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Found 6 results

  1. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2019: Jason's Picks

    It’s a common belief among many gamers that 2018 was a better year than 2019, but honestly, I don’t buy into it. While there wasn’t one title that was unanimously proclaimed the best game of the year (ala 2018’s God of War), I believe there was a better breadth of quality games in 2019. Nintendo in particular had a pretty strong year, with a crazy release schedule from April to November, and some huge first-party titles in the mix (hello Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Pokemon Sword/Shield!). Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to play a bunch of quality games that undoubtedly may have made my list. These include games like Outer Wilds, Knights & Bikes, Cadence of Hyrule, and Dragon Quest Builders 2. Additionally, huge shoutout to Gato Robato, a great little Metroidvania game with a ton of personality, and Automachef, which would have been #11 on this list and deserves major props for its eclectic soundtrack and original puzzle/sim gameplay and premise; if you love simulations and/or games about logistics, give it a go! That said, here are my top 10 games of 2019. 10. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 The combat might be a bit repetitive and not as complex as I initially hoped (the original game had more variance with number of moves and specials you could pull off), but I really can’t complain too much after the series’ nearly decade-long absence. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has style and presentation in spades, and it’s great to see most of Marvel’s big heroes altogether on one screen once again. There’s just something so cool about watching your entire team take out a mob of villains/ninjas/what-have-you in the middle of places like Shadowland, Xavier’s mansion, and Avengers Tower. Huge props to Team Ninja for making the boss battles unique and interesting as well; this entry may very well be the best in that regard, specifically. 9. Mechstermination Force This title combines two of my favorite things – Shadow of the Colossus and robots/Kaiju (maybe three things, I guess?). Mechstermination Force takes from the former’s game design and adds to it by putting you in interesting, unique scenarios with each giant robot. Not only do you have to scale and find/destroy each robot mech’s weak points; you also have to adopt to their different fighting stances and forms throughout each level, making for one of the most creative 2D shooters I’ve ever played. 8. Wargroove So… I’ve never played any of the Advance Wars games before. And now I can see what I’ve missed out on for so long because Wargroove plays like Advance Wars mixed with Fire Emblem’s more medieval/fantasy-like setting (but more like the former purely in terms of gameplay). Giving players the option to build and decide what units they want to use while in the midst of a battle really gives you the option to approach most levels a number of different ways, giving the game a much more unique feel than Fire Emblem’s offense-centric approach. The campaign throws a variety of different map scenarios each with their own unique terrain and challenges at you as well, so it never feels like you’re simply replaying the same battle over and over with slightly different units. 7. SteamWorld Quest (check out GP's full review of the game here) Image & Form has made two great Metroidvania titles and one brilliant tactics title in the SteamWorld series so far, so it only makes sense that they would continue to break new ground with a new genre – that being an RPG. Or rather: card-based battling RPG. ...has one of the most memorable, compelling battle systems in an RPG this side of Octopath Traveler. SteamWorld Quest could have been a big miss if Image & Form weren’t careful; thankfully, it has one of the most memorable, compelling battle systems in an RPG this side of Octopath Traveler. Combine that with a great script with both plenty of heart and humor and some great music and visuals, and you’ve got another SteamWorld success. 6. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair Despite it being highly anticipated before its release, the first Yooka-Laylee game landed with a bit of a thud. It turns out people weren’t quite as big on 3D collectathons as they initially thought, but Playtonic quickly and correctly shifted course with their next attempt at the series by making the game into a 2D platformer this time around. ...might even rival Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze; high praise indeed. And wouldn’t you know it – that old Rare magic began to shine through once again. Fortunately, they didn’t completely give up on the 3D platforming aspect either. Instead, they combined it with the overworld map for a truly unique spin on the game while making the levels in 2D. The resulting interaction between the two play types makes for an experience that might even rival Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze; high praise indeed. 