Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gaming Memories: Team Ninja and their new game NIOH

Team Ninja -- that was a name I would often hear, but didn't really know too much about. I'm sorry to say this now, but my only experience with them for quite some time was none other than the demo for Dead or Alive 2 on SEGA Dream Cast. I still remember my cousin coming over and playing the demo disc, and I sat back and watched unsure of how I felt about the game. Did it look fun? I guess. Did I ever plan on asking for the game? No. Back then there were so many other games I wanted to play, and this "Dead or Alive" series just wasn't one of them. That was actually the last time I saw anything related to the series for many years (other than seeing DoA3 and what not in stores), and it wasn't until Metroid Other M was announced that I even bothered looking into them again. I really regret to say that MoM was actually my first full game by Team Ninja, but thankfully that was only the beginning.

Although I had known about the Ninja Gaiden NES games, the modern Ninja Gaiden was a mystery to me. When I bought a PlayStation 3 both Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and 2 were games I initially looked into, but something about them just turned me off. Maybe it was the monsters, or maybe it was the story (or "story"), but whatever the case I just wasn't that interested in the games after learning about them. I thought "maybe" one day I'd go ahead and give them a chance, but each time I came close I would turn around and get something else instead. That's how things continued for awhile, but then something unexpected happened -- and that something is what eventually lead me to how things are today.

Starting around 2005 I was a very active member over at the official SEGA forums. After the official Sonic Team BBS became a troll filled wasteland abandoned by the western branch of the company, I moved over to SEGA and spent a lot of my time there. I was a huge fan of the games, there were a lot of nice people there, and I just had fun with the site. Eventually one of my posts there (about a Silver the Hedgehog fan game) is what lead to me meeting my friend (and NGR Writer) GlacialLeaf -- but that's getting a little off topic. It's actually what happened years later that eventually lead me to trying the Ninja Gaiden series for myself.

One day I was randomly invited to a massive MSN group chat filled with SEGA forum members, and two members in particular would constantly go on and on about how great of a game Ninja Gaiden was. I'd argue with them, say that it couldn't be as great (or as hard) as they said it was, and I'd fight with them as they would insist the games I liked were "crap." We argued a lot, but strangely no one ever hated each other -- it's just how things were (in fact, "Gonzo" as he's known became a friend as well... And somewhat a member of NGR...). Of course because of this chat I was stubborn and basically "gave up" NG for good, but a part of me was still interested and everything they had told me about it also made me want to play it even more. I basically contradicted myself, and eventually my stubbornness lost.

After Dead or Alive Dimensions came out on the 3DS, and I wrote my first "real" review for NGR, I finally decided to check out Ninja Gaiden as well. The story and seeing Ryu in DoA was the final push I needed, and on 2-25-2012 (almost exactly 5 years ago) I rushed to the local GameStop and bought Ninja Gaiden Sigma (1). Originally I was going to get the Vita version once it released later on, but I couldn't wait any longer and just bought the PS3 copy... And then I began regretting missing out for all those years.

My first experience with Ninja Gaiden was, to put it simply, pretty great. I liked Ryu Hayabusa as a character, the setting really caught my eye, I loved the wide verity of weapons you had to use, and I REALLY loved all of the different combos and attacks you could pull off. The game gave you complete control over Ryu, and it felt a lot like a fighting game, except in the form of a full adventure game instead. Then there was the challenge. After hearing how hard the game was for basically years, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I slowly made my way through each area, blocking and dashing my way around enemy attack after attack, and I used every single exploit I could find just to survive. Enemies were killing me in a few hits, explosions and flying arrows were limiting my movement, and giant monsters were crushing me left and right. It didn't take long for the "easy mode" option to pop up, but I ignored it and continued to press on. Eventually I began learning how to actually control Ryu and use his better moves, I unlocked new weapons I liked more than the default Dragon Sword, and I upgraded them to unlock new even stronger attacks. At one point I even remember hording the game's currency just so I could constantly have a stock of potions to survive. The game really was challenging, but the more I got into it, the more easier it became. That feeling of progression is something I'll never forget about the game, and by the time I finally took down the final boss and saw the ending credits -- I wanted more (which I had)!

