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Shovel Knight Review: Games of Future Past

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Welcome back friends to my esteemed blog.  I hope all of you out there had an incredible fire cracking 4th of July weekend.  As most of us prepare to return to our usual 9-5 occupations, some of us would like to know what is hot in the gaming world.  Thankfully, I have come back to bring you yet another fantastic dose of gaming goodness.  There are plenty of big names within the gaming industry, but for those of you who are not aware, indie games are making a huge positive impact within the gaming world.  

Independent developer Yacht Club Games has launched their newest title Shovel Knight for the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U.  This title is a tribute to retro platforming games that many, if not, all of us are too familiar with.  The question is, does Shovel Knight pay homage to a time period of great games?  Or, does it insult the genre of retro platforming that we have all loved since childhood?  Let’s find out shall we?

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The world of Shovel Knight…look familiar?

Graphics:  Shovel Knight is a retro gaming platforming adventure that takes a risk with having 8-bit type graphics, but you can’t help but be mesmerized by the beautiful execution of this trip down memory lane.  It dives back into the days of old without ever making the game look too outdated.  The sprites and backgrounds are very well executed, the colors are unbelievably vibrant, and the blend of graphical elements from different gaming titles of the 8-bit era (you’ll see which ones shortly) draw you in to the point where you completely forget that you are playing this game on a next-generation gaming console.  Yacht Club Games deserves high recognition and praise for their incredible and masterful execution of this element.  Score: 9.5/10

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You bring your lamp, I’ll bring my SHOVEL!


Sound:
 The music of Shovel Knight is a retro gamer’s dream come true.  It uses the 8-bit chip sound production beautifully, and more often than not, I found myself tapping my toes to some of these incredible tracks.  This is a reminder to gamers that you don’t need a full scale orchestra to create fantastic memorable music.  Score: 9/10

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

 

Gameplay:  The meat of this package is within the gameplay.  Shovel Knight is a side-scrolling platform adventure game.  It borrows elements from many of the “in-crowd” Nintendo games.  The controls are as basic as they come.  You have move, jump, and attack.  You side scrolling elements from Mega Man using your shovel as a pogo stick from Ducktales, and attacking foes in similar ways to Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania via swiping them with your shovel.  

The map layout is very similar to Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the greatest Nintendo games ever (at least in my opinion).  You traverse through different dungeon layouts and fight bosses in the same format as Mega Man.  You also earn currency via digging up and or discovering gems, gold coins, and other shiny goodies along the way.  Currency plays a critical role in this game, as it allows you to buy relics and potions that make your quest a little bit easier.  It also plays a role when you die.  Upon your death, chunks of your funds are sacrificed to bring you back.  Don’t fret, you can return to you place of death and reclaim your lost funds, which are floating in bags.  

Big tanks?  I got a SHOVEL!

Big tanks? I got a SHOVEL!

You may think that this game is a “rip off” of other treasured games of the 8-bit era, but it actually feels like a stand alone title that really makes it’s mark in an incredible way.  Some of us veteran retro gamers may find the difficulty of Shovel Knight a little bit mundane, but fear not friends, Yacht Club Games has provided a New Game Plus mode that is sure to scratch that itch for an extra challenge.  Shovel Knight looks simplistic but it plays smoothly for those who are veterans of the Nintendo 8-bit era and those of us who were deprived of the joys of these gaming gems back in the days of old.  Score: 10/10

 

Shovel Knight is a fantastic game.  It has been years since I played through a platformer numerous times in one sitting, and it felt pretty darn good.  Retro gamers looking for a hidden gem, or new age gamers wanting to find their gaming roots, look no further than Shovel Knight.  A fantastic tribute to retro games and this will be a classic for many years to come.

 

Final Score: 9.5/10

Bravely Default Review

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Welcome back everyone to my esteemed blog.  The JRPG genre has been faltering in recent years, leaving some fans wondering, will there ever be a true JRPG that can remain true to the old-fashioned mechanics while blending new intuitive elements?  Square-Enix, of all companies makes an attempt to answer that question with their newest RPG Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS.  So, does Square-Enix still have what it takes to bring out a good JRPG?  Let’s review.


