SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Image & Form Games and Thunderful Publishing
The SteamWorld series has explored many avenues when it comes to their games. They can range from Metroidvania with SteamWorld Dig to Turn-based strategy with SteamWorld Heist. But Image & Form Games announced that they would take the series in an unexpected direction. It would come to be known as SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. Mixing turn-based RPG with the feel of a collectible card game is an interesting ambition. Does this game deliver in everything and then some?
Let’s get started with the plot. The game is presented as a fairy tale. Long ago there was a warrior who went by the name of Gilgamech. He is a legend due to his accomplishments, including taking down a menacing force called the Behemoth. But as time went on his feats would soon fade from memory. Several years pass and the world is at peace. Armilly and Copernica, small-town friends go on a small journey. It starts small but eventually it soon escalates into one that will decide the fate of their world. They will meet new allies, face deadly challenges and eventually come together not just as a team but as real heroes.
Sure the story is traditional fairy tale fluff but it’s one story I got behind from start to finish. It starts simple and as it goes on, it gets intense. They take their time introducing the world, the characters, etc. Not only that but the characters also develop and improve as a result. It just feels so enjoyable that by the time its over, you feel relieved. You feel satisfied to have enjoyed a tale like this, even if it does follow many of the tropes.
Gameplay in SteamWorld Quest is different from previous entries. It’s split into two sections: field and battle. Field is mostly a side-scroller where players can move about and explore. It isn’t just you but your enemies too. Sometimes you can find treasures that give players new things and other times you can find doors that lead to hidden areas. In some instances there are some puzzle solving. Nothing too fancy. As for enemies, you can avoid them if you know their patterns but one way or the other, you got to attack them. Attacking them or even encountering them triggers the second section, battle.
In battle, in follows your traditional RPG game. You have your party on one side while the enemy’s on the other. What sets this apart from other RPG games is the game’s main gimmick: cards. You use cards to have your characters do a variety of things, ranging from attacks or special abilities. But there’s a limit. Players must form a deck of 8 cards for each of the five characters in the party. In addition many cards can contain a cost. In the place of MP, there are steam gears. You acquire 1 steam gear each turn but some cards will give you access to more. Not only do players have to create proper decks for each character but also they have to determine the best strategies. It’s a very interesting system that offers a lot of experimentation and customization, giving players the freedom to decide how their party should go about. In addition using three of the same card type gives access to Chains, letting party members dish out special attacks. They mostly depend on the weapon equipped and can range from offensive to defensive. Again it adds more variety to a game that will have players plan accordingly.
The combat is really good and sometimes addicting to boot. It’s not just you who will be dealing the pain but your enemies to. They won’t hesitate to get versatile by using buffs and debuffs. Players will have to do the same and sometimes mix things up if they wish to succeed. Boss battles will really put your skills to the test and sometimes you’ll have to form strategies to beat them. Thankfully the checkpoint system is effective. There are save points and you can automatically return to them if you die but using them will also revive enemies you defeated. It’s similar to Dark Souls but it can also be used to grind your characters. It’s pretty good and one you will definitely need. The game isn’t long, taking players 10-12 hours to complete. But if there is a recommendation, do the game on Hard. Hard will provide you a good challenge but Normal comes at a close second if you feel it’s too difficult.
I love how the game looks. It carries this steampunk feel while adding it’s own flair to make it stand out. The characters all look great and they stand out with their own strengths, weaknesses and trials to overcome. If there’s one thing I will praise about the game is the music. The music is really amazing, especially during boss battles. Makes players feel energized and really wanting to be victorious. Everything about the game has a lot of heart and soul put into it. It shows in every way and it’s easy to see why Image & Form and Thunderful Publishing delivered in this game. They truly did deliver. If there was an issue or two this game had, it would probably be the lack of challenge. That’s not to say it’s bad since there are 3 difficulty settings. As stated earlier, it’s recommended to play the game on Hard for a true challenge. Also there’s not much to do after being it aside from a coliseum challenge. A New Game+ would alleviate it and add more to the length.
