Sunday, 16 November 2014

Super Smash Bros. 4 3DS [Review]

What can I say about this series? It comes once a generation, and each one improves the formula in some way, though can oftentimes sacrifice other parts of said fomula. This generation though, we have two Smash games - and for the first time on a handheld. The 3DS version handles the basics, but does it really have the power to handle the grunt?
First off, you'll notice the options. Smash, Smash Run, Online, Challenges, Streetpass, WiiU, Games and More. Smash is your usual go-to for regular matches. New mode Smash Run has you beating up enemies from a vast array of series to collect boosters which will help you come the final match. Online is where the serious multiplayer comes into effect. Challenges are the usual collection of hidden unlocks that trigger when you achieve that particular objective. Streetpass involves a new minigame called StreetSmash - a top down fight with character tokens. WiiU enables you to connect with Smash 4 WiiU, both to send your Mii Fighters to the console version and to use the 3DS as a controller. Games and More holds the usual single player games, as well as your collection of unlocks and the customisation options.
Characters are plenty, as are the stages. There are many returning faces, as well as new fighters. Obvious of which are the Mii Fighters, who are split into three groups. Brawler, Gunner, or Swordfighter. And this is where the customisation starts. Customisation is local or friend only, but can improve the moves and either increase attack, defence or speed at the cost of one of the other two. The customisation helps build a better fighter. If you feel a character is too slow, you can increase their speed, and possibly add a bonus onto them. These can either increase a certain stat when in need, or trade off one stat for another. They can also regenerate health under certain circumstances, so it really depends on what you want. Throughout the game you'll unlock costumes that you can apply to your Mii. Certain themes give your character a certain weapon asthetic.
I feel classic and All-Star are as good as they have ever been, but the decision to trade Target Smash for Target Blast rubs off on me a bit, especially as they included it as a microgame in Smash Run. Half of the special options for normal Smash are also missing. While not the core Smash, the loss of Stamina Smash and Coin Battles, as well as tournaments, make this mode a little less inviting for those that just want some crazy fun. Smash Run offers Stamina Smash as one of its Final Battles, and the battle with Master Hand is a Stamina Battle the same as usual, so why it was cut from normal Smash makes me wonder why it just wasn't included. Smash Run itself is good fun, and the mode I have been playing the most. Battling enemies from a variety of series is great fun, though the Final Battles not so much.
Online and even local multiplayer seem to suffer some lag, though considering the 3DS is running at max capacity to run the game anyway, that's no wonder. Multiplayer itself is still good fun as always. Online is split into two categories. For Fun, or For Glory. For Fun is typical Smash. All items, normal stages, and a variety of rules to change things up. For Glory is more official tournament-esque. No items, only Omega stages [flat surface stages, all normal stages now have one], and no special rules. The matchmaking can be random at times, but everyone playing For Fun should at least have a chance of victory.
Now. Characters. There are indeed variety. Old faces like Mario, Captain Falcon, Fox, Yoshi and the like return. Sonic, Meta Knight and King Dedede make a comeback. And new faces Greninja, Duck Hunt Duo, Villager, Mega Man, and a variety more spice up the roster. Some characters come with alternate forms. Olimar's alt is Alph, from Pikmin 3. Bowser Jr. can alt all seven Koopalings. Wii Fit Trainer comes in male or female forms, as does the Villager. This range of characters are fun to use and fun to fight against. Though I would comment why we need five Pokemon now. Stages are new and old alike. The newer stages outweigh the returning stages, and most of the new ones are fun to play on. Rainbow Road takes us around the 3DS Mario Kart course. Spirit Train has us fighting on a train. Living Room is perhaps the cutest of the stages, with a dog in the background. Just beware of falling foam shapes.
But with all this - the characters, customisation, new modes, collectables - comes two major downsides. What possibly alludes more to the analogue nub than the game itself, attacks can sometimes be inputted wrong. As a Kirby player, I use the up-B move [the Wave Cutter] a lot. Sometimes during this game though, I'll get the side-B move [the Hammer Bash] instead. And it gets a lot more common to dash when you don't want to, due to the fact that the analogue nub feels to slippery on the thumb. The other problem is that the screens are a tad too small to give the details of the fight when the camera zooms itself out. When the action is on one particular place, the camera is in more, allowing you the ability to pinpoint where to attack more accurately. When zoomed fully out, it gets tricky to aim with much accuracy. There's also the fact that due to the smaller screen, when the camera is zoomed in, you can see what you are doing, but not a lot else. And because the fights are usually fast and furious, the camera zoom is compensating a lot for that, giving a slight disorientating effect.
The only things I can really say about this game then. First, the music is still top tier, though there are only two tracks to every stage. The bigger roster means there is someone for anyone. Get used to the camera zoom and you should master everything else. If I had to say which in the series it was more like though, I would have to place it directly between Melee and Brawl. The characters are distinct and the physhics are more tighter. But there are also the improvements to stage handling and options for modes. And if Smash Run is the main single player element, it at least matches Subspace Emissery [the main single player element of Brawl] for how it is handled, even if it is a lot shorter by comparision.
To end off, I'd say if you are a fighting game fan, you'll get a lot out of this game. If you're a general Nintendo fan looking for a game that brings your favourite characters together in some way, this is the game to get. As for me, I'm saying the game is solid all-round, but if you want something bigger, it might be better waiting for Smash 4 WiiU.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sonic Boom - The TV Series [Review]

Said I would do this, to give my feelings on the show, and whether the rest of the world should be excited for this when it finally airs elsewhere.
The answer is - yes.
I can literally say this is one of the best crafted cartoons of Sonic I have watched. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog felt like it was nothing but a comic fest. Nothing but joke after joke with little story. Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic X felt more serious in nature, a bit too off tone, and relying too much on gimmickery power ups so as not to make Sonic too powerful all the time. And Sonic Underground... It tried to strike the right balance, but it either came off as too annoyingly comic or too serious about itself.
Sonic Boom, on the other hand, really strikes that balance well.

