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Eliwood8

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About Eliwood8

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  1. Monster Hunter's popularity has finally reached the point where a spin-off game has seen worldwide release. Monster Hunter Stories takes the familiar monsters of the series and basically turns them into Pokémon—companion creatures that you can train to fight alongside you. It may seem like a leap to take the hulking beasts of the main series and transform them into smaller, friendlier allies, but the turn-based RPG gameplay is just as addictive as the action gameplay. Even if this is an RPG with some odd combat quirks. In Stories you don't play as a monster hunter, you play as a monster rider from a small village that befriends monsters by hatching their eggs and building a bond with the creature. In true JRPG fashion you are a young rider that builds unusually strong bonds with your monsters and must use that bond to defeat a dark force that threatens to upset the very balance of the world—the core theme of the game is essentially to make friends with everybody. In fact it's not surprising that this game was also used as the basis for an anime, since those storytelling tropes are clear here as well, even down to your friend/rival that thinks you're too nice to your monsters. It's a cute little story, even if it's not particularly deep, and it's certainly more narrative-rich than the main Monster Hunter games. Stories retains several concepts, item names, and obviously monsters from the main series, but this game is a turn-based RPG. You and one monster participate in battles against wild monsters both big and small and even other riders in special tournaments or multiplayer modes. Battles are pretty unusual in Stories. One of the core mechanics is a rock-paper-scissors attack triangle. You can choose from power, technical, or speed attacks, and each has an advantage over the other in that order. For example, if you use a speed attack and an enemy monster uses a power attack during a head-to-head encounter, you'll have advantage and deal more damage (and take less). What's tricky is that you don't know what the enemy will choose, unlike strategy games where you can see the enemy's weapon options. Monsters habitually use one type of attack but not necessarily every time, so it really is a guessing game. That uncertainty can be kind of annoying early in the game, especially when you don't have many special attacks to rely upon to help give you more of an edge, but on the other hand it'll keep you on your toes throughout each battle. The other odd battle aspect in Stories is that you don't directly control your monster. This is where the attack triangle really does get frustrating, when your monster keeps using attacks that are at a disadvantage. Again, early on this can be annoying but as monsters level up they gain access to special skills, and you can command your monster to use these special attacks (though you still can't select normal attacks for them). For a game that is essentially simplifying the Monster Hunter formula for new types of players this all seems a little needlessly complicated. At the very least it can be frustrating to have such loose control over your own party in battle. Finally there's a unique attack that each monster has that can only be used when you, as a rider, mount the monster and combine your power. During battle you build up kinship points (things like succeeding in head-to-heads builds more points) and once the gauge is full you can mount your monster. Your attacks are a little stronger combined but more importantly you can use a kinship skill, which are super powerful attacks—they even have their own special little animations. There's something satisfying about unleashing an extra powerful joint attack in the midst of a particularly intense battle. Special attacks also require kinship points, so sometimes you have to choose whether to focus on building up for a powerful kinship attack or spend a few points on special attacks. Despite the initial oddity of only directly controlling one party member in battle you'll soon find that combat in Stories has enough nuances to keep you engaged from one hunt to the next. I should also mention that your rider has a few weapon options in battle, just like in the main series. You can use a sword-and-shield, great sword, hammer, or a hunting horn, each with slightly different properties, the main one being that each weapon type has a different combo attack. For example, using speed, technical, then power attacks in a row will deal extra damage with the sword-and-shield. There really isn't any one weapon type that is overall more useful or even situationally useful, so you're free to use whichever one you prefer. And like the main series you have to forge new weapons and armor in Stories. Thankfully you don't have to hunt monsters over and over to get specific rare parts for upgrading, though you still have to farm basic monster parts. Mostly it's just nice to see that aspect carried over to this spin-off game. Just like leveling up it rewards you for taking the time to explore and battle every monster you encounter. Speaking of exploring, it wouldn't be an RPG without thematic locales to wander through. Desert, forest, snowy mountainside—Stories has them all. In a lot of the big, open areas your movement speed