I Just Completed College!

It’s been 7 long, but very fulfilling months but I have just completed my Administrative Assistant course. I’ve met a lot of good people at the college I attended, people who inspired me to go forward with my career. And I honestly couldn’t have gotten this far without both the guidance I got at school and the support of my family. So, thank you all for supporting me and I’ll do my best to keep making you proud.

Sweet As Syrup: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World The Game Review

Sometimes, there comes a movie that is just as good as the source material on which it is based. And sometimes, there comes a game based on both the movie and its source material that in many ways outclasses both. Today, I would like to discuss a game that I love. This is a rare game, something you can’t even legitimately get anymore. I only have it because I downloaded years before the license expired. Today, I shall discuss with you all the awesomeness that is Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game.

Need To Know Information

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was originally a manga-styled comic book series featuring the titular hero Scott Pilgrim as he had epic videogame-based fights with “The League Of Evil Exes”. The comic was followed by the 2010 film which adapted all the books in one go, but added a completely different ending. Likewise, the game deviates from the plot of both the comics and the movie. The game itself was released not long after the film, but a small promo exists in the film for the game. After the credits, the sprite for Scott briefly appears as a sort of Easter Egg. The sprite’s appearance in the film predates the release of the game.

Plot

Our story takes place in Ontario, Canada. Scott Pilgrim is your typical young-adult, except not. Scott has strange unexplained videogame-based powers, but also plays in a rock-band. Scott falls in love with a blue-haired girl named Ramona Flowers, who has a large amount of baggage. You see, it turns out that Ramona has seven evil exes who control her love life. And the only way Scott can get with Ramona is if he kills seven supposedly evil people he never met before!

Yeah, it’s a dumb plot, but it’s a lot of fun. The game version glances over this plot though, and compresses a lot of its plot elements. You go to many locations from the movie and comics, as well as some new locations. The game also changes certain events and chooses not to depict certain scenes in the game. The plot has been simplified, which isn’t too bad considering the final volume of the comic was very convoluted, to an extent. If you’re expecting an extremely in-depth plot with high-stakes, you aren’t going to get it here. Still, it gets the job done and is a fairly enjoyable setup.

Gameplay

The game is a side-scrolling beat-em-up with some slight RPG elements, kind of like Castle Crashers. You choose from one of four characters: Scott, Stephen, Ramona, and Kim, and proceed to fight through seven worlds of action-packed bliss. The game has you taking on waves of enemies, and moving onto the next area after defeating them all. No matter which character you choose, they all have regular attacks as well as special attacks which do more damage. You can also summon up an assist character to attack your opponents and deal some damage. It never gets boring summoning up the ninja-wannabe Knives Chau to dish out the pain on some sorry henchmen.

While fighting through the levels, you can enter stores to buy new items such as power-buffs and healing items. On top of this, you can also level up which will increase the amount of HP and GP you can have. You can also pick up various items along the ground and toss them at your opponent, which is a ton of fun! This includes using stop signs, pipes, and even buckets as throw-able items and bludgeoning weapons. Heck, this game manages to make tossing garbage cans  halfway across the alley at rabid dogs fun! Though, I would not reccomend trying this in real-life, it will not end well.

The game offers various bonus stages and special levels that will give your items, or even allow you to unlock secret characters. Bosses are fun and varied, some of which are more entertaining than their film and comic book counterparts! The game will take you roughly 4 hours to complete, so it isn’t a very long game. You could beat in an afternoon, if you wanted to. If you want to 100% the game though, it will take longer. For the price, it’s a fun game despite it’s relatively short-length.

As much fun as I had with the game, I found that there were some noticeable flaws in terms of gameplay. For one thing, I found that the screen could get a bit too crowded at times. It isn’t as bad in single-player, but it gets especially annoying in multiplayer when you accidentally deck your allies in the face while trying to hit an opponent. The game also doesn’t do a whole lot to ease newcomers into the game. If you haven’t heard of Scott Pilgrim before, then this already insane plot would same even more insane to you. The world itself isn’t fully elaborated on and limitations of what can happen are not set in stone. Then again, I know a lot of people would like that due to the unexpected nature of it. All in all though, despite a couple of hiccups, I found the gameplay to be very satisfying.

