SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Image & Form Games and Thunderful Publishing
The SteamWorld series has explored many avenues when it comes to their games. They can range from Metroidvania with SteamWorld Dig to Turn-based strategy with SteamWorld Heist. But Image & Form Games announced that they would take the series in an unexpected direction. It would come to be known as SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. Mixing turn-based RPG with the feel of a collectible card game is an interesting ambition. Does this game deliver in everything and then some?
Let’s get started with the plot. The game is presented as a fairy tale. Long ago there was a warrior who went by the name of Gilgamech. He is a legend due to his accomplishments, including taking down a menacing force called the Behemoth. But as time went on his feats would soon fade from memory. Several years pass and the world is at peace. Armilly and Copernica, small-town friends go on a small journey. It starts small but eventually it soon escalates into one that will decide the fate of their world. They will meet new allies, face deadly challenges and eventually come together not just as a team but as real heroes.
Sure the story is traditional fairy tale fluff but it’s one story I got behind from start to finish. It starts simple and as it goes on, it gets intense. They take their time introducing the world, the characters, etc. Not only that but the characters also develop and improve as a result. It just feels so enjoyable that by the time its over, you feel relieved. You feel satisfied to have enjoyed a tale like this, even if it does follow many of the tropes.
Gameplay in SteamWorld Quest is different from previous entries. It’s split into two sections: field and battle. Field is mostly a side-scroller where players can move about and explore. It isn’t just you but your enemies too. Sometimes you can find treasures that give players new things and other times you can find doors that lead to hidden areas. In some instances there are some puzzle solving. Nothing too fancy. As for enemies, you can avoid them if you know their patterns but one way or the other, you got to attack them. Attacking them or even encountering them triggers the second section, battle.
In battle, in follows your traditional RPG game. You have your party on one side while the enemy’s on the other. What sets this apart from other RPG games is the game’s main gimmick: cards. You use cards to have your characters do a variety of things, ranging from attacks or special abilities. But there’s a limit. Players must form a deck of 8 cards for each of the five characters in the party. In addition many cards can contain a cost. In the place of MP, there are steam gears. You acquire 1 steam gear each turn but some cards will give you access to more. Not only do players have to create proper decks for each character but also they have to determine the best strategies. It’s a very interesting system that offers a lot of experimentation and customization, giving players the freedom to decide how their party should go about. In addition using three of the same card type gives access to Chains, letting party members dish out special attacks. They mostly depend on the weapon equipped and can range from offensive to defensive. Again it adds more variety to a game that will have players plan accordingly.
The combat is really good and sometimes addicting to boot. It’s not just you who will be dealing the pain but your enemies to. They won’t hesitate to get versatile by using buffs and debuffs. Players will have to do the same and sometimes mix things up if they wish to succeed. Boss battles will really put your skills to the test and sometimes you’ll have to form strategies to beat them. Thankfully the checkpoint system is effective. There are save points and you can automatically return to them if you die but using them will also revive enemies you defeated. It’s similar to Dark Souls but it can also be used to grind your characters. It’s pretty good and one you will definitely need. The game isn’t long, taking players 10-12 hours to complete. But if there is a recommendation, do the game on Hard. Hard will provide you a good challenge but Normal comes at a close second if you feel it’s too difficult.
I love how the game looks. It carries this steampunk feel while adding it’s own flair to make it stand out. The characters all look great and they stand out with their own strengths, weaknesses and trials to overcome. If there’s one thing I will praise about the game is the music. The music is really amazing, especially during boss battles. Makes players feel energized and really wanting to be victorious. Everything about the game has a lot of heart and soul put into it. It shows in every way and it’s easy to see why Image & Form and Thunderful Publishing delivered in this game. They truly did deliver. If there was an issue or two this game had, it would probably be the lack of challenge. That’s not to say it’s bad since there are 3 difficulty settings. As stated earlier, it’s recommended to play the game on Hard for a true challenge. Also there’s not much to do after being it aside from a coliseum challenge. A New Game+ would alleviate it and add more to the length.
In conclusion, SteamWorld Quest is a game that has a familiar feel but offers something new and unique. To summarize, there’s gameplay that is unique and at times addictive along with its combat. There’s also a solid presentation that keeps it consistent and the music is really good. Only a minor negative or two hinders this from being an all-time game but it’s truly one that players should put their time into. It’s a worthy addition to the Steamworld series of games and from my experience, you won’t regret it. Trust me.
