Armada’s E3 picks: Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015)

 

Ok people some more truth, I’ve never played Xenoblade Chronicles, and I don’t even know why not. I mean it was wildly received by gamers and reviewers since the game’s launch, and it was also on the Wii so you would think it would be a lock for me right? It never happened. Well ladies and gentlemen I won’t make the same mistake twice, because  as of this year’s E3 Nintendo announced Xenoblade Chronicles X and you can be sure I’ll be playing it when it comes out. Now technically not a sequel but rather and reboot/retelling X begins tragically with the world ending due to an intergalactic war between two alien races. The surviving humans barely escape to a beautiful but hostile world via a crash landing – that’s where you come in. As a survivor you must help tame the open-world land of dangerous monsters, protect fellow survivors from said monsters, and rebuild your civilization anyway you can. Of course nothing is as easy as that, but don’t worry, since this is a ‘Xeno’ series game you’ll get your hands on a mech sooner or later -and trust me there isn’t many problems a mech can’t solve.   Xenoblade Chronicles X will be out next year so you’ll have plenty of time to get your anime hair ready.

 

 

 

This just in (Or not) – NINTENDO’S WII U HAS A RELEASE DATE AND IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER (sorry for the all caps, but this is important).

 

 

This is not a drill; I repeat is not a drill! I swear this is just like the ‘Fall of Games’ for you. A few posts ago I said that this year’s games for the fall were a bit underwhelming. Then, as if they were listening, the powers that be, who as if responded: ‘Oh yeah?!’, slapped me (and the world at large with) with this bombshell. If you somehow missed my ridiculously huge and embolden tag line of top then I’ll repeat it now: the Wii U is not only available for pre order now but will be out in a couple of months. Ah yes players the next generation of console wars starts today and I’m pleased as punch. Why? Because to be honest I didn’t think I wouldn’t think I would see the Wii U this soon, and as I said before this year’s Fall of Games was milk toast. Now I got something to be genuinely excited for – doing the Mario in the streets kind of excited. In my opinion the Wii was the most innovated video game console in my lifetime; simple to learn & fun to master it broke barriers between gamers and non-gamers. Proving once and for all anyone could not only game, but game well. Back in its prime you couldn’t find the Wii anywhere and if you got one you were half temped to sell it on eBay to quadtriple your investment. It was family friendly but had games with an edge to them too, never mind their brilliant inclusion of channels (i.e. apps) and the Miis which by themselves were hours of fun (creating different Mii versions of real/fictional people –don’t deny it). Even their competition had no choice but to follow suit and come up with their less than stellar knockoffs just to offer something comparable. So in short the Wii was awesome – but it has its weaknesses.

 

 

 

 

Many a gamer said its graphics the machine produces is bad, which I agree, don’t get me wrong; when a developer puts in the time (more on that in a minute) they can make it work, but for games ports you can always tell the difference between the PS3 Ghostbusters game and the Wii version. Only other complaint about the original Wii is that the games are bad, which I strongly disagree. The Wii is a very unique system, in turn might not be the easiest thing to develop and program for; but that’s just an excuse for laziness (that’s right I went there). Some of the best games for that system was Madworld and No More Heroes; games that people put in the time, effort, and a dare say love into them it make them the great works of art they are (violent art but still). However some developers don’t care about making a half descent game, but rather making a quick buck on a popular machine by churning out shovelware. That said shovelware devalues the excellent console gives it the stigmata of ‘too kiddy’ or ‘amateur console’ to this day. Now thanks to the Wii U those complaints will be irrelevant: the graphics will be comparable if not better than the 360 and PS3 platforms, and combined with the new Wii U’s mini tablet controller will give those the non-conformist developers more than enough to work with for their latest violent, hyped up shooter for next year (doesn’t matter which one). *Sigh* And yet I still hear the doubts and complains on how Wii U is not enough or will be overwhelmed by the upcoming Xbox 720 or the PS whatever in the next year. This is also a fallacy – know your history, a lot of people wrote off the first Wii before it came out; only for them to be proven wrong throughout most of the console’s lifetime and against consoles who, on paper, are superior.  The Wii U has all the strengths of its predecessor, and none of its weaknesses; to bet against it now would be unwise. Go, preorder, now!

