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.
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.
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.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas Review – Written by Jose Vega
Note: Purchased product for review.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a action-adventure free-flight exploration game created by Ubisoft, the same company that give us Assassin’s Creed, Rayman and others. It has a lot of good ideas but the execution is a bit mixed. Ubisoft Toronto pitched an idea of a toys-to-life game in the same way that other games like Skylanders. It was given the green light but the only difference is that its main idea is the gimmick being to customize flying ships to however players want them to be. Starlink came about as a result. Does this game soar high or crash and burn?
As I said, the game is an action-adventure game and you get to play as a fighter pilot who flies on a starship traveling from planet to planet, freeing each one from a band of evil forces called the Legion, led by a prophet named Grax. It’s simple enough but that’s where the game takes it a step further. In each planet, your job is to free it from the Legion and you do so by driving the Legion back, build bases to raise your Alliance meter and explore. Yes. Exploration is the big focus as each planet is home to various sights, and wildlife. It helps for players that want to achieve 100% completion on each planet but it can get repetitive and boring quick. Having to do the same thing in the game 7 planets can get dull. The same can be said for outer space. Time is mostly spent on battling outlaws, traveling from one point to the next, finding supplies and in some cases battling giant capital ships called Dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts do offer a bit of challenge but that’s about it. Though they also provide an advantage if they are destroyed and can help make the trek a bit enjoyable.
Starlink is also a toys-to-life game, and this game has plenty of customization in the forms of weapons, ships and pilots. Players can use toys that Ubisoft has provided along with the game to customize their ship however they like. New weapons are obtained with the toys they collect and having it physically means they can get it in the game. No fuss, no muss. The toys themselves do look cool and for collectors, it’s a nice touch. But for those who don’t want to waste money on buying toys, they can buy weapons in the form of DLC packs. The DLC packs, called Starship Packs, each consist of one pilot, their ship and two weapons. There are also weapon packs and pilot packs, providing new weapons and pilots. But to those that want everything from the start, they offer a complete $60 pack. It’s a lot and it does give people a choice but if they bought the $80 digital deluxe edition, that’s only an afterthought.
Speaking of the ships, weapons and pilots, they can be leveled up. You gain experience by doing many things such as defeating enemies, completing objectives, etc. Once a ship part such as a ship or weapon levels up, the respective pilot gets a skill point they can use to improve their abilities. In addition players can obtain mods to customize their weapons and ships. The mods can be upgraded as well to be more powerful. Players can also be able to upgrade their team abilities in exchange for Electrum and Cores. The only drawback is that unless you have every pilot, you are a bit limited on what you can upgrade. There’s a lot of customization here and Ubisoft does have some good ideas with this. It’s that the execution is, as I said, really flawed.
As for story, it revolves around a group of individuals travel to the Atlas system on their ship, the Equinox only to get attacked by the Legion. Grax, leader of the Legion kidnaps the lead scientist in charge of Equinox in the hopes of finding anything regarding an extinct species called the Wardens. Now the crew of Starlink travel from planet to planet to send the Legion packing, stop Grax, save their commander and free the Atlas system. It’s a simple story at best with most of it told during the game as you play. For players who got the game on Nintendo Switch, there’s an added story where Team Star Fox appears to help the crew of the Equinox. But they also have a reason for being here, as Wolf O’Donnell of Star Wolf has been spotted on Atlas. So the two groups join forces to save Atlas from the Legion and Wolf O’Donnell, who’s here to seek power to rule the Lylat System. The Star Fox story is all right but it makes you wish there was more. Ubisoft does have good ideas and it makes you wonder what it’s like had they make their own Star Fox game.
Starlink isn’t a long game and players can beat it within 8-10 hours but to 100% everything, including maxing out all weapons and pilots, it’s a lot longer since exploration takes priority. As for presentation, it’s at least better than No Man’s Sky. The game does look good and plays good. Controls are simple, easy and intuitive. Voice acting is good and believable and it gets you interested into the game.
But although there is some good ideas in the game, there are various flaws. In fact, this would be summed up with just three complaints. First is the DLC content. Now to anyone who bought the $80 digital edition, consider it an afterthought. To many that didn’t are expected to spend money whether via the toys or the digital content. And considering that ships also count as additional lives, players start with 2 unless they get everything. Sadly you don’t get any new ships as you play so that’s a bummer.
