Axiom Verge - PC Review

This homage to Metroid does not just respect the formula - it improves it

Order of Battle: Pacific - PC Review

Surprise - but this is one of the best strategy games of 2015 so far

Gratuitous Space Battles II - PC Review

Get ready for lots of strategic space combat - your time will be well spent

MLB 15: The Show - PS4 Review

It is still the best game of baseball on the market, though the improvements from last year are minimal

Sayonara UmiharaKawase + - PS Vita Review

A challenging platforming title that gets an update for the Vita - but has it aged well?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chris' Corner - Pokemon White DS review

I've mentioned before that I would try to get some comments/reviews from the other gamers in my house - here's the first one, courtesy of my son and the biggest video game fan in this house (other than me). So, here's his first ever review - let him (and me) know what you think if you get a chance to leave some comments. I'm hoping he had a lot of fun with it!


Today I shall be talking about Pokemon White. I am Chris-not your lovely Chalgyr/Nick-I am his son. So, onto the Pokemon game!

In this game, there is a whole new region! It's the 5th generation game...I think. I don't really want to check online to see if I'm right. Now then, the game starts out with a new Game Freak logo when you start it up. There's also a kind of intro movie and then it shows a video that's like an in-game ad for it...weird, right? I know. Anyways, then after that you get to the title screen which looks a lot different than the other DS games. For starters, it has the legendary Pokemon-Zekrom, for this version-in 3D from different angles. Then it's time to start up. When you start up, there's a short movie which shows the professor-named Prof. Juniper-of this game. The first girl professor of the series! Anyways, that part is almost exactly like the beginning of all the other Pokemon games where it talks about what Pokemon are and the works.

So after you do the whole name setup and stuff it's onto the game! The beginning shows a picture of the starting town and professor Juniper walking into your house and then back out of it with the words "Made by Game Freak" I think, but I haven't seen the beginning of it for a while. So after that it shows a scene with you, Cheren(Rival/Friend, mostly rival), and Bianca(Same as Cheren but you fight her a lot less) in your room and there's a gift box on your table so after a scene of talking you get to choose from one of three starter Pokemon, like usual. The three starters are Oshawatt(An otter Pokemon), Tepig(A pig Pokemon, obviously), and Snivy(A something Pokemon, I dunno but it looks cool and it's what I chose). Oshawatt is a water Pokemon, Tepig is a fire Pokemon, and Snivy is a grass Pokemon.

So after you pick your Pokemon the others will pick theirs. Bianca will choose the Pokemon that has a weakness to your Pokemon, Cheren will obviously pick the one strong to your because you fight him more often. Then you will fight Bianca, and the result of the battle will be a close level up if won and a trashed room. Then Cheren will heal yours and Bianca's Pokemon and then battle you(without messing the room up even more). If you win you should level up. So then he'll heal you up and then you guys have to go downstairs and as usual, they won't follow you. So after that and a chat with your mother(she's not mad about the room!) you have to go to the professors lab and talk with her or something. But when you get there Bianca has to go to her house and Cheren wants you to go see how she is. So when you get there she's fighting with her dad about if she's allowed to go on the journey. so then she sees you and says something and leaves.

So hen you go to the professor's lab again and she talks about some stuff when you go in there and then she gives you and your friends Pokedexes and you go off on your journey. For the rest of the story, go play the game!

Now, for the features, some new things in this game for battles are the addition of triple battles which are like double battles but have three Pokemon on each side. There are two others that are online-only. Well, I dunno if they're online-only but I haven't seen them offline, not counting wireless. One of them is rotation battle which is where you bring in 4 to 6 Pokemon in is and you pick 4 of them. Anyways, in the rotation battle you use 3 at a time in a rotation circle thingy and you have 1 in the front and the other two in the back and they are inactive. So when one dies or you use the switch option, it will change which Pokemon is in the front. The other type of online only battle is a launcher battle in which you can have no hold items on your Pokemon and you get these points each turn (1 point a turn) and when you use the launcher option you can use your built up points on different items from the launcher and use them on your Pokemon.

There's also the game sync stuff which, at the time of typing is sadly down. But it's supposed to be up March 30, 2011. All I know about it right now is that there are features like the dream world and a ranked battle option for online battles. I can't say anything about the game sync features because I haven't been able to use them yet. Finally, for the last part of this review and features, I will talk about the trading. They have a new trading feature called GTS negotiations in which you don't need to have seen a Pokemon to get it. You and the other person can pick 1 to 3 Pokemon to choose from to trade to the other person. The GTS is practically the same except for the design.

