Jacob St-Amour

Ever since its release back on the Wii in Monster Hunter Tri, I’ve been hooked on the series. Grinding my way to the top of the G-Rank quests and hunting the big game monsters for epic loot and the thrill of the hunt has always been a satisfying experience. So it shouldn’t come to much surprise that I rushed into the store to pick up my copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on day one, but does the newest addition to the Monster Hunter franchise stack up to the rest of the pack or is does it turn out to be a big pile of Aptonoth dung.

As always, you play as the roll of the Hunter, one who needs to travel and fend off against gargantuan monsters, but this time around you are given a purpose to do so. In previous games, there was a simple backstory of having one major monster was causing trouble and it was up to you to fend it off, but in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, you are given a sense of purpose as you have people to work for and gather certain things or hunt monsters in their path.

Its not too far from the original games, but its how they introduce these characters is what makes it so great. The series as a whole could never capture the broader western audience and having a very linear story is one of the reasons, but now, they introduced these characters who have much more personality and are far more expressive. You end up caring about the people who are with you throughout the story and end up being a special rag tag team that goes through thick and thin together.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate brings back the Felyne companions and, like Cha Cha in the previous title, they will aid you on your quest. He/she will engage in combat with you by distracting the foes long enough for you to have a few strikes in the monster and can also heal you when you are taking severe damage. Starfleet (My Felyne’s name) is much more helpful than the partner in the previous title as it seem to know what to do rather than just running around and getting upset whenever a monster knocks it down… You might just want to put the volume off if you get irritated by cat noises very easily.

 

MH4

 

The hunts within the game stay practically the same as you go to a board and accept assignments. The first quests are more of a trial to get the hang of things, and it may seem as though tedious tasks to have to get done, but knowing how to obtain materials will help you out further when you need to grab rarer materials to upgrade your gear and weapons. Its not just by fighting large monsters that you will be able to get greater gear, but by obtaining minerals or special items through each area that will help you complete your armor sets and take on tougher monsters.

Knowing the environment plays a major part of the hunt as combat revolves more about assessing your situation before hand rather than just gunning through an arena type area and go butt heads with a monster. Being able to figure how the environment plays out for each monster will be very beneficial in the long run as you will be able to identify many of their weaknesses and strength in each area. Not only that, but some parts of your surroundings can come down on you or change in the course of a battle, so taking advantage of your surroundings will either make or break your hunt.

Monster Hunter learning curve has always been an issue to those looking to get into the series; most give up shortly into their first hunt. While Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is “much” easier than previous games, it still hold true to that difficulty curve. What I would recommend to new players is to stay at it. These games are no push over and the new 3DS game help a whole lot more than previous games. It will take trial and error before truly becoming a great hunter and once that is achieved you will feel much more rewarded than picking up something easy to play.

Now for the big bad monsters. Be prepared to lose… a lot… Usually the first time you face off against large monsters it will be to examine how they act and react which will usually cause them to tower over you and take you out, but its only by knowing how they were able to beat you in the first place that you will learn how you will be able to defeat them. Some monsters go into a frenzy state that causes their attacks to hit harder and faster, so be ready to dodge and play more defensively and strike when they are hungry or limping to get that kill shot. Knowing each monsters tell will help you stay alive and be able to confront each large foe without worrying of any surprise tricks.

 

MH4-2

 

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate shows off a robust and varied monster list that are bigger than ever. Ten new monsters are being introduced in the fourth generation of the series; doing a bit of research would be necessary to find weak spots for each. While there are many new and returning monsters, some other famous ones did not make the cut. Flag ship (and personal favorite) Lagiacrus did not make it into the roster due to the lack of water and swimming. Its a shame they didn’t implement the same swimming mechanics to the game, but having such a diverse roster of monsters, theres not much room to complain. Each monster will offer a different fight and that’s more rewarding than having a few returning monsters.

Online play is bigger than ever as connections stay stable and without delay. Gearing up with three more hunters online just makes the hunting experience that much better, but by doing so will increase difficulty scale for each monster depending on how many hunters in your crew. Be ready for even more punishing blows and vicious attacks by even stronger monsters, but the rewards in taking down these foes are even more rewarding.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is one of the more visually impressive game in the series and 3DS library. Running at a crisp and smooth pace the action flows perfectly without any lag or any major loading screen delays. Even when things get hectic on screen, the game just seems to take it in stride and keeps on going and given the fact that its on the 3DS and not on a home console is even more surprising.

Its as if they also soothed the jagged edge from the Wii and Wii U games that would make the game look and play as though it was squared and calculated. In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, they made it so that the flow of the fight isn’t disturbed by any technical issues and you are free to do as you please making every move count, removing the over calculated gameplay from previous games.

 

MH4-3

 

Its vibrant locals and colourful creatures are what keeps the game looking better than ever. From the rugged plains, to volcanic peaks, everything is displayed with great detail and colorful presentation. The details in each zone and monsters are superb to set the tone of the battlefield and with crisp battle themes to go along with each fight will make it very hard to put the game down for a moment.

Capcom proves again that they can bring a large world with luscious atmosphere onto a small screen with ease.  It would be great to bring the same success over to the consoles eventually and having the Wii U version of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate might be inevitable but the 3DS version will always be an impressive piece of work.

What more can be said about this game other than it is awesome. A game that will take over 200 hours to complete and even more if you want to complete everything possible and the ability to go along with friends and fend off godzilla proportioned monsters in such a small cartridge is amazing. However I can see why there aren’t that many people who are willing to play 200 plus hours to get the same satisfaction. Most of it is a grind and its a lengthy one at that. It takes a good 5 hours before being able to start monsters that offer anything worth hunting, but building your way there is simply challenging, as well as rewarding.

Special New Nintendo 3DS XL’s rolled out on day one with a special Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle, and if you were lucky enough to snag one up (I’m jealous and I hate you) you are getting the complete Monster Hunter package. For those who were less fortunate like myself, buying the game separately for close to $40 will not take away from the experience by any means and for that price for such a good game that will last you a lifetime, there are no regrets.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate brings challenging new experiences to the big game hunting franchise. While staying true to its roots, it offers new mechanics and new ways to play on the New Nintendo 3DS as well as bringing its hard, but rewarding learning system with it. A great buy for veteran hunters and new players alike, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offers a complete package into one small cartridge as one of the most creative and impressive 3DS games available.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.5

+ Evolved gameplay makes for better hunting
– Difficulty curve can discourage new gamers to the series

Presentation: 9

Impressive presentation that come close to competing with some of the HD release

Value: 9

Hours of play and quite rewarding when you get past the more toned down start

Overall Score

8.7Great
*Overall score is not an average.

Nintendo decided to make February 13th the day to break many gamers piggy banks by not only releasing two high profile games with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, but by also having the highly anticipated release of the New 3DS. As the newest addition to the 3DS family and Nintendo’s handheld brass, we will take an in depth look into any new improvements the New 3DS has over its older handheld brothers.

 

Upon playing games on the New 3DS, you will notice that games run much smoother and faster. With more power under the New 3DS’s hood, it gives an added boost when playing games and cuts lengthy loading screen and download time substantially. For comparison, I could have already been starting a battle online on my New 3DS while my other 3DS was just about ready to boot up the game. It is only after you make the switch you realize you’ve been waiting a long time with reference to loading times. My original 3DS might start packing a whole lot of dust in the near future.

