Posts Tagged With 'Reviews'

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Welcome to the witching hour- Bayonetta 2 review

If there was a game I never imagined would come to the Wii U, it would be a sequel to Bayonetta. I mean, the game’s hyper-sexualized protagonist really goes against Nintendo’s more family friendly approach to game design philosophy, but after saving Bayonetta 2 from the depths of the video game graveyard, Nintendo turned some heads.

Bayonetta 2 makes no attempts to hide what it is and that is a completely over the top, non-stop action game from masters of the genre, Platinum Games. The game starts with a prologue, but this isn’t a ‘set the scene’ style of prologue, oh no; this is fight hordes of demons/angels while summoning gargantuan beasts to aid you in battle and then fight a villain who has the exact same abilities as you in a duel of crazy proportions all in the first fifteen minutes of the game type of prologue.

The plotline is typical: god wants power to rule the three realms (Heaven, Hell and Earth)  which you as Bayonetta, one of the few remaining Umbra Witches, must stop while also saving your fellow witch friend Jeanne from the depths of Hell. Although interesting, it’s not exactly original and it doesn’t really pick up until the last few chapters. Bayonetta 2 really is more about fighting enemies and looking good while doing it. The game rewards masterful use of Bayonetta 2′s vast combo system with bonus halos, the game’s currency, which more than pass a resemblance to the rings in Sonic games. The new Umbran Climax ability brings an added dimension to battles because, once activated, Bayonetta will be able to summon creatures while fighting for some visually impressive attacks that cover a wide area.

The bosses are a visual treat

The controls are very precise, responsive and incredibly satisfying. Combos are easy to pull off, but for those who are intimidated by the amount of combos, there is an automatic mode that will do the harder moves for you.  By far, the best mechanic in the game is Witch Time. Witch Time is activated by avoiding an attack at the very last moment. Once activated, everything slows down to a crawl, except Bayonetta, allowing you to deal some real damage. Also, the closer the attack to hitting you, the more Witch Time is awarded. There is also a touch screen control set-up, but it isn’t as exciting as the standard controls; it really boils down to watching an A.I.-controlled Bayonetta attack whatever you point at. It may be a good choice for a casual audience, but I can’t see a casual audience playing Bayonetta 2, which makes the feature feel a little redundant. It seems to be there for simply ticking a box that says this game has GamePad usage.

The game does have some elements which do not appeal to me. Firstly, the reliance on swear/curse words, particularly when they are coming from a character who looks like a twelve year old kid, feels out of place and lowers the quality of the writing. Secondly, on the sexualisation of Bayonetta: now I know she is supposed to be a sexy character, but do the cutscenes really need to have crotch and cleavage shots of a near naked Bayonetta? Her sex appeal is meant to empower her character, and it does, but when the camera ogles over her body, it feels somewhat immature.

Get used to this kid, you see him a lot

The boss fights are easily the game’s strong point. Bosses are big; I mean big-as-a-city big. But the best boss fights are with the Last Lumen Sage, a character who has the same abilities as Bayonetta, including his own version of Witch Time as well as being able to summon his own beast that fight yours while you battle on the ground and in the air. These fights are a real spectacle and really show what the Wii U is capable of doing.

The world of Bayonetta 2 is visually stunning, with interesting locations such as a very European inspired city. Bayonetta 2 also has excellent art direction, particularly for Bayonetta’s enemies. The game runs super consistently at 60fps and even when fighting screen-filling bosses, Bayonetta 2 doesn’t slow down at all. The game has a bombastic orchestral soundtrack for the epic boss fights and J-pop for lesser moments. It also features an interesting cover of Moon River. Yes, Moon River, as in Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s Moon River.

Bayonetta 2 is an absolute must-have if you own a Wii U and like fast paced action games, even if you pass the chance to give it a try via the free demo available on the eShop. And although it is not essential to have played the original Bayonetta, I highly recommend it, as a lot of the cast of characters return from the first Bayonetta. Also, the first game is almost as incredible as the second game. Almost.