Second is the gameplay and mission structure. Players go from planet-to-planet freeing them from the Legion. It does start off fun at first but as you keep going, it does get tedious. Nothing changes and no matter what planet you travel, it’s the same grind since it does help offer advantages down the line. If the game offers a bit more variety that would be fine and they do provide it with showdowns against Primes but it’s also the same grind. Of course destroying Primes does free the planet so it’s a bit of a reprieve. However, I wish that Starlink could offer more.
The last complaint is lack of boss battles. Primes and Dreadnoughts do count as boss battles but they can be dealt with if players know how to figure out the best strategy for them. Even the final boss feels underwhelming. It can be taken down with little effort, offering no challenge whatsoever. That alone also seems that Ubisoft didn’t put much effort in offering more. Also the Star Fox stuff is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version and it gets a pass because playing as Fox McCloud and his Arwing is simply satisfying.
In conclusion, Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a game that has good ideas. Very good ideas that if they put more time into it it would be a really great game. However several issues mar the game. Is it a bad game? Absolutely not. You can have a lot of fun with the game but the fun only lasts for so long. The Star Fox content on the Switch version does provide some variety but it makes you wish it’d be longer. But playing as Fox McCloud makes up for it. At least it’s better than No Man’s Sky since the game does feel like a game and not a bait-and-switch. If you plan on getting the game, get the $80 digital deluxe edition. You’ll have everything from the get-go and you’ll have a good time, especially if it’s on the Switch. Starlink is a journey, albeit one filled with a bit of trouble.
For the Nintendo Switch version, I give Starlink: Battle for Atlas a 6.5 out of 10.
For the PS4 and Xbox One version, it gets a 5 out of 10.
Mega Man 11 Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
It has been eight years since Mega Man had his last adventure and that was a return to form. Since then, the franchise went into hibernation as Capcom shifted their focus onto other games while leaving Mega Man in the dust. Despite that, it would continue to live on in other media like the Archie comics and in various compilations that Capcom would create. Fans wanted a new Mega Man game. Mighty No. 9, meant to be the spiritual successor to the series was a massive dud. But then on December of last year, Capcom announced that a new entry in the series would come to celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary. It would come to be known as Mega Man 11. After eight years, does this game deserve the honor of being part of a long-lasting franchise?
Let us start with the game’s presentation and it follows a 2.5D style. Basically it’s a 2D game but has 3D elements that affect other areas like the enviroments and characters. This was first seen in Street Fighter IV back in 2009. Capcom did well in keeping the game grounded in 2D while giving everything else a needed facelift. In addition, this game has voice acting and unlike Mega Man 8, it is much improved. All the voice actors did a good job and this game has both English and Japanese voices. For those that prefer one or the other, there you go. Music is really well done and many of the songs are real good like the main theme. It looks and feels like a Mega Man game and with it, a return to form for the series. I also like how Mega Man looks in the game. It’s the same Blue Bomber we always know but Capcom updated his look and it’s just perfect. He does have a similar look to how Mega was in Smash Bros. 4 but hey, it’s good for me.
As for gameplay, if you’ve played any Mega Man game then you will feel right at home. It’s easy to pick up and get into and you can modify them at anytime. Even something like the slide can be set with a button and it makes the game better. Mega Man 11 also has multiple difficulties. The harder the difficulty, the more challenging the game is with Superhero being the hardest. Like in previous entries, Mega can collect screws that can be exchanged for items and parts. It offers players an incentive to stock up and acquire parts and is a necessity especially in harder difficulties. The bosses are challenging but since they do follow the Mega Man formula, finding the right weakness helps alleviate things. Fortunately every weapon that you get in the game is useful in one way or another. Also this game has the option of letting you use the right analog to switch weapons on the fly. Nifty. They also do get dangerous due to one of the game’s new features.
One of the biggest additions to the game is the Double Gear System. This gives Mega Man 2 different enhancements. Power Gear boosts his strength and his charge shot can be either 2 blasts or a full power shot. Power Gear also enhances special weapons though. Speed Gear slows everything around Mega Man allowing him to either use the time to take down an enemy or escape a dangerous situation. Each of them offers something new and thankfully it isn’t broken. There is a cool down that occurs after use so using it wisely is your best option.
Speaking of which, the game’s plot has Mega Man trying to stop Dr. Wily yet again. This time around, Wily has a new tool at his disposal: the Double Gear System. After using it to obtain eight new Robot Masters, Mega takes it upon himself to stop him and save the captured robots. The plot also delves into both Light and Wily and how their differing views and ideals drove them to follow different paths. It’s pretty nice and I like it. It helps add more to the game and the lore.
