Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Since When Was Monster Hunter so Huge?

Monster Hunter World has come out recently and everyone around me is raving about it.  I'm not disagreeing with the raving either, Monster Hunter World looks absolutely fan-fucking-tastic, and while I've not bought it myself because it's like 8000 yen (when new games are typically around 6000) I can't wait to get my hands on it soon.

While it's nice to see a game series I enjoy get so much positive press, it's popularity is somewhat confusing to me though.  In Japan I know that Monster Hunter has always been big, you sort of just bump into it everywhere.  It might be a poster advertising Frontier in an internet cafe or some kind of promotional thing like a Monster Hunter themed design on a drink or something, it's the kind of thing that just pops up in every day life fairly often.  Now I can't speak for America but in the UK it was a different story completely, I only knew 2 people who also played Monster Hunter and apparently there was some little shop in London where hunters could go meet up to hunt stuff on Freedom Unite.

They were games that had good reviews but never much of a following.  I started to get into the series around the time of Freedom Unite and I remember having a grand old time with it.  However, back then I remember getting an armor set and posting a picture of it on Facebook to show some friends and a bunch of people chimed in with comments like "why are you such a sad fuck?" or "this game is for losers" etc.  It wasn't even a high level set, it was a shit early game thing that required no effort too, not that it really matters I guess.

I stuck with the series up to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on the PSP (so 2008-2010 roughly) and in that time only met 1 other guy who was at all interested.  After that the series moved to 3DS which was all region locked and shit and I was living in Japan so I was sort of locked out of playing it unless I wanted to import or drop money on a Japanese 3DS but even with each DS release I didn't see anyone talking about it.

Now it's 2018, World gets released and suddenly everyone is all "MONSTER HUNTER OMG LOOKS SO GOOD!".  Like, where did this excitement come from?  I spent so much time looking for people with even a passing interest to no avail and now suddenly everyone's a fan? What the fuck happened?  It feels to me that some people are bandwagoning a bit here.  They actually don't know jack shit about the series past World but because of all the praise and publicity suddenly they love it now.

Still, I know I might be coming across as all bitter and sort of gatekeepy like "who are these filthy casuals playing MY game" but that's not the case.  It's confusing but it does make me happy to see a series I like getting so much praise and hype around it.  It all means that when I DO go and buy it I'll have plenty of people it with, finally.

Happy Hunting to newcomers and veterans alike!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei Liberation First Impressions

I never thought in my life I'd be impressed to the point of gushing HARD on a mobile game but it's finally happened and OF COURSE it's a fucking Shin Megami Tensei game that has me frothing at the mouth with excitement.

I've talked about it before but just in case I'll cover once again what Shin Megami Tensei is before I continue in case a new reader has stumbled across this post.  Shin Megami Tensei is a long running series of RPGs that has been going since the old NES days.  It has its roots in tile based dungeon crawling but as the series has progressed that style has dropped in and out.  The big gimmick of the series is the whole "demon negotiation" thing where you can convince your enemies to join your ranks and use their skills in order to reach the end.  The series has seen some massive success recently with it's spinoff series Persona and at some point a Shin Megami Tensei 5 has been cited for release on the Switch.  In a VERY basic way just think of it as sort of Grimdark Pokemon.

So I woke up on Sunday with a big fat hangover and grabbed my phone only to find that Dx2 SMT Liberation was on the front page of the Japanese app store and despite my pounding headache I did a little squee and downloaded it.  As far as mobile games go it's not all that different from any other RPG where you collect monsters and battle them but if you're a fan of the series, especially the mainline series, the look and feel of the game will have you hooked pretty quickly.  EVERYTHING you expect from a tried and true SMT game is present in this title just sort of simplified a little bit because it's on a phone now but presented in a way that makes it perfect for short burst plays on a train, bus or while you take a shit.

 I'm not going to go into too much detail about how it all works because there's A LOT going on and I've not levelled up enough to see it all but curiously the game has only 2 out of 5 stars on  the app store.  Addressing some of these complaints I've seen in the review section will help you to understand something about how the game works though so here I go.

The first big complaint I've seen is that they say (in Japanese) that the demons and the artwork look like crap.  The game has opted for the older SMT look as opposed to the more modern art direction that they have used in games like Persona so this is more of a taste thing.  I started the series with Lucifer's Call on PS2 when it was still using that sort of older look so it doesn't bother me really, this is just a taste thing but be aware the art style looks a bit "dated" which will be nostalgic for some and hard on the eyes for others.

The one thing I can't forgive though is people complaining about the fucking "gatcha".  If you don't play mobile games then a gatcha is the way most games give you new items or characters.  You pay a number of whatever currency it may be and the game randomly gives you a character.  If you're lucky you'll get a rare thing and if you're not lucky you won't, it's the main way these free to play RPGs make cash by making people pull lots of gatcha for mad rare shit.  These are usually a big part of mobile RPGs but in Liberations case it's not such a big thing.  The complaints state that the gatcha is too expensive and the rate of rare shit coming out is too low, which is fine I guess but that's not really how your supposed to expand your roster of demons.

As you play levels, occasionally a demon will offer to talk with you and you enter a negotiation.  If you complete the negotiation successfully the demon will join you, this is how SMT has worked basically since the beginning.  From there, you have you fuse the demons together to make new ones in order to strengthen your ranks and this is the main way that the player in Liberation gets rarer things.  For example today I took a 1* demon and a 2* demon and fused them into a 3* demon with some sick fire skills.  The gatcha does give you rare shit but the game wants you to focus on negotiation and fusion, you know, the thing where you actually have to understand how the game works, rather than just dumb luck.  While paying your way into the rarest demons is an option and probably how Sega plan to make profit, doing it the old fashioned way is preferable and series fans will probably enjoy this more than just "push button, receive demon".

