Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate 3DS - Review


NB: Yes, it's late, I know, but a game like Monster Hunter takes a while to actually try out all the features and everything else that the game has to offer. That, and me being lazy (lol), is why this review was so delayed. As always, this review contains spoilers.

I'll be honest, Monster Hunter is a game I would never have gotten into had it not been for me buying a Nintendo 3DS XL. The only reason I got into the series in the first place was because I wanted a plain black 3DS XL, and the only way to get one in Australia was to buy it in the bundle, which came with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. As soon as I had my first taste of the series back in March 2013, I fell in love. Of course, 3U wasn't perfect, but two years later, out comes the release of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, which took the best features of 3 Ultimate, and Freedom Unite (arguably the two best games in the series so far), with new mechanics to make 4 Ultimate the best game in the series to date.



If you've ever wanted to get into the Monster Hunter series, or are simply just looking for a new game to play, 4U is definitely the place to start. It's certainly the most newbie friendly title to date, and offers a large tutorial to help newbies get up to speed with the MH mechanics. Though the game may be challenging at times, it just makes it all the more rewarding when you finally complete that quest you've spent hours, possibly even days, trying to complete. I remembering playing 3U and spending a good amount of 3 days trying to defeat Quropeco, and finally screaming when I managed to take him down. Definitely a feeling I haven't felt whilst playing a video game for a long while.

Monster Hunter is a game that really has no end point. It's a game that ends when you want it to end, which is probably why I love it so much. I've always loved games where I can literally play for hours on end, and still have ample things to do, even if I've just spent the past month excessively playing it, and Monster Hunter is exactly that. I've only got about 250 hours of gameplay on my file right now, and I've only just scratched the surface!



The general gist of the game is pretty simple - fight monsters, use the materials gathered from those monsters to make better armors and weapons, and repeat, again, and again, and again. Of course, the fights are challenging, and require a fair amount of strategic thinking to complete. You're given a 3 cart (failure) grace period, allowing you to "die" on the quest two times, but will be withdrawn from the quest on the third death, as the guild deems you not worthy of being able to complete it safely. If you fail the quest multiple times, it usually means you need to take a look at your gameplay technique, and try a different strategy, or perhaps use a different weapon, or armor set. 



Each monster is fought on a quest, where you're given 50 minutes to complete the quest (though in some cases you only receive 30). Whilst this may seem like an incredibly long time to complete a quest, they can usually be completed in 10 minutes, providing the player fight efficiently. It may seem hard taking down the monsters at first, but after you get into the swing of things they'll start dropping like flies. Even though Monster Hunter isn't really a game known for it's good storylines, 4 Ultimate definitely took it a step further to try make the storyline a lot more interesting than it's ever been. I can safely say that it actually feels like there's a purpose to fighting monsters in this game, other than just fighting them for the sake of it.



New features added into the fourth generation of the series include mounting, and the wonderful palicoes. Mounting is an effective way to deal damage to monster, simply attack the monster with a "jump attack" - which can be achieved by hitting the monster when you jump off a ledge - and after enough "mount damage" has been accumulated, you will topple the monster and be able to ride it. Whilst riding the monster, you can attack it with your hunters dagger, and if done correctly, you will trip the monster over, leaving it wailing on the ground, making it vulnerable to a number of attacks. This is a good way to damage a monster without worrying about it harming you, though mounting shouldn't be relied on to complete hunts, as each mount is harder to accomplish.



Palicoes are essentially companion cats, which you can bring along when you go on a hunt. You can have up to 50 palicoes at any given time, but can only ever bring two with you on a quest. Palicoes are very helpful on quests, as they can heal you, cure you from poison, knock you out of paralysis/sleep, set up traps for the monster to step in, and many other options to try make your hunt that much easier. You can also use scrap materials obtained from a small hunting mini games - which is essentially a variation of rock-paper-scissors - and can be used to forge better armor and weapons for your palicoes, making them more effective in battle. Though these accessories are meant to make the hunts easier, there are certainly a lot of cute and adorable armors out there, which sometimes makes settling on one set difficult.



