Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zenith (PS4)

Badland Games' "Zenith" is a self-aware, and self-loathing RPG which incorporates not only older JRPG elements, but also includes comedic rip offs of said JRPG material as well as hilarious mockery of some of the 80's to early 90's greatest cult film classics. While it does bare it's own story centered around a foul mouthed mage known as Argus Windall, and his unfortunate dealings with an ancient scepter for the sake of the empire he serves under it continuously displays all sorts of cliches with tons of fourth wall breaking moments meant to stir a reaction from the gamer who is intently playing through the oddly orchestrated adventure. Nothing in the game is overly complicated, and after having played through it myself I realized the main focus was mostly about the developers' underlying message to gamers. Their personal opinion regarding the various cliches, and tropes found within most of, if not all RPGs. It's a proper adult comedy that gamers who grew up playing RPGs can appreciate, and enjoy ... to a certain point. Unfortunately the game does have it's issues, and those issues tend to break the immersion that should have been more smoothly delivered.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Slain: Back From Hell (PS4)

Finally! Slain has made it to the PS4!!! Well, at least it did last week. I know I'm a little late to the show, but I've been waiting quite a while to get my hands on this game, and see what it's all about. Was I disappointed? Not really. Digerati Distribution, the masterminds behind this Metroidvania homage have done the genre justice. Slain may not have the deepest of stories, but the attention to detail, and the overall experience included lives up to the hype that surrounded it's initial release.

At the heart of the hardcore horror fantasy tale is a long dead hero named Bathoryn who is summoned once again by his spirit guide to fight the forces of evil led by Lord Vroll. Though stubborn at first this dude of metal morals sojourns forth braving the odds in the form of perilous landscapes, and vile enemies. As the gamer you will take control of Bathoryn, and guide him along as you face the threat of instant environmental death, death by the hands (er, claws) of minions, and even that of the dastardly larger than life boss creatures that look as if they were torn out of someone's nightmares. With your sword, spirit magic, and capabilities as a tried and true warrior you will deal with all this, or suffer the consequences of your inability to do so. It is an unapologetic, and challenging game in the light of older Metroidvania platformers much like the early Castlevanias, Chakan the Forever Man, and even Altered Beast. Along with said challenge comes a symphonic heavy metal soundtrack, tons of blood, and plenty of gory bits. If you like your Metroidvanias maturer, and hardcore you'll no doubt enjoy what Slain has to offer!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Zen Pinball 2 - Women of Power (PS4)

Up until this point Zen Studios has chosen the more well known, and older selection of MARVEL superheroes, and superhero tales to make as their focal point in pinball table design. They've chosen pivotal moments from past MARVEL histories, and timelines including that of the Hulk's exile to space, and even the 'Fear Itself' table which was about as "Metal" as I've seen a MARVEL product get. They even used single characters as the spotlight interest from time to time, and built said table around said character. Most former MARVEL fans can appreciate the attention to detail put in these older tables as they are more relative to those of us who have been with MARVEL in the past, but who have currently abandoned them for their awkward direction in both storytelling, and art. Myself included in that statement.

That having been said the "Women of Power" two table set isn't all that bad. I was intrigued by the "A-Force" table which included Black Widow, and Madame Masque as it's flagship characters. It looked, and seemed similar to a lot of the more male inclusive story spin-offs I've read through in the past. On the flip side of the same set though the "Champions" table completely lost me outside the fact that it's the one table out of the set with the easiest high scoring mechanics included. In fact today I landed a score of 143+ million in a 20+ minute playthrough. The inclusion of Ms.Marvel, Lockjaw, and the other female casting kind of turned me away from liking it regardless of this plus side. As I mentioned in my preview stream the characters, and the table felt too slapstick, or rather too comical to be considered what I think of as MARVEL. In a Scooby-Doo sort of way.

