Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X released in North America this past week for iOS and Android. Unchained X reveals the origins of Kingdom Hearts, taking place before any of the other games in the series. Unchained X’s story will connect to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III game.

You are a Keyblade wielder — one of many — on a quest to rid the world of Darkness and fight with your Union over control of the remaining light.When you start the game you get to choose a Union. This Union is your faction of Keyblade wielders and each week your points are tallied to see which Union wins. There’s a neat multiplayer element to KH Unchained X where you get to fight raid bosses with members of your union, though it’s not truly playing with others in real time.

The presentation is in the form of a fairy tale. In the very beginning (while the game is downloading a good amount) you are presented a fairy tell in popup book format. Kairi’s Grandmother is telling her a favorite story from the past (the story you’re going to be playing) about how the whole thing got started.

KH Uchained X is free to play. The cash shop doesn’t appear to be too invasive. I’m not super far into the game by any means, but from what I can see it all appears to be cosmetic/”I want to be in the top 100 players” kind of stuff. It  doesn’t appear necessary for the story gameplay at all. Medals can be purchased with in-game currency in a form of random packs, and I feel like the game gives you plenty of in-game currency to avoid needing to spend money.

Gameplay happens in “quests” or missions. So far they seem pretty quick, taking no more than a couple of minutes to complete. These missions involve a main objective like killing a particular encounter. Combat is handled well. Tap the screen to attack, swipe to area attack, and drag medals off of your Keyblade to use abilities. Combat in general is somewhat turn-based. Each action you take rotates the medals in your Keyblade. When the enemy’s action comes around, they take a move. So you’re trying to utilize your actions knowing that the enemy’s action is likely to come around soon.

Customization is pretty good too. You’ll get to slot the medals you want, customize our character’s looks/outfit, and level things up with a bit of choice as to what you combine. Overall, a decent system. It’s like a mix of Days and CoM.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X comes across very well on mobile devices. The story telling methods they use work for both mobile and the KH narrative. There are plenty of familiar faces, lots of Disney which is great, and the feeling of Kingdom Hearts is all there. The price is right, and KHUx is one of the most ‘complete’ feeling mobile games I’ve played.

Miitomo

Nintendo’s first ever mobile app just launched. I’m still trying to find my words here. I don’t know what to make of Miitomo. I don’t know what to make of Nintendo’s strategy. I guess let’s start by looking at a video I took while playing this afternoon.

You start by linking your Nintendo Network ID with your app, or signing up for a new account. I was able to link my same account that I’ve used for years, which is the same account on my Wii/WiiU and on the new My Nintendo.

Once you have your accounts created or linked you can import or design your new Mii. After that, you’re all set! You enter the world of Miitomo which, from what I can tell, is pretty much just your one room apartment. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I can’t figure out how to leave. I just walk around this room.

The main “gameplay” — a term I will use looser than I have ever used it before — is about answering questions and divulging all of your information to Nintendo’s marketing team your friends. The point? Um, to share? I guess?

My wife and I are “playing” Miitomo together. We’re friends. She will occasionally stop by my place and ask me questions. I’ll give her answers, I’ll ask her questions, etc. It’s just a swapping of information regarding the strangest topics. We enjoy the cuteness of answering questions for each other.

You earn coins for answering questions, and you spend them buying your Mii outfits. You can also buy your coins with real money, but I can’t imagine why you would. I’m reminded of the Xbox Live avatar stuff. You can also spend your coins or tickets on playing games that remind me of Pachinko. You’ll earn goodies and clothes by playing.

Being completely honest, it’s kinda dumb. I’m trying to figure out their play. This wreaks of ‘Weird Nintendo’ which might be a mixture of Japanese culture and tactics for hitting some demographic with which I can’t identify. I want to be prophetic here and say that I foresee this as being just a tech demo or a test of their tech to see if they can integrate My Nintendo with an app. We’re all part of some experiment that will eventually contribute to the world’s best social integration mechanics ever. But then again, it could simply be nothing more than Nintendo being weird.