Part of what gives the game so much replay value is it's large assortment of content. Within the games, there are 14 weapon types, divided into two classes; gunner, and blademaster. Gunner hunters work with low defence, but good mobility, and the perk of fighting from a distance, where as blademaster's deal with high defence, but attack at close range, increasing the likelihood of being hit. To counteract this, some blademaster weapons have a more defensive style of gameplay, with a blocking capability, whilst others rely solely on the players ability to evade attacks. I personally only use three weapons as of right now (Switch Axe, Charge Blade, and Light Bow Gun), but definitely plan on using most, if not all other weapons sometime in the near future.



The good thing about Monster Hunter is that you're not actually stuck with the weapon class you initially chose. Bored of using the Hammer? No problem! Simply pick another weapon to master. With no weapon levelling system - as is common with most RPG style games - the mastering of weaponry is solely up to the players ability to conquer that weapon type. Although switching to a different weapon may seem like a minor change, the difference is actually pretty major. One may go from using the fast, agile Insect Glaive, to the slow, but powerful Great Sword, making the whole style of play feel completely different.

Even though you may have fought Seltas 20 times using one weapon, the simple change to another weapon can make the same Monster fight feel like a completely different fight. Mastering each weapon is vital in unlocking its full potential, making sure hunters are aware of when to go all out, and when to back off and play defensively. There are also a wide number of armor skills designed to increased the hunters efficiency, though some may hinder the player and work to the Monsters advantage instead.



Not only that, but Capcom have been releasing free monthly DLC packs. These packs offer a number of quests which can be used to gather materials for new weapons and armor from the DLC. The quests to get the special weapons and armor are usually harder than regular quests with the target monster receiving buffs, making for a great challenge. Additionally, some of these DLC weapons and armor sets are collabs with other loved Nintendo franchises, such as Zelda, Mario, Metroid and even Animal Crossing. Admittedly, it definitely is fan service, but each piece of weaponry or armor manages to hold up on it's own, and is actually pretty good.



The simple gameplay of hunting a monster, gathering it's parts, using those parts to make better weapons and armor, and then wash, rinse, repeat, can get a little tedious at times, but it all adds to the strangely addictive gameplay. No, I do not want to fight Rathalos again, only to watch him fly around for the entirety of the fight and be impossible to hit, but for some reason all you want to do is charge into the next fight, no matter how repetitive it may feel. Plus, the reintroduction of subquests can make these long, drawn out fights a lot shorter than they need to be if you only need a couple of materials.

But with all that taken into consideration, it's definately the online multiplayer which makes the game shine so bright, and addictive. Whilst it may take you a good 30 minutes to hunt a certain monster solo, simply going online to hunt with others can make that fight take a quick 5 minutes, making it a lot easier to grind for materials for a certain weapon or armor. It's also a great way to watch other players, and learn how they fight each monster, which can ultimately end up helping you, too. There's something about hunting with other players online that essentially makes this game feel so more complete than it already is.



Of course, Monster Hunter is definitely a lot different than any other games I've played, and certainly isn't for everyone, but I strongly recommend downloading the demo from the eShop and giving it a try for yourself. Who knows, maybe you'll be like me and end up loving a game you thought you had no interest in, and end up with literally thousands of hours of gameplay.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire 3DS - Review



NB: This review contains spoilers
I'll be honest. As a whole, the Hoenn region was probably the least memorable to me compared to all other regions. It was just that one region that never really stuck in my mind... Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh, Unova, Kalos... and oh yeah, Hoenn. Even though it never really stuck with me, I wanted Gen III remakes just as much as the next Pokemon fan, but why?


Thinking back, most of my memories from Gen III involved connectivity andd playing with others - battling with my friends, mixing records, finding their secret bases, heck, even my friend teaching me how to dupe Pokemon in Emerald - most of my fondest memories from Gen III come from playing the game with others, and not the storyline itself. I did consider playing through one of the original games to make me remember Hoenn's storyline, but in the end, I decided against it.



Back in March when the Pokemon YouTube channel suddenly uploaded an announcement video, I magically became excited for Hoenn. But as the weeks flew by, and we had received little to no information about these games, my hype diminished, and instead I started speculating what I'd like to see in the games.

Come June, and at E3, we finally get our first real concrete new information about these games, something fans had wanted to see - and that was new Mega Evolutions. It was at this point my hype for the games suddenly came back, and I began thinking of all the potential new Mega Evolutions this game could have in store.



