Tag Archives: video games

Review: ARMS – A Powerful First Punch For Nintendo

arms wallpaper

Hey folks, Matt here with a new review. As you could probably tell from the title, I’ll be writing my thoughts on the recently-released ARMS for Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s latest attempt at capitalizing on the eSports craze. Does it provide a fun and much-needed addition to the Switch’s growing catalogue of games, or will it be forgotten upon Splatoon 2’s release next month? Well, I am hoping to answer these questions in the following paragraph. Enjoy.

 

Yeah, it’s a fun game. You should play it if you enjoy fighting games. Thanks for reading!

arms twintelle

Anyway, on to the real review.

 

ARMS was an unexpected reveal back in January during the very first live presentation for the Nintendo Switch. The game was revealed alongside a short snippet of gameplay that showed off its premise, and at first, I was not sold. Fighting games are fun, sure, but Nintendo’s history in the genre is not so diverse. The most prolific, exclusive fighting game series that has come from Nintendo is Super Smash Brothers, and… What else? I suppose you can include Pokken Tournament and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom in that list, but these still amount to a rather small catalogue for the genre on Nintendo platforms. These games are mostly well-regarded by fans as great titles. Back in January, seeing a first-party developed fighting game made exclusively for a Nintendo console was exciting, and I was keen to see more on the company’s latest effort. After completing the game’s main single-player mode on multiple difficulties with the ten available fighters, and engaging in at least 10+ hours of the online multiplayer madness, I believe I can provide a fleshed-out piece on my opinion of the game.

arms byte and barq

The level of polish on display in ARMS is simply wonderful. Combat has been a smooth journey, with only a few hiccups along the way. These issues were found entirely in the online multiplayer department; I’ve only had one disconnected game during my time with ARMS, and only one online game with a noticeable level of lag present. Besides these two instances, I have found every match I played online and offline to be a silky-smooth and precise battle between up to four combatants on-screen at a given time. My worries about the game’s motion controls have been mostly alleviated, as I’ve only had a couple of instances where I threw out a punch when I meant to block, but these mistakes were made only a small handful of times. Coming to grips with the game’s unique control scheme takes some getting used to, but I found the game to be an enjoyable experience using either the motion controls or standard controls. Both options offer a similar level of precision when fighting opponents, and I can now say I’m comfortable playing with either control scheme. Despite this, Nintendo’s heavy marketing toward using the game’s motion controls swayed me to attempt playing ARMS using the ‘thumbs-up grip’ as described by the big N, and I’m glad I gave it a shot, as this method of playing offers a precise level of play on-par with the traditional method of using a Switch pro controller.

thumbs up grip

Well, perhaps the word ‘precise’ may be a bit generous when talking about ARMS’ 2v2 game modes. As has been documented by other players, the 2v2 battles can be rather hectic due to the great number of arms flying across the screen at any given time. When a player is thrown by a grab, their teammate is also thrown by that same grab, causing some confusing scenarios where you aren’t aware your teammate is being thrown across the screen, only for yourself to be punished by that attack as well. I find the 2v2 game modes to be the least enjoyable among the game’s ‘party mode’, where players can engage in a solid variety of game types mostly revolving around punching one another.

 

Speaking of punching fighters, did you know that there’s a *spoiler* boss character who uses six arms to fight you? Yep, that’s right, the boss character known as Hedlok makes an appearance in the game’s Grand Prix mode as the player’s final combatant. Utilizing six arms, this hulking metal monstrosity is, to put it bluntly, broken. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s break down the classic fighting game logic of rock, paper, and scissors.

hedlok

A traditional fighting game often features three main ways of attacking. In very simplified terms, there is on-foot combat, mid-air combat, and grabs. The on-foot attacks are often a player’s primary method of attack, but can be negated by a guard block from their opposition. A guard block can be interrupted by a player’s grab, causing damage from the opponent’s throw. Finally, mid-air attacks can be a good way to surprise the enemy, but can be interrupted by an opponent’s anti-air attack if the mid-air attack is too often relied upon.