I give SteamWorld Quest an 8.5 out of 10.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
In terms of video games, the Dragon Ball franchise can be applied towards many genres such as fighting, action RPG and so on. But would you believe that something like Dragon Ball can be as a card game? In Japan there’s a popular arcade game called Dragon Ball Heroes and with this popularity, the game has been ported over to handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and has recently gotten an OVA anime. A few months ago, Namco Bandai announced that the series would finally come overseas in the form of Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission for Nintendo Switch and Steam. Is the game worth your time or should it be given a hard pass?
The game’s story takes place in a fictional town where children play the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card game. You play the role as an avatar, a character created by the player who desires to be the best. It starts out innocent but then the avatar gets involved in an adventure where he must team up with other individuals and characters from the Dragon Ball universe. What for? To stop a madman who wants nothing more than to wipe away history and reshape it into one that suits him.
From my experience, the story seems traditional for Dragon Ball Heroes. You create your character and then take part in an adventure. Simple as that. Not only that but Dragon Ball Heroes is infamous for introducing various what-ifs for many of its characters. But it befits the world and it’s characters. Not to mention it also feels a bit familiar and predictable to boot.
In terms of gameplay, SDBH World Mission takes the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card game and incorporates it into a video game. Players create their own avatar character and use it in a variety of modes. Not only that but players also need to create their own decks. In Super Dragon Ball Heroes, decks consist of a minimum of seven cards. Using 7 cards, players need to come up with different strategies to defeat their foes. Battles take place on a two-sided grid with each player controlling their side. It’s up to players to move their cards around to determine the best course of action. Cards also contain stamina and they determine how much power they can unleash on enemies. The higher the power, the more likely you are to attack first. Not only that but attacks also require timed button presses and striking first with a high amount guarantees a hit. In some cases characters can deal special attacks. Cards also come in 3 types: Hero, Elite and Berserker. Heroes are well balanced fighters, Elites specialize in Ki attacks and Berserkers deal major HP damage. Having a deck with proper balance and skills is necessary for victory and beyond. You can also create your own cards via the Card Customizer offering players a lot more to do. Also your cards can equip items that can boost either their HP, Power or Guard. This adds more into customizing your deck and giving it something even grand.
As for the game modes, there are plenty. Story Mode is one where players use their avatars in an adventure to save the world. It’s comprised of five chapters, each with four acts. In terms of length, the campaign will take around 20-25 hours to complete. For those that want to 100% it all, the time extends by 10 hours and that includes side chapters and alternate paths. There’s also Arcade Mode, facing off against a series of computer opponents. Online multiplayer is also available where you can take the fight against others online. After battles your character gets experience and after a while, it can level up. Leveling up can improve stats but also form Camaraderie with the cards. Leveling those can also have your player character learn new abilities and moves. This also includes your partner characters as they can also level up via Bonds and obtain new forms and abilities. It’s very deep & addictive. Many will have their work cut out for them if they want to be all powerful.
The game’s card system can be deep and addicting and as such, this game has over 1100 cards for players to protect. You get cards by exchanging tickets into the Gacha machine and it’s mostly RNG so what you’ll get is random. Nothing fancy but trying to get tickets just to exchange can be a bit repetitive. The game does have its positives such as the card battle system. Music is pretty good with many of the tracks carry the feel this game has. Not only that but the game also has themes that span the entire Dragon Ball Heroes series. Again, all good. But for all its positives, this game also has its flaws. For starters, the presentation isn’t anything to write home about. The character models are acceptable for what they’re worth but they don’t show much in terms of expressions. Most of that happens during battle and they do look great. Outside of it, not so much. It’s as if Namco Bandai pretty much recycled some of the character models from the Budokai games and added them to this. I could be wrong. Not only that but the game has a tendency to throw a curve ball in terms of challenge. Sometimes battles can be simple that your team can handle without much issues, other times the game will throw a challenge that can be nigh impossible unless you either are lucky or have something to counter it. From my experience, I know it can really be challenging but with the right strategy and deck, you’ll manage.
In conclusion, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission offers a fun yet challenging gameplay but everything else just seems to make this fall flat on its face. The deep yet intricate card system along with the RPG elements for the player protagonist and his allies make it be one that wants you to put tons of hours into. However the presentation and its challenge can turn off people. But should it dissuade anyone from giving this a chance? Absolutely not. Namco Bandai took a gamble bringing something exclusively in Japan overseas and though they miss the mark somewhat, it pays off. SDBH World Mission is worth your time. Just be ready for the challenge that comes with a card game like this.