That aside both tables in their entirety look superb, and for the most part play excellently under the guide of skilled, and even amateurish control. Everything from the soundtrack to the voice-overs, and even the visual effects come together in a manner befitting of Zen Studio's advancing, and ever improving quality. For that very reason I find myself on the fence about either loving, or not liking what path Zen Studios has currently taken with their trek into MARVEL comics coverage. There's definitely an air of PC (Political Correctness) influence, and aspirations with the theme. I'm not saying it's bad to cover only super heroine inclusive MARVEL plots, but like the latest MARVEL films this too seems to be introduced for propaganda purposes by outside sources with their own agendas. God knows I favor the female characters over a lot of the male characters, because they've always looked cooler to me, but this gender divide and singular focus has got to stop in the entertainment industry. Seriously.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (PS4)

As far back as I can remember, even in the original championship series spin-off, Pac-Man has always been about collecting the dots, traversing the mazes masterfully, avoiding the four infamous ghosts, and only attacking when Pac-Man was powered up by the power pellets he consumed. To me this flagship formula in it's simplest, and early championship edition form was what Pac-Man was meant to be. It's what it was from the start. An arcade style experience centered around high scores, and only complicated by the mazes themselves as well as the ghosts that inhabited said mazes. In this latest installment of the championship series this flagship formula was turned upside-down. Topsy-turvy, if you will. By that I mean Pac-Man, the protagonist of the game, is no longer really all that troubled by the presence of the ghostly inhabitants of the mazes he takes on, but is instead challenged by the mechanics that add several extra options for capitalizing on the ghost chains which were the main scoring features within the original championship edition. At base level the game looks, and reacts as it did in it's former championship glory, but over-complicates things at the same time. The biggest of differences in regards to this change, the ones causing the fuss, being the change with the effect of the bombs, the ghosts' behavior in general, the addition of a boss inclusive adventure mode, and the ability to basically bully the ghosts and their trains out of your way with little repercussion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (PS4)

Admittedly I went into this review rather blindly. I knew little of the Touhou anime universe, or the characters that resided therein. Despite this lack of series knowledge I do know my shmups though. I've played every possible kind of shoot 'em up from the bullet hell type to the side scrolling type, and even the top down variety. I've also played old school, and newer shmups from various publishers and developers throughout the years. Yar's Revenge on the Atari 2600 included. The thing that's always drawn me to the genre, and it's sub-genre offerings has in each case been the challenge, and the accompanying top score goals. Everybody wants to be the best at a game, but in the shmup genre this aspect of gameplay really does show, and you really do have to work hard to earn your placing among the honorable few. It's kind of like pinball in that sense. Looking back at my review playthrough I can definitely see those core values, and similarities in this game as well.

When it comes to this latest NISA release known as, "Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet" you'll find that it brings with it an all encompassing variety of shmup mechanics. By that I mean even though it is a top down shooter it uses every mechanic known to the genre, and then some. The power-ups, the bullet barrage, and even the scoring are included in the mix. While it does stay true to those more traditional elements it in some ways also seems to blend fighting game offerings with it's fleshed out character roster, story driven content, and the melee system that uses two colored rings as a way for players to dish out melee combos instead of the traditional bullet hell attacks. There's definitely a lot to this budget bullet hell title, and for what it's worth it may be one of the more interesting shmups I've ever played.

Who Ya Gonna Call!? Not Sony!!!

Are you continuously haunted by the harassment of others while gaming on the PSN? Are the trolls trolling you, and the hackers hacking your MLG efforts to bits like some Jack the Ripper clone? Well, if so I've got some disturbing news for you. In patch 4.0 the reporting options that should be are no longer available. In their place stands a confusing assortment of options that are once again so vague in description that anyone would be hard pressed to make heads or tails of what the complaint is all about. Sure they added in the description box for applying details about your complaint, but said complaint form effort is made futile, because it is tied to specific complaint types which are of an extreme nature. Complaint types which encompass issues that are hardly ever present in the PSN. There's that, and there's also a blatant push to pass the buck to gaming studios who offer online gaming features. They tell you to block the player (with limited blocks in place), and to report your problems to the video game's service provider. The catch is not all gaming studios offer in-game reporting options, so who are you supposed to report to in such a case? Not Sony, obviously. They couldn't care less what you are complaining about, and this is made increasingly more evident with each grief report patch that has been forced, to date.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The "Git Gud" Proposition

I get it, I really do. You guys want me to "Git Gud", and stop being salty. Unfortunately we all have our wants. In my case I wish you guys would accept the fact that not everyone wants to "Git Gud". Some gamers simply want to enjoy a game they paid for on a more casual level without being harassed by trolls, and cheaters. With that having been said though I think I might have a way to satiate both of our deep desires. You want me to "Git Gud", and stop being salty, but how bad do you really want it? I am willing to "Git Gud", and stop being salty, but it's gonna cost you due to my own sacrifice of personal opinions. Opinions which are very near, and dear to me ...

