Monster Monpiece Review PS Vita

Compile Heart and Idea Factory are well known for their JRPGs. Their latest game still has some of that RPG flair with a new style. This time, they have created a card game. The RPG feel is still prevalent, while the card game adds a new dynamic that I don’t think has been drawn on enough. The style fits perfectly with the portability of the Vita. However, I believe some of the internal mechanics for the game take a bit away from the title with such a focus on the “pretty girl” factor of the game. Here’s a closer look at the game Monster Monpiece. is well known for their JRPGs. Their latest game still has some of that RPG flair with a new style. This time, they have created a card game. The RPG feel is still prevalent, while the card game adds a new dynamic that I don’t think has been drawn on enough. The style fits perfectly with the portability of the Vita. However, I believe some of the internal mechanics for the game take a bit away from the title with such a focus on the “pretty girl” factor of the game. Here’s a closer look at the game Monster Monpiece.

Gameplay:

Yafanir, a world punished by gods for the way that man grew violent with each other. They were first punished by monsters that would be able to dominate them. When the monsters grew power hungry, the gods punished them by confining them to human bodies. To use their powers, the monsters had to work with humans. Eventually, monsters and humans had to learn to live together. An academy was established to have both monsters girls (embedded in cards) and the humans (masters who can unlock the power of the cards) work together toward a common goal. Both work to be the strongest pair and guard the powerful crystals that help each of the nations thrive.

May is the main character in this story: an academy student who needs a bit of a push to unlock her potential. Karen is the knowledgeable observer, and Elza is the go-getter friend trying to help May out. They start on their journey to a nearby town, eager to start their training as battlers. In their travels, a mysterious stranger infects Elza with the disease known as “Lost”. Lost can affect humans and monster girls, and causes them to go crazy and frenzied. This stranger has some way to control those who are lost, and May and Karen must try to stop them from taking the crystals from all the towns.

monpiece card

The card game is easy to learn, and difficult to master. Players gain mana each turn to play the monster girls. The cards are split up between melee, archers, buffers, and healers. Melee attack up close while archers attack from a distance. Healers and buffers support by restoring health or increasing the attack of other monster girls. The amount of health or power depends on the monster girl. The cards have types and auras as well. Monsters of the same type (ie: bird, beast, dragon, etc.) can be fused together to make a more powerful monster girl. Playing multiple cards with the same aura (the color of the card) empowers the monsters on the field and increases the mana that the player can use to summon monster girls.

Monster Monpiece GifThe game mechanics then stray off the beaten path a bit. Each battle gives players money and rub points. Money can be used to buy cards or items in the store. The items can be attached to the deck to increase mana regeneration, increase monster attack, or to earn more rewards on winning battles. Rub points are for the other feature of the game: “First Crush Rub.” This mechanic allows players to make the monster girls stronger by using the vita touch capabilities. Players touch, poke, rub, and pinch girls to raise the tension gauge on the side of the screen. Successful rubs causes the girls to change their appearance (losing clothes) and obtain increased stats. When all the “weak points” on the girls are found, Extreme Rub mode is activated. This mode requires players touch both the back and front touch screens of the Vita to finish off the process. The mechanic is shamefully sexual and childish, and frankly takes away from the game as a whole.

Graphics:
The art style in the game focuses on 2D hand drawn style models throughout the cut scenes and exploration. The cards are pictured in 2D, and are summoned to some basic models in 3D on the battlefield. The amount of clothes the monster girl is wearing on the card is reflected in the 3D models, blatantly accenting the sexual focus in the game. Even so, the art style is perfectly suited for the portability of the game. The game never seems to drop frame rate and always looks crisp.
Audio:
In lieu of re-recording and obtaining all new voice actors, this game is spoken in Japanese with English subtitles throughout. Personally, I think this suits the game more. The atmosphere of the game feels very Japanese, especially since most of the towns in the game are obvious plays on real Japan cities. The different areas have their own music track, which is a nice touch if nothing else.

Multiplayer:

Multiplayer for this game can be played over Wi-fi or Ad Hoc with another friend in the room. Playing against other players will provide gold, rub points, and even rare cards not normally found in the game. For a card game, it’s a fantastic addition. The promise of rare cards also gives players a reason to play against each other. The online lobby itself isn’t the most lively in the world, but it’s not dead either. Getting into a game only takes a few minutes.

monpiece card battle

Final Thoughts:
Monster Monpiece is a good game, it really is. The problem is it suffers from the overtly sexual nature of the entire game. Removing the player from the equation, the game itself is girls rubbing girl cards and fighting each other. There has not been a single male character to enter the game, monster or human. I know video games in general normally follow the rule of “the less armor the female character has, the stronger she is,” but does it need to be this blatant in the game? Not to mention that the game had to be censored due to some of the sexual nature of the game.

Podcast Chattercast Episode 63: Ed And The Doctor

Welcome back to another fun filled episode of Gamer Chatter Podcast. This week Edward is concerned about how his doctor took care of him during his physical today. William brags about his Star Wars pinball scores, and Tim is on the edge of reality and trying to just pay attention. The boys are back to the normal format this week, they discuss the Driveclub release date, Best gaming moments of the week, and more! The community question this week was a big one, and sadly not many people answered. But the question was:  Name a food, make a main character and game based around that food. What type of game is it? What is the main characters name and arch nemesis? What would the level design be like? Also listen in for a very special shout out and an email! Please enjoy another wacky and crazy episode!

