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Eliwood8

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About Eliwood8

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  1. Not sure I'll be available to play tomorrow night, I'll try to confirm closer to the start time if I am playing, but yeah I'm down for any themed matches.
  2. I can't stop playing Hades. It's really good you guys.
  3. Cats and dogs working together? It's not mass hysteria, it's Cat Quest II, another light action-RPG from developer The Gentlebros. You once again play as a cat hero in the kingdom of Felingard, but this time your journeys will take you to the dog kingdom of Lupus as well. Most importantly, you can also play as a dog in this adventure, and even join up with a friend for local co-op action. Cat Quest II isn't much of a departure from its predecessor, but the simple, snappy action-RPG mechanics still make for a satisfying experience. You play as both a cat and a dog in this game—if you're playing solo you can swap between the two at any time—who are the displaced rulers of Felingard and Lupus. In order to reclaim your thrones, you'll have to adventure, gather strength, and reforge the legendary Kingsblade. The plot itself is decent enough, even if it feels a little basic at times, but the writing can be quite charming thanks to the ridiculous amount of puns found throughout Cat Quest II. This game is littered with every kind of cat- or dog-based pun you can think of, to the point where it's kind of distracting. Still, it's pretty cute, and will at least make you smile when you're taking on one quest after another. The gameplay is largely unchanged from the first game. You explore an overworld map which now includes both the cat and dog kingdoms, and you battle creatures using melee weapons and magic spells. In addition to the main quest you can pick up side quests that might reward you with new equipment, and will always award you with a healthy bit of EXP and gold. There are also caves and temples scattered across the map which are filled with monsters and more treasures. A big part of the appeal of these Cat Quest games lies in their simplicity. There aren't any elaborate RPG mechanics to learn here, you're just exploring, fighting, and improving your characters. It makes them incredibly easy to pick up, and ideal for quick play sessions. Cat Quest II isn't a demanding action-RPG, and having a friend along for the ride now makes the experience feel even more like a relaxed afternoon kind of game. If you're playing solo, the other character will be AI controlled, but you can swap between them at any time. The AI leaves something to be desired—it'll attack enemies, though not always in the most intelligent ways—but the real benefit is that the second character basically acts as a spare life for you. If your main character goes down you'll instantly swap to the other one and can revive the first. Even if the AI isn't the best fighter it still ends up being a handy assistant. The downside is that the game's simplicity does make it rather repetitive. There's a little bit of strategy and dexterity necessary, since you'll need to dodge out of the way of enemy attacks and may want to coordinate your spells to hit elemental weaknesses. For the most part though the game is easy to breeze through, and the enemies you fight and caves you explore are pretty much the same over and over. You can try to spice up the experience for yourself by swapping weapons, armor, and spells, though the cost of upgrading your equipment can discourage doing so too frequently. And in the end you're not going to have a wildly different experience no matter what kind of weapon you're favoring. Cat Quest II's simplicity is its charm, but it can also make it a bit shallow. It should only take you eight or nine hours to complete the whole adventure, which ends up feeling like a good length given how repetitive the gameplay can be. There is a bit of post-game content in the form of high-difficulty caves and temples, plus there is a new game+ feature to carry over some of your progress into a second playthrough. An update to the game has also added "Mew Game" and "Mew Game+" which allow you to play with various modifiers on to make the game a bit more challenging, such as limiting the equipment you can wear or causing everything to move faster. Players hoping for a bit more challenge will certainly want to check out these game modes. The presentation hasn't changed much from the first game either, and it's still overwhelmingly cute. The visuals are bright and colorful, and seeing the anthropomorphic cats and dogs running around is awfully adorable. There's less variety in environments in Cat Quest II, but the scale of the world still manages to feel a bit bigger and more grand. The music is a lot of fun as well. It's bubbly and heroic and really adds to the sense of adventure. Cat Quest II doesn't do too much to distinguish itself from its predecessor. Co-op is a fun addition, but otherwise the gameplay formula is nearly identical, including foibles like the repetitive caves and unambitious combat system. In the end though, those issues don't matter too much. Cat Quest II is still a charming little action-RPG, perfect for introducing young players to the genre, and now co-op makes that even easier to do. It's not the kind of game that's likely to capture your attention for hours on end, but as a quick, light adventure into a kingdom of cats and dogs, it's not a bad way to relax a bit and enjoy an undemanding game. Rating: 7 out of 10 Cats
  4. It'd be nice if this was just part of NES Online but since it's translated to English and has some bonus features I guess I don't mind ponying up $6 for it. It'll be a neat little piece of gaming history to have on my Switch. Nintendo had better cut it out with this limited time availability for digital downloads though. Really no excuse for this for digital games aside from a marketing ploy.
