Tag Archives: Nintendo

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.

Advertisements

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

Product purchased for this review.

It all started 20 years ago where characters from various Nintendo franchises would duke it out on the Nintendo 64 as Super Smash Bros. As the years go on, the series would continue and many others would join the fight, becoming one of Nintendo’s money-making franchises. March 2018 is when Nintendo announced a new Smash Bros. & at E3 2018, it would be revealed. Months of waiting and anticipation would soon follow & by year’s end, it would arrive. Fitting too because Sakurai states that this is the game where everyone is here! This is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Need I say any more than it has already been said?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a game that is packed to the brim with content. You have the Smash mode where up to 8 players can pick their stage, their character and then duke it out. In addition to standard rules, they also include Custom Smash, various special rules that help add a lot of fun to an otherwise great mode. They can range from stamina, super sudden death and many others. Smashdown is an interesting one where players choose characters and after a battle, they can’t use said character and must switch to the next. It’s a neat mode, requiring players to use multiple characters to win. Tournaments can also be created, where it can hold up to 32 players to see who will be the best. New to this game is Squad Strike, a team battle mode for Smash Ultimate where you choose from up to 3-5 characters and battle in either Tag Team or Elimination. It’s an interesting mode and a fun one at that. Yeah. That’s a lot for a simple mode.

As for single-player content, there’s plenty. Classic Mode makes a return except this time they decide to change things up. Each character has their own path to take with opponents to take on along with special conditions to boot. Not only that but they can choose the intensity and the more skilled players get, the further it rises, reaching at a maximum of 9.9 Intensity, ending with a boss fight. It can range from a showdown with both Master and Crazy Hand or a fight against another boss. They aren’t long and only the most skilled can pull it off at the highest intensity. Not only that but it supports up to 2 player co-op. That’s cool. You also have Training Mode to test your skills and there’s also Online. Online is pretty much split between two modes: Global Smash and Elite Smash. Global Smash is pretty straightforward where you pick a character and play online with friends. You win matches, your global smash power rating goes up and vice versa. Elite Smash however is only accessible if characters reach a certain amount. It’s pretty much Ultimate’s version of Ranked Battles where you will fight the best of the best. Good luck, you’ll need it. Considering that the game has the biggest roster in fighting game history, you will definitely need it. Fortunately online is very good.

Speaking of which, the roster has without a doubt the biggest to date at around 74 characters. Every character from every Smash Bros. game is here from the 64 era to the Wii U. In addition there are several new characters joining such as the Inklings, the Belmonts Simon & Richter and many others. Not only that but some character appear as Echo Fighters, characters that are similar to other characters but have a few differences. Unlocking them is the fun part and it’s all the more rewarding & there are many ways to do so.

Smash Ultimate also offers something new in the form of Spirits. Spirits is the game’s main gimmick that replaces trophies and instead provides something unique. Many spirits you accumulate will come in two kinds: Primary, that comes in four varieties with 3 being of a weapon triangle with a 4th as neutral and Support, spirits that offer unique advantages when equipped with a primary spirit. Primary spirits can be leveled up in many ways and in some cases can evolve into more powerful spirits. Spirits also comes in two different modes: Spirit Board and Adventure Mode. Spirit Board is a mode where you pick a character and take on spirit-controlled fighters to unlock spirits. All the challenges come with special conditions. There are also events where you can acquire certain spirits and as of Ver. 2.0.0, up to 4 players can tackle the Spirit Board offline.

The other mode is Smash Ultimate’s adventure mode, World of Light. It’s plot has everyone in Smash Bros. Ultimate gearing up to take the fight to a new evil, an angelic being named Galeem, who has an army of Master Hands. It ends in failure as Galeem unleashes its power to wipe out everything and reshape the universe, as it wants with everyone else turned to spirits. As for the fighters, they end up getting captured and are used as puppets for the spirits to control. Kirby is the only survivor and he must travel to this strange world, rescue his allies and defeat Galeem & anything else that gets in the way. Compared to the Subspace Emissary, there isn’t much in terms of exposition. You pretty much end up in a strange new world and you explore, battle enemies, get spirits, free characters, etc. All the while the game has a bit of RPG where you use smash orbs to improve yourself in a variety of ways. Players can take around 20 hours to complete it with the addition of a New Game+ that happens after beating it. It’s a pretty good mode but it can get really grindy after a few hours. It shouldn’t stop you from giving it a chance and you won’t be disappointed.