 

ARMS takes advantage of this traditional rock, paper, and scissors formula, incorporating on-foot punches, mid-air punches, and grabs into the mix. Unlike other fighting games, ARMS allows grabs to be thrown from a large distance, as well as in mid-air, a feature that I’m surprisingly okay with, as it feels well-balanced in most fighter match-ups (barring Ninjara, of course. I think he’s a little too fast for my liking). These punches and grabs are all able to be deflected by a player’s own punches, as long as the appropriate arms are selected for the deflection.

Arms mechanica

This is where the fault in Hedlok’s design comes into play. When Hedlok attacks, he throws out a series of three punches from each side, as opposed to a normal attack from other fighters consisting of one punch. These punches come in fast succession of one another, and are often difficult to deflect by the player’s own punches, and so dodging is always preferred over deflecting these attacks. This would be okay in its own right, however, the cooldown time for Hedlok to throw out another set of punches from that same set of arms is way too short. He is able to dish out a second series of punches right upon the first of the three arms being pulled back in (I know this is difficult to visualize, and perhaps I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this event, but bear with me!) In this regard, I find the fight to feel rather one-sided in favor of Hedlok. Maybe he is not quite as broken in difficulty as Shao-Khan was in Mortal Kombat for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the battle still feels unfair in more ways than one. Inputs from my punches felt like they were instantly being read by the enemy AI, and super attacks that appeared to have connected with the enemy were dodged and countered with the enemy’s own super-charged attack.

 

Despite these balancing issues, I find the game to be enjoyable, as I stated earlier. On the surface, the game appears to have little content, and I think this claim is justified when you compare it to the likes of juggernauts of in-game content such as Tekken 7 and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. However, the accessibility of each of the ten fighters and different pairings of arms for each one of them offers hundreds of possibilities for battle, and I think it works in the game’s favor. Would ARMS be an even better game with some more fighters and stages to battle on? Sure, that would be a great addition. Thankfully, Nintendo will be doing just that in the coming months, all of it as free game updates, similar to the way Splatoon was handled on the Wii U.

Arms party

 

I’m sure I missed some other points I wanted to bring up, but overall I’m finding my time with ARMS to be fun and engaging. The motion controls work well, the fighter designs are fantastic offering great variety, and despite an arguably broken final boss fight, the single player and multiplayer game modes are a satisfying venture into Nintendo’s newest IP. If this is the start of Nintendo entering the fighting game space outside of Smash Bros., I’m excited to see where they take the game next.

Thank you for reading! Take care, all.

  • Matt

E3 2017 Impressions – Super Mario Odyssey

mario odyssey

Happy week of E3, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the new game announcements and demo reels. It’s easy to be cynical about today’s video games, especially during E3 week (arguably) the industry’s biggest event each year, but I still find the multiple days of press conferences and game reveals to be exciting every time. I thought it’d be fun to take a moment to write here about a few of the games that impressed me the most so far from E3 2017, starting with the latest adventure from Nintendo’s biggest mascot.

mario hat buddy

 

  • SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY

 

Yeah, I don’t think anyone is surprised to see this game listed here among my most anticipated. I’ve been a Mario fan for most of my life, and the plumber’s latest adventure looks better every time I see it. The latest trailer showed off the game’s “capture” mechanic, where Mario tosses his cap (see what they did there?) at an enemy to temporarily take control of them. If the goomba mask in Super Mario 3D World was a sign of things to come, then fully controlling goombas in Super Mario Odyssey is the next great step in Mario’s bid for complete control of the mushroom kingdom.

goomba mario

The possibilities to gameplay that the capture feature offers has me even more excited to play the game, especially now that it’s confirmed that Mario can take control of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. If that isn’t a solid way to sell a game, then I don’t know what is. Filling out a list of enemies, objects, and NPC’s that Mario can control in the final game should be a fun diversion from the expected platforming challenges.  

Mario Dinosaur

In an unexpected move, Nintendo appears to have removed the “lives” system that has been present in every 3D Mario platformer up until this point. From what I could gather watching the E3 gameplay demonstration, the coins collected during Mario’s adventure are tallied up across levels and spent on customization items. When the player dies, they lose a set number of coins as a result. The number of lives that Mario had in his 3D platforming games always felt like a redundant feature, so it is good to see Nintendo finally putting coins toward a better use.

