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The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Review

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The third full season of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series is subtitled New Frontier. I suppose this was in attempt to appear as a new game, which is strange. Continuity is the greatest strength of story-based games, so why appear to be something new? What also is noticeable is the lack of a “Season 3” in the official title.  This is also a strange choice, because choices from the first two seasons carry over into this “New Frontier.” Whatever the reason, I will be referring to the game as The Walking Dead Season 3 (TWDS3).

Sights and Sounds

The new style of Telltale games have had their signature comic book style and Season 3 continues it, making it easily their best looking game to date. Unfortunately, as has been the problem for their games in the last six years, it is not technically proficient. I actually encountered the worst glitches I have had in a Telltale game thus far with TWDS3. Despite the flaws, it still looks great.

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The soundtrack is noticeably a step up from their past work with the zombie franchise. The voice acting is excellent as always.

The Story is the Game

Narrative is gameplay for the modern Telltale games, and The Walking Dead Season 3 does nothing to change that. In fact, it doesn’t try anything new. That doesn’t have to be a pro or a con, especially if the story is excellent.

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The Walking Dead Season 3 sits firmly in the “good enough” category. There are some great moments to be sure, but Telltale is going to have to try some new things if they want to continue the series that launched them to success. Standing on its own, Season 3, is full of what made the series incredible in the first place. However, in the context of what has come before it, it does not do enough to stand out.

The characters are memorable and the writing is generally fantastic. Clementine steals the show for the third time in a row, and I would definitely play another game featuring her. Hopefully, they will start to break from their tried-and-true formula like they did with The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands.

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The Recommendation

If you played the first two seasons of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series, then you should play the third. If you stopped after the first, I would still strongly recommend playing the second season, and by the that point, the third season might as well be played too. The Walking Dead Season 3 is treading water, good water, but it isn’t taking any risks and that’s okay… for now.        

pay-634908_1920out of 10

 

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Assassin’s Creed Origins Review: Back to Business

 

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Wow, it’s amazing what taking a year off can do for a franchise.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is excellent. Extremely excellent. It takes the best the series has had to offer in the past, and it scraps what hasn’t worked in the past. The result is an artistic, enormous, beautiful, and top-tier playing action-adventure video game.

What is Assassin’s Creed Origins?

Perhaps, a better question might be, “What isn’t Assassin’s Creed Origins?” The game has a robust RPG-leveling system full of loot, side-quests, puzzles, climbing things, boat combat, hunting, crafting, stealth, a great story, a new Demon’s Souls-style combat system, and some of the best virtual tourism around.

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Assassin’s Creed Origins follows the character, Baeyek, and his journey through tumultuous times in Egypt. Parts of Egypt are under Roman and Greek occupation, others by corrupt Egyptian officials, and it is up to Baeyek and his wife to get vengeance a rebuild Egyptian (if not, global) society. The story is full of treats for long term fans, without alienating newcomers to the now long-running series. There are some nice twists and turns in the story, all the way up to the final assassination. The side quests also contain some nice writing to boot. I would still rate the first Assassin’s Creed game as the strongest in the series’ narrative department, but Origins would come in at second. I was impressed by nearly every aspect of Assassin’s Creed Origins, and its story was no disappointment.

How Does It Look and Sound?

The main theme and soundtrack are very strong, like most AC ost’s. My African friend assures me that Baeyek’s African accent is terrible, but the rest of the crew deliver strong voice performances. The game is beautiful. There are many impressive sights to see across the game’s massive world. From the character models to the crocodiles, the game is gorgeous.  

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How Does It Play?

The major story here is that the combat has been completely revamped. Those who have experience with a Souls game will feel right at home. The new leveling and quest system is also a big deal. Loot, enemies, and quests are all assigned levels. Facing off with foes 2-3 levels higher than you is certainly not recommended. This, pun intended, is a double-edged sword. The quest system is fantastic and is packed to the gills with content. However, perhaps the game’s biggest failing (not a big one though), is the repetition in the side quests. To repeat, the game is massive; I got credits after around 30 hours. I had not uncovered about one third of the game’s map at that time. The game is sprinkled with side quests everywhere, and there is a surprising variety. However, after the longer run time, they started to run together. Otherwise, on the gameplay front, this game is near perfect.

