The younger players amongst us should have no trouble picking up and enjoying some Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice. It’s geared toward younger kids, and maybe as a 32-year-old man with nostalgia brain, I want to try something a bit more. It feels short with only a handful of hours to work through each stage, many of the stages feel the same, and while the platforming isn’t bad, it’s like a small piece of candy: It’s gone quickly, no matter how nice it might taste. The game is somewhere between the classic franchise titles and the modern ones, but it holds truer to the originals, and y’know, that’s a good enough start.
As far as remakes go, Square Enix shows time and time again how to do it right, and Dragon Quest VII for 3DS might be their best DQ revamp yet—a massive adventure packed with stories and characters, traveling across time and magical realms to plunge through volcanoes, caves, and underground lairs. I don’t see this appealing to a large audience who isn’t already fans of either the genre or the Dragon Quest series, but there’s nothing wrong with an old-school romp through swamps and slaying the hordes of palette-swapped enemies in the fields. Chicken soup for the gamer’s soul, y’know?
I can see this being a fun distraction for fans of online competition, but I worry it could be “too Japanese” for a Western audience to take seriously, even from NIS. It’s not really “bad” or anything; it’s just too niche for its own good. I found some enjoyment in it, but after a few times playing through the story, it felt more tedious than anything. There’s not enough here to make me want to strive for greatness. Maybe if the devs had strived for it first, I would’ve stayed glued to my controller a bit longer.
For the few things it does right, like some variation in the mission structure and a control scheme that makes sense (even in a hurty way), it's just not that good. For a series that has worked so hard to make a great solo experience, even—especially—in its first-person outings, it’s incredibly unbalanced with a difficulty spike I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. And not in a challenging way, but in a “yup, I need multiple other people to cover me/back me up” way. Some of us enjoy playing FPS titles by ourselves sometimes, and I don’t want to feel relegated to a small handful of missions I might be able to work through on my own. Scaling the difficulty has been done since this genre began, so why it’s being bypassed now I have no clue.
Aside from some faulty matchmaking, the package is a fighting game worth playing. It looks good enough and runs smoothly, and even when lagging, the online play is nice and clean. And it doesn’t bring anything new to the table (besides Nakaruru from Samurai Showdown in her console KoF debut, along with one or two other new faces), but everything it’s doing is being done right. Finally, King of Fighters is beginning to summon that feel SNK had harnessed generations ago, and it feels damn good. It’s going to have to innovate further to reclaim its crown, but at least it’s back in the court.
At its heart, this is a game for the masochist players who, like me, keep trying to reach just one level further. Sure, we’ll be slaughtered, and there’s little we can do to fully prepare for every enemy that finds our soon-to-be-rotting corpses on the battlefield. But there’s something still cute about how dangerous an overpowered shadowy beast can be. I literally cheered when I survived my first night cycle (and was immediately slain in the daytime), but then I started back up again from the beginning, no progress having been made. This genre is almost a fetish for certain players, and this game presents as fervent an example as any can be. And that’s honestly its downfall, because it’s otherwise a good kind of challenging. I just wish it could feel like there was no way to get “good” at the game itself. You know, make it more "fun" instead of an instrument of pain tolerance.
As far as old-style RPGs go, I Am Setsuna was worth looking forward to after the showing at E3 this year, and just as worth playing. All of the little elements to the nostalgia part of my brain have been tickled, and at parts of the story I was nearly ready to shed a tear or two. I don’t know how much this will appeal to younger gamers grown up on more sophisticated role-playing titles, JRPG or otherwise, but for anyone who can appreciate the legends Square (not Square Enix as much) put out generations ago, this won’t just scratch your back—it will tuck you into bed, safe and sound, just like the end of a good story should be.
It doesn’t offer the same personality and smile as Thomas Was Alone, but it’s lovely in the almost zen-like way that easy-to-grasp controls and a lack of direct pressure can create. Sure, it’s not difficult, nor is it as personality-driven as other HAL games like Kirby, but it’s a similar, simple charm. Even for the average puzzle-solving blockhead.
Doesn’t mean I think it’s worth a full price tag purchase, but fans of the Joestars should find enjoyment in it. Everybody else, consult and test with your Bizarre Adventure-loving friend before dropping any coin on Eyes of Heaven.