Visual Stimuli

The game uses pixelated graphics and it really adds to the nostalgic factor of this game. Scott Pilgrim is a series that loves and constantly pays homage to old videogames, so it’s best to have a visual presentation that captures it. The sprite-work is amazing and captures the style and energy of the original comic. Character designs are varied, and look nice. Sadly, the enemies are as varied in terms of design. Most enemies you encounter will look fairly generic. You’ll encounter dudes in shirts, zombies, and even mummies, but most of the designs won’t stick with you after the game is over.

The music is bit-tune, styled in the vein of classic 8-bit games. It sounds great and each stage has a unique tune to it! The music may start to wear out its welcome after a while though, as the game likes to loop the tunes quite a bit while you fight through the levels. Boss music also sounds pretty good, taking into consideration the unique personalities and quirks of the characters they represent. The game is set in Canada and takes full advantage of this setting by having Canadian currency drop from every enemy you defeat, as well as setting certain stages across a snowy suburban backdrop. While each stage does feel varied, the game only has about seven levels in total. While the variety is welcome, it would’ve been nice to include a few more stages. I felt that the game’s visual presentation though was quite nice overall.

In Summation

Despite it’s short-length, difficulty to come-by, and rather crowded action sequences, Scott Pilgrim manages to be a great sendoff to the comic it drew inspiration from. It may not do a good job of bringing you into the Scott Pilgrim world, and the simplistic story might not be enough for some people, it’s still a lot of fun. It’s entertaining combat, charming visuals, good sound-design, and overall fun atmosphere makes it one of my favorite beat-em-up games. As previously mentioned, you can’t get this game anymore. Sadly, the only way to get it is to pirate it, or buy a console with the game pre-installed it. Still, if you get you manage to get your hands on it, you’ll still get a very satisfying gaming experience. That’s why I can say Scott Pilgrim is as sweet as syrup. Since this game isn’t technically available for purchase anymore, I can’t really give it rating. Still, if you’re a fan of Scott Pilgrim and old beat-em-ups, definitely check this out!

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Is Pretty Sweet!

As of late, I’ve been getting back into the anime known as “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”. It’s based off this old manga that still runs to this day. The series is divided into eight parts and part focuses on a different protagonists. Usually, each protagonist has the words “Jojo” somewhere in their name. Each story arc revolves around some person (Who is usually a muscular dude) fighting vampires, zombies, magic users, dimension-warpers, or any other kind of bizarre entity.

Each arc usually has a different feel to it.The first arc is more of a tragedy, depicting a young man rebelling against his viscous evil brother who becomes a vampire. The second arc is more of a straight-up adventure and deals with the grandson of the previous main character dealing with a group of powerful ancient vampire-creatures. A lot of the arcs are like this, and it’s a ton of fun! It’s also a very dark and violent show, definitely not something for the casual viewer. Though, I do love when a show isn’t afraid to bare its teeth!

Sweet As Syrup: Gotcha Force Review

When it comes to fun underrated games, there are few consoles out there that has as many forgotten gems as the Gamecube. After all, the Gamecube was a financial failure and so many games that came out for the console ended up being flops. However, just because a game doesn’t do financially or critically, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game. Never has this been more true than with the obscure classic known as “Gotcha Force”.

Gotcha Force is a fun little action game with over 200 different toy-shaped aliens to fight it out with. Feeling a bit like Custom Robo, Gotcha Force is an action game that was unlike most games for the console. It was fun, fast, flashy, and was generally a good time! So, I’ve decided to take a look at this forgotten classic today. Just a warning, if you plan on getting this game, be warned that the game contains a lot of flashing lights. If you have a history of seizures, I reccomend not playing this game. Without further adieu, let’s get on with the show!

Gotcha_Force_Coverart
That awkward moment when you realize that G Red doesn’t get that cool laser-sword until halfway through the game.

