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Everything posted by Eliwood8

  1. Eliwood8

    SteamWorld Quest Announced for Nintendo Switch

    Yeah the SteamWorld series is one of my favorite indie franchises and I love that they keep trying new things, like how Heist is so different from Dig and Dig 2 and now this one seems to be even more unique. Seems like given enough time they'll whip up a SteamWorld game for every imaginable genre!
  2. Image & Form, the developers behind the SteamWorld Dig games and SteamWorld Heist, have announced a brand new entry in their steambot series: SteamWorld Quest, a card-based RPG set for release on the Switch later this year. Check out the trailer above for a quick preview of the game's hand-drawn world and turn-based battles. I've loved all of the other SteamWorld games, so I'm definitely looking forward to this one! Press release:
  3. If it's anything like Woolly World this should be a fun, cutesy game for the Switch. Who's interested in playing it?
  4. It's been nine years since we last had the chance to roam the streets of Santa Destroy as the foul-mouthed otaku Travis Touchdown, cutting down fellow assassins in an over-the-top bloodbath of stylish action-gameplay. But punk game auteur Goichi Suda (Suda51) has finally returned to Travis's story, this time in the form of a small-scale, indie-game-inspired adventure inside of a video game console—that's right, this is a video game that takes place within a video game. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes may not be quite the same insane action experience as the first two No More Heroes title, but Suda51's inimitable style is still on full display in this hilariously bizarre game. Seven years after the events of the last game, Travis is living an isolated life in a trailer somewhere in Texas, but that doesn't stop the assassin Badman from hunting him down for killing his daughter Bad Girl in the first NMH title. The two duel but are soon pulled into the Death Drive Mk-II, an experimental video game console that was never officially released. Now the two must battle through a series of games to hopefully gain the ability to fulfill any wish. Like all Suda51 games, the writing here is truly bizarre, in the best way possible. It may seem like just plain insanity at first but there's something beautifully poetic about the madness of Suda51, like a stream-of-consciousness style of writing that just lets all of his ideas pour out into the game, full of pop culture references and goofy, meta dialogue. It's a style unlike any other game developer, and it's the kind of writing that you just have to submerge yourself in, whether you fully comprehend or appreciate all of its bizarre nuance or not. Travis Strikes Again, moreso than the past two NMH games, doesn't quite stick the landing on tying all of its ideas together into a satisfying conclusion, but it's a wild, beautiful, entertaining ride while it lasts all the same. Travis Strikes Again re-imagines the NMH formula into a smaller indie-game setting. Travis still wields his beam katana to strike down hordes of foes, but in an overhead point of view. Combat is less flashy here, relying only on basic light and heavy attacks with little room for variation or combos, and there aren't any wrestling move finishers, unfortunately. It's a simple combat system and fairly repetitive, but to spice things up you can customize up to four special attacks by equipping skill chips. Each chip grants a different special attack, ranging from area of effect strikes to defensive abilities like healing or dodging, and all operate on a timed recharge system so you can't just spam these powerful attacks nonstop. There are dozens of skill chips to collect so there's a good amount of variety if you take the time to experiment, and although you'll most likely stick to a handful of favorites these skills chips really represent the meat of the combat system. Timing them efficiently, comboing them together, finding your favorites—skill chips add a much needed layer of depth to just hacking away at enemies. Of course, it wouldn't be a Suda51 game if things didn't get a little weird as well, and although the core gameplay of Travis Strikes Again is always the combat, each game within the Death Drive Mk-II is framed a little differently. For example, one game has a puzzle game element as you need to rotate panels to create paths, while another is inspired by survival-horror mansion exploration. There's always something a little different within each game (and Suda51 finds ways to insert some goofy humor and gaming references into plenty of them) which helps the combat from getting too repetitive. Even so, it might have been even better to push the idea further and make each game even more unique, as the mansion exploration ends up being fairly basic. Boss fights are undoubtedly the highlight of NMH games, as even the first two titles were more defined by their over-the-top boss battles than by their hack'n'slash combat and exploration. Travis Strikes Again is no exception here: each boss is delightfully unique with some sort of insane backstory and stylish visual design. However, the battles themselves don't hit the highs of the two previous titles. The boss battles don't have the same inventive variations as before, and