Graphics:  
Bravely Default sports a wonderful array of graphics.  Character models are very well done with Akihiko Yoshida taking the lead on the character artwork.  Monster designs are very impressive, with some creatures being cutesy, and others fearsome.  The most outstanding aspect of Bravely Default is the world itself.  Locale in this game, especially towns have hand drawn backgrounds that really pop.  The characters sprites seem to blend in beautifully with these environments.  This is something that is often attempted, but rarely executed well.  Square-Enix attempted and delivered.  Score: 9/10

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Sound:  Naotaka Hayashi and Sound Horizon’s Revo combine their talents to bring an excellent musical score that blends compelling music to draw you in and keep you there, especially in over world and battle scenes.  The voice acting is fairly hit or miss.  Some voice actors actually take their roles seriously, while others sound as if they are just being a mouthpiece to get a paycheck.  Score 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  Bravely Default features a typical RPG storyline.  You play as Tiz Arrior, a young man who loses his entire home after the wind crystal is taken over by a malevolent force.  It is then you run into Agnes (Ah ness) Oblige, the Wind Vestel that everyone is after.  You, Agnes, Ringabel and Edea run into each other fairly early in the game.  This is a good strategy, because it allows you to get acquainted with these characters, know their individual stories, and eventually become attached to their personalities.  The gameplay of Bravely Default is amazing because it blends traditional RPG elements, such as the job class (approximately 20 classes) and a new aspect to the traditional RPG battle system. Enter the Brave Default system.  This element gives players the option to choose “Brave” an offensive approach that allows them to act multiple times at the sacrifice of AP, or “Default” a defensive approach that allows you to gather extra AP to unleash attacks on your foes without penalty.

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Some of you may think about just going all out brave the entire time, but the more your AP goes into the negative numbers, the more times you are unable to act with that character until it replenishes.  This brings a refreshing tune up to the traditional turn-based RPG engine, while keeping the nostalgia alive.  You can also use skills that other players who are further in the game have already obtained via the abililink feature, and link with friends to help rebuild your shattered village.  This game has a huge amount of features and a challenge to match.  Score: 10/10

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Bravely Default is the JRPG fans have been dying for.  The story is great, the characters are fun, and the battle system is among the most fun and challenging gaming mechanics I have ever played in a JRPG.  Don’t miss out on this game folks, this is a keeper!

Final Score: 9.5/10

 

The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds Review: Portraits of Nostalgia and Perfection Beautifully Captured.

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Welcome back everyone to my blog.  Twenty one years ago, the Zelda franchise reached a new pinnacle of greatness with the release of Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past for the Super Nintendo entertainment console.  Now, Nintendo has released the highly anticipated sequel, Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS console.  Ever since it’s premiere, people have been very skeptical, as to whether this new installment would be a worthy follow-up to the 1991 phenomena that graced the SNES.  I have had the honor of spending the weekend playing through this title, and now I am prepared to give my review.

Graphics:  It is often very rare to blend beautiful graphics while maintaining the nostalgic feeling that fans have come to grow and love, and thankfully, Nintendo has succeeded in accomplishing this feat.  Fans will be overwhelmed by the nostalgic feeling and fantasic graphics that are present in this beautiful title.  The character designs remain true to the charm of the Zelda franchise.  The world of Zelda is designed exactly like it’s 1991 predecessor, with a lot of new additions to add some spice to the old formula.  Score: 10/10
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Sound:  Ryo Nagamatsu is the mastermind behind the beautiful remastering of the classic SNES musical score.  Koji Kondo, the original composer of the SNES classic did not do any work in this title, which is quite odd, but Nagamatsu does a beautiful job in recapturing the classic musical score that still remains in the hearts of fans both old and new.  Score:  10/10

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Gameplay:  Zelda returns to the traditional roots of gameplay that fans of old and new generations will enjoy.  The story takes place 600 years after the events of Link to the Past, with our hero Link trying to stop a flamboyant villain named Yuga after he transforms the Seven Sages, Princess Zelda, and Link himself into 2-D portraits.  Fortunately, after receiving a leather wristband from a “unique” ally, Link gains the ability to escape and merge himself into walls at will.  This opens a new realm of exploration and puzzle solving that only adds to the already lengthy quest.

