Category Archives: Nintendo

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven Review

510932_frontLord of Magna: Maiden Heaven (Available exclusively on 3DS)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Role Playing
Publisher: XSeed
Developer: Marvelous
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015

Hey everyone! My name is Cranberry; here with a guest review! Well, let’s get right to it!

Lord of Magna ReviewParent Talk: The Entertainment Software Rating Board has rated this game T for Teen, citing the following: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, & Suggestive Themes. While it’s not excessive, there is some blatant “fan-service” in this game that involves some up-skirt pictures and some unnecessarily skimpy outfits. They aren’t kidding about the suggestive dialogue either; it definitely gets pretty suggestive at times. Of particular note, there is an animated bathing scene that you probably would not want to get caught watching at work.

The battles are not bloody or gory and are pretty tame, although some cut scenes imply some pretty harsh violence at times.

The teen rating seems to be appropriate for this one; I wouldn’t recommend this one for young children.

Plays Like:  This game plays like a cross between a turn based RPG, a strategy game, and a visual novel. The main emphasis of the game is definitely the plot and the interactions between the characters. It features a lot of cut scenes and dialogue reading, much of it voice acted.

Combat plays a part as well, and is played out in a strategic turn-based system. You field a party of up to four characters, each with different attributes and attack ranges. Combat takes place on a large field where you can see all of the enemy units. Both you and the enemies take turns moving and attacking, however the field is not a grid. Each character has a circle that appears around them, showing their move range for that turn. You can move freely anywhere within this circle provided there isn’t anything to block your path. When you’re ready to attack, you’ll see a red space that designates the area you can hit.

Lord of Magna1Lord of Magna also features an experience point leveling system as well as a crafting system, which adds some RPG elements into its strategy styled combat system.

The Good:

  • The presentation  is quite beautiful. The graphics have a cartoonish feel to them, which is pretty normal for a 3DS game, but they get the job done wonderfully. The 3D effects are not mind blowing, but they supplement the setting well without feeling too “busy” or disorienting. The characters are likable and full of personality. The story is also pretty well written and engaging. You take the role of an inn keeper, whom you can choose a name for. He runs an inn on the outskirts of town, and is patiently awaiting the day when his inn at long last receives a guest. The guests soon arrive in the form of characters that will join your party; seven in all over the course of the game. There is a reason this game is called “Maiden Heaven”, every playable character except for the main character is female. But each girl has a distinct personality and it is quite enjoyable to watch their stories unfold and see their character development over the course of the tale. These cut scenes are sometimes supplemented by some lovely artwork too.

Lord of Magna2+ There are also “heart events” you can access, which are essentially quests that dwell deeper into an individual girl and reveal more about her. There are 21 such heart events, and it will take several play-throughs to see them all; which fleshes out the story further and gives the game some replay value too.

  • The music is top-notch. The songs fit the context well and are pleasant to listen to. I received the original soundtrack with my purchase, and I frequently pop the CD in and listen to it. I really enjoy the music.
  • I also enjoy the combat system in this game. Each character has different roles they can contribute in a battle, and you need to think about how they can complement one another on the battle field. Some characters hit for a wide area in front of them, others hit an area at a distance, some hit an enemy multiple times, and others specialize in support skills. There are a lot of possibilities even before the battle begins. Once in combat, the strategy-game like field system allows for a lot of tactics that just wouldn’t work in a traditional turn-based RPG. You gain an action point each turn, and you spend this action point to perform your chosen action. There’s also an interesting “bowling” mechanic in battle, where enemies you hit can knock down and take out other enemies. If you manage to take down ten or more enemies with one attack, you get a free turn. It’s quite an interesting and creative mechanic.
  • If you choose not to take an action, you’ll keep your action point and when your next turn comes, you’ll have two action points. This allows you to save up points for special skills. This makes combat more complex and engaging than simple “hurt and heal”. You need to carefully consider how best to place your characters, and what action is best for the situation at hand. Do you send one character ahead as a decoy to try and form an opening for the rest of your party to slip through? Do you try and surround the enemy to limit their attack options? Do you fall back and regroup? All of these and more are decisions you’ll be making in battle, which makes for a very engaging battle system.
  • There’s also an elemental “Rock, Paper, Scissors” style vulnerabilities system that is similar to the typing system used in Pokémon. This further adds to the strategic combat decisions you make in battle.
  • An enjoyable story and an engaging well-designed battle system make for quite a good presentation.

