The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

majoras

The one thing that bothered me about Majora’s Mask was the 3-day time limit. I play games at a slow-pace, I enjoy taking my time, exploring as much as I can and taking in the environment. When I’m playing a game and it forces a time-limit on me for certain quests or challenges, I get annoyed, frustrated and feel like I’m missing out on certain things by rushing through as I try to get to the goal.

A few years ago I was able to download the N64 version of Majora’s Mask through the Wii’s Virtual Console but had a hard time getting into the game. It felt over-whelming and it was difficult to keep up with all the side-quests. If I was younger I would have loved the game, but now that I’m older and working, along with other responsibilities, this sort of game can be a burden.

So I was relieved when I read that the 3DS version of the game would be a little different. Besides the updated visuals, the game now features a notebook that keeps track of all the side-quests and rumors you come across and it also keeps track of the quests you’ve completed. You can also set alarms to remind you of time-specific moments that are critical to side-quests. Another useful feature that has been added is a song that Link can play that will move time ahead to any specific hour of your choice, which is extremely helpful when it comes to completing side-quests. The save-system has been beefed up too. In the original Majora’s Mask there were two ways to save. You either suspended the game or by reseting time and going back to the first day. In Majora’s Mask on the 3DS, there are save-points scattered across Termina that also serve as a quick-travel system.

I’ve only played a couple of hours and just completed the second dungeon, but I’m loving Majora’s Mask and I can see why it had such a strong cult following. Every character in the game feels alive, they all have schedules to keep. You can follow any person in the game and see what they do and listen in on their conversations. Each character has a unique personality. There are a lot of little stories to discover in Majora’s Mask, the side-quests are interesting to follow and aren’t simple fetch-quests. The main villain, Skull Kid isn’t just straight-up evil, his story is sad and the more you find out about him the more you feel sympathy.

Majora’s Mask is a great change of pace for the Zelda franchise, it’s nice to be doing something besides saving Zelda, Hyrule and fighting Ganondorf. So if you own a 3DS and need another great game to play, Majora’s Mask just might be it.

Leave a comment

Etrian Odyssey IV

Etrian Odyssey IV

I remember trying out the first Etrian Odyssey on the Nintendo DS and for some reason it just didn’t click with me. But I always felt it was a game that I would eventually grow to enjoy. Since then three new games have been released in the series. Atlus always seem to put their great games up on sale in the 3DS eStore and Etrian Odyssey IV was going for $14 which is incredibly cheap for a game of this quality. So it seemed like it was the best time to try it once again.

Etrian Odyssey is a dungeon crawler with a slight twist. While you explore vast dungeons you have to draw the map using the 3DS’s touch-screen. Yup, it features a map-making mechanic. This is where the game turns people off. Some people will find mapping to be a tedious exercise. On the other hand I personally find mapping to be satisfying and relaxing. There’s something strangely gratifying seeing a whole dungeon mapped out on your screen.

etrianrev2

What I also like about the game and that helps to set it apart from other RPG’s is that you have full control over what kind of party you want. Most of the time games force you to use a pre-determined set of characters, with specific abilities that aren’t really customizable. In Etrian Odyssey you start the game by creating 5 party members, you give them a name, an appearance and choose from one of seven classes. Every time they level up, you get to choose what skills to give them and which not too. Hypothetically speaking, you could have two warriors each specializing in different styles of combat. This opens up a lot of opportunities when it comes to building your party. Experimentation is key.

The lack of real story and character development could be seen as a downside, Etrian Odyssey doesn’t have some epic narrative where you’re off to defeat the greatest villain of all time. No. Your goal in Etrian Odyssey is to gain fortune and fame as you try to find and discover the secrets a legendary tree, the Yggdrasil. Along the way you’ll fight off large monsters, discover rare treasures and help out random people.

I’m really enjoying the game and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to try something a bit different. It’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve experienced on a handheld. Their’s a demo available in the 3DS eStore. Give it a chance and you might find a deep, complex and satisfying game.

Leave a comment

DriveClub – Quick Thoughts + Screenshots

DRIVECLUB™_20141220012907
I got my hands on DriveClub over the weekend and I’m really enjoying the game so far. It’s not a sim-racer like Gran Turismo, but it’s not an arcade racer either, it falls somewhere in-between. Unlike most racing games, the way you unlock vehicles in DriveClub is by leveling up your driver, so by doing well in events and winning challenges whenever you come across them. Leveling up also unlocks more paint-jobs for your car. Another interesting component in the game is the Club feature. In the game you can either join a club, or create one and then compete against other clubs in challenges.

Overall I’m enjoying it. It helps that the game looks amazing and it’s great that the developers included a photo-mode so you can take pictures as you race. Here are some of the shots I’ve taken, I’ve linked each one to their high-res versions, so be sure to click each one to check them out properly.

