Delays of Games: No Penalty, Just Breathing Room

Yes, it happens to the best of them, folks. While disappointing, game delays aren’t the end of the world other than setting one’s expectations for playing what one wants to back a bit. In almost every case, it’s a case where developers want more time to tighten things up and apply a final (well, pre-patch) coat of polish to products so they’re even better when they finally make it to market. This isn’t only a AAA thing, as you’ll see from these three examples.

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Red Dead Redemption II has slipped into October (10/26/2018), but I’m not at all concerned because it’s Rockstar Games we’re talking about here and they’ve very rarely steered gamers wrong when a product slides past an initial launch date (or second or third, for that matter!). Hell, if anything, the new date will keep a lot of people safe at home on Halloween and quire possibly all the way through the holiday season. I’m only half joking, by the way. I know I’ll be camped out in front of my TV until actual tumbleweeds roll past my bleary eyes.

 

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Review: Reverie (PS Vita)

 

With Reverie, New Zealand-based developer Rainbrite has cooked up a fantastic, fun and must-buy game for the supposedly ‘dead’ (but still defiantly breathing) PlayStation Vita. Everything here clicks from the Earthbound-inspired visuals to the gameplay that references The Legend of Zelda‘s puzzle, enemy and trapped-filled dungeons and overworld map. Adding to the perfection, you get an interesting take on the Māori myth Māui and the Giant Fish woven throughout the game that makes the adventure all the more interesting.

Sure, the main character is just a nondescript kid named Tai who just so happens to end up spending his summer vacation saving the tiny island he’s on visiting his grandparents from all sorts of evil during his stay. But Rainbrite has wisely made the kid quite the young man of action on his trip to this new Adventure Island. You’ll get a cricket bat, yo-yo, a sort of Nerf gun and other goodies as you take on the game’s six nicely-sized dungeons and a somewhat dangerous overworld packed with local wildlife out to gnaw or peck you to death. Spot-on controls help out here, but you’ll need to be constantly on your toes because some enemies (such as angry hopping statues) won’t react until you’re in whispering distance.

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Review: The Alliance Alive (Nintendo 3DS)

 

There’s something warm and familiar about Cattle Call’s new RPG, The Alliance Alive that really pulled me in from the beginning. While not flawless, the game has the look and feel of one of those multi-disc original PlayStation JRPGs and while not quite an “epic” experience, it’s solid enough and certainly packs in enough characters in its massive maps while hitting pretty much all the bullet points it needs to that make it an overall decently nostalgic 3DS game. I’m a big fan of much of Cattle Call’s work since the quirky PS2 sleeper Tsugunai: Atonement, so seeing the familiar color palette and simple but intriguing battle system also had me smiling throughout.

Still, it’s also a case where you sort of wish the game was on a system that was a bit to a good deal more powerful. It’s not at all hard to imagine the developer making a Switch (or heck, PS4 or even a Vita) game with higher resolution art and even more detailed characters and environments. On the 2DS or 3DS, the game’s animations and numerous cut scenes are excellently handled. However, the large overworld maps tend to be a bit bland, there’s a bit of background pop-in and if you have a poor sense of direction, it’s a bit too easy to get lost unless you choose the option to be guided to and from certain story-related areas.

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TERA Online Headed to PS4/Xbox One April 3

After dabbling in a few too many online games on the PS4 for about a year plus, I’ve narrowed down my focus to the upcoming free TERA Online, developer Bluehole Inc. and publisher En Masse‘s successful PC MMO that’s finally headed to consoles on April 3, 2018. I had the great fortune to try the game on three occasions when it was in beta over the past few months and while the test phase was sometimes a bit wonky, as things were tweaked and polished based on user feedback, the experience became a great deal more enjoyable to the point it was hard to put down.

Key to the overall experience is the game’s real-time combat system that’s quite responsive using the PS4 controller and allows for plenty of creative offensive and defensive moves. Given the ferociousness of the enemies here, you’ll need to have fast reflexes as well as sufficient healing and buffs at the ready. The game won’t hesitate to hit back hard with creatures that just won’t quit until you’ve beaten them or vice versa, and if the beta is any indication, both solo and group players should feel quite at home.

Yours truly ended up recording way too many videos during the betas on my YouTube channel (go sign up and feel free to send me a friend request on PSN – my handle there is GeeLW), but my body is ready for the full game when it lands on PSN shortly. Those of you interested in playing TERA on consoles can go all in for free or snap up one of a fewFounder’s Pack options that will give you some cool gear, in game money and other fun stuff along with the ability to start playing a week early.

Alrighty, then. Guess I’ll (hopefully) see some of you online at some point. I’ll likely be soloing this for the most part (I’m liking that Mystic class a lot, but the Archer is solid as well), but I’ll certainly need assistance with the 5-player boss maps.

-GW

Review: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

If Yakuza 6 (available April 17 on PS4) is your first trip to Kiryu Kazuma’s world, fear not. As an option on the title screen, the game can fill you in with rundowns of the previous five entries with a series of cut scenes taken from previous installments. These cinemas not only get you well up to speed, they’ll very likely make you want to track down the older games at some point (well, you’ll also need a PS3 for three or four of the older titles). As for this latest installment, it’s brilliant, bittersweet and worth the time investment for plenty of reasons.

