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NCG REVIEW – SNK VS CAPCOM: THE MATCH OF THE MILLENNIUM (SWITCH)

This title was given to the NCG team for review purposes

OVERVIEW

Back in 1999, the handheld system the NeoGeo Pocket Color by SNK was released. SNK is known for their reputable arcade titles, sprite work, and addicting gameplay. SNK, at the time, released a number of ports and original titles for the handheld system. These title’s sold pretty well over seas, but did not gain much attraction in North America, which might be why many Westerners have never heard of the handheld, or even SNK VS CAPCOM: THE MATCH OF THE MILLENNIUM – a spin off title from the Capcom vs SNK Series, which was a big hit in the arcades.

SNK VS CAPCOM: THE MATCH OF THE MILLENNIUM had a lot of positive feedback from reviewers back when it was launched on the handheld, but we can see if it matches up to modern standards, if the game has aged well enough to meet the expectations of an audience new to the Fighting Game Community (FGC), and players that just enjoy old fighting game titles.

Presentation

When turning on SNK VS CAPCOM: THE MATCH OF THE MILLENNIUM players will be greeted to welcoming fists! The nostalgic presentation of classic SNK/CAPCOM fighting title screens of the mid to late 90’s, awesome animations, and sprite work immediate jumps out at the player. The title sequence has aged pretty well, and this is the same when it comes to actual gameplay. The animation of each fighter represents them well for a handheld from the era, and has not disappointed expectations for a re-release .

That does not mean there aren’t some flaws with the visuals for this port. The main gripe I had is that the game has a small aspect ratio, and the default borders that are supposed to replicate the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Sure you can take these off, and fix the aspect ratio, but I feel like they should of had it full screen to start with, especially since the Switch has such a large screen.

Sound

Not much to say other than the sound and music score is excellent for the title since it pulled music from a lot of SNK and Capcom titles in the form of chiptunes. Every hit feels good because of the SFX’s, and with that mixed with the music score. you can lose yourself to some familiar songs.

Gameplay

Gameplay is actually fluent and feels great for this title. It only offers two buttons, one for punch and one for kick, but the button response are fast. Best of all, the game has a tag team mechanic, which some veteran players will be accustomed to. With this mechanic, players can switch between two of the available characters from the SNK and Capcom games, just like the Marvel vs Capcom series, as well as a few unlockable characters.

Verdict

All in all the game has aged pretty well, everyone who enjoyed SNK and Capcom games will love the mashup. I recommend this title to anyone who has missed it when it was released, as well as anyone who is just a fan of the fighting game genre. My score for this port is an 8 out of 10, mainly because this title is not for everyone, but catered toward long-time fans.

SNK VS CAPCOM: THE MATCH OF THE MILLENNIUM is avaiable now for the Nintendo Switch.

Be sure to leave comments below and let us know what you think of the title, or if you will be adding this game to your collection.

Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack is Launching April 22, 2021

Publisher Koei Tecmo America has revealed Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack will be out this year for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.

This trilogy will include Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX, and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings DX.

You can check out the announcement trailer, screenshots and more info from press release below;

KOEI TECMO America and developer GUST Studios are proud to reveal the upcoming Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack, slated for launch on the Apr. 22, 2021 for the Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, and Windows PC via Steam®.   The three games: Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX, and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings DX, will come packed with a large amount of the previously released DLC for the titles, as well as all-new content for the DX versions — including a special digital artbook, photo modes, and the option to speed-up battles. This release also marks the first time that Atelier Sophie and Atelier Firis will be playable on the Nintendo Switch™, enabling players to enjoy these adventures at home or on the go. The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy will be available for purchase as individual titles or together in a specially priced Deluxe Pack containing all three games. 

The first title, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX, follows the adventures of young novice alchemist Sophie Neuenmuller, who discovers she is the owner of an enigmatic book imbued with a soul. This Mysterious Book seems to hold the secrets to the art of alchemy, and as Sophie experiments with alchemy throughout the story, she unravels the book’s forgotten memories and eventually sets out to uncover the strange tale of its origin. The DX version of this game includes a brand-new coming-of-age story for Sophie, as she struggles to step into the shoes of her late grandmother – the town’s reliable alchemist.  