DRIVECLUB™_20141220231254
DRIVECLUB™_20141220222852 DRIVECLUB™_20141220012535 DRIVECLUB™_20141219140630

Leave a comment

Top Five Games of the Year: 2014

GOTY-six
2014 was an okay year for video games, there were quite a few good games, but not many fantastic ones. It was a year that seemed to be filled with controversy, from buggy releases to silly comments from developers (looking at you Ubisoft). Now since I don’t enjoy rushing through games there’s still some titles I’ve yet to play this year, like Far Cry 4, Super Smash Bros Persona Q and Alien Isolation. But it’s that time of year again where we make lists. This is mine. Here is my top 5 favorite games of 2014.

5 – Shovel Knight
Every once in a while a game will come along that does everything right. The art, the music, the level designs, characters. Shovel Knight is one of those games. It was originally released on the 3DS, Wii U and PC, but I’m glad to see that it’ll be coming out on the PS4 and Vita some time next year.

4 – Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 is a game that is incredibly polished and improves on every aspect that made the first one so good. The action is fast paced, frantic and so much fun. You’ll be fighting small demons, huge demons, you’ll be fighting on top of fighter jets, on the side of buildings. It’s crazy, it’s fun and it’s wacky. The developer, Platinum Games has a reputation for making some of the best over-the-top action games and Bayonetta 2 is probably their best game yet.

3 – Wolfenstein New Order
Earlier in the year I was annoyed at the lack of variety in games that were coming out later in 2014 and in 2015 and wrote a blog post were I sort of criticized the industry. I used Wolfenstein as an example before I even played it and I regret it now. After playing the game and beating it, its become one of my favorite games of all time. The thing is, it doesn’t really do anything drastically different than other first person shooters. It just does everything incredibly well. The shooting, the story, the pacing, it was fantastic. This game had so many great and memorable moments. Developed by main guys behind the brilliant Chronicles of Roddick games, Wolfenstein New Order is exciting, fun and I really hope they make a sequel.

2 – Dragon Age Inquisition
When a BioWare game comes along, I tend to put every other game on hold. They tend to feature gameplay elements that I enjoy a lot. If Dragon Age Inquisition is any indication of what we can expect from BioWare in the future, I can’t wait until the next Mass Effect game comes along.

1 – Mario Kart 8
When I have friends over and we want to play something, Mario Kart 8 is what we end up going with. It’s easy to get into, it’s competitive and it can be just silly fun. It’s one of those games that I’ll end up playing for a very long time, until Nintendo release their next console and the next Mario Kart. The game has its flaws, like the incredibly disappointing Battle Mode, but all other aspects are just so good, even the online mode works like a charm.

Leave a comment

New Doom II Speedrun Record

Have 25 minutes to spare? This Doom II speed run is pretty incredible to watch.

Leave a comment

SNES Charts – April 1993

B1hA-beIAAAWlal
(source)

Leave a comment

Shadow of Mordor: Just Good

shadowofmordor
I’ve been playing this game for a week now and it’s still fun, but it has some glaring issues. The strengths of the game lie with its characters, combat and the Nemesis system (somewhat). The world you explore is dull and unmemorable. I can’t think of one location that really sticks out because they look all the same. The first map you explore is various shades of brown, the second map you explore is various shades of green. That’s it. There aren’t any interesting castles or ruins you can run around in and no real landmark that you can gaze at.

The game reminds me somewhat of the first Assassins Creed game. It has potential, but it hasn’t reached it yet. There are many unnecessary and repetitive side-quests in Shadow of Mordor that are just there to make the game longer than it needs to be. I feel that the game would have benefited from not being an open-world and if it had a more linear single player campaign. The Nemesis system is interesting at first, but a couple of hours in and you realize it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s there or not. It’s there to help the combat feel less repetitive and to give you a reason to fight more. The rewards for going after Captains and the Warchiefs just aren’t that worth it.

There’s this perception that linear games can’t be as good as open-world games. There are plenty of linear games that are great: Portal, The Last of Us and Wolfenstein: The New Order are three fantastic examples. Shadow of Mordor shouldn’t have been an open world. It’s a good game but it’s not a memorable one.

Leave a comment

Shadow of Morder: Game Remix

shadow-of-mordro
I ended up purchasing Shadow of Mordor earlier this week. I didn’t know a lot about it and had zero expectations. I’ve only been playing for a couple of hours and I’ve been enjoying it. But it’s hard to avoid how obviously similar this game is to more popular titles. There are three games it shamelessly borrows from: Assassins Creed, the recent Batman games and the new Tomb Raider game. It doesn’t even really try to hide the fact that these gameplay elements are pretty much unaltered except for some minor elements.

There’s nothing wrong with borrowing gameplay elements from other games, developers do it all the time. But it feels more blatant in Shadow of Mordor because the elements it borrows from other games are the combat and exploration, two things you’ll be doing a lot of. The climbing and air assassinations animations look very similar to those moves in Assassins Creed. Jumping off tall structures in Shadow of Mordor initiates an animation that looks similar to the animation in Assassins Creed. One former Ubisoft employee even accused the developer of stealing code.