Kiryu’s journey takes him from Okinawa back to his old stomping (and kicking and punching) ground of Kamurocho with an eventual journey to Onomichi Jingaicho in Hiroshima. Par for the course, the many plot twists and turns he’ll face range from melodramatic to absurd, but the main plot is quite serious stuff. After his former pop idol daughter Haruka goes missing, Kiryu tracks her to Kamurocho only to discover she’s been struck and badly injured by a car. He also finds out he’s a grandfather as Haruka was hit while protecting her son who Kiryu knew nothing about until he has to take care of him. With all this happening, the poor guy has to deal with a Yakuza and Triad gang war where both sides also want him taken out and a few other matters you’ll want to check out.

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Bacon Man? Your Goose Is Cooked!

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Hey! Look at what popped up in the inbox that made me a bit curious (and kind of hungry). Yep, it’s Bacon Man: An Adventure, now on Steam and coming soon to Xbox One. What, no PS4 or Switch versions? C’mon Skymap – just go beat on Sony and Nintendo’s doors (or the noggins of people there (gently!) until they get you a few dev kits to mess around with, I say. This one’s weird and probably harder than you think, but that’s all good in my book.

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There’s a nice Earthworm Jim on assorted pharmaceuticals vibe here that’s probably going to please fans of those games (well, two out of three of them, although I kind of liked the craziness in the third installment, but I’m a bit nuts myself). I’ll actually need to play this one at some point (well, once I unchain myself from the backlog here), but I do think I’ll like it a lot despite what looks like a pretty punishing level of difficulty.

 

 

It’s a good thing couch co-op is onboard, as this seems to be just the sort of game that needs it (look down, please. No, not that far down, you. Here:)

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Anyway, I’m giving this a thumbs up based on the trailer alone because it made me laugh and humor is harder to pull off in games than some of you think. So yeah, go check this one out and see what you think.

-GW

Review: Don’t Knock Twice (PS4)

DKT_PS4.jpegWales Interactive’s Don’t Knock Twice is an “all-in” game if ever there was one. While it can indeed be played without the PSVR headset and during the sunnier daytime hours, the game works best when you wall yourself (Amontillado or not) up all alone in the dark (heh) completely wrapped up in those goofy goggles and a decent set of headphones. Being afraid of the dark and having the additional fear of things that go bump in the night also go a long way in making this mild experience in terror a bit scarier.

On the other hand, if you’re one of those really jaded people who think all horror games need to be gory undead shooting galleries or have stuff jumping out at you every ten seconds, you may not totally grasp what the fuss is all about when the game finally ends somewhere about an hour to hour and a half later. Is the game perfect? Nope. Does it do what it intends to do? Yep. If you let yourself become immersed in the mood it aims for, it’ll get under your skin and make you a bit jumpy for a tiny slice of time. You’re not going to use the (overused) word “innovative” here at all to describe this one. You’re getting a short and creepy horror experience that’s not going to wear out its welcome when all is said and done.

 

 

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EDF 5 + Starship Troopers = My Eyes Bouncing ‘Round The Room

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While I still have NO idea who’s publishing Earth Defense Force 5 in the west and any news seems to be being kept way too quiet (grrr!), this trailer really set my “I need this NOW!” timer off. The funny thing is, I had NO interest in any other Starship Troopers films after Paul Verhoeven’s (it’s a great and intentionally ironic parody some still don’t fully grasp, by the way) and  even dismissed last year’s Starship Troopers: Red Planet (or Traitor of Mars) as looking too much like a game for my snooty cinematic tastes. Well, look who’s a crow-chomping clown who wants to see, er, find out more about this one?

Thanks, EDF! Now, about that US release date and publisher? Those giant bug-sized beans need to be spilled, and fast.

-GW

Review: Midnight Deluxe (PS4/PS Vita)

Midnight Deluxe PSA gentle “Fore.” with a sly smile is what you may find yourself whispering with a grin on occasion while playing Midnight Deluxe, Petite Games (ported and published by Ratalaika Games) sweet little indie, now available on PS4 and Vita. This is an initially simple on the surface but eventually fiercely challenging game where all you do is attempt to hit a cube-shaped fairy into a hole in each level.

It’s an easy enough to write description, but the fun and friskiness here comes from the “How the *hey* can I get that thing from here to there?” in increasingly complex maps where taking less than five shots seems impossible. Well, until you knock that fairy into the occasional well-placed hole in one or otherwise clear what you thought was a super tough stage under par.

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Redbox’ March Game Week: Happy Madness Time

If you’re a Redbox user or are interested in trying out the service, well listen up: From March 6 – 12, in-app (iOS or Android, of course) or online users can get a free game rental during the March Game Week event. This is pretty cool for new users who don’t live near a location with a Redbox machine (raises hand high) or current users looking to check out a few games on their backlogs.

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That is all, commence the online stampede. Wait, let me get out of the way fir… (*RUMBLE…STOMP!) Ouch.

-GW