Dragon’s Dogma For Nintendo Switch Review

Fantasy adventures are the best kind one can have, at least in my opinion. Nothing beats a good old swords & sorcery quest over an ancient land, while fighting off giant monsters and collecting tons of gold. I’ll take a good medieval fantasy adventure to a sci-fi space opera any day! That’s why I dig Dragon’s Dogma, because it’s an epic fantasy adventure in its purest form.

This was an open-world RPG that focused on having great action, characters, and lore. The game started off obscure at first, but quickly gained a large and dedicated fan-base. As a result, this RPG has been ported to every gaming platform imaginable! This resulted in the game being brought over to the Nintendo Switch, which is currently the hottest console on the market.

Dragon’s Dogma is a hard game to describe to those who have never played it, especially for people who just look at videos or screenshots of it. A person may be fooled into thinking that this game is some kind of cheap cash-grab RPG made in Europe, due to its dated graphics and low price-tag.

However, Dragon’s Dogma isn’t really like that at all. In fact, it’s one of the most immersive and entertaining modern Japanese Role-Playing Games made in a long time! It does have its faults, but they’re outshone by the amazing feats the game displays. I feel it’s time for me to do a detailed review of one of my favorite RPGs of all time. After all, I need to do something special for this 400th post!

So, what makes this game amazing? Well, let’s start off with the game’s plot. The game kicks off with your custom character living in an average fishing village. A dragon comes by and attacks your village one day, prompting you to rush to defend it. The dragon easily takes you out, rips out your heart, and devours it. You survive and awaken much later, now lacking a heart and cursed with a magical ailment.

With an army of expendable magical humanoids called “Pawns” now backing you up, you set off on an quest to defeat the dragon and reclaim your heart. The game starts off as your typical “Chosen One” story, but evolves into something much greater near the end.

I definitely dug the story, even if parts of it felt a bit too obtuse or needlessly dark. However, the true appeal of the game was in its gameplay. The ability to grapple onto monsters in combat adds a level of verticality that most games wish they could achieve. Leaping off a cliff and jumping onto a griffin’s back in order to attack it is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in a game.

The amount of cool and interesting skills you can buy in this game is staggering, which allows for even more ways to customize your playstyle. Speaking of customization, there’s a ton of that in this game! You can customize your player character and your “Pawn”. The height and weight of your character determines their level of competency in the game. For example, shorter characters can run faster, and larger characters can carry more.

This is something that most games will never try with its customization. This means that that almost every character you create will have defined strengths and weaknesses, depending entirely on how you design their body. On top of designing your own Pawn, you can also recruit the Pawns of others to help you through the game’s various quests.

The pawn system is one of the most fun concepts introduced by the game, due to how unique it plays out. You’re constantly switching out new Pawns as you level up, while gaining many party members over the course of the game. It’s not uncommon for a player to have gone through hundreds of Pawns by the time the game ends.

One of the best elements of this game is its exploration. Being an open-world RPG, there’s a lot of locations to explore in this game. From giant caves to sweeping dungeons, there’s a lot of variety on offer here. It also helps that locations are well designed and most of them even have realistic layouts.

Dragon’s Dogma on Switch plays like all the other versions, but on a portable device. Being able to un-dock the Switch and bring it anywhere means that you can play Dragon’s Dogma on the go! Having the game finally be portable is definitely a great thing, since now I can play it on the John!

To me, Dragon’s Dogma is what I want in an action RPG. It has a fairly solid story, good characters, great customization, and tons of areas to explore. Sure, the graphics are old and dated, getting to places is annoying and frustrating, and there’s a lack of direction in the open hours. In spite of the game’s many flaws, it’s still one of the most engaging RPG experiences I’ve ever played. The fact that I can now take it on the go just adds to its greatness! This truly feels like the definitive version of the game.

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The Return of Dragon’s Dogma

There’s nothing I love more than a good medieval fantasy setting! I’m a huge fan of swords and sorcery, so pretty much anything involving the two always gets me interested. I love a good fantasy adventure, especially when it’s in video-game form! My favorite fantasy games include Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Risen 1, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

However, there’s one game that stands above them all as my favorite fantasy game of all time: Dragon’s Dogma. The game was similar to a lot of other fantasy RPGs at the time. It had you leveling up, defeating giant monsters, and slaying a dragon. However, Dragon’s Dogma sets itself apart from its competition┬áin a number of interesting ways.

For one thing, the story revolves around your heart literally getting ripped out by a dragon! Your custom hero doesn’t die, but rather becomes an undead warrior known as an “Arisen”. You are then given a “Pawn”, which is a secondary custom character that acts as your sidekick. You can then recruit Pawns made by other players, who will help you in combat and exploration.

Your Pawn can also be recruited by other players, which will often result in her/him coming back with a ton of awesome items! Another unique feature of Dragon’s Dogma was its epic boss fights, which usually revolved you jumping onto a monster and grappling them. Once you’ve clung onto a monster, you can then slash at their vulnerable areas.

Taking down monsters in this game felt both epic and gratifying at the same time! Toppling the fowl beasts over and taking them out was one of the most satisfying aspects of the game. Couple that with the massive open-world, great character designs, and fun combat, and you’ve got a recipe for a fantastic game!

