Pokken Tournament

Pokken Tournament

The Fighter We Always Wanted

Th one thing that I always wanted when I was younger, was a 3D Pokemon game. Pokemon Battle Revolution and Poke Park did the job for the time being, fast forward a few years and Pokken Tournament is announced for the Wii U. Originally a Japanese arcade game, Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon/Tekken hybrid fighter. The roster consists of 16 Pokemon, all from different regions and generations. Pokken is a fresh, deep, inutuitive fighting game, that welcomes newcomers to the genre, while still catering to the hardcore players who love very mechanical fighters.

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Five of the fighters in the game. From left to right: Pikachu, Lucario, Machamp, Gardevoir and Suicune.

Climbing the Ranks

Pokken Tournament doesn’t have a story mode, it’s rather a single player mode with some story elements. You’ll start in the very bottom league with your partner Pokemon of your choice.You can switch out this partner Pokemon to any other fighter whenever you can visit My Town. My Town is where support Pokemon can be changed, your trainer can be customized and your adviser can be changed too. This makes for a really unique, personal touch, and there are a fair few customization options to look into here. As you climb the ranks you’ll encounter a Trainer and her Shadow Mewtwo now and again, who detects large amounts of SP from you and your partner Pokemon. These are the main story elements. It’s fairly minimal in terms of story simply because this is a fighter, and it’s nice that they made the effort to include a single player mode.

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The shard in Mewtwo’s shoulder is a SP crystal.

A New Type of Pokemon Battle

Pokken Tournament’s fighting system revolves around two main mechanics; phases and rock, paper, scissors. Pokken’s fighting system has two phases; field phase and dual phase. Field phase takes place on a 3D plane, and mostly consists of ranged fighting. Certain attacks will cause a phase shift into the dual phase. The dual phase takes place on a 2D plane and mostly consists of high damage, close combat. Dual phase is where most damage is put out, meaning you want to phase shift into dual phase as quickly as possible, to unleash devastating combos onto your opponent. The rock, paper, scissors mechanic is similar to how typing works in mainline Pokemon games. For example, blocking is countered by throwing, but at the same time, blocking counters normal attacks. This makes the combat system fairly strategic, and having to think on the fly about what you want to do next is exhilarating. Over time, SP or Synergy Points will be accumulated. SP can then be used to enter Burst Mode, which means you do more damage and some attacks are changed up. While in Burst Mode, a Burst Attack can be performed, which is the equivalent to a super-move. These all look amazing, and are all unique to each individual Pokemon. There are also sets of support Pokemon, which you pick at the start of each round. These support Pokemon can damage or debuff your opponent and some can even heal your fighter up a little! All the arenas are unique, and they vary in shapes and sizes. Some are ovals, some are circles, which makes for some unique variation when playing multiple matches. There is a fully fledged training mode for beginners and pros alike and tutorials varying in difficulty. The online play was incredibly smooth and I can definitely see people getting longevity out of it. The only problem I had with Pokken, is that it’s sometimes hard to be mindful of each and every mechanic, although i’m sure that comes with time.

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This is a phase shift, from field phase to dual phase.

A Very Technical Fighter

Pokken looks, plays and sounds amazing. The character models for each Pokemon are detailed, right down to the fur, and their attacks can be clearly linked with actual moves from the Pokemon Universe. Each stage looks awesome, even though the backgrounds are more often than not iffy. The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second, and drops down to 30 in local multiplayer. There are multiple forms of control, including the Wii Remote, Gamepad, Procontroller and more! There are even controllers coming out soon, if they haven’t already, which are made for Pokken. The option for Japanese dub is fantastic for those who are interested in it and the English voice acting sounds like it’s pulled straight from the anime. Pokken’s production values are fantastic. The only amiibo support for the game right now, is to tap the Shadow Mewtwo card which comes with the first shipment of the game, unlocking Shadow Mewtwo as a playable fighter, which is really cool. Supposedly, there is more amiibo function in the future.

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This is a shot from Dual Phase

Verdict: 9/10

Pokken Tournament is a fantastic entry into the Wii U’s library of games. It’s a deep, intuitive, unique hybrid between Pokemon and Tekken, that’s simple enough for beginners to enjoy, but deep at the same time for pros to sink their teeth into. Although it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes in terms of mechanics, Pokken is an enjoyable experience for anyone, alone, or with friends.

