Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steel Diver: Sub Wars First Impressions

Steel Diver: Sub Wars is a free to play 3DS game released earlier this year on the Nintendo eShop that is mainly a multiplayer submarine combat game that takes place in lakes, in . Personally I've been having quite a bit of fun with the multiplayer over the time I've had it and it's a decent game. Unfortunately, if you don't pay for the premium version the single player is six stages long and easily finished with some practice. The multiplayer is truly where the main experience is at, and I'll get to that in a minute. First I have to talk about the controls. Up and down on the joystick make your submarine surface or dive respectively. Left and right on it steers your sub. X and B are the "Forward" and "Reverse" buttons respectively. Y is active ping sonar and A fires your standard torpedoes. R fires homing torpedoes that track your target when you've got a lock, or as regular torpedoes when you don't lock on. L switches from the sonar GUI to the map-screen, which is invaluable during online matches to find out where you need to go for combat. The only mode in multiplayer that I know of is the bog-standard Team Deathmatch (Two teams, four versus four differentiated by red and blue GUI changes depending on what team you're) with a few extra mechanics tossed in on a few maps, where you and your opponents have supply ships that repair damage to your sub. You can sink your opponents suppliers and your opponents can sink yours as well, but most of the maps don't have them. Another thing is that there's only a handful of multiplayer maps, and there's only one environment setting for them, sunny daytime. The single-player maps have several weather settings and the addition of bombers in some maps that take out subs that remain on the surface for too long. Not to mention there's no options of playing the search and destroy single player maps online. I haven't been able to try out local multiplayer yet, since I've been busy in other endeavors. Most of the people I've been playing with have Japanese names, thus I assume that they are from Japan. Despite this, I didn't notice a whole lot of connection issues the way I did with Goldeneye on the Wii towards the end of its lifetime where most of the players were in Europe and remote parts of the United States like Mississippi........
Back on topic: I like this game. It's not perfect though, but since it's free I would recommend you download it if you have the SD card space. No, on to why it's not perfect. A) The collision detection leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of time when you think a torpedo should hit, it doesn't. And even more times when you watch a killcam after being sunk, you notice that in a game with better hit detection the torpedo would have gone right by. Now, I know that games are not perfect simulations of real life. Despite this, the hit box on your default submarine is just slightly larger than you would think it would be, and therefore grants far too many hits that would otherwise skate right by your sub. Another is the fact that, like Top Gun on the DS there is only one camera mode. While in Top Gun it was stuck at third person, in this game it's first person. While that is pretty much a requirement in driving games, and indeed flying games it's an unwelcome annoyance in this game. The thing is that the front of your sub takes up a good deal of the screen space, and while you can activate the periscope to look around, it doesn't move with your ship as you turn. The problem with the stock 3DS is that the periscope controls with the D-pad, which means taking your thumb off of the joystick. That keeps you from turning, or from being able to change your depth while you're looking around.
When I mentioned that the periscope doesn't move when your ship does, I mean it stays put. It's locked in place. You can't move the camera in periscope mode without using the D-pad. Not to mention that the radar and map-screens are inaccessible (And blurred over) during periscope mode. So periscope mode is useless. And it doesn't do what the periscope is supposed to do, show what's above the water without having to surface. At least it hasn't in my experience. The game isn't BAD by any means. But it's also not as good as it could have been. Almost everything that's wrong with it could be fixed by a patch. I don't know if the premium version is worth it, since I'm pretty much content with the features in the free version for now. Although it would be nice to play a few more of the levels in the single-player, there's no way of playing any of the modes they have with your friends. Now, my final criticism: In multiplayer there's no microphone chat. You have to communicate via Morse code, and while the gameplay itself isn't affect by international lag most of the time, Morse code almost never comes out properly. It takes way too long to type out, and it's less convenient than even typing the letters directly on the touchscreen would be. So communication with it is pretty much useless. The premium version only includes an extra five mission sets for the single player, while most of the benefits are for the multiplayer. I'm sorry, but this game needs a bunch more single-player mission sets before it's worth purchasing. Not to mention that most of the fun modes and mechanics from FPS's that they could have copied are missing. For instance: There's no story to the single player. There's no free-for all deathmatch, no capture the flag, no black box, no heroes, none of that. I'd advise against paying for the game if you're interested in it. All in all, I'm gonna say that it's about a 7.3* game. Not as polished as it could be, but still pretty good.