This is just scratching the surface on all the gameplay mechanics working in symphony throughout the game. Hunting is fun and gives valuable materials to upgrade gear. Ship combat is still a nice gameplay diversion. Exploring tombs and collecting all the viewpoints is a blast. There’s chariot racing. There’s gladiator-ing. There is just so much to do.     

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The Recommendation

When it comes down to it, I was strongly considering giving Assassin’s Creed Origins a 10 out of 10. For that it would have needed a slightly even better story, less crashes and technical issues, and even more variety in the side quests. These are very small complaints, but enough for me to give it the highest possible “9” I can. The game is phenomenal for series veterans and new fans alike. What are you waiting for, now is the time to start exploring Egypt.  

다운로드 out of 10

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

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What is Xenoblade Chronicles 2?

If tasked with writing a mini-review for the Xenoblade Chronicles 2, then, the result would be the following:

There are some outright terrible design decisions, but it is worth it in the end.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) from developer Monolithsoft and published by Nintendo. Those familiar with their last giant games in the Xeno- series (Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X) will quickly feel right at home in the sprawling world of Altrest. There are “artes” that make for the special moves in the games, then there are a ton of layers and systems to peel back that make up the bulk of the satisfying gameplay (we’ll get more into that later). Most importantly, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has heart, and that carries it through its more frustrating mechanics.

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Sights and Sounds

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 makes for a long experience. The 54 hours I spent in Altrest were enhanced by the beautiful art and quality of the soundtrack.This will be a very common theme, but, XC and XCX were better in both regards. Where XC2 does outclass its predecessors is in its character models, which are highly detailed and look great. There are few complaints to be had about the game’s visuals, aside from the continued stilted animations of the characters. The music is still rock-infused awesomeness, but less memorable.

Narrative and the Meaning of Life

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn’t really shy away from asking the meaning of life. A major theme of the game is the purpose of the world and the people in it. There are four distinct types of beings in XC2, monsters, titans, blades and drivers. Drivers are “normal” people. Monsters are the things you fight and kill for a large majority of the game.  Titans are an immortal(ish) and varied race that make up the continents that everything else lives on, ships, tools, and even weapons of war. Blades begin as “core crystals” and bond with a driver becoming their weapon. The blades vary in form greatly. When the driver dies, the blade becomes a core crystal again, and loses its previously gained memories.

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The narrative crafted within these bounds is quite interesting and the dynamics and finer points of all the titanic continents and how blades and drivers interact each other keeps one’s interest through to the end. However, the overarching story is not as good as the original Xenoblade Chronicles.

The cast is decent. I was expecting more characters to experiment with, but what we got was good enough. There are some strong characters, however, they are not as good as in Xenoblade Chronicles.

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Driving Blades

The core gameplay of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is essentially the same as the previous two, but with some major twists to the overlaying mechanics. There are still artes. It still takes auto-attacks to fill the artes bars to use them. Things change when each driver can resonate with multiple blades adding a lot of variety to the options available to the player. Comboing with your teammates and dealing a ton of damage is fun and satisfying. Some of the unique blades have fairly interesting personalities, making them fun to be around just to see what they will say. The blade side-quests are also a highlight of the game.The main character, Rex, is salavager, so naturally, there is small salvaging mini-game in the game too.

Now to the bad, there is a mechanic called, “field skills.” Each blade specializes in different kinds of things to help Rex and crew throughout the journey, and it can be a minor annoyance. Seeing a high level “lockpicking”check to open a treasure chest is annoying, but is not hindering the game in any way. It must be mentioned that the upgrade trees for the blades show what needs to be done to upgrade the field skills. Often it is not easy, and requires finding an esoteric food for them to eat. This is all fine and dandy until about 70% of the way through the game, when the game starts viciously hurling field skill checks to advance the story resulting in hours of busy work to continue.