I’m giving this a 5/10 because I think there’s a small chance I might have missed something. Otherwise, I’m not sure this can even be reviewed.

Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble

wib-wobs

Graev has been bugging me for a week to download this game called Yo’Kao Watch Wibble Wobble. I couldn’t pronounce it let alone tell you anything about it. I had never heard of Yo-Kai Watch. I finally gave in, and I’m sure glad I did.

yo-kai-watch-wibble-wobbleYo-Kao Watch Wibble Wabble — I still have no idea what that means — is a matching game on mobile devices that apparently mimics something similar that released on 3DS. Its absolutely free, and so far I haven’t ofund the need to spend a single cent.

The matching gameplay is paired with a combat system where you’re fighting an opponent and they attack you every so many seconds. You have to match quickly in order to combine your wib wobs to form bigger versions of themselves. Clicking them deals damage, but clicking multiple combined wib wobs in succession will combo dealing more damage. Then there are special abilities that wib wobs have, and the whole thing becomes a lot more than matching.

Although F2P, and spending money is easily avoided, you can spend money to play more often or to make playing a little easier. Essentially you can play so many matches until they regenerate. I haven’t quite figured out why, but my matches regenerate faster than I can use them, and if they ever were to run out I could spend some free currency and buy 50 more.

The matching can be frustrating for me as it’s not perfect. The wib wobs move a bit, and my reflexes and hand-eye coordination aren’t what they used to be so sometimes I mess up my combines or fail to see obvious ones. The matching is really, really generous too. Sometimes the wib wobs don’t look close at all but you can connect them — learn this early and you’ll breeze through the first matches. There’s a lot of customization when it comes to picking your team of 5 wib wobs — It can be frustrating to figure out the best combo or what they do at first.

I like collecting the wib wobs by inserting coins into the machine — pretty satisfying. There are also daily missions and plenty of incentives to keep playing regularly. Again, I haven’t hit a wall. Graev has played for 5+ hours and hasn’t hit a wall. In fact I think this has become his main game now and he hasn’t hit a wall in a week of non-stop playing.

Definitely a fun game, and for what it is I can’t find many flaws. Apparently there’s a TV show that Graev says is worth watching. Going to check that out.

Clash Royale: My Latest iOS Addiction

Clash Royale

Clash Royale MenuMy latest iOS game addiction is Clash Royale by SuperCell. Clash Royale is a real-time 2-3 minute battle game where you are matched up with an opponent and duke it out to see who can destroy the other person’s towers before the time is up. Each player has a deck of ‘cards’ comprising their “Battle Deck.” Your Battle Deck can have up to 8 cards at a time that must be carefully balanced around Elixir Cost and tactics.

During battle you generate Elixir in real time up to a total of 10 Elixir. You can then play cards that cost elixir at any time. Elixir is constantly regenerating, and toward the end of a match (again only 3 minutes long) it will generate even faster. Cards are placed into your hand 4 at a time. As you use a card, a new one comes out of your deck into your hand.

Each “Arena” has two lanes. You and your opponent are positioned on opposite sides. You can drag your units onto the field anywhere except within a radius of enemy towers. Destroying enemy towers means you can put units onto the field on their side of the Arena. Units are pre-programed to simply move toward the enemy base and attack units or towers. Gameplay then becomes about pushing lanes, countering pushes, countering units, and out-thinking or simply out-playing the enemy’s hand.

Clash Royale BattleSo the gist of the game is very simple. Build a good deck, play cards onto the field by dragging them out of your hand, and outsmart your enemy. There’s a lot more depth here than one might initially think, and as Syncaine points out in his post it’s definitely more than rock, paper, scissors. Units have stats, aoe damage, some generate more units, there’s strategy behind putting a tank ahead of a DPS, and even concepts like blocking and flanking.