Need To Know Information

Gotcha Force was originally released in Japan and North America in 2003 for the Gamecube. The game was an action game that merged elements of third-person-shooters and fighting games into arena-style game, similar to Virtual-On. The game was developed by Capcom, the maker of some of my favorite games like Megaman: Battle Network and Dragon’s Dogma. The game sold terribly in both American and Japan, but became something of a cult classic among people who played it. Despite the lukewarm critical reception and poor sales, the game received a limited re-release in Japan back in 2012.

Plot

The plot for Gotcha Force is very stereotypical and mirror popular “monster collecting” anime at the time. You play as a kid named Kou, who just moved to Safari Town. What may seem like a peaceful suburb is soon invaded by evil shadowy toy-sized aliens known as “Death Borgs”. These beings start attacking various parts of town, and it’s your job to stop them. You encounter G Red, who is a “Gotcha Borg”, a toy-alien who is similar to a Death Borg. G Red tasks you with being a “Gotcha Commander” and asks you to lead him into battle against the Death-Force.

You acquire many other borgs along the way of various types as you do battle against all kinds of anime stereotypes. These include the mean bully, the mean bully’s best friend, the army nut, the weird kid, the overweight kid, the evil kid, the stoic mysterious guy, etc. They are kind of forgettable stereotypes, but their borgs and designs are varied enough to stop them from feeling too bland.

Gameplay

The game is a third-person action game where you put together a team of your own borgs to battle other borgs. Fights unfold on a fully 3D arena, which is always a suburban setting that is immensely large due to your side. This makes the fights very interesting and unique as you dart between table-legs and fight inside desks. This gives the game a very unique feeling, like you’re in that old 90s movie Small Soldiers. A much more kid-friendly version of Small Soldiers, to be precise.

In battle, you control a Gotcha Borg and form a team from the various borgs you can acquire throughout the game. There’s over 200 of them and most of them boast unique abilities of their own that turn the tide of battle in various ways. The Gotcha Borgs you encounter come in all kinds of different types. There are transforming robots, combining robots, large robots, giant bugs, dragons, reapers, giant canons of death, helicopters, and many others. There are so many different borgs you can acquire and a lot of them bring special moves or abilities to the table.

Most borgs control the same, even when they have different powers. You’ll primarily be pressing the B and X buttons for attack, it’s a very simplistic system. Some attacks can be charged while other attacks have a limited amount of ammo. You gain more ammunition and health for your borg by leveling him up. However, the leveling up system is not very rewarding. Most borgs only gain a small increase in stats with each level up, and it’s not very noticeable.

However, there are colored variants of each Borg that will gain more stat bonuses than the regular version while leveling up. Acquiring most borgs is a pretty taxing affair. Most of the rare borgs come in several separate pieces that you have to acquire by completing certain missions. Unfortunately, you will most likely only run across these missions a few times during a singular playthrough. This can result in a fair bit of grinding to get these borgs. If you’re trying to legitimately fill out your collection, it may take 5-6 playthroughs of the story mode. Luckily, the story mode will only you about 8-10 hours, but that can stack up if you’re playing through the story mode consistently.

Generally, I liked the gameplay. It was fast, enjoyable, and entertaining. It’s easy to get a handle on how most borgs function and it’s always rewarding when you get a new borg with special abilities. The game is fairly repetitive in how it’s structured, but the fast and furious combat definitely makes up for it. I felt the gameplay was solid overall, despite some hiccups here and there.

Visual Stimuli

Graphics-wise, the game looks pretty good. The colors are bright and vibrant and the cartoon-ish deigns of the borgs and humans are fun to look at. Character designs are varied enough so that it never feels like characters are just copied and pasted. Well, the designs are nice, I can’t say the same about the rest of the game’s sound and visual quality.

For one thing, the voice-acting is god-awful. I get the feeling that mostly kids were cast to play these characters, which is why they feel so bland and boring. Very few voices actually fit, and even when they fit they aren’t actually done-well. The music is okay, reminds me of something I’d hear on old VHS tapes from the 80s. It’s not too bad, but it doesn’t leave a huge impression either. Framerate is also a bit of an issue with this game. While the game operates at a pretty decent framerate most of the time, it can chug when too many things are going on on screen. To me, the graphics and audio are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to this game.