I give Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission a 7 out of 10.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
Activision has been on a roll and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Two years ago, they released the Crash N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered compilation of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy. It was well received. A year later came the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and it too gotten praise. What can Activision do to top their recent successes? Teaming up with Beenox, Activision decides to try their luck with Crash Team Racing. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the game’s original release, they bring Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. Is the remake worthy of its namesake or is this one trek you should pass on?
If you have played either the original or Crash Nitro Kart, then all of this will feel familiar. For those that haven’t, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is comprised of several different modes of play. The Adventure Mode has players picking a character and then they explore four different areas, taking part in races where winning rewards you keys so you can use them to take on the boss and it repeats. Not only that but it also has a series of challenges such as collecting tokens via “CTR” letters or relic races where you have to break crates and be skilled to get the fastest time. Fast times mean relics from Sapphire all the way to Platinum. Not only that but there are also Gem Cups where winning 1st overall nets you one of five colored gems. In the case of the remake, players can play it in two ways: there’s the Nitro-fueled mode where you can choose any of the 25 characters that are in the game and choose one of three difficulties or if you wish to go old-school, there’s the Classic mode. Adventure Mode, length-wise will take roughly about 8-10 hours to complete, if you want to simply 100% the game. With 3 difficulty settings, the length can depend.
As for the rest of what this game has, there’s plenty. You have the Local Arcade where up to four players can take part in a variety of modes: Single Race, Cup Challenge, Crystal Grab and Capture the Flag. There’s also online races where up to 8 players can race to see who’s the best. You have a choice of 25 characters, each coming in three different difficulties: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Some characters have to be unlocked whether via Adventure Mode or through the Pit Stop. The Pit Stop is where you can go to unlock new characters, vehicles, paint jobs, skins, etc. As you complete races whether online or off, you earn Wumpa Coins, the currency of this game. You use them to buy stuff at the Pit Stop. In addition there are time trial challenges where you have to beat certain times such as the N. Tropy & Nitros Oxide challenges. There’s a lot for you to do for a $40 game and it shows. The game also features added content via Grand Prix, seasonal content that adds new tracks, characters, vehicles and more. This extends the length further.
Story-wise, it’s similar to the original. Nitros Oxide heads to Earth, wanting to challenge the best racer on the planet. It’s up to Crash and his friends to race in hopes of stopping Oxide from turning the planet into a parking lot. it’s a simple story at best. It’s presentation is a step-up from the original. Everything whether it be the characters, the locations, vehicles, tracks, they are all great. Not only that. The game also runs well at a solid 60 frames per second. As this is based off the PlayStation 4 version, it’ll be similar to Xbox One. As for Switch, I can’t say. It also controls well. Players can choose one of two control schemes to suit their liking. Voice acting is in this game too and it’s solid too.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled does have plenty of things that make it an enjoyable experience but there are some issues. For starters, the Adventure Mode can be really challenging due to the AI. In higher difficulties, the game can be a real challenge. Not only that but the online can be really finicky. Sometimes you may get a good race or two, other times players may just disconnect from your game. During races, you may end up getting hit by something even if you know you won’t expect it. Beenox have already made a few updates fixing these issues but it’ll be a while before things improve. Another issue is that grinding for Wumpa Coins can be time-consuming. Despite the addition of Daily and Weekend multiplier bonuses, it’s still a bother, mostly. Thankfully there are no microtransactions in this game whatsoever. Activision knew it wouldn’t work so at least that is a plus.
In conclusion, Activision and Beenox have delivered in making a really good remake of a classic Crash Bandicoot game. Amazing presentation along with various game modes and solid controls make it really solid. However its flaws such as the online and the major grind just to unlock characters, skins and vehicles can be a real drag. Despite this, the game is a lot of fun. Veterans will get a kick of nostalgia while new players will get to experience a fun yet challenging game. Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is one ride you don’t want to miss out on.
I give Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled an 8.5 out of 10.
Team Sonic Racing Review – Written by Jose R. Vega
Product provided by SEGA.
It had been seven years since Sonic got the chance to go kart racing with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Since then, things have been dormant with SEGA putting their focus on other games. Last year, SEGA announced that Sonic would return for another round of racing. It would be known as Team Sonic Racing. Instead of Sonic racing alongside characters from other SEGA franchises, it’s between Sonic characters. Playing it safe but does this change translate to a good racing game?
