Thursday, March 28, 2013

FAKE: New Jynx Evolution in Pokemon X/Y

This scan surfaced on Japanese blogs a few days ago, showing a new Jynx evolution named 'Rujyeria' (ルジェリア). It looks really authentic, and features perfect Japanese...but the magazine page itself and the font used for the text is suspicious; CoroCoro would never use such cheap blank designs and the text looks like standard MS Gothic...speaking of which, no one even mentioned which magazine this came from! The screenshots in the bottom-right also look like old photos with Rujyeria stuffed in, and that silhouette looks cheap.

The Pokemon art itself looks great though; I wouldn't be surprised if it were real! Very high quality fake. It was created by a Japanese person, which explains the lack of grammatical errors.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS)

Review by Pokefreak

Title: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Developer: Capcom
Platform: 3DS (also on Wii U)
Bottom Line: Epic monsters and lighthearted humor make this game a keeper for sure.
Monster Hunter is something that doesn't normally pop up on North America's shores, let alone anywhere else outside of Japan. It's one of those obscure games that doesn't stay long if it doesn't sell well enough. After all, the last game in the series to make it here was Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, and since then, there's been a PSP title, this game, and an announcement of Monster Hunter 4 in Japan. But now we have Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, a big remake of Tri.

For those who don't know, in North America, Monster Hunter is considered another hack and slash game. But in Japan, Monster Hunter is a religion. It's as popular as Mario and Pokemon. How popular is it? Monster Hunter Portable 3rd for the PSP sold over FOUR MILLION copies in its first week of sales.

But how does Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate fare here in North America? This reviewer thinks the game stacks up greatly, to the point of being one of the better reasons to own a 3DS now. Hunting monsters has never been this great, especially on a handheld device.

The game's plot is pretty simple: you hunt monsters. That's a big shock, right? The game's entire point is hunting these giant and dangerous monsters. Some of which seem like giant dinosaurs, others like mythical creatures. The game makes you take on quests to hunt monsters, gather resources, make equipment, and other stuff. Of course, the game's real enjoyment comes from killing the indigenous wildlife and wearing it as a hat. The gameplay is solid and enjoyable, even if it does seem sort of like a button masher at times. Each hunt feels like it's own little game, making you think about how to approach each monster, making sure you have the right weapon, etc.

Graphically, the game is nice. It looks just slightly better than the Wii version. That being said, it does seem to have some issues. Parts of the game seem to be less polished than others, and human character models seem to have almost a Gamecube-like quality to them. However, this can be overlooked as the game has almost no focus on humans. The monsters are the main focus of the game, and they look great. Some of which even look more polished and refined, and they really pop out in 3D. The game takes pride in its giant environments and even more giant beasts, and it's all beautiful. The 3D does have its drawbacks, though, as sometimes you can cause the 3D to hurt your eyes pretty easily (and I'm lucky enough to have near perfect vision, so this shouldn't happen). You can simply get the camera caught between the inside of a dead monster's model and the outside, causing it to seem like you have your eyes on each side of it's head. With the 3D on, this can be incredibly painful. Another problem is when a monster lets out a roar, it causes a typical sonic-wave visual effect. With the 3D on, the effect seems somewhat broken and glitchy, as the effect simply starts and stops. Without the 3D on, it actually seems like the effect works and causes you to think "Oh crap, that monster's angry."

Luckily, a few visual issues don't detract from the game. Monster Hunter keeps drawing you back in with more monsters and more equipment to work up. Whether you like the slow and insanely powerful Great Sword, the quick and nimble Dual Blades, the sniping Bowgun or the deadly Hammer, there's a weapon here for you and you'll quickly fall in love with it. Hunting monsters gets you more and more weapons to make, and you can easily become a hoarder for these weapons. Each weapon is different. Some have special properties, some have elemental attacks, some are just straight up powerful, and each one is different and more or less effective against a different monster. Monsters like the dragon Rathalos (special Azure version pictured in the boxart above) are horribly weak to lightning damage, but fire damage will make them laugh at you. The system of choosing the right weapon versus the right monster is like picking the right move against your opponent in Pokemon.

The best part of all is the multiplayer aspect. Fighting monsters on your own is great, but fighting monsters with your friends is the best part of the game. The game builds friendships faster than Mario Party can destroy them, which is really saying something. The online portion is completely separate from the offline quests, too, meaning you can't just have your friends come in and help on a monster you can't seem to beat. It adds depth as well as a motivation to train and power yourself up.