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX is the second entry in the ‘Mysterious’ saga, following the adventures of the enthusiastic Firis Mistlud and her loving older sister Liane Mistlud. The sisters have lived their entire lives in the isolated town of Ertona, where Firis uses her unique ability to see where material crystals are buried. By way of a fateful encounter, Firis learns of the Alchemy Exam and decides to take her first step into the outside world, setting off on a grand journey to become a certified alchemist and discover the mysteries that life has to offer! The DX version of the game adds four new vehicles and several exploration items to improve efficiency and speed, as well as seven new quests that lead to unlocking the powerful new foe Palmyra.  

The gripping conclusion to the MysteriousTrilogy, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings DX, follows the tale of alchemist twins — the reserved but caring Lydie Marlen, and the eccentric and carefree Suelle Marlen. The young twins work alongside their father at the family atelier, but due to his inexperience in alchemy, they rarely see any customers. While working hard to hone their skills, the duo uncovers a mysterious looking painting, and as they reach out to investigate, the girls are drawn inside a world bountiful with rare materials perfect for alchemy! This fateful discovery is just the beginning of the twin’s adventure, leading them to their joint goal — to run the best atelier in the country! The DX version of the game introduces a new painting that connects Lydie and Suelle to the world of Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists. In order to help Lady Nelke develop the city, the twins will have to embark on new missions and fight against perilous new enemies!

SNK has announced Team Hero for KOF XV

SNK has released new screenshots as well as a new trailer for The King of Fighters XV, welcoming back Benimaru Nikaido.

The three playable characters, Benimaru Nikaido, Meitekun and Shun’ei have been revealed to be “Team Hero.”

You can check out the trailer, screenshots, more information on “Team Hero” below;

Benimaru Nikaido – Born into a rich family and raised by his Japanese father and American mother, this shooting star takes fighting to a shocking level. His slender frame enhances his electrostatics and his chiseled legs (built from years of shoot boxing) allow him to land kicks that hit like bolts of lightning. During this tournament, Benimaru’s friend and rival, Kyo Kusanagi, forces him into a position where he must watch over Shun’ei and Meitenkun.

Shun’ei – Though young, Shun’ei is a master manipulator of illusions. Shortly after mysterious hands form around his body and he is disowned by his parents, Shun’ei falls under the wing of legendary martial arts master Tung Fu Rue, the likes of which teaches him how to come to grips with his new-found powers. Following the defeat of a strange being known as Verse, Shun’ei continues his training in an effort to better control his powers. He enters the tournament with his friend Meitenkun to further push his abilities to the limit.

Meitenkun – With pillow in hand, this sleepy young fighter is a master of the hidden martial arts technique Hyakkyokuminminken, or Eight Extremities Slumber Fist. He considers his mentor Tung Fu Rue and fellow disciple/best friend Shun’ei his family. Many think Meitenkun is Tung’s secret weapon, as the extent of his explosive power and technique is a mystery to all.

The King of Fighter XV will release in 2021, platforms have not been announced.

NCG Review: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix (Switch)

Hatsune Miku is back on the Switch for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix.  Loaded with tons of songs from your favorite virtual pop idol, the real question is whether the Switch is a good home for the Vocaloids.

Story

Since this is a rhythm game, no story included! This is a fantastic thing since I feel that the last installment (Project Diva X) fell flat with their attempt at a story.   You can turn on the game and go straight to game play.

Gameplay

Project Diva is a rhythm game featuring top virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku and friends.  To play the game, you need to press buttons in sync with the melody icons on the screen.  The melody icons will follow the vocals or background music of the song.   The melody icons are represented as the buttons on the Switch controller (A, B, Y, X) and incorporate “bumper” buttons (L, R buttons or the joystick swiped in the noted direction).  Depending on the level of game play you select (Easy, Normal, Hard, Extreme, Extra Extreme) the icons will appear to match that difficulty. With higher difficulties, you’ll need to hit more icons with a variation of button presses.  This is the “Arcade Mode” of the game.