There is so much more in this game that this review can’t do justice. You have access to multiple control options like Joy-cons (together and separate), Switch Pro Controller and even the Gamecube Controller. Each play well but the Switch Pro is a recommended. Amiibo support is in this game, similar to Smash 4 on 3DS & Wii U where you can train Fighters and use them in battle. Smash Ultimate has over 800 tunes that span so many franchises and all of them are awesome. There are over 100 stages for players to do battle in and they span over 20 years of Smash history. Presentation-wise the game is a major step up from Smash 4 and the game runs at a solid 60fps, even when it isn’t docked. What else is there that needs to be said? It’s truly ultimate indeed.

It’s not to say that Smash Ultimate isn’t perfect. There are some faults. World of Light can be a bit grindy at times and the Spirit Boards can have challenges that are outright be unfair. Should they stop players from enjoying it? Absolutely not.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate serves as a culmination that celebrates 20 years of the franchise history. Everyone is here with the biggest roster to date and it delivers in so many ways. So much content that will have players spend so many hours enjoying whether it be the single-player or multiplayer online or off. It plays great, runs great and is also a go-to game if you have a group of friends. Just like every other Smash, if you have a Nintendo Switch, this game is a definitive must buy. It’s great for those who have experienced Smash and a welcome start for those who haven’t. Everyone is here and it’s only missing one thing that would make this all the more worthwhile… you.

I give Super Smash Bros. Ultimate a 9.5 out of 10. It’s a must buy game, worth your time and money.

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!

Hollow Knight Review

Hollow Knight Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of review.

Last February, a little game called Hollow Knight was released on Steam to critical acclaim. It actually started as a Kickstarter campaign that raised $57,000 AUD (or $42,054 US) in 2014 and took three years to develop. Team Cherry Games would also announce that the game would come to the Nintendo Switch. After a year of waiting, it came to Nintendo’s new console complete with all the expansions that were released as well as whatever yet to come. Now that it has reached the Switch, is this game worth the wait?

The plot focuses on a knight who goes on a journey to uncover the truth about Hallownest, an insect kingdom that has long been abandoned. But it’s depths brought many adventurers who wish to seek out its treasures and mysteries. But as this knight journeys through these depths, he will uncover many secrets and obstacles that dare to get in the way. All of this culminates in a battle to save Hallownest from a deadly plague that is consuming and corrupting the kingdom and its inhabitants.

Most of the story is told as you play through the game along with interacting with the world’s inhabitants. It’s similar like Metroid Prime in some ways. I kind of like it. As you play, you learn what happens in the world and what you can do. Not only that but the game delivers on its atmosphere and you can feel the sense of dread and loneliness that exists. This gives players a drive to see what happens in the end. It’s good stuff.

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania-style game, emphasizing on exploration, discovery and challenge. It has many features that have it stand out from the rest while providing a good amount of challenge. You play as a small Knight who starts off weak and as you explore Hallownest in its many areas, you find a variety of items & abilities that can make the experience easier. The game has currency in the form of Geo and you use it for a variety of things such as buying charms and upgrades for your character, getting new attacks, expanding the world map, etc. It’s a double edged sword however since this game also has a bit of Souls mentality meaning that when you die, you lose your Geo and you need to recover your shadow to get it back. If you succeed, you get your stuff but fail again and it’s gone. It can be gutwrenching to see all the Geo you earned be lost but it should let players know to be wary and not be careless.