Child of Light Review

When Ubisoft announced this game, the art looked striking to me. I was even more excited that the game was an RPG. A girl crowned with red and a firefly guide, trekking through a land where light and dark did collide. The platforming elements were solid as well as the leveling system too. The story by nursery rhyme keeps players immersed through and through. With a price of only $15, don’t let it fall from your sight. Here’s a review of Ubsoft’s new game: Child of Light.

child of light fighting

Gameplay:

It’s 1895, and a young girl named Aurora has fallen under a spell that causes her to sleep. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a new world. This world is called Luminia, and it is ruled by the black queen. The land was once a place of happiness and light, but the black queen stole the sun, moon, and stars that gave this land its beauty. Aurora, armed with a sword and her firefly guide, must find these elements and bring light back to Luminia.

The platforming elements are reminiscent of a Castlevania game. Players can go to any place that is on their map. As players continue through the game, secret areas will be accessible and grant players more powerful tools to help them. As far as games go, that’s where the platforming stops. The rest of the game is undoubtedly RPG everywhere else. Fighting enemies in this game is an Active-Time battle. Characters can speed themselves up to attack more often, or slow others down to stop them from attacking as much. A unique thing about this fighting is the element of Ignculus, the firefly. In combat, he too can be used to slow down enemies, or pick up “wishes” on the battlefield. These wishes replenish energy for Igniculus and restore health to the characters. The battle system seems simple, but it takes a bit of time to really master what you can do in it. Even so, the game keeps things interesting with the subtle elements of battle. Between using Igniculus, elemental attacks, and timing, there is a lot of strategy in the game.

child of light level

Alongside that, the level up system is different from other games. The characters have three lines of powers they can use, and players get to choose how the characters level up. It’s a throwback to older RPGs, and it is good to see revived in the gaming world. The game has a straight forward story and premise, but that doesn’t take anything away from it. The story always stays interesting. The characters the player meets have their own quirks and charm about them. The dialogue between them keeps the game dynamic as well. One series of dialogue is a fun interaction that can make players laugh; the next one after that makes players think of bigger issues of freedom and life. It’s a charm that is hard to master, but Child of Light hits the nail on the head.

Graphics:

The art style really sets Child of Light apart from other games out there. The style is similar to Rayman, brought by the UbiArt engine. Most of the game looks 2D, but the characters also feel really alive. In battle the characters have more depth as 3D models in the 2D world. The world itself looks beautiful, each area has a unique feel to it. The enemies you face as well look fantastic.

Child of light world

Audio:

The music for this game is wonderful. The melodious piano and violin while adventuring gives way to faster orchestra in battle. Each area has their own adventuring soundtrack. The other worthy audio of note is the narrator. It may sound strange, but the narrator gives the game more emphasis on its unique storytelling as a children’s nursery rhyme. The voice sounds like a mother tucking a child into bed and softly telling them a bedtime story. It’s another layer of immersion that gives the game it’s character.

Multiplayer:

There is a multiplayer element to the game. One player can control Igniculus in battle. They can slow down enemeies, heal allies, and pick up health and mana on the battlefield. Out of battle, they can help with solving puzzles and lighting up darkened passages to show the way. It’s a bit shallow of a multiplayer, but there’s nothing wrong with it either.

child of light dialogue

Final Thoughts:

The landscape is beautiful, the characters are memorable, and the game has a unique atmosphere that makes it one of a kind. Each element of the game is well made and is useful. There isn’t one element that feels wasteful or unimportant throughout all the game. In short: Child of Light is one of the strongest RPG games of the year so far.

Fighting Games: Looking Through Black Eyes

Picture it: You look at health bars, it’s getting close. You’ve used every combination you can think of and drained your special meter. Your character is neck and neck with the opponent’s. The timer is dwindling, but it won’t save you now. You have to keep going though. Faster and faster, when finally you see those glorious two letters that bring you sweet relief: K.O.

Fighting games are a pinnacle of competitive video gaming. Two combatants, squaring off in the virtual world, dueling it out for ultimate supremacy. Fast paced, heart pounding action as concentration between two players is visible to everyone around. Why are games like this so intense? The competitive nature of a fighting game is one of a kind. There have been all different kinds and variations of them around, and everyone has their favorites.

street fighterQuick history lesson: fighting games, I would argue, really took off for the gaming world around 1987 over in the US. The arcades started getting a new machine with the old school favorite: Street Fighter. It featured fighters from all around the world combating each other to be the ultimate fighter. Buttons controlled movement and different power attacks. A few years later (and a couple of iterations of Street Fighter later as well), many new big franchises started up. ’92 introduced Mortal Kombat: one of the first fighting games that featured blood. That was nothing compared to the fatalities that turned your opponent’s fighter into a pile of bones or ash. ’94 brought us King of Fighters (KoF) and Tekken. While KoF was similar to the style of Street Fighter, Tekken was the first that introduced 3D movement into the fight. The games continued, getting better and more advanced. Then in 1996, the Evolution Championship series (known as EVO) was founded, pitting 40 fighters against each other in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Fast forward to now, and EVO is the prime fighting tournament featuring multiple titles and thousands of competitors.EVO2klogo

Fighting games didn’t have a huge storyline driving it, and it didn’t need one. Being the ultimate fighter provided enough motivation enough to keep players interested. Every new fighting game brought its own set of fighters to learn. With plenty of choices on the market, it’s easy to see why there was such a big market and loads of chances to make a name in the gaming world. Between 3D movement, classic 2D side view, and multiple characters at once, there are many opportunities to find your niche in the fighting realm.