combat can once again feel fairly repetitive. The fights are still fun, but in the end don't distinguish themselves too much from any other battle in the game. Unlike the two previous games, Travis Strikes Again introduces a co-op element—naturally, since both Travis and Badman are pulled into the Death Drive Mk-II. Two players can team up locally for some good ol' fashioned co-op combat, all with convenient drop-in, drop-out accessibility. The game doesn't change at all to accommodate the second player, but it's still nice to bring a friend along for the ride. Badman also has a handful of unique skill chips, so he can provide a slightly different playstyle (even while playing solo you can select Badman). The only minor downside to co-op is the effect it has on the controls, as they're built around allowing each player to use a single Joy-Con. For the most part this isn't a problem, but when using a Pro Controller or both Joy-Cons it would've been nice to have an option to remap the buttons to make them a little more convenient. The visuals and audio have all of the beautifully eccentric style that you'd expect from Suda51. In honor of its focus on video games there's a clear pastiche of 80s gaming design, from eye-popping neon colors to vector art graphics, along with plenty of references that can be fun to spot. As always boss designs are stunningly stylish and a highlight of the visuals, and although the basic enemy designs and environments are a bit more flat, there's still a lot to love about the game's aesthetic. Plus, in a loving nod to indie gaming culture, Travis can collect and wear dozens of T-shirts sporting logos from all corners of the indie gaming world, from the recent YIIK to fan favorites like Undertale. You only get to see logos in this game, but who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to try out some of the many indie references found in Travis's closet. And finally the soundtrack is, of course, a fantastic aural backdrop to the game, with plenty of catchy, eclectic tunes that you just want to groove to while playing. Travis Strikes Again isn't all that long of a game, beatable in eight or nine hours, which might make the $30 price tag sting a bit. However, that estimate doesn't take into account the time spent hunting down collectibles such as skill chips or Azteca coins (used to purchase select shirts), nor the multiple difficulties you can tackle. There might not be much variation when you replay levels but hunting down collectibles is still a fun pursuit. Travis Strikes Again sets out to replicate the NMH formula in a smaller, quirkier indie game style, and in that sense it perfectly succeeds. The game retains the off-kilter style and meta humor of the previous games, and condenses the hack'n'slash combat formula down to a satisfying if fairly repetitive adventure. It is by no means a mainline NMH experience, but Suda51's distinctive sense of vision is as entertaining as always. Even in this indie-styled format it's great to see Travis again, and hopefully this paves the way for another full-fledged title. Rating: 8 out of 10 Death Balls
  5. Eh, I played a demo of the game at PAX and I'm still hyped to get Travis Strikes Again tomorrow. Even from the game's initial reveal it always looked like it'd be an oddball game, so I'm not surprised that it doesn't click with some. Speaking of oddball games, I'll also take this time to plug YIIK (and my review). I can say from experience that YIIK has some so-so gameplay elements but its unique style and writing more than make up for it. I'm also interested in playing Feudal Alloy but that one will have to wait behind Travis, Vesperia, and probably a few other games.
  6. It's hard to imagine any video game recapturing the blissfully bizarre style of Earthbound, but YIIK: A Postmodern RPG from developer Ackk Studios and publisher Ysbryd Games comes far closer than most. With a mind-bending storyline full of metaphysical and philosophical twists and turns, engaging RPG battle mechanics, and a slightly otherworldly 1999 setting, YIIK invites players to take a chance on a wholly unusual experience. And despite a few rough spots along the way, the journey is well worth it. The year is 1999 and Alex, a recent college grad, has returned to his hometown when some odd things begin happening. He stumbles upon a strange girl in an abandoned factory who is soon whisked away by otherworldly beings, and it only gets more bizarre from there. It's a fun, surreal, not-quite-the-real-world setting, but the most impressive part of the game is how far the game pushes its metaphysical and philosophical ideas. YIIK isn't afraid to deliver some lengthy cutscenes that delve into ideas like astral projection or the nature of souls, and even though it can get a little hard to follow at times it is nevertheless a fascinating storyline, one where you genuinely don't know what to expect from moment to moment. It makes for a compelling mystery, and it's easy to get invested in the characters as well because YIIK also isn't afraid to paint its lead protagonist as kind of a dick sometimes. He's not the noble heroic lead of so many other games—instead, Alex is presented as human, with plenty of flaws and brutally honest truths about human behavior. It's refreshing to see a video game deal so directly with this