Friday, April 20, 2018

Netto's Beginnings: First Racing Game

This is no secret to the people who know me, but I actually love racing games! In fact, maybe I like them a bit too much. You see, while a lot of my friends find them boring, I'm one of those people who buy them almost non stop. "Who cares if I haven't finished the last one I bought! This new one looks too fun!" Because of this mindset I have I have built up a crazy large backlog of just racing games, and it continues to grow as the days go on. Heck I just bought Burnout Paradise for the third time thanks to it's remaster, yet I still need to finish the past few Need for Speed releases, Forza Horizon 3 (and 2), and at some point I need to return to The Crew. Really, I love almost all racing games, and that's not something that is going to change. But how did this all begin with me? Well that's actually a bit of a strange story... (And can be read elsewhere.)

While I actually have a few games I'd consider my "first" racing game, for the sake of this post I'm going to actually start with my VERY first one. As for what that game was? Well, Top Gear 2 of course! While I have mentioned this game before (see above link), I want to take the time to go into it a bit more this.

Top Gear 2 was my first real look into racing games. Sure, maybe I sat at an arcade machine at Walmart or something (yeah, they used to have those there), but this was the game I actually played a lot of as a kid. It was my uncle's game, and when I'd go over there I'd often play it with him or my cousins when they came to visit. The game was one of those 3D SNES games, and because of that it was pretty simple. You got to pick the color of your car, got to choose between automatic or manual transmission (I always went with automatic of course), and all you really had to do was hold the accelerator and turn left/right with the track. While it was possible to somewhat go off course, the game was mostly on auto pilot for you. Your main worry was crashing into other cars, but even that wasn't too difficulty for my younger self. Sometimes you'd get hit and fall behind, but most of the time all you had to do is use your NOS to boost yourself ahead. It really wasn't that difficult of a game, but I still had a lot of fun with it.

One thing that made Top Gear 2 really stand out to me as a kid, was the ability to actually upgrade your car, change it's color, and then damage it in the race. Finishing races would net you money to make your car better and continue on, and as you got hit by other cars you got to see different parts on your own car get damaged or break. This was always shown to you at the top in a little diagram of your car, but typically it wasn't something you had to pay much attention to. (In fact I used to crash my car on purpose just to see how much of it I could destroy.) Even so I thought it was pretty cool as a kid, and it wasn't until many years later that I would see this type of system again.

Later on my uncle would go on to sell his SNES (and most of his games) and I ended up being left with TG2 as my own. This is when I started going through the full campaign mode myself, and sometimes I'd even co-op it with my dad. The game supported split screen and we'd both make use of that to complete the game together. Those were some really fun memories for me, and despite most tracks looking the same (except with different backgrounds and at different times of the day), I really enjoyed the adventure across different locations. I could never wait to see where we were going next, and I can still remember wanting to see the Loch Ness Monster when we raced around the area. Of course it wasn't there, but kid me kept hoping.

Eventually I would move on from TG2, but it wouldn't be to other racing games. Sure I played the Mario Kart games once in awhile when I rented them, but in general that was it for me when it came to racing. The newer generation of racing games on the N64 and PS1 made me sick when playing them (with the exception of a few N64 racers I had rented), and it wasn't until much later that I was able to fully handle these new 3D racing games again. With some exceptions like Mario Kart and Kirby Air Ride, the racing genre had almost been lost to me, but thankfully that's no longer the case.

Now days I can continue playing the old genre I love, and I can even experience them in completely new ways. Games like Drive Club VR put me "in" the drivers seat for a more realistic experience, and then you have other games like Wipeout VR that completely blow me away. VR has breathed new life into these games for me, and has me hooked more than ever before. That being said, I can't wait to see what the future holds, and where this technology will eventually end up.
Read More

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mega Man X Legacy Collection New Info & Trailer

A few months ago the Mega Man X Legacy Collection was announced by Capcom. Well now we finally have more news on this release, and things are looking pretty good! Like the previous Mega Man Classic collections, the X Collection will be split into two releases. As some might expect, X1-4 will be featured in the first, and X5-8 will be in the second. Both collections will be released July 24th, but things will be a bit different depending on your console of choice.

Although you will be able to buy both collections in a single bundle, the Nintendo Switch version will not be receiving Collection 2 on it's own game card. Like the Resident Evil Revelations collection before it, the second half of the X series will in fact be digital download only. (At least here in the west.) While this may not be a big deal to some, it is a little bit of a let down that Switch owners will have to use more memory to play this game. Meanwhile the PS4 version does in fact come with a disc for each collection.

Putting all of this aside though, the collections do offer some bonus features as well. A new challenge mode has been added in where you can fight bosses from across the series, and the Day of Sigma OVA from Maverick Hunter X on PSP has been included. This OVA actually acts as a prequel to the entire Mega Man X series, but it does have a few differences from what many fans may know and love. After all the OVA was created for the series reboot, but sadly that never continued past the first game.

Anyway, for more information feel free to check out the trailer below!

Read More

What is Full Metal Panic! Fight! Who Dares Wins?

Full Metal Panic. It's a series that is very special to me, and one that has been gone for quite some time. Although I personally didn't watch the anime adaptation when it first aired, the English release quickly became one of my favorite shows of all time, and it's actually the source of quite a few secret references here on this blog. But why am I talking about it now of all times? Well, that's simple. Because Full Metal Panic is finally getting a full video game, and it's coming out in English next month! Yep, that's right! It's a dream come true for many long time FMP fans, but that's not the only fanbase that might find this game interesting. In fact, it might just the game fans of the Front Mission series have been waiting for.

Before I get into the game itself, let me explain exactly what Full Metal Panic is. Stylized as "Full Metal Panic!" the series was originally a Japanese light novel released in the late 90s. It followed the story of a young man named Sousuke, as he is tasked with going undercover at a Japanese high school to protect a young girl named Kaname. Needless to say the story does have the whole "boy meets girl" thing going for it, but with a twist. You see, while Kaname is a "normal high school girl," Sousuke is anything but. In fact he's a soldier through and through, and he has no idea how to live a normal life. Sneaking guns into schools (DON'T DO THIS), blowing up lockers, tackling teachers, jumping out of trains, shooting arcade machines, and so on. The guy only knows how to be a soldier, and that makes for a lot of shockingly funny moments. In fact when the series was eventually adapted into an anime, a second season titled "Fumoffu" was released to focus completely on these aspects. Of course, this isn't all Full Metal Panic is about. Putting aside the stupid things soldier boy does, there is no denying he is in fact a soldier.

Along with the comedy, Full Metal Panic is technically a war drama of sorts. A strange group is out to get Kaname, and Sousuke, along with the group he works for, must do everything in their power to protect her. The story has it's serious moments, and giant mechs become the character's weapon of choice. While other series with robots just accept the fact that they exist, Full Metal Panic makes it apparent that such things aren't normal, and are like something out of science fiction. It's a technology no one fully understands, and it's becoming more and more common at a surprising rate. This is where the game and new anime comes in.

Originally the FMP anime only covered roughly the first five novels, now the series is now back and things are starting with a bang. At this point in the story the "intro" is over, and a full on war is about to erupt. Gone are the care free days of high school, and now only battle awaits. Taking a page out of this story, "Full Metal Panic! Fight! Who Dares Wins," allows fans to jump into the action themselves, and experience the war from of a turn based strategy game.

Taking a page out of the Super Robot Wars series (which FMP has been featured in), and mixing it with systems seen in games like Front Mission, Fight! Who Dares Wins is a full on tactical RPG. You pick your characters and mechs, send them out into battle, load them up with different types of weapons, and then do everything in your power to win. Battles are turn based, and they rely more on strategy than pure skill. Different weapons are effective against different types of targets, and each target you face has multiple parts that can be attacked and damaged. Of course this goes for you as well, so it's important to think your plans through, and keep your own units in top shape. Characters also have a skill tree to level through, which allows you to unlock new skills and abilities as the game progresses. While this setup isn't anything new to the genre, it helps make each unit unique, and allows players to develop their characters in their own way. This also means the game will most likely have quite a bit of replay value, as there is no real clear cut way on how you should play and progress through it's story.

Although FMP's game is stand alone, it comes after a long line of other similar games created by the same company. As I mentioned above, the game resembles Super Robot Wars greatly, and even has similar cut in attack animations during battle. The main difference here is that rather than using a grid system FMP allows you to freely move your characters around the map within a set range, and the characters and story are all set within one universe. While that might sound strange to say, you have to realize the type of games this team develops. Even their original games such as SRWOG Endless Frontier crosses over with Namco x Capcom and Xenosaga, which eventually leads into the Project X Zone series. Putting that aside though, the company is known for putting out massive strategy games packed full of content, and FMP is sure to be the same.