In conclusion, SteamWorld Quest is a game that has a familiar feel but offers something new and unique. To summarize, there’s gameplay that is unique and at times addictive along with its combat. There’s also a solid presentation that keeps it consistent and the music is really good. Only a minor negative or two hinders this from being an all-time game but it’s truly one that players should put their time into. It’s a worthy addition to the Steamworld series of games and from my experience, you won’t regret it. Trust me.
I give SteamWorld Quest an 8.5 out of 10.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
In terms of video games, the Dragon Ball franchise can be applied towards many genres such as fighting, action RPG and so on. But would you believe that something like Dragon Ball can be as a card game? In Japan there’s a popular arcade game called Dragon Ball Heroes and with this popularity, the game has been ported over to handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and has recently gotten an OVA anime. A few months ago, Namco Bandai announced that the series would finally come overseas in the form of Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission for Nintendo Switch and Steam. Is the game worth your time or should it be given a hard pass?
The game’s story takes place in a fictional town where children play the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card game. You play the role as an avatar, a character created by the player who desires to be the best. It starts out innocent but then the avatar gets involved in an adventure where he must team up with other individuals and characters from the Dragon Ball universe. What for? To stop a madman who wants nothing more than to wipe away history and reshape it into one that suits him.
From my experience, the story seems traditional for Dragon Ball Heroes. You create your character and then take part in an adventure. Simple as that. Not only that but Dragon Ball Heroes is infamous for introducing various what-ifs for many of its characters. But it befits the world and it’s characters. Not to mention it also feels a bit familiar and predictable to boot.
In terms of gameplay, SDBH World Mission takes the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card game and incorporates it into a video game. Players create their own avatar character and use it in a variety of modes. Not only that but players also need to create their own decks. In Super Dragon Ball Heroes, decks consist of a minimum of seven cards. Using 7 cards, players need to come up with different strategies to defeat their foes. Battles take place on a two-sided grid with each player controlling their side. It’s up to players to move their cards around to determine the best course of action. Cards also contain stamina and they determine how much power they can unleash on enemies. The higher the power, the more likely you are to attack first. Not only that but attacks also require timed button presses and striking first with a high amount guarantees a hit. In some cases characters can deal special attacks. Cards also come in 3 types: Hero, Elite and Berserker. Heroes are well balanced fighters, Elites specialize in Ki attacks and Berserkers deal major HP damage. Having a deck with proper balance and skills is necessary for victory and beyond. You can also create your own cards via the Card Customizer offering players a lot more to do. Also your cards can equip items that can boost either their HP, Power or Guard. This adds more into customizing your deck and giving it something even grand.
As for the game modes, there are plenty. Story Mode is one where players use their avatars in an adventure to save the world. It’s comprised of five chapters, each with four acts. In terms of length, the campaign will take around 20-25 hours to complete. For those that want to 100% it all, the time extends by 10 hours and that includes side chapters and alternate paths. There’s also Arcade Mode, facing off against a series of computer opponents. Online multiplayer is also available where you can take the fight against others online. After battles your character gets experience and after a while, it can level up. Leveling up can improve stats but also form Camaraderie with the cards. Leveling those can also have your player character learn new abilities and moves. This also includes your partner characters as they can also level up via Bonds and obtain new forms and abilities. It’s very deep & addictive. Many will have their work cut out for them if they want to be all powerful.
The game’s card system can be deep and addicting and as such, this game has over 1100 cards for players to protect. You get cards by exchanging tickets into the Gacha machine and it’s mostly RNG so what you’ll get is random. Nothing fancy but trying to get tickets just to exchange can be a bit repetitive. The game does have its positives such as the card battle system. Music is pretty good with many of the tracks carry the feel this game has. Not only that but the game also has themes that span the entire Dragon Ball Heroes series. Again, all good. But for all its positives, this game also has its flaws. For starters, the presentation isn’t anything to write home about. The character models are acceptable for what they’re worth but they don’t show much in terms of expressions. Most of that happens during battle and they do look great. Outside of it, not so much. It’s as if Namco Bandai pretty much recycled some of the character models from the Budokai games and added them to this. I could be wrong. Not only that but the game has a tendency to throw a curve ball in terms of challenge. Sometimes battles can be simple that your team can handle without much issues, other times the game will throw a challenge that can be nigh impossible unless you either are lucky or have something to counter it. From my experience, I know it can really be challenging but with the right strategy and deck, you’ll manage.
