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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hollow Knight Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for the sake of review.
Last February, a little game called Hollow Knight was released on Steam to critical acclaim. It actually started as a Kickstarter campaign that raised $57,000 AUD (or $42,054 US) in 2014 and took three years to develop. Team Cherry Games would also announce that the game would come to the Nintendo Switch. After a year of waiting, it came to Nintendo’s new console complete with all the expansions that were released as well as whatever yet to come. Now that it has reached the Switch, is this game worth the wait?
The plot focuses on a knight who goes on a journey to uncover the truth about Hallownest, an insect kingdom that has long been abandoned. But it’s depths brought many adventurers who wish to seek out its treasures and mysteries. But as this knight journeys through these depths, he will uncover many secrets and obstacles that dare to get in the way. All of this culminates in a battle to save Hallownest from a deadly plague that is consuming and corrupting the kingdom and its inhabitants.
Most of the story is told as you play through the game along with interacting with the world’s inhabitants. It’s similar like Metroid Prime in some ways. I kind of like it. As you play, you learn what happens in the world and what you can do. Not only that but the game delivers on its atmosphere and you can feel the sense of dread and loneliness that exists. This gives players a drive to see what happens in the end. It’s good stuff.
Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania-style game, emphasizing on exploration, discovery and challenge. It has many features that have it stand out from the rest while providing a good amount of challenge. You play as a small Knight who starts off weak and as you explore Hallownest in its many areas, you find a variety of items & abilities that can make the experience easier. The game has currency in the form of Geo and you use it for a variety of things such as buying charms and upgrades for your character, getting new attacks, expanding the world map, etc. It’s a double edged sword however since this game also has a bit of Souls mentality meaning that when you die, you lose your Geo and you need to recover your shadow to get it back. If you succeed, you get your stuff but fail again and it’s gone. It can be gutwrenching to see all the Geo you earned be lost but it should let players know to be wary and not be careless.
Equipping charms can customize the Knight itself to your liking. Charms provide a variety of buffs depending on their effects and how much they require equipping. This I feel is what makes Hollow Knight stand out since you can pretty much have him any way you like. He can have more health, consume less Soul to unleash attacks, have the range of his weapon, the Nail extend its range, etc. How you have him depends on the player and it’s pretty awesome. It also has access of Soul, the MP of the game. You get Soul by attacking enemies. Soul can be used either to restore your health or to unleash magic based attacks and there are many it can use to defend itself from enemies & players will need to use everything the Knight has at its disposal. In addition there is Essence you can collect that can upgrade the nail as a Dream Nail of sorts. Finding them requires a lot of exploring. There are boss battles aplenty with some requiring a lot of careful timing and skill & all of them are good.
Since the game follows the Metroidvania-style formula, it also reflects on its length. The game can be completed at around 8-10 hours but those who wish to 100% it expect it to rise up by about 5-6 hours. Replay value is strong since after beating the game, unlocks a tougher difficulty called Steel Soul. Plus there are achievements with some requiring players to beat the game at a faster time. Yep. Speedrunners will have a field day with a game like this. It’s also a collectathon, so expect to spend time trying to find everything too. As someone who has spent over 20 hours with this game, it says a lot since the game is just that enjoyable.
From a presentation standpoint, it’s well done. Hollow Knight has a presentation that delivers. Each area you visit is different and they all stand out whether it is the Crossroads you start traveling in or other places like the Abyss. They all feel different, each with their own gimmick and challenge. It all builds itself on atmosphere, the feeling that you are traveling deep within a forgotten kingdom and all you can do is to survive against whatever comes your way. It’s also in 2D and it’s the way it should be. The music is good with some pretty good tracks. Intense moments like the boss battles change things to one of tension and the feeling that you will be up against an impossible obstacle is amazing. Even the feeling of taking down said challenge makes it rewarding too.
Hollow Knight has additional content in the form of free updates. The updates add features such as new boss battles, items, quests and even balance fixes. The Switch version thankfully has all of this included from the get-go & with the next update coming in the form of Gods & Glory, it’s all the more reason to go in for another round.
As far as any flaws go, the game is a challenging one. The Souls mentality is there but it doesn’t hinder you as much. Thankfully the map tells you where you last died and after a few hits you regain what you lost. My only negative that I have found from my experience is that some boss battles can be a pain unless you are more prepared. They emphasize on strategy as well as trial and error. Though having the right gear can help, most of the time it’s all trial & error. Also save points are few and far between and sometimes not having enough places to save can be a bother especially if you are deep into an area. Fortunately you do get the option to teleport and if used right can lead you somewhere safe. Though expect a while to travel back to where you were.
For a game that has now reached Nintendo’s newest and successful console, Hollow Knight is great. Hollow Knight delivers in its challenge while offering a game that is heavy on its atmosphere, strategy and replayability. It does have a little bit of Dark Souls in some cases but it’s more Metroidvania than anything else. At only $15, you can’t go wrong with a game like this. Team Cherry Games made the right move in bringing it to the Switch & with Gods and Glory coming, it’ll convince me to give the game one more go around. I recommend Hollow Knight. It’s worth it.
I give Hollow Knight a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal Seal of Approval & I highly recommend this game.
Yakuza 0 Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for the sake of this review.
In 2016, the Yakuza, or Ryu Ga Gotoku, series would go on to celebrate its 10th anniversary. SEGA then makes the announcement that to commemorate this event, two Yakuza games would be released. One would be a retelling of the original Yakuza called Yakuza Kiwami. The other would be a prequel to the first game putting its focus on not only Kiryu but also Majima. A prequel focusing on the game’s two most memorable characters… is Yakuza 0 worthy of telling the series’ very beginnings?
