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Found 116 results

  1. Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works Platform: PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC Release Date: May 31, 2018 ESRB: T for Teen Arc System Works has been quick to fill in the crossover team fighter void left by Capcom's extremely disappointing Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom. By seemingly invoking the power of Shenron (through Dragon Ball FighterZ) Arc System Works has rapidly jumped in power level in both sales and status among hyperactive team-based fighters. This year, Arc System Works has decided to follow up with another team-based fighter, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, but this time it leans far more heavily into its crossover nature. Featuring characters from Blazblue, Persona 4, Under Night In-Birth, and the most surprising addition of all -- Rooster Teeth Production's popular action web series RWBY -- one can only hope Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is as satisfying to actually play as it is inherently bizarre as a crossover game. With such a broad selection of characters, the immediate concern is how daunting it is mechanically. Weirdly enough, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle may be Arc System Works' most approachable fighter to date, even with the strides in accessibility that Dragon Ball FighterZ made earlier this year and Persona 4 Arena before it. Everything from button mash-friendly auto-combos to extremely simple button inputs being no more complex than a quarter circle motion, as well as two button reversals like in P4A more than considerably help lower the execution barrier. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle goes a few steps further than that, however, including little details such as your character automatically trying to close the distance themselves when you input a grab command, leading to far less missed throws. If anything, anyone who has played Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, or Under Night In-Birth may feel like they have a larger learning curve here than those who have not. The reasoning for this is that most of the characters in this game originally come from four-button fighters while Blazblue Cross Tag Battle primarily relies on two for most attack strings (before getting into tag commands and the "Clash" button, at least). So, in addition to potentially unlearning years of muscle memory, it can lead to many characters feeling quite foreign due to their much more limited movesets. Personally speaking, I found myself gravitating towards characters I had very little experience with before, or outright new ones like members of RWBY, because of how odd it felt playing once familiar 2D spites. Of course, at the end of the day, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is a team-based fighter and the synergy between character pairs is arguably more important than being decent with any one fighter. A good assist, for instance, can give slow/short-ranged characters like Azrael the opportunity to easily close the distance. To put this into practice even more, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle clearly borrows many mechanics from Marvel vs Capcom like its own version of push blocking, DHC cancels (changing characters mid-super), and its equivalent of X-Factor to dramatically power up a character when their own ally is knocked out. However, there are a few extra tools in Cross Tag Battle that allow much more combo creativity due to its distinct tagging options. Players can switch characters during normal ally assists or the craziest tag feature of all which involves the "Cross Combo" mechanic that has one's second character on-screen at the same time and perpetually attacking, allowing for some truly devious pressure and combo potential for a brief moment. It is truly impressive just how much free reign players are given with the tag mechanics, both offensively and defensively, making the initially easy-to-approach mechanics for newcomers also appetizing for far more seasoned players with its potential depth and enjoyable yet frenetic combat. Those that do not necessarily want to overload their brains with systems can veer into a much more straightforward environment, like the game's visual novel-style story mode. The story by itself is hardly special as it basically revolves around the many characters being taken from their world and the mastermind behind it forcing them to battle others in hopes to return to their own. In spite of this simple setup, Cross Tag Battle does a great job at being fully aware that it is a crossover game and never takes itself too seriously. There is a lot of fun, self-referential writing regarding each respective franchise and it is entertaining to see unlikely character interactions with one another, such as Ruby fangirling over the bizarre weapons of much of the cast, for example. From an English localization perspective, they go the extra mile for quality, such as having nearly every Persona 4 and Blazblue voice actor reprise their former roles, which is a nice nostalgic touch. Unfortunately, the story mode does frequently serve as an unpleasant reminder about the game's tacky approach to DLC as well. Many characters that appear in the story are outright unplayable in the base game, and with nearly half of the roster locked behind a paid DLC pass, it makes what is supposed to be a discounted fifty dollar game on paper closer to seventy dollars in actual practice. And frankly, it is especially hard to ignore when Persona 4, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY characters have four characters or less to play as in the initial twenty roster. Though, in fairness, Arc System Works has made an effort to make sure at least the two extra RWBY characters Yang and Blake are free, and I'd be lying if I did not say that Blake Belladonna is probably my current favorite character to play in the entire game... despite me knowing next to nothing about RWBY as a series. The rest of the gameplay feature set is quite standard when compared to Arc System Work's most recent titles. There is the typical training, VS mode, survival, as well as a fairly insightful tutorial that teaches the gameplay systems in addition to character specific nuances, which are incredibly welcome. The same applies to the online lobbies that allow players to roam around in cutesy character avatars and challenge other in sixty-four player rooms, and it is still as endearing as ever. Plus, a fairly solid netcode (without the obnoxious rollback in various Capcom titles) helps its case too. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle successfully delivers in crossover fanservice and as a hyperactive tag team fighter. A very low execution barrier, incredibly fast-paced action, and surprising depth to its many gameplay systems makes this truly bizarre mashup an entertaining time, regardless of one's inherent fighting game skill level. Yet, for everything it does right as a game, it becomes that much harder to shake the feeling of Blazblue Cross Tag Battle coming off as an incomplete package, especially regarding its character roster with so many playable characters clearly locked behind DLC. If one can accept the distinct fine print required for the full package then Blazblue Cross Tag Battle should make for an enjoyable fighter despite how it "Can't Escape From Crossing Fate" with its intended audience through its questionable DLC business practices. Pros + Very low execution barrier for basic controls makes both high and low level play frantic and enjoyable + Lighthearted story mode that is fully aware it is a crossover game and never takes itself too seriously + Immense potential for combo creativity thanks to really flexible tag mechanics Cons - Most of the cast play extremely different than they do in their original games which can be rather off-putting initially - Nearly half the potential playable cast are paid DLC and having them frequently teased in the story mode makes them feel less than optional for the full package - Clearly recycled assets from entirely separate games lead to the visuals not being exactly cohesive Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Blazblue Cross Tag Battle does quite a bit to provide a very accessible, yet deep fighter that is chock full of crossover fanservice but the stigma of its poorly handled playable character DLC unfortunately severely hampers it as a complete package. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  2. Let's play some more #MarioKart8 with my good pal @Hohlxx! We're doing a collaboration stream for a while and hanging out, so be sure to come swing by our streams on #Twitch! ROYZYABOY! http://multitwitch.tv/hohlx/royzoga123