In conclusion, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission offers a fun yet challenging gameplay but everything else just seems to make this fall flat on its face. The deep yet intricate card system along with the RPG elements for the player protagonist and his allies make it be one that wants you to put tons of hours into. However the presentation and its challenge can turn off people. But should it dissuade anyone from giving this a chance? Absolutely not. Namco Bandai took a gamble bringing something exclusively in Japan overseas and though they miss the mark somewhat, it pays off. SDBH World Mission is worth your time. Just be ready for the challenge that comes with a card game like this.
I give Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission a 7 out of 10.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
Activision has been on a roll and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Two years ago, they released the Crash N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered compilation of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy. It was well received. A year later came the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and it too gotten praise. What can Activision do to top their recent successes? Teaming up with Beenox, Activision decides to try their luck with Crash Team Racing. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the game’s original release, they bring Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. Is the remake worthy of its namesake or is this one trek you should pass on?
If you have played either the original or Crash Nitro Kart, then all of this will feel familiar. For those that haven’t, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is comprised of several different modes of play. The Adventure Mode has players picking a character and then they explore four different areas, taking part in races where winning rewards you keys so you can use them to take on the boss and it repeats. Not only that but it also has a series of challenges such as collecting tokens via “CTR” letters or relic races where you have to break crates and be skilled to get the fastest time. Fast times mean relics from Sapphire all the way to Platinum. Not only that but there are also Gem Cups where winning 1st overall nets you one of five colored gems. In the case of the remake, players can play it in two ways: there’s the Nitro-fueled mode where you can choose any of the 25 characters that are in the game and choose one of three difficulties or if you wish to go old-school, there’s the Classic mode. Adventure Mode, length-wise will take roughly about 8-10 hours to complete, if you want to simply 100% the game. With 3 difficulty settings, the length can depend.
As for the rest of what this game has, there’s plenty. You have the Local Arcade where up to four players can take part in a variety of modes: Single Race, Cup Challenge, Crystal Grab and Capture the Flag. There’s also online races where up to 8 players can race to see who’s the best. You have a choice of 25 characters, each coming in three different difficulties: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Some characters have to be unlocked whether via Adventure Mode or through the Pit Stop. The Pit Stop is where you can go to unlock new characters, vehicles, paint jobs, skins, etc. As you complete races whether online or off, you earn Wumpa Coins, the currency of this game. You use them to buy stuff at the Pit Stop. In addition there are time trial challenges where you have to beat certain times such as the N. Tropy & Nitros Oxide challenges. There’s a lot for you to do for a $40 game and it shows. The game also features added content via Grand Prix, seasonal content that adds new tracks, characters, vehicles and more. This extends the length further.
Story-wise, it’s similar to the original. Nitros Oxide heads to Earth, wanting to challenge the best racer on the planet. It’s up to Crash and his friends to race in hopes of stopping Oxide from turning the planet into a parking lot. it’s a simple story at best. It’s presentation is a step-up from the original. Everything whether it be the characters, the locations, vehicles, tracks, they are all great. Not only that. The game also runs well at a solid 60 frames per second. As this is based off the PlayStation 4 version, it’ll be similar to Xbox One. As for Switch, I can’t say. It also controls well. Players can choose one of two control schemes to suit their liking. Voice acting is in this game too and it’s solid too.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled does have plenty of things that make it an enjoyable experience but there are some issues. For starters, the Adventure Mode can be really challenging due to the AI. In higher difficulties, the game can be a real challenge. Not only that but the online can be really finicky. Sometimes you may get a good race or two, other times players may just disconnect from your game. During races, you may end up getting hit by something even if you know you won’t expect it. Beenox have already made a few updates fixing these issues but it’ll be a while before things improve. Another issue is that grinding for Wumpa Coins can be time-consuming. Despite the addition of Daily and Weekend multiplier bonuses, it’s still a bother, mostly. Thankfully there are no microtransactions in this game whatsoever. Activision knew it wouldn’t work so at least that is a plus.
