When some do retro-reviews, they attempt to view through the lends of that time. Given that I played games as they came out in every decade since the 80’s, I certainly have the qualifications to give that perspective. Ultimately, however, when I rate older games, the bottom line for me is “Did I have fun? Do I want to play this game until the end? Do I want to play it again?” (more…)
Archive for the ‘Media Recommendations’ Category
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review
MRPG for the N3DS Entertainment System
Salutations! For #MRPGMarch this year, I ran with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the New Nintendo 3DS system. With everyone (myself included) finishing up with Monster Hunter World, I searched for my next, big challenge. And BOY, did I find it.
MH4U starts you off with a basic character creator, and the same 14 weapon choice you will find in MHW. The weapons feel pretty balanced and while some lack the fluidity I got used to, others feel nearly exactly the same. I really enjoyed how many of the environments encourage you to use multiple levels, walls, jumps from ledges and more to tackle your foes. The combat system completely does the job well here. On my New 3DS, I always had a smooth 30 FPS, and the controls always felt spot on.
The star of any Monster Hunter are the monsters, and MH4U features them in spades. While you can find a few weak entries here, most feel original, and some will utterly surprise. One ice creature, in particular, always shocks players with a particular attack the first time they see it. I really enjoyed listening to my friend’s reactions there. As you would expect, these creatures fight viciously, holding nothing back, and putting you on your toes.
With parts from creatures and other materials you find around the world you create new weapons, armors, potions, consumables and more. While these systems lack some of the quality of life improvements found in the PS4 game, requiring help from Google more times than not, that only slightly diminished the joy of creating a new shiny gunlance from a recently downed Tigrex.
Of course, there are SOME irritations. The tutorials are anemic, contributing to more googling. Thankfully, there are not only great web pages more than up to the task, but awesome YouTube videos on everything from boss strategies to weapon combos. Environments you hunt in are broken down into smaller, arena size rooms. Whenever you hit an exit, even on accident, it can rip you out of the action, taking away some of the thrill of the fight. Conversely, it DOES make a strategic retreat tactic when the aforementioned Tigrex closes in for the final swipe. Finally, controls feel a bit unorthodox, and take a bit of time to get used to. However, friends who played MHW informed me that they got on board with this older scheme within an hour or so.
MH4U takes most of what you love about MHW, and cranks it up to 12. With more monsters, more quests, deeper combining system, and more, there’s a lot to like here. Obviously, graphics cannot compare, and monster lack the epic interactions you find in the more modern iteration. With that said, So much of what makes MHW fun came right from this game. Having all of that in the palm of your hand just blows the mind. I cannot recommend this game enough. I have yet to finish the game, even with 80 hours in. With that said, my current score is COMPLETE IT!!!
April is #ARPGApril – American RPGs! And for that I choose….
I know… how does Jade Empire qualify for ARPGApril? Easy! It’s made by Bioware, a Canadian (North American) company! Game ON!
Generally, I really enjoy playing and discussing older and retro-style games. In fact, I plan to write more than a few articles about them over this year. However, as you may have read in my 2018 resolution’s list, one new game definitely has my full attention, Monster Hunter World.
The Monster Hunter series sells like hotcakes in Japan, with 40 million sold, worldwide, over the years. Essentially, Monster Hunter is their version of Call of Duty, with a new iteration coming out nearly every year. However, most western gamers, myself included, found it unapproachable in the past. What makes Monster Hunter World worthy of my attention? Let me give you five answers.
Everyone is doing top 10 gaming lists. Why shouldn’t I? However, I tend to be lazier than most when it comes to this kind of stuff, so here’s my top six games of 2017! And, before you ask, Yes, I included older games on this list. I’m mostly a retrogamer, after all. Rest assured, I played these games this year, even if they come from the way back when.