is just a little too slow, to the point where it's noticeable, especially since landmarks are few and far between. But the real point of exploring is to find monster dens. Inside you'll find monster eggs, and this is your opportunity to collect new monsters. This is where the Pokémon aspect of the game comes into play: you may be the type that just wants a handful of monsters to train (you can have up to five in your party) or you may want to have one of every monster type—there are over one hundred. Or, if you really enjoy the nitty gritty of monster training, you may want to perfect your monsters with the best possible stats. Each monster has nine gene slots which can be filled with different abilities such as special attacks or passive buffs like poison immunity. You can sacrifice one monster to pass one of its genes to a different monster, and this is where you can get obsessively focused on building the perfect monster. It's not easy either so if you have a specific idea in mind for your monster it'll probably be quite time consuming. Just like Pokémon though you don't have to worry about any of this if your goal is simply to play through the game's story. If you want to get heavily into multiplayer battles it might be beneficial, but don't feel like you have to dive deep into genetic manipulation to enjoy Stories. And if your goal is simply to enjoy the game's main story, you're in for quite a long haul. If you actively skip every side quest or opportunity to hatch new monsters you can probably finish the game in thirty hours or so, but more likely you'll spend over fifty to truly explore every aspect of Stories. Plus there's even more content to enjoy after the credits roll—more quests, more powerful monsters, and the aforementioned multiplayer modes if you feel like getting competitive. Stories may not last as ridiculously long as the main series games do, but it's still quite a lengthy adventure, even for an RPG. The graphics in Stories are basically a chibi-fied take on Monster Hunter, but don't let that dissuade you. It may be more bright and cheery than the main series but the monsters and environments are still beautiful in this game. The monster designs look great in this colorful style—less imposing than the main series but with just as much personality—and the scenery is fantastic in towns and more heavily detailed locations like the rainforest. The downside is that the framerate can be a little choppy at times, especially on older 3DS models, and distant people or monsters pop into view in a somewhat stuttering fashion. And the music is as colorful and energetic as the visuals, perfect for both exploration and combat. Monster Hunter Stories doesn't have the intense action of the main series, nor the camaraderie of teaming up with friends to take down ferocious beasts. What it does have is a lengthy, engaging RPG adventure, one that perfectly scratches the Pokémon itch of collecting and training various monsters. The battle system has somewhat of a slow start as you adjust to combat that has as much luck as strategy, especially in the early parts of the adventure, but once you spend a little time with the game it's hard not to be charmed by the colorful graphics and simple joy of hatching new monsters. RPG fans should love Monster Hunter Stories, and even veteran hunters should give this spin-off a try to see familiar monsters in a new light. Rating: 8 out of 10 Monsters
  2. I'll highlight a couple games on sale this week: Tumblestone and Graceful Explosion Machine. Both really fun, and now discounted. Wow you aren't kidding, that game's been ported over and over since 2002. I'm surprised it's not playable in VR.
  3. I had forgotten that the Switch still didn't have a save data transfer option for the past few months. Glad Nintendo is finally getting around to adding these features.
  4. Not super surprising since the Switch is still shiny and new and the SNES Classic sold out almost as quickly as the NES Classic, but still good for Nintendo, and I expect we'll see similar high sales throughout this holiday season.
  5. Video Games Finished in 2017

    - Heroes of Mana (DS) Ended up playing this because GameFly skipped about eight games on my queue. Anyway this an RTS but the format doesn't work super well on the DS, at least not for this game. [image] - Hue (PSN - PS4) Really nice little puzzle-platformer. At first it kind of looks like a lot of other puzzle-platformers like Limbo, but the color switching aspect adds a unique twist. [image] - Monster Hunter Stories (3DS) The combat system kind of irked me at first but the longer I played the less I was concerned about it. At the end of the day this is a pretty solid monster-collector RPG. [image] - Crypt of the Necrodancer (PSN - PS4) I'm really enjoying playing this, it's such an original/unusual game. Rogue-likes though, man they are pretty discouraging at times. At least this has some permanent upgrades so you can try to prepare yourself a little more for the next run. [image] - Sky Force Anniversary (PSN - PS4) A so-so shoot 'em up but I don't like how you have to replay levels repeatedly to earn enough medals to progress. Especially since, even when you play on hard or insane difficulty, nothing changes. It's always the exact same enemy patterns. [image] C: 77 H: 23 P: 0 M: 0 O: 100
  6. Legend of Pokemon - Watercolor Heroes

    Cubone as Zant is pretty clever. How about Golem as a Goron?