Dragon’s Dogma was one of those fantasy games that just felt right and worked well. Despite this, the game initially sold poorly in America. However, it was saved by its sales in Japan and the “Cult Classic” status it accrued over time. Despite low initial sales, the game eventually gained the attention it deserved.

As a result, the game evolved into a franchise. It received an MMO spinoff called “Dragon’s Dogma Online”, a standalone expansion, and several ports to many other consoles. Not only this, but an anime and sequel were also announced. With Dragon’s Dogma making a comeback, it was only natural that it would make its way to the hottest console available right now: The Nintendo Switch.

Yes, the extremely popular fantasy game is finally going handheld! To me, this is a great thing for the series. Having a handheld version of Dragon’s Dogma is going to bring in so many new fans, which would be a fantastic achievement for the franchise. Having a larger playerbase would definitely help for when they churn out the sequel.

I’m glad Dragon’s Dogma is coming back. The series definitely needs more love and attention, which it has slowly been garnering for over half a decade now. I’ve been looking for a reason to get back into the series, and I think Dragon’s Dogma for Switch is going to be that reason. Here’s hoping it’s a fantastic port like the PC version is!

Why Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition For Switch Is A Bad Idea

I’ve spent the last couple weeks gushing about the Nintendo Switch I got. I love the Switch and it’s definitely become one of my favorite consoles, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. The Switch’s online game store is bloated with too many games, the “Joycons” that come packed with the console don’t last long, and the amount of really good first-party games is surprisingly low.

Worst of all, I’ve recently gotten word of a game coming to Switch, one that I feel wouldn’t fit on the console at all. I’m talking about Neverwinter Nights, a game that I’ve gushed about quite a bit. Neverwinter Nights was an old-school RPG made for the PC back in 2002. It was Bioware’s third attempt at a big RPG, and was definitely a daring one.

It was a game that focused less on its single-player content, and more on letting the fans create their own experiences. The game thrived on mods and player-run servers, which allowed it to foster a strong community. It also helped that it was based off a Dungeon & Dragons campaign setting, which already had a large built-in audience.

Of course, the game’s focus on multiplayer and modding weakened it a bit. The main-quest suffered greatly and ended up feeling stale, leaving the “Expansion Packs” and “Premium Modules” to pick up the pieces. While the add-ons had much better stories than the base game, it still wasn’t on the same level as Bioware’s previous entries.

So, what we have is a game that was built with multiplayer and modding in mind. This begs the question: How well would this translate to Nintendo Switch? My answer for this is a bit complicated, so let’s go over the basics. For one thing, Nintendo is adamantly against the modifying and altering of their products. They are against mods and fan-made projects of any caliber, so it’s doubtful that the game will have modding support on Switch. Unless Nintendo and Beamdog find a way to have the modded servers playable on the Switch, then they sadly won’t be able to bring the “pure” experience over from the PC.

Neverwinter Nights relies heavily on its fan-made content and support, and it would most likely flop without it. Gutting out the game’s mods and modded servers will just dissuade more players from wanting to give the game a shot on Switch. Worse still is the multiplayer, which will have to be heavily altered in its entirety. Without any sort of keyboard peripheral to use, there just won’t be any way to properly communicate with other players.

While there is an app for your phone that lets you communicate with other players in-game, I doubt this functionality would be available for the Switch port. After all, most people just tend to play their RPGs without voice-chat, so downloading the app may be seen as “unnecessary” to most. As such, it’s doubtful that there will be any meaningful way to talk with friends during gameplay.

So, is there any way they can craft a fun experience around the Switch port of Neverwinter Nights? Maybe, but it’ll require a lot of work. One thing I’d like to see included would be a bunch of fan-made modules packaged in with the game itself, which will allow non-PC players to experience what other fans have created. Also, it’d be great if they could find a way to somehow include the modded servers from the PC release. I know it would be impossible to include all of them, but it’d still be nice if we Switch owners could get a taste of Neverwinter Nights’ modding scene.

Furthermore, I’d like to see some good revisions to the multiplayer. Maybe find a way to include text-chat of some sort, or create a better voice-chat option. Lastly, I’d like to some new content exclusive to the Switch. How about giving us a new campaign based off the “Legend of Zelda” games? Or how about a module inspired by “Xenoblade Chronicles”? I’m not asking for anything too big, but I would like something that could help the Switch port of Neverwinter Night stand out.

Regardless, I probably won’t be getting Neverwinter Nights on Switch. I already own the PC version and don’t feel the need to take the plunge again. It would take a lot of additions to the pre-existing game to make me consider buying it twice. I hope that Beamdog can put something interesting together for the Switch release, but I doubt they’ll be able to make a port that perfectly captures what the PC version did. I’m holding out hope that they can do something good with it, but I’m going to remain skeptical up until its release.

Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Chronicles of Mystara Review

I remember when arcades were something special, back when they were a fun excursion for people who just wanted to dump some quarters on a video-game. Arcades were one of my favorite things growing up, mostly due to how much time I spent in them. I’d spend several quarters on a single game, just in an attempt to see how far I’d get. One of the biggest quarter drainers for me were “Beat-Em-Up” games, which involved the player fighting through levels filled with hordes of easily beatable mooks.

Capcom seemed to be the king when it came to beat-em-ups, since they made so many of them back in the day. You had classics like Alien Vs. Predator, Knights of The Round, Captain Commando, and The King of Dragons! However, there were a pair of beat-em-ups that I felt were way better than all the rest. I’m of course talking about the classic “Dungeons & Dragons” arcade games!