  5. Over the past decade, developer Supergiant Games has seemingly gone out of their way to produce particularly unique games, covering a variety of gameplay features but retaining a certain impeccable sense of style in each. To be honest I wasn't thrilled to hear that their latest, Hades, was a roguelike, a genre that has never fully landed with me, even if I have enjoyed a few games that use its death loop mechanics. Leave it to Supergiant, though, to make me a believer. I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise given their previous games so perfectly combine disparate gameplay aspects into a brilliant and unique whole, but even as a fan of the developer I wasn't prepared for how fully Hades would capture my attention. In Hades you play as Zagreus, prince of the Underworld, who has grown tired of living in a world of shades and darkness and has decided to leave his father's realm to be with his extended family on Mount Olympus. Leaving the land of the dead isn't exactly a simple task though, and he'll need to battle his way through shifting hazards and guardians from Tartarus to the River Styx before he can escape the afterlife. Roguelikes don't generally have a lot of storytelling; the gameplay loop of restarting the entire adventure every time you die tends to downplay the story, or at least push it into small corners of the game's world. That's not the case with Hades. One of the best aspects of this game is the fact that it's not just the gameplay that compels you to keep playing and make another attempt but the story as well. You get little pieces of backstory and character development with every playthrough that will make you eager to push a little further and uncover more. It also helps that the developers have done an amazing job of bringing these Greek mythological figures to life (in a manner of speaking). Zagreus himself is a charming combination of moody and flippant without being obnoxious, and every other character—whether it's an underworld denizen or Olympic god—is just as wonderfully developed and charming. The short break between escape attempts might have been a dull housekeeping period in a lesser developer's hands, but in Hades it's an opportunity to talk with side characters and further immerse yourself in the game's setting. Like all roguelikes, the gameplay of Hades is based around repeatedly playing through the game with a random assortment of hazards and upgrades. Zagreus is able to choose one of six weapons to use in his escape attempt, but beyond that there's an element of chance to everything that happens. Different enemies will pop up, different room layouts will impede your progress, and different gods will grant you boons which act as powerful upgrades. For example, Zeus will give your attacks additional lightning damage, while Athena grants defensive buffs that can deflect enemy projectiles. You may also see improved versions of their boons (rare, epic, heroic) as well as boons that reinforce the ones you already have. Which gods you see on your playthrough and even which boons they grant are randomly generated so every attempt is going to feel a little different, which keeps the gameplay feeling fresh and forces you to think strategically with the tools you're given. What makes a good roguelike is essentially how much fun the core gameplay is, regardless of what boons/upgrades you're using and regardless of whether you're actually successful in your playthrough. Hades nails this aspect, ensuring that not only does each playthrough feel unique, but that the combat mechanics and combination of boons is always engaging. Even without boons the combat of Hades feels great. Each weapon has distinct advantages and disadvantages, from better range to defensive capabilities, and learning how to master each one's features is a blast (and tearing through enemies is super satisfying). Your attacks are sharp and responsive and you have a great amount of control over Zagreus's movements and dodges. Even basic sword swings just have a satisfying weight to them. Then there are the boons that add so much variety and depth to the combat system. Mixing and matching them allows for incredibly varied approaches to both normal fights and boss fights, and learning how to best use each boon is another fantastic layer of depth and strategy in Hades. There were plenty of boons that, starting out, I didn't like at all and couldn't find a good use for. But after a few playthroughs and some experimentation I found that they could be just as powerful as any other, and testing out new combinations became something to look forward to. Early on you'll just be experimenting to see what each boon can do, but soon enough you'll be experimenting with different combos, weapons, and playstyles, and Hades has a fantastic amount of variety in this department. Even after dozens of playthroughs there are still surprising and exciting aspects of the gameplay to uncover. Hades