Monday, November 25, 2013

Humble Mobile Bundle 3 is here

The third strictly Android bundle is here. Gamers can name their price for EPOCH, rymdkapsel, SpellTower, and Swordigo. Those who beat the average price will also get Ridiculous Fishing and Kingdom Rush in their bundle. The donation can be custom split between developers, Humble Bundle, and charity. This bundle is benefiting Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The bundle will be available for another 7 days and 21 hours, so be charitable and buy yourself some games.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nintendo Working on Android Tablet?

Rumor has it Nintendo is currently developing an Android tablet for the education market. Find out more in this video!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV (SMT IV) is an incredibly difficult JRPG following the vein of traditional, Atlus published RPGs. SMT IV isn’t going to be like the Persona games you’ve likely seen or played on PS2 or Vita. SMT IV is a jarringly difficult game that combines aspects of traditional RPGs and Pokemon-esque monster capture into a fluid RPG with a unique combat system and the demons fans of the series know and love. With an engrossing storyline that ranges from a feudal Japanese village to modern day Tokyo, SMT IV forces two starkly different cultures and themes together as the characters attempt to support their feudal lord’s wishes.

You follow the typically silent protagonist (yourself) as he ascends to the upper ranks of society—the samurai. Here, the samurai are meant to protect the castle, their lord, and the surrounding village from the usual fare: demons, angels, creatures, and monsters. Each samurai gets a personal guide in the form of a power gauntlet worn on the wrist—complete with an artificial intelligence. The gauntlet and AI serve as your menu in game, allowing you to save at a moment’s notice, adjust your party, use items, and the other usual features of a mainstream RPG. However, SMT IV is far from traditional or mainstream. The storyline, as is true of most SMT games, often pits you and your party against gangsters, demons, and even gods from various cultures and myths. At one point I was using Loki to destroy angels, while trying not to get demolished by ancient Chinese demons. Weird, but awesome.

The mixing of culture is my favorite aspect of SMT games. Since their inception in the late 1980’s Atlus has mixed cultures, myths, and creatures to create interactions that transcend cultural borders. Though, that still won’t help you navigate the mess that is modern-day Tokyo about 5 hours into the game. Despite having any number of legendary gods or demons on your team, you will find the game incredibly difficult. I mean tough. The absolutely insane learning curve forced me to put the game down more than once. Once you actually get to Tokyo, the game starts to scale back and you can actually start to grind, farm, and earn new equipment safely. Up until that point, though, you’re forced to constantly save and retry the more difficult mini-bosses, plot bosses, and even just some levels of the first dungeon. Part of the difficulty comes from SMT IV’s unique battle system, which has evolved since its first iteration in the “Press-Turn” system from SMT: Nocturne.

Generally, each party (you and your opponent's) gets one “turn” per party member. Your party is composed of yourself and your demons; each party member gets one turn which is consumed when that party member uses an ability. But it gets complicated once we get into type advantage and disadvantage. Similar to Pokemon, there are weaknesses and strengths that are intrinsic to each demon. The main types are: light, dark, fire, ice, wind, physical, projectile, and electricity. Each demon can have different strengths and weaknesses—for instance, your demon might take reduced damage from fire and double damage from ice and physical attacks. When you press that advantage or disadvantage you gain or lose turns. You gain an extra half-turn for hitting an enemy weakness and lose a full turn for having your own weakness hit. The Press-turn system makes combat incredibly dynamic and insanely difficult. Because you lose turns to disadvantageous attacks, you can end up in a situation where the enemy party gets the first move and gets the equivalent of three turns of damage before you even get your first turn. Did I mention that damage doesn’t scale until you reach Tokyo, five hours into the game? Yeah, if you misclick an attack or get the type advantage wrong you could be forced back to your most recent save. It’ll happen constantly in the beginning of the game.

Despite the mind-numbingly difficult early-game and learning curve (for non-SMT veterans), I found the game to be incredibly rewarding. The 3D dungeons are beautifully designed, the combat is difficult, but fast-paced and engaging, and the storyline gives the player the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to guide the game to a Chaotic, Neutral, or Good/Lawful end. Each ending offers different bosses, stories, and experiences—even including a “New Game +” function so that you can replay the game, while discovering new endings without giving up your favorite demons, weapons, or armor. Further, for fans of traditional RPGs or monster-capture games, SMT IV gives players the opportunity to assemble their favorite demons or deities and fuse them together to maintain a relevant, powerful party—in all of the SMT games I’ve played, I have never used the same party twice. If you’ve never played a Shin Megami Tensei game before, Shin Megami Tensei IV offers a fantastic entry into the series (genre, almost) with a crisp storyline and gameplay that rewards practice, understanding, and trial-by-fire. For $40 dollars, I would recommend buying a physical copy of the game or even shelling out the extra $10 for the collector’s edition which includes an art book/walkthrough and the OST.