The So-So:

+/- The story is both it’s strength and it’s weakness. While the story is engaging, it’s also very drawn out and you’re frequently watching long scenes in which you do nothing but hit the A button to advance through pages upon pages of text. This can be pretty frustrating if you are itching to get to the action, or if you don’t particularly care about the conversation the characters are having at the time. This is especially noticeable at the very start of the game where you read a huge amount of dialogue before you even gain access to your character. While there is a fast-forward feature, it doesn’t actually skip the cut scenes, but rather speeds through them much more quickly. Doing this does help speed things up, but there’s no “rewind” feature so if you accidentally skip ahead too far, you can’t go back to read what you missed.

The massive amounts of dialogue and the frequent lengthy cut-scenes often make this feel more like reading a book than playing a game; which can be a big put-off for a lot of people. Simply put, playing this game is going to involve reading a LOT of text.

Lord of Magna3+/- There is a crafting system, and while it adds some interesting customization options by allowing you to create skills for the characters, there’s little else you can make other than skills. There is also very little in-game clues as to what you can craft. You can at least see what the item your chosen ingredients will create before you make it, but there are no recipe books or listings of what can be made. No clues or hints from other characters as to what you should make. Unless you look up a guide online, it’s entirely trial and error based. The game really needs a recipe list.

+/- Sadly there’s no equipment to put on your characters. No new weapons, no new armor, no special accessories. Just skills, although some of the skills are passive skills that give you stat bonuses or special attributes, which is similar to what accessory-like items do in many other RPGs. But it still feels like a real missed opportunity to not include equip-able items in the game.

+/- There are a number of free missions, which allow you to field a team into battle in a variety of settings that you’ll unlock as you go through the story. These missions have some interesting flavor text, but that’s all it ends up being. It’s nothing but a battle against enemies that serves as a grinding or item farming opportunity. The good thing is that these free battles allow you to immediately enter a battle without having to wade through a mountain of text, but it’s disappointing for the missions to be given such interesting descriptions only to have nothing special happen in any of them.

The Bad:

As was already mentioned, the lengthy cut scenes can be pretty jarring, which depending on your tastes can be a real negative. But perhaps the biggest negative is the complete lack of exploration this game allows.

  • Except for a camp-site that you get to very briefly walk around in, the Inn is the only area you get to explore. Every other area, the only interaction you get with the environment is through battle. No exploring the territory, no searching for treasure, no searching for hidden secrets, no chatting with NPCs in town. There is a town in this game, and your visits to it are entirely scripted. For an RPG title, this is a glaring flaw. Nothing is more frustrating than setting foot on these beautiful maps, and not being able to explore them.
  • 99% of the battles mandate that you have the main character in them, even in free battles. This unnecessarily restricts your party selection, and can be frustrating when you start getting more characters available and want to experiment with a variety of character combinations. In a game that is already quite linear with no exploration, the last thing you want is even more limitations.

The Lowdown:

This is almost a love it or hate it game. The story is an engaging tale full of mystery, drama, and suspense.

Lord of Magna4There’s a fair amount of customization you can do with the character’s skills, and the combat system is magnificent but, the frequent extremely lengthy cut scenes, the lack of exploration, and the lack of equip-able items are pretty significant flaws that are quite noticeable and glaring during play.

If you’re looking for an engaging tale full of lovable characters, I recommend this game wholeheartedly. But if you’re looking for action and adventure, or your traditional RPG experience, this game won’t satisfy you.

That’s why my final rating for this game is a 7/10.

Pokémon Y Wonderlocke!! – Ep 1 “New Beginnings”

Steven begins a brand new series, almost like a Let’s Play where he attempts to play through Pokemon Y using the Wonderlocke Rules.  I’ve included a list of the rules below the video.