also allows you to make some permanent upgrades outside of the randomly generated boons, which is a huge help in making each playthrough feel useful and valuable even if you didn't make it all the way to the end. You're able to pick up a few different forms of currency which unlock permanent boosts to make you slightly stronger in your next attempt, and early on these incremental upgrades are a huge part of keeping you engaged for each playthrough. Then there's the flipside where, once you've finished the game once, you can choose to inflict additional challenges on yourself to make the game harder, like increasing enemies' health, damage, or attack speed. This will also net you additional materials for upgrades so it's not just designed to punish yourself, though by that point you'll likely be skilled enough that a little extra challenge is welcome. There's also God Mode which is an assist mode that will reduce the damage you take, perfect for players that need a helping hand or just want to see more of the story progress. Regardless of what upgrades or punishments you're using, Hades is a brilliantly addictive game that will leave you with that "one more try" feeling each and every time you finish a run, successful or not. Even across different genres and gameplay styles, one thing that has never never changed for Supergiant is the absolutely stunning presentation of their games. Hades is gorgeous, from the atmospheric scenery that captures a subtle sense of foreboding underworld vibes to the beautifully designed character portraits that do an incredible job of interpreting the classic Greek pantheon that we all know. The hand-painted environments are so richly detailed that for your first few playthroughs you'll likely just be distracted drinking in the scenery. And although the game's isometric perspective doesn't allow for much close-up detail the game is beautifully animated as well. Even after your fiftieth playthrough it's worth taking a little pause to appreciate the amazing visual design of Hades. Then there's the soundtrack which is once again masterfully composed by Darren Korb. There's a very fine line to walk here for a game where you're going to hear the same songs over and over, but Korb's soundtrack is the perfect blend of catchy and action-packed without feeling tiresome even by the hundredth time you've heard it. And finally, the voice work in Hades deserves special mention too for the way it captures each character's personality so well in a subtle, magnetic way that pulls you even further into the impeccable writing and storytelling. Hades is everything a roguelike should be. The controls and combat are so finely polished that even basic battles have a satisfying, addictive flourish to them. The gameplay is challenging without being discouraging, and always feels worthwhile whether you've made it to the end, collected valuable materials, or simply tested out new strategies based on what the game gave you. The writing is wonderfully engaging and uncovering bits of the story across each playthrough is another perfect incentive to keep playing over and over. Add onto all of this Supergiant's impeccable art and music design and you easily have one of the best Switch releases this year. Even if you're not a fan of roguelikes, there's something about Hades that will pull you in and won't let you go. Rating: 10 out of 10 Boons
  6. Closing or minimizing their North American offices isn't necessarily a guarantee that Level-5 will no longer release games outside of Japan. In the past few years they've tried self-publishing their games, but consider that many of their biggest properties were published by Nintendo (Professor Layton, Yo-Kai Watch) or Bandai Namco (Ni No Kuni). It might be better for Level-5 to continue to look to outside publishers for worldwide releases rather than self-publish, especially since they seem so insistent on making every game franchise into a big multimedia IP with tie-in manga and anime, which is harder to land in America. That said, personally my interest in Level-5 games has waned quite a bit since the heyday of Professor Layton. Stuff like Yo-Kai Watch and Inazuma Eleven just never clicked with me. I don't want to see them stop releasing games in America but I'm not really interested in buying any of their recent work.
  7. I'd forgotten about the crown throw/sticky bomb finisher, that was slick.
  8. Yeah good games last night guys. Adding some items was a fun way to mix things up a bit and make players chase each other down to pass on a sticky bomb or steal a heal orb. There was definitely some lagginess when some of the random players came into the match; with just us four it felt pretty stable. Also the highlight of the night was the insane echo that PB's mic was causing.
  9. I should be free to play tonight. But yeah maybe doing two themed nights in a row is too much. Or we could just do one or two themed matches, not for the whole night.