Aw crap, I forgot to talk about something else. The controls aren't as fluid as they could be. It's kinda hard to describe, but they just feel a little floaty to me. While that is the nature of water, it's kind of hard to get used to. Also, while the multiplayer maps are creative they grow old after a while, and there are several that I have a hard time navigating even with the map, because the map doesn't mark off terrain. So with all that taken into account, I'm going to bump the rating down to a 6.8* one. Not bad, but not great and certainly not worth ten dollars. I'll see you next week with more reviews! I'm planning on a double feature, but it might just wind up being a single one. I've been Sakura Samurai on the 3DS recently, so that's probably gonna be it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is yet another movie that lends credence to my theory that some particular bolt of lightening must have struck the movie-industry in 2012 that led to there being so many good films coming out of that year. Guess that gives away my opinions on the movie early in the review, but stick around because I've got more to talk about. The movie concerns a character from an arcade game, the name of the game is "Fix-It Felix Jr." the name of the character is "Wreck-It Ralph." While some might automatically dismiss this movie, since it is made by Disney and has a PG rating as shallow and uninteresting, but this is the best Disney movie I've seen since The Incredibles and it's also one of the best animated movies I've ever seen. It's right up there with The Land Before Time and the Superman: Red Son motion comic for me. Wreck-It Ralph does all kinds of great things with the animation, it's got a great story and it's a great movie for everyone. And I do mean everyone. Everything about the movie drew me in. The best thing is, the movie doesn't overstay its welcome, it's not too short and it's extremely well animated. Especially with the way they move between different styles of animation for the different characters and the various art-styles between the games. It's a very pretty movie to look at and it's definitely a great movie to watch, especially compared to the OTHER animated movie with iconic characters in it from 2012 (Foodfight..... You'll be getting a review soon. And possibly an episode of Unofficial Commentary as well with a few of my buds.)
It's strange, I figured that the studio behind Foodfight released this movie in an attempt to cash in on Wreck-It Ralph's success, but it was released in the UK DAYS after the first trailer for this movie hit theaters (I should know, they showed it before The Amazing Spider-Man) which means that either the studio rushed it out to cash in rather than polishing up the animation, or it's just a coincidence and I'm overthinking things for comedic effect as per-usual. I'd say that Walt-Disney missed out on a great opportunity by not releasing a tie-in game for consoles, because after seeing this movie I actually want to see all of the games they made up for this movie expanded into real ones. For now I guess there's the Flash and Unity based browser ones, and Disney: Infinity but I don't really count Disney Infinity. All in all, this movie will make you laugh and cry. It will tear your heart to pieces and lovingly put it back together again. It's a great movie, and it deserves a 10.1* rating. I'll see you next week with another review.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My birthday

Hello everyone, and here's a rare unscheduled article for all of ya'll. My birthday is coming up (It's the 23rd) and on or around that time I'm going to put out a video detailing everything I got (Including stuff I bought myself) so I can show what all you can expect to eventually see on my channel. I just figured I'd let everyone know. Come to think of it, I probably should have announced this earlier in the month, but what can I say, I'm not really a presents hog because I like to shop for my own presents. I just want to have a video around that time period so I can make a new video, because I haven't been doing much other than releasing my backlog since I've gotten my hard-drives cleaned up a bit so that I can convert them. I'll see you guys on Sunday with a new review. Hint: It's an animated movie from 2012 that a lot of people were excited for.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tetris DS

