As with my first post of this type, this will cover five somewhat recent things that I think are worth talking about to some extent. This time however, it’s all about games!
Each of these were played within the past year or so.
Question: Compared to other similar style 2D platformers, what exactly sets this one apart?
Answer: A higher native resolution.
Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer where the titular protagonist uses a shovel as a weapon. The story is nothing you haven’t seen before – protagonist separated from his partner, must fight his way back to save her. And despite all the “charm” of the game, its only purpose in this day and age is to remind people of games that used to be like this. Used to.
I’d honestly rather play something like Super Mario World over this. Why? That is not only a longer game, but it has more variety, a larger map with many different routes to take, and the combination of attacks, exploration, and Yoshis are more fun than anything you can do with a shovel or the uninteresting skills. It’s certainly not a difficult game, but in most other regards I’d consider it superior. The only big advantage that Shovel Knight has is the boss battles, which are definitely more complex than anything Mario did. However, simply getting from one to the next is always dull.
Rating – 6/10
Recommendation – If you like retro 2D platformers, you’ll probably enjoy it. If not, skip it.
I have a weird love/hate relationship with this game. When I first started it last year, I had a lot of problems with it – things like the input delay, queued commands, omnipresent cliff faces, and general douchebaggetry of the enemies rubbed me the wrong way. Once I decided to start fresh and approach it again, most of those issues remained, but I was able to move past them. Sort of.
While (in)famous for its difficulty, most of the challenge is just from being knocked off every edge in the game. The challenge in boss battles is just knowing how to time your dodges, or conserving your stamina efficiently to block attacks. The story is interesting and is still heavily discussed to this day, offering a lot of lore for people to sink their teeth into while also avoiding clear-cut answers to many questions. Who was phone?
While not technically a “Souls” game, I much prefer Bloodborne to Dark Souls, mainly for the combat differences. Dark Souls and Dark Souls II (and probably Demon’s Souls) are better as RPGs, offering more build variety and a wider variety of NPC quests, but they also have far slower combat, commonly rely on prediction rather than reaction, and generally increase difficulty by throwing more enemies at you (the second game is certainly the worse offender in this regard) or just a boatload of BS. *cough* Bed of Chaos *cough*
Rating – 7/10
Recommendation – If you’re patient and are looking for an interesting action RPG, give it a try.
What I expected was a dating sim with a weird focus on the minigame. What I got was Bejeweled, lots of moaning, and fifteen hours of my life mysteriously vanishing. Just to get this out of the way, this game is not for everyone. I’m not saying that it promotes infanticide and pretends the Holocaust wasn’t real, but it has things that people would call “racist” or “misogynistic.” And it has the weirdest substitution for sex that I’ve ever seen. Probably.
This game is an extremely shallow dating sim where you play a puzzle game to get closer to the female characters, eventually bedding each and every one of them and using your puzzle skillz to bring them to various states of undress and arousal. If for whatever reason that doesn’t sound really weird to you, you may enjoy this game. The puzzle game itself is far from revolutionary, but strangely addicting.
As a dating sim, it’s a huge disappointment – there are no consequences for failure, there’s no actual story for each heroine, and besides the puzzle games it just requires that you buy them a lot of alcohol and other things they like. And to make matters worse (better?), the Mexican girl likes receiving sombreros, pinatas, ponchos, and other stereotypical Mexican goods, and the Japanese one likes rice balls, chopsticks, wooden sandals, sake, etc. At least it’s easy to figure out who wants what.
Rating – 6/10
Recommendation – If you’re just looking for a dating sim, there are going to be far better options. But if you’re looking for an odd melting pot of a game, this isn’t a bad choice.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
To some extent, this will cover why I haven’t written (and may never write) a review for this. Because I haven’t finished it. To put it simply, I like the idea of this game more than the game itself.
There are plenty of references. The story parodies the “console war.” But even those aspects are just sort of… there. It’s not very funny, the attempts at humor are consistently poorly timed, and the characters themselves are all uninteresting.
As for the gameplay, it’s nothing extraordinary. Rather than lacking, it’s just superfluous. It’s a JRPG that combines turn-based combat with slight strategy elements, as you need to determine where to place your characters for the most efficient attack and defense. But rather than a grid-based system or having it show which enemies or combinations of enemies you can hit from where you are, you’re stuck gradually angling your attack to see if you can hit multiple enemies with a single attack. And it’s always a cycle of reach boss, lose to boss, grind, destroy boss, repeat, with no substantial reward besides progressing through a boring story.
There is nothing in this game that motivates me to pick it back up, so I’ll probably never finish it. We’ll see.
Current rating – 4/10
Recommendation – At this point, I would just recommend waiting for a sale if this sounds appealing.
Persona 3 Portable
You may have already read my poorly written rant-laden post on this game, but I was not very far into the story at that point. Now that I’ve finished the female route, I can safely say that I will never choose this version over Persona 3 FES.
On the surface, this is just a version of Persona 3 slimmed down for the PSP. In reality, it hardly feels like the same game. Wandering around town is reduced to a point-and-click activity, machinima cutscenes are terrible replacements for the animated ones from the original game, the battle system was changed to Persona 4’s much easier version (although this game is certainly more difficult than Persona 4), and the female route itself has many issues. A bunch of new music that pales in comparison to the original soundtrack, social links that switch the focus from townspeople to tunnel vision attention on your team, offering the ability to change one character’s fate which in turn completely kills a huge part of the ending’s emotional impact, etc.
Despite a few good changes, such as manual control of characters during battle, there is too much in this version of the game that simply irritates me. I will not miss it.
Rating – 5/10
Recommendation – Play Persona 3 FES instead – it’s on PS2, PS3 via download, or will run decently in PCSX2 (a PS2 emulator). If you enjoy that, then you may want to play P3P for the female route. Otherwise, do not bother.