What’cha Been Playin’? April 2016

WBP April.png

Another month, another batch of games. April contained more Fire Emblem, but mostly new releases, including Nintendo’s mobile debut Miitomo and a game I already wrote about: The Walking Dead: Season Two.

Bravely Second: End Layer // Nintendo 3DS

I have a complicated relationship with JRPGs: I love them, at least in concept. Tossing characters onto an epic quest where they grow stronger and learn new skills is awesome, but when the characters are losers, the story sucks, and a bunch of grinding is required, I lose interest so quickly. When I get the stuff I like, as I did with Persona 4 Golden, I’m obsessed. When I get the stuff I hate, the game is dropped.

There are exceptions (Legends of Legacy, covered below, is one example), but such cases are rare. That’s means that I don’t play many JRPGs. That includes Bravely Default, a game that sounds great on paper, but did nothing for me in execution. I played that after Persona 4, so it’s likely that Bravely Default was too slow by comparison.

That’s probably accurate, as I’ve been enjoying Bravely Second much more. It’s not too different from what I played of the first game, so it’s not some exciting new feature that made the difference. Instead, I’m probably just ready for a quality turn-based JRPG, even if Yew is kind of your standard loser JRPG hero (and his name sucks) and the story (save the kidnapped girl!) is cliche.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light // Famicom

Chapter Seventeen of the original Fire Emblem is my white whale, at least right now. I tried completing this chapter repeatedly, gradually making headway or, in the least, learning something about how the enemy reacts.

I use warp magic to send one of three candidates to act as a roadblock to a fleeing thief, but which mercenary/hero survives the resulting Manakete attack? Would changing locations he’s warped to keep the mage from tossing a few fireballs? And how far left can the rest move without attracting the attention of the archer with the devastating silver bow? None of that includes tackling the enemies just hanging around the upper-right quarter of the screen, so just getting rid of the mages, thieves, archers, and Manakete I’ve struggled against isn’t the end.

I’m less than ten chapters from beating the first Fire Emblem, a playthrough that’s lasted throughout the past year, so I’m determined to reach the conclusion and put that black Famicom cartridge back on the shelf. Exactly when that’ll happen is the question.

Metroid Prime // Wii

VR is suddenly all the rage, but with Oculus Rift and Vive crazy expensive for the immediate future, I went to a cheaper, more readily available alternative for interacting in a digital space: the Wii remote. Specifically, Metroid Prime in the Prime Trilogy bundle. No, it’s not Oculus Rift (although you can make a strong argument that Metroid Prime is better than almost any VR game available right now), but it’s the closest I have.

Turns out, I previously went through almost the entirety of Prime, stopping at the frustrating and required hunt for Chozo Relics before the fight with Ridley and the titular Metroid Prime. So I used the game’s shitty map to backtrack to the relic site, not realizing that I didn’t have all the relics needed, and quickly lost interest. But the motion controls worked well.

Miitomo // iOS

My progression with Miitomo, Nintendo’s first mobile game:

1) “Hey, answering questions about myself is kind of fun. I like what it’s asking, too. I mean, where else will I get to share what I did for the weekend? And answering questions by people I have some familiarity to is neat. Loads kind of slow, though.”

2) “I can add my Mii to photos using a variety of poses and expressions?! Game of the year! Oh, look at my Mii sitting on a Michigan Wolverine helmet. Adorable.”

3) “I’m kind of losing interest in interacting with people, but answering questions is still neat, I guess. Oh, I can get a samurai sword to add to my Mii? Okay, time to spent about twenty minutes and all my fake wealth getting this digital item that I won’t add to my Mii.”

4. “Well, I’m over this battery-killer except on the rare time I want to create somewhat decent pictures of my Mii (like the one on my blog’s banner). Still haven’t deleted the app, and I can’t explain why.”

My Nintendo Picross: Twilight Princess // Nintendo 3DS eShop

As I’ve mentioned wherever I get the chance, I love Picross. If Nintendo wants to give me more puzzles for free, and without the frustrating “free-2-play” bull that plagued Pokémon Picross, I won’t complain. I mean, I will complain since the two modes I played shared the same puzzles, but it’s a nitpick. The icing is that, as the name indicates, Picross: Twilight Princess is flavored after Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Okay, it’s technically free, but to reach the required Nintendo Points (or whatever they’re calling the currency used in My Nintendo), you’re basically forced to play Miitomo, which is also free. So you’re paying with your time, which I’m okay with if it means more Picross.

Pokkén Tournament // Wii U

I’m one of those silly people who won’t touch Street Fighter or Tekken, but goes crazy over Super Smash Bros. The only “traditional” fighting game I enjoy is Soulcalibur, at least when Namco isn’t creating shit like Soulcalibur: Lost Swords, so I bought the stupidly named Pokkén Tournament with no small amount of apprehension. The clerk who rang up my purchase suggesting that I play through the tutorial didn’t help.

Good suggestion, as it turns out. Matches involve jumping from being able to move a character around the entire stage to what’s basically a 2D fighter and back (caused, I guess, by landing a big hit?), and the sudden change in perspective is confusing. There’s also two gauges, one used to summon another Pokémon to impact the fight for a moment, while another supercharges your Pokémon. And those are atop the complexities that come from most “traditional” fighters, like learning a fighter’s attacks.

I haven’t dug into the main story, so I’m only speaking after going through the tutorial and about a dozen matches. Hopefully I get back to Pokkén Tournament before I forget everything it taught.

