has quite a few twists and turns within it. Some you will likely see coming and others you won’t. There’s a good balance of things happening here and so you’re always kept on guard.

Arceus is also one of the more challenging Pokemon games by the end. You’re not necessarily playing Pokemon for the challenge but it does make the whole climax feel that much more rewarding since you really need to earn it. There are effectively 3 endings to the game here. The base ending, the post game ending, and then the true ending. I went for the first two and may go for the third at some point. The last one isn’t so much difficult as it is very time consuming. Although it’s fair to say that this is difficult in its own way since it’s hard to make up that much time.

The post game ending will put you through your paces though. I had to grind for a few hours to get my guys strong enough for the challenge and let me tell you…grinding is not exactly normal for a Pokemon game. It is very rare indeed that you will ever have to do it. This game embraces its RPG roots though as there are multiple phases to the final boss. I was rather impressed. I didn’t beat the boss in one shot but I certainly gave it a good shot right from the jump.

Now going back to the gameplay, there’s a lot to it here. For the free roam part, you run around the map with your items and Pokemon. You can throw Pokeballs at Pokemon before they spot you to try and catch them. Most Pokemon can be caught straight up like this. For the ones that are higher leveled and keep breaking out, you can throw your Pokemon out to weaken them and then throw your Pokeball. You can also use berries to get their guard down. Sometimes you’ll even want to beat Pokemon instead of catching them to improve your Pokedex.

See, there is a big difference here compared to other Pokemon games. Catching a Pokemon doesn’t end their Pokedex entry. You have to complete 10 tasks relating to a Pokemon to get it to completed status within your Pokedex. This will include tasks that range from catching that Pokemon to beating it, to feeding it, or even watching a move. Each Pokemon seems to have close to 50 tasks so choosing 10 out of those isn’t so bar. Of course 10 for each Pokemon means that you will have to complete over 2300 tasks. If you want a truly complete Pokedex (Not necessary for the true ending) then the number will be over 10,000. Quite the journey eh?

I don’t expect you will get very far in completing the Dex by the time you complete the game. That said, it is always fun to add a few more entries to your list. You can examine Pokemon from afar to see the status of all their missions so you know right away if engaging them is even worth it. Catching or defeating a Pokemon will always give EXP but in the latter parts of the game it is low enough where you’ll probably want to skip them if you’ve already completed the entry. The best place to farm exp is certainly by beating a wild Blissey over and over again. Nothing else is even close if you ask me.

You can also go around completing missions and finding lost items. The lost items seem to be infinite so you may not want to bother with that one. It increases your “merit” score though but I’m not even sure what that does. I got our score to over 1000 but didn’t notice any changes within the game. Completing missions is always a good idea though as it can help generate new missions plus there is a finite amount of these. So once you finish all of the missions that’s it. They give really good rewards too like rare candy. I managed to beat a good chunk of the missions, I want to say over half but if not, it was close to that amount. Some of the missions are simple like catching a Pokemon while others will require a lot of leg work.

As the game goes on you will be able to fly and swim in the water which are really handy. The sections of the world are rather big after all. Then you have the combat gameplay which is a bit weaker than the average Pokemon game. I suspect this is because most of the budget went into the open world part and this was just the bonus. It still works and the rules are pretty much the same but it feels like almost every attack takes the other out in one hit thanks to the new strong style feature. So if my opponent goes first then I lose a fighter and if I go first then I take one out. It feels like the attacks are just a bit too overpowered here.

I do appreciate how switching Pokemon doesn’t cost you a turn though. That is incredibly useful in the final battles as those could have been difficult without that feature. This way it’s like you get a free turn every now and again. You’ve also got crafting which is a way to build items out of resources. It’s a handy little feature but I never really used it much. In the early parts of the game you don’t have enough materials and by late game it’s easier to just buy whatever you need. I highly recommend completing the shop side quests whenever possible so you can upgrade his wares. Once you do this 3-4 times he will start selling Ultra Balls and Max Revives which are absolutely necessary. Earning money can be difficult here until you’re in the end game but then beating Blissey will get you a good amount of money through the item drops.

Now I do have some issues with the game. Mainly they are quality of life features or lack thereof which is what keeps this from being a 9. First off, the bag is way too small. You’ll get constant messages that your bag is full when you try to pick something up. I even went to the one guy who gives you more bag space and bought a ton of slots but it’s not enough. (Also it’s crazy how you’re charged big money for a single slot) There are way more kinds of items in the game than item spots to grab. The issue here is that you then have to throw stuff out which could be handy later on.

