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TalkBack / WWE 2K Battlegrounds (Switch) Review
« on: September 28, 2020, 10:24:07 AM »

A Baron Corbin presentation with Vince McMahon greed.

Experiencing the WWE universe on Switch has been a real chore. WWE 2K18 was one of the worst ports I’ve ever played, a complete mess of an experience that I would rather soon forget. WWE 2K Battlegrounds is far better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s great.

The first thing you’ll notice when jumping into a Battlegrounds match is that this is not your normal WWE game. While the 2K series focuses on creating a realistic WWE experience you’d see on their weekly television, Battlegrounds dumps the more technical gameplay for simplified brawling, and characters more closely resemble toys than how they look in real life. There are still pro wrestling maneuvers like irish whips and submissions, but gameplay focuses more on racking up combos and throwing your fellow wrestlers into stage hazards, such as crocodiles, rams, and elevated cars.

There are positives to this -- Battlegrounds is much simpler and more accessible to play over its 2K counterparts. Power-ups such as refilling your health or getting extra time to pin your opponent are nice touches, and the stage hazards keep things interesting. But after a few hours, things can get pretty dull. Wrestlers are divided into various types like brawler and high flyer which does change things up, but most of the wrestlers still feel and play the same.

Technical issues are not as prevalent compared to other recent WWE games, though there are some weird issues here and there. Hit detection for me never felt 100% precise. Sometimes I would be near an opponent and press a button, but somehow I'd still be too far away. Load times can also be pretty long in between matches.

The two big single player modes are pretty similar to one another. Campaign mode lets you play as several characters exclusive to the game. The storyline has Mr. McMahon tasking Paul Heyman to be in charge of a new ‘Battlegrounds’ brand. Heyman ends up hiring Stone Cold Steve Austin to recruit potential stars for the brand. The story is told through comic book panels, which is a neat and different way to tell a story, though the artwork is at times inconsistent (notice Steve Austin’s face in each new panel, it changes, a lot).

Battleground Challenge doesn’t have a story, rather, you create your own wrestler and complete challenges in order to unlock power-ups and in-game currency needed to unlock wrestlers. Both Campaign and Battleground Challenge move through a grid. While Campaign mode flows through easier with the story, character changes, and roster variety, Battleground Challenge can get pretty repetitive and boring the deeper you get into it.

One of the more frustrating issues with Battlegrounds was that a lot of the characters have to be unlocked. The game has two types of currency: Battle Bucks and Golden Bucks. The more matches you clear, the more Battle Bucks you get. These end up playing a big part in unlocking everything, from other WWE Superstars to create-a-wrestler parts. But these characters are expensive, and to unlock everyone would require hours and hours of gameplay. That is where Golden Bucks come in, as the more money you put in, the quicker it is to unlock everyone. And we aren’t talking about legendary wrestlers like Hulk Hogan or Shawn Micheals, which would make sense as unlockables. Some of the biggest stars in the WWE right now, strangely, are not available at the start and have to be unlocked this way. It makes zero sense as to why you have to grind or buy for the likes of Bayley, Sasha Banks, Daniel Bryan, Asuka, Seth Rollins or other top stars. It’s almost like Battlegrounds is encouraging you to use money to buy these stars, which totally comes off as greedy.

I don’t hate WWE Battlegrounds. It’s a much more arcadey style of game that I think is a better representation of what a pro wrestling game should be. But it does have its own set of problems in its lack of depth and aggressive microtransactions. I wouldn’t mind seeing more from this series, but it needs some big changes to truly be a fun experience.

TalkBack / WWE Battlegrounds (Switch) Hands-on Preview
« on: September 14, 2020, 05:49:53 AM »

A step in the right direction.

Note: This preview is based on a Steam build of WWE 2K Battlegrounds.

WWE games have not had a great start on the Switch with the release of WWE 2K18 several years ago. It was not only a broken mess, but to say that it wasn’t fun to play would be an understatement. WWE 2K Battlegrounds appears to be a much better experience based on initial impressions. Aside from one or two issues, it’s way more fun to play, and the less serious atmosphere is a nice change of pace from the usual, predictable WWE video game presentation.