This sucks.

Just flat out sucks.

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Modesty was not a high priority for the character designers.

Otherwise, the blade system is a roaring success. Experimenting with all the differing strategies is really fun. It is a real shame that the field skill checks destroy the pacing of the game and its narrative.

 The Recommendation

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a solid game. I like it, and I would recommend it to those who liked the last two Xeno- games. It could and should have been better. I am coming out of the game fairly bittersweet on it. It is a bummer that it is the worst of the Xenoblade games, but it is still worth playing for fans of the series.          

8-Number-PNGout of 10

Nex Machina: Death Machine Review – Save All Humans

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What is Nex Machina: Death Machine?

Nex Machina: Death Machine is a brilliant twin-stick shooter, and it is a blast with friends. Created by the people who made the PS4 launch title Resogun, Nex Machina is also a spin on a classic arcade-style game. Nex Machina is a twin-stick shooter, and not much else. However, it is unapologetically retro in its design in the best possible way. Things start to make more once you remember the studio has roots in the original Smash TV.

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Left Stick Moves, Right Stick Shoots

If I had to describe the game in 2 words they would be “polished” and “smooth.” When a developer goes after an old genre, normally something new, or some kind of genre twist is present. Playing Nex Machina made me think a lot about 2015’s amazing Assault Android Cactus. AAC had a neat character selection that altered the moveset of the player slightly. It was fun to have a more individualized take on the genre and getting better with the different options. Nex Machina’s greatest addition is a number of people to save per level and having some secrets. This does, in no way, feel groundbreaking. Honestly though, that is perfectly okay.

One doesn’t have to start a revolution when the game feels so good. The upgrade path is satisfying, but like most early Schmups (shoot-em-ups) a la Gradius and Life Force, dying once resets your abilities. This, naturally, puts a lot pressure on the player to survive.

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Sights and Sounds

On the audio front, there isn’t much to say. There are laser sounds and there is some music, so, nothing special.

The game is nice looking. However, it is easy to lose sight of some enemies on screen causing perhaps “unfair” deaths. Of the 5 worlds the game has to offer, they vary in backgrounds, but they run together.

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 The Recommendation

Nex Machina: Death Machine is essentially special in that it is nothing special. It is an incredibly tightly designed game that can test you with its four difficulty settings. The presentation of the game is wonderful and the coop is a must. I can recommend it to anyone who is looking for a solid twin-stick shooter and nothing else. And Nex Machina is okay with that.

8-Number-PNGout of 10

The Sexy Brutale Review: Groundhog Murder

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What is The Sexy Brutale?

The Sexy Brutale is a wonderful game. If Luigi’s Mansion went in a different direction, this could be a nearly perfect sequel to the Nintendo ghostbuster. At its core, The Sexy Brutale is a puzzle game. A puzzle game where the player must prevent murders by studying the environments (from an isometric perspective) and then manipulating time to not allow the gruesome deaths to the continue. The game could also be described as an anti-Hitman.  

Sights and Sounds

The Sexy Brutale is a decent looking game. There are many bright colors and varied environments throughout the mansion/mega-entertainment complex known as The Sexy Brutale. There is a casino, stages for musicians and magicians, and plenty of secrets to be uncovered. The soundtrack is also very fitting thematically and it adds a lot to the overall experience.

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How Does it Play?

The game features fairly traditional adventure/puzzle game mechanics. That is there is plenty of picking up items and finding where to use them to advance the story. There are plenty of twists to the formula however, most notably being a time traveling element.

Players will be locked within the walls of The Sexy Brutale for 12 hours (in the game’s time), and when time is up, the clock restarts and the sequence of terrible events begins anew. The player must only save a victim only once to receive a new power to unlock access to news rooms.  

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The Recommendation

Tequila Works has really knocked it out of the park here. The more of the mansion that you unveil, the more impressive the whole game is. An important addition was that no matter where you are in the mansion, you will hear certain loud sounds at the same time every day. I was always delightfully anticipating when I was going to get to the root of the next sound I have heard dozens of times.

