"Kweee..." —Kikwi Elder
It's here! In light of Zelda's 35th anniversary (which makes it only 3 years older than myself) Nintendo decided to remaster one of the most decisive Zelda titles to-date: Skyward Sword. Does it hold up? How about those new 'button-only' controls? Are the JoyCons' motion of greater or equal value than that of the Wii-Motion+? Stay tuned to find out on the next Dragon Ball—wait, what was I doing again?
1. PUSHES ALL THE BUTTONS
Let's get the decisive bits out of the way; rip off that Band-Aid called "controls." The original Skyward Sword (SS) had fans in a pickle; you either loved SS or you hated it. Why? The motion-controls of course! Being the stand alone title and built from the ground up for the Nintendo Wii, you bet your tunic-wearing ass it was all about swinging your sword with the Wii-mote and protecting yourself with the Nun-chuck. It all comes down your taste; do you like motion controls or not? Regardless of the new Motion+ attachment or not, some people just did not fancy the, at the time, new way to play their favorite franchise.
Now we fast forward 10 whole years and the Big N has decided to take a chance and bring out the precursor to Breath of the Wild—a bold choice indeed, but a great one. This time, the developers give players a new 'buttons-only' play-style option which means no motion controls at all if you so desire. I have to admit, it was hard to get used to at first with the R-stick acting like your sword and all it's swinging directions, not to mention some of the button combos that were necessary to do the basics that a little wrist swing would take care of. But with all of those slight clunky issues, it works! and I love it. It's the new and best way to play this classic title. Of course, the JoyCons feel just as good, if not better, than the Wii-motion+ attachment from back in the day if you so choose to go the nostalgia route. Choose your potion!
2. SOUNDS OF HEAVEN
I'm an audio guy, I likes ear-gasms—what can I say? Any game that has incredible audio, or in this case music, I'm all over it like a fly on honey. This has the best soundtrack of any other in the series. I know that is a very bold statement, but let me explain... It's true. The power of emotion if very much activated in Skyward Sword HD (SSHD). There are three tracks in particular that are so moving, create wonderful sense of atmosphere, and are composed so well, that you cannot help but think this is a Hollywood production at times, "Gate of Time" and "Romance in the Air" are definite proof. Feel these tracks, don't just listen...
3. BEST IN-CLASS STORY
This. This is the reason SSHD (and the original SS for that matter) have buried such a strong loyalty in my catalog of favorite Zelda titles—the story is unparalleled. Gamers will be receive three major revelations over the course of their incredible journey; which tell all. All will be explained as the timeline solidifies SS as the first in it's entry. That's right... This game is the very first in the order of things and you will see why. I cannot bring myself to spoil such awesome insights that SS and SSHD bestow upon any major fan of the series' lore.
4. IT BUILDS CHARACTER(S)
Of course, a story is only as good as it's characters and this title has no shortage of quality. The quantity however, leaves something to be desired as there aren't that many residents of Skyloft or any other rocks amongst the clouds. I wish I could say that all are strong, memorable characters, but "my calculations show that only 75% are of sufficient worth," (sorry, that was my inner Fi speaking). It's true however, not many characters exist in this game and quite a few of them can kind of go in the 'discount user bin.' But that only equates for one-fourth of the cast, what about the other three quarters you ask? My God, they are anything but dull. Link, Fi, Zelda, Grannie, Impa, Groose, Girahim, and of course... Demise; these are the 'crème de la crème.' Their models, textures, and facial animations (of the humans that is) sell the very tense emotional moments, sense of urgency, determination, and even playful banter amongst each other that just isn't found in any other Zelda title before it's time. More to follow in 'No. 5.'
5. FANTASTIC FACIAL ANIMATION
We have arrived at one of the greatest moments in Zelda's history; pure emotion on the faces of every NPC, and our brave "Hero of the Skies." No other Zelda game has facial animations like this, not even Breath of the Wild! That's right, you heard me—come fight me bro. With a mere twitch of his brow, Link has more pure emotion in his face than I have ever seen in this series. Props to the animators who took the time to perfectly sculpt every ounce of emotion they could out of every character in this game. But Link, man, whoever worked on his face—give them an major raise. Link has never felt more human in all of his adventures. He has personality, a variety of emotional states, and feels more alive than ever.
6. NEVER LOOKED BETTER
One cannot simply talk about an HD remaster without stating the obvious about it's looks. This game looks incredible in HD and is a pleasure to view it's bright colors, exuberant atmosphere, and crisp, smooth textures. One can really appreciate all the thought and love the developers put into the visuals to give this game it's due justice for both current and next generation of fans alike.