Equipping charms can customize the Knight itself to your liking. Charms provide a variety of buffs depending on their effects and how much they require equipping. This I feel is what makes Hollow Knight stand out since you can pretty much have him any way you like. He can have more health, consume less Soul to unleash attacks, have the range of his weapon, the Nail extend its range, etc. How you have him depends on the player and it’s pretty awesome. It also has access of Soul, the MP of the game. You get Soul by attacking enemies. Soul can be used either to restore your health or to unleash magic based attacks and there are many it can use to defend itself from enemies & players will need to use everything the Knight has at its disposal. In addition there is Essence you can collect that can upgrade the nail as a Dream Nail of sorts. Finding them requires a lot of exploring. There are boss battles aplenty with some requiring a lot of careful timing and skill & all of them are good.

Since the game follows the Metroidvania-style formula, it also reflects on its length. The game can be completed at around 8-10 hours but those who wish to 100% it expect it to rise up by about 5-6 hours. Replay value is strong since after beating the game, unlocks a tougher difficulty called Steel Soul. Plus there are achievements with some requiring players to beat the game at a faster time. Yep. Speedrunners will have a field day with a game like this. It’s also a collectathon, so expect to spend time trying to find everything too. As someone who has spent over 20 hours with this game, it says a lot since the game is just that enjoyable.

From a presentation standpoint, it’s well done. Hollow Knight has a presentation that delivers. Each area you visit is different and they all stand out whether it is the Crossroads you start traveling in or other places like the Abyss. They all feel different, each with their own gimmick and challenge. It all builds itself on atmosphere, the feeling that you are traveling deep within a forgotten kingdom and all you can do is to survive against whatever comes your way. It’s also in 2D and it’s the way it should be. The music is good with some pretty good tracks. Intense moments like the boss battles change things to one of tension and the feeling that you will be up against an impossible obstacle is amazing. Even the feeling of taking down said challenge makes it rewarding too.

Hollow Knight has additional content in the form of free updates. The updates add features such as new boss battles, items, quests and even balance fixes. The Switch version thankfully has all of this included from the get-go & with the next update coming in the form of Gods & Glory, it’s all the more reason to go in for another round.

As far as any flaws go, the game is a challenging one. The Souls mentality is there but it doesn’t hinder you as much. Thankfully the map tells you where you last died and after a few hits you regain what you lost. My only negative that I have found from my experience is that some boss battles can be a pain unless you are more prepared. They emphasize on strategy as well as trial and error. Though having the right gear can help, most of the time it’s all trial & error. Also save points are few and far between and sometimes not having enough places to save can be a bother especially if you are deep into an area. Fortunately you do get the option to teleport and if used right can lead you somewhere safe. Though expect a while to travel back to where you were.

For a game that has now reached Nintendo’s newest and successful console, Hollow Knight is great. Hollow Knight delivers in its challenge while offering a game that is heavy on its atmosphere, strategy and replayability. It does have a little bit of Dark Souls in some cases but it’s more Metroidvania than anything else. At only $15, you can’t go wrong with a game like this. Team Cherry Games made the right move in bringing it to the Switch & with Gods and Glory coming, it’ll convince me to give the game one more go around. I recommend Hollow Knight. It’s worth it.

I give Hollow Knight a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal Seal of Approval & I highly recommend this game.

Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the review.

In 2014, Nintendo along with Koei Tecmo, Omega Force and Team Ninja teamed up to give us a little game called Hyrule Warriors. Taking the Dynasty Warriors (or Musou series) formula and incorporate Legend of Zelda characters has made the game a must-buy for anyone who had a Wii U. Two years later, Hyrule Warriors goes to handheld territory with Hyrule Warriors Legends. It was all right despite many problems that plagued it. Now in 2018, Nintendo announced that they were bringing Hyrule Warriors to the Switch in the form of Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. Taking all the content from the previous versions and putting it into one big package, does it deliver? Is this the best version of Hyrule Warriors? Let’s find out.

