Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Black Order Review

Spider Squad
Wait, I don’t remember Venom being in Spider-Verse…

Comic books are a medium that will never truly die. Sure, the sales for comics are lower than they have ever been right now, but that hasn’t stopped a stream of film adaptations being made every year. This is especially true for Marvel Comics! Despite the fact that their comic imprint is pretty much dead, they are still making billions at the box office with their “Marvel Cinematic Universe” films.

The MCU has become the biggest money-maker in Hollywood and is a giant interconnected web of over 20 films and numerous TV shows. Of course, these aren’t the only things that spawned from the films. There’s also Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, a sequel/reboot to a classic game series that merges the comics with the films very well! With that being said, let’s talk about this game and what makes it so great!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is the third entry in the franchise, while also being a definitive reboot for the series as a whole. It ditches established continuity in order to take elements from the many other Marvel continuities. The game focuses on the “Infinity War” plot-line from both the comics and the past couple Avengers films.

However, this game does a lot things different than its comic and film counterparts. Instead of making a straight-up adaptation of Infinity War, the quest for the Infinity Stones is used to take the players on a fantastical journey through the Marvel universe.

You fight numerous villains along the way, many of whom possess the fabled Infinity Stones. It’s your job to beat up the bad guys, join forces with over 30 classic Marvel heroes and villains, and stop Thanos from making the universe “not feel so good”. The story is basic, but it has a couple interesting twists that manages to make the main quest entertaining throughout.

However, the story isn’t the big draw of the game, that award goes to the game-play! Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a dungeon-crawling action RPG at its heart. You pick a team of 4 superheroes from a list of over 30 and then fight through hoards of henchmen and super-villains. With each of the 36 heroes having different powers, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, it makes choosing the right team a daunting task.

The game-play is pretty basic and is generally easy to get a hold of. You have your four superheroes, which you can switch to at will with a single button tap. Each hero has regular attacks and a set of four upgradable special attacks. The abilities for each hero tend to be distinctive and helps give each hero a unique flare. For example, Spider-Man can web enemies up and keep them from attacking, while Doctor Strange has several magical spells that are good at crowd control.

Making 36 playable characters distinct is truly a tremendous feat! What’s more tremendous than the amount of playable characters is the insane upgrade system in this game! You have special magical crystals called “ISO-8s”, which boost your stats and abilities. There’s also a large upgrade tree that’ll take months worth of game-play to fully fill out!

While the upgrade and equipment system is pretty fun, the game is way too grind-heavy. All of the characters in the game have to be leveled up individually, which means you’ll have to replay a lot of repetitive quests to get new characters up to the level of your current party.

Unfortunately, that’s the game’s biggest problem: It’s repetitive nature. The game offers a campaign that’ll run you a dozen hours at most, and it re-uses all of its boss fights and story missions in the “Infinity Trials”. These are special harder versions of missions in the story mode. While this sounds cool, they don’t do anything too new or different from the story missions. They just function like harder versions of pre-existing missions, while lacking in distinctive variation. While the Infinity Trials can offer new objectives and toss in a couple distinct challenges, these missions still lack in meaningful changes.

Let’s move onto the game’s presentation, which is stellar for a game of this ilk! The graphics are nice and cartoonish, which give the game a fun “comic book-y” feel. The game’s music is the kind of music you’d normally hear in a superhero game, nothing too special there. However, the game’s voice-cast is what truly sells the game’s presentation!

Nicholas Cage
I can’t help but read this line in Nicholas Cage’s voice.

If you’ve grown up with any Marvel cartoon, video-game, or animated special in the past year, then you’ll definitely recognize the voices on offer here. Marvel and Disney went all out and hired back voice-actors from hundreds of different projects to come back to voice their characters. It’s one of the most stellar voice-casts ever assigned to a licensed video-game! Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man, Steven Blum as Venom and Wolverine, and Nolan North as Deadpool are just a few standout pearls in this ocean of amazing talent.

While the game looks and sounds awesome, it unfortunately has quite a few performance issues. For one thing, the game chugs when there’s too much going on. Whenever action fills the screen, expect your frame-rate to slow down considerably. Worse still, the game’s demanding graphics tends to kick the fans into over-drive. This causes the fans to go into over-time, which does burn through quite a bit of power. I’m hoping this does get patched later down the line.

With all this being said, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a fantastic time! The insane amount of characters, fantastic voice-acting, great visuals, and fun game-play definitely sell the title. However, it is hampered by its repetitive nature and occasional performance issues. The game is pure fun, but don’t expect anything “unique” or “life-changing”. It’s just a fun action game, which is all I could ask for!

Doctor Octogonapus
Never thought I’d see Doctor Octopus’ original design again! We need MORE classic Doc Ock action!

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!

Top 5 Bandai-Namco Published Games

20170707113944_1.jpg
Time for a game of “Spot the Super Sentai reference”!