7. CONTAINED ADVENTURE
Exploration... It's what makes Zelda a Zelda game, right? Of course. While there is some exploration in SS and SSHD, it's still quite minimal compared to that of almost every other 3D title. One major complaint about SS is how contained in feels, like there isn't much going on anywhere, and they're right. Other than Skyloft, there aren't really any other settlements or sky villages out there—albeit an erection here and there housing a not more than a single individual save for The Lumpy Pumpkin. Skyloft is as big as it gets in terms of village exploration for the most part, and the surface (the world below, A.K.A. Hyrule) is far more linear than ever before. There is no real central hub world below but more of a sectioned off set of areas, three to be exact, each of which are just as linear as the last. Instead of exploration, the developers chose more of a dungeon feel for each section of Hyrule. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.
Need I say more?
9. THE START OF A NEW RPG ERA
Love Breath of the Wild? Well, you can thank SS for pushing the series in that direction. Me personally, I love the amount of RPG elements introduced into SS and SSHD so much that I never felt the need for more. That being said, SSHD introduces the concept of enhancements and forging stronger versions of various items and shields—which are breakable (say for a one.) Introducing such concepts just fits so well with the current Zelda formula that it just felt like a bonus to have the ability to fix your shield, improve it's defense, and then upgrade your slingshot, bomb bag, or other various doohickeys that Link picks up along the way. Using bugs, foliage and monster parts, your set of mediocre consumables just became a hell of a lot more efficient. This also goes for potions too! Want the red potion to restore even more hearts, or green to give you longer lasting stamina? (That's right stamina was introduced in SS too.) Go to the potion maker's husband and infuse those mofo's with some bug juice--blegh!
10. THE UNRIVALED BADASS FINAL BOSS
I cannot understate this; Demise is the most badass boss battle in the history of the franchise. Period. The root of all evil and hatred in mankind for eons to come? Yes, please. The downright reason that our green-brooded hero and blonde princess have to constantly fight for the light of Hyrule to remain from generation to generation? Double yes! A creature so evil, it wields the very antithesis of the Master Sword? Holy-fucking-shit, yes! Demise is the coolest, most badass boss to-date and will remain a tough contender to match for as long as there exists our princess, and her hero.
Skyward Sword HD is a wonderful remaster of such an iconic, albeit divisive Zelda game. Fans' previous "love it or hate it" response to the original has given the re-release's reception a bittersweet taste for many. My hope is that this remaster, given a crisp face lift and proper button controls, will tempt them once more to indulge in the very sweetness this game's story, character development, animations, and gameplay have to offer. Maybe, just maybe, those previously deemed as "hate its"... Have developed a new palette.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD undeniably deserves an...
"Ethan, no." ―Chris Redfield
It's been quite some time since we were dining upon a splendid assortment of innards at the wonderfully decorated Baker Estate with our bayou buddies! But alas! here we are again, in yet another village; one of a familiar feel, but this time much chillier. Off in the distance lies a gorgeous piece of gothic architecture, with all its intricacies, erect and curvy—oh, and a castle, there is also a castle. There is no shortage of memes depicting the gorgeous architecture in many forms and we're going to "D"ive right in.
1. ETHAN NO, BAD ETHAN.
It should come to no surprise that dialogue and voice talent aren't really a strong suit of previous RE titles, but man, Ethan takes the cake. The dude fell out of the 'dad joke' tree and missed every branch. It's a shame too, because most everyone else performs well in their roles (I'll get into Heisenberg later.) From his lame deliveries, to his underwhelming, non-existent quips, he just doesn't feel like his 'heart is into it.'
On the flip side of the 'rusty coin' is Karl H. That's right, Karl...Kaaarrl. Mr. Heisenberg is a great looking character but when he first opens his mouth—sounds like discount Nicolas Cage; not what was expected. Maybe that's a good thing and I'm just too cliche about raspy-voiced dudes.
Finally, I cannot mention the dialogue writing without slight. Chris' second sentence to Ethan in the game is literally like talking to a bad dog who made on the carpet floor; "Ethan, no." Bad Ethan, we do that outside!
2. STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE...
What do you get if RE4, RE7, and Bloodborne have a baby? While it sounds like I might be upset about this comparison, nothing could be more far from the truth; I love this aesthetic. Gothic European horror filled with castles and a creepy village are the perfect setting for a Resident Evil game. This game, just like the last entry, is beautiful—even more so. From the elegant golden halls of Castle Dimitriscu, to the hair on the big bad wolfies, you can't help but take it all in like The Duke's cooking. Did you know that there are more polygons in Lady Ds hindquarters than in the entirety of Resident Evil on PS1?! Neither did I. The immaculate detail in the world is wonderful, the textures pop and seems to have weight. All of the character models are wonderful, even though Rose is kind of a potato baby, she's cute in her own way.