The first episode jumps straight into a chase between Sonic and Eggman, witty banter back and forth the entire time. Comes to a stop at a crater, witty banter continues. Burnbot is introduced, and the false advertising line is said. The attack commences, Tails comes in, Sonic grabs the Enerbeam to swing around and kick Burnbot, Burnbot recovers and attacks Tails' plane, Sonic immobilises Burnbot and rushes to rescue Tails from the wreckage of said plane. This is all stuff we've seen from the preview. But the action-comedy dynamic continues. Sonic Boom doesn't take itself seriously, but can still do the action right. After interviews for a new sidekick [Sonic fires Tails to protect him from further harm] Tails himself is in, as well as Eggman, both for the same reason of 'any applicant can apply'. The third to take the test is a beaver. The test is a race. More action-comedy dynamic continues. The race doesn't really end so much as forced to a stop. Eggman plays dirty and brings Burnbot back into the action - again attacking Tails' plane. This time the plane crashes on ice, and Tails can't get out. Sonic moves to rescue Tails, Burnbot cracks the ice, Sonic falls in with Tails rescuing him. The two then work together to beat Burnbot.

The second episode has Eggman needing to stay at Sonic's house due to a storm that destroyed his evil lair. This episode really gives Eggman the spotlight, and gives us character interactions we wouldn't normally see. When Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks come into the house and find Eggman there, they literally double-take and ask 'What's he doing here?' Eggman's picky, and complains about everything, disrupting the lives of Sonic and Tails, and just acting like one of those really annoying housemates who never shuts up. Amy calls to session a housemate meeting, with Sonic wanting to throw Eggman out. They give him one more chance, and so Eggman changes from annoying housemate to always-want-my-own-way housemate. Funny thing is, Sticks is rambling throughout the episode how this is all some evil plot to get Sonic and co unprepared to fight - even saying the entire plan that she thinks Eggman has been brewing right before Eggman himself reveals said plot. Eggman lied about his base being destroyed in the storm, but finds out that the robot isn't very good at following orders and mistakes 'destroy Sonic and his four friends' as 'destroy island fortress'. Eggman asks Sonic for his help in stopping the robot, and so Sonic and Tails go into the lair with Eggman to shut off the robot. But Sonic and Tails are too sleepy, and the switches needed are unable to be actiavted by one person [both needing to be active at the same time, but the lever must be held down in order to keep it active]. Eggman uses a kazoo from the party he held the night before to wake both of them up so they can shut the robot off. But then Eggman's base blows up.

Now, the comedy can be hit or miss, as with any comedy show, in that different people have different likes. I'm more of an event comedy person, who likes comedy that comes from character. Cubot being sad he hasn't got a soul when scolded by Eggman about it, for example. Sonic Boom is also the most faithful of Sonic's powers than any other cartoon. He needs no power up in order to use spin dashes and the like, and pulls off moves usually restricted behind some kind of gimmick like they are natural to him - which of course, they are. There's no such thing as a gimmick power in sight, and all moves Sonic can perform in the games are readily available to use for him here.
But as I mentioned before, the character interactions are one of the best things about this show. Sonic and Tails, Sonic and Eggman, even Sonic and Orbot and Cubot, the interactions between characters are at a high. And feel natural to the characters themselves. Sticks is the newcomer, and the show doesn't even give her an introduction. It doesn't need to. Her character and the interactions with the rest of the group do that perfectly enough. She's a wild type who prophecises often enough about who knows what, but can make sense of a situation enough to know when she's being duped. But because she mostly spurts random analogies, no-one pays her any mind. She also seems to have a problem saying complex words when thinking straight. Whether these traits about her character evolve more throughout the series remain to be seen, but the start of a new character can always be hard. And its not like she's that annoying. Some jokes do feel forced, but otherwise they're fine.
And so we have one of the better Sonic cartoons on the market. The advertisement seems to have started after the two episodes finished, so it should pick up. Now all that remains to be seen is whether the games will be as good as the cartoon. Remember, the whole Sonic Boom initiative includes both games, TV show and merchandise. If at least two of those succeed, than it's a success for Sonic Boom as a whole.
And so, for everyone but the US [and France], we have to wait for our turn for the TV Series. In the meantime, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal release on the twenty-first of this month in Europe, so we can at least experience some of the Sonic Boom world before the show airs.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Neverend November [Cyber Digital Services]

Getting it out of the way first - the fan game video. I have the footage ready, and will upload it raw. No voice. I tried recording, and it just doesn't come out very good. At all. I'll do some basic animation and add a voiceover or something to that. You'll see what I mean. And speaking of animation, the Principles video should be uploaded this week. Next Monday is the hand-in date, so it will all be put together during this week.
The LAN Adapter shall be here this week as well, meaning MKTV videos should be restarting soon. In terms of games, I'll be getting Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Pokemon Omega Ruby. I know I said I'd cover Smash Bros last month, but I'll be covering Smash this month while the two other games mentioned will be covered next month. It allows me to explore the games more before giving my thoughts. And talking of Sonic Boom, the TV series starts in the US this month - in fact, this Saturday - so hopefully I can catch a livestream of that to give my thoughts.
Possibly the shortest update so far, but there's not much I've really got this month.