Category Archives: video games

Fire Emblem Heroes: Review

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-09-16-17Fire Emblem Heroes came out a few days ago, so I thought I’d give it a go for a bit.

I’ve been a little skeptical of “pay to win” games like Pokemon Shuffle and Tales of Link, but, from the few hours or so I played, FE Heroes doesn’t seem to bad.

Yes, you do have to use ‘orbs‘ (the things you’re supposed to buy with real money) but so far, I’ve managed to summon 5 heroes and get through Chapter 3 without even having to consider buying more. Not too bad, although, I will point out that the prices are pretty ridiculous. Call me cheap, but I’d rather not spend £1.99 on only 3 orbs…

There are also other replenishable things ‘Stamina’, and ‘Dueling Swords’ but I haven’t seemed to run out of them to the extent that it’s been a problem yet? I might have to find out what they actually do…

 

Other than the micro-transaction gimmicks and the summoning part (more on that later), the game pretty much runs the same way you would expect a Fire Emblem game on mobile to run. For your convenience of playing on the go, each chapter (there is a story but…¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) is split into small maps that shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes to complete with your four unit team, which still manages to capture the essences of playing a game from the main series (the newer games, at least).

The part where you waste all your money

Let’s talk about the bit you’ll probably waste all your money on summoning. If you saw the Fire Emblem Direct last month, then you already know that the more times you summon in a row, the few orbs it costs. To elaborate, summoning 5 heroes consecutively would cost you “only” 20 orbs, compared to 25 if you were to summon  one on 5 separate occasions. By the way, the 6th consecutive hero starts a new summoning session and goes back up to 5 orbs.

When you summon you have to select one of the following types of orb/crystal things: red, blue, green or colourless. I can’t quite remember what’s what but even if I did I would highly recommend looking up what colour the character you want is to minimise disappointment.

For example, I selected the red crystal/orb to get my husbando Lon’qu. I ended up with a 5 star Tharja  which is pretty good for my first go, but it’s not Lon’qu. (There may or may not have been a tear in my eye)

I am so glad I’m broke right now…

More technical stuff

The app itself doesn’t run offline but it doesn’t seem to eat away at your battery very much (connected to wifi, at least). But I will mention that in terms of space, it is an absolute beast! The initial download seems pretty small but after the two additional downloads it performs after you open the app for the first time take up well over 500MB, so be prepared to delete a few other games or compress your music library…

If you do have space for it, you can find Fire Emblem Heroes in the App Store and Google Play Store (sorry Windows) right now for free, as long as you don’t count the lengths you’re willing to go to get your favourite character on your team.

Verdict: 9/10

Overall, the experience is pretty enjoyable and I can actually see myself playing it for a bit longer than Pokemon Go or Miitomo. I mean, I didn’t even keep those on my phone for more than a week…

In a nutshell: Haven’t found any serious or unexpected disappointments that take away from my Fire Emblem on mobile experience so far, but the orbs are far too expensive and quite honestly, I rather not compress my music even more.

The Tragedy of Sonic ’06

2016 was a great year for gaming with plenty of new faces, highly anticipated sequels and one or two we thought would never leave development (*cough* Final Fantasy XV *cough*).  The ever-increasing backlog of titles I need to play at some point brought me to remember a certain “game” that was making the headlines around this time 10 years ago…

That being Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).

It may be hard to believe if you don’t remember the hype around the game’s release, but Sonic ‘06 could have actually been a good game. I mean, we all thought it would be.

In the initial stages of development there was no sign of any possible complications in the otherwise, rather ambitious project and the 2005 E3 technical demonstration (see here), still looks pretty impressive by today’s standards, so where did it all go wrong?

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I would say that the real story probably starts with the moment Sonic Team received the developer’s kit for what was then known as the Nintendo ‘Revolution’…

The First of Many Problems

Assuming that Nintendo’s new console would have similar specs to the other consoles, just like in the previous generation, SEGA had already agreed to release one of the first third party titles on it, thinking they would be able to easily port the game once they completed the version for Playstation 3.

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So this stick  you wave around is the controller…?

However, when Director Yojiro Ogawa saw the Wii Remote and significantly less powerful graphics chip, he realised that releasing a version for the Wii would not be quite as easy as he originally thought. So what did he do? He snatched half the team to work exclusively on the Wii version, leaving Chief Game Designer Shun Nakamura in charge of the game’s direction.

Dropping like flies

We already know that ’06 was never released on the Wii. Not long after he split the team, Ogawa decided that a port wasn’t even worth trying. But they still needed a game for Nintendo’s console, and so, the solution Ogawa came up with was to take his half of the team and leave the project altogether in order to create Sonic and the Secret Rings.