Mega Man 11 is not a long game. If you plan on beating the game normally, it’ll take you 2 to 3 hours to complete. Skilled players can complete it in under 2 hours. Replay value is high with the multiple difficulties and the game has other modes. The game has challenges, giving players a chance to test their skills in various modes. Leaderboards are also here too so any challenges you complete, you can share it with others around the world. Achievements are also in the game and trying to get them all will require players to pour a lot more time into it. Some are harder than others but still. The Switch version of Mega Man 11 has Amiibo support and using a Mega Man amiibo can provide you nifty items but you’re only limited to once a day.
For a lot of good that Mega Man 11 has, there are some faults. Length being one of them but I will give it a pass because this game is released at $30. If it were a full priced $60 game then that would be another story. Also the game is challenging. It isn’t an easy game but it’s not hard either. Having multiple difficulties is nice for players to choose but even with that, the level design can throw people off. Some levels can have a lot of bottomless pits where one mistake and you will lose a lot of progress. It can be really upsetting. Also the hardest difficulty, Superhero, will really test players and it doesn’t help that you don’t get any life or weapon capsules. Not even extra lives. It is a true test for players and anyone who beats it should feel rewarded. Despite the negatives, the game is fun and a return to form for the blue bomber.
After 8 years, Mega Man is back once more and this time he’s here to stay. Mega Man 11 is everything you would expect from a game in the series and then some. A fresh coat of paint with 2.5D graphics, familiar gameplay with new additions such as the Double Gear system, good music, replay value and a fair amount of challenge. There are some issues but it shouldn’t dissuade anyone. It’s as if Capcom realized they screwed up and decided to make amends to all they drove away with this and it worked. I hope that this will lead to more down the line and hopefully a return for the Blue Bomber.
I give Mega Man 11 an 8.5 out of 10. It is a must-buy and a fun game to enjoy.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased game for the review.
Spider-Man has had his fair share of video games over the years. Some were good, others not so much. After the disappointment of Amazing Spider-Man 2, Activision decided to call it quits leaving Marvel to find a company who could give the webhead justice. E3 2016 revealed a new Spider-Man game but it wouldn’t be under Activision’s helm. It would be Insomniac, a company responsible for the Ratchet & Clank series. After 2 years and a lot of waiting and anticipation, Insomniac’s Spider-Man arrives as a PS4 console exclusive. Did Insomniac do him justice where Activision could not?
Let’s start with the gameplay. Why gameplay? Because the instant you start playing, you know that Insomniac nails being Spider-Man to a T. Getting around is outright fun though it can take a while to get used to it. Once you do, it becomes second nature and it makes being Spider-Man so awesome. It can get addicting and it’s proven a fact. In fact, it’s so good that it surpasses how Spidey goes about in Spider-Man 2 back in 2004. Not only that but the combat is great and simply seamless. Sure it has some similarities to the Arkham series but that is where it ends. The difference is that Spidey has access to a variety of moves at his disposal. He still has punches and kicks but Spidey also has gadgets that can help against tough enemies. They can range from simple web shooting to using gadgets such as Web Bombs, Electric Webs and even the Suspension Matrix. Spidey also has access to different suits that unlock various focus power-ups. By clicking L3 & R3, he can use a power that can help turn the tide. Plus he can have up to 3 suit mods that can provide unique advantages. Spidey isn’t invincible however so constantly moving takes priority. Perfect dodges can help avoid attacks while stunning enemies and focus attacks can help deliver the smackdown.
As mentioned earlier, he has access to a variety of gear such as suits, gadgets and suit mods. Many of these are obtained by exchanging tokens and you get tokens by completing side activities throughout New York. They can range from shutting down enemy bases to stopping crimes that happen in the city, finding backpacks scattered around the city and even taking part in challenges that test your mettle and skill. There is a lot to do in this game that it can take you a very long time. Not only that but there’s an experience system in play where you gain experience. You get it by completing either challenges or missions throughout the game. Leveling up will give you skill points that you can use to acquire skills for Spidey and they come in 3 categories: Innovator, Defender, and Webslinger. Not to mention a boost in health and melee damage. In turn, it makes Spidey stronger and it’s all the more worth it in the long run.
As for length, the game is split into three acts. Overall it takes you about 15 or so hours to complete but for those who wish to 100% the entire game, it’s extended by 10 hours. Is it worth it? Absolutely! The game has a good amount of length with a lot to do. But you aren’t just limited to being as Spider-Man. There are sections of the game where you get to play as other characters such as Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Their sections are a bit different like Peter going to meet with other characters or Mary Jane having stealth. Though there are a few of them, they can sometimes slow the game down, especially on the stealth sections where it’s all trial and error. The AI can be exploited if you are skilled enough but I wish those sections can be improved upon. It’s my only negative that I have with the game thus far.
