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Pokken Tournament Switch Review – Shifting to Switch

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios/The Pokemon Company

Publisher: The Pokemon Company

Platform: Switch

ESRB Rating: E10

Release Date: September 22nd, 2017

MRSP:$59.99

Thank you to Nintendo for providing the game for reviewing purposes.

Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon fighting game developed by the talent behind the Tekken series, originally made for Wii U and Arcades. Instead of just making a Tekken game with a roster entirely made up of Pokemon, the developers decided to go a different route by combining 2D and 3D gameplay. Pokken Tournament DX sports new content, and a few quality of life changes to make the experience much better, but how much better is it overall?

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Pokken Tournament featured a story mode that had the player go through many different leagues where they would face off against opponents to become the champion of Ferrum. However, a black Mewtwo is absorbing Synergy, a type of energy that the trainers use to power up their pokemon in the heat of battle. The player and the talkative announcer, Nia, must find a way to stop Shadow Mewtwo, so that the Ferrum League can continue to use synergy for its competitions.

The story mode returns for Pokken Tournament DX with some improvements; unfortunately enough, it manages to be very repetitive with very little character interaction. Nia is one of two characters that have a major presence in the story, and she can be quite annoying. Her English voice is dreadful, but even if you change the voice acting to Japanese, it doesn’t change the fact she doesn’t really offer much as a character, and is completely forgettable. On Wii U due to the small roster, the amount of Ferrum league battles the player has to go through only showed how much of a small roster the game has. There was very little variety, and due to that the story mode felt like a broken record. However, on Switch, this is less of a problem thanks to the five new Pokemon added to the roster bringing the total cast to 21 Pokemon to choose from. The story doesn’t change much, but at least there’s a bit more to it. The most important change is that you no longer need to beat story mode to unlock Shadow Mewtwo. So if you’re just looking to fight your friends and nothing more, story mode can be completely ignored.

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Pokken Tournament’s main feature is that doing a combo that results in major damage shifts the battles back and forth from 3D to 2D. The 3D sections play like an arena fighter where you start off from opposite ends of the field, with the goal shift to the 2D mode where it plays like a traditional fighter. An issue with the 2D gameplay is that the size of the field stays the same with the transition, so if a long range character is able to shift the field from far away, it has a major advantage and may be extremely difficult to get close. Thankfully not all hope is lost as you can pick a support pokemon set to cover some weaknesses your Pokemon may have, or even enhance their strengths. Pokken Tournament’s gameplay revolves around its rock, paper, scissor mechanics. Grabbing beats counter attacks, counter attacks beat attacks, and attacks beat grabs. This causes matches to revolve around mix ups, and mind games, which does reward players for being more defensive than offensive. Though combos are devastating, and flashy, so if you read your opponent correctly you are rewarded with high damage and synergy.

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Synergy goes toward your synergy burst gauge, which powers up your Pokemon when full and allows them to use a super move. Even cooler is when your Pokemon has the ability to Mega Evolve. It doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things since every Pokemon gets powered up, it just looks cool and adds to the thrill of the match. While the matches can be engaging, Pokken Tournament DX is not a game with a high level skill ceiling. Understanding the mechanics and learning combos requires little effort from the player, and this simplicity is a double edged sword. All combos only require the use of two, sometimes three buttons while holding a specific direction. This simplicity can make the gameplay itself feel repetitive, which is problematic for a fighting game. Anyone can be good at Pokken, which means the truly skilled players will be ones who can read their opponents, and mix up their combos. Pokken is still a fun game to play, but its simplicity may be a turnoff for players looking for more. Those who were turned off by the lack of variety in the roster will be pleased to see that the five new Pokemon all play differently, and are very fun. Decidueye has become a new favorite personally, and may even replace Gardevoir as my primary character. Increasing variety leads to a healthier metagame, and allows for more people to find something best suited for their play style.

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Local play has been greatly improved, as the game now runs at sixty frames per second on one console, unlike Wii U where you were required to use the gamepad as a second screen for one of the players, which halved the framerate. This change allows for tighter battles without the need for LAN play. Though, you can still use LAN and the new wireless mode if you so choose. A brand new feature that made me more engaged in my multiplayer matches was the new team battles. You and your opponent can choose up to three pokemon to use one at a time in battle, so if you’re losing because your opponent has the advantage, maybe your other two pokemon will excel at the matchup more, and backup your main. This makes it feel more like a Pokemon game as well since I’m building a team to cover my weaknesses. The only thing I would like to see is more options added, such as a way to change the time and how many support pokemon sets I can use. The possibilities of a team battle where you can choose from three support sets would make creating strategies fun by itself. This is the mode that I have had the most fun playing and I keep coming back for more.

