Sunday, July 23, 2017

ATTN: Developers, PR & Publishers

What I'm about to share is in no way a pompous, or self-promoting dig at how game industry providers pick, and choose which outlets get review material. I understand where they come from on some things, but not everything. I've often times stated how view count is not the tell all standard when it comes to product success. With outlets using clickbait article titles, and offering up chances at winning expensive/noteworthy prizes it's no wonder they have an impressive view count. What they lack though should also be held to account. That is the lack of an audience that agrees with them, or understands them. An audience, though engaging, which amounts to nothing more than trolling and calling them out for the misguided journalists that they are. I have a beef with this not because I'm jealous, but because such outlets overshadow those of us lesser outlets who really put the work in, and who have a genuine following of viewers, and readers.

Industry providers have a choice. At the end of the day PR can gamble away their chances with these bigger, lacking outlets for sheer exposure (exposure which which happens regardless of their critique), or they can help guys like me help them. By that I mean in lifting up the lesser outlets, and promoting them to the point they get the views they desire they will not only get the views, but they will get quality reviews more freely. I personally work for peanuts, a game for a review. Bigger outlets though leech off of the success or sometimes lack of success of those who impart on them review material, and early/exclusive access to games/game events. They bank big money on ad revenue, and views while the developers often times struggle to make ends meet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire (PS4)

YYT, or YummyYummyTummy as they are known is a development studio who is trying to break the mold of action RPGs by setting the stage for "Fallen Legion: Sins of the Empire" with a sort of reactionary 'dial-a-combo' system. Something that kind of takes in account a turn-based strategy, but not entirely so. At the heart of this story, choice, and action driven game you follow, and play as a fallen emperor's daughter who goes by the name Cecille, and/or Octavia. It seems the reluctant successor Octavia finds herself in a bit of a mess as her father's kingdom is facing economic ruin, and all out warfare, because of the state of things. Greedy for her father's position as the next rightful ruler is one of Octavia's acquaintances, Legatus. Legatus wants the throne, and power for all the wrong reasons while Octavia wants to get in power long enough to set things right. At least in her own point of view. Thus is the struggle, or rather the fight focus of the protagonist, and antagonist of the plot. Through the inheritance of a talking Grimoire Octavia discovers how to cast spells via soulmancy as well as how to summon exemplars from Elysia, or souls of long lost warriors who can fight alongside her in battle. She uses this newfound power to fight her way to her father's throne while facing the army of Legatus. Along the way she makes choices for the kingdom that will either boost morale, or cripple said morale while effectively changing the ending of her tale once she succeeds in doing what she does.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Let's Talk ~ The Toxic Fighting Game Community

Contrary to what console creators like Sony want you to believe the problem that is player toxicity within online gaming, in general, is so bad it has left many games in ruin. When it comes to fighting games, in particular, the toxicity I speak of goes well beyond the often times joked about saltiness, and poor sportsmanship. In fact the biggest problem facing fighting games to this day is the sought after casual gamers' unwillingness to properly learn the games as they were originally intended to be learned. By this I mean they want to look good without earning it. Like a thrown boxing fight they'll play dirty. Only in this case with lagswitches, mods, and mapped controllers to make it appear that they are legit pros. Purely for bragging rights, because that's what's popular with the CoD crowd. This is an absolute facade, and is used more, and more frequently by the worst side of the FGC because of two things. Those two things being a lack of moderation from console service providers, and secondly the development studios' intentional push to make "competitive" games accessible to a "casual" audience.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hobbying on a Budget

I was a habitual spender for the longest time. I used to buy entertainment related items on release including video games, and dvds. Nowadays, however I'm very careful how I budget my extra $100 hobby funds each month. I've learned that buying things on launch usually isn't the best idea, especially with the trend of half-assed movies and broken ass video games being released more, and more regularly. I'm all about getting more bang for my buck even if that means waiting a bit. If I buy dvds now, for example I'll usually pick up something out of the bargain bin, and something that is a sure hit. As far as games go I've come to the point I don't mind buying a used game, and will do that if it means I can use the rest of my hobby money on something else as well. When it comes to games, in particular I tend to buy the ones with good replay value. Shooters, arcade style games, and fighting games are my top picks. On occasion I'll also pick up an RPG, because I know from experience that the RPG games contain vastly more content than your standard action/adventure game. It's all about getting more while paying less. The total opposite of what Hollywood, and various gaming studios bank on the average hobbyist doing. Don't get me wrong though. I understand that to make ends meet, and to keep providing entertainment the respective industry providers must make a certain amount of day one sales at the initial marked price. It's just not gonna be me until they do away with their corporate greed, and poor business practices though.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

What if games are being created to grief & cheat you?

Did you ever feel like the odds in competitive games were unfairly stacked against you? That certain things seemed so blatantly, and obviously placed in the AI's or other players' favor that it was more than just a coincidence? Well, you are not alone. It has been speculated by many gamers that certain games are being manipulated for one reason or the other. In Destiny, for example an overwhelming community majority thinks Bungie has purposefully ignored complaints about unfair adjustments, and that through their disregard for the gamer have made things purposefully unfair. Some claim the matchmaking is intentionally geared to pair top tier players against players doing questionable things online. Often times it's the gamers who are calling out Bungie on these things in their forums that see the greatest negative impact to their k/d. Not only that, but Bungie moderators also remove posts that make them out to be guilty, and sometimes ban complainers from the forums entirely.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cryptark (PS4)

Alien Trap Games' "Cryptark" on the PS4 is an interesting science fiction space shooter with rogue-like elements. At least that's what it's being played off as. I find it to be a somewhat annoying blend of Metroidvania, and shoot 'em up features with a sort of H.R.Giger and actual Metroid based inspiration. Of course rouge-like elements do play a part in all of that though. The game itself features four modes of play, and familiar mechanics that are setup in a way which adheres to a salvaging crew's logic. The four modes include a story driven "Campaign," an action oriented "Rogue Mode", "A Co-op Campaign", and an unlockable mode known as "Cryptark Excavation" ...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

America's Army: Proving Grounds ~ My Thoughts

What I'm about to share will no doubt stir up some raw emotions, and feelings. I'll probably catch flak for it, and possibly lose some of you, because of it. Regardless of that I'm going to push forward as I feel what I have to say is important. I will leave the comment section open to anyone who wishes to debate me in my beliefs, and will engage in civil conversation if the person/s in question asks me to do so. Let us begin ...

First, and foremost war is not glorious. It is not an event where you are guaranteed to go into the conflict as a nobody, and come out alive on the other end as a recognized hero/heroine with tons of bragging rights. You might get your badges of honor, and be remembered by those whose lives you've impacted, but beyond that you'll suffer the scars of PTSD, possible war injury, and a lack of proper care when back in the states. In saying this I'm not implying that we shouldn't stand up for those we care about, or not fight in a war when our country's future is at stake, but sometimes the motives behind war, and the recruitment of armies isn't as black & white as it seems. Sometimes people need to take a step back, and weigh the possible consequences of signing up for such a cause. It goes without saying that the reasoning behind the engagement should also be questioned. At the end of the day the army, navy, and air force is a country's defense against those who would cause said country, and it's civilian population harm. It should be viewed as such, and used as such. While it may be a necessity to have, and recruit an army that army should never, in a civil regard, be used to conquer other nations, especially when unprovoked or without proper motive. Nor should it be turned against those it's sworn to protect.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Danganronpa Another Story: Ultra Despair Girls (PS4)

For this review I'm going to mainly stick to the pros and cons of the PS4 port while going over in minor detail the direction of the story, and how it relates to the happenings of the first Danganronpa game. No spoilers though, and no mechanics breakdowns outside of what is new. If you want to catch up on the full scope of the game be sure to check out this link to my PS Vita review of the same game ( ...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chess Ultra (PS4)

Chess, the undisputed game of kings. Among all competitive games there is none other that comes close to being as pure, and strategically challenging as it is. It has often been used as a reference to various real world conflicts including the conquering of nations, and warfare itself. It has even been used in quotes regarding wisdom, and other things of intellectual importance. As a former chess player I, myself have played various forms of the age old game including the traditional kind against real players as well as video game versions against AI controlled grandmasters, and even in the form of battle chess with animated fighting pieces. Over the years many game developers have taken a shot at making the perfect chess video game experience, and for a while "Chessmaster" has been that fine example of chess purity. With Ripstone joining the league of such developers I have to say that they tackled the enigma of chess quite well. Though their version of the game is simple in some respects, and limited in others it helps the player to rise from the lower ranks of understanding to grandmaster status through time spent in the offline, and online portions of "Chess Ultra". All in an easy to understand manner.