New: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2  (PS3)
Beat: Ninja Gaiden Sigma  (PS3)

The moment I beat Ninja Gaiden Sigma, I started playing Sigma 2. The night before I had saved pretty close to the final boss, so on my way home from college I picked up GameStop's last copy of Sigma 2. Unfortunately their used copy didn't come with the original box, but as long as I was able to play it I was happy. So that night I rushed home, continued working on Sigma, and then the very next day I finished it and started up 2. It was an instant favorite. Nearly everything about the game had been improved and refined (despite Sigma 2 being the "worst" version of NG2), and I became hooked. For the next few months I would go on to spend a lot of time just going through that game over and over again. I tried out different weapons, I worked on mastering the weapons I was already used to, I ran through stages on different difficulties, and even spent quite a bit of time playing as other characters in the Ninja Trial mode. Also while the game's story still wasn't anything to write home about, even that was interesting enough to me! I spent a lot of time digging deeper and deeper into the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive lore (even spent time reading articles while at school), and before I knew it I had become a full on fan. On top of that, this was also around the time I began having issues with my wisdom teeth with constant pain everyday, so in a way NG2 helped me through that as well...

When Ninja Gaiden 3 released a few months later I got it as soon as possible. While I had heard a lot of bad things about the game, especially compared to previous entries in the series, I didn't let the bad news turn me off. Yes both upgrades and monsters were removed, there was only one weapon to use, and the story forced some strange slow down moments (like Ryu breaking character and slowly killing a guy begging for his life), but I did end up enjoying it to an extent. Compared to NG2? It was a let down in a lot of areas. Compared to other games of it's style? I thought it was a pretty fun one. The areas were interesting to say the least, and the combat was still fast and fluid. While it didn't feel like a full on NG, it was a game I still enjoyed and played through a few times (heck, I think I even game it a good rating in my review). The thing is though, now days my views on this game are the complete opposite. It's a game I would never tell anyone to even look at, yet alone play! As for why though? That's because of something I never expected.

After Ninja Gaiden 3 bombed with fans, Team Ninja did the unthinkable -- they released a new version! Originally this "Razor's Edge" version of the game was exclusive to the brand new Wii U (and the main reason I even wanted the thing at launch), it was eventually brought over to the other main consoles as well. In this version of the game nearly all of the force slowed down moments were removed, the murder scene with Ryu was cut, all of the weapons and upgrades were added back in, gameplay systems that were removed were restored (such as the dismember system from NG2), and even Ayane and Kasumi from Dead or Alive were added to the game -- the former being in the story, and the latter being an extra character to play as in the brand new stage select challenge mode. Everything about this version of the game was such an improvement, and it once again brought me back to the joy I felt earlier that same year. While it still may not be the best Ninja Gaiden game, 3RE did become my favorite in the long run, and it's something I still play from time to time till this day -- although the I do play 2 quite a bit as well...

So, with all of that being said, how about today?

Looking back on Team Ninja and their games, a lot of good memories come back to me. The time I spent playing Ninja Gaiden is some of my best gaming memories from recent years, but sadly Team Ninja has been away for awhile -- making games like Dead or Alive X3 instead (which, personally, I couldn't care any less about). My time actually playing their games was pretty short lived, and all I could do is sit back and hope Ninja Gaiden 4 would come out sooner than later. Then, NIOH happened.

NIOH is a game I actually didn't expect much from. It was compared to the Souls series (which I'm not a huge fan of), and what little time I spent playing the demo didn't seem that great. Still when it finally released last week I spent the weekend trying to hunt a copy down, and I don't regret it. It took a lot of driving, multiple tries at reserving a copy online, and ended with me eventually buying a copy Walmart had in the back for online sale only. It was a lot of work, but when I got home and gave the game a real chance, I found that it was very much worth it.

While it's true NIOH has a stamina and level up system similar to the Souls games, I quickly realized it wasn't a Souls clone at all. If anything, the game felt (or rather, still feels) like a much more grounded Ninja Gaiden! While in NG you have complete control over Hayabusa as you dash, jump, run along walls, and fly through the sky, in NIOH you take on the role of a more grounded samurai instead. William is a normal human and not a one man army, and that's really what the stamina and level up system show. Instead of blocking everything coming his way, and dodging with unlimited energy, he has to watch his movements carefully and expend his energy in the most efficient way -- or rather, you have to. Once you realize this the game becomes a lot more like Ninja Gaiden, and soon that nostalgic feeling of playing NG1 came back to me. Finally after all these years, it was back.