The only major problems I have with the game are the poor 3D effects, and a difficulty problem. Monster Hunter is not something you can just pick up and play a few rounds of. It requires a ton of hard work and dedication to get anywhere. For the first half if the game, the monsters are actually rather easy if you know what you're doing. However, after that, Tri's quests end and the new Ultimate quests kick in. The difficulty spike there is a freaking cliff. As a veteran Monster Hunter player, I had insane amounts of trouble beating some of the quests, some of which even expect you to fight THREE MONSTERS AT ONCE with NO bonus to the time limit (most quests only give you one at a time with a time limit of 50 minutes, which is often just barely enough time). On top of that, the controls can be somewhat difficult without a Circle Pad Pro to help, but that's relatively minor and the game is in no way unplayable without it.

Monster Hunter is a game that sells like hotcakes in Japan, and one can see why. I just need to get my hands on the Wii U version too so we can all hunt together.

The Good:
+Tight visuals make the world seem large and monsters seem intimidating
+Awesome collectables including special weapons and armor
+Great multiplayer that encourages cooperation
+All DLC is free

The Bad:
-3D effects tend to fall flat and sometimes even hurt your eyes
-Easily becomes ridiculously hard once the new content kicks in
-New content takes forever to unlock

pikaby talks: Phil Fish, offensive or misunderstood?

(image from Kotaku)

Rarely do you get a case where a developer is as interesting as the games he creates. Yeah, I know, most people on the Internet would know the big names behind their favorites, but with no added spice to it. This indie dev, Phil Fish, has all the spice and controversy you could ever want and more. To top it all off? His only game released (Fez) is actually good!

This article is not directly related to Nintendo, but I thought I might want to put my thoughts out seeing as Fez is back in the spotlight after being announced for multiple other platforms earlier this month.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Cave Story 3D

Review by EggBeatr8

Title: Cave Story 3D
Developer: Nicalis
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Bottom Line: Cave Story 3D retains all the goods that the original freeware version perfected- if you can overlook the revamped gritty art style.

This isn't flying- this is falling...with STYLE! 
I've never been the type to judge an appearance of a video game, but the idea was brought up in my mind literally seconds into playing Cave Story 3D. Maybe I'm a traditionalist and fancy the phrase "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" over anything, but to me, Cave Story 3D's darkened gloomy atmosphere amid it's bouncy, chibi enemies doesn't sit well with me. The gritty art style approach and slightly slanted overview perspective (used for a better 3-D affect I imagine) will sometimes obscure and most definitely throw off players who will accidentally run into enemies that blend in with the background of the same shade, or fall into spikes that didn't appear until you got close enough. Don't get me wrong: if the grittiness is the only thing considered bad with Cave Story 3D, I am in no way implying it's an unplayable or broken game. Just don't expect the 8-bit charm of it's freeware cousin to be present through the adventure.  
Cave Story 3D lets you play the game in two different modes: Story or Classic. There's little differences between the two modes, but I found Story mode to be a little more easier than Classic (or maybe my experience with the freeware version made it seem so?). I recommend newbies to play the game in Story Mode on the Normal difficulty setting (Subjective opinion, of course), but even if you're familiar with Cave Story, I suggest avoiding the Hard difficulty setting which sets your HP at a default 3 through the whole game, and removes all health and missile upgrade tanks, eliminating the need to even explore the world. 
Regardless of how Cave Story looks like, the gameplay is fun and challenging; and that's all what really matters. Increasing weapon strength requires defeating enemies to require XP points; get hit by an enemy and your weapon's power goes down. It's a brilliant design for an action platformer, and makes the game extra challenging by preventing gun ho players from using just one weapon over and over. Cave Story has a perfect blend of action and platforming with RPG elements thrown in to make it a must play for any gamer.  
Cave Story is no cheater when it comes to having "story" in it's title either. Cave Story's plot is just as engaging as it's gameplay; having just enough characters you actually care about while adding a little mystery to the main protagonist's origins. Repeated play-throughs indirectly hint at alternative endings, unlocking bonus levels to explore, so it doesn't feel like you're replaying the whole game over just to answer a question differently after the credits, or something. With every new choice you make comes a more challenging boss battle or secret item to pick up. Cave Story lives up to it's name, and the accompanied music has to be heard to believe. The remixes still have an 8-bit flair to them, which can sound out of place to the game's more realistic 3-D look, but they're still a joy to hear, so I can't really complain.
While I still enjoyed Cave Story 3D, It's hard to recommending it to returning fans. The revamped art style is hard to take in, especially with the awkward looking re-designs a few of the characters experienced (Balrog looks especially bad). I just don't feel this game is worth the $40 asking price, but if you're still unsure, the original 8-bit version is on the 3DS eShop for only $10, so consider that. It's clearly a subjective decision, but both iterations in their own art styles are still fantastic games. It's probably best if you try out both for yourself. Whatever version you pick, expect one of the best platformers you'll ever play.
The Good: 
+Excellent gameplay hook and epic boss battles. 
+Story draws you in until the very end. 
+Music, whether original or remixed, is sweet ear candy. 
The Bad: 
-Gritty and dark atmosphere destroys most of the 8-bit charm from the original game.   
-Hard Mode literally kills a fun experience.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Adventure Time, Hey Ice King! Why did you steal our Garbage?!

