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Birthdays, Backlogs, and Board Games–Oh my!

Keen's BirthdayFirstly I should very much like to wish Keen a happy birthday. You are one step closer to kicking it, etc. I think I do the mortality joke every year but I’m just not feeling it this time. But yeah, Happy birthday and all that! Hurray!

Now onto more important matters…

Backlog

My gaming backlog is really starting to creep up on me. Even more since I’ve neglected many games in favor of playing board games. Right now, just off the top of my head and not including current stuff like Toukiden and Bravely Default, I have:

The Wonderful 101 – I played the demo of this game and I really liked it. Apparently enough so to buy it not to play it. Just recently, i.e. last night, I started playing it and I was reminded why I liked it in the first place. I seriously need to put more time into this one.

Sonic Lost World – I think I’m something like 75% done with this but I really need to finish it up. I’m not exactly sure why I stopped but seeing that I have the attention span of a goldfish I suppose it’s not that surprising.

YS: Memories of Celceta – This one I actually got for Christmas. At least I think that’s when. I did start playing it recently and I’m really enjoying it but it’s probably going on long pause until I finish more current RPGS like Bravely Default.

I don’t even want to look at my Steam list. I’m more than sure it’s full of impulse buys (sales, etc) and the mere sight of it would be enough to cause a panic attack.

Board Games

cavernaWe didn’t get any real chance to play this week but I’m hoping that can be remedied this weekend. Perhaps we can complete the first scenario in Robinson Crusoe and maybe even squeeze in some Pathfinder: ACG. I guess it really depends on what Keen wants to do since it is his birthday and all. He should at least get one day where his vote counts.

We’ve started looking towards future games, too. The Witcher game is on my radar and we already went ahead and pre-ordered Caverna. Technically that last one already came out but it’s near impossible to find. Fortunately they seem to be reprinting it soon. We also decided to back a couple of Kickstarters that looked very promising. One of them is Tiny Epic Kingdoms, which is a micro 4x game and looks absolutely fascinating. The other is a tactical superhero game called Heroes Wanted which I think looks absolutely fantastic. The humor and style plus the superhero theme is right up my alley. It reminds me of games like Freedom Force and The Superhero League of Hoboken. I’m really looking forward to it.

In Other News…

Keen decided to bite the bullet and get a new PC. That’s pretty nice for me since it means I get his old one and now I don’t have to try and run stuff like Battlefield 4 with HALF of the REQUIRED RAM. Seriously, I don’t know how but it does work. I suppose I will also get to play EQ Landmark now that I’ve been set free of my 32 bit system shackles.
I was able to instruct Keen on how to build a circular pillar. I’ve never even played the game but it only took me a couple of minutes to figure it out. He looked at me like I was some kind of mystic space wizard. I’m not saying that’s untrue, but you just don’t go around telling people that kind of thing.

 

Toukiden

For the past several days I’ve been exclusively playing Bravely Default right up until Toukiden came out on Vita. I’m still playing BD but now I’m just switching back and forth between the two. There’s actually a lot of really cool stuff out on the Vita now and it’s only going to get better as the year progresses. More people should definitely consider picking the system up and especially so if they own or plan to own a PS4.

toukiden-logoToukiden is apart of the new “hunting” genre that seems to have been created since Monster Hunter first came out. The game actually borrows several elements from MH and other similar games like Soul Sacrifice. Basically, you undertake a mission from the hub town and get sent to a location that consists of several smaller zones linked together. Your goal is to slay demons rather than monsters, though. You also get a special vision mode that highlights hidden items and breakable parts of enemies, which seems lifted directly from Soul Sacrifice. Unless Soul Sacrifice borrowed it from something else–I have no idea, really.

windshredder

One of the demons you’ll fight in Toukiden.

