Friday, April 29, 2016

Grand Kingdom BETA (PS4) - Second Thoughts

Call it back peddling, or whatever you may, but I have changed my mind about "Grand Kingdom". I think it has potential. This second thought comes after spending some more time with the BETA, and seeing what else it had to offer. While I still feel the anime style is a bit simplistic/indie in nature, and that the story isn't as in-depth as it could be the combat more than makes up for it. I find it to be a nice change from the traditional strategy RPG formulas. It's kind of addictive, and fun at the same time. I also like the in-game character design, the fact you can change the spoken language to the original Japanese, and the added fact that it has an online component which allows you to send out or command your troops in contracted wars within one of the game's four guilds. It seems to be one of those drop in, and drop out RPG experiences that can be played anytime you feel like it. Of course you will have to check in on your troops every once in a while if you send them out via the "Detachment (automated)" option, but other than that it seems to be a leisurely gaming experience with a bit of longevity involved. The online connectivity definitely offers some replay value.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grand Kingdom BETA (PS4) - First Impressions

I've spent some time playing through Grand Kingdom's BETA tutorial today on my PS4, and have come to realize that the game is not at all what I expected it to be. I expected a more Japanese presentation, but was met with an art style, and gameplay that can best be described as "American" in nature. The whole game is kind of simplistic in design with the main focus being on the lane based tactical combat contained within. Oddly enough it is Japanese developer Spike Chunsoft who created this particular RPG though, which baffles me to no end. When it comes down to gameplay, and game management the whole ordeal feels as if it's geared towards a free-to-play format. It doesn't feel grand in scale like most NISA games, and has a sort of indie atmosphere about it. Gameplay, as it were, is done via two main features. This includes moving a pawn-like avatar through an semi-overhead map to it's end destination within a set amount of moves, and engaging in actual party inclusive battle scenarios during said maze-like traveling. All while avoiding traps, and using available menu options along the way.

When you meet up with the enemy's avatars (or pawns) on the game's map display you will be taken into the battle screen where your troupe of mercenaries stand in their four respective lanes to the left, and the enemies in their respective lanes to the right. Sometimes there will be hidden traps, and objects placed in the lanes between you, and your enemies as well. The point of the battle is basically to make proper use of your party members' skills, and attacks as you move them a limited amount of times on, and between any of the lanes. The combat is turn based, and relies heavily on class type offerings, and tactics. Classes available in the BETA are limited, but include a Knight, a Medic, a Witch, and an Archer. Each of which has varying weapon/skill reach, and capabilities on the battlefield. The end goal of it all is to kill off the opposing leader, and the rest of the enemy troops before your party members are killed off. Of course there will be a boss fight when you reach the end marker of the current campaign map, but that too plays out in a similar way as the standard battles do. Keep in mind some enemy avatars harbor stronger enemy types, and that engaging them is not always the wisest of options. Sometimes using map menu skills to bypass the enemy avatars will be the best course of action, especially if your party is ill-prepared for the situation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Aliens vs Pinball (PS4)

From the inspiration of H.R.Giger's art to the movie adaptations thereof the ALIEN universe has captivated many science fiction fans' undivided attention since it's first appearance. The franchise itself has spawned the likes of comic books, books, toys, and even video games becoming a well grounded staple of the science fiction genre for many years. Most of us growing up from the 80's onward were privileged enough to see the movie quadrilogy as it was released. We got to witness the rise, and fall of the lead female character Lt.Ripley who was played by Sigourney Weaver, and were introduced to a relentless parasite that posed a formidable threat for even the most seemingly prepared. The movies (in order) included 'ALIEN', 'ALIENS', 'ALIEN 3', and 'ALIEN Resurrection'. Each of which contained a continued story arch involving Ripley, the Weyland Corp., and those unfortunate souls who got caught up in the mix. Later on down the road there was even the fan service film which bore the name "AvP (or Aliens vs Predator)". While it paled in comparison to the original the ALIEN quadrilogy, and the franchise's namesake continued to thrive in the forms of different entertainment offerings as well as other physical collectibles. Recently the franchise was even taken back to it's original horror roots with "ALIEN Isolation". In this widely accepted video game adaptation the fear, and anticipation of encountering such a vile entity as an ALIEN was kept real, and had players once again filling the role of a Ripley as she tried to escape certain death. Thankfully the inspiration for new video game experiences didn't die off there. In fact this Tuesday fans of both Zen Studio's Zen Pinball 2/Pinball FX2, and ALIENS will be able to compete for top score on three ALIENS inspired tables that span across two select movie adaptations, and the previously mentioned game, "ALIEN Isolation".

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Playstation Conspiracy

Since the induction of the new management over at Sony's Playstation headquarters I've noticed several unnerving changes to the PS3, and PS4 infrastructure. For one thing SIE (the new management team behind the Playstation console generations) has gone out of their way to make it even more difficult for gamers to report PSN offenders. They have done away with the website complaint form entirely, and have added extra steps in the console process as well as nonsensical reporting options which are so vague they do nothing in pinpointing an offense. It's as if they don't care to combat the issues at hand, or that they are breeding a gaming environment to let the problems thrive. They have seemingly also invited the offending crowd openly through avatar, and theme offerings on the PSN Store inciting a sort of negative uprising among the gaming community.