The Sexy Brutale is strongly recommended to those who like puzzle games, adventure games, or an interesting story. This game is the full package and was a quite memorable trip.


다운로드 out of 10

Tacoma Review: Is it still called a “Walking Simulator” if there is no gravity?

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What is Tacoma: Walking Simulator 101

Tacoma is the follow-up to the largely well-received Gone Home by the Fullbright Company.

First came Dear Esther, then Gone Home. Dear Esther did not require a human to play the game. It was a on-rails story game that benefitted very little being a game. Gone Home changed that. Gone Home was more of an exploration, mystery game where the player must piece together various pieces, in an order somewhat determined by the player, to understand what happened in the house. In terms of raw gameplay, there is essentially none, not traditionally. The distinction between Gone Home and Dear Esther is a very important one when it comes to the genre they helped to create.

Dear Esther developer, The Chinese Room, corrected their mistakes with their wonderful follow-up Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. They learned so much from Gone Home, and crafted something substantially better. The exploration/narrative as gameplay was solidified with this entry in the genre, along with some help from delightful games like The Stanley Parable to push the acceptability of the genre to the more “mainstream” gamer.

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A lot of time spent riding elevators in Tacoma.

So, the smashing success of The Chinese Room puts Fullbright in an interesting place. How will they follow up Gone Home, especially in a post-Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture world?

Not well, apparently.   

Tacoma certainly still square in the walking simulator genre. Time is spent exploring a space station in a sadly linear fashion. Gameplay is broken down into reading everything and finding codes to doors, lockers, and drawers. Experiencing the lives of a crew as disaster strikes and how they all deal with it, certainly is an interesting premise, and Tacoma has some merit in its execution.   

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The game looks good, but is nothing that special. Sound design and voice acting are generally acceptable. Nothing noteworthy on the musical front. Overall, visually and auditorily, Tacoma is average at best.

When narrative is gameplay, the story had better be good. Tacoma’s story is fairly average. There are a couple of unexpected twists and turns. The draw of the game is the slow unraveling of information that the player uncovers about the crew members.  

Tacoma’s Philosophy

Tacoma has some contradictory ideas that it presents. First, the crew is intensely pro-union. Despite the numerous union flyers that adorn the ship, this is also demonstrated by a politician’s face being seen on a dartboard; who happens to be pushing for further AI controlled space exploration, resulting in the loss of human job opportunities.

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The same crew (at least several of its six members) also rallies around the idea of “AI Liberation.” In that, each AI should be treated as an individual with the equivalent of human rights. It’s the animal rights activist’s logic applied to AI. So which is it? Are they stealing our jobs, or they are equals and thusly should be treated equally? The writers of Tacoma certainly don’t know.  

Concluding on Tacoma

I left Tacoma with a bad taste in my mouth. The ending was poor. The short journey along the way was good enough. However overall, when I think of Tacoma in the future, it will be cast in the negative light of its ending and its oversimplified and incoherent philosophical musings. There are better offerings in the genre, notably, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. If one greatly enjoys the laxed genre then go ahead and give Tacoma a shot, but only if you have exhausted all other options.

number3_PNG14959out of 10     

Aaero Review: Wub-Dubba-Wub-Wub

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What is Aaero?

Allow me to begin with stating that if you like videogames and electronic music, then Aaero is a pretty safe purchase.

Following in the footsteps of games like Rez, Child of Eden, and Panzer Dragoon, Aaero is a rhythm-infused rail-shooter. The game is split into two clearly separated parts, that eventually overlap. The first part is a fairly basic rail-shooter. Using the right stick, your aircraft can lock on up to eight targets and then fire on them. The second part utilizes the left stick. Portions of the tracks are visualized in the game, and the player must match them with the ship. When the two parts of the game collide, it makes for an intense and thrilling experience.  