I've never been this hooked by a mobile game before so if you're a SMT fan then absolutely try it out and if you've never played one before then this free outing into the mainline may be a good place to find your feet. 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Crash Bandicoot HD Marathon Update

So as you may or may not know, the incentive for the Crash Bandicoot HD marathon was met a little while ago and now I have some information regarding the event for you.

So I'm planning to run the event on the 24th February and I will play Crash Bandicoot HD on PS4 until I have either finished all 3 games or played for 24 hours.  Now I feel that Crash 1 is a little bit of a challenge but Crash 2 and 3, if memory serves, are pretty easy to at least finish.  So in order to spice things up a bit, I'm adding a stretch incentive to make things a little bit more interesting.

Between now and the end of Crash 3 if an additional £100 are donated to the charity I will play the 3 games to 100% (no DLC) or until I hit the 24 hour mark.  As a backup, if that goal gets met and for some reason I at least don't finish the 3 games in 24 hours, I'll take a rest and then dedicate the 25th to playing even more Crash HD to get as close to 100% as I possibly can.

As always, big thanks to everyone who has donated for this and everything else so far!  Keep the kindness coming and keep supporting IG! It means a lot!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Battle Circuit

So today I had a massive 3 hour gap between my driving lessons so I went down to the arcade about 5 minutes from the school to play DDR.  To my dismay however, there were a couple of people already on it and with limited time before my next class I wasn't about to waste it waiting around for those guys to finish.  The place had the usual selection of rhythm and card games but nestled in the back of this place there was an older cabinet running a game called Battle Circuit. 

Now I've never heard of this thing before but Battle Circuit is a side scrolling beat em' up made by Capcom and released in 1997.  After having a quick glance at the wikipedia page to get that date it looks like the game could support 4 players but the cabinet I was playing on only had 2 sticks so that wasn't happening any time soon.

After you put in your money you get to pick 1 of 5 characters to play as.  These involve a strong guy, a tough guy, a speedy guy , "death blow" guy and one that I don't remember.  I went for the strong guy because I like to keep things as simple as possible.

From there is a pretty standard side scrolling beat em' up.  If you've ever played anything like Final Fight or Streets of Rage then you know what you're getting with this.  The screen fills up with dudes and you punch all the dudes until they fall down dead.  There was some kind of story going on about a disk or something but I was just skipping all of it so I don't have a fucking clue.

What I was kind of surprised with though was just how fair the game felt in comparison to a lot of other titles in the genre.  I'm more than willing to admit that I'm not exactly the best when it comes to games like this but it feels like in a lot of titles enemies, especially, bosses will have moves that come out of nowhere, are crazy hard to dodge and do tons of damage.  Also the further you get into these games the more getting hit feels like coin guzzling dogshit than actual challenge.  Battle Circuit however didn't really do this and there was only one instance where I thought I lost life because of the game cheating me.  It was a woman boss with big thighs who liked to kick things (not Chun-Li, called Barbara or something) who would break your combo to spinning bird kick you across the screen which felt a little shitty but, like I said, she was the only one with an attack like that.

The game also had this upgrade system where you could buy moves or improvements for your character by beating coins out of the enemies as you went.  The extra life however was like, 1000 coins and I was only getting like, 200 a level.  There's only 8 stages too so if you're buying extra health meter or the actual useful skills then you can kiss that extra life goodbye.  The only thing I really disliked about the game was that fact you only got 1 extra life but this was offset by the game only being 50 yen a play instead of the usual 100.  I think if I had to put 100 yen for every continue I probably would have quit after my first game over.

Anyway it's a pretty good game so if you can find a way to play it then you should absolutely give it a try.  I think if you live outside of Japan the chances of you finding a cabinet are pretty slim because even in Japan I've never seen this game before.  But you know, MAME is a thing.....

Friday, 12 January 2018

That Nintendo Direct

So last night this Nintendo Direct went down that I didn't watch but I sure as fuck caught all the information about it via my Facebook and Twitter feed.  Now I don't yet own a Switch and I sure as fuck want one.  They've been restocked in a bunch of stores near me and I'm definitely not lacking the funds for the thing but I just can't bring myself to pick one up and this mini direct pretty much made it clear in my mind why.

On the surface, the Direct was pretty cool.  They announced a whole bunch of titles that were coming to the Switch including a port of Dark Souls and (another) remake of The World Ends With You with a new extra campaign bit stapled on the end which kind of made me a little excited.  But that's exactly the problem, there's nothing new on the Switch AT ALL.  It's either ports, sequels or ports of sequels getting released and that goes for the direct and the current library of games.

Think for a second about what you're getting excited for here.  Just taking the two games that I'm the most interested, Dark Souls came out originally in 2011, that makes it nearly 7 years old.  TWEWY came out in 2007, that's over 10 years ago!!!  Not that remaking or remastering these games (depending on how you view it) is a bad thing but is it really worth sucking the Switches dick for doing so?  I've been playing this game for a long as time and the system is going to have to do more than that to sell me.

Now I understand that some people haven't played these games, especially TWEWY, so for some it's a reason to be legitimately excited but I get the impression that if you've been gaming for a long time and you have eclectic tastes then the Switch right now just isn't for you.  It's a shame too because it's a really cool piece of kit that I WANT to own but I just can't quite justify the purchase yet.

All that said though, Shin Megami Tensei 5 will be dropping at some point and despite it being a sequel I'm an absolute sucker for that series so I'm going to HAVE to buy one at some point.  I just wish the system had a bit more originality going for it.  I'm sure one day it'll happen and when it does I'm going to run to the nearest shop with a fat wad of cash and buy it all.

What excited you the most about the Direct?  What games from the current library are you enjoying?  Leave a comment and let me know!