Story-wise, the game focuses on an older Peter Parker. No origin story this time as it has been seven years since he donned the garb. He’s a college student working for Otto Octavius as an intern though his relationship with Mary Jane ended pretty bad. After defeating Kingpin, Spidey has to contend with a new threat in the form of the Demons. But the Demons are just one of many threats that will push Spidey to his limits & it eventually leads into a battle to save New York from someone who desires nothing more than revenge.
This game’s story is well done and it gets you hooked to boot. Since it’s not a movie-licensed game, Insomniac Games decide to make a story that lets the game stand on its own. It works. It really does as it has many twists and turns that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Not only that but the voice acting is top notch. Yuri Lowenthal is great as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He captured it well and you can feel his emotion in his performance. In fact, all the voice actors did a good job capturing the feel for many of the characters. It’s top notch.
As for the game’s presentation, it is stellar. Insomniac Games did a phenomenal job capturing the feel of Spider-Man all while making it stand out from previous games. It looks great and plays great but if you were expecting it to run at 60fps, prepare to be disappointed. The game looks great at 1080p but it’s locked at 30fps on both PS4 and PS4 Pro. Insomniac did state their reasons why but even so, it shouldn’t stop anyone from playing and enjoying the game. Music is great and really captures the feel of Spider-Man. Insomniac has high production values with the game and it only wonders how they’ll top it in the possible sequel. The game will have upcoming DLC in the form of additional stories and challenges. Thankfully they are better than most other DLC that has already been seen in other games.
For all the positives this game has, there are a few faults. Stuff like the faulty AI in the stealth sections have been mentioned but there are others. The side stuff such as combat and challenges can get repetitive. Sure completing them are needed to make Spidey better but having to do them repeatedly can be a bit of a slog. The game also has a fair share of glitches. They aren’t bad and have since been patched out but from what I’ve seen, they can be quite scary to look at. Fortunately, it shouldn’t dissuade you from enjoying this game. No way.
Insomniac took a gamble to make a Spider-Man game that can stand out. It paid off in major spades. A great story with solid voice acting, addicting gameplay with tons of content, high production values and a presentation that puts previous Spidey games such as Activision’s games to shame. A few negatives here and there shouldn’t dissuade the experience and the best thing about it is that Insomniac is the one behind this. Marvel made the right decision and this game is definitely a game of the year material. Spider-Man is worth your money and if you have a PS4 but you haven’t bought this game, what are you waiting for?! Get it! Now! You won’t regret it!
I give Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal seal of approval and it’s worth your money.
God of War Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
When people think of PlayStation, they think of games like God of War. Since 2005, the franchise is responsible for giving us addicting action packed gameplay, a protagonist that’s on the violent side and a tale that spans several games. After the release of God of War Ascension in 2013, the franchise went dormant until E3 2016 when Sony showed a young boy and a much older Kratos. It confirms that a new God of War is on the horizon and after two years of hype & anticipation, God of War would arrive. A game set in a new land with a new story to tell, does this game hold true to what the rest of the franchise would abide by?
Set years after the events of God of War III, Kratos finds himself in Norway, in the realm of Midgard. He would marry and have a son named Atreus. After the passing of his wife Faye, Kratos goes on a journey with his son to spread Faye’s ashes on the highest peak of the nine realms. Along the way, they would meet many people that either help them or bring harm. Their journey will soon culminate into one filled with secrets, revelations and a desire to be better.
The game is treated as a soft reboot for the series but personally it is a continuation set in a new land with the same protagonist that we all know. Only difference is that Kratos has gotten older with a child and is able to keep his anger in check. Its story is very well done with the focus being on Kratos and his son. This has enough twists and turns that you really want to see how it all ends. Not only that but the game delivers on exposition detailing Midgard, the realms, the people that you encounter and it’s history. So for anyone that is interested in this stuff, there you go.