Originally released in the 90s, these two games served as arcade interpretations of the classic D&D board-game. Now, I’m going to be doing things a bit differently for this review. While normally I would review these games separately, I felt like I should review them as a collective package. After all, the second game is basically just the first game with a different story, some new classes, and several new areas.

So, let’s tackle the “Chronicles of Mystara” games: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. The two games take place in the eponymous land of “Mystara”, which is one of the original settings for Dungeons & Dragons. Both arcade games plunge you into a fantasy world, and have you do battle against hordes of evil creatures. The two games feature typical fantasy stories, which are filled with typical fantasy characters. The game plays like your average beat-em-up game, but with a twist.

The game adds in RPG mechanics, as well as some rules from the board-game to spice things up. There are a lot of neat little touches, like The Beholder’s ability to block a magic user’s spell-casting abilities. I also liked that the game had a leveling up system, as well as abilities that can only be used a certain amount of times per level. There’s also an item shop available at the end of each level, allowing players to spend the coins they earned on a random smattering of items.

The Mystara games are best played with multiple people, as they were built from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. It’s fun to team up with your friends and fight back the endless onslaught of goblins, owlbears, and magic-wielding elves. One of the games’ most impressive features is the “branching paths” the story takes, which was something most arcade games didn’t have.

Making certain choices in the game result in the player advancing through different levels, collecting rare and legendary items, or fighting new enemies. This gives the relatively short arcade games a fair bit of replay value. Sure, the choices don’t drastically change what happens in the game, but the variety they add is much appreciated.

Speaking of choices, the game offers a wide variety of playable characters. While the first game only had 4 character classes, the sequel upped it to 6. While most characters play near identically to each other, they all boast different abilities that set them apart. For example, Clerics can use healing spells and buff the party, Magic-Users can assault enemies with attack spells, etc.

There’s enough variety here to make the six characters feel unique, while also making them equally efficient in combat. Regardless of their abilities, every character will still primarily focus on hacking away at enemies with their weapon. Let’s move on to the games’ graphics and sound, which have aged remarkably well.

Despite the fact that these games came out in the 90s, their 2D graphics have aged very well. The soundtrack is also fantastic, while boasting some of the catchiest tunes in Capcom history. If I have any complaints about this game at all, it would be that the PC version is pretty bad.

This was the version of the game I played the most, and its lacking in several departments. You can’t change most of the controller bindings, the graphic options are terrible, and overall it’s just a bad port. That being said, the console versions of the game are much better in every aspect.

If you’re one of the people who never grew up on the original arcade games, I highly recommend trying out the console ports. The game is pretty easy to find in digital storefronts, while also being fairly cheap. If you want an arcade game that marries the old-school RPG elements of tabletop D&D with arcade goodness, then this is certainly the game for you!

 

No More Heroes: Into The Suda-Verse

Shared universes are not a new concept, especially since they’ve been around since the dawn of modern fiction. Having different fictional works co-exist in the same reality is certainly an interesting idea, one that has sparked the minds of writers for generations. The biggest example of a shared universe is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has been dominating theaters for over a decade now.

Now, you may be asking yourself: “Are there any new shared universes to indulge in?” After all, one may get sick of the constant barrage of formulaic and uninspired shared universes out there. However, by far the most interesting one would have to be Suda 51’s “Kill The Past” series. Suda 51 and his company “Grasshopper Manufacture” have been creating awesome and very weird Japanese games for over 2 decades now.

The “Kill The Past” series has been one of their trademark franchises for years now, while also encompassing most of their released titles. The titles in said series include: Killer 7, Killer Is Dead, an unrelated short story also called “Killer is Dead”, The No More Heroes franchise, Shadows of The Damned, Let It Die, Moonlight Syndrome, Silver Case, 25th Ward, and several others.

Most of said games are kept separate from each other, only containing slight references to each other. For example, there are baseball players from No More Heroes’ city of “Santa Destroy” in Diabolical Pitch. Likewise, the organization of “ISZK” originated in Michigan: Report From Hell, before showing up in several later games.

All of these games had small elements that connected them to each other, but were mostly their own stories in the long-run. This all changed with the release of the newest No More Heroes again, which goes by the name of “Travis Strikes Again”. This was the third game in the No More Heroes series, revolving around the anime-loving assassin named “Travis Touchdown”.

Despite being a sequel to No More Heroes: Desperate Struggles, it acts more as a sequel to all of Suda’s creations. The game focuses on Travis, who’s going through a midlife crisis of sorts. He now lives in a trailer in the woods, while ignoring his newfound family obligations. After being attacked by a new assassin named “Badman”, Travis finds himself once more thrust into a bizarre adventure.

Of course, Travis isn’t the only returning face. Kamui from “25th Ward” shows up to help him during the “Visual Novel” sequences. Travis also bumps into “Mondo Zappa” near the game’s end, while on the quest for more “Death Balls”. The game is full of a ton of these cameos and references, resulting it in feeling like one big crossover!

It’s nice to see all these mostly unconnected stories finally converge, while also setting up potential followups for their individual franchises. I can totally see them doing sequels to Killer Is Dead, Killer 7, and Shadows of The Damned after playing through this game! This isn’t too surprising, due to how much Suda loves these games. Considering how visually and thematically similar a lot of Suda’s games are, it was only a matter of time before they crossed over.