Where I am on the fence, is the whole Lycan thing. I think it works... But I am still on the fence as to it feeling like a Resident Evil game since they also included vampire ladies. I've made up my mind—count this all as a plus for taking a new approach to the monsters of the franchise. It was risky, but I think it works.
The gameplay is a Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V of RE7 ramped up thanks to the newly appreciated (and much needed) running speed—seems Ethan has been doing some cardio—which won't really matter in the end. Hint: he get's the Mortal Kombat treatment from Mother Miranda.
3. TAKING A DUKE
While he is not as memorable and affordable as RE4's Merchant, The Duke brings a sincere warmth to a rather cold tale. This roughly 600-lb (I'm guessing) sex machine of a man—along with a magical carriage that can carry his stature—has a decent variation of overpriced wares. And when I say overpriced, I mean damn, over-fucking-priced. This dude clearly likes his coin and breaks no sweat paying a good amount for treasure either. At first you think you are taking the dude and all his coin until the moment comes when you realize you need upgrades; it is you who will be taken.
4. JUST 'IN CASE'
Love it or hate it, it's back! RE4s attache has made a return. Personally, I find this a plus as I preferred the RE method fo limiting space, but it doesn't really feel limiting. You gain the expansions super quickly and never have to worry about what you are picking up thus defeating the purpose of this brand of inventory system. The expansions are huge and even the beginning case is quite massive; probably as big as the second expansion in RE4 (perhaps bigger.) There is no justified reason in reusing this case system if you aren't going to force the player into inventory management in order to survive. Might as well not even worry about having this brand of inventory system.
5. A DINNER DATE FOR... 4 PLEASE.
We've all seen the trailers, the memes... Lady D and her 'Gorgeous 3' as I like to call them. This was the main selling point of the game, sexy vampire ladies that want a piece of your man-meat. No not that, well... Maybe? Here is the problem I have with the Dimitriscu ladies: they are not scary in any shape or form. That's not true, Lady D's final form is quite grotesque but that fight is in broad daylight! Since when did a horror game 'feel' horrifying in broad daylight? I'm trying to remember but come up short—unlike Lady D of who is 9 freaking feet tall. I found myself not worried when I ran into any 'creatures' of the castle for they were just as excited to see me as I them; coupled with their 'sounds' made when sucking my man-blood; it doesn't make a great case to worry about being caught, or wanting to be. Overall, this game is not scary, just ask the thirsty internet.
6. ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS
I may be the only one who thinks this, but the map of the village portion of the game is quite unreliable for a couple of reasons: 1) Roads are blocked off that appear unobstructed and 2) A window or hole in wall that connects West Village to East Village is no where marked on the map such as most doors and windows. Combine these two elements with locked doors, fence gates that never open, and piles of junk in the corners, and you can find yourself going nuts trying to figure out where the hell you are to proceed (more on that topic in no. 6.) On a more positive note, the art looks beautiful and stylized in a European fashion which really keeps the immersion alive.
7. LOCKED, LOCKED, OPEN
If you have played this game you have most likely said these three words to yourself: locked, locked, again locked, open! Any RE fan will tell you that this is normal, but not like this. Exploration in this game feels snuffed. I dare say, that this title is the most linear of the main series (I said main, so that doesn't include the on-rails shooter. Umbrella Chronicles.) Normally, you make some wrong turns, remember key elements and backtrack, Metroidvania style, to an area with a new crank, key, or herbicide—not here. Other than the factory of Mr. Heisenberg, the rest of the game leads you with little breadcrumbs from one area to the next. Don't get me wrong, they're tasty breadcrumbs, but breadcrumbs nonetheless. I'd rather find the loaf myself.
8. I PLAY FOR THE PLOT
Finally, the story, it's actually not that bad. I've never felt connected to a characters motive more than I have in Village. Perhaps it's just because I am a newly first time father who understands the desire to protect your baby girl at all costs, but I understood Ethan's goals and the connection was immediate. I have never been more disturbed in my life from a video game, yes you heard that right, the non-scary game has its moments of 'true' horror. I am of course talking about House Beneviento, the puppet lady. In her basement... It's there. It's loud, it's sad, it breaks your heart, and it's horrifying. What have I become? The answer is a dad, any dad will find that depressing basement chilling, and rank with melancholic repulsion.
In the end, it really does take a village to raise a child—or reassemble her corpse for that matter. The game isn't perfect but it's fun, reeks of damp, dark atmosphere, and has quite the replay-ability. Sure it's not the best in the series, but it certainly is nowhere near the worst (cough—RE6—cough.) S-sorry, I got to do something about that cough; must've been spending too much time in the Dimitriscu dungeon. I'd definitely give this game a try but be warned, it sort of feels like it's slipping back into an action title, hopefully it does not take a village of developers to realize that they need not repeat mistakes of the past (cough—RE6—cough.) Damn! this cold.
