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Eliwood8

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  1. For years turn-based strategy fans have been lamenting the fact that the Advance Wars franchise has been seemingly abandoned, but thankfully indie developer Chucklefish took it upon themselves to create their own tactical wargame, complete with rich strategic gameplay and charming army factions. Wargroove picks up the mantle of Advance Wars in a beautiful way while still putting enough unique touches on the gameplay to feel like a fresh experience. The story follows young Queen Mercia who is forced to flee her homeland, the Kingdom of Cherrystone, when undead invaders attack. Now she must travel across the continent of Aurania to gather allies and fight to reclaim her homeland. Wargroove certainly isn't earning any points for originality with this storyline, but even if it feels far too familiar for this kind of war-strategy game, there's still plenty of charming personality to buoy the adventure, as well as interesting backstories when you take the time to read each character's codex. The handful of main characters and their quirks are fun to watch throughout the game's short cutscenes, and how many games feature a dog as not only a main character but as an army commander? Players familiar with any of the Nintendo Wars games will instantly recognize the core gameplay structure in Wargroove: 2D, turn-based strategy combat. Each mission pits you against an enemy force (usually better armed and entrenched) and you need to plan your attacks thoughtfully in order to advance across the map, seizing towns to earn money and barracks to deploy more troops. Wargroove perfectly scratches the itch that Advance Wars left behind. You've got a decent number of unit types at your disposal, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to pursue unique strategies in order to overcome the enemy army. When you're deep in a challenging mission, it's incredibly easy to lose track of time as you monitor your army's progress. And even when that victory screen comes up you'll want to dive right back in with another battle. Every unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, and in Wargroove this is further bolstered a semi rock-paper-scissors mechanic as well as a critical hit system. Certain units are more effective against other unit types, which means you have to be ready to effectively counter whatever units the enemy throws at you in order to defeat them efficiently. For example, pikemen are particularly effective against cavalry. It's totally possible to defeat a cavalry unit using basic swordsmen, but to defeat them quickly and with fewer losses on your own side it's best to keep in mind which units are particularly effective against any other given unit. Wargroove also features a critical hit system which can alter how you approach an encounter. Every unit type has a unique critical hit condition—going back to pikemen as an example, they'll deal a critical hit when standing next to other ally pikemen, so it behooves you to keep multiple pikemen around and move them forward as a unit (to help balance this, pikemen have the shortest movement range of any unit). Keeping critical hit conditions in mind has a huge impact on the way you play, adding a satisfying extra layer of strategy to the action and a helpful boost in your back pocket since a few key critical hits can drastically change the flow of battle. It's a bit frustrating that some critical hit conditions rely upon the enemy's placement rather than your own, but regardless, critical hits are a welcome wrinkle in the turn-based strategy mechanics. In Wargroove, your commander also exists on the field of battle as a playable unit, and a pretty powerful unit at that thanks to their ability to naturally regenerate health each turn. Commanders hit hard but you can't be too cavalier with them since, if your commander dies, it's game over. Commanders also have powerful Groove abilities that, once charged, can have devastating effects on the tide of battle. Mercia, for example, heals every ally unit in range for 50% health. Some of these Groove abilities feel a bit unbalanced, such as the vampire commander's deadly ability to instantly kill an enemy unit and heal herself, and since each commander has a unique ability it's a bit of a shame that you can't choose which commander to use during story missions. Still, having your commander on the field with the Groove mechanic opens up even more opportunities for strategic planning, and helps keep the gameplay varied. Another significant twist for Advance Wars alumni is the way healing works in Wargroove. You aren't able to combine two of the same unit when they're injured, but there are two ways to recover health aside from Mercia's Groove. Rather than positioning a unit on top of a friendly town to recover health, you can purchase reinforcements from the town, which also lowers the town's defenses (towns recover health naturally each turn). It's an interesting mechanic since you're actually weakening your defensive/money-making position in order to recover your offensive position. In a way it makes it seem like you shouldn't be relying on towns to recover health too much, but it definitely makes you think more critically about whether a unit on the frontlines is worth healing. Wargroove also features mage units that are able to heal nearby allies (for a small fee) which feels like a suitable replacement for maintaining your forward momentum without retreating to, and weakening, your towns. Wargroove features some great pixel art that perfectly references Advance Wars' colorful look while still feeling unique in its own way. The sprite-work on each unit is excellent as well, though perhaps there's too much variety and detail in their designs—sometimes you need to just see what types of units are on the field at a glance, and it might take you a while to recognize all of them. There's undeniable personality in every sprite though and the unlockable concept art is a lot of fun to sift through. The soundtrack is brimming with upbeat charm as well, even if there isn't a huge amount of variety in the tunes. Wargroove certainly isn't lacking when it comes to sheer amount of content. In addition to a decently lengthy campaign which includes a variety of challenging side missions, there's also an arcade mode which is more like a short gauntlet of missions and a puzzle mode which is an interesting twist for a strategy game. Each puzzle tasks you with clearing the map in a single turn, usually by means of defeating the enemy commander. These puzzles require you to master each unit's abilities, especially their critical hit requirements, in order to clear the map quickly, which is great practice for learning how to use each type of unit as efficiently as possible. And all of that covers just the offline, single-player content. There's also local and online multiplayer as well as a level editor to create, share, and download custom maps. Suffice it to say, when you get into the groove, there's no shortage of gameplay to enjoy. Wargroove wears its Advance Wars inspiration on its sleeve, but rather than feel like a simple imitation it comes off as a loving homage. The core mechanics are instantly familiar but there are enough unique quirks to let Wargroove stand tall as its own challenging and engaging strategy game. With plenty of depth to the gameplay and an incredible wealth of content, Wargroove is a must play for strategy fans and a decent place to start for new players thanks to its sliding difficulty options. Rating: 9 out of 10 Grooves