So there's my review, I hoped you liked it.....or else. Now go eat a cookie or something. SIGNATURE~~~~ DX

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kingdom of Paradise - PSP review

There's been a bunch of good RPG games for the PSP over the last year or so, including Persona, a bunch of of Final Fantasy titles and Tactics Ogre - almost none of which I own or have had a chance to play yet unfortunately. Of my systems, I think my PSP gets neglected the most - but there's still some pretty good games for it. My wife picked me up Kingdom of Paradise quite some time ago, and it can be had used for a pretty good price as it has been out a few years now. It's an unusual RPG game, as it has action combat with RPG elements such as leveling and gaining new skills, all thrown against a sort of Eastern/martial arts backdrop.

Graphics - 7:

There's a lot to like here, whether it's how the attacks and spells animate and how good the overall backgrounds are. The actual character graphics seem a bit weak after playing games like Final Fantasy: Crisis Core though. Also it felt like a lot of the background assets were reused several times in different places, giving a feeling of 'been here and done that' a few times. There were a handful of times the camera got in my way/on my nerves as well, and is worth mentioning.

Sound & Music 9:

I actually liked this quite a bit. The music really fit the unique locale and helped set the mood for me much more effectively than the graphics did. There was also a surprisingly wide range of sound effects in both the combat and the surrounding environment that did a good job of keeping me engaged in what was happening.

Gameplay - 6:

I'm going to have to pick on it a bit here. The camera got on my nerves at times, as mentioned above, and while I could appreciate the unique style to combat, the control schemes were not to my liking. I also had a tough time with some of the intricacies of the various systems that were in place. There were some neat ones, like the elemental system - but there were times I thought that they could have been explained better. For me though, the biggest issue is the combat - things like blocking and attacking are handled with the same button (the PSP has a ton of buttons - couldn't they have figured out something different for that?) but attacking worked far better for me than defending did due to the timing and controls.

Intangibles -6:

There's some online stuff - but I didn't get to take much advantage of it. Where I was playing this game, I didn't have internet access until the very end. The main quest was engaging, but I think I beat the game in about 17 hours - which seems like a very short time for an RPG game. I also never really had much interest in another play through - once I had seen the story, it lacked the sort of variety in choices that games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect have that encourage you to play it a second time through for a different experience.

Overall - 7:

The game is being graded on something of a scale by me here. It's not as good as some of the newer RPG's out there, but like an Xbox Live or PSN game - Kingdom of Paradise can be had at a very low price (I saw it at Disc Traders in town for $3 used about a month ago). That's pretty good value if you're looking for a somewhat different type of RPG game and aren't too worried about getting more than 20 hours of play out of it. Still, from a pure quality standpoint, if price is not a factor, I preferred games like Crisis Core overall.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Space Invaders Infinity Gene - PSN review

So I figured I'd go ahead and toss in a fairly short review for a Playstation Network game I picked up somewhat recently. Space Invaders Infinity Gene was one of several games on sale awhile back when I had a bit of extra room on my credit card, so I picked it up as I recalled it having pretty solid reviews. Now, it's kind of funny, but I've only ever played Space Invaders a handful of times. I did not have an Atari as a kid, but a TI 99/4a - it was a cartridge-based game console by Texas Instruments that had a keyboard and access to the BASIC programing language. As a result, I got to play a lot of knock-off versions of popular games like TI Invaders (yup - Space Invaders close), Munchman (Pacman anyone?) and so on. It was never really one of my favorite games though, as I found the premise of back and forth and shoot somewhat limiting (I was never a huge Centipede fan either).

Still, when I picked it up, the game was like half off, so I was out like $4 if I didn't like it. Here's my thoughts on it:

Graphics - 7:

I like the backdrops more than the foreground characters. Sometimes there is so much happening on the screen that it can be a bit tough to know where you should or should not be going. That said, the game has a nice retro look about it with updated effects and interesting geometric backgrounds that are constantly moving around.

Sound & Music - 7:

The sound effects are pretty solid, with different types of sounds for different events taking place on screen. Considering how little actual variety there is in the gameplay mechanics themselves, I thought the sound arrangement did a pretty good job. Music wasn't bad, but wasn't great. It fit the theme and 'mood' of the game, which has touched-up-retro all over the place, including the very basic menu designs.

