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Steamworld Quest Review

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

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

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

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.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee & Let’s Go, Pikachu Review

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee & Let’s Go, Pikachu Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for review.

After 20 years of being the flagship of Nintendo’s many handhelds, Game Freak brings the Pokémon franchise onto Nintendo’s most popular console, the Switch. They announced that the newest generation of the series will come in 2019 but for 2018, it would be a return to Kanto, where everything began but with a twist. The twist is that players would relive the experience of Generation I in the form of two games: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee & Let’s Go, Pikachu. With a return trip to a familiar place, do these two games hold players off until the inevitable Generation 8?

The game’s story is as easy and straightforward as you’d expect. You play as either a Boy or Girl and afterwards, you start your journey as a Pokémon Trainer. Unlike previous games, you either start with an Eevee or a Pikachu, depending on the version played. With partner Pokémon by your side, you travel through Kanto catching Pokémon, battling Gym Leaders and collecting their badges and stopping a criminal organization from using Pokémon to take over the world. It’s the story in a nutshell. Pretty simple at best with some liberties being changed around such as having a new rival and characters we know having supporting roles.

Gameplay in this game is similar to previous entries in the franchise, with a twist. Most of it is the same where you travel to areas and catch Pokémon, raise them to get stronger and use them to take on trainers and gym leaders in hopes of becoming Pokémon League Champion. Game Freak however decided to simplify the grinding aspect of the games. They incorporate mechanics from Pokémon Go, a mobile game with a devoted fan base. You don’t encounter Pokémon randomly in the wild. Instead they appear and running into one triggers a capture section. Using either a JoyCon or a Poke Ball Plus, you use it to capture Pokémon. Succeeding it will net rewards like experience points. They’re used to level up all your Pokémon, not just one. It’s as if the Exp. Share has been replaced with this method. Honestly it’s a better alternative as it makes the grinding less of a hassle. In addition any Pokémon you catch is placed in a capture case and you can you’re your party out at anytime with a few button presses. It’s better than Bill’s PC in previous iterations and plus you can be able to catch all 3 Kanto starters too. Also you can’t weaken the Pokémon before capturing them. You have to capture them and be lucky if it succeeds or not. There are exceptions. Legendary Pokémon is where you have to battle them first before capturing them. Plus you are on a 5-minute time limit too. Fortunately you can be able to stock plenty of Poke Balls since they made them cheaper.

The rest of the game is the same where you do battle trainers, explore areas, find items, etc. but some things have changed. One of them is the Secret Techniques. They replace HMs and allow your partner Pokémon Eevee or Pikachu to learn them and they don’t take up a move slot either. They both can also access special moves offering them some versatility. Another change being the Go Park, replacing the Safari Zone. Go Park allows players to transfer Pokémon they caught in the Pokémon Go Mobile game into this game where you can catch them to fill up the Pokedex. However only Pokémon that existed in Generation 1 are allowed with the exception of Meltan and it’s evolved form Melmetal. Other additions include mega stones, double battles, new trainers and various tweaks that make the battles like they were when the series began. The trainer and their partner can be customized as well with various outfits, giving them a cosmetic feel. It’s a plus and it’s more of a plus to see your partner looking spiffy as you are. The game isn’t a long one, taking roughly 20-25 hours to complete and 10 hours more if they want to catch all the Pokémon and complete everything. There’s post-game content in the form of the Master Trainers, legendaries like the three birds of Kanto and Mewtwo and rematches with the gym leaders. And like every other Pokémon game, you can also trade and battle with players online. So for anyone that wants to challenge others or trade with people to complete the Pokedex, there you go.

Now I wish to say that the presentation is pretty good. The game is great to look at. It only runs at 30fps and personally it’s for the best. The character models look good whether it be the trainers or even the Pokémon. Music is nostalgic. It’s as if Game Freak took the original Generation I and gave it a needed facelift. It’s pretty good. Not only that but the game has co-op. You and a friend can work together to catch Pokémon, battle trainers, etc. It offers a new experience to the game and a step in the right direction. All of this is just a taste of what Generation 8 will be like when it does come.

