Tag Archives: PC

Shantae Half-Genie Hero Review

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased copy for the sake of this review.

Why do franchises survive? Why do they endure? That’s a question many people wonder about. How can a franchise be able to survive despite not having much recognition? Such is the case of one called Shantae. It began in 2001, released for the Game Boy Color that was well received but was released during the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Despite this, Shantae would continue to thrive with two more sequels: Risky’s Revenge and The Pirate’s Curse. Come 2013 and WayForward announced that a new Shantae game would come. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they succeed and in 2016, WayForward releases the 4th entry in the series, Half-Genie Hero. Does Half-Genie Hero do what Mighty No. 9 could not?

Half-Genie Hero takes place some time after the events of the third game, The Pirate’s Curse. On one eventful night, Shantae gets word that the Genie Realm would be in danger. So she heads to town only for Risky Boots to invade and steal the design for the Dynamo. After driving Risky and her crew off, her uncle works on an invention that can help drive away evil threats. So Shantae goes on a journey to help her uncle get the parts needed for his invention, unaware that it’s all part of Risky Boots’ master plan.

It’s plot is what you would expect from a game like this and it’s alright in my book. It starts off simple enough but gets interesting when you reach the end. Pretty okay and a bit satisfactory to boot.

WayForward put a lot of care and love into the Shantae series and Half-Genie Hero is no exception. The game’s a platformer but has a few things that differentiate it from other games. Shantae still plays like she was in previous games and she has most of her familiar moves. Returning to the series is her morphing ability, allowing her to shape shift into one of many animals that she unlocks throughout the game. She does this by means of dancing and you can choose which animal to use. This time around, the transformations offer Shantae a lot of advantages and are necessary in order to beat the game. There are a total of 8 transformations for her to use. She also get access to additional dances that provide support.

Not only that but the game is more of a collect-o-thon than anything else. Gems are the game’s currency and you use them to unlock various abilities for Shantae. All of them are useful. There are also other items to find as well such as Heart Holders that increase your max health and a game like this wouldn’t be complete without trade sequences. Throughout the game, you will be tasked to return to previous areas to acquire items necessary for you to trade with others. All of it will culminate in access to the next area. It does get a bit tedious after a while but necessary if you plan on completing the game 100%. Boss battles are aplenty here with some requiring a lot of skill to win.

Half-Genie Hero isn’t a long game. If you just plan on beating it, you’ll complete it in roughly 6-8 hours and trying to reach 100% will net you about an hour or so more. The replay value is high here, especially for those that like to speedrun the game. For presentation, the game is awesome. WayForward did a fantastic job on it and it shows. Not only that but the game runs great at 60fps. A well done job if I do say so myself. The music needs no words. Jake Kaufman does it again delivering some great tunes. Some songs are just too good to listen to such as Tassel Town, Neo Burning Town and others. All of them are a delight to enjoy. There is voice acting as well. Christina Vee does a great job as Shantae but also as Risky Boots as well. Simply put, this game was made with a lot of love and respect and it shows.

Since this game was made possible via Kickstarter, the game also has DLC and there are several. First is Risky Boots’ Quest, taking place during the events of the game. You play as Risky Boots as she goes on her own journey to acquire what she needs so that he can rule Sequin Land. Next is Friends to the End, focusing on Sky, Bolo and Rottytops. In this mode, the three of them head inside Shantae’s mind to save her from her dark counterpart, Nega-Shantae. Last is a special costume set giving players access to three modes; Ninja Mode, Beach Mode and Officer Mode. These are what-if stories that detail Shantae in different situations and offer different gameplay. Basically this game has a lot to do and WayForward even added a harder difficulty called Hardcore Mode that will push players’ skills to their limits. You can buy all of it as DLC but for anyone that wants it all in one, they released the Day-One Ultimate Edition that contains all of it and more. The Day One Ultimate Edition is a major recommendation.

