Friday, April 22, 2016

#TeamHandheld Report - 04/22/2016

After many months off, the #TeamHandheld Report is back. Things got busy towards the end of last year, and I've spent the past few months dealing with cancer treatments and doctor's visits, but I've decided to try to not let any of that get me down. Instead, I hope to channel all that handheld gaming excitement into more of these Reports. For this week, I've had a few rocky starts, but that happens sometimes.
Now Playing

Axiom Verge (Vita)

I've been excited to play Axiom Verge for some time now, but I fear I might have done the game a bit of injustice. Before I started it, I finished off a replay of Super Metroid on 3DS VC which reminded me of just want I love from games of this ilk. That said, Axiom Verge hasn't been giving me the same kind of feeling of progression forward that something like Super Metroid does. While I'm constantly receiving new weapons and abilities, I've yet to find anything new that makes me feel more powerful. Simply running across Power Nodes that increase damage doesn't give the same feeling that finding a whole new item like the Plasma Beam or Screw Attack do in Super Metroid.

Again, I understand this comparing these two is not the fairest of comparisons, but it's hard not to see where Axiom Verge could have tweaked a few pacing decisions or balanced progression a little differently. That aside, this game runs super smoothly on the Vita, so it's great to finally have it out on a handheld. I plan to give this one a little distance so that I can come at it with fewer comparisons and try to enjoy it as it is, not judge it by what it is not. Right now, I just can't get out of my head how much I love how Super Metroid is designed and how great it is to have that on a handheld as well. Sorry, Axiom Verge, I'll be back.

-Not a super comparison-

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

I knew it would be hard to top Awakening, despite trying the same style, but I think my first fears for Fire Emblem Fates came when it was revealed that there would be two versions and story DLC to tie them together. When I finally cracked it open, I was shocked how quickly, and without much fanfare, I was shoveled through the first few chapters to get to the "choice" between the two sides.

Once I finally picked a side (Birthright), things started to feel more like a Fire Emblem game, but something just hasn't set well with me the whole time. Fates feels like it was hurt by the decision to cut it into two pieces. Sure, each side is massive and the game(s?) isn't lacking for content, but the story, characters, and even the battles haven't felt special. It feels like Intelligent Systems was forced to make over twice the amount of game that Awakening was in even less time, because I've yet to get the same spark that the prior game shined with. It feels more like a shift backwards toward Shadow Dragon than a progressive step forward in game design.

After playing a few more chapters, I've decided to just put this one on hold, and I might return down the road, but not likely any time soon. There's a better chance I'll play the Game Gear Shining Force that's been sitting on my 3DS for a while now.

-Fated to disappoint?-

Assassin's Creed Chronicles (Vita)

After just a short period of time with Assassin's Creed Chronicles, I can easily say that this game works much better for the Vita than Liberation ever did. Where Liberation tried to cram the console experience onto a handheld, which simply drew comparisons as to how it didn't feel as good, Chronicles seems like the right kind of pace change that the series needed on Vita. I've only dug into the early parts of ACC: China so far, but other than checkpoints needing to be a little more frequent, I'm enjoying it. It's an interesting take on the series that I can really get behind.

-Better than Liberation-

Upcoming Games

Bravely Second (3DS)

It's in my 3DS and ready to go. I just need to make sure not to start up Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya instead. That might actually happen, but not if I actually answer the call of the Catmancer. I have been craving a good, classic RPG, so hopefully this will help with that.

Severed (Vita)

I'm a big fan of DrinkBox Studios, so I'm curious to see how they follow up Guacamelee with this unique twist on first-person dungeon combat.

#TeamHandheld Updates

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