Gameplay - 7:

The game seldom feels cheap, at least due to gameplay. There's a variety of weapons that you can use and there's usually several tactics that will work on any given map thrown at you. That said, sometimes the frantic graphics do you in simply due to how much is going on at once. Menus are easy to navigate, and you're always building toward new unlockables (new weapons, extra lives, making the points you earn feel like they're actually good for something other than high score comparisons). Your ship moves pretty well, and they break the horizontal plane, giving you vertical movement as well that really livens up the experience compared to the classic inspiration. That said, the mechanic is pretty simple - dodge, shoot, dodge, shoot, dodge badly, die, come back, shoot more.

Intangibles - 7:

There's a lot of stages, and the swarms of enemies are brought to you in a variety of patterns and waves. It's a big improvement over the arcade classic. The ability to unlock things and make your earned points feel like they are giving you some tangible reward is pretty cool too. I've spent probably 10 hours playing the game, and at the price I paid, I feel like that's a pretty decent deal. I've played full on $60 games that took me far less time to beat - though I believe the regular price is $10. Also, it sure felt like some of the loading screens took a very, very long time to load.

Overall - 7:

Yeah, this was a hard average to come up with in my head. Solid, even good at times, but far from consistently delivering a great time for me personally. The frantic gameplay style has benefited from its modern makeover, though following up bouts of hectic shooting and dodging makes the somewhat long load screens a bit more irksome in my opinion. The game is not that advanced graphically or with sound, so the reason for the load screens does baffle me a bit. Basically, if you are a fan of the original game you know what you're getting overall and that may be enough to sell you on it. I don't suffer buyer's remorse, but it's not a game I see myself playing a lot more of in the future either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Well, that was a bit longer than expected...

So, I posted that I was going to take some time off from the blog to work on my backlog and other things. First, part of the reason I needed the break has been a slight lack of spare time. The good news is I got pretty significant promotion at the software company I work for. Downside is I'm so busy lately that I work through about 90% of my lunches, which was a key time for me to do my blogging updates and stage posts for upcoming dates. So, overall it's a good thing, but it's going to cut into my time for awhile longer, I have no doubt.

On top of that I've been fiddling around with a trial of RPG Maker XP. I have touched on RPG Maker programs in the past, but it's been several years. I've always enjoyed fiddling with game-making software and I love creating content. I do a lot of writing in my spare time and I run a text-based online MUD with my wife called Kingdoms of the Lost (think of it as an online game of D&D). Don't know if I'll actually 'finish' a game or purchase RMXP yet or not, but it's been soaking up some time and I'll no doubt throw up some video and/or images of what I've done later.

So... about the reviews. Got quite a few coming, but I may lay off of the images/video a bit since getting all of that around does take up a bit more time, we'll see. The backlog's come along nicely. Here's the basic list of games I've beaten up on over the last few months that I plan to do some reviews of soon:

- Punch Out!
- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
- PSN's newer versions of Pacman and Space invaders
- X-Men arcade game on PSN
- Metroid: Other M
- Risk: Factions
- Puzzle Quest 2
- 3D dot heroes
- Kingdom of Paradise
- Faerie Solitaire
- Marvel collectible card game for my PSP
- probably others I'm not recalling off of the top of my head

And I've still got several games I'm plugging through right now:

- Dragon Age 2
- King's Bounty - The Legend
- The Witcher
- The new Castlevania game
- Tiger Woods 2011
- Fallout: New Vegas

List of upcoming stuff:

- I have the Move I won back before Christmas, and sadly I have hardly played it, but I have some games for it I want to review such as Sports Champions, Tiger Woods 2011, Eyepet, and Singstar
- I have a pre-order on the upcoming Mortal Kombat and since fighters tend to be easier to get through than RPG games, expect a review on that the weekend after it's release, like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (and unlike Dragon Age 2)
- There's some free games and content I've been seeing posted on various sites like IGN, and released through the RPG Maker community so I hope to take at least a brief look at some of these and share my thoughts
- Plenty of Retro Reflections coming - I've been playing quite a few games w/ my son of late it seems like
- Speaking of kids, and wives - I was thinking about getting small blurbs or reviews from them as well. Might range from a few sentences to a few paragraphs, but they all play things I don't (like Beat Sketchers for my oldest, Pokemon Black/White for my son's DS, Little Big Planet for my youngest and my wife has a slew of iPad apps and some cellphone games) - probably nothing as detailed as what I put out there for my reviews, but quick opinions and/or ratings about games we have access to that I myself haven't had much/any chance to play

So nyway, that's what I have on tap going forward. I'll go ahead and toss out a review tomorrow night barring anything unexpected and just try to keep content rolling out pretty steady every few days for the next several weeks and see where it lands me.

Thanks for your patience, and feedback is - as always - appreciated and keeps me invested in trying to generate this content. :)