Enough about pre-release chitchat though, time to talk about the game itself. As mentioned before, I previously decided not to play through one of the original games before release, solely so that when I played these remakes that they'd feel like a new game to me, whilst still having elements of nostalgia, allowing me to relive the originals, and that's exactly what they did. Even though I barely remembered Hoenn, every step I took, I somehow managed to remember more and more of Pokemon Ruby.

As soon as I turned the game on I was excited about everything to come. Like I mentioned before, every advancement I made, memories of me playing Ruby came flooding through my head, all the way from the visual to the audio, the more I progressed, the more I remembered. It's a funny feeling when you start a route and not have any idea what it's got in store, but the more you progress the more you seem to know what's coming - I really enjoyed that feeling of anticipation on every route I explored.



As for the storyline itself, each game basically retains the storyline of their original version, tweaked a little to account for the changes made in Gen VI. I'm not going to spoil to storyline but if you've played Ruby or Sapphire (or even Emerald), you basically have an idea of what it is. For those who haven't played the originals, sit back, and enjoy the story you've got to unfold.

Other than the small storyline tweak, there are a few other neat changes and additions to the game that add to the overall experience. The most notable, however, would be the DexNav feature. The DexNav essentially allows you to search for a Pokemon in that area which you have caught. The more you encounter that Pokemon, the more "rare" it becomes. It may have some good IV's, it's hidden ability, a rare item, an egg move, come at a higher level than usual, or if you've encountered that Pokemon multiple times, it may possess all those traits. Honestly, I've probably spent hours and hours using the DexNav trying to find Pokemon that are high leveled, with a nice egg move and a neat ability. It's such a simple thing but adds so much more fun to the game. Hopefully GameFreak see this as a positive and decide to add it to future games (it will be a real shame to never see this feature again).



Another loved feature are the wonderful Secret Bases, returning from the original games. The concept remains the same - you decorate your base, share with friends, they battle you, etc - but thanks to the beauty of technology, sharing your Secret Base is done by the quick flick of a QR Code and BOOM, you have someone else's base in your game. The only downside to this is that you can only register 15 Bases as your favorites (meaning they won't be overridden if you scan another Secret Base in the same spot), which does seem a little low, but hopefully this will be something that will increase as upgrade your base by capturing flags from other Bases.



Another neat feature, is that once you save the world from burning to death or flooding, you bump into Steven again who hands you the Eon Flute, allowing you to fly high in the sky on either Mega Latios or Latias, seeking out mirage spots, and finding Legendary Pokemon in the sky. This is a really fun feature, and the fact you can find unique Pokemon that you can't find anywhere else in the Hoenn region, along with Legendary Pokemon is a real bonus. It's just such a small part of the game, but feels so enjoyable, adding to the games overall experience.

Although with every game, there is always a downside. My first peeve would have to be the Mega Evolutions. Yes. Thank you GameFreak for giving us more, but why did you have to reveal every single new Mega Evolution before the games release? It just leaves the games without that sense of mystery that X&Y had, not knowing what other Mega Evolutions were around. And of course, a HUGE thank you for removing this "version exclusive Mega Stone" nonsense, as well as adding the option to fly to specific routes instead of just towns - it's a real time saver.



And whilst on the topic of X&Y, lets talk about how they wont be patching the games to account for the new Megas. Granted, this isn't something I really care for, since I'm not the type of person to go back and play my old games, but I really see how competitive players would be annoyed at this, basically buy ORAS or be at a disadvantage. It's a real shame they won't patch X&Y, especially considering we live in a time and age where these things are indeed possible.

As for more things that make these games feel...empty? Battle Frontier? Like yeah ok, thanks for the Battle Resort, but just..? I get these are remakes or Ruby and Sapphire, which didn't have the Battle Frontier, but as for people like me, who never bothered to deal with the Frontier in Emerald, it's a real shame we aren't able to do so in an updated version of the game. I know there are hints in the game that the Frontier may come as a DLC, but I have my doubts of that happening. I remember back in X&Y everyone was sure DLC would be a thing, since there was not many new Pokemon introduced, a lot of blank space on the map, and a lot of unexplained mysteries, but we never got a DLC update for the games. Though the non inclusion of the Battle Frontier isn't all that bad since there is a lot of post game content to enjoy (a lot more than in X&Y), especially the Delta Episode, which I won't go into since I don't want to spoil it.