Currently I'm not very far into NIOH, but it has been very similar to how it was back then. I'm taking my time learning the levels, I'm working on mastering the weapons (many of which are similar to ones found in NG), and once again I'm putting my skills to the test as I take on enemy after enemy. Thanks to my knowledge of past Team Ninja games, so far things haven't been as hard as they used to be, but that's not stopping NIOH from being any less fun. Running through the stages slaughtering everything in my way feels great, and learning the best way to fight each one I encounter is something I am really enjoying. Even the annoying one hit kill grab moves from NG aren't annoying me here, and the bosses are forcing me to actually learn attack patterns -- something rarely seen now days outside of games like Monster Hunter or KT's very own Toukiden (and the Souls series of course). On top of all of that, the Ninja Gaiden like level design really helps bring the whole experience home for me, and so does seeing the return of ranged weapons like the bow and items and magic that gets mapped to shortcuts on the D-Pad. It's all so familiar to me, but at the same time it's also something completely new. To put it simply, this is the Team Ninja game I've been waiting for, and it's sure to be something I'll keep coming back to for years to come. (Not to say I'm still not hoping for a Ninja Gaiden 4.)

Looking back at all that's happened over the past 5 years, I'm happy to see at least somethings haven't changed. While NIOH is very much a new game it's own, it's the first game in a long time to bring back the same feeling I got from playing Ninja Gaiden, and I personally cannot wait to keep going with it. Team Ninja really is one of my favorite developers out there, and I hope to see more from them in the near future. (Hopefully that Dissidia game they're working on!)
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Looking Back on the 3DS

Oh how time flies. Would you believe me if I told you that the 3DS was 6 years old, would you believe me? Well it's true! The Nintendo 3DS came out February 26, 2011 in Japan, and March 27, 2011 here in the US. I still remember getting the 3DS just like it was yesterday -- getting home from working at the bakery, driving up to GameStop with my dad, and then stopping by my Grand Parent's house to see my cousin and eat. The memory is still fresh in my mind, and I can't help but think of the 3DS as a "new" system still. Of course, this is no longer the case. With the announcement of the Nintendo Switch (which is releasing this March) both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U will slowly start to fade into the background. Sure, Nintendo did confirm that the 3DS would both continue to exist along side the NS for the time being (as they've always juggled two consoles), but with the amount of games coming to these systems in the near future -- or rather, lack of games -- it wouldn't be too shocking to see it's end come sooner than we thought. So, with that being said I wanted to take a moment to look back on the Nintendo 3DS, and look at how it's fared over the years.

A Troubling Start:

When the 3DS launched things weren't as good as some might like to believe. The console itself showed quite a lot of promise, but not many people actually had a reason to buy it. At the time the Nintendo DS still had new games coming out for it, and the 3DS seemed to have next to nothing. One of the main issues was the fact that the console was $250 at release, it released at a time where nothing was really going on in the year as Christmas and what not was already over, and most of it's announced games were either ports of old games like Metal Gear Solid 3, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. It was just way too expensive, and offered very little. Even so, those who did pick it up got to experience it's new 3D gimmick right away, and they were eventually rewarded for it.

The 3DS itself was a nice console right out of the gate. Shockingly the 3D effect worked very well, the device fit nicely into your hands, and the DSi like customization home screen was pretty nice. Although there was no online store at the time, there were plenty of preinstalled apps for you to move around as you liked, and we could all see how useful the home menu would be in the future once it actually allowed us to download new content. The built in video by OK Go was also a nice touch to show off the console's ability for 3D video, and the mini AR game was a cool way to show off it's AR features as well. Nintendo didn't waste time showing us what features the 3DS had, and with the Mii Plaza mini game, they encouraged us to take it with us on the go to get "Street Passes" from other players. Of course this wasn't easy to do when not many had a 3DS, but thankfully it did improve over time -- depending on the area you live in that is.

As for the games that launched with the 3DS, they were really mixed. The brand new Pilotwings game was the perfect tech demo, and would have been a great game to include with the console, but sadly you had to buy it extra. The 3D effect was great, it used the built in Mii feature similar to Nintendo Wii games, and it was packed with things to do. While it wasn't exactly a "large" game, all of the missions and activities were more than enough to keep you busy for quite some time. It was a game where you got to pilot different air crafts, complete challenges in them, and find collectibles hidden across a pretty good sized island -- a perfect game for on the go play.Again, it wasn't anything to write home about, but it was still nice.

Of course the other games released with the 3DS also helped show off what the thing could do, but they weren't what you would call tech demos. Many were ports of older games (as I mentioned above), and others were new entries in long running series. These games allowed us to look into previously known worlds with a new 3D perspective, and they helped show the power of the console itself, but not many of the games were actually new ,which gave many little to no reason to buy the console. Street Fighter fans were sticking with the Xbox 360 version (which received a massive update not too long after the 3DS port released), Sims players continued to play the main version of 3 on PC, Rayman 3D was just yet another port of Rayman 2, and Nintendogs + Cats was a slightly improved version of the game we got many years ago, just with cats added. The only games that truly stood out were ones such as Samurai Warriors Chronicles, or the turn based strategy game Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. These were new entries in older series that fans would have most likely wanted to play, but the high price of the 3DS and the rest of it's library prevented many from jumping in. In short, things didn't look too good for the console.