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Audio/Visual

Aaero has a very clean aesthetic. The visual style is futuristic and simple. When things heat up, the game gets busy on screen resulting in a brilliant fireworks display. Ultimately, Aaero is its music. Though some may lament the lack of variety in this Kickstarter production, the heavy dubstep/electronica soundtrack matches the intensity of the game perfectly (note: I am a big fan of the genre of music). The songs come alive fully equipped with deadly machinations that require the utmost precision to even pass at times.

How Does it Play?   

To reiterate, Aaero is its music. The songs make up a huge portion of the gameplay regarding the outlining of the melodies. The mish-mash of genres works beautifully and feels quite fresh. It certainly sets itself apart enough from its sources of inspiration. The enemy design requires learning fast and executing even faster. The game can be unforgiving. Like other “pass/fail” rhythm games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band), it can be enormously frustrating to nearly pass a course, just to die near the end. Aaero requires a touch of patience and mountains of persistence and precision. Getting the five starts here is quite satisfying; as it climbing the leaderboards.

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Aaero does a very smart thing in that the leaderboard is visible and easily accessible for every song. This makes the urge to jump back in and do better much stronger than it would be otherwise. Add three different difficulty levels and you can rack up a lot of time in Aaero,despite the short level selection of fifteen.

The Recommendation   

Aaero comes strongly recommended. Fans of rail-shooters, chasing high scores, or electronic music should apply. Personally, the game comes across as very fresh and is an absolute blast to play and interact with the songs that Mad Fellows brought to life. Aaero is an excellent game; one that should be given the attention it deserves.

다운로드 out of 10

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Review – Hello Despair

Um… meta…

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Get to love the new gang.

Danganronpa is back in the form of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. The sequel to two of my top 10 games of 2014 does not disappoint. Though, I imagine some might be quite disappointed. Let’s get into that appearing contradictory pair of sentences.

Audio/Visual – Same Old, Same Old

The soundtrack is still excellent, but it is just another remix of a remix from the first game. Which is both good and bad, familiarity is both a blessing and a curse in the case of Danganronpa V3. Good music is still good music.

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When trolling ascends above an art form.

Visually, the game is sharp and nearly rivals Persona 5 with its style. The class trials are better looking than ever. However, the rest of the game is par for the Danganronpa course. The environments are fairly boring with the exception of the creativity found in the Ultimate labs for each of the contestants.

Gameplay – Hits and Misses

The game is broken down into the same pieces as the previous two games with some fresh flourishes for good measure. You will spend your time wandering around a school, investigating murders, presenting evidence, and playing some silly minigames. The additional courtroom games are more time-consuming and slow down the pace of the game. The driving minigame is particularly annoying. The worst addition, but is thematically crucial to the game, is literal perjury. In addition to the usual “refute” and “agree” bullets, “lie” bullets have been added to your arsenal. Knowing when to lie is easy to spot in the first few instances, but becomes frustrating when nothing makes sense and then you figure out you have to lie.

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Can’t lie about this one. Driving sucks.

Overall, the game plays quite similarly to the first two games, but with a little better flow in the school and investigation phases. However, the trial minigames often get in the way of the greater story the game is telling.  

Story – The Danganronpa Factor

Danganronpa has always been about its story. Even Ultimate Despair Girls came through with an awesome story, despite having to play the game. A lot of the story is going to fall to subjective preferences. I think that V3 has the worst cast of the three games, but it is by no means a bad one. Some characters were quite grating while others were excellent. All three games could not escape some of the immaturity plaguing many anime titles, V3 is not shy about it’s childish vulgarities and might be the worst offender in this department.

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The cases themselves are essentially as good as ever. The first and forth cases sticking out the most for me. One seriously subverting expectations and the other taking place in a VR setting. There are some wonderful mysteries tucked away in Killing Harmony, but nothing will prepare you for the ending of this madhouse of a game.