It’s clear that developer Saber Interactive went in an entirely different direction for Battlegrounds. Instead of trying to depict the usual WWE presentation, they have shifted towards a more cartoony look, with WWE stars looking more like bulked-up toys instead of their real-life counterparts. The ring still exists, but the stages go in a different direction. The demo featured two of these stages: a garage warehouse with cars rigged to fall on players who get thrown in their direction, and a swamp setting complete with alligators in the crowd who are chomping at the bit.

The roster features a mixture of stars from the past and present. Those who watched WWE long ago will see familiar names like Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock, while newer fans will see the likes of The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey. WWE games usually contain stars from all eras of their product, so regardless of when you started or stopped watching, you’ll see a familiar face or two when looking for a character to play as.

Battlegrounds plays nothing like the Yukes/Visual Concepts developed WWE 2K series. While most WWE games focus on simulating a wrestling match you’d see on WWE’s weekly television, Battlegrounds is different, drifting more towards the fighting genre. There’s still basic elements of a wrestling match, like irish whips and submissions, but here there is more focus on special moves, power ups, and stage attacks. It’s a nice change of pace, giving way to a much more arcade-style feel that better matches the frenetic energy of professional wrestling.

The build I played only offered a couple of gameplay options. The fatal four way mode provided some fun, fast-paced brawling. There was also a cage match option, where the goal is to collect money from the cage as fast as possible, all while avoiding the occasional surges of electricity. Once you collect enough money, you’ll be able to climb over the cage to win the match.

The one glaring issue for me was that the reversal system I never liked in previous WWE games is still here -- pressing the button too fast or too late allows your opponent to rack up offense. It is meant to deter those who only want to run over their opponent, but it can get frustrating. Hopefully the full release will offer options to tweak these settings for a better gameplay experience.

I can safely say that I have had more fun on Battlegrounds than recent entries in the WWE 2K series. The matches are faster paced and overall the game feels more lighthearted and fun.. Not everything is perfect, as I wish we could have gotten rid of the dreaded reversal system once and for all, but Battlegrounds thus far is proving to be a turn in the right direction.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds will be released on the Nintendo Switch on September 18.

TalkBack / Roundguard (Switch) Review
« on: March 17, 2020, 02:33:43 PM »

The Peggle RPG that we never thought could happen.

I loved Peggle when it came out back in 2007. But with no new entry in nearly 10 years, I've been looking for something that could fill that pachinko-style void in my heart. Thankfully, developer Wonderbelly Games has responded with Roundguard, out now on the Nintendo Switch. Not only is its Peggle-inspired gameplay strong, but the dungeon-crawling, roguelike RPG aspects make it a truly unique, wonderful experience.

Gameplay has you choosing from three different characters, each with their own different characteristics such as higher HP or mana, different abilities, and so on. It works much like Peggle if it were a role-playing game; the goal is to clear enemies off the board, which you can do by using your special abilities all while avoiding taking damage. If your HP falls to zero, that means the end of your run and you’ll be forced to start all over again.

Meanwhile, each time you clear a map of baddies you’ll be able to choose the next stage you need to clear. Occasionally, you’ll enter a bonus area where you can rack up gold and new items. Toward the end of an act, you’ll face bosses that are pretty easy to clear if you have the right tools and memorize their patterns. Even the final boss isn’t all that difficult once you figure out what to do.

Clearing levels enables you to earn gold and obtain new armor, weapons and magic abilities that help your characters become stronger and more efficient as you get deeper into the run, which lasts three acts. There are also runes you collect that can either help your run or make it more difficult to clear, giving the game some replay value. It takes about 90 minutes to complete a run once you figure things out, so it’s a relatively short experience.

All of this manages to work extremely well. Some of the dynamics feel a little off at times (when I bounced off objects for example, I flew really high off the screen for some reason) but most of the time I was entirely engrossed into what I was playing. Picking the right armor or special ability really made or broke a runthrough.

Roundguard’s presentation isn’t spectacular, but gets the job done. The graphics and layout are colorful and bright, and the game’s wit, mostly seen in cutscenes in between levels, is pretty funny, cute and full of puns. Graphics and audio are perfectly fine, though kind of mundane.

Gameplay is Roundguard’s strongest suit. It manages to combine a number of unique gameplay elements into a cohesive game that works extremely well. Some mechanics aren’t 100 percent perfect, but there’s not much to complain about. It’s a short experience, but Roundguard is a novel idea that was executed very well.