Friday, June 16, 2017

GOD WARS Future Past (PS4)

NISA's, and Kadokawa Games' new strategy JRPG, "GOD WARS Future Past" blends the old Disgaea formula with a more straightforward story presentation. That story being one that takes the hero, and heroine of the tale being told on a journey through a land bound by old sacrificial traditions, and against the judgement of Japanese gods. At the beginning, through comic panels and anime sequences, we are clued into the narrative which has a particular shrine maiden named Tsukuyomi sacrificing her own youngest daughter (Sakuya) to the angered gods of Mt.Fuji in hopes that it will calm their imposing wrath, and restore peace to the native villages. Being distraught by losing her young daughter in the act Tsukuyomi breaks down, and eventually turns from her duty assigning Kitsune as the village overseer while eventually vanishing thirteen years after the fact with another of her daughters being held as a potential sacrifice to satiate the anger of the gods should their temper flare up again. This daughter (Kaguya), by fate, meets a concerned villager named Kintaro who promises to free her from her prison so that she can see the world, and the beautiful flowers that reside upon Mt.Fuji. In light of an uprising caused by village famine Kintaro seizes the opportunity alongside his bear-like companion Kuma, and frees Kaguya from her prison fulfilling his promise. It is at this point the two realize they have an uphill battle ahead of them, and that to find out the truth behind the gods' anger they will have to seek Kaguya's missing mother, Tsukuyomi. Along the way Kintaro, and Kaguya's friendship grows as they face off against insurmountable odds to defy the gods, and ultimately free their people from the oppression thereof.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo HD (PS4)

Other than the HD graphics upgrade, and the inclusion of the former PS Vita DLC this PS4 port of, "Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo" is simply more of the same. It's the same simple gameplay focused arcade-like experience surrounded by minimal lore that could be shrugged off as a borrowed idea. Like so many other JRPGs the characters involved are a part of a special organization fighting desperately for humanity's survival, and like those types of games it has you fighting off non-human entities with advanced weaponry. In this case that weaponry being mechs known as, "Gears". By piloting a Gear you are ultimately tasked, sometimes along with other NPCs (Non-Player Characters), to complete timed objectives which will be graded according to completion standards. This includes killing off the Rage (non-piloted mechs) during delivery, reconnaissance, and threat ending missions. Think of it as Pac-Man fighting off the constantly respawning ghostly trio with dual weapons for the sake of looting Rage parts, and scoring that highest ranking on the missions listing.  While the game itself is definitely unique in those regards, both in build and functionality, it still leans heavily on other gaming ideas. Details which will become obvious if you choose to buy into what Arc System Works is reselling. I suppose, in retrospect it isn't all that bad of an experience though. It's just not as story heavy, or content heavy as a lot of modern-day JRPGs are.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Battleborn (Trial) ~ Impressions

After playing the trial it became clear to me that Gearbox's aim in regards to "Battleborn" was to hook a new audience for lobby population sake, and to revive the game's popularity through a lucrative/beneficial free-to-play system. While the term "Trial" doesn't accurately describe this free-to-play version of Battleborn it does hint at the fact that you will not be getting the complete experience unless you fork over some cash for season pass content. In fact you'll only gain access to a third of what the full game contained should you choose to download the trial. New to the trial version of Battleborn is currency based micro-transactions that come in the guise of two forms of coin credits. One type of credit (blue) being easier to obtain through the game's new quests offerings, and the other (gold) not so easy to obtain. Both credits can be earned in-game, or bought through the PSN store via DLC. Earned, or bought credits can buy and unlock the usual content regardless of how you obtained them. This includes characters, cosmetics, and gear that will boost performance stats in one of the three main multiplayer matchmaking modes.

 Speaking of said modes you will not gain access to the story or the operations modes which are, in my opinion what makes the experience worthwhile due to the objective based co-op content contained within each. Instead you'll gain access solely to the game's competitive multiplayer modes including a Versus mode which houses a rotation of game types and maps as well as an Incursion mode which is a more direct multiplayer mode of play. There's also an AI bot battle in which 5 online gamers will face off against 5 AI bots. All game/mode types are a 5v5 team based battle with different goals governing each. Along with the multiplayer comes the promised unlimited leveling, and loot system that will have you grinding for hours upon end to unlock everything in the game while climbing the ranks of the global leaderboard. If you are looking to train on your own there is also a training mode just for that.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hobby Highlight Archives (MAY 2017)


Horror. It's a word that conjures up feelings of fear on various levels for many people. Whether it be nightmares, violent unmerciful deaths, or even the fear of the unknown mortal man has in his own way adapted to and dealt with the many horrors of life through the ages. While horror, and the fear inducing panic thereof has no definitive origin it has followed humanity like a plague throughout history. Through tales of terror, religion, imagination itself, and real life encounters mankind has always been afraid of something. A primal instinct embedded within us, and for good reason. Some of us develop phobias in our lifetime, or fears of certain things while others embrace it's darkness in the form of entertainment that mimics, and plays down the real threat of being mortal in the presence of so many life ending possibilities.

Friday, June 2, 2017

TEKKEN 7 ~ The Story (Spoilers!!!)

After having played Injustice 2, and seeing how good a fighting game could be in regards to story direction I was taken aback by the sub-par experience that TEKKEN 7 held. TEKKEN 7's story mode is lazy. Pure laziness. It's a mixture of slightly animated art panels complimented by emotionless voice acting, and further told through equally emotionless CG cutscenes. There's even a rehashing of old cinematic sequences from past TEKKEN games thrown in as filler material. Some of which look better than the current CG scenes. The story that's being told is unnecessarily drawn out with fights that feel less than heightened as well. It's as if they were thrown in as filler material themselves. One fight in particular, the climactic battle between Akuma and Heihachi, has Akuma playing like a weakling while Heihachi manages to completely avoid direct hits, and sponge up a majority of the damage thrown at him. One would expect Akuma to dominate his arse, especially in context with his forced role in the story, but Akuma takes a distant second seat to Heihachi in regards to battle prowess early on. Particularly in the player controlled portion of the fight.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! (PS4)

Cladun makes perhaps one of the series' most significant returns in, "Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku!". That return being centered around an Edo period spirit world called Arcanus Cella in which reincarnation is the ultimate goal. Still utilizing the voxel and pixel appearance of older series iterations as well as dungeon exploration aspects of the same the newly released PS4 port of this latest Cladun adventure takes the gamer on an otherworldly journey that's all about defeating yokai, and making right the wrongs of your life so that you can be reincarnated. Through the aiding of lost souls, and the micro-management of the game's unique magic circle mechanic you will take your class and personality specific self through ran-geons (speed-run focused dungeons) as you battle, loot, and better equip yourself to take on the ten chapters worth of story driven gameplay. On the side you'll also gain access to lucrative optional quests that reward in currency, items, and fame points. You'll even trek through special 99 floor ran-geons with a random gate system which will either reward you with rare item drops, or make it hard for you to survive long enough to get to the next floor's gate. Along with those replay heavy additions comes an editing system where you can customize your characters' looks as well as extras like the MML song creation system in which you'll be using music scales, octaves, and other musical options to create music within the game. Needless to say this game is chock full of interesting, and noteworthy content that will definitely give the gamer more bang for their buck if they are willing to give it a chance.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Going from concerned to content I find myself greatly enjoying Netherrealm Studio's latest superhero fighting game spin-off. Everything from the story, to the online feels fair enough even though it isn't perfect, yet. There's plenty of rewarding offline content to enjoy each day, and plenty of fun to be had in the online competitive scene as well. Dare I say it, Injustice 2's online feels like a much smoother, and vastly more enjoyable experience than it's predecessor. As far as presentation goes the game itself is gorgeously rendered even on the standard PS4 console. Characters look much more appealing as do the stages, and the many special effects. Speaking of which the story was so cinematic in nature it could have easily been it's own animated film. It is that good. I liked the fact that in the story mode playthrough the player was never once subjected to mini-games. This made the story being told more cohesive, and worthy of the gamers' undivided attention. When it comes down to the details everything that Injustice 2 offered was leaps, and bounds ahead of the first game's content. It's nice to see a developer take fan feedback, and put it into production. I've even noticed that Ed Boon, and his team has tweaked boss fights so that they aren't too terribly oppressive which I'm personally thankful for. As of now Injustice 2 is my current favorite fighter, and I have already willingly sunk many hours into learning my favorite characters, completing the story, and grinding for loot. It's an experience I can easily recommend to any fighting game fan who's looking for that next worthy fighter.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Electro-Magnetic Perpetually Motivated Jet Propelled Aircraft (Rough Draft)

