Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Vita To Plays - Volume 5

Greetings, #TeamHandheld. This volume mixes up some new games and old ones. Along with playing all the games I've yet to touch, I've decided to add in and talk about more and more of the games from my collection that I have already played. I figure, why not? Here's a mix of those, and I hope you enjoy the variety.

Vita To Plays - Volume 5

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception

I only started Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception initially to get through it as quick as I could so that I could sample the sequel, Mask of Truth, quickly and be done, but along the way I found myself drawn into Mask of Deception instead. Believe it or not, this visual novel has some really good tactical RPG combat, though it is a bit easy. I found myself loving the combat system, as with visual novel style games I tend to only enjoy them if they offer more than just walls of text (like Danganronpa and its adventure game content and trials). Utawarerumono choosing to break things up with TRPG combat was enough to make me stop and take notice, despite skipping through pages of dialogue about characters making sweets and droning on about nothing. Having finished this, I'm thrilled to play Mask of Truth, but I will need a bit of a break before I do.



Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

I'd expected Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon to be a cheap, throwaway game that I wouldn't spend much time with, because it was just a free game included for backers of the main Bloodstained title that's still in development. I was wrong. This throwback to the original Castlevania is a blast to play, as it doesn't just copy that original style, it also brings in multiple characters like Castlevania III did. You have four characters total to swap between by the end of the game and each had their own uses. The stages are never too long and the bosses are more manageable than you'd expect. It serves its purpose as a classic experience perfectly, and I enjoyed the entire game. The various difficulty levels mean that whatever fans want out of the game, they can have it. I, for one, couldn't put it down.



Riddled Corpses EX

I can say easily that Riddled Corpses EX is the most fun I've had with a twin stick shooter. That said, I still suck at it, but the game gives me hope that I can get better. I've made it through the first stage easily after leveling up the starting character, but have now unlocked Cloe who has a magnet that draws all the gold to her without having to wade through the zombie hoard to retrieve it (thanks for the tip, @MyPSVITApl). Now that I'm working on leveling Cloe up, maybe I'll be able to make better progress on the second level. While definitely not my usual genre of choice, I plan on keeping Riddled Corpses EX on my Vita for a while so that I can chip away at it.



Bad Apple Wars

Diving into Bad Apple Wars, the first thing that I noticed was how horrible the font is. If you are making a visual novel, why would you choose a font that makes you squint to read it? That's got to be rule number one right there. That aside, this game starts you off as a high schooler on the first day of school. Apparently you die and wind up in the school of the dead where you have to decide if you want to be a good kid or hang out with the bad apples. This off-the-wall premise didn't do much for me, but I don't know if I'm going to be the target audience for any of these otome games. Sorry, Bad Apple Wars, you are a little too rotten for my taste.



Amnesia: Memories

I have to give Amnesia: Memories credit for being right on the nose with its title. You play as a girl who has hit her head and lost her memories. You get to choose from four worlds, each of which has a different suitor and a different way she lost her memories. I chose the diamond route and was quickly annoyed by Toma, who was very overprotective and kept trying to get me to go back to the hospital. Yeah, once again I think I've struck out on this visual novel. That's OK, as I have plenty more to go.



Norn9: Var Commons

Norn9: Var Commons is a strange one. You start off this visual novel as a young boy on a field trip, but are soon whisked away a hundred years into the past where you meet up with a girl who has lost her memory. Shortly after that, you find yourself in a flying spaceship with a group of weird guys and girls who have extrasensory powers. The whole thing is crazy, and I couldn't get into it at all. The characters were annoying and the plot was all over the place. This was a quick eject.



New Little King's Story

Is it a sequel or is it a remake of the original? At the end of the day I still don't know, but it doesn't matter. New Little King's Story is still the same creative experience it was on the Wii. You aim and fire your soldiers against onii and other demons to win the day and restore your kingdom. The shame about this game is that Konami delisted it from PSN, so unless you already bought it digitally or imported a physical copy from Europe or Asia, you are out of luck. And people wonder why I buy physical copies of games.