The 3DS Returns:

After a troubling start, and what seemed like years of waiting (it wasn't that long), Nintendo finally set out to right what they had did wrong. They announced that the 3DS would have a massive price drop, that early adopters of the console would receive 10 free NES and 10 free GBA games to make up for it, and that multiple new games would be on their way. Soon the Nintendo eShop was live, it was populated with classic Nintendo games, DSi shop games and brand new indie titles to buy, and new "major" releases were showing up on store shelves. Third party companies were releasing games like Dead or Alive Dimensions, Resident Evil Revelations, and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, while Nintendo started getting games such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kid Icarus Uprising, Fire Emblem Awakening, and Animal Crossing out. As time went on, the Nintendo 3DS' library continued to grow at a steady rate, and new features were constantly added to the console. The original Swap Note messaging service was eventually replaced with the Wii U's "Miiverse" social network, a new stronger 3DS model was released with new built in buttons (which allowed for games like Xenoblade Chronicles to be on the system), SNES titles were added to the eShop, and even new games and activities were added to the Mii Plaza. Nearly everything about the 3DS expanded as time went on, and what was once a console not many owned, became one that almost everyone had. Gone were the days of carrying around your 3DS hoping for a street pass from others -- instead taking your 3DS with you almost always resulted in at least getting a few. Nintendo managed to turn the dying handheld around, and they made it something worth owning.

3DS of Today:

The 3DS of today is a console that has both seen it's prime, and has the staying power to stick around for years to come. With games like Fire Emblem Echoes just around the corner, and never ending games like Animal Crossing and the Monster Hunter series, it is very easy to picture ourselves still playing it in the years to come. While the Nintendo Switch will be taking a large part of the market, the 3DS is something that can still stand on it's own. Yes, it's end is coming, but that doesn't stop the 3DS from being great. It's a console that now has a large library of games, and anyone who decides to buy one now will have many options open to them. Most of these great games will never see the light of day on anything besides the 3DS, and that alone is what will keep it alive for many -- even when Nintendo has pulled the plug.

Looking back, the 3DS really was a great console. It's given us many memories over these past six years, and that's something we will never forget about it.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto - Gameplay

The latest Naruto game is here, and both GlacialLeaf and I decide to take a crack at it... All while having no idea what we are doing! Thankfully Leaf here decided to save all of the fights we had, so we figured we might as well share them with the world. If you're a fan of Naruto and have yet to play Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, or if you're a fighting game fan just looking for something new to play, then hopefully this playlist will be both enjoyable to watch, and help you get a feel for the game.

Note: At the time of this posting there are currently only 4 videos uploaded, but we expect this number to grow over time -- so stay tuned to NGR, and feel free to check out our YouTube page! Just remember, Mecha Naruto is Number One!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ben's Gaming Memories: Fire Emblem Awakening

Well, this feels really strange. Four years ago today Fire Emblem Awakening came out in the US. It's a game I waited a very long time for, a game I played for many months to come, and it's also the game that really kick started the "new" Netto's Game Room. It's kind of funny really, the game that kick started this blog's home away from Capcom-Unity is now a treasured memory of mine that I can't believe happened so long ago. It seems like just yesterday, and a part of me still wishes that it were...

When Fire Emblem Awakening was coming out I was beyond excited. This was the first time I really looked forward to a Fire Emblem game, and I couldn't get enough of it. I would stay up late looking up all the information about the characters, I'd read every possible interview and news article I could find, and I would even watch every video I could find on the game. To say I was excited for this one is really an understatement, and when the night before it's release came, I really couldn't wait to head out in search for it the next day. I still remember laying there in bed playing Virtue's Last Reward on my Vita, and waiting for myself to get tired enough to fall asleep so tomorrow would come even faster. Then, when I finally put my Vita on my night stand and closed my eyes... It happened.

I'm not sure how long I was actually sleeping, I think it was around 11 PM that I opened my eyes, but soon a ringing phone woke me from my sleep, and the sound of my mom's upset voice got me out of bed. It was my grandma, she had woken up herself and noticed something was strange -- her eye. Even standing in the light, she could see nothing out of one of her eyes. Needless to say, my mom was soon getting dressed and she was rushing out the door to take her to the hospital over an hour and a half away. I ended up not going with her as they needed someone to stay behind and work at the family bakery in the morning, and before I knew it I was there working the front and talking to the upset regular customers who really liked her. Eventually my mom got back and let everyone know they were still doing tests on my grandma, and once again she headed off to the hospital but this time with me in tow. While the doctors thought my grandma would be okay, they still weren't sure of what actually caused the blindness, nor were they sure if her vision would ever return. Sadly, it didn't.