I know it's a long name for a UFO, but hear me out. After fidgeting a while with a fidget spinner I began pondering on how I could get a UFO aircraft to lift, and to move in a similar fashion as the fidget spinner does. My theory involves a structural base build similar to that of a fidget spinner, but with a generated magnetic field, an alloy turbine, an alloy jet propulsion engine, and an alloy ball bearing system. The center of the aircraft would theoretically stay stationary much like the center portion of the fidget spinner does, and would house the pilots as well as a center communication and navigation terminal which would also remain stationary when the aircraft's iron weighted wings/propeller blades spun around the magnetic outer casing of the hub. Atop, and below the center construct would lie two jet/wind propulsion engines which would tie-in with the magnetically propelled rotary blades which in themselves will act as a windmill does, and power portions of the aircraft's electronics ...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 DLC Upgrade (PS4)

From the start the DLC upgrade that is "Rev 2" struck me as being off. It was marketed as being a two character bundle with balance changes. The characters at normal cost, and together would have only cost the gamer $16, but the DLC upgrade was being sold at $19.99 ... When it comes to the balance changes, while they are significant, I feel the visual/structural overhaul that was included should have been a free update to the core game. By selling it as a part of the DLC Aksys Games/PQube has effectively split the GG community. I understand that you have the option to revert back to the core Revelator experience in full, but this defeats the purpose of buying the DLC upgrade in the first place. Beyond that there is something very wrong with the additional DLC being sold on the side. I personally bought Baiken's voice DLC, and color palette DLC. Both of which did not appear as optional options in-game. I was robbed. I was sold BS. That alone is enough of a reason to warrant hate on this DLC package. Along with the splitting of the community, and the matchmaking issues that are connection identifiers this DLC upgrade is an all around botched deal. Speaking of connection indicators the developer thought it wise to color favorable connections red, and unfavorable green. Who in their right mind does that?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pox Nora (Micro Review)

Desert Owl Games' PC card based strategy RPG was released this week on the PS4 as a free-to-play experience. Alongside it's base release came paid for starter bundles ranging from $30 - $50 with some paid for currency and card DLC thrown in for good measure. While I had zero intention of paying anything for the experience I went into the game to see if it was even worth bothering with at the no pay level. In doing so I was met with gameplay that was so confusing that it made me want to delete it only part of the way into the tutorial. The main flaws I encountered came in the form of a poorly crafted control layout, an equally poorly crafted user interface, and the over-complication of mechanics that have no reason at all to be so complicated. When it comes to said mechanics, or point of the game you are basically meant to use your bought or earned card troops to farm Nora (the game's main resource for troop usage), fight the opponent's troops, guard your spire, and destroy the opponent's base. All in a turn based sense. Somehow the developer made this simple series of steps extremely complicated through menu navigation though. So much so that I stumbled around the tutorial's guided first section tour for a good thirty minutes like a blind bat. Even with the tutorials in place (in small obscurely placed dialogue boxes, mind you) I found myself lost numerous times. Sometimes even in searching for the tutorial hints.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dark Rose Valkyrie (PS4)

IFI rarely ever branches off from their mainstay Neptunia series features. Their battle mechanics usually adhere to similar setups as does their animation style. While "Dark Rose Valkyrie" is unique in regards to the studio's staple animations, and stories it too harbors similarities with some of IFI's previous games. I think there's a little bit of "Omega Quintet" thrown in alongside some "Hyperdimension Neptunia" influence. Dare I say it I also think some inspiration was taken from games like Koei Tecmo's, "God Eater". In fact like "God Eater" there is a protagonist within the game recruited into a certain military agency with a unique ability tied to wielding special weapons. Large over-sized experimental weapons called Valkyrie which are to be used against Chimera infected people, and animals. As far as the gameplay goes most of the game has you learning, and earning your role as a commanding officer in the "Special Force Valkyrie" unit under the leadership of ACID (Anti-Chimera Interception Division) while taking on missions in relations to the Chimera virus threat. As a commanding officer who has an ability which enables him to wield the new weaponized technology you must effectively boost troop morale, and trust while completing the objectives given to you by your own commanding officer. This is done through headquarters interactions, and through mission outings that are kind of like what the Neptunia series has set in stone. Not only that, but there is at one point an infected subordinate who must be found in order to save the world. This will require a deeper understanding of the cast of characters, and attention to detail.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Demons Crystals (PS4)

BadLand Games' "Demons Crystals" fairly earns it's five dollar asking price. It's a classic arcade style shoot 'em up with a sort of Halloween theme going on. Centered around a story involving Urican demons, and the invasion of their world by three demonic overlords the game takes the gamer on a single, and multiplayer adventure filled with bright neon lighting, bullet hell encounters, and three unique modes of play. Either alone, or in the company of friends gamers can enjoy this wave based shmup in the guise of four different color coded Uricans as they face the hordes of the demonic armies before them, and the overlords themselves. Included in the package deal is an "Arcade Mode", a local "Multiplayer" with six game types, and a "Survival" mode for besting that highest leaderboard score. Some of the modes can be played alone while others are meant to be played via the oldschool couch co-op option.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

INJUSTICE 2 ~ Day One Impressions

This following impressions article is going to take in account only part of the "INJUSTICE 2" experience as I've yet to spend enough time with all of the features to give any definitive rating, or assessment. I will however go over my thoughts on the new mechanics, the application of the base mechanics, the functionality of the controller in-game as well as my thoughts about the online. I'll even, on a spoiler free level, go over my thoughts of the story ...


Two Tribe's "RIVE" is one of those indie experiences that wants to be everything. It wants to pay homage to the great classics like 'Gradius', duplicate retro experiences like 'Tetris', and sarcastically embody the AI versus test subject relationship that was presented in "Portal". Despite these obvious nods the game at heart is a Metroidvania in the 2.5D platforming sense mixed with transitional phases that apply shmup style gameplay. As the redneck hacker protagonist, 'Roughshot' you enter a seemingly derelict spaceship inside your spider tank only to find it still operational, and under the command of an AI drone named, Daryl Lloyd Lancaster (DLL). Once the main character meets this obnoxious droid, and finds that he is doomed to rinse, and repeat the trial by fire set before him he makes it his end goal to destroy the ship, and escape. DLL has other plans though, and through a warp device, and defense robots he keeps the roughneck spider tank piloting space trucker from doing what it is he has in mind. The ongoing conversations between the pair, and the slapstick conflicts therein are constantly sarcastic in nature setting a proper tone for the mission based campaign that acts as a means to unlock everything else there is to unlock in this highly unusual game.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

SFV ~ The Problem That is Ed

Let us talk about the glaring pink elephant in the room. The pink elephant that is Ed from Street Fighter V. After hearing online that Ed wasn't going to adhere to Capcom's standards for motion inputs I was intrigued. I thought maybe Ed was going to be an interesting game changer. A character who might influence future fighting game character designs for the better. That is until I found out simply pressing combinations of face buttons without directional motions would deliver instant specials, supers, and ultras. The problem with that is this. There are modded controllers for both the PS4, and PC with single button mapping functions. There are also controller adapters with single button mapping capabilities built in. Devices which can have such special attacks mapped to a single button press. As a result cheesing, and exploiting the already highly exploitable Ed is much easier done. It's as if he was built for this very purpose.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy

From "Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy" to "Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy" not much has changed. That which has changed, and been added onto though is significant enough in it's own right. This time around you'll find a new story arch following the CPD's, and Xth Squad's joint involvement in a new case surrounding a  mysterious giant embryo that has manifested via an abyss above the 20XX version of Tokyo. You'll also find much more in the way of squad customization, and a couple of new mechanics that are thrown into the game to beef up gameplay. The experience, at it's core, is one of the classic dungeon crawling variety, and features many of the same characters and creatures that you've encountered in the previous installment. The biggest difference among those encounters being the introduction of you as an entirely new Code Riser, and Xth Squad recruit. As the new man, woman, or gender varied individual you'll be taking your squad members of various roles and character classes into abyss labyrinths to deal with variant threats while investigating the happenings surrounding the embryo phenomenon. You can make the experience at hand as personal, or as strictly basic as you like. Either way the game features a lot of content, and plenty of hours worth of tasks to take on as you solve the latest mystery, and face an omnipotent force that thinks your destiny is that of extinction.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Last Stitch Goodnight

