Delays, delays, delays, also delays.
E3 is around the corner so you know how antsy I’m getting. I’m sure you’re feeling it just as much. I’m here today to hit you with all the bad news this week. It sucks but it is what it is. This one is going to be short so don’t miss it flying by. Behold the most negative LGR to date:
1. Shenmue 3 delayed to 2019!
I think it’s fair to say that I warned everyone reading that this was going to be more of an UnLucky recap. Rip the band-aid off quick and tell you out the gate, Shenmue 3 has been delayed. It was originally planned to come out fall of this year but given the lack of marketing and development progress you would be a fool to be surprised by this. Honestly, I have my doubts that it will even make it to release next year. Call me a pessimist (actually please don’t) but Shenmue 3 is quite a long way out. Good news; we are still getting the remastered versions of 1 and 2 this year.
2. Metro Exodus delayed to 2019.
This delay on the other hand is super unexpected. If you don’t recall, Metro Exodus was the first game to show us a zombie bear in action at E3. It was terrifying. The game looked incredible and I’m pretty sure it had a playable demo as well. THQ Nordic bought Deep Silver which means this delay is most likely to make sure the marketing is labeled and handled properly. In this case I feel like this is more of a winning situation for fans of the series. You know, cause Red Dead Redemption is going to outshine everything this fall.
3. Bio-Mutant & Darksiders 3 release window uncertain?
By now some of you have realized that all these delays come from the same company. If you didn’t, it’s pretty clear now. THQ Nordic buying Deep Silver has put a big shift on the way the game release schedules are working. So the interesting new IP, Bio-Mutant, and the revival of an IP that should never have died, Darksiders 3, are both under revision for release. Fear not, this doesn’t mean these games are going bye bye, it just means they gotta cook in the oven a little longer. Still thinking this is good thing. Also thinking, news about THQ in 2018? Man if I could time travel, the old me would be all messed up.
4. Skull and Bones delayed to at least 2019-2020
Not all dogs go to heaven and not all delays come from THQ. Sometimes they come from ridiculously incredible publishers with a ton of great IP’s. In this case the culprit is Ubisoft. And as much as I love to entertain the idea that this delay is to make room for the more exciting return of Splinter Cell, that’s probably not true. Skull and Bones is essentially the boat parts of Assassin’s Creed. Ubisoft saw how terrible Sea of Thieves release was and they said “Uh oh, maybe we need more.” Boom and that’s how games are delayed, next question. Damn! 2020 though?
5. Okami HD Comes to Switch.
Because we are a small team and I’m terrible at finishing video games we had to pass on reviewing this when it released late last year. It’s okay though, now that it’s officially releasing on Nintendo Switch, Chet can experience with fresh eyes what I played on PS2. This is light news, but it does a little making up for all the delays right? Right? Please, just say yes. Oh and I just remembered a version of Okami came to Wii as well. Look at that. And Okami HD comes to Switch August 9th.
6. Stalking will be cool again starting 2021.
Well, stalking has never actually been cool. It had a brief moment when the classic survival series, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, last title was released in 2009. That didn’t stop the announcement of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 from happening. Well technically happening again because the game was previously announced and then canceled in 2011. When this game releases it’ll officially have been a full decade since the last title. The funny thing about it is, that seems to be working for games pretty well lately. Examples include: Final Fantasy 15 & Last Guardian but not Duke Nukem. Absolutely not Duke Nukem.
7. The Kingdom holding your heart will be yours, soon.
I couldn’t be a complete ass and give you only bad news. Here I saved the best for last. Only the greatest news makes it to the end this week. Are you still with me? Alright here we go. Kingdom Hearts 3 will be officially arriving next month to tell you when it will be releasing for your gaming pleasure. That was fun. Yea so Square decided to indulge in the hype of this game by teasing a day they would provide a release date. Pay attention though folks, this month is May which means next month is June. June is E3. Half-Life 3 confirmed.
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Good even without Ghibli
What happens when a JRPG development studio works with a legendary animation studio? A game like Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is born. What happens when a game like Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is received extremely well? Obviously the gaming community demands a sequel. Enter Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom. Although developed by Level 5 and published by Namco-Bandai, the same team behind the first entry, the absence of Studio Ghibli is a major point of concern for fans. Released on PS4 and PC on March 23rd, 2018, the action RPG, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom, is up against the terrifying crowd of passionate gamers waiting to see how well the game fairs without everyones favorite anime studio.