In Summation

This game that is very fun to play, is very enjoyable, and has a lot of replay value and heart to it. Despite that, the voice acting is really bad, it has some framerate issues here and there, and the game can be a bit of a grind if you want to collect all of the borgs. Despite this, I reccomend you all play this game as it is a ton of fun! This was a game I loved so much as a kid that I went out of my way to rent it, buy it, and emulate it. That’s right, the current copy I have is an emulation. That’s because this game is rare and super hard to find nowadays and I no longer have my copy. So, I can’t really give this a score as it’s near impossible to get legitimately. Despite that, I can say that this game is as sweet as syrup and I highly reccomend playing it. Just be warned, some of the later missions have a tendency to drag.

God Eater Is Back!

One of my favorite underrated games of all time would have to be Gods Eater Burst on the Playstation Portable. This game was fantastic! Good gameplay, good voice-acting, lots of customization, an entertaining yet somewhat predictable story, etc. Well, not only did they remake it and add a bunch of stuff to it, they are also coming out with a sequel in a few months over here in America! I have yet to play the remake yet, though I plan to get it by the end of the week.

God Eater was a game unlike few others. The world was ravaged by war with evolutionary beings who had killed most of the populace. You were one of the few remaining humans and it was up to you fight for what little you had left. Working with Fenrir, you don a God Arc and face the monsters in wide-open cities while utilizing various attacks. It’s fun, entertaining, and very enjoyable. I look forward to getting back into the series when I have the chance!

Sweet As Syrup: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Review

There are few games out there that I find “truly addicting”. I’m the kind of gamer who would take frequent breaks, or not stay up too late playing a singular title. However, one game I played as of late I found fairly addicting. Sure, it could have been just because of its nostalgic nature, or just because I liked the character designs. Whatever the case was, it was a still great experience from start to finish!

This game I’m talking about is Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. It’s a game that spun-off from the multimedia giant known as the “Digimon” series. I haven’t played many Digimon games, but I have grown up with the various TV shows as a child. And when I heard about this game featuring my favorite digital monsters in a decidedly adult setting with mature story-telling, I was sold! A game where I’m a cyber-detective, collect digital monsters, and fight parasitic digital abominations? How could I not say no to that!? So, ladies, gentlemen, and digital creatures, I present to you: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.

2016-06-25-144914
“…And this is Super Saiyan 7!”

Need To Know Information:

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a JRPG that was developed by Media.Vision and published by Bandai-Namco. Media.Vision is best known for developing for the Wild Arms and Valkyria Chronicles series.The game is based on the long-running Digimon franchise, and is set in an alternate continuity separate from other parts of the series. Cyber Sleuth was made as part of the 15th anniversary of the franchise and is aimed towards a decidedly more adult crowd. It’s the first Digimon game to receive a “T for Teen” rating in the west by the USRB.

The game features a ton of Digimon from across the franchise and was initially released in 2015 in Japan. Original, there were no plans to bring it over to North America. However, a very large petition for the game by American fans caused Bandai-Namco to see the worth in bringing the game over here. Thus, Cyber Sleuth was released in America with some added content and an English localization in February 2016. The game is available on both Playstation Vita and Playstation 4, but this review will be focused primarily on the Vita version.

Plot

The game takes place in a world much like our own. Technology has become common place, as well as internet slang and social media. Unlike our world though, the social media technology in this universe is leaps and bounds ahead of Facebook or Twitter. In this world, the virtual-reality community known as “Eden” has taken social media by storm. No longer are users using Reddit, but instead community through this vast virtual environment. It’s kind of like Oz from Summer Wars, just with less rabbits and rogue AI programs. What this world has instead is “Digimon”, AKA “Digital Monsters”. Unlike in previous series, Digimon are not just adorable pets for kids. In this story, they are tools used by hackers.

