Friday, 16 February 2018

4/330 OK K.O.! Let's Play Heroes (Capybara Games) Completed

What a huge disappointment, I just can't get over Cappy made this game and it is just... kind of bad. I may have put my expectations a little too high for this title. How is it possible to not get excited about this though? Made by the fantastic Cappy Games, who are known for such classics as Sword and Sorcery EP and Clash of Heroes, and a game based on the OK K.O.! cartoon. Unfortunately, I was just completely disappointed.

The game looks and sounds the part with a really nice cartoon art style. All the voice actors from the TV series reprise their roles as their characters and the combat is actually pretty fun if a little basic. The only downside that the game tends to repeat itself far too much. Characters will ask you to do fetch quests that are pretty much the same thing. You only get to explore the bodega, although this is in keeping with the show, and well... It feels more like a mobile game than anything else.

The main problem really is that it is really boring and that sucks. How a game studio like Cappy, I played and still play Clash of Heroes on a regular basis and it is still fun, made this is just beyond me. I can only really guess that pressure from the publishers resulted in this because Cappy has never failed to deliver before.

Friday, 2 February 2018

2/323 Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (Media.Vision) Completed

This game genuinely surprised me. I got it on the basis that I wanted the other more involved Digimon game released here in the UK. That did happen, by the way, know as Digimon World: The Nexus Order over here but that game sits on my shelf still in its wrapping. Cyber Sleuth on the other hand now sits on my shelf all worn out and a shiny platinum trophy attached to it. It has been a while since a JRPG grabbed like Cyber Sleuth did and it all comes down to that levelling up system.

The game doesn't look particularly good, the story goes off on mad philosophical tangents about everything and anything it wants to and the music is mostly a jazz-synth soundtrack that is superb but that levelling up system is a work of art. Pokemon will always have the best levelling up system of any JRPG, because it all makes sense, but Cyber Sleuth allows you to level up multiple Digimon without putting in that much effort.

This all comes down to the farm system. There is a part of me that thinks the developer knew the fans of Digimon like very specific Digimon. Unlike Pokemon, Digimon can have the same Digimon turn into multiple different Digimon. This means you could be carrying that Angemon around for an age and still not get a Magnangemon. Hence the farm system, put your Digimon on the farm and have the game raise them for you while you are off saving the world. There are other detailing involving a level up tree and getting certain stats and something the game doesn't explain to you at all called ABI but once you wrap your head around the whole thing you will be raising Digimon like no one's business.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is a game worth investing in, it is the game that got me back into JRPGs, be it for the levelling up system, the insane story, that sweet soundtrack or all them lovely over the top Digimon.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

1/323 Dragon Age: Origins (Bioware) Completed

Oh boy, it took me a while, four playthroughs in fact, but I get it. I finally understand Dragon Age and its rabid fan base. It may have a horribly slow and horrendous start but by the end, you will be so invested in these characters that anything they do will be like emotional blackmail. Let's talk a little bit about those characters.

Morrigan, Alister, Sten, Zevran, Leliana, Shale and the rest of the crew are truly fantastic characters. Morrigan the swamp witch, voiced by the always delightful Claudia Black, is the sassy strong-willed one who sees the world as an awful place. Leliana is the upbeat always cheerful one who can only see the good in people. Shale the giant rock lady with a tragic past is the out of place one who wants to always step on birds and punch things until they are no more. Alister is the somewhat cowardice one who always comes through in the end. The rest I liked but didn't get to know all that well but each and everyone has something special about them. Be that they are smart or strong or loud or a dog, each character will grab you in some way and that is Dragon Age: Origins greatest strength.

See, you can make your fantasy world as different and special as you want. Put your elves underground and your dwarves in trees, it doesn't matter. But take those characters, make them special and flawed and tragic and whatever else, get the player invested in them and you get moments where they are screaming at their screen as one betrays you or is exiled or executed. Dragon Age: Origins can teach us that making friends and spending time with them, really getting to know them and getting invested in who they are can turn a cowardice knights exile into one of the most heartbreaking moments in video game history.

You can watch the whole thing unfold at the following link. Warning there are audio issues as this is from my early streams but they are improving.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Games in 2017

Hey guys! Wasn't it an awesome year for games in 2017? With all the awful stuff happening in the real world we had more than enough places to escape in the virtual space. I am just going to go into the top 3 since I am late to this whole party.

3.) Steamworld Dig 2

This is how you make a sequel to an already fantastic game. You do more of the same but add so much more. You make the traversal better by adding a grappling hook, you give the player an upgrade system that allows them to adapt their play style and you give them a world that is really worth exploring. Steamworld Dig 2 is better in every way and it is very much worth your time.