The thing I liked more about this shared universe is the fact that Travis isn’t that welcoming of all these “new” faces. In fact, most of them he distrusts or just doesn’t like. I like this more than other shared universes, where everyone will get along after having known each other for just a couple minutes. I like seeing protagonists who distrust each other, or who suspect each other of being more than they appear.

Considering the fact that most of the characters in these games are extremely flawed individuals with antagonistic aspects, it only makes sense for them to not get along with each other. That being said, Kamui’s interaction with Travis were truly entertaining. It’s nice seeing them form a sort of friendship over the course of the game, especially due to how entertaining their dialogue is.

Travis Strikes Again definitely did the right thing in crossing over all these games, while establishing and referencing the connections between them. I’m looking forward to seeing what Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture will do with their franchises next. It’d be awesome if they continued to expand on this universe, while telling awesome standalone stories!

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Review

If there’s anything I’ve learned from nearly 4 years of writing, it’s that creativity is king. Making something that’s successful is always a plus, but you always want to make sure that what you make isn’t generic. This isn’t always easy, as balancing both creativity and money is a difficult thing. That’s why companies will often put out bland cookie-cutter projects, because it’s just easier than gambling on something new.

That’s why “Goichi Suda” will always be the king of creating unique gaming experiences. For those of you who don’t know, Goichi Suda is a game developer known for creating truly insane and wacky gaming experiences. Going by the name of “Suda 51”, he has created many games with the help of his development team, “Grasshopper Manufacture”.

Suda’s most popular series would have to be “No More Heroes”, which revolves around a nerdy assassin named “Travis Touchdown”. The first game centered around Travis’ climb to the top of the “League of Assassins”, because he wanted to become number 1 and have sex with some lady named “Sylvia”. That’s the general setup of the game, but the story gets a lot more interesting than that.

Despite the game’s bosses only showing up once each, they all have unique and interesting personalities. They were all entertaining in their own right, which made Travis’ interactions with them all the more engrossing. No More Heroes was a surprise hit, one that got many off-guard. No More Heroes’ unique and stylish gameplay, coupled with its amazing cell-shaded graphics won over the hearts of so many gamers.

Despite the fact that Suda had never planned on making a sequel to it, he just couldn’t ignore fan demand. This resulted in “No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle”, a rather divisive sequel. It was a sequel that streamlined elements of the first game, while offering a different story with a similar premise to the first game.

Jeane Supreme
Jeane can talk?! A TALKING CAT?! THAT’S LUDICROUS!

Acting as a pastiche on revenge stories, Desperate Struggle told the story of Travis’ return to the world of murder. After his best friend is killed, Travis revisits the life he left behind in order to kill all those responsible. The game just wasn’t as interesting as the first one was, feeling more like filler than anything else.

The gameplay wasn’t as varied as the first game, and the ending left a lot to be desired. That brings us to the newest game, which is “Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes”. Being a spinoff of sorts, we are once again thrown into the bloodstained shoes of Travis Touchdown. In said game, Travis finds himself in possession of a mysterious game console known as the “Death Drive MK II”.

While trying to uncover the mysteries of the console, he ends up being attacked by a psycho named “Badman”. Wanting revenge for Travis killing his daughter nearly a decade prior, Badman attempts to murder Travis in cold blood. Before he can do so, the two are sucked into the console itself and find themselves being sent on a journey through various video-games.

The premise is pretty simplistic, though the game does things to spice it up quite a bit. For example, this entire game is just one big giant crossover. It’s actually impressive how much of Suda’s library he shoved into this one game, all just to establish some kind of “shared universe”. I’d discuss the crossover aspect more, but I want to save it for a separate blog post. Don’t worry, I’ll get into more detail on it soon!

Regardless, it’s something that does add to the enjoyment factor of the game. Something that I was mixed on at first was the lack of voice acting, which took some getting used to. The little voice-acting the game had was saved for cinematic cut-scenes, resulting in most of the game relying on written dialogue to tell its story. This isn’t so bad, due in large part to the presentation being pretty solid.

The game presents a lot of its story in two ways: Weird little “Confession” sequences featuring Travis’ inner-thoughts, and “Visual Novel” sequences featuring Travis’ adventures to find the mystical “Death Balls”. While these two segments tend to be mostly disconnected from each other, they do both help in advancing both the story and world. On top of this, they both have a rather nice look to them.

I especially love the Visual Novel sequences, due to them using graphics that wouldn’t be too out of place on an old Apple computer. In short, I found the story to be entertaining, despite its limitations. Let’s move on to the gameplay, which I feel is pretty good overall. Travis Strikes Again features the hack-and-slash gameplay of its predecessors, but with some notable changes. For one thing, the game likes to shift perspectives quite a bit.

You could start out a level from a third-person perspective, only to shift into an isometric view, right before being given a side-scrolling perspective. Thankfully, this constant shifting of perspectives never gets annoying or tiring. It helps keep the game fresh and is an interesting design choice.

What also adds to the gameplay are the RPG elements it introduces. You can level up your character, while also equipping them with various “skill chips”. There are many of these chips scattered throughout the game, and all of them offer many different abilities. Some allow you to heal, shoot lightning at your enemies, or stun your foes. The variety is staggering and it allows for a bit of experimentation.