  3. Time for some late night #MarioKart8 learning and fun, come swing by the #Twitch stream and listen to some LoFi jams while hanging out. Or even come play with me! ROYZYABOY! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  4. It's a #MarioTennisAces kind of night! Come swing by the #Twitch stream and strap in for a morphenominal night! ROYZYABOY! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  5. This is not a drill. REPEAT, this is not a drill! SEGA's long-awaited Valkyria Chronicles 4 is finally set to release in late September! The first true sequel in the series since 2011, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is set in the same time period as the first game, but features an all-new cast as they brave the realities of war. Once again, the BLiTZ battle system makes its return, offering a mix of turn-based strategy, RPG, and real-time third-person shooter elements. You'll also be introduced to new additions such as the Grenadier class, offensive/defensive battleship support options, the chance for units to take a "Last Stand" action before their death, and much more. And, of course, Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII), makes his grand return here with a sweeping orchestral score for the fourth installment. Valkyria Chronicles is set to launch with two different versions at retail. One is the standard "Launch" version, which contains a Ragnarok (the adorable medic doggo) controller skin for whatever platform you chose, as well as the game itself. The other is the "Memoirs from Battle" Premium Edition ($99), which contains the following: Vinyl statue of the "Hafen" tank "Claude's Travel Journal" 100-paged themed artbook Two DLC adventures featuring Squad 7 characters (offers over 3 hours of content across 4 exclusive story missions and fully-voiced cutscenes) Valkyria Chronicles 4 is slated to release digitally and via retail on September 25 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam. Source: Press Release Will you be getting the game on launch? If so, which version will you get? Let us know in the comments below!
  6. We're just a week out from the release of Choice Provision's Runner3 and the anticipation fans are feeling couldn't be any higher. But if you thought Choice Provisions was done announcing surprises, think again. The developer revealed that two high-profile indie characters will be able to be unlocked as playable characters in-game. First up is Yacht Club's Shovel Knight, who has made cameo appearances in a number of indie games since his self-titled, breakout game in 2014. As for the second character, it's none other than Eddie Riggs, the protagonist of Brutal Legend. Fans may recall that Double Fine recently received the rights back from EA for the game, meaning you could possibly see Eddie Riggs make appearances in other games as well. Finally, a third character that was revealed was none other than Charles Martinet, also known as The Narrator of Runner2 and Runner3. But you would probably know him better as the iconic voice of Nintendo's Mario for the last 22 years. I... probably wouldn't expect to hear him do Mario's voice here, however. You know, all of that copyright stuff and such. You can play as all three cameo characters (well, when you unlock them) when Runner3 hits the Nintendo Switch eShop first on May 22 and then on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC at a later date. Source: Runner3.game Are you looking forward to playing as these characters in Runner3?
  7. Nicalis and Treasure have teamed up to bring Ikaruga, one of the most beloved vertical shooters of the last 20 years, to Nintendo Switch later this month. Starring a pilot named Shinra who battles against enemy forces in his ship (the titular "Ikaruga"), the main hook in the game has you switching between two energy polarities in order to absorb bullets. Not only does this help the Ikaruga avoid damage, but it also increases your special meter which, when maxed out, gives you the option to unleash a special homing laser attack that's 10x more damaging than your normal attack. The Switch version of Ikaruga will have both singleplayer and two-player (local) co-op modes, global leaderboards, and can be played in the standard horizontal mode or flipped vertically for arcade-style "TATE" action. Ikaruga will debut on the Nintendo Switch eShop on May 29 for $14.99. Source: Press Release Are you excited that Ikaruga is heading to Switch this month?
  8. If you've been wondering how much longer you'd have to wait to play SNK's all-female fighting throwdown known as SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~, then wonder no more. NIS America has announced that the game will be making its way to a Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 near you in both North America and Europe on September 7. Also announced as joining the in-game roster is another fan-favorite female fighter from SNK's past: Shermie. First appearing in King of Fighters '97, Shermie is a grappler and one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi. Also, fun fact: she's based on the character of Fujiko Mine from the anime, Lupin the 3rd. Check out the trailer below to see Shermie in action. Source: Press Release Are you interested in playing as Shermie in SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~?
  9. Tribute Games is one of the hottest up-and-coming indie developers in recent years thanks to their most recent games -- Mercenary Kings, and last year's fast-paced roguelike, Flinthook. And now, thanks to Limited Run Games, you'll have the chance to buy physical versions of both games for the Nintendo Switch. Pre-orders have officially opened today (April 23) and will run until May 7 at 11:59 pm ET. The games will cost $29.99 each (hey, those Switch carts aren't cheap!) and will feature reversible covers and full-color manuals. Not bad! Additionally, a special, limited collector's edition containing both games called "The Tribute Treasure Box" was also announced for $89.99. In addition to including physical versions of Mercenary Kings and Flinthook, this edition also contains the following: Reversible cover and comic book Reversible cover and manual Official Tribute Treasure Box SteelBook® that can hold both games Mercenary Kings Physical Soundtrack CD Flinthook Physical Soundtrack CD Double sided 18 x 24 inch Flinthook poster Double sided 18 x 24 inch Mercenary Kings poster The Tribute Treasure Box is being limited to 3,000 copies worldwide, so if you're interested in it, you'll have just one more opportunity to preorder it. While the first allotment has sold out, it will be available again later today (April 23) at 6pm ET; at the time of this writing, that's less than two hours away, so you'll need to act quick. Here are the links to each product's pre-order pages: Click here to go to the Flinthook preorder page Click here to go to the Mercenary Kings preorder page Click here to go to The Tribute Treasure Box preorder page [limited to 3,000] Last but not least, Marcus reviewed Mercenary Kings here when it originally released on PC back in 2014, so if you're interested in finding out more about that game, check out his thoughts by clicking here. Will you be preordering the Limited Run releases of Flinthook and/or Mercenary Kings?