When you fight the large monsters and break their parts (Arms, Legs, Tails, etc.) you have to do some kind of cleansing ritual to get rid of it and get the loot for that body part. The demon’s parts may be gone but there remains some kind of translucent spirit form behind. So if you cut off a giant demon’s leg he can still walk around with his spirit leg. If you don’t banish the cut off piece then it can get recalled back. I’m not entirely sure if they limbs do less damage or what but I imagine they must. It’s not like Monster Hunter though where you can cut off the tail or whatever and basically render that attack useless or less viable. EDIT: Supposedly in the manual it says that the spirit limbs actually do MORE damage but also take MORE damage. I’ve also noticed that when you destroy their limbs they trip and fall over more when doing specific attacks or charges.

With all of the demon parts and items you gather you can create weapons and armor. I’m actually really glad that this seems pretty much just like Monster Hunter. I was not a real fan of Soul Sacrifice having no gear and basically just being about collecting limited-use spells. Just like monster hunter you usually unlock new armor sets and weapons once you’ve tackled the latest thing and harvested its parts. Unfortunately the game doesn’t have any kind of regular crafting system so you can’t make tons of neat knick-knacks, traps, potions, or whatever. That’s one of my favorite parts about Monster Hunter.

toukiden-weapons

Some of the game’s weapons appear similar but for the most part play out a lot differently. There’s a long sword, dual blades, spear, gauntlets, flail & sickle combo, and bow. I feel like I’m forgetting something but I think that’s it. I’m honestly not a very big fan of many of the weapons. The flail and sickle combo looks awesome but it seems hard to use. I’ve mainly been sticking with the gauntlets which are slow but powerful and allow for some defensive options. One of my biggest gripes with the weapons is that it feels like their move pools are lacking. There’s not a whole lot for you to do with them or at least not a lot of options for tackling situations.

toukiden-gauntletAnother important part of the game are these spirit thingys called Mitama. They are souls of vanquished warriors that you infuse into your weapon. They gain exp or sorts and level up and unlock new passive bonuses. Each Mitama also comes with 4 special commands. The first is a recovery ability that heals you and seems to be on every mitama. Aside from that what you get depends entirely on the type you use. Defense mitama get abilities that increase your defense or let you block all damage and not get knocked around, attack mitama increase your damage/crit/etc, Soul mitama seems to be good for breaking parts, then there’s healing and speed types and so on. It adds another level to the combat which makes up for some of the shortcomings in some of the weapons.

Overall I’d say I’m very satisfied with Toukiden. It’s a lot better than Soul Sacrifice, which is still a good game in its own right, and is probably one of the better hunting games the Vita is likely to see over here. It can be a little unfair when comparing it to the latest Monster Hunter games, which are themselves sequels and expansions upon expansions, so you really have to judge it as the first game in it’s own series. Oh, and there’s also online play which is pretty awesome. If you see somebody running around named “Old Bastard” that would be me.

Tearaway

Tearaway is a wonderful game and one of several really good reasons why more people should pick up a Vita. Usually I end my posts with that kind of sentiment but I thought we’d switch things up a little bit. Not only that but I really enjoyed this game to the point where I think it merits earlier mentioning.

The Gist, The Gameplay & You

tearaway-finnSo what is Tearaway? It is a curious game but I believe you can safely classify it as a platformer. There’s more to it than that, though. There are some small elements of easy puzzle solving along with several instances that require creativity on your part. The obvious thing that distinguishes Tearaway from a lot of games is its visual style. The entire game is made to look as if it were crafted out of paper. Not just flat pieces like Paper Mario but full on paper craft figures and buildings and plants, etc. The entire world looks like it was made out of colored construction paper and it’s ridiculously charming. [Read more...]

PS4 Launch Day Coverage

PS4 Hardware

The Playstation 4 released today, and we have a lot of great coverage planned for you!  Throughout the day we’ll be publishing posts with our initial impressions of the hardware, the games, and our entire first-day-experience with the PS4.  Be sure to check back throughout the day, and please feel free to ask questions.

PS4 Hardware Setup

Gone are the days of waiting in long lines at midnight.  Our PS4 was plugged in and ready to go by 9:00 am thanks to the ease of pre-ordering and stores opening early.  We picked up an extra controller as well.

Opening the box, the PS4 is smaller than we expected.  It lays flat with a nice, sleek low profile.  The power button and eject button are kind of hard to see on the front, but integrated well into the design.