Those two are my two disliked things about the game, so instead of going into major detail of the rest, I'll just quickly brush past some other things that I would have liked to see in the games - GBA Sounds, easier ways to attain soot, Feebas to maintain it's original rarity, Gym Leader rematches, actually make me work for Latios/Latias, and trainer customization (not that I really cared about it but I don't see why it had to be scrapped). I know these are really minor things to nit-pick on, but it's the small things that make the game feel better than it actually is.

That said, there are definitely a lot more positives to the game than there are negatives, so it's nothing to worry about. I mean, just minor things like Elite Four rematch teams, more rival battles, trainer rematches returning, and so much more, just make the game feel complete. Though from my perspective at least, most of the negatives are so a minor, I don't see why they weren't put in the game anyway (but yes, I do understand GameFreak's reasoning as to why most of these weren't implemented). 



All in all, I think nostalgia plays a huge factor in these games for me, but nostalgia aside, I absolutely loved these games.. As much as I used to forget Hoenn as a region, each time I enter a new town or route, the memories of me playing through Ruby seem to come flooding back. Nostalgia aside, I still really enjoy these games. With a revamped storyline to account for Mega Evolution, whilst still staying true to their original games, it really is an enjoyable experience, they really did improve things a lot from Ruby and Sapphire. I still wouldn't go around screaming that Hoenn is my favorite region or anything, but I do think these remakes have allowed me to see the region in a new light, and have definitely moved it up a spot or two. As for anyone who is undecided about buying these games, as much as I love them, I do think you should put a lot of thought into it. It really is a fun and enjoyable experience, but at the same time, it is just a revamped and updated version of a game that already exists. I personally loved these games, but I can see how others (specifically those not too keen on the idea of remakes) may not find these as enjoyable as I did.

Regardless, I hope you all decide to explore Hoenn sooner or later - whether it be via the originals or the remakes - and are able to see it in a new way, just as I was. I've probably skipped a lot of important features of this game, but that just shows how much content there actually is (plus it's probably more enjoyable for you to discover yourself, than have it spoiled in a review). For a Pokemon game, it's probably the most content packed and appealing game to date, so if you're considering getting back into the Pokemon franchise, or even just looking for a casual game to play, then this is the game for you!


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Animal Crossing New Leaf - Days 460 - 500

Days 460 - 500



I'm not all that sure how to start this off, so I guess I'll just do what I've done in the past, where I file everything under headings, and then post the important info. So let's get to it!
Also, quick disclaimer, since I have been out of the blogmoshpere lately, I accidentally hit some setting which changed the default layout, and I'm not sure how to change it back, so sorry if any of the layout is out of whack.


I'll start out with the jobs and chores since they're the most boring out of everything, so you can simply skip past them if they don't take your fancy.

Jobs and Chores

The first decent chore was that Benjamin wanted me to replace his sloppy sink. My alarm bells went off in my head, thinking that if I did get him something to replace his sloppy sink, that he'd give me the sloppy sink as a reward. I was wrong. I handed him a bear pole that I had in my pockets (probably from a time capsule), and he gave me a dentist chair.

 

Julian was also interested in a game of hide and seek, but again, I really wasn't in the mood so I had to decline his offer.
 


I received a couple of requests to get some petition signed, but since I wasn't all that big on playing during my blogging hiatus, I didn't end up leaving town to get any signatures. Sorry guys.


Julian was also interested in playing a game of hide and seek, but since I wasn't in the mood for a game, I had to politely decline his offer.

Beau had a time capsule he wanted me to bury for him, so I took it off his hands and buried it to the north-west of his house, besides the Jacob's Ladders. A while after burying it, Beau asked me to dig it up again, which I did, and received a blue grid tee. Rosie also wanted me to dig up one of her time capsules, which I did, and I earned myself a chick tee.


I also somehow managed to get "lucky" with paintings. Julian sold me two, and Beardo sold me one, and all three of them turned out to be real. It's a shame neither of them were the valiant statue, which I needed for my museum.



Tia had unfortunately received a cold somehow, so I handed her three doses of medicine until she was all better. I don't seem to have any pictures of her giving me a reward, so she must've mailed it to me, and I obviously forgot what it was (oops). Bree also got sick, and this time I was able to find a picture of her reward, which was a cheese wall (rather fitting for a mouse lol).


The last two notable jobs and chores would be, firstly, that I found a lost item - belonging to Ricky, earning me a red-bar shirt, and a delivery Bree wanted me to do for Ricky, his resulted in my earning his pic.