  10. We first got word about Splatoon 2's 3.0 update in last month's Nintendo Direct, and wouldn't you know it, it's already here. The amount of additions, changes, and fixes is too numerous to mention here, but here's a rundown of the major things that the update adds, as a reminder. First off, Callie is back! Yes, if you meet a certain condition in the game's story campaign, Callie will appear in Tentakeel Outpost in Octo Canyon and offer recent multiplayer stats about the player's character. Next, 100 pieces of gear are being added; they're a combination of new and returning gear (from the first Splatoon). New songs from Chirpy Chips (an in-game chiptune band also from the first game) are being added to multiplayer matches. And tonight, Camp Triggerfish (originally from the first Splatoon) will be added to the level rotation. Finally, arguably the biggest new addition to the gameplay is a new rank called "Rank X." It'll be the most challenging experience in Ranked mode thus far, and any players that reach S+10 (or are currently at that point or above) will attain the rank. Rank X players will battle to increase their X Power level, and each month, 500 players with the highest X Power levels will be announced on the Splatnet 2 mobile app. X Power levels will also be reset every month, thereby reducing players' ranks back to S+9. According to Nintendo, this is being done to encourage players of all ranks to enjoy improving their play and maintaining their skill, as opposed to simply focusing on playing to rank up. To see a complete list of the other changes and fixes that Update 3.0 brings, see the official documentation on Nintendo's website. Splatoon 2's 3.0 update is scheduled to go live at 6 PM PT later today. Source: Press Release Will you be checking out the new additions in Splatoon 2's 3.0 update?
  11. When you think of SNK, you probably think of their classic titles for NEOGEO, like The King of Fighters or Metal Slug series. However, SNK's earliest games were arcade titles that have mostly stayed in the past. Now NIS America is re-releasing those arcade titles for a whole new generation of gamers in a compilation called SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. Every title will feature updated graphics at 1080p, a rewind functionality that will help you easily bypass any pesky mistakes you make, redesigned control schemes, and high definition artwork and original promotional assets from each game. The collection currently stands at just over a dozen titles with more to be announced, according to NIS America. Here's a look at the first 13 games that have been announced. Alpha Mission (Console/Arcade) Athena (Console/Arcade) Crystalis (Arcade) Ikari Warriors (Console/Arcade) Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road (Console/Arcade) Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue (Console/Arcade) Guerilla War (Console/Arcade) P.O.W. (Arcade) Prehistoric Isle (Arcade) Psycho Soldier (Arcade) Street Smart (Arcade) TNK III (Console/Arcade) Vanguard (Arcade) It's worth noting that some games, like Crystalis -- which was only recreated as a Game Boy Color game -- haven't been available to play on any other platform since its arcade debut, so this is a great way to finally collect and experience them. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is currently slated for release on Nintendo Switch this Fall. A more detailed release date will be provided at a later date. Source: Press Release What are your thoughts on NIS bringing back some of SNK's older games?
  12. Hailinel

    Review: Attack On Titan 2

    Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: March 20, 2018 ESRB: M Note: This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Released in 2016, the original Attack on Titan was both a fun action game and a novel title from Omega Force, which for most of its history has been focused almost exclusively on the long-running Musou franchise. With Attack on Titan 2, the studio has returned to the world of high-flying, giant-slaying action, bringing some significant new twists along for the ride. Is a return to the world outside of the walls worth it? Like the original game, Attack on Titan 2 is based on the anime, rather than the original manga. Where the first game covered the scope of the first (and at that point, only) season of the series, the sequel covers both Seasons 1 and 2. The biggest change in terms of the story presentation, however, is in the point of view. New to the game is an original, player-created protagonist who joins the fight against the Titans alongside the established cast, and elements of the story have been rewritten to account for the player-character’s presence. For the most part, the presence of the new character works. The character creation system is robust, allowing for a fair degree of fine custom detail. The plot remains focused on Eren, Armin, Mikasa, and the other cadets of the 104th, giving the player a secondary observational role in most of the proceedings as famous scenes from the series play out. This premise does stretch itself thin in the latter half of the game, however, as the player zips back and forth between different battlefields as the characters are scattered, but that logistical detail is simple enough to forgive. The core gameplay of Attack on Titan 2 is nearly identical to that of the original game. During battle, the player can swing through the air using ODM (omni-directional mobility) gear to approach and latch onto rampaging Titans; giant, monstrous humanoids that can only be killed by striking at the napes of their necks, but who can be weakened or slowed down by severing their arms and legs. The core gameplay loop of approaching and downing Titans one after another is a satisfying one, but it can take practice to learn ideal positioning. And sometimes, what appears to be an ideal strike will result instead in a miss, causing the player to rebound away. Similar issues can arise when a Titan has been sent falling to the ground. Prone Titans can clip through nearby environmental objects such as buildings or supply bases, which can sometimes hamper getting in a clean shot on the nape. This can be mitigated with practice, but it’s still disappointing that Titans don’t react to the surrounding environment when they fall. In the original Attack on Titan, some portions of the story allowed the player to assume direct control of Eren’s Titan form, allowing for direct hand-to-hand combat against other Titans. While Attack on Titan 2 removes such sequences from the Story Mode’s primary scenarios, this feature has been given a new focus in a mini-game that becomes available at the Titan Research Lab. The player can “learn” about Titan behavior by taking on timed challenges while in control of one of the many standard Titans found in the