kind of psychological development and show a character being introspective about his fears and doubts. YIIK's story and writing leads you on a mind-bending journey, but it's also absorbing and thought-provoking. Between cutscene expositions on supernatural realities, YIIK plays like a classic JRPG. There are towns to wander through, dungeons to explore, and, not surprisingly, an oddball cast of monsters to fight. Taking a page from Earthbound, you'll fight things like animated stop signs and violent traffic cones, all in a turn-based battle system that revolves around mini-game button presses to execute attacks—kind of like the Paper Mario games, but more involved. Alex, for example, uses a vinyl record to attack enemies, so in order to attack you'll play a short mini-game of hitting the colored sections of a spinning record. The better you do, the more damage you'll deal, and there's also defensive mini-games when enemies attack that can let you block or dodge damage completely. On one hand, the mini-games are a fantastic way of keeping battles engaging. You can't just mash "A" to attack enemies over and over, you have to pay attention to the battle. Each character has their own mini-game as well, so there's a bit of variety in what you have to do and you're always actively involved with the action on screen. On the other hand, all of these mini-games means battles tend to drag on at a slow pace. The worst offender is when an enemy uses an attack that hits everyone in your party, and you have to do the same mini-game four times in a row. Enemies also level up alongside your party so there's not much opportunity to power up so much that you can crush enemies quickly—battles will always take a while to complete, as a typical enemy will require several hits to go down. Although the mini-game system is fun, the pacing of battles can make it a little tedious at times. It doesn't help that the game, as a whole, can be slow-paced, down to little things like long loading screens to enter and exit battles, or the slight delay between walking up to an object you can interact with and the button prompt actually appearing. There are a handful of little issues like this in YIIK that would really benefit from a bit of polish, such as the item menu that requires you to scroll through everything slowly if you want to look at the new item you just picked up. These kinds of minor annoyances can wear on the experience after a while. And YIIK is a good sized RPG at about thirty hours, so you're already investing a good bit of time into it. Still, even if the slow details get to be a little grating, the game as a whole stays plenty engaging, especially when you're dealing with one wild new plot development after another. RPG fans should be pleased to hear that there are a variety of side quests scattered throughout the game as well, though for the most part YIIK is a fairly linear game. And if you can't get enough of the game after finishing it, there's a New Game+ option—which might be a good idea just to re-experience the story one more time. Aside from the intriguing storytelling, the other highlight of YIIK is its unique visual and aural aesthetic. The game uses sharp polygonal shapes, no textures, and bright, saturated colors for an incredibly striking look. The lack of textures makes the colors pop even more, and during the more surreal moments the color palette becomes incredibly vivid yet dreamlike. It's a beautifully original visual style that continues to surprise and delight throughout the length of the game. The animation also has an unusual slight choppiness to it that adds to the otherworldly nature of the setting—it stands out at first but as you play it feels oddly suited to the world of YIIK. The sound design in YIIK is just as eclectic and impressive as the visuals. The soundtrack seems to draw from a huge variety of influences—it makes sense that there are several guest composers on the soundtrack as well, adding ever more unique sounds to the game—and somehow the game manages to make the transitions from jazzy, funky numbers to dreamlike pop songs feel natural and seamless. Just like with the story, you never quite know what you're going to get with YIIK's soundtrack, but it's always exciting to see what comes next. And finally the voice work in the game does a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life, especially all of Alex's internal struggles, doubts, and fears. It's a story heavy game after all, so it's great to hear the characters put a voice to all of the crazy plot developments. The entirety of YIIK: A Postmodern RPG feels like some kind of intense dream, one that looks bizarre from the outside, but while you're in it everything feels natural and you're driven by a need to see what happens next. In addition to the bold, eclectic visuals and music, it's the game's intense otherworldly quality that makes it so compelling from start to finish, and despite some rough spots in the gameplay design, battles are stylish and engaging. Fans of thoughtful storytelling and classic RPG beats can't miss this surreal, one-of-a-kind game. Rating: 8 out of 10 Vinyls Review copy provided by publisher YIIK: A Postmodern RPG will be available in the Switch eShop on January 17th for $19.99.
  7. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2019