Wonderlocke Rules:

1- When a Pokémon faints, it is considered “dead” and cannot be used anymore. It has to be either released or stored in a specified PC Box titled “Cemetery”.

2- You can only capture the first Pokémon you find in every new area and nothing else. If it faints of flees, there are no second chances.

3- The captured Pokémon must be Wondertraded and cannot be used in battle. You can however use the Pokémon obtained from Wonder Trade.

4- If a Pokémon obtained from Wonder Trade is too overpowered or over-leveled, you have 1 of 2 choices. Store it and keep it for later or Wonder Trade it again until a more suitable Pokémon is obtained. This is a one time decision and cannot be reversed.

5- If you receive the same species of Pokémon twice, you may Wonder Trade it again until you get a Pokémon not previously obtained.

6- You must give a nickname to all of the Pokémon you catch, for the sake of forming stronger emotional bonds.

E3 2014 Press Conference Impressions

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all held press conferences in LA…well ok Nintendo held a digital event, but whatever.  The point is that tons of new games were revealed, and we now have a much better idea what to expect from the next 12 months for each of the big three console manufacturers.  Here are my reactions to the press events.

Microsoft Press Conference:

Sony Press Conference:

Nintendo Digital Event:

What are your thoughts on the big three?

Gamecube Memories: Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness Review

Pokemon X & Y might have been the first real 3D adventures we craved and deserved for over a decade, but they were not the first time a Pokemon RPG went into the third dimension. Pokemon Colosseum can indeed claim that title but I’ve never had the chance to play it. Instead, I recently completed its sequel ‘Gale of Darkness’, also on the Gamecube. From what I’ve gathered, XD made plenty of improvements over the formula introduced in Colosseum. For starters, just like the portable gems, you can save and continue your game at any given time. You can also tell right away from the start of the battle if there’s a shadow Pokemon present, and purifying them is now a lot more simple. I’ll talk a bit more about that later but since I have not played Colosseum, I’m gonna judge Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness as if it was an original title.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the entirety of the game is played via double battles. That’s pretty freaking cool actually and makes the experience different and unique since double battles were first introduced in Generation 3 (Ruby/Saphire/Emerald) and have since been nothing more then an afterthought in the main games. While the AI doesn’t use the intense strategies you can find in the VGC nationals, they can still surprise you from time to time with a basic protect/earthquake combo.

You start the game with an Eevee and are quickly given the option of evolving it into a Flareon, Jolteon, Vaporeon, Umbreon or Espeon. I chose Espeon and in my opinion, it made the game a lot more easy then it would have been with the other starters. There are so many types weak to psychic attacks that my Espeon really put in some work and made most of the game a breeze. It also carries Bite which can knock off Psychic and Ghost types and can learn Shadow Ball later on for even more coverage. Still, this is a pretty kick ass starter.

The shadow Pokemon mechanic is pretty interesting. Team Cypher is an evil organisation who wants to turn Pokemon into fighting machines. Your goal is to steal every shadow Pokemon you see with the intent of restoring them to their true form. You do that by lowering their hp during a battle and using a pokeball after, just like you would with a wild pokemon. The difference is that this actually occurs during a fight with another trainer. We’ve been told since the original Red & Blue that we couldn’t capture other trainer’s Pokemon. It feels bad ass to be able to do so in this game.

Shadow Pokemon are limited in their abilities. They remain with the same type weaknesses, but they only carry shadow moves. These moves are super effective against every non-shadow Pokemon. They can’t level up until they’re purified so there’s not much reason to carry a shadow Pokemon around unless you want to purify him. You can do so in various ways and the game does a pretty good job of explaining the process to you.

The storyline was pretty entertaining for a Pokemon adventure. The characters, especially the villains, were all colorful and interesting. It’s a kids game however so don’t expect anything close to a triple A adventure ala Shadow Hearts. Unfortunately, since this doesn’t have the same metagame you’d experience in the core Pokemon titles, the plot won’t be enough for most. All you do in XD is battle other trainers. There’s no incentive to raise your Pokemon since you can’t bring them online after to battle your friends. Because of all that, I found the game to drag on by the twelve hour mark. Since this is a 15 to 20 hour RPG, Gale of Darkness could prove extremely repetitive and tedious for the average gamer.