Muv-Luv

Muv-Luv is one odd visual novel. I'm still very early on this one, but the main character has been hanging out with a girl who he's hit multiple times and her him, but he just woke up with another random girl he's never met in his bed. It's pretty curious so far, but the localization text leaves a little to be desired. There's missing punctuation and such throughout that makes it hard to read at times. It's nothing too problematic, but a clear contrast to the other visual novels I've played this time around. I still have a ways to go on this one, and since I have the sequel to play, I'll be working on this more over time.



Squares

With the latest PS+ titles hitting, I figured I'd get these out of the way quickly and did. Squares is the better of the two games this month, but it still isn't great. You get to tap and swipe squares on the screen to turn them gray and clear the screen before time runs out. Yeah, this is not my thing. In fact, it also caused me to drop my Vita for the first time, but thankfully it wasn't far and just caused a small scratch on the back, but it was enough to make me stop and delete the game. I wasn't going to play more anyway, but hey, it made me mad.



Atomic Ninjas

Another recent PS+ freebie, this one was barely worth the time and effort to download. Not only does Atomic Ninjas start off with an overly long tutorial, this training session is awkward to maneuver and simply highlights how bad the platforming mechanics are before you even start truly playing the game. Once I finished that I found that this game is focused on online play such as deathmatch modes. It should surprise no one that I couldn't find any matches for an awkward, online-focused Vita game. What a waste. At least this is done.



Farming Simulator 16

Ahahahaha. Ahahahahaha. Yeah, I tried Farming Simulator 16 and quickly learned that I should never try to farm. I'm pretty sure I broke my equipment and destroyed the farm in record time. It was like Sim City where you call down the disasters just for fun, except there was no fun.



Final Fantasy X HD Remaster

I love Final Fantasy X HD Remaster because of its characters and story, so it's fantastic to have this in portable form. When you add in the international content, this is easily the definitive version of FFX. That said, I couldn't stomach the Thunder Plains another time having already played through this twice before on the PlayStation 2. Replaying games really shows you their flaws, and excessive combat combined with inactive party members not leveling with the rest of the group stood out this time. I still love this game, but it's going to be a while before I'm ready to replay it completely.



Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f

After all these years I was finally able to see what the Hatsune Miku hype was all about. Turns out Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f is a really well-crafted rhythm game full of music I've never heard before, but got caught up in pretty quickly. Easy mode was simple to master and normal mode ramped things up without going too crazy until the later stages. The mechanics on this one are tight, and there is a ton of variety in terms of songs, costumes, and customization. I'm very glad we got the chance to play Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f in North America, as I really enjoyed it even if I didn't know any of the music.



SteamWorld Dig

I'd heard great things about SteamWorld Dig, so I was thrilled to check it out when it hit Vita. While digging deeper into new areas to gather more jewels and obtain new skills was fun, it just didn't have a good balance between the digging portions and the rest of the game. I enjoyed working my way through the inner caverns and solving those puzzles, but the tedium kicked in pretty quick when I had to go back to smashing blocks to go further down the main area. Since initially playing this, I've since played and finished both SteamWorld Heist and SteamWorld Dig 2. Both of these games are personal favorites, so I would love to return and finish the original, but it just gets harder to play, especially after playing the masterpiece that is Dig 2.



Deception IV: Blood Ties

I thought the idea of setting traps and luring foes into them would be fun, but Deception IV: Blood Ties proved me wrong. Technically, the concept still could be really fun, but this game's controls, pacing, and structure were too much of a frustration to be enjoyable. I played through a couple stages, got stuck, and bailed. It might get better further in, but it would have to become a completely different game for me to enjoy this I'm afraid.



Surge Deluxe

Surge Deluxe is very likely to appeal to fans of games like Tetris or Dr. Mario, as it's well designed, colorful, and fun to pick up and play. I'm not personally someone who plays this type of game for any length of time, but I could recognize how this could get addictive to those who do. I did play quite a few sessions and enjoyed what I experienced.



Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition

Hmm...another Dynasty Warriors game? Could this game really be as bad as the others? Oh, who are these characters? Man, this setting sure is unappealing, but maybe the action will be fun this time. These are all about the action, right? Well, that's a couple hundred enemies down, is this stage over yet? Yes? Good. Wonder what the next stage will bring? Oh joy, more swarms of enemies. I think I know how to get rid of these. *deletes Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition*




Despite today's high number of games covered, the total remaining To Plays has gone up. For one reason, a lot of these games had already been played, but I'm still posting them as I'd like to eventually cover everything I own on Vita. On top of that, I did receive quite a few new games, so that added to the total. Nothing wrong with more content, wouldn't you agree?

Today's To Plays: 17
Current Remaining To Plays: 48

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 3

Greetings, #TeamHandheld. Today I have twelve Switch games to talk about. There's one great game, a few that need some tweaks, and a few duds. All in all, this was a fun batch to play, even if they were not all great. I enjoy these kinds of sessions, as it's nice to sample a variety of different titles. Let's get to this.

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 3

West of Loathing

As soon as I saw the Switch release trailer for West of Loathing, I knew that this was going to be my thing, and I was so glad to be right. This game is breezy, loaded with content, and at the same time paced so well that you don't even realize how much you've been doing that wasn't even necessary. The side content is great, and it's just like playing Fallout, but with stick figures who have 100 times the personalities. I could not put this down once I started and am super glad that I got a chance to play this. It's an amazing RPG and an experience I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys fun. There were plenty of honest laugh out loud moments throughout and that's rare in games for me.



Never Stop Sneakin'

Never Stop Sneakin' was almost great. I really enjoy the core concept of sneaking around stages, attacking enemies from behind, and collecting items while staying hidden. In fact, it's one of the only stealth games that I've really enjoyed. The boss fights are fun and in general everything about the general gameplay is right up my alley. The problem is that the game apparently isn't comfortable letting you just do that and be done, because if you die you have to start from the very beginning and redo everything. The stages are not exciting enough to warrant doing that, so for whatever reason the designer wanted you to have to repeat these areas. That doesn't work for me. Had the game just had a linear progression instead of repeating these, I'd have blasted through it and loved it, but I'm just not sure what the point is as it stands. This is such wasted potential, especially for something I was enjoying so much.



Golf Story

An RPG based around golf is such a novel idea. Golf Story has a lot of personality and is super charming. It also helps that the golfing side of things is fun and responsive as well since you'll be playing a lot of golf. There are tons of side quests and secondary things you can get lost doing, but the story will drive you to complete certain tasks that teach you how to play the game without looking like a tutorial. It's quite brilliant, and if you enjoy playing a golf game, the RPG wrappings will just make it better. While I haven't been hooked on it, it's been fun to play in bursts like a sports game instead of an RPG. Tackling a few tasks here and there feels good, as there is a lot to get through to complete the game, so finding a good pace is ideal.



Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

XCOM meets Mario and Rabbids sounds like the craziest idea ever and it might just be. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle doesn't shy away from its goofiness and is better for it, even if you hate the Rabbids. I tolerate them well enough that they don't bother me, but I can't seem to get into the strategy side of things well. I'm a fan of TRPGs, but I can be picky about them and this has yet to spark anything in me that makes this stand out in the gameplay area. Maybe it's a little too XCOM and not enough TRPG for me. I'll return to this with a fresher mind sometime and see if that helps.



Joe Dever's Lone Wolf

The idea behind Joe Dever's Lone Wolf seemed perfect for me. It's a mix of choose your own adventure gameplay and RPG combat all in one. It just doesn't work for me in practice, because I had some issues with the UI being annoying to deal with. Combat ended up taking too long, managing inventory got old quick, and working through areas ended up being more difficult than it should be thanks to the UI. I just want to make choices and fight things, but other things kept getting in the way of that. This game really seems like something I should love, but my first impression killed a lot of my good will.