    First update of the year! - Double Cross (Switch) I was really excited to see the next title from 13AM Games, and while this one doesn't feel as fresh and unique as Runbow, it's still a fun 2D platformer. [image] - Golf Story (Switch) A cute little golf game, though I found myself getting a bit tired of it by the end of the story. [image] - Undertale (Switch) Would've been nice to play this completely fresh, without having heard hype from its fanbase constantly over the past few years. I still enjoyed it, though not, perhaps, as much as said fanbase. [image] - Spider-Man (PS4) What a great game, love how well it captured the simple joy of web-swinging through New York City. The Batman Arkham formula works perfectly for Spider-Man, and I even enjoyed pretty much all of the open world padding. And the story was excellent as well—really looking forward to what the developers could do with a sequel. [image] - Dead Cells (Switch) Finally defeated the Hand of the King with the help of a bow and amulet that gave me 50% damage reduction. Like I said in my game of the year thread, the combat mechanics are really excellent in Dead Cells; I'll probably do some more runs to explore other regions. [image]
  8. Eliwood8

    Town Plaza - N4A Chat Thread - January 2019

    Why doesn't UPS ring the doorbell anymore? I was home all day yesterday waiting for Tales of Vesperia to be delivered, checking the UPS tracking site periodically. By 8:30pm I figure it's just not getting here today but I check the site, claims it was left at the front door an hour ago. I go out to check, lo and behold, no package. Now I have to wait a week for a replacement copy.
  9. Eliwood8

    Double Cross Review

    13AM Games made a big splash in 2015 with their colorful party platformer Runbow, and now they're following it up with the single-player action-platformer Double Cross, co-published by Graffiti Games and Headup Games. Double Cross trades Runbow's short speed-based challenges and colorful design for classic 2D platformer gameplay and a fleshed out adventure story, but the developer's knack for addictive, charming platforming action is still on full display. In Double Cross you play as Zahra, an agent of RIFT—Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology—an organization that is able to hop between different dimensions to keep the peace. An attack on RIFT headquarters itself sends Zahra on a multi-dimensional adventure to track down the culprit, the mysterious Suspect X, who may actually be a traitorous RIFT agent. It's a solid mystery story—though you don't actually have to piece together any of the clues yourself—and buoyed by an endearing cast of odd characters, from Dr. Sam Squatch who is a sasquatch to Agent Pineapple who is a…pineapple. In a story where literally anything can happen thanks to multi-dimensional shenanigans, Double Cross keeps things relatively simple, but as the plot develops you'll find it's more than just a good vs. evil story and actually speaks to some thought-provoking ideas about the duty of a regulatory force. Don't let that intimidate you though—at its heart, Double Cross is a fun, charming adventure with a whimsical cast of characters. The gameplay in Double Cross is classic 2D action-platforming, so much so that this feels like it could be a remake of a beloved NES or SNES title. There are all manner of platforming challenges to overcome here, and each region of the game puts a clever twist on the core gameplay mechanics with features like bouncy goo or zip lines. You're also able to tackle the game's levels in any order, which gives the game a nice sense of freedom and lets you prioritize certain levels if you find yourself stuck on another one. Zahra can also level up over the course of the adventure by collecting upgradium crystals in each level, unlocking both permanent upgrades and skills that can be equipped and swapped at any checkpoint. The skills don't completely alter how you play but they can be helpful boosts depending on the circumstances of each level and add a touch of customization to the gameplay. The key unique feature in Double Cross is the proton slinger, which allows Zahra to grapple onto specific targets and pull herself forward. It is essentially a grappling hook, but the game puts it to good use in a variety of challenging scenarios, and it's always fun to quickly zip through the air in any game. The developers have also found something of a balance between ease and complexity: when aiming the proton slinger everything around you slows down so you can aim precisely, and you're also able to adjust your momentum mid-air, but there are still plenty of tricky areas in the game that put your 2D platforming skills to the test. In that regard it's not hard to see the echoes of Runbow at play, when you have to tap into an almost rhythmic sense of fluidity to survive the game's challenges. It's wonderfully satisfying to beat these sections, and the frequent checkpoints means even your failed attempts aren't terribly discouraging. Naturally Double Cross isn't just about platforming, as there's a combat element as well. Zahra can use light and heavy punches to defeat enemies and tackle intimidating bosses, plus there are a couple of special attacks that require energy. The boss battles have a great mix of fighting and creative platforming/dodging, but the standard combat leaves something to be desired. With only punches at her disposal Zahra's attacks just aren't terribly satisfying, and although you can unlock new attacks as you level up, such as a slide kick or uppercut, the standard three-hit-combo is the most effective more often than not, so fighting can feel a bit repetitive. Most enemy attacks aren't at all challenging to dodge either, so it's kind of up to the player to find creative ways to spice up combat by playing around with the special attacks, even if they're slower. It's not a bad system but the combat could have been more fleshed out. Sharp 2D artwork gives Double Cross a stylish Saturday morning cartoon kind of look, which feels fitting as the dimension-hopping setting could easily translate to a weekly show. The environment design only offers the occasional visual thrill (although the Funderdome levels are certainly a highlight of the game), but the character design has plenty of personality and charm. Unfortunately the frame rate feels a little choppy at times, but thankfully it never interferes with the gameplay. The soundtrack is also something of a mixed bag, with several fun, catchy tunes but just as many that are less memorable. Still, the overall presentation in Double Cross has a delightfully light-hearted charm to it that easily pulls you into the game. Double Cross isn't a long game by any means—if you were to rush through the game you could easily finish it in a matter of hours. That would be a disservice to the game though, as there are plenty of engaging and challenging nooks and crannies to explore in order to find all of the upgradium crystals. More than just giving you a helpful edge with new abilities, hunting down upgradium helps flesh out the adventure and put all of Zahra's skills to the test. You can easily replay levels in order to retrace your steps and find crystals you initially missed, though there really ought to be an option to skip dialogue when you're replaying a mission to speed things along. Additionally, completionists can try tackling the various commendations (achievements) that can be earned, many of which offer a good incentive to replay levels once more. Double Cross finds a comfortable groove in the classic 2D platforming mechanics of yesteryear, spiced up with a fun grappling system and sharp HD graphics. It is, perhaps, less brazenly original than Runbow, but the smart platforming gameplay shines through just the same, and this time with an engaging narrative that is both charming and thoughtful. Fans of platformers won't want to miss the dimension-traveling action found here. Rating: 8 out of 10 Dimensions Review copy provided by publisher Double Cross is available today in the Switch eShop for a launch discount price of $14.99 (normal price $19.99).
  10. Eliwood8