In conclusion, Activision and Beenox have delivered in making a really good remake of a classic Crash Bandicoot game. Amazing presentation along with various game modes and solid controls make it really solid. However its flaws such as the online and the major grind just to unlock characters, skins and vehicles can be a real drag. Despite this, the game is a lot of fun. Veterans will get a kick of nostalgia while new players will get to experience a fun yet challenging game. Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is one ride you don’t want to miss out on.
I give Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled an 8.5 out of 10.
Team Sonic Racing Review – Written by Jose R. Vega
Product provided by SEGA.
It had been seven years since Sonic got the chance to go kart racing with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Since then, things have been dormant with SEGA putting their focus on other games. Last year, SEGA announced that Sonic would return for another round of racing. It would be known as Team Sonic Racing. Instead of Sonic racing alongside characters from other SEGA franchises, it’s between Sonic characters. Playing it safe but does this change translate to a good racing game?
Sonic Team Racing’s story goes like this. Sonic and his friends get an invitation to take part in the Ultimate Test of Racing Skill. It gets Sonic curious and before long, they meet a strange Tanuki named Dodonpa. Noticing his similarities to Eggman, they are cautious. Despite this, they take part where teamwork is the key to winning races. All the while, Eggman along with his team have plans of their own. He seeks to use Dodon Pa so he can obtain the Ultimate Energy Engine and use it to become an unstoppable force.
It’s interesting that this game actually has a story but what I also like is that this one puts more focus on the Sonic characters and their world. It’s pretty good. Sumo Digital gets props and it shows. Although I wish we had gotten much of the story in the form of animated cutscenes rather than what with we have here.
But if you wonder how the game plays, don’t worry. If you have played either Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing or the sequel, you will feel right at home with this one. The game plays very similar but with a few differences. Team Sonic Racing emphasizes on teamwork, similar to that of Sonic Heroes. You have a choice of 15 racers that follow in one of three classes: Speed, Technique and Power. Speed characters are well balanced and fast, they have a Radial Burst that protects them from projectiles. However they have poor defense & acceleration. Technique falls in the middle with good handling and acceleration. They also can attract rings while tackling rough terrain with no slowdown. Power is all about strength with strong boost and defense. They can also smash into obstacles or other racers. The only drawback is that their top speed and handling is subpar. Choosing the best racer in a team & working together is optimal for success.
Races have teams of 3 working together to win while contending against rival racers. The use of the slipstream allows teammates who are falling behind to catch up all while getting a big burst of speed. A useful feature. Items come in the form of Wisps and they provide racers many options. Some wisps though are exclusive to a specific character class but they can be used by any racer if it is acquired via Item Exchange. Item Exchange is another feature added to the game. It isn’t just limited to you. Even your teammates want to send items and accepting them can help turn the tide of a struggling race to your favor. Teams also have a Team Ultimate and depending on the character using it have their own individual theme. It’s pretty clever too. In terms of customization, there’s plenty with the various car parts you will acquire. You get them by spending coins in a slot-machine that will net you a different part. In some cases you’ll get a Legendary version that gives your ride a gold sheen. With 15 different characters, expect to spend a lot to get all the parts along with various items and decal to make them look to your liking.
The game has both single and multi-player. Single player comes in the form of the Team Adventure mode. You take part in various challenges such as single races, grand prix (a collection of 4 races) and there are also mini-games that require high scores to get the highest rank. Each challenge also comes with multiple objectives to complete. Some are simple like winning 1st place while others are a bit complex. Not only that but acquiring keys can help unlock more challenges. If players simply want to beat the game, it is not long. At Normal difficulty, it’ll take you roughly 7-8 hours to complete but for completionists, it’s twice as long. Replay value is plentiful with multiple difficulties, cranking the length up further. Winning races will net you coins that you can use on the slot machine to unlock parts. Online play is available where up to 12 players can race each other. Time trials are also available where racers can post their best times while trying to prove your skill to the rest. There’s much to do whether online or off.