 

It appears that Super Mario Odyssey is pretty much feature-complete at this point. When the confirmed release date for October 27, 2017 popped up during Nintendo’s stream, I was not surprised but still very pleased. It follows Nintendo’s previous claims of the game releasing by holiday 2017, and while things can always change at the last minute, I have little doubt that the game will make it to store shelves on time. I’ll be there day one for Mario’s next big adventure! I cannot wait to explore new worlds, stomp on new enemies, and selfishly take over animals in Mario’s desperate bid for Peach’s hand in marriage. Man, the premise gets weirder every time I think about it. And now there are evil bunnies? Sure, why not.

mario odyssey rabbits.jpg

The tune that played during the E3 trailer is amazing and deserves every bit of attention. I’ve listened to this at least five times now, it’s extremely light-hearted and uplifting. Give it a listen! Also, the woman that is singing that song is totally Pauline from the original Donkey Kong, as hinted by the mentions to Mayor Pauline in the E3 gameplay coverage. It’s been literal decades since we’ve seen her in a Mario game, aside from some referential nods as a collectible trophy in Super Smash Bros. titles. I’m excited to see how Mayor Pauline will contribute to Odyssey’s story, if she does at all. The spotlight will most likely be placed squarely on Bowser and Princess Peach, as it always has, but I hope we see a cameo from Donkey Kong and Pauline, as neither have shown up in any previous single-player 3D Mario adventure. 

bowser and peach wedding

That’s all I’ve got for now. Feel free to share what your favorite E3 2017 games are, or how I could improve my writing. I’m always looking to improve. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading!

 

  • Matt

Spider-Man PS4 – Hopes and Concerns

Spidey PS4 face

Hey all, Matt here! Just a minute ago, I finished watching the PlayStation E3 2017 live press conference. I’ve got a couple of thoughts on the show I’d like to share in a future post, where I’ll be writing about my thoughts on E3 2017 in its entirety. However, right now I’d like to focus on PlayStation’s final game that was shown at their E3 showcase, Spider-Man on PS4.

 

Ever since a new Spidey game was teased during last year’s E3, I’ve been patiently waiting for new information on the web-slinger’s PS4 debut. I have not felt excited about a new Spider-Man game since I played Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube back in the mid-2000’s. That isn’t to say all of the Spider-Man games since then have been bad, but the ones that I played have certainly fallen short of expectation.

 

Since the announcement that Insomniac Games would be heading development on a new Spider-Man game, I’ve felt a stronger hope for a strong new entry in Spidey’s long list of video game releases. As the creators of Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive, and Resistance, I had faith that Insomniac Games would deliver an amazing new title in Spider-Man.

 

Today’s short demonstration at the end of PlayStation’s E3 event for Spider-Man has left me excited to see more of the game, and also worried about a few of the chosen mechanical decisions.

Spidey goop

Let’s cut to the chase – What am I most worried about? Well, I think anyone who saw the latest gameplay was quick to notice the frequent reliance on QTE’s throughout the demo, otherwise known as quick time events. This event is when a game wrestles control from the player and asks them to press a certain button, usually displayed on-screen, in time with the game’s action. Most of the time I don’t mind QTE’s as long as they aren’t entirely relied upon, but I wasn’t expecting quite the large number of them to show up in the gameplay demo as they did. Although Spidey’s basic combat looked solid, and the stealth sections interesting, the QTE’s that appeared in between encounters made me a bit disappointed. I think an over-reliance of QTE’s causes a lower level of excitement to continue playing a game, because it feels like the player is allowing the game to play itself, as opposed to the player being in total control of the experience.

 

Regardless, it was an exciting demo to show off, teasing at the involvement of Wilson Fisk (A.K.A. Kingpin) being involved with Spider-Man in one way or another, and I’m curious to see where the team at Insomniac Games takes the story.

 

Now that my initial worries are out of the way, what am I excited about in Spider-Man for PS4? Well, my answer probably won’t surprise anyone.

 

The swinging looks good. Straight up, it looks smooth, precise, and appears to offer a good level of control over Spidey’s mid-air movements. Obviously I have not played the game for myself, so I cannot attest to if the swinging really is any of these things, but that is how I felt from watching the gameplay stream.

