Backlog Battle Report (20th Nov 2017)

I know it’s late and it’s not the 20th anymore, hush. Still counts for that day. Anyway, it’s been a long week (but overall a good one), and it significantly impacted the variety in my games played throughout. Let’s jump right in and you’ll see what I mean.

.hack//G.U.: Last Recode (Vol 1) (PS4)

Not too much progress on this front, but this remains one of my go to games of the past week when I want to wind down. I’m still not entirely sure why this game has drawn me in so much, but it’s comfortable enough to pick up chip away at a couple of dungeons or story events.

At the moment, the plot has me grinding Arena battles a little bit. Since I was mostly just going through the story missions where possible, I took this opportunity to have a breather and go grinding for a while. A few dungeons later and I should be good to proceed smoothly for a while to come.

Curious to see how the story of this will pan out, not just in this one game but in all four of them. Mostly, I’m just curious to see how they’ll handle the transition from volume 1 to volume 2, how much has changed and improved, and so on. That’ll be especially curious once I reach volume 4, since that’s completely new. How much will have changed given the 15 years of game design improvements in that time?

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)

After quite a bit of time and a half hour struggle while considerably underleveled, I finally managed to clear the stage that lets me unlock Anna, the last character. She’s delightful in personality, animations, and special attacks… buuut her basic moveset is completely identical to the other two Archers in the game. Once again, kind of disappointing how limited the game is in that front.

Nonetheless, not a day after I accomplished this, a free update dropped which included a new History Map. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s fairly barebones in terms of presentation. What it does do, however, is provide easy access to a bunch of materials that are hard to get for the time being. This is mostly because it involves the boss characters and extras that are future DLC but aren’t in the game yet, despite having their drops as requirements for some upgrades… well, at least they corrected their oversight.

Still a great comfort game, but sooner or later I’ll be putting it down until the DLC comes out since I’ve done much of what I wanted to do in the game. It really makes me hope for a localised port of Warriors Orochi 3 for the Switch however; I already own the game, sure, but having it on the Switch would be so much more comfortable to play.

Dragonball Xenoverse 2 (PS4)

This has been on my list to acquire for quite some time now, so I finally got around to doing so. Consider this something of a means of diffusing hype and anticipation for Dragonball FighterZ next year, even if this game is closer to an RPG than a pure fighting game.

There’s a hell of a lot of stuff to do in this game, and I’ve not had the chance to do much except scratch the surface so far. For those not familiar with it, it actually has a pretty good Create a Character system that lets you make your main character for the game from a number of DBZ races. You can then have this character train under most of the notable characters from the franchise, learn their special moves, and then tailor make them to suit you throughout the story.

I made myself a female Majin character because they looked the most interesting, and will probably make a fairly melee focused build. There’s a staggering amount of quests and content to go through, even if a lot of them are just advanced tutorials and things right now, but it certainly means I’ll struggle to be bored for a bit.

As noted above, Xenoverse is a bit more of an RPG than your average DBZ fighting game. Sure, it’s an action based system that does allow you to play skillfully and git gud, but you’re quite dependent on leveling and increasing stats appropriately as well as building up a good skillset. As such, it’s not likely to completely scratch the itch that only FighterZ can satisfy, but it’s still a very solid game.

I was going to pick this up on PC, but this is one of those games that feels more like I should be playing it on console. More than that though, a recent system added a pretty harsh anti-cheat system that effectively butchered the modding scene without doing much to the actual cheaters. I have no real interest in supporting such stuff even if I wasn’t likely to be modding myself, so on to the PS4 I go. But with that decision made comes the problem of my not playing much PS4 of late since my time is usually taken up the Switch. Ah well. I’ll find time!

Ittle Dew 2 (Switch)

I didn’t get the chance to play Golf Story much this week, since review requirements insisted that I play this one first. Ittle Dew 2 is very clearly inspired by classic 2D Zelda games, instantly evoking the feeling of A Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening from the very get go. You explore an interconnected world, find dungeons, solve puzzles and beat monsters in the dungeons and collect one of eight treasures needed.