The PS4 came with a very simple power cord, HDMI cable, and one controller.  The power cord is very, very simple and lacks the bulky power brick thing you’ll see on other consoles.

Once plugged in, it booted right up and the simple setup process was completed without a hitch.  Our PS4 connected to our network and the internet flawlessly.  There was a ~360 mb patch, but that was blazing fast. Start to finish the whole process took less than 20 minutes.

Dashboard

The Dashboard is better than the Cross Media Bar, though still a variation of it.  It’s fast, gets the job done, but it’s really nothing exciting.  Compared to the PS Vita, the PS4 dashboard (at least out of the box) is very boring.  We’re trying to figure out how we can customize, if at all, to make it look more fun and gaming themed.

While still in the game, calling up the dashboard is easy, but has been sluggish for us while it loads.  Holding down the PS button allows you to close open apps.  Overall, if they can speed it up and remove the lag/sluggish feeling it’ll be perfect.

PlayStation Network / Store

The store is exactly the same as the store on the PS3.  Downloading titles is very easy.  We found a few games to download for free like DC Universe Online (more to come on this!).  What’s really neat is that they download simultaneously.  That’s a nice change from the Xbox 360 being a ‘one at a time’ process.

There are already two games available for PlayStation Plus members: Resogun and Contrast.  We’re pretty sure you need PS+ to play games online.

Synching the PS Vita with the PS4

Synching the Vita and PS4 was extremely easy.  Just turn it on, enter the code, and the Vita now controls the PS4.  Playing around for a few minutes, the PS4 is now a Wii U.  There’s no delay or latency between the two devices.

We’re booting up some games!  More to come soon.

Dragon’s Crown is a Blast

Dragon's crown dwarfWhen Keen and I were growing up our (arguably) favorite game to play was TMNT: Turtles in Time on the Super Nintendo. We really haven’t spent much time with beat ‘em ups since then. Fortunately, I was able to break Keen down and get him to try Dragon’s Crown. Once we started playing, however, it became fairly obvious that he was having fun. We’ve been playing the game off and on for the past few days whenever we could find the time and I figured I’d share my thoughts.

If you’ve played a Beat ‘em up before then you probably understand the general gist of the game. You proceed from one side of the screen to the other through levels and fight tons of bad guys and a boss at the end. In Dragon’s crown you do essentially that but you also level up, collect loot, buy stuff, train skills, etc. I’ve found that Keen will play pretty much anything if you can get new loot in it. Interestingly enough you also control a little cursor with the right analog stick which you can use to poke at glinty spots in the background for treasure or order the little thief that follows you to pick locks. Supposedly there’s more uses for it in the future with special rune magic and cooking but we’re not quite there yet.

dragons crown review

Dragon’s Crown has a hand-drawn visual style.

Out of the six classes (Fighter, Dwarf, Elf, Amazon, Sorceress, and Wizard) we opted to go with the dwarf (Graev) and elf (Keen). The classes are actually pretty different from each other, and offer some pretty unique gameplay types. As the dwarf I get to wade into the action, pick up and throw bad dudes,  and perform comical belly-flops and dives onto my opponents while Keen can hang back and fire off his arrows or even mix it up a little with his elemental magic and kick attacks. As you level up your character through each stage you get skill points and gain access to new abilities. Each character has their own unique skills to choose from along with some common skills that everybody has access to. I’m actually really looking forward to trying out some of the other classes so the replayability is pretty apparent.

Other features in Dragon’s Crown worth nothing:

  • Skill synergy – The archer’s elemental skill adapts to whatever elements are around at the time.
  • Mounted combat
  • Graded loot drops from chests
  • Combo moves

There seems to be quite a lot of cool stuff still ahead.  The story, while simple, has an interesting hooks that are starting to really get good, and our characters are getting some really neat abilities that make the combat a whole lot more than beat’em up.

If we run into anything interesting along the way we’ll be sure to let you know about it. Or you could just pick it up yourself on either PS3 or Vita. Now I just need to pry Keen away from EQ so we can get back to playing.