5. Kingdom Hearts 3 After so many years of waiting, it’s difficult to believe that Kingdom Hearts 3 isn’t 100% the game everyone wanted. Some of this has to do with disappointments on the gameplay side (the Frozen world; nuff said), but a lot of it stems from creator Tetsuya Nomura not paying off certain story arcs and narrative choices that had been previously set up for the finale. Axel/Lea and Kairi get sidelined for most of the game when the ending of DDD had set up that they’d play a more critical role (not to mention missing a huge opportunity to make both or even just Kairi playable at a certain point), and it becomes apparent by the end that Kairi is never truly given any agency in the games and is merely used as a damsel in distress for the sake of the plot. Never has the battle system been bigger, better, bolder, and even flashier, with some of the best and most vibrant visuals of this generation. Yet, despite these disappointments, Kingdom Hearts 3 still sticks the landing for the most part. Never has the battle system been bigger, better, bolder, and even flashier, with some of the best and most vibrant visuals of this generation. Most of the Disney worlds chosen make up the best selection of any of the Kingdom Hearts games, and the graphics have finally caught up to Pixar’s and Disney’s advances in animation, replicating a near-identical look to many of their 3D animated movie counterparts. Also, the game ties up Xehanort’s story arc with an epic finish in the game’s final 4-5 hours, with one of the most impressive final boss fights in the series to date. I only hope that we don’t have to wait another 13 years before the next game arrives. 4. Shovel Knight: King of Cards I loved the original Shovel Knight campaign (now known as “Shovel of Hope”) in 2014, and despite giving Plague Knight’s campaign a try, it never quite caught on with me. Because of this, I also skipped Specter Knight’s campaign two years after that. But something about the fourth campaign being centered on King Knight really made me want to give it a try. ...the best Shovel Knight campaign to date. And I’m glad I did, because you could make a real case for King of Cards being the best Shovel Knight campaign to date. The platforming is top notch, focusing on traversing the terrain with Wario Land-esque shoulder-bashing and a Ducktales-inspired pogo jump to spin off of enemies and objects. But the real star of the game is the brand new card-based minigame, Joustus. It’s smart, addictive, and has enough depth to rival long-established thinking-games like chess. Oh, and the script is hilarious to boot; Yacht Club has never felt more comfortable in their own shoes than they have been when they were writing this game. 3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening The announcement reveal of the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening at the beginning of 2019 was, in a word, surreal. I never ruled out a remake of the game as something that could happen, but no one could have predicted that it would be remade with so much charm and originality. Yes, I’m someone who thinks the plastic/toy-like look to the visuals makes for an amazing aesthetic. It’s the second-bravest thing Nintendo has done to the Zelda series since they decided on the Ghibli-esque cel-shaded approach to The Wind Waker in 2003. Along with a new arrangement of the classic soundtrack, new life has been given to a classic in what is undoubtedly the definitive version of the game now. ...still holds up and has, in fact, made many aware that it is a better 2D Zelda game than even A Link to the Past. Link’s Awakening’s gameplay still holds up and has, in fact, made many aware that it is a better 2D Zelda game than even A Link to the Past. Yes, I did go there. But seriously, this game is magical. Go play it. 2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order There are so many ways Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order could have been a disaster. Or merely an extension of the okay-to-decent Star Wars games we’ve been getting for a decade now. But Respawn did it. Holy cow… they did it. They made the first great single-player Star Wars game since… what, The Force Unleashed? Maybe even Knights of the Old Republic 2? To be fair, Fallen Order could be a much tighter experience. It’s janky, likely due to EA launching the game a good half year before it was ready to come out of the oven. But it’s absolutely playable despite the occasional technical hiccup. And really, how impressive is it that the game came out as good as it did despite launching in less-than-ideal circumstances? This is a game that undoubtedly feels like you’re watching a Star Wars movie as you play. In any case, Fallen Order crafts an original tale that ties into the wider Star Wars mythos in a fairly meaningful way. Cal Kestis isn’t initially a great protagonist but the game does a great job making you care about him by gradually diving into his Jedi upbringing in the past. Cinematics are pretty fabulous as well; this is a game that undoubtedly feels like you’re watching a Star Wars movie as you play. Its story would feel right at home alongside other Star Wars side stories such as Solo, Rogue One, and The Mandalorian. But really, all I want to do is gush about how this game gives us the best lightsaber combat of any Star Wars game to date. Two of the lightsaber fights in the game made me feel like I was in a Star Wars movie; a far cry from the wild, aimless lightsaber swinging experienced in the Jedi Knight games from the early aughts. Fallen Order is the complete package: great storytelling, great gameplay, great world, great atmosphere. Where does Respawn go from here? I hope to know sooner versus later. 