There aren’t many flaws in the game and yeah, the game requires a lot to do if you wish to complete 100% but overall, it’s a fun experience. Having played the game many times, it’s still fun. It really is though it makes you wonder if their Kickstarter did better so WayForward can bring out even more content. Imagine the possibilities.

Half-Genie Hero does everything that Mighty No. 9 could not. The game looks great, it plays great, it has great music and it offers a lot for your money’s worth. For the franchise’s fourth game, WayForward, Matt Bozon and Jake Kaufman delivered. The best part is that it’s not expensive but if you want to have everything in one, the Day One Ultimate Edition is a definite recommendation. It’s worth the full purchase price. Let’s hope these guys can keep at it and hopefully give us more… instead of ports of older games.

I give Shantae: Half-Genie Hero my highest rating… a perfect 10 out of 10. It earns my full on seal of approval.

Advertisements

Steamworld Dig 2 Review

Steamworld Dig 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided by Image & Form Games. Special thanks to them!

Four years ago, a little game called Steamworld Dig was released upon the world. Developed by Image & Form Games, it focused on a robot named Rusty who explores the world below to find treasure, challenge and a sense of mystery. The game’s favorable reception would soon give way to two sequels although it led to the game being ported many times for players to get a chance to experience it. Four years later, the game would finally have a sequel in the form of Steamworld Dig 2. With a new protagonist and a new story to tell, does this game carry the same charm and feel as the original?

The story of Steamworld Dig 2 takes place some time after the first game. Rusty, the protagonist of the last game has gone missing. You play the role as Dorothy McCrank (aka Dot) who moves to the town of El Machino to find him. Along the way, she gets help from a mysterious creature who has his reasons for joining in. Together, the two will discover something sinister that may affect their home and the entire planet. The story in the game has me curious and they mostly happen in many instances as you explore through the area. By the time the game ends, you can’t help but feel bad for Dot and everyone. I won’t spoil it but yes, this game really made me have the feels for it.

Like the first Steamworld Dig, this game is a Metroidvania-style game where exploration is the main focus. All you do in the game is head underground and with your trusty pickaxe dig your way down. How Dot goes depend on you and that’s the whole gist of it. The game does have an objective based format but you are free to explore at your leisure. As you do so you collect treasure that can be exchanged for money, the money in turn can be used to purchase upgrades for Dot’s gear and stats. But there are also collectibles that can be exchanged to get special upgrades. Her skills are also tied to cogs that you find as you explore. Cogs are used to make modifications that can help Dot in various situations. They can also be swapped to other perks, offering a lot of options. There’s also a level up system but it’s used for obtaining bonus pay when you trade jewels for cash. Of course if you end up going down, you suffer a small penalty. It isn’t much and you can recover the stuff you collect but good luck trying to find it if you are way down on your journey.

All of this provide the game a lot to do and it’ll be needed to progress. Like Metroid, the game will take you quite a while to achieve 100% completion. But if you simply want to beat the game it can take you roughly 6-8 hours. There is some replay value since you have to collect everything to achieve 100% while maxing out Dot. It’s a lot of work. The game isn’t hard either but it can be if you choose to do so. There are boss battles and many require strategy to beat them. Thankfully they aren’t at the point where it can get real intense. It also has one of the best fast-travel systems ever meaning at certain points, you can find a shaft you can use to move from one area to the next quickly. Or if you want you can use it to head back up above to restock. Then once you’re set, you use the fast travel to return where you left off. Simple.

Steamworld Dig 2 is a sight to behold. Each environment stands out while adding something to set itself apart. Whether on the PS4, Switch, PS Vita or PC, the game is amazing. It’s easy to pick up and play. The controls are simple yet easy and as you play and unlock new gadgets and upgrades, it gets better. The characters look good and even the enemies stand out. Image & Form Games deserve all the praise they can get for delivering on a sequel that surpasses the original and in some ways tie things to another game in the Steamworld series.