So what is Full Metal Panic! Fight! Who Dares Wins? A tactical role playing game that fans of robots, and fans of the series really shouldn't miss out on. If the game even sounds a bit interesting to you, I'd recommend checking out the trailer above, and watching the anime if you still haven't. You won't regret it.
Read More

Monday, April 16, 2018

Kingdom Hearts III Adds LCD Style Games

Well this is a bit of strange news. A brand new "world" has been shown off for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III, and it's not quite what you would expect. Rather being like the rest of this game, this new gameplay mode is a collection of mini games that features Sora in the style of old LCD games. You know, similar to what Nintendo had with the Game & Watch, and what Tiger Electronics released non stop! Although these type of handhelds might seem strange in today's world, back in the day they were all the rage, and people would actually carry them around. Despite how simple they were, there was something strangely addicting about going for that next high score, and now Kingdom Hearts has revived that.

Just check out the trailer below to see for yourself!

Read More

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sea of Thieves - Review

There once was a time when seeing a little "R" logo on a game box would fill one with excitement. Everyone knew that the R stood for "Rare," and that they would be in for quite the treat if they bought the game and played it. The company quickly became known for their quality games, and they would release them for all different ages. They had great platforming games for everyone, fun shooters for the more "mature," hard core arcade beat em ups, and even unique ones that became instant classics. In short, things were looking good for Rare, and fans couldn't wait to see their next game. Then things changed.

After creating many games for Nintendo, Rare was eventually bought out by Microsoft, and they became Xbox exclusive. This of course caused games like Nintendo's Donkey Kong series to get passed on to other teams, while Rare themselves focused on their new market. Although the team did release quite a few interesting games on the original Xbox, and even on the Xbox 360, things did not stay the same. Although the team still used the name "Rare," most of the original team left the company, and their games were seemingly lost to history. That is until now.

Sea of Thieves is Rare's first new IP in quite a long time, and many fans were excited by it's announcement. Not only were we finally getting a new game from Rare, but it was also going to be a multiplayer pirate game where players could live out their wildest pirate dreams! The game sported an interesting cartoony art style, and the idea of being on the open seas with friends just seemed like a lot of fun. Of course not everyone was sold on the idea, but now the game has released and we all get to see what it really is. So, what exactly is Sea of Thieves, and is it worth playing? Well, that's what I'm hopefully going to tell you now.

Due to the unique nature of this game I will tell you one thing right off the bat. It is NOT going to be a game for everyone. Sea of Thieves is something you either hate, or something you love, and this review most likely wont change your mind if you're not a fan of this type of game. Also keep in mind that this review will be covering the initial release of the game, and will not include any future added content. Rare has promised to continue adding features and expanding the game, so things may greatly change over time. Now with that being said, let's get on with the review!

You and The Sky, The Sands, and The Sea:

Sea of Thieves is an open world pirate adventure. What is the game's story? That's up to you to decide! While there are three factions to accept quests from, this game is very much your own story. There are no cutscenes, very little dialogue from the NPCs, and the game does not even direct you on where you need to go or what you should be doing. It asks you to pick a random generated pirate (which you can regenerate as many times as you want), and then it drops you onto an outpost island and asks you to figure out what to do from there. (There isn't even a tutorial to speak of.) You simply have the sky above you, the land below, a boat docked close by, and the open seas waiting for you. So, what exactly "should" you be doing at this point? Well...

The Outpost:

Before you set out into the open seas and start exploring, the Outpost is something you'll want to learn to take full advantage of. Sea of Thieves has multiple outpost islands scattered across the map, and every single one of them offers you the same services. These services include the three factions, the clothing store, the weapon store, and the gadget store, and they are also loaded up with barrels filled with extra supplies (we'll get to that a bit later). Because of these different buildings and features, outpost islands become key locations during your adventures, and are something you'll need to return to to complete quests and to score some cash. This is where the factions come into play.

The first major faction you can help out is a gold trading faction. Located in a little tent somewhere on the outpost, players can accept treasure hunting contracts that ask you to search for, well, treasure. After buying a voyage from the man (initial low level voyages are free) you and your crew can vote to accept it, and instantly you'll be handed a treasure map or two. These treasure maps will either show a picture of an island with an X that marks the spot, or you'll be given a map with a riddle on it. While these riddles will tell you the name of the island you need to go to, the rest of the clue will be up to you to solve. For example, one clue might point to a painting of a crap picture, which will then give you another clue to head up to the top of the island. By following each clue as they appear, you'll eventually be lead to the treasure chest, and you'll be free to dig it up and return it to the tent to sell. Treasure chests come in a wide verity of types, and sometimes you might just uncover a rare one.

After the treasure hunting faction, we have the merchant. Merchants are located on the dock and will ask you for a lot of different things. While the treasure hunts give you a map or tell you which island you need to go to, the merchant asks for you to find it yourself. Sometimes they'll want chickens, other times they'll want pigs, or maybe they'll even ask you for snakes! You never know what you're going to be after, and as you advance through the quests the requests only get harder and harder. Although the merchant will supply you with the cages needed for your animals, bananas, or whatever else they ask you for, you yourself will have to check every island around until you find what you need. Of course eventually you'll start to learn where things are, but that doesn't always mean you'll find the chicken you want. Every animal comes in a wide verity of colors, and sometimes the type of animal you need wont be walking around with the others. Of course this also means different color animals sell for different prices, so typically the wild goose chase ends up being worth it if it's a rare one. Once you have found what you need you can then turn them in at the merchant, but you have to pay attention to which outpost wants them, and you need to be on time. If you show up at the wrong outpost, or a day late, then you're not getting your full reward. (Don't worry, the item list tells you where to go and by what time.)

The current third and final faction is the soul faction. Here you get to talk to a creepy person in a building, who then asks you to hunt the living dead. As you may notice while taking on the other two faction's quests, the islands out there are filled with walking skeletons, and this faction wants you to bring back their heads. Similar to the treasure hunts, these quests will give you a location to head to, and it'll be up to you to find the skeletons on it and kill them. Once you've killed enough their captain will spawn, and killing him or her will make their head drop to the ground. Bring this head back to the creepy person, and you've got your reward. And that's about it. It's not an overly complex faction to work for, and the rewards are pretty good! Of course the more you do for this faction the harder the quests get, but eventually you'll get used to fighting, and dying is only a matter of waiting a bit to respawn. So no big deal if the skeletons kill you. (Unless another player destroys your ship while you're gone that is...)

Once you've taken on quests for any of these factions, you'll be rewarded with both faction experience points, and money. Money of course is used to buy new cosmetic items in the shops, but it is also used to unlock harder quests once your factions reach a specific level, and to buy special faction items as well. Eventually you'll be able to use these harder quests to get better rewards, and you'll also get titles to equip to show the world what you've done. Overall it's a simple system, and once you get used to it you'll be making money like crazy. Just know that this is the vast majority of this game.

The Shops and Items:

As a pirate you have a wide verity of items with you at all times, and everyone starts with these. You have a shovel to dig up things, a lantern to light the way or signal to other ships, a compass to find your way, a watch to see the time and date, a water bucket to carry water, multiple interments to play music, a telescope to see out into the distance, and multiple item slots for the items you can pick up from the islands. All of these items have "upgraded" versions you can buy, but all of this is simply cosmetic. So basically no one ever has an advantage in this game. Your gear is as good as everyone else has, and no amount of time spent playing and unlocking stuff will change that. Everyone is on equal grounds, with you only buying new items if you like the look of them. Of course this also applies to the weapons (which include a sword, a pistol, a blunderbuss, and a sniper) and your ship, so new players don't need to worry about getting killed easily. It's a really nice system, and lets everyone enjoy the game without worry, or the pressure to climb the ranks. But speaking of ships...

The Ship and The Crew:

Although I said most of the game is made up of faction quests, that isn't quite right. The truth is the vast majority of the game is spent actually going to these places for these quests, and surviving the open seas! Yes, ship management is what you'll be spending the most time doing, as it's the one thing you need to do to do anything else. This isn't a game that'll hold your hand and do everything for you either, you actually need to learn to work your ship, and you'll need to work with your crew to do it. (Or work really fast if you are solo.)

There are two types of ships in the game, and they both have their uses. The "main" ship is nothing other than the massive galleon, but the small sloop is no joke either. Which ship you use really depends on if you're going to be playing with four players or one or two, so you really shouldn't judge how good they are based on size alone. For the sake of this review though, I'll explain how they both work, and I'll start with the galleon.