Choose your fight:

There are many different kinds of fighting games to choose from, not to mention different choices in each style on its own. Some are more competitive, others are fun just to goof around with friends. They all vary in styles and fighters, realistic to fantastic, duels to brawls. Let’s run them down.

mortal kombat fighting

We start off with the standard. These include games like Street Fighter, KoF, and Mortal Kombat. They put two fighters against each other, side by side. It was all about the combination of moves, rendering your opponent useless. Along with combos, fighters had special moves that really made them stand out. Many people know of Ryu’s “Hadoken” from Street Fighter, or the spear from Scorpion in Mortal Kombat while yelling “GET OVER HERE!” Players could move forward and back, or jump over their opponent. The pace was pretty slow in comparison as well. Simple, yet elegant in execution. Easy to get into, difficult to master.

Next, we have the “deeper” fighting games. The ones that still focused on hand to hand combat, but allowed players to move freely around your opponent as opposed to just jumping over them. These were games like Tekken, Dead or Alive, and Bloody Roar. Tekken was known as the first for 3D movement. Dead or Alive got its fame from the femme fatale that graced the screen each time it was played. Bloody roar was known for characters transforming into creatures that were more powerful then the fighter itself. Mortal Kombat eventually went into that realm as well, ushering in another era for the gory fighter. A bit more difficult to get into, but it was another world of fun.

fight night

Another category is still based around melee combat, but went more to realism as opposed to fantastic characters and superhuman strength. These are the games like WWE, Fight Night, and UFC. They were all based off the real thing, including many of the real life fighters that could be played. Players could pull off each signature move that the fighter was known for. It allowed players to make up matches that weren’t showcased normally. Those games were also one of the first to feature a creation mode so players could create their own fighters to play.

blazblue fightingWeapon fighting was another leap in fighting games. While some melee fighting was used, most of the combat focused around the weapons that each character was wielding. Mortal Kombat had a bit of that in the later years, but it was still the melee fighter at heart. Weapon fighting games included the Soul series, BlazBlue, and Guilty Gear. The latter two were known for fantastic characters with equally fantastic weapons in a high speed duel. The Soul series (Soul Blade, and eventually Soul Calibur) focused more on realistic weapon fighting alongside melee combat. The characters were a bit fantastic, but not all of them. It had everything from bo staffs and katana to scythes and ring blades. Weapon fighting games varied between side view and 3D movement, depending on the series.

While fighting games were known at first for two players fighting it out, eventually it moved into a brawl instead of a duel. These were games like the Super Smash Brothers series, Custom Robo, and the recent PlayStation All Stars. The games put up to four players against each other, weapons or hand to hand, in a free-for-all fight to be the best. In a similar vein, there were also games like Marvel Vs. Capcom and Tekken Tag Tournament. While it was still one player against another, players had multiple characters that could be changed on the fly. It lead to a new strategy of fighting games.

Finally we have some odd-ball titles. They don’t really fall into any particular category, but are fighting games none the less. Def Jam was a series that didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. It could be a wrestling game, a 4-man bar brawler, or a 2.5D side view fighter. They normally featured pop culture icons like Method Man and Fat Joe. Odd games indeed, but pretty fun nonetheless. Next is the Final Fantasy Dissidia series. This game combined an open world fighting style with elements of RPG progression. The more you played, the stronger your character would get. Finally, we have a beta game called Blade Symphony. While it’s not traditional in the least, it’s still a fighter. Players control a sword wielding character and fight in arenas or semi-open world areas. Players can move in any direction and roam around to find their opponents.

blade symphony fighting

Training Mode

So, why do players love to fight? I think it’s about the sense of accomplishment achieved from taking down an opponent. It’s not easy to get together with a couple of friends and go at each other all Fight Club style (which we won’t talk about). The games allow players to really show their stuff. Every character could be beaten by any other character in the series. Some may be easier to use than others, but the harder characters were more powerful fighters. The games had an interesting way of balancing itself out amongst all the characters. There is also an issue of speed. Shooters and RTS games had a much higher speed, and had a lot more to think about. There was ammo, placement of opponents, resources, and more. Fighting games always showed the important characters on screen all the time. It was just the player and their opponent. Faster pace maybe, but not nearly as fast as those shooters and RTSs in terms of what you had to think of all the time. EVO tournaments are streamed all the time, and there’s a certain excitement about the games that you can’t get from RTS games or Shooters.

With different styles and series to choose from, there is a little something for everyone out there. New to fighters? I would suggest starting with Street Fighter or Tekken. They’re both a bit slower, and both are good introductions into the world of fighting games. Looking for a new challenge? Why not try Super Smash Brothers, Marvel Vs. Capcom, or Soul Calibur. Bit faster gameplay and abnormal fighting styles. Dive in and get started, it’s a long road to the top.

