NCG Review: Pixel Junk Monsters 2 (PS4, PC, Switch)

I’m not a Pixel Junk junky, but I have to admit, Pixel Junk Monsters is one of the funnest, yet most infuriating games I always find myself jumping back in to.  I was thrilled to see a follow up was coming out.  Does Monsters 2 exceed it’s former counterpart?PJM2_SS10

Gameplay

Please note: the game calls them “chibis” but I will always, and forever, call them tiki babies.  This term will be used throughout the rest of this review. Just saying.

The point of the game is to protect your tiki babies at your base from the swarm of monsters trying to attack them.  In order to do this, you must build an arsenal of defense towers to kill the monsters before they are able to get to your base and eat the tiki babies.

The game relies entirely on strategy. There are different types of defense towers that need to be used against certain types of monsters (i.e. ground, air, air/ground).  During the swarms, you’ll need to plan your line of defense and build based on the type of monster that will be coming or which monsters you know will be coming. Building is limited since you need to collect coins and gems in order to build the defense towers. You can collect these by wandering through the trees or gather them after a monster has been killed.  During raids, you will also need to upgrade your towers.  You can do this by using a gem you’ve collected from a monster or stand on a tower to level it up – the stronger the tower, the stronger the defense! You have to work between building, upgrading, and preparing for what is coming.

Two-player co-op was an option of PSP players who each had their own PSP, but Monsters 2 allows for co-op on one screen for up to four players! This can get slightly chaotic since players need to be within a certain proximity to player 1, but it allows couch cooperation -you definitely need to communicate with your team to know what you plan what you need to build next, where to upgrade, where to invest your coins/gems.PJM2_SS14

With the addition of up to four player co-op, there are new features to use within a level.  If you have enough gems you can purchase a fruit (during a raid) that temporarily buffs up your character.  On top of that, there are interactive items in the level, such as boulders, that you can use as a backup line of  defense.  The game also throws in some challenges at you for certain. For example, you won’t be able to collect coins from monsters throughout a raid.

Aside from the game play additions, there’s a really fun cosmetic feature that allows you to change the mask and shield of your tiki man.  You can purchase masks by collecting coins after completing a level.

Graphics

The most notable graphic difference from Monsters is 3D graphics which creates more dynamic levels.  Rather than an overhead view, you get to explore the area. Otherwise, not much has changed in terms of character or monster design.PJM2_SS9

Audio

What makes this game so easy to get in to is the relaxing audio track. The tracks are similar to the original Monsters which brings back waves of nostalgia (if you played the original).  The track will change when the final monster approaches, but not to the extent where you feel stressed to build your towers -only to defend your precious tiki babies!

Verdict

Pros: The game is addicting, fun, and easy to pick up.  Despite getting furious when your tiki babies get eaten, you’ll still jump back in to the level with a different plan of attack.

Cons: I know I shouldn’t complain much, but the new levels feel less challenging compared to the predecessor.  After about one unsuccessful raid (meaning only 1 tiki baby was eaten), it was easy to grasp where you needed to build and what needed to be leveled up.PJM2_SS6

Although there is an option for multi-player, only player one gets to modify their character with a new mask and shield.  It’s almost unfair if you’re stuck being player 2.

Overall, I rate Monsters 2 and 8/10.

Score

If you like Monsters, and Pixel Junk games, this is definitely worth the buy.

Do you have a favorite Pixel Junk title? Let us know in the comments!

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is now compatible with the Nintendo Labo, and Creators Contest

Nintendo has released a new update for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has made it compatible with the Nintendo Labo.

One thing to take note of though is that this is only set for single player because the screen will need to be placed in the Labo itself.
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Nintendo Labo and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are available now on the Nintendo Switch.

You can check out the trailer and the press release below.

3 … 2 … 1 … Nintendo Labo! Starting today, a free software update is available for the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game for the Nintendo Switch system, allowing you to use the Toy-Con Motorbike from the Nintendo Labo: Variety Kit to control your in-game vehicles. Enjoy every game mode and every vehicle type with this immersive, interactive controller option that makes you feel like you’re really in the driver’s seat! Click here to view a preview video of the new feature.