All that said, Ittle Dew doesn’t take itself very seriously. It almost feels like it was designed for kids, what with the simple plot, silly jokes, and general lack of complexity in mechanics and systems. The moment I think that, however, I’ll run into a boss that ended up being really obnoxious to beat, or a handful of quite tricky puzzles that make me wonder if a kid would be able to beat them. It’s an odd feeling.

I’ll be giving this one a full review over on Switch Indie Reviews soon, so I’ll go into further details once that’s done. For the moment though, this is a game I wish I enjoyed more than I do. As it stands, I… kinda don’t. At all. So probably best to avoid. But again, more details and explanation coming soon.

Azure Striker GUNVOLT (Switch)

If Ittle Dew was a swing and a miss, this is much more of a hit. Two Azure Striker games and a selection of DLC were released on the 3DS over the last couple of years, so the Switch got an updated port that bundled it all together. It was developed by Inti Creates, who have more good Mega Man games under their belt than Capcom themselves at this point, and it certainly feels like a spiritual successor to the Zero and ZX series within that franchise.

To put it simply, Azure Striker Gunvolt is awesome fun. It’s a fast paced 2D sidescrolling platformer/action game much like the later Mega Man games I mentioned, but the main character replaces swords or copied boss abilities for lightning-based abilities.

The main idea is to use your fairly weak gun to “tag” enemies with low damage shots, then fire lightning that hits all tagged enemies and does more damage the more tags they’ve been hit by. This lightning field also takes out physical projectiles as well as slows your fall while active, so you have to juggle offence and defence with it.

To make matters more interesting, your lightning energy also provides passive protection from incoming damage, chipping away at your energy bar before your life bar. While that will keep you from dying, however, the Kudos system rewards you for playing well and not taking damage with increased scores and better gains at the end of a stage. As such, you really need to juggle everything and utilise your abilities well to not get hit, or else not take damage and score highly. And you’re still platforming and exploring through all of this!

It’s a game that strongly encourages replaying levels to get good at them and just improve your skills. I can see it being quite the speedrunning game, but it does have a fairly nice story attached to it too. It’s nothing too fancy, but it has heart and gives more weight to the action.

Inti Creates has done a good job of taking the concept of a Mega Man game and putting their own unique spin on it in both story and mechanics. Since I was such a big fan of the Mega Man Zero series, and since Capcom seems to be done with making new Mega Man games anymore, I’m genuinely shocked I didn’t play this sooner. It’s sating a craving for this kind of gameplay I didn’t even realize I was hungry for. So far this is a very worthy successor of that franchise.

Unlike some wasted Kickstarter projects in that vein I could think of…

Heroes of the Storm (PC)

I spent a lot more time than normal this week playing Heroes, which is what much of the variety that usually fills this lists was devoured by. There’s been no particular reason or goal in mind unlike my usual bouts of brief activity with the game; I’ve just wanted to play Heroes, so I have.

With all that said, Alexstrasza was released a week ago so there’s been an influx of supports in the games of late. I haven’t played her as, once again, I’ve been a bit lazy about accumulating the coins required so I’ll get to her when the price drops. More to the point, I’ve been playing with a friend who has started playing almost exclusively as her and is quite good at them, so I don’t really feel the need to worry about it.

Opinions seem to be divided as to how good she is. I’ve found very few situations where I didn’t welcome having them around, though. She’s got a lot of sustain, seems to persist in teamfights quite well, and can provide decent damage and utility. Things are definitely skewed towards her Cleansing Flames heroic, since it removes her as targetable for a while and can be used as a “get out of fail free” card while providing versatile damage and healing. The burst healing ult alternative can be good with a decent tank, but unless you’re teaming up with a Cho’Gall then I rarely see a world in which you would use it by contrast.

There’s also some people calling into question her talent diversity, since it seems best to always use her E build and still not feel lacking in the healing department. My Alexstrasza playing friend seems to disagree, but again, no real input of my own there. All I will say is that she’s interesting to have around in the mix, and certainly not as annoying as some of the other characters we’ve had of late.