The God of War series has always been known as an action game where you beat down enemies, solve puzzles and tackle tough bosses. This game however decides to turn it on its head. It’s a 3rd person action game with puzzle solving and a bit of RPG elements mixed in. Like in previous games, you play as Kratos except the camera is always set behind him. It does give a good view of what’s in front of you but at times in battle, you can get overwhelmed and you have no idea who will strike at you next. Kratos isn’t limited in combat this time. He has access to a brand new weapon, the Leviathan Axe. The Leviathan Axe is your go-to weapon for most of the game, not to mention versatile. It’s used as both an offensive weapon and can help in puzzle solving. Plus being an ice-based weapon, it can freeze many things in its tracks. Kratos also has access to his fists and like previous games can go into a Spartan Rage. The Spartan Rage lets him go full on with either his fists or throw boulders, and it can also help restore his health. It offers a LOT of versatility opinions and how you go about it depends on you.
In addition to Kratos, there’s also his son Atreus and he serves as a secondary gameplay style. He serves as the eyes and ears for his dad providing him warnings and at times can offer assistance. Armed with a bow and arrow, he can fire arrows to stun enemies allowing Kratos to deliver added hits. They can also be enchanted to add additional effects. He even can use magic to summon some added help too. Whereas Kratos is more brawn, Atreus is the brain of the two and he helps when it comes to solving puzzles. One can’t exist without the other and how they implement the two is just well done.
God of War is still an action game but SIE Santa Monica decides to add a bit of RPG into this. There’s a leveling system in place where Kratos can get stronger in one of six different stats: Strength, Runic, Defense, Vitality, Luck and Cooldown. They determine a variety of factors and they can also be improved by having Kratos equip armor. Armor that you collect and equip can improve your stats and as you play, you’ll get access to better gear. They can also be upgraded by means of trading in hacksilver, the currency and specific items. Upgrading them improves the gear and with it your stats. There are also enchantments that add additional boosts to your stats while giving Kratos bonuses that can help in battle. Your axe can also be equipped with hilts that offer perks and even your weapons can be armed with talismans that either offer either active or passive effects. It doesn’t end there. Atreus can also be customized as well with different garbs and enchantments. There are also skill trees for both of them that offer new moves and advantages. You use experience to unlock perks on the tree and also, they are used to improve your runic attacks, special moves that allow your weapons to do all sorts of insane stuff. A lot to take in yes but it becomes second nature as you play.
God of War is a long game, taking players roughly 20 hours to complete with an additional 8-10 hours if they plan to 100% the game. With New Game+ recently included in, the length is extended further. There is a ton of content for you to do such as side quests that offer rewards, challenge areas to test your skills and even optional bosses that will push players to their limits. All the while, the game is a technical marvel. Running at 60 fps, the game is just outright awesome. It not only looks awesome but even plays awesome too. Sometimes things go from quiet one second to intense the next. There are boss fights and some are without a doubt the best ever seen. It does offer a balance in terms of action, puzzles and platforming and I’m happy they achieved it. Voice acting is well done though Christopher Judge as an older Kratos started growing on me. It makes sense since Kratos has matured from his Spartan days but it serves to remind Atreus to be a better person.
If there are any negatives, it’s that the game can at times spike up the difficulty in some instances. Things go well at some points but then a spike comes in and makes it a tough challenge. Being that the game has four difficulty settings, you have the option to change it at anytime… unless you are doing it at the hardest setting where you can’t. It’s the only negative in a game that is otherwise so amazing.
2018 has been a stellar year for Sony with their exclusives and God of War is no exception. Taking the series in a different direction may have been a big risk but it paid off big time. The game looks awesome and it plays awesome too. It offers a story that grips you from start to finish, with gameplay that is truly addicting and offers so much to do in the game that… what more needs to be said? If you have a PlayStation 4 right now, this game is worth your money. It really is. There’s a reason why God of War is known as one of Sony’s best franchises. It’s no exception. Get it. Now.
I give God of War a solid 9.5 out of 10. It is worth the full purchase and it earns my personal seal of approval. No questions asked.
Monster Hunter World Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
Monster Hunter… a series that is all about players teaming up to take down monsters all while working to get stronger. For almost 15 years, the series thrived on this style starting on the PlayStation 2 before it would explode in popularity with Monster Hunter Freedom on PSP. In fact, the series would be a hit on handhelds with its later entries. In Japan it was a popular franchise but overseas, not so much until Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in 2012. The next few games would go to have much success on the 3DS. But it wasn’t until 2017 when Capcom announced they are bringing Monster Hunter to the newest generation of consoles, in the form of Monster Hunter World. For the first Monster Hunter game on PS4, Xbox One and PC, did it deliver?