Fans who submit creations to the Nintendo Labo Creators Contest have the opportunity to win some cool limited-edition prizes, including a specially designed, collectible cardboard-inspired Nintendo Switch system! (Graphic: Business Wire)

But that’s not the only exciting news for Nintendo Labo owners this week! Nintendo is happy to announce the categories for the second Nintendo Labo Creators Contest*: “Best Gaming Experience using Toy-Con Garage” and “Best Toy-Con Musical Instrument.”

Fans who submit creations to either of these contests have the opportunity to win some cool limited-edition prizes, including a specially designed, collectible cardboard-inspired Nintendo Switch system! Fans in the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 13 years old or older can enter their creations in the Nintendo Labo Creators Contest No. 2. Learn more about the contest and upload your submissions here: https://labo.nintendo.com/share/#!/contest/.

After downloading the update for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, simply select the “Nintendo Labo” icon on the game’s title screen to access a menu where you can select Toy-Con as the control type. When racing, turning the handlebars changes direction, twisting the right handlebar accelerates, and the various Joy-Con buttons are used for items, brakes and drifting. Up to four players can play at the same time with Toy-Con Motorbike with their own Toy-Con and Joy-Con controllers. (Nintendo Labo kits and additional Joy-Con are sold separately. Toy-Con Motorbike is part of the Nintendo Labo: Variety Kit.)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the first game outside of Nintendo Labo software to receive Toy-Con support, and more titles will be compatible with Nintendo Labo in the future.

For more information about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, visit https://mariokart8.nintendo.com/. For more information about Nintendo Labo, visit https://labo.nintendo.com/.

*Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec), ages 13+. Nintendo Switch system and Nintendo Labo kit required. Contest begins 11AM PT on 7/19/18 and ends at 10:59AM PT on 8/20/18. To enter, upload a video of your Toy-Con creation or invention as detailed in the Official Rules. 2 Grand Prize winners will each receive one (1) collectible Nintendo Switch system (ARV: $ $1,000 USD), one (1) Nintendo Labo Creators Jacket (ARV: $ 70.00 USD), and one (1) award certificate (ARV: $ 70.00 USD). 8 Runner-Up winners will each receive one (1) collectible pair of Joy-Con controllers, one (1) Nintendo Labo Creators Jacket (ARV: $ 70.00 USD), and one (1) award certificate (ARV: $ 70.00 USD). Total ARV of all prizes: $3,640 USD. Chances of winning a prize depend on eligibility and quality of entries received, and how well each meets the judging criteria. Details and restrictions apply. For Official Rules, visit https://labo.nintendo.com/share/#!/contest-rules/. Sponsor: Nintendo of America Inc.

NCG Watches: Hinamatsuri

What happens when a Yakuza, who is an avid porcelain collector, encounters a mysterious girl with telekinetic powers? Well, his apartment doesn’t survive, that’s for sure!

Hinamatsuri is a comedic slice of life story with some science-fiction/supernatural aspects.  The main character, Yoshifumi Nitta, is a yakuza member who encounters Hina when her pod randomly lands in his apartment.

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What makes this show fun to watch is the cast of unique characters.  Nitta is a yakuza member who honors his gang, but isn’t really that intimidating.  When Hina lands in his apartment, despite wanting to remain a bachelor, he takes care of her which, ultimately, places him in the role of her “father” or “guardian”.

Not much is known about Hina’s past other than she has likely come from another world, she has telekinetic abilities, she is generally pretty lazy, and she loves to eat Salmon Roe.

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More characters come into the story. Anzu is also superhuman like Hina and after attempting to battle Hina, and loses, she tries to return home. However, the device she used to go back to wherever it was she came from is broken! Unable to return home, she is taken in by a homeless community and learns the meaning of hard work – she becomes the complete opposite of Hina, who is quite spoiled. Anzu is probably the most endearing character since she takes the lessons she’s learned from the homeless community to heart.

Hitomi is Hina’s classmate.  Drawn in by Hina’s nonchalant pace, her skills as a bartender are recognized.  Blackmailed by a Utako Sakura, bartender of Little Song, Hitomi is forced to live a secret life as an 11 years old bartender!

