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Found 4 results

  1. Jonathan Higgins

    Game of the Year 2015: Jonathan's Picks

    It seems this year is nearly over. Thinking about all the games I“ve played fills me with determination. To be completely honest, I“ve spent more time playing old games than new ones this year. One of my fondest memories of 2015 will no doubt be playing through every Kirby game I own to honor Mr. Iwata. I glitched out Link“s Awakening, got one of my childhood-favorite games from a friend, and more. Still, this list is about the present! Like last year, though, you won't find any Pokémon games on this list. I have a million more Individual Values to give those games some love. Without further ado, here are the ten greatest games I've played that were released this year, and a few reasons why I adore them so. 10. Gunman Clive 2 I never thought panda physics would be a concept to worry about in an action game. But Gunman Clive 2 has a handful of obtuse surprises! I liken Bertil Hörberg“s games to the ones I mastered during childhood -- short and sweet; ones you“ll replay over and over again. Gunman Clive 2 in particular is about the length of any given Game Boy platformer, but remarkably varied and surreal. It improves upon precedents set in the first game, with enough crazy moments to properly set it apart. You really can“t beat the price, for what you“re getting. I feel like that“s the case with at least one other game on my list this year, too. Maybe sticking with games of the past has me attached to simplicity. Gunman Clive 2 is proof you don“t have to make your platformers overly complex adventures that last forever and overstay their welcome. 9. Tembo the Badass Elephant Official GP Review When Game Freak & SEGA announced they were partnering for a new project in March, I so wanted it to be another Pulseman. What we got instead was a zany action game whose graphical stylings and appeal are torn right from the pages of comic books. It“d been awhile since I last played the game after reviewing it towards the end of July, but picking it up again brought me back to the many challenges and laughs it provided: I showed my friends the game after reviewing it. The sarcastic one in the group kept making quips about my platforming skills as I struggled through some of the trickier objectives in the game“s penultimate world. She likened the experience to Donkey Kong Country -- a game whose difficulty could frustrate the heck out of the person playing, but be hilarious for backseat gamers to watch and comment on. That kind of fun is what“s going to make Tembo have some lasting appeal, to me. 8. Bloo Kid 2 Official GP Review I was playing both Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash and Tri Force Heroes at the time winterworks dropped the free update for this game, and I totally dropped both of those to go running back to the fun I remembered having in May. As it turns out, I“m among the first to 100% complete the game by gathering all 360 stars and collecting every last little thing in both the original and added levels. Bloo Kid 2 is absolutely stratified in the 16-bit era. It feels like playing it will transport you back to the past and offer a handful of challenges many of those developers weren“t creative enough to think of at the time. A majority of players will only remember the mine-cart levels and the game“s lack of originality. But me? I“m going to remember that this game outdoes plenty of big name Nintendo releases of this holiday season despite its flaws. It says something when you can get a perfectly competent experience for less than 10% of the asking price for many 3DS retail games out there. 7. BOXBOY Official GP Review I was browsing my 3DS library looking for something to play to pass the time recently, and I noticed something unique about BOXBOY. Most of the 3DS title cards on our systems, even the ones for the most elaborate games available, just feature some variation of a spinning logo. BOXBOY dismisses this in favor of displaying a cool little animation that demonstrates a basic game mechanic over just a few seconds. Everything about BOXBOY hearkens back to the very beginning of HAL Laboratory -- dismissing complex visuals in favor of a minimalist approach that focuses almost entirely upon gameplay, but that has enough charm to make its characters memorable and its players want more. I hope this great game becomes one of the next great franchises for Nintendo. 6. Ori and the Blind Forest Turns out the next great Studio Ghibli movie is a video game. Ori and the Blind Forest isn“t just a beautiful Metroid-like with masterfully-crafted mechanics: it“s got a story with as much emotion as games six times its size and sixty times its budget. Most music sets the mood for a level or environment in a game; this one“s helps better tell its story. The crescendo of a powerful melody will typically hit right at the same time Ori accomplishes a breathtaking platforming feat. The visuals and soundtrack combined help this forest to feel like one of the most vibrant worlds I played in this year; it“s truly alive. If this game hadn“t been released on Steam, it would have sold me an Xbox One. And to be honest, the “definitive edition” kind of has me thinking along those lines again. 5. Tearaway Unfolded My love for the original Tearaway is well-documented at this point. I got hands-on with the new PlayStation 4 game at both E3 and PAX Prime this year. By the end of the Vita version, I had my lady snuggled beside me to see just a tiny piece of what the game had to offer on the small screen. As I made my way through Tearaway Unfolded, it was just as much her adventure as mine. She helped me create rainbow snowflakes (pictured above), a dinosaur flag, a Pikachu scarecrow, and more. Pictures of both of us -- not just her -- are on the books devoted to the study of the You, and the banner on Gibbet Hill. This game is worth experiencing on PlayStation 4 not just because of the brand new content tailored to it, but because seeing that world on a much bigger screen allows it to be shared with others easily. The world of Tearaway that you help create should be proudly shown! I“ll never forget the experiences I shared with other Messengers this year -- and that includes both my lady and showgoers at E3 & PAX Prime who played the demo. I've put one of their creations beside my own. 4. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review At just over 115 hours total, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is my second most-played game of 2015, behind only Pokémon Omega Ruby. And that shouldn“t surprise anyone, considering how in love I am with the original. As mentioned in my review, the revised script and voice cast helped breathe new life into the game I love, and the new story just proves these characters don“t overstay their welcome. I still play this one regularly to this day, trying to accomplish every last one of the post-game challenges. This game“s design, particularly in the Triangulum story, is one of the best examples of starting a character out virtually powerless, then allowing him to effectively (and purposefully) break the game by the final boss fight. I think this game should be played by everyone, not just because it“s welcoming for everyone (with DLC that helps alleviate the grind and challenge of the original game), but just so more than just me can see what wonderful things a bizarre combination of Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, and Pokémon is capable of. 3. Yoshi“s Woolly World Official GP Review I expected Good Feel“s efforts to be worth the wait, but I didn“t expect to have as much fun as I did playing Super Mario Galaxy -- or the original Yoshi“s Island, decades ago. The wonderful world of wool makes for one of the best Yoshi games to date. If you even mildly enjoyed Yoshi“s Story or the many games to come after the SNES original, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick this one up. This is another experience my lady and I shared -- both of us have each completed our own file of the game. It was cool to see the things Mellow Mode allowed you to do as I watched her play, and I love that the game never punished her for keeping things at a difficulty level she could enjoy. We each have our own favorite Yoshis we unlocked, and she may have adopted one of my Yarn Yoshi amiibos as her own -- but our memories of Yoshi“s Woolly World are definitely shared between us. Long live Poochy! 2. Axiom Verge Official GP Review This game is better than Super Metroid. I know that“s going to make me a lot of enemies over time, but I“ll never stop saying it. I didn“t play any Metroid games back when they originally released -- I have no strong feelings of nostalgia for Samus or her world. I played both games back to back obsessively, drawing comparisons between their respective mechanics and boss fights. Tom Happ is the clear winner because he was so heavily inspired by Super Metroid. He knows exactly how to mess with your expectations and turn tried and true formulas on their collective giant robotic head, inside out, and then some. I gave it a perfect score. I stand by it. I“ve played plenty of Metroid-likes this year, but I“ll only call one revolutionary. I“ve handed out this game to several friends and told them to pay it forward and pass along good words, if they like it and agree with most of the praise I“ve given it. Considering I had no idea this game existed prior to it being handed to me, Axiom Verge is definitely the single biggest, most critically acclaimed surprise hit of my year... ...except for... 1. UNDERTALE Restraint is the ultimate character builder. If you“ve ever felt guilty striking down your enemies in an RPG, Undertale will teach you mercy. If you ignore its lessons and choose to kill or be killed, the game will show no mercy. You will be judged. You will be judged for your every action. I“ve tried for the longest time to convince my brain to find the words to give this game justice in my eyes -- to allow me to write some review or editorial that perfectly conveys my feelings. But it refused. You all have no idea how many times I“ve saved and reloaded documents filled with the right words and the wrong ones. This is the space where I“m going to make it count. I can“t describe what Undertale does without spoiling the plot and all the bad skeleton jokes. But I can tell you how meaningful its message was to me personally. When I was a kid and I sat down with a Final Fantasy game for the first time, I vividly remember asking my parents why I had to kill everything. They watched me get a Game Over when I tried to run and couldn“t escape. RPGs aren“t like Mario games where I can just avoid foes as I work towards the goal. There“s typically no avoiding combat when it comes to achieving victory. Running away will only hurt you. Showing restraint or finding a peaceful route didn“t just make winning more challenging; it made victory impossible. Undertale is the first and only RPG I“ve played where you can choose to finish the game without lifting your stick, frying pan, or dagger. You can choose to engage monsters by simply talking to them or picking actions tailored to their likes and dislikes. You can spare them by selecting Mercy and moving on. Some enemies are difficult to run from, but it can be done without dying. Every boss fight is passable without an actual fight. Everything has a peaceful option. And yet, even a Pacifist route has consequences. Undertale isn“t my game of the year because I think it's the ideal game for everyone, even if it is critically acclaimed. I'm not going to demand all of you play this game, and experience everything the world has to offer. I don“t think other developers should follow Toby Fox“s lead and create games like it. Honestly, I hope people experience the game blind -- just savor it like the perfect bowl of spaghetti. It“s my Game of the Year because it let me show mercy. It affected me like few games ever will... because I was comfortable being myself -- a Pacifist at heart.