I didn’t think it was necessary to make the bag so small. Also, going back to the money angle, since it’s hard to earn money at times, that means you will often be running low on Pokeballs which can be a bit annoying when you are trying to catch a lot of Pokemon. You’ve then got to leave and return. There is no way to leave and then quick travel to a different location either. You always have to go back to home base and then set out again. It’s a small thing but that mans you have to click through the various text boxes every time you want to switch areas which adds up.

It’s little areas like that which feel like they could have been more polished. A few more months may have helped the game with a few of these features. Some missions give the compass some trouble and things like that. Still, these are all what I would consider minor quality of life improvements. The important thing here is that you will still be having fun the whole time. I could barely put the game down as I played through the whole campaign. The game’s length is also pretty good at around 20-22 hours. That’s a solid length and of course there is a ton of replay value.

I don’t see how you can catch all of the Pokemon to unlock the true ending in under 30-40 hours. If you want to complete all tasks for all Pokemon then that’s probably even longer. So you’re not going to run out of content here, that’s for sure. I still consider this to be a Pokemon spinoff game and not the next in the main line series but it’s got enough content to be one, that’s for sure. You can play this for a very long time and with all the missions around as well, you’re likely looking at 50-60 hours total.

The graphics were a big deal leading up to the game since everyone pointed out how they don’t look so great. Yes, it’s true that this doesn’t compare to any of the big Switch games. It’s GameFreak though and they’re known for being as cheap as possible while still coming out with the game. I can’t say that I’m surprised they did not spend the extra budget to make this title look amazing. Even with that being said, this is still a good looking game. Just because it’s not top tier doesn’t mean that it is bad. There are a lot of nice sceneries and effects thrown in here.

Trust me when I say that you won’t have any issues when playing through the game. It still looks good and I would play a sequel that looks just like this one in a heartbeat. The soundtrack is quite good though. I like all of the remixes here. The wild Pokemon theme and the trainer theme are both a lot of fun. The absolute best theme in the game is definitely the Giratina remix though. The most powerful moment in the whole game and the theme is very fitting. It really fills you with energy and after beating the game this was the first track from the title that I looked up. It’ll be hard to go back to the normal tune after this.

Overall, Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a very solid game. I think the lack of Arceus in a game named after him can be disappointing for some but I’m not particularly a big fan of his so I was cool with that. The game is great and I liked the story around it. We got some real villains here and a ton of lore. All of the final scenes are really serious and make you feel the danger surrounding the characters. Some quality of life updates would be greatly appreciated so maybe they could put in some free DLC. Like trying to find Pokemon when you have to deal with the usuals each time can be a bit tedious. If there was a way to filter out Pokemon that you have mastered the entry for, that would be awesome. With some Pokemon only showing up at night or in the day, I’m glad you can change the time at any camp but that also takes some time. With a little more polish this game would be near perfect but either way I would recommend picking it up right away. There’s just to much to do here that you almost don’t know where to start when talking about it. There’s plenty of stuff I haven’t even touched upon myself in this review so when you start the game you’ll be in for some surprises!

Overall 8/10

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 30h 12m
PS4 Trophies 9/34
Oliver Level 59
Esther Level 59
Marcassin Level 56
Swaine Level 54
Tyke Myson Level 49
Rocko Level 31
Joules Level 50
Bosun Level 55
Gunther Level 50
Gogo Level 59
Shonky Level 54
Sid Level 58
Lemahl Level 54
Mitey Level 54
Spells Learned: 32

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered Review

I was never all that familiar with the Ni No Kuni title. I had heard of it since Level 5 games always get a good amount of publicity but I can’t say I knew anything about the plot. Well, it was definitely a very satisfying RPG and a rather long one as it took me a full 30 hours. After playing it I can definitely say that this is a winner and a really solid title. It’s also unique enough where you can’t call it quite like any others. I would certainly like to see more games in this series.

The story introduces us to a kid named Oliver who decides to go out one night to try out his friend’s car. Unfortunately he ends up crashing and while Oliver’s mother is able to save him, she dies in the process. Now Oliver is broken inside as he blames himself for this happening. One day his stuffed animal Drippy becomes sentient and lets Oliver know that there is still a way to save his mother. See, there’s a parallel world where everyone has a double. If Oliver can save his mother’s double then he will also be able to save her. Oliver agrees to do this and stop the evil wizard Shadar. Along the way he meets several allies and friends who will help him out. If Oliver can spread joy to many, he can begin to save lives and souls wherever he goes.