1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses You know what’s weird? I wasn’t initially super hyped for Three Houses despite the series being one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t know what to make of the inclusion of an academy, the MC being a professor teaching students, and participating in things like tea time with your students. It all sounded like the furthest thing I wanted from my Fire Emblem experience. Little did I know that it would be one of the best and most compelling things they ever did to the franchise. The ability to select what each of your students can learn, right down to stat bonuses, weapon proficiency, and skills is the most control Intelligent Systems has ever given you over your own units. It’s utterly gratifying to see your students progress from inefficient greenhorns to masters of their craft, dominating enemy units in battle. ...one of, if not the deepest Fire Emblem stories to date. The academy itself lends players a unique opportunity to see the larger plot through the eyes of your students in your coversations with them and also develop relationships with them by doing different activities together, making them come alive as characters. And even though the plot is a bit thicker and juicier in the first half of the game, it throws enough twists and surprises into the mix to make this one of, if not the deepest Fire Emblem stories to date. There are a lot of fascinating themes and concepts that are tackled as well, both through support conversations and the main plot. I haven’t even mentioned the actual tactical gameplay, which is as sharp as ever and gave me a real run for my money with many battles (I played on Hard). Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the real deal, and likely the best game in the series. If Intelligent Systems can continue to build on what they created with this game, Fire Emblem’s future is going to be bright indeed.
  2. If you didn't check out Twitter or the web at all this weekend (or were hiding under a rock), some pretty big news came out of Disney's annual D23 Expo today. HERE WE GOOOOO Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming in 2018, Toy Story World announced YEAH. So that happened. If you're interested in more about this, click here to read about it. Avengers: Infinity War first teaser footage is said to be pretty insane YEAH. This too. Wow. So, they didn't release any footage online (only to the people actually there at D23), but i09 did a writeup on what they saw, and... it sounds like one of the craziest things they've done in comic book movies yet. Read the synopsis of what happens here. TRAILER SPOILER: THANOS THROWS A PLANET WITH THE POWER OF THE INFINITY GAUNTLET. And here's Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland talking about the fan reaction to it -- Also, they revealed that the Black Order (a group of four powerful beings who serve Thanos) will also be in the movie. They were adapted from the Marvel event comic "Infinity", which happened a few years back. Seriously though, this movie sounds nuts, and I'm ridiculously excited for it. Live-action Aladdin cast officially confirmed; about to get jiggy with it I'm not huge into Aladdin, but this was cool to hear. The three main cast members were officially confirmed by Disney and are: Newcomer Mena Massoud as Aladdin. Naomi Scott (the Pink Ranger in the 2017 Power Rangers film) as Jasmine. Will Smith (yes, THAT Will Smith!) as the Genie. Guy Ritchie is directing. But you probably already knew that. All of the Disney Princesses will be in Wreck-It Ralph 2 and voiced by all of the original voice actresses that are still alive YEAH. Thought that was a neat bit, honestly. More Ming-Na Wen can only be a good thing. The bit is also supposed to be pretty self-aware, with the princesses acting like normal people and very non-princess-like. Sounds funny. First footage of live-action Lion King movie was shown, live-action Dumbo is talked about Again, first footage was shown to the audience at D23 but not released online to everyone else (boo). Apparently they showed photo-realistic shots of African landscape, lots of different animals, and then ended on the note with Rafiki raising Simba into the air. Jon Favreau is directing, if you haven't heard. He said they're incorporating some VR technology in the making of it. Actors wearing the headsets can see the virtual landscape as they're acting. Sounds intriguing. Oh hey, Dumbo was talked about too. Tim Burton is directing. Dumbo's cast sounds killer; includes Eva Green, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Colin Farrell. It's currently slated for March 29, 2019. Star Wars-themed area at Disney Land is now called Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, area and attractions detailed The whole thing honestly sounds pretty cool. From what I can gather, they want it to feel like you're actually entering the Star Wars universe and have you experience different things and to have a journey as you make your way through it. If they can pull it off, it's probably going to be pretty amazing. Here's a teaser video for it. Also, if you want more in-depth details on the attractions, check out the post on Starwars.com Live-action A Wrinkle In Time got its first trailer I never read the book (go ahead... boo me), so I'm a little lost as to what's happening in this movie. BUT it's directed by Ava Duvernay (of Selma fame). It's got Oprah in it too. And Chris Pine. And Mindy Kaling in what appears to be a non-comedic role. And some other young actors I don't recognize. It's coming March 9, 2018. Might be cool, I guess. And I think that's it? If I forgot something, I'll try to update later today. Anyhow, what do you guys make of the news? What did you find most exciting?