Who loves Pac-Man? Who loves Dig-Dug? Who loves a ton of awesome Japanese games only 5 people have played? That would be me! I’m a huge fan of the game company known as “Bandai-Namco”. They’ve produced countless good games over the years, some of which are my personal favorites! So, I thought that it would be a good idea to tackle a top 5 list of my favorite Bandai-Namco games. Now, please keep in mind that Bandai-Namco is a game publisher, not a developer. All the games that will be listed here were made by other developers.

Still, the games that are published by Bandai-Namco tend to be really awesome. They are one of the few publishers that hasn’t really gone off the deep end, and one of the few that continue to publish really good games. While Namco themselves used to make a lot of games, I wouldn’t be including those here. I will most likely do a separate list for Namco games, if I ever get around to playing them, that is. I’ve only ever played a couple. So yeah, let’s get into this list!

5. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoyed this game! Cyber Sleuth is a turn-based RPG spinoff of the classic Digimon franchise. It plays a lot like the Pokemon games, though it does some unique things. It has a fun story, that sadly falls apart halfway through. Still, it’s definitely entertaining!

While the game is certainly a grind, it packs a ton of punch. It has over 300 different Digimon to collect, and writing that pays homage to various parts of the series. The game also sports some nice graphics for a Vita game, and manages to capture the original designs of the Digimon well. What stops me from putting this game higher on the list is the aforementioned somewhat weak story, coupled with the boring and annoying dungeon design, and constant grinding. Still, this is a solid and fun game that I think any hardcore Digimon fan can get behind.

4. Chroma Squad

I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I’m not the biggest fan of Power Rangers out there. Sure, I loved it back in the 90s and early 2000s, but haven’t really watched the show since. Still, when I heard about this little tactical RPG that takes elements from Power Rangers and Kamen Rider, I found myself intrigued. So, I decided to grab this game and was glad I did!

This little Indie game named Chroma Squad is made by the guys behind “Knights of Pen and Paper 1” and it’s somehow even better than that game! This is a game that combines simulation elements with strategy RPG elements, and puts a Power Rangers spin on it. The game is fun, albeit short.

On top of this, some of the more ridiculous elements tend to water down the game’s already silly narrative. Still, this is definitely a fun game, and it’s art-style reminds me a lot of older games such as Habbo Hotel. I feel fourth place is definitely a good place for Chroma Squad. It’s an extremely fun game, but I wouldn’t feel right putting it above the next three. This game is an awesome homage to Power Rangers, but isn’t anything too spectacular.

3. God Eater Resurrection

I’ve made it no secret I love God Eater. The original game on the PSP was a fantastic little gem, that unfortunately did not get a lot of attention. However, it was eventually remade and released on both PS Vita and other consoles. God Eater Resurrection is a damn fine game that adds so many refinements and modifications to an already strong formula.

This is a game that’s essentially a Monster Hunter clone, but adds in things such as enhanced maneuverability and better customization options. Heck, you can even make your own custom bullets in this game! This game also packs a ton of quests and missions into one cheap little package. That’s right, the Vita version was only 20 bucks!

It has such good value for its cheap price. In fact, if it wasn’t such a steal, I probably wouldn’t have bought it! It’s got a ton of new content and improvements, but at its core it it is the same game. With a new story mode, a newer and much more improved English, and several new weapon types, I can say that there is still a lot here for people who played the original game.

I’ve gushed about this game, but it does have problems. Some rather glaring flaws that made me push it further back on the list. For one thing, there no optional Japanese voice-acting option. Now, this is more of a nitpick, but it’s something that does annoy me. When I replay games, I tend to try the other language options, so I get a slightly different experience when I play through it the second time. Sadly, this game does not allow for that.

Couple this was constantly reused monsters, a lack of new creatures, some bits of awkward voice-acting here and there, and a somewhat underwhelming mutliplayer experience, and you have a game that misses the mark on occasion. Still, there’s enough good here that it out-weighs its negative features.

2. Solatorobo: Red The Hunter

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve never heard of this game before! Why is it on the list?” I’ll tell you why: It’s awesome, unique and interesting! Ever wonder what would happen if Sherlock Hound was a video-game and had giant robots in it? That’s pretty much this game in a nut-shell! You play as a “Hunter” named Red, who is a dog-like being in a world filled with anthropomorphic felines and canines.

After a job goes awry, Red ends up saddled with a mysterious child named Elh. It’s up to Red, his sister Chocolat, and Elh to save the world from 2 different impending disasters. That’s right, two! For you see, much like an anime multiple story arc, the game is split into two parts. Even the second story arc introduces enough new things to keep the experience fresh.

The game’s combat, story, graphics, music, and characters are what elevated this game so high on the list. Here we have a game with a good story and a ton of rich lore, and manages to link back to an equally obscure game called “Tail Concerto”. That’s right, Solatorobo is a shared universe, but you don’t need to play the other games to get it. It is its own story, and a damn good one at that!

