NCG Reviews: Corpse Party Blood Drive Nintendo Switch

Corpse Party is easily one of my favorite horror games with its jump scares, ambient background noises, and chilling story.  The story follows a group of students who are spirited away into another dimension and trapped in a haunted school filled with hate, agony, despair, and murder. Corpse Party plays as a survival horror action game mixed in with visual novel elements.  You follow multiple characters as they try to survive the horrors of Heavenly Host Elementary School.  There are four installments to the Corpse Party series, Corpse Party: Blood Covered (PSP), Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PSP), and Corpse Party: Blood Drive (PS Vita/Nintendo Switch), and a last installment, Corpse Party: Dead Patient (PC) which released in October 2019.  Having already played all of the previous titles, I was stoked to jump back into Corpse Party: Blood Drive on my Nintendo Switch.

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Story 

Blood Drive takes place a few weeks after the events of Book of Shadows where Ayumi and her friends believe they have destroyed Heavenly Host and Sachiko’s curse.  They discover that not only does Heavenly Host still exist, the curse of Heavenly Host is spreading into the real world and has become more malevolent than ever.  Tricked into thinking the Book of Shadows can revive her dead friends, Ayumi goes back into Heavenly Host to retrieve the Book of Shadows and, once again, try to destroy Heavenly Host for good.

I highly recommend playing Blood Covered and Book of Shadows before playing Blood Drive, or, at least reading the story/watching a walk through beforehand.  The events in Blood Drive constantly refer to the events of Book of Shadows so you might feel a bit lost without the prior knowledge.  If you opt to skip out on the former games, Corpse Party: Blood Drive does an OK good job or reiterating the previous story to you, but it might be difficult to follow on its own.

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Game Play

If you’re new to the series, game play is very straightforward but does not hold your hand past earlier tutorials.  You have no map. You pretty much wander around the school until you hit the right point for a cut scene or obtain the correct item. It is important to read the dialogue because that is the only way you’ll find clues to the next location or object you will need to obtain.  Picking up from visual novel aspects, your interactions also determine the fate of your character.  Talking to the wrong spirit or picking the wrong action can lead you to a bad ending. Choices must also be made on the fly as you only have seconds to decide your next course of action. Failure to make a decision in time will result in the automatic selection of the bad choice and ultimately the “Wrong End”.

Heavenly Host itself is also a complete danger zone.  If you’ve played the previous titles and missed out on Blood Drive, the school no longer simply poses obstructions and ghosts to stop you from proceeding.  You can’t run haphazardly through the hallways because there are shards of glass, piled of debris, holes, and living flesh organisms that inflict damage to your character. Running is also limited. Running too much can cause your character to run out of breath and stop completely to catch it –which is terrible when you’re running away from something. My major upset about the game is not only the missing map feature, but the inability to control the camera.  There are many scenarios where I’ll lose my character behind a wall or struggle to see the obstacles in my way.

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The game doesn’t hold back on the horror either.  Frequently, you’ll find yourself afraid to go into classrooms or walk down certain corridors because of a lurking entity.  If you happen to run into a bad situation, getting a “Wrong End” will never be a pleasant experience.  The writers did a wonderful job describing and depicting the torture and gore your character would suffer at the hands of an unforgiving ghost. Not only that, but Corpse Party offered a lot of jump scares. Yes, they were cheesy, but when the face appears in the hole you are looking through you can’t help feeling a shudder.

Blood Drive isn’t played as a continuous story, either.  You go through Chapters, each chapter containing one part of the story.  You can re-visit the chapters through the home screen.  This is a nice touch, in case you want to go back and find anything you may have missed.

Graphics

Blood Drive on the Nintendo Switch looks fantastic! The animation looks great on the Switch and the character models are much cleaner.  With cleaner graphics, it makes the obstacles of Heavenly Host a bit more difficult to avoid because they don’t stick out as much as they did in the Vita version. Otherwise, the port to the Switch is absolutely stunning!

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Audio

One thing I never really liked about Corpse Party games is the audio.  At times you can sense the director was trying to inject a sense of distance between characters based on sounds (i.e. voices coming from the distance), but this doesn’t work very well with the way the graphics are presented.  There’s a contradiction between the characters on screen and where the voices come from.  Some instances, the characters will be standing next to each other on screen, but their voices will indicate one is nearby and the other is across the room. It’s a weird quirk in the series, but I think it’s something that would have worked best if it was an audio-only telling.

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Verdict

Pros: The port over the Nintendo Switch is absolutely stunning! If you haven’t played the title on the Vita, it is absolutely worth picking up on the Switch.

Blood Drive isn’t my favorite entry in the series (you can read my original review to get my thoughts) but it does come with a lot of jump scares and horrific scenarios.

Cons: There was no fix to the audio and camera angles can irk your nerves while playing.

I would give the Switch version an 8 out of 10.