If I were to find any problems with Steamworld Dig 2, I feel that at times trying to get all the upgrades can be a grind. Yeah, you can be able to max yourself out if you put the effort but good luck with it especially since trying to find everything underground and in some areas a challenge onto itself. I could be wrong. Also, a lack of a New Game + limits replayability a bit but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this.

Steamworld Dig 2 is an impressive sequel to the first game and one you should definitely get a chance to play. It has everything you ever want in a game like this: exploring, combat, platforming and puzzles, you name it. The addition of RPG elements add a bit more to an impressive game and the fact that it’s $20 says a lot. For $20 you get all this. This is amazing. If you want a little something to pass the time, this is it. Steamworld Dig 2 is one dig you don’t want to miss out on. I guarantee it.

I give Steamworld Dig 2 a 9 out of 10. It’s a must buy.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Review

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of review.

Marvel & Capcom… they are two different companies that have one thing in common: a franchise where many of their franchise’s best duke it out against each other. In 2011, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was released. Though it had a pretty positive reception, it wasn’t enough and the series would enter hibernation. Marvel was under the grip of Disney and before long, Disney would get involved making games of their own, only to call it quits after Disney Infinity bit the dust. Five years later, it was announced that Marvel and Capcom would be back at it again with a new entry into the Versus series. The game in question was Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Now that it has been released, does this game hold up to the hype?

The plot for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite involves Ultron Sigma using the Reality and Space Stones to merge the worlds of Marvel and Capcom together. This creates a world where he is ruler but a legion of heroes from both Marvel and Capcom worlds unite to not only defeat Ultron Sigma but also find a way to undo and restore their respective worlds.

Many previous entries didn’t have much of a plot but this is the first time in the series where the plot takes precedence. Sadly I feel that it isn’t as interesting. Capcom had hyped the game’s story as being the main focal point. All it did sadly was only damage the overall presentation, especially when the demo was released a few months back. Compared to the final version it isn’t as much helpful and though it did improve when it came to the character models, having something that wasn’t as good in the beginning only serves to hurt the game, not help it. If anyone likes the story, more power to them. However I believe that a story had to be made in response to Netherealm’s games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice having story modes that provide a lot.

Gameplay has always been the Versus series’ strong point and this is no exception. Going back to basics, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is a 2-on-2 fighting game where you choose two characters and then duke it out either with the computer or online against other players. It also is a 4-button fighter with 2 punches & 2 kicks respectively, similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. One noticeable feature is the Infinity Stones, brought back from Marvel Super Heroes. They provide a nifty addition by adding an advantage that can change how your team handles the battlefield. By pressing either the left or both shoulder buttons, you can activate an Infinity Surge for a quick effect or go full throttle with an Infinity Storm after filling up your Infinite meter. This adds a lot of variety to the game, as each of the six Infinity Stones offers different effects. You have a choice of up to 30 different characters to choose from. More than half of the cast is from the previous game and unfortunately it hurts the overall game. You have new characters such as Mega Man X, Jedah, Gamora, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and some that are coming down the line as DLC but I feel pretty disappointed that the roster is lackluster. Simply lackluster.

The game does offer a lot and compared to Street Fighter V, at least that’s better than having a barebones product. You have your traditional arcade and versus modes but there’s also Story. Story Mode will take you probably 2-3 hours to complete, more if players plan to do it in a higher difficulty. Mission Mode is back from Marvel 3 and it offers players a set of challenges they need to complete with each character. Online mode is also included with ranked and player matches. Players can also set up lobbied where up to eight players can play against each other. Interestingly, up to four games can happen in a lobby at once. It’s pretty cool. Compared to SFV, this game really offers a lot for your money’s worth and if you have friends then you’ll have a fun time. Also the game has an Easy Combo System that you can thankfully turn off in the options menu. It’s a neat addition for newcomers to get into the game without having to worry about anything complex. It also applies for Easy Hyper Combos as well, which like I mentioned can be turned off.