 

+ Superb combat mechanics                                - Gamepad touch screen controls feel bolted on

+ Loads of hidden extras                                     – The game can be a little immature at times

+ Art direction is amazing

+ Amazing choreography for the cutscenes

 

Posted by Colin Crompton 31.10.2014 in All
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Hyrule Warriors review: Will it hack’n’slash its way into your Wii U?

Hyrule Warriors was announced during the 18th December Nintendo Direct, and even when it was first shown I was skeptical. I mean, how could a series known for its exploration and puzzle solving, combined with excellent dungeon design, maintain the same atmosphere when some of the elements that make the Zelda series what it is are removed? Let’s find out!

Hyrule Warriors is a unique collaboration between Tecmo Koei, Team Ninja, Omega Force and Nintendo. The basic gameplay of Hyrule Warriors boils down to controlling the battlefield, by capturing bases known as keeps to assist your allies. All the while keeping your main base safe because once that’s gone, its game over. Stages in Hyrule Warriors are based on three main Zelda titles: Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Unfortunately, there is very little mention of Wind Waker in the game.

Graphically, the game looks amazing the detail on offer here is incredible. The framerate can dip slightly when there is a lot of action happening onscreen, but this rarely happens. The soundtrack is a mix of grandiose symphonic pieces and hard hitting heavy metal with symphonic elements; overall, the soundtrack is very good.

Hyrule Warriors has three main modes: Legend mode is the main story mode and has you stepping into the boots of a pre-determined character and progressing through the story. Legend mode takes around ten hours to go through and is filled with very impressive CG cutscenes easily on par with the Legend of Zelda tech demo shown way back in 2011. My main gripe is that the cutscenes are not voiced, which leaves them feeling a little hollow. The storyline is actually rather good, considering Omega Force’s last attempt at an original story was One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, which was abysmal.

There is also a free mode that lets you take any unlocked character into any stage: perfect for strengthening your warriors.

Adventure mode is where the meat of the game lies. Adventure mode is set on the very first Legend of Zelda world map but is filled with tiles. On each tile is a challenge, and when you fulfill the challenge you unlock the tiles around it.  Some tiles have hidden rewards that require the use of certain items to unlock, such as using a candle on a tree, which reveals a reward that may be a new weapon or a heart container. The challenges start off pathetically easy but soon ramp up into a ferocious struggle .

Challenge mode does exactly what it says: it is certainly a challenge. The basic premise is to battle a continuous stream of foes, unlocking rewards until you are defeated. I have yet to make any real progress on this mode, mainly due to its difficulty.

The character selection is a little bit on the small side for a Tecmo Koei game, but each character feels unique and has different battle mechanics. For example, Ganondorf has a gauge below his health that charges as you use his strong attacks. Once filled, you can unleash an attack that can wipeout a keep in one move. Each character has their own progression and can be upgraded using material found in the battlefield to make badges that unlock extra combos or make your character more resilient to damage. Weapons also contain skills that are beneficial to the battle, from enhancing some of your attacks to increasing the chance of finding rarer, more powerful weapons.

Hyrule Warriors is so much more then a simple reskin of a Dynasty Warriors game, and Tecmo Koei clearly respect the Zelda franchise; the amount of content and fan service in Hyrule Warriors is absolutely staggering. If you are looking for a game to keep you entertained for a long time, then Hyrule Warriors will deliver that and more.

