Completely Biased: Dark Witch Music Episode: Rudymical

Rhythm games can be wonderful. Out of all the genres in gaming, they’re usually the one to surprise me the most. They almost feel like they can be paired with any other genre for a creative mashing like nothing else. Just take a look at Crypt Of The Necrodancer, a fantastic RPG rhythm game which has all the elements of a traditional RPG, but then sets it to music and you time your moves to the music. It’s honestly just a great combination of two of my favorite types of games. Then we get Dark Witch Music Episode: Rudymical or as everyone will soon call it, DWMER. It’s a rhythm game that’s paired up with boss battles where you chop your way through enemy projectiles which in turn lowers the enemy’s health. It’s a cool concept, but it gets messy pretty quickly.

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DWMER comes to you from the creators of The Legend of Dark Witch and all the other titles associated with said series. Now given that I haven’t played any of the games in the primary franchise, I can’t tell you how well this connects to or upholds the integrity of those games, but if this game is any indication of their quality, the franchise must have promise and some solid entertainment value. I’m not saying that you should expect anything grand, but for the price you pay, you’ll certainly be well entertained.

If I’m being completely honest, I bought this game out of frustration. I’ve been frustrated with the lack of games on the Nintendo Switch and when I saw this game, and its price, I decided that was more than enough to convince me. For the $7.99 price tag you get two playable characters right from the start, a handful of bosses/songs to choose from and a multiplayer mode. That’s not bad.

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The way the game handles song selection is fairly unique. Each boss has their own song, but the unfortunate thing is that you can’t hear what the song will sound like until you start playing. It would have been nice if they included a preview to make it a little bit more like a traditional rhythm game. The battles are fun and pretty short and most the time the attacks line up with the rhythm of the songs well enough for you to get in some good combos. I did struggle a bit with the player character’s annoying yelping, but the developers thankfully took that into account and added a way to disable it from the settings in the main menu.

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All in all it’s a fairly fun game. It’s got plenty of unlockables such players and bosses/songs and it’s got that two player mode as well. I wouldn’t tell anyone to rush out and buy this game, but if you’re just looking for something a little fun to kill some time in between sessions of Breath of The Wild then look no further.

Verdict: If you like to rhythmically hit balls, this game is for you.

 

 

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Over A Month With The Nintendo Switch

I’ve never gotten a system at launch before. It has usually come down to not being able to afford the hefty price of the console or the device not being intriguing enough to win me over. This time the Switch launch covered both of those fields. Part of me wishes it hadn’t.

It’s been a month and a week since the March 3rd launch date and not much has changed with the system in that time. I haven’t seen any big game shipments or any major UI overhauls. The system launched with just a few games and unfortunately those games are still the only reason to purchase the system. Nothing in the last thirty-something days has convinced me that this game is a must purchase. Breath of The Wild was the console seller, but when you’re done with that what are you supposed to use the system for? I know that there’s only two weeks left until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but like a lot of people I finished BOTW right away. These two weeks seem like eternity since I haven’t had another game to play since the second week of the console launch.

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All the other games that released simultaneously with the system were disappointing. Super Bomberman R was a lesser version of previously released games. Has Been Heroes has a ridiculous amount of luck behind its gameplay which makes it frustrating and an effort to enjoy. I keep forgetting that there might even be other games on the system. Sure, there’s Snake Pass, which is a cute and entertaining game, but it’s rarely anything special. That’s the problem with the games. They aren’t special. Nintendo has an habit of taking their primary franchises such as Mario, Zelda and Kirby and turning them into something magical, but we don’t have a Mario, we don’t have a Kirby. All we have is a Zelda that you could easily (and more properly) experience on the Wii U.

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Now, the system itself is a delightful little bundle of fun, but if it doesn’t have the software then it’s all a moot point. I found myself enjoying VOEZ, a rhythm game that’s also available for mobile devices, more than any of the other content on the Switch. I’ve honestly been getting worried that I had made a poor purchase and that I should have gone with something else like the PS VR, but Nintendo just announced a new Nintendo Direct for April 12th to cover new Switch titles. I’m hoping for a release date for both Splatoon 2 and Arms. I want to know that another game is coming soon enough after Mario Kart. I want to have something to look forward to, but I don’t want that to be the case all the time. I want to be so caught up with what I’m playing that I don’t have to spend this much time processing my wait time for the next release.

 

Written by G. S. Martin

Breath Of The Wild Didn’t Blow Me Away

Breath of The Wild is a great game. The amount of detail the developers put into the game is probably unparalleled for any other Nintendo game. There are small intricacies that help define the world and connect the game to previous entries in the franchise to aid in pulling those nostalgic heartstrings. However, my heart strings weren’t tugged on at all. Nothing about my experience with Breath Of The Wild gave me a strong emotional response except for perhaps a few times of disappointment and frustration.