Although my grandma would never see out of that eye again, there was at least some good news. First of all, she was okay and it wouldn't be happening to her other eye. There were more tests they wanted to do, and other doctors they wanted her to see so at the time there was more hope for her eye, but either way we did know for a fact that it was an isolated incident. The other piece of good news was for me personally, and it was something that helped cheer me up and get my mind off of all of the drama -- Fire Emblem Awakening.

The thing about Awakening is that although it came out on 2/4/2013, it didn't actually "come out" then (or at least not for most people). Strangely the game was in very limited supply, and most stores wouldn't even get the game until a few weeks later. It was sent off to a handful of places, and if you weren't lucky enough to find such a place, then you weren't getting it. For me, there was actually no store within the area that had it. No GameStops, no Walmarts, no Targets, no Best Buys, nothing. Every single store didn't get a shipment, so no one living in this area was able to buy it. That is, except for one -- a Target closet to the hospital. Of course I didn't know this at the time, and I just ran in there because it was close by. I walked over to the game section, asked if they had the game, and the guy opened up the box sitting next to him on the counter and pulled out a copy. Afterwards my mom and I ran over to the hospital (as my grandma was finally out of testing and what not), and after spending the day up there we finally headed back home. By that time I was finally feeling better about the whole thing (again, we knew she would be okay at that point) and I ended up playing the game the entire way home. Looking back now it's kind of strange because I remember something my mom said to me as we were leaving. She mentioned how I had just finished college and that maybe someday I would be working in that town. I blew the comment off as I really didn't feel like going to a place that was over an hour and a half drive away each day, but I guess fate had other plans for me. Later that year I would be driving back that way myself for my first full time job.

As for Fire Emblem Awakening, it's a game I really did enjoy, and it's the game that really helped kick off NGR when we moved it away from Capcom-Unity. Heck, we even used to have a Fire Emblem based "placeholder" banner at the top of the page! I remember liking it for being Fire Emblem, but no one else writing for the blog did. Despite all of that, Awakening was one of the few games we discussed heavily here, and it's a game that me and my friends would continue talking about and playing for the many months to come. It really is hard to believe that all of this was four years ago, and like the characters in the game, I still sometimes wish I could go back to hopefully change the future. I didn't know it at the time, but 2013 was the year of drama, and my grandma was just the start. I've mentioned it before, and even posted here when it happened, but after the incident with my grandma, things only got worse. A few months later her sister's kid died in his sleep, a week later her brother passed away, and then the day after Christmas her son -- my uncle -- also died at a young age. We lost the bakery after that, and the chain that connected so many people together was broken. I'm glad that Fire Emblem Awakening was there to help me through some of this, but I still wish things would have turned out differently. Even so, I'll always treasure the good memories of that year, and Awakening will always be there to remind me of them.

Happy birthday Fire Emblem Awakening.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Fire Emblem Heroes - Things You Should Know

Now that Fire Emblem Heroes is out many players may have a lot of questions about it. So, after spending the past two days playing it myself, I've decided to put together a little tip guide to help anyone out who might be wondering about different aspects of the game. Of course I'd also like to point out that because this game is so new, information is still limited, and things I've personally found may be outdated in the future. This is a game that will constantly change, so please keep in mind the date this guide was written (2/3/2017).

First Roll -

When you first start the game you are given 15 free summoning orbs to get your first set of characters; however before you go through with it you may want to play the first 5 intro missions first. This will get you 20 orbs, which will allow you to draw 5 characters at once and increase your chances of getting a rare 5 star unit.

Rerolling -

Don't like who you got in your first roll? Well by deleting your save data you can restart the intro, get your 20 orbs, and try again. Keep doing this as many times as you like, and then move on once you're ready. (NOTE: DO NOT LINK A NINTENDO ACCOUNT IF YOU PLAN ON DOING THIS)

Nintendo Account and 10 Free Orbs -

Linking a Nintendo Account will unlock bonus content in game, and allow you to instantly get 10 free summon orbs. By clicking the fountain at the bottom right of your castle screen, and then by clicking the little shining icon at the top right of this screen, you can open up your Nintendo account's page and choose which rewards you would like. You can also click the "mission" tab on this page to turn in any missions you've competed for extra Nintendo Points -- these points too can be traded for other in game bonuses (such as items that instantly refill your stamina so you can keep playing without waiting).