Yakuza 0 takes place in Japan in December 1988, 8 years before the events that would set in motion the first game. The plot centers on an empty lot and that whoever obtains the deed would decide the fate of Kamurocho. It centers on two characters: Kazuma Kiryu & Goro Majima as they try to not only get to the bottom of this but also contend with their respective predicaments.
In Kamurocho, Kiryu’s charged for a crime he didn’t commit and must not only prove his innocence but contend with his former clan who are after him due to his connection to Dojima. In the town of Sotenbori, Majima is in charge of a nightclub called Grand but in truth, he is under constant watch due to his exile. But he then takes a hit that would guarantee him back only to find that the target in question is a defenseless blind woman. Hoping to find answers, he decides to protect her while having to deal with the wrath of the Tojo Clan.
The game’s story is just amazing. From start to finish, you see how their tales go and how they reach their conclusions. Since it is also a prequel, we see the main characters being very different from what they are now and the decisions they make would shape them into being who they are today. I love it. There will be moments that’ll fill players with emotion but by the time it’s over, you can’t help but feel bad for some characters as the later games detail their inevitable fates. That’s what happens in a prequel game after all.
If you’ve played any of the previous Yakuza games, you will feel right at home with Yakuza 0. It’s an action RPG game where you pretty much do whatever you like, depending on what happens in the game. Most of the time will be spent going through missions to continue the story. But during those instances, you’re allowed to explore and do various activities. Sub-stories make a return where you can help people with their many issues. At times they reward you with items and money. Side activities are aplenty such as mahjong, baseball, bowling, and even you can go to arcades to play games such as Outlaw and Space Harrier. And if that isn’t to your liking, you can still take the chance to beat up bad guys that cross your path. Most of Kamurocho is still accessible for you to explore but some stuff like the Millennium Tower isn’t there.
Yakuza 0 offers a lot of new additions to the game. One of the biggest is a secondary protagonist: Goro Majima. In later entries, he’s pretty much an anti-hero with an obsession for fighting Kiryu. Here in this game, he’s different and this is before he became the Mad Dog of Shimano. He has his own hub to explore, Sotenbori and his own problems to contend with. In addition, he has his own set of fighting styles that offer a different experience. Both characters each have three fighting styles they can use in battle. Kiryu still has his styles from the first game but Majima’s are new. Thug is similar to Brawler, being balanced. Breaker focuses on breakdancing to deal damage to enemies and Slugger specializes on using a bat or other weapons to give foes the smackdown. It’s a nice change of pace and it does help set the two apart. Both of them also have a fourth unlockable style but that requires a lot of work to unlock it for each of them. Like the first game, the yen is the game’s currency and since this is Japan in the 1980s, the people spend it like there’s no tomorrow… literally. The yen is not only used to help buy items and supplies but also to level up your characters. Fortunately, the game gives you plenty of ways to acquire yen to make it possible. In addition, there are several mentors that will assist Kiryu and Majima in unlocking new abilities and attacks they can use in battle. Want to be the best? Seeking them out and learning from them is the best choice.
Another addition is the special side activities. Real Estate has Kiryu going around, buying up land in Kamurocho in the hopes of raising money and driving rival gangs out. Cabaret is all Majima and your job is to make your club the best in Sotenbori by not only making your guests happy but growing your ladies to ensure they make it possible. These activities require some skill to complete but the rewards are worth it.
Yakuza 0 offers a lot to do in one game. With two protagonists, the game’s length can get ridiculous. To be fair, if you plan on just beating the game, it’ll take you roughly 15-20 hours but to complete everything raises it to around 70-80 hours. Replay value is high since after beating it, you have access to Premium Adventure and Legend difficulty aka New Game +. As for progression, the game lets you control Kiryu or Majima for 2 chapters. After 2 chapters, you shift to the next character with a recap that details what happened in their story. It’s a good way of getting players up to speed on the story. There will be times you will switch between the two characters but eventually, you will have the option to switch between them whenever you like. It’s useful in case you missed out on some things with the other character. There are a ton of other activities you can do such as collecting tapes that can unlock some softcore videos, places where you can phone chat with girls that can lead to dates if you’re lucky, singing karaoke and others but yeah… stuff like that is one of many you can do in this game.
This game looks good. For a PlayStation 4 game, it’s awesome. SEGA did a fantastic job showing Japan in the late 1980s, during a time when they were in an economic boom and it reflects on it. The characters look good in cutscenes and can be really expressive but when you go to the game itself that leaves a bit to be desired. It also has a stellar soundtrack and what’s more is that in battle, the music changes depending on what style you use. But the game also has some tunes that happen in the more important bits like in boss battles. There are boss battles aplenty and it’ll get you on the edge of your seat with some being awesome. Yakuza 0 is also on PC and personally, if you want the best experience, the PC version is a recommendation.
For all the good that Yakuza 0 has, there are some negatives. Most of the presentation seems a bit dated but I feel it makes sense. Yakuza isn’t about how good it looks, it’s about how good it plays. Not that it’s a bad thing. Also, the game can be unfair in some instances with enemies carrying stuff like firearms. It kills the momentum at times… like in Yakuza Kiwami.
Overall Yakuza 0 is a welcome addition to the series, being that it’s a prequel that helps set up the first game. Two protagonists having two stories that intertwine into a plot revolving an empty lot, gameplay that is good with a lot to explore and do and so much more. Despite some minor hiccups, it’s a solid game. Very solid. What else can be said that hasn’t already been said? If you wish to experience how two legends got their start, this is it. Every series has a starting point and this is that one. Just be ready because this is one journey you don’t want to miss out on.
I give Yakuza 0 a solid 8.5 out of 10. It’s worth your money whether on PS4 or PC.