If you’re a longtime fan of the Zelda series, you know the drill with most of the games. You’re Link, the hero of time. You’ve got the same job, the same sword and the same methods of saving the world. You enter first dungeon, get the special weapon, beat the boss and head to the next area. Rinse and repeat until you get to Ganon or whoever the boss may be. The development team behind Breath of The Wild decided it was time to change up the formula and give the franchise a fresh new face to make it more inviting to new players while keeping the old ones. That’s quite a tall order and for the most part I would say they did a good job. Except for the fact that they took away a lot of things that made Zelda charming. While Breath Of The Wild boasts a story about exploration and impending doom, the exploration seems stale and familiar after the first thirty or forty shrines and the impending doom seems like a passing thought that sometimes pops up telling you “by the way, there’s a story here,” but most the time you can just shrug it off and go about your business. You really don’t have any sense of urgency in the need to take down Calamity Ganon. Sure, he did some bad things a hundred years ago, but everyone seems to be doing pretty well now. The towns seem cheerful and even the Zora are too busy being enamored by their prince to care about the looming threat.

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But that’s not all. The divine beasts, which are Breath Of The Wild’s equivalent to dungeons, are bland, empty and terribly designed. Each one is just a handful of shrine puzzles shoved together, each one loosely tied together. They lack any kind of the traditional Zelda magic. There are no cool nooks and crannies to explore. There are no mini-bosses. There are no cool new weapons to find. Instead, the bosses have been replaced by mini Calamity Ganons that can easily just be defeated if you launch enough arrows at them. Who thought that was a creative design? Who thought that was interesting? But most importantly, who thought that was fun?

While we are talking about weapons, we should probably discuss the wildly divisive weapon system. All weapons are breakable. All of them. Sure, a rare few you can rebuild, but you can’t repair any of them. So if you really love that Guardian Spear, you better just hold on to it and save it for a good battle you don’t mind wasting it on because you aren’t going to get it back. While I understand why they implemented such a system, I don’t agree with how they went about it. There’s no problem having a system where a weapon gets damaged and weaker over time, but with such a flawed implementation, it just feels cheap. I understand that you want me to change up my fighting style and try out a variety of weapons, but what if I don’t want to? What if I really cherish my broadsword? Why can’t I go gather some materials and ore and repair the damn thing? It just seems a little lazy.

Unfortunately, laziness doesn’t begin to explain what went wrong with the story. How do you tell a story in a game about exploration? Simple. Make it as shallow as possible and hope they don’t take the time to explore everything to realize the lack of depth. You would think that with all the memories in the game, they would be able to create an engaging and tightly wound story, but because you can find the memories in practically any order, the story just comes off as disjointed and sloppy. Then there’s the lackluster voice acting. Zelda sounds like she’s trying to do a twist on a British accent, but fails badly. I can understand why the other characters have hit and miss moments given it’s the series’ first time doing voice acting, but wouldn’t you think they would put the most effort into one of the two stars of the franchise? All in all, the story, accompanied by weak voice acting and an anticlimactic final battle, left me wanting something more. I wanted to feel something. I wanted to like the story. I tried. I really did.

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So, with all of this bashing on the game, you’d expect me to say I hate the game, right? Of course not. As I stated at the beginning of this article, it is a great game. It has plenty of things to enjoy like the awesome slow motion arrow shooting and the shield surfing, but it also has a lot of weak elements to it that will always keep me from calling it a masterpiece. If you are hesitant on playing the game, the one thing I want you to take away from this article is that it’s not a traditional Zelda game and while that may be fine for others, I feel as though they took away too much of what I have grown to love for years now. If that doesn’t bother you, I think you should try it out.

 

Written by G. S. Martin

Question Of The Week: What Do We Do With Tutorials?

Tutorials in most games bother me, but none of them bother me as much as tutorials in JRPGs. Unfortunately, Persona 5 is no exception. Like everyone else, I’ve been waiting for Persona 5 for what feels like an eternity, so practically shoving the disc into my system was a no-brainer for me when I finally got my grubby little hands on it. I was met with hours long of hand holding. I suppose one could argue that considering a main entry in the Persona series hasn’t been released since Persona 4 in 2008 and Persona 4: Golden for the Vita in 2012 that Atlus wanted to give both old and new players of the franchise an easy way to settle in. The only problem with a process like that is it makes the story and the game feel like they’re dragging. It made me realize how often I’m hit with a problem like this: a sense of struggle to get to the good parts of a game.

Coincidentally, on the same day Persona 5 was released, Drawn To Death was put online as one of PlayStation’s free games with PS Plus and I ran into the same exact problem. For a game that’s all about being fast, hectic and crazy, the idea of a mind-numbingly boring tutorial seems counter intuitive. The real problem with Drawn To Death’s tutorial system is that it doesn’t stop after the section they labeled as a tutorial, it continues on for a few online matches as well. The developers had this uncontrollable urge to explain every single detail to their audience. It makes the experience stutter.

Amidst all this tutorial hell another game seemed to pull away from this pattern and was met with a lot of critical praise. I am of course talking about The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. The game abandons almost all ideas of a tutorial. It gives you a few tips for how to use a power here and there, but everything else from the story to the gameplay is completely up to you to figure out and experience on your own. It’s made me wonder. Is this the right way to do a tutorial or is it simply situational? Do developers really think players are too stupid to figure out what the X button does on their own or are they just afraid they’ve made a game that’s so complex in its mechanics that everything needs to be explained? What exactly should we be doing with tutorials?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

Written by G. S. Martin