  10. - Death Stranding (PS4) I must have missed the mockery that surely ensued from the hilariously awkward inclusion of Monster energy drinks in this game. What absolutely dumb in-game marketing. Anyway, I ended up liking the game more than I thought I would based on other people's description of it as a delivery simulator. It's actually a weirdly relaxing game when you're just delivering stuff, and while there is a decent amount of bizarre Kojima nonsense I overall enjoyed it. His penchant for operatic storytelling feels oddly appropriate in this setting, though some of the gameplay elements could have been reined in a bit. Also weird that a game about delivering packages to isolated individuals would come out just months before a global pandemic lockdown. Someone check Kojima's office for a crystal ball. - Skully (Switch) Eh, honestly hard to find anything I really liked about this game. Just a mediocre platformer all around. - Super Mario Galaxy – Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch) Really fun to replay this, especially with upscaled graphics that do justice to the visual design. I'd forgotten how disorienting the game can be at times but I still really loved exploring the galaxy again. - No Straight Roads (Switch) Tons of potential that isn't fully realized here. It's a shame since the visuals and music are fantastic but the boss fights are too tedious while the other aspects of the game just feel half-baked. - Mario's Super Picross (Switch) Obviously doesn't have the quality of life features of more recent picross games, but I'll never pass up a chance to play picross. There were way more puzzles than I thought there'd be, which was a pleasant surprise. Also one minor thing that I really enjoyed: the sound the game makes when you make a mark. It's this loud, snappy sound that is so satisfying. Console: 100 Overall: 100
  11. With a combination of veteran experience and start-up ambition, indie developer Metronomik's debut game throws players into a futuristic world of music and rhythmic action. No Straight Roads stars an indie rock duo trying to make it big in a city that values EDM over any other genre, leading to clashes with the ruling musical elites and a rising swell of underground rock. Ultimately though this blend of action-platforming and stylish design is a bit out of tune. Our protagonists, Mayday and Zuke, perform as the rock duo Bunk Bed Junction in Vinyl City, where music literally provides power to the electrical grid. However, the record label No Straight Roads decides that rock music is passé and only EDM should be allowed, spurring our heroes to fight back in the name of musical freedom. It's a fun setting with larger-than-life characters that are a little goofy but also undeniably charming. However, the story never feels like it reaches its potential. Maybe it's just because the game is relatively short, but the inventive setting is rife with possibilities that aren't fully explored by the game. The gameplay of No Straight Roads focuses around big, creative boss fights with third-person action-adventure mechanics. You can play as either Mayday or Zuke with two-player co-op or you can play solo and swap between the two at any time (though if one dies it's game over when playing alone). Mayday has slightly slower but more powerful attacks with her guitar, while Zuke has weaker but faster, combo-driven attacks with his drumsticks. They also have special attacks and can transform objects in the environment with the power of music. Mayday's abilities tend to focus on offense while Zuke's are built for defense. You're able to upgrade their abilities via skill trees that unlock as you gain a fan following, as well as augment their stats with stickers slapped on their instruments. They make a solid team and even when playing alone the ability to swap between them helps cover their weaknesses. Between boss fights you can explore a small hub area of Vinyl City then dive into each boss's district by fighting your way through a short level of minor enemies and barriers. It really feels like these boss lead-ups were an underdeveloped idea thrown in late in development. You only ever fight against a couple of different enemy types in these stages, they're incredibly linear, and are all structured in the same exact way which doesn't feel thematically appropriate for each boss. They at least give you an opportunity to practice your attacking and dodging skills, but overall they feel like busywork. The real stars of the game are the boss fights which throw you into some insane and inventive