New Nintendo 3DS XL & Monster Hunter Ultimate 4

New NIntendo 3DS XLI’m 1/10th the enthusiast that Graev is when it comes to handheld systems. We both got the 3DS when it very first launched and became ambassadors (received the spiffy badge and free games) for supporting their somewhat rocky launch.

When the 3DS took off and launched the ‘XL’ version, then several more versions of the XL, Graev would get them and pass down his systems to me and I would fiddle around in a Pokemon game every now and again. When the New Nintendo 3DS XL came out, boasting so many new features, I decided I wanted one.

My family got me the New Nintendo 3DS XL as a belated birthday present, and thanks to Graev tossed in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to go along with it. I’ll talk on MH4U but first let me talk up a few of the things I like about the new system.

Improved 3D Technology

New Nintendo 3DS Eye Tracking

If you’re like me and unable to hold still, you probably noticed that the 3D was finicky on the original 3DS. Moving your head to the side or not holding the 3DS at just the right angle made viewing the 3D effects difficult. The New 3DS includes a form of eye tracking that knows where your eyes are at and adapts to follow them when you move your face or the system around. I know it tracks my eyes because when I look a way then look back it wigs out for a second to find my eyes again. So as long as you don’t turn your head and look away completely, this thing keeps you engaged in the experience.

new-nintendo-3ds-c-stickThe C Stick

A couple of new controls were added like two new shoulder buttons, but the real star here is the C stick. The C stick is that little nubbin you see just above the X button. It barely moves but is made of a rubbery type feel that is sensitive to how your thumb pushes in directions. The only C stick implementation I’ve played with so far is in Monster Hunter, but that ability to control the camera alone has proven immensely useful for someone like me who has always struggled with handheld systems and the lack of ‘freedom’ of movement. Works great!

The New 3DS XL Overall

Overall the system is nice a big, feels good in my hands, and runs faster thanks to a better CPU. The browser on this thing feels better to me and navigates well. I think the camera was also improved to no longer be so dark and grainy. I haven’t played with the Amiibo support or anything but it has that. I plan to give the wireless file transfer stuff a try later to see how easy it is to take stuff from the micro sd card and transfer it over the wifi network straight to my PC. OH! I should also mention that exclusive games are coming to the New 3DS XL that will take advantage of not only the controls but the new upgraded speeds, so they will look even better.

 Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate


I have never been a Monster Hunter fan. I was always intimidated by what felt like massive barriers to entry and learning curves. There is so much that goes into such a simple premise of hunting monsters. Choosing weapon and armor types, crafting, upgrading, massive amounts of collecting, tons of strategic positioning during fights… it’s intense.

Much of that has changed now that I’ve hunkered down and put about 8 hours into the game. I’m starting to realize MH isn’t as incomprehensible as I thought. Still massive and overwhelming? Yes. If I stop and think about how insignificant I am compared to other people like Graev who have put in 100 hours already and could play another 200 hours easily… yep I could give up now. But I don’t. I focus on me and I go kill monsters.

For those who are completely unaware, here’s the gist of the game. You’re a monster hunter (the story is pretty simple and forgettable). You have a basic city/hub where you get quests, craft, etc. When you’re ready to go out on a quest you depart from the hub and you’re transported to a ‘map’ of ‘screens’ or ‘sections’ containing monsters. You’ll have lots of ‘trash’ monsters to kill as you make your way to objectives. You can harvest monsters you kill, big and small, for their resources which is essentially the entire point of the game: Kill monsters, harvest resources, make better stuff. You can mine nodes too for metals and gems, harvest plants, bugs, fish, etc. When done, you’re teleported back to the hub.

I’m having fun. I’ve even played multiplayer co-op with Graev! From the break room at work on my lunch I log in and Graev and I can connect to each other and slay monsters together. That’s an AWESOME feature for handheld systems, and it supports like 4 or 5 people all playing together hunting big monsters — yep, that’s pretty sweet.

I’m still a newb. I’m actually still trying to figure out which weapon I want to use. I thought I decided on the Chargeblade, but something about it just doesn’t fit my play-style. I’ve slayed lots of monsters already, gone on plenty of quests, and I’m crafting armor sets. This game brings out the min-maxer in me already by making me want to go online and read message boards to find the best combination of armor sets for my weapon type. Kinda fun, but kinda stressful.

Maybe the biggest downside to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and MH games in general, is the time investment. Don’t get me wrong, you can have tons of fun like I am from the start, but to really get far it’s going to take you easily 30+ hours. That’s realistically no bad, but for a handheld system it’ll be the most I’ve ever put into a game except for Pokemon.

Should you get Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate? Yes. Get it. It’s awesome. Just be ready for a learning curve and expect to invest some time. It’s a game that will last.

You know what isn’t great?