Back in 2011 when I was busy covering indies on the Xbox 360 I had the pleasure of playing through one of the most memorable games of the XBLIG library. That game being Well Bred Rhino's "All the Bad Parts". It featured a unique style of animation that included 2D character creations done up in a jointed puppet style, and placed within interactive 3D backgrounds. That game like the "Last Stitch Goodnight" embodied narrative driven room by room exploration accomplished through interesting textual conversations, accompanying Charlie Brown inspired voice-overs, and a combat system that acted as a means to fight off the otherworldly threats at hand. The developer's dive into the unknown, and unusual kept me playing through that first game nonstop until I reached the climactic end finally finishing the story. It was the same for this latest game as well, but to a slightly different degree. As far as said recent game playthrough goes I was not disappointed in the slightest with the direction Well Bred Rhino's modern horror inspired Metroidvania took as it once again brilliantly tackled the enigma of life and death through the imagination of one of the most creative developers ever to grace the indie scene. It was a rare journey through a strange world with a complex, and well thought narrative. One that harbors an air of creepiness, 4th wall breaking, and genuine concern for the direction modern science is taking. That, and a nod to gender politics ...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Gaming, Kids & Parental Obligation

Before you jump to conclusions thinking I'm going to say that gaming is the root of all violent behavior, or bad behavior in general rest assured that I'm not. This is a discussion about the problem with parents pacifying kids with things like video games. It's also going to be about parents who follow up harshly with discipline afterwards blaming the resulting problems on everything else, but themselves ...

Growing up in a household of three sisters, and two brothers I was offered a lot in the way of imaginative play time without the need for constant access to computers, video games, or even movies. I read books, played outside, drew, and tended to my school work when it was required of me to do so. While I can't say I was the most well behaved child in those early years I was never lacking for attention from my parents, my siblings, or my friends, because we were all a part of a proper social upbringing. It was the way of life back then. Sadly, when it comes to the family unit these days though such close knit relationships are often times hard to find. Parents are busy working to pay bills, and kids are either left on their own to do for themselves what needs to be done, or are babysat by the boob tube, internet, or video games. In comparison to today's family infrastructure life in the 70's - 80's wasn't as online oriented, and distracting as it is now. We weren't all in our own little worlds doing our own things while trying to escape the cruel world around us via the internet. In fact social entertainment based tech devices weren't as commonplace back then as they are in current times. People weren't glued to their smartphones, and what gaming was done was both innocent, sociable, and without online interactivity. Gaming within families was also more of a reward for doing good in school, or in other work related activities. Unless you were spoiled by rich parents ...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Birthdays the Beginning (PS4)

Blending the theories of creationism, and evolution TOYBOX Inc. creator Yasuhiro Wada (Harvest Moon) brings to gaming a somewhat scientific look at the process in which life on a simple to grand scale is birthed, maintained, and managed. Through a brief tale involving a grandchild's fascination with their grandfather's library of books, and the discovery of an otherworldly presence via a map contained therein the developer draws you into gameplay that is both episodic, and uniquely rewarding should you grasp the mechanics at hand. Given an alien avatar to represent your personal being you are ultimately tasked with birthing from a blank slate life itself beginning with the early aquatic stages of simple celled organisms all the way to the Jurassic era where dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and beyond. Guided by Navi, your navigational partner in time, you will change the terrain in unison with temperature through elevation tweaks while throwing in gathered items of intervention to help push along the evolutionary process as time is forced by in cube years. As a god would you will visit the cube world via your avatar persona to influence growth, and change while occasionally returning to an outside point of view to speed up time, and help your applied efforts along. Thus witnessing in their dawn the birthdays of each organism brought to life by your influential additions to an ecosystem that changes at your will, and accordingly so.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hobby Highlight (April 2017)

Anime / Manga

Anime, and manga have been around longer than you may think. In fact the earliest Japanese animation dates back to 1917 in a commercialized form. It wasn't until the 1960's though that the anime style we know, and appreciate today emerged via the talent of Osamu Tezuka. Since it's early entries anime has evolved into various presentations including that of the theatrical releases, at home viewings, and on the web streaming experiences. Through it's ever growing popularity it has also spawned merchandise of different sorts including high end, and low end series related merchandise, collectibles, and even sub-genres of anime that range from child friendly to adult only. While not all anime makes it across the globe due to censorship reasons viewers from all allowing nations can usually view their favorite anime with fan provided subtitle translations on the internet keeping the original voice-overs, and their accompanying range of emotions intact for a more genuine experience.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

RTK13: Fame and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle (PS4)

This seventy dollar bundle is a nightmare for a simpleton gamer like myself to comprehend, but more than likely a blessing for those of you who are into, and fully understand historical strategy simulators. Supposing you are the latter type of gamer you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that Koei Tecmo's team spared absolutely no expense in regards to the presentation that coincides with the periodic happenings of the continued, 'Romancing of the Three Kingdoms" saga, and that with the accompanying DLC expansion the features are even more bountiful than they were initially. There's plenty of CG cutscenes to enjoy, modes of play to play through, and a new Fame system to benefit your favorite officers. Officers like the infamous Lu Bu who are included in all their glory and grandeur via their Dynasty Warriors, and Samurai Warriors likeness. Not only do you get all of that, but you can also create detailed events which you can then upload, and share with others across the globe. Events which can be as creative, and fan fictiony as you wish. As far as the core game goes your engagements will take you from the 'Yellow Turban Rebellion" forward through a hundred plus year span of political, and diplomatic turmoil in which you'll ultimately be tasked with micro-managing your given resources, your officer underlings, and the civilian populous under your guard.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (PS VITA)

When I first began playing "Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds" something seemed oddly familiar about it. I knew I had seen the plot, and the characters before somewhere. It's at that time of recollection that I realized I had actually reviewed Aksys Games' version of the same game on the PS3 several years back. In comparison to that version of the game this version of the Hakuoki story seems to be more streamlined in delivery, but actually half of the game that "Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi" was. In fact the press release for 'Kyoto Winds' states that this is the first half of a two part tale. Why IFI chose to divide it up is beyond me, but I suppose memory space does have something to do with it. Regardless of that, this trip down memory lane, and the realization that I'm once again playing through the same game I still found intact the admiration I found the first time around. In my first review I had actually discussed how the game was geared more towards a feminine crowd, and how it was a nice change for those less inclined to buy the more gender specific types of games. Yes, back in the day I was spouting nonsense about gender bias in the gaming industry. Perhaps I'm the one who got that ball of dung rolling (I hope not though) ... For those of you who missed out on that oldschool Inferno nugget feel free to read up on it here (Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi) as it will mostly mirror what I've got to say about IFI's rendition of Hakuoki ...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Silver Case (PS4)

I, as a gamer have never played any of the games related to 'The Silver Case'. Nor had I played 'The Silver Case' until I got my review copy. Oddly enough though I did unknowingly purchase, for a couple of dollars at the local Gamestop, the third game in the trilogy known as "Flower, Sun, and Rain" for the Nintendo DS a few years back. In fact I paid only $2.69 for it with my discount. It currently sits atop my desk beside my keyboard as I'm typing up this review. A possible photo sharing opportunity being weighed as I continue to type ...

Past the realization that 'The Silver Case" wasn't the standalone game that I thought it was I found myself drawn closely into the narrative that was being spun. A case by case, and individualized series of personal accounts of those involved in a string of incidents involving the reemergence of a serial killer known as Kamui. The story begins thick, and heavy handed with you (a nameless recruit) in the company of the 24th Ward Heinous Crime Unit, within the 24th Ward. You start off on the pursuit of a runaway murderer who has hunkered down in the nearby Cauliflower building. The cat, and mouse chase that follows introduces you to the initially frustrating, and slightly interactive hunt that lets you loose to discover what it is that needs to be done without much in the way of tutorials. The game seems unusually self-aware in this early stage of storytelling at how difficult it's going to be for a new player to understand the ropes of being on the assigned task force (aka the gameplay), and basically says so through the chief inspector's first few displayed texts. Thus is Case #0 in a nutshell.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Rose in the Twilight (PS VITA)

I never thought in my life I'd see such an adorable looking game turn out to be so incredibly macabre. That is exactly what 'A Rose in the Twilight' is like though. It's like a huge ball of cute rolled up with the bloodiest, and darkest tale ever told. A horrific tale meant for mature eyes only. One that has you traveling ever more deeply into a derelict dungeon-like castle in order to solve a mysterious curse that binds you immortally to a life stealing, and life regenerating rose ...