With it’s presentation the game looks great. At 1080p it’s intense and colorful but depending on the console, it can run either 60fps or 30fps. For PS4, especially at Pro, it runs at a solid 60fps and it’s great. It’s amazing though on other consoles, especially at Nintendo Switch it runs at 30 fps. It could be due to limitations but you get what you got. Music is awesome with composers such as Jun Senoue returning to do the soundtrack and others such as Tee Lopes ready to make their mark in their own way. Voice acting is good too. No complaints there though Silver’s voice will take a while to adjust.
Although I do praise the game for its many positives, there are some issues. Some of the challenges in Team Adventure Mode can get repetitive. In a few instances, you race in mirror tracks and it’s probably to make up for the limited number of tracks there are. At higher difficulties, the game is brutal mostly since the AI doesn’t play around. It plays for keeps. At least the game is NOT a full price $60 game. At $30 now, it does give you plenty for your money’s worth though if it were full price and it offered so little that would be a different story altogether. I commend SEGA for not having it at that high a price. However if you are playing this on the Nintendo Switch, the opening movie is removed. Why they did that? I will never know.
Team Sonic Racing is an overall fun experience that is satisfying, albeit a challenging one. Presentation is pretty solid and the gameplay is really addicting. Not to mention having single and multi-player action is enough to get you hooked for hours. But some of its issues can hinder the game from reaching its full potential. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty awesome and I commend SEGA and Sumo Digital for pulling off a really awesome game. I only hope that they learn from this and that hopefully the next game where Sonic gets to race is even better. Team Sonic Racing is worth your time and money, I guarantee it.
I give Team Sonic Racing an 8 out of 10.
Jump Force Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
Last year, Namco Bandai announced a game that would be ambitious and exciting. They said that characters such as Goku, Naruto, Luffy, Yugi and many others coming together in a manner similar to Marvel’s Avengers. As time went on, people were excited and then the game finally comes out in the form of Jump Force. Jump Force, a game that has the makings to be something great becomes nothing more than a disappointment. And even if the game was good, is it worth your time?
Jump Force’s story focuses on an organization called Jump Force and their job is to save the world from an evil organization known as Umbras. Players take control of a character they create in this game and it serves as the game’s protagonist. Many characters that you meet such as Goku, Naruto, Luffy and others serve as supporting characters. Together your character teams up with them to fight the Umbras but it ends up becoming a fight to save all realities from an evil that wishes to wipe the slate clean.
The story isn’t that great. It’s your traditional good vs. evil story but the difference here is that it follows in the veins of films like Avengers where heroes unite to save the world against evil. My issue with it is that it feels predictable, to the point where you can figure out who the big bad really is. It’s not that great and it feels underwhelming. By the time it’s done you feel like it could have been better. So yes, the story is a disappointment.
But what about the gameplay? It’s a 3D fighting game, similar in the vein of Dragon Ball Xenoverse and the Naruto games. However it follows in the vein of Marvel vs. Capcom where you choose a team of 3 characters and do battle but you can only have one on the field at a time, unless you do a team up attack. Your allies can either be swapped or used to do assist attacks. With a roster of 40 characters, players will find the right combinations to dominate the game whether online or off. Battles can be intense and it has a lot of mechanics that players should take advantage of like high-speed dodges, awakened status and team up attacks. Skilled players can be able to succeed in battles but it’s not an easy task.
As for your created character, it’s one of the good things that this game has. Not only can your character be customized on how they look but also how they do battle. Players can equip special attacks to mix and match, offering variety. They can purchase these skills and abilities in the market along with the ability to buy outfits. Abilities can also be upgraded by means of using materials and they can help provide advantages and disadvantages in battle. There are also traits and by using SP, you can give your custom character additional traits that can do a variety of things like boosting your stats, giving you advantages if your health is low, etc. Plus it has some RPG elements where you level up as you play the game. It isn’t limited to your created character but also every character in the roster. Some instances you’ll have to take part in limitbreaker missions and completing them allows you to continue leveling up until you reach 100 or so. It can get grindy but personally, it’s the one thing that I find to be good about this game.