  2. It was Kotaku that prompted the question "If this Chamber Dungeon mode is successful, will you make Zelda Maker?" to which Aonuma responded "I can’t predict the future, but if people do love this idea of arranging dungeons, I’ll keep that in mind going forward." They were never questioning the success of the Link's Awakening remake in general.
  3. There's no better feeling in an action game than when you're locked into the rhythm of the gameplay and are flying through a stage, perfectly defeating enemies and flying over obstacles. Katana Zero is built entirely around that satisfying feeling—with only a sword at your side, you cut your way through rooms full of gun-toting enemies by dodging or deflecting bullets, knowing even one hit means death. Add in some stylish visuals and a thumpin' soundtrack and you've got an impressive, modern take on side-scrolling action games. You play as a mysterious samurai assassin deployed to eliminate key targets—and whatever bodyguards they might have defending them—using your sword and a bizarre ability to rewind time, meaning death is never permanent for you. It's a bit cliché but our protagonist has amnesia, and relies upon a somewhat suspicious psychiatrist who administers drugs and dossiers for your next target. As you progress you'll gradually uncover the truth surrounding the samurai's murky past as well as just a little of the setting's bleak, neon dystopian society, including some sort of devastating war that concluded only a few years prior to the events of the game. The story's slow pace at unveiling one more piece of the puzzle keeps things interesting as you struggle to comprehend what is really going on, but ultimately the game leaves a lot of questions unanswered which is a little disappointing. It's still an engaging story but you're really only getting a small peek at what is clearly a larger and more elaborate world. Katana Zero is all about fast-paced and fluid action. Since your main weapon is a short-range sword—and most enemies are equipped with guns—you have to be thoughtful in how you close the distance to a target to strike him down. There are opportunities to get the drop of enemies by busting down doors or even breaking through the floor, but if you're not careful it's easy to get overwhelmed. Your sword strike also have to be precise since a missed attack can leave you open—there's no worse feeling than missing a valuable deflection. This isn't the kind of game where you can rush in wildly and hope to squeak through anyway, which makes the action feel even more intense. When you're playing well it's incredibly satisfying to zip from one target to the next, dodging through enemy attacks and even deflecting bullets back at attackers (you also have a slow-mo ability which is invaluable for timing these deflects). There are plenty of ways to approach each stage too so you never feel pigeon-holed into a specific strategy. When only one hit can kill you, the game can feel punishingly difficult at times. The good news though is that stages are generally fairly short, so dying really doesn't penalize you too much. The game is also super quick about dropping you right back into the action, which is always appreciated. Most importantly though, even a failed attempt can provide some invaluable information about how to approach the stage on your next attempt. Even after dying and retrying a few times, the action of Katana Zero never loses momentum. And although your sword is always your main weapon, it is possible to pick up throwable items—and even C4, which you can remotely detonate—which adds just enough variety to how you approach enemies to keep every stage feeling fresh and still challenging. There's also something hilarious about defeating an enemy by throwing a soda can at them from across the room. Unfortunately, all of the game's fast-paced action also seems to translate to a quick, short game length. Just four hours or so will see you through the whole game, which is a shame since the game's formula certainly doesn't grow old by then. If you can't get enough Katana Zero though there are some hidden bonuses, including additional levels and a secret boss, but the difficulty of figuring out how to reach them might be a little too much without a little help from an internet guide. The visuals in Katana Zero combine classic pixel art design with eye-popping neon colors, plus plenty of blood splashing across the scenery when you cut down guards. The smooth animation just makes all of the frenetic action all the more intense and satisfying, and the developers have put a ton of great detail into the pixel artwork. The visuals are complemented by a fantastic techno soundtrack, complete with synthwave tunes that fits perfectly with the setting's 80s retro-futuristic style. From the first stage to the last Katana Zero throws you into an intense and wholly engaging action experience whose focus on fluid kills and unrelenting action helps it stand out in a sea of indie games. The intriguing setting and story doesn't quite result in a satisfying payoff, but the addictive gameplay is more than enough to keep you glued to the game throughout its short length. Rating: 7 out of 10 Katanas
  4. Mystery Heroes is great for getting in some practice with different characters without feeling like you're burdening your team too much. And I get less frustrated by losing since sometimes there really is just no accounting for the randomness. I play on PS4 too, and with a controller, though I'm definitely not very good with the super aim-intensive heroes. I got the two trophies for Widowmaker and have never again selected her in a normal match. And it's nice that you're gravitating toward Lucio, a healer! Overwatch could always use more healer players. Yeah I don't mess with custom game modes either, though it's nice to see all of the creativity that the Workshop has inspired. I do like watching videos of their crazy creations on Youtube every now and then.