+ Incredible amount of content                              -Minor dips in framerate when action ramps up

+Fast paced chaotic fun                                       -Wind Waker is practically forgotten about

+Adventure mode will absolutely devour your time     – Enemy AI could be better

+Character progression is incredibly satisfying

+Each of the thirteen playable characters feels unique

 

Posted by Colin Crompton 25.09.2014 in All
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Review and More: Spikey Walls (Wii U eShop Download)

If there’s one thing I never expected to see on a Nintendo console, it’s a Flappy Bird clone. But that’s exactly what we’re getting on the Wii U eShop with developer RCMADIAX’s Spikey Walls! I’m going to “review” this game a little later. FIRST, some background information! I feel that it’s necessary, what with the long and very strange history of Flappy Bird…

Early this year, I heard about Flappy Bird; how could I not? I didn’t have any reason to try it out, though, so I passed. As the game took the world by storm, I had only a few screen shots to go on for a long time. I was actually rather offended by its graphics, which bore resemblance to Super Mario World on the SNES…that’s how I saw it, anyway.

I finally saw the game being played via this YouTube video:

YouTube Preview Image

This sent a clear message to me: Flappy Bird must be getting all the attention because it’s abnormally difficult! I would later discover that that was only half of it: Flappy Bird also had an addictive quality, which is allegedly why the developer, Dong Nguyen, removed Flappy Bird from the various mobile app stores.

Spikey Walls marks my first attempt at a Flappy Bird clone, but after playing it, I had the unusual desire to try a clone more closely matched with the original:

“Such app. Much pleased. Very doge. Wow.”

With at least a sense of what the original Flappy Bird felt and looked like, it’s time to see how Spikey Walls compares. In case you’re suffering from amnesia and don’t remember what Flappy Bird gameplay is, let me briefly describe it: use the touch screen (or in the case of Spikey Walls, the A button) to “flap” through gaps in the walls, side-scrolling style. Each successfully cleared gap adds just one point to your total score.

The use of a button as opposed to a touch screen to control Spikey Walls is a real plus. And, thankfully, the game saves your all-time highest score, so you always have something to aim for. Aside from that, though, Spikey Walls is fairly underwhelming, even for a Flappy Bird clone. As far as graphics go, I appreciate the spikey walls themselves, which somehow remind me of the spikes found in the fortress levels of Super Mario World. However, the scrolling brick wall in the background is actually quite hard on the eyes and is actually made worse on a big HD TV screen. The game is better to play looking at the GamePad’s screen, but it could still use some color and variety.

There are unfortunately no sound effects to speak of in Spikey Walls either, which is a missed opportunity, as sound effects in Flappy Bird and its various clones give the player that satisfying jolt to the heart when an unexpected collision occurs.

Spikey Walls finds itself in a position where it must be compared to other games of its kind, and this turns out to be its greatest downfall. It just doesn’t stand out as a worthy Flappy Bird clone. I have really enjoyed RCMADIAX’s previous efforts on the Wii U, but Spikey Walls scores:

2/5 Stars

Posted by Holly Fellmeth 17.09.2014 in All
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Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt (Nintendo 3DS eShop Download)

Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune and Inti Creates team up to release Azure Striker Gunvolt, an action platformer now available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America for $14.99.

Okay, enough of that. I can’t pretend to be the huge admirer of Inafune that many of you probably are; I didn’t actually grow up playing Mega Man games, so just about all I can be right now is indifferent. This means I approached Azure Striker Gunvolt with little to no material I could form prior opinions with. Whether that’s good or bad depends largely on you. So let’s get on with this review!

Gunvolt, our titular hero, is a skilled psychic fighter known as an “adept” in a dystopian future. His specialty is lighting, so he fights using a combination of a simple blaster (different models become available) and his electric “flashfield.” Shooting enemies with Gunvolt’s weapon does minor damage, but the important thing is that it also “tags” them, causing a cursor to appear over them that guarantees lighting from the flashfield will hit them when Gunvolt uses it. This is where the real attack power is at, but the flashfield drains Gunvolt’s EP meter.

Those are the basics of combat, but how do they actually feel control-wise? The controls can be customized to a degree by the player, but the default control scheme involves shooting with Y, jumping with B, and using the flashfield by holding A (or R). The L button gives Gunvolt a burst of speed, but I found it more natural to dash with the Kirby-esque double-tap on the D-pad. The controls are inherently simple, but require a lot of skill to master, adding up to a fun and satisfying endeavor.