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Have you played any Corpse Party titles? Is this something you would pick up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

NCG Review – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Nintendo Switch)

Hello everyone! I apologize for my extreme delay in submitting this review.  I really wanted to sit down with this title and explore the game to the full extent.  Lucky for me, this comes after the announcement for the release of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Accolades.  Definitely pick it up!

I’ll start this review off by saying I have not played any of the previous Ys titles, so Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will be my first in the series.  This review also comes after the backlash of the initial release.  The version I was able to play was for the Nintendo Switch, which included all the promised patches for the game.  That being said, my review is from the perspective of a new comer, and a player who didn’t experience the first wave release of the game.2018081221212000-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Story

After the Lombardia was attacked by a mysterious sea creature, passengers are washed onto the island Seiren.  Survivors must band together, find other passengers, protect their camp and find a way off of the island.  The game starts out as mere survival and then builds with unexpected things happening at every turn.  Ancient beasts, mysterious notes, strange dreams, and even more! I would love to go more into the story but I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone who intends on picking up the game! However, I will comment that the story is worthwhile to play through since the story unfolds in such a fascinating way.2018090817211800-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Game play

Ys VIII is a real-time RPG so you fight monsters as they appear with various attacks. Combat is simple.  You can attack, down attack, skill attack, and Extra attack.  During combat you will also need to block and dodge.  The dynamic fighting style draws the player into combat since some monsters require you to use dodging and blocking in order to gain the advantage.  When you block/dodge at the right moments, you get block guard/flash guard, which slows the monster down for a few seconds in order for you to unleash a few more hits on them. This much better than bashing “A” (although, you can also do that, but take some damage in the process) to defeat enemies. Mastering when to block and dodge is particularly useful when you defend the campsite and fight bosses since you gain extra points when you do so. As you play through, the characters learn skills as you level up.  You can swap skills out as you play through the game making each character adaptable to your play style. However, each character can only hold up to 4 skills during play, so you’ll need to pay attention to weaknesses and range.2018072620394700-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Each character has a unique set of skills and are stronger against certain monsters.  As you fight monsters you’ll notice where their weaknesses are and switch out accordingly.  When I play other RPGs, I tend to rely on one character to defeat monsters and bosses in, and this will make the game feel stale and boring, but as you adventure around the island, monsters in an area have a variety of weaknesses so you can’t just adventure solely with one character. Although Adol is the main character, you’ll get a lot of play with the other characters  -Adol doesn’t even have to be on your team!

The game environment feels open since there are many locations to discover and side missions to complete.  However, the game is very guided and certain areas will open based on how you have progressed through the story and the game overall. I found myself exploring every inch of the island and getting frustrated when there were areas I couldn’t easily access.  Although the map is limited, the game does a good job guiding you back to areas where you may have missed a couple items or needed to level up in order to play through.2018081219085400-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

One aspect that I really enjoyed about the game is the collection aspect.  Not only does it make sense to collect materials versus money (since money wouldn’t exist on a deserted island, anyway) but you can utilize most of the materials you collect.  In most RPGs I tend to sell off random collected materials for whichever monetary system the game established making the items seem incredibly pointless.  The collection aspect in Ys just made sense. There isn’t a limit to how much your character can “hold” so you can collect as much as you need to.

Between story plots, there are different types of raids you will need to participate in.  Depending on how well you do during a raid you will collect more items you can craft or trade for other things.  Before a raid, you’ll need to set up items to protect/distract beasts.  These items can be leveled up.  During a raid, the beasts will try to destroy these items and your goal is protect them and the camp.  You gain more points by using more special moves and using the dodge/block mechanic (as mentioned briefly above).

While adventuring, there are a variety of side activities you can do.  You can take on side quests to level up your relationships with members at the campsite, or, while adventuring, you can take a break and go fishing.  Fishing isn’t particularly important, but it helps with completing the journal (if you’re into that completion stuff), and in some instances locate hidden treasures.  Maxing out your approvals and completing missions for side will also affect the ending you get.2018082219024900-5833A8D7B8549416BB4EBE5DC8B38D6C

Graphics

I have not played this title on any other console besides the Nintendo Switch.  Graphics aren’t remarkable, but they’re enough to draw you into the atmosphere of the Ys world.  In some instances, the game will lag and you’ll notice a significant decrease in quality.  I’ve only seen this when Adol is interacting with another character at the campsite and only in handheld mode. Switching to TV mode, I do not notice any decrease in quality.  I’ve also encountered this when I play as past Dana.  The game will lag when she needs to switch between powers.  When this happened, I would restart the game and it would play as normal.

Another aspect I enjoyed about the game is that monsters, in design, are varied.  Some look similar, but it’s not always a re-skin or re-color of another monster from a different area.  So, that’s a plus.  Of course, there are the same “types” of monsters around the island, but the varying design makes the areas you play through more believable and immersive, it’s like Seiren is a real place.