Tetris DS was released in all major territories in 2006, and in Korea in 2007. Tetris is a game almost as old as modern gaming, and it's a good one at that. So very few things from the past, no matter how short a time ago it might have been hold up by modern standards, from TV shows and movies to videogames. In fact, some things didn't even hold up back in the day, but Tetris has been good pretty much since the start. Enough gushing about things I like, let's get on to the review; Tetris DS has several modes. Standard mode, which has settings for Marathon mode, an NES themed version of classic Tetris with music from various famous games from throughout the lifetime of the NES. Line Clear, where you choose the level and height, then clear a number of specified lines. Then there's vs the CPU, which lets you set the CPU AI level to your liking. The game mode has you and the CPU competing to push each others blocks to the top of the screen, and it's pretty fun to play. Moving on to Catch mode, which is themed around Metroid. You catch Tetriminos on the center block and attempt to get a four by four shape or larger so you can detonate it and remove a lot of the extra blocks that will you'll inevitably pick up over time, and to regain health that will be lost from bumping into Metroids and smashing blocks by turning the main piece in the center into the Tetriminos. The d-pad is used to move the center block around, and by extension, the structure built around it. The A and B buttons rotate it, and L or R speeds up the falling blocks. Sometimes the orientation of the blocks gets pretty unintuitive, but this mode requires a lot of finesse. The levels seem to progress a lot like the ones from Standard Marathon mode, unlocking new ones the more blocks you clear. Next is Mission Mode, with a Zelda themed Marathon mode where you clear the lines specified by using the tetriminos specified before you run out of hearts.. Also in Mission Mode, is Time Trial, where you attempt to clear a set number of missions as fast as possible. I haven't been able to finish Mission Mode or Catch Mode, but since clearing Level 20 of Marathon Standard, I figure I'll give them another show later. Puzzle Mode is themed around Yoshi, a dinosaur or dragon or whatever he is from Super Mario World. You attempt to clear a set number of lines with a set number of Tetriminos provided to you. I've only played a few levels, but it's pretty fun. As of writing this line, I haven't played the fifth mode, Touch. Now, after playing it I know that the object is to clear a tower of Tetriminos to the bottom by sliding the shapes around. It's nice and fun. Now, moving on to Push mode, a Donkey Kong themed mode where you compete against the CPU to push them to the bottom of the touchscreen before they push you to the top of the top screen. As I get better at Tetris, it becomes easier to outsmart the computer's AI through Tetris chains and line clears of two or more. I wasn't able to play the multiplayer in the time that I've been playing the game, so I'm unable to comment on that. One complaint I have is that the menus don't allow you to press Up on the D-pad to select the option at the bottom except on the mode selection screen, which gets to be annoying at times. Now, thinking in three-dimensional terms, there's no reason for there to be both J and L Tetriminos, as well as S and Z ones. A simple button press could mirror them in a cinch and while that would make the game easier to an extent, but it would make some logical sense in this day and age considering how gaming has evolved from 2D, to 3D with 2D controls, to intuitive 3D controls. While Tetris DS is a 2D game, humans don't think in two-dimensional terms, and a simple mirror command would go a long way to bringing Tetris into the future. The idea of 3D Tetris on the Virtual Boy is something that I'd like to see more of in gaming nowadays, puzzle games that have more of a three-dimensional bent to them. If certain casual puzzle games would drop the microtransactions and introduce three-dimensional thinking, gameplay styles and mechanics into their games they might be able to get an extra bit of cash from the innovation hogs or just someone who wants to play something like Bejeweled or Angry Birds a different way and also shake up the idea that casual gaming is something that cannot be improved. All in all, I liked Tetris DS. I found myself playing a lot of this in between duels in Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour and it really took the edge off of the complicated strategies I put together that were subsequently marred by NMT's (Far too numerous) glitches. Tetris DS gets a recommendation, if not a rating just yet. Give me a little longer to dwell on it and then I can get a rating out. I was originally going to call this a first impressions review, but then I decided to just play the modes I hadn't already toyed with and call it a full review, but then I changed my mind and decided I needed to end the article before it got any more like an essay on the history of gaming.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour: First Impressions.