 

The system exterior shows some changes with the addition of ZR/ZL triggers and a C Stick. While the ZR/ZL triggers haven’t had much implication with many games so far, the C Stick makes its long awaited debut on handhelds and becomes a welcoming addition. Completely replacing the bulky Circle Pad Pro, the multifunction nubb becomes the go to button of choice for rotating cameras in open games such as Monster Hunter Ultimate 4, or dishing out quick and punishing blows in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. As for the old buttons on the console, some of have been laid out differently for easier use. Instead of having them in the same layout compared to the original 3DS, the New 3DS has the Start/Select buttons on the right side underneath the Y/X/B/A buttons and the Home Button is an actual button rather than just built into the console. As a left handed gamer, I felt the layout of the buttons, especially the Start/Select, are better placed and are far better being buttons rather than built into the console at the bottom of the screen.

The game cartridge and pencil are located where your palms would be when holding the console itself, giving the console a much cleaner and more symmetrical look overall. This comes at a price of having the Micro SD card inside the back casing which without a screwdriver cannot be reached, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless you intend to download full purchase titles. If that is the case, I would suggest to pick up a much larger Micro SD over the standard 4gig one given with the New 3DS. While it has New in its name, it still follows the same design that the previous DSi/3DS  models had before. By using the same shell design, it is practically identical to the other members of the DSi/3DS family, but like mentioned before, it is how everything is placed that makes a difference. It also is a bit lighter compared to previous models which is surprising given the extra features and wider frame of the New 3DS.

new3ds

The standard colors for the New 3DS are New Black and New Red and both have a much glossier finish compared to the consoles predecessor.  I would consider the colors to be closer to the finish on the Wii U. While its very appealing display wise, fingerprints will be easily shown every time you play and therefore constant cleaning will be required if you want to keep your new handheld in pristine condition. The homage to the Super Famicom with the X/Y/A/B buttons was a nice touch to add to its sleek design and I hope that they implement this idea into future or current consoles.

Automatic screen brightness has also been added to give the clearest picture possible for each setting. From wherever you are playing, outside or in the dark, the screen will adjust to your surroundings to make it easier on your eyes and help save some of your battery life in the process. As a result adjusting the screen brightness in the menu becomes an obsolete feature unless you have very sensitive vision. The Face Tracking technology feature is the biggest improvement to the upgraded console. With a camera that will scan and recognize your face to give you the best possible 3D view finally gives 3D gaming without any hassles and gimmicks. The old 3DS’ only gave 3D that was focused onto one view and slight movement or shift could cause games to get blurry, making players opt out of using the 3D effects. With the improvements in the Face Tracking system it gives a much clearer picture when viewing in 3D and stays focused on your face and will recalibrate by itself to make sure the best possible picture is shown.

 

The New 3DS comes at a $199.99 price tag which shouldn’t be too intimidating for those who’ve previously owned a 3DS system and are looking to upgrade, or for those looking to finally make the plunge and getting the Nintendo handheld. With the many new features implemented in the New 3DS it makes it the most complete handheld Nintendo has to offer and it becomes the best option for anybody looking to get one.

 

With that, there are a few things to take into consideration when planning on buying a New 3DS.

One – The New 3DS does not come with a charger, so make sure to purchase one separately or be ready to charge charging cables with your consoles. Many people see this as an annoyance, but I am a little glad I don’t have to fork over $20 extra on my new console just for another charging cable. Between each of my handhelds, I have 4 chargers laying around and having another one would just be an annoyance. With the amount of DSi/3DS sold worldwide I would assume Nintendo thinks that everybody feels the same way.

Two – Transferring… This process is lengthy and too complicated to explain in a mere review so I will give a few words to go about by. Follow the instructions in the booklet, watch online videos on how to do it, and be prepared for a really long process. Having the more relevant Micro SD card is part of the problem, but hopefully this is the last time we have to switch over… Hopefully. Don’t let the transfer scare you too much, because once it it done you can enjoy every bit of each new feature in the handheld. The New 3DS offers the best package for handheld games and hardware. Just having the extra C Stick and processing power is enough for me to switch up and I would suggest to do the same.

 

While the New 3DS isn’t a definite upgrade over the 3DS family at first glance, it becomes the definite handheld of choice to try and get your hands on. Its slight improvements in performance and power are very subtle, but in comparison to the other 3DS’ it shows how far those subtle changes can make a difference. All in all a great new upgrade for those looking for the extra punch the New 3DS offers and new gamers alike, the New 3DS sets a new standard to the handheld family.

There is the ongoing debate that Westwood Studios Command & Conquer series was the best RTS game franchise ever created. Those who bleed Ore and Tiberium will defend the question until their last units drop. While the series has seen some darker days ever since the gaming juggernaut in EA bought the franchise, we can still enjoy the time spent commanding our troops to face off against the enemies’ (or good guys’) forces across our PC screens. Today in this special edition of Time Warp Thursday, we will see where it all started in the original game and see why the Command & Conquer franchise has earned so many medals and conquered the hearts of fans everywhere.

 

The plot involves two different factions in GDI (The Global Defence Initiative) and The Brotherhood of Nod and their struggles to conquer an alien substance only known as Tiberium. While both sides claim different beliefs on this new material, the battle comes down to the two factions as the radical group in Nod wages terrorist attacks around the globe. It is now up to the generals from both sides to complete the ideals of both GDIs’ missions and up to Nod’s campaign to bring the world under one banner. Peace Through Power!

 

The gameplay is what you’d expect from a traditional RTS games of its time. Collect resources and built a base and army to confront your adversaries. While this still has the same fundamentals for many RTS games to date, Command & Conquer refined the standard for all RTS games. Instead of having a convoluted system of obtaining several materials, it only had one item to collect, Tiberium. Not having to worry about X amount of resources, you could simply pick up Tiberium through your Harvesters and deposit them at your Tiberium Refineries.

 

Wait? What are Harvesters and Tiberium Refineries?

Well, in Command & Conquer you have many units that have specific attributes for different tasks. Harvesters collect the Tiberium needed to purchase other units and defence structures to build your bases. While not the only important unit in the game, the only way to collect funds is through Harvesters and without them you will not be able to fund your forces to further on in your mission.

Ok, so Harvesters help you create your units, but what about the units and other structures in the game?

Well, the Command & Conquer series follows a tech tree. That tech tree is built in a specific way: only having certain buildings will grant you the ability to build new ones. Your main base of operations is through the Construction Yard. This building alone is your source of building anything, and without it, you will not be able to build any buildings. After that, you will need Power Plants to power up your other buildings and Factories to build tanks and Tech Centers to build stronger units.

Hey! Stop! Construction Yards, Harvesters, Factories to built all these different things… I’m lost…

Okay, lets take it down a peg. Your Construction Yard is your base of operations. Without it you can’t build any buildings. Tiberium Refineries help you obtain funds for purchasing those items, and Factories are used to build tanks and other forces to help attack and defend against your foes. Now you get it?

While it may seem like a very complicated idea to have all these different things going on, it’s actually pretty simple–once you get the hang of it. Having fewer resources to depend on was a blessing for what was a very confusing and convoluted structure for RTS games, making the game much more accessible to many other gamers and not for the dedicated conquerors who took the time to understand all the principles of the game.