The combat in Shadow of Mordor is identical to the combat found in the recent Batman games. The combat in Shadow of Mordor is not nearly as smooth though. Every time you hit an enemy you build a combo (like in Batman), the higher the combo the more damage you’ll do and the more special moves you can pull off (like in Batman). When an enemy is about to hit you and you need to dodge or counter, the game will tell you (like it does in Batman). Ultimately the combat system works well for Shadow of Mordor but it’s lacking in originality.

Lastly, when you discover artifacts and examine them for hidden clues to discover more lore, it’s identical to when you discover artifacts in the new Tomb Raider game. The similarities are uncanny. Again, they don’t hide the fact that these elements are copied.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow did something similar. The game “borrowed” elements from games like God of War and Shadow of Colossus. It wasn’t a very fun game even though it had a pretty interesting art direction. The game felt soulless. In Shadow of Mordor the game is still enjoyable and doesn’t feel like it’s lacking soul but the fact that it doesn’t really change much of the elements it borrows from takes away part of the enjoyment of playing the game. It becomes distracting. Maybe this is an extreme thought, but maybe the developer, Monolith Productions should thank the Ubisoft, Rocksteady Studios and Crystal Dynamics in the credits.

Leave a comment

For the Love of Monster Hunter

Logo-MH3U copy

I love Monster Hunter. Some people hate it. I don’t blame them, I used to dislike it too. The general concept behind Monster Hunter is straight forward and if there were ever a name of a game that described itself, it’s this one. Monster Hunter is a game where the main goal is to hunt large exotic monsters. Every quest is a boss fight.

In Monster Hunter you can hunt on your own or you can choose to play online with three other hunters. This is where the game shines. Being successful hinges on teamwork like most other squad based online games. Preparation before the hunt is key. You have to buy the right supplies or if you have the resources, craft them yourself. When you go on the hunt you have 60 minutes to complete it, which is usually more time than you need. With that extra time you can explore the world, scavenge for herbs and minerals that you need for crafting.

digital18

The combat in Monster Hunter is realistic, in the sense that you won’t be successful in your hunts if you plan on button smashing. You can’t just attack, you need to be defensive, dodge and to move around so you avoid getting hit. The game features 12 different weapon types that range from your typical longsword to a bow. You also have less orthodox weapons like an axe that switches into a sword, or a lance that’s also a gun. If you choose to fight with a great sword, don’t expect to be able to attack quickly. Your attacks will be slow and you’ll have to be meticulous.

The game becomes a routine, which some might think is a bad thing, but I find it relaxing. Besides hunting you are put in charge of a small farm and a fishing fleet. You can craft new items, weapons or armor. To craft new weapons or armor you have to hunt down or capture monsters which can become repetitive, especially if you need five of a certain item. If you don’t feel like hunting you can explore the different parts of the world you’ve unlocked.

Jinouga-art

The monsters you fight are vicious, unforgiving, varied and come in different sizes. Each monster has their own personality and characteristics, each is inspired by a real life animal. Some monsters put up great fights, while others are just annoying to deal with. Each monster acts and reacts differently. The first few times you fight a particular monster chances are you’ll get hit a lot. Eventually you start to learn how a monster acts, you start to see a pattern and you’ll start to instinctively dodge attacks.

Since its release in March of last year Monster Hunter on the Wii U and 3DS is one of the few games I still play consistently. I take breaks that can last up to a month but I always end up coming back to it. If you’re interested a demo is available to download, but expect it to be a little challenging since the demo does little to explain the game or combat mechanics. You’ll probably find the combat slow and frustrating. I don’t think the demo is particularly good as it doesn’t represent the game that well, but at least it’s available. And lastly, you can also find a lot of great videos of gamers fighting monsters on Youtube. Lastly, the online Monster Hunter community is one of the nicest, diverse and welcoming. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate comes out early next year – And the game can’t come soon enough.

Leave a comment

Video Game Statistics: Sales, Demographics, Usage

ESA_EF_2014-1

I’ve been reading a document I found online that breaks down various variables in regards to the gaming industry in the United States put together by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The information presented within the document is based on information the ESA have collected for the United States. It gives us a pretty clear idea of just how dominate the gaming industry has become in regards to the movie and music industries. What it also shows is that mobile gaming is a booming business.

Some of the more interesting statistics I found:

  • 59% of Americans play video games
  • There’s an average of two gamers in each game-playing household
  • That the average US home owns at least one dedicated gaming console, PC or smartphone.
  • 68% of gamers play on consoles, while 53% play on smartphones.
  • The average age of a game is 31
  • 52% of gamers are male, while 48% are female
  • When it comes to who is buying video games, it’s a 50-50 split between male and female
  • gamers.
  • Casual and social gaming on mobile devices increased a whopping 55% between 2012 and 2013.
  • You can find more interesting statistics by downloading the ESA report.

    Leave a comment