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour for the Nintendo DS was released in 2005 in the US and Japan. Despite what the cover suggests, you do not play as Yugi Moto, but rather as a silhouetted version of yourself. The inherent problem with that is that you are nobody, quite literally. Just another Duelist in the Battle City arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! who in the anime and manga was likely defeated by a minor villain and sent to the Shadow Realm for teh larfs, outright killed by Marik in an attempt to weed out the competition towards the end, or just had his deck stolen by somebody like Weevil Underwood or Rex Raptor. Or even worse, "Bandit" freakin' (In America!) Keith Howard. I take issue with the character creation options, because the longest hairstyle for the male protagonist is barely shoulder-length. Mine goes below my shoulder blades, and I like to represent that whenever possible in games, but that's nitpicking. Nobody really cares about that. I have previously played the Bakugan: Battle Brawlers game for PS2 and that also shoved you into the body of a nobody character having to compete with the cool ones from the show. The difference between these two games, is that Yu-Gi-Oh! is an interesting game with loads of substance, whereas Bakugan really doesn't have much to it. The ideal Bakugan game would be a Final Fantasy/Chrono Cross styled RPG or an MvC/KoF styled fighting game. The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG on the other hand can hold its own without any tweaks. Now, considering the epic and in-depth plot that the anime and manga had, there's no real reason to add anything to it. But they did. There's something at the beginning involving Seto Kaiba having problems with the computer that's enforcing the rules of the tournament.
That in itself seems familiar to me due to the fact that the exact same thing happened at the beginning of SNK Vs. Capcom: Cardfighters Clash! DS, but considering that A) the computer in that game acted like a combination of the HAL 9000 and The Borg, I'd say it's more of a coincidence then SCV: Cardfighters DS copying a game that came out a year before it did. Despite there being more than enough villains from the Battle City Arc to incorporate, such as The Rare Hunters, and.... Yeah, The Rare Hunters! There's an entire scene in the anime, nay, several episodes dedicated to showing us the Rare Hunters and yet when the warning comes that duelists are being robbed of their cards at night, it's The Brothers Paradox (So far I've only met Dox so far) who are doing it! Okay, I can live with that I guess. But hang on! They treat Yugi and Yami Yugi as sides of the same person who come out at different times of day. For instance, Yami is only met at night, and Yugi in the day. That completely disregards the fact that in the manga and the anime Yami was routinely seen before nightime.
And considering Yugi is one of the easiest duelists to beat in the game, that completely ignores Yugi's dueling prowess even without the help of his older self. And Yami isn't an exceptionally hard duelist to beat either, considering I managed to knock him down to less than 1900 life points from a starting point of 8000.
Here is where I should probably go into the rules of the game for those of you who don't watch the show or play the game. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is loosely based on a manga by Kazuki Takahashi, and the titular Duel Monsters game in real life is loosely based on the game from the show, which is loosely based on the game from the manga, which was loosely based on Magic: The Gathering, but evolved into something drastically different over the course of the last eighteen years. Each player (Herein referred to as duelist) starts off with 8000 life points, and a deck of spell, trap, and monster cards with a minimum of 40 cards and a maximum that's varied over the years.
In my research into Nightmare Troubadour, I found that Tristan Taylor and Duke Devlin don't appear in the game, despite Tristan being part of the ensemble cast since episode one and Duke having a fairly prominent role in both the Battle City arc and the Virtual World arc, having joined the cast at the end of Season 1.
Back to the game. Without going through the whole rulebook I can't do the game justice, so suffice to say that it's recreated almost perfectly. Although there are several glitches. Such as you can't reverse your decision to activate a spell or trap card if you, say.... Accidentally pushed the wrong button.
On top of that, several cards don't work as they say they should, probably due to not being programmed correctly. For instance, the card "Blue Medicine" says to increase both yours and your opponents life points by 400, but it only increases the life points of the activator. Then there's the translation. Towards the end of the day, your character will say "Let's already return" rather than: "I'm sleepy, time for bed" or something to that effect.