Though it has many positives, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has many things that hurt the game. The presentation isn’t that great. Character models may look good but most of the time, they feel off. Compared to the demo where they looked real hideous in some cases, I am happy that Capcom took the liberty to improve on the models after much feedback. The story isn’t as great and can sometimes be real jarring. Since story had been focused on a lot, it also means there are no arcade endings. A bummer. Music is also a bit forgetful. Many of the tracks don’t seem to hook you compared to previous titles and though the game uses techno, it doesn’t click. I mentioned that the roster was lackluster. Several well-known characters such as Wolverine, Magneto and others aren’t in the game. This is mostly due to legal stuff behind the scenes between Marvel/Disney and Fox over the film rights. It’s upsetting that they aren’t in and I can understand why but on the other hand, all of this is just one big advertisement for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another big nitpick is DLC and it seems Capcom hasn’t learned their lesson from Street Fighter V. Unlike SFV, this issue is minor at best. There is DLC in the game and it comprises of six new characters as well as some alternate costumes. A season pass for this can be purchased but I feel that their business model will only do more harm than good for the overall game. Made no better that the game has a $90 deluxe edition and a $200 collector’s edition that is outright poor. It didn’t help that the game had pretty poor PR especially with Peter “Combofiend” Ross as well as Pete Rosas and Michael Evans saying stuff like characters are functions or saying that there’s no X-Men because fans don’t remember them. It’s poor PR on not just Capcom’s part but also Marvel and Disney. No wonder the game had controversy from the get-go.

Overall, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite isn’t a bad game. It truthfully isn’t. The game has really good gameplay, addicting if you put the time and effort into it. However great gameplay doesn’t equal a great game if the overall presentation is lackluster. A poor roster of familiar faces with little new appearances, a story that doesn’t seem to grip you in, questionable choices behind the scenes and you get a recipe for disaster. Should you buy this game at full price? Absolutely not. Wait for a price drop or better yet, wait till Capcom releases a complete edition for this. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite may be a game that would get the series out of hibernation but it’s not the game we’re looking for.

I give Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite a 5 out of 10. You want a fighting game that feels like Marvel vs. Capcom but plays well? Wait for Dragon Ball Fighter Z.

Sonic Mania Review

Sonic Mania Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by SEGA. Special thanks to them.

For more than 25 years, Sonic the Hedgehog has been one of SEGA’s flagship franchises. It had humble beginnings during the 90s console wars between the Genesis and SNES but after SEGA went 3rd party, the journey got a bit shaky. 2006 would be the year Sonic would enter a dark age with many of their titles getting mixed to negative receptions. Things would pick up in the following years, despite some flops, and last year SEGA announced that Sonic would return with 2 more titles. One of them, Sonic Mania has been hyped for some time. Does the hype pay off?

Sonic Mania takes place after the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The plot centers on Sonic & Tails returning to Angel Island, learning that a strange energy source was sighted there. Unfortunately, a legion of Eggman’s robots has got there first, getting their hands on the Phantom Ruby. However, it whisks Sonic, Tails, Knuckles (unexpectedly) and the Egg Robots to a familiar locale. Seeing the danger & the evolved Hard-Boiled Heavies off with the jewel, Sonic along with Tails and Knuckles must team up to prevent the Phantom Ruby from falling into Eggman’s hands.

It’s simple Sonic storytelling. Eggman enacts another of his world domination plans and it’s up to Sonic and his friends to stop them. Surprisingly he’s not the only threat they have to deal with. Eggman’s personal squad, the Hard-Boiled Heavies are also involved. This makes things a bit intense but what do you expect in a Sonic game. I have no complaints with it honestly.

Sonic Mania brings Sonic back to its 2D side-scrolling roots and it’s one that works, taking inspiration from the 16-bit Sonic games that made Sonic what he is today. If you’ve played many of the old school Sonic games, you will feel right at home here. You have three playable characters: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. All of them play the same but with a few differences. They can jump, run, spin dash, etc. You get the idea. Sonic has a peel out move that lets him be on the move quickly. Tails can fly to avoid enemies and find hidden secrets and Knuckles can glide, climb walls, has a jump that isn’t as high & can access areas that Sonic and Tails can’t go through normally. You will need their strengths to conquer the game’s 12 zones. As far as length, you can beat the game in just a couple of hours and with three playable characters, it adds a lot in terms of replay value. There’s also Time Attack where you can race to get the fastest time and Competition where you and a friend can go head to head offline to see who can reach the end of a stage first. It’s great.