Upgrade Your Castle -

Once you've done your first roll, you may want to upgrade your castle. By clicking the icon at the top right on your castle screen you'll be given the option to spend orbs to increase your EXP gain while playing. The first upgrade is 1 orb and adds a +20% EXP bonus, the next is 2 for +40%, then 5 for +60%, and so on. Eventually by spending 26 orbs total you can increase your EXP gain by 100% thus doubling the EXP you gain from every kill in game. This will help you level much faster (well, twice as fast), and save on stamina. Very helpful for the next tip.

Upgrading Characters and the Items You Need -

Although 5 star units are currently the strongest in the game, they are also quite rare and not all units can be summoned as a 5 star version of themselves. So what do you do if there's a character you like at a lower star rating? You upgrade them of course! Sadly this process isn't going to be an easy one, but it can be done with a little time.

  1. The first step in this process is to get your character to level 20. This isn't too hard, but it will take quite a bit of stamina. For some characters you'll reach this level just by doing the main story, but for any extra ones you want to promote you'll have to go to the battle tower. Thankfully the training tower is also required for this next step, so you may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
  2. Once you've finished getting your character to level 20, or once you're ready to level your character in the training tower, you can then start working on getting upgrade stones. Each day the training tower offers a different type of stone, and you will have to complete training missions to obtain them. In order to use these stones to upgrade your character, you'll need to get 20 of your character's color. Lower levels of the tower give you a lower number of stones, and higher levels give you more. If you already have level 20 characters you could play the higher leveled training missions and be done with it in a few wins, and if you level your characters here you'll also reach the required amount naturally. This step isn't bad at all, but it's only part 2... Sadly 3 will be the hardest.
  3. The final thing you need to rank up your character is collecting feathers. Once you've met the above conditions you can then "buy" the upgrade with feathers you collect from doing different things. The values required for upgrading depends on the star level you're going for, but the two most will have to deal with will be upgrading 3 star units to 4, and 4 star units to 5. The required feathers are as followed: 3 to 4 = 2,000 and 4 to 5 = 20,000 (19,700 if you've fused two of the same units once). Yes the upgrade to 3 to 4 isn't bad, but the 4 to 5 could possibly take months. As to how you can earn feathers? See the next tip...

Once you've done the above three steps, your unit will then be upgraded to the next star rating, and it's level will be reset to 0. Sadly you'll also lose any + bonuses you got from fusing units, but I'll touch more on this below.

How to get Feathers -

Feathers act as a type of currency in Fire Emblem Heroes, and they are not that easy to come by. The ways to get them area as followed:
  • Fighting in the Arena
  • Getting a daily bonus from a unit visiting your castle
  • Releasing heroes you do not need
There may also be other special log in bonuses and events that give them out, but the above three ways will be your go to options.

To get the daily bonus, all you have to do is look at your castle screen and look for any unit that is ready to talk to you. These units are typically ones that have come to visit from friends, but I have personally seen other units give me feathers as well.

Besides relying on the daily bonus, fighting in the arena is another daily event, and it'll also be your main way of obtaining feathers. Each day you are given three passes to battle in the arena, and every time you win in a row you'll gain a point bonus. Stronger enemies will give you more points, and if
another player fights against your own AI in the arena and loses, you'll also gain defense points. These points are then used to place you in a ranking system where you will gain feathers based on how well you did. For example, earning 3,001 offense points will get you 1,600 feathers when the current arena season ends (which is roughly 4 days according to our current timer), and earning around 801 - 1,000 will get you 500 instead. On the defense side, max is 251 points for 500 feathers, with the lowest being 1 - 100 points for 100 feathers. Basically what this means is, you'll be able to earn the 2,000 needed for a 3-4 star rank up quite easily, but the 4-5 rank up could take a month or so depending on how well you do in the arena.

The final main way of getting feathers isn't quite as easy, but it's a good bonus that'll help you get to your goal faster. For this all you have to do is release (sell) heroes that you no longer need. Yes this means you'll have to summon them so that you can release them, but considering you'll be getting doubles of weaker units you don't need, there's really no reason not to do this. The values for releasing units are as follows:

1 Star Units = 5 Feathers
2 Star Units = 10 Feathers
3 Star Units = 150 Feathers
4 Star Units = 300 Feathers
5 Star Units = 1,000 Feathers

If you want to release your units or not is up to you, but again it can be a nice bonus. However, I do recommend thinking twice before you release your 5 star units as duplicates can be fused together to increase their stats.