2.) Splatoon 2

If you told me I would be playing more Splatoon 2 than Destiny 2 this year I would slap you and call you a liar. Splatoon 2 seems to take over my life once a month for a week with its Splatfest events. Splatoon 2 has me engaged in a world that is both weird and wonderful and constantly asking for my attention. Splatoon 2 is what Destiny 2 wishes it was. A solid single player game, a solid online versus game and an absolutely addictive co-op experience with Salmon Run. It is also a game that has added content, balancing changes and updates every single week. The people behind Splatoon 2 love Spaltoon 2 and you can feel it with the amount of respect they show their community.

1.) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There was no competition this year for Game of the Year. Not one person would disagree with putting Breath of the Wild as their Game of the Year. Breath of the Wild has changed the gaming landscape like Ocarina of Time changed is some 20 years ago. For the next 10 years, games companies are going to try and capture what it was that made Breath of the Wild special. And what exactly made Breath of the Wild special? It respected the player and gave them the tools to play the game their way. It didn't care what you did as long as you were having fun or feeling like a badass or just exploring. It wants you as the player to look at every aspect of its crafted world in your time and have fun while doing so. Breath of the Wild is now the new benchmark for all games out there and I can't wait to see how someone will top it. 

TV in 2017

Netflix once again brought it's A game this year by starting the year off with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I feel like a lot of people forgot about this show as the year went on and that is rather unfair. Not only did it capture the bleak and yet somewhat funny lives of the Baudelaire children but it was almost a perfect adaptation of the first four books. The stuff they did add with the VFD was introduced later in the books but to keep an audience going it is better to play with it a bit more fast and loose.

We got our returning shows such as the excellent BoJack HorsemanUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and so many more great shows from Netflix. Also, Netflix started to show Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic and made a new season of the classic movie watching show. Can't wait for the new season in the new year. One show, however, stood out above the rest, let's talk about:

Big Mouth

Have you ever had the "Talk" with your parents? A situation where you have to talk about sex and puberty and all that lovely stuff that happens to you when you are becoming a teenager? No? Well, do you want to see a group of characters go through puberty and experience the absolute awkwardness and tragedy that is puberty all over again? Yes? Then let me introduce you to Big Mouth. A show about how god damn gross puberty is and how it is a wonder we all made it out alive.

It pulls zero punches with the characters talking openly about masturbation, the menstrual cycle and making out. All the characters by the way... Are kids. It is a cartoon so they can get away with it somehow and they are all voiced by adults but damn it is so funny and awkward to watch. Never has a show made me laugh so much as Big Mouth and I pray to the great dragon Bahamut that Netflix give it a second season so I can watch these characters grow up.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Music in 2017

It has been a very good year for music. I found the criminally underrated band that is Does It Offend You, Yeah? Ed Sheeran released a new album that was his most commercial yet, the radio just loves this guy... Radio stop, please, we all love Ed but just stop playing him all the time. I also got in touch with my punk side by discovering an absolute ton of Riot Grrl music this year. Before we talk about my top three albums of the year let give a shout out to some honourable mentions.

First up we have to discuss the greatest band of all time Sleigh Bells. While we didn't get a full release from them this year we did get the mini album Kid Kruschev. A rather more reserved offering from the band that brought you Infinity Guitars but pure bliss no matter what. The Midnight released a mini album as well, Nocturnal. More of the great synth music from one of the best synth-based bands out there right now. The track River of Darkness is the stand out for me. A collab with TimeCop1983 and it is stunning, to say the least.

Finally, I want to talk a little more about Does It Offend You, Yeah? They broke up back in 2015 but I have to give a lot of love to their two albums You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into and Don't Say We Didn't Warn You. This year has been a weird one for me but those two albums got me through so much. The pure noise that flowed from them helped me a lot this year and I want to give a lot of respect to both of them. Also so much love for Johnny Foreigner. All their albums need to be found and loved. Noise with purpose form each and every single one of them, check them out.

Also want to give some love to Carpenter Brut, Sleigh Bells, Fickle Friends, PARCS, Tricot, Slutface, Arcane Roots, Becky Hill and whoever else I saw live this year. All fantastic and helpful to me this year. Special shout out to Marmozets for their concert at Clwb-Ifor-Bach, words can't describe that concert.

Some stand out track from this year:

Kimbra - Everybody Knows
Pale Waves - Television Romance
The Regrettes - Hot
Now, Now - Shotgun Lover
Lights - Savage
The Front Bottoms - Vacation Town
Tokyo Machine - Spooky
Grant - Every single thing Grant has released this year has been flawless. The best thing about the Monstercat label right now and everyone should check him out.
Koven - Everything released by them.
Feint - Outbreak (feat Mylk)
Allie X - Cassanova (Accoustic)

So many more great tracks this year but we will be here forever if I have to list them.

How about 2017s top 3 albums?