Verdict

Pros

The game play allows for a variety styles of play.  You’re not always bashing the same button or using the same character throughout the game. You’re also not focusing on only one mission at a time.  You can choose between plowing through to get to the next story point, or have a bit of fun exploring the island.

I love the plots, arcs, and twists to the overall story.  The game slowly reveals the mysteries of the island and you don’t want to leave until everything has been resolved.

Cons

Sometimes there’s a drop in graphic quality in handheld mode, but it’s not enough to ruin the game.  Every now and then a re-start is required.

It might be the Switch itself, but there are places where I accidentally pull up certain menus or will unleash an extra skill.  Button sensitivity can be slightly annoying.

Overall, I’d rate Ys VIII and 8 out of 10.  I really enjoyed the story, the dynamic game play sets Ys apart from other titles.  I couldn’t rank much higher than 8 since there were quite a few instances where I found myself putting down the game after an hour or so of play.  There’s some missing element that I can’t quite put my finger on which prevented me from being completely hooked on the game.Score

Have you played any Ys titles? Have you picked up Ys VIII? What are your impressions of the game? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

NCG Review – The Escapists Complete Edition (Switch)

Originally released back in 2014 on PC, and later making its way to Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4 The Escapists The Complete Edition can now be played on the Nintendo Switch. The complete Edition brings all DLC packs, which are Alcatraz, Escape Team, Duct Tapes are Forever, Santa’s Sweatshop and Fhurst Peak Correctional Facility, which was previously exclusive to the PC release, all into one package.maxresdefault

Visuals

The Escapists The Complete Edition still keeps the same cute 8-bit look, but all in the palm of your hand this time around. And this looks great transitioning of from the big screen to handheld mode. Whether it’s the different scenery from the different scenarios, or even the different characteristics of each prisoner and police officer, the game looks great.whats-in-the-escapists-complete-edition-3

 

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and is what you know and love from all of the other ports. You are a prisoner and you need to do quests to gain items and money to get out of the prison, but you can make enemies on your way of doing so. For example, if you talk to one of the other prisoners and they ask you to distract the guards during a break session, you can hit another prisoner, however, this can have them turn on you later in the game so you’ll need to choose wisely. Players will need to be strategic in order to complete their quest to escape.large

Honestly I really recommend this title to everyone to try out. It is easy to pick up, and even easier to pick up on the with the Nintendo Switch. If you have not played The Escapists, this version is the perfect port to start at since it comes with all of the previous DLC and the core game. I give the Escapists a 7/10 for the accessibility, replay value, and uniqueness as a whole.Score

 

Playstation Classic announced and Launching December 3, 2018

Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced that they will be releasing the Playstation Classic. This will be a miniature console that replicates the looks of the original Playstation, as well comes preloaded with 20 classic titles, including fan-favorites such as Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. The console is set to release December 3, in North America for $99.

You can check out the release trailer and screenshots below.

NCG Review – SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (PS4, Switch)

Many players know SNK’s long running “The King of Fighter” series, but have you ever wondered why they never released “The Queen of Fighters?” Well now they (sort of?) have with “SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.” But is it really meant for the fighting game scene, or did they take on a different route with this title?1(1)

Visuals/ Audio

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has an awesome soundtrack that fits the theme of the whole game from the J-pop title screen to the quirky music while battling. I did enjoy listening to it all. Another part of the audio that I really enjoyed were the small sound effects when each charter attacks as well as the particle effects having random objects and confetti flying everywhere. Players will also notice that the character models look somewhat like KOF XIV, but upgraded just enough.6(1).png

Gameplay

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is not your typical hardcore 2D fighter, but more of a casual party game with some unique elements. Fighting game veterans will notice instantly that the button layout is a bit strange as it consist of a light attack,  a heavy attack, special attack, throw, guard, tag and Dream Finish button. Light attack and heavy attack are your main buttons for combos, which are all auto combos, and the special attack button lets players execute specials with the press of one direction and a button, making the game more accessible to the casual gamers within the game modes.1(2).png

The title consists of 5 game modes, which are Story mode, Versus, Survival, Tutorial, and Online. In Story Mode players will discover the girls of the SNK universe have been captured and have woken up in weird fan service clothing. The actual story never really unfolds and ends of falling flat, but Story Mode in any fighting game title usually falls flat. Survival also doesn’t feel challenging since it never jumps up in difficulty. In short, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has very little to offer for single player. The multi player, on the other hand, is where the game stands strong since the game doesn’t feel like a fighting game but a party game. 3.png

Verdict

If you are looking for an in-depth fighting game, or even a single player title, you will not find it here, but that doesn’t mean SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a terrible game. It does feel great for a party title and players who are not familiar with fighting game mechanics can pick up the game fast. At the end of the day, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzyis more of a fan service, casual game, and I would not recommend this title for the $49.99 price tag, but I would recommend trying it out. I give SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy a 5/10.

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