Playing this for the first time, I had inklings of what would happen. However, when I reached the end of both story arcs, I was pleasantly surprised! The gameplay is no slouch either, as it introduces a mechanic that lets you throw enemies at other. In fact, most of your time in combat will be spent picking up enemies and tossing them at each other. I always loved this style of combat, and it makes for some refreshing and inventive battles.

With all the good this game has, how come nobody ever talks about it? Well, this game does have a few glaring issues. For one thing, most of its side-quests are superfluous and pointless. The game also forces you to do a large majority of them if you want to progress in the main plot. On top of this, some boss battles are bit on the underwhelming side. The game likes to toss you against a blimp boss a lot, where you have to throw the rockets he fires back at him. That’s whole fight by the way, and there’s little permutations each time you do this.

Also, the game was not marketed well. Despite getting a whopping 100 commercials and airing them all in Japan, the game still flopped hard in its native country. On top of this, Bamco didn’t really advertise this game at all in America or other countries. As a result, it barely sold well at all. Nowadays, the game is hard to find and rare, mostly because nobody really bought it.

It’s really sad, honestly. This is a game that was made with more polish than modern games would get. Yet… Nobody played it. That’s why I feel so comfortable about putting this game so high. This isn’t a game that brings too many new things to the table, but it’s still a fun action RPG with an entertaining and somewhat dark plot. The game may be difficult to find, but if you can get it used I highly recommend you do!

1. Dragon Ball Fusions

People may wonder why I chose Fusions over Xenoverse, which I claimed was a superior game in a previous top 5 list. Well, for one thing I’ve felt I have been talking about Xenoverse way too much lately. On top of this, while I think Xenoverse is a superior game, I had more fun with Fusions. Dragon Ball Fusions is a unique beast, as it is a Dragon Ball video-game with monster collecting elements.

This game does not focus on Goku, but on your own player this time. Goku’s there, but he’s a side character. That’s what I enjoyed so much about this game, is that it feels like your story. All the other Dragon Ball heroes are just along for the ride. The problem with Dragon Ball games (especially Xenoverse) is that it never feels like your own story. This time, they changed it up and made it a lot more refreshing.

On top of this, the game also has a unique turn-based strategy RPG play-style. It’s difficult to describe how this game plays, it’s like an RPG meets a pinball game! That’s a bit of an exaggerated comparison, but I find it difficult to fully explain how this game plays. It meshes so many unique elements and manages to be extremely refreshing.

The game’s customization is its strongest point. You can customize how your character looks in so many ways, even choose the colors of each individual outfit piece. You can choose from five distinct races with enough options to make a character that truly suits you. Sure, the choices aren’t infinite or as robust as Xenoverse, but there’s definitely a good variety.

The game also has a stellar soundtrack and fantastic visuals, especially for a handheld game. I honestly love this game, way more than other game on the list. Despite this, I can still acknowledge its flaws. Battles are way too slow and can often take 15 minutes to half an hour if you aren’t careful. This game is also very grind-heavy at times. On top of this, the game’s unique “EX Fusion” system is cumbersome, despite it being one of the most fun parts of the game. It takes forever to defuse characters, and some of the requirements to get certain fusions is downright insane.

For example, to even fuse Cell with yourself, you have to complete all 16 quizzes. This requires you to complete a lot of busywork and will most assuredly take you a month of real-life time in order to pull it off. Sadly, a lot of fusions are like this. The game’s worst aspect though is the online multiplayer, which was patched in later.

It’s horribly unbalanced, and it’s possible to lose in just a few turns if your team isn’t overpowered as all hell. The best way to describe it is that its like a game of Chess, but with as many variables as a tabletop RPG. It’s insane, and it definitely sucks a fair bit of fun out of the game. It’s also impossible to find a forum where people aren’t complaining about this tacked-on feature.

Regardless, I don’t think you’ll find a more refreshing and accessible modern strategy RPG. Despite the fact that its mostly geared towards a younger audience, I think any hardcore Dragon Ball fan can get some enjoyment out of it. It’s a game that really shows what Bandai-Namco is capable of as a a publisher.

In Summation

That’s my list of my top favorite Bamco games! Keep in mind that while I am a massive fan of Bandai-Namco, I do acknowledge that they have faults. Their handling of Dokkan Battle was less than stellar at times, and bordered on feeling like a bit of ripoff at times. While I do enjoy their work, they are by no means a perfect company. Regardless, I’ll keep buying their games because I am wildly supportive of what they do.

So, what’s your favorite Bamco games? Feel free to tell me in the comment section! If you guys have any suggestions for specific types of top 5 lists you’d like to see, let me know below. Have a good day and keep it as sweet as syrup!