The plot details Link and his allies trying to save Hyrule from a sorceress named Cia. Cia ultimately uses the Triforce to bring out areas from previous Zelda games in an attempt to resurrect her master, Ganondorf. Eventually it all culminates in a fight to save Hyrule from this evil and many others who threaten them.

It’s a simple Zelda story at best and it makes sense. All players would prefer to do is get into the action. The story at least follows at a good pace from start to finish. Not only that but this game also includes additional tales that focus on other characters such as Cia and Linkle. It helps make the game feel complete and I like it.

If you’ve played a Mosou game then you will feel right at home with Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. The game is still fun to play and easy to get into. Legend Mode is the game’s story mode where you complete the story using various characters from the Zelda series. Definitive Edition includes every scenario from the previous games. It also comes with multiple difficulties for players to challenge themselves with. Free Play is the same as Legend but you can choose any character you wish. Adventure Mode has you taking part in battles to earn Rewards for your characters. Some rewards can only be found after using an Item Card on it. All the content from the previous Hyrule Warriors games are in here, giving players a lot to do and acquire. With Definitive Edition, you can buy item cards once you find one in the world making things a lot easier and less of a grind. Challenge Mode lets you test your mettle with various battle scenarios. The game also has a “My Fairy” Mode where you can check out any fairies you find in the Adventure Mode and customize them however you like. It was a mode that was in the 3DS version but now incorporated here, meaning the fairies look a lot better in HD.

Much of the gameplay from the previous Hyrule Warriors games are in this one so players won’t have to worry about anything new. Not only that but the game’s presentation is a step up from the original. Compared to the Wii U and 3DS versions, this game runs at 1080p in 60 fps in TV mode. Multiplayer is also in this game with 2-player split screen and it can be done on one Switch console, both in TV mode and on the device. A big step up from the Wii U version so now both players can play the game on one screen instead of relying on the screen and gamepad. Legend Mode will take players 10-12 hours to beat and with multiple difficulties, Gold Skulltulas to collect and a Very Hard mode after completing it raises it even further. Adventure Mode will take the length and raise it up to the hundreds. It’s a game that you won’t put down.

The game is still great to look at and with the increased resolution makes it better. Like the previous games, there’s no voice acting. The game’s cutscenes are good to watch and the music is still stellar. I honestly have no complaints with the game. Sure there will be instances where grinding to get materials can be a bother but it alleviates since you are going to kick butt with Zelda characters. Opinions, I know but from my personal experience, I enjoyed this game.

Nintendo made the right choice in bringing Hyrule Warriors to the Switch. A game that is a lot of fun to play but has so much to do that people will spend hours on to make it possible. Plus with 1080p resolution and 60 fps, it’s an amazing game. If you missed out on this game and you have a Switch, this game is a definitive recommendation. It’s worth the full $60 price and with all the content it has I can’t say it enough. This is the true Hyrule Warriors experience hands down. I highly recommend this.

I give Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition a solid 9 out of 10. It is a must-buy game and earns my seal of approval.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided by Nintendo for the purpose of review.

In 2010, a little game called Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Nintendo Wii. It was a game that wouldn’t come to America until 2012. It met with not only critical acclaim but also commercial success. Last January, Nintendo announced that a new Xenoblade game would be coming to their new console, the Nintendo Switch. It would be known as Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It would come out 11 months later, serving as a sequel to the first game. The question now is this… does it hold up well against its predecessor?

The game’s story centers on Rex, a 15-year old salvager who is offered a job to recover a large, ancient ship. Accompanied by several Drivers, he wanders off only to find a strange sword and a mysterious girl. Approaching it, he is killed by Jin but then the girl, Pyra offers him a second chance. The only catch is that he takes her to a place called Elysium. He accepts and soon become Pyra’s driver. After a clash, Rex and Pyra go on a journey. They meet many friends, foes and people in their travels, culminating in a fight against good and evil for the fate of their home in Alrest.

Games like this offer much in terms of plot and this is no exception. The game’s story was intriguing, intense and it had me wanting more. From start to finish, it was great. By the time it’s over, you’ll be shedding tears. From my personal experience, it already had and then some.