  5. It's a slippery slope. I watched some streamers' videos of Overwatch, tried it out on a free weekend, and now I'm still playing semi-regularly nearly two years later.
  6. Look at all of these developer doodles, it's adorable. And Doug Bowser signs his name with a Bowser doodle!
  7. It really is nice to see how quickly the community has embraced Doug Bowser. Reggie has had such meme-status iconography for so many years now but fans already seem totally on board for Bowser to be the face of NoA.
  8. Good games guys. I'm ashamed of my Ike's performance on his home turf but I'm pleased I still have Samus's combat flow down after all these years.
  9. Same, especially because I'm pretty sure I've seen that trailer before when the game was announced for other systems.
  10. It's pretty incredible that after so many years of mainline Final Fantasy games skipping over Nintendo systems, the Switch has played host to several titles that past Nintendo consoles have missed out on, including Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Originally released in 2006 for PS2, the game has gotten an HD makeover for this edition, as well as updates to the soundtrack and various gameplay adjustments such as a speed-up ability to make battles progress faster. Add in the Switch's portability and you've got arguably the definitive edition of a now classic RPG. The Zodiac Age takes place in Ivalice where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are locked in an on-going war while the small kingdom of Dalmasca is caught between them. Like most Final Fantasy games you play as a ragtag group of heroes who band together purely from chance and yet must work together to stop the tyranny of the Archadian Empire. Unlike other titles in the series though there isn't much emphasis on your characters' personal journeys—the focus of the story in The Zodiac Age is more on the overarching political conflict. As such the storytelling feels a bit bare-boned. Without strong characters for the player to focus on it's hard to get fully invested in the conflict, and too often cutscenes feel rather boring as the characters simply go through the motions of finding a mystic power that can be used to stop the evil empire—pretty standard stuff in the realm of video games. It doesn't help that the writing seems to be made to mimic some sort of Shakespearean loftiness, but the execution falls well short of that mark. The writing is necessarily bad, but it never hits the highs that normally make RPG tales so engaging. Although The Zodiac Age retains all of the recognizable, trademark creatures and traits of the Final Fantasy series (chocobos, Moogles, character classes like white mage or black mage, etc.) there's a huge difference in how battles work here compared to previous entries in the franchise. For one thing, battles begin seamlessly—if you see an enemy in the field you can run up and attack it with no transition to a battle screen. You also only directly control one character at a time, though you're able to quickly swap characters (and even change characters in your active party in the middle of a battle). The key to the battle system here is the Gambit system, which allows you to essentially create auto-commands for your AI controlled party members to follow. For example, you might have your healer set to cast cure on an ally if their health drops below 50%, that way you don't have to manually enter that command any time it occurs during a fight. Every action, spell, or item can be set with the Gambit system, and you can purchase new commands to target a huge variety of enemy types to cover any situation. There's a degree to which the Gambit system makes it feel like the game is playing itself, but the benefits outweigh that minor annoyance. Standard battles fly by thanks to this feature, and given the real-time combat structure the alternative would be a tediously slow process of making sure each character is fighting intelligently. Plus you can always assume direct control over any character's actions anyway if you just need them to quickly do one thing, such as throw out a quick healing item. As is, the Gambit system feels like a happy medium—you have enough control over the AI that you won't feel stymied by their inability to adapt to changing circumstances during a battle, particularly a boss fight (and by the way, Gambits can be easily toggled on and off at any time as well) and at the same time you don't have to micromanage your party through every enemy encounter. This Final Fantasy game also has its own slight variation on character classes. You're able to choose a character's job (or license) right from the beginning—or at least, once you've unlocked it after a couple hours of playing—and from there you have access to a job board with various abilities that can be unlocked with license points. There are some similarities between boards but each class's most defining features are unique—for example, both white and black mages can unlock mystic armor to equip, but their respective white and black magic spells are unique to their job boards. You're able to select what to unlock or upgrade so there's a decent amount of freedom in choosing how your characters grow, though you're still limited by what equipment or spells you can buy