 

The game might be easier to understand, but it does keep the standard of keeping the RTS game’s brand as tough as nails. Sure, the learning curve might be easy to get, but take too much time in preparing your forces and be prepared to say goodbye to your hard-earned base in a blink of an eye, especially if you start off as Nod. The game’s AI wants to conquer you as much as you want to progress and will not make it easy for you to get by without a fight, so be prepared (especially later on) for a bit of an unfair cluster of Mammoth Tanks coming at your door.

 

The game is set up in two factions; the recommended first campaign is the GDI one and then as Nod. You will play through several missions as the commander of your forces and try to achieve the mission objectives throughout each mission. While the main focuses of each mission are just about eliminating the enemy forces, be ready to have to do escort missions and have survival levels thrown into the mix. These missions can prove to be even tougher than trying to wipe out your enemies’ ones, as with limited resources and just a few units to complete the mission with, it becomes less of a struggle of having the bigger force and more about who dies so you can move on and if you can sacrifice one soldier to go forward.

 

Multiplayer was also implemented for the game, and online for play up to four players was also available for those fortunate enough to have enough Internet power to play it. You could also test your skills and resolve through Skirmishes and play against either very easy foes to almost unbeatable commanders through set maps that even the battlefield for each player. Going back to the Online Multiplayer — if you had problems with Online games now, imagine having dial-up internet and going toe to toe with 3 other folks that had dial-up. It’s almost unthinkable 20 years later that games like this even had features of Online Multiplayer, but as rare as Tiberium, Westwood managed to make it work.

 

When Command & Conquer came out almost 20 years ago, it was at the pinnacle of graphics for RTS games everywhere. Its (stellar) environments and unit design just look good for the time. The simplified layout had a major factor in this. Rather than trying to make a flashier game, they stuck to simple colours more on the grey scale, which was proven more beneficial in the long run.

 

What became an iconic trademark was the series and subseries for the Command & Conquer franchise: the corny B-Side movie cutscenes. As cheesy as they are awesome, the game’s overtop acting all started over 20 years ago in a was setting, one that doesn’t usually see a whole lot of comedy put into it.

 

We all had to live with the fact that the gaming juggernaut in EA bought out Westwood Studios and the Command & Conquer series and possibly shut the door for any new game in series after they (ruined) the Tiberium series with the last abomination. The former employees of Westwood Studios has moved on to form Petroglyph Games who released Star Wars: Empire at Wars and have just released a new title called Grey Goo. Even after the fallout of Command & Conquer, the group who worked on the many titles in the series would not stop their passion to make great games and make new and innovative RTS games for everyone to enjoy.

 

Back before EA bought out the Command & Conquer series, the creative group behind the franchise made countless new IPs in the series. They also continued the Tiberium timeline with great games like Tiberium Sun, and made what many consider to be the best RTS game of all time in the alternative Soviet universe: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. The series also included expansions for almost every game, even the 1995 release of the original Command & Conquer. This entailed an even tougher campaign in the The Covert Operations expansion pack, which featured more grueling missions and new units. This is a model that has followed for the many games in the series to this date.

 

We might never see another Command & Conquer game ever again, but we can always look back and still enjoy the countless hours spent building bases and conquering our foes for global dominance on our computer screens. The Command & Conquer legacy will live on through new RTS games with the many standards that the original game refined. A game lost in time, Command & Conquer will be remembered as the Commander of all RTS games and gamers everywhere.

 

This review is based on the PC version for Command & Conquer. The game was also released on DOS, OS, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and Nintendo 64.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 9

Presentation: 8

Value: 8.5

Overall Score

8.5Great
*Overall score is not an average.

Last year, Alex Cote dove into the world of BlackguardsBlackguards is a tactical RPG that takes elements from board games like Risk and the aesthetics and appeal of dark video games like Diablo and blends them into one title. Now I have had the privilege of tackling the sequel from the German team at Daedalic Entertainment in Blackguards 2 to see if the newest installment has any new tricks, or it if is just a carbon copy of its predecessor.

 

The story takes place where a young woman, Cassia, gets thrown into a prison and is set there to rot for the rest of her days. With spiders (corapia) eating at her flesh and mind, Cassia loses her body, her sanity, and four long years of her life in her foul imprisonment. Finally building up the courage to escape, Cassia fends off demon-like creatures and secures her freedom and plans to exact revenge on those who put her through all the horrors she faced.

 

While the story doesn’t exactly follow suit from the previous title, it does centre around the same universe. This similarity makes it engaging for fans of the first Blackguards and easy for new players to join in the fray without asking questions like “What’s going on?” or “Who are all these people?” Instead, the game helps you understand what’s going on through visual aids like a narrator reading you the story, or player interactions. More and more I wanted to venture through this massive game to reach the heroes’ end goals and find out what lies ahead. Quirky moments also bring some light into what is mostly a very dark and gloomy tale. While characters taking jabs at one another (even Cassia makes remarks about her own disfigurement) would usually make a story feel off balance, it works out great for Blackguards 2.

 

Gameplay mechanics stay true to the traditional tactical RPG games and its predecessor, but Blackguards 2 makes it simpler for new players to play. While still massive in scope, customizing your characters’ stats, weapons, skills, and talents are done in a smaller way, which proves to be more beneficial. I still found myself overwhelmed by all the aspects of the game’s robust character stats, but learning to utilize them and to make your characters better becomes almost as rewarding as beating a level in and of itself.

 

Blackguards 2

 

Speaking of levels, don’t expect the game to show you the ropes. Right from the start of the first tutorial you are expected to fend for yourself against stronger foes, and the wrong move or any misstep could cost you greatly. This is important: if you are not ready to die many times, if you are not ready to put in the hours of effort, and if you are not ready to sit down and think through problems, this game is not for you. The difficulty of the game also plays a factor as Blackguard 2’s AI is smart enough to beat you at any turn.

 

There are new elements of exploring in Blackguard 2 with the addition of a overview map that can be selected to choose your next mission. You only realize how big the game is once you open the map and look how many missions are ahead of you, and those looking for a lengthy adventure will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of content in this title.

 

My only concern about the game is a bug that I would urge the team at Daedalic Entertainment to fix ASAP before people get it their hands on the tactical RPG. It is a game freezing bug that will only stop working once you’ve completed a mission. The worst part about it? It does not save your progress and forces you to restart that mission entirely. This has only happened on two separate, but equally frustrating occasions that halted my progress for another hour or so. It did make it easier for me to retry these levels and know every trick, but being forced to replay a whole level due to a bug is a darker story than the one portrayed in the game.

 

While not many improvements were made graphically, the very dark vibe that the first Blackguards had is a bit more cheerful this time around. Brighter background this time around make the game much more appealing. You may have to tough out the very grey tutorials before actually seeing any light, but this also brings some atmosphere into the game. Imagine being locked in a cage for four years and then being able to be free from that cage. It would brighten up my day as well.

 

 

Blackguards 2 offers a very intense style of tactical strategy combat that offers many different approaches and possibilities. It is a great pickup for anybody who plans on dedicating the time it will take to complete the game, but be warned. Blackguards 2 is not for those who usually pick up a game and bring it back a week later. Be ready to put up to 50 hours or more to get through the entire campaign.