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Of course, what would a Zelda title be without side quests and exploration.  Link Between Worlds offers so many mini-games and side quests for players to enjoy.  Cucco dodging, rupee treasure hunting, gambling, and hunting for all 100 of a pink octopus’ children are only a few of the many mini-games and side quests that will keep players entertained for many hours to come.  Score: 10/10

Zelda fans all over should definitely add this worthy sequel to their collection.  The story is very well done, the characters are fun and quirky, and the soundtrack and worlds remain true to the franchise.  It is a very good holiday treat that everyone should indulge in.

Final Score: 10/10

Thank you everyone for your support.  Join me on Wednesday, when I review Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees for the Playstation Vita console.  Until then everyone, take care and keep on gaming.

Pokemon X and Y Review

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Happy Halloween dear readers and welcome back friends to my blog.  It’s been a very trying few weeks and I apologize for the long hiatus, but Halloween festivities, and creating my costume (see below) have really been syphoning my time as of late, but now the blogging can go on.  As many of you know Pokemon is one of the biggest franchises in Nintendo’s arsenal, we have seen the series go through many changes, and seeing many adaptations.  Now the franchise makes it’s way to the 3DS with Pokemon X and Y.  So, does this transition hold true to the series, or has it been lost in translation?  Read on to find out.

Clicker Costume I made for Halloween from The Last of Us.

Clicker Costume I made for Halloween from The Last of Us.

Graphics:  There are times when some games that transition from 2D to 3D are messed up in the process.  Thankfully, in the case of Pokemon X and Y, the transition was done beautifully.  The world of Pokemon has made a successful transition to the 3DS, sporting a beautiful world, great characters, and most importantly, the Pokemon look fantastic in 3D.  The colors are bright and plentiful, and the graphics on and off battle sequences are a complete joy to look at.  Score: 10/10

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Sound:  To say that fans of Pokemon will have an “eargasm” listening to the soundtrack of Pokemon X and Y is the biggest understatement of 2013.  Shota Kageyama, Minako Adachi, Hitomi Sato, and Junichi Masuda merge their talents together to bring a powerhouse musical score that stays true to the Pokemon tradition.   It’s a huge delight to listen to for fans both old and new.  Score: 10/10


Gameplay: 
This is the biggest chunk of the entire package, minus the transition from 2D to 3D.  Besides the great quest of becoming the best trainer and catching them all, so much more has been added to this package that makes the game soar.  Everything you could ask for is here from battling and collecting a mass amount of Pokemon, to exploring the massive Luminose City, to collecting trainer badges.  Pokemon X and Y will definitely keep you more than entertained.  The most amazing addition to this franchise is the Wi-Fi playability.  Players can now use the 3DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities to challenge friends who are within range.  So, if you want to strut your stuff, and a friend is nearby just sit back and show him or her who is really the best trainer of all.  Score: 10/10

Anyone who is looking for a great RPG, or Pokemon fans who have been waiting for a timeless Pokemon adventure should add this title to their library.  It is without a doubt the best Pokemon in the series.

Final Score: 10/10

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Full Review

EOUTMGHappy Autumn dear readers, and welcome back to my esteemed blog.  With the fall season making it’s arrival, many hit titles are making their ways on to store shelves.  Our next title for review is Etrian Odyssey: The Millennium Girl for the Nintendo 3DS.  Etrian Odyssey is a massive dungeon crawling RPG series from Atlus.  This is a complete remake of the original Etrian Odyssey that was on Nintendo DS.  It is a niche title with a fairly large fan base.  So the question on everyone’s mind is, does this latest entry in the series satisfy the hunger of gamers all over?