  2. Jonathan Higgins

    Nintendo Download - July 23, 2015 (North America)

    This week“s Nintendo Download...has 3D Streets of Rage 2 in it! I don“t think anything more needs to be said. The latest endeavor from M2 and SEGA will cost you $5.99. Just like the other 3D Classics from those folks, you can expect brand new modes, awesome 3D built from the ground up, and even more features and additional touches. Also new to Nintendo platforms this week is Dragon Fantasy: The Volumes of Westeria on Nintendo 3DS & Wii U. You folks pining for a New Nintendo 3DS exclusive game can grab The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth courtesy of Nicalis. It“s also available on Wii U, for those of you who haven“t made the jump to the newest hand-held yet. The Virtual Console on Wii U gets DK Jungle Climber this week. I keep waiting for them to give us all the Kirby games that Europe has available in honor of Mr. Iwata“s passing--but I guess I“ll be waiting a little longer for that. This week has a bunch of noteworthy sales, too. First up are some WayForward games: Shantae: The Pirate“s Curse & Mighty Switch Force 2 are on sale from July 26th until August 2nd. And ATLUS has reduced the price of Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker from $49.99 to $39.99 from now until July 27th. If you“re on the fence about that one--make the jump for $10 cheaper while you can! I promise it“s worth it. Last but not least, this week“s themes include one for BOXBOY!, Hatsune Miku, and Etrian Odyssey Untold 2. Be sure to check out the Nintendo eShop at 12 PM ET today for more sales and additional information!
  3. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker

    Developer: ATLUS Publisher: ATLUS Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: May 5th, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen To me, the Devil Survivor series is almost like a drug. Between Devil Survivor: Overclocked (I missed out on the original game in 2009) and the original Devil Survivor 2, I“ve spent a combined 430 hours experiencing everything both games had to offer. At this point, I know what makes these games tick. And I can tell you every single thing that“s changed about Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker—a much enhanced 3DS port of the 2012 DS game. First, a bit of background. You needn't worry if you want to experience the Devil Survivor series for the first time through Record Breaker. Even though it is a numbered sequel, you don“t need to have played the first game in order to enjoy the second. In terms of story, the two are completely different from each other. And in terms of gameplay... the two are extremely similar. So if you've dabbled in Overclocked, you“re sure to feel right at home when playing Record Breaker for the first time. In terms of both gameplay and presentation, let me summarize: Take the best parts of Fire Emblem (a field in which player characters and enemies move on a grid, then get next to each other to initiate a battle), Dragon Quest (the battles themselves play out in a similar fashion to Dragon Quest games, including a first-person view and gameplay that is heavily dependent on strengths and weaknesses) and Pokémon (bid on demons, fuse demons, improve their move-pool and traits, collect ”em all for the best possible teams) and combine them all to create something magical. Since I“m a big fan of all those styles of gameplay, it“s not hard to see why I eat this series like candy. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker tells the story of three high school kids in modern-day Tokyo. There“s a new app for cell phones that has appeared called "Nicaea," and it lets you see how your friends (not strangers, but folks connected to you by fate) will die by way of short video clips. Things begin in a world of peace, where exams are the only real thing to worry about, just before the three see their own death clips. What unfolds is a story of darkness and demon summoning that spans not just all of Tokyo, but Japan—the world—as a whole. The story is heavily focused on character development, as a group of three grows to include some fifteen party members. You can expect a bunch of philosophical and religious themes as well. Record Breaker“s entire first half is the original 2012 DS game with several improvements. That“s right... I said "half." There are two stories here—the fight against the Septentrions (the original game's story, except with a brand new script and is now fully voiced), and a brand new story that pits the same characters against the Triangulum, a new threat. The latter half features brand new environments, new faces, and some really interesting twists on the gameplay presented in the first half. Some of the boss fights in the second half had me genuinely impressed; I might even go so far to say that the final boss fight(s) in the new content is my new favorite out of all the RPGs I've played, because it's very entertaining. Let me elaborate on the improvements in the Septentrion half of the game, for those of you who have played Devil Survivor 2 on DS. The new script and voice-work is phenomenal overall—every voice fits its character quite well. Among my favorites are Fumi (who sounds exactly like I had pictured in my head) and Airi (who“s given more personality thanks to an actual reading of her script). All of the errors in the original translation (like some of the Japanese puns making no sense) have been fixed. Things still aren't perfect, though. Something I'd consider