game, though this feature isn’t available until after the player has managed to capture a Titan for the first time, rather than kill it. Getting rewarded for successful human-munching rampages is amusing and a good distraction from the game’s primary action, though the context of its inclusion relative to the story is bizarre. The biggest gameplay change to come with the sequel is a new emphasis on day-to-day life and activity. Between missions, the player has the freedom to wander the Trost District and other locales to speak with their comrades. Similar to mechanics in games like the Fire Emblem series, the player can raise support levels with various characters they meet by both fighting alongside them in battle and during social events responding to their comments appropriately. As these support levels rise, the player will gain access to new skills that boost stats or impart new combat abilities. That in mind, socializing is a must, and fortunately, many of the social event scenes in the game are entertaining. Outside of Story Mode, the other primary game mode is Another Mode. Playable in single-player as well as in online multiplayer, this mode is focused around completing smaller side-missions. These missions can generally be finished in a matter of minutes, making them ideal for quick play. Those that play it on the Switch also have the option of local wireless multiplayer, though I have not had the ability to test this feature out for myself. Online play quality has from my experience been OK, though I have also run into several connection errors while accessing online features in the lobby. The presentation in Attack on Titan 2 is on par with the original game. Its characters, both human and Titan, are rendered in colorful detail, and the story dialogue is fully voiced in Japanese. Performance is mostly smooth, though some battles that become particularly hectic with large numbers of Titans and aerial humans on screen at once can cause spots of momentary chugging. Attack on Titan 2 is what a good sequel should be. It improves on the key features of the original game, and its player-created protagonist adds a fresh take to previously-adapted material. While there are rough patches that could have used more polish, it’s a respectable sequel overall, and fans of the series should find it well worth their time. Pros + Fully adapts two seasons of the Attack on Titan anime from the perspective of an original protagonist + Tweaks to aerial combat provide the player with new options + The character progression system offers a great deal of flexibility + A larger roster of major and minor Attack on Titan characters can be unlocked for use in Another Mode Cons - Camera angles can sometimes make lining up an attack more difficult - Some of the finer elements of combat aren’t as well-explained as they could be, making some aspects of getting good at combat an at-times frustrating act of trial-and-error Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Attack On Titan 2 is a worthy follow-up that improves on key features of the original game while also adding fresh takes, even if the game could use a bit more polish in some areas. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a retail copy that was bought by the reviewer
  13. 13AM Games' colorful platformer Runbow has been a modest hit for the indie developer over the past few years, releasing first on Wii U and then subsequently on other platforms. Now the Canadian indie team is ready to unveil its next game. Double Cross is an action-adventure game that puts players into the role of Zahra -- an agent of an interdimensional peace-keeping agency called R.I.F.T. (Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology) -- as she investigates an attack on the organization by an unknown assailant and must uncover their nefarious plans. One big aspect of the game will give players the ability to custom tailor their own play style by collecting Upgradium and using it to level up and unlock new R.I.F.T. gear. The game's adventure style investigation system also lets players tackle levels in the order they want. Double Cross is currently being planned for release on Nintendo Switch and Steam later this year. If you're going to PAX East, you'll be able to demo the game if you stop by publisher Grafitti Games' booth. Be sure to check out the game's initial trailer below. Source: 13AM Games Are you interested in checking out Double Cross?
  14. We found last year's Chicken Wiggle to be a fun and charming platformer, but unfortunately, the game was released on 3DS at a time when its audience had moved onto the Nintendo Switch, and it didn't perform as expected sales-wise. Not one to give up so easily, Atooi's Jools Watsham launched a Kickstarter on March 6 to bring an HD version of the game -- renamed Chicken Wiggle Workshop -- to the Nintendo Switch. The good news is that the Kickstarter crossed the threshold with success, closing after meeting its funding goal and the first stretch goal. Not only does this mean that the Switch version of the game will go into production and get a visual upgrade with redone HD art, it also means that Grant Kirkhope -- legendary video game composer who scored Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and more -- will be contributing an all-new orchestral soundtrack to the game. Of course, the level creation and sharing aspect will also be present in this new version, as will be the function to switch back and forth between retro visuals (of the 3DS version) and the newer, HD art. According to its Kickstarter, Atooi is aiming to have Chicken Wiggle Workshop available on Nintendo Switch by December 2018. Source: Kickstarter Are you excited that Chicken Wiggle be getting an enhanced HD version for Switch?
  15. Nearly a year after its initial release, SEGA has announced today that Sonic Mania will be getting an all-new edition of the game called Sonic Mania Plus. This new version will not only be the first real physical version of the game, it also includes a SEGA Genesis reversible cover (for those nostalgic for old Genesis boxart covers), a 32-page art book, and two new characters: Ray the Flying Squirrel and Mighty the Armadillo. The latter might be more familiar to longtime Sonic fans, since Mighty appeared in Knuckles' Chaotix on SEGA's short-lived 32X add-on for the Genesis. But both characters first appeared in a Japanese-only arcade game called SegaSonic the Hedgehog (no, I'm not making this up!). SEGA says there is "more" to the game as well, leading us to believe they'll reveal more info leading up to its release. In the meantime, you can look forward to playing Sonic Mania Plus when it releases this Summer on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. Source: SEGA (via Twitter) Are you interested in Sonic Mania Plus and its new additions?