Review by EggBeatr8. 

Title: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why did you steal our garbage?!
Developer: Wayforward
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Bottom Line: Even if you don't watch the show, this game will keep you entertained at least until the Credits roll.

 For the sake of brevity I'll just call the sub-title "3DS" for this review. 
Many video game heroes have a good reason to set out on the adventure: princesses being kidnapped by fire-breathing turtles, finding some 16 year-old girl's memory because she has amnesia, to tracking down a maniacal warlord set on controlling all worlds (but first, let's go sing with Ariel!)- Finn and Jake are out on an adventure because a wizard stole their garbage. Now they have to trek the land of Ooo in search of Ice King to see what he's up to, while helping Princess Bubblegum find her stolen panty hose on the way. You can probably guess by now that this is based on a ridiculously weird Cartoon Network show, but it's just like any other Adventure Time episode, albeit in video game form. While licensed games are usually bargain bin material, WayForward steps in and makes a very decent game while retaining the odd charm of the show. The adventure lacks some depth, but it's still a very enjoyable game. 
Fans of Zelda 2: Adventures of Link* (*raises hand) will really enjoy the retro shout-out to that game, for Adventure Time 3DS is inspired heavily from it. On the map screen you'll travel top-down RPG style, while enemies appear randomly on screen, and you have the choice of either confronting them or avoiding them altogether. All battling/exploration turns the game into a side-scrolling action game, again, akin to Zelda 2. Rewarded items in random battles can be viewed on your BMO, the Game Boy look-like-alike that appears on the bottom screen, and any item can bee used by touching it twice or holding down L and using the D-Pad to help Jake rummage through the bag. Both method makes you a sitting duck, so using healing items early on is a much wiser tactic against boss battles. You can also mix and match items to make better items with even stronger healing properties. Some of the possible item combinations will produce some very weird concoctions that are surprising still edible. (Salt on their Ice Cream anyone?) 

Adventure Time 3DS captures all the goofiness of the show and adds much more than just used fart jokes. The writing is hilarious, though it may lead to a confusing adventure at the first half of the game when you get the Ragged Sock for instance: "Yeah give it to the elephant, Tree Trunks, to make a pie of course!", but even when the storyline is obscure as it is I couldn't help but to play it through just to see what happens next. I couldn't help but chuckle when "It's Dangerous to go alone, Finn" was quoted, and the amount of implied innuendos the game offers will make you wonder how this game got just an E+10 rating.

The game also has a few customization options to make the journey feel a little less tedious. Jake's special powers like morphing into a bridge or an umbrella, and smashing road blocks with his fist are fun to use and makes backtracking less of a chore later in the game (though it can be tedious in the beginning of the game). Finn can't level up by just defeating enemies. You'll have to search high and low for stat boosting up stars in treasure chests in key locations in the land of Ooo. Leveling up gives you the choice of increasing either your Health, Attack, or Attack; at a maximum of four stat boosts for each stat. While this allows more experienced gamers to make the game a little harder, it still doesn't change the fact that Adventure Time 3DS is pretty easy throughout the whole game. Enemies always go down in a few hits no matter how great your attack power, and there is always an abundance of healing items- so great in fact, you'll fill up your bag in a matter of a few battles. I played almost the whole game with only two hearts, and I only died a few times at one boss fight and only because I was paying too much attention to the finicky item screen; the other instance where I failed was at the final boss fight the same way. The rest of the game was a pushover. Thankfully, a New Game+ offers a harder challenge, but it's a shame it's not an option at the beginning. 

While Adventure Time 3DS may not pose a huge challenge to some, it's still a very good game in my book, particularly for a licensed game. If nothing else, Adventure Time 3DS will give you a good laugh for your money (but maybe find it for cheap).

The Good:
+Gameplay inspired from Zelda 2 will make retro fans happy.
+Hilarious writing. SO SPICE! 

The Bad:
-An abundance of  health items and generous stat boosts make the game a little too easy.
-Backtracking at the beginning of the game is tedious.