Jump Force is mostly a mission-based game where you take part in missions whether you are progressing through the game’s story or if you simply want to have fun. There are four kinds of missions: Free, Extra, Key and Tutorial. Free comes in five different difficulties and here, you can choose any character you want and take part. Extra is where you tackle bonus missions. Key Missions are story based while Tutorial simply teaches what the game is about. It is what it is but it’s also one of the game’s many faults. Those who want to simply go in for the story, it’ll take you around 10 hours to complete. Post game extends it a lot more for those that want to complete everything and have their characters be much stronger. Plus the missions come in 5 difficulties for added length.
For all the good this game does have, Jump Force has a ton of issues. The story is unimpressive and in most cases predictable. It isn’t that great. Not only that but the presentation isn’t impressive. Sure the characters look good but in cutscenes, they don’t show much in terms of emotion. It has you wondering what happened during development. Even Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite did better in terms of its cutscenes and that’s coming from a game that is a disappointment in its own right. Music is forgettable and uninspiring. Voice acting is okay but it’s only in Japanese dub. No English dub sadly. Gameplay can be repetitive especially with the mission structure. That’s basically what it’s about: missions. It goes like this: you accept a mission, see a cutscene, load time, see another cutscene, load time, battle, load time, cutscene. It gets old really quick. Not only that but the load times are unacceptable. Load times can go up to 45 seconds and for a game like this, it’s unacceptable. Sure they did release an update that reduced load times but it’s still unacceptable. Online is at least alright and Jump Force will be having DLC in the form of additional characters. Personally I feel that they should focus on improving the game’s many issues. It’s a game that feels like an injustice to the many franchises that it represents. All these characters deserve better than this. The game is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. PC Players will have a lot more enjoyment since people will mod the game to make everything better. Console players get the short end of the stick.
Jump Force is a game that was hyped as an epic crossover game only to crash and burn when it reaches the end. A forgettable story, repetitive gameplay structure and a not-so-great presentation mars what otherwise would have been an ambitious product. The roster of 40+ characters feel wasted on this. Namco Bandai and Spike Chunsoft should have put more time to make this game worth your while. What happened? What went wrong? The game isn’t for everyone and there is some good deep within. There are some good ideas but the execution was a major letdown. It really is.
I give Jump Force a 5 out of 10.
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.
Kingdom Hearts III Review – Written by Jose Vega
Copy purchased for review.
It began in 2002 when Squaresoft and Disney would collaborate to bring Kingdom Hearts. Combining the role-playing adventure of Final Fantasy with the cute and memorable side of Disney, the first game would give way to a franchise that tells a tale about light against darkness. Fans waited years for a sequel after Kingdom Hearts II but what they got is Square churning out more games that would help shape the lore of the series. But come 2013, Square-Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts III would be in development. After six years of anticipation, it has arrived. Being the final entry of the supposed Xehanort Saga, is it worth the wait? Is Kingdom Hearts III worth a chance?
Let’s begin with the game’s story and yes, Kingdom Hearts’ plot is a bit convoluted at times. Sora, along with Donald and Goofy are back yet again as they travel on a new journey, heading to different worlds and taking the fight against Xehanort and his true Organization XIII. While that occurs, Riku along with Mickey head to the realm of darkness to find Aqua, a keyblade master. Both of these plots eventually coincide, leading to two factions battling one another to determine the fate of every world. It’s a battle between the forces of light against the forces of darkness.
From my experience, I did enjoy the story. It has enough to get me invested but also enough to literally hit you where it hurts, emotionally. Every world has its own story to tell, characters to meet and things to do. But the plot itself connects since the bad guys are invading each world and it’s up to the good guys to save the day. However there is some criticism. People who haven’t played every game and going into this one will feel lost, not knowing certain things such as characters and plots. Thankfully the game has a Memory Archive where players can catch up in preparation for this one.
