Friday, November 11, 2016

#TeamHandheld Report - 11/11/2016

Just an FYI, these #TeamHandheld Reports might be biweekly until my chemo ends. That way I don't have to keep apologizing for missing every other week.

Now Playing

Unepic (Vita)

After reading Pascal's RPGamer review of Unepic, I was excited to give it a shot. It looked odd from the screenshots and the pop culture humor didn't do much for me, but his recommendation of the game gave me something to look forward to. What I found was a game with some inspirations from Symphony of the Night's castle exploration and all the RPG elements needed to make it feel right at home. I'm always hesitant to use the term Metroidvania to describe a game, because too often it just lumps anything with an explorable map and experience points into the same category, but this one kinda fits.

Unepic really nails a lot of what makes these types of games fun, with a good balance of progression through exploration and through actual play experience. You get a variety of weapons, each of which has its own pros and cons, but you rarely feel pigeon holed into one type of character build. While exploring the castle, things can get a little muddy as to where to go next the further you get into the game, because the castle is so huge and the rooms are not always easily identifiable. There is fast travel between areas, but it doesn't help if you aren't sure where to go. The in-game map is somewhat helpful, but once there are so many areas to visit it can get frustrating since the flow between them isn't super clear. That said it's still a fun, addictive little experience that I hope I can get through soon. Now to just get these stupid leeches out of my inventory before I die again...

-Surprisingly fun, now just polish it a little-

Exile's End (Vita)

An indie game published by XSEED is a rare thing, so when I heard about Exile's End, a Metroid-style game, I was intrigued. It puts a good foot forward with some friendly mechanics, like great checkpoints and catchy music, but the way it handles death is silly. When you get killed, the game bumps you back to the title screen, despite having a friendly auto-save. The first area is easy to explore and fairly straightforward, but it fell apart for me in the second area. The mines are messy, hard to navigate, and filled with annoying enemy placements. I wish level design in this area was better, because everything else about this game is a blast. Metroid-style games live or die by their level structure, and much like Axiom Verge earlier in the year, this one just doesn't nail that. Maybe with a guide I'd enjoy getting through the second area to see if things get better. Hopefully it does, because I'm not opposed to returning to it.

-Fun start, but quickly lost my way-

World of Final Fantasy (Vita)

I love Final Fantasy; that's no secret. That said, there have been very few series spin-offs that I've enjoyed. Theatrhythm doesn't count, because that's just an awesome music game. I feel like when it comes to World of Final Fantasy, there are things this game nails and others it totally whiffs on. The game is not shy on the nostalgia front, nailing cameos from prior games and hitting home with classic music. The problem I have with the game, and many of the spin-offs, is that they stray too far from gameplay that I enjoy.

World of Final Fantasy's creature collecting feature is far from what I wanted, but I'm sure it will appeal to some fans. The stacking element and focus on monster gathering is just not done well here. Organizing and keeping track of all the monsters gets cumbersome and the stacking system with its focus on monster sizes ends up feeling tedious. It's like the stacking system was just added to give players a reason to use all these monsters they were throwing at us instead of just balancing that better, and it drags the game down as a result. The dull dungeons, bloated monster collecting, and awkward stacking system make getting to the fun, nostalgic parts not worth it. I'd love to enjoy this more, but just can't seem to be bothered.

-Please, Square Enix, let me help you make a spin-off-

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon (Vita)

I'd heard good things about the mobile version of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, but hadn't had a chance to check it out myself until it hit Vita. The first thing that struck me as interesting was the local weather feature where the game would check your local forecast and change the in-game weather to match your area. The game itself is quite interesting, as you play as a spider crawling around different areas catching bugs by creating webs for them to get stuck in. Sometimes it's awkward to line up the webbing just right and certain angles seem like they will work, but end up being a total miss. It's a simple premise that works well, though ends up being a little one note. Not too shabby.

-Got caught in a web of fun-


Exist Archive (Vita)

I'm going to have to take a little more time with this one before giving my report. Not really sold right now, but want to give it a more fair shake.

Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure (Vita)

This interesting little adventure game popped up out of nowhere. Curious to see how it plays out.

Alphadia (3DS)

I was a sucker and decided to pick up this Kemco title, so hopefully it won't be too painful.

Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom (Vita)

When I saw this one take a major price drop on PSN, I figured what could go wrong for $0.99? We shall see.

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