  16. Though we had previously gotten a "mini" Nintendo Direct in January, the one we had yesterday was effectively the first real substantial Nintendo Direct of the year. And what a Direct it was! I won’t cover every announcement here as there are plenty of other places to go for a detailed recap, including watching the actual video itself. Instead, I'll be analyzing what we saw and what it means, all starting with the video's biggest reveal. Super Smash Bros. is finally coming to Switch, and it’s likely not a port Let's be real here: Of everything Nintendo could have announced, Super Smash Bros. was one of the least suspected games. In fact, it was almost a given that it wouldn't be shown. Why? Because every past iteration of the game has been announced at E3, arguably the most important video game industry event of the year. The fact that they chose to reveal the game now instead of E3 is very interesting; perhaps Nintendo wants to it to have a greater mindshare among fans now rather than simply revealing it four months before launch. The strategy behind it makes sense; generate a ton of hype and let fans spread the word, then get even more info in June. You think people were excited for E3 before? They’re going to be ecstatic now that it’s guaranteed Smash will be the main showcase. And, oh yeah – the game is coming out this year as well. It was a well-played, strategic move on Nintendo’s part, and the reveal was pulled off excellently (the reflection of the Smash logo in the Inkling’s eye was a great touch). Those short few seconds will help sustain the hype for Nintendo and the Switch over the next few months as we wait to see what else they’ll reveal. Third parties are crushing it on Switch (or should I say "Crashing" it?) The Switch already pulled off some impressive third-party surprises in 2017. From Bethesda’s Skyrim, Doom, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to Rockstar’s L.A. Noire and more, the Switch is getting the most third-party support it’s seen since the Gamecube’s heyday. But yesterday’s Direct was a clear affirmation that third-parties are continuing to take notice of the Switch’s success and that they’re largely here to stay this time around. Nowhere was this more evident than with the announcement of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – previously a PS4-exclusive – coming to Switch this year. Not only that but other powerhouse AAA titles like South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Okami HD, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, and even indie hits like Undertale are making their way over as well. Unless Nintendo does something to really botch up the 2018 release schedule, momentum will likely only keep building from here as more and more third parties square up to release their games and nab their own piece of the Switch pie. The Port, Remaster, and Collection Plan – How 3DS will be sustained Microsoft and Sony would probably be booed into oblivion if they announced as many ports, remasters, and collection/remixes as Nintendo announced, but there’s at least one good reason why the latter can get away with it for now. The Wii U was an unmitigated sales disaster and only the most hardcore Nintendo fans played whatever games came out on it. So, for most people, when it comes to these ports? This is all new material, baby, and that includes games like the much-lauded Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – all of which we’ll see before the end of this year. On a similar note, we finally have a good idea of Nintendo’s plan for the 3DS going forward. We saw some of this last year, but the recent Direct outlines the fact that 3DS will be sustained with ports, enhanced remasters/remakes, and collections/remixes. And why not? It’s clear that Nintendo will be focusing 90-95% of its creative efforts on Switch now, and releasing ports and remakes of older games will be the cheapest, fastest, and most effective way to ensure that 3DS players will still be thrown a bone every now and then. Not only that, but Nintendo has chosen some interesting games that even longtime fans will have a hard time ignoring. Luigi’s Mansion is something we haven’t seen since the game’s original release on Gamecube in 2001, so its arrival on 3DS – especially after its sequel, Dark Moon, released on the handheld in 2013 – is a much-welcomed addition to the library. WarioWare Gold is getting the same treatment that Nintendo gave to Mario Party: The Top 100 and Rhythm Heaven Megamix, where it’s essentially a compilation of the series’ best mini-games masquerading as a new game. Yet, it’s been years since we’ve gotten a new WarioWare title, so many fans are excited and willing to overlook that particular tidbit. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a bit of a headscratcher. Developer Alpha Dream released Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions – an enhanced remake of the very first game in the series with a new, added side story – just last year, and now they’re doing another remake? Let’s not forget that they skipped over the second game, Partners in Time, either. Personally, I would think that many fans are getting fatigued from this series with all of the releases in recent years, but apparently they must be selling. That said, there are still new 3DS games on the horizon with the likes of Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, Detective Pikachu, and Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido. Also, I suspect Nintendo is holding back one or two other new 3DS titles for an E3 reveal – possibly a new 2D Zelda as one last hurrah for the series on the system. Aside from that, expect to see this trend of ports and remakes on the 3DS as the handheld (presumably) continues to die down in 2019. The future for Splatoon 2 is bright; it’s the closest thing Nintendo has to a Games-as-a-Service title now Splatoon 2 is, without a doubt, one of the biggest successes on Switch outside of Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Plenty of players dismissed it as a 1.5 version when it was initially announced, but the amount of new content Nintendo continues to pour into it is staggering. Oh, and did I mention that the DLC has been 100% free? It’s no wonder that the game manages to maintain a steady playerbase to this day. And now with yesterday’s Direct, they’ve confirmed the 3.0 update will bring dozens of new items, three new courses, and a brand new rank (Rank X) among other things. But even more importantly, Splatoon 2 is getting its first paid DLC, which smartly introduces a new single-player campaign called 'Octo Expansion' instead of splintering the player-base with multiplayer content that’s locked behind paywalls. The new campaign is quite hefty to boot, with 80 missions in addition to new stories that shed light on the series’ different characters. Oh, and you’ll unlock access to Octoling characters in multiplayer after beating it. With the continuing DLC and Octo Expansion, Nintendo appears to have a pretty clear roadmap for Splatoon 2 and values it as one of their biggest properties to keep supporting. I’m willing to bet Octo Expansion may not be the last paid DLC either; if new free DLC continues past this year, they’ll likely use the paid expansions to help fund the free updates for multiplayer while keeping the paid stuff to non-essential, optional features. Nintendo’s roadmap into 2019 and beyond Yesterday’s Direct obviously didn’t reveal everything this year has to offer, but we did get a look at a good chunk of it. Here are the most important things we now know about where the company is heading with its strategy. Nintendo is rallying around Super Smash Bros. as its big title for 2018 There will, of course, be other games coming this Fall, but these other titles will likely act as supporting games. This will probably include the still-unnamed Yoshi title that was revealed last year in addition to the new Fire Emblem. Beyond that, perhaps we'll get a Mario Party or other tertiary title? If anything, the biggest question mark is now