Speaking of experimentation, this is the first game in the series to have multiplayer. 2 people can take control of both Travis and Badman simultaneously, allowing for some fun co-operative gameplay. What makes this especially fun is the fact that players can hit each other with their attacks without damaging them. This means that you have to be careful with your attacks, or else you’ll hit your teammate and knock him out of a combo.

There are also new gameplay styles aside from the hacking and slashing, such as racing and an Asteroids-like mini-game. I found the racing mini-game to be quite fun, at least once I got the hang of it. The Asteroids section was also fun, even though I suck pretty bad at that game.

However, there’s one gameplay style that just does not work at all: The platforming sections. I’m not sure where Suda’s obsession with putting platforming segments in No More Heroes started, but it needs to stop. The platforming requires a lot of waiting, weird timing, and awkward trial-and-error gameplay.

Another issue I had was with the second level, which had some alright flip puzzles. It’s entertaining, up until a giant blue skull starts chasing you around the level. One touch from the skull would instantly kill you, resulting in a lot of unnecessary running around in an attempt to not die. This part got tedious real fast!

Other than the two parts I mentioned, there wasn’t much wrong with the gameplay. The hack-and-slashing was fun, albeit repetitive. The large amount of skills you could get gave you many options to approach combat with, while the various T-Shirts you could buy gave you an incentive to collect every coin you could find.

One thing I didn’t like was the lack of content. There are only seven levels in the game, and it’ll take you roughly 7-10 hours to beat everything. To be fair, there is a New Game+ mode, collectibles, and 4 difficulties to toy around with. Sadly, it’s nowhere near the amount of things there is to do in the first 2 games.

If you were to play through the game on each difficulty, collect everything, and do the optional “find Jeane” missions, then you could easily get 20-30 hours out of the game. I just wish there was more meaningful side-content, like the “Assassination Missions” in the first game.

Overall, I do think the game-play is pretty entertaining. It’s got flaws, but it doesn’t detract from the overall package too much. Let’s move onto the game’s sound and graphics next, which is its strongest asset. The game looks pretty damn solid, most of the time. As usual, the cut-scenes for the game are gorgeous.

Character designs are fantastic, and the cell-shaded visuals are amazing as usual. Unfortunately, the game likes to zoom out the action a lot, so you sadly won’t get to see the finer details most of the time. The in-game models could also use some polish, especially on Badman. I swear, his hair looks like stray pixels most of the time! The music and sound-effects are fantastic, and really evoke the feel of the first two games.

My favorite song in the whole game had to be “Eight Hearts’ Theme”, due to it being this trippy Japanese rap song. A lot of the game’s songs are just as unbelievably catchy, which isn’t too out of the norm for a Suda 51 game. Even the lounge-like music that plays while you’re at the trailer is awesome! The last thing I’ll touch on is the voice-acting, which is phenomenal. Despite their being very little actual voice-acting in the game, all of it is done really well. Having the original voice-cast return is a definite plus, and I think it meshes well with the game’s style.

Alright, so what are my final thoughts on the game? I definitely enjoyed it, but it certainly had a fair bit of issues. The camera is too zoomed out during most fights, there’s a lack of meaningful side-content, the combat can get repetitive, and some of the new gaming styles aren’t the best.

That being said, the story for the game is pretty fantastic. The cut-scenes are rendered in an interesting way, and I loved the old-school “Travis Strikes Back” sequences. The visuals and sound are both stellar, and each level has a unique feel to it. There’s more enemy variety than in previous games, and the inclusion of all these nods to other games is fantastic.

I liked this game, but I find it hard to recommend to most people. If you’re looking for an action game, than there are certainly worse choices out there. Travis Strikes Again won’t rock your world, or change the way you view action games. It’s a weird, surreal, and interesting experience that builds off of Suda’s massive catalog of work.

Calling it a bad game would be doing a disservice to the hard work that went into it, but it certainly has glaring flaws. I recommend this game mostly to people who love Suda’s work and want to see No More Heroes 3, and also to those who just love surreal Japanese games. As for me, I’m going to play through the game again. After all, I gotta get all those secrets I missed!

The League of Legends Advertising Is Starting To Get Ridiculous

Commercials and advertising are an important thing for any kind of intellectual property, business, or franchise. Getting your name out there is beneficial to gaining more revenue and attention, which in turn helps you grow your fan-base. I’m not against advertising in any way, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think advertising could go too far at times. A good example of this is the animated commercials for “League of Legends”, which have to be some of my least favorite advertisements of all time.

Please keep mind that I’m not trying to put down League of Legends or its fan-base with this post. I just really don’t like its advertising, that’s all. I’m a huge fan of animation, but even I can’t deny how bland these advertisements are. Most of the animated commercials lack any sort of consistent style, and all appear to be made by different animators. On paper, this doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that all these animators approach animation and tone differently, resulting in an inconsistent style for most of these advertisements.

For example, some commercials are styled like Japanese anime, while others are presented as animatic-style Flash animations. This results in most commercials having no real correlation with each other, due to them all being so vastly different. It probably doesn’t help that some of them seem to lie about the game, or don’t properly portray it correctly.