a minor flaw regarding the localization is that some of the voice work and bits of script have tiny inconsistencies, like pronoun trouble. Overall, though, the script is much more cohesive, and a definite improvement. There are even a few new bits in the game, like “The Secret Garden” scene featuring new artwork. Many who have played the Devil Survivor series before will note its difficulty. These games have never been a cakewalk, often relying on heavy grinding or mastery of its gameplay in order to trounce difficult scenarios or bosses. To alleviate some of that intimidation for newcomers, there“s a "Blessed" difficulty; it“s just like playing the normal game, except enemies hurt less and offer more experience and money when defeated. If that“s still not enough to make the game a little easier on you, there is both free and paid downloadable content that kills some of the more grind-heavy elements of the game. There“s one that offers a ton of experience, one that offers a ton of money, one that gives you a ton of Add-Ons, and more. Of course, if you“d prefer the original game“s difficulty, you can forego all of this by picking the Apocalypse mode. You can switch back and forth between difficulties without the game punishing you as well. The Triangulum half of the game isn“t light on content either. When ATLUS advertises these two experiences as being halves of each other, that is entirely accurate. There are even some new compositions in this half of the story, arranged by Shoji Meguro. I honestly prefer them to the tunes from the original game. Also—for those familiar with the Devil Survivor way of handling New Game+—your Rewards can be carried over from the Septentrion story to the Triangulum one, and vise-versa, so there“s no need to start your experience all over again. I“m not going to spoil anything about the Triangulum saga since the first few minutes alone are absolutely filled with spoilers from the first game. However, those as familiar with the Septentrion story as I am will feel comfortable jumping right into the second half (you are given the option to choose). Characters“ personalities are given more time to shine in the Triangulum story. Having already been fully developed in the first half, they“re simply presented with more situations to show folks familiar with them how much they“ve changed for the better. And the new story? I am most definitely impressed. There are twists and turns you don“t see coming in, and questions whose answers will keep you on the edge of your seat. Additionally, there are multiple endings for the Triangulum story. The only thing I didn't really like about the new content is how you're still forced to let the "Fate" system play out again. It doesn't really make sense to budget your time between all the game's main characters when you've already formed tight bonds with them in the first half of the story. I believe that—with Record Breaker—ATLUS set out to make the Devil Survivor series more accessible than ever before. They've assuredly fixed everything cumbersome about the original Devil Survivor 2, while leaving everything just the way it was for those who prefer a more difficult experience. And they“ve given folks familiar with the original a brand new story that truly does make up a "full game," figuratively speaking. If you've never experienced the series before, and this kind of thing interests you, Record Breaker should not be missed. And if you've played as much of the original DS game as I have, there is simply more to love; much more than you may be expecting! Pros: + The brand new, fully voiced script revitalizes the Septentrion portion of the original game + There are numerous ways to alleviate difficulty for series newcomers + The new Triangulum content is a full game, with new areas, music, and twists on Devil Survivor 2's gameplay + You won't run out of things to do. Whether you've experienced the original, or the entire series is brand new to you—Record Breaker isn't a game that's finished quickly Cons: - Some returning gameplay elements in the new content—while they're explained away in the narrative—feel unnecessary. - Bits of the script (which is otherwise extremely polished) are inconsistent. Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Whether you've played the original DS game, or you're experiencing Devil Survivor 2 for the first time through Record Breaker, this is a game everyone will enjoy. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable 3DS code provided by the publisher
  4. ATLUS has never disappointed me when it comes to rewarding those who pre-order their games (or purchase them at launch) with all kinds of physical goodies. In case you weren't already aware, they've said an arranged soundtrack will be included with early editions of Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker. Today, they confirmed even more stuff! The above high-res photo features all the awesome stuff you can get if you grab a physical copy of the game as soon as they're available on May 5th, 2015. For $49.99, you can grab the boxed copy, the arranged soundtrack CD, and decals featuring characters and organizations from the game! It's no secret how much I'm anticipating the game. If you haven't seen the latest trailer yet, I've included it (along with the full Press Release detailing today's news) below. Are you looking forward to Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker as much as I am? Be sure to let us know!
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