Animal Crossing. Will we finally see it a new one for Switch at E3? Or will Nintendo save it for 2019? If Metroid Prime 4 is positioned as next year's major game, it stands to reason that it probably won't matter whether Animal Crossing releases this year or next. We’ll find out for sure in three months whether we’ll see it in 2018 or not. Switch’s lineup will likely continue to be padded with ports for the next year or two Nintendo has done an impressive job releasing at least one big game a month for Switch since its launch. But if it wants to maintain that schedule, it’ll need to rely on ports to do it, simply because new games take time to develop and it likely can't sustain that kind of momentum with them. Case in point, this spring we’re getting four ports; Bayonetta 1 and 2 have already released, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition are coming in May. That leaves April as the only month without a first-party title for now (January also had nothing). As for the second half of the year, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is the only confirmed port so far; it’ll be releasing in July. Don't be surprised if we get at least one or two more before the end of 2018. Nintendo will, for the first time in a while, be able to rely on third parties to help fill the gap between first-party releases For the last five years (at the very least), Nintendo has turned to indie games to help fill in gaps while their own first-party titles were being polished for release. This was largely out of necessity since most of the third-party support for the Wii U trickled off fast in 2013. But with the advent of Switch, third-parties are back in a big way and are releasing some of their popular titles on the platform, making the wait between big first-party titles like Smash Bros. a little easier. Also, let’s not forget the onslaught of indie games that have been coming consistently every Thursday since the end of last Summer or so. 3DS is being wound down with smaller games and ports This was expected, but what’s surprising is how Nintendo is actually keeping the 3DS alive longer than most expected. With this in mind, we'll likely see the platform being kept alive with ports and smaller games until 2020 when it’s either retired or succeeded by something else. That said, the future is looking pretty good for Nintendo. While it's hard to say whether the Switch will hit its goal of selling 20 million units for the year of fiscal 2018 (it will easily pass that number in total sales to date) it definitely looks a lot more plausible with the impending arrival of Super Smash Bros. and the gauntlet of other great games coming our way soon. What are your thoughts on the recent Direct? Has it changed your outlook on Switch this year?
  17. The Shining series is one we haven't seen in the West for nearly 11 years now (with the last game being Shining Force EXA on PS2 in 2007), but that will all change soon as SEGA announced today that it will be bringing Shining Resonance Refrain to North America this summer. Originally called Shining Resonance -- previously a Japanese-only release on PS3 in 2014 -- this remaster collects the original game, all of its DLC, features dual audio with Japanese and English tracks, and includes a new "Refrain Mode," which unlocks two characters (Imperial Princess Excella and Dragonslayer Jinas) for use in your party. Shining Resonance Refrain's story centers on a young man named Yuma whom has the soul of a Shining Dragon in him and can transform into one through use of his sword. However, this makes him the target of the Empire, who want to use his power against the Kingdom of Astoria. After a rescue effort by the latter and its princess, Sonia, Yuma is moved by the plight of their nation and joins the fight to save their land. The game's battle system features two interesting aspects -- one is the Resonance system (hence the game's title), in which characters can deepen their relationship and form a "Resonance" with each other through events and dates, thus providing a new level of support in battle. Another is the B.A.N.D. system, which your party will be able to play rune songs that can provide beneficial effects throughout the battle; certain characters might even perform the song in a different costume as well. Shining Resonance Refrain's launch edition will feature a collectible metal slipcase featuring artwork of Excella, Sonia, and Kirika, and will release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for $49.99 USD/$64.99 CAD this Summer. No specific date has been announced yet, but we'll let you know as soon as they announce it. Check out the game's official announcement trailer below, which shows off a segment with characters jamming to the B.A.N.D. system. Source: Press Release Are you excited that a new Shining title is headed to the West?
  18. In a surprise (or not so surprising?) Nintendo Direct Mini this morning, a number of interesting third-party games were announced for the Nintendo Switch with releases happening this year. Check out the trailers from the newest games that were announced below! The World Ends With You: Final Remix was easily the biggest surprise -- it's an enhanced version of the original DS game that's been updated with HD visuals, a new epilogue that reveals new story beats, and the option to play via touchscreen or via Joy-Con. Some 8 years removed from its original release, fans had almost given up hope of seeing a new entry in the series. While Final Remix isn't quite that, it's great to see Square-Enix possibly gearing up to do more with the series with this announcement. Dark Souls: Remastered was also announced, marking the series first foray onto a Nintendo console. It will include the Artorias of the Abyss DLC in addition to improved framerate and resolution and will release on May 25. SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~ -- a fighting game featuring popular female characters from various past SNK games ~ was one of the more unique titles announced and is coming this Summer. Fan-favorites like King of the Fighters' Mai Shiranui, Athena Asamiya, Leona Heidern, and Yuri Sakazaki were all confirmed to be a part of the roster, and you'll be able to dress them up in a variety of costumes and items as well. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was also announced in what was a fairly strong showing for NIS America. This eighth installment in the series features series protagonist Adol on a deserted island that's inhabited by large, vicious beasts. You'll need to build a base, find other shipwreck survivors if you hope to make it out alive. Ys VIII launches this Summer (you can read Barrel's review of the PS4 version from last year for his opinion on the game). Payday 2 was a game that was previously announced but shown off in a complete form here. You'll be able to join up with friends either locally or online to pull off heists. Other Switch-exclusive features include HD Rumble (which you'll be able to feel the rumbles of explosions and such) and a new character named Joy who wears a custom LED light mask. You can look for the game on February 27. Fe, a new 3D platformer from Zoink Games (Stick it to the Man) and EA, was announced and shown off. You'll run, jump, and glide through a dark Nordic forest to explore a world full of secrets, legends, and mystical characters. The game launches on February 16. And last but not least, Celeste was the lone indie game to be shown off (I guess if you don't count Payday 2 as one). Labeled a "pure action platformer," you'll guide protagonist Madeline as she jumps, climbs, and dashes her way through each stage. Also announced were unlockable B-side chapters that offer even more of a challenge. Celeste launches on January 25. Overall, not a lot of third-party announcements, but it's incredibly likely you'll be a hearing a lot more either directly from publishers in the coming months or in more mini directs like this one leading up to E3. What were your thoughts on the third-party games announced during this mini Direct?