Friday, September 9, 2016

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness (PS4)

Modeled after the anime series of the same name NISA's, MAGES', and 5pb's addition to the ongoing plot that is "PSYCHO-PASS" takes place somewhere in the midst of season one with two new playable characters, and a new villain the likes of which fans of said series will not yet have seen. All of which is presented in an interactive visual novel style experience with exceptional attention to detail abound. For those of you have never heard of the anime, or it's story you'll be surprised to know that it's not quite as far fetched an idea as anime usually is. In fact, dare I say it, it kind of mirrors the direction our own society is currently taking with the secretive collection, and assessment of private data tied to persons of interest by corporate entities. The premise in the anime series, like our own real world plight, revolves wholly around a managed society where enforcers operating under an AI judicial system known as the "Sibyl System" track down latent, or potentially latent criminals through their personal "Psycho-Pass". The 'Psycho-Pass', as it were is an accessible psychological evaluation that takes into account a person's stress level (Hue), and criminal capacity (Crime Coefficient) for the sake of maintaining a peaceful society. Criminals found with a certain Hue will either be counseled, enforced by the Inspectors/Enforcers via a non-lethal paralysis shot, or will be executed on site with a Dominator pistol which evaluates the criminal status of the individual before firing the fatal shot through one of the Enforcer's or leading Inspector's handling of said weapon. Inspectors, and Enforcers of the Public Safety Bureau (MWPSB), as a result of the use of this system are effectively judge, jury, and executioner of anyone deemed suspect. Even latent criminals found among themselves. Of course this game picks up on that base story element, and builds greatly upon it in a case by case, and chapter by chapter basis where three main characters' involvement intertwines through their unusually connected circumstances.

Monday, September 5, 2016

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death (PS VITA)

Idea Factory International, and Compile Heart bring to us yet another creative anime RPG with a unique twist. This time around it's a fresh take on the age old dungeon crawling formula set within the anime fantasy that is "MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death". The story, for those of you who are curious encompasses an unusual mythology where the world has ceased to function, and demons have begun taking over. To the rescue are a handful of busty (one not so busty) Machina Mages including Estra, Setia, Flare, Maki, and Connie who are each tasked with the duty of winding up the world key at the heart of four towers within the Southern Cross so that the world they live in will once again know peace and prosperity. The catch being that only one Machina Mage can wind the key, and in turn be granted the head position at their temple. Along with their mage skills these four young ladies of unusual elemental prowess are accompanied by Kaiju-like guardians who help them with the oppressive demon threat, and the dark Machina Mage known as Gagarin who is at the center of the dilemma. As the title suggests you, as Estra will be traversing various labyrinthine environments alongside her compatriots in the first person point of view as you do as the temple elder has ordered you to do. You'll take on guild quests, rest at the Star Wind Inn when need be, and shop at the temple merchants store for items that will benefit both you, and your party members. Guardians included, of course. While it all sounds simple combat within the multi-floor labyrinths is a little less so. Luckily past the flashy spectacle that is the anime intro the developer drops several tutorials that will have you understanding the game in no time.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Strike Vector EX (PS4)

RageQuit Corporation's "Strike Vector EX" is not your traditional aerial dogfight simulator by any means. It brings with it an immersive arcade-like atmosphere with a plethora of arcade style gameplay elements included. It also includes a vaguely explained story locked behind a fairly lengthy campaign along with a healthy multiplayer experience that mirrors offerings from games like Call of Duty, or HALO. It's definitely unique in it's delivery, and quite engaging once you get to know how the game is meant to handle outside of the default settings.

If I were to compare the story portion of the game to anything I'd have to say it was a mixture of the climactic saga of StarCraft, and the federation goings on of the recently released StarTrek movies. The latter of which were based around the younger cadets, and their rise to becoming their older selves in the science fiction lore therein. By that I mean the game is futuristic, and that it seems to have different inhabitants, or factions in factory-like bases floating above a desolate planet. Each fighting for various causes ranging from domination to pirating, and even a seemingly futile fight for freedom. The main character himself mirrors the young and defiant pilot Captain Kirk in the way that he conducts business for both freedom fighters, and corporate entities alike. It is as Marv, this young Vector pilot of circumstance that you'll be taking on missions from those you follow within the mission based campaign. Outside of said campaign setting you'll be free to fully customize, and pilot your own Vectors in dogfight friendly environments set aside for competitive, and objective combat. All of which is ranked, and will earn you Kebs (credits) for unlocking all the other bits and bobs that the game has in place for you to unlock.