Arguably one of 2018’s most charmingly beautiful games to date, Ni No Kuni 2 never sets out to be a grand graphically powered adventure. Understandably the art style, lacking the touch of Studio Ghibli, isn’t as beautiful but it remains adorable in its own way. Colorful kingdoms serve as home to animal human hybrid species. The grimalkin are cat like while the citizens under the rule of pugnacious are more canine looking. Its a very interesting and fun design choice especially as the plot continues to introduce the player to new kingdoms and concepts. The best part of the world is it never feels bland. Even when taking on the cute chibi form when traveling the world map everything is so vibrant and colorful exploration feels great. Again not a graphical powerhouse or an animation style that raises the bar, but Ni No Kuni 2 is definitely a beautiful game.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom opens up right out the gate with tremendous action. The player begins watching a cutscene in what appears to be a modern or futuristic city being exploded by a nuclear weapon. The first protagonist of the story, Roland (voiced extremely well by Jared Zeus), is on a train into this city as the explosion happens. Then bam just like that the whole game is transported elsewhere. The action doesn’t stop there though, it literally only gets more intense as a Roland lands in the middle of a plot to over throw a kingdom. This part of this dual story introduces Evan, the young king who just lost his kingdom. From there it becomes a story of redemption and growth. Something only an anime inspired game can pull off and yet the plot is completely original. Everything the characters learn along the way just further intensifies the heartwarming tale. The plot is to intense there are two of them happening simultaneously and yet it always feels like more.
Most JRPG’s suffer from poor audio when translated to the land of english speaking consumers. Not just in dialogue but also in sound effects that are culturally interesting. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom however does not struggle with this at all. The voice cast does a great job of bringing the dialogue to life. Owain Arthur steals the show with his incredible portrayal of Lofty, the severely unimpressive Kingmaker. It was one thing to expect something like a, at first glance, a mediocre demigod to join the battle against enormous god looking demigods. Sorry, Kingmakers are essentially demigods. Anyway, the booming attitude Owain provided was perfect. On top of that the soundtrack is very comforting and not entirely annoying after a few hours of play like a lot of other games. The whole voice cast did an amazing job, composition was stellar, and the menu sounds weren’t atrocious. The major issue that takes away from the audio; there are way to many areas of dialogue that would be more impactful with fun voice acting.
At it’s core Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a JRPG. However, the extended gameplay mechanics found throughout its mini games, side quests, and kingdom building missions say otherwise. This constantly rotating control over gameplay just adds to the fluidity of the story and its overwhelming hold on the player. To appreciate the full extent of this, there has to be an understanding one the various systems. Outside of the obvious open world free roaming and the world map, First up is the Battle system. Pretty standard active battle system with control of one party member at a time. From there the game opens up the skirmish system which plays a lot like the Overlord series, There are minion soldiers with varying archetypes in clusters and they battle against clusters of soldiers from the opposing army. Then enters the kingdom building sim type system. This one involves meeting people throughout the world and convincing them to leave where they are to join the new kingdom. And then, well the rest of them fall into spoiler territory but know that it gets even more in depth. Most amazing? The different systems all work towards the same goal in game. The systems never trip each other up or steal time from each other. Amazing.
Part anime, part adventure story, part motivational speech everything about this game is fun and exciting. The world is vast enough to get lost in for hours on end without any question. Every fight feels rewarding, although gamers who are used to grinding may find that this game is easy to play through beginning to end. Of course there are various challenges that swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum but this game is mostly easy and fun. With a healthy balance of unique mini-games, gameplay styles, and side missions very rarely do activities feel repetitive. The opening ten hours of the game are amongst the most enjoyable moments of any game I’ve played. Unfortunately there would be to much that is spoiler filled so very little can be said.
It may lack the abstract one of a kind charm that only Studio Ghibli can bring to the table but Ni No Kuni 2 still delivers. With the sequel the team at Level5 has proven once again that they know what they are doing. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom was put in a position where it could not just benefit from the results of its predecessor and still shines. Incredible gameplay, a compelling story paired with great voice acting, and a vibrant world make for a great time. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is not the sequel that was expected but it still manages to fill those great shoes.
Posted in Articles Tagged with: action, jrpg, kingdom, level 5, level5, ni no kuni, playstation, playstation 4, ps4, revenant, rpg, rpg elements, Sony, studio ghibli, video, video games, videogames
Mari-owo what’s this?
It faced some tenuous rumors and rampant speculation, but Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a thing that is real. It combined all your favorites from the Mushroom Kingdom with the eponymous Rabbids of… Rabbid fame. Developed by Ubisoft Paris & Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft this… okay hold on second. This is a MARIO game. A Mario game developed by Ubisoft. Let that sink in. Nintendo didn’t even publish it, Ubisoft did. This Mario game was published by Ubisoft for the Nintendo Switch. Life is certainly stranger than fiction, is it not? Anyway, this game is an isometric tactical RPG with puzzle elements. It is the unlikeliest of combos, with the greatest former plumber in all the land and the videogaming equivalent of The Minions, this game has a lot of nerve crashing its way onto the Nintendo landscape. So, is it any good?