  19. Another year, another Atelier game from Koei Tecmo. Their tradition of releasing a new game annually continues with the release of Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings in 2018. It will serve as the final entry in the "Mysterious" series while also celebrating the franchise's 20th Anniversary. Atelier Lydie & Suelle follows the titular twins as they discover and visit other worlds by jumping into mysterious paintings. They also discover that the paintings hold the residual thoughts of their deceased mother. Each world holds a different stylized location, which should help breathe some life into the game's art direction and make it feel more different and varied than usual. Also making appearances in this title are characters from previous Atelier games: namely, Firis, Liane, Sophie, Plachta, and Ilmeria. Pre-ordering the physical game will net you some DLC costumes inspired by prior Atelier protagonists Marie and Erie in addition to battle-themed music and an item set of useful alchemy ingredients. If you pre-order digitally within four weeks of release, you'll get access to two custom themes. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is set to release on March 27, 2018, on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC via Steam. Source: Press Release Are you looking forward to this next Atelier game?
  20. Let's be honest: things weren't looking good for the Valkyria Chronicles series after the latest entry, Valkyria Chronicles Revolution, came out in June this year and underwhelmed, both critically and sales-wise (Barrel called it a "husk of a spin-off that is unlikely to really satisfy existing Valkyria fans" in his review). Luckily for us, SEGA isn't that quick to give up on the series. In fact, they've just announced a proper fourth game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4, and it's coming out sometime in 2018 in North America and Europe. This game will see the top-down, third-person strategy elements mixed with RPG and 3rd-person shooter elements make a return, along with larger scale maps with more units, a new class called the "Grenadier", numerous defensive and offensive battleship support options, units being able to make a "last stand" action before death, and more. Also making his return as composer is Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics), who is sure to provide more of his sweeping, epic tracks to accompany the World War II-inspired story. Most surprising of all? Not only is Valkyria Chronicles 4 coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; it's also coming to Nintendo Switch -- a pretty big show of faith for the new console/handheld hybrid on SEGA's part. For now, check out the game's trailer below as we await more info in the coming months and year ahead. Source: Press Release Are you excited that Valkyria Chronicles is making a return with a brand new installment? And how about that Switch release?
  21. It's surprising that we haven't gotten any real-world racing sims on Switch yet. Sure, we've got Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Fast RMX, but it's interesting that no arcade or sim racers featuring real cars have made its way onto the breakout handheld to date. Until now, that is. Microids' and Eden Games' Gear Club will be the first authentic racing sim to grace the Switch after making the jump from mobile. But don't let the fact that it was a mobile game dissuade you; the visuals are fairly impressive, and the title offers over 400 races through various environments with over 30 of the world's most famous cars. In addition to its racing modes, Gear Club features a range of customization, where you'll be able to change everything from the body right down to the engine. You'll also be able to race against friends through a 4-player, split-screen, local co-op mode, or compete online with leaderboards. Gear Club will be available both digitally and physically on Nintendo Switch tomorrow. Source: Press Release Will you be checking out Gear Club?
  22. Developer: Gust Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC Release Date: October 24, 2017 ESRB: T Note: This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game The original Nights of Azure, which released in the west in March of last year, marked a departure for Gust, the development studio best known for the Atelier RPG series. A hack-and-slash action RPG, it made its name on the PS4 outside of Japan. Its sequel, Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, however, expands its reach to new hardware and is Gust’s first title to appear on the Nintendo Switch. Set decades after the first game, the set-up for the sequel requires no knowledge of the original to understand. Nights of Azure 2 is set in the same world overrun by demons infected by the Blue Blood, but the characters and circumstances are different. The protagonist 'Aluche' -- a young knight of the Curia tasked with fighting the demons -- is ordered to escort the Curia’s chosen Bride of Time to a place of sacrifice, where her death will seal away the Moon Queen. To Aluche’s dismay, the Bride of Time is her childhood friend Liliana, but she goes ahead with her mission. From that point, things quickly go sideways. On their way to the sacrifice site, Aluche is killed in a surprise premature encounter with the Moon Queen, only to be resurrected by a Curia scientist that infuses her with some of the Blue Blood of the legendary Arnice (the first game’s protagonist), turning the once human Aluche into a half-demon. Armed with new powers, Aluche makes it her mission to find the now-missing Liliana, as well as a way to stop the Moon Queen that won’t require her friend’s sacrifice. The story and characters in Nights of Azure 2 are among the game’s high points. With a cast that grows over time, Aluche meets a ragtag collection of allies along her journey, all of whom are beautiful young women like herself. The game isn’t shy about this fact at all, and in some ways, feels like a Japanese lesbian romance in the form of an action game. In fact, the game’s lighter interludes feature plenty of sexual humor, and at times it’s a little surprising that the game managed to avoid an M rating despite the lack of red blood or sexual content beyond some slinky costumes and innuendo. The core gameplay in Nights of Azure 2 is hack-and-slash action that’s simple to learn. By default, Aluche uses a sword she can swing for combos of light and heavy attacks, and she can jump, guard, and perform a quick dash as a dodge. However, she’s not alone in combat; she leads a party consisting of one CPU-controlled partner (of a number that the player can choose from), and two Servan, who act independently, or can be ordered to act with the shoulder triggers. For Aluche’s CPU partners (or “Lilies” as they’re called in-game), each partner has her own set of strengths and skills, including special attacks they can perform with Aluche once proper requirements are met, in addition to passive skills that will automatically trigger under the right conditions. On the Normal difficulty, they’re competent and aren’t a burden when acting on their own, but there are commands that let the player dictate their basic behavior. Servan, on the other hand, are little benevolent fiends Aluche can befriend after rescuing them from flower traps. There are several varieties, including those that can turn into alternative weapon types for Aluche to wield, those that protect the party, or that inflict elemental