As you play, the song is graded by the amount of notes you hit and can range from Cool, Good, Safe, Bad, Wrong.  Your score is based on how your perform the song.  You can pass the song with an average score (meaning you can miss notes or have bad/safe hits) and retry the song as many times as you’d like to aim for perfection or at least an “Excellent” pass (hitting a majority of Cool/Good notes). Missing too many notes or getting a majority of them wrong causes you to fail the song.

Completion of songs will allot you an X amount of Vocaloid Points (VP) which can be used to buy accessories and modules for your Vocaloids.

If you’re looking to add a challenge to the game, you can use modifiers which will speed up, hide, or limit the number of melody icons on the screen.  This is actually a minimal amount compared to previous titles which, in addition to challenge modifiers, included helping modifiers (which gave you a game play advantage for less amount of points earned).

Aside from the Arcade Mode, the game includes a Mix Mode where you use the joy con motion controllers and trigger buttons to hit notes. You’ll need to move your joy cons Left/Right and press the trigger to hit the note as it comes toward you.  This gets you up and moving.  The higher the difficulty, the more variety of notes you’ll have.  I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t really enjoy the Mix Mode very much. I just can’t get in tune with the motion controls. This is an issue I have, not because of the game, but with joy cons and joy con calibration.  If you can get the joy cons aligned just right, the new mode isn’t that bad.

Features

Customization

What really made this game a huge win for me, and what might help veterans of the series, was the ability to switch the melody icons to PlayStation icons.  Miku has, so far, only been on Sony products (PlayStation, PSP, Vita).  I am used to the X, Triangle, Square, and Circle icons that my brain can’t comprehend which console I’m on; I get X wrong every time.  Not having the option in the last Nintendo console installment (Project Mirai) was the main reason I didn’t spend 100+ hours on it.

If PlayStation icons aren’t your thing, there are other options that can help you feel more comfortable with the melody icons such as arrows, Switch buttons, and other options.   There’s a variety of ways to ensure the game play feels comfortable from button timing, sound, and a few other options to try out.

Costumes, or in Project Diva terms, “Modules”, are a staple of the game.  It’s fun to put the singers in wacky costumes with ridiculous accessories or a module that matches the music video of the song you’re playing.  Aside from the classic modules and accessories we’ve seen in all previous titles, you can now modify the hairstyles of the module.  You won’t be committed to the entire module! This gives you more opportunity to mix and customize the Vocaloids.

In addition to more module options, you can create your own t-shirt for your Vocaloids! Miku can now become YOUR biggest fan!  You can use a stylus or utilize the touch screen options to create your own designs for the Vocaloids to wear during their “performance”. However, this feature has a lot of bugs in it, particularly a lot of lag.  Changing the background of a t-shirt stopped the game for a few seconds which caused my inspiration to dwindle and my t-shirt to be made at a later date…

Playlist

If you don’t really want to play the game, but would prefer to just put on a few of your favorite jams and videos, you can create your own playlist.  Pick your favorite songs from the library and let them run in the background.  You can create multiple playlists based on your mood, favorite Vocaloid, or whatever floats your boat.

As awesome as it is to create your own playlist, this is an extremely clunky feature for a few reasons.  You can’t skip to the next song if you aren’t feeling it’s vibes.  While the song is playing you can only pause it, or restart it.  You can play your playlist randomly, but you can’t select which song to start with.  Overall, the playlist is good if you’re not feeling particular and don’t mind letting it just run in the background.

If you’re not feeling the playlist, you can also just play individual music videos in the game menu.

Song list

The most exciting part of the game is its massive playlist! The base game will give you 101 songs to play, but the title will include up to 141 from additional DLC song packs.  There will be 6 DLC packs with 6 songs in each.  The song options are just incredible! However… If you are not new to the Project Diva series, the 100+ song options are pretty much all the songs you have played multiple times before.  There are only 10 new songs to learn, master, and love.