So now the project had only part of a team, no director and the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) rapidly approaching for what was already an ambitious game on unfamiliar consoles.

They did make a playable demo (see here) in time for TGS and even included noticeable improvements from the previous tech demo shown at 2005’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), like better camera controls, fixed issues with the boost pads and the homing attack and even a dynamic day-to-night cycle.

It was pretty clear that, despite all the shuffling around, the team still knew what they were doing.

But the worst was yet to come.

Around the time of the game’s official announcement in October 2005, Producer Yuji Naka left SEGA (along with several members of the Sonic ‘06 team) to create his own studio.

So they now had an even smaller team, no director, no producer and E3 to worry about.

The E3 Façade

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Ah, the days when E3 was actually a huge event anyone could get a ticket for…

With their 2006 E3 presentation requiring a story-based trailer (as well as another playable demo), English dubbing began. There was just one “small” problem: The script wasn’t finished.

Due to the looming deadline and shortage of staff, the team had already cut out various features like the hub areas and changed the story considerably but that meant that the script, which was yet to be completed, didn’t even make sense in context in some places and on top of that, they were still changing the names of various things, particularly the Sceptre of Darkness, even after they had started recording.To give you an idea of how last minute these changes were, the latest revisions made to the leaked copy of the game’s script were dated 10th March 2006, less than eight months before its release, and even that version doesn’t match the final game word for word, so we have no idea when it was actually completed. 

This is probably what led to the confusing almost non-existent plot and weird things like the reference to “The Book of Darkness”(see clip here).

Just wave and smile at the fans and no one will notice…

They did finish a demo in time for E3 where one could play part of Sonic or Silver’s story (see here) but it appears that this was done by removing the improvements shown in the TGS demo. Regardless, no one seemed to notice and, despite it being very unpolished and a bit confusing for the player, the game was met by a very hopeful response. They also released a story based trailer (see here) along with it, which, as I remember, received a great amount of hype.

However, I think this is the moment the team realised that it would be impossible to finish the game in time. They only had about 5 months and limited resources to, not only finish the game but iron out all the problems that the E3 demo was clearly riddled with. That would definitely be an infeasible task .

Not like SEGA cared.

You can’t keep Microsoft Santa waiting!

SEGA had already signed a deal with Microsoft and, although we’re not entirely sure of its contents, it probably included a promise to release the game on Xbox 360 in time for the Christmas of 2006 in return for a ridiculous amount of promotion (or something like that).

Either way,  any chance of delay was impossible. At this point their top priority became salvaging whatever they could in order to release at least something.

 

The tile screen for the Xbox Live demo

Nothing new was shown until September at Microsoft’s X06 event, where they released a new demo on the Xbox Live Marketplace (see here). The improvements from 2005’s TGS demo (apart from the day-to-night cycle) were back and all the problems in the E3 demo seem to have been solved and so the hype increased for the what had been dubbed the must-have game of the holiday season.

 

 

And then release day arrived.

The Result

The biggest game of the year turned into one of the worst games ever released by a AAA publisher almost overnight.

Fans felt angry, frustrated and betrayed. It was glitch-ridden to the point that many parts became unplayable and even the highly acclaimed soundtrack couldn’t make up for the surplus of game-breaking flaws.  It was as if any sign of progress shown in the Xbox Live demo had just been an illusion, a figment of the player’s imagination.

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It’s a long way to fall back to earth…

In fact, all the improvement were only ever made to the demo itself. The team had prioritised making it look like the game, which was anywhere but complete, was ready to be sold. By the end of development, the production team had completely ignored the Quality Assurance Tester bug reports, just to make sure they managed to complete it in time for a Christmas release, something we all know shows quite clearly in the final release.

 

How did this happen?

The question most people ask is “Who’s to blame?” and that was actually something I wanted to try and answer when I originally started researching this, but ultimately there isn’t any one party more at fault than the others.

It’s easy to look back and point the finger at whoever you believe to be most despicable, however, the whole incident ultimately comes down to a series of false assumptions, miscommunication and unrealistic expectations. Perhaps the game would have been properly finished if they could have delayed it’s release for another six months, or if the team’s size wasn’t ever decreasing and the management wasn’t being shuffled around, or if the game was less ambitious, or if…I could go on, but we can only hope this story doesn’t ever repeat itself…

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By the way, who’s excited for ‘Project Sonic 2017’?

 


 

Sources:

Will I buy a Nintendo Switch?