Written by Peter Clines
Narrated by Audible Stuidos
Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilites to make Los Angeles a better place. Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Despite the best efforts of the superheroes, the police, and the military, the hungry corpses rose up and overwhelmed the country. The population was decimated, heroes fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland like so many others. (more…)
Written by Vasily Mahanenko
Narrated by Jonathan Yen
Barliona: a virtual world jam-packed with monsters, battles – and, predictably, players. Millions of them come to Barliona, looking forward to the things they can’t get in real life: elves and magic, dragons and princesses, and unforgettable combat. The game has become so popular that players now choose to spend months online without returning home. In Barliona, anything goes: You can assault fellow players, level up, become a mythical hero, a wizard, or a legendary thief. The only rule that attempted to regulate the game demanded that no player be allowed to feel actual pain. But there’s an exception to every rule. For a certain bunch of players, Barliona has become their personal hell. They are criminals sent to Barliona to serve their time. They aren’t in it for the dragons’ gold or the abundant loot. All they want is to survive the virtual inferno. They face the ultimate survival quest..
A few weeks ago, I found a blog about books while surfing. One of the entries mentioned a ‘new genre’ of books called “LitRPG.” Essentially, LitRPGs take you through the experience of a role playing game (MMORPG in this case), first hand. While some fantasy books attempt to tell stories within the lands created by game writers, LitRPGs actually take you through the game… by putting you directly in the mind of one of the gamers. The protagonist shares with you the rules of the game, the crunch under the hood, the monotony of grinding and the ecstasy of leveling up.
I thought, at first, that the incessant ‘system messages’ and crunch might make the book a bit too boring. And, for some readers, it probably is. However, for those of us who have spent dozens of hours reading boards and hint books to learn how to best level up characters in video games, we can find a lot to like here. The main character, stuck in this virtual world, may be a bit boring and two dimensional. However, the world around the character really stands out. After all, with a video game as the setting, anything can and will happen. While a typical fantasy novel is constrained by the need to have some basis in logic, natural order of things, etc., (with magic providing some exception to that), the world of Barliona is constrained only by video game/MMO logic and rules. This allows the author a lot of freedom in exploring fantastical possibilities even while utilizing a somewhat boring main character and typical MMO quest lines. While the first book sets the stage, the 2nd book really explores these possibilities more fantastically.
Normally, this book by itself would get a 4/5 from me. However, three things elevate this book to the coveted 5/5 stars. First, while I’m only about half way or so through the second book, it is clear that the author saved some of his more imaginative twists and turns for future books. Second, this approach to fantasy story telling feels fresh. Originality always wins brownie points from me! Finally, my wife gives it two thumbs WAY up. She enjoyed this book so much, she has torn through the rest of the books available in this series. She simply cannot stop listening. While the writing is great, the reader definitely carries his end and does a great job using voices effectively to tell the story.
I can highly recommend this book series to any of my friends who enjoy computer and console RPGs.
Ready Player One
Written by Ernest Cline
Narrated by Wil Weaton
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
A fellow friend of the nerd variety recommended this book… and boy, am I glad he did. Ready Player One grabs you by the seat of your pants and does not let you go. Imagine Willy Wonka meets The Matrix, you get Ready Player One. Before he died, the creator of the OASIS, a virtual reality world, set up a contest. Whoever could find his ‘easter egg’ (think hidden secret) located somewhere in the simulation, would inherit his company and vast fortune. To solve the clues, players have to know pop culture from the 70s and 80s. Set in a dystopian future, this adventure follows Wade Watts, as he works with his friends to win that contest, all while minions from an evil corporation attempt to do the same.
Those of us who grew up in the age of the Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and Nintendo will find much to like here. As the main character works his way through the puzzles and contests, the pop culture references come fast and furious. Yet, even those lacking in knowledge will find that the adventure itself has plenty of excitement and edge-of-the-seat moments. My wife, who listened to the book with me, couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Every chapter seemed to raise the stakes just a bit more. At a few points, I even heard her cheering for the protaganist.
A few elements took away from our overall enjoyment, however. Primarily, the ending felt a bit rushed. We would have enjoyed another chapter wrapping things up a bit more, or an epilogue. Also, some of the relationships felt a bit…cliché. The story of one of the supporting characters made my wife and I groan. While I will not go into details for fear of spoilers, it feels like another attempt to force a political viewpoint into a story…and one that does not feel organic. Thankfully, the author does not spend too much time on this point.
With that being said, we still enjoyed the ride quite a bit, and can recommend it to any of our friends. It’s a relatively short, self contained, exciting adventure for the entire family. If you enjoy older pop/nerd culture, you will feel right at home, here. If you opt for the audible version, rest assured that Wil Weaton does a great job bringing this story to life. I would love to hear him again. 4/5 Stars