You see, League of Legends is a “MOBA”, which stands for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”. It’s similar to a MMORPG, but lacking the vast open-world and quests of one. Instead of questing across a fantasy world, you do battle on an arena with teams of players. The game itself relies on good coordination and teamwork in order to achieve victory.

Thing is, some advertisements choose to portray the game differently. A good example is the video below, which tries to make the game seem more like a MMORPG. You have players exploring the world and having adventures, while fighting other players. In truth, there are no real adventures to be had in this game.

League of Legends mostly exists as a competitive game┬ánowadays, which the commercial does a poor job of demonstrating. Several other League of Legends ads rely on really bad comedy, which results in a lot of jokes just missing the mark. Most of them contain silly voices, awkward editing, or a lack of any real comedic hook. I know comedy is subjective, but I always found these “comedic” advertisements to really lack any punch.

I’ve harped a lot on the advertisements themselves, but they are really only part of the problem. The real issue I have with them is the frequency in which they get shown, since I often get barraged by them way too often. League of Legends has many of these adverts, which will often by shoved into your face as you try to watch a video on YouTube.

I have no problem with YouTube advertisements, but I get a sick of them constantly shoving the same commercials for the same game down my gullet all the time. It’s especially weird since I never watched any League of Legends videos before today, so there would be little reason for YouTube’s strange algorithm to put them in front of me. I haven’t even played the game in the years, since it was never really my type of genre.

I’ve heard rumors that the reason the advertising is so gratuitous is due to the game starting to die. It wouldn’t surprise me, considering League of Legends is nearly past its expiration date. The game has been around for almost 10 years now, and is mostly kept alive by its competitive scene. Most online games only last about 3-10 years, so I can’t see the game continuing much past this point.

Again, I’ve got nothing against advertising a game. The key problem is that the advertising is too in-your-face and inconsistent. When you have over a dozen different animators/animation teams all producing their own vision, then things are bound to get problematic. I feel that having a unified vision could help the advertising in the long run, but I doubt that will ever happen. Oh well, at least it’s not one of the worst advertising campaigns I’ve seen…

 

Destiny 2: Better Late Than Never Review

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Stupid shoulder-pads: The Video-Game

What happens when titans fall? They create an earthquake when they hit the ground! This is what happened nearly three weeks ago when the development studio known as “Blizzard Activision” bombed their convention presentation. Blizzard shot themselves in the foot at their event, (known as Blizzcon) by announcing a phone game based off their popular Diablo franchise.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, they announced this rather small game on the stage usually reserved for big announcements. It also doesn’t help that they belittled the audience when they got booed, or that they acted like this little phone game would be some kind of “big seller”. Regardless, people were understandably annoyed with how Blizzard handled the situation.

This little stunt cost them billions of dollars, and made many investors lose faith in them. I bring all this up for one specific reason: Blizzard and Activision are trying really hard to do as much damage control as they can. This resulted in them purposefully leaking Diabo 4, a sequel to a game that most PC gamers would actually want.

However, one of the biggest things they did was make Destiny 2 free for a couple of weeks. Destiny 2 is a game that I would classify as “interesting”. Destiny 2 was a sequel to the first Destiny game, one of the most over-hyped games in the history of gaming. After it came out and underwhelmed audiences, while its developer “Bungie” kept trying to fix and improve the game.

However, these fixes were both good and bad. They fixed some of the more glaring issues, which included adding new PVP modes, new items and side-content, and actually like-able NPCs. However, it took forever for a lot of these fixes to be implemented. With each new expansion came new changes, which helped improve the game greatly. However, most people were understandably irked by the fact that they had to pay so much for a game that wasn’t even really finished.

To actually play what most fans considered to be the “good parts” of the story, you had to buy these expansions. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a very unsatisfying and incomprehensible story-line, one that only lasts a few hours at best. After releasing several expansions, Bungie and Activision decided to release a sequel. This sequel came a mere three years after the first game, and was met with a slightly higher reception than the first game.

That brings us to today’s subject, the controversial Destiny 2. I was never really interested in the Destiny franchise, but I finally decided to give this game a chance. After all, they just gave it out to everyone for free. So, why not dive into it and see what I was missing? Allow me to preface this by saying that I never actually played the first game, so this review is coming from a fresh and new perspective.

Destiny 2 takes place in a fictional sci-fi universe, revolving around a group of space heroes called “The Guardians”. The Guardians are magical immortals, given their powers by a giant floating planet-like thing called “The Traveler”. An evil alien named “Ghaul” has attacked earth and killed countless beings, all in an attempt to capture The Traveler. With The Traveler in his clutches, he steals “The Light” from The Guardians, which is effectively their power source. With their powers gone, Ghaul’s forces easily defeatsThe Guardians and takes control of the earth.

You play as a customizable Guardian who sets out to regain his Light, stop Ghaul, and collect a ton of rare and shiny items along the way. It’s a very basic plot, but it’s presented in a very poor way. The game does a terrible job of explaining who the characters are, how the universe works, or what The Traveler even is. I know this is a sequel, but I still found it hard to follow the plot. There’s also no in-game codex, so it’s hard to look up info on what happened in the previous game while playing.

There’s so much that goes unexplained through much of the game, to the point where it’s almost hilarious. The story is the weakest part of the game, that’s for sure. What about the game-play itself? Well, the game itself is fun to play, at least for the most part. The game is a First-Person Shooter/ Role-Playing Game hybrid. The game focuses primarily on gun-play, fighting various enemies, and gaining shiny new pieces of equipment.