To start, the graphics aren’t necessarily stunning from a technical perspective, but that hardly matters. Aesthetically speaking, it’s one of the best looking Mario games to date. Biome to biome, block for block, square to square, this game uses an incredible palette of every color in the book and then some. As expected of a Mario game, it’s got incredible design for each and every stage, but it takes it a step above most “standard” Mario games by making what is essentially a blocky, cubic, almost voxel-like world and making it come to life with passion. The rabbids look in top form and all the environments surrounding just ooze with artistic merit and magnanimous glee. That’s a five-dollar word you can add to your collection.
K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid. But seriously, the game’s plot is a great excuse to have a blast. The rabbids have invaded and destroyed the mushroom kingdom because some teenage girl made a visor that can combine two objects into one. It’s pretty easy from that detail alone to see where the plot is going. Big man Bowser himself is absent in this adventure (he’s on vacation) and Bowser Jr is trying to make a name for himself. He kidnaps the visor-empowered to do his bidding and continues to wreck stuff over the course of several worlds. It’s all you need to be driven forward; the plot writes itself. Mario is a guy ready to stop the bad guys and restore the Mushroom Kingdom to its former glory. His new friend Beep-O the talking roving Roomba delivers the exposition for each level, and it’s more than necessary to tell you what you need to be doing. Plus, the gameplay is so fun, you’ll hardly need the plot to drive you forward as you jump to fight after fight.
During the battles that unfold, the bloops, bleeps, bangs, bongs, and booms are all in top form. The sound design in this game is satisfying, as all fired shots make the noise they should make. Along with that, the accompanying cacophonies of status effects like honey, ink, push, spring, vamp, and others sound exactly as they should. As for the soundtrack, I didn’t find it all that interesting. The music is primarily comprised of a chamber wind orchestra playing jubilant variations of classic Mario theme songs along with several new compositions. I personally don’t like the style of this ensemble-based music. But, as a former student of the fine arts in music, I can still appreciate the effort put into the songs and can acknowledge that despite not being quite my cup of tea, it serves the game well and is objectively some pretty good stuff.
It was described by many as Mario meets XCOM, and this is a considerably astute observation. I have not actually played any tactical games in the vein of this style, so Kingdom Battle was a relatively fresh experience. What could have been a cheap knockoff turns into a surprisingly deep and intricate battle system. It serves both as a great refresher for tactical game fans as well as a great introductory offer for people new to this particular style of game. Not only is it well designed, but it is also astoundingly deep for a Mario sort of game. You play as a squad of 3, with a total 8 characters to bring into your team. Every one of these characters have their own unique skills and play-styles that you will utilize to complete your quests. Fighting enemy rabbids is an absolute blast, especially if you hate the rabbids. It makes the overworld puzzles boring by comparison, but none are dense enough to fully stop the pace of the action that ensues.
The game is fun but is marred by a handful of annoyances. For one, the movement of characters outside of the battles is sluggish and can sometimes lead to a very bad time. This shows up specifically when you enter blue dungeons to collect coins, and the imprecise isometric design doesn’t do it any favors. You may find yourself failing many times to complete these challenges because Beep-O is usually not in quite the right spot to do contextual actions. This could be fixed with a patch and overall, the sections where you can stop to try and collect some coinage are ultimately an optional choice and therefore don’t hurt the fun factor too hard. The main battles are fun and keep you coming back for more, and that’s all you need to continue this well-designed experience with twists and turns every time you feel like you’ve gotten the game down pat. That said, once you do figure out the optimal strategy for certain enemies, some fights can seem “samey”, but this is outweighed by the number of times you are introduced to new mechanics that change the tide of battle. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the edge of your seat, despite playing handheld or on your TV.
Mario+Rabbids: Battle Kingdom is a game that, on paper, sounds like absolute bullsh*t. But when you see the game in action, you quickly realize that it’s possibly one of the greatest collaboration ideas available in the gaming market. This unthinkable combo of hijinks sounds like a potential disaster but is actually the perfect storm. Any game that makes the rabbids loveable is quite a feat on its own. Whether or not you’re a fan of Mario, Rabbids, or tactical RPGs, this game is a stunning and simply awesome game to behold, and it has no business being as good as it is. But it’s here and it’s magnificent, and if you are currently a lucky owner of a Nintendo Switch, you have virtually no reason not to play it.
Posted in Reviews Tagged with: battle, kindom battle, kingdom, luigi, mario, mushroom kingdom, nintendo, nintendo switch, rabbid mario, rabbid peach, rabbid yoshi, rabbidluigi, rabbids, rayman, review, rpg, switch, ubisoft, ubisoft montreal, ubisoft paris, xcom