Graphics:  Fans of Etrian Odyssey 4 will be more than happy with this graphical overhaul of the original title.  Artwork is well done and the transition of the dungeons and monsters to 3D are beautifully executed.  The anime style movie sequences also add a little more push to the graphical arsenal.  Score 9/10

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Sound:  The musical score of Etrian Odyssey has always been one of it’s strongest features, and this musical score does not disappoint.  The little voice over work that is provided does the game justice when needed.  Score: 8.5/10

Gameplay:  JRPG fans will jump for joy at Etrian Odyssey’s traditional turn-based gameplay.  The game also takes a unique approach by offering a story mode, which even though very cliched, offers a different approach to the traditional dungeon exploring, level grinding, treasure hunting goodness that makes Etrian Odyssey such a joy to play.  You can also choose to play the original, which sticks to the traditional mechanics that I mentioned above.  Score: 9.5/10

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Whether you were introduced to Etrian Odyssey late in the years and want to experience the original, or someone that wants to experience the remake, this is a good way to experience where it all began.  Highest recommendation.

Final Score: 9/10

I am currently in the process of reviewing Beyond Two Souls for the PS3.  I will also be reviewing Pokemon X for the Nintendo 3DS this weekend.  Whew, lots of blogging on the way, but I will get these up for you, my readers.  Thanks again and as always, be sure to subscribe to my blog and tell your friends about me.  Until next time, see you soon.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Demo Review

Image                                     Welcome back friends to my esteemed blog.  I do apologize for the brief hiatus but, once again life has required a huge chunk of my time.  That however has passed and now the blogging will continue on.  As many of you may know, Atlus has brought us a plethora of amazing RPG’s over the years.  One series for the Nintendo DS and 3DS that has gained huge popularity is Etrian Odyssey a first-person, dungeon crawling RPG.  This series has four installments, all of which have been very awesome, and today I had the opportunity to demo the fifth installment entitled Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl for the Nintendo 3DS.

Graphics:  The opening anime intro helps to gear you up for the experience.  Those who are familiar with the franchise will find Etrian Odyssey’s graphics just as beautiful as ever.  The 3D only adds more to the amazing package.  Character designs are similar to previous installments, while monster designs thus far are decently animated.  Score: 9/10

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Sound:  One of the best features of the Etrian Odyssey series is it’s amazing soundtrack, and The Millennium Girl does not disappoint.  The music in the dungeons are beautifully done.  The music during battles are not only fitting but, they have that pump you up effect.  A beautiful score thus far, and seeing as how Yuzo Koshiro composed the score, this will definitely be an amazing musical score.  Score: 9.5/10

Gameplay:  Fans of turn-based RPG’s will enjoy this amazing installment.  Don’t be confused though, the Etrian Odyssey franchises can be VERY HARD depending on the opponents you face.  The anime movie sequences that are being included adds more meat to the package in terms of story.  If you are looking for fun and challenging battles, look no further when this is released in it’s full splendor.  Score: 9.5/10

I was very impressed with this demo, and will definitely be first to pick up my copy when it is released on October 1, 2013.  Tune in next time for a full review.  Until then everyone, keep on gaming.

Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

ImageWelcome back everyone to my amazing blog.  Summer always marks the sign for new releases in the gaming world.  The Shin Megami Tensei series has been climbing it’s way to the top in terms of recognition since the release of Persona in 1997.  Now the long underrated series is getting the respect it deserves.  Releases such as Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner, and the more recent Soul Hackers for the 3DS are opening gamer’s eyes to this unique and amazing series.  

Now Atlus has graced us once again with the latest installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS.  This title has been very anticipated by fans of the RPG genre.  SO now the question remains, does the latest installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series deliver?  Read on to find out.