The game starts with you and your nameable protagonist entering Eden and talking in a chat-room. A hacker enters and taunts you and a couple of strangers into venturing into “Kowloon”, a URL home to various vicious hackers. Reluctantly, you do so and our given the ability to hack. However, upon receiving this ability and attempting to log-out, you are attacked by a vicious nautilus-shaped monsters known as a “Eater”. Your body becomes half-digitized, causing you to exist as a being that is part-digital and part-physical.

With a half-digitized body, you are found by a young detective named “Kyoko Kuremi”. You are immediately thrust into a new job as an assistant detective working for this mysterious yet very beautiful woman. You, along with Kyoko and a wide assortment of colorful characters must fight the Eater threat, regain your former body, and do battle against a mysterious lurking evil pulling the strings.

The plot to the game may seem like your typical darker Shonen anime-type story, but it definitely brings a whole new edge to the Digimon series. It’s darker than even Digimon Tamers, yet still retains a good sense of humor. The plot does drag at several points, and there is a ton of non-consequential filler as well. One example of this is when the plot required me to acquire two intangible concepts from two characters I’ve had little interaction with this up to this point. I then had to travel to an alternate universe, help a random character I’ve never heard of defeat a villain that I’ve also never heard of, and then go back to my own universe just so I can fight a character who wouldn’t even come into play until much later in the game. It seemed like a lot of pointless padding, especially for a game that was rocking a unique premise. Despite the large amounts of filler and padding, I generally did enjoy the story.

Gameplay

2016-07-01-150528
Yep, that’s my entourage. They are a very silly and strange bunch of ‘Mons.

The game focuses on turn-based combat; which is very common for a lot of JRPGs. You form a party out of the Digimon you acquire and are allowed to have up to a maximum of three with you in combat. The game also allows you to have other Digimon as backup in your party, allowing you to switch between them mid-combat. This allows you experiment with different combinations of party members and find the right combination that works for you. The various Digimon you acquire and fight will belong to different types, and certain types will be more effective than others. This is why it’s good to build a team of various types so you don’t get sidelined in combat by enemies belonging to a certain class of Digimon.

During combat, you can also use various items such as healing items and power-buffs. Stats are important to Digimon, as the stats can change how a battle plays out. For example, if you have a Digimon with very high speed, then he will be allowed more turns to attack the enemy. Things like this really help spice up the combat, as having a Digimon that excels in a certain stat will completely turn the tide of battle. For example, one of the Digimon in my second playthrough was “Jankoomon”, who had an absurdly large amount of HP. This effectively made him a gigantic damage-sponge, being able to soak up more damage than the enemies could dish out! As well as being able to attack on their own turns, sometimes your Digimon will team up for massively powerful attacks. I found the combat in this game to be fun, but repetitive. Combat always plays out the same way, but what keeps it fresh is the various abilities and attacks the Digimon can acquire. With new moves and abilities being introduced with every Digimon you obtain, gameplay remains somewhat-fresh throughout most of the campaign.

The game itself offers a wide-range of Digimon from all seasons of the show, including a lot of more obscure Digimon. As well as having various differing types, most Digimon come in a multitude of different forms. You have In-Training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, Mega, and Ultra. You can “Digivolve” your Digimon into a multitude of forms, or even De-Digivolve them into a previous form. Every-time you Digivolve or De-Digivolve your Digimon, they are reset back to level 1. This can get annoying as you’ll often have to grind to get your Digimon back to where he is. The game boasts over 250 different Digimon to collect and master, which offers a great amount of variety when it comes to building a strong party.

The problem with building a party comes down to the Digivolution mechanic itself. You see, in order to Digivolve your Digimon into the highest forms available, you need to acquire “ABI” points. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong! The only way to acquire said points is by constantly evolving and devolving your Digimon, repeatedly resetting his level back to 1. This makes trying to acquire the more powerful Digimon (Like Chaosmon, Omnimon, and Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, for example) really annoying and time-consuming. I can’t tell you how much time I spent grinding, trying to get Chaosmon. To be fair, most of the more powerful Digimon are only necessary for a hard-mode play-through or doing the extremely difficult DLC quests.