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Pokken Tournament DX moves away from the anime style of the Pokemon series for a more realistic look for the Pokemon. None of the Pokemon designs are changed, but they have more realistic textures. For example; Suicune has realistic fur, and its crest actually looks like it’s made of crystal, something Suicune is associated with. Honestly I’d love for this art direction to be used in a future installment of the core RPG series, it just looks really good. Even the Arenas look great, with lots of Easter Eggs that hardcore Pokemon fans will enjoy. The improved resolution also makes the Pokemon models look sharp up close. However, the texture detail of your opponent looks very blurry, which got distracting sometimes when I was playing casually. The visual and sound effects are flashy and robust, giving that extra oomph to that devastating combo. Not to mention how amazing some of these special moves look, with Scizor’s looking especially awesome. The only area where the sound design falls flat is actually the soundtrack as whole. There really isn’t any tune that sticks out, and while that may not be a huge issue for a fighting game, it detracts from the atmosphere of the many arenas the game.

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Overall, Pokken Tournament is a fun fighting game that is perfect for casual play. While there is depth, and it can be a very competitive game, some players may find it too simple, and repetitive. The art direction is great, and the visual effects are a sight to behold. The new features are impressive and improve on some of Pokken’s biggest problems on Wii U. If some of these issues were what stopped you from playing it before, then this is the best way to play Pokken. Though if you owned Pokken on Wii U, paying sixty dollars again may be asking too much.

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METROID: SAMUS RETURNS Review – Samus in her Prime

Developer: Mercury Steam/Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: 3DS

ESRB Rating: E10

Release Date: September 15th, 2017

MRSP:$39.99

Thank you to Nintendo for providing the game for reviewing purposes.

Metroid: Samus Returns is the return of a classic Metroid adventure made from the ground up on 3DS hardware. Thanks to a plethora of new additions in content and gameplay, this is the true way to enjoy Samus Aran’s mission to eradicate the Metroid species, and bring peace to the galaxy.

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SONIC MANIA – NINTENDO SWITCH REVIEW and Knuckles

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Let’s cut to the chase, Sonic Mania is the true Sega Saturn sequel to Sonic 3 and Knuckles we never received. Made by big names in the Sonic fan community this game is a testament to why we love the hedgehog in the first place. Christian Whitehead definitely knows what he’s doing, and thanks to Head Canon, Tee Lopes, and PadogaWest Games, we have something that will be remembered just as fondly as the classics.

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The Nonary Games Review – Ambidex Edition

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Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB Rating: M
Platforms: PS4, PSVITA, PC
MRSP: $39.99

“The Nonary Games” is an excellent way to jump into the Zero Escape franchise as it contains the best version of “999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” and a good port of “Virtue’s Last Reward.” It’s thanks to the dedicated fans that the third Zero Escape entry was released, and that we received this excellent collection, all due to a renewed interest in development. This review is spoiler free and focused on the PC version.

The story of 999 takes place on a sinking ship where Zero, the main antagonist, kidnapped a group of nine people and is forcing them to play the Nonary game. The characters have watches locked to their arms with a number. The cast has to split into two groups, with the player having control of where the main character, Junpei, goes. The cast can only be in groups of three to five people and their watches have to result in a digital root matching a numbered door. After going through the numbered door there will be a puzzle room or two for the player to complete. Every puzzle room gives various hints towards future plot points, and alludes to Zero’s identity. It’s a wonderfully written story with laugh out loud dialogue and a genuine sense of mystery.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review – Deluxe Package

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Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E

Release Date: April 28, 2017

MRSP: $59.99

Mario Kart 8 was one of the first must have games on Wii U during the first half of the systems’ life cycle but there was always something missing that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe manages to fill with the revamped Battle Mode. Content additions weren’t the only focus of the game as Mario Kart Deluxe features native 1080p visuals at 60 frames per second for a sharper experience that feels good to play. From Joycons on their side to the preferred pro controller, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers one of the most diverse control schemes in any multiplayer game out there. This is, of course, on top of being one of the best racing game or party game experiences out there.
As always, the track design is outstanding and offers so many hidden details that add a sense of world building making the experience feel like a racing game set in the Mario World, rather than a racing game with Mario characters and some guests from other Nintendo franchises. Due to the appearance of Link, Isabelle, and the Inklings from Splatoon it almost feels like the game is trying to step away from the “Mario Kart” branding; but I doubt many would object if other characters manage to make their way into the franchise for the sake of variety.