Despite the dark nature of the game 'A Rose in the Twilight' definitely has it's charm, and that charm comes in the form of well crafted gameplay. In the way of mechanics the game has ingenious puzzles placed throughout a sectioned off Metroidvania style locale as well as a partner system involving a Golem that only serves to enhance the puzzle solving requirements that are preventing you from discovering the truth behind your curse. By bleeding out, and refilling the rose on the main character's back you'll create pathways, interact with devices, and even (dare I say it) commit suicide for the sake of advancing the twisted narrative. In a cooperative sense you'll find that in the company of the Golem you'll also be able to get to areas you couldn't have accessed alone as the main character of interest. Along the way you'll even catch theatrical reenactments of other peoples' untimely deaths which in turn will pave the way for even further progress. Completing the game isn't as straightforward as it may seem though. Instead you'll find that through direct map menu travel you can, and will have to backtrack in order to collect the available memories necessary to get beyond the intermittent crystals which act as way points on your journey of discovery. Through additionally gathered scrolls the lore at hand opens up even more in a textual sense via gory details allowing you to better understand the main character's plight. Though short lived, the tale that is told through interactive means on the PS Vita console is one that is not easily forgotten, and is one that will definitely stir up thoughts as you play. That, and some well placed sympathy for the main character who is looking to loose herself from her immortalized body.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

ArmaGallant: Decks of Destiny (PS4)

Taking inspiration from games like 'League of Legends', 'Hearthstone', and even 'Magic the Gathering' the game that is 'ArmaGallant: Decks of Destiny' heads to consoles at a budget price along with it's fair share of downsides. For around twenty dollars you can get into this server based, and champion focused card game hybrid in order to grind away for the ultimate deck in hopes of reigning supreme on the game's non-existent leaderboard. The 1v1 and 2v2 centered experience that is offered in-game is seemingly inviting at first, but through the mixed mechanics it quickly becomes a repetitive, and short lived series of fights to merely rid your opposition of collective team health. An objective which is made possible by quick troop switching via shoulder button shortcuts, and a card selection system that is just as quickly applied. The problem therein lies with the fact that the objective steals the thunder from the champions, card art, and summoned creature units. The end goal that is life depletion is such a focal point that you hardly get to enjoy any of these things. In my opinion the overly simplistic yet dominant goal coupled with the hectic mechanic management dooms this game's chances from the start. It's very hard to enjoy the game when you are managing two attention thieving systems of gameplay while constantly switching focus between them.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hobby Highlight ~ March 2017 (ARCHIVE)


From the golden age of comics to the modern day collectors have stuck by this artistic, and story inclusive hobby regardless of it's ups and downs. Starting at a lowly 5 cents a copy back in your great grandfather's days to the costly $5 printings of today comic books have evolved in both offerings, and value. The birth of indies, the introduction of TPB (Trade Paperbacks) / HC (Hard Covers), and cover art variations being of the more notable changes throughout the history of the collectible. Some of us like the more niche indies while faithful fans of the past stick by heroes, and heroines who have withstood the test of time. Hyped up by special story driven events including the death of characters, and sometimes the rebirth of the same it's hard not to get caught up in the collecting frenzy that is as varied as it is in the world of comic books. Some of us hoard our collections for future value while others love to read through the pages within, and enjoy the art that makes each story pop.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wonder Boy Returns (PS4)

Charm, chivalry, and cuteness is what 'Wonder Boy Returns" is all about. This Sega classic about an island native, and his hurt love interest is redone and retold by CFK in a way that carries with it the retro goodness of the original games while adding in improved HD cartoon-like graphics to boost it's attractiveness. Though challenging, and simplistic at the same time 'Wonder Boy Returns', and it's accompanying two main modes of play will no doubt have your eyes glued to the screen as you attempt to perfect playthroughs, and obtain the highest score possible. It is, at heart a vividly portrayed high scoring experience in which you'll have to collect food items in order to ward of the new boy's insane calorie burning metabolism all while tossing your tomahawk at enemies that appear in your way along the way. Obstacles are plentiful, and the pitfalls of usual 2D platforming are included to make your stage by stage trek to save your beloved Tina all the more perilous. The main threat of all though being the devilish fiend who has stolen Tina from you in the midst of a heated lover's quarrel.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Anoxemia (PS4)

Anoxemia, at it's core is a story driven sci-fi horror adventure which takes place in the oxygen deprived depths of the ocean blue. Much like it's title word's meaning the protagonist you play as finds himself without a constant oxygen supply, and a seemingly resulting foggy memory that only has him remembering his end goal as he goes forward into the unknown. The game itself is an unusual experience that follows, in a light 2D Metroidvania fashion, the confusing journey of a man named Dr. Bailey as he dives ever more deeply into the haunting abyss of the acidic ocean on a supposedly straightforward mission to collect plant life specimens for Naval research. Little background on the doctor is given initially through the accompanying comic book style art panels, the repetitive voice acting, and the textual dialogue other than the fact that he thinks he was aboard a Naval carrier that sank, and that his intended mission was to gather contaminated plants for research as mentioned before. With a limited oxygen supply, an assisting underwater drone named ATMA, and the obtainable tools and resources made oddly and abundantly available among the darkened terrain you must guide Dr.Bailey deeper downward in order to find out the truth of why it is he is doing what he is despite not really knowing why.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Toukiden 2 (REVIEW)

Toukiden 2, the successor to 'Toukiden Kiwami is by far a vast improvement on the ground work laid out by it's predecessors. Everything Kiwami, and the first game did Toukiden 2 does better. The game features a more fleshed out story, more fleshed out characters, and an overall more fleshed out experience. From the intricate character customization to the plentiful new features Toukiden 2 offers something that series faithfuls, and new fans alike can be proud to own. It is a beautiful overhaul of a game series that wasn't all that bad to begin with.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Freedom Planet (PS4)

For those of you who have not yet seen the trailer, or researched "Freedom Planet" online via the official website it is a retro experience created by the collective efforts of the 'GalaxyTrail' team. A retro experience that borrows some features from a couple of well known retro game series. Namely that of 'Sonic the Hedgehog', and 'Mega Man'. As one of three animal-like characters you will take on an intergalactic alien warlord named Brevon who is out to steal a sacred energy source for his own diabolical means. The game begins with Brevon invading one of three interconnected kingdoms, and straight up beheading the king before brainwashing the king's son who just so happens to be the successor to the throne. All for political influence, and personal gain. Elsewhere in Fantasia (Sorry, couldn't help it) ... Lilac the purple dragon, and Carol the green wildcat deal with their own set of problems. A chance encounter with an alien disguised as a turtle duck who is out to stop Brevon from stealing the "World Stone". Their crossed paths lead to even more interesting character related encounters along the way which drive the story forward through the accompanying voice-acting efforts, and textual dialogue. As either Lilac, or Carol (initially) you will use your abilities to speed through the levels sonic style while collecting power-ups, minding your health, and fighting the bad bosses that lie in wait at the end of every run through.

88 Heroes (REVIEW)

Do you know what today is? It's "88 Heroes" day!!! The day '88 Heroes' hits the PSN store! For those of you who have not read my preview article on the game you'll find that '88 Heroes' is a fast paced pixel platformer that incorporates the number 88 into it's gameplay in various ways. The story, which is short in nature involves an alien threat known as Dr.H8 who is threatening the Earth with total destruction via 88 nuclear warheads from outer space. His ultimatum includes a demand for 88 quadrillion dollars by a deadline of 88 minutes, or the impending doom will become a harsh reality. Unfortunately for Earth the regular heroes are busy elsewhere, so they send in 88 hero wannabes in their place. Everything from a an ominous hamster in a ball to a basketball player will have to use their odd abilities or lack thereof to traverse 88 stages filled with varying enemy, and non-enemy related obstacles in 88 minutes in order to face off against Dr.H8 in a final battle. Needless to say the fate of the world lies in the hands, paws, tentacles, or whatever of these 88 misfits.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Toukiden 2 ~ Impressions Thus Far

Hi guys, and gals! Uncle Brad is dealing with some possible technical issues regarding 'Toukiden 2', and those issues seem to be demo related ... but I could be wrong. While I'm waiting to hear back from KT's PR about the matter I thought I'd go ahead, and let you know what I know thus far into my playthrough. In the immortal words of Mario, "Here we go!" ...