The story centers on a continent called the New World, where monsters roam and where researchers are intrigued by its mystery. You play as a Hunter who’s a member of the Fifth Fleet and is with the Research Commission on an expedition into the New World. The trek goes downhill once an elder dragon named Zorah Magdaros shows up, causing the Hunter to get on the move. They do arrive in the New World, in a makeshift base called Astera with one goal: explore the world and find the truth regarding Zorah Magdaros. But even with Zorah Magdaros, the New World is home to many challenges, requiring the Hunter to expect the unexpected.
Monster Hunter World’s story is intriguing but at the same time, the pacing of the game is solid. Most games don’t have much of a story but here, there is since you are part of an organization with an objective. You see it transpire as you play and even after contending with Zorah Magdaros, there is still more. There is some voice acting but it mostly occurs during specific missions. At least it’s considered okay at best.
Now we reach the meat & potatoes of things, the gameplay. If you have played any of the previous Monster Hunter games, you will feel right at home. Since this is the first Monster Hunter game released on the newest consoles, the game is more streamlined to accommodate new players. It actually works. Players start by creating their own Hunter and Pailco. After a while, they go through several tutorials getting them accustomed to the controls and then their journey can begin. The game is an action-RPG with players having to complete jobs in order to gain money and materials needed to either buy armor & weapons or upgrade the gear they currently have. And speaking of which, this game has 14 different weapons for players to choose from. Each of these 12 weapons has their own abilities and attacks, offering different advantages in battle. Plus the weapons and armor you craft and upgrade can offer numerous effects for your hunter. The same is said for the Palico as well. There is a lot of customization here and how it goes depends on the player.
As for progression, the game follows a mission structure where raising your Hunter Rank, or HR, is required. You raise your Hunter Rank by completing quests and they can depend on the main objective. Whether it is collecting items, slaying smaller monsters or even defeating big monsters that roam the lands, they are what’s needed to rank up. Not to mention missions are split between several categories. Assigned are main story missions that are needed to progress further while optional are useful for players to grind money and experience. Completing them nets you money, items and experience. The experience is used to not only level up your rank but also your Palico. Playing solo lets you have a Palico as your ally in your journeys. He is a big help support-wise. There is a catch to it all. Dying in a mission cuts those rewards and failing 3 times results in a mission failure. Preparedness is required if a player is to succeed. Players can also go on expeditions to find materials, battle monsters and so on. For anyone that wants to grind for stuff so they can prep themselves, there you go. The game really offers you a lot for a full price game.
The length of Monster Hunter World is outright ridiculous. Expect to spend hours upon hours completing missions to unlock the best gear and weapons needed for the challenges aside. Not only that but the game offers a lot of additional content with free updates. The free updates bring in new monsters for players to tackle and with it, new gear for players to get. Sometimes they hold events where you can attain exclusive gear such as the Devil May Cry outfit, Horizon Zero Dawn gear, etc. Even after beating the game, there’s still a lot to do. One thing that should be mentioned here and it’s that this game is best played if you have friends. This game is mostly online and you are allowed to ally with whoever wishes to help and sometimes you have to help them. It’s a game like this where people of all kinds can team up to take down monsters. Simply awesome!
Capcom really delivered in terms of its presentation. The game is beautiful and compared to the previous games, it’s a huge step up. At 1080p running at 60 fps, it’s awesome. The environments are stellar, as if this world has come to life in the game. All the monsters look great and at some cases scary. Music is great, offering the intensity the series is known for. The victory themes especially are good since it provides satisfaction after a job well done. Gameplay is familiar and streamlined. It does a good job teaching players the controls and how to handle each weapon. You can turn it off in the options if you like. Voice acting is great with talents such as Richard Epcar and Matt Mercer. They deliver in their performances and I find them well.
As far as negatives are concerned, there are very few. Capcom delivered in making the game balanced in terms of difficulty. Sure things start simple enough and it builds up as you progress. And if you get stuck in a quest that’s hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The game doesn’t penalize you if it happens so it never hurts to send an SOS. Other than that, the game is incredible, almost perfect.
Capcom took a gamble by bringing Monster Hunter onto the PS4, Xbox One and PC and it paid off big time. The game looks great, plays great and feels great. It’s also satisfying when you have friends and the feeling of you taking down a tough foe is all the more rewarding. And since the game does add more via free updates, there’s much to do. It’s without a doubt one of the best games in the series not only introducing new players to the series but also bringing in veterans looking for a challenge. If you have a group of friends and in need of some fun, Monster Hunter World is it. The hunt begins again!
I give Monster Hunter World a 9.5 out of 10. It’s worth your money & it earns my personal seal of approval!