  7. Mario Sports Superstars Review

    To be honest I played the game several months ago and have just been sitting on the review since there have been other games/reviews that I thought more important to post, so I don't remember perfectly, but Soccer felt pretty standard compared to other soccer video games, regardless of developer, i.e. you have direct control over one player on the field, whoever has the ball or is closest to it and, at least while playing solo, trying to coordinate with the AI teammates is kind of clumsy. In Baseball you're either pitching or at bat: as pitcher you can aim around the strike box and perform different throws by stopping a spinning wheel in the section of your choice, and as batter you're trying to time your swings and aim for the center of the ball. Even getting into the details of each sport mode I just didn't feel there was much in the game to make each sport feel all that unique or interesting compared to any other sports video game or Mario sports game. Baseball is two-player only, the others can have four and Horse Racing can actually have six.
  8. Mario Sports Superstars collects five sports–four old ones for Mario sports fans, and one new one–and combines them into one simple collection. Emphasis on simple. Because although the sports are entertaining enough on their own there is almost nothing that feels fresh or exciting in this 3DS game. Instead the game feels aimed toward people that want a quick Mario sports experience but aren't interested in any deeper or unique gameplay elements. The majority of the sports offered here are simply more of the same that gamers have been playing for years. Tennis and golf have seen numerous Mario sports iterations, and even soccer and baseball have gotten standalone games in the past. And that's the biggest problem with Mario Sports Superstars: if you've already played versions of these sports in previous games, what incentive is there to play this one? The answer is not much. Mario Sports Superstars relies more on the convenience of having multiple sports on one game card than actually fleshing out the sports themselves. Although each sport has a tournament, exhibition, and practice mode including things like ring shot challenges, the actual gameplay feels noticeably more simple or pared down compared to the Mario Tennis or Mario Golf games. There are no wacky Mushroom Kingdom features at play here, no unusual courts or courses to spice up the gameplay. Mario Sports Superstars is a simple, straightforward sports game, and that's one of the last things you'd want out of a Mario title. There is, however, one new sport: horse racing. Maybe it's just because it's new but horse racing seems to be the most fleshed out of the five sports. You pick a rider and a horse, both of whom have individual stats that can affect your performance, then race through twelve courses. Horse racing isn't quite as direct as kart racing–you can't just break away from the pack early on, you have to manage your stamina, which actually recovers more quickly when you are near other horses. Additionally you can pick up stamina recovery carrots as well as stars which allow you to perform a star dash for a quick burst of speed. While some of the other sports can feel particularly chaotic or tied to the whims of the computer player who sometimes manages perfect shots in soccer or perfect hits in baseball, horse racing has a more satisfying sense of challenge based on your own performance. Additionally, horse racing includes a mode that lets you care for your horse in the stables. You can groom it, fit it with accessories, and take it on short walks where you can even find additional items. The accessories are cosmetic but raising a horse's bond through grooming and feeding it provides small bonuses when you take the horse out into a race. Ultimately the stable isn't a huge aspect of Mario Sports Superstars but it's a cute addition that at least peppers in a little variety into the gameplay. Mario Sports Superstars introduces its own line of amiibo cards, which can be used to unlock star versions of characters–characters with improved stats. The good news is that you can also unlock star characters by completing the championship tournament in each sport. The bad news is amiibo cards can also be used to unlock superstar characters, which have even better stats. Raw stats aren't the deciding factor in how you play in Mario Sports Superstars though, so don't feel too bad if you're missing out. Regular amiibo can also be used in the game to unlock collectible cards. These are purely for the purpose of collection, and while it's always fun to collect items in games it's not a significant part of Mario Sports Superstars. Naturally Mario Sports Superstars isn't just a solo game. You can play locally or online, though sadly there is no download play option, so local players will each need a copy of the game. There aren't a huge variety of game options in multiplayer because there