  3. Today's D23 Expo brought with it a number of pretty big announcements, making it one of the more memorable Disney expos in recent years, but perhaps the biggest announcement for many video games was the revealing of a new world in Kingdom Hearts 3. Oh, and its official release window. Joining previously revealed worlds -- Hercules, Tangled, and Big Hero 6 -- is the first Pixar-based one: Toy Story. In keeping with the theme of having Sora fit into each world in a special way, both he, Donald, and Goofy will be appearing as a toy version of themselves -- with all three having a thin, blocky aesthetic. The question is, will Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz in this game? I could see Allen, but who knows if Square Enix could muster up enough money to get Tom Hanks. Guess we'll see. Oh, and that release window? Earlier than you may have thought. The new trailer that was shown off reveals that the game is being planned for release next year. Yup, 2018. Now that doesn't mean that it won't be delayed, but at least we know Square Enix is getting serious when they start to put a real release window out there. There's also the fact that series creator Tetsuya Nomura mentioned that Square Enix doesn't want a year to go by without a Kingdom Hearts release, and with the recent release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX and no other titles planned beside Kingdom Hearts 3... the math appears to add up for next year. Be sure to check out the newest trailer for the game below. Kingdom Hearts 3 is set to release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next year. Source: Press Release ARE YOU EXCITED FOR... *ahem* are you excited for Toy Story in Kingdom Hearts 3? Also, how about that 2018 release date? Think it'll happen?
  4. Monday Musings is a feature where every Monday, I'll shoot the breeze about what I've been playing and what my thoughts are on various news and events in the game industry. This week I'm back to discussing certain things I've been playing instead of focusing on a single large topic like last week. I'll dive into two topics that have been on my mind as of late: Kingdom Hearts 3 and Yoshi's Woolly World. The long road to Kingdom Hearts 3, and why you should play Kingdom Hearts 2.8 As of last night, I've completely played through all of the content in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. I ended up saving the newest piece of content -- Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep ~A Fragmentary Passage~ -- for last, and it turned out to be a wise choice as it's the direct piece of the collection that literally leads into the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 3. For those not in the know -- KH 0.2 was originally intended to be built into Kingdom Hearts 3 as its prologue, but director Tetsuya Nomura decided it got in the way of the game's pacing, so it was moved to the KH 2.8 collection both to expand the content there and to serve as a playable teaser for KH3 while fans continue to wait for its release. I still plan on writing a review for the whole collection, so expect that sometime in the near future for direct thoughts on all three pieces of content within. I will say right now that KH 0.2 leaves off at a very satisfactory place and will leave you desperately wanting KH3 more than ever. There isn't a big cliffhanger, per se, but what they do address near the end serves as an interesting precursor for what's to come. KH 2.8 bridges a lot of content between Kingdom Hearts 2 and the eventual third title, and some of the revelations in 2.8 are big enough to make you wonder why they revealed those story beats during in-between content instead of the mainline numbered games. Both Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance and 0.2 are more like The Empire Strikes Back in this trilogy than even KH2 is (which, I guess makes KH2 more like Shadows of the Empire?). It also ties all of the threads from previous games together in a neat way, not leaving anything hanging. All I can say is that if Kingdom Hearts 3 can put a nice bow on all of the threads Nomura has been weaving so far, it's going to be one heck of a final game for Xehanort's story arc. Go play KH 2.8. Seriously. Can a game's visuals actually be as important as the gameplay? Yoshi's Woolly World certainly makes a strong argument for it You've likely heard