I will say that from the start this does seem a bit suspect though. So as we play through the game you see that if one person is sad then their double in the other world is sad as well. Emotions and everything transfer. If you die in one world then you die in the other. Wait a minute……lets focus on that last part. So if Oliver’s mother died in the real world then she would have died in the other world too so there’s nobody left to save right? Oh nooooooooooo. I mean it’s impossible not to be thinking about that immediately. The question is just if Drippy is intentionally misleading Oliver or if there’s some reason why this would be an exception. Naturally you’ll have to wait until the end to see what is really going on here but I remember thinking about this right from the start. If both souls are linked throughout then that’s bad news for Oliver’s chances.

The gameplay is classic turn based although you are able to move while attacking. In that sense it’s the most similar to .Hack which also had turn based combat but you could move around to gather energy, items, and try to make the other player miss. It’s a good way to add some energy to the usual turn based combat although I tend to enjoy it either way. You can fight as Oliver or you can play as one of up to 3 creatures you control. You can switch in and out at any time though which is really good for strategy. Let me tell you now that you will want to be switching in and out a whole lot here. You can’t stick with any monster for too long anyway since there is a time limit. So I would usually go to my monster for the fighting and would switch back to Oliver when it was time to heal.

You can also capture monsters later on to add them to your team like in Pokemon. For about 80-90% of the game I didn’t use Oliver almost at all aside from healing but then towards the end you learn 2 spells that are extremely powerful. At that point I stopped using the monsters and would play as Oliver exclusively. Trust me when I say that the spells are that good. Use your two allies to draw enemy fire while you charge them up though as the spells take a while to work. Your allies will probably lose a lot though as they have a hard time blocking. You can tell them to go on defense mode by pressing square but they’ll ignore you half the time since they’re already in the middle of a spell.

Don’t worry about them so much but make sure you end up blocking the attack. It reduces the damage by around 90% and also causes the enemy to drop some health/mp bubbles and sometimes even a full recovery that gives you a final smash. You don’t want to miss out on that. There is a lot of strategic elements to keep in mind here but you’ll have all of the mechanics down before long. The game is rather difficult either way though so don’t expect to just breeze on by it. I had to grind out a lot of EXP throughout the game and even then the bosses were challenging. On the final boss I lost on the final phase when the health was in the red the first time which stung. You just have to keep going at the enemies though and get your guys into the mid 50s for level. If you go higher then even better but I wouldn’t really try if your guys are too low. Just hang back and train for a bit longer.

The graphics are really solid here. We have full anime cutscenes, cgi rendered cutscenes, and then classic text boxes with voice acting. The game is very well polished and it’s clear that a lot of budget went into this one. The world looks really good even when you’re not in a cutscene. I definitely had no issues with how the visuals looked at all. This is a winning title. The soundtrack is also good even if it’s not super memorable. It does the job of getting you through the game. I do have a bit of an obscure issue with the sound mixing though. There are 3 styles of cutscenes as I mentioned and each one has a different volume level. The problem with that is that it’s hard to have the volume set up since some cutscenes will be too low one way or too loud the other. It’s a rare issue that has only popped up in a handful of games but it’s worth mentioning. It’s not something that should really hurt your experience at all though, especially considering that all of the cutscenes are subbed.

After completing the game there is a good amount of post game content to challenge. More islands, enemies, missions, quests, etc. Additionally you also have the PS4 trophies to grab and those seem to be reasonably challenging. I expect you will certainly have to take a while to conquer those. Considering that the base game with no sub quests is 30 hours, this game will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

As with most RPGs, the story is also really good. The benefit of a story being long is that you really get to hang out with the characters for a while and get to like them all. Naturally as always I wouldn’t mind if Oliver was older but he does well by the end. His team did well in protecting the universe. It was fun to see everyone with british accents as well since you don’t see that so often. The main heroine Esther is good and always has solid banter with Swaine. Droopy has a lot of confidence and his manner of speaking always makes his sentences memorable.

For the villains, we had Shadar of course who is a tough threat. All of his dialogue is rather intense and the guy is not lacking in confidence. The battles with him are suitably tricky. The White Witch takes a while to actually take the stage but the wait is well worth it. I also liked her design. The game gives out a lot of plot twists before things are over and they all help to really change the experience. Each twist is a rather big deal and none of them felt pointless. While I would have handled the ending a bit differently, you’ll have a satisfying ride from start to finish.

Overall, Ni No Kuni is definitely a great game and I would recommend checking it out. It’s a difficult RPG that will require more grinding than in others but by the same token, the extra level of detail means that this could be the reverse for you. If you really master the mechanics and type advantages then perhaps you could beat this at a much lower level than I. Of course I’d like to see you try though as I would argue I did really well with the mechanics. It does mean that there are countless ways to approach each boss though so feel free to experiment. Always buy the latest equipment and you will be in a good spot here.

Overall 8/10