If you have played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, then this will feel really familiar to you. Kingdom Hearts III is an action RPG game that borrows elements from many of the entries and incorporates them into this one. You have access to your Keyblade, as well as Magic but this game also has some new stuff. One instance is the Formchange. Depending on what Keyblade Sora has, he gains access to a different form that can add a bit of flair to his offense. Some keyblades have more than one form with devastating finish attacks. Not only that but Sora can also hold more than one Keyblade. In fact he can hold onto three. This gives Sora the chance to mix it up and he can save a formchange for later if needed. Shotlocks make a return, from Birth By Sleep where you lock onto multiple enemies and deliver a powerful attack. This time, depending on the keyblade, you get access to a different shotlock and plus, some blades will have more than one. It’s a sense of variety that feels rewarding for players. New to the series is Attractions, giant amusement park rides that can do a variety of attacks. They all offer something new but some instances will give Sora rides that will deal heavy damage to foes. Another new feature is the Link command. Link Commands allow Sora to summon a special ally to the battlefield. They range from Meow Wow to even Stitch and can turn the tide of the battle. Only drawback is that it costs all your MP but your health does recover so it also serves as a lifesaver if things go bad. You also have access to team-up attacks with your allies and this time, Donald and Goofy don’t have to leave. In fact you can have up to 2 guest allies in your group, raising the party up to 5. It’s awesome and some of the support cast even comes with their respective team up attacks too.
In terms of content, Kingdom Hearts III offers plenty to do. You have the Gummi Ship but this time, Square-Enix decides to make it a free flight mode where you can travel around to wherever you want to go. Like in Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, you can customize your Gummi ship however you want. Each of the three systems have plenty of quests and challenges to do. There’s also Little Chef aka Remy from Ratatouille and his restaurant, the Bistro. As you travel on your journey, you will find ingredients. They’re for Remy’s mini game. Most of it is simple but it’s trial and error cause if you screw up, you lose the ingredients. But when you succeed, you acquire meals and combining different meals together can boost stats for you and your party. It’s a nice temporary benefit if you feel the game is a bit challenging. There are mini games in each world, there’s the Classic Kingdom where you play handheld mini games to get a high score, there’s a lot to do. I kid you not.
Beating the game alone will take you around 20 hours but if you want to 100% the game, it’s double the length. Not to mention there are three difficulty settings: Beginner, Standard and Proud. If you want a real challenge, the Proud difficulty is your best option. There is no Critical mode sadly but I hope that Square-Enix will consider adding it in a future update. Kingdom Hearts III is amazing. It’s truly awesome to look at. Running at a rock solid 60 fps, the game runs great but is flawless too. Not only that but load times are minimal especially when it transitions from cutscene to gameplay. I love it. It’s seamless. As for the voice acting, it’s still top notch with many familiar voices along with new ones, especially from the more recent Disney films. It’s pretty good. The music is enjoyable. Yoko Shimomura is truly a goddess when it comes to music. I’m not kidding. She delivers on some amazing tunes, not to mention remixes of familiar tunes. Every world you travel always offer something enjoyable, even when you are at the end of the game as well. It’s just awesome.
But for all the good things that this game has, there are some flaws. One example’s the Attractions. They can be really overpowered and they come too frequent. Even when you turn off Attraction Extender, they still have a tendency to come in and can turn most fights into a joke. I wish Square-Enix could either tone them down or have them show up less. The game is also a bit easy, even at Proud difficulty. By the time you reach the end, Sora will probably have a lot of abilities that can help turn the tide of any battle, even the final boss. There is an ability that disables experience and it can make the game challenging but it isn’t enough. Sure this game is also meant to attract new audiences but it should offer something for players that want a tough challenge. The lack of Critical Mode doesn’t help matters. Last but not least, unless you’ve played every other game in the series, the plot will make your head scratch and wonder who some of the characters are. The Memory Archive does help for those that want to be up to speed but for anyone that has no idea, they may be in for a really confusing ride.