Spidey PS4 logo.png

More than anything else from this E3, I was looking forward to Spider-Man on PS4. While the game is still at the top of my radar, I felt a little underwhelmed by the game’s first live demonstration. The entire sequence felt a little too linear and quick-time focused for my taste, with only a glimpse at the open-world swinging to be offered. However, I am still eagerly awaiting more news about the game, and will be there on day one to play Spider-Man on PS4. I still have hope that Insomniac will give Spider-Man fans a game that they enjoy, and frankly, deserve.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Feel free to follow me for any future posts I create.

 

  • Matt

Generational Shock: Growing Up With Gaming

 

phone gaming icons

Hey folks, I wanted to share a story about something that happened to me yesterday. I thought it was interesting and relevant enough to write here.

 

To set up the narrative – I currently work as a part-time employee at a local pet store, and each day when my shift ends I pick up a family friend’s kids from school and drop them off at their home. They don’t have a ride back home, and the friend of mine needed her kids driven back to their house from school, so I’ve been helping them with this for the past few months.

 

Anyway, the two kids and I were driving back home, and the topic of conversation turned to Injustice 2, the newly released fighting game by NetherRealm Studios for the PS4 and Xbox One. The older of the siblings asked me if I had played the new Injustice game, and I replied that no, I had not. However, I have seen a decent amount of gameplay, and think that the game looks fun. The kid went on to talk about which characters were his favorite to play as, and we spoke about the interesting roster that the game features. I then asked him which platform he plays the game on, out of curiosity, and he replied “What do you mean? I’m playing it on my iPhone.”

available on app store

To be honest, this reply caught me a bit off guard. For starters, I had completely forgotten that a touch-friendly, free-to-play port of Injustice 2 was brought to mobile. I was fully expecting the kid to say that he played the game on a traditional gaming console, but this was not the case. The kid’s younger sibling then mentioned that they were thinking about playing the game as well, since it was a free download from the App Store. This statement is what got me thinking: How are the kids of today experiencing video games that is similar or different to how I played games while growing up?

app store google play

For reference, my previous blog post was about the very first video game that I played, which was Pokemon Pinball for the Gameboy Color. It was also the only game system that I owned, until the Gamecube showed up in my living room as a birthday present in 2004. Growing up, my parents did not buy me many video games, and because of this I made the most out of the games that I did manage to receive. I caught nearly every Pokemon in Pokemon Silver, discovered every secret collectible in Wario Land 3, and beat Super Mario Land more times than I can count. In addition to this, my parents restricted my playtime to half an hour a day. I think this is a smart move for many kids, because any responsible parent wants to teach their child self-control and patience. That being said, I admit I would occasionally sneak the Gameboy into my room late at night to have a bit of extra game time. Still, I believe the limited game time was a smart choice, as it taught me a level of self-control.

App store icon

I wonder how this restriction is applied in today’s world of video games being available on most devices that we own. When I was a child, mobile phones did not occupy the same level of popularity as they do today, and playing video games on a mobile phone was a distant dream. Of course, there were some phones that offered simple games like Snake or Solitaire, but these are a far cry from the Injustices, Infinity Blades, or the Plants Vs. Zombies games offered in the mobile market today. Do the parents of kids that play these games collect their child’s phones past a certain hour to restrict their access to playing these games? This is something that my parents usually enforced when I was a child, but I wonder if similar behavior is used by today’s parents.

 

This also brings me to another thought I had. When there are a bevy of free games available on the mobile market, does a child raised on free-to-play games ever want to spend actual money for more in-depth experiences, such as those found on a traditional game console? These are questions that cannot be answered at this moment in time, because the mobile gaming market is, technically, still in its infancy. The effect that it has on kids growing up playing these free-to-start applications cannot yet be analyzed in an efficient manner, but I hope there are other people like myself curious about how it affects kids that play games in the future. Maybe the kids that play a bunch of free-to-play mobile games will feel fully satisfied with their touch-controlled experiences, or perhaps they will still desire an experience found only on PC or on a console. In addition to this, will the mobile market affect kids’ desire to one hundred percent complete a game, like I did in my youth? The vast amount of choices given to App Store users is staggering, featuring a near lifetime of games to play. Will kids feel satisfied with these choices? Granted, a good chunk of these App Store games are considered by some to be garbage-tier, but the point remains. To be clear, I do not believe that mobile games will take over the AAA market space any time soon. No, far from it. I just wanted to share this thought I had. 