Positives

-Looks and runs amazing

-Deep combat system

-Phases

-Roster

Negatives

-Mechanics can be a bit overwhelming at times

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

A Long Awaited Twilight

As a long time LoZ fan, i’m very aware of the fact that you either love or you hate Twilight Princess. Luckily for me, i’m the former, meaning that when it was announced that Twilight Princess was getting a long overdue remaster after numerous leaks and rumors, you can bet I was excited. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the thirteenth installment in this excellent franchise. Originally released on the 19th of November 2006, ¬†Twilight Princess released on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo GameCube to critical acclaim, however it’s also known for dividing the fans much like Majora’s Mask did. Some people hate this game (which is completely fine) and this HD remaster sure won’t change that, however, if you enjoyed Twilight Princess or haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend you pick this one up and give it a go. Trust me, it’s so worth it.

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The new textures really do make the game look so much better.

A Twilight Adventure

Twilight Princess has the exact same story as it did back in 2006, which is of course to be expected. Twilight Princess, much like Majora’s Mask, had a fairly dark tone to it. Sometimes it really does feel like Hyrule is filled with despair and sadness, but I like this tone in a Zelda game. Set a number of years after Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess follows the story of Link (or whichever name you see fit) and Midna, his Twilight companion. After a string of events to kick the game off, Link is pulled into the realm of the Twilight, where he is transformed into a wolf and imprisoned within Hyrule Castle. After being helped and freed by Midna, you are guided to Zelda, who explains that the Twilight King Zant has stolen the light from 3 of 4 Light Spirits, conquering Hyrule in the process. The plot is actually really interesting if you haven’t played Twilight Princess before, and has a twist right at the end that you won’t see coming if you aren’t already aware of it.Twilight Princess has some of the best characters in the series in my opinion. It has it’s standard Link, Ganondorf, Zelda and so on. You’d think that this would make it pretty ordinary but Midna and Zant are incredibly unique and interesting. Zant is one of my favorite Zelda villains, simply because he’s so well designed and mysterious, and how can you not like Midna after dealing with Navi for so long?

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Zant is a playable character in Hyrule Warriors if you didn’t know already.

Slash, Bite and Claw

Twilight Princess further innovates the combat system, with more depth and options to tackle different situations. This isn’t just because of the items and enemy variation, but it’s also affected by Wolf Link. Conveniently, you can change to Wolf Link by tapping on the gamepad, which saves so much time and unneeded hassle. Twilight Princess has some of the best bosses and dungeons in Zelda. If you’ve played any Zelda game before, you’ll be familiar with the formula. String of events to kick off the plot, explore a new area, complete dungeon, fight boss, progress plot line. It’s a formula that I absolutely adore and it never seems to get repetitive. It’s just as good in Twilight Princess. The one criticism I have with the game is that there a few items in the game, cool items like the spinning top, that are only really useful in 1 or 2 dungeons. It’s only minor, but the spinning top is such an awesome item and I would’ve loved to see it used more. The Wolf Link Amiibo that comes with the game gives you access to the Cave of Shadows, which is a wave by wave battle mode as Wolf Link, with rewards. It serves as a good distraction, but I didn’t find myself wanting to complete it.

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The base game is packaged with the Wolf Link amiibo. For now it cannot be bought separately.

A Night and Day Comparison

The most changes and modifications in this HD remaster are in regards to the technical aspect of the game. The whole game runs at a smooth 30 frames per second at 1080p the whole time, making for a really enjoyable and smooth experience. The one problem with this is that the updated textures really do bring out the age of Twilight Princess, but this is a remaster not remake. The game is so much better to look at and some of the environments like City in the Sky and Hyrule Field look absolutely gorgeous. The soundtrack in Twilight Princess is nothing short of fantastic. I always find my self humming along to the Hyrule Field and Castle Town themes, they seriously never get old. It should go without saying that there’s no voice acting whatsoever in Twilight Princess HD. The gamepad has some really simply, but effective additions that make the game that much more enjoyable. The ability to access inventory through the gamepad screen is a godsend and like I said before, changing back and forth between Link and Wolf Link is so much better too.

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A comparison between the Wii (right) and Wii U (left) versions of the game.

Verdict: 9/10

In my opinion, Twilight Princess is one of the strongest games in the Zelda franchise. It has a solid story, strong game-play, interesting characters, creative bosses, puzzling dungeons and a fresh dark tone that Zelda doesn’t play around with much. The remaster goes to prove that even more, with improved looks and performance. If you enjoyed Twilight Princess when it came out in 2006, do yourself a treat and pick this one up, if you didn’t like Twilight Princess, this HD remaster won’t change your mind, and finally, if you haven’t played Twilight Princess at all, try give it a go, it’s a truly fantastic Zelda experience.

Positives

-Dungeons and bosses

-Improved visuals and performance

-Soundtrack

-Story and dark tone

Negatives

-Use of certain items

-Updated visuals brings out the game’s age

Thanks for reading guys, sorry it took such a long time to get this one out. I ended up messing around with Pokken when it came out so I didn’t get it done as fast as possible. Keep an eye out for a Pokken Tournament review because it’ll hopefully be up in the next few days!