 

What could be considered either a letdown or a blessing is not having any online features. I myself am on the fence about the idea of it for a game with just so much involved in the campaign itself, but on the other hand, having 1v1 battles could have also been beneficial. While focus was on making the game more adaptable towards newer or veteran players, the game never ventures out externally which is a bit of a shame as I could see fans really wanting to test their skills against other opponents for Blackguards supremacy.

 

Blackguards 2 will make fans of the first installment feel right at home. By improving on almost every aspect possible, the sequel is a much more fun-filled experience. While fans of the franchise and of large scaled turn base strategy games will be overjoyed, new players might still feel threatened by the game’s tough learning curve and its complex gameplay design. Blackguards 2 is not for those who are looking for a quick pick-up title, but for those who are truly dedicated into diving into a rich story filled strategy game, then consider this one a safe pick.

Thank you to Daedalic Entertainment for providing us a copy of Blackguards 2 for PC.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.6

Challenging but rewarding.

Presentation: 7.1

Not so gloomy this time around.

Value: 8

Not for those looking for an easy pick up.

Overall Score

8Great
*Overall score is not an average.

Nintendo was nice enough to give back a bit of money to their fans for supporting the Wii U with the Wii U Deluxe promotion. I received a few coins myself and decided to visit the Nintendo eShop and see what Indie games I could snag up. I got quite a few games, but I wanted to share one that doesn’t get much recognition compared to the bigger, flashier titles that are on the eShop. That game is none other than the bright and colorful Color Zen.

 

Color Zen is a simplistic puzzle game that uses bright colours and shapes as your puzzle solving tools. By matching the colours next to one another, you will have to figure out which ones goes with which, in order to get through each puzzle. The twist to this game is that the last layered colour in the background has to be the last colour you used, for example, if its light blue, make sure your last two shapes are light blue.

Color Zen

The difficulty will keep on increasing after each puzzle completed with more levels that will keep you on your toes. The levels never gets overly complex, but it does have a nice pace to how you progress throughout the game. This pace keeps a relaxing feel to the game, which is nice, and you can’t complain when the game offers you x amount of levels to go through.

 

The Wii U GamePad is the main feature of the game as they used the touchpad capabilities as the only way to navigate through the whole game. It is certainly nice to see Indies utilizing the GamePad in such a way, and it fits perfectly into this title. Dragging your finger to connect shapes and pieces together works like a charm and the controls run smoothly without any issues.

 

 

For how bright and colourful the game is, it does fall flat visually. This disappointment is an odd thing to say about a game that is based on colours alone, but there wasn’t any pizzaz or cool effects to go with it. Again, this is just me complaining, but it felt like the visuals were just taken out of the paint program and copy-pasted onto the game.

On the other hand, the soundtrack is very well orchestrated. The therapeutic lullabies will make you feel relaxed and unwind very easily. It is fun to come to after a long days work or school. Listening in on the great soothing music to go along with the colourful visuals was one of the better surprises from the Indie game.

 

When I picked up Color Zen, it was only for 1.79$ on the Nintendo eShop and it was quite a steal. The game offers an array of levels, 460 to be exact. Each and every one of the levels is different from the next with many designs and new ways to solve puzzles. What’s even better is that the levels aren’t long so you can get right through each of them quite easily. It is great to be able to sit down for a few minutes and be able to zoom through a few levels at a time without having to dive into an epic story to go along with it. Sometimes its just better to keep it simple and not have to have to follow narratives.

 

Color Zen is a good alternative to take time off of heavier gaming adventures or simply just for winding down. This game’s bright but therapeutic visuals will calm your mind through every puzzle. However, the game does lack in additional detailing in its design. I would highly recommend Color Zen for anybody looking for a more compact sit down experience.

 

This review is based on the Wii U version of Color Zen. The game is also available on the 3DS, Androids and iOS.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 6.5

While the puzzle are diversified, it still become somehow repetitive

Presentation: 6.3

It miss flashier presentation and looks like something that came out of paint.

Value: 6.3

460 levels is a lot, but those take only a few minutes of your time. It is at least not costy.

Overall Score

6.4Fair
*Overall score is not an average.

Anybody who knows me knows I love the Warcraft lore and the MMO of World of Warcraft. But, for my own good, I quit World of Warcraft because of my addictive video game personality and being a perfectionist (also, being in school makes Worlod of Warcraft a little pricy). But Blizzard always finds a way to bring me back in the fold, and no, I did not start playing World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. I actually got hooked on the card game for PC and tablets in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and let me tell you why: if you like a good competition or are looking for that World of Warcraft fix, then you should opt for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

 

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a strategy card game that has you facing against other Heroes of the Warcraft universe. The goal of the game is taking 30 health of your opponent’s hit points before they take yours away. Every turn will offer you mana crystals, which are used to summon minions or use spells and secrets to bolster your forces and take your foes down. You can play as many cards as you’d like per turn, given the amount of mana crystals you have and each turn, your mana crystals will increase by one — so plan your attack and defense accordingly.

 

It reminds me of Yu-Gi-Oh in the sense that it takes the basic principles of taking the hit-points of your opponent, but Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft makes it so that it plays at a much faster pace. While matches can last to close to ten minutes each, you only have 30 cards to play with and 30 hit-points to go around. The many effects that the cards offer counter most other cards to keep the pace of the game quick.

 Hearthstone

Each of the 9 decks available offer a specific Hero from the Warcraft’s rich universe of colourful characters. There are familiar names like Thrall for the Shaman set or Jaina for the Mage deck, and all of them play a bit differently. I have taken to playing with the Warlock deck with the strategy of taking and giving damage. It’s fun to play against the many faces of Warcraft and learning the strategies we have seen from books and lore from the games. This is a very clever way to base the game.

 

There are many ways to play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft as you can play casually or competitively against others, but chances are you will become more competitive. Modes like Play or The Arena will have you facing against other players and trying to best each other in duels and earn rewards for your effort. Solo Play is better for practicing if you’re a new player or perfecting your new deck of cards.

 

Much like in World of Warcraft, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft offers daily quests for you to do to earn more gold. Gold is one of the ways to purchase new cards or DLC. These quests will prompt you each day you log in and you will have three to complete. You can also earn gold by either winning certain amount of matches or by completing various achievements, which could help you buy more cards or save up for the Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion, like I am doing.

 

The game follows the rich lore of the Warcraft universe as each character follows its own portrayal of how they are shown in their respected games. You will have Garrosh who’s cards acting as hot headed as he does, or Gul’Dan’s minions have quirky cacals of uncertainty in their voices. It’s a nice touch to keep the game as close as possible to the Warcraft universe. Another cool thing was keeping the rarity of the cards the same way as they are in the Warcraft games. With just a little diamond shaped icon in the middle of the card, you will immediately know the value of the card if you are familiar with Warcraft.

 Hearthstone

The artwork for the cards is all done exceptionally well. Each card has a custom artwork that was taken from the many artists that work at Blizzard, and recreated the faces of each Hero and Villain of the Warcraft universe into perfect cards. Even the outline of the cards feels like they could be found in the other games themselves. With jagged cut corners stitched to hold the cards together, it really brings the imaginated World of Warcraft to life.

