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

INJUSTICE 2 (VERDICT)

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 ...

RIVE (PS4)

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.