duels that really test your dodging skills and endurance. These battles are over the top in a great way and show off some incredible arena and combat design. They're also pretty tedious at times, thanks to the unrelenting difficulty. You might not expect it from the game's colorful art style, but these boss fights can be downright cruel, whether it's from a barrage of attacks that forces you to do nothing but dodge or from the massive amount of damage you can take from a single hit. Early on the game gives you infrequent opportunities to rest or restore health through random item drops, though eventually both characters learn skills to recover health. Even then, boss fights really test the limit of your skills since every boss has multiple forms and there are no checkpoints, so dying restarts the entire fight. The controls aren't doing much to help with the uneven sense of difficulty either. Your movements are pretty loose, which doesn't feel great for the precision dodging you need to do at times. The camera is a huge pain since it is either too sensitive when you have full control over it, or it's fixed during boss fights, oftentimes at an angle that makes it hard to dodge or land your own attacks. The Switch version of No Straight Roads also seems to have a handful of small technical issues as well, none of which were game-breaking in my experience but they were annoying. For one thing the framerate is a little inconsistent and the hub world has a lot of visual pop-in. I also ran into several small glitches like not being able to jump unless I swapped characters, or the health bar displaying the wrong character. At minimum the game clearly could have used a bit more polish. No Straight Roads is also a fairly short game. The adventure is structured around the big boss fights, and there are only six in total—most players will finish in about six hours. There is a bit of variety to the game depending on what skills you pick from the skill tree or what sticker upgrades you use, plus there's a focus on replaying boss fights at higher difficulty levels to earn more fans, which allows you to unlock more skills. It's obviously repetitive to do that though, and some of these bosses are annoying enough to fight once. The Switch version of the game also has some unique features, including a touch mode and a three player assist mode which can help alleviate some of the boss battle frustration. The game's presentation is obviously the highlight here—how could it not be, when the focus of the story is on music-based battles? The soundtrack is pretty fantastic, whether you favor rock or EDM, as both are represented with tons of great songs that you can't help but bob your head to, even if you're getting destroyed in the boss fights. The music is incredibly catchy and shows a lot of range even within the two main genres on display here. The voice acting deserves some recognition as well for bringing these wild characters to life, including in songs and rap battles. The visuals of No Straight Roads is also super stylish, with an exaggerated cartoonish design that is colorful and chaotic and somehow perfect for these characters and this setting. Even if the technical aspect of the visuals is a little lacking on the Switch, the art design is just plain fun and is at its full power during the massive, intense boss fights. No Straight Roads' only real fault is being overambitious. Unfortunately that means a lot of gameplay elements feel unpolished or unfocused, and too much of the game plays like a rough draft rather than a fully realized experience. And although the Switch version comes with some fun extra features not found in other versions, it also comes with some technical issues as well. The game still oozes style and personality though, and for some players the rocking soundtrack and colorful, cartoonish visual design will be enough to justify giving No Straight Roads a shot on the main stage. Rating: 7 out of 10 Bands
  12. Didn't expect to see such a heated battle in Pikmin 3! I kind of half watched the Hyrule Warriors part since I already know how 90% of a Musou game plays out so might as well leave that last bit as a surprise, but I did like what I saw of Impa's gameplay, I'll say that much.
  13. That dumb luck Mr. Game & Watch KO is my highlight of the night. And diving straight into the pit as Bayonetta is my lowlight.
  14. For what it's worth, I'd place Blasphemous above Bloodstained but below Hollow Knight. Though I believe Bloodstained has had a few patches since I played it, it might be a smoother experience by now.