Recently while booting my PS3 back up I took a visit to the PSN Store only to find a disturbing selection of PSN avatars that play on various end of the world scenarios, and current anarchist mentalities. Dare I say it, but it seems to me that Sony's SIE has dark intentions in mind for their paying gaming community. Intentions that are devilish in nature. I'm beginning to think the new management's agenda is to steer the youth of our world in a darker direction. That is a conspiracy theory though ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pang Adventures (PS4)

It's been a long while since I've encountered a game so inviting, and so addictive as DotEmu's, and PastaGames' "Pang Adventures" is. I think what attracted me to it the most, and made me seek it out for review was the fact that it reminded me of a certain retro game I played back in the day. A game that I absolutely loved. At first I couldn't think of the game I was trying to reference, but through some Googling I found out why the gameplay seemed so familiar, and which game it was that featured similar mechanics to the ones in "Pang Adventures". That retro game being "Buster Brothers (Pang in Japan)". If you've never played a "Buster Brothers" game before the objective is simple, but challenging. Through single player, or multiplayer co-op your goal is to basically bust bubbles as a wacky character while dodging said bubbles as they move about the screen. At your disposal is a harpoon gun which pops the bubbles, and clears them out, systematically. Similar to this formula, but not quite the same is the experience that 'Pang Adventures' brings to the gamer. The developers at PastaGames have ultimately expanded upon what games like 'Buster Brothers' offered in the past, and have made the arcade style action even more fun loving, and challenging than it was before. With new graphics, a catchy soundtrack, and some interesting modes of play 'Pang Adventures' aims to capture it's audience's attention, indefinitely.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Destiny Update

Yesterday, after a significant wait for the latest update to launch it finally dropped, and I downloaded it with great expectation. I delved back once again into the immersive universe that makes up the Destiny lore hoping for the best. As one of Destiny's paying founders I was anxious to see if Bungie had redeemed themselves with this hyped mini-expansion. The teaser trailers, and studio commentary boasted like it was one of the biggest things to hit Destiny since it's release. The videos showed some fairly impressive new features, some of which have been long awaited by dedicated gamers like myself. I won't lie in saying that I was a little excited to see if these add-ons made sticking around for the long haul worthwhile. At this point Destiny was in desperate need of a revival. Both for the gamers who were invested in it, and for the developers who are pushing it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stranger of Sword City (PS VITA)

NISA, and their co-developer/publisher 'Experience Inc.' have a surprise up their sleeves for all those dRPG (Dungeon Crawler Role-playing Games) lovers out there. One that may, or may not attract all audiences ...

This latest dungeon crawler which is titled, "Stranger of Sword City" takes the gamer on a journey of discovery the likes of which have never really been ventured into in such a game genre before. That journey of which I speak begins intently with a modern era plane crash into a mythical city known as Escario, and follows up almost immediately with a subsequent assignment of heroic duty to the lone survivor. That survivor being a character of your own creation. As you awake amidst the wreckage of the missing north Asia airliner you were aboard you are greeted by a couple of mysterious individuals in a foreign landscape. One character, which is a hooded old man seems to want to guide you to safety, but ends up luring you into a trap filled with monsters instead. Thankfully Riu (a sword wielding school girl) shows up, and explains things to you while getting you situated in your newly discovered environment. The whole "you are the chosen one" cliche plays out in full with you ultimately being appointed a position in Sword City's(Escario's) Stranger's Guild as one of it's lead members. Your main objective there being that of monster slaying, and the collection of blood crystals for you and your party's betterment. It seems "Strangers", which you are referred to as being, are the only ones who can fight the lineage monstrosities that are plaguing Escario and it's people. Thus you pretty much get thrust into the job whether you wanted to or not.

Once you are back at the Stranger's Guild you are given proper introductions to the main role players of the realm, and to the vendors of the guild. Through the current leaders you are also given an entry level test before being accepted and sent out on errands to kill the baddies (lineage monsters), and collect the blood crystals from which they respawn. From start to finish, regardless of difficulty, your dungeon crawling skills will be tested to the max in a fashion that seems to be more brutal than that of a 'Dark Souls', or 'Demon Souls' game. Even your entry point test will kill your assigned party off with ease if you are not careful in your approach. Thus character customization, and party management are the main focus of this fantastical journey into this land that is unlike your own.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Green Game: TimeSwapper (PS VITA)

iFun4All's color coded game series about a non-particular mechanical bird protagonist returns once again in the form of "Green Game: TimeSwapper". As the title of this latest interactive, and touchscreen reliant Metroidvania style indie suggests it is all about time tampering, and not so much manipulating the world around you in a direct manner. Along with the introduction of time manipulation (the moving of time forwards & backwards via a green ray of light) comes a corresponding environmental color change (to that of green), and a plethora of new hazards and gadgets that are in place to guide the now more skeletal bird from glass cage to glass cage. There are 50 levels in total which are each made accessible via the game's gear menu interface. An interface that is moved through by applying a vertical swipe of your finger upon the PS Vita's touchscreen. The game itself begins, and picks up where "Red Game Without A Great Name" left off by briefly showing the former red environment before hinting at an upcoming "Blue Game", and ultimately taking the bird downward into an underground laboratory where a mad scientist tinkers with it's innards while leaving it in a mechanical skeleton state. All before sending it on it's way for some unknown diabolical reason.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Let's Talk - BETAs & ALPHAs

In the past several BETAs I've participated in I've noticed a disturbing trend. That trend being the dissection of the games at the hands of modders, and hackers. It seems that these lowlife scum are constantly testing the waters looking for exploits, and are finding them through their misplaced efforts. With early access to a game via a BETA or ALPHA they can easily break it down, and manipulate it long before the game launches. The EULA, or "End User License Agreement" that is in place to stop this does f**k all to deter these delinquents though, because they are hiding behind several layers of anonymity which includes everything from faked IP addresses to multiple modded accounts. Do you seriously think a EULA, and it's legal technicalities are going to stop someone who can hide from the law. Nope. Therein lies the problem. How does a developer, or a publisher deal with such a threat?