What separates Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony from its predecessors is its ending. Divisive and mind-bending do not even begin to scratch the surface of describing it. I am still reeling from it and forming my own thoughts and opinions on it (part of the purpose of writing this review). It is certainly frustrating, but it is also brilliant. I did not like the ending at first, but I think I will come to appreciate it a lot in the future. It provides a powerful commentary, some might say with a lack of subtlety, but I found it incredibly interesting and refreshing. I will be thinking about its themes and implications for reality and the Danganronpa universe for some time to be sure.

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Concluding on Harmony

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is probably the worst of the three main games in the series. Too much of the game feels familiar and it does little to set itself apart. But much like Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Killing Harmony knows what you think, knows what you expect, and presumably knows what you want (or not want). The writers have no qualms with exploiting this to intensely emotionally manipulative ends. It is a true sequel in every sense of the word. It will mess with your heart, your head, and your expectations. If you liked the first two, you need to play the third installment in this insane series just to see the ending.  

What it comes down to is that the ending to this game is important, and likely will be discussed for years to come (I know I will be).

8-Number-PNGout of 10

24 Hours of Gaming: September 2015 Edition

I’m excited and ready to get back to it! Thanks for joining me as I attempt to again play video games for 24 hours straight. Whoa, it has been a while since the last one; time to knock the rust off. I have a few new games this time around that I am pumped for, so it should make for a good day. It also looks like it is going to be raining all day, so naturally, that makes it wonderful weather for gaming.

6:30am

Getting back into the grove of Final Fantasy IX, and I must say that it feels good.

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The most notable happenings this time around were that war is breaking out all over the place and Dagger has acquired the ability to use eidolons or Summons, a series staple. The story is brewing nicely as I cross the 12 hour mark.

10:00am

Atelier Ayesha is back on the docket. As it becomes a series staple to my marathons, I do want to finish it soon so I can move on to Atelier Shallie.

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The whole point of the game has been to find Ayesha’s sister, Nio. We finally saw her for the first time at about the 12-hour point. The gameplay has been a satisfying grind of crafting and turn-based combat. I’m still liking it a lot.

12:00am

I started playing the peculiar RPG Undertale.

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The game messes with players’ expectations early and often. I put in about 30 min in, just enough time to get through the game’s introductory sequence. I will certainly be finishing this one up next week.

12:30pm

I started playing the confusing and overwhelming Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy.

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From the maker’s of last year’s great Demon Gaze, Operation Abyss is not nearly as story driven so far and not nearly as straightforward. It is trying to be more investigation-based with less of a focus on the turn-based combat of Demon Gaze. It sets an interesting tone and atmosphere, but it has been rough around the edges so far. The art, however, is fantastic.

2:00pm

Isaiah S. and I started playing Secret of Mana for the SNES. It has been a while since I played an older game in a marathon.

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I had heard that Secret of Mana is the Kingdom Hearts of the 16-bit era, and I am definitely seeing it. The more action-based nature of the game’s combat is refreshing for that era of video games. Pleasant music and bright visuals also help to carry the experience. The story seems painfully cliché at the moment. Hopefully, that part changes.

4:00pm

It is time to find out what all this Shenmue business is all about. My love for the Yakuza franchise will likely set unreachable expectations for the gangster simulator, but maybe I’ll see why so many people love it and are so pumped for Shenmue 3.

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Well… I tend to write a “Before & After” section when playing through games during marathon like this one. Unfortunately, my Dreamcast didn’t feel like reading the first disc of Shenmue today, it played other games fine, but no Shenmue. I then tried to play some F.E.A.R. 2 and my disc had gotten damaged sometime between now and the time I got it. So, there goes 2 games and 4 hours of what I had planned for today. Time to ad-lib.

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I started to the play some XBLAZE Lost: Memories.

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The first XBLAZE game was a great looking, but boring virtual novel, and Lost: Memories is so far, trying to be more “gamelike” with varied results. The games still look striking and impressive, and there are some more interactive elements, so hopefully it ends up having a better story than Code: Embryo.

6:00pm

The opening hour of Swords & Soldiers II sure looks better than the first one. However, the game does not have the original feel of the first one. The missions without the base-building and character creating are boring and tedious.