damage. A few key Servan also have the ability to clear away or surpass obstacles on maps that lead to shortcuts, treasure chests, or additional Servan. There’s no requirement that the player find them all, but each one has its own distinct personality and history, whether that be helpful, tragic, imposing, or eccentric. Collectively, they’re a delight. If there’s one big area in which Nights of Azure 2 falls short in its gameplay, it’s really in giving the Lilies and Servan enough to do. The Lilies all have side-stories with their own quest chains to accomplish, but these quests have the player visiting the same maps over and over, with little variation save for where a target enemy or objective is on a map. And while there are plenty of Servan to befriend and bring into the party, there were many that I simply never took into battle, and at least on the Normal difficulty, I never felt penalized for sticking with the same three or four for most of the game. There are also time limits to consider. Aluche’s half-demon body doesn’t have the stamina to fight forever, and each excursion, which represents one night, has a set time limit. This limit starts at a flat ten minutes, but grows gradually as she levels up, and as points are spent on skill tree nodes to give her more time. The other time limit has to do with a magical azure moon. With each passing night, the moon wanes more and more, and the player must defeat the boss at the end of each chapter before it wanes completely, or its game over. The game does offer an emergency option to restart from the beginning of the current chapter in a worst-case scenario, but I never needed to use it. In fact, the moon time limit was never an issue for me, and I never felt pressed by the threat of a new moon. The game’s boss fights are a mixed bag. Most them are well done and offer a decent challenge relative to the rest of the game’s difficulty. But then there are the outliers. One of them was comically easy in a way that, combined with his absurd presentation, I can only imagine was intentional. And one boss fight toward the end was marred by a second phase that was nothing but tedious and seemed designed only to eat away at the timer. There are some odd quirks in the Switch version that need to be noted. One is that the game is inconsistent with its use of the A and B buttons. The A button is used for environment interaction and talking to characters, while B is used as the confirmation button in the game’s menus. This leads to unintuitive moments like pressing A to open the Save menu, and once in the menu pressing B to select a file and save the game. There were many times when I accidentally backed out of menus I had just opened because the A button is also “cancel” when in a menu. On two occasions in the twenty-plus hours of playing prior to writing this review, the game crashed and returned to the Switch home menu. However, both times it occurred were just seconds after I had saved the game, and so no progress was lost. Hopefully, Koei Tecmo will release a patch to address this issue, but the crashes were, fortunately, minor inconveniences at best. Complaints about repetition, boss fights, and technical quirks aside, I feel the game is still worth playing. The characters and world of Nights of Azure 2 are consistently entertaining, and the combat is fun. While the game lacks elements of polish, the core of the experience still manages to shine. It’s recommended if you’re looking for a fun action RPG, but don’t expect the smoothest experience. Pros + Entertaining characters and story with multiple endings + Fun hack-and-slash gameplay + Full Japanese voice acting + Beautiful character designs and models Cons - Technical and design issues - Sidequests require visiting the same maps repeatedly - Inconsistent boss fight quality - The game offers no hints on how to earn the better endings Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Nights of Azure 2 is recommended if you’re looking for a fun action RPG, but don’t expect the smoothest experience. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  23. Given how the Wii U ultimately failed for Nintendo last generation, it isn't hard to see why third-party publishers would be skeptical to believe that the Switch would fare any differently. Except, the new console was a major heel turn for the Japanese manufacturer. The Nintendo Switch picked up steam the moment it was revealed in its initial teaser trailer last year and then became an overnight sensation when it launched. Now, thanks to a steady supply of top-notch, heavy-hitting first party titles and a well-curated collection of regularly released indie titles, the console/handheld hybrid is selling like gangbusters (as evidenced by Nintendo's recent financial report). Last week, the Wall Street Journal was told by Hirozaku Hamamura, CEO of Japanese magazine publisher Gzbrain, that Japanese third-party publishers have been caught off guard by the Switch's success and are now switching gears to put their titles on it. However, Hamamura cautioned that we might not see most of the biggest titles from third-parties until 2019 given that many weren't in production for Switch until recently. As for what 2018 holds for Japanese third-parties on Switch, we'll have to wait and see. Source: Wall Street Journal (via Game Informer)
  24. Nintendo's Switch has just been updated to firmware 4.0, and with it brings a surprising new functionality: compatibility with the Gamecube controller adapter. Keen fans will be quick to note that the Gamecube controller adapter originally released for Wii U in order to serve as a way for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U players to use the GCN controller while playing. While it's possible Nintendo is just adding functionality to ensure fans have a wide array of control methods available to them, it's also sparked speculation that either a new Super Smash Bros. title or Gamecube Virtual Console titles are on the way. Both have been rumored for some time now by industry insiders, but the Smash title is especially interesting given that an enhanced port of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U was rumored to be in the works for Switch. Nintendo has been mum on the title up till now, but with the Switch lineup wide open for next Spring, fans have been speculating that Smash may be the big multiplayer release for that time window. Only time will tell. Source: GoNintendo What are your thoughts on Gamecube controller functionality being added to the Switch? Do you think news of Smash for Switch is imminent?
  25. It's a good day for indie game fans; especially those who love buying their favorite indie games physically when they have the option to. Limited Run Games -- a smaller company that currently publishes physical versions of certain indie titles on PC, PS4, and PS Vita -- has officially confirmed today that they have now been approved to publish games on Nintendo Switch. This news is fairly big in the indie scene as many fans have previously clamored for the publisher to support Nintendo's platforms, but the Japanese company hasn't allowed them to until now. While they have yet to announce what the game is, Limited Run Games announced their first published title will ship in 2018. Stay tuned for more information! Source: Limited Run Games (via Twitter) Are you excited to hear that Limited Run Games will be publishing physical/retail games on Switch?
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