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Graphics:  Shin Megami Tensei IV is fair in terms of graphics.  The backgrounds are somewhat decent but can seem a little too blocky at times.  There is not too much to speak about in regards to animation since it mainly consists of still hand-drawn images.  The creatures are fairly unique, some are fan favorites, while others are brand new to the Shin Megami franchise.  The character designs seem somewhat bland but, it’s nothing that will make you put the game down.  Score: 7.5/10

Sound:  The soundtrack is fairly suiting to the game’s overall feel but, there are very few memorable tracks in this game.  The voice cast does a wonderful job of bringing the rather bland cast to life.  Score: 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  This is the meat of the package.  Exploration is done in 3rd person view, as opposed to Soul Hackers’ first person perspective, which allows for more depth in exploration.  The story is very well written and it holds enough interest for the player to endure the MANY DIFFICULT BATTLES that come your way.  Demon negotiation and fusion also make their star studded return.  There are over 400 possible demons you can encounter and create throughout this game.  Trust me when I say this, if you are someone whose “gotta catch em all” you will love this game.  Score 9/10

Though Shin Megami Tensei IV has a few faults, it is still a deep and challenging RPG.  No RPG fan should overlook this 3DS title.  I would highly recommend this title.

Final Score 8.5/10

Be sure to follow my blog, and be sure to tune in next time when I review Dragon’s Crown and Tales of Xillia.

 

Upcoming Titles, which ones are you waiting for?

Welcome back friends to another edition of The Gaming Angel.  I must admit that there have been a huge announcement of new game titles since E3 2013’s conclusion.  Here are a few titles that I am looking forward to on both current and next generation consoles:

Dragon’s Crown (PS3, PS Vita)–August 8, 2013
Tales of Xillia (PS3, PS Vita)–August 8, 2013
Ys Memories of Celceta (PS Vita)–September 24, 2013
Mario and Luigi Dream Team (Nintendo 3DS) August 11, 2013
Pokemon X and Y (Nintendo 3DS) October 2013

So, my question to you is, which titles are you most excited for?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and giving your feedback.  Be sure to click the follow button to follow my blog, and tune in this weekend when I review Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS.  

Lucas

Nintendo Reveals all but, was it worth the wait?

ImageWelcome back friends to my esteemed blog.  E3 is booming, especially since day one consisted of two of the three gaming giants premiering not just their new consoles, but their huge arsenal of next generation titles.  Now Nintendo officially took the stage with Miyamoto heading the live stream pre-E3 Nintendo Direct presentation.  I must say, the line-up is very impressive.

Super Smash Brothers:  Save the best for last, and that’s what Nintendo does best.  The newest installment of the Super Smash Brothers franchise for the Wii U and 3DS looks amazing as it sports awesome graphics, a returning cast of characters, new worlds, and a few new fighters.  Among these confirmed new characters are Villager from the Animal Crossing franchise, and Mega Man (drooling).  

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze:  The new Donkey Kong Country title will be for the Wii U, featuring similar gameplay to it’s Wii and 3DS predecessor with new worlds, camera angles, and the return of Dixie Kong!

Legend of Zelda Windwaker HD:  Set for the Wii U.  This is an HD remake of the beloved classic.

Bayonetta 2:  Set for the Wii U.  It is the sequel to the beloved unorthodox action classic.

Super Mario 3D World:  The Wii U Mario Adventure goes back to it’s roots (Super Mario Bros 2 fans will love this)  taking form Mario 3D land and ramping it up with Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach joining in as playable characters.  Will definitely be looking forward to this.  

Pokemon X and Y:  Think you can catch em all?  Well get ready because Pokemon X and Y will be premiering for the 3DS.  I think I can catch em all.  I think I can catch em all.

Mario Cart 8:  Rip roaring, mega fun racing action returns for the Wii U with Mario Cart 8.

Wii Party U:  Fans of Mario Party may get a kick out of this.

Wonderful 101:  A niche adventure game that you will have to see to believe.  Looks interesting.  

Miyamoto also revealed a game that looks very similar to Xenoblade Chronicles, and it looks absolutely awesome!  At the end of the trailer there was a big X in red that was similar in design to the Xenoblade Chronicles.  So let’s just say a potential sequel is in the works.

Although Nintendo’s E3 lineup was impressive, it simply did not add up to the shocking reveals of Sony and Microsoft.  I hate to say this but, Nintendo fell a bit short this year.  Thanks for reading my blog, and please be sure to follow me.  I also love comments and questions so keep them coming.  

 

Lucas