Resident Evil Village shall receive...
"Boy." ― Kratos
Hello again my dear old friend, how have you been, good? Been a long time. You still killing Gods in a murderous rage? Oh, looks like you have a beard now, that's cool? Still looking fit for your old age. Good to see you Kratos, looking healthy and uh happyish? Wait, whats that thing next to you? Your SON!
Yes, Kratos is back and he has a new family. The war God seems to have gotten sick of his home and headed very north towards the snow and Norse mythology. And WHAT A BADASS CHOICE THAT WAS! This game is beyond fantastic and we shall dig in to the nitty gritty and find out why.
1. GOOD GOD, THE GRAPHICS
Not sure I need to say more, just look at Kratos' skin! You can see the bumps and pores; the hair as well, every strand. The world is beautiful and feels just as cold as it looks. Also, I would like to be one of the first to say, that Kratos' hands are some of the best video game hands in the history of video games. Oh, and the eyes.. they actually have soul. He feels like a real person.
2. GOOD GOD, THE GAMEPLAY
But any hardcore gamer will tell you the most important part of any game is the gameplay-- DUH! So how does GOW4 play? Swimmingly.. it's the best GOW in all aspects. The game has definitely received a major overhaul as this game plays much different yet the same as other titles that came before. Different as in more open exploration and choices of side-quests; yet the same as in amazing combat that you would come to expect. Basically, think Zelda meets GOW; the game has a central Hyrulian Field if you will, in which many routes can be taken, yet only so far until you have a said item/power.
3. GOOD GOD, THE COMBAT
Bro, this combat is out of this world. Just as brutal, testosterone filled and rage inducing as it used to be. This game will pump you up when you play it. Never has one felt so powerful as when Baldur comes and fights you in such a cinematic way that only Goku and Superman could understand. Flinging enemies, being flung, calling back your axe like Thor himself.. well with his hammer. The solidarity and fluidity of pulling off combos is absolutely riveting, addicting and feels so goddamn good.
4. GOOD GOD, THE CHARACTER DESIGNS
It's no surprise that this game has wonderfully designed characters. Whether your a fan fo the old products or a first timer, you can instantly appreciate what you see here when you boot up the disk. Kratos, looks like a fucking viking with greek roots still showing (e.g. his hilt for the axe, or the threads on his kilt thing.)
The enemies are amazingly detailed versions of dead soldiers, aesir and of course-- giant mother fuckers. It wouldn't be a GOW game without giant monsters and trust me you see/kill many.
5. GOOD GOD, THE STORYTELLING
Whether you're a fan of Norse mythology or not, (why the hell wouldn't you be?) you can appreciate this Father Son bonding story. There is something in this story for everyone, monsters, Gods, theology and most importantly, family. Family is a big part of the entire lore of the game and in fact, is the reason for going out on this journey to begin with.
Where it all comes together though, is the end. My God, once you get to the end many things come to light that make sense and in your head you realize "Holy shit, I can't believe I didn't catch on to this before, they were hinting at this the whole time."
6. GOOD GOD, THE FACIAL ANIMATION
In this day in age, great character performances are born from the actors within the mocap suits. Capturing facial animations has never been more accessible to game developers and used to be a big pain the ass to do purely by hand (and never really looked as good either.) The face capture in this game is top-fucking-notch. Never, and I mean NEVER, have I seen so much emotional turmoil behind the eyes of a video game character than in this game. Just look at it!
7. GOOD GOD, THE SNOW PHYSICS
Okay, seriously you know a game is amazing when you look at your feet and go, "Wow.." And this is exactly was this game does. From the very first Baldur fight you notice something that no other game has ever done--snow displacement. The deep snow in this game is remarkable as it acts and looks like real snow. When you walk, the prints stay, when you roll, a deep Krater (hehe) appears. It's the little things that matter too.
8. GOOD GOD, THE LORE
Okay, I'll be the first to admit.. I didn't know much about Norse mythology as a whole other than what I have seen from the Marvel movies (which I don't like but that's another topic.) Other than Vikings and Thor, I thought I knew enough. Not the case my friends. Whilst playing this game I realized that I needed to look up some references to truly engage in the games lore; and let me tell you.. they did a helluva job incorporating God of War lore into the mythology of the north-- so much in fact, I couldn't believe the final reveals seen in the murals of Jötenheim.
9. GOOD GOD, THE SIDE QUESTS
There is a common problem that certain gaming companies *cough*Ubisoft*cough*.. s-sorry about that, I must've caught a cold from playing in this realistic wonderful wintery wonderland of wonderment. As I was saying there is a problem that certain gaming companies and their games suffer from and that is too much filler bull shit side quests that don't matter to the story, character progression and overall growth of the game.