Xenoblade 2’s gameplay is similar to the original in many aspects. You control a party of three characters traveling through the world of Alrest. It’s split between two styles: field and battle. In the field, you travel around many places where you can accept quests, go to town to buy supplies, find treasure, salvage and in many cases encounter monsters. Sometimes when you explore, you unlock areas that you can be able to travel to quickly. The game has fast travel and it’s a welcome feature in case the journey becomes a slog. Battle is where things play out similar to the original. Your party attacks anything automatically but you have to manage how your character performs. Since you have a total of five party members, Monolith Soft decided to compensate by giving each party member, or Driver, access to specialized being called Blades.

Blades are Xenoblade 2’s main focus. You obtain them from using special items called Core Crystals. When you use one, it goes into a lottery-like system where some cases you get a common Blade and sometimes, you can get a Blade that is rare. Rare Blades are beings that not only have personalities but also provide in terms of battle and on the field. They come in three categories: Attacker, Healer and Tank. They provide support for Drivers and in some cases assist in delivering powerful attacks. Players who devote time in building Trust with the blades can unlock improvements to their respective stats via Affinity Chart but also access to quests that go deep into each Blade. Blades also have a use on the Field with various techniques that help their Drivers do a variety of things like solve puzzles, find hidden areas, etc. They’re also helpful when Blade Combos and Chain Attacks go into play. Blade Combos are powerful attacks that can deal heavy damage and with the right combination can seal away effects that can be beneficial to the party. Chain Attacks return from the previous game but it also integrates into Blade Combos. Dealing the right elemental damage can lead to an Orb shattering and causing an Elemental Burst. This extends the chain attack and it can lead to serious damage if used well enough.

Blades also have another use and it’s in the form of Merc Missions. You can send out Blades that are not in use on missions where they can go and complete jobs. They lead to not only good rewards but also boosts toward their stats. Missions also depend on a town’s development level so if you want access to more missions, you need to do more things in the town you’re in.

A game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is going to take players hours to beat. Truth be told, expect to spend more than 100 hours, maybe more. DLC is included as well but unlike other games, the DLC for Xenoblade 2 offer not only more quests but also items that can be helpful on your journey. New Game + extends the length even more, offering players even more to do to the point where players can get special Blades. Xenoblade 2 offers so much for a $60 game and that’s saying a lot.

As far as presentation goes, the game is truly amazing. Although the game doesn’t run at 60fps, only 30, it’s still just as good. The transitions from field to battle are seamless and immediate. Characters look good with some though feeling like they cater to people who like anime and such. Not that it’s a bad thing. Voice acting is good in some areas though sometimes it can lead to some questionable things. Thankfully the game also comes with dual voice acting, English and Japanese. Japanese came as a free DLC. Again, not a bad thing but if you feel the English isn’t your liking, there’s an alternative. Where do I even start with the music? The music is awesome. Yasunori Mitsuda along with ACE, Kenji Miramatsu and Manami Kiyota deliver a soundtrack that is gold. Pure gold. Some tunes are outright addicting to listen to and gets you pumped for more. I personally love it.

But for as much as I enjoy the game for all its positives, there are also a bit of criticisms. This game will make you grind to get stronger… a lot. The game’s difficulty can go from being normal to difficult at the drop of a hat. There are many instances where it happens and for players, it can turn them off. Sure a bit of planning can help but yeah, that I feel is one thing that disappointed me. Also the game kind of follows some of the many tropes that are seen in stuff like anime and manga. It’s not bad but I feel it hampered the game’s plot a little. This shouldn’t stop players from enjoying a game as grand as this.

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 took everything that made the first game great and multiplied it ten-fold. The story intriguing, the gameplay and battle system are easy to get into and in some cases really addicting, it’s presentation is solid with bonus points going to its rocking soundtrack and then some. Had it not be for its criticisms, I would say the game would deserve all the praise and more. Regardless if you own a Switch, this is one journey you don’t want to miss out on. I promise you that.