The galleon is the biggest ship, and can hold a crew of four players. Of course other non crew members can ride along with you, but that depends if you can trust them or not. This ship is huge, has three cannons on both the left and right side of the ship, has three sails, a large four man anchor, and a map below deck. Because of how big the thing is it is hard for the captain of the ship to see, and crew members need to help spot obstacles ahead and use the map for navigation. The multiple sails also need turning and raised or lowered to catch the wind, and the anchor is very slow if four people aren't helping pull it back up. This ship really requires the teamwork if you don't want to crash into things and sink, and if you do take damage it can be a bit harder to repair it and get the water out. Holes typically appear two decks down, and that means someone will also have to run down there to scoop out the water, and then run back up to throw it off the boat. Again even tasks like this ask for teamwork, and might be challenging for a smaller crew to accomplish. The sloop on the other hand is a different story.

With the sloop's smaller size players can either go at it solo, or with one other friend. Due to it's smaller size the ship only has one cannon on each side of it, and only a single smaller room below the deck. This means it is fast and easy to run down there to repair any damage, which is done with planks you can pick up from islands and store on the ship, and you can quickly scoop out water and throw it out the nearby window. This ship does have less cannon ball storage than the larger one, but with less cannons it's really not much of a problem. There is also only one sail to work, and the anchor is just behind the wheel so the captain can work it easily as well. On top of that the map can be seen from above, so the captain doesn't even need a navigator. On top of that, although the sloop is small, it does still pack a punch. A sloop can easily navigate around a large galleon while unloading cannon balls into it, and a two many crew can navigate and repair the ship with ease. It's a great ship that is both easy to use, and can hold it's own. So again, it's really up to you which ship you want to use based around the size of your crew.

The Combat:

Combat in Sea of Thieves is broken up into land and sea battles (of course). While your pirate has two weapon slots for you to equip weapons in, your ship has cannons, and can also store extra items like the explosive barrels. The game asks that you get creative to take down your enemy, but combat in general is pretty simple. Your sword has a few basic slashes, a charge stab attack, and a jump dash attack, and you have multiple type of guns to equip. Needless to say, these guns work best in different situations, and it's up to you to decide which to bring with you. Thankfully ships have chests that let you switch out gear on the fly, and there is also an unlimited supply of ammo. While shooting cannons at the other ship will in fact be your main way of taking them down, you can also take the risk of shooting yourself at the ship to board them, or even try jumping into the water to sneak on. Carrying bomb barrels to the bottom of the ship and setting them off can be a great way to sink them, but you could also place them in the water like mines and shoot them with a sniper riffle to detonate them. Such tactics are great options if you  manage to pull them off, but cannons are the easiest.

When a ship takes damage holes will break out in the general area that was hit. Hitting a ship lower will do more damage and cause it to fill up with water, while hitting a ship up high will more than likely harm the crew members, or cause smaller holes up top. These holes can be repaired by putting planks on them, but each ship can only carry a limited number of planks. While a crew can work fast enough to repair holes and throw out water to stay afloat, they can only last as long as their planks do. In other words, if you run out of planks and have a hole in your ship, you must either run from the fight and find more supplies on an island, or accept defeat and sink. (Which isn't something you want to do if your ship is loaded up with treasure...)

Of course this goes for the other ship as well, and sometimes boarding a ship really is the best way to take them on. If you get to the other crew's ship you can actually steal the supplies for yourself, and kill them to keep them from repairing or shooting back at your ship. A single person can last quite awhile on an enemy's ship if they are good enough, and they can do some serious damage on their own. Hijacking ships and crashing them into islands can work wonders as well, but simply keeping them busy while your friends shoot cannon balls at them can end the battle in no time. But again, it's really up to you on how you fight, and not all strategies will work for all encounters.

Skull Fortresses:

Besides fighting other players, another high risk high reward part of Sea of Thieves is the skull fortress system. Every once in awhile a giant skull will appear in the sky over one of these fortresses, and that will be the sign to tell you this game's version of a raid has started. Many waves of enemies will start spawning at that location, the islands will fire non stop cannon balls at you as you get close, and a boss will be waiting for you at the end of it all. If you manage to get in close, repair your ship, and get on the island, you'll then be able to kill everything there and eventually score a ton of loot. Needless to say this isn't an easy task, and will take quite some time, but the payoff is well worth it. However, the skeletons wont be the only threat.

The down side to the giant skull in the sky telling you where to go is the fact that it also tells everyone else where to go! Now you may get lucky and be on a server of your own, or with other crews that don't care. But if they do care? Well then you're in for a fight. Sure maybe other crews will work with you to clear out the enemies and open the door to the treasure, but then what? What is going to happen? The thing about people is, you really don't know what they are going to do. Will they be nice and split the treasure? Or did they sneak bombs onto your ship when you weren't looking? Will they wait for you to get back to the outpost and kill you then? Or could they have been at the outpost the entire time waiting for you to finish the raid and come back? Anyone looking at the sky when a skull fortress is taken down will know exactly when it was completed, and they might be laying in wait for you. So again, doing these fortresses can be a risk, and yes they are very VERY much worth it.

The Good and the Bad:

Sea of Thieves really is a fun game, and it's even better with friends. The cartoony art style is great, the ocean waves look amazing (especially on max settings if you have a PC or Xbox One X), and it's a game that lets you role play and live out your pirate dreams. There are a lot of islands to explore, things to unlock, the kraken to fight, players to encounter, and treasure to find. It's just a massive hangout game where you can do whatever you want to do. The only real down side to this is that some people might find the launch content repetitive after awhile. There's no denying the lack of quest types, and the fact that you'll be revisiting a lot of the same islands, but for a lot of people this also won't be a problem. Putting aside the new upcoming content and expanded maps, Sea of Thieves is simply one of those games you can play to be with others, or something you can come back to from time to time when you feel like it. It's not some MMORPG where you're going to spend thousands of hours trying to clear all of the content, but at the same time it's a social game where you could spend the same amount of hours just spending time with others. It really is the people that help make this game, and how much fun you have may depend on them as well. But again, this type of game isn't for everyone.

So bottom line is, it's really hard to say what is good and what is bad about this one. Yes, more content is always better, but if you can have fun with what's currently in the game, then isn't it still a good game? For you at least? As for those who do not like this sort of thing, then there's a very good chance that Sea of Thieves isn't for you. You will be doing the same thing over and over again, and you will be encountering and spending time with strangers if you don't have friends to play with. While you can play solo, it is a multiplayer only game so you can't avoid everyone forever. (This also means you could run into some jerks as well, and yes the game is crossplay on Xbox One and PC.) So yeah, if this game is "good" or not does depend on what you yourself finds fun. If you're into these social hangout style games, it's something you should really check out, but if not it might be best to avoid it. The only real downside to the game is the fact that you can't create your own pirate, and have to rely on randomly generated ones instead. Sure eventually you might generate a pirate you like, but it can take awhile. With that being said, I would still recommend this game to anyone who is interested, but please be aware of what you're getting into before you buy it.
Read More

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology - Out Now

You know? It's kinda strange to think about the 3DS still getting new games. On one hand, it still feels like just yesterday I was driving home from GameStop on release day as I was wowed by the 3D effect of the new console. I can still picture my dad in the driver's seat as I opened the box sitting on my lap, and I can still remember the moment it asked me to switch on the 3D for the first time. That moment really stuck with me... But then I also can't help but remember all that's happened since then. The fact is that the 3DS came out almost seven years ago, and a lot of things have happened over the years. The Nintendo Wii U came and gone, the Switch released as a handheld/console mix, and right about now you'd think the old 3DS would be getting ready to die out. Well thankfully, that's not the case!

Today marks the release of the "newest" 3DS game. Although, I say "new" lightly. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is an enhanced port of the classic Nintendo DS JRPG "Radiant Historia." Yes, the very same one I went on a wild goose chase for back in 2011. Although it might seem strange for them to rerelease such an old game, this isn't the first time Atlus has done this (nor will it be the last), and the game is actually better for it.

You see, Radiant Historia was not a well known game. It was a very niche JRPG that attempted to capture everything great about JRPGs of the past, but while adding it's own spin on things. Rather than progressing through the game in a linear fashion as you'd normally do, RH takes the idea of time travel and mixes it into the core gameplay. Throughout the story you'll come across key moments where the timeline will diverge, and it'll be up to you to decide which path you can take. This moments however can then be revisited at almost any time, which allows you to choose different options instead. Go down one path only to see a main character get killed in front of you? Well just rewind time and go down the other path to see what went wrong. You might find out something which will allow you to prevent the death down the other path. Along with it's 3x3 grid based battle system, which asks that you push enemies into each other to create chain combo attacks, such systems make Radiant Historia is one of the more unique JRPGs to ever release on the DS. But again, sadly it wasn't one many knew about, nor was it one you could easily get your hands on... Which I learned the hard way. Of course, with today all of that changes. Thanks to this 3DS rerelease, the game is now much easier to find, and it's more likely that the news of it's release will spread. Even if a physical copy is sold out, the game is still up for download digitally on the eShop. But what is it that makes this version different? Well...

