Tag Archives: Review

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.

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

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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.

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NCG Review: Dragon’s Crown Pro (Playstation 4)

Normally I don’t get too excited over the re-release of a game.  However, Dragon’s Crown Pro was a title I didn’t mind revisiting.

Jumping back into the game I had forgotten not only how beautiful the world of Dragon’s Crown is and how addicting the chaotic game play can be.

Visuals

Enhanced for the PlayStation 4 Pro, the graphics look stunning! Visuals have been retouched to give the art work and style of the game more clarity.  The game design and art work in itself is already outstanding, but the enhanced graphics lure you back into the Dragon’s Crown world.  You’ll find yourself wondering why you left it in the first place.Converted_5

Audio

The original soundtrack to Dragon’s Crown set a unique tone and atmosphere for the game.  Dragon’s Crown Pro has taken an already wonderful soundtrack and re-recorded it.  Composed by Hitoshi Skaimoto and supported by a live orchestra, the new soundtrack enhances the gaming experience.  I usually don’t pay much attention to the soundtrack and use whichever tunes are playing on default, but switching it up in the latest version added a more refined element to the game. I think it’s an aspect music junkies can appreciate. Of course, you also have the option to use the original sound track if you don’t care about all the fancy new stuff.

Game Play

What I absolutely love about this re-release is that I don’t have to start the game all over again! You can cross-save your saved data from the PS3 to the latest version so you can start adventuring where you left off.  You basically adventure in the same areas multiple times anyway, but it’s nice to keep your items and characters.  I’ll admit, I would have been heart-broken if I didn’t get to keep my Sorceress, EstllaR.P9_ソーサレスjpg

For those who might be new to this title, you select your character (Fighter, Amazon, Wizard, Elf, Dwarf, or Sorceress), assemble your team, and fight your way through dungeons. Each dungeon has two paths you can take, one usually more difficult and challenging than the other.   Your ultimate goal is to gather the crystals from each dungeon and defeat a dragon.

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There are many aspects I enjoy about this game. For example, the game is very balanced.  There’s a limit to how many times you can use an item or even your main weapon. I chose the Sorceress first, and I had to balance attacks, magic, and recharging my MP to attack. On top of that, items can weaken or break after too many uses. Adventuring through a dungeon also doesn’t guarantee you will obtain the crystal.  There are different criteria you must meet when battling a final boss in order to get the crystal.

The only major downside to the game is how repetitive it can become; you ‘ll have to adventure through the same dungeons multiple times if you fail to meet your goal the first round.  However, there are a lot hidden pathways and treasures within a level.  On your second or fifth round, you might find something you missed the first four times.

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Verdict

Pros:

Upgraded crisp graphics that reveal the details of each hand drawn character and a new soundtrack bring you back into the world of Dragon’s Crown. On top of that, you get to keep your saved data from other consoles and cross-play/cross-save to your heart’s content.

Cons:

Aside from the updated graphics and sound, there really isn’t much new to the game.  I’d have liked to see new characters and new levels.  There’s nothing that really feels “New” to the game. To compensate, DLC content will be released but I think it would have been nice to see it included with the re-release of the game.

If you haven’t had a chance to play Dragon’s Crown, definitely pick up Dragon’s Crown Pro for the PS4.  The hand drawn art style is stunning and the game play is fun and addictive.  I always find myself poking around the screen to find hidden treasures and seeing what I can unlock from the runes.

If you’re a returning player, the buy may or may not be worth it. You don’t lose any of your data, however there are no real new elements to the title.

Do you like Dragon’s Crown? What is your favorite Vanillaware title? Let us know in the comments!Score

NCG Review – Penny Punching Princess (Switch, and PSVITA)

NIS is well-known for their corky, over the top RPG titles, that have weird stories and addictive gameplay. Penny Punching Princess is no different. Players will be hooked on grabbing some money and bribing their enemies to just get something new.