 

 

 

The return of Iconic Adventures: the tales of an Average Video Gamer

Now swabies reckon when I used t’ tell a chantey about a lad who wished nothin’ but t’ become th’ next great game character? Well I admit yer capt’n hasn’t told th’ tale fer se’en seas; I’ve marooned’t without cause but nay longer. Aye, me an’ me hands set-sailed down t’ th’ underworld an’ wrenched’t from Davy Jones his self. A.V.G has gone on account wi’ us an’ be now ‘Iconic Adventures: th’ tales o’ an Average Video Gamer’. Soon, very soon, th’ gamer be aft – an’ as colorful be th’ Caribbean coast. T’ show I’m a gentleman o’ fortune who doesn’t ‘nay prey, nay pay’ the’r loyal audience, here’s me very first A.V.G. tale from th’ Armada coffers– nay piece o’ eight be more valuable than this.

Game Review – Punchout

Little mac is back and pulling no punches in this Wii title; here’s my review.

The Fall of Games – Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People

In the wide world of webbing there is never a shortage of time wasting entertainers; Youtube alone could keep the world in a catatonic state for who knows how long. However if your like me (the world could be so lucky) you want to log in to something with a little substance, thought and comedy gold. One such site is homestarrunner.com. It stars an armless athlete of sorts, a balloon best friend, a bell shaped girlfriend and many other colorful characters that live in Free Country, USA. And while they’re the funniest flash characters I’ve ever seen, the main reason myself (and other people) come to the site is for the man, the myth, the PG-13 jerkiness of Strong Bad and his net famous emails segments.

These e-mail fuelled misadventures has not only spawned new features & mini-games for homestarrunner.com, but also propelled the site into the humorous juggernaut that it is today. So were does the series go from here; TV? Movies? Nope, they take their next steps to the most interactive entertainer in the world today – Video Games, and more to the point, the Nintendo Wii and the PC. Attractive ladies and gentleman I present “Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People”. This game puts you the shoe-boots & non-finger mitts of Strong Bad, you control him and interact with his environment by pointing and clicking with the Wii-mote or mouse. From there, you can do whatever you want to get through the game with Strong Bad looking cool & awesome as possible. Also you can choose to make him a nice guy or the Baddest Strong Bad the pre-teen censors will allow. Tired of kicking ‘The Cheat’ already? No worries, ‘SBCG4AP’ has other mini-games to enjoy like Snake Boxer 5, some rock & roll treasure hunting, some non-rock & roll item hunting, and a fan favorite – ‘Teen Girl Squad’ comics (impress Strong Bad by bring the pain to the squad). This is a simple point & click adventure, but chock full of that Homestar funny that fans know and love. It also gives those same fans the inside look of Free Country USA and how everything connected in their little world. Add to the fact that SBCG4AP cost only $10.00 (through Wii shop channel anyway) and new episodes will appear monthly (until December) makes this an attractive addition to any gamers library. Now if you all will excuse me, I’m going to kick The Cheat just because  it feels so good to be Strong Bad.

Game Review – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King – Only just the beginning

When it comes to video games I’m some-what a purest; meaning I only buy games that come in a box (or a Gamefly envelope). Before, I thought all those console ‘download service’ games weren’t worth the time or the carnie based points to buy them. However when I saw Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King as a preview on Game Informer, I knew this was going to be something good. Admittedly I forgot about it for a time, but it only took one review of the game to jog my memory (and excitement). So were my good vibes justified; in a word yes. So much of a yes that I might have to change my opinion on such games from being just rewritten, reworked games from the past to something more credible. Before I move into the game, I confess that I’ve never played the Crystal Chronicles series of Final Fantasy. I thought it was stupid. So my take on the story is a little fragmented, but in the beginning of the game three characters find themselves a castle town, minus the town. They been on the run since their old home was destroyed by a force called ‘miasma’ (A force that has been taking care of in the first Crystal Chronicles, I’m assuming anyway). These three: one old knight, one chancellor/court magician, and one little aire apparent (the main character) of the bygone kingdom must now rebuild what they lost in this new land. Simple, right? Well in final Fantasy nothing is as simple as it appears, especially for a king – which is you.