I give Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a 9.5 out of 10. This game is worth the full purchase price and then some. It earns my personal seal of approval hands down!

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Review

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the purpose of this review.

The Nintendo Wii U may have been an utter failure but it was home to games that were pretty good. In 2014, Nintendo and Retro Studios released Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. The sequel to 2008’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, the game had a mixed reception. Not only that but it was hampered due to being on a console few people were interested in, as well as some controversy. In recent times, Nintendo has been on a roll releasing updated ports of Wii U titles in the hopes of garnering interest. It paid off with games like Bayonetta 1 & 2 as well as Pokken Tournament DX. Now another game joins the Switch library as Tropical Freeze makes a return. Will the addition of Funky Mode make the game any better than it already has?

Since the game is a port of a Wii U title, the plot hasn’t changed. On DK Island, Donkey Kong is celebrating his birthday with his family. Everything’s going well until the arrival of a threat that brings in the chill. The Snowmads arrive, driving the Kongs out of their home and turning the island into a winter wonderland. Far from their home, it’s up to DK and his family to travel from island to island in hopes of driving the Snowmad tribe away and restore their home. It’s a simple plot that serves to get the game going. Nothing special.

Gameplay in Tropical Freeze is similar to the Wii U version except with the Switch, you have access to three different control options: Switch Pro, Joycon Controller and individual Joycon. The controls are similar in all three so you don’t have to worry about any additional changes. It’s simple to the point where you can just pick up and play. Co-op is also in the game. The good news is that each player can use any of the following three control options to play. Way better than how it’s done on the Wii U in my opinion.

Funky Mode is this game’s exclusive mode. Since Tropical Freeze is a very hard and challenging game, Nintendo decides to ease up on the difficulty by having an entirely new mode. It’s similar to the 3DS port of DKC Returns where they added New Mode. Funky Mode adds a bunch of changes along with the addition of a new playable character: Funky Kong. Funky serves as a jump in for new and experienced players. He has so many abilities that he pretty much serves as an Easy Mode. From my experience, he’s really fun to use and helps alleviate some of the difficulty the game has. Funky Mode isn’t just limited to a new character. Similar to DKCR 3D’s New Mode, you can still play as DK and his family but they’ll not only have an extra heart but you get access to use items while in a level. For anyone who feels like the game is too difficult, consider this a needed reprieve. There is still the Original Mode for anyone that is interested in playing the original Tropical Freeze.

The game isn’t long, clocking in at about 6-8 hours if you just want to beat it, with a couple more hours thanks to Funky Mode. For those who want to beat it 100%, expect it to be longer by a few more hours. This also includes hard mode as well. The game offers a lot not only for single-player but for co-op as well.

Compared to the Wii U version, this is a step-up. The game goes from 720 to a solid 1080p at 60fps when docked. Its presentation is incredible. The visuals are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. Retro Studios really took great care in keeping the game, as it should be without making sacrifices. The load times are faster too. On Wii U, it takes 20-30 seconds to load but on the Switch, it’s reduced to 8-10 seconds. It’s a big improvement. The music is still just as great to listen to. David Wise delivered on the soundtrack and he should be praised from now to the end of time.

But although there is much praise on the game, there are a few flaws. The game is still hard. Even if you are on Funky Mode, the game will push players to their limits. Not only that but Retro decided to give players a bit of leeway. Should you lose more than 9 lives, you have the option to move on to the next area. But there’s a catch: should you choose to move onto the next level, the level you exited counts as incomplete. It’s a risk/reward but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be included. It’s a simple nitpick… a minor one at best.

Tropical Freeze is still just as good as it was in the Wii U. The addition of Funky Mode adds something new to a familiar experience. Not only that but bringing the game up to 1080p gives it more clarity. Everything else is just as you remember but better. Despite the increased difficulty, the game is still fun whether by yourself or with a friend. For anyone who had played this, you will feel right at home but for those who didn’t, it’s a game you don’t want to miss out on. I guarantee it

I give Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a solid 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money!