Practice

Veterans to the game have probably spent countless hours trying to master songs.  From my experience, there has always been that one technical zone I could never hit and I just didn’t want to go back and play the entire song over again just to master it.  In the song menu you have a chance to Practice a song.  You can run through the entire song, or find the place in the song that trips you up to practice.  This is an awesome feature because my patience is limited and I can only play a song so many times before I get tired of it.

Graphics

Project Diva Mega Mix is like a port of Future Tone, which a port of the Arcade version.  The Vocaloids look beautiful and clear, which is a major upgrade from the PS4 versions. Overall, the game looks fantastic.

Verdict

Pros

There are a lot of new features to the game that I wish I had before.  The ability to practice (without having to be a super fan with hacked this- and-that on the PC) technical zones that trip you up is a major plus and something I with I had in the F series.  Since this is on the Switch, the ability to change my melody icons to PlayStation icons is a huge relief; I can actually play the game! I am certain this a feature veterans will appreciate. As I mentioned before, Project Mirai just ended up collecting dust because I hated the icons.

Although all of the songs are from previous titles with minimal new additions and the total exclusion of Gumi, it’s nice to have all of my favorite titles in one game without having to switch between consoles.

Cons

As much praise as I give the game for adding PlayStation melody icons, I just can’t, for the life of me, get comfortable with the controller.  Since PlayStation button layout has the press buttons parallel, it was difficult to get my hands adjusted to the non-parallel layout of the Switch.  My hands hurt and hitting the bumpers kind of sucks on my left hand.  I felt the most comfortable playing with the joy cons detached from the console, but I feel like this ruins the portability aspect of the title.  Even mix mode, for me, was difficult to enjoy because the joy cons and calibration of controllers are just, overall, awful on the Switch.  However, this isn’t an issue I have with just the Mega Mix title, it’s with a majority of my games overall.

A lot of the new features are very clunky.  The playlist option is clunky and the customization options are slow.  They definitely needed just a little bit of extra work to make them running and functional.  These features just didn’t feel like they were very thought out.

There is no story, which is a plus, but the reward factor of the game isn’t satisfying.  When you start the game, you already have a majority of the songs unlocked and ready to play.  I felt no reward for beating a song and no desire to grind to get all the collectibles.  Sure, you get to skip out on songs that you wouldn’t enjoy normally, but what kept me so hooked to previous titles was going through and unlocking all of the songs and earning enough points to buy every single Module, accessory, and gift option. It’s pretty easy for me to put Mega Mix down.

I’d rank the game as a 7 out of 10.  There are plenty of new features, but none of these have been perfected. It’s awesome to have all the songs in one portable platform, but Switch felt very uncomfortable and difficult to adjust to.  Not only that, but I just didn’t feel rewarded with my overall game play.  I can beat a song and try to get a better score next time, but my effort doesn’t unlock a thing.  This may because I’ve played this game so much on Sony products but I feel this might be something veterans to the title can relate to.  Newer players may not have this struggle.  There are tons of perks if you’re new to the series and will likely be an incredibly enjoyable experience for first timers.

Have you picked up this title? What did you think? Is this your first title from the Project Diva series?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

NCG Review – Persona 5 Royal

I remember the teaser trailer: the same cast, but a new female character? Would the game get a release with a female protagonist like Person 3? Would Yuusuke finally be my partner in romance?!  Most of us were likely pretty disappointed to find out that the re-release of Persona 5 would not include a female protagonist, but instead, a new character for your team.

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I can see why a female protagonist would not work out for a variety of reasons; the entire story would need to be overhauled and that may have been more work than the team wanted. For example, the Kamoshida arc just would not work with a female protagonist because his character would address the female protagonist differently. Kamoshida would need a complete overhaul and the initial bonds between characters would not make sense. However, that is purely my personal opinion.

The real question is, would it be worth it to pick up the game just to have a new character on your team?

Story

For those new to the series, Persona 5 follows the Protagonist and his group of friends as they infiltrate Palaces (places of an individuals distorted desire) and force corrupted people to have a change of heart – confess to their bad deeds. The player maintains a regular life, going to school, taking exams, working part time, etc. (basically, however you want to play) while infiltrating palaces after school.

