Jul 29

SDCC 2014 Hands-On: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

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Professor Layton Ace Attorney 00

Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright, the stars of two of the biggest visual novels on the DS and 3DS, needed to meet eventually. Thankfully, Capcom and Level-5 realized this and made Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. While the game has been out in Japan for nearly two years and is taking its merry little time coming out in North America, it looks like it’ll be worth the wait.

The demo appears to start sometime after the game’s actual opening. Layton and Phoenix are already in the medieval-style city of Labyrinthia and both characters seem to already know the first defendant, Espella Cantabella. The game is broken up into two segments: one where you play as Layton and another where you play as Phoenix.

In Layton’s section, the professor and his companion Luke head into Labyrinthia, where they run into Phoenix and his assistant Maya. During this part of the game, the user interface and gameplay style mimic previous Layton games. You tap around the screen visiting different parts of town and talking with various people. Occasionally, you come across some puzzles or brainteasers that need to be solved. This should all sound very familiar to those accustomed to the series.

After meeting Phoenix, who appears to believe he’s a baker for some reason, a series of events occur that require him to appear in court to defend Espella. Here, the game switches play styles and becomes more like the Ace Attorney series. You’re given the ability to review important information in the Court Record and you get to cross examine witnesses. Since Labyrinthia isn’t America Japan, their courts can have different sets of rules. One of the major changes in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright is that there can now be multiple witnesses giving their testimony on the stand at one time. However, this doesn’t have as much of an effect on gameplay as you would think. You are talking to a group of people, but it still just feels like you’re looking for inconsistencies in one really long testimony.

After pointing out a couple of easy faults in the witnesses’ logic, the demo quickly came to an end.

Despite the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series taking very different approaches to the visual novel genre, they mesh surprisingly well. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney appears to take the best of both worlds and craft an exceptionally entertaining package. The wait until August 29 with be a hard one.

StevenNo comments

Jul 28

SDCC 2014 Hands-On: Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal

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Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal was playable at The Nerd Machine’s Nerd HQ across the street from Comic-Con. The wait to play the 3DS demo was pretty short, and I can see why. Between its low frame rate, disappointing visuals, needlessly large and aimless levels and on-the-fly character switching the game feels like a mishmash of ambitious game ideas that weren’t fully developed.

The demo starts by dropping you into a Donkey Kong Country Returns-style 3D level select screen but one that has a hard time maintaining a stable frame rate. Sadly, it’s a problem that doesn’t get better after you jump into an actual stage. It’s hard to see why the game struggles to run smoothly when it’s using textures marginally better than the DS Sonic games on considerably better hardware.

Stages feel much larger than previous handheld Sonic games and they seem to focus a bit more on exploration and platforming. In order to get through a stage, you’ll need to make use of the game’s character-switching mechanic. During any point in a level, you can switch between four characters: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Sticks the Badger. It’s a feature that could have been used for some clever puzzles or platforming sections, but since each character controls almost identically to each other, with the exception of one special move, the mechanic really only boils down to “change to this character to hit this switch/break this thing/fly past this obstacle.”

In its current state, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal feels like one of the worst Sonic games I’ve played in recent history. Granted, there’s still time to hammer out the kinks and fix many of the problems I encountered, but at the same time, November isn’t that far away.

StevenNo comments

Jul 27

This Week in Games: “Go NinjaGo NinjaGo” Edition

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A game based on the LEGO Ninjago series is coming to the 3DS this week and is the only game coming out this week.

At the very least, I get to use Vanilla Ice in a post, and any time you can use the Ice in a post, you do it.

I’m sure I can get more mileage out of this when the inevitable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie tie-in games come out, too.

Read more

StevenNo comments

Jul 25

SDCC 2014 Hands-On: Hyrule Warriors

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Having never played a Dynasty Warriors game, I didn’t really know what I was getting into with Hyrule Warriors. I had a general idea of what the games were like – massive battles where your character practically mows down hundreds of fodder enemies while completing objectives – but I never had a chance to try one out until today.

The Comic-Con demo consisted of a short 10-minute skirmish and let you choose between Link, Zelda or Midna. After watching the people in front of me play as Link and Midna, I decided to go with Zelda.

Combat is pretty simple: you have light and hard attacks, a special move and a secondary weapon or item. Light attacks can be stringed together for simple combos and ended with a hard attack to trigger a flashy finisher that works as a good crowd-clearing move. These finishers also change depending on how the number of light attacks in the combo.

At the top of the screen is a small meter that slowly fills as you deal out damage. When it’s full, you can unleash a powerful special attack. Zelda’s is an elegant shot with her bow than takes out enemies in a straight line in front of her.

As you fight across the map, you will come across treasure chests that contain special items. These can be used in battle for different purposes. The chest in the demo stage had bombs, which could be used as an offensive move or as a means to clear boulders off the field. It also served as an important tool in defeating the demo’s boss.

At the demo’s climax, King Dodongo appears and you have to take him out. As you would expect, he’s a noticeably tougher enemy than anything encountered thus far. He has a much bigger life bar than any other enemy, but more importantly, he has a secondary meter. Attacking not only hurts the boss, but lowers this other meter. When it’s drained, your character will automatically go into a special attack animation and do a massive chunk of damage to the boss.

While it can take a while to whittle down the boss’ life bar, you can exploit weaknesses to save some time. Just like Dodongos in the Zelda series, King Dodongo is incredibly weak to bombs. If you throw some in his mouth as he’s readying one of his attacks, he’ll drop to the ground, giving you a big window to throw out your hardest-hitting moves.