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Those are only a couple of characters that make this story so entertaining.  Other characters are introduced, and you’re pulled into a crazy telekinetic, yakuza, school life, bartender story!

The series, for the most part, is pretty episodic.  Everything happens on an individual basis but the stories are still connected.

I found this series to be a lot of fun.  Hina is a pretty terrible character, but this is acknowledged through the entire series.  I always get a little fussy when there is a problem that goes unsolved (i.e. Hina never goes back to where she came from, there’s no real explanation about her past), but the diversity of characters and story shorts overpowers that desire to know.

This is a fun series to check out if you have the chance. Definitely a quirky find.

Have you had a chance to watch this series?  Have you read the manga? Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

NCG Review: Happy Birthdays (Nintendo Switch)

Happy Birthdays is a Sandbox game that allows you to create life!  Is this title worth purchasing?

Story:

As mentioned above, Happy Birthdays is a sandbox game so you’ll be spending more time playing with the environment than in a story.  The overall premise of the game is that you were removed from your “real life” and in order to go back you must create life on the Cube. Happy Birthdays gives players enough of a “why” in order to proceed with the game.  Make life. Go home. You’ll mostly be focusing on achieving the missions the game gives you.2018061514201100-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Gameplay:

Happy Birthdays is a very straightforward game.  In order to create certain species, you must manipulate the environment and reach the ideal environmental conditions for species to thrive.  This entails raising and lowering the land and using select skills to nourish, extinguish, or preserve species.2018061514254000-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Building options are limited to only raising and lowering land.  You don’t get anything special when you move land X amount of times or discover new elements. Overall, there is very little direct reward for modifying the environment.  However, you will find yourself sinking hours into modifying the terrain while trying to meet, or maintain, certain environmental conditions.2018061514093400-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

The game limits how much land you can alter at once.  You have an energy bar that depletes as you alter the terrain.  Once your energy depletes, you have to step back from the cube you are shaping and let “life” take place.  There are two modes: Micro Mode, where you are altering the terrain, and Macro Mode, where you view the world from afar and start time for the cube. Switching between modes allows you modify and then monitor the conditions of your cube. As time passes you will “witness” the birth of new species.  You will also be able to monitor the environmental conditions of the cube.

Graphics: 

What gives the game its charm is the simple graphics.  Creatures and plants are not overly detailed yet still maintain a distinct look.  You are reminded that you are not creating a “real” environment which is nice.   Real environments would feel stressful anyway.2018061514261600-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

Audio:

You basically get one track throughout the game.  But the melodic piano of the soundtrack is really all you need while you construct your environment.

Verdict:

Pros

The game is designed for you to easily sink hours in to.  Wanting to meet the environmental conditions, yet shape your cube to how you want it to look easily takes up a chunk of time.2018061514254600-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

On top of that, you gain an appreciation for the delicate details that have shaped the lives we live and the planet we live on.

Cons

While you can easily sink time into creating a unique environment on the cube, it’s easy to lose interest in the game itself.  Your tasks and how to achieve them are not necessarily clear.  After an extended amount of time with little to no achievements (because the game did not give enough direction, at least in my case), it becomes very easy to set the game down and forget about it.  Although I met the needed criteria, my planet became stagnant and I wasn’t really quite sure how to recover from it.

There isn’t much to control since you mostly raise and lower land, but if you accidentally overlap land spaces when raising/lowering you can create land too high, or too low, or with too much variation.  To go back and fix it feels tedious, especially because the controls make precision difficult when you have to manipulate 1 block at a time.2018061514272200-C7E6210BCC993E131C6B11EC9D38E3E4

I recommend this game when you want to sit down and create for hours.  It’s easy to lose yourself in shaping the land and altering the conditions of your cube. This isn’t a game you can put minimal time and effort  in to.

I would rate this game a 6 out of 10.

Score

What is your favorite sandbox game? Are you a fan of the genre? Let us know in the comments!