While I do remember shouting, without irony, "I despise this game" during the crazy difficulty swings, looking as critically as possible it's not a terrible way of spending a few hours. (Though for reference, I haven't used that many taboo words in short, angry bursts since I learned the words being used.) If you're a fan of the show or manga, you'll surely find something to like in Burning Blood. If you're only a casual fan or have a friend who is, after some adjustments to the battle system, you should have some fun as well. Just remember that the story is an exercise in abuse: it'll give you a win before pushing your face in the dirt, and not always in the fun, big-kid-who-doesn't-know-their-own-strength kind of way.
Though Kirby’s Adventure was super-easy, I still loved the hell out of it and I still do nostalgically. But it’s not 1993 anymore... even if sometimes I want it to be. Kirby: Planet Robobot isn't bad by any means, and it's still plenty fun, but it's akin to that song you loved in college or that book you read as a kid that changed your life. It doesn't keep quite the same appeal so many years later, as good as it still may be.
The best part? Trying to explain why this is your new addiction to pass time when you need a break from something bigger like Persona Q or Bravely Second. It’s a time waster, one that you dare not say… NEIGH to. Get it? If I leave on a joke, I get a carrot, so there you go. [*tosses carrot* ~Ed. Nick Tan]
It’s a nice package, and the 3D is proof that classic titles from what I consider the golden era of gaming can pop fantastically well on the 3DS. Next time, hopefully the selection can vary more broadly, making the package both worthy of a full price tag and hours of investment instead of a burst of nostalgia and the question of why my wallet feels lighter than it should.
So if you like classic RPGs, there's no reason to avoid any of the Bravely games, and if you're not sure about this one for some reason, download that free demo and get crackin'. It's easy to pick up for a bit (even if just for "Chompcraft" on the loo) and play a few minutes, or play through an afternoon with. Or for nostalgia's sake, you can sit super-close to your old console TV with your nose practically on the screen to relive those JRPG glory days.
Senran Kagura as a series is something of a guilty pleasure for me, faults and confusion and all. At first glance… like the cover... it's a bunch of overly-exaggerated anime girls on a beach in skimpy outfits. A mission or two in, and it's overly-exaggerated anime ninjas on a beach in a contest to strip each other's clothes off. But eventually it reaches a story that's deeper than one expects from this kind of experience… then throws the mind back into the gutter for a bit. Because boobs, amirite?
It doesn’t have the same level of depth or detail a traditional LoZ game employs, but it’s satisfying, and I can see keeping Legends in my system for a long time coming. Sure, it can make you want to yank your hair out by the roots sometimes, but if it didn’t, would you really want it?
For a simple experience, with multiple objectives per stage that can't be all completed at once (with a handful of exceptions), so it's good as a short-term distraction. Hitman GO is designed to be a temporary go-to for those times you're stuck in minor delays, like a doctor's appointment when you've arrived early, not the DMV or anything crazy. It'll do the trick, but aside from the lovely visual style, it's a largely forgettable experience. Not a bad one, but "oh yeah, I remember playing this" nostalgia after you've worked through the levels in the few hours it takes to shoot through.
I understand I shouldn't expect the depth of SRPGs like Disgaea to build up a team from scratch, but I would like to feel like I was a part of the situation and not simply watching like a coach from the sidelines. Once that's a possibility, I will totally be onboard with PXZ as a series. But as enjoyable as this can be one battle each sitting, it overstays its welcome. But I'm happy it exists, and takes the concept that established characters can be played with like the Play-Doh these devs may have snacks on as children.
By and large these are all minor gripes. The battle system is a lot of frenetic fun, the writing is sharp, and visually the game is that Level-5 cel-shaded colorful anime that looks fantastic. The 3D is unnecessary, but they appear to have learned from what was irritating in a game like LBX (recent as it was) and really worked to smooth out the rough and awkward edges. Aside from a few clumsy design choices, mostly regarding side mission requirements and scrounging around awkwardly for the few required missions, Yo-Kai Watch is a charming gem that's only helping bolster the claim that fun and full RPG experiences are only getting better on portable hardware. And it's a great and action-ish way to invite newer RPG players into the party without entirely scaring away the more hardcore fans. Just because it's cute and funny doesn't mean it doesn't get tense, like seeing a g-g-g-GHOOOOOOST!
The series hasn't had many disappointments in its history (*cough*WanoGamlon*cough*... sorry, I meant to say The Wand of Gamelon) and Triforce Heroes certainly isn't one of them. It looks fantastic, it plays exactly how it should, and there's plenty of both material and challenges to keep playing for a long time. The Colosseum might be underwhelming, and the picture-taking stuff is basic, but the rest is damn fun. Now all I need are friends… *sniffle*