Still, for my money, any Pokemon fan should try to experience Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness at least once. It’s nowhere near the top when it comes to role playing games of the Gamecube/Xbox/PS2/Dreamcast generation but it’s nowhere near the bottom either. This is simply a solid videogame that Pokemon fans will eat up while other gamers could find some enjoyment out of. I can only hope that Nintendo has plans to create a full 3D Pokemon game similar to this for the Wii U in the near future.

Pokemon Pearl & Diamond Review

pearlPokémon Diamond & Pearl (Available exclusively on Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: April 22nd, 2007

The 4th generation of Pokémon games are my personal black sheep. They contain the only Pokémon games in the main series that I had never completed in the Pearl/Diamond/Platinum and HeartGold/SoulSilver versions. For one reason or another, I wasn’t in the mood for Pokémon gaming back then. I did buy Pearl when it came out and before I restarted a file, I had 10 hours invested into it so it’s not like I never gave it a chance. I’ve been watching a tremendous amount of ‘Let’s Play’ videos and documentaries on the history of the series lately and it’s gotten me in the mood for some more Pokémon. I thought there was no better excuse to go back and finally complete the last main entry in my favorite video game franchise, and so I did. Here’s my verdict.

The Great:

My god has Pokémon changed over the years…. and for the most part, the better. But there’s one complaint that always comes up when I talk about recent entries and that’s the difficulty level. Pokémon Pearl was the most challenging Pokémon game I’ve played since the original Red and Blue. Like any RPG out there, you can make it as easy as you want by grinding indefinitely, and if you choose that route, you’ll likely think I’m crazy, but I chose the complete opposite. I went from point A to B from start to finish without any grinding whatsoever. Once I had captured my team, I used repels during most of the adventure to accelerate things even more. And sure, that would make any game harder than it is, but you got to understand that I’m no beginner when it comes to Pokémon so I already have an advantage that most wouldn’t.

What truly makes the game challenging is the following factors. Leveling up takes a lot of time. Even defeating Pokémon five levels above yours doesn’t gain you that much experience. Another extremely important aspect of Pearl & Diamond is the fact that you’re going to face diverse teams. While most trainers will sport the series tradition of only having one type, most will surprise you by having two or more types in their party. And I’m talking about gym leaders and Elite 4 members here, you can’t just start with a water type and spawn Surf and expect an easy victory. Finally, Elite 4 members challenge you with five Pokémon each while the champion has six. Not only that, but these pocket monsters will be five to ten levels higher than your top Pokémon on your team. This forced me to finally cave in and evolve my Pikachu just before the final fight with the champion. Ash would be disappointed in me.

02The Good:

+ The very best batch of starters I’ve seen. While Infernape is kick ass, Fire/Fighting is not uncommon. After-all, Blaziken from Ruby & Sapphire sported that very same dual type, but then it gets pretty interesting. Not only is Empoleon’s design bad ass, but he might also be the only water/steel mixture in the entire game. Finally, you have Torterra who seems to have a freaking forest on his back with spikes thrown in for good measure. Being Grass/Ground doesn’t hurt either. We haven’t seen such unique starters before, or since.

+ I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the over-abundance of HM moves in Pearl/Diamond. For me it added to the challenge and made things more interesting. It also forces you to take mental notes of areas you’ll have to come back and visit later on.

+ Super visuals and audio presentation for the time. This game looks pretty nice on a DSi and the songs are some of the best I’ve heard in the series so far.

+ Post game content is excellent. Battle Tower is back from Pokémon Crystal, and there’s also tons of legendaries to catch after you’ve dealt with the Elite 4 including the odd, but fan favorite Regigigas.

+ All your Pokémon can be transferred all the way to Pokémon X & Y if you’d like too.

01The So-So:

+/- While you may no longer use the Nintendo DS Wi-Fi Connection to battle in the 4th and 5th gen games, this is where Pokémon finally made its online debut. It was a bit underwhelming to say the least with bare-bone features and connection issues all over the place. Still, this was a huge step for the franchise back in the day and one that has made Pokémon a stand out in the e-sport industry thanks to Pokémon X & Y.