NCG Reviews: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle ( PS4, Switch, PC)

Arc System Works is known for making some top-notch fighting games such as Guilty Gear, BlazBlue,  Person 4 ArenaUnder Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] , and Dragon Ball FighterZ, the company is ready to introduce a new title. Although the game has BlazBlue in the title, it is not exactly a new addition to the BlazBlue Franchise. Rather, it places characters from BlazBlue,  Person 4 ArenaUnder Night In-Birth and RWBY in a tag team battle frenzy. blazblue-cross-tag-battle-screenshot-5

 

Visuals

BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle brings back assets from all of the older titles,such as the sprite animation, backgrounds, and music. The game also brings in characters of RWBY into the same art style which, I have to say, looks fantastic. But not everything takes from the old titles.

The menu is now an overworld hub where players move their avatars around the “arena” of the game in third person view. This is somewhat similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ, but with its own distinct visuals.BLAZBLUE CROSS TAG BATTLE_20180605221208.png

Audio

All of Arc System Works games always have a great sound tracks, and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle reuses tracks from each franchise except for the new tracks that were made specifically for the RWBY characters. The soundtrack is enjoyable, but I did want to hear new arrangement of older tracks for  this title, which I feel like this title lacks. Sure, there are a few menu tracks and video tracks that are new, but that is all you get.

Gameplay

If you came to this game expecting each character to play like the franchise they came from, you are in for a surprise. The core gameplay of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle revolves around using and switching characters as the main mechanic. This is a different approach for a fighting game and most players will not see what the developers were going for if they don’t jump into the Tactical mode, which does a fantastic job breaking everything down. Don’t let this give you doubt though.2610-4

Combos are still in the game but now have a different purpose. Instead of a long one character combo with an assist to reset combos like other tag titles, the combos are more of a universal set for all characters like Dragon Ball FighterZ, and are more of a set up for your next character to jump in while assisting. This will give the player the option to switch while their second character is attacking, or keep both characters for a short period of time, or even just use the other character to do a reversal counter to swap the other character out with very little punishment. And its gets more complex than just that.

Players will notice 3 different meters on the bottom of the screen. There is the: Skill gauge, which lets you do Extra Sills/EXs and Distortion Skills/specials; Cross gauge, which is consumed when using cooperative actions, such as Active Partner Skills, and Cross Combos; and Resonance Blaze meter, which is leveled up upon how much you use both characters. This can be activated when one character is left standing on your team, and recovers red health, increases chip damage, fills the Skill gauge, and allows you to cancel skills to a distortion skill during a combo. After you get to know all of this you might be ready for the story mode or even the online.E2

The story mode is broken down into chapters that are represented by each franchise with a visual novel form like usual. Players will find the story enjoyable….until you get to the other franchise stories. Players will fall out of the story not caring much to know what happens because when entering another franchises story for this game, it is soon realized that it’s just the same as the first story they finished. Online, on the other hand, feels great and on all the systems it feels perfect. I haven’t felt any lag as of yet on the Nintendo Switch version as well as the Playstation 4 version. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised playing the lack of lag when wi-fi on the Switch.  This might be because of the lack of 3D aspects built into the game or maybe it just has some really good net code.

Port Conversion

I had the opportunity to try the PS4 version and the Switch version when doing this review, and I can say the Switch port does everything perfect.  You’ll find that on the Switch there is no frame loss and as I mentioned, no lag.  Of course, you are likely to find more players on the PlayStation version of the game. Players will find a lot of enjoyment on what ever console they play on, now all we need is some sort of “CROSS PLAY”. Don’t forget to get your DLC packs which will be free for the first two weeks.  The DLC pack will give you 4 extra characters.

Verdict

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle reuses a lot of assets from the older games it took characters from, maintaining the look and sound of an Arc System Works title. Even though the story lacks depth, the gameplay is addicting and brings a different approach to the fighting game genre. The amount of depth will have players finding out more unique ways to play for the titles life span.PREVIEW_SCREENSHOT4_164885

I can say I didn’t enjoy the game much when I went in blind; I thought it was a normal fighting game. But after taking the time to do the Tactical mode it brought the game to life and made me appreciate the title as a whole. I highly recommend going though the tutorial before jumping into competitive matches. That being said, I give BlazeBlue Cross Tag Battle a 7/10.

Score

 

 

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