This is not a RPG or action game, it’s more a like a micromanaging simulator with a little strategy added. If non-twitching isn’t your thing then stop reading this and go play Halo, however if you give this game a good hour you may be pleasantly surprised. Now the king has a power called ‘Architek’ which allows players to build building instantly; a useful skill but not a free one. Players need to get ‘elementite’ to use the power and the only places to get the stuff is where the monsters live (of course). Normally player would just gear up with the big, baddest weapons, armor and magic available and go tearing into the wild; bring back enough treasures to choke a moogle. However… Kings don’t do that sort of thing; they delegate jobs like to more expendable ‘heroes’ of the realm and My Life as a King is no different. Check the adventurer’s stats, tell them where to go and sit back while they do all the hard work of grinding monsters for you. Next day they bring back any elementite, treasure, and funds for you to use at your leisure, sweet deal. Where players come in though is pimping out your kingdom, and while it is busy work it’s also exciting create your own kingdom from the ground up. Each structure players choose (or not to choose) to build will affect your home and the people around it. For example; later on in the game, you’ll have the ability to build mage academies. In which will not only give your adventures the option to become mages, and make future defenders of the realm near the academies more intelligent (thus better mages), but they will provide a scenic bell tower chime every morning, afternoon and evening in the kingdom (which does nothing really, but sounds nice). Academies are only one of many building the king can form; but it’s up to the player to decide ‘what’ go’s ‘where’ and ‘how many’. There is only so much room in your kingdom and in order for you to survive and prosper you must keep both your citizens safe and your soldiers happy. Heavy is the head that holds the crown.

This game is simple looking, but very beautiful. Which has always been Nintendo’s greatest visual strength; (in my opinion) they can’t compete with PS3 and 360’s realistic graphics. The Wii was built for colorful, expressive art style; the sooner more 3rd party developers figure this out, the better Wii games will become (visually anyway). The game’s tutorials are also very simple to understand, clearly explaining the less than pulse-pounding functions of the game.

I have to say though my favorite thing about the game is the charm of it. Not once was I bored doing practically the same thing in the 7-10 minute intervals that counted as the in-game days. I always wanted to hear what the villagers had to say, even though they tend to repeat themselves. And when the adventurers head out to their latest dungeon I’m always excited to see the results (being good or bad). Of coarse that’s just me, to another gamer all this may just seem to be a striped down final fantasy tactics mixed with Sims element. Which it is, but it doesn’t making any less fun and at a cheap price, it’s a great find for Wii owners. Players can even invest more money into the game by buying new avatar skins, useable races, high level dungeons and upgraded buildings. Totally optional, but they do keep things interesting. If more downloadable games are like this (creative & fun) then I have nothing to worry about for future titles. However despite how enjoyable this title is to me personally, I can only give it a Sliver rating because at the end of the day this game will only appeal to a certain crowd, not the majority of gamers. The features that make it great are also what holds’ it back.

Game Review – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

I’m sorry to disappoint those who may or may not come to be enlightened in the ways of the game through rant, but instead a game review. Yes I reviews games, and have been since middle school. Anyway this game is the latest Smash Bros sequel – Brawl. Trust me; it’s a Nintendo fan boys dream come true. When it comes to this series there’s not much of a story to be had here (not that fans of the series care much), the closest we got was a watered down adventure mode in Melee. This time around though they actually put SSBB-1some effort in and made it actually passable mode of play. Most the characters from the first two games plus some new entries must now due battle with creatures from subspace. These creatures (which look a lot like the heartless from Kingdom Hearts) are being led by the usual assortment of Nintendo villains and the leader du jour the ‘Ancient Minister’. Mario and gang don’t know why they’re bring the noise; but in order to save their amalgamated world they must show them the painful back side of their hands.