    Double Cross Review

    I wouldn't say the plot drags—RIFT headquarters is small enough that even when you need to talk to multiple agents it hardly weighs down the pace of the game. It does spoon feed you the plot points though, so even though the game is described as a mystery you don't actually get to do any sleuthing yourself, which is one thing that would've been neat to include.
  11. I'm definitely going to get FFXII—one of the only holes in my main series Final Fantasy playthroughs.
  12. I think I remember playing a demo of this on the PS3 years ago but never tried playing the full game, partially due to the length of it. Maybe I should give it a try on the Switch though, if I can find the time.
  13. Eliwood8

    Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom Review

    You mean Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap? I also reviewed that last year, you can see it here. As far as which I like better, it's hard to say. I thought they were both enjoyable but neither really captivated me, and I'm a little harder on Monster Boy for not modernizing more of the gameplay, while Wonder Boy at least has the excuse that it's a remake. If you liked Wonder Boy though you'll certainly enjoy Monster Boy.
  14. Hot on the heels of 2017's remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap comes a brand new entry in the Wonder Boy franchise: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. Cursed Kingdom retains the classic side-scrolling platforming of the series as well as the monster transformations of The Dragon's Trap, all with a beautifully hand-drawn art style and lovingly crafted soundtrack. As good as the presentation is though, Cursed Kingdom has some rough edges when it comes to the gameplay design. In Cursed Kingdom you play as Jin, a young boy thrown into a chaotic quest to save the world when his uncle—seemingly drunk on royal nectar—uses a magic wand to transform all the people of the Monster World Kingdom into anthropomorphic animals. To reverse the curse Jin has to collect five magic orbs—a classic adventure quest. The game doesn't try to do anything new other than rehash the old tropes we've seen hundreds of times, but as an homage to a classic 80s series, the cliché plot doesn't feel out of place. Cursed Kingdom nails the feeling of an old-school action-platformer—perhaps too well, in fact. Because while the game recreates the look and sound of 80s platformers, it does little to modernize the gameplay. There's a frustrating clunkiness to the action that means your movements and attacks never feel quite as smooth as they ought to. Unlike a lot of other action games, Cursed Kingdom never quite finds the right rhythm to give the player that satisfying sense of fluidity. Instead combat just feels choppy, even by the end of the game, often due to clumsy hitbox detection which means you'll stumble into attacks and hazards far more often than you'd think. The combat just never feels satisfying. The platforming side of the gameplay fares a little better, thanks to the variety of abilities that your monster transformations give you. As a snake you can climb mossy walls, as a frog you can swim freely underwater and use your tongue to grapple things, as a pig you can…cast magic for some reason. Regardless of the specifics, the monster transformations also transform the way you play and interact with the environment and offers up plenty of fun and clever puzzle-platformer scenarios that rely upon one form or another. The game's pacing on giving you these transformations feels a little off—obviously the last transformations will be the most powerful/useful, but the first couple are downright boring at times—but still, each new form offers more variety to the platforming gameplay. Cursed Kingdom is also a challenging game, surprisingly so in fact, and too often for frustrating reasons. There are old-fashioned annoyances like enemies that swoop in from off screen to attack you and bothersome quirks like how coins bounce away so you have to chase them down, but the most difficult aspect of the game might just be the fact that you consistently feel underpowered. You can equip different swords/armor to boost your defense a little, but these are mostly used for the special effects they offer, such as a frost sword that can create ice blocks in water. Even with the right equipment enemies hit hard, easily draining your energy in just a couple of hits, but the short range on most attacks means you have to get up close and personal. This is what makes combat so frustrating, since your range and movement don't feel up to the task. As such you'll likely die/retry a lot in this game, but the checkpoint system can be annoyingly limited at times. There are a number of checkpoints scattered throughout the game, granted, but their placements mean you'll be stuck replaying certain difficult portions of the game every time you die, and at that point Cursed Kingdom just feels tedious. Ultimately, the game doesn't balance its difficulty with rewarding gameplay and instead relies upon some dated mechanics. The one area of the game that is perfectly modernized though is the presentation. Cursed Kingdom retains the cartoony style of the previous games in the series but recreates it with beautiful hand-drawn graphics that are not only gorgeous but utterly charming as well. It's the details in the smooth animation that brings Cursed Kingdom to life and gives the game an adorable, playable-cartoon vibe. The music is also pretty incredible—it captures that childlike sense of heroics that defines classic cartoons and classic video games, but does it with modern sound design that's a joy to listen to. Even at its most difficult moments, Cursed Kingdom's presentation is wholly charming. At around fifteen hours Cursed Kingdom feels like the right length for its adventure. There are a number of locations to visit and a good variety of challenges that don't get too repetitive. In Metroidvania fashion there are also plenty of hidden power-ups and collectibles to find which often require retreading old areas with new abilities, and thankfully a warp system makes backtracking a little easier. Completionists can get a little more out of the game by finding everything, but even at that point Cursed Kingdom feels like a single playthrough kind of game. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is clearly a loving tribute to a classic franchise, and maybe that's why the developers seem to have missed the fact that plenty of old-school challenges just aren't fun anymore, and certain gameplay elements are best left in the past. Still, if you're willing to look past the awkward combat mechanics and cheap deaths, Cursed Kingdom boasts incredible audio and visual design as well as a decent variety to the platformer side of its gameplay. Just be prepared for some frustrating elements along the way. Rating: 7 out of 10 Monsters
  15. Eliwood8

    Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Discussion Thread

    Challenges seem a lot easier in this game compared to past Smash games (although admittedly I've cheesed a few of them with specific match rules). Only challenges I have left are just playing a ton of online quick play matches, though I might just use hammers on those.
  16. Eliwood8

    The Messenger Review

    There's no shortage of side-scrolling platformers from indie developers these days, but there's something to be said for capturing the essence of the genre so well. The Messenger draws inspiration from Ninja Gaiden to make a modern ninja action game that capitalizes on old-school appeal while infusing plenty of inventive new twists into the gameplay. And just like in Ninja Gaiden you can expect some unrelentingly difficult sections paired with satisfying platforming action. In the last bastion of humanity besieged by demon forces, a young ninja is chosen to carry an all-important scroll and deliver it to the top of a mountain, thus making him The Messenger. The initial premise seems classic enough for an 80s throwback game but the developers have a lot of fun with the clichés of the genre and mix in plenty of humor as well as some plot twists. The surprises are fun but it's the jokes and meta-humor that stand out in the writing, particularly the interactions between our hero and the enigmatic shopkeeper. It's not hard to see the Ninja Gaiden influence right off the bat: 8-bit graphics, side-scrolling levels, and you're mainly armed with a sword (as well as a limited number of shuriken). Although the game eases you into the gameplay with a pretty simple first level, it doesn't take long for the complex level design to shine through, offering up a lot of unique, challenging obstacles that take all of your skill as a ninja-acrobat. It takes a bit of time to get used to the flow of gameplay in The Messenger, but once it clicks you'll appreciate how inventive and satisfying the game is. It's quite challenging—frustratingly so at times, due to things like instant-death pits—but the smoothness of the controls gives you a great level of control over how you move, and chaining together multiple jumps through the air is incredibly satisfying. A big part of what makes the gameplay work is the small but invaluable selection of skills you pick up along the way, so again the early parts of the game can feel limited. Once you've got the full arsenal of abilities which let you glide through the air, grapple suspended hooks, and cling to walls, the fluidity of movement in The Messenger becomes a blast. There are also plenty of optional upgrades you can purchase to make things a little easier on yourself. Pro players (or masochists) might be willing to skip over these upgrades but for most they'll be invaluable in balancing out some of the more difficult and tedious sections of the game. One of the things that makes The Messenger so unique is the shift that comes approximately halfway through the game when the linear progression is opened up into a more Metroidvania experience, allowing you to return to previous areas to collect hidden items. Additionally, you are able to transition between the present and the future (represented by 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, respectively) though only at designated points throughout each level. It's a clever twist but in practice it is incredibly tedious to have to replay large portions of the game, mostly because the checkpoint/warp system isn't as helpful as it ought to be. The warp points are too limited and distant, so you'll inevitably be retreading the same ground over and over, and this is all made worse by the fact that you're meant to be searching for special items using only cryptic clues to guide you. Some of them aren't too hard to suss out but the most annoying issue is stumbling upon an area in the wrong "order," meaning you'll have to leave and come back later, retreading all of that ground once again. The Metroidvania half of the game may offer some great challenges but the pacing ends up needlessly dragging. That said, the game should last around twelve hours or so, but a big part of that will depend upon how good you are at this kind of no-nonsense action-platforming and how efficient you are in the second half of the game. There are also hidden collectibles scattered throughout the game that essentially act as challenge rooms, requiring all of the skills you've developed over the course of the adventure, and a recent update to the game added a New Game+ option for an extra challenge. The developers have also recently announced free DLC coming this year, and hints within the game point to more DLC, so there should be plenty more of The Messenger to enjoy. Like so many games released these days, The Messenger features a charming retro aesthetic, complete with chipper chiptune music and classic sprite artwork. The developers have done a fantastic job of bringing that old-school feel back while still making it unique and stylish—some of the environment backgrounds are gorgeous. And of course, there's the clever twist that time travel also changes the look and sound of the game. It's a fun way to reflect the time change and also lets players re-experience the whole game with another visual design which is just as meticulously crafted and stylish as the first. The game's unrelenting difficulty doesn't often give you room to pause and appreciate the scenery, but it's worth risking it anyway just to take in the graphics and energetic soundtrack. The Messenger does a fantastic job of blending both old-school mechanics with modern twists and 8-bit presentation with 16-bit. The result is one of the most clever retro-style games you'll play. Although the high learning curve can be punishing and the second half of the game is a little too repetitive, don't let that deter you from The Messenger. The fluid gameplay and inventive twists on a classic genre make this a must-play for fans of side-scrollers. Rating: 8 out of 10 Messages
  17. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2019