Toukiden 2, from what I can tell, builds completely on what the foundations of the original game, and follow up expanded version set in stone. The main differences this time being the story's setup, the location our hero winds up in, a new demon hand mechanic, and a new take on the Mitama system. As before you'll start the game by creating a male, or female slayer. A customization process which is one of the most detailed Koei Tecmo has created yet, especially in the Toukiden series. You can basically fine tune all of the physical features including that of the face, torso, chest, legs, and even some cosmetic options that add a bit of flair to your initially basic character. Along with that you'll be able to name your character as you see fit with spaces included as an option. No more needing to use an underscore or dash to express your naming creativity. When you are through you'll be swept away via cutscene into the heat of battle alongside Kuyo, and his troop. This all takes place in Yokohama in the midst of an ongoing war against invading Oni. Much like before. Apparently the events herein take place after that of Kiwami in the northern region of Japan though. Upon completing the basic tutorial within this section of gameplay, and fighting against a towering Oni Brutebeast you'll be sucked through a spatial Oni Gate ten years into the future, and far to the west of where you were at to begin with.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe (PS4)

From what I gather, after having sampled and played through each of the game's features it seems that FK Digital's "Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe" is merely an enhanced upgrade of the PS3 release of Chaos Code. Everything from the opening cinematic to the menu system as well as the modes of play, and even the visuals have been upgraded for a PS4 worthy experience. Something that's not all that different from BlazBlue or Guilty Gear in terms of in-game offerings. At the twenty dollar range it's not all that bad either. It's definitely more complete, and more robust in content. The only thing lacking this time around is the participation of the online community for the competitive online portion of the game ...

For those of you new to the 'Chaos Code' mythology it basically follows the scientific discovery of an abundant new energy source. This energy source was discovered, and harnessed by Arthur Tesla. For years it helped the world maintain prosperity for all of mankind. The problem that presented itself in this time of prosperity though came in the form of Arthur's cryptic message involving a mysterious, "Chaos Code". Upon discovery of it's mention the Earth-Union, or world government sought it out for their own power hungry desires while others joined in, in a competition heralded by Arthur himself who encouraged others to find it. This is where the odd roster of characters steps in. Each with their own motivations for acquiring the 'Chaos Code'. Some want it selfishly while others want it for a cause or for someone else who has their own ideas on what to do with the enigmatic source of power. As with most fighting games it's an all out battle of the fittest in which your chosen character will face omnipotent evil at the end of an arduous adventure.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Touhou Genso Wanderer + Touhou Double Focus (PS4)

I thought I'd missed something. Leave it to Brad to forget that 'Touhou Double Focus' comes free with a purchase of the 'Touhou Genso Wanderer" standard and limited physical editions. Bad Brad, Bad! Luckily I caught the mistake before the 21st when this game is slated for release. Thank the gods I did. As far as Double Focus goes It's a nice bonus that kind of outplays the quality of the base game, in my personal opinion. If you thought the trailers for Wanderer were cool, just wait until you hear about this gem of a game ...

Touhou Double Focus is at heart a series spin-off done up in an obvious tribute to Konami's Castlevania platformers. In fact a lot of the level layouts, and certain character designs will have you remembering Castlevania greats such as 'Symphony of the Night". Not only that but cameos from other Konami series intrude as well from time to time. While it pokes and prods at Konami creatures, and apparently even some movie monstrosities throughout it's entirety you'll find that Double Focus stands on it's own two legs in the Touhou world. The fan made story this time around, as it were involves two careless shrine maidens, and a human librarian who meddles with a magic book that should not have been messed with. Both Aya, and her Hakurei Shrine partner Momiji get sucked into the world of books unwillingly by the legendary Book King. It not only sucks them into this 2D fantasy world, but also the rest of Gensokyo as well. To find their way out of the mess, and back into their own world Aya, and Momiji must team up and use books they find to defeat the enemies they run into on their way out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Touhou Genso Wanderer (PS4)

Taking place in a Japanese inspired fantasy world filled with cutesy anime girls, mythical monsters, and an evil force hellbent on cloning an entire civilization for it's own diabolical purposes, "Touhou Genso Wanderer" brings to the gamer an RPG experience unlike any other. An experience where how well you manage the main character Reimu's actions will mean the difference between completion and progress reset. As Reimu, a shrine maiden stationed at Hakurei Shrine you must face a dire circumstance brought on by a visit to a relic dealer named Rinnosuke, and the tug of war battle over a mysterious golden ball that ensued during their encounter. You'll be taken from your shrine headquarters into the clone infested lands beyond as you battle your way to an erected tower the likes of which was built by the possessed Rinnosuke for unknown reasons. These lands which are labyrinthine in nature, and divided by floors will not only lead to the solving of the investigation at hand, but will also rid Gensokyo of it's plight. You won't be going at it alone though as chance encounters with other interesting characters will give way to partnerships that will help you deal with the escalating threat. Whether or not Reimu, and her friends prevail in their mission will be up to you though.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ghost Blade HD (PS4)

Hucast's Playstation 4 port of their Dreamcast shmup "Ghost Blade" is a perfect HD upgrade with plenty of challenges, and tweaks to appease a fan of the genre. It is a sensory overload filled with vibrant colors, detailed designs, and impressive art that holds up to today's shoot 'em up standards. The game itself stars three intergalactic female pilots (Milan, Ghost & Rekka) who each pilot a ship/tank that has it's own style of bullet fire, and satellites. The ships are color coded to match their pilot's uniform, and each carry a unique design. With these ships you must brave one of three different difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard) along with five top-down enemy filled stages as well as the five boss battles within each stage that are in themselves a proper challenge. The difficulty settings included have their own accompanying perks including a specific number of continues, lives, and bombs/bomb usage types. The 'Easy' mode in particular will have you focusing mostly on the screen filling bullet hell spray, and less on the bombs as the bombs activate automatically when you get hit making you temporarily invincible. Supposing you have some in stock In the other two difficulties bombs are a manual deal meaning that you must activate them in order to use them. Along with the bombs comes main weaponry in the form of a focused fire attack, and a spread attack. A feature that's included in all levels of difficulty. The focus attack streamlines the bullet fire from your ship making the beam it creates more powerful, and in the process slows down your movement so that you can dodge bullet hell spray easier. It also doubles as a means to create tech orbs which add to your combo focused score. The standard wide spray shot only gifts you stage stars, and gold when shooting down enemies, but adds to the growing score, nonetheless. It is also weaker making it more useful against smaller enemy types.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Danganronpa 1•2 Reload (PS4)

For those of you out of the know, and new to the show the series that is "Danganronpa" is in a class of it's own. Pun intended. Despite leaning heavily on visual novel style storytelling, and basic point and click investigations the game provides a character based judicial process unlike any other. A judicial process that has you figuring out who's who in the grand scheme of things, and administering a punishment deserving of the crime afterwards. In the first game, "Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc" you follow average student, but ultimate lucky attendee Makoto Naegi as he embarks on a life changing journey at the presumably prestigious "Hope's Peak Academy". A school for the ultimate of ultimate classmates. Each of which are the ultimate at whatever it is they do best. Supposedly the school is to open up a world of opportunities for the students who attend, but the 15 students that end up arriving on opening day find out otherwise. Through the maniacal managing of Monokuma, and the murderous intent of those among them the classmates must keep their calm, and assess the situation intelligently or die trying. As Makoto you must observe others in your presence, find clues about certain situations, and build upon relationships to try and figure out what exactly is going on as well as how to escape the nightmare thereof.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Clicker Heroes (Impressions)

Clicker Heroes is what you'd call an "idle RPG", or a clicker RPG. It's a part of a new sub-genre in the world of role-playing games. Mainly those of the touch screen type. In fact most of you would recognize this type of experience as something you'd usually see only on a mobile device. As an RPG though it doesn't really seem to have an end point, and as far as I can tell the only purpose is hands-on, and hands-off micro-management. All of which takes in account the heroes versus monsters trope. You'll basically be upgrading hero stats as you level up various unlockable heroes through lucrative battles with monsters and monster bosses. A system which contributes to the growing DPS (Damage Per Second), and "Click Damage" that comes from the game's tedious button mashing mechanic. As you level up the named heroes you've unlocked you'll also unlock perks which add to the damage given. Both by percentage, and damage type. There are also activated abilities to unlock with accompanying cooldowns that limit their usage. As far as the free-to-play aspect goes it looks as if the developer wants to capitalize on a special ruby currency which can unlock gilded heroes, in-game money/cooldown boosts, and ascension material that allows you to upgrade your experience further. If that's something you are alright with you might enjoy this seemingly never-ending time waster ...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Extended Ed. (PS4)

Before I get into the updated options of the extended edition of 'The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing' let me redirect you for a moment to my previous Xbox One review of the same base game. You can click the link here (Van Helsing) to get a good idea as to what I thought of the original console release before hearing me rant again about some of the same issues ...