aren't many options in the solo modes either, but you can choose to play with or without special moves like power shots if you want an even less Mario-themed sports match. Playing against human opponents can be more satisfying but don't expect an active online community here. Perhaps not surprisingly the presentation in Mario Sports Superstars is decidedly bland. Sports games don't have much room for visual flair to begin with, but this one doesn't even bother to inject the familiar Mushroom Kingdom style into the courts or scenery. The music is similarly generic, and although both the music and visuals are technically fine they are completely forgettable as well. Mario Sports Superstars fills an odd niche. It seems to be made for people that want quick access to Mario sports games, but aren't interested in the kind of depth that characterizes past titles. Outside of horse racing, which has the benefit of being new and therefore slightly more novel than the other sports, Mario Sports Superstars might best be described as charmless. The game itself may run perfectly well, but it has a dire lack of imagination. Rating: 5 out of 10 Sports
  9. The list of eShop games I'm interested in just keeps getting longer. By the way anyone interested in a Zelda-type adventure should check out the Oceanhorn demo. I wrote a review for it a while ago; it's not the same quality as Zelda but it'll satisfy the same adventure game itch.
  10. I've always liked that Kirby's abilities have "fighting game actions," or really just a versatility to use each ability in a variety of ways. I hadn't thought about it before but it does make Kirby stand out next to other platformers where enemies can be easily killed in one hit.
  11. Earth Atlantis Review

    Honestly for now if you're on the fence I'd recommend waiting for the upcoming patch to see how well that rebalances the game, since it should address my main issue with the tedium of recovering power-ups/sub-weapons. Right now I'm a little iffy on whether the game is worth buying right away, but if the patch is a big improvement I'd probably say it's worth the $15.
  12. Earth Atlantis Review

    For all of the advances in gaming technology over the years, there's something to be said for a good ol' fashioned side-scrolling shooter. Earth Atlantis from developer Pixel Perfex and publisher Headup Games brings players back to a simpler time in video game design, one where the goal was just to destroy every other thing on the screen. Although the core gameplay stays true to the basic goal of destroying wave after wave of enemies, the adds in a bit of exploration and a variety of boss fights to spice up the action. Earth Atlantis could have used a few more modern tweaks though, as the cycle of fighting enemies and bosses grows a little stale as the game wears on. The premise of Earth Atlantis is that a cataclysmic climate shift has shaken the planet, and now ninety-six percent of the earth's surface is underwater. If that wasn't bad enough, machines have risen up to attack humanity, and have adopted the appearance of sea creatures to hunt humans in the depths of the ocean. That's kind of a lot to take in all at once, so suffice it to say there are mechanical sea monsters in need of destruction. As a hunter it's your job to blast apart the mechanical marine monsters that now infest the earth's waters. The setting may be a little complicated but it builds up the gameplay well, and since storytelling isn't a major feature in Earth Atlantis that's all it really needs to do. Earth Atlantis has few frills in the gameplay department: your job is to shoot monsters, and that's pretty much all you do—be prepared to hold down the fire button pretty much the entire time. There's a bit of exploration involved as there are no separate stages in the game and instead you just explore new areas—and backtrack to old ones—in order to find the boss enemies marked on your mini-map who, once defeated, open up parts of the map for new boss encounters. It's a pretty simple cycle, and one that admittedly gets pretty repetitive after a while. There are a good variety of bosses to fight, each with unique properties, and even the standard enemies come in a number of marine animal shapes and sizes, but the game doesn't do much else to keep the gameplay varied and engaging after you've defeated a dozen or more bosses. You do end up backtracking quite a bit as well, which can be a little tiresome. There are a couple of small aspects that can keep you engaged, but they can fall into a repetitive cycle as well. Enemies will sometimes drop power-ups to improve your submarine's attacks, so you always want to be on the lookout for these offensive improvements (as well as health recovery items also dropped from enemies). Additionally, you can find sub-weapons in marked barrels and crates, which can significantly improve your firepower, especially since your standard attacks only allow you to aim left and right, and enemies will attack from all