Alas, I say not this game. Every side quest has meaning, depth and adds to all three attributes mentioned above. AND they have just the right amount of 'em.. not too many, not too little, just right.
10. GOOD GOD, THE LEVEL UP SYSTEM
This one I have a love hate relationship. It's great for armor and weapons as you can visually see your character becoming more badass and brutal. However, using your XP to unlock new moves becomes a bit redundant. Here's what I mean:
Level Up 1: New Move (I'm 100% on board.)
Level Up 2: Same Move + Finish Attack (Why wasn't this included with the original move?)
Level Up 3: Move is Stronger (I mean, I guess that's okay.)
Level Up 4: Move is Even Stronger (Okay, now you just ran out of ideas.)
As you can see they seemed to have run out of ideas for XP level progression which begs to reason why even have it to begin with? I ended up having so much near the end of the game I could've bought all the moves and their "upgrades" twice.
11. GOOD GOD, THE LEVEL DESIGN
A game is only as good as its world in which the characters inhabit. You could have the ultimate badass looking character and a shit world to play in.. and that's no fun at all. GOW has both pluses and minuses to this, (do not worry, it's more pluses than minuses.)
The world is beautiful, no doubt. Every detail has been accounted for in the texturing, lighting, etc. A great game will have you staring at a fucking rock or foliage for a good minute before you realize its time to actually play the game. The World Tree is a wonderful experience as a hub portal area that never gets old to look at. Transporting between realms is a real treat after you've had the moment to suck in all the current one has to offer.
The issue is this, I can't remember where to go. I needed to keep opening up the map as I was getting lost in all the same looking valleys, canyons and mountains regions. Don't agree? That's fine, but take this example into account before you judge me. From Software's Bloodborne has one of the best connected worlds of ALL games. Every area is intricate and unique. I found myself easily remembering where to go in most areas; GOW not so much.
11. GOOD GOD, THE SECRET ENDING
That's all I have to say.
Spread the ashes.
Then go home.
Overall this game is GODDAMN fantastic! Everyone should have the joy of experiencing all this title has to offer. I'm going to say this now.. GOW is currently my GOTY. And that's a huge statement considering it's going up against Monster Hunter World, one of my top ten favorite listed games.
God of War absolutely gets..
"Fear...radiates from you. It's beautiful, but not yet finished." -- Stefano Valentini
Ah horror -- the genre of sadistic heathenism, or so my mom's says. This brutally wonderful art form contains many forms of intricacy, cliches and excitement-- all the pleasures a horror game fan can muster-- say for one. Tango game works is at it again with sir Sebastian Castellanos dealing with the bull shit of the Umbrellic corporation of Mobius. This time to save his daughter? Yes, turns out Sir Sab is a family man.
Let's dive into the uh, Animus thing and get to the good stuff.
NUMERO UNO: MORE OF THE SAME
Not much is different this time around other than Sab ain't in the animus thing in the beginning. Controls are nigh different and thus feels like the 1st-- which was like RE4, which was great... yea.
NUMERO DOS: AWESOME FIRST PROTAGONIST
A strength and weakness of the Resident Evil-esque franchise is a great first baddie and then the rest fall short or don't seem as interesting. That happens only once here. The 1st great, the 2nd blegh , and the 3rd is quite awesome.
NUMERO TRES: ARTSY FARTSY
Being the first boss is considered an arteest of evil...within, it's no reason this game is artistically beautiful. From the environment to the actual art sculptures of a madman, this game truly answers the age old b.s. question: are video games art?
NUMERO QUATRO: THRILL OF THE CHASE
The AI in this game are some of the best in the genre. My heart beat ran fast when I finally realized that these zombified asshats look left, right, then left , then behind them in a quicker manner than most slower walking zombies. And they're only slow when they don't notice you...when they do HAUL ASS.
NUMERO CINCO: SOUND DESIGN
When it comes to horror you got one option, make the sound fucking amazing or else we are not going to be scared. You ever mute a horror movie? Not so scary is it? I cannot stress this point enough and in all honesty, this game doesn't do too bad a job with its sound design. From the cackling laugh of the chainsaw wielding bitch, to the masked firemen who do the opposite of their job descriptions, this sound design adds rather than detracts.
NUMERO SEIS: ENEMY DESIGN
If there's one thing these fuckers no how to do, it's make badass looking enemies. This time around, it's hit-and-miss. All the generic zombies are well-- generic, but where this game shines is in its bosses both mini and regular. The harbingers are a site for nightmares, same with the cackling psycho saw-wielding three-headed lady. But the best is always, the big baddies and they are just what you'd expect from the RE franchise.