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7:00pm

Back to Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

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It is still solid, but there was the introduction of a very annoying enemy that stuns characters and is very difficult to hit. I managed to get through a mission in an hour pushing my play time up to 3 hours.

8:00pm

It has been far too long since I have played Ori and the Blind Forest.

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I finally made a lot of progress in my one additional hour of time with the game. There is no way around it, Ori is a hard game, and it is going to take some patience to finish off.

9:00pm

With two games not working for me I decided to start Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

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I did not stop playing Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture until credits rolled. It took 4.5 hours and it was a wonderful, and absolutely gorgeous experience. More to come on Rapture in my review hitting soon.

1:30am

I had not gotten stuck in Final Fantasy Type -0 I would probably already have had it done by this point of time.

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I got unstuck quickly and finished up chapter 4. I still really really like this game and I need to wrap it up soon.

3:00am

I’m going to close the night off with a little Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

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I tend to leave some of the games I want to play most for the end of the marathon to keep my motivation up, and more Danganronpa is typically great motivation. I finished up a lengthy Chapter 2 and got a good jump on Chapter 3. It is not as good as last year’s two GOTY contenders, but there is still plenty to love here.

Summary:

6:30am – 10:00am – Final Fantasy IX

10:00am – 12:00pm – Atelier Ayesha: Alchemist of Dusk Plus

12:00pm – 12:30pm – Undertale

12:30pm – 2:00pm – Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy

2:00pm – 4:00pm – Secret of Mana

4:00pm – 6:00pm – XBLAZE Lost: Memories

6:00pm – 7:00pm – Swords & Soldiers II

7:00pm – 8:00pm – Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

8:00pm – 9:00pm – Ori and the Blind Forest

9:00pm – 1:30am – Everbody’s Gone to the Rapture

1:30am – 3:00am – Final Fantasy Type – 0 HD

3:00am – 6:30am – Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

24 Hours of Gaming: May 2015 Edition

It’s that time again: time for me to attempt to play video games for 24 hours straight. Today’s focus is primarily on starting or continuing games from 2015, but the usual suspects from my backlog will appear as they always do.

6:00am

I’m getting started a little earlier today, and of course, I’m beginning with Final Fantasy IX.

One of the more disturbing party members I've ever encountered.

One of the most disturbing party members I’ve ever encountered.

FFIX has a “mechanic” called Action Time Events that not like quick-time events as we know them in a post-God of War era. They are little scenes that fill in backstory or show what another character is doing at the same time as the current playable one. It’s interesting, completely optional, and adds some nice flavor to the game.

Six hours into Final Fantasy IX and things are going well.

9:00am

New party member in Grandia II!!!

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Though one party member left, another has joined.

The story is really heating up as I return to Ryudo’s (the main character) homeland. The air is thick and the atmosphere is tense as he is about to have a showdown with his brother.

It should be said that despite having spread my playthrough of Grandia II out quite a bit, I always know where to go and am still invested in the story. That says a lot, I think.

11:00am

It was a rough two hours with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

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I was hoping to have my time with the game wrapped up by now, but the game is soooooo HUGE. I’m getting very close to where I would be comfortable reviewing it however.

I fought and killed two monsters in 2 hours; long fights that I died on and had to do again. Whew. At least their corpses now lie at my feet.

1:00pm

I got through about a chapter and a half of Super Paper Mario. Unfortunately, chapter 5 was not very good… at all. Annoying puzzle and enemy design made for a slog for 2 hours.

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At least chapter 6 starts off well enough with a faux 100-man face-off. So, the session ended well-enough.

3:00pm

Oreshika: The Tainted Bloodlines is a weird one. I’m about 5 hours into the game and it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. That is probably due to the lack of structure and defined goals.

The game is beautiful.

The game is beautiful.

Like Animal Crossing or Tomodachi Life, one is expected to make their own fun and objectives, except there is even less outright direction in Oreshika. It feels especially strange in a JPRG. There is a character designed to help the player out, but it is easy to rely on her as a crutch and think, “Okay, you just do everything.” I’m trying to wrap my mind around the game, but it is going to take some more time.