Although this game is not a "full" remake of the original, it has quite a lot of improvements. First of all, the game now features full voice acting for all major characters, and story scenes. While some lesser characters (such as one time NPCs) are text only, voice clips have been added to at least give them some personality. On top of this, the game's dialogue has been reworked to fit the new voice acting, and to improve the script in general. As a very story heavy game, these changes are very much welcomed.

Besides the voice acting, the game also features new story chapters, as well as a new key character. This new timeline not only adds to the original experience, but it also gives past players a reason to return to the game. Of course the game also offers an "original" story option as well, which allows you to play the game without the new content as it was on the DS, but chances are most would prefer to see everything the new game has to offer. The game also has new character art (with the old art being released as DLC), and has been updated for the 3DS' wider screen. Along with this also comes some new CG images during key parts of the story, rather than sticking with the simple sprites as the original did. (Plus analog controls have now been added thanks to the circle pad, but the original d-pad is still there as an option.)

Overall this version of the game is a pretty big upgrade from the original classic, and a must have for turn based JRPG fans.

Read More

Monday, January 22, 2018

Xenoblade 2 - Review

The Xenoblade series has a long and interesting history. Created by a man named Tetsuya Takahashi, the game's roots can actually be traced all the way back to Square (now Square-Enix), and Final Fantasy VII. Back then Takahashi had pitched an idea to Square, but rather than becoming a part of the Final Fantasy series, it was allowed to continue on as a game of it's own. This game became known as Xenogears, and it quickly gained a cult following. Still to this day it's considered one of the greatest PS1 JRPGs by many; however, rather than getting a sequel like most popular games, the series "continued on" in a unique way.

Rather than sticking with Square-Enix, Takahashi eventually left the company and formed Monolith Soft. Using ideas and themes originally created for Xenogears, the company went on to team up with Namco to develop the Xenosaga series, and once again found themselves with a cult classic on their hands. While the series itself was completed with three games, characters and ideas found in it continued to live on. Characters such as KOS-MOS became iconic, and would continue appearing in Monolith Soft games for years (with Namco's permission of course). However, Monolith did not stick with Namco in the long run, and eventually became a part of Nintendo.

Now under Nintendo, the game went on to develop multiple games, but their biggest stand out title was none other than their 3rd "Xeno" series -- a game called Xenoblade Chronicles. Originally under a different title, the game was given the Xeno name in honor of Takahashi's past work, and once again the game continued in a similar way. Using ideas and themes from their previous two series, Xenoblade was the Wii RPG that pushed the system to it's limits, and  set the stages for the future. It was a game that released to critical success in Japan, but sadly Nintendo refused to release it in the US (despite having an English translation that was released in the EU). It actually wasn't until fan projects such as Operation Rainfall came around that Nintendo really considered a US release, and when it finally happened copies of the game were limited, and it was sold at GameStop only. It was sadly a lesser known game, with a small release, and because of that only a handful of people were able to get a copy. Even with GameStop's second print the game was quite rare, and expensive. That is, until things finally changed.

With the release of the Wii U, Nintendo finally started pushing Xenoblade as one of their major IPs. A follow up titled "Xenoblade Chronicles X" (Cross) was released world wide for their struggling console, Shulk (the main character of the original) was added to the new Super Smash Bros game, the original release was put up on the Wii U eShop, and a port was released on the "New" 3DS. Around this time the series began gaining more attention in the US, the fan base began to grow, and Nintendo gave the go ahead for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to be developed for their upcoming Nintendo Switch. Which takes us to today.

While Xenoblade Chronicles X was sort of a "spiritual successor" that changed things up, and had more of a focus on a user created avatar and the online aspects, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is in fact the full on follow up to the original. It strips away the online to focus on a fully fleshed out single player story, it brings back a unique main character, and even returns to a similar setting to what we saw in 1. In short, it's the game Xenoblade fans have been waiting for. Or is it? And for the newcomers, is this a game worth checking out? Well that's what I'm hoping to answer for you today! This is my full review of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Nintendo Switch.

The Story of Titans:

Alrest, a world filled with Titans. Above a massive sea of clouds lies a world where humanity builds it's life on the backs of giants. These giants take many different animal like forms, and are large enough to hold entire cities and their populations. Each Titan, as they are called, swims around the Cloud Sea, and go about their life without a care in the world. However, things aren't as peaceful as they seem. As Titans are living beings, they too have a life span, and that is the cause of great alarm for the humans living on their backs. If a Titan were to die, their body falls into the Cloud Sea, and all those living on them will go with them. With more and more Titans dying all the time, humanity is running out of places to live, and thus some look to legends of the past as a way to save themselves. "Elysium." That is the name of a legendary land that is said to be the home of the world's creator. Legends have it that it is located at the top of the giant "World Tree" located in the center of the Cloud Sea.

The story itself revolves around a young boy by the name of Rex. Rex lives on the back of a smaller Titan, and works as a salvager diving into the Cloud Sea looking for treasures. Early on in the story, Rex accepts a job that not only changes his life forever, but also leads him on an adventure of legends. After forming a pact with a "Blade" known as Pyra, Rex makes a promise with her to take her to Elysium, and sets out on a grand adventure. Of course, things aren't quite as simple as they seem...

The Backs of Titans:

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a large scale open world RPG. Although the game world is limited to the backs of each Titan you visit, these Titans are NOT small by any means. These creatures are huge, and as a result the game world itself is just as big. Rather than taking place in linear hallways, or on world maps like in most JRPGs, Xenoblade allows you to go just about anywhere you can see, and just about whenever you want. If you see a mountain in the distance, you can run to it. If you see a lake below, you can swim in it. The game's world is all about freedom, and because of that it is packed full of things to explore. Of course this is similar to what was seen in the previous two games as well, but this time things are a bit different.

While Xenoblade 1's world, which was set on the back of a giant, had to be broken up between areas and loading screens, Xenoblade 2 is completely seamless like in Xenoblade X. While you do have to warp to different Titans (as they are beasts of their own), there is nothing to break up towns, caves, dungeons, or the many open field areas along the way. Wild animals and monsters also roam the world, and sometimes things will change based on the weather, or time of day. Different creatures may be out during the night, and during the Cloud Sea's high tide some different areas may be accessible. All of this helps the world feel more alive, and encourages you to explore and to try and reach areas you might've thought were inaccessible. Mix in the fact that you can change the time of day with the press of a button, and you have a world that you have complete control over, without having to spend hours waiting. Of course all of this also applies to the towns and towns people as well, as different NPCs may walk the streets during the day, while at night many of them will be sleeping. Although Xenoblade 1 also used a similar system, thankfully Xenoblade 2 simplified it, and made it easier to find the NPCs by keeping them isolated to specific areas.

Towns and Development:

Unlike Xenoblade 1 (which only had a handful of towns) and Xenoblade X (which only had a single city) Xenoblade 2 puts a huge focus on it's towns and cities. This time around each town area is quite massive, and they are filled with NPCs and shops. While some of these NPCs are simply there to talk to and learn more about the world from, others will offer side quests, and some will offer special mercenary missions. While it may not seem like much at first, interacting with these NPCs, completing side quests and side stories, and even buying from the shops will help the towns grow. As towns grow and advance, different useful items will appear in the shops, and eventually you'll even gain the ability to "buy" the stores themselves. Doing so unlocks special perks and abilities for Rex and his friends, and they become quite useful. Developing towns in this way will also unlock more side quests and missions later on down the line, and doing these will really help you down the line. It's a unique system, and something that'll be working in the background as you play through normally.

Blades and the Battle System:

Just like the previous two, X2 plays out completely in real time, with monsters and enemies walking around the world. Some will attack you on sight, others will only attack you if you attack them (or their friends) first, and others will be completely over powered and simply destroy you whenever they feel like it. This set up makes you consider when you should fight, and when you should run, and often you'll find yourself taking indirect paths to reach your destination. Once you get into a fight however, things are a bit different from what fans may be used to.

In the world of Xenoblade 2, a thing called a "Blade" exists. While Pyra is the first Blade Rex himself gains the use of, she is not the only blade in the game. In fact, there are hundreds! By killing enemies, opening chests, and completing quests you can obtain an object called a "Core Crystal." These crystals are basically loot boxes, and opening them will give you a random Blade character. These Blades can then be matched up with the human who opened their crystal, and will become their weapon. Although blades themselves do not fight, their weapon type is summoned by the human, and their skills go along with them. For example, Pyra is a fire based sword user, which will cause Rex to use a sword when she's set as the "main" Blade. On the right side of the screen four hot key attacks appear (each set to the four face buttons), and they can be used once their bars have been filled up. These attack "bars" are filled up by your character's auto attack landing a hit on the enemy, but the process can be sped up. While Rex, and other party members, will have their own set auto attack patterns, you do have some control over it.