Now the playstyle of this series has always been difficult to classify, close to a fighter genre but not a pure one. For those you don’t know, it works on a modified ‘King of the Hill’ system. Instead of a health bar each character has percent counter. Each time an character receives damage two things will happen; the counter will go up, and the character will be knock back. The higher the percent the more damage will effect the character and the farther it will get knocked back. The stages of each battle are only so big, outside each stage are unseen by the players and are considered out of balance. If their characters go too far (or more commonly knocked back) into that area then they lose. Not the whole game mind you (although it can be set to sudden death in other modes) just a loss of point (the rival CPU/player gains that point if they cause the defeat) or a stocked life. Players keep this up until either time runs out or there’s only one survivor. It’s sound, simple system; so much so that some people dare call this a button masher. This is simple not true; it takes a great deal of strategy and skill to master this game. First, each character is different from another (pallet swaps included); from standard attacks, strong attacks, and finish blows to the four special attacks that can save your character’s rear, are just the basic one should know right of the ‘Home Run Bat’. Even the weight of the characters factor how offensively or defensibly one should play.

Then you have to figure the outside elements that drop into the field; namely items. Classic ones like the ‘Beam Sword’ and ‘Ray Gun’ return in this 3rd installment game; while new toys like the ‘Mortar Launcher’ or the ‘Smoke Bomb’ add new trickery to the field. Like the character themselves, some items take some planning to use while others only require you to aim and pull the trigger. Of course pure skill won’t mean much if players/CPU gets a hold of a Pokeball, Assist Trophy, or a Final Smash Ball. SSBB-2 Even one of these bad boys can turn defeat into victory in no time, despite the fact they have their limits too. So to say playing this game need ‘no-effort’ is about the same as saying that democrats have a poor shot of winning the next election here in the states. Now to truly play a button masher might I suggest ‘Tekken’ or ‘Soul Caliber’. They maybe high-end games but they require low I.Q.s to play. Let’s talk about the nuts & bolts of the game, starting with the looks. Most other reviews would poo-poo the graphics, saying that they would look like Nintendo Gamecube graphics. Well that maybe true but there wasn’t much wrong with the GC’s graphic anyway. Plus since we’re working with the power of the Wii everything is nice and detailed; pause the game and see your character and background up close, pretty cool ay?

Also don’t get me started with the music in this title; it’s like they took the best tunes of Nintendo, Kirby, and Sonic; jammed it in the game; and for the sheer awesomeness remixed most of it as a nod to the fans. So, yeah, the music is good. Controls are a non-issue as well; this game allows using all four control styles available for the Wii (The Wii Remote, The Wii Remote with Kunchuk, The Classic Controller, or the Gamecube Controller). Another good move for Nintendo, because even though most people would be conformable with the GC controller (I know I am) that not true for everyone; it’s good to have options. SSBB-3That 3 for 3 and not even the best part; the best part is that the online play is excellent! No, really, excellent! As I mentioned in a past post Nintendo is not known for their online capabilities but Brawl does it like a pro; well better than the pros because I’m still having lag issues with Team Fortress 2 (Valve please get with that, it’s really bad when Nintendo shows you up in the online arena).

I can’t say enough good things about Brawl, but any bad? Well I would say their bad things more like annoying quirks. Such as unbalanced characters abilities and characters with similar abilities to another. The biggest drawback is the limited online options; players can’t even select a higher match time than 2 minutes for random matches. For a guy who lives off random matches this is a serious downer. Oh well, you have more control if you make online matches for your friends. Super Smash Bros Brawl is ‘the’ game for the Wii. I very much doubt you’ll find a game as fun, addicting, and lag free this year. Halo 3, Team Fortress 2, and World of Warcraft; all games I have, all games I own and play from time to time. They’re all enjoyable in their own way, but sooner and later I get bored. WoW is the worst of them all; despite their 1 million + users worldwide you can only grind so many quests before you lose your mind. No won’t have that problem with Brawl, I guarantee it. This game get’s my elite rating: Platinum. If you have a Wii but not this game, what’s taking you? Get it A.S.A.P.