Story

The story takes place in an era after “Might meant everything…” and now Money runs everything! That’s right, Penny Punching Princess revolves around money ruling all, and does a fantastic job in portraying it in the story, as well as gameplay. The dialog is enjoyable, as it never takes itself seriously and will keep your attention from beginning to end.20180313104029

Visuals

Penny Punching Princess takes inspiration from the retro sprite based dungeon crawler look of the Cladun series for the characters and enemies, and mixes it with digitally painted scenery that look along the line of Disgaea titles. The character design of each monster looked amazing, as well as the themes for each stage. The blend of the two styles mix well and gave the title its own identity, not to mention, made Penny Punching Princess feel right at home on the Switch. Honestly, the retro look brought this game to life for me, and I can see other players loving it as well.20180313104336

Gameplay

This is where the game felt unique, as it felt like a dungeon crawler mixed with a brawler, and with some RPG elements to give players a challenge. And when I say challenge, I mean challenge! As players will notice, they can not just run through each level just bashing buttons, players will need to use a bribing mechanic to help build armor, take overpowered enemies off the map, activate traps and even gain temporary abilities to heal or gain an attack.20180313105303

Players will find this mechanic very enjoyable, as its one of the only ways you can progress through how difficult the game jumps up to in early levels, but you can not just bribe at any moment. Players will have to collect money as well as let the gauge fill up to do so. Once players have a good amount of gold they will be able to bribe monsters, depending on their cost.20180313111009

As mentioned, once you bribe a monster you can use them to build armor, which will also give the Princess abilities for the dungeons, but it isn’t as simple as just bribing any monster for armor. Once a monster is bribed and recorded in your management list, you will be introduced to armor that can be created with them, as long as you have bribed the right amount. Which give players a goal to reach for strengthening up for some of the upcoming boss battles as players make their way through each chapter.

Verdict

Penny Punching Princess is a fantastic title for the Nintendo Switch and PSVITA. With its witty story, fantastic visuals and addictive gameplay players will have a reason to comeback to this title. I really enjoyed the bribing mechanic, and overall feel of the game as a whole, and recommend this title for all players who own a Switch. I give Penny Punching Princess a 7 out of 10.

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NCG Review – Assault Gunner HD Edition (PS4, PC)

Assault Gunner was first released in Japan back in 2012 on the Playstation Vita and didn’t make its way west, until now. Marvelous USA has now brought the title over seas and in HD for Playstation 4, and PC.Assault Gunners - 7 - PS4.png

Visuals and Audio

So first off, let me put this out there. Visuals and Audio (soundtrack) are one of some keys to grasp a feel of a game, and that is very important for players. Assault Gunner HD is a 3rd person mech shooter that does look like it has aged over the past 6 years.

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Texture’s of the mech are blan, environments are empty, and enemies are reused models through out the game. The music on the other hand, will have fans of the mech shooter genre ecstatic. I felt like I enjoyed the soundtrack more than the visuals, so it ended up balancing the feel of the games look.

Gameplay

Like I mentioned, Assault Gunner HD is a Mech Shooter, and it stays true to that, but feels more like it should have stood on a portable console. The game is fun and short, with all of the same controls as the Vita version which lack two of the shoulder buttons, and doesn’t carry too much content to come back to it, but it is fun!

Assault Gunner HD starts out with a few training missions to give a feel of the controls and the mission that are to come through out the game, as well  as an introduction of the few enemy units that you will face. Some of the mission will be, eliminate the enemies or capture area, but most of the time it is literally a run and gun though out the missions. This is where the game takes a hit in the replay value, as the missions become very repetitive as well as too easy for most players.

Verdict

Assault Gunner HD is a re-release of an older game, and for a cheap price. It has its moments, but also isn’t for everyone. I would only recommend this for anyone who really needs a new mech game to play, and enjoyed mech titles form the late 90’s, but my score for Assault Gunner is a 5 out of 10 mainly because mech titles have its die-hard fans that will enjoy this as a pick up.Score