Rather than simply waiting for a full auto attack combo (which is slower), simply tapping the analog stick will cancel the auto attack and start over from hit one. The first hit is much faster (and almost instant), and can be used to quickly fill your attack bars to max to use your skills. However, doing this does have a trade off, as the following hits in a combo do in fact do more damage. Auto attack hit 2 does more damage than 1, and hit 3 does more damage than 2. In short, waiting for the full combo does do a lot more damage, but using the first hit can build your attack skills fast. Which also come into play with the combos.

Attack skills in X2 are similar to in the past, as some of the skills depend on the position you are standing in to be more effective, but attack canceling also plays a role in it. If you use an attack skill the moment your auto attack lands, the following hit will greatly boost the special bar for your Blade, and allow you to pull off their special much sooner. These specials are massive elemental attacks chained to the "A" button, and can be used to create Blade combos. They come in four different stages, depending on how much you let your special bar charge up, and can be a life saver in battle.

As Blades come with different weapon types and elements, the game allows you to equip up to three on a single character at any time, and it encourages you to try to use as many elements as possible. When a Blade uses it's special attack of any level, it'll actually leave that elemental effect on whatever it hit. For example Pyra will hit an enemy with a fire based special, and leave it in a "fire" state. At the top right of the screen a list of special attacks will appear, and it'll show you how to do them by showing the element needed. This is the Blade Combo system. So, while Pyra will start the combo by inflicting an enemy with fire, the Blade Combo list may show that the "wind" element is needed to do a volcanic tornado attack. Simply switch to a Blade with wind, build up it's special to the required level, and use it. Although there are MANY possible Blade combos, the game always tells you how to do them, so thankfully you don't have to worry about learning them. You can also command your party members to use their specials by hitting the L and R buttons, and a message will pop up on screen to tell you exactly what using their special will do. Again, it's a simple system that only sounds more complex than it really is. (And once again it's great for doing massive damage.)

Blade Upgrades, Skills, Stories, and More:

While Blades are technically equipment, they are also characters of their own. Although the game has many "generic" Blades for you to use, there are also unique ones. These characters sometimes come along from the main story, but many of them are drawn from Core Crystals just like the random common ones. This means these characters are in fact rare, and can take some time to get if you're not lucky. On top of that, you do have to choose which character will open the Core Crystal as well. If Rex opens a Core Crystal, it'll be bound to him, and can only be used by him. Of course you can find rare items that allow you to pass one Blade over to another character, but in general it's best to equally distribute Blades between all humans.

Once you have Blades (rare or non rare) on your characters, then you instantly gain access to all of their features. Each blade has an equipment slot where you can equip them with different weapons (which can be bought in stores or found), and they also have two accessory slots just as human characters do. Blade accessories have to be upgraded to use however, but thankfully this is a simple process. Simply feed the accessory the required amount of material (which can be gathered, dropped by enemies, etc), and it unlocks for use. These accessories come in a wide verity, and can both provide extra status boosts, or even give your Blades extra abilities.

Besides using weapons and accessories to upgrade your Blade, each also has a full affinity chart to work through. These charts are semi-spider webbed in shape, and have different nodes for you to unlock. Each node is either a stat boost or skill to unlock, and they each have some sort of requirement. For example, one character might learn a gathering mastery ability that makes it so you gather more items, and the requirement to unlock it might be to gather ten times. Simply pick up ten items, and that skill will be unlocked (assuming you have the Blade equip that is). Of course some skills require battles as well, while others may only unlock after finishing specific quests. Often these quests are unique Blade character quests, and they'll provide you with more story as you work through them. Of course human characters have their own affinity charts as well, but their skills are simply unlocked by spending skill points on them.

Mercenary Missions:

After you have your Blades ready and have started to develop towns, a mercenary system comes into play. These Blade focused missions are unlocked as you develop towns, but some of them are unlocked by talking to NPCs. Once these missions are unlocked, you're free to take them on as you see fit.

The basics of a Mercenary Mission are as follows. You first select a town/area you want to undertake a mission in, you select a mission from the list, and then you're asked to select Blades that meet the requirements for it. As there are a wide verity of Blade elements, weapons, and forms, it's a good idea to have as many different Blades as possible. While one Mercenary Mission may require you to use humanoid female Blades, another might want a specific weapon or element. On the other hand it's also possible a mission will ask for multiple requirements so it's best to have a Blade that fits more than one. If a mission asks for a fire based unit, and a male unit, it's a good idea to use a fire type male if possible. You only have six slots to fill each mission, so you're limited on how many Blades you can choose to fill the mission requirements.

Once you've chosen your team of Blades to send out, missions will then continue on in real time. If a mission takes an hour to complete, then it'll take an hour. If it takes twenty minutes, then it takes twenty minutes. There's nothing you can do about this time limit after you've sent your team out, but there is something you can do before it starts. By using more Blades that meet the requirements, you can actually shave time off of what is listed. In other words, if a mission asks for two fire types to be used, choosing six fire types instead will make them work faster. This is another reason you want to meet as many requirements as possible with your characters, but honestly in the long run it wont matter too much. This is a VERY long game, and it's entirely possible to finish all Mercenary Missions before you even beat the main story. At that point you can send characters out on already finished missions, and rake in the free cash and bonus exp each time they return. Eventually you unlock the ability to send out more than one team as well, so the process isn't as slow as it may sound.

Outside of exp, money, and items, Mercenary Missions also fulfill requirements for affinity charts, so you can unlock skills for Blades without actually going through their charts.


Early on in the game a special Blade becomes unlocked. This is Poppi, a robotic artificial Blade. Although she's not a "real" Blade, she functions like one in most ways. However, this is not fully the case.

While Poppi can equip weapons and unlock skills like the other, the rest of her abilities are parts that are unique to her. She's a fully customization character who can be changed up anytime you see fit. Her elemental type can be altered, her role in battle can be changed (she's an amazing Tank however), she can have multiple perks and special skills installed, and later on things happen with her that makes her even more unique. Sadly I can't explain what that is due to spoilers, but bottom line is, she's an amazingly strong character that you have full control over. Sadly, this can be somewhat of a grind.

Tiger Tiger is a classic style arcade game you must play to unlock new parts and upgrade points for Poppi. The game has you diving under the ocean to pick up treasure and crystals, all while dodging enemies and other objects along the way. Once you reach the bottom and pick up the big treasure chest, you must then make it back to the top of the stage. Getting hit will cause you to drop items you've picked up, and a forced scrolling screen keeps you from taking your time. At the end of the game you'll be rewarded points to spend on upgrades, but you can also gain parts from the treasure boxes as well. Later stages in this game reward you with better parts, but earlier stages are easier, and make it more likely that you'll complete a "perfect run." (A run where you collect all crystals and boxes without being hit.) Considering upgrade parts can also be bought with the same points used to level Poppi, playing through earlier levels can be faster, and more reliable than hoping for random drops. Even so, it's still a grind either way.

Considering this is the only way to upgrade Poppi, it's possible many people will ignore it. Although she is one of the best characters in the game, Xenoblade 2 does offer you other options, so you're not forced to stick with her or her upgrade game.


The final main aspect of the gameplay comes in the form of salvaging. By buying special items and going to salvage points, Rex (or one of his friends) can dive off the cliff and hunt for treasure. This plays out as a quick time event where you must press specific buttons, and depending on how well you do, you'll get better or worse treasure. While salvaging is used for some side quests throughout the game, the main use of this is to actually build your bank account. Special shops in each town will allow you to trade in sets of items for a large sum, and all of these items are gained from salvaging. At first this might seem like a pointless extra feature you'll only use from time to time, but by the end of the game it is how you become rich. Also sometimes hidden blades or bosses can be found this way, so there is a reason to try it out in different locations.

The Good and the Bad:

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive game. The story alone can take well over 80 to 90 hours to complete, but that playtime can easily be doubled (or tippled) if you set out to complete all side stories and side quests. On top of that, the music is great, the cell shaded anime graphic style looks nice, the world is nice and big and open, and the story is really interesting. Those who have played a Xeno game (any of the series) before may already know what to expect out of this type of game, but it is still filled with plenty of plot twists even fans wouldn't see coming. In short, it's a really good game, and possibly one of the best JRPGs out there. Of course, that doesn't mean it is perfect.

On the flip side the game can be a bit confusing at first.There's a lot going on, and the game is constantly throwing something new at you. Honestly it isn't as bad as it seems, but that doesn't stop the first ten or so hours from throwing non stop information at you that you may not fully understand. Sadly you can't review these tutorials either, unless you go to a shop and buy the information from them. (Yes, there is a shop that sells tutorials.) The Poppi mini game can be annoying as well, and, while not a bad point, not everyone may appreciate the game's style or anime style jokes scattered throughout the story. The game doesn't go too overboard with it, but such things do happen from time to time. Sadly some of the side quests tend to be annoying fetch quests as well, but thankfully there is only a small fraction of these compared to the previous two entries in the series.