    Reserving post as well Eliwood8's Games Beaten in 2019 C : 5 H: 0 P: 0 M: 0 O: 5 Full games list:
  18. Eliwood8

    General movie discussion

    Pirates of the Caribbean 5 had a whole mess of problems, Johnny Depp phoning in his performance not least among them. Honestly at this point I don't think Disney will ever recapture the charm of the original film, at least not without going out of their comfort zone. A full reboot/breakaway from Jack Sparrow with someone like the Russo brothers at the helm with plenty of creative freedom would be a good start though.
  19. More than stumping him I think my favorite part of Akinator is when he asks a pointed question and you think "oh yeah he knows what it is now."
  20. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2018

    Challenges haven't gotten much attention in the last couple of years of this—honestly I'd take or leave them at this point. I think one problem with them recently is that there's too much emphasis on beating specific games, so if I don't have that game or even the system it's on I'm just going to ignore the challenges. I think they should be more focused on beating a game in a genre, series, or with some kind of specific feature. @XLW those are some good challenges though I think too much emphasis on games that came out last year. I completed several of those challenges last year, and while some like SSBU wouldn't be too hard to repeat, I wouldn't want to struggle through Octopath's final boss again.
  21. Damn this is a blast from the past. I remember stumping it in the past with particularly obscure stuff, but it guessed Logen Ninefingers from The First Law book trilogy correctly just now.
  22. Eliwood8

    Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Discussion Thread

    You're missing two battles, there should be 615 spaces cleared. If I had to guess, did you do the two bad endings? As for your question, I don't remember exactly what I chose first but I do remember thinking that one seemed tricky. I get what you're saying, though I guess the final final boss would seem like more of the right answer.
  23. Twenty years after Pokémon Red and Blue launched in North America, sparking a wildfire of Pokémania in children across the US, Game Freak is ready to do it all over again with Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! For many of us this will be a trip down memory lane as the games are enhanced remakes of Pokémon Yellow, but the game also represents a meeting point between traditional Pokémon trainers and Pokémon GO fans, as some of the mobile game's features are recreated here. No matter how the details change though, the core Pokémon adventure remains wonderfully charming and addictive. Let's Go, Pikachu! is essentially a retelling of Pokémon Yellow, so once again you have Pikachu as your main partner and Team Rocket's Jessie and James pop up as you explore Kanto and collect the eight gym badges needed to challenge the Pokémon League. While it would've been nice to have perhaps some of the story beats be a little different, there's something to be said for the charming simplicity of the writing here. After all, if this is meant to be an introductory game to the main series of Pokémon, perhaps it helps to keep things basic. Just like in every Pokémon game you capture wild monsters, train them to do your bidding, then pit them in battle against one another (but in a cute way). However, in this game you don't actually battle wild Pokémon, and don't have to weaken them in order to capture them. Instead, wild Pokémon are visible on the map, and when you touch them you're given a chance to simply catch them directly by placating them with berries and throwing Poké Balls at them—literally, thanks to the motion controls. This will feel more natural to Pokémon GO players but for veterans it's an adjustment, especially given how this new method can feel both finnicky and a little boring after a while, especially the way the game encourages you to capture duplicates as well. It's not entirely a bad change but it does reduce some of the game's challenge. And that's a theme throughout Let's Go, Pikachu! Small details have been adjusted to make the game friendlier to new players and erase some of the more technical video game-esque" elements. For example, you no longer have to use a PC to access your Pokémon Box—your entire collection is available to you at any given moment. There's no need to prepare a team of six to take on a certain route, cave, or gym because you can swap out your current six-Pokémon party between any battle. You also don't need to worry about using Hidden Machines (HMs) for the vital abilities that allow you to explore (such as cut, surf, or strength) because Pikachu will learn these abilities without wasting a slot on his four-ability move list. And for most gyms you can't even challenge the gym unless you have a Pokémon of an advantageous type or are at a certain level. Again, none of these are bad changes—they're all done to the benefit of the player—but they show how Let's Go, Pikachu! has been simplified for less experienced players. Pro trainers might scoff at some of these—and frankly the original games weren't so difficult that they really need all of these adjustments—but they're undeniably helpful and can mostly be avoided if you want to maintain a more classic sense of challenge. Possibly the biggest way that Let's Go, Pikachu! makes things easier is the fact that a second player can jump in to play along at just about any point in the game. Player Two can also throw Poké Balls at wild Pokémon and even join in battle using one of your six main party Pokémon. Such 2v1 battles can be overwhelmingly easy but still, this is a fun way to get another player involved without the need for an entire second Switch/game. It's a perfect way to help out inexperienced players or just pique someone else's curiosity about the game, and since you only need one Joy-Con to play you don't even need a second set of controllers. It's a great way for Pokémon to embrace a more accessible approach for any player. Speaking of controllers though, that might be the one area that Let's Go, Pikachu! went a little overboard on the new features. You only need one Joy-Con to play, which is pretty neat, but frankly not terribly comfortable to hold sometimes, and the game flat out doesn't support the Pro Controller. You also have to use motion controls when throwing Poké Balls at wild critters which is novel the first few times but quickly grows tiresome, especially since throwing isn't super accurate—you can aim left and right but it always felt pretty inconsistent to me. The only way to use more traditional controls is playing in handheld mode, though of course that means you don't get to enjoy Pokémon on the big screen; it really is a shame that even using the Pro Controller isn't an option in this game. The game's presentation might best be described as aggressively cute. This may not be the series' first foray into 3D models, but as the first HD home console title it's certainly a landmark entry, one that does a great job of capturing the charm of Pokémon in smooth HD without overdoing it on unnecessary frills. Instead it's the perfect translation of what we remember Kanto being like, even though we played it all those years ago in pixely monochrome. And being able to get up close and pet Pikachu is simply too cute. The soundtrack also does a great job of modernizing the classic tunes of the series, capturing the same fun, bubbly, exciting background music that we remember. The adventure is pretty much exactly the same as Pokémon Yellow, which means conquering the Elite Four of the Pokémon League takes about twenty hours or so. There are, of course, more things to do if you want to truly be a Pokémon master, including post-game challenges, collecting every Pokémon, and trading/battling online. The online interface could be a little more robust here—it seems like in an effort to keep things simple the developers went too far and made it a little more tedious than necessary to find the specific trade you want—but even so there's more than enough gameplay here to satisfy any Pokémon Trainer. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! perfectly accomplishes what it set out to do: create a happy medium between Pokémon GO's more casual, capture-focused gameplay and the traditional main series Pokémon games. That means it's simplified some of the core aspects of the franchise's gameplay and includes a few features that make the whole journey much more forgiving, but these concessions don't spoil the enduring charm of capturing, training, trading, and battling pocket monsters. And for those of us that grew up on the original gen I games, Let's Go, Pikachu! also provides an adorably endearing trip down memory lane. Rating: 8 out of 10 Poké Balls
  24. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2018

    Last update of the year for me. Total games finished count for 2018: 138. - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) Finished World of Light and unlocked all characters so I'm counting this beaten. That was a hell of a final gauntlet! [image] - Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch) I was kind of expecting to like this more than I actually did. Maybe it's just because I've been playing so many platformers lately but the gameplay always felt clunky to me. [image] - The Messenger (Switch) I had a real up/down experience with this one. Seemed too simple at first, then got way too hard, and by the end I still thought it was perhaps too difficult but overall more engaging than I initially thought. [image] C : 128 H: 10 P: 0 M: 0 O: 138 Challenges: 39 points
  25. Hey if you really had gifted it to me maybe it would've made the list! No it would not have.