NUMERO SIETE: SNEAKY SNEAKY GAMEPLAY
This my friends is a huge plus for stealth enthusiasts such as myself. NO, this is not a stealth game so calm down all you lock-and-load Micheal Bay wanna-be action heroes. However, I do take some sadistic comfort in realizing that you Rambunctious Rambos are going to be having a helluva lot more difficult time managing your bullet bath justice habit as I lurk in the shadows twirling my moustache.
NUMERO OCHO: THAT FRENCH WORD... CLICHE
Anyone can tell you that if you have a conversation with me about the horror genre, I can be a little jaded; desensitized. Not really my fault, I like horror and horror doesn't change the formula, yet I like horror for its structure-- tis a double edged blade. Still that doesn't mean I won't be the first person to point out the been-there-done-thats of my fav genre.
This game is a cliche. Your're a washed up alcoholic ex-cop who's main goal is to save his little girl-- whom he thought was dead-- from an evil corporation hell bent with a God complex. You're alone inside the Animus-- er Mobius thing, you can take a knife to the chest early on and be just fine for the rest of the game, so forth and so on... still a fun game though.
NUMERO NUEVE: SURVIVAL CHALLENGE
Being this, a survival horror game, you are going to be more successful if you decide to be more tactful in your movements, supplies and strategies for getting around without alerting every zombie in the damn street. Trust me if that happens it kinda blows, although it's not the end of the world by any means.
NUMERO DIEZ: LEVEL PROGRESSION
Not much has changed here in the ways of leveling up ole Sabby. You're gated from good shit from the beginning, you gotta get lots of green goo, you sit in a lobotomy chair that has oh so few needles *cough-sarcasm-cough* and you listen to that over dressed nurse monologging nonsense as you choose your level up branches. *Yawn... oh, sorry I nodded off there.
Despite some of its flaws, this game has proven that the horror genre is still an enjoyable albeit cliche genre. This is definitely a game worth taking the time to enjoy thoroughly.. perhaps even a 2nd time. I for sure, will try and give this game ''the ole platinum trophy try.''
Evil Within 2 deserves an...
"Alright, geezersss… come to learn from the bessst?" ― Trowzer
Yes, yes we have. The best being, of course, 90s platformers that made Littly Devy go, "Alright!" whilst collecting every last piece of digital bling in order to complete the game 100%. Welcome my friends, to the world of 3D collectathons! Please, have a seat, pull up a spot o' tea, loosen your trousers and come along on another anthropomorphic adventure from the comedic minds of Rar-er... I mean Playtonic.
After decades of what seemed to be a forgotten genre, Playtonic has answered the long ringing call from their die hard fans. It's been ? years since the "Real Rare" have published a title under their masters at Microsoft and fans wondered if they would ever see their favorite platformer duo and foul mouthed squirrel again. Well... Playtonic has answered the call -- kind of. Who is Playtonic? Simple, take the best talent at Rare (those who made Conkers and Banjo), rewrap them as a new studio, start a new IP with a dose of classic formula and there you have it -- Rare #2. Due to legality of course, the team was unable to use any classic IPs and their lovable characters (Banjo and Kazooie), so they made new ones, Yooka and Laylee, a lizard and a bat.
So without further ado... let's jolly up some PROSSS and CONSSS...
1. NOSTALGIA GLASSES
The first moment you fire up this bad boy you notice something; it looks, sounds and plays like BK. That in and of itself, creates a double edged sword. The formula is virtually unchanged so fans of BK will enjoy a classic throwback but soon miss the bear and bird combo while thinking how this is their (BKs) game and they should be the playable protagonists.
2. CHARACTER MODELS
When it comes to characters, these guys no how to make 'em great. Cleverness and thought has been extruded onto most characters... uh oh, not all of 'em you say? Nope. With this game it is hit and miss as you get awesome concepts that feel like the old Rare, but on the other hand newer ones that just don't fit the world, make sense or are just plain lackluster. Below are examples...
Let's start with the best of the best, the moves salesman, Trowzer. A snake wearing trousers... a trouser snake? Pure genius. Rextro is a classic polygonal character who doesn't understand modern gaming as he stands next to playable arcade cabinets. Capital B is the antagonist who is... well a business bee -- genuis! It's very rare when a sidekick is superior to the main hero but that is exactly was is happening here. Laylee is fucking adorable! I mean, just look at her tiny bat wings and big red nose -- I bet it squeaks if squeeze it. Laylee is exaclty the same as Kazooie in attitude an abuses.