Overall, Xenoblade 2 is an amazing game, and one Nintendo Switch owners should really check out. Sure, it isn't perfect, but it does come pretty close.

Read More

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ben's Game of the Year 2017

Man, this one just isn't fair. Every year I write about what I'd consider my favorite game released during the previous year, and normally it's pretty easy. Sure there will be a few games I have a hard time picking between, but this year? I don't even know where to begin... So, I guess I'll start at the beginning?

Gravity Rush 2 - Although I prefer the first game over it, Gravity Rush 2 is the game that finally ended the story from the original game. It's a series that is very special to me, and I was happy to see it get the treatment it deserves. At least for awhile. Sadly the game's online service is shutting down next month, and the series has ended. Even so, it's a game series well worth playing if you haven't yet, and it was a nice way to kick off 2017.

Resident Evil 7 - This game was unforgettable. Not only did it return to a more classic Resident Evil style (being set in a confined location, puzzles scattered around, limited resources, and other horror survival elements), but it's also the game that brought the series to VR. And it terrified me. It's nearly impossible to explain to someone what it's like going through the game in VR unless they've seen it for themselves, but trust me, it's something you would never forget. Assuming you are brave enough to put yourself through something like this. Then, to top it off, a free expansion story was released just this month at the end of the year. So not only did we get to begin the year with this, but we get to end it with RE7 as well.

Tales of Berseria - Releasing the same day as RE7, ToB is easily one of the best Tales of games in years. It's a game that fixed nearly every issue with last year's release, brings to the table a much darker story, and it has a great cast of characters. The new island setting and pirate themed story is also a really nice change of pace, and the game runs at a nice solid 60 fps. While the game still isn't built specifically for the PS4, it's nice to see they made use of the new hardware in at least some ways. (It's cell shading is really nice too. As is that opening theme song by FLOW.)

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD - While not completely a new game, this mini collection is really nice. Featuring an HD remake of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance from the 3DS, this collection adds improvements of it's own to DDD, and also gives us a short look at the upcoming KH3. With a mini episode featuring Aqua to help bridge the gap from Birth By Sleep, and a movie showing another side of the mobile game, it's a must play for those who are interested in next year's major release. Especially for those who never got a chance to play DDD when it first released.

Yakuza 0 and Kiwami - I'm mixing these two together here. The Yakuza series has always been popular in Japan, but it's been neglected here in the US for many of it's releases. Cut content in games like Yakuza 3, and late digital only releases of other titles have kept it from really shining here in the US. Heck we didn't even get the Wii U collection of 1 and 2. With 0 however, this finally changes. The game is a massive arcade style beat em up series, with a huge city to explore, hundreds of hours worth of content, and MANY mini games for you to play (including SEGA arcade classics). It's got a crazy deep story, and all of this continues into Kiwami as well. They are two games well worth the time to play, and it's really nice to see SEGA give us a proper localization of them.

NIOH - Team Ninja is back! NIOH is a samurai based "souls" style game. At least, that's how a lot of people think of it. In reality this game is Team Ninja's return to form. Featuring a level structure and gameplay style similar to the original (modern) Ninja Gaiden, NIOH takes that and puts a souls twist on it. An energy bar limits your attacks and movement, but with the inclusion of the Ki pulse system and perfect timing, that energy system almost fully goes away. Rather than standing back to rest, the game encourages you to stay into the action, and dodge or ki pulse with perfect timing to regenerate your stamina to keep going. The game is a mix of main missions and "ninja trial" style side missions, and is sure to give you a challenge with loads of customization options. In short, it's a really fun game, and it's nice to see Team Ninja return. (Now where's a proper Ninja Gaiden 4?)

Super Robot Wars V - Now this one is mostly just for me, but man. Super Robot Wars V is great. Featuring characters and units from popular mecha series such as Gundam, Evangelion, and Full Metal Panic, this game also introduces non mecha to the mix such as the sci-fi classic Yamato. The game's a solid tactical RPG that's loaded with content, and a must play for fans of the genre and series included within it. Although it wasn't brought to the west like Project X Zone 1 and 2, it was translated and released in Asia so western players can still play it.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Another solid PlayStation 4 exclusive. This game mixes an open world RPG, with a "monster hunting" style. While it has your standard western RPG style quests, the real star of this show are the massive robotic animals you have to fight, as well as the ancient "advanced" ruins you come across and explore. It's a game that tests your skills to take down massive beasts, but it also gives you a story of mystery to help push you forward. It's a really fun game, and something PS4 owners should at least try.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Here it is. A game fans have waited MANY years for. And the result? Pretty impressive! Rather than playing like a standard Zelda game, BotW is more of a survival/adventure game with heavy RPG elements. You have a massive open world, you can freely climb up anything, you can freely walk anywhere, and you have loads of hidden secrets to discover. The world is lively with NPCs going about their daily life, there are tons of quests to complete, and it's story is fleshed out and filled with mystery. (Not to mention all the little detail in the game like setting fields on fire and using the heat to fly higher with your glider, or cutting down trees to make a bridge to cross a gap... Or eating food to keep yourself warm.) The game really is impressive, and was well worth the wait. Plus mix in the fact that it's a Nintendo Switch launch title, and you have something that's really special. It's easy to see why so many people feel this is this year's GOTY. (But is it mine?)

Super Bomberman R - While not a huge release, it is also very much a huge release. Bomberman, long thought to be dead, has finally made his return, and follows a classic style. It was also a Switch launch title, and was one of THE games to get to play with friends. While it may not be the "best" game released this year, it's something that deserves at least a shout out.

Nier Automata - This game is something truly special. The latest entry in the Drakengard/Nier series, Automata focuses on androids fighting robots on Earth so that they can one day make it safe for humanity to return to it. Set place thousands of years after the previous entry, the game really is something you have to see for yourself to understand. Featuring a mix of gameplay styles, it's a unique title that is prepared to shock you at every turn. At first what seems to be a generic semi-open JRPG, soon becomes something different with a much deeper meaning behind it. Easily one of the best games to come out this year.

Mass Effect: Andromeda - Finally! The new Mass Effect is here and it was! .......... Well, it's really mixed. Honestly I like it for what it is, but it's really not something worth the wait. Nor is it my game of the year. You can still have fun with it though, and the later patches have improved it from what it was.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games - Also an old game, but something worth bringing up. The Zero Escape series is one of my personal favorites, and both 999 and VLR have amazingly shocking stories that everyone should really see. This collection not only includes both games, but it also features a remake of 999 with full voice acting, and updated HD sprites for the new consoles. This is also the first time it's been released as a full game on something other than the Nintendo DS (iOS novel version is just that, a novel), so it's the first time many people actually get to play it. The game also has an "adventure" mode which cuts out the novel style descriptions, so its possible to skip past most of the disturbing content that makes it a "horror" game.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD - Not much to really say here, except that it's a collection that includes Kingdom Hearts 1, Chain of Memories, a movie version of 358/2 days, Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth by Sleep, and a movie version of Re: Coded. Along with 2.8 HD, this collection finishes bringing the entire KH series to the PS4. It's loaded with content, and great for fans and newcomers alike.

Persona 5 - Yet another long awaited game was finally released in the US in 2017. Persona 5 is a game that not only builds upon previous entries in the series, but it also improves nearly EVERYTHING about it. Gone are the fully randomly generated dungeons (outside of a short side dungeon), and now in their place are fully realized stages. Not only are these new dungeons fun to play through, but they introduce new unique gameplay elements to the series, and really play off of the phantom thief theme the game has going for it. Persona 5 is also a game that's filled with style, and it has music you'll be humming for years to come. It's something all JRPG fans with a PS4 (or 3) should be checking out.

The Silver Case - This unique classic visual novel by the one and only Suda 51 might not be the best game to release this year, but it is one fans of his should check out. Focusing on a police force and a detective as they solve multiple related cases, this VN is one that really stands out, and has you questioning what is really going on. Of course it's an old game so it can be a bit dated, but it's still worth your time if you enjoy this sort of thing. Especially since the sequel will be out next year.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Another old game being rereleased, but for many this may be their first time playing it. Originally a Wii U exclusive, Mario Kart 8 was one of the lesser played games in the series due to the Wii U's sales (although it did help sell the console), and it was often criticized for lacking content other Mario Kart games had. Well, Deluxe fixed that. With a full battle mode and other new content added, this is easily one of the best Mario Karts to date, and a must have for Switch owners. (And this is coming from someone who originally didn't like the game on Wii U.)