Sonic Team Racing’s story goes like this. Sonic and his friends get an invitation to take part in the Ultimate Test of Racing Skill. It gets Sonic curious and before long, they meet a strange Tanuki named Dodonpa. Noticing his similarities to Eggman, they are cautious. Despite this, they take part where teamwork is the key to winning races. All the while, Eggman along with his team have plans of their own. He seeks to use Dodon Pa so he can obtain the Ultimate Energy Engine and use it to become an unstoppable force.
It’s interesting that this game actually has a story but what I also like is that this one puts more focus on the Sonic characters and their world. It’s pretty good. Sumo Digital gets props and it shows. Although I wish we had gotten much of the story in the form of animated cutscenes rather than what with we have here.
But if you wonder how the game plays, don’t worry. If you have played either Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing or the sequel, you will feel right at home with this one. The game plays very similar but with a few differences. Team Sonic Racing emphasizes on teamwork, similar to that of Sonic Heroes. You have a choice of 15 racers that follow in one of three classes: Speed, Technique and Power. Speed characters are well balanced and fast, they have a Radial Burst that protects them from projectiles. However they have poor defense & acceleration. Technique falls in the middle with good handling and acceleration. They also can attract rings while tackling rough terrain with no slowdown. Power is all about strength with strong boost and defense. They can also smash into obstacles or other racers. The only drawback is that their top speed and handling is subpar. Choosing the best racer in a team & working together is optimal for success.
Races have teams of 3 working together to win while contending against rival racers. The use of the slipstream allows teammates who are falling behind to catch up all while getting a big burst of speed. A useful feature. Items come in the form of Wisps and they provide racers many options. Some wisps though are exclusive to a specific character class but they can be used by any racer if it is acquired via Item Exchange. Item Exchange is another feature added to the game. It isn’t just limited to you. Even your teammates want to send items and accepting them can help turn the tide of a struggling race to your favor. Teams also have a Team Ultimate and depending on the character using it have their own individual theme. It’s pretty clever too. In terms of customization, there’s plenty with the various car parts you will acquire. You get them by spending coins in a slot-machine that will net you a different part. In some cases you’ll get a Legendary version that gives your ride a gold sheen. With 15 different characters, expect to spend a lot to get all the parts along with various items and decal to make them look to your liking.
The game has both single and multi-player. Single player comes in the form of the Team Adventure mode. You take part in various challenges such as single races, grand prix (a collection of 4 races) and there are also mini-games that require high scores to get the highest rank. Each challenge also comes with multiple objectives to complete. Some are simple like winning 1st place while others are a bit complex. Not only that but acquiring keys can help unlock more challenges. If players simply want to beat the game, it is not long. At Normal difficulty, it’ll take you roughly 7-8 hours to complete but for completionists, it’s twice as long. Replay value is plentiful with multiple difficulties, cranking the length up further. Winning races will net you coins that you can use on the slot machine to unlock parts. Online play is available where up to 12 players can race each other. Time trials are also available where racers can post their best times while trying to prove your skill to the rest. There’s much to do whether online or off.
With it’s presentation the game looks great. At 1080p it’s intense and colorful but depending on the console, it can run either 60fps or 30fps. For PS4, especially at Pro, it runs at a solid 60fps and it’s great. It’s amazing though on other consoles, especially at Nintendo Switch it runs at 30 fps. It could be due to limitations but you get what you got. Music is awesome with composers such as Jun Senoue returning to do the soundtrack and others such as Tee Lopes ready to make their mark in their own way. Voice acting is good too. No complaints there though Silver’s voice will take a while to adjust.
Although I do praise the game for its many positives, there are some issues. Some of the challenges in Team Adventure Mode can get repetitive. In a few instances, you race in mirror tracks and it’s probably to make up for the limited number of tracks there are. At higher difficulties, the game is brutal mostly since the AI doesn’t play around. It plays for keeps. At least the game is NOT a full price $60 game. At $30 now, it does give you plenty for your money’s worth though if it were full price and it offered so little that would be a different story altogether. I commend SEGA for not having it at that high a price. However if you are playing this on the Nintendo Switch, the opening movie is removed. Why they did that? I will never know.
Team Sonic Racing is an overall fun experience that is satisfying, albeit a challenging one. Presentation is pretty solid and the gameplay is really addicting. Not to mention having single and multi-player action is enough to get you hooked for hours. But some of its issues can hinder the game from reaching its full potential. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty awesome and I commend SEGA and Sumo Digital for pulling off a really awesome game. I only hope that they learn from this and that hopefully the next game where Sonic gets to race is even better. Team Sonic Racing is worth your time and money, I guarantee it.
I give Team Sonic Racing an 8 out of 10.