it said before that when it comes to games, the most important thing that matters is gameplay. The visuals can be superb, but if the gameplay doesn't stand up then nothing else matters. I certainly believe that's true for many games. But... what if those roles were reversed? What if great gameplay was paired with subpar visuals? Would the game still be compelling enough to play? And to be fair, I'm not talking about a case like Shovel Knight, whose 8-bit-inspired visuals may not be as impressive as another's, like Dragon's Crown. Those 8-bit graphics still have charm and a place for gamers who appreciate those aesthetics. I'm talking poorly designed visuals. Abysmal-looking stuff. Amateur hour. Like, the developer tried to make something look good, but... it doesn't. And when I really think about it -- and that example specifically -- no, I don't think gameplay is the be-all end-all for games. Certainly it's the most important aspect, don't get me wrong there. But if other areas of the game are lacking, I'm not going to pretend that great gameplay makes up for everything, and that includes subpar visuals. Case in point: Yoshi's Woolly World may be one of the first games that keeps me playing because of its brilliant visual style. That's not to say it isn't impressive mechanically -- it's essentially a reskin of Yoshi's Island's mechanics -- but the yarn aesthetic really makes the whole experience. Without it, I may as well be playing a standard Yoshi game, in which case things would be a whole lot less interesting. It's difficult to quantify exactly what it is that makes the yarn visuals so compelling -- perhaps it's because it's so different from the norm, or that we associate the sewing material with warmth and being comfortable. Maybe it's even because it reminds us of childhood where -- for many -- life was easier. Really though, Yoshi's Woolly World is charming as heck, and I can't wait to get back into it. It's one of few games where its visuals directly tie into its gameplay, and both aspects are better for it. If you haven't played it yet, I definitely recommend it; I'll have a more detailed breakdown of the experience in a review soon. So what about you? Have you played Kingdom Hearts 2.8 yet, and are you counting the days until Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out? And what are your thoughts on visuals in games? Do they need to be at a certain level in order for you to be interested in the game, or if a game has great gameplay, will you play it regardless?
  5. Remember the rumors circulating regarding “Kingdom Hearts 2.9”? I“m not sure if they“re the same thing, but...during the SCEJA Press Conference at TGS 2015, Square-Enix pulled back the curtain on a brand new Kingdom Hearts compilation with the craziest title yet. Feast your eyes upon the footage of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue for PlayStation 4. The game includes Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD, Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover, and...Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage. While the first title is pretty self-explanatory, the other two raise a few questions. The second title, similar to Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days in 1.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded in 2.5 ReMIX, is a movie; it“s based on Kingdom Hearts: Unchained χ. What“s the third one? It“s a new story based on Birth by Sleep Volume 2 [beware the spoilers], something long-teased at the end of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix. Square-Enix in North America have already confirmed a localization for the compilation. A higher quality version of the trailer you see above, plus all the details in English, will be made available this Thursday, so stay tuned for that! Will anyone be picking up this new Kingdom Hearts compilation on PS4? Be sure to let us know!
  6. http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/06/19/kingdom-hearts-3-new-details-announced?utm_campaign=fbposts&utm_source=facebook So this should be the end of the saga. I just bought KH 2 so I need to finish KH 1 and 2 to prepare for this. Also play dream drop distance. Not sure if I'm missing anything else. But looks like I'll have time because the game doesn't look like it'll be out anytime soon.
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