So in conclusion, Kingdom Hearts III is a game that fans waited years for. Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Does it have flaws? Definitely. For all it’s negatives, this game has a lot going for it. It looks amazing, it’s easy to get into and play and it has enough that’ll keep you going for a long while. A 13-year wait reaches its end and surprisingly, it’s also on Xbox One so that’s a first. This game serves as an end to the Xehanort Saga and the end of a journey that spans 17 years. Let’s hope that Square-Enix doesn’t take too long for the next entry… hopefully. Seriously get Kingdom Hearts III. It’s worth your time.
I give Kingdom Hearts III an 8.5 out of 10. It’s worth your money and your time.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
Back in 2016, Activision released the Crash N. Sane Trilogy, remaking the first 3 games starring Crash. To say that it was a success is an understatement. It was a massive hit and a year later, the game would then be ported over to the Switch, Xbox One and PC. People wonder if Spyro would join suit and the good news is that they didn’t need to wait long. In April of last year, Activision announced that the original Spyro trilogy would be remastered with help from Toys for Bob. It would take a few months and a few delays for it to come, as the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Does this trilogy deliver justice and give new life to the Spyro the Dragon franchise?
Like the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy consists of the first three Spyro games: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. They had their work cut out for them remaking the Spyro trilogy, despite having the game delayed twice. You got to at least commend them for trying. Presentation-wise, all three games are awesome and consistent. You can tell that Toys for Bob put a lot of heart and soul when remaking the Spyro games and it shows. It’s fantastic. Even the voice acting is good. Tom Kenny reprises his role as Spyro and he does a fantastic job portraying him. Even the music and sound is improved. Everything has improved and like the N. Sane Trilogy, it’s done with the intent of providing a proper experience for players new to the series and for those who grew up with the old school PS1 games. Fun fact: the original 3 Spyro the Dragon games were developed by Insomniac, who would go on to make the Ratchet & Clank games for PS2.
What about the gameplay? Thankfully the game not only looks good but plays good too. If you’ve played the original PS1 Spyro games, you will feel right at home here. Movement is done either with the D-Pad or Analog Stick and all of Spyro’s basic moves such as gliding, breathing fire and charging with your head are there too. Depending on each games, Spyro will also obtain additional abilities that help in terms of exploration and battle. Speaking of which, all 3 games specialize in being collect-a-thon kind of games, having players travel to many areas collecting gems, relics, dragons and in some cases freeing dragons. Not only that but the game has free-flying sections where Spyro flies about. It also became a time-attack mode where you need to hit 4 objects or enemies for a total of 8 times. Some of these also have additional missions as well. For completionists that want to find and unlock everything, there are also skill point challenges. Completing them unlock access to a collection of concept art so it’s a nice bonus. You are getting a lot for a $40 game and like the Crash N. Sane Trilogy, it’s one heck of an experience.
As for length, each of these are long in their own right taking 10-15 hours but those who not only want to complete everything, get all the trophies and acquire all skill points, expect to add a few hours more to each. Again, it’s a lot for a $40 game and you got to commend these guys for putting the effort. Not only that but they also include the option to allow a map for players to see where they are. It’s a nifty feature but people most likely won’t need it. Now based on my experience, the compilation is well done. There were some bits that prove to be challenging, especially in the first Spyro game but at least it has the right amount of difficulty when it comes to the rest. And if you plan on buying the game physically, expect to wait a while. The physical disc only contains Spyro 1, not all 3. Yes. People were expecting to have all 3 Spyro games in one disc but Toys for Bob and Activision were unable to make it possible because of how big the games are. At least they tried and they should be commended for what they could. Oh and all three games are complete games too.
Activision and Toys for Bob did justice to the Spyro franchise with this compilation. Three Spyro games, rebuilt from the ground up with a strong presentation, familiar gameplay and a fair amount of challenge is something anyone should obtain. It’s enjoyable for those who have played the Spyro games but it’s also a welcome introduction for those who are new to it. If you never got to experience Spyro back during the PlayStation era, there’s no excuse now. The Reignited Trilogy is what does the trilogy justice and then some. Don’t take my word for it. Get it and play for yourself.
I give the Spyro Reignited Trilogy an 8.5 out of 10.