Find Shin Megami Tensei IV on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2013-07-16
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can the PS4 Save the Vita?

It's no secret that Sony's PS Vita is still struggling. Sony attempted to spark interest recently with the release of a brand new, cheaper model, but they completely missed the mark. Not only has the screen quality decreased, but the outrageous memory card prices still stand as well. Now with the release of the PS4 Sony once again aim to increase Vita sales without actually making it a better system. The PS4 offers next-gen titles compatible with one of the more interesting features of the Vita: Remote Play. Similar to the functionality of the Wii U gamepad, Remote Play allows PS4 games to be streamed to and played on the Vita via a local wireless connection. Sony's hopes are that with more games featuring Remote Play capability, people will suddenly fall in love with the Vita exclusively for the thrill of playing Battlefield 4 on the toilet.

However this is a grass roots approach for Sony to take. Their motto has for a long time been "What Nintendo does, steal it and do it better," and for the most part they have been successful.  (Though this can be said for most of the industry, not just Sony.) But what happens when Nintendo, the industry trailblazers, fail in their own right? Well, Sony's ace in the hole is lost, that's what. Sony had hoped to fall back on the success of the Wii U with their introduction of Remote Play. The problem: nobody is buying a Wii U. The reasons for the failure of the Wii U are shared by the Vita. Both are too niche and too different. Both consoles took major risks and saw no return.

Although with the launch of the PS4 the Vita has one more trick up its sleeve that may rescue it from its current state. While I warn you this may be shocking, something this bold and daring is sure to have at least a small effect on Vita sales: games. Near the end of the PS3's lifespan, Sony introduced cross-platform games. These games included AAA titles such as Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale. The idea is that if you buy a game for your PS3 or PS4, you also get the game for the Vita. After all, one of the major issues with the Vita is still a lack of killer titles. Cross-platform games are by far Sony's best attempt to pull the Vita out of the shallow grave it has dug itself in two years time. Now that the PS4 has arrived, it is only a matter of time before massively hyped next-gen games receive the cross-platform treatment, making the Vita a much more appealing handheld in the eyes of many.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Project Triniate aims to be a 3DS browser MMO

There are a handful of handheld games, such as Pokemon and Monster Hunter that would arguably be greatly improved if turned into a portable MMO. Sure, the Vita has Phantasy Star Online 2 but that's yet leave Japan, and that still leaves 3DS owners without their MMO fix. 

3DSPlaza's Robdeprop is working to change things with Project Triniate, a 3DS MMO project that runs in the browser, which is no small task considering the lack of flash support. The game is in its very early stages. The player is confined to a single map decorated with a grassy landscape, river, volcano, a a single goblin. Menu and chat systems are in place, and gameplay currently consists of four directional movement, a run function, and two attacks. One seems to be a short-ranged melee attack while the other is some sort of long-range magical beam. The hit detection is also pretty rudimentary, so it's hard to make attacks connect. To top it off, frequent server errors disrupt gameplay. Project Trinate still has a long way to go, so it's unclear whether the game's current flaws will be rounded out, or if they're a result of the browser's limitations. Either way, it's interesting to see a developer even attempt such a lofty goal. 

A $1 donation will let you play the current build and help fund the game's development. This is a recurring bill that'll ask for another buck every half decade, so if you can spare a measly 20 cents a year, head on over to Triniate's official website to get on board. Those who donate can grant one other person access to the game. I'll use this privilege on the first to leave a comment with their 3DSPlaza username.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Get Dillon's Rolling Western, Metroid as Club Nintendo rewards

Last month's offerings were a little weak, with Touch Solitaire being solitaire, and The Legend of Zelda something 3DS Ambassadors already got for free, but the latest digital rewards more than make up for it. For 200 coins, Club Nintendo members can get their hands on Dillon's Rolling Western, a third-person action tower defense game. For 150 coins, Metroid is available. Again, something Ambassadors got for free, but those coins can instead be spent on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Wii virtual console. While not a handheld game, the upcoming release of it's direct sequel for the 3DS makes it relevant, and a great deal.