Puyo Puyo Tetris - Not much to say about this one either, but Puyo Puyo is a very fun puzzle game, and Tetris is, well, Tetris. Mixing the two creates a very unique game of its own, and something fans shouldn't miss out on.

Farpoint - A PSVR exclusive that is a must play for those who own one. Although it may seem like a generic first person shooter set on an alien planet, what really makes this game shine is the fact that you are "there." Mixed with the VR aim controller, this is an experience that will really blow you away. The feeling of physically side stepping and spinning my body around to dodge and shot gun blast a flying enemy out of the air is something I'll never forget, and I can't wait to see more games like it. While the story is only around 5-6 hours long, the added challenge modes give you a reason to return time and time again. Well, that and co-op and the new pvp  mode.

Fire Emblem Echoes - The remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, Echoes takes the Awakening style and uses it to recreate the original classic. Not only is this the first Fire Emblem to feature full voice acting, it's also the first in the series to be different. Rather than being a pure tactical RPG, Echoes mixes in standard JRPG elements such as dungeon crawling, and is more stat based than class based. Attacking enemies on the field or in a dungeon will trigger a turn based map battle, but winning said battle will net you exp for your entire party. It's a unique twist on the standard formula, and a lot of fun. Not sure how many years the 3DS will have left, but this is a great send of title for the Fire Emblem series.

Utawarerumono - Again, not a game for everyone, but something worth bringing up. The Utawarerumono series is a pretty popular one in Japan, and has even seen multiple anime remakes. It's a visual novel with tactical rpg elements, and a shocking story that keeps players hooked. 2017 saw the release of both the 2nd and 3rd games here in the US, and also was the year when the series was announced to have a future. Yes, that's right. Not only is the first game being remade after all these years, but new entries are on their way as well, and it's looking like we'll actually be getting them. (Hopefully.) It's a game series worth it for visual novel fans, but it's not for everyone.

Tekken 7 - Tekken is back! Putting aside the meh story mode, and lack of extras at launch, there's no denying this solid 3D fighter. The console version of this has been a long time in the making, and it feels great to finally get to play it. It's a must have for fans, and for fighting fans in general.

PREY - Sadly underrated (and hated by many fans of the original), PREY is a fun adventure that should really be given a chance. Set in a space station filled with aliens that can transform, PREY has you explore the world to unlock new power ups and and abilities, which in return can be used to discover new areas and advance through the game. It's almost Metroid like, and it gives you a lot of fun tools to play around with.

(Man, there's still more...)

Wipeout Omega Collection - Wipeout is a great sci-fi racing series. While it's no F-Zero, it really is the next best thing (and for some people, it's even better)! Featuring crazy sci-fi tracks to race through at high speeds, this collection not only includes Wipeout HD (which is basically three games on it's own), but it has the newest entry as well, which was previously released on the Vita (which also included Wipeout HD, so I guess this is really more of a remake of the Vita game?)! It's a game packed full with content, and to make things even better it's getting a PlayStation VR patch next year. Although it isn't a new game, it's one many may not have gotten a chance to play.

Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood - I figured I should at least mention this as well. Stormblood is the newest expansion to FF14, and it's a BIG ONE. After finally dropping the PlayStation 3, Stormblood allowed Square-Enix to lift many of the limits previously set, and greatly improve the game in many ways. Chocobo no longer act as party members and can be summoned by each person in the 8 man party (and minions can be summoned along side chocobo), they added in the ability to swim (and go underwater), new areas based off of Asia were added to the game, new classes like the Samurai were added, all previous classes and their attacks/combos have been revamped, and a new 60 + hour story was added. Of course a lot of other things were changed as well, but it would take multiple pages to even attempt to explain it all. In short, this was a huge upgrade, and is a game of it's own. Too bad when it launched I spent the first 9 hours or so waiting in line... Great way to spend my day off of work!

Valkyria Revolution - A game that is sadly hated by many, but not as bad as many make it out to be. Rather than being a tactical RPG like the mainline series, Revolution takes an MMO style approach to it's battle system. Instead of commanding units, the game plays out fully in real time with a party based structure. The idea here is to build a small party, customize their skills/hotkeys, and then plan out your attacks as you take on mobs of enemies and large bosses. At first glance it seems like a hack n slash, but over time it evolves into more. Using skills to buff enemies and debuff yourself, using AoE attacks to clear out large mobs, using knock down attacks on bosses to land some hard hitting back attacks, casting haste to speed up your cool down times, and using elemental attacks to hit weaknesses are just a handful of the things you are asked to do in this game. Anyone who is used to how MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV play will already have an understanding of this party system, but newcomers may be completely lost. Sure the game isn't that hard, but it is a lot more fun when you play it the "correct" way.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst - What's sad about this game is, it's a mini 8-bit style adventure that's been in development for a short amount of time, and it's better than MN9 in every way. In fact, it's technically a "reboot" of Mighty No 9. Reusing all of the same bosses and stages from the original, Mighty Gunvolt Burst actually makes the game much better. While the levels are "returning" stages, they have actually been redesigned from the ground up, and the bosses have been tuned up as well. Mix in multiple new playable characters, and the ability to customize the bullets that fire from your gun, and you have a unique classic style Megaman clone that IS worth playing. Again, it's everything MN9 should have been.

Final Fantasy XII - Yet another old game being brought to the new generation. FF12 is one of those games that has a split fan base. On one hand a lot of people love it, but on the other you have those who hate it. Whatever side you're on though, you  might be happy to hear that the new port improves it in multiple ways. Not only is this game based on the Zodiac release we never got in the USA (which has the very much loved class system), but it makes improvements of it's own. Now you can choose a second class to go along with your main class, and you can speed up the flow of the game with the press of a button. Of course graphics have been enhanced as well, but it's really these other two improvements that steal the show. Mix those in with the improvements from the Zodiac version, and you have a much better FF12 experience. I personally wasn't a huge fan of 12 back on the PS2, but I did enjoy the port.

Mega Man Legacy 2 - Another collection of old games worth your time. This time it's Mega Man 7, 8, 9, and 10 (and all their DLC). Perfect game to play before 11 releases (which I'm still in shock that it is actually happening.)

Sonic Mania - Best Sonic game in YEARS. It's made by a group of die hard fans, who's fan games you may have actually played. With this one being backed by SEGA though, they've really stepped up their game, and their result is a throw back game that all fans should play.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - The sendoff Uncharted game. Lost Legacy takes place after Uncharted 4, and focuses on Chloe (who was first introduced in Uncharted 2). It's a game that helps bring closure to the series, while also expanding on some of the ideas brought in by Uncharted 4. While it may not be as long as 4, it is much more action based, and a lot more similar to what we saw in Uncharted 1. In short, it's a fun game, and a must for fans.

Monster Hunter Stories - A spinoff to the Monster Hunter series. This full story based JRPG takes the classic MH themes and setting, and turns it into, well, a JRPG. Featuring a turn based battle system and monsters to capture, the game has a huge semi-open world, and tons of monsters to fight and collect. It's a unique game that has even spun off it's own anime, and it's a lot of fun. Sure it's mostly fan service for Monster Hunter fans, but that doesn't stop newcomers from enjoying it too. It's one of those games that keeps the 3DS worth owning in 2017.

Ys VIII - The best Ys game yet. This action rpg has Adol crash land on a deserted island, where he must explore the world, find other survivors, and work together with them so that they can escape. Of course there's a lot more to this story than that, but that would be a spoiler. Bottom line though, this is a really fun action adventure game (which is also Metroid like), and the largest Ys game to date. Sadly there's a shotty translation, but that will be fixed early next year. The team is currently in the process of rerecording the voice acting and rewriting the script, so those who are interested may want to wait till next year. It's still a great game gameplay wise though.


Metroid: Samus Returns - Speaking of Metroid, 2017 saw the return of the series. After being dead for quite some time, Metroid returns to it's roots on the 3DS, with a new Metroid Prime game on it's way for the Switch. As for the 3DS game though, it's a complete remake of Metroid 2, with tons of new features added in. Rather than simply "remaking" the game, Return of Samus is technically a new game of it's own, using the Metroid 2 story as a base. In other words, even if you've played 2 before, you'll find that this is not actually the same game. With that being said, it's also the first classic Metroid game to be released since the GBA days, so this really was a big release for fans.

Danganronpa V3 - The crazy visual novel/anime/novel/whatever else series returns, and this time with V3. Can't say anything about the game due to spoilers, other than the fact that it's a visual novel that focuses on kids killing each other, and the class trial to prove who is guilty and who is innocent. It's a crazy fun, and crazy unique series, and a must play for fans. As for newbies? You need to start with 1. Good thing this year also saw a release of the 1 + 2 collection!