Star Fox Guard // Wii U

Despite being created to some degree by Shigeru Miyamoto, I started Guard with zero expectations. That’s just what you get when you bundle a game we barely know anything about (originally shown at E3 alongside a handful of other demos designed to show off the Wii U) with another game (Star Fox Zero) getting slammed for its short length. I thought, surely it’s a throwaway thing, which it is. Surprisingly, it’s kind of fun.

Guard is basically tower defense, except the towers are cameras with mounted guns, and you’re in charge of switching to each camera and firing at the enemy before they destroy, well, something within the maze-like structure. Adding to everything is how you’re able to see the footage of every camera at the same time, so it’s not uncommon to spot an enemy skulking towards the maze in the view of an unselected camera. Succeeding means taking control of the camera with view of the approaching enemy and taking it out.

It builds into a simple-but-entertaining little game. It’s available on the eShop for $15, which is $5 more than I’d be willing to spend. Wait for a sale.

Star Fox Zero // Wii U

After the somewhat mixed reception that Star Fox Zero received (including Polygon refusing to release a review by, well, basically writing a review sans a score*), I wanted to toss in my two cents by answering two questions:

1) Did you have much trouble with the motion controls?

Surprisingly, no. Considering I had difficulty wrapping my head around Splatoon’s use of motion controls (something about aiming with the Wii U pad conflicts with my brain’s ability to move right/left with the right stick), I adapted to Star Fox Zero’s motion aiming with little fuss. I occasionally get befuddled, but not often, and more with land-based vehicles instead of the Arwing.

2) Is motion aiming necessary?

Nope. Being able to aim at enemies by the screen’s borders without moving the Arwing is convenient, but there’s nothing wrong with simply moving the front of the ship towards the enemies. The motion aiming feels like finding a solution to a problem that isn’t there. Fortunately, the motion aiming hasn’t ruined Star Fox Zero for me as it did for a number of critics who apparently struggled more. (Critics bad at games? That’s unpossible.) Still, the length is concerning, so I understand why people might wait for a cheaper, used copy.

*I’m not linking to Polygon’s “not a review” because I’m not a fan of that site. So instead, here’s Google.

The Legend of Legacy // Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Legacy creates a horrible first impression. Sure, the chibi characters are cute, but this game does a poor job at explaining itself. For instance, you’re taught that defending is vital, but not exactly why. I mean, the hell do I care if my guys get a little scuffed up? They can take it, right?  Why not instead attack enemies with all three characters in your party?

Yes, but it’s better to let at least one person take the hits for everyone, as I later learned in USGamer’s excellent article about this title. The Legend of Legacy is the spiritual sequel to Square Enix’s SaGa, an RPG series with a spotty release record outside Japan. Akitoshi Kawazu, creator of SaGa, also designed Final Fantasy II’s infamous “activity-based progression” system, which continued in the SaGa series. Simply put, characters get better at whatever they do. Swing a sword around and the physical attack stat rises. Get smacked a bunch and the defense stat improves.

The Legend of Legacy also uses this activity-based progression system, so assigning someone the designated defender means he takes the hits and, consequently, develops the best defense stat. The hope is that when a tough enemy rolls up to your party and swings a massive ax, somebody in the group has enough defense to take the hits without dying in a turn or two, leaving those with the undeveloped defense to be slaughtered.

Grasping how The Legend of Legacy differs from, say, Persona played an important role in deciding whether I enjoyed the demo enough to buy the full game. The activity-based system won’t appeal to everyone, and there’s something admirable about that.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD // Wii U

You know the criticisms that Twilight Princess gets for holding your hand for too long? That’s only partially true. Yes, the intro is unnecessarily and sometimes annoyingly restrictive, but not just because it’s trying to teach you things. I spent nearly an hour running around this hick village, its occupants so damn ugly that I’m sure inbreeding was involved, solving each of their pathetic problems. Lose your baby’s carriage? Sure, I’ll steal that back from a disgruntled monkey. Find your cat? It’s just hanging by the river, hoping to get a fish, but it’s pretty hard to search when you’re unwilling to leave your little shop.

(Also, about the cat owner: her shop contains four framed pictures. Only one of those pictures is of her kid. The other three are of her cat, and two of the three images are identical. That level of feline affection is unhealthy.)

I haven’t yet left the village, although I’m pretty sure I’m about done wasting time with these first-world problems from a bunch of lazy, inbred idiots. Twilight Princess continues to hold your hand through the first dungeon, assuming my memories of the Wii version are accurate, but I’ll be happy just getting away from these losers.

The Walking Dead: Season Two // Xbox 360

My previous article focused (or attempted to) on how the change in protagonists brought a change in feeling that I did not expect, but I didn’t linger in the game itself. The reason for that is because I didn’t have much to say. This is a Telltale game through and through, full of great characters, frustratingly awesome decisions, and annoying technical issues.

The main technical issue was the two-to-three-minute black screen between when I started a new chapter and when the chapter started. I swore the damn game was unplayable. Someone from Telltale’s forums suggested starting Season Two disconnected from the internet, a task I was unwilling to due for little more than stubbornness. They couldn’t make a game without such a huge technical flaw, or at least patch in a fix, so why should I jump through a few hoops for them?

Fortunately, as I mentioned, I just let the game sit on that black screen, and was eventually rewarded by the episode starting. I just have to wait at a black screen and stew in my anger and annoyance. Seriously, that’s bullshit.

One thought on “What’cha Been Playin’? April 2016

  1. Pingback: USGamer/Jeremy Parish: “Breaking With the Consensus (and Being OK With That)” | namevah

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