Games Going Easy On Us Over The Years Rant

Hey guys long time no rant! I know it’s been a while since you got a post from me. Yes I hate writing and I always have to force myself to do it, but I am trying to change that. The other reason is because I haven’t had much time to write anything. I know a few times on the podcast I had touched base about games going all easy on us nowadays and me bitching about it. Well as you know if you listen to the show my lovely Fiancé bought me an NES, SNES, SEGA, and N64 for Christmas. Along with the games we all grew up with, I want to rant about how we as gamers have gone soft over the years.

RANT ON!
Gradius2

Back in the day I remember when I could play Super Mario Brothers or Gradius and get pretty damn far in them and even complete them. Now when I turn either of them on, I almost always, Not all the time, lose a life on the first level, in Gradius I couldn’t even get past the part when the volcanoes puke rocks at you for 1 minute. Now don’t get me wrong the game isn’t easy by any means but I have been playing Side scrolling shoot me ups for years, and I swear I have gotten worse at them. This paperboymade me think. Have I really gone soft on retro games after all these years? The answer was YES! Next I put in Paperboy, this game used to kick my ass back in the day and well it kicks my ass just as good as it used to but worse! Running away from crazy old ladies with rolling pins and pissed off dogs just never gets old, but my old fingers couldn’t get me away from them half the time. What is wrong with me, why do I suck so bad at these retro games? When I was younger I played my Nintendo so much that I had gotten a HUGE blister on my thumb, after seeing a doctor and him lancing it, the blister was named Nintendoitis. So yes I was a huge gamer and I know my shit, wow do I feel defeated playing these games now in my mid 30’s.

I feel that throughout the years these newer games have changed our diapers, gave us our bottle, and held our hand. I can’t even remember the last game I played that didn’t have a tutorial. Tutorials to show me how to jump? Are you freaking kidding me? I better give up on games if I can’t figure that out. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand some new comers may need this info but seriously… What new player is not smart enough to figure half of this tutorial crap out? The only time I am actually happy to see a tutorial Is when a new game mechanic is introduced to a game, that is when I happy to learn what I need to do to activate or do whatever it is it wants me to do.

easyBack in my day, games only gave you three lives with a limited amount of continues. Lose all of them and that’s it start from the beginning sucker! Re-learn those patterns and enemies so that you can fly through those levels you already had beaten. Just to get to the boss that has been kicking your ass all day. Newer games now have so many checkpoints it is pathetic and an unlimited amount of lives and continues. I understand games are now 90% longer than they used to be and these help, but give me the option to save wherever I want. Now you may have seen me stream Knack or even talk about it, with it’s long ass checkpoints, and I was most likely bitching about them, my defense to that subject is that those enemies were so damn cheap you had no defense and had to take it right on the chin. You know what that was me whining that I am used to these check points every 2 feet. If Knack were made back in the day we would have been OK with those long checkpoints and they wouldn’t have even phased me.

VDgChWs

I say bring back med kits! Get rid of this screen turning red until I die bull crap and regenerating life! Bring back save points and screw those check points! Oh better yet! Bring back 1 mile long codes that I need to input to continue where I left off! Turn our generation and generations to come back into the bad-ass gamers we used to be. The gamer that used to sit on the floor in front of their tube TV staying up late at night to just beat that final level on Super Mario or Final Fight! I want to turn myself into that bad-ass gamer that I used to be, I know it will take time but I am in it for the long haul. I think it is time to get back on Super Mario Brothers and beat it, beat it without using any warp pipes or cheats! Turn into the gaming bad-ass I used to be!

Podcast Chatter Cast Episode 59: Makin’ It Through

Tim is back and Edward couldn’t be happier! Edward and Tim also have decided on a third seat for the show, even though it isn’t a female voice it is William Mackellar. William will be here for the long haul and he knows it. So now that everything is back to normal so is the show, the boys go over the weekly news, best gaming moments of the week, and the community question which was: Create a conduit power from the inFamous universe. Name it and tell us what it does? Some great answers for it also! The three talk about what they were playing this week and close the show on a good note! See you all next week and enjoy the show!

El Chicle: A Revenge Tale

If you are as old as I am you may well remember coding your own games on your Commodore 64 or Spectrum, when the games industry was bursting at the seams with eager young programmers and everything was new and exciting. It’s refreshing to see that this spirit is still alive today not just in the indie community but also in a whole new breed of young talent who are just waiting to get their break. Sectioned Games are a great example, a small developer made up of three friends who met at Becker College and have big aspirations in the industry. Cotey Cerasale (lead designer), Bradley Rienstra (lead programmer) and John Lebron (level design) are the men at the wheel of this little indie outfit and are hoping to show of their new game El Chicle at PAX East this weekend to as many of you as possible.

El Chicle is a fun little game, you play as the title character, a partly chewed piece of Taco flavoured (yes I said Taco!) chewing gum. Spat out because of his spicy taste, El Chicle is hell bent on tracking down the boy that rejected him and teaching him a lesson! The game is simple and addictive just like any decent platform game should be, El Chicle is controlled with the mouse or touchscreen and with a simple click and drag mechanic you control both the trajectory and power of our little gummy friend as he jumps and sticks to the various surfaces as he makes his way through each level.