angles. You can only carry one sub-weapon at a time though, which is a shame since, depending on the boss you're currently fighting, some sub-weapons can be better suited to the task than others. It's hard to play around with finding the best weapon for the job when you can't hold more than one and they have to be randomly found in crates. And hunting down sub-weapons and power-ups is the most repetitive and tiring aspect of Earth Atlantis. When you die you are sent back to the last checkpoint you activated—and since there's a lot of circular backtracking these checkpoints can really be anywhere—and you're back to square one: no power-ups, no sub-weapon. On one hand this is just Earth Atlantis being true to its old school shooter roots: you've got to start over and try again. However, it is pretty discouraging to start at zero, especially since power-ups are randomly dropped from enemies and sub-weapons can be scattered anywhere on the map (though thankfully you can see where on the mini-map). Rebuilding yourself up to fighting shape just isn't much fun when you have to do it over and over, but it's pretty much a necessity since your basic attack is terribly weak. And it is very easy to die against some bosses. Several of them have one-hit kill attacks, the main submarine in the game is pretty slow when trying to dodge, and since healing items randomly drop like power-ups you can't rely upon a health stash or a quick way to recover. It can be particularly discouraging to die in Earth Atlantis, even if there's no real "game over" system. Note: Just yesterday the developer announced that there is a patch coming to make it easier and faster to recollect power-ups after dying and restarting, so that aspect of the game will be adjusted in the near future. This cyclical nature of recollecting your power-ups each and every time means the game's length can be pretty varied from player to player. If you're skilled enough to avoid dying completely, you can complete Quest mode in a few hours or so—there's even a scoreboard for your best time. Although it's more likely that you'll need several tries on some bosses and hence a lot more time to finish. Earth Atlantis also features a Hunter mode for a bit more replay value, as well as four submarines with different weapon properties. None of this fixes the repetitive nature of the gameplay, but they at least add a little variety. Although the game's backstory is a bit convoluted it allows for some truly unique and stylish visuals. The artwork in Earth Atlantis is gorgeous: in keeping with the game's theme of nautical exploration the graphics are in the style of an old sketchbook, the kind an explorer would have used to document the strange creatures he encountered. It's a really cool effect, especially for the larger and more detailed boss creatures, and it's unlike anything else you'd see on the eShop right now. The background scenery is also beautiful—you can recognize some global landmarks, now sunken beneath the waves, and the sense of depth looks great in motion. On top of all this the music is top notch as well, and also a little surprising for a shooter like this. The first song you here is oddly serene, not the kind soundtrack you'd expect from a fast-paced shoot 'em up, but it does a great job of setting the tone for underwater exploration. Some of the other songs ratchet up the energy to match the frantic shooter gameplay, but that initial music really stands out. Earth Atlantis takes a unique setting and fleshes it out with a gorgeous art style and catchy music. The gameplay, though, leaves something to be desired, as the simple yet satisfying shooter action becomes a little too repetitive as the game struggles to offer new or unique challenges aside from one boss after another. Without more forgiving checkpoints or a more engaging way to build up your power levels Earth Atlantis too often falls into a tedious cycle of attempting to fight a boss, dying, then spending far too long to prepare yourself for another attempt. If you don't mind that repetition Earth Atlantis is a great shooter, but anyone without that level of patience will find the game discouraging. Rating: 7 out of 10 Mechanical Sea Monsters Review copy provided by the publisher Earth Atlantis is available now on the Switch eShop for $14.99 / €14.99 / £13.49.
  13. Need some balls to play with Pokemon?

    Those actually look pretty cool, certainly better than the cheap little plastic Poké Balls I've got on my bookshelf from when I was a kid. I'd rather be able to just buy them individually or in a set of all six instead of a blind bag, though.
  14. Again, you couldn't write this: defending champion against newcomer, newcomer gets an early lead, the champ evens it up for the final duel, then finally the newcomer makes it to the top. Great to watch.
  15. That Super Mario Bros. Deluxe match was awesome! Should've had more oddball games like that and Bird & Beans.
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