Let’s start with the game’s gun-play and combat, which is its main focus. It’s pretty good, and features very responsive controls. There’s nothing “unique” or “revolutionary” about the combat, but it gets the job done. Shooting giant alien monsters is satisfying, even if the enemy AI isn’t very smart. Enemies will often just stand there and shoot at you, or occasionally charge at you.

The few times the combat becomes challenging is when you are forced to face a near infinite amount of enemies at once, or when you’re facing a boss with a ton of health. As long as you’re constantly changing out your equipment for new stuff, you’ll never really bump into a challenge that’s too much for you. Even the final boss was kind of a joke, as I was able to take him out fairly easily.

The biggest draw of this game is its “loot”, the gear you obtain by fighting the aforementioned enemies. You’ll constantly be fighting tons of nameless monsters in order to get these items, only to find that they look terrible. The problem with a lot of gear is that you’ll often find stuff with better stats, but it’ll make you look ugly as sin. I can’t tell you how many stupid-looking shoulder-pads I found, or how often I had to wear them just to get their stat benefits.

Sure, you can “Infuse” your weaker gear with something of higher stats. This allows you to wear something that both looks cool and is sufficiently powerful. The problem is that you need several different items to be able to infuse your gear, with the items changing depending on the rarity of said items. This means you’ll need to farm a ton of useless items to infuse your gear, some of which you may never have any real use for.

Defeating enemies isn’t the only way to obtain gear and items, there are plenty of activities in the game that can reward you such items. There are “Public Events”, which are basically special trials that happen somewhere on the map. Any player on the map can engage in them, resulting in most nearby players working together to complete them. Upon completion, you’ll receive a smattering of random items as a reward.

Unfortunately, Public Events are lacking in variety. There’s only a few on each map, and most of them are copied and pasted from the previous planets you visited. There are also “Adventures” and “Quests”, which tend to be fairly boring side-quests that don’t offer much in terms of world-building. There are also Strikes, which are large missions that require 3 players. These are surprisingly tough, and require you to have a lot of good gear in order to properly beat them.

And your reward for wearing more powerful gear to complete these missions is… Even more powerful gear. This is one of Destiny 2’s biggest problems, it’s constant need to shower you in gear. I’ve complained a lot about the loot system and how it functions in the game, but that’s because collecting loot is the game’s biggest draw.

The story is lackluster, most side-quests are forgettable, and most of the cast is fairly bland. Destiny 2 is an undeniably fun game, but it relies too much on gimmicks in order to pad out its run-time. When 90% of your game’s content is superfluous and forgettable, then maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

The last thing I want to touch on is the games “Micro-transactions”, which involving nickle-and-diming the fans for everything their worth. You see, there is an in-game store called “Eververse”. In order to buy some of the rare items from said store, you’ll need a fake currency called “Silver”. As typical with a lot of modern games, you can only get Silver by buying it with in-game cash.

Thankfully, most of the Eververse stuff is cosmetic. It’s still annoying that so much of the cooler-looking things are gated behind paywalls, which is pretty annoying if you’re one of the people who have already paid full-price for the game itself. Sure, it’s superfluous content, but it’s also content you have to shell out a ton of money for.

To sum up my opinions, Destiny 2 is alright. It’s a game that focuses more on drowning its player-base in forgettable side-content, rather than making an experience everyone can enjoy. The story is bland, despite its stellar cinematics. On top of this, the game lacks any uniqueness in its structure. I know a lot of what I’ve said has already been echoed by a lot of other players.

However, I’d be doing a disservice to my audience by just glancing over the game’s many faults. To me, this is a “middle-of-the-road” game. The game is fun, but gets extremely boring fast. This is due to its lack of variety and its boring missions. Destiny 2 left very little impact on me, resulting in me uninstalling the game shortly after beating it.

I don’t hate what I played, but I can’t say I found it enthralling either. Destiny 2 is a middling game, one that I wouldn’t normally have played. The fact that I got it for free is what got me playing it, but the game’s mediocre nature kept me from continuing past that. The amazing graphics and sound did little to win me over. I suggest only getting this game if it’s on sale, or if they offer it for free again. I’d say it’s not a game worth paying full price for, or engaging in its shady micro-transactions.

The Surprising Popularity of Dragon Ball Heroes

 

 

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If you can name all of the characters on this cover, then you are officially the alpha-nerd.

Dragon Ball is one of those shows that will never go away, due to its massive worldwide popularity. This epic action series about a goofy alien dad and his constant need to get stronger and fight gods has captured the hearts of millions of people. The story of Goku, his sons, his friends, and the adventures he goes on have entertained the masses for over three decades at this point.

With a franchise that has had so many iterations, continuities, and characters, one may wonder: What if there was a single series that combined all these iterations? Well, that’s Dragon Ball Heroes! This Japanese exclusive game was Japan’s attempt at selling trading cards based off popular Dragon Ball characters. How the game would work is that you would buy booster packs of cards, take them to an Dragon Ball Heroes arcade machine, scan them, and then use them in the actual game.

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Three Goku’s?! That’s a lot!