Gundam Versus - A really fun arena based arcade fighter. The game pits teams of two against each other in high speed mobile suit battles, and is simply a lot of fun. While it does lack in single player content, the gameplay and online makes up for it. Of course there are also 1v1 and 3v3 fights, but ranking is all about the 2v2. Sadly this was a reboot for the Versus series so it doesn't have as many mobile suits as the previous entry, but what is there is still nice (and close to 100 at the time of this article). More will be added in the future, so don't let the current roster turn you off.

Fire Emblem Warriors - Building off of Hyrule Warriors, 2017 saw the follow up in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors. Also a Switch (and New 3DS) game, the title has characters from Fire Emblem 1, Awakening, Fates, as well as a few older titles, battle it out to gain control of different maps. It's pure hack n slash action, but with Samurai Warriors Chronicles 4 player unit switching, and commands that can be issued from the game's map. It's a game that still requires FE style tactics, but with your standard warriors style gameplay.

The Evil Within 2 - The next game from the "creator" of Resident Evil. The Evil Within 2 is a horror survival title that fixed many of the issues of the previous, and also mixes in a more open world rather than linear stages. It's still pure horror survival however, with very limited resources, and with horrifying monsters ready to kill you around every turn. Stealth is key, and exploring is both a major risk and a reward. Again, might not be the "best" game released this year, but it is a fun one.

Chaos;Child - Yet another visual novel, and one in the Science Adventure series at that. While Steins;Gate is a widely known popular story, Chaos;Child is the follow up that many felt rival it. I can't talk about the story without spoiling, but it's one of those games visual novel fans should really check out. Although it can be a bit... Disturbing to say the least.

Destiny 2 - Yes, it's Destiny, but it's also an improvement over the original. It's also on PC, and that alone is a huge improvement. Fans of the series knew what they'd be getting into with this, but I figured I'd at least bring it up. It was a pretty big release this year, and it's something that'll be around for a long time.

Assassin's Creed Origins - This one was a shock. The AC series has really been a mixed bag over the past... 10 years? And by this point it seems like it's been done to death. People going into these games know what to expect, and a lot of people are tired of it. Then Origins came out and changed everything! Rather than being the AC we all know, Origins is a full on massive open world RPG, with an improved combat system, loot drops, dungeons to explore, and it has an interesting story. The ancient Egyptian setting was also a nice change of pace, and the scale of the game and it's world is impressive. This is AC at the best it has ever been. (Although, I still would consider 2 and 4 favorites of mine.)

.hack//GU Last Recode - Old games yet again, but this time it's different. The .hack series has been out of the picture for quite some time, and fans have been begging for a new game, anime, novel, manga, or just about anything else. Fans just wanted to see their long running beloved series return, and this year they finally got their wish. Last Recode is a remaster of the original three .hack//GU games (which are often considered the best in the series), with an added 4th mini episode at the end. It features multiple improvements across all three games, and it also holds the series' future in it's hands. How well this game sold will determine the series' fate. Good thing it's a fun classic JRPG, and a pretty good starting point for new fans. Sure you'd miss out on quite a bit, but at least it does include the summary of the original .hack 1-4.

Sonic Forces - Eh, I already shared my thoughts on this game in my review a few posts back. Long story short... See Sonic Mania...

Skyrim VR - I know, I know. Skyrim is an old game, but it's also an old game I hated. Yep, that's right. I don't like Skyrim. Not a big fan of it's fantasy setting, or its fetch quests, or generic dungeons, or it's combat. Personally I prefer Fallout. That being said, I LOVE SKYRIM VR! At the time of this writing I've already put 50 + hours into it, and I've only seen about 1/10th of it's world. Although the quests can get a bit annoying still, actually being "in" that world yourself changes everything. Again it's not something you can really explain to someone who's never tried it, but trust me, it is impressive. Walking up huge mountains and looking out over the world below you, seeing snow fall, getting jumped by a pack of wolves as you go to open the door of your house. All of these things are something you'd have to experience for yourself to really understand, and they are moments you'll never forget. Skyrim is a huge game, and it's also an amazing world to live in. Heck, it even gives you a reason to walk everywhere rather than simply warping from place to place. Just seeing the world around you is enjoyable, so why would you want to cut some of that out by fast traveling?

Wolfenstein II - Putting aside it's marketing team, Wolfenstein II is a fun follow up to the previous release. While it may not blow you away, it's a game fans of the previous game will most likely enjoy. It's yet another fun game released in 2017, and that's why I'm including it on this list.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ - What happens when you mix Trails of Cold Steel with the Ys series? You get Tokyo Xanadu, that's what. While this game may not be some big budget AAA release, Falcom really knows what theyr'e doing when it comes to their game series. They put a lot of love and care into each release, and that passion continues to show. With Tokyo Xanadu you have a real world inspired setting, with a Ys style combat system. While outside of battle the game plays like Trails of Cold Steel (game uses the same engine, and reuses a lot of the same resources, and has many NPCs to talk to throughout each day), dungeons themselves play out in real time with you fighting your way to the end. Using a Ys style weakness system, the game has you swap between characters to deal greater damage to enemies, and it also grades you on your performance. Although the story itself may not be the most original thing you'll ever see, it doesn't change the fact that it's a fun little JRPG that fans should be checking out.

Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga - Yes, ANOTHER old game, but this one is different. Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga is the GBA RPG that started the series, and it's also the one that many consider to be the best (well, either that or Bowser's Inside Story). It's an extremely fun, quirky game, and it's also one not everyone has gotten a chance to play. 2017 changes that however, by releasing a remake of it on the Nintendo 3DS. Featuring quality of life changes, as well as the added features from the original Japanese version, this game is no doubt the definitive version. While the game was already a stand out title on the GBA, the new features only serve to make it even better. It's a must play for fans of the series, and a great starting point for anyone new. (Well, it is the first game after all.)

Super Mario Odyssey - Yes, this game came out earlier in the year, but I'm going by the order I played them. That being said... This is the game I've been waiting for since I was 11! Super Mario Sunshine is one of my favorite games of all time, and I've always wanted a follow up to that. A game with open ended levels, and plenty to explore. Sadly, I had to wait twice my life + a few years for that to happen. Man... But anyway, Mario Odyssey really is a game that was worth the wait. It's a huge grand scale adventure, and a great throw back to older Mario games as well. It's a must have for Nintendo Switch owners, and easily one of the best games in the series. (Nintendo really went all out this year.)

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - What can I say about Xenoblade? Amazing. Yeah, that about covers it. Building upon the first two releases, Xenoblade 2 is a large scale grand adventure that you can easily lose yourself in for hundreds of hours. As a Nintendo first party, they really went all out for this release, and all their hard work shows. Honestly there's just way too much to explain about this game... It has a nice cast of characters, an interesting "blade" system (where you summon other characters to fight along side you and power you up), the world is MASSIVE (and takes place on the backs of giants similar to the original), it has a really good story, and an improved MMO like battle system. If anything, this is one of the MUST HAVE games on the Nintendo Switch, and it was well worth the wait. 

Need for Speed Payback - I know, I know, maybe this one shouldn't be on the list either, but oh well. Although Need for Speed Payback had a pretty horrible release, patches have since cut back on a lot of the game's issues. Although it isn't the best racing game out there, it is one I had a lot of fun with. It's a simple open world arcadey racer, with some fun set pieces, and some solid driving. Drifting in the game is a lot of fun, and the story was your classic "so bad it's good" type of story you'd expect from a NFS game. Yeah it's a let down that there's no cops in the open world, and the game does seem gimped in a few other areas, but again, I still have fun with it. Needless to say, it's not my GOTY choice.

So, with all of that being said... What game do I pick? There were so many this year that I either loved or liked, and just picking one of them really isn't easy. So, I guess I'll have to go with my "original" choice...
Persona 5!

It's hard for me to put into words what Persona 5 means to me. Persona 3 and 4 were both special, but Persona 5 is on a whole different level. The moment I put that game in, I was hooked, and I never wanted it to end. I loved the cast of characters, I loved the story, and I just loved the whole game in general. The new combat system maps attacks to buttons and greatly speeds things up, the ability to talk to shadows is a nice feature to see returning (it was last in Persona 2), the unique dungeons were fun, stealth attacking enemies to get into battles became addicting, and the game's style simply blew me away. The soundtrack was amazing, the cell shaded graphics were amazing, the menus and loading screens and battle result screens made every other JRPG look dull, and I loved the fact that the game was finally fully 3D. Just everything about the game pulled me in, and when it was over I wanted more. In fact, I went back in and 100%ed it!

Although Persona may not be a series for everyone, it's become one of my favorites. Persona 5 surpassed all of my expectations, and it made me hopeful for the future. Atlus really outdid themselves this time, and I'd like to see them do it again.

And with that, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for reading, and I hope to see you all again in the new year!
Read More