3. EXPLORABLE WORLDS
Or tomes as they like to call it this time around are unlock-able via the main collectibles called Jigg... er, sorry Pagies. When it comes to colorful imaginative worlds these guys are the best of the best -- at least they used to be. At the end of the day YL just doesn't have enough finesse, charisma or cleverness of its predecessor. That being said YL not all that bad; the first world is one of it's best, the second... meh, third is the best, fourth is terrible and fifth is average.
What's that? The other three you say? Why, that's it... five! The magical number for absolutely every single platformer that doesn't exist. What ever happened to eight? That's a great round number that was a staple back in the day -- not five. Five sucks! That's not nearly enough game to play... I don't get it. Instead of eight worlds like every classic platformer before it's time, YL has you exit each tome, expand it via pagies and re-enter to a bigger version with a few more things to do. No, we want eight!
4. CHEEKY HUMOR
It's baaaaack in all it's British glory! From funny puns, limericks and hidden adult jokes that will pass over any child's head, YL's dialogue is just as great as BK. You have you're new Kazooie named Laylee who is a firecracker of a witty twit and of course your peacemaker Yooka who is very reminiscent of Banjo who keeps his winged partner in check when conversing with other NPC's.
5. CATCHY TUNES
Remember when I said this game feels just like BK? A huge part of that is due to the original composer, Grant Kirkhope, back at it again with all the classic jingles and jangles of the Kazooie franchise.
6. CAMERA AND CONTROLS
Okay so here's where the game gets tricky -- and not because of the puzzles or bosses, in fact you could say your main boss in the game isss... the camera. Seriously though there are times where the camera doesn't bother me at all which is great since a decent camera is the crutch from whence all platformer controls are built. That being said, where YL's camera and controls fail are the invisible ceilings. GOOD GOD those are awful. Towards the end of the game you get a move where you can convert stamina into wing flaps similar to the red feathers in BK. Only issue is once you hit the top of the invisible collision in YL, it shoots your character down a ways, to which your characters rebuttals by continued upwards flight... You get see that it gets a bit jarring when you keep getting forced down, up, then down again.
Despite all its flaws, Yooka-Laylee is one nostalgia trip down memory lane. Anyone who was and still is a fan of the Banjo Kazooie franchise will forgive its many shortcomings for a fun blast from the past that only the ex-masters of Rareware could deliver.
Yooka-Laylee deserves a...
"Welcome to the family, son." -Jack Baker
What a line that was, right before you get a smack to the noggin and a boot to the face! This is Resident Evil 7: biohazard welcoming you to your two new families. The first being of course the folksy red neck family -- the Bakers, and the second being the original Resi fan-base. In case you've never familiarized yourself with a Resident Evil title; there has been quite a diversion from the original formula over the past couple of games -- until now. Resi 7 has broken the 'horror'-able (sorry bad pun, couldn't resist) Micheal Bay Effect as I like to call it. What's that you may ask? Why it's more explosions, weapons & ammo out the wazoo, co-op partners and a sense of invincibility of course. Everything that is *NOT* Resident Evil according to die hard fans of the original series, but I digress.
What makes Resi 7 so special? Why did it break the 'mold ' (sorry bad pun #2) so-to-speak?
The answer lies within its routes: Survival Horror. And that is exactly what this game IS and about goddamn time too! Resi 7 creates an atmosphere of isolation so well, that the player has no choice but to feel like they truly are alone in this journey. There are no armies, no friends and no modern technology to aid you on your quest (other than your trusty Fitbit thing).
So, what have we learned so far?
#1: YOU ARE ALONE...
Perfect! Things scare us the most when we are at our most vulnerable and that's usually 99% of the time we are alone; a concept that was long forgotten in the previous two titles.
#2: YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A MISSING PERSON...
A cliche but non-the-less a classic when it comes to storytelling in this genre. You're looking for your presumably dead wife. I say presumably dead because she went missing after a job assignment three years before the events of this masterpiece unfold. An element of mystery always holds true and dear towards suspense.
#3: YOU DON'T TRUST COPS...
Because lets face it -- that would be the first thing *ALL* of us would in light a important development in the missing Mia case! Seriously, she sends a vague email to her husband Ethan (the player) and an address of her whereabouts in Louisiana . . . yup, I think it's a great idea too. Let's hop in our muscle car, call our nameless best friend (who also doesn't mention of talking to authorities) and just hope everything goes well in a rural farmhouse in the back woods. *Face-fucking-palm.* Although to be fair, if our protagonist wasn't a heroic idiot we wouldn't have a game to play now would we?
#4: YOU EXPLORE AN OLD ABANDONED BUILDING...