Sounds easy enough right? Well don’t be fooled, chewing gum needs moisture to remain sticky and this is visualised with a water bar on the right hand side of the screen. The bar depletes as you jump around and you need to find water sources in each level to keep El Chicle nice and moist, as our little friend dries out his colour changes from vibrant pink to a dark purple and it gets harder for him to move around. Management of the water bar is offset by the dirt bar on the bottom of the screen, fill up the dirt bar as you move through the level by landing in anything gross to add points to your score at the end of the level. So you need to get around the tricky jumps and pick up dirt but also keep him supplied with plenty of water, now you can see just how fiendish this can get!
The game is in the early stages of development but the team are aiming for a Q2 2015 release, the game will feature roughly 40 progressively more difficult levels of revenge fuelled chewing gum madness with environmental animations, full voice overs and sound effects. Cotey and the team were kind enough to answer a few questions for us on just how they have reached this point:

Q:What are your gaming backgrounds, what games inspired you to try and get into the industry?Cotey – I started when I was 7 years old with a Sega Genesis, growing up my favorite games were the Legacy of Kaine Series, Final Fantasy and Legend of Dragoon. I prefer Rpgs and competitive play across genres. I always knew I wanted to be in the industry, to make my ideas come to life was all I could dream of doing. It wasn’t until Sophomore year of college when I watched Indie Game: The Movie, that I realized I would want to do Indie. My plan originally was to get my portfolio together and try to get in with Blizzard as I have been playing World of Warcraft since 2004.
John – I’ve had video games since i was 5 with the SNES and the Sega Genesis but they weren’t my life yet. When I finally got my hands on the Nintendo 64 is when I started to play games more often with titles like Donkey Kong 64, Star Craft 64, and Super Smash Bros. but even then it was just a hobby. The changing point in my life with video games was when I played Final Fantasy X and for the first time I grew a connection with the characters and felt like I was a part of the story being told. Thats when video games became a part of my life but not until my junior year of high school did I know that I wanted to go into the industry.

Bradley – I had started on PC and NES when I was 4, as soon as I could get my hands on the Gameboy Color I was stuck to Oracle of Ages. I play a wide variety of games but prefer indie based titles. I have always known that I wanted to work in the game industry.
Sectioned Games2

Q:How on earth did you come up with something so random as a piece of Taco flavoured chewing gum hell bent on revenge against the kid that spat him out? I mean it’s brilliant but crazy!

A: In all honesty we were brainstorming to make a quick project in a month and while figuring out a topic we were joking around and Cotey made a joke about throwing his gum at Bradley. At this point Bradley had remarked that throwing gum would make a funny game and we jokingly all threw in ideas as a what-if we did make it into a game. As the ideas poured out we began to really enjoy the idea and started taking as serious as you can take a project about gum. Lo-and-behold our one month project became what it is now!

Q:When I first played this early build of the game what struck me was how it felt both different and familiar at the same time, I couldn’t put my finger on it but games like Worms and an old DOS game called Gorillas sprung to mind, I guess it must be the angle calculations. Was this something you were consciously working for because I think a lot of folks will get the same nostalgia hit that I did!

A: It’s funny that you bring that up, when we came up with this idea our original conception was that of Angry Birds meets Super Meat Boy if you can believe it. We never really meant for the game to feel nostalgic but it just shows the personality games create themselves through past experiences, really expresses our roots.

Q:With El Chicle being so accessible and easy to navigate with a mouse or touch screen what platforms would you love to see it on? It seems a great fit for mobile devices, android etc but I could really see it shine on the Vita.

A: Our overall plan for release is to be on mobile(android and iOS) and PC(with gamepad compatibility), but we have tossed around the idea of branching out if the feedback is positive towards the game. We have discussed 3ds and it only seems natural for the Vita.

Q:You guys are going to be showcasing the game at PAX this coming weekend, tell people what they can expect to see and why they should stop by.

A: This weekend we are pulling out all the gimmicks to attract people to our booth. We will have giveaways such as posters for those who play, to button-pin giveaways, Free gum! (not pre-chewed) and custom-made hats for the highest scoring players each day(details at booth). Can’t miss us at booth 140 we are the ones with the blow up cactus(equipped with mustache)!
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how this game develops over the next 12 months so if you are over at PAX East between the 11th-13th April then swing by booth 140 and say hi to the lads from Becker College, you won’t be disappointed with this charming little demo and it sounds like they have some cool swag to give away!

Strider Review

Strider was first brought to my attention through the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. He was a different character than I was used to from seeing in Capcom games, and he really grabbed my attention. I didn’t think much of him though as anything more than just another fighting game character. When I heard that he was going to have his own game (rebooted for the new generations), I got excited to see what Capcom and Double Helix had to bring to the table. The game brought more than expected in some areas, less in others.

Gameplay:

Players take control of Hiryu, a Strider. Striders are futuristic assassins for hire. In this game, he is hired to take down the leader and ruler of the city of Kazakh. Those players looking for more of a story are out of luck. That is all the game will tell you, if you can gather even that much. Strider is a platformer at its core, which was expected. I was not expecting it to be another Metroid-vania style game. There are many areas that players can go back to and get more power-ups as the game goes further and unlocks new abilities. Players can revisit any area as long as they are willing to travel, and the game rewards players for taking the time to do so. Everything from in game power ups to unlockable extras such as skins, concept art, and more.The game is a jolly good time. The game mechanics are very solid in the classic side scrolling platform style. It harkens back to the Mega Man or Castlevania play styles. The combat is dynamic and entertaining. There will be power ups for the weapon that will affect some enemies better than others. Players can button mash and get through just fine, but it also has more interesting moves that will reward players who can master them. These moves will be necessary in order to beat more of the harder difficulties.