  15. Take the Metroidvania formula for 2D exploration, sprinkle in some Dark Souls influence, and wrap it all up in a twisted, macabre world of Christian lore and Spanish art and you get Blasphemous, a dark and striking action-platformer from developer The Game Kitchen. Originally Kickstarted in 2017, the game drew attention for its haunting sense of style and classic gameplay elements. The final result is a game that leans a little too far toward punishment rather than penitence, but Metroidvania fans looking for a challenge should be pleased regardless. You play as the Penitent One, a nameless, voiceless, masked figure set on a pilgrimage to find the Cradle of Affliction and potentially break the cycle of death and rebirth that binds the Brotherhood of the Silent Sorrow and seemingly all the world of Cvstodia. Blasphemous draws heavily from Christian iconography and Spanish art to create a world of dark, twisted repentance and punishment that is fascinating to explore though feels a bit disjointed at times. The game throws a lot of information at you initially and then only brings it up again sparingly which makes it a little hard to follow at times when you hear names of individuals and groups mentioned casually. There's clearly some great lore and world-building happening behind the scenes here, it just doesn't come through well enough while you're playing. Still, even if the narrative feels a bit unpolished, the atmosphere of the game is undeniable. Blasphemous is a classic 2D Metroidvania game—leaning a little more toward the Castlevania side of things thanks to its religious symbolism—with some light Souls elements. That means you've got a massive, interconnected map to explore with tons of secrets to uncover, including equippable upgrades and opportunities to raise your health, magic, or strength. Save points are scattered around at fairly regular intervals which act as respawn points if—or rather when—you die, and using a save point also causes all defeated enemies to respawn. The Souls influence comes from the fact that, when you die, you lose a little piece of yourself. Your maximum mana (or Fervor as it is called in the game) is lowered and you'll earn less EXP (aka Tears of Atonement, which is also currency) until you return to the place you died and recover what you lost. Essentially, Blasphemous provides a classic Metroidvania experience with the difficulty tuned a little higher to the kind of tense challenge that Souls games are known for, but thankfully not overwhelmingly difficult. The cycle of dying and retrying isn't as punishing as in Souls games, and the combat system has a decent amount of fluidity and action to it. You can easily get your attacks in and dodge away with some lithe movements. That said, the combat system still expects a lot out of the player. Even basic enemies can do a lot of damage so any hits you take will hurt a lot, which means the only real strategy oftentimes is a very basic cycle of attack, dodge, repeat. This can make your first couple hours with the game particularly frustrating while you're still learning enemy attack patterns and don't have a lot of health to spare, and makes combat feel pretty repetitive even against different types of enemies. The game instead builds tension out of the need to reach the next save point where you can recover health and refill your healing potions. It definitely makes progress feel satisfying when you reach the next checkpoint, though it can be a bit too formulaic as well. Thorough exploration is a must in a Metroidvania game since you may be rewarded with various upgrades or side quests. In Blasphemous, you can customize your abilities with various upgrades or magic spells. There's a decent amount of variety that helps make your approach feel a bit unique even though the focus of combat is always on sword attacks. Side quests will reward you with some particularly useful items, including abilities that help you explore every inch of Cvstodia, but actually finding and completing side quests is frustratingly obtuse in Blasphemous. There's no kind of quest log so it's hard to remember what exactly you need to bring where, and that's when the game gives you any kind of clue at all. Oftentimes you'll find an item with no explanation for what it is meant to do and can only hope that you'll stumble upon its use at some point. Maybe the developers just want you to earn these rewards on your own, but a little more direction would have gone a long way. Surprisingly though, the biggest threat in Blasphemous is the platforming. It is absurdly easy to die by falling or being knocked into a bottomless pit or a spike trap, which is instant death no matter your health. The game really pushes the edge of your character's jumping range at times, and of course some enemies are just perfectly positioned to knock you off of a cliff's edge. You don't quite have the kind of fluid platformer movement to justify such punishing hazards. These kinds of instant death traps pose just as much danger even when you're far into the game and have plenty of upgrades, and are really just an obnoxious obstacle to exploration. The visual design of Blasphemous is easily the first thing that is going to stand out for you when you start playing. The world of Cvstodia is haunting, filled with grotesque religious iconography twisted into a bleak and hostile environment. This is all accomplished with some high quality sprite work which kind of makes it all the more impressive. The animation is smooth and fluid and the design is foreboding, perfect for the atmosphere that Blasphemous is creating. The music is a bit less striking since much of it is aimed more toward a low, background atmosphere vibe. It's not as in-your-face as the visual design is, and can be rather forgettable at times. Still, it's a decent soundtrack, even if it's not outstanding. The game also, surprisingly, features some voice acting, though the quality is a bit inconsistent. Blasphemous takes players on a harrowing adventure through a twisted world of penitence and punishment that may lean toward the latter a little too often. The combat can be challenging but manageable with some patience, but the platforming is downright cruel when it comes to instant death traps. Exploration can prove a bit too aimless when it comes to side quests, and even for the main quest it can be hard to know what to do thanks to opaque item descriptions. However, players willing to overlook some of the rougher edges of the game will find a stylish Metroidvania in Blasphemous, one that truly makes you earn every inch of progress you make toward redemption. Rating: 7 out of 10 Blasphemies
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