Technically it's *NOT* abandoned but it definitely is old -- and old means scary right? Yeah, kinda. Yet another cliche that we love and would hate to leave out of the classic Resi formula. First there was Spencer Mansion, then the abandoned streets of Raccoon City followed by a "Little House on the Prairie" inspired village in Spain. After that . . . well no one gives a shit. Let's just say that's when Hollywood took over the Capcom offices and created two action movies called RE: Blood Diamond and RE: Boondock Saints. Seriously, they made pretty decent action shooters, but my God, ruined the Resi name. This time however, we are in a country house in the backwoods of Louisiana. It's old, it's creaky, it's full of family fun!
#5: YOU MEET MYSTERIOUS ENTITIES...
And their name's are the Bakers. A wholesome group of country folk who enjoy a good meal of pig (or human) guts, dismemberment of limbs, and shovel wackin'. These guys are the very threat to your existence and captors of your beloved. Their unrelenting hate for you is met with hostile violence, name-calling and deathly puzzles. Fortunately for you, there are only three (granny makes four?) members out to fashion your demise. Except -- well, there's more. The Molded. Tar-covered, sharp clawed and ever spreading mold conjured by a ten year old FFXV kid seeking family. Sounds weird? It is, and it's pretty cool to see a game have such astounding family values . . . . . . that was a joke.
#6: THERE'S A LITTLE KID INVOLVED...
99.996382937294% of the time is a girl; a creepy, stalking and laughing little girl. If you look up the definition of cliché you would see a picture of a little girl in a horror movie. 'Nuff said.
#7: THERE'S AN INFECTION...
See #5. To add to that, yes you can catch it, yes it's fatal, and yes you can cure it. *ALWAYS* That being said there are a handful of ways to die from these Molded bastards including but not limited to: slashing your throat, trapping you in a corner and slashing your throat, jumping using their arms when you blast them off -- and slashing your throat. You get the idea.
Of course there are many more aspects to the horror genre but I thought stopping at seven was an appropriate gesture. This game is wonderfully full of clichés, jump scares and overall survival elements now in the first person. Resi 7 is physical proof that when you remember who you truly are and what made you great in the first place, amazing things will happen. Never forget where you come from. Whether you're a past fan of the series or looking to just start enveloping yourself in it; I say this to you: Play this game!
I give Resident Evil 7...
I was five, maybe five and a half. I still remember it like yesterday. The roars and cheers coming from the ever horrifying basement. But I was curious. "What could be so exciting down there?"
With courage by my side in the form of a beloved fluff animal, I made my descent stair by stair until the closed white door separated me from what sounded like the best playdate my little innocent ears have every experienced.
CREEEAAAK, the door sounds to incrimenate my presence -- only it didn't matter as my elder brother was heavily engrossed by the twenty-inch screen blaring across his scrawny face. His friend was in the banana chair next to him. "Wait! C'mon, c'moooon man..." I was confused; they hadn't noticed me and didn't care. "What is going on?" I thought. "Yeeaah!" My brother yelled, "Niiice!" His friend replies. At this point, I looked at their hands. Paddles. Little grey rectangles with pale purple buttons. And then, my eyes shifted to the blaring screen.
A tiny little man ran across the screen and the jumped on a square, then another, and then finally a turtle. The turtle hid in its shell; the little man jumped on it again and WOW! The shell had moved, bounced off a wall, and ran into the little man causing him to jump up in the air and fall through the floor.
From the bunny-eared TV, I noticed a pair of cables leading to a big grey box (it was big to a five year old me) and from there, another pair of black cables that went into the grey paddles my brother and his friend were holding. And then it dawned on me -- they were controlling the little man! My little brown beady eyes widened with amazement. I looked at the screen and then back to my brother with a big grin, back to the screen, and then back to my brother. Then it hit me -- this was a game! They're playing with a toy and it changes the little man on screen!
Ya know, I was born in the year 1989, only one year before Nintendo decided to release their Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but witnessing this digital masterpiece titled Super Mario World was the moment of my conception. The start of a new journey; the birth of a gamer.
Fast forward over twenty years later and I find myself wanting to bring that joy of moving characters on big ass screens to others. I was conceieved once again and this time, it was to make video games.
It has only been four months since I recieved my degree from one of the most credited game development programs at the University of Utah and I gotta tell ya--it's a fucking blast making 'em. During those college years, I have had the opportunity to create a game from an initial thought to completion, demo said product at the Game Developers Conference, meet real creators in the video game industry, and watch as my team's game Tentacult! recieved mostly positive reviews on Steam. "What a fuckin' ride!" I still think to myself -- and it's just the beginning.
This blog, along with my trek to become a more skilled Game Designer, is a journey. And like many past and present adventurers who want to document thier wonderful unique experiences, I have created and shall update this diary from "start" to a "never-ending finish" of my life's work in progress.
I thank you for taking the time to read this blog and am glad you are here with me during this time of learning. I cannot wait for what the future holds.