But although I praise the game for its positives, there are some issues. The difficulty is one of them and yes, this is done because they want to make the game accessible to newcomers who never played a Pokémon Game. There is some enjoyment for those that played the originals but it’s a different sort of game. Not that there’s anything wrong with it as it can be challenging if you wish it to be. This game does provide players the opportunity to play the game however they want. Another issue, and it’s one that has divided everyone is the capture sections. Incorporating mechanics from Pokémon Go does make it easier to catch Pokémon, however some people are worried that this would be in Generation 8 and that the series would go downhill. The good news is that Game Freak has said that Gen 8 will be as it should be. Being that Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu is a spin-off and not main game shows. One last issue is the Poke Ball Plus. Players who purchase it get access to the legendary Pokémon, Mew. But if the save file that has Mew is lost, then you are screwed. Though the Poke Ball Plus is a nice little add-on that doubles as both as a controller and something to hold Pokémon inside. There’s that.

Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu is an interesting pair. Taking players back to where the series began while offering something different is a nice touch. It may not be as hard as other games but it gives new players a chance to experience what old-school players have played many years ago. The game has a lot to do and it will get you busy until the inevitable Generation 8. The games are really fun to play though. Let’s only hope that Nintendo and Game Freak can make good in providing something that hopefully serves as a jump from handheld to console. Let’s pray they don’t disappoint.

I give Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee & Let’s Go Pikachu an 8.5 out of 10.

Octopath Traveler Review

Octopath Traveler Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for review.

When you think of Square-Enix, you think of role-playing games. Nowadays the company isn’t the only one that put their time on the genre but they are one of the first that helped revolutionize it. Last year, Square-Enix announced a new game that would come exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It began under the codename “Project OCTOPATH Traveler” with a special demo coming later on in 2018. A few months after that, Octopath Traveler would finally be released. Being a brand new franchise hoping to break ground on Nintendo’s new console, does it deliver?

Octopath Traveler is a really unique game, giving players the opportunity to play the game however they like. When the game begins, you have the option to choose one of eight different protagonists to start with. Once you choose, you get to experience the start of their tale. As you progress through the game, you will meet the other protagonists and see their tales unfold. Each tale differentiates from one another but all the while, the game provides a solid experience. Some tales follow themes such as family, redemption, revenge, and etc. but all of them connect in some way. The connection is best seen for yourself.

I like this concept. The idea that you can choose a protagonist, go through their journey and then travel to another area and meet up with another character to start their tale. You have a lot of freedom deciding whom you can meet next and it does help that if things get tough, you can go to a Tavern and pause the story so you can grind to get stronger and continue. It does offer a lot of freedom for players and I wish that more games implemented this method. Being an RPG, it simply works.

Now what about the gameplay? Is it any good? Of course. The gameplay is your standard RPG faire. You control a party of up to 4 characters and though you have 8 playable characters, you can only have 4 so choosing the best is crucial. Each of the 8 characters represents specific class types such as Warrior, Thief, Black Mage, etc., complete with skills exclusive to their class. In battle, enemies will have a shield with a number on it meaning how many hits it can take before their defense break. To break their defenses, players must figure out the enemy’s weaknesses. Once the shield breaks, they get stunned allowing your party to deal greater damage. In some cases, prevent enemies from attacking the party. This is what makes the game not only challenging but fun. In addition, Octopath also borrows a bit from Bravely Default where the more Battle Points you have, the more you can use to do a variety of actions such as attacking, defending or using special skills. It is an impressive system that works so well.

But it isn’t the only system that this game has. Each character has their respective job and they get new skills by acquiring Job Points in battle. Accumulating them not only gives them abilities to use but also support skills that are implemented in a variety of ways. Later in the journey, you’ll encounter shrines that give your party the ability to obtain sub-classes, offering more variety to your group. This allows for various combinations for all 8 protagonists and it doesn’t end there. There are also Path Actions, giving each character the ability to do different things on the field such as challenging civilians, stealing from them or having them join as temporary allies. It has a bit of a risk/reward where if you are careless with some skills, your reputation in said town would suffer. Visiting a tavern and meeting the owner to fix things will restore your rep but it can also be a hit on your wallet. Each town also has side quests and they lead to many rewards upon completing them so tackling them is crucial too.