I did originally say in my post about the reveal trailer that I wouldn’t talk about the Switch again until release day (which we now know to be 3rd March 2017 worldwide) but there’s a lot to take in and talk about from their hour-long presentation this morning(and all the other information outlets that are buzzing today).

Nintendo have chosen to describe the Switch as “a home console gaming system that allows you to change your play style” and with three ‘modes’ plus the multiplayer mode they’ve dubbed “sharing the joy”, that’s quite hard to argue with.

A visual demonstration of how to “share the joy”.

I’m quite curious about the details of this paid online service that was mentioned but if it includes free games every month at a reasonable price like PlayStation Plus, then I would gladly pay (if I end up buying the console).

They also claim that the Switch has inherited the best parts of its predecessors, (including both home and handheld consoles), however, the meagre 2.5-6 hour battery life doesn’t really make it look like that…until you find out that it’s the same battery life Nintendo currently claims on the 3DS. If those 6 hours are able to last just as ridiculously long as the 3DS in standby mode, that’ll be good enough for me.

The stuff that comes in the box from left right: The Switch itself, the Joy-Cons (in a choice of either ‘neon red’ and ‘neon blue’ or grey), the Switch Port, The Joy-Con Grip, Joy-Con Straps, AC Adapter, HDMI cable

The other specs are kind of boring (to me at least), apart from the so called “HD Rumble”. I don’t know when I’d want to feel the sensation of a glass being filled with iced water, but there’s probably some developer out there who’s going to use it to make some super-high-tech game mechanic with it. The Joy-Cons (the controller thingies) have these motion cameras that can detect things rock paper scissors, but again, I’m not sure how that can be used. It’s still pretty cool.

The extra touches of the screen capture button, a microSD card slot, a USB-C charger and even the removal of region lock (I never thought I’d hear those words from Nintendo), make it all the more desirable.

The two new games they introduced are particularly interesting.

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The intention of 1-2 Switch (trailer), their launch day party game is to use the screen as little as possible to make you look at the other players (whom I think they are assuming would be your friends…).

And ARMS (trailer) is a fighting game (which I think will be like online-tournament type fights) where you use extendable boxing gloves. The whole thing is controlled by using the acelorometers and gyroscopes in the Joy-Cons (you’re supposed to hold them in your hands) so I wonder how many calories it will help you burn…

Apparently there are “over 80 games currently in development” so hopefully they’ll have a strong game library within a year, but right now, the launch day selection is looking a boring…

Which brings me on to the issues I have.

Weak Launch Line-up

With the exceptions of 1-2 Switch and the new Legend of Zelda game, pretty much all the games I’m interested in (Disgaea 5, I am Setsuna, Skyrim, etc.) I already own on other consoles. A weak launch day line-up is a mistake they made with the 3DS and the WiiU to have not learnt by now that it kind of matters what the launch-day titles are (Legend of Zelda is not the only thing fans care about…).

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

Sure, they have some pretty exciting games coming out only a few months later, like Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors and Super Mario Odyssey, but I’m not paying £60 for a single game when the console itself already costs £280!

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The evidence, in case you didn’t believe me.

 I’ve always thought WiiU games to be a bit pricey at around £40 and £50 is pushing for a Day One Edition that comes with special features, but £60 for a standard copy? That’s just too much.

I thought Nintendo were trying to make the Switch accessible to all. Sure, the premium WiiU bundle was the same price, but at least it came with a game to begin with. It might be a bit cheaper than what the PS4 and Xbox One were at launch but that still doesn’t explain the price of the games.

My Verdict

No matter how cool and snazzy Nintendo’s magic tricks are I won’t let them blind me again.

I’ll only buy the Switch if, and ONLY if, there is a price drop on the console and games in the first six months and some more interesting games (that I can’t play on PlayStation) come out.

 

SUPER ULTIMATE FINAL FANTASY XV ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION

Some of you may have seen on my Twitter that I received a rather unexpected Christmas present in the form of the Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

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Why don’t we take a look inside?

The box contains another box which contains two more boxes (too many boxes if you ask me).

The first box, as it says on the front, contains a (slightly creepy looking) Noctis figure.

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The second box (with the cool design) contains literally everything else.

First of all there are some postcards  of some scenes from the game, I guess?

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There’s also the official art book, and I would probably have to dedicate an entire post to detail the gloriousness hidden between the covers, although I’m pretty sure someone else has already done that job for me.

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And finally we have two SteelBooks, one containing the game itself and a Blu-ray copy of Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive (for which you can read my review here) and the other containing a Blu-ray of Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood and the OST for the game (which is also on Blu-ray?)