in stores—unlocking the ability to cast Firaga early in the game is all well and good but useless until you've actually purchased the spell. There's something oddly addictive about opening up your job boards and poring over what to upgrade, though it's a shame that the physical classes have quite limited variety in terms of what they unlock. You're able to purchase non-magical techniques, but they're few in number and even more limited in use. It would've been nice to have more variety among the physical classes outside of weapon choice. A new feature for this edition of the game is the ability to swap licenses (in the original game you were stuck with whatever you initially chose). This is a great help in figuring out your ideal party structure, especially since each character can more or less excel in any job, and simply makes the game more convenient to play since you don't have to restart completely if you find a certain set-up just isn't to your liking. With the aforementioned speed-up ability as well, The Zodiac Age makes some valuable quality of life improvements that make the game more accessible. It wouldn't be a Final Fantasy game without a healthy dose of optional content, and The Zodiac Age features plenty of nooks and crannies to explore that are only safe to venture into once you've reached a decently high level. There's also the hunt system which tasks you with tracking down powerful monsters and defeating them. This process can be a bit tedious when the path to a monster is particularly obtuse, but hunts pose some good challenges that thorough players should enjoy tackling. This edition of the game also includes Trial Mode for an extra challenging gauntlet of fights that rewards you with rare items that can be transferred to your main game, perfect for players who want to put their skills to the test. The remastering of the game's visuals has done a great job of polishing the graphics. It is unmistakably a game that was originally released over a decade ago, and the art style has its ups and downs—from varied and imaginative creatures to some of the most ridiculous outfits, even by Final Fantasy standards—but the new coat of paint gives it a nice HD sheen, especially the full motion cutscenes. The voice acting, unfortunately, isn't quite able to shake off its clearly dated quality as several of the major characters sound rough, either from an acting perspective or just a sound quality perspective. This probably doesn't help with making the characters feel memorable and engaging. The soundtrack doesn't feel dated at all though and music fans can enjoy three versions of the soundtrack: original, orchestral, and OST. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age introduced some innovative game mechanics into the long-running RPG series which are just as fun to play around with today as they were thirteen years ago. Some of the game's unique features might feel passé today now that ally AI has become a little more sophisticated and commonplace in RPGs, and the storytelling doesn't quite hit the high marks of other prestigious RPG titles, but the Gambit-focused battle system and satisfaction of building up unique job combinations proves plenty engaging for hours upon end. Rating: 8 out of 10 Gambits
  11. It's hard to watch other people play Overcooked. I'm sitting here yelling at my screen "pick up the cheese! THE CHEESE!!!" Good question; I can't remember now if they did that the last few years.
  12. - Danmaku Unlimited 3 (Switch) Seems like a decent bullet hell shooter but these just really aren't my style. I was going to write a full review of it but then I realized I'd pretty much just be repeating that statement over and over. [image] - Katana Zero (Switch) Super satisfying (and challenging) gameplay, but I'm not sure what to make of the story. [image] - The Flame in the Flood (Switch) Replayed this just for the hell of it. Still love the music, and how tense the early parts of the game are. [image] - OPUS: The Day We Found Earth (Switch) Cute, unique little story-driven game, though the gameplay was a bit of a bore. [image] - OPUS: Rocket of Whispers (Switch) Better in some ways than the first game, but still a bit lame that the gameplay feels so simple and repetitive. [image] Also just noticed I missed this in my last update, so I'm adding a challenge point for: Bronze 2) And They're Off: Beat a racing game (Team Sonic Racing) C : 58 H: 2 P: 0 M: 0 O: 60 Challenges: 12 points
  13. Cadence of Hyrule looks amazing, perfect combo of NecroDancer and Zelda. But I just used up my current eShop funds on Wargroove so I might have to wait a bit before actually diving into the game.
  14. I don't imagine the two games will be so linked that players really need to have played NecroDancer first, but NecroDancer is a great game (and very challenging) and definitely worth $4.
  15. They are shorter this year, yeah. Today's and yesterday's Treehouse streams were approximately six hours each, whereas last year they were around eight hours each day (going by the Youtube video lengths). Whether they're shorter due to production costs, number of games available to showcase, or just because they wanted to make a shorter and tighter live stream, who can say.
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