Fusing Units -

As I've mentioned above, duplicate units can be fused. While only bonus SP (points used to unlock skills on units) is carried over when fusing two units of different star ratings, fusing two units of the same star rating will result in a character becoming stronger. In my case I was able to fuse two 4 star Tharja's together to add an extra +1 to her overall level. The plus side to this is, your characters can go over the level 40 level cap this way, but the down side is that promoted units do NOT keep this stat. In other words if I were to upgrade my 4 star Tharja to a 5 star, she would lose her +1. With that being said, it's actually best to only fuse 5 star characters together, and trade in any unwanted 4 stars or below. Sure you could also work on upgrading your 4 star units to 5 so that they can be fused, but considering how much work it takes to upgrade, it may be best just to cash in for the feathers.

Leveling Crystals -

Besides fighting in the tower to level up, it's also possible to use crystals on your units instead. By completing different monthly and story related quests (fountain at the bottom right of the castle), it is possible to earn crystals. These crystals can be fused into characters to boost their level, and can help you get new units up to speed without wasting stamina on training them. Keep in mind though that these crystals are limited, so in many cases it may be best to just level the natural way.

Other Smaller Things -

On top of the tips above, there are a few other things you may want to know before going into this game.

  • Units cannot die - While this is a Fire Emblem game (which is known for perma death), characters cannot die in this. Yes they can be knocked out of the mission/fight you're in, but they don't die for good. Because of this you shouldn't fear unit deaths, but instead use them to your advantage if necessary. Characters that can give their health to stronger ones can be quite useful because of that skill, and putting a character between your ranged attacker and the enemy will keep them safe. Tactics that you normally would want to avoid in the main games will work here, so don't fear trying new things.
  • Use the weapon triangle - This game plays upon weaknesses so you should use them. Red > Green > Blue > Red. There's a little guide always on screen to remind you of this, but it's good to remember it without having to look. Gray units don't follow this pattern, but they do have their own strengths and weaknesses. Example, bow users can take down flying users with ease, but they must be two spaces away from an enemy to attack (meaning if a melee enemy gets in close, they won't be able to defend themselves). This is actually the most important aspect of the game, but it doesn't mean you always have to follow it. It is in fact possible to over power units you are weak against, but in general you should follow the triangle as much as you can.

And that about covers it! Again this game will continue to grow and change over time, but hopefully these tips will continue to help you guys for years to come.
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fire Emblem Heroes Out Today!

It's finally here. After announcing it a couple of weeks ago, Nintendo's second mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes launches on both iOS and Android today. As the name suggests, Heroes is a mobile free to play game where you summon different characters from the Fire Emblem series, and battle it out against multiple enemies with classic tactical role playing action.

Like other games of this nature, by either spending real cash or by progressing through the story, you'll be able to earn special stones that you can spend to summon heroes at random. Each hero will have it's own star ranking (which controls the unit's max power) and stats, and will also be grouped under different classes. Once you have a party of four characters, you can then undergo classic styled Fire Emblem missions and fight enemies to increase your party's strength.

Although Fire Emblem Heroes is not the first of it's kind (as it is a "gacha" game), it is Nintendo's first game of this style. Last year Nintendo did release a mobile platforming/runner type game called "Mario Run," but it was more similar to their previous games like Yoshi Touch N Go than your typical mobile game. With FE however, Nintendo has fully embraced the mobile market, and they have created a game fans could be playing for many years to come. It's a never ending title filled with loads fan service, and it's always with you right in the palm of your hand.
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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Items to get in Final Fantasy XV's Moogle Chocobo Event (Before it's too Late!)

The Moogle Chocobo event is currently happening in Final Fantasy XV, and it will be ending on 2/19/2017. This means everyone only has a few weeks to get, and see, everything there is in this event! So before that time comes, I figured I'd go ahead and share a few key things about this event, that you most likely wont want to miss out on.

 1. The Egg. While no one knows what this thing does, the egg is the main item to get from this event. To do so all you have to do is get 50 tokens from doing side quests and mini games, and then buy the special hotel ticket to watch the fireworks. Once you buy it you can simply walk into the inn, talk to the guy behind the counter, and watch the fireworks begin. You can also take some pictures while the show is going on, but once everything is said and done you will be rewarded with the egg.

2. New food! For this one all you have to do is walk into the Square-Enix cafe (located towards the northern end of the map), and ask to be served both meals they offer. One will help with fishing, and the other will help with your chocobo's stamina, and both cannot be obtained normally in the main game. Might as well get them while you can.

3. Chocobo medals. There are two special chocobo race tracks for you to gold medal to get a medal to put on your chocobo. While this doesn't do anything, you may still want to get them before it is too late.