The game has more than just a basic campaign mode as well. Players can unlock a survival mode and beacon mode. Survival pits players against as many enemies as they can survive. Enemies increase in difficulty the longer player remains. Beacon mode is a time trial. There are beacons set up through parts of a level that players must run through as quickly as possible. This is a really enjoyable and challenging mode. While there is the essence of a race against time, there are also enemies in the way of the player. Survival and a race mode combined together provide for a new twist to a normally predictable platformer game.Graphics:

The new look to the Strider game is fantastic. The side scrolling look while still having depth really is beautiful to explore. Some power ups allow Strider to freeze or burn enemies, and the effects of those abilities look realistic. The particles on the flames dancing on the enemies really make the flames look alive, the same goes for the mist falling off the ice pillars enemies turn into. Strider’s cape also accents the futuristic feel with a laser like trail that the assassin leaves in his wake.

Audio:

The soundtrack is always pumping in Strider. The near nonstop action in the game always feels exciting as the soundtrack plays in the background. The techno beats add to the time frame as well. The entire thing feels futuristic, as it should be. In the slower parts, the music slows down to more of a curious crawl as Strider explores through the area. Perfect atmospheric addition to the game.Final Thoughts:

Though the story is less than desirable, the game is definitely worth the buy. The graphics and soundtrack keeps the game interesting and entrancing. Power up progression makes the game fun while still keeping things slightly out of reach at first. The game provides more of a sense of accomplishment with getting all the upgrades like older Capcom games are known for. It does not try to push to be any different from the classic styles of old, and that is alright. What it does bring to the table, it does so perfectly packaged and wrapped up with a bow. At a price of $15 (only digital download), it is a great price for a game.

Master Reboot Review

At first glance, this game looks like a way to explore a digital world, in some ways, it is. Players get to travel in this world and seek out memories and answers as to why they are in this place. I knew this game was a puzzle game, but I was surprised about how deep this game actually would get. Here’s a look at the puzzling and mystifying Master Reboot.Gameplay:

Players are cast in the role of someone who is now in the Soul Cloud. The Soul Cloud is a place where the dead can be stored in order to be “saved” from death. Anyone with a Soul Cloud residence can visit their loved ones time and time again, even after their death. They can explore the memories and relive good times. This time, however, there is something wrong in the cloud. It’s the players job to figure out what the problem is and why they are here in the first place.Without a doubt, Master Reboot is a puzzle game. But more than that, it’s also dark. Some may even go so far as to say it’s a horror game. In some ways, I can see it. The game has a dark core to it, and players are constantly being chased by Seren, the guardian of the soul cloud. Many of the levels players go through are dimly lit, creepy, and always have some air of death about them. The puzzles start off fairly easy and increase throughout the game as normal puzzle games should. Near the end, there is a bit of a spike in difficulty, almost to the point where the puzzles don’t give you enough to complete the puzzle before you. These particular puzzles I’m mentioning don’t allow you to leave without completing the puzzle, so it can be discouraging if the player has to exit the game just to get out of the puzzle area and try to look for something else.With each area, there are also rubber ducks throughout the levels. These are the collectables that will unlock more details about the story that is unfolding with the completion of each level. This story, for a puzzle game, is one of the most innovative that I have seen in a while. Finding out why players are in the soul cloud was an intriguing mystery that kept me wanting more until the very end.Graphics:

The graphics for the game are pretty good as well. Many are simple shapes just to provide a general idea of the city that players will be arriving at, but others are detailed (like the character models for Seren and some other enemies players will face). Between each level, the story progresses with a simple 2D animation. A stray away from the 3D of the rest of the game, but the story does explain why the cutscenes are in 2D as opposed to 3D. The story completely envelopes every aspect of the game, which I find refreshing in a game world where the story seems to take the back seat in development.Audio:

The audio for the levels are generally the same, but there is atmospheric ambiance that is unique to the levels that players are progressing through. There are also elements of suspense in the audio as players avoid the enemies that are threatening to erase them from the Soul Cloud itself. It keeps the players involved without being a nuisance to the game.Final thoughts:

Master Reboot is definitely a game that should be looked into. Aesthetically pleasing, and fantastic puzzles keep the gameplay fun while an engaging story keeps players interested and wanting to explore the world more. The difficulty spike at the end concerns me, but other than that I personally have no problems with the game. A fun and suspenseful ride

NHL14 Review

It’s that time of year again hockey fans.  Time to get your skates sharpened, your sticks taped, and time to put the biscuit in the basket.  EA Sports’ latest iteration of the fastest game on ice attempts to break away from last year’s shortcomings by revamping their fighting engine, cranking up the physics engine, and providing a little fan service with the addition of NHL94 Anniversary Mode.

Gameplay:

I’ve been an avid fan of EA Sports’ NHL series since I first hit the ice in NHLPA Hockey 93. Although the series has come a long way from the days of manually updating rosters and one button shooting, it still has a few things to learn in the way of presentation. Don’t get me wrong, the on ice gameplay in NHL14 is impressive to say the least. The skating and tweaked physics this year facilitate the most realistic hockey simulation to date, bar none. Thanks to the Player Impact Engine, players collide and react as accurately as you’d expect to see at any rink around the NHL. Unfortunately, the shortcomings become all too apparent off the ice.