 

The little details of the game are what you’d expect from the people at Blizzard. You can play with the board while waiting for your opponent to play by clicking on the many things found in the background. For example, shooting a catapult, making a fire, or you can even taunt your foes with the many emotions given. It’s these little things that make Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft so much fun to play.

 

As you can play as the many Heroes of Warcraft with the classes offered in the game, I would hope that they would introduce new Heroes per class. It’s obviously fun playing as Thrall or Jaina, but the Warcrafts and especially the World of Warcraft lore is so extensive and vast that it would be fun to play as your favorite Hero. I’m sure many World of Warcraft players who play as Alliance don’t care much that Garrosh is the face of the Warrior deck, and would probably want to play as Varrian — and the same goes for Horde players. It’s just my two cents of what could be done in the future, and I am also expecting a Death Knight deck with the Lich King. So get on that, Blizzard.

 Hearthstone

As Gul’Dan says, the game will take a hold of your time before you even know it. I started a month ago and now I clock in about two hours a day trying to complete quests or earn enough gold for new packs. The way it keeps you coming back for more is similar to World of Warcraft’s formula of keeping things different every game. This is done by seeing new cards from different players, making you want to build a stronger deck or having that perfectionist mindset, and building that perfect deck to compete against higher tier people who have done the same.

 

The versatility of every type of game offered also helps to keep the game fresh and exciting. Modes like The Arena, where you build a quick deck and face off against another person to see how they stand up to earn prizes and high rewards, make this game even more addictive. The inclusion of having cross-game prizes also pulls me even closer to start my World of Warcraft account again as an exclusive mount (The Hearthsteed). After all, finishing the tutorial really can drive somebody back into other games. If they plan to do the same with Starcraft II and Diablo III, there is sure to be a surge of people going out to buy a copy just to see the free rewards given.

 

Just because it’s free doesn’t make it cheap. Blizzard were smart enough to mask the game with a free basic set of the game for everybody to try.  This was done instead of having the pay-to-win motto many other games use nowadays. It becomes pay-to-explore as new expansion sets like the Heathstone: Curse of Naxxramas are $24.99, but buying this does not take away from the game’s best experience: playing against others. You could also try and collect enough gold to purchase the expansion packs after doing many quests, but that might take much more time than you’d want to spend as you can purchase sections of the Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas set for 700 gold each.

 

There is no point in fighting it! Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft won my heart over and might make me dive back into the whole Blizzard arsenal of games because of it. Its fun pick up and play style is easy for anybody to pick up and get hooked on the second of their first draw. The possibility of it being free might lead it to being one of the most profitable games in the near future. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is one of those games you HAVE to pick up for your PC and experience its greatness for yourself… and lose your soul to it.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 9.5

Quick and diverse

Presentation: 9.0

Familiar to the Warcraft universe and well done

Value: 9.0

Hours upon hours to enjoy and can buy expansions with game currency

Overall Score

9.0Amazing
*Overall score is not an average.

The holidays are almost here and I know most of you are still looking for something special for those special gamers. Luckily for you, I got a special Nintendo Wii U gift guide that might be helpful in figuring out which games and gadgets to buy to go along with the consoles. From kids to adults, we got it all here on our Holiday Gift Guide for the Wii U for Day 5 of our 12 Days of 3GEM.

Gearing up for the Holidays

What better way to start the Holidays with new accessories to get everybody involved in the game. Here are 3 must have goodies to amp up your game when the family comes over:

 

Amiibo

These virtual gaming figurines come to life with the tap of a controller. What’s more is that they will come and play with or against you in games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS or unlock special costumes in games like Mario Kart 8. Classics like Mario, Link, Peach and Pikachu are already on store shelves, but not for long. So grab them while you can.

 

Pro Controller

The Pro Controller is the ultimate gaming controller for gamers who want to sit and enjoy those adventure marathons. It’s lightweight and comfortable, and won’t have you cramping up after a few hours. The best feature of this mighty controller is its prolonged battery life as it can withstand 80+ hours without any charging.

 

Mario, Luigi, and Peach Wii Motes

The stylish new Wii Motes are a great gift for anybody looking to add more people to the game. As many main features are focused on the GamePad, other players can join in on the fun with these glossy controllers. What’s even better is that most stores have them priced for $5 or less, but that’s between you and me!

 

Partying with U

Now that you’re all caught up on how to prepare for your guests, it’s time to lure them in with some awesome party games. Nintendo is famous for making some of the best games out there, and most of them can be shared with others.

 

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8http://3gem.ca/game-review/review-mario-kart-8/

Dash through circuits, castles, and in the skies, all while zipping upside down with Mario and friends in the newest Grand Prix adventure. Mario Kart 8 offers loads of fun for anybody who wants a good adrenaline rush and enjoy some good competition. Just don’t blame me when little Timmy hits you with a Blue Shell.

 

Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: http://3gem.ca/game-review/review-super-smash-bros-wii-u/

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U offers the ultimate fighting game that kids and adults will love. Have Mario, Pac Man, Mega Man and, yes, even the Duck Hunt dog duke it out on the big screen for up to eight players! A smashing good time indeed for everyone who wants to punt little Timmy for beating you in that race over in Mario Kart 8.

 

Just Dance 2015

What’s better than having everybody over for the Holidays? Having everyone act like a bunch of buffoons while trying to dance in front of the TV with everybody around makes Just Dance 2015 the perfect experience. With so many great songs to choose from, you will be able to laugh the night away as mom and dad try to prove that the aunts have no rhythm.

 

 

Rated “K” for Kids

Well what about games for kids? Don’t worry, we got you covered! The Nintendo Wii U offers many great games for kids of all ages. For those just learning the gaming world, to the ones looking for new challenges. They can all be found on Nintendo and here are some recommendations that could help you out picking which one over the others.

 

Skylanders: Trap Team

Skylanders is a great choice to introduce your kids to the world of interactive gaming. Like the Amiibo, the game offers its own set of figurines that come to life and learn with your kids while going through a big open sandbox world to explore. They can also mix and match figurines to make their own custom partner to play with throughout is wide adventure.

 

Disney Infinity 2.0

Like Skylanders: Trap Team, Disney Infinity 2.0 is the newest addition to the interactive gaming family. With the many famous Disney characters to choose from, the possibilites are endless and the variety is infinite. Both games offer many experiences, but both choices are great additions for kids to learn and grow how to build their own adventure stories.

 

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

One of the newest additions to the Nintendo family is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Take the roles of Captain Toad and Toadette as they go through many different puzzles to try to uncover treasures. With many levels to go through, kids and parents alike will have a blast going through and finding all the secrets hidden inside this great puzzle platformer.

 

For the Older Crowd

Now for the older children of the world. For those who are looking for some intense action or challenging gameplay don’t fret. The Wii U has some of the hardest and challenging games around. Picking just one won’t be easy for your adult gamer, but most of these games should keep them entertained for quite some time…(hopefully until next Christmas).

 

Donkey-Kong-Country-Tropical-Freeze

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: http://3gem.ca/game-review/review-donkey-kong-country-tropical-freeze/

Donkey Kong has always been known as one of the toughest games around and his newest adventure in Tropical Freeze stays true to its roots. As frosty foes come to invade Kongo Jungle, Donkey Kong and friends must trifle through many dangers and adversaries and reclaim their home. Even with its childish charm and cartoony look, make no mistake that this game is for the hardcore.