mobile gaming options

I suppose this post doesn’t answer any of the questions that I brought up, but instead has caused me to think on the effect that the mobile market will have on kids growing up. I thought it’d be an interesting thought to share here, and if you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the read. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

 

  • Matt

Review: Enter the Gungeon

gungeon title card

I’ve spent a countless number of hours playing Enter the Gungeon. It’s up there among my favorite rogue-lite games, right next to the Binding of Isaac games and Spelunky. For this reason, I thought it’d be fitting to write my thoughts on one of my favorite games for the PS4. There are still some faults found in the game, but let’s get on with the review!

 

Enter the Gungeon is a downloadable game packed with charm, intelligent design, and satisfying gameplay wrapped up in one (mostly) tight package. As the title implies, players enter a randomly generated dungeon (or as it is known here, a gungeon) utilizing a vast array of guns to overcome enemies and obstacles. Assuming the role of an adventurer with a past they regret, you enter the gungeon hoping to attain a legendary gun that can kill the past. Yes, you read that right, your goal is to kill the past. Specifically, your character’s past. The game’s trailer emphasizes this point, if you’d like to hear it for yourself. I’ll link the gameplay trailer right here.

gungeon entrance

Based on this trailer alone, I was sold on Gungeon’s premise. All that remained to win me over was a solid gameplay loop, and I’m happy to report that the game succeeds on that front. There is a massive variety of guns that can be collected across many hours of gameplay, with a solid number of passive and active items available to spice up each run. The number of weaponry available to players is staggering, and with the game’s free supply drop update that went live a few months ago, there are even more choices available. Collecting these different guns is a joy of its own, thanks to their creative utility and fun design choices. Chests filled with loot are peppered on each floor of the gungeon, ensuring you access to a wide variety of fun weaponry.

 

The game features the expected ensemble of base weaponry, including handguns, shotguns, rifles, machine guns, and other traditional guns that we have come to expect. However, the game’s wacky and inventive munitions is where it truly shines. For example, one of my favorite guns in the game is called the Shell. This is a gun that resembles a shotgun shell, and when fired, it pops out three shotguns, which proceed to fire two bullets from those shotguns. The in-game description of this weapon reads: “This strange gun, shaped like a shotgun shell, fires bullets that are shaped like shotguns. Those shotgun-shaped bullets will fire a spray of rounds upon impact, much like a shotgun would.” Another example of the unique weaponry involves the Witch Pistol, which fires bullets that have a 10% chance of turning the hit enemy into a chicken. Or how about the Magic Lamp, a gun that is a literal lamp which causes a genie to emerge and sucker-punch any enemies that are unfortunate enough to cross his path. This is just a few examples from the list of over 130 guns that are available to collect and use against enemies. The creative ideas at play here are a riot, and I loved discovering new weaponry and items every time I played the game.

gungeon supply drop update card

Similar in fashion to other rogue-lites, killing all of the enemies in a room will unlock the doors stopping the player’s progression, and award them currency that can be used at the in-game shop. Every character and enemy you run across during the journey through the Gungeon has a unique personality that gives a sense of depth to the game’s world, even if the randomly-generated levels have layouts that are recognizable after a dozen or so runs through.

 

Unlocking certain features outside of the Gungeon is accomplished by helping NPC’s during a run, similarly accomplished like in Crypt of the Necrodancer, and gives the game a path of upgradability to the player’s hub world that is satisfying and rewarding. However, I still felt like I was given enough utility to overcome most obstacles, even in the early game or if my gun loadout was lacking compared to previous runs. This is another thing that I think Enter the Gungeon does very well; it balances a level of progression with player skill, avoiding the ever-popular “RNG issue” (RNG stands for random number generator) that affects other rogue-lite games such as The Binding of Isaac. In Isaac, if you play a run of the game that gives you crappy upgrades at the beginning, you feel at a severe disadvantage against the game’s obstacles, and are thus tempted to restart that run from the beginning. In Gungeon, this feeling is nearly absent, because the starting weaponry given to you is quite good, at least for the game’s first two floors. During your time after those two floors, you are pretty much guaranteed to find even better weaponry than your starting guns, helping balance the game’s difficulty without feeling too easy or difficult.