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Anyway, that’s one more game to add to my “Must Play At Some Point” list. Bearing in mind I still haven’t gotten round to playing Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness yet, that list is pretty long…

Nintendo NX Reveal (Nintendo Switch)

Looks like Nintendo’s “Switch”ing it up! (I’ll show myself out)

Not too long ago today, Nintendo finally revealed their “NX” project in a video on Youtube and the Nintendo Switch, as they’ve named it, seems much less cumbersome than the rumours made it out to be.ci_nintendoswitch_mosaic_image912w

When I saw the design I immediately thought it’s just a new version of the WiiU but honestly I think that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. I think their main focus was to create the flexible console that the WiiU should have been. The Switch lets you pick up from exactly where you left off anywhere you want, something many (myself included) thought you should have been able to do with the WiiU, given the sheer size and weight of the gamepad.

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It’s a pretty cool idea that you can detach the controller parts from the handheld screen and connect them to an accessory, just hold them on their own or even hand one to a friend for multiplayer mode. And kudos for adding the kickstand.

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One worry I do have is the size. I don’t know the exact dimensions but it looks huge. It’s probably at least the size of a 7″ tablet so it will probably weigh quite a bit more than a 3DS and maybe even an iPad unless they’re planning on compromising the battery life, like they did with the gamepad’s measly 2 hours (or in the case of mine, 20 minutes). To be honest, I don’t really mind as long as it’s somewhere close to the 3DS’s  5 hours of continuous gameplay (or pretty much eternal standby mode).

Another worry, which is still size related is the power. Judging from what we’ve seen, the same item that houses the portable screen is essentially the entirety of the console itself. That’s slightly worrying when we’ve seen that it appears to be fully capable of running Skyrim. In order for it to run something like that, we’d probably be looking at at least 4-8GB RAM and I’m no tech expert but my 3GB RAM (fanless) phone does get pretty toasty sometimes… Baring in mind it’s already probably in the range of around 1lb already, adding fans will just make it even heavier.

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It seems like a pretty cool system but ultimately I’l have to wait and see what games (other than Just Dance 2017) will be available at launch before I commit myself to spending whatever they plan on selling it for. So, I guess I won’t be talking about this again until it comes out in March…

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Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness Limited Edition Unboxing

WHY DO TWO GAMES I WANT TO PLAY HAVE TO BE RELEASED WITHIN A WEEK OF EACH OTHER????

I have a rule not to start a new game until I finish the one I’m playing, so, as  much as I love Psycho-Pass, I won’t even be able to start playing it until I complete Ace Attorney 6 (which probably won’t be until late January at this rate…).

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Nontheless, I would still like to show the things that came along with my (PS Vita version of the) game in the limited edition box.

The box itself came in an identical-looking sleeve (that I didn’t realise existed until the box slid out when I tried picking it up.

Inside are 3 (rather shiny for my liking) pencil boards slightly smaller than A4, perfect for sliding into my school books.

They were also kind enough to include a microfibres cloth for cleaning my Vita (which has kindly been smothered in fingerprints and food residue by my sister).

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The item I was most excited about was the art book, although I forgot to take photos earlier so I’ll do that later (if I ever remember…)

I was also happy to find a copy of the game’s soundtrack included (although I haven’t listened to it yet since my CD player seems to have issues with doing it’s job).

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Hopefully, I’ll get the time to play this game before mid-January, but that does depend on when I finish Ace Attorney 6 (if that will ever even be possible with the amount of homework I’ve been getting).

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice: First Impressions

This was going to be a review but because of insane amounts of work, I’ve only managed to complete case 2 so far.

I’ve been waiting for the sixth instalment in the Ace Attorney series from the moment I completed Dual Destinies back in 2013 so yes, I was sad enough to sit down in front of my  3DS, constantly refreshing the Nintendo eShop for 3 hours last Thursday.

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Anyway, on to the game.

The first thing that hit me was the slight tweaking of the 3D models to make them look more like their sprites from the DS games which is a pretty nice touch.

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It’s also great to see that, instead of solely relying on 2D animated cutscenes, they’ve  successfully (in my opinion) managed to incorporate 3D cutscenes as well.

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And I of course, can’t forget to mention the soundtrack that makes me jump from my seat, scream “OBJECTION!” and then proceed to pump my fists and/or hi-five any passersby (I think I have too much fun when playing this).

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I’m not too sure if I like the new prosecutor guy (I mean HOW DARE HE THINK THAT TRUCY COULD BE A MURDERER???) but at least it looks like they’ve finally gotten round to developing Apollo’s character.

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I’m looking forward to that spare moment to start case 3…

In a nutshell: Ace Attorney (what else can I say?)