 

Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors: http://3gem.ca/game-review/review-hyrule-warriors/

Take the legendary hero himself in a tactical role in Hyrule Warriors, a crossover between The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors to create a new breed of gaming for Zelda and Dynasty fans alike. Defeat many foes with Link and other heroes of Hyrule in a hack and slash collaboration.

 

Bayonetta 2

 

Bayonetta 2: http://3gem.ca/game-review/review-bayonetta-2/

Bayonetta 2 was one of the best action games of year. You play as the kinky witch Bayonetta as you battle your way through Heaven and Hell in this intense combat-filled world. Its outstanding gameplay and combat was praised as a contender for game of the year so you know you’re picking up a sure thing in this one. Just keep it away from the children.

 

 

Virtual Stocking Stuffers

Not every game you need to buy has to be an expensive blockbuster. With apps like the Nintendo E-Shop, great inexpensive titles await to be downloaded straight into your console.

 

Shovel Knight

Dig yourself in a retro inspired Indie game in Shovel Knight. Its 8Bit style graphics and gameplay would be right at home on an NES cartridge, but lucky for us, it’s made its home on the Nintendo E-Shop. One of the finest games of the year will only cost you close to $14.99.

 

Pushmo World

A real treat for anybody, Pushmo World is a great addition for someone who loves challenging puzzles. In this simple game, you will have to use your puzzle-solving skills to reach the top of each level. The best feature about this title is being able to create and share your own levels with people from all around the globe, and you can’t go wrong with a price tag of $9.99.

 

Super Mario World

Relive the game that started many gamers’ journeys in the SNES classics in Super Mario World. The classic game has been out for awhile on the Nintendo’s E-Shop and for $7.99 you will be able to show your kids how gaming was done back in the day, or even settle the score with some old friends. The Wii U also offers many other classic titles to pick from as well. From NES to Game Boy Advance, anybody can relive those great gaming moments.

 

 

We hope that this Holiday guide was helpful in finding that special something for your beloved gamer. If you are looking for any other ideas with other consoles, we also have an Xbox One gift guide and a PS4 one coming up shortly. Enjoy a fun and festive Holiday with friends and family and don’t forget to post what games you’re hoping to get or planning to get for that somebody special in our comment box below.

As the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. filled me up with some old Smash memories, I always wanted more from the game. Little things always seemed to bug me a bit and made me crave for the Wii U version of Smash to come out. Now that November has come and gone, I can finally get my fix of the home console version. However, is that a good or bad thing? Well, it’s good. It’s really good. In fact, it’s amazing!

 


The roster is bigger and better this time around in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While it does hold the same amount of fighters that the 3DS version does, they look and play much better than the handheld version. While I felt the 3DS version was good, it never felt right control-wise. So much so that I couldn’t play as my main character (Fox) due to the lack of perfect controls. The Wii U version, on the other hand, provides the precise gameplay that the game is known for. Now I can play as Fox without any hassle (all of you better watch out!)

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U also balances the series out with the best of both previous games. As it brings the tightened gameplay that Super Smash Bros. Melee was known for, all while keeping it a bit more open and floaty, for which Super Smash Bros. Brawl was known. This strike in balance creates a much more competitive game, now more than ever, as now competitive players will be able to dish out combo chains that seem fair and not drive other players off the wall by overpowering them.

If any recent Wii U game from Nintendo has taught us anything, it’s that Nintendo always tries to make all their recent controllers put to good use. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, it goes over and beyond that. Being able to use the Gamepad, Pro Controller, Wii Mote, Wii Mote Nunchuck, Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro — even a 3DS if you want — are all ways to play the game, but the big addition for Smash lovers was being able to use the GameCube controller via a GameCube adapter.

 

smash-bros-wii-u-link-samus

 

While the GameCube controller is the superior way to play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the Pro Controller does the job rather well. I usually opted to go with the Pro Controller due to the distance between my TV and couch and the relative cord lengths, but I have to say I really like the Pro Controller for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It feels robust and comfortable enough that I never had any issues while playing. The Gamepad, on the other hand, was disappointing. It’s far too big and clunky to play comfortably. I had the same feelings when I was playing Super Smash Bros. for 3DS on my XL. It just felt forced and too foreign.

The only good use for the Gamepad is the newest Nintendo product, the Amiibos. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, they become your living companions or foes. They will get better as they level up, improving their skills by learning the way you and your friends play. It’s a fun way to practice with a much stronger opponent than the level 9s, especially one who can study your strategies. What you will need to activate your Amiibos is to use the NFC chip inside the Gamepad. By tapping your figurine to it, it will bring them into the game and have them ready to brawl it up with you.

Online play is much improved over the Wii and 3DS by a long shot. I was able to play without any lag and constant connection drops at a crisp and respectable frame rate. Having this game plus Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire released on the same day, I thought the shoddy Nintendo Network would break down under pressure, but to my surprise, the online features work like a charm. Nintendo may still be far behind its competitors in online play, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U proves to be a very solid online experience.

 

2557931-1628296571-25282

 

Classic Mode gets another revamp, just like the 3DS version did, but this feels much better overall. It’s a little faster compared to previous games as the game will have you up against multiple foes at a time instead of the traditional way we are used to playing. As a classic Smash player, this gets two big thumbs up in my books. It now takes a whole lot less effort to beat the game with every character and gets me to focus on my Multi-Man Smash in the process.

Three new mini games make their debuts in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U in Smash Tour and the Two Orders. All three bring a new and unique experience to the table. Just like Smash Run on the 3DS, Smash Tour brings four players together in a chaotic party game. Unlike the forced addition of Smash Run on the 3DS, the Wii U board game works very well, especially when duking out with friends. The Orders in Master Order and Crazy Order are more for personal play, but add a new twist for more challenging players who are looking to test their skills and earn special rewards while playing Master and Crazy Hands games.

Another new addition is the custom Smash matches which are a blast to play. Having everything go into chaos with just random items and powerups is just so funny to watch. What’s even more chaotic than that is the 8 player Smash battles. I personally love playing the 8 player Smash. It just makes the game a great way to bring everybody together and duke it out old school (if you have enough remotes to spare). Playing with more than four players at a time will cause your selection of levels to diminish from absurd to a handful, but with very large levels like The Great Cave Offensive or Hyrule Temple makes it even more fun to duke it out in larger groups.

 

mii-fighter-super-smash-bros

 

 

Speaking of stage variety: in regular Smash mode, there are so many to choose from. It becomes a question of not having your favourite level to play, but which one to play on. What makes the stages even better is the ability to change the level design to “Final Destination” style stages so that all players can enjoy every level hazard-free while enjoying the stages of their favourite games.

Stage Builder comes back in the Wii U version, but also brings a bit of disappointment. The lack of customization and depth makes Stage Builder the only blunder the game has. Even the Gamepad, the tool you have to use to make the stages, really lacks any creativity. Drawing straight lines is a hassle even with the grid, and the lack of items just make Stage Builder a real downer. At least you can choose your favourite songs to go along your limited levels.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the first of the series to be in HD and like the recent releases of Mario Kart 8 and Bayonetta 2, the quality to detail is superb. All of the characters are portrayed like they would have popped out of their own games. It may not be as eye popping as more newly-released games since you are always positioned centre stage, but for all that craziness to go on at the same TV screen without skipping a beat is pretty outstanding.