3.) MisterWives - Connect the Dots

MisterWives released their sophomore album Connect the Dots within a few days of Paramore's 5th studio album After Laughter. Connect the Dots is what After Laughter wishes it was. An instrument driven album with a synth sound hinted at in the background. Connect the Dots mixes both effortlessly with the lead vocals of Mandy Lee just knocking it all of the proverbial ballparks. She just sings with such joy and love that you can't help but sing along. Each track is perfectly crafted with the stand out being Oh Love. A big band sound from each member and Mandy Lee once again just nailing it so effortlessly.

2.) Charly Bliss - Guppy

How do you start with this album? How do you really talk about that perfect Riot Grrl sound? How do you capture something that is both anger and purpose? I can't begin to describe how much of a perfect album Guppy is. It opens with Percolator and its build-up of guitar and drums with Eva Hendricks rough and absolutely adorable vocals. Guppy is brilliant in its sound and lyrics. Guppy is only 29 minutes long but god damn it does it make an impact on you.

1.) Slutface - Try Not To Freak Out

The moment I heard this album I knew it was my album of the year. There would be nothing that could top Slutface's Try Not To Freak Out. With tracks like Magazine that talks about the bullshit that fashion magazines place on a young woman and contain shoutable angry lyrics like: 

Patti Smith Would Never Put Up With This Shit

Sun Bleached is a perfectly angry breakup song and getting over it all. Slutface has crafted one of the greatest, an album that gets mad as hell and sounds wonderful while doing so. They are also absolutely stunning live, they blew my mind while I was pushing people in a moshpit. However, there is one track that just stands out for being completely different. Let's talk about Slumber.

Clocking in at 5:33 seconds it is the longest track on this 32-minute masterpiece. Have you ever listened to a song that captures you in a moment? Has a song grabbed you and held you and just broken you in ways you never thought you could feel? Slumber captured me at a moment in my life where I felt incredibly lonely. I hated my job, my friends were miles away and I hadn't seen my family in a long time. I kind of put that emotion into a lot of hate and went to a lot of concerts with moshpits, it helps to get stuff out when you can just push people around with zero consequence. Then, one day at work I am listening to Slutface's new album and Slumber starts playing and I broke down. It captured me in its lyrics of being young and watching movies at a sleepover, lyrics of friendship and love. The lyrics that are repeated throughout the whole song are:

Falling Asleep While We're Still Talking
Sleeping Bags Zipped Against the Cold

And then the lyrics that broke me and fixed me in the same instance:

Even as a Child I Know That I'll Never Have Friends Like These Again
Even as a Child I Knew I was Giddy with Companionship

Slumber isn't just a great track but one of the best songs ever written. Slutface, you are truly a lifesaver and a band that I will love and respect for the rest of my life. You have a lifelong fan here.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

40/360 Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (Game Freak) Completed

Pokemon Sapphire holds a special place in my cold dark heart. I have an illness known as Chronic Renal Failure, don't worry it is not a big deal, it means that my kidneys don't work like they should. When I was a young lad I had to go to the hospital and have surgery and while I was recovering in bed from said surgery my parents got me a Game Boy Advance and a copy of Pokemon Sapphire. For the rest of my stay in the hospital, I played the hell out of Pokemon. I don't think I finished the whole thing there and then since I have lots of memories of it being summertime and still playing Sapphire, I went into the hospital around Christmas time so you know I was dedicated to the Pokemon life. So, I hear you asking, why are you telling me all this? Well, disembodied reader voice in my head, I have told you this because I straight up hated Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.

It is not like the game isn't great because it is, but it does feel like it outstays it's welcome. A problem with a lot of JRPGs is that they rely a lot on its story and world. If you are not invested in that world then you are not going to have a good time. As people will most likely know, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire is a remake and because of that, I have already lived that Pokemon experience. I know the world and story and all the surprises. Now, this is a problem with me and me only, this is more of a personal critique than one of a true review but there is something that truly bothers me about Alpha Sapphire, its insistence on showing off how pretty it is.

Alpha Sapphire adores the fact that it is in 3D and really wants you to stop and look. It has certain camera angles set up to show you a specific object or a cutscene that will not let you skip the dialogue so it can show you this epic event. Look, stop me if I am wrong but is that what Pokemon is truly about? Has it been about the spectacle of the game or about the Pokemon themselves? To me it has always been about the Pokemon, they are the true spectacle of the game. How they grow into different forms and utilise insane abilities. Alpha Sapphire has this is droves by allowing you to see the Pokemon as 3D models but the game really wants you to pay attention to all these humans messing with the environment and I am just not interested in the slightest. Stop getting in the way of my Pokemon adventure stupid humans!

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire is a great game, I can't stress that enough, but it does just outstay its welcome a little too much. The cutscenes get in the way of the real game and at this point, the 6 gyms + the elite four formula is getting really old. Fortunately for me, this has all changed with Sun and Moon, I look forward to covering them at some point in the future.

Also, 1 down 9 to go.