I decided to make a post similar to my cross-buy topic except this time I’m just complaining about stuff… so probably not so different from that post. Obvious stuff like DRM and DLC will be skipped over since I must have already mentioned them at some point before.

Proprietary Hardware

I’ve been playing my Vita a lot lately and my memory card/stick/whatever is almost always full so I’m forced to juggle content. You’d think it would be as simple as just buying another, perhaps larger, memory card but for some reason Sony decided to go with proprietary cards and jack their prices way, way up. A 32GB memory card for the Vita costs anywhere from 60-80 dollars and that’s AFTER the price dropped from 99 bucks. That’s just straight up ridiculous since you can get any other 32GB card for under $20. I feel like I can’t buy more space simply out of principle. Even slow-to-change Nintendo doesn’t do this crap but Sony seems to really enjoy doing this since they did the same thing with the PSP.

Another annoying thing is when devices have proprietary cords. I know Apple used to do this all the time but I haven’t owned an Apple product in years so maybe things are different. Right now next to my main gaming location is a bundle of cords, including extension cables. I think I have the largest amount of USB extension cords ever. Anyway, right now I think I have about six different cords but there used to be a lot more before I finally trimmed it down one day. Luckily a lot of different items can be charged via USB so that cut down on the clutter. Somewhat unrelated but what’s the deal with all the USB variants. I have like three extra adapters that I have to keep handy just so I can charge stuff.

Single Save Files

You don’t usually see this a lot but I find this especially irritating. One of the biggest offenders is the Pokemon series which only allows for one save file per cart. That’s just plain crazy in my book. Obviously it’s done to encourage people to buy both versions of the game rather than share one copy. So if I felt so inclined to do a specialty playthrough of the game I’d have to delete my save file with hundreds of hours playtime and specially bred pokemon (Interesting aside: I spent way too long trying to remember the past tense of breed). These days there’s usually some way to store your Pokemon between games except, from what I last remember, I think Nintendo is charging a recurring fee for that. This isn’t just limited to Pokemon though since some console games do it as well.

Poorly Designed Save Systems

Saving your game is done in many different ways. Some games let you save anywhere while others may only save between checkpoints, levels, or some other form of auto-saving. I think that you should be able to save whenever you want since feeling locked into playing is never a good thing. I’m not sure why more games don’t let you do this. The only thing that I can think of is maybe they don’t like save-scumming but that should be left entirely up to how the player enjoys playing.

The problem with some games is they save your progress in a crappy and undefined way. Not every game lets you manually save and I’m sure Keen can attest to the amount of times I’ve said “I have to wait until I see the auto-save animation” or something similar. It’s another way that you can feel forced to keep playing and some games seem to have no clearly defined moment that triggers an auto save. I can’t exactly remember the title of the game but not too long ago I remember playing something that only auto-saved and even then I would lose some progress every time I loaded the game up. Truly maddening.

Pre-order Bonuses & Exclusive Content

This kind of thing didn’t use to bother me but it’s gotten really bad over the years. You used to get something like a poster or some kind of knick-knack for pre-ordering a game but then it turned into bonus content for the game. I really do not like feeling pressured into buying a game if I’m not sure about it. That’s usually how they get me to buy stuff, by using some piece of content to lure me in. I’d feel compelled to pre-order or risk never getting that specific item/object/whatever. I have learned to resist the urge over time since most of the bonuses never end up being worth it anyway but they sure seem to be upping the ante lately.

Then to make things worse there is retailer specific pre-order bonuses which is a total crap. There is no way to get every bonus unless you buy multiple copies or cheat the system somehow. Sometimes they later offer the content for download, either free or paid, but often it’s something you wont see. Oh, it would also be great if they stopped putting embargoes on reviews until after the game has already shipped. Doesn’t always happen but it’s pretty telling when it does.

Another issue I have with in-game content is when they tie stuff to collectors editions. That wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if the price and level of ridiculousness in CEs/LEs wasn’t constantly rising. These things are just getting stupid and I’m always dumbfounded by all the people who drop $150 or more on a bunch of junk and clutter. Of course I’m a gigantic hypocrite as evidenced by all of the collector’s editions and related paraphernalia cluttered to my right (Picture not shown). I’m still bitter about the Destiny CE…

Season Passes

Oh right, DLC… I wasn’t going to mention this.

A nostalgic roadtrip with Graev

super mario land gameboy

The other night I was doing my usual binge-watching of Netflix when I suddenly felt like pulling out my 3DS. I opened it up and searched through various virtual console games that I had purchased, and probably never played, until I finally settled on Super Mario Land. Ah, now that game takes me back. So with The Office playing in the background I proceeded through Super Mario Land at a steady pace. For those of you who might not be aware: Super Mario Land is an old GameBoy game. Most of it is exactly what you expect from a Mario game- Well, that’s not really true at all. SML is actually a whole lot different from regular Mario titles. You do run around and jump on stuff and hit blocks like normal but that is pretty much where the similarities end. You are trying to rescue Daisy (who turns into a bug for some reason), Koopa Troopas leave behind exploding bombs when they die, there are weird bug enemies, sphinx guys, creepy kung fu grasshoppers, rock dudes, rock riding, a submarine vehicle level, and an airplane vehicle level. It’s pretty strange but a lot of fun all the same. Also the Star Powerup music is the can-can song and that’s just weird.