Getting the first game misconduct for its inadequacies is EA’s new “Live the Life” mode. I found it to be a halfhearted endeavor into the life of an up and coming NHL rookie. Between games, players are interviewed for pre-draft, pre-game, post-game, and also participate in news interviews. In theory, the intention of these interviews is to pull you into the life and choices of an NHL rookie. In practice, the interviews do exactly the opposite. They felt canned and more of a distraction than anything.Answering interview questions results in either an increase or decrease of your “Likeability” in four areas: Fan, Teammate, Management, and Family.  As your career progresses, Off Ice Events like going out with teammates to celebrate a big win can occur which may negatively impact your player’s standing with one of the aforementioned categories.  Conversely, successfully micromanaging the categories will trigger Endorsement deals resulting in more money and trophies.Players need not worry about micromanaging or interviews with EA’s inclusion of NHL 94 Anniversary Mode.  This mode is a nice bonus if nothing else.  Although I feel that this mode would be more adept for a handheld like the PlayStation Vita.  It lends itself well to the big screen multiplayer environment with simple controls and huge bone jarring hits.   The legendary arcade feel of NHL 94 is in check with no penalties, offsides, or icing which results in a recklessly paced goal festNHL 94 Anniversary Mode is loose and frantic giving players plenty of opportunity to celebrate bountiful goals while the classic arena organ reminds us of the days of old.

In the NHL 94 Anniversary Mode as well as the standard game modes I felt that I wasn’t in total control of my players all the time. Occasionally my player would veer off to the left or right when trying to beat out the icing or in the midst of a check attempt. It seemed to me that EA has turned up the assists this year. This is an unwelcome feature indeed.Following last year’s abysmal attempt at fisticuffs, EA has touted their new “Enforcer Engine” as it incorporates the Fight Night technology. While it is the paramount in the series’ fighting simulation, I grew tired of it rather quickly. With every stoppage of play the players would lock up with the potential to throw off the gloves. Being a devoted Blue Jacket’s fan, I’m aware that players tend to lock up around the goal from time to time but really EA… do I need to see this animation after every whistle? If nothing else, this overly aggressive temperament could have been reserved for the playoffs or at the very least, rivalry games. Instead of inundating players with their new toy, EA should have kept the noodle knocking down to a minimum. In this case, less would have been more.New this season is the one touch deke technology. Instead of the button + right analog stick combination found in previous years, players can simply press the deke button to fly past defenders and to freeze goalies in their stance. To be honest, I’m still having trouble getting the hang of the new deking system. At this point, I’m not 100% sure I like the change.

As with most of EA Sports titles late in this generation, Ultimate Team is making its annual appearance again this year.The Hockey Ultimate Team mode has been revamped with a new community focused season mechanic. Players play through up to 10 game mini-seasons in an attempt to climb through the droves of Hockey Ultimate Team players from all corners of the globe. If you’re good enough, your home grown team of hodgepodge players may end up in the playoffs, earn a division title and if luck (and skill) would have it, take home the League Title Trophy.With each game, players earn EA Pucks to use to purchase more team members in the form of player cards. A newly added and welcome addition this year is earning EA Pucks for every game you play. Whether it’s in the Hockey Ultimate Team mode or in your career, players are earning with every game. Of course, with all of EA’s Ultimate Team game modes, you have the option of paying real money for cards to build your elite team.

Graphics:

Graphically, NHL 14 is impressive. As I stated earlier, the collision physics make use of the Player Impact Engine used in the FIFA series. Sticks, players, and the puck react to each other in a realistic manner just as you’d expect. The players animate seamlessly as they transition from play to play. The animations of even the off puck players are convincing and convey that on ice atmosphere.Players show damage from fighting and for the most part, resemble their real life counterparts. Conversely, while the graphics are better than they’ve ever been, I did notice a bit of slowdown in the Be A Pro mode’s on ice camera. It wasn’t necessarily a game breaker but noticeable for sure. Another grumble I have is that I would really like the ability to import my likeness into the game using EA’s Game Face. Both Madden and FIFA take advantage of this feature. I’m puzzled as to why the team behind the NHL series hasn’t included it.Sound/Audio:

The sound this year hasn’t changed much from last year. The commentary team, Bill Clement and Gary Thorne have a few new lines of forgettable dialog. The problem is that the new dialog is drowned by the recycled tired commentary from the last few years. It’s definitely time for change.

It’s that time of year again hockey fans. Time to get your skates sharpened, your sticks taped, and time to put the biscuit in the basket. EA Sports’ latest iteration of the fastest game on ice attempts to break away from last year’s shortcomings by revamping their fighting engine, cranking up the physics engine, and providing a little fan service with the addition of NHL94 Anniversary Mode.

Bob

Gameplay:

I’ve been an avid fan of EA Sports’ NHL series since I first hit the ice in NHLPA Hockey 93. Although the series has come a long way from the days of manually updating rosters and one button shooting, it still has a few things to learn in the way of presentation. Don’t get me wrong, the on ice gameplay in NHL14 is impressive to say the least. The skating and tweaked physics this year facilitate the most realistic hockey simulation to date, bar none. Thanks to the Player Impact Engine, players collide and react as accurately as you’d expect to see at any rink around the NHL. Unfortunately, the shortcomings become all too apparent off the ice.