There are other cases of bad dialogue translation, but it's mostly just bad writing. At one point, Joey attempts to explain who Yami Yugi and Yugi are, about how different they are and why. This is presumably for the players who haven't seen the show or read the manga, but it's not exactly done well, and it's not in a way that I'd expect Joey to explain it. Moving on.
One of the most memorable things about the anime for me was the awesome music, about how each cue was timed for perfect dramatic effect, and how the music always fit the mood. Even though Konami owns the franchise, they apparently didn't bother using the music from the show. Now, while the title screen music has a few notes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme song, it's far from evoking the kind of mysticism that the actual music from the show did. I'd recommend finding the Yu-Gi-Oh! Music to Duel By and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light soundtracks and muting the volume on your DS rather than listen to the MIDI loops that they put together for the game. Then there's the sound effects, which might as well be from a different series for all they represent the iconic ones from the show. Now on to the cards. Due to space limitations (Despite DS cartridges being able to hold 256MBs and more) the resolution on the cards is fairly low. So low in fact, that one wonders why they didn't just use the style from the show and enlarge the portrait and card type symbol instead of scanning off the real cards and lowering the resolution down to positively acidic levels of blurriness. Another glitch I ran into while dueling Joey (Again, he should not be one of the easiest duelists in the game to beat) is that Dangerous Machine Type-6 doesn't activate when the die lands on a 5. Not that I'm complaining, I never use that card anyways, and that means that four out of the six faces the die can land on benefit me in some way. On the other hand, that renders the card practically useless for someone who wishes to use it in their deck. Another thing is that the AI for several of the characters is artificially stupid. When dueling Tea Gardner (who is not a champion Duelist like Yugi, Kaiba or Joey, but still competent as was shown in the Virtual World arc) I've purposefully handicapped myself so that I either have to draw all five Exodia pieces to win, or run her cards out. I have done this without suffering a SINGLE. POINT. OF DAMAGE. Let me repeat that: I have beaten Tea Gardner without suffering, or inflicting a single. Point. Of damage. I'm no professional duelist, I'm probably average at best even with all the cards I know how to use, but in no single real life duel have I ever had a situation like that occur. Even when dueling against inexperienced opponents who barely knew the game, the rules or the cards I have never once had such thing happen in real life. The sad thing is I've managed to do the same with Serenity Wheeler and on a couple of occasions with Yugi and Joey.
Oh, speaking of Serenity Wheeler, she never picked up a duel-disk or deck before the Virtual World arc. In fact, she wasn't even able to see for most of the first part of Battle City. Something else I need to add is that I was just browsing through my collection within the game and I found a strange thing on the card Aqua Chorus. In the menu description it's title is given as Aqua Chorus, but the card itself says the name is Blue-Eyes White Dragon. So apparently they put a bright PURPLE trap card into the game with the title of a BRIGHT YELLOW monster card on it. I'm sorry, but I'm primarily a dragon duelist in real life. I know the Blue-Eyes White dragon, it's one of my favorite cards in the game. It looks NOTHING like Aqua Chorus. That's a mistake anyone who has even LOOKED at the cards in question can tell. ANYONE WITH EYES THAT WORK. Or maybe in return for getting her eyesight back quicker in the game they had Serenity Wheeler working quality control. Anyways, aside from a list of glitches longer than my entire left arm, the music and sound effects not being anything like the ones from the show, and some issues with the AI, the game is really entertaining, and it's actually a good game to play. It's not as bad as Quantum of Solace on the DS, and the translation is certainly better than SNK vs Capcom: Cardfighters DS was (But that's not saying much) and it's much harder to get a no loss record than the former did, and so far there aren't any retarded quests that require you to grind through booster-packs for guys who just drop the cards on the floor for you to pick up afterwards. (Granted I got a good deal of decent cards from that, but to be honest I didn't really need them) All in all, I liked Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour despite its flaws, and I hope that I continue to like it throughout my whole playthrough of the game. I'll see you next week with another review. Hopefully a little more concise than this one was.