Hyrule Warriors was pretty enjoyable. It felt far shallower than a traditional Zelda game, but it was still fun. There’s just something about mindlessly cutting through hordes of useless enemies that’s really satisfying. I can’t really say I’m more excited about the game after playing it, but I am still looking forward to its release. Hopefully, the full game will offer up more of a challenge.

StevenNo comments

Jul 25

SDCC 2014 Hands-On: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

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The jump from console to portable is a tricky one and, sadly, it’s one that even Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is unable to make gracefully.

That isn’t to say that it’s a bad game. That’s hardly the case. Like its console counterpart, the game looks and runs great on the 3DS. The character models and assets aren’t the greatest looking things we’ve seen on Nintendo’s handheld, but they’re still fairly detailed and well animated.

The problem is that game struggles when it comes to its controls. It’s not necessarily a problem with the game, rather, it’s an issue with the hardware. The Circle Pad just isn’t a proper analog stick. It feels finicky and less responsive in comparison. Each time I played, I found myself having trouble pulling off Smash attacks (Tap the Circle Pad in a direction + A) with any sort of consistency. It was a problem that didn’t really occur when I played the Wii U version. I don’t know if the game will allow you workaround this by switching the controls to the D-Pad since the demo didn’t have any option screen.

On the bright side, Smash Run, the Kirby Air Ride-inspired game mode where players wander around a large arena beating up enemies and collecting stat boosts that they’ll take into a quick free-for-all, is a great addition to the game modes we’re all used to.

The collection phase is actually surprisingly difficult. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself getting easily surrounded by enemies and even possibly getting knocked out. While the mode doesn’t end if you get K.O’d, the stat boosts you’ve collected up to that point decrease sharply and you lose a bit of time.

The demo only let you fight against three CPU-controlled characters, but the mode definitely seems like it would be more fun against actual people.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS doesn’t look like it’ll be able to completely satiate your hunger for more Smash, but it does seem like it can tide you over until Super Smash Bros. for Wii U hits.

StevenNo comments

Jul 25

SDCC 2014 Hands-On: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

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I’m no expert at Smash Bros. Despite the shirt I won at Nintendo’s Gaming Lounge proving I sucked less than three other people, I am a scrub and know next to nothing about the intricacies of high-level Smash play. That being said, I had fun with the new game.

It seems like Nintendo knew what people wanted coming into their event. They had dozens of kiosks running Smash, with four GameCube controllers attached to each one. However, one player could opt to play with the Wii U GamePad instead. While I couldn’t get to try out the GamePad, I can at least say that the GameCube controllers worked fine. The buttons were mapped identically to Melee and Brawl.

The game looks fantastic and, ignoring the fact that we got the Wii U to freeze, it runs great. It appears to run at a eye-pleasing 60 FPS, but it was a little hard to focus on it when there were tons of explosions, sparkles and a Landmaster.

I got to try my hand at some of the newcomers. In the few rounds I got to play, I’d have to say I took to Little Mac the most. He has a fairly varied move set, with high-damage wind-up attacks, weak flurries of punches and an extremely useful Side+B that clears projectiles while closing the distance between you and an opponent. As pointed out in his debut video, Little Mac can’t fight very well in the air. However, if you end up on a flat stage with no way to get ground K.O.s, Little Mac can be a beast.

All in all, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is shaping up to be a better successor to Melee than Brawl was. As for whether it can dethrone the GameCube king, well, like I said, I’m no expert at Smash Bros.

StevenNo comments

Jul 23

First Look at Murasame in Senran Kagura 2

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While the Senran Kagura series is one known mainly for its predominantly female cast, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is adding a man to the playable roster as an unlockable character.

You can see Murasame, the older brother of Hanzo ninja Ikaruga, in action during a NicoNico livestream of the game.

Murasame can be unlocked with save data from Senran Kagura Burst or purchased as downloadable content.

StevenNo comments

Jul 23

Bravely Default’s Agnès Is Back for Bravely Second

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Bravely Second Agnes Scan

Agnès, one of the heroes from Bravely Default, will be back in the sequel, according to a scan from the latest Shonen Jump.

The article doesn’t seem to mention just how big of a role the vestal of wind will play in the new game, but it does give a bit of a look at the costumes that can be worn by the new protagonist, Magnolia Arch.

Source: Tiny Cartridge

StevenNo comments

Jul 23

Nintendo May Bring Super Smash Bros. 3DS to You If You Use #BringMeSmash at Comic-Con

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Between standing in line for panels and camping out to get into the famed Hall H, there’s a lot of waiting at Comic-Con. Nintendo understands this and that’s why they’re helping con goers fight that line boredom.

During Comic-Con, if people take a picture of themselves at the convention center and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #BringMeSmash, Nintendo will possibly bring them a 3DS with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS to help pass the time.

It’s not a bad way to spread the game’s presence at the con. Of course, if you want to guarantee a chance to play Smash on the 3DS, you can head over to Nintendo’s Gaming Lounge down the street at the Marriott Marquis & Marina hotel.

Source: @NintendoAmerica

StevenNo comments

Jul 22

Persona Q Dated for November 25

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Japan has been enjoying Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth for nearly a couple of months already, but folks in the U.S. won’t have to wait too long to get some 3DS Etrian Odyssey/Persona action. @AtlusUSA confirmed that the game will head stateside on November 25.

They also released a new video with the game’s opening cinematic.

StevenNo comments

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