gungeon gatling gull

On the subject of comparisons to other rogue-lite games, I think the boss fights in Gungeon and Isaac should be compared. In Isaac, most of the boss fights can be beaten relatively quickly, even without any damage upgrades. In Enter the Gungeon, this is simply not the case. Even with a better arsenal at your disposal, boss fights are still the most lengthy and difficult challenge you will come across. This should be expected. However, I think the boss fights could stand to be a bit shorter, especially in the early game when your weapons are usually not as strong as during the late game. When fighting bosses with your default guns, which can be normal during the first or second floors, the fights feel like they can take ages to beat. This makes the battle feel like a drag instead of the exciting conclusion to a floor that it should be. Despite this, I found most of the boss fights to feel fair and fun, especially when you learn the boss patterns and effectively dodge their attacks. There’s a couple of bosses that I think are unfairly difficult, namely the Ammoconda (oh yeah, all of the bosses have fun gun-centric names to accompany their unique designs!), but most of the boss fights feel fair, if on the long side.

gungeon bullet king battle

With a cast of memorable characters, a bevy of awesome weaponry to collect, and an engaging gameplay loop that makes you want to play just one more round, Enter the Gungeon is one of my favorite rogue-lite games. The art style is pleasing and the enemy designs all fit within the game’s world. Although the boss fights could stand to be a bit shorter, the entire package provides a wonderful experience that I think is among publisher Devolver Digital’s best games yet. Once Enter the Gungeon releases on Nintendo Switch, I’ll be there day one to play through all of it again!

gungeon switch

Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend.

  • Matt

Nier: Automata – A Leg Up On Its Predecessor (Review)

nier automata carnival

Note: Spoilers ARE present. I played a total of 40 hours, finishing the game three times and experiencing the three main endings of the game (including the two big choices that are made at the very end of the third playthrough). I also completed about 90% of the game’s sidequests, and plan to finish the rest of them soon.

 

Before I start this review, I should note that I have not played the entirety of the first Nier game. I own the PlayStation 3 copy of the game, and have booted it up once, but decided to watch my favorite group of people on YouTube play through the game instead. Why did I do this? I believe it was during a deluge of other game releases that had me preoccupied, and it saddens me that I didn’t play through the first Nier myself. However, after watching the entirety of the first game (yes, multiple endings and all!) I believe I have a good grasp of the story and gameplay. Because of this, I felt prepared to give game director Yoko Taro’s latest installment in the Nier franchise Nier: Automata a shot, especially after hearing the positive press that the game has received.

Nier Automata enemy and 2b

From my understanding, the gameplay systems present in Drakengard and Nier are not usually the reason people are so fond of these niche titles. Instead, it is the beautiful and unique stories told that capture fans’ hearts and keep them wanting to play.

 

When it was announced that the world-renowned Japanese game developers at Platinum Games would be creating a new Nier title with Yoko Taro at the helm, many fans of the first game, myself included, were enthralled. The brilliant storytelling from Yoko Taro’s pen and paper, brought to life with the advanced game systems that Platinum is known for, could combine to create a truly remarkable new entry. Thankfully, these expectations have been met, and dare I say it, surpassed. Nier: Automata is a beautiful game with likeable characters, an unforgettable story, and an engrossing gameplay hook that fans of the action genre have come to expect.

 

The plug-in chip system used to tailor the player’s gameplay style, both in combat and out of combat, is satisfying and flexible. Players collect a variety of skills, called electronic chips, that can be applied to their character to enhance a multitude of abilities. A custom chip set can be crafted, or the game can be told to create a balanced chip set – regardless, the system is well thought out and a fun place to craft your own unique playstyle. Whether you specialize in mid-air combos, ranged attacks, or hacking your opponents, there are a decent variety of choices for the player to take down enemies that keep things from getting stale.

nier automata reverse cover

Do I need to say anything about the game’s soundtrack? It’s phenomenal. I’m listening to it as I write this review, and will probably be listening to it six months from now, as I did with the first Nier game. If nothing else, the soundtrack needs to be heard and appreciated even by those who do not plan to play Nier: Automata. There are a few remixed tracks that crop up in the sequel from the first game, and they are interwoven in a smooth way that I appreciated.