Clash Royale is free to play. The cash shop system seems, at least to me thus far, fair enough. You can have up to 4 chests at a time and be opening one of them at a time. A chest could take 3 hours, 12 hours, etc., based on quality to open up. You can open them immediately by paying gems. Cards can also be purchased with gold which — surprise — can be purchased. I haven’t felt at a disadvantage YET. I imagine the disadvantage will come later when people have cards that are higher level than me because they’ve bought more of that card. I guess that brings up a good point that when you open chests and get more cards, duplicates go towards leveling up your cards. So if I have 1 barbarian card and get two more barbarian cards, the barbarian can be upgraded to level 2 — 4 more upgrades to level 3, etc.

I’m enjoying the simplicity and straight-forward gameplay enough that I enlisted in a Clan. I joinedd up with Syncaine’s “Supreme Cream” group and I’m enjoying myself.

Clash Royale is a fun, high-intensity, deeper than it looks game that you can pick up and play for 3 minutes or 3 hours. Definitely the right price to download and give it a try. I’m struggling to find any flaws with the game other than the principle argument of whether or not a cash shop is ultimately fair or unfair based on paying to win.

The Division: Very Early Impressions

Graev and I picked up our copies of The Division yesterday to fill the gap in our list of evening co-op games that we like to play together. Prior to purchasing the game I kept seeing people referring to this idea of “massively multiplayer” and even weird hints at open-world and even elements of DayZ. Those are definitely way out of left field because The Division is neither a massively multiplayer game, nor anything remotely like DayZ or a survival game.

The Division is a third-person shooter game with hints of RPG, but definitely not a game I would ever comfortable say fits the RPG bill. RPGs have choices, and The Division is more of follow the story experience where you shoot bad guys, get gear, and level up. If there are decisions in the game, I certainly haven’t seen any.

The world is a mixture of seamless lobbies and mission phases. For example, safe houses contain other players. You walk through the door and ‘bam’ you are suddenly faced with a few dozen other players. You walk out that door and they stay there and you’re in your own world. If you group up with people then you’ll see them outside. There’s only one area of the game where it’s more about PvP and seeing other people, and that’s called the Dark Zone.

The story is intriguing. I like the idea that someone created an epidemic in New York causing the entire city to go into chaos and be quarantined. This special group of people who are like good guy sleeper agents are activated to go in and fix things. Fun premise.

The engine is fantastic, and gunplay is very tight. I really like the cover system — especially being able to select different cover and then automatically transfer to it even when it’s far away. Gear has a nice level of customization and variety/diversity. I think finding cosmetic items and weapon/armor upgrades will be fun, especially in the Dark Zone areas where you have to export your gear safely in order to keep it.

One critique I have about the shooter side of the game is that the enemies are spongey. They’ll soak up lots of bullets despite looking like normal people — I think they ARE normal people. I don’t know many humans who can take a full clip from a M4 and still be running around. Head shots really, really matter in The Division. Putting it on Hard Mode makes the spongey feel way worse.

The missions are neither here nor there so far. Focusing on the gameplay model too much would actually be a detriment to the game for me because it ultimately boils down to running around a world to find quest markers. If I were to think about it really hard, technically the game is about forming groups and going out on missions with the “open-world” being more of a pseudo-open-world experience — almost an illusion. But again, don’t overthink it. You’ll find encounters and more of an “open-world” experience the further you progress, but it’s definitely not an Elder Scrolls kind of open-world experience.

Co-op is fantastic. Graev and I have had no problems grouping up together and running missions. The Division really integrates nicely with the PS4 friend list as well as the Ubisoft accounts.

Bugs have been annoying. I had a glitch where right in the first 5 minutes of gameplay I was halted for an hour trying to interact with a laptop to “activate” my agent. I had to do a work around where I ran 200 meters away, did a matchmaking gimmick to find a group, then fast travel back to the house to activate it in a different phase. How that made it past QA boggles the mind.

The Division is, so far, a great third-person shooter with light RPG elements. Definitely worth the buy. I’ll integrate these thoughts with later thoughts for my more formal review. So far, I’d say 8/10.