 

zlCfzSk6HzMBkcWj_9

The soundtrack is truly something. I never thought they could cram in so many songs from Nintendo’s past into a game, but they managed to stuff all of those great classic tunes into one game (and I thought the 3DS version had a vast library of songs!) The game holds close to 430 tracks to choose from. That’s a whole lot of CDs to collect!

Even the trophies in this game are obsessively done to the finest point. The attention to detail for each one of them is insane considering they managed to make each of them unique to capture each of the game mascots’ personalities. Even third parties like Ubisoft and Capcom helped out with creating some unique trophies like Rayman and Mega Man. Who says that the Wii U doesn’t have third party support?

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U beats any fighting and party games out the door. It offers way too much for anybody to consider any other games to compare it to. Trying to complete the game at 100% will probably take you close to 500 hours so, for you pedantic gamers, that might take up your time. The game also makes the 3DS version practically irrelevant now besides for the data transfer or playing on the go. It’s just that big of a game.

Now, I did say that Bayonetta 2 is my personal pick for GOTY in my last review, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will push all nominated titles. It offers so much to the casual gamer as well as the hardcore ones that it brings the best of both worlds. Games like that don’t come too often. I even caught my fiancée sneaking a few matches the other day trying to be as good as me. Sorry hun, but you can only beat me at SNES games.

 

Foxupatyourside

 

A special offer from Club Nintendo also offers people who purchased and registered both copies of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U a limited time offer of the Super Smash Bros. soundtracks. Now, normally I find game soundtracks to be a waste of space as they are better enjoyed through the game themselves, but for Smash this is a gift for anybody who is tired of carrying their 3DS around. With many songs from both games this is a true fan’s dream soundtrack. So make sure to register those games to get on the great offers through Club Nintendo.

DLC is also on its way with Mewtwo making its return to the Smash scene in late spring. This also brings back the speculation of extra DLC characters. Sakurai did mention that Mewtwo is a special exception as the game will not feature any future DLC besides that. This is Sakurai, one of the biggest internet trolls in the world, so take that as you may. I am still hoping for the return of the Ice Climbers.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U becomes the perfect party game as well as the ultimate fighting experience that caters to both sides of the gaming world. Whether you are a casual player, or a devoted hardcore gamer, there is tons to do in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U to tend to your gaming needs. The game will leave you years upon years of unlocking every nook and cranny it has to offer. If that’s not your style, you could jump straight into Smashing online with other people. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U becomes the King of the Ring and a must-have title for anybody who owns a Wii U.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 9.5

Play styles that suit for anyone’s game

Presentation: 9.5

Great visuals and art style that stay true to every franchise players

Value: 9.7

Will take you months to get everything at 100%

Overall Score

9.6Amazing
*Overall score is not an average.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are right around the corner and November 21st couldn’t come sooner. Before we dive into what will be the third remake in the Pokemon franchise, we decided to go back a decade and get the good ol’ Game Boy Advance out and strap ourselves into the original games Ruby and Sapphire, to see if the eleven year old classic stand the test of time. So, without further ado, here is our latest retro review!

The story follows a young child (you) who, in like previous games, wanted to be the very best Pokemon trainer in the world by becoming the league champion. What’s great about the story in Ruby/Sapphire is all the different elements it puts in place to change the old rinse and repeat story from the previous games. For one, you actually have a father (strange, I know), who is a Gym Leader who you get to battle, a new team of Pokemon Crime Lords who try to destroy the world with powerful ancient Pokemon, and you have two rivals who try and push you to your limits by encouraging you to go forward instead of being snotty kids who think they are the best.

1280078-pokemon_sapphire

With all these new pieces added to what was previously a bland story, now you have concrete goals to achieve. You want to surpass your rivals, you want to conquer the new threat and you want to become the champion. You aren’t just told all these things, they groom you into wanting to be the character you become by the end of the game, giving you a sense of achievement that wasn’t there before in previous Pokemon games. It’s something I still find it lacking in the newer Gens,  and what’s even better is the more mature theme behind the whole story.

Now I am not saying Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire is a M rated game, but it does feel a little more grown up in terms of the whole plot behind the game. This isn’t your regular Team Rocket grunts with their army of Zubats trying to kidnap your Pokemon, it’s a cult group of socialists who are trying to summoning a rageful Pokemon to destroy the land or sea (in their respective games) in order to bring about “peace”. As a kid, this was what I wanted in a Pokemon game, a darker tone to what is usually a colourful world where nothing goes wrong.

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire doesn’t take away from the basic elements that make up a Pokemon game, but what they did is upgrade the initial base of those elements as well as add many new features to the 3rd Generation games. With things like weather effects that can change the statuses of the battles or the new HM Dive to discover deep underwater caverns, they made the new experience of Pokemon feel more alive and vibrant. The only downfall to the exploration in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire is all the surfing involved in the game. Having all the cities converted into small islands instead of one big landmass makes getting around a bit tedious and with a whole lot of back in forth to do, it becomes even more irritating as you progress further.

hqdefault

 

The new 134 Pokemon are by far the coolest batch of Pokemon to have ever been created. They look more evolved and primal in their design making it look like a progression in the series, only later to be regressed in the latest game X/Y where the Pokemon look more kid-friendly. I know that the games aren’t supposed to be catering to my age group, but it was just a relief, even as a kid to see that next step in the series.

The only thing that bugged me with the vast new roster was how many legendary Pokemon are in the game. It was okay for this game, but it started a trend of having 10+ legendaries for every new Pokemon game announced, which makes all legendary Pokemon feel more like regular Pokemon. Don’t get me wrong, I like Kyogre and Groudon, but the addition of Jirachi and Deoxys were unnecessary as a story standpoint as well as for originality’s sake.

The upgrade in presentation is seen right off the bat as the power of the new GBA shows off an updated display of colourful graphics and enhanced visuals. Again, without parting ways with the original Pokemon game settings, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire takes the traditional construct of the game and makes it its own. The overworld and the battle scenes are the most reworked areas in the game and the new Pokemon models look amazing as they are practically carried over from game to game until the DS with the Black/White versions.

We obviously know the impact of these games in the gaming community, as they seem to become even more popular with each iteration selling over the 10+million mark. Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire was the series to sell the least compared to its counterparts in the franchise at 15.85 million. Compared to the Gold/Silver versions that sold 23.10 million you’d suspect a drop off in interest for the game series, but what is even funnier is that when talking to any die-hard Pokemon enthusiast they will say that Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire is comparatively one of the better games in the series.

The game rightfully deserves its long awaited remake in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS, and I for one can’t wait for it to be released later this month. To be able to revisit a world like Hoenn again in full 3D will be a treat to anyone who is a fan of the series as well as newcomers who started with X/Y. With all the innovations that the original Ruby/Sapphire brought before, it will be fun to see how they integrate those ideas while blending the updated overall aesthetic that the newer game has planned.