5:00pm

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is another weird one. It is a strategy-RPG/virtual novel. The strategy part is different in that you have to predict where enemies will be before you attack. You don’t know where they are going to be, but you have to attack them. This makes for a very frustrating time.

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The presentation is fantastic however and carries the game a long way. It doesn’t look like it is going to be super long, so I will hopefully finish up it up soon.

7:00pm

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I am still thoroughly enjoying Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Plus. The more freeform nature works, and the story is more engaging than Escha & Logy’s, but the overall flow of the game is not as rewarding.

9:00pm

We got four people together and played Mario Party 9. We have been working through all the Mario Party games getting ready for 10, and we were on 9, so 9 is what we played.

Boss fights add a lot to the Mario Party formula.

Boss fights add a lot to the Mario Party formula.

I first played Mario Party 9 sometime in 2012. The second time I played Mario Party 9 was today. It was much better the second time. The complete upheaval of the old structure of the games was not as dramatic when I knew it was coming. Regardless, playing them all so closely together made me not hate 9 nearly as much as I thought I did for whatever that is worth.

10:00pm

I started playing Code Name ST.E.A.M. today. It is a challenging game from the makers of Advance Wars and the Fire Emblem games, but it plays like SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles.

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The game looks a lot better in motion than I expected based off of the previous footage and screenshots. Critiques that I had heard about the game ring true, mainly that “overwatch” (a mechanic popularized by XCOM: Enemy Unknown) is completely and totally broken. Enemies can get two free shots on a party member without moving or shooting, breaking line-of-sight is all it takes and to make matters worse, the little buggards are deviously hidden.

It’s not bad. It’s not amazing.

12:00am

One of the roommates wanted to play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, so that is what we did. We got lucky and got a guy in our party who was Hunter Rank 255. For perspective’s sake, my roommate and I have put in around 30ish hours and we just hit HR 4. Let that sink in. Seriously. Some people REALLY like Monster Hunter.

The monster design is still incredible.

The monster design is still incredible.

1:00am

Final Fantasy Type-0 is pretty great. I definitely didn’t want to stop after my 3 hours of it. The game looks good sometimes, and at others it reminds you that it was a PSP game first. The graphics as a whole can be jarring at times, but keeping in mind the game’s crazy journey to the States makes it much more tolerable.

Capes. That is all.

Capes. That is all.

The game is just fun. The combat is a blast. Experimentation is encouraged and there is a lot of it to be done. The RTS mechanics are light, but interesting and I’m intrigued to see how far they will go in that direction.

4:00am

I intentionally saved some of the games I wanted to play for the end of the 24 hours. And Type-0 and Ori and the Blind Forest certainly topped the list for games I wanted to play today. I was an hour in Ori before I started today, and the first 10 minutes of the game are up for my “Most Memorable Moment of 2015.” The game makes an incredibly strong first impression, largely because how exceptionally amazing the game looks.

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The game gets tough. It counters this by allowing the player to save a number of times wherever they want, so make one tough jump… plop down a save point so you don’t have keep doing it over and over again. The system works for the most part, but I am still fairly early in the game, hopefully the game can remain consistent to the end.

And that was my day. 24 hours of gaming goodness… well not all goodness, there were a couple of speed bumps along the way but we made it. Grandia II, Type-0, and Ori were definitely the highlights of the day with Atelier bringing it consistently as well. See ya next time!

Summary:

6:00am – 9:00am – Final Fantasy IX

9:00am – 11:00am – Grandia II

11:00am – 1:00pm – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

1:00pm – 3:00pm – Super Paper Mario

3:00pm – 5:00pm – Oreshika: The Tainted Bloodlines

5:00pm – 7:00pm – Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters

7:00pm – 9:00pm – Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Plus

9:00pm-10:00pm – Mario Party 9

10:00pm – 12:00am – Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

12:00am – 1:00am – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

1:00am – 4:00am – Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

4:00am – 6:00am – Ori and the Blind Forest