03The Bad:

– Probably the worst storyline in the franchise after X & Y. It’s practically non-existent, and when you do get a truly epic moment in your final standoff with Team Galactic, it’s ruined when you face the leader of the gang, a truly evil guy, and realize you only have four Pokémon to worry about during the battle.

– For some reason, it takes forever for the health bar to lower during battles. Surfing on water is also extremely slow. I heard that these were all fixed with the Platinum version, but they’re indeed annoying.

04The Lowdown:

Never underestimate Pokémon is the feeling I’ve come back with after having completed Pearl for the first time. This is a series I’ve cherished since Red & Blue and every single entry in the series has been rock solid. While I’m not sure where it would rank in my personal favorites, it’s still a game I’d recommend any day to any portable gamer. Like the franchise itself, Pokémon Pearl might not be perfect, but it’s damn enjoyable. Fun from start to finish, you can’t go wrong with Pearl/Diamond. If like me, you’ve never experienced the DS classics, you might want to reconsider.

Final Score: 9.0/10

Interview with Next Level Games’ Audio Director, Chad York

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Next Level Games and the minds behind their games, particularly from the music point of view. Mario Strikers: Charged hit the scene a few years ago, and its music went by unrecognized. I honestly think it has one of the most underrated soundtracks of all time. Thankfully, I managed to get in contact with the man behind the music of that game and a few other Nintendo flagships, Chad York. I’m thankful that he lent his time for me to interview him through Skype. It was more of a conversation really, an insightful one at that. For my first interview ever, it turned out rather well. Hope you enjoy!

Mario Party: Island Tour Review

Mario Party Island TourMario Party: Island Tour (Available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Party
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nd Cube
Release Date: November 22nd, 2013

Mario Party has been around since the early Nintendo 64 days. It’s a series known for its wackiness and great multiplayer, however this 3DS installment fails to recognize what makes the franchise so much fun. As such, this one should be left for only the most hardcore Mario Party addicts.

The Great:

Visually, the game looks beautiful with tons of bright, vibrant, and flashy colors, and all your favorite characters well illustrated. The mini-games are also a blast to play and use all of the 3DS’ functions perfectly.

The Good:

+ Bowser’s Tower is a unique twist to the series, challenging you to tackle mini-game after mini-game in order to reach the top of the dungeon. This is probably the mode you’ll spend the bulk of your time with.

+ Plenty of different maps for you to try on as well as unlockable characters and goodies to keep you playing.

+ Most sessions are set up so they can be completed in five, ten, or fifteen minutes, making them perfect for portable play.

Mario Party Island Tour3The Bad:

– Removing online play is a gutless and lazy move. Knowing that the name itself would easily sell the game and make Nintendo a reasonable profit, no investment whatsoever was made to keep this game true to its roots. Nobody plays Mario Party alone, it’s just boring to duke it out with computer controlled bots. You can play locally, but that requires multiple systems and that’s only going to be a practical option to a few. Adding an online mode would have cost more, but would have warranted this game’s existence because the core gameplay still works. I can see the problem that some players would eventually quit instead of finishing a game, but they could easily be replaced by an AI character when and if this scenario occurs. The rest of the game could then be completed. It’s baffling to see Nintendo pull this crap off left and right. I know some will say it’s beating a dead horse, but I don’t think we should stop pointing it out.

– I’m not a big fan of the new race mechanic. Instead of playing for a set number of turns and trying to earn as many stars as possible, every map is now a race to the finish. This makes the experience feel like you’re not getting the full Mario Party experience.

Mario Party Island Tour4The Lowdown:

No online play means no recommendation from me. This is only for the hardcore fans and even then, it won’t stay long in your 3DS.

Final Score: 5.0/10

The Wii U is the Best Next-Gen Console Currently Available!

With a headline like that you’ve got to be curious how one can say something so insane, right?  Well Steven has some great points about why he feels the Wii U is an absolute must-buy right now, and why you shouldn’t be picking on it as much as you likely are.  Enjoy the video!