There are 12 zones in this game, each with two acts. More than half of the zones are classic levels from previous Sonic games but they’re given a revamp when it comes to level design. The rest are brand new to the game and offer so much to the experience. What’s interesting is that each level offers many paths for the player to come from. It’s still simple enough going from start to finish but how you go about it depends on the player. Sometimes there are secrets you can find such as item boxes or giant rings. Like the classic games, there are bonus stages and by hitting checkpoints or finding giant rings, you get access to them. Checkpoint bonus stages are of the Blue Spheres from Sonic 3 & Knuckles and completing them net you medallions and they’re used to unlock various secrets. The Giant Ring bonus stages have you chasing after a UFO that carries a Chaos Emerald. Your skills will be tested, as you must collect blue spheres to increase your speed and rings to extend your time. Beating them will be a challenge but worth it in order to get the Chaos Emerald. There are 7 of these and they get harder as you progress.

At the end of each act, there is a boss. Many pay nods to previous Sonic bosses. If anything SEGA really puts a lot of heart when it comes to the game and it shows. It also helps that Sonic Mania has a truly stellar presentation. The graphics are just what you expect for a retro 16-bit game and they did a job keeping it faithful to them. All of the levels offer something different and they are vibrant, full of colors and if you look hard enough, there are many nods and references to various SEGA related stuff. Sprites are detailed and authentic as well. They’re also expressive. Controls are very precise. Perfect would be too appropriate of a word to describe how good the game plays. I mean it. It’s perfect and easy to pick up and play. Whitehead Productions should be praised for giving us a Sonic game that feels like the old school games but in a new environment. I only hope SEGA can get him involved in a possible Mania sequel.

Although I want to praise the game for its presentation, what really nailed it in for me was the music. Tee Lopes went in and delivered a soundtrack that is godly. I kid you not. All of the music in the game is amazing to listen to. Whether it’s remixed versions of Green Hill & Flying Battery or songs from the new stages like Studiopolis and Mirage Saloon, this game has it all. A game that has a stellar presentation, topped with a superb soundtrack. What more needs to be said?

I do have one minor issue with the game and it can be quite a challenge. The game feels like the old school Sonic games and new players who may experience this can find it to be one that requires them to get good. The difficulty is a bit balanced but there will be some moments of unfairness. It shouldn’t dissuade anyone though. Sonic Mania has a lot of content and high replay value that anyone can be able to enjoy no matter what. But yes, it is challenging but there’s a good amount of reward for those looking to complete everything.

It’s surprising how fans of the Sonic franchise were given the go ahead by SEGA to produce a game that’s not only fun but serves as a love letter to the Sonic franchise, it’s fans and SEGA as a whole. Sonic Mania is a special kind of game. Being at around $20 is enough to convince anyone that it’s worth a definite buy. Everything about the game whether it be its presentation, controls, music, etc. delivers on all fronts. Sure it can be a challenge for those that have little idea but it shouldn’t dissuade anyone otherwise. If you haven’t played a Sonic game or if you feel you want something that reminds you of the good old days, Sonic Mania is THE game. The blue blur isn’t going anywhere and this game proves that he’ll be around speeding through for many years to come.

I give Sonic Mania a 9 out of 10. I want to make it a perfect 10 but I feel this rating is more than enough.

Street Fighter V Review

Street Fighter V Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased my copy at full price for the sake of this review.