I actually made it all the way through the entire game and only died a couple times. I sat there feeling pretty satisfied when it finally hit me: I’ve never beat this game before. I’ll always be reminded (especially by my family) of the time when I lived back east in Massachusetts. My family would take weekend drives to Vermont and other places; point out leaves and various historical sites all around us. The joke is that while we were supposed to be taking in all of the sights I instead had my face glued to my GameBoy. They joke around and say that all I remember of living there was my Gameboy and that’s not entirely untrue. Some of the best games I ever played were on those car rides. Super Mario Land, Wario Land, Donkey Kong 94, Kirby’s Dreamland, TMNT: Radical Rescue, and so on.

So there I sat having just completed one of my favorite childhood games for the first time. It wasn’t even that hard at all, which is a lot different than how I remember things. I had this moment and feeling that things had come full circle and that my childhood was now, somehow, officially over. It was a strange and sobering experience and something that I entirely made up just now. Seriously though, it’s a fun game. You should check it out.

Starlight Inception on PlayStation Vita

I have many fond memories of playing TIE Fighter when I was younger and it is still probably my all-time favorite Star Wars game. You’d think that it would have turned me onto other stuff like Wing Commander, but I actually never gave those a try. TIE Fighter is pretty much the only space combat “sim” that I have played but I still really enjoy the game type. It was just the other day when I was browsing the weekly PlayStation store update when I noticed that something called “Starlight Inception” had released on the Vita. I checked it out and apparently it was a successfully funded Kickstarter project and also released on the PC. Since I’ve been drifting more towards handheld gaming lately I was more interested in the Vita version so I reached out to Escape Hatch Entertainment and they were kind enough to drop us a review code. I can’t speak for the PC version of the game but these are my thoughts on the Vita version.

starlight inception space combatVisuals & Presentation

I knew that the Vita version was obviously going to be a downgrade visually but that doesn’t really bother me. TIE Fighter still looks great to me. The visuals are pretty rough, though. When walking around the interior of the main ship (which you do entirely too slow by the way) things look rather plain. However, after I actually got into my first mission I was pretty impressed by the space visuals and how everything looked. The game may not look as nice as its PC counterpart but it gets the job done. Honestly the only things I wish it had were a few particles here and there to give me the feeling that my ship is actually moving but that’s just me nitpicking.

The second mission was pretty awkward. You fly around near the surface of a city which had just recently suffered an explosive attack. The problem is that it mostly looks like a large gray wall with buildings sprouting up as if the view distance was incredibly short distance. I actually tried to find a youtube video of this scene for the PC version and after viewing it I kind of understand what they were doing for that mission. The problem is that pretty much all of the extra effects that actually make that scene work are missing from the Vita version. [Read more…]

Weapon Shop de Omasse

Weapon Shop de Omasse

This was a curious little title that showed up recently during a Nintendo direct. The concept is immediately interesting: You help run a weapons shop that rents out swords, axes, etc. to various heroes and characters within an RPG. Things get even crazier once you actually start playing the game which is some kind of weird combination of rhythm game and store management with elements of a sitcom and twitter. Yeah, that’s not a typo.

Weapon Shop de Omasse GameYou can forge several different weapon types for your shop and each has different stats that are also increased on how well you do during the forging process. When making a weapon you tap on the hot ore in time with the music to beat it into the right shape.  You can’t just tap anywhere however and will need to actually follow the shape of what you are trying to make.

Once you have your weapon you can rent it out to a hero. Some of them seem to be scripted to show up while others are just random NPCs. They will usually have a specific weapon preference and affinity and it’s let up to you to decide what will be best to give them for their specific quest or to even recommend a different quest. You will want to match the right weapon with each person because if they fail their quest you will lose your weapon. Sorry, just store policy. If they do complete their quest they will come back with your weapon and pay you. Then you can polish up the weapon and increase its overall stats for the next time you rent it out.

One of the more fascinating parts of the game is the Grindcast. It’s something attached to every weapon and acts like a sort of Twitter feed that constantly updates you on what NPCs are doing with your weapons and how their quest is doing. So while you are busy making weapons, polishing them, or managing other aspects of the store you will get to read constant updates from people. These can have some pretty hilarious moments and the characters are zany enough that it never seems to get boring.

It’s only something like $7.99 on the 3DS eShop and it’s totally worth checking out. I’ve never played anything like it.