What made Dragon Ball Heroes interesting was that everything was canon to it, and I mean EVERYTHING! The movies, games, spin-offs, and even that obscure arcade game from the 90s are all canon to this one sub-series of the franchise. Of course, Heroes isn’t canon to anything in particular. This hasn’t stopped characters and elements from the game making it into other series, such as Xenoverse and Dokkan Battle.

Heroes revolves around a young human boy named “Beat”, who is pulled into the Dragon Ball Heroes game in-universe. He ends up in an amalgamated version of the Dragon Ball universe, and has to ally himself with various characters from a multitude of different realities and continuities. All the while, he seeks to improve both himself and his newfound Saiyan abilities.

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A badass nerd in a trench-coat, that’s new!

Heroes isn’t solely focused on Beat, as the game boasts thousands of different playable characters. Unfortunately, having this many characters in one game comes with a catch: You have to buy them all separately. You see, the game works by scanning in Dragon Ball Heroes trading cards. You buy packs of them at the store, scan them, and are then allowed to use them in-game.

While Heroes is popular in Japan, the game never left its home country. A lot of this comes down to the fact that most people won’t buy dozens of individual trading cards just for one game. Another part of it could do with the machines themselves, which are pretty pricey to make and ship. Games with characters from Heroes in them have been removed from the US releases of recent Dragon Ball games, due to Bandai-Namco not wanting to advertise the game out of Japan.

Despite this, Heroes was still able to be enjoyed by people outside of Japan. Due to the widespread nature of the internet, hardcore Dragon Ball fans were able to get their hands on various pieces of Heroes material. This included the trading cards themselves, the 3DS ports of the arcade games, and the animated shorts made to advertise the game.

On top of this, fans were able to watch the Dragon Ball Heroes anime on Youtube, and enjoy a show that was only meant to be seen in Japan. Due to Dragon Ball’s overwhelming popularity, fans clamor for anything related to Dragon Ball. As a result, Heroes has caught the eyes of many American fans.

Despite Bandai-Namco’s decision to not bring the game over here, it still hasn’t stopped fans from trying to get their hands on it. Pretty much any YouTube video on the game usually has at least 50 messages that read like this: “PLEASE bring Dragon Ball Heroes over to America!”

It’s ironic that in Namco’s attempt to not sell/advertise the game over, they ended up making the game semi-popular in America in spite of it. I think a lot of that comes down to it being the “Forbidden Fruit”, a game that will never officially be released here. People want what they cannot obtain, and one such thing is Heroes.

Still, that doesn’t mean that a release will never happen. For example, most people weren’t expecting Metal Wolf Chaos to get a US release, but it’s finally getting one after all these years! So, maybe there is hope for Dragon Ball Heroes to be released in the West. After all, if a game about the president piloting a giant robot can get released here, pretty much anything can!

Fallout New Vegas: “Fallout 76 Experience” Mod Review

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Fruity Bird: A man with a stupid name, who also happens to take a stupid amount of punishment.

Well, Fallout 76 is almost upon us. The release is just five months away, and people are clamoring for what they think will be the “greatest online experience ever”. Well, you no longer have to wait! Why? It’s all because one fan decided to make a mod to emulate that “authentic” online game-play. As a result, we’re gifted with one of the greatest mods of all time: The Fallout 76 Experience!

The main premise of this mod is simple: It emulates a MMORPG experience by filling the game-world with NPCs based off the kinds of people you’d find playing online games. These are the kinds of players who like to spam garbage memes, attack you for no reason at all, and generally try to ruin your day. In essence, this is probably what Fallout 76 will become.

These NPCs are all over the game, and you’ll encounter dozens of them upon installing the mod and starting a new game. Each NPC is more terrible than the last, and will often shout obscenities at you while trying to bludgeon you to death. Heck, one NPC blasts the “Thomas The Tank Engine” theme song nonstop in the starting town!

There’s a lot of craziness like that in the mod. For example, one NPC named “Fruity Bird” (pictured above) attacked me inside the giant dinosaur attraction in Novac. This insane NPC shouted obscenities at me, while wearing a space-suit and trying to punch me to death. What was truly awesome about this NPC is that he feels like he was designed by a player who has zero idea on how to build a character.

His defense stats are through the roof, but his attacks are weak and meaningless. This means that he can take a lot of damage, but can barely dish it out. Sadly, you’ll run into a lot of people like this in a true online game. That’s what makes this mod truly amazing, it’s a multiplayer game without actually having multiplayer in it. All the “players” you run into are NPCs (Non-Player Characters) programmed to either charge at you, stand around pointlessly, or gang up on you alongside other NPCs.

Despite the simplistic nature of the mod, it crafts a more entertaining experience than the last New Vegas mod I reviewed. The New Vegas multiplayer mod was lacking in the fun department, being a broken system where factions rule and solo players can’t hope to stand a chance. At least with this mod, the NPC “players” won’t get in your way as much.

Honestly, I had more fun with just 10 minutes of this mod, than I ever did with the 3 hours I spent with the multiplayer mod. Of course, I’d love if New Vegas had a truly good multiplayer mod. That being said, I like that this mod emulates what an online Fallout would be like.

Let’s be real, Fallout 76 will probably be the same as the “Fallout 76 Experience” mod. I can picture it now, people running around, spouting memes, and shoot anything that moves. It’s truly the kind of online experience I can get invested in! Well, not really, but at least I can get some items from destroying these NPCs. In the end, it’s the loot that really matters!