4. New car paint. With this one all you have to do is buy it for 30 medals (so you'll need a grand total of 80 for both this and the hotel pass), and then you'll be able to change your car's paint to a moogle chocobo themed one.

Extra. Besides these three things, there is also new fishing equipment you can get, but this isn't exactly key. Unless you really want to collect everything, the fishing equipment you find here isn't something you'll be wanting to use in the main game (as there are much better things out there).

You can also buy rare crafting items if you wish to farm tokens, but it's really best that you get the missable items before you start buying things you can get from the main game. As for the event itself, there's quite a lot to see and do around the town, so expect to spend some time on this event -- possibly a few hours if you want it all. While Square-Enix hasn't said anything about the future of this event, it is mentioned in the game that it's something that only happens once a year. So, does this mean anyone who misses it will get another chance in 2018? Possibly, but it's still better to be safe than sorry.

Have fun everyone!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

PlayStation VR - YouTube 360 Support is Live

If you have a PS4 and PSVR, then you may have noticed that a new update was released for the YouTube App. While most might not think much of it, considering updates aren't uncommon, but this time around they have brought us something special -- 360 video support for PSVR.

For anyone who doesn't know, YouTube supports 360 VR videos for most VR headsets. These include both the VR sets you can buy for your phone, and the higher end ones such as the HTC Vive. Now that very same support has been brought to the PSVR, and it works exactly the same way. Upon opening the YouTube App you now have the choice between the standard YouTube, and the PSVR version. The difference here is, the PSVR version will allow you to not only view the 360 videos, but it'll also set the YouTube video player at a set location within your virtual reality space. In other words, it'll become a movie theater screen floating in front of you, and your headset will track it's position. It's similar to the PSVR's default viewing mode for non VR content, but in this case you don't risk screen drift (which is sadly still an issue with the PSVR when it is not in full tracking mode).

As for the 360 videos themselves, they can be watched by going to the new 360 Video tab located at the top of the YouTube app, or you can simply search YouTube for them yourself. There's a lot of them out there, and they all offer different experiences. Of course this doesn't mean they are perfect. Sadly not all 360 videos are uploaded in 4K, so the resolution on some can be much lower than expected. Also since these are video files, they are not in full 3D like a standard VR game would be. Yes they do allow you to look around the world, but it isn't as immersive as full VR content. Even so, there's a lot of fun to be had with these videos, and it's a great addition to the PSVR's library.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fire Emblem Echoes - Gaiden Returns on the 3DS!

Today was the official Fire Emblem Direct from Nintendo, and quite a few interesting games were announced. First of all Fire Emblem Warriors was officially announced for both the Nintendo Switch and New 3DS, and the short gameplay clip confirmed that Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening would be playable. After they also announced that a brand new Fire Emblem game would be coming to the Nintendo Switch in the near future, and that the new mobile game, "Fire Emblem Heroes," would be coming out on 2/7/2017. This game is a free to play title where you summon past FE heroes, and battle it out against other enemies on an 8x6 grid. Like many games out like it, you can pay to gain access to summons faster than by playing the game normally, but payment is optional. However, one of the most interesting announcements during this direct was something completely unexpected -- a full remake of the Japanese exclusive "Fire Emblem Gaiden."

Fire Emblem Gaiden ("side story") was the second Fire Emblem game to ever be released, and it was quite a bit different from the original which put most of the systems we know today in place. Rather than being a pure tactical turn based RPG, Gaiden featured an open map where you could choose locations to go to, there were towns you could explore, NPCs to talk to, and there were even full dungeons to explore with monsters to fight. Of course the turn based strategy battles were still in the game, but the other systems and features put a unique spin on things that we haven't seen since. Or, at least until now.

With Fire Emblem Echoes (as it will now be called), Gaiden has now been fully remade from the ground up using the same graphics/engine as Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates. Dungeon crawling takes place fully in 3D, battle scenes take place in 3D, and your classic TBS maps continue to use the same mix of 2D sprites and 3D maps as the previous two 3DS games used. To put it simply, it's Gaiden, but updated to the series' current standards. To top it all off, the game will be released on 5/17/2017!

It's hard to believe that Nintendo is finally bring this game over after all of these years, but it's finally happening, and many fans are sure to be excited.

For more information on Echoes as well as the other new FE games, check out the full Nintendo Direct!
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nintendo Switch Presentations

Miss out on the Nintendo Switch Presentations? Well look no further! Nintendo has now uploaded both in their entirety! Check them out below:

Nintendo Switch Show:

Treehouse Live:

(Skip to 30:00)
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