Octopath Traveler is a long game and being that it’s RPG, it’ll take you around 50-60 hours to complete, especially if side-quests are counted along with any extras. It’s amazing how Square-Enix is able to deliver in its presentation, especially for a game like this. The game is 2.5D with the sprites being 2D and everything else is 3D. The backgrounds are amazing to look at, coming to life in some cases. Music is phenomenal with the battle and boss themes being a highlight. Plus each character has a respective theme that leads into a boss fight that helps build up tension and anticipation. It’s one of many things that I love about the game. Voice acting is great. Many well-known talents such as Patrick Seitz, Greg Chun and Christina Vee lend their voices to this game. They didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can say that they delivered. If you are expecting the game to be at 1080p with 60fps, prepare to be disappointed. The game runs mostly at 720p at 30fps. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made to assure the game would run smoothly and well enough. I personally didn’t find it an issue.

If I were to legitimately provide a complaint with this game, it’s the difficulty curve. In some instances the game will ramp up the difficulty, making things challenging. Unless you are prepared with the right party and equipment, you will get your butt kicked hence why grinding is needed. Expect to grind a lot and also expect each of your party members to have the right skills and abilities to tackle the game. It’s an RPG, like I said and the game will spare no expense in taking you down.

Overall, Octopath Traveler feels like a breath of fresh air for RPGs. It offers a familiar experience while giving players something new to enjoy. With 8 different protagonists and the ability to start with whomever you want and whoever you choose offering variety. Amazing presentation, addicting music and satisfying gameplay make it a title worthy of being on the Switch. If you are in need of an RPG craze, this is your best choice. Now I ask… who will you start on your journey?

I give Octopath Traveler a 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money and earns my personal seal of approval!

Starlink: Battle for Atlas Review

Starlink: Battle for Atlas Review – Written by Jose Vega

Note: Purchased product for review.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a action-adventure free-flight exploration game created by Ubisoft, the same company that give us Assassin’s Creed, Rayman and others. It has a lot of good ideas but the execution is a bit mixed. Ubisoft Toronto pitched an idea of a toys-to-life game in the same way that other games like Skylanders. It was given the green light but the only difference is that its main idea is the gimmick being to customize flying ships to however players want them to be. Starlink came about as a result. Does this game soar high or crash and burn?

As I said, the game is an action-adventure game and you get to play as a fighter pilot who flies on a starship traveling from planet to planet, freeing each one from a band of evil forces called the Legion, led by a prophet named Grax. It’s simple enough but that’s where the game takes it a step further. In each planet, your job is to free it from the Legion and you do so by driving the Legion back, build bases to raise your Alliance meter and explore. Yes. Exploration is the big focus as each planet is home to various sights, and wildlife. It helps for players that want to achieve 100% completion on each planet but it can get repetitive and boring quick. Having to do the same thing in the game 7 planets can get dull. The same can be said for outer space. Time is mostly spent on battling outlaws, traveling from one point to the next, finding supplies and in some cases battling giant capital ships called Dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts do offer a bit of challenge but that’s about it. Though they also provide an advantage if they are destroyed and can help make the trek a bit enjoyable.

Starlink is also a toys-to-life game, and this game has plenty of customization in the forms of weapons, ships and pilots. Players can use toys that Ubisoft has provided along with the game to customize their ship however they like. New weapons are obtained with the toys they collect and having it physically means they can get it in the game. No fuss, no muss. The toys themselves do look cool and for collectors, it’s a nice touch. But for those who don’t want to waste money on buying toys, they can buy weapons in the form of DLC packs. The DLC packs, called Starship Packs, each consist of one pilot, their ship and two weapons. There are also weapon packs and pilot packs, providing new weapons and pilots. But to those that want everything from the start, they offer a complete $60 pack. It’s a lot and it does give people a choice but if they bought the $80 digital deluxe edition, that’s only an afterthought.