Van Helsing (as I'm gonna call it) is a game that borrows heavily from Blizzard's Diablo series. It features character gear setups that are not too dissimilar from said gaming world as well as a rarity system that takes in account Blizzard's color coded item and enemy rankings, among other things. There's that, and the overall look of the game which in itself is reminiscent of Diablo on so many levels. When it comes to this particular game though you'll find that it does have it's own mythology, and story that is admirably accented by nonstop voice-over talent that was no doubt costly for the developer to add in. We get to see the son of the infamous monster slayer Abraham Van Helsing do his thing as he follows in his father's footsteps alongside his ghostly female companion, Katarina. It's an adventure filled to the brim with humor, sarcasm, and challenging quests involving the burdened people of Borgova (Borgovia?), and those who would meddle with science and the supernatural.

The extended edition of this quirky dialogue enriched Diablo-like Van Helsing adventure, as it were, is a direct all inclusive port of the PC and Xbox One versions of the same game. Yes, I said "port". It lacks any fixes, and is pretty much a carbon copy of the previous PC, and console versions all the way down to the frame rate stuttering. As far as being "all inclusive" goes I simply mean that the additional DLC of the first game is included at no additional charge. You get the base singleplayer adventure from before which follows closely the exploits of the original Van Helsing's son, and his ghostly companion Katarina as well as the multiplayer tag-along-mode for an online co-op experience, should you feel the need to drag a friend along on the journey. Along with that is the character class DLC (Thaumaturge & Arcane Mechanic), and two new modes of play that extend up the originally offered four difficulty settings (Easy - Hellion) and two campaign types (Normal & Hardcore). Everything from the gameplay to the in-game mechanics, and even the campaign content stays fairly much the same. Those pesky problems I mentioned in my link, they are still there as well. The lack of a guide explaining what you should level up first still hinders early progress as does the abusive hive minded enemy AI which, for lack of a better word, makes for a proper fustercluck. It's a game experience that could have been great, but fell short due to over-complication.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Blue Rider (PS4)

Ravegan's 'Blue Rider' is a minimalist shmup (shoot 'em up) oozing with vivid visual charm, and challenging gameplay that is spread across 9 environmentally different stages. It is "minimalist" in that everything from the menu to the control layout, and even the gameplay itself is easy to understand, and easy to get into with the only real challenge being the controlling of the Blue Rider ship. At the main menu you'll gain access to 9 different stages in unlocked order as well as a controller diagram via the 'Help' menu option that will explain the controls to you. Your goal in each stage is to simply survive without losing health meter while shooting down all patrolling bullet hell enemies as well as the end boss for a top score. There are multiplier opportunities gained from consecutive enemy kills, and power-ups dropped from the occasional enemy to extend upon further gameplay potential. Each stage has branching paths that are sometimes blocked by enemies of varying types as well as gates that require mechanism destruction/activation to get through. There's even stage specific environmental hazards to avoid along the way. When you make it to the end of the stage you will face off against one of nine unique bosses that incorporates a specific strategy for defeat. Learning this required strategy, and dodging bullet hell spray will help you defeat the boss. As it were the main goal in each stage is to ultimately make it through to the end boss, and defeat it in order to unlock the next stage in rotation. Supposing you fail your score will be tallied up at that end of your playthrough, and you'll have to start over at one of the currently available/selectable stages via the main menu 'Play' listing.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

88 Heroes (PREVIEW)

Bitmap Bureau's "88 Heroes" for the PS4 is the epitome of 80's geek culture done up in retro gaming fashion. Through deviously difficult gameplay, action packed 2D platforming levels, and 88 playable heroic misfits you'll see various hints of 80's entertainment culture scattered about in pixel form. Character designs included in the generational mash-up mock everything from 80's action and horror movie icons to video game characters from the 8bit era, and even computer references that only geeks will get, among other things. All of which is implemented in a unique theatrical way seen through the televised spy monitor, and commentary inclusive perspective of the game's main villain, "H8". A display in which you control, and use each of the randomly placed 88 heroes as well as their abilities, or lack thereof.

As far as objectives go you have a set time of 88 minutes to get through 88 levels, and stop H8 from doing his devilish deed. There are all sorts of enemies, and environmental hazards to face as you play through one of the games three modes. Those modes being the standard "88 heroes" inclusive playthrough, and two unlockable modes where you tackle the same obstacles with only one (Solo) to eight (Magnificent 8) heroes that are personally selected by you. While the levels themselves aren't randomly generated you will find in the base, and eight character modes that the heroes themselves provide that rogue-like element of surprise. It's an experience that will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of it all as well as crying when you realize how hard it is to beat.

What You Get At The Inferno

Metrics, and analytics across the board pretty much confirm my relevance as a social media influencer. Ranging from an astounding "Top 0.1%" on the former Klout scale to an almost as impressive "Top 5%" on Klear's scale in regards to gaming it is undeniable that what I say, type, or text holds sway in the industry that this blog is centered around. Though numbers on said sites often times may look confusing in relation to said percentages those percentages are not inaccurate. Yes I'm an acknowledged journalist about gaming, and "yes" I'm friendly to those who follow, and engaging with my audience on various social media platforms. I'm even highly knowledgeable about the industry itself, often times giving sound advice to those who would listen. The best advice being made available on the business side of things through my more professional LinkedIn account. While the Inferno might be a humble blog in appearance make no mistake that what is typed in each review is more than what most big sites will ever dare to include. That grand scope of detail including breakdowns of all in-game features sprinkled with a little opinion at the end based on the functionality, and the fun to be had. My opinions, and critiques are not bought out, and are not misleading with college level word play that only detracts from the insight the gamers are seeking. You'll also find no ads, and no monetization efforts here at the Inferno. This is a passion project that is five plus years strong, and growing. A project I would never dare to corrupt with paid for influence. Not clouded by bias, or other peoples' written reviews this blog stands above a lot of the bigger names in content and context.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vertical Drop Heroes HD (PS4)

Nerdook Productions, the one man indie development studio brings to us yet another addictive, and outright challenging game. This time the game in question is made available on the PS4 console. That game being an HD console port of, "Vertical Drop Heroes". With the charm of games like 'Castle Crashers', and 2D RPG platformers of the retro arcade type this game leans heavily on the age old destined hero trope while making light of the fact that said heroes are not always what they think they are. Death comes often in the adventures taken on by these heroes who come to believe the Tome of Knowledge's myths about a chosen one, damsels in distress, fabled treasure, and formidable foes. While many heroes, and heroines venture out to make a name for themselves not too many ever reach their ultimate goal though. In fact sometimes you'll find it takes descendants of the wannabe savior to finally reach that point of glory, and fame. A final chapter in a never-ending story that starts innocently enough at the Tome of Knowledge, and takes them on a dangerous descent into various environments laden with environmental hazards, enemy lackeys, and gargantuan bosses. Utilizing two assist abilities, a basic weapon attack, and the aid of other captive heroes the chosen protagonist must survive long enough to reach the end of their perilous journey in order to reap the rewards thereafter. Should they fail another hero will no doubt take their place as that fabled protagonist of a tale passed on generation after generation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Double Dragon IV (PS4)

I'm at a loss for words. I went into my playthrough of Arc System Work's "Double Dragon IV" hoping for an authentic trip down memory lane, but was met instead by "Sucker Punch Simulator 4.0". That's what it felt like. Sure the game took the series' main characters Billy and Jimmy, and followed up half-heartedly with a story that takes place after Double Dragon II's events, but the beefed up gameplay felt intentionally one-sided. I remember the first Double Dragon on the NES being sluggish, but not gang heavy like it is here. In this follow up there's way too many enemies onscreen at a time, especially with the sucker punches flying, and your character's inability to respond quickly to the threats at hand factored in. Not only that, but this latest Double Dragon adventure feels shallow, and without substance. Like a straightforward experience hindered by cheap fights, and cheaply made environmentally hazardous platforming. I'm truly surprised, and not in a good way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto (PS4)

The Naruto anime, and manga franchise has expanded quite a lot since it's initial debut. Most everybody knows of, or has watched the anime. To some it has inspired a sort of character specific cult following, and offered an alternate identity in the worlds of online gaming. To others it has inspired bravery, or perhaps even loyalty. Characters like the outsider turned leader Naruto, and the rebellious man against the machine Sasuke Uchiha are relatable to many youngsters who have similar personalities. While this can be considered a good thing, and a bad thing at the same time there's no doubting the significance of Naruto's relevance in modern day social culture.