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Persona 5 Royal switches up the story quite a bit. The new character appears in the beginning and her role in the game starts to reveal itself. For the most part, the core of the story is the initial release of P5, but there is a variety of additions on the side. If you played the game before, you will be able to identify where the story goes off track to fit the characters in. If you are new to the game, you would not be able to tell the difference.

Fortunately, the female character is not the only new character in the game. We also have a chance to meet Jose, the white haired robot-boy who resides in the Thieves Den and Mementos as well as some other faces.

Gameplay

I will be honest; I was not interested in picking up Persona 5 Royal because I was not up for playing the game again. My first play through took me 1 year and 100+ hours before beating the game, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fit this into my schedule (I really do wish I had that sort of time to dedicate to games!) However, the new features added to the game are worth another play through.

P5 Royal has eliminated many things that I found downright annoying in the first game. For starters, when a Shadow is defeated, I can skip the entire results screen animation. My original play through, I mashed X in hope that the game would just go… a little bit faster… Although commentary from Morgana can really get on my nerves, it is now helpful when it comes to bargaining with Shadows. I usually went in not knowing which way to respond. Morgana gives you a hint to the temperament of a Shadow so you can better guess how to get them to join your team – without resorting to one of the various walkthroughs. I also hated the limitations Morgana had on your actions at night. Rather than only being able to sleep after visiting a Palace/Mementos, the protagonist has options that expand the character skills in the cafe before going to sleep. This is helpful when it comes to building skills since visiting a Palace/Mementos is basically your activity for the entire day in the original version.

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Battles have been modified to encourage you to use the baton pass. I never used this feature in my first play through because the button to trade off was not so easily accessible. And even if it was, I did not have much motivation to use it. And bullet usage! I never used my gun because ammo ran out too fast and it was basically, pointless.  Bullets re-load and you’re no longer wandering through the palaces ammo-less.

The game has also added special Shadows that act like bombs. Defeat them and they explode, damaging the surrounding Shadows. The battles are strategic, but also too easy.

The Velvet room also has an additional challenge mode. The protagonist and team battle personas for prizes, aiming to get a high score for more in game item swag.

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The Thieves Den is a side location to kill time. You can view videos and other achievements. This part is not that exciting, but the part I do like is playing Tycoon. Tycoon is a card game you can play with the other characters. So far, I have spent an absurd amount of time trying to master the game.  The more you progress, more things get added to the Thieves Den.

tycoon

The new character, Jose, mentioned above also adds more to Mementos. Reflecting back, there were many things I did not care for in the original release. The additions bring us back and add a little more to the tedium. I did not enjoy going through Mementos. The collector in me needed to unlock all sections of the map for hidden treasures, grind for cash, and level up, but the player side just wanted the story to progress. Jose brings more activities to Mementos by asking the protagonist to collect flowers. X amount of flowers will buy special items and each of the items are definitely worthwhile! SP replenishers help when you want to grind through a castle.

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More characters means more social links means more side stories and more persona types to unlock which means there are new skills you can use throughout the game! P5: Royal gives you so much new content that while you are comfortable with the interface and know what you need to do, the game still feels “new”.

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Audio/Graphics

I cannot say I have noticed much difference in audio in and graphics. The game, overall, maintains its attractive style, snazzy UI, and P5 soundtrack.

Verdict

Pros: There is so much new content to the game; it is worth going back, going down old routes, but also visiting new ones. P5 Royal removes all of the mechanics that felt tedious and annoying from the original release, making a second play through (or even a first play through) more enjoyable.

Cons: Some of the new additions to the game do not really do anything. I like the addition of Jose and the Thieves Den, but his role does not really do much. It’s the same game, but with more things added to it.  If you’re not a huge fan, a second play through may not be desired.

I would rate this a 9/10. At its core, Persona 5 is a fantastic game. It was still fun to play, all of the things I hated, mechanic wise, were removed, and you get another chance to play through the game and make different decisions!

Score

Have you picked up P5 Royal? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!