Speaking of the ships, weapons and pilots, they can be leveled up. You gain experience by doing many things such as defeating enemies, completing objectives, etc. Once a ship part such as a ship or weapon levels up, the respective pilot gets a skill point they can use to improve their abilities. In addition players can obtain mods to customize their weapons and ships. The mods can be upgraded as well to be more powerful. Players can also be able to upgrade their team abilities in exchange for Electrum and Cores. The only drawback is that unless you have every pilot, you are a bit limited on what you can upgrade. There’s a lot of customization here and Ubisoft does have some good ideas with this. It’s that the execution is, as I said, really flawed.

As for story, it revolves around a group of individuals travel to the Atlas system on their ship, the Equinox only to get attacked by the Legion. Grax, leader of the Legion kidnaps the lead scientist in charge of Equinox in the hopes of finding anything regarding an extinct species called the Wardens. Now the crew of Starlink travel from planet to planet to send the Legion packing, stop Grax, save their commander and free the Atlas system. It’s a simple story at best with most of it told during the game as you play. For players who got the game on Nintendo Switch, there’s an added story where Team Star Fox appears to help the crew of the Equinox. But they also have a reason for being here, as Wolf O’Donnell of Star Wolf has been spotted on Atlas. So the two groups join forces to save Atlas from the Legion and Wolf O’Donnell, who’s here to seek power to rule the Lylat System. The Star Fox story is all right but it makes you wish there was more. Ubisoft does have good ideas and it makes you wonder what it’s like had they make their own Star Fox game.

Starlink isn’t a long game and players can beat it within 8-10 hours but to 100% everything, including maxing out all weapons and pilots, it’s a lot longer since exploration takes priority. As for presentation, it’s at least better than No Man’s Sky. The game does look good and plays good. Controls are simple, easy and intuitive. Voice acting is good and believable and it gets you interested into the game.

But although there is some good ideas in the game, there are various flaws. In fact, this would be summed up with just three complaints. First is the DLC content. Now to anyone who bought the $80 digital edition, consider it an afterthought. To many that didn’t are expected to spend money whether via the toys or the digital content. And considering that ships also count as additional lives, players start with 2 unless they get everything. Sadly you don’t get any new ships as you play so that’s a bummer.

Second is the gameplay and mission structure. Players go from planet-to-planet freeing them from the Legion. It does start off fun at first but as you keep going, it does get tedious. Nothing changes and no matter what planet you travel, it’s the same grind since it does help offer advantages down the line. If the game offers a bit more variety that would be fine and they do provide it with showdowns against Primes but it’s also the same grind. Of course destroying Primes does free the planet so it’s a bit of a reprieve. However, I wish that Starlink could offer more.

The last complaint is lack of boss battles. Primes and Dreadnoughts do count as boss battles but they can be dealt with if players know how to figure out the best strategy for them. Even the final boss feels underwhelming. It can be taken down with little effort, offering no challenge whatsoever. That alone also seems that Ubisoft didn’t put much effort in offering more. Also the Star Fox stuff is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version and it gets a pass because playing as Fox McCloud and his Arwing is simply satisfying.

In conclusion, Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a game that has good ideas. Very good ideas that if they put more time into it it would be a really great game. However several issues mar the game. Is it a bad game? Absolutely not. You can have a lot of fun with the game but the fun only lasts for so long. The Star Fox content on the Switch version does provide some variety but it makes you wish it’d be longer. But playing as Fox McCloud makes up for it. At least it’s better than No Man’s Sky since the game does feel like a game and not a bait-and-switch. If you plan on getting the game, get the $80 digital deluxe edition. You’ll have everything from the get-go and you’ll have a good time, especially if it’s on the Switch. Starlink is a journey, albeit one filled with a bit of trouble.

For the Nintendo Switch version, I give Starlink: Battle for Atlas a 6.5 out of 10.

For the PS4 and Xbox One version, it gets a 5 out of 10.