Harry.

Bravely Second: End Layer

Bravely Second: End Layer

A Long Awaited Return to Luxendarc 

Bravely Second: End Layer is a turn based JRPG with a very unique combat system and is the sequel to 2012’s fantastic 3DS exclusive JRPG, Bravely Default. Second is a direct followup to Default, set some years after the events that devastated Luxendarc. Bravely Second improves on the formula in every way, and the bravely default system we’ve come to know and love has been untouched. Bravely Second makes enough changes and tweaks to make it well worth playing, especially if you’re a fan of Bravely Default or JRPGs in general.

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The Three Cavaliers. From left to right, Janne, Yew and Nikolai.

A Tale that Spans Time and Space

Bravely Second’s story takes place two and a half years after the events of Default. The game starts off by recapping all the key events of Default, meaning you don’t have to play the first game to understand what’s going on here. The basic plot is that the Kaiser Oblivion attacks the Crystal Orthodoxy and kidnaps Agnes to fulfill his plans. I don’t want to get anymore in depth than I already have. Much like Default, the main cast of characters all form the party one at a time and for their own reasons. The new party consists of two new characters, Yew and Magnolia and two from Default, Tiz and Edea. I really liked Yew and Magnolia as new characters. I felt both of them were unique and interesting characters that I legitimately cared about. All the cut scenes are voice acted, but there is a downside to this that i’ll get to later. The story has plenty of plot twists throughout, and all of them surprised me. I know a lot of reviews said it was a predictable plot, and sometimes it is, but more often than not it managed to surprise me. That being said these twists didn’t affect me nearly as much as the major twist in Default did. All in all, a fantastic story but just falls short of Default’s, however I am interested to see where the story goes from here. In 31 hours, I cleared the main game and did about half of the side-quests, and once you finish the main story, new game plus is unlocked straight away, carrying everything over.

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The artwork and concept art is beautiful.

Default, Default, Default, Brave, Brave, Brave

If you’ve played Bravely Default, you’ll be right at home. There a few tweaks to the combat system so it stays mostly the same, which trust me, is for the better. For those who aren’t familiar with Bravely’s combat system, it’s a fairly standard turn-based party battle system, but with one unique and significant mechanic called Bravely Default. The Default command allows that party member to assume a defensive stance, which significantly decreases damage. Defaulting stores one BP or Bravely Points. These Bravely Points can be used to activate the Brave command, which allows the party member to to use one more command for every Bravely Point used. This means you have to use your Bravely Points effectively to get through battles, particularly in the harder difficulty modes. Most fights can be cleared quickly with full use of BP, but boss fights require a lot more thinking and strategy. Also making a return is Bravely Second, which allows you to freeze time and take a free turn. The resource for Bravely Second, SP regenerates 8 hours per point and can be bought through the e-shop. All the Asterisks (jobs) are back and there are also some new ones too. Some of the new Asterisks are really unique and interesting and I didn’t ever find myself not wanting to try one out. In one way or another, all the features of Default are present in Second. Fort-Lune acts as Norende did in Default (rebuilding the town which gives you various benefits), Yew’s Diary acts as D’s Journal and etc. The map is fairly similar to Default, but with some new areas, making it bigger overall. The one problem that I had with Bravely Second’s game play was that it felt a bit too much like Default, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing, I just would’ve liked to see some new mechanics being implemented.

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This is concept art for Al-Khampis, a school that also functions as a city.

Timeless Style

Bravely Second looks beautiful. I absolutely love the art style, hand drawn backgrounds and character design, sharing the same style as Default. The soundtrack is absolutely astounding, I constantly found myself humming along to the battle theme and would always recite the victory chime before finishing off the last enemy in a battle. As I said before, all the cut scenes are fully voice acted in English, the only problem I had with this was that more often than not the voice acting annoyed me much like they did in Default. Admittedly some of the voice acting was enjoyable, but it was few and far in between.

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The art book that comes with the collectors edition is fantastic, and well worth getting.

Verdict: 9/10

In my opinion, Bravely Second is one of the best 3DS you can get for the system. It’s a fantastic, deep JRPG that I would recommedn to anyone who played Default, or is just a fan of JRPGs in general. Although it has a few faults, I cannot recommend this game enough to 3DS owners who are looking for a game to sink their teeth into.

Positives

-Fantastic combat system

-Interesting characters and story

-Art style

-Soundtrack

Negatives

-Most voice acting is annoying

-Could be a little more change

Thanks for reading guys, sorry this one took so long, it was quite a hulk of a game for me to get through.

UPDATE: I’m currently progressing through Twilight Princess HD now and will hopefully have a review up for it by next Saturday. Dark Souls III has also been added to the list of games i’ll be reviewing.