nier automata trees

Actually, I do have one more thing to say about the soundtrack. There is a fair amount of the hacking minigame present in Nier: Automata, and it is almost exclusively present in the game’s second playthrough. Players will probably notice that any background music perfectly transitions into a chip-tune sound when the change from combat to hacking minigame occurs. Every time this musical transition happened, I was impressed. The way this is implemented at any point of gameplay is satisfying, but the way this transition occurs within the game’s final moments during the credits sequence is absolutely amazing. Some of Nier: Automata’s vocal tracks are sung in both English and Japanese, and feature a bit-tune version of these songs as well. The end credits sequence had my jaw hung open when there were transitions between not just the bit-tune and vocal versions of the same song, but also the multiple languages being sung. For example, a few lines of a track were sung in English, and then a few lines would be sung in the Japanese track, all in a seamless transition. To say it is breathtaking would be an understatement. This game has one of my favorite soundtracks not just for games, but to anything. The game features truly marvelous music that should not be missed.

nier automata 2b and 9s

 

Oh, and on that credits sequence – it’s one of my favorites in any game. Wonderful way to wrap up the story and feature an intense battle before the final cutscene.

 

To be completely honest, I’m rather intimidated to write about the story that is present in Nier: Automata. Similar to its predecessor, the story is engaging, complex, and features multiple likeable characters that have plenty of screentime. I am afraid that I cannot give the multiple narratives at play enough credit where the credit is due. With this in mind, I will do my best to provide a short write-up of my favorite bits of the story. Perhaps my favorite moments in the game’s story are the real-world questions that the game asks. What is the meaning of our existence? Do we have desires worth fighting for, and are those goals ultimately worth the sacrifices we make? These questions are addressed by the main characters as well as side quest characters that bring the world in Nier: Automata to life. Both friendly and hostile machines show a startling level of humanity that I did not at first expect from the game’s characters, and the fact that this is accomplished with zero humans present in the story is a remarkable feat in my eyes. For a better look at the themes that I most appreciated in this game’s story, I think George from SuperBunnyHop can provide a more detailed explanation. I’ll link his Nier: Automata video right here.

Nier automata cavalry

Now, I’ve done enough gushing about all of the game’s good. Although I think Nier: Automata is a simply astounding game that should not be missed, I think a lack of intricate combos like those present in other Platinum games like Bayonetta is a missed opportunity. The combat is more than serviceable, but I found it to be on the more simple side. As a big fan of seeing vast button combinations that can be executed in battle, I could see a list of unique combo attacks being a positive addition to the game. Something akin to Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s combo system would add a great deal to the game’s already satisfactory battle system.

Another criticism I can provide is the over-reliance on fetch quests in the game’s side quests. Although most of the side quests provide an interesting narrative to accompany them, some of the quests feel to rest a bit too much on collecting a certain resource for an NPC, or going off to slay the machines they ask you to kill. These issues are not as big a problem as they would be in other games, thanks to Nier: Automata’s satisfying movement, but they are still worth noting.

nier automata emil

To wrap this review up, I think that if you own a PS4, and have either played Nier or are okay with doing research in that game’s story to better understand Nier: Automata’s universe, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Yoko Taro and the wonderful folks at Platinum have crafted an experience that I will not forget anytime soon, featuring extremely engaging characters, a gripping storyline, and some of the best music in today’s modern world. Yes, I just said that. True, it is a bold claim, but I believe that Nier and Nier: Automata’s soundtracks offer music that rivals the best of the best, both within and outside of video games.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you greatly for reading my review of Nier: Automata. I had a good deal of fun writing this review, with the game’s soundtrack accompanying my writing. If you’re interested in seeing my other work, feel free to follow me on Twitter or here on WordPress. Have a great Memorial Day, all.

 

  • Matt

Nintendo Has Officially Sold Me On “ARMS”

Hey folks, Matt here. I watched the Arms-focused Nintendo direct from the other day, and I wanted to share a few thoughts here.

Arms direct

When Arms was first revealed back in January for the Switch, I was intrigued but not immediately sold on the concept. The character designs were solid, the stages looked fun, and the mechanic of swinging multiple variants of arms forward to strike down your opponent seemed satisfying, but I still did not feel much anticipation to learn more about the title.