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The original release contained thirty-six playable characters, but seven of those characters were the Koopalings and that made the roster feel padded out compared to other entries where characters such as Diddy Kong and Petey Piranha were playable. In Deluxe there are over forty-two playable characters (unless you count Bowser Junior as a Koopaling,) making the roster will feel much more varied. The addition of King Boo in particular was the favorable choice due to how different he looks compared to the rest of the cast.

 

Battle Mode is the biggest addition to the remaster. In the Balloon Battle mode, two to twelve players battle it out in arena to score the most points and achieve victory under the allotted time given. There are many returning modes such as “Shine Thief,” where players have to try to hold onto the shine sprite until the time runs out to achieve victory; “Coin Runners” where players collect and steal coins from each other to achieve victory; and “Bob-omb Blast,” where there are explosions everywhere. There is a brand new mode in the form of “Renegade Runners,” which is essentially cops and robbers with Piranha Plants. The cops send the opponents to jail and the opponents can try to break free until no one remains. This new mode was probably the highlight of this new battle mode due to the excitement that can be had with a group friends.

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All modes including the races can be played online with a very good experience. Every match tested was lag free and may just be one of the best online experiences Nintendo has ever created. Even with subtle changes such as allowing characters and kart changing between matches makes it a much smoother experience than the 2014 release. However, on the flip side, as a modern game it lacks various features such as voice chat and messaging making it too simple of an interface. This is a problem with the Nintendo Switch in general and, unfortunately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is bogged down by this.

For those that played Mario Kart 8 back in 2014, maybe this may not be a reason to pick up a Switch or once again pay full price for this product. The package feels much more complete, and will be a satisfying purchase for those that have not played Mario Kart 8 before.

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9.5/10

Pros:

+Beautiful visuals
+Great Track Design
+Frantic Battle mode
+A much more diverse character roster
+A control scheme for everyone

Cons:

-Online interface issues have not been addressed

Super Bomberman R Review – Having a Blast

Developer: Hexadrive/Konami

Publisher: Konami

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E10+

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

MRSP: $49.99

Bomberman is making his return to dedicated gaming devices with a brand new entry that promises classic puzzle-action gameplay. Did it deliver? This game was tested with all of the control schemes, including the pro controller.

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RESIDENT EVIL 7: BIOHAZARD REVIEW

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Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Platform: PlayStation 4/Xbox One

ESRB Rating: M

Release Date: January 24th, 2017

MRSP: $59.99

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is the latest entry in the long running survival horror series by Capcom. Recent entries have focused on action over horror and Resident Evil 7 was promised to be a return to the series roots. Did Capcom deliver a truly frightening experience? The game was tested on the base PS4 model, PS4Pro and PlayStation VR. This will be a spoiler free review.

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Take a Look at Seasons of Heavens, a Nintendo Switch Exclusive

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Gamesblog, a french publication has teased a brand new game titled Seasons of Heaven for the Nintendo Switch. Running on Unreal Engine 4 you take control of two characters and can switch between them… I get it! Check out this translated description.

“Nina and Ana are the children of the leader of a group of survivors. They learn to work in a new world, remembering every day that arrogance and omnipotence of Man were right … their planet. But her he passes before the end?

He tells … and this among other young Yann Asperger’s syndrome and his French bulldog Ani, Elise and Tim’s parents, James, Sarah, their son Thomas. Nico Augusto did you then visit the dark and Paradise.”

According to Laura Kate Dale, journalist at Let’s Play Video games, has said on twitter that the trailer is already finished and is ready to be shown off sometime in December.

Hopefully, it’s not too long from now.

Exile’s End PS4 Review

Developer:Magnetic Relams

Publisher:XSEED

Platforms:Wii U, PS4, Vita

Release Date:10/25/2016

Thank you XSEED for providing a review copy of this game.

Exile’s End is a Metroidvania developed by Magnetic Realms released on PC, Wii U, VITA and PS4. Does it capture the feeling of an exploration focused side scroller while being cinematic? Read to find out.

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Zelda Breath of the Wild Gameplay Show Case at VGA 2016

More impressive Zelda footage has been revealed at the Video Game Awards 2016. We see an look at an area not shown an the E3 2016 show floor.

This lush jungle looks dangerous, doesn’t it?

Check out the gameplay on Gamexplain’s channel!