Getting the first game misconduct for its inadequacies is EA’s new “Live the Life” mode. I found it to be a halfhearted endeavor into the life of an up and coming NHL rookie. Between games, players are interviewed for pre-draft, pre-game, post-game, and also participate in news interviews. In theory, the intention of these interviews is to pull you into the life and choices of an NHL rookie. In practice, the interviews do exactly the opposite. They felt canned and more of a distraction than anything.

LiveTheLife

Answering interview questions results in either an increase or decrease of your “Likeability” in four areas: Fan, Teammate, Management, and Family. As your career progresses, Off Ice Events like going out with teammates to celebrate a big win can occur which may negatively impact your player’s standing with one of the aforementioned categories. Conversely, successfully micromanaging the categories will trigger Endorsement deals resulting in more money and trophies.

Life_Meters

Players need not worry about micromanaging or interviews with EA’s inclusion of NHL 94 Anniversary Mode. This mode is a nice bonus if nothing else. Although I feel that this mode would be more adept for a handheld like the PlayStation Vita. It lends itself well to the big screen multiplayer environment with simple controls and huge bone jarring hits. The legendary arcade feel of NHL 94 is in check with no penalties, offsides, or icing which results in a recklessly paced goal fest.

NHL14 Top Down

NHL 94 Anniversary Mode is loose and frantic giving players plenty of opportunity to celebrate bountiful goals while the classic arena organ reminds us of the days of old.

NHL94 mode

In the NHL 94 Anniversary Mode as well as the standard game modes I felt that I wasn’t in total control of my players all the time. Occasionally my player would veer off to the left or right when trying to beat out the icing or in the midst of a check attempt. It seemed to me that EA has turned up the assists this year. This is an unwelcome feature indeed.

5 for Fighting

Following last year’s abysmal attempt at fisticuffs, EA has touted their new “Enforcer Engine” as it incorporates the Fight Night technology. While it is the paramount in the series’ fighting simulation, I grew tired of it rather quickly. With every stoppage of play the players would lock up with the potential to throw off the gloves. Being a devoted Blue Jacket’s fan, I’m aware that players tend to lock up around the goal from time to time but really EA… do I need to see this animation after every whistle? If nothing else, this overly aggressive temperament could have been reserved for the playoffs or at the very least, rivalry games. Instead of inundating players with their new toy, EA should have kept the noodle knocking down to a minimum. In this case, less would have been more.

Deke

New this season is the one touch deke technology. Instead of the button + right analog stick combination found in previous years, players can simply press the deke button to fly past defenders and to freeze goalies in their stance. To be honest, I’m still having trouble getting the hang of the new deking system. At this point, I’m not 100% sure I like the change.

As with most of EA Sports titles late in this generation, Ultimate Team is making its annual appearance again this year.

HUT_smallThe Hockey Ultimate Team mode has been revamped with a new community focused season mechanic. Players play through up to 10 game mini-seasons in an attempt to climb through the droves of Hockey Ultimate Team players from all corners of the globe. If you’re good enough, your home grown team of hodgepodge players may end up in the playoffs, earn a division title and if luck (and skill) would have it, take home the League Title Trophy.

HUT Progress

With each game, players earn EA Pucks to use to purchase more team members in the form of player cards. A newly added and welcome addition this year is earning EA Pucks for every game you play. Whether it’s in the Hockey Ultimate Team mode or in your career, players are earning with every game. Of course, with all of EA’s Ultimate Team game modes, you have the option of paying real money for cards to build your elite team.

Graphics:

Graphically, NHL 14 is impressive. As I stated earlier, the collision physics make use of the Player Impact Engine used in the FIFA series. Sticks, players, and the puck react to each other in a realistic manner just as you’d expect. The players animate seamlessly as they transition from play to play. The animations of even the off puck players are convincing and convey that on ice atmosphere.

KO

Players show damage from fighting and for the most part, resemble their real life counterparts. Conversely, while the graphics are better than they’ve ever been, I did notice a bit of slowdown in the Be A Pro mode’s on ice camera. It wasn’t necessarily a game breaker but noticeable for sure. Another grumble I have is that I would really like the ability to import my likeness into the game using EA’s Game Face. Both Madden and FIFA take advantage of this feature. I’m puzzled as to why the team behind the NHL series hasn’t included it.

Stick Check

Sound/Audio:

The sound this year hasn’t changed much from last year. The commentary team, Bill Clement and Gary Thorne have a few new lines of forgettable dialog. The problem is that the new dialog is drowned by the recycled tired commentary from the last few years. It’s definitely time for change.

Tav

Multiplayer/Co-op:

As per usual with an EA Sport titles, a noticeable lag plagues the online portion of NHL 14. Personally, I can’t seem to adjust to the delay in normal passing and shooting. Granted, its better this year, but still not as perfect as the single player experience. With that said, aside from a few matchmaking tweaks, the online gameplay is for the most part, unchanged from last year.Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for the new and shiny in NHL14, you may be disappointed. While the core gameplay is solid, the innovations attempted in NHL14 are a shot wide of the net for sure. However, I can’t wait to see what EA Sports brings to the next generation of consoles with their beloved NHL series. Although their latest entry into the current generation consoles isn’t the pinnacle that it could have been, EA has certainly laid the groundwork for a franchise that could surpass even the best sellers like FIFA and Madden.