Fortunately, you can put your skills to the test on several enemy-filled levels, each of which ends in a challenging boss fight. The levels are fairly linear, but they occasionally deviate in unexpected ways. One level shifts to an upside-down perspective midway through, for example. Together, the gameplay and level design work well with one another…for the most part. I found the pacing to be a tad strange in many spots throughout the game: the level design wasn’t always up to par, and the boss fights ranged from real easy to real difficult, and in no particular order.

As far as story goes, Gunvolt is standard fare; his job is to save the girl and save the world. The boss characters are named and have personalities, but they’re all somewhat forgettable. There are a few standouts who have interesting interactions with Gunvolt and other NPC’s, but I appreciated the vibe given off by the graphics more than anything. The world leaves a favorable impression thanks to the character designs and backgrounds.

For dedicated players, Gunvolt offers a series of challenges, some general, most corresponding to certain levels. These involve killing enemies in certain ways, getting specific rankings on a level, etc. It’s up to you to apply these challenges and report back after levels to collect the rewards. Speaking of rewards, materials found by completing levels and successfully taking on challenges can be used to synth several types of gear to upgrade Gunvolt’s loadout in a myriad of ways. Gunvolt himself also levels up, learning many different skills along the way. When all’s said and done, the game can have just about as much or as little depth and replay value as the player wishes.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is a no-brainer for fans of action platformers. It’s well worth considering even if you’re not an aficionado of the genre, as it’s just plain fun, not to mention cool. The controls and gameplay are solid, which makes wielding the power of lighting as awesome as it should be. The game scores:

4/5 Stars

Posted by Holly Fellmeth 04.09.2014 in All
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Review: SteamWorld worth digging into your wallet

Retro-inspired platformers have taken the eshop by storm the past couple of years. Games like Mutant Mudds, Gunman Clive and the critically acclaimed Shovel Knight have all sold well and received glowing reviews. Another game inspired by the 8-bit and 16-bit era of gaming is Image & Form’s SteamWorld Dig, a highly addictive mining adventure. Regularly priced just under $9, the game is currently on sale for $4.49 (Hurry, hurry, hurry…. the sale only lasts until July 31st).

Assuming the role of Rusty, a robot cowboy, you receive the deed to his deceased Uncle’s mine. The mine is located below the town of “Tumbleton: Population 3,” and you are quickly introduced to the towns residents. Dorothy runs the trade shop, where she purchases all the ores you discover while mining. Her father , Cranky, runs the upgrades store, where you can buy various tools and upgrades for your equipment. Cranky carries everything from stronger pick axes and larger pouches, to teleportation devices and pressurized steam tanks (all of your equipment is powered by steam, and gradually drains with each use, requiring fuel ups in underground pools scattered throughout the mine). The final resident of Tumbleton is Lola. She works at the saloon and appears to be the town prostitute.

Gameplay is simple, yet addictive. Equipped only with a lantern and a pick axe in the beginning, you explore the mine, digging deeper and deeper, collecting various ores. As you run out of steam for your lantern, or fill your pouch with ores, you must return to the surface. There you can sell off your ores and purchase upgrades required to progress through the mine. As you journey deeper and deeper into the mine Rusty uncovers more and more of his Uncle’s secrets. You discover teleportation devices, new tools and secret passageways. However, there is more than just ores and tools within the mine. Creatures slumber within the depths of the mine, and the deeper you dig, the larger and meaner the creatures get.

While the game is largely platform based, with Rusty digging deeper and deeper into the mine, SteamWorld also features some puzzle aspects, along with minor RPG elements. Within the mine you will come across areas that require deep thought and strategy to proceed through properly. Certain tunnels and side passages pose significant challenges, forcing you to “Self Destruct” and attempt them again and again, until you dig just the right tunnel to progress to the other side. Leveling up and upgrading your tools brings a slight RPG feel to the game, as there are certain areas that are impossible to maneuver through without improved tools.