I personally watched the entire season one anime on my own time and own dime back in the day, but kind of lost interest down the road when the animation style, and storytelling direction changed. I was very fond of that first season, and it's feels. Like many other fans I could relate to some of the characters in it, and found inspiration from it. As far as the ever expanding video game series goes the last Naruto game I played was admittedly on the Nintendo Wii. I actually enjoyed the combat in it, but never pursued the ongoing series beyond that point. You can imagine my surprise, and excitement when I was selected to review this latest game though. It's been a true trip down memory lane, and hasn't been half bad. Though I did end up favoring the offline portion of the game, the online part ended up hurting my overall opinion of it solely because of the players abusing it. Not because of the game, itself. In the following paragraphs I'll break down the game feature by feature, and tell you why it is I feel the online portion of the game is it's Achille's heel. Let us begin ...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Digimon World: Next Order (PS4)

From the trailers to the box art, and the opening cinematic I thought for certain "Digimon World: Next Order" would be some sort of grand JRPG adventure with game changing character involvement, a deep seeded plot, and an endgame scenario. Instead it is being marketed as a monster training/raising simulator with slight JRPG elements. The game itself starts off as a JRPG would with an interesting interactive cinematic battle that looks like it is going to set the stage for a later climactic encounter between some heroes, and a formidable foe. Past the female, and male protagonist selection though this foe is only hinted at, and lost in what turns out to be a glorified Tomagatchi-like experience. This raising, influencing, and evolving of digital monsters that you are tasked with after the initial loss of your evolved Digimon partners definitely feels like it's a bit lacking. It has you tending to two infantile Digimon who require real-time attention in the form of feeding, discipline, caring, and training. You even have to take these creatures to potty when a poop icon floats above their head. It is a tedious undertaking wrought with sub-par voice acting, and gameplay that is only made intricate by the micro-management menu system that has you doing things for both your character, and your Digimon in a simultaneous or individual sense. As far as plot goes there are objectives, but even those are burdened, and dwarfed by the parenting duties that have been forced upon you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Zen Pinball 2 ~ Star Wars Pinball: Rogue One (PS4)

Going into this review I was blind plot-wise. I have yet to see 'Star Wars: Rogue One', and only know the basics of the story being told. I know this latest tale follows a ragtag group of shipmates who are trying to infiltrate the Death Star to steal the battle plans so that it can be destroyed. My guess is that it takes place somewhere in the middle of the original trilogy before the Death Star is actually blown up. A sort of side story that builds upon what fans already know. As far as the tribute table goes there's no in-your-face spoilers, but it does obviously feature design elements that will be recognizable to those who have already seen the movie. I will say that out of all the available Star Wars Pinball tables this table, by far, is the most grand in design. It features a rich array of 3D models, and accompanying story missions that number 10 in total. It even has table art that is a realistic representation of the contributing actors, and actresses done up in a way that is almost photo-realistic. The table features, such as the wired half-pipes, and ramps are also added in a way that is vastly different from any Zen Pinball table before it. It's definitely more user friendly, and has more scoring opportunities than usual. There's even some new additions to the Zen Pinball 2 mechanics that haven't been seen before.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tales of Berseria (PS4)

Bandai Namco's "Tales of Berseria" is a thematic story driven action RPG that delves deep into the human psyche through a varied storytelling presentation that includes a plot of revenge taken on by an exorcist's apprentice who was wronged in the worst sort of way. Velvet, that wronged protagonist, starts off in a semi-happy life tending to her ailing younger brother Laphicet while abiding by Arthur's guidance, and instructions. The latter of whom is a man of the utmost seriousness, and who is loyal to his duties as the town's unwelcome savior/exorcist. While the world in which Velvet, and the trio of main role-players is oppressed by a surrounding demonblight, or rather an unexplained plague which turns humans into daemons, the lot of them push to make the most of their humble lives. Like many people in the real world they aspire to do great things in the midst of dark times, but suffice to make ends meet through hard work. Unfortunately for them the aspiration, and dreams for a better life are cut short one fateful red mooned night due to a certain character's selfish decision, and the resulting seeking of vengeance by the wronged, Velvet. As it were Velvet's quest, and thirst for revenge is what set's the stage for the bloodthirsty battles ahead, and drives those who join her cause to fight alongside her.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Quest of Dungeons (PS4)

Upfall Studio's "Quest of Dungeons" is a procedurally generated, and turn based rogue-like RPG in the more classical, or retro sense. It takes the top-down dungeon-like formulas of games like 'The Legend of Zelda', adds a bit of humor, and a cliche adventuring focus along with endgame stats to make each playthrough notably different. You are given a choice of four different heroes including the warrior, the wizard, the assassin, and the shaman, and are placed inside a dungeon with the simple goal of surviving the perils therein as long as you can. You'll encounter plenty of traps, monsters, and boss creatures as you explore the rooms, and floors of each given area. Each hero in the game specializes in specific forms of combat according to character class, and can carry/use only character specific weapons. This along with your mortal coil that is a single life is to get you through to the end, and hopefully to the top of the game's global leaderboard rankings. As you tread the dungeon floors in the footsteps of your chosen protagonist you'll also be able to break objects, and loot chests for things like coins, health items, or even equipment. All of which can be used, and  equipped via a slot oriented inventory, or which can be sold/bought at the mysterious hooded merchant that resides in certain rooms within each dungeon floor. Whether or not you see the game to completion your stats will be tallied up at the end, and your ranking will be given accordingly.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse ~ Team JNPR Bundle (PS4)

Where do I start? I suppose my lack of knowledge of the RWBY series would suffice. Going into this review I honestly did not expect to get caught up on the entire lore surrounding Rooster Teeth's RWBY series. The game description on the PSN store clearly stated that this was a new scenario that was to tie-in with the series main characters, and enemies. At the same time though I kind of expected the developer to at least give some kind of background on the main characters, and their predicament in order to possibly gain the attention of people like me who may not have followed the RWBY story progression. This did not happen. In fact the story that was told through faux smartphone chat for the duration of the game's campaign by four of RWBY's doctors only hinted at what was going on, and in no way really fleshed out a new story. I was left with a lot of questions, and did not feel any closer to learning about RWBY than I did before doing my playthrough. Needless to say there was a great opportunity missed to connect with a new audience, and to stay connected with the audience Rooster Teeth had already amassed. Not only that, but the gameplay I'm about to describe is flawed to a point that the game does not really earn the asking price it so boldly requests ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let it Die ~ Tips & Tricks

Those of you who know me know I've fallen head over heels in love with SUDA51's 'Let it Die'. It far surpassed my expectations. I was not exaggerating when I said on Twitter that it would have been my top pick for 2016 game of the year had I even bothered to do a proper end of the year list. It is truly that good. As of now I'm fairly deep into the game. I'm on the 12th floor of the Tower of Barbs. I have gained a ton of weapon blueprints, and have some significantly leveled up gear that I can purchase whenever. I also have a well established waiting room defense with 7/8 placed characters. Some of which are ranked at the 2 star level. My clan has also went flawless, and won 3 consecutive clan clashes which landed us some sweet rewards. Why I'm telling you this is, because I've established an approach to the game that will get you in a favorable position for easy progression. I've devised a plan to get newcomers into the game efficiently, and to help them prioritize what is important when it comes to gameplay focus. Without beating around the bush too much longer though I will go ahead, and disclose the details for you ...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The First Day of 2017 ...

This morning I awoke to a gloomy rain filled day. I did my usual routine of house cleaning before settling down with social media to catch up on the world's response to the new year. Once I was tapped into the internet (Twitter specifically) I was met with the same social media buzz as the day before. Things like politics, and various other agenda specific topics were being discussed as they have been the entirety of 2016. Honestly I did not expect some miraculous change in the world, or in social media though. It's as Boogie said. A calendar rolling over doesn't change people, or situations. That sort of thing comes from within. Unless we all work at becoming a better, more positive person in the collective worldly sense nothing will change this year. We need to realize this if we are to make the most of our 2017.