Of course, we do have Hanzo as the next release, so that status is very much up in the air. I genuinely believe he’ll be a lot better and more fitting in Heroes than in Overwatch, but we’ll see how that plays out. Nonetheless, I’m just continuing my gameplay of it quite a bit, trying to level up a handful of characters to 15. Nazeebo just reached it and Thrall isn’t far behind. I’d want to make Garrosh my next project after that (he’s 10 currently), but I think I’d be hated out of the community forever if I tried…

Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)

One thing I really need to get for my Switch is a carry case so that I can actually take it places without being afraid of damaging the precious thing. Until that time, my 3DS still regularly finds itself in my pocket or bag when I’m not at home, so Fire Emblem is still being played here and there.

Not much to comment further than I’ve done the last couple of weeks, honestly. Still in the first act of the story, one chapter away from the time skip. I’m not going out of my way to maximise or build up the second generation characters in particular ways and more just playing matchmaker with characters that haven’t been paired off before, mind. I know at least one reader who will be annoyed by that, but let it be known that there’s still some consideration for classes and skill inheritances, I promise.

That said, it’s finally found its way out of my 3DS for the foreseeable future. Why?

Pokemon Ultra Sun (3DS)

I’m glad you asked!

So there was a lot of confusion as to what this game was actually going to be in the lead up to its release, and I only knew for sure something like two days before it was in my hands. Obviously they were updated Sun and Moon games, but were they updated base versions in the vein of ye olde Yellor or Crystal Pokemon games? Or were they full sequels and follow-ups like Black 2/White 2 were?

If you’re still unsure, here’s the definitive answer: they are updated base versions. I repeat, they are updated versions of the base Sun and Moon games with the same overall story but new tweaks, additions, and improvements.

That alone might dissuade some people, but it absolutely shouldn’t. I had a lot of fun with the original Sun, and while still being clearly meant for all ages as Pokemon will inevitably be, it had a lot of improvements for the series as a whole in terms of characters, story, and general scope. You could boil it down to proceeding through a region and beating the Elite 4 as always, sure, but the way you went about it was new and inspired. Moreover, the villainous Team this time around had interesting stories and developments.

As such, Ultra Sun is already standing on the shoulder of a giant, but it’s clearly done its best to improve itself dramatically. From the outset there’s a new enemy faction that weaves in and out of the main story alongside the others. The general Island Trials are tweaked and made more challenging. The Pokemon variety is broader and has so far given me very different options for party members from the original run through. There’s significant additions to the post-game and extra features as well, though I’m still in early days and haven’t reached those yet so I cannot comment.

Most importantly, this just feels like the most complete and feature packed Pokemon game to date. It might not beat the best of the best for personal preference — I’ll still always look to Heart Gold as my favourite, I’d wager — but it’s definitely not a cheap grab at reselling the same game.

Moreover, it feels like the swan song for Pokemon games on handheld devices. There’s already been confirmation that the next mainline Pokemon title will be on the Switch rather than 3DS or any successor handheld title; not surprising, given the Switch fits firmly in both console and handheld categories. It’s been a good run, but this’ll be the last Pokemon on a DS title for the foreseeable future. Game Freak has done their utmost to make sure it goes out with a bang though, and I’m glad to be playing it.

As to my playthrough, I set the goal of trying to only use Pokemon that I didn’t use much in Sun, as well as minimising stuff I routinely use in other gens. With the sole exception of Alolan Vulpix, which I will always make room in my party for, I’ll be trying to keep everything fresh. I started with Litten this time around, as the original Sun saw me choosing Rowlett, and I haven’t traded anything over. We’ll see how my team ends up by the end of it.

And that’s my week in a nutshell: more Heroes and Pokemon than anything else, even though I was meaning to go back and put some time into Divinity and Battle Chasers. Maybe in the coming days?

In addition, my review of Sparkle 2 EVO is live on Switch Indie Reviews, so check that out if you’re so inclined. More will hopefully follow for that website, this blog, and maybe even another website if my interviews pan out well. I’ve still got a lot of drafts and not a lot of finished material, so I’m hoping to just open the floodgates and dump everything online fairly shortly. Please look forward to it!


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