 


The Town

As for the town itself, there were several things that happened. We had a bug-off and fishing tourney (neither of which I attended) - I attended the bug-off ceremony, but not the ceremony for the fishing tourney. We also had Beardo's birthday, so I decided to drop by and give him a present. And once October rolled around, Jack did the usual and popped up, telling me about Halloween that would be upcoming on October 31st, but I kinda skipped past the dialogue, since I don't think I'll be participating this year.



Visitors

The majority of visitors I got I kinda of ignored, because I wasn't in the mood to deal with them, nor did I need anything they had to offer. The only one I actually needed something from was Redd. As for Saharah and Gulliver - I attended Gulliver once, and only had Saharah renovate my house if I saw her around time, I didn't go out of my way to look for her.

Gulliver
Like I said, I only helped him out once, where I guessed correctly, being Kenya. I did write down the other options somewhere, but I'm a little tired and can't be bothered to search for them.



Saharah

I think I only had Saharah two or three times as well. Like Gulliver, I wrote down what she gave me, but I'm not sure where I put them, so I'll just leave them blank for now. But with that said, I really liked the first makeover I got.


Redd

Like I said, Redd was the only visitor I actually cared about, but even he failed to deliver. On all his trips, he never had the one piece of artwork I needed, that being the valiant statue. Instead of including all his arts he had each visit, I'm just going to include the real one he had.


Katie
Katie showed up in Skyfall once, but I didn't have anywhere to take her, so I had to leave her to her own devices.



Shopping

Not much happened with shopping. Gracie may have changed her stock over, but I didn't go in to have a look. Though on October 1st The Nookling's and Able Sisters started stocking Halloween attire. And the post office, for both mid-September and October, had a new astrology DLC.



Turnips

I checked the turnip prices each day, twice if I could, and we actually had a few decent prices, some in the high 300's and 400's. Instead of including each price, I'll just include the high-ish ones.



Villagers Come, and Villagers Go

Surprisingly, only one villager actually moved out (being Beardo). A lot of them were interested in moving out, but I managed to stop them each time, until someone I wasn't too keen on decided to leave. Beardo left towards the end of my hiatus though, so no one else was able to move out after him. We also got a new move-in not long after Beardo's departure, being Diva (who I love, and I think is rather fitting, given her cameo in one of the AC Drama episodes), though she did put her house in a rather unfortunate spot.. Oh well.



Happy Campers

We had a lot of campers, as well as a wide variety, which is always nice, but no one took my fancy enough for me to ask them to move in. I did get Tipper and Rhonda though - Tipper was one of my original villagers back in Wild World, and Rhonda was one of my favorite villagers back in City Folk.



Mayoral Duties

As for Mayoral Duties, there weren't a lot for me to do - I didn't receive and Public Works Projects suggestions, but I did decide to finally get around to upgrading the Train Station and Town Hall, both of which I had remodeled to their Zen styles. They both add that little bit of personality and individuality to Skyfall, which I really like, don't know why I didn't have them done sooner LOL.



My Birthday

Much like last year, my birthday once again fell during my blogging hiatus. It was nice to be greeted by Beau as I started up the game, and then again my Julian and Bree (only Ricky was missing). This year I received a Birthday Sign as my gift. Thanks for a lovely birthday!


Other Things
We actually had a really nice orange sunset, so I decided to take some happy snaps of that. I also took a picture of the "500 day" tree, though it may be the previous stage, since I took it on Day 500, and I'm not sure if it grows to the next stage on the day, or the day after...



Unrelated News
So that' it, for now, at least. Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read my blog posts, it really means a lot to me.
I'm not sure if I'll continue blogging - I may come back to blog every now and then, I might just blog events, I might even start doing Dream Address reviews - I'm not sure. As for blogging when the next AC game comes out, we'll talk about that when the time comes lol. But fear not, I'll still be using this blog to post game reviews (the next being Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, coming November 21st), and I'll also be using my Tumblr to post QR codes and other AC related posts (and probably some Pokemon stuff once ORAS release). You might also want to consider following my on Twitter, to learn about my random thoughts, thoughts on video game related news, and any updates, but that's totally up to you.
Anyway, for now, it's cya for one final time, and hopefully I'll see you around in the near future. Cya!