One of the core problems with the gameplay lies not with the repetitious combat or it’s needlessly grind-y Digivolution mechanic. To me, the core problem lies with its difficulty. The game on its normal difficulty is very easy, in my opinion. You will be able to beat most of the bosses (Aside from a few early bosses like Jimiken) very easily. While it is true that there is a hard-mode, it’s very dialed-up in terms of difficulty. Certain bosses can utterly destroy you if you don’t have a good enough party by this point. Worse still, is that New Game Plus doesn’t scale up with your level, on either difficulty. This means you can blow through the early portions of the game with absolute ease with your overpowered Digimon. What makes it more annoying is that on New Game Plus, you can’t skip any of the story segments you’ve already seen, so more often than not you are left sitting through cutscenes.

The game also boasts online multiplayer in the form of “Online Colosseum”. This mode allows you to go online with your selected party of Digimon and fight against other players. Online Colosseum limits the amount of Digimon you can have in your party, as well as disallowing the use of items. However, I still found the online mode to be a bit broken. It felt unbalanced, especially when you go up against a Digimon with high-speed who completely outclasses your party. One example of unbalanced multiplayer came when I went up against a party consisting of a MagnaAngemon and two Knightmons. MagnaAngemon continuously healed his teammates as the two knights obliterated my team with a flurry of one-hit-kill attacks. Worse still, MagnaAngemon never ran out of SP, not even once. Sure, it was probably due to something he had equipped, but it still felt unbalanced. It seems unfair to not be able to use healing items, but using regenerative items is somehow A-OK? Sure, it’s a nitpick but I feel online combat could have been more balanced.

In general, I felt the gameplay was very good. Despite some hiccups with online play as well as some repetitive gameplay here and there, I still had a great time! The game was fun and enjoyable and had me hooked. I felt the need to acquire as many Digimon as possible, even when the grinding got extremely overwhelming. After a while, I started not to mind it as much, especially when the game started handing out items to circumvent excessive grinding. In short, I found the gameplay to be immensely entertaining, despite its problems.

Visual Stimuli

This game looks pretty good, in all honestly! Edges look a bit jagged on my Vita, but it’s not too noticeable at times. Characters are well-designed with different color motifs, which makes them really stand out at times. The Digimon featured in the game have the same designs they had in earlier installments, which adds to the nostalgic feel of this game. Almost every Digimon has special attacks from their respective series, and they are all look and function how they would on the show!

The graphics are pretty nice on their own, as the characters are rendered in fairly good detail. The characters still possess an anime art-style, which really mixes well with the enhanced graphical style. Backgrounds are well-designed, with some areas possessing some pretty trippy environments. The voice-acting for the characters is spot-on, featuring some great Japanese voice-casting. While the voice-acting is really good, it does suffer from a minor problem.

You see, the American locialization for the game was not a smooth process. Certain names and words are mistranslated, leading to awkward situations. One such example is when the characters start referring to Eaters as “Bakemon” halfway through the game. Bakemon are completely related digital entity to the Eaters, which may confuse casual players. The translation is good enough in that it won’t bother you too much, but it is a bit spotty at times. Despite the somewhat-poor translation, I thought the game’s overall visual presentation was very good.

In Summation

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a very fun, yet repetitive game. If you’re a Digimon or JRPG fan, then you will most likely get a lot out of this game. It has many shout-outs to the series as well packing in a ton of fan-favorite Digimon. The gameplay is simplistic, yet it is still fairly fun. The ability to select from so many Digimon allows for a lot of party customization, even if some of the Digimon are annoyingly hard to get. While the unbalanced multiplayer, spotty translation, and awkward Digivolution mechanics are bit of a problem, it still manages to be a solid game. I was thoroughly entertained with this game, which is why I can definitely say that it’s as sweet as syrup. If I had to give this game a score, it would most likely be a 8 or 9 out of 10. In short, this game is a fantastic JRPG and worth you’re time if you are a fan of the Digimon series.