For almost 30 years, Street Fighter was the series that gave new life to the fighting game genre. Whether it’s the memorable characters, music or its tight gameplay, it brought us so much that fans still enjoy to this day. It’s previous entry Street Fighter IV provided so much, despite the game getting numerous updates and revisions. Last year, Capcom was ready to bring Street Fighter into the next gaming generation with Street Fighter V, released as a Sony exclusive for PS4 and PC. The question looms… does it deliver the same way SFIV had all those years ago or will this game crash and burn to the ground? Considering that it’s almost a year since the game’s release, I am going to be reviewing the game in its current state.

The Street Fighter series has never been known for it’ story. This game’s no exception. The story is split between “Character Story” and the Cinematic Story that was released in June as a free update. But to summarize, M. Bison of Shadaloo enacts his plan for world domination and he does so with the Black Moons. Now several groups are gathering to put a stop to Bison’s plans but many may be having plans of their own. The story is pretty predictable, your traditional “stop the bad guy before they take over the world” thing. Nothing fancy. Considering that this is set in-between Street Fighter IV and III, it does explain certain events that we would see in later games. The character story mode however consist of short segments that last 6-10 minutes but provide a bit of exposition for all the characters involved. They’re harmless fun but at least you get an idea of what the characters are and their motivations.

Street Fighter V doesn’t offer much in terms of content. Later updates did include modes like Challenges but when it was first released, the game provided little. It makes the game feel barebones. I find it disappointing. Many other fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Smash Bros. offer a lot of content and variety at full price and the most important thing is having content for people that just want to pick up and play. To see that it doesn’t have that is upsetting and will only drive consumers away. I am aware that the game was released for the competitive crowd but unless there’s something for casuals, it’ll be a failure from the get go. There is online play but when it was first released, it had numerous server issues that hindered the experience. They did fix it eventually but overall, Street Fighter V is barebones on release and to this day, it still is. Capcom dropped the ball and they should have put a bit more time in refining the game to make it complete.

Despite the negatives, Street Fighter V is great in terms of graphics and gameplay. The game looks amazing, a step up from Street Fighter IV. From a design standpoint, it’s well done. The character models are better but for some reason, they seem a bit too muscular. All the stages are vibrant and colorful, backing it up with music. SFV’s high point also includes the music. The music is very good and some tracks are real addicting to listen to. Thankfully you have the option to switch between stage and character music so that’s a plus.

If you’ve played a previous Street Fighter game then you’ll feel right at home. The controls are the same but there are a few noticeable changes. For starters, everyone has a Critical Art, a V-Trigger and V-Reversal. They are the game’s main gimmicks. Each character has a specific V-Trigger and Reversal ability that sets them apart from the others. They depend on the character and can make matches pretty intense. I can say that Capcom did do a good job at making the controls easier for newcomers but can also be challenging for competitive players. Compared to Street Fighter IV’s battle system, this is a bit easier. Though I wish that the game could allow players to choose from a variety of V-Trigger/Reversal and Critical Arts. It can add more to the game and its characters.

I mentioned earlier that this game offers too few content but then they decide to include micro transactions. They can be obtained either by using real money or Fight Money, Street Fighter V’s currency and consists of alternate costumes, color palettes, stages and characters that would come as DLC. If that isn’t enough, Capcom has the gall to include a season pass… in a $60 full price game that offers barebones content. Just no. It’s unacceptable. If it were like Street Fighter IV then it would be okay but not here. I don’t accept it and even now that the place has been reduced to $30, it still isn’t enough. Had Capcom put more time and released it later down the line with more characters and modes, it would be better. But sadly it shot them in the foot and they paid the price for it.

Capcom may have dropped the ball big with Street Fighter V but it shouldn’t hinder anyone from taking the time to enjoy it. The presentation and gameplay are its high points but they can only last so long with its lack of content. Yes the game was released to please the competitive crowd and an audience is there for it but they did it at the expense of the casual crowd. Regardless, Street Fighter V is a well-designed game that anyone can enjoy… if only it could provide more for your money’s worth.

Had I reviewed this game when it was first released, my rating for it would be less than what it should deserve. For the time being, I give Street Fighter V a 6 out of 10.