Without venturing far out of the original Pokemon build, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire brought a completely new look to the famed franchise. Its new game mechanics and cool batch of Pokemon certainly make this one legendary game for Pokemon enthusiasts to get their hands on while we wait for the remake to reinvigorate our Ruby/Sapphire needs. This duo of games stand the test of time as one of the most renowned gems in the Pokemon franchise.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.8

Presentation: 9.1

Value: 9.1

Overall Score

9Amazing
*Overall score is not an average.

A month has passed since Bayonetta 2’s launch, and everybody is still gawking about how good the game is. People are saying that it can be considered one of this year’s greatest games, and they are even going as far as saying it could be the best game of this generation. Now that I am mostly done my school work for the semester, it’s time to get naughty with the witch and see if the game is worth all the praise it’s been given.

Spoiler! This is going to be a big gush fest.

Our story starts off with our favourite hair demon summoning witch Bayonetta whose getting some Christmas shopping done …until all chaos breaks loose as The Angels of Paradiso (or just Angels) come to spoil the holiday cheer. Bayonetta and her friend Jeanne fend off the onslaught until Bayonetta summons a demon that goes rogue, knocks Jeanne’s spirit out of her body, and gets dragged to Hell. Now it’s up to Bayonetta to go find the Gates of Hell and bring her closest friend back into the world of the living.

Now, before I get into anything else, I just wanted to take a second to say how amazing the Prologue and the Intro levels were. I never got a chance to play the first Bayonetta before now, and the second does a terrific job to teach new players how to play the game in the very first seconds of the game. You are shot straight to the action and it doesn’t stop until the end. You think you beat the first boss and another bigger and stronger boss comes along and gives you trouble. You end up beating that one as well, and an even bigger, stronger boss comes out of the corner and starts testing your skills even further. Now, after beating three straight bosses there simply can’t be another one… And an EVEN BIGGER BOSS IN GARGANTUAN PROPORTION COMES OUT OF NOWHERE!!! The best parts in any other game become the only parts in Bayonetta 2. Fighting these giant bosses and enemies never makes you feel that overpowering, as it does take some time to take them down, but it’s done so elegantly that it just makes you feel like you dominate over your foes without disturbing the balance of the game.

Bayonetta 2

You could play Bayonetta 2 like many other action games before by just bashing the X button until your finger bleeds, but where’s the joy in that? Trying various combos and honing your skills becomes such a rewarding experience as you can obliterate anybody in your way, and learning every trick helps you better your score in the end of each level. It’s even more satisfying being able to get a Pure Platinum trophy when beating a level, rather than just not trying and just pressing a few buttons.

The game gets pretty gruesome when it comes to Bayonetta’s ability to crush her foes with a finisher. She tears anything that is unlucky enough to get in her way apart with ancient torture weapons. She also gets the ability of Witch Time, that, when dodging at the right moment, can trigger everything around to go in slow motion and take advantage of your foes. This ability becomes an essential part of the game as it helps in taking down the bigger, stronger enemies in the game. Mastering it is a bit difficult at first, but becomes an essential tool to get over any obstacle.

The Umbran Climax is the newest weapon in Bayonetta’s arsenal that pummels anything in its path with super-powered attacks that wipe the field of battle clean. It’s like the Torture Attacks, but instead of focusing on one certain foe, it goes after everybody at once. Building up the Umbran Climax by hitting at key moments or dodging at the correct time will make taking down foes that much easier and a whole lot more fun.

As a Wii U title, there is always going to be a GamePad function to go along with it, but sadly, that’s one spot that Nintendo should have focused on a bit more. Besides having Touch screen usage for attacks or having the game displayed on the GamePad, it’s not used for much. It’s not overly disappointing when compared to everything else the game has to offer, but instead of making use of the GamePad I quickly turned to the Classic Controller Pro to get the best out of the game.

When I reviewed Mario Kart 8, I said that it had the best visuals that any Wii U game had by a long shot. Well, now a new winner in that department has that title (sorry Mario Kart 8). Bayonetta 2 makes the best of the Nintendo home console by pushing the boundaries in every aspect. A trend from most action games is hiding everything in grey colours and lots of grit. Even the first Bayonetta fell victim to that. Bayonetta 2 does quite the opposite of that. It brings bright and colourful locals, ranging from the highest peaks of the Heavens to the lowest pits of Hell to almost absolute perfection.

Bayonetta 2

It does have a few minor details that need a bit of a touch up, but to be honest, that’s a small complaint for how nice the open world is, and everything running at a clear 60 fps and near 1080p does need credit on its own. The game really pushes everything the Wii U has and delivers one of the most polished and bright experiences I have ever played. And yes, I have played with the PS4 and Xbox1, but nothing stands out as much as Bayonetta 2 did.

The cut scenes are also done with so much perfection. I admired that the group at Platinum games didn’t venture too far from what the game looked like from the first trailer to the last moment of the game. When many game developers try to pull out these CG trailers for their games and they end up falling flat on their faces compared to the real thing, Bayonetta 2 showed its gorgeous world in the first moment of the game and it is exactly the same as what you expect all the way through.

What more can be said about Bayonetta 2 other than… it’s freaking awesome! It has so much content packed into one disc, but one disc wouldn’t be enough. As a special bonus from Platinum Games and Nintendo, we receive the first Bayonetta totally free with our purchase of Bayonetta 2, or a discounted price of $30 for both on the Eshop if you are downloading it (which comes up to the same thing). Two games for a standard price of $60 is an incredible deal, especially for how good both games are.

Bayonetta 2 clocks in between the range of 10-20 hours, depending how you play it. If you are just button grinding your way through, not picking up any collectibles and going as fast as you can, this will be a lackluster experience, but if you take the time to enjoy the game, learn the tricks and pick everything up, it will bring in so much more fun. I am going on my third pass at it to try and complete everything at Pure Platinum (or at least try) and I am not even close to being tired of the game.

Bayonetta 2

An almost first for Nintendo is having all the special content in a second-party game. In the first Bayonetta you get special costumes like the Samus, Peach or Link outfits. In the second one you can play in a sexy version of Fox (as sexy as it gets) and fly in an R-Wing, shooting down some enemies in a classic air dogfight style. The game also brings a special online feature called Tag-Climax where you and a friend can fight and complete challenges to earn more Halos to unlock more items and goodies.

More games like Bayonetta 2 need to come out for the Wii U as it does cater well to the much older and mature audience, but it also brings a level of creativity that needs to be brought back in games. Many games nowadays seem to forget that the reason why we play video games isn’t for the graphics or how great the game looks, but how it plays and how the game can pull you in and play for hours. Bayonetta 2 captures that in every way.

Bayonetta 2 was truly an action-filled adrenaline rush that just never seemed to stop. It has all the tools of a great game and the dedication and passion that was poured into this game truly stands out. From its rocking non-stop climactic action, its bright visuals and amazing replayability it just delivers on every account. If I could give it a higher score than Pure Platinum I would. A must-have title for everyone and I will say it now, it’s my Game of the Year by a long shot.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 9.3

Amazing gameplay and story to keep you entertained for hours on end.

Presentation: 9.8

Prettiest game on the Wii U.

Value: 8.5

Everything that is packed into this game just makes it so much better.

Overall Score

9.2Amazing
*Overall score is not an average.