 

Fast-forward to May 17th, when Nintendo revealed more fighters, stages, the game’s business model moving forward, and types of arms to choose from in battle, and my excitement level for the game’s release has skyrocketed.

 

First up, Nintendo is planning free content packs to come to Arms shortly after the game’s launch, similarly to what they did with Splatoon back on the Wii U. As long as there’s a steady trickle of content coming to players, I am a big fan of this plan for the game’s future. I thought it worked wonderfully for Splatoon, as it kept me invested in the game for months after the game’s launch, and I imagine it will work similarly well for Arms as well as Splatoon 2, which should also be taking advantage of a steady stream of free content. Any free additions and improvements to a video game’s online community is often welcome because it keeps the online community of that game intact, and thus improves the game’s online longevity. I am very happy to see Nintendo is embracing this ideology with more of their games moving forward. Now release some more tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe! (I don’t see this realistically happening, but you never know, especially with Nintendo).

master mummy

I think the thing that impresses me the most about Arms are the fighters that make up the game’s roster. You’ve got your standard boxer in shorts and a t-shirt, as well as a ninja that can disappear in a cloud of smoke, and a… Mummy? That hops around the battlefield and hurls purple spike balls at you? And to top it all off, his name is Master Mummy. Huh, I suppose the fighters in this game are pretty different from other fighting game characters, in a good way. Every character appears to offer a unique approach to combat, with some of them focusing on dodging quickly on the ground or in mid-air, and others favoring a full-on assault with their increased power armor and heavily damaging attacks. However, if you ask me, none of these fighters compare to two of the three characters that were revealed in yesterday’s Nintendo direct.

 

 

I’m talking, of course, about Twintelle, as well as Byte and Barq.

Twintelle

Twintelle is the internet’s latest craze, offering some… Interesting variety in the game’s visual department. She’s got curves that rival Bayonetta’s and her hair holds boxing gloves used to smash other fighters’ faces in. Oh yeah, and in that promotional shot, she’s sipping tea while floating in mid-air. If that’s not bad ass, I don’t know what is. If you do a quick Google search of Twintelle, you will find a number of fan art pieces that capture all of the reasons why people enjoy Twintelle’s design in Arms.

 

All sexy fighter jokes aside, I think Twintelle looks like a fun addition to the roster with a unique take on her ‘arms’ that are used to dish out combos. I’m looking forward to playing as her in the final game, and possibly in the free demo for Arms that is set to be playable in over a week’s time. Check out Nintendo’s Twitter account for the date and times to play it!

 

I also really dig the design and character philosophy behind the game’s other unique addition, Byte and Barq. This robot police officer and his dog act as the game’s duo fighters, similar in some respect to Ferra and Torr from Mortal Kombat X. While the player controls Byte and dishes out hits toward their opponent, Barq is able to move around the battlefield and distract the opponent with his own attacks. This is just my own guess, but I think that the way this is balanced is by Byte’s attack power being lower than other fighters’ to account for his robotic little buddy. I could be wrong, but we’ll be able to confirm or deny this guess when the game releases in June! I’m a sucker for dogs in video games, and well, dogs in general, so Byte and Barq immediately piqued my interest.

byte and barq

I think if Nintendo keeps this momentum going and shows off some of the things that will come to the game post-launch, Arms will be poised to be the Switch’s next big hit game, similar to how Splatoon was a big win for the Wii U. Although I was hesitant on the motion controls at first, all hands-on reactions from players testing out the game have confirmed that throwing out attacks and dodging in Arms is an accurate and quite satisfying experience, which couldn’t make me happier. Let’s hope it all leads to a major success when the game releases in June.

 

Be sure to look at Nintendo’s Twitter account for the date and time on when you can try out Arms for yourself on your own Nintendo Switch! I’m certainly looking forward to it. Oh, and before I forget: LISTEN TO THIS SONG.  It is so damn good. I imagine this will be the game’s main theme, and it makes me extremely hyped to play the final release of Arms

Arms global testpunch

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a wonderful weekend. 

  • Matt

Oh, by the way, I don’t know if anyone will see this, but if you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and would like to have some races/battles online this weekend, feel free to let me know! I’ll share my friend code here.