Moon Hunters

Billed as a co-op RPG personality test, Moon Hunters makes a bold claim. The personality test choices never really did much, and I finished the game without thinking much about it, but the gameplay loop of smashing enemies was solid enough to keep me going despite not having anyone else to play with in-game. It was a solid first effort for a game, but needed a little more content to really be something memorable.



I Am Setsuna

Having bought I Am Setsuna on PS4 after Square Enix opted to leave the Vita version a non-localized mess, I just couldn't get into it. I figured maybe getting it on Switch would help since I would at least be able to play it on the go. Sadly, it doesn't matter what you play this game on, it's an attempt at nostalgia gone totally wrong. Too often RPGs try to stir up the name of Chrono Trigger to spark old memories of days long gone and I Am Setsuna from Tokyo RPG Factory does that without shame, but it has nothing of substance outside of a lovely piano-focused soundtrack to back it up. The game is slow, combat is plodding, and the characters and story are all reused ideas. The only real tie to Chrono Trigger the game even tries to bring is the three character combat with cross character combo attacks. It's all pretty dull and shameless in most aspects. Longing for something from the past tends to lead only to disappointment in gaming these days, so Tokyo RPG Factory needs to get its act together if it expects to be a force for good.



Thimbleweed Park

I can remember playing Maniac Mansion on NES back in the day, but I mostly just stumbled around and never made much progress. I've also dug into the remaster of Day of the Tentacle on Vita more recently, and I found that neither really were for me. I guess I'm just not a curious enough of person to get the appeal. So with Thimbleweed Park, it was going to be an uphill battle to get me on board. Starting off, the biggest hurdle for me is too many options. I'm not ashamed to admit that the ability and necessity to swap between multiple characters to solve puzzles sometimes overwhelms me, because I have a desire to try everything possible with every single character which takes forever and usually accomplishes nothing. A game like Broken Age actually worked well for me by limiting that to two characters, and I much enjoyed it for doing so. I imagine much of Thimbleweed Park's appeal is the multitude character angle and I respect that, but it meant that I was burning out quickly and didn't get far as a result. The production vales seem great and I can tell this is special, but I didn't make much of a dent for now. Maybe down the road I can try again with a clearer head space.



Pankapu

Pankapu is a pretty looking platformer, but it doesn't really do anything special. I was able to explore around, jump over spikes, fight enemies, and all the usual things, but it didn't do anything to stand out or even excel in these areas. Despite looking good, it got dry quickly so I moved on.



Spelunker Party!

Spelunker Party! is a game where you get to move through a cave collecting items and awkwardly jump over minor obstacles. You find keys to allow you to progress and continue to do the same thing over and over. As I said, the jumping is slow and even tiny pits require you to be precise. It's not that great. What's more is that this game is built around a multiplayer concept of being able to team up with others online, but that's all but dead. I'm not really sure what the focus was long-term here, but it didn't hold up and you're not missing anything by skipping it.



Phantom Trigger

There's just something about Phantom Trigger that never clicked with me. It seemed like the combat was going to be deeper, but in reality I simply kept wandering around a colorful neon dungeon randomly killing enemies for no reason. The structure seemed to random and chaotic for me, as I was rarely able to tell if or how I was making progress. It was all a bit too much, though it sure looked lovely while going through it.



NBA Playgrounds

I picked up NBA Playgrounds at launch before the long wait for online play began, but it honestly didn't matter too much. While hoping for a fun throwback to NBA Jam, but what I got was a watered-down version instead complete with card packs used to unlock new players. Ugh. I've never been a fan of loot boxes, and the original NBA Jam spoiled me by not only having good players from the start, but having fun ways to unlock new ones, not this garbage. While the gameplay itself isn't half bad, the general implementation of the game ruined it for me. Move away from card packs and maybe I'll return for the sequel.



That is all for now, so I hope you enjoyed this breakdown. Please stay tuned, as I've already started working on the next batch.