The game does not bog you down with lengthy tutorials and trials. Instead it sticks to its 16-bit roots, and allows you to figure out the controls largely on your own. SteamWorld Dig respects you as a gamer, assuming you can quickly discover your own techniques. It doesn’t hold your hand, as many games do nowadays. It frees you to get right into the action almost immediately. The controls are simple and well laid out. Many of the classic platforming abilities are present: speed running, wall jumps and speed jumps all aid Rusty on his mining journey.

The music throughout is very minimalist, with only a handful of tracks present. The few scores featured have a strong western feel, capturing the sense of wandering into an old, deserted cowboy town. While the argument could be made for a larger variety of music, the few selections there are capture the mood excellently.

Where Mutant Mudds and Shovel Knight wear their 8-bit inspirations on their sleeves, SteamWorld Dig comes across as a brilliant throwback to the SNES era. The game features brilliantly sharp HD visuals, with stunning, crisp colors and imaginative characters. Cut scenes are quite minimal, with only a still headshot of each character shown as they speak.

While the game would have certainly benefitted from more varied NPC conversation and a larger soundtrack, overall, SteamWorld Dig is a cleverly original, and surprisingly addicting, puzzle platformer. A simple concept, with a unique twist, SteamWorld Dig will easily transform your cries of “One More Level” into cries of “One More Dig!”

Note: A Wii U release has been announced for Fall 2014

Score: 

Posted by Justin Riley 30.07.2014 in All
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Review: Poker Dice Solitaire Future (Wii U eShop download)

tv_2014-06-05_09-18-35

As one might expect from a game that’s just $1.99 on the Wii U eShop, Poker Dice Solitaire Future has a simple premise. The first in the Tabletop Gallery series from one-man development team RCMADIAX, the game has the player roll five dice to create Poker-style hands (2-pair, full house and the like) for a high score. The dice can be rolled up to three times, and the player can choose to hold any values he/she chooses with each roll. There are four chips available for each hand, though one of those chips must be discarded if a successful hand is not achieved after three rolls of the dice. Bonus points are awarded if special circumstances are reached, such as winning all four chips in a particular hand or winning at least one chip from each hand.

tv_2014-06-05_09-22-37Okay, so the game is not as simple as it seems. Or is it? Poker Dice Solitaire Future is difficult to explain, though it makes perfect sense within minutes of actually playing it. The strategy and thought involved in play, though, make it surprisingly thrilling and rewarding (I’m not a gambler myself, but I can see why people are drawn to it *insert winking emoticon*).

The “Future” part of the game’s title really only reflects its graphics, which admittedly took a little time to grow on me. With this type of game, I hoped for the graphics to create a more traditional feel, but now the outer-space setting feels pretty good. The music is suitable, though like in RCMADIAX’s previous Wii U eShop game, BLOK DROP U, the one song which loops grows a little stale.

tv_2014-06-05_09-24-10Poker Dice Solitaire Future is a solid gameplay experience in and of itself, and you won’t find anything else like it on the Wii U, but a couple of extra features would have increased the game’s replay value for me: though the game indicates when you’ve reached a new high score (and you can always share this screen to Miiverse), there is no option that shows a listing of local high scores. I would have loved to see the option of recording your initials along with your high scores, so that I could potentially compare scores with the other people in my household. Overall, I generally would have expected just a little more from Poker Dice Solitaire, but it is a great way to add some variety to your Wii U game collection and for just $1.99. I’m excited to see what’s next in the Tabletop Gallery series and what’s next from RCMADIAX beyond that. Poker Dice Solitaire Future is awarded:

3.5/5 Stars

Posted by Holly Fellmeth 02.07.2014 in All
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