TalkBack / Rune Factory 4 Special (Switch) Review
« on: February 24, 2020, 07:01:00 PM »

The only game that will let you use vegetables for weapons.

For those that want a bit more action in their farming simulators, the Rune Factory series may be more your style. Rune Factory 4 Special, A remake of the 3DS original released in 2012, does a nice job of blending both the action RPG and farming genres into a unique experience that is filled with hours of content.

The story has your character traveling to the town of Slephia to deliver a package when, suddenly, invaders take over and knock you out of your airship. You wind up in Selphia with little to no memory and are soon mistaken for royalty. Your role is to bring in as many tourists as possible by declaring orders all while exploring the town, making friends, and solving the mysteries that lie beyond Selphia.

The game’s story is fine, though kind of pedestrian. It revolves around a dragon named Ventuswill and the rune stones that surround Slephia. The characters you’ll meet along the way are nice, but they are kind of bland and uninteresting. There’s nothing wrong with them, but this was an aspect of the game I didn’t feel motivated to focus on as much as it felt like there wasn’t much there, though some characters, like Porcoline, do stand out.

There are three main types of gameplay. The first is pretty much like any other farming sim out there: you raise crops and animals, talk to townsfolk, get married, have a kid, that sort of thing. It’s not too different from Harvest Moon, though there is a much bigger emphasis on crafting weapons, accessories, and armor that are vital to clearing dungeons.

Action RPG gameplay is the second form of gameplay. Grinding is the best way to clear these segments, and the items that are dropped can lead to better armor and weapons through forging. This can get to be a bit of a chore, especially if you are looking for the right items to craft the armor that will allow you to advance, for example. Trekking through previous dungeons to find the right items for forging can also be tedious. Regardless, between the variety of weapons and the special abilities that you obtain along the way, the action of Rune Factory can be pretty deep and rewarding.

The final major gameplay element has you acting as royalty. Accumulating Prince Points by doing various tasks will allow you to issue Orders that have a wide variety of effects, from declaring holiday events and expanding your storage space to even adding monster barns that allow you to house monsters that will help you out on the farm. It seems relatively minor compared to the other parts of the game, but it’s a helpful tool to expand your ranch and create more ways to interact with the townsfolk.

Rune Factory 4 Special is a remake of a 3DS game, which is pretty evident at first glance. It’s been upgraded to HD, but the graphics and music, while pleasant, do come off as outdated. The new features include Newlywed mode, which adds new storylines based on the person you marry, and Another Episode, which contains visual novel-like cutscenes with spouses. These are somewhat interesting, but not overly important unless you’re really into the relationship aspect of the game.

I enjoyed my time with Rune Factory 4 Special. It caters well to both farming sim enthusiasts and RPG players who want a little more action in between shipping crops and courting that special someone. I do admire the developer’s ability to blend all of this into one cohesive game, as there’s tons of things to do here and it can take hours to accomplish everything. Grinding can be a little grating, but Rune Factory’s positives far outweigh the negatives.

TalkBack / Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition (Switch) Review
« on: January 29, 2020, 11:01:00 AM »

The fate of Paris lies with you.

Aviary Attorney, developed by Sketchy Logic, was originally a crowdfunded Steam game released back in late 2014. Over four years later, it has arrived on the Nintendo Switch as the “Definitive Edition.” Much more of a visual novel than a detective game, Aviary Attorney does a tremendous job creating a story that’s thoroughly engaging.

Set in 1848 Paris, you are cast as JayJay Falcon, an eagle attorney with a poor track record and mysterious past. Along with your assistant Sparrowson (a sparrow, obviously), you defend a number of clients by travelling across Paris to pick up clues in order to find out the true culprit’s identity. Once your time to collect evidence is up, it will be time to defend your client through cross-examination, and naturally the goal is to find your client not guilty.

The trial portion isn't that deep. All it really asks you to do is to scan the witness's statement and point out errors, usually by presenting evidence found while searching through areas. If you collected enough evidence, you can easily set your client free. It’s not all that in-depth, but the story does change later if you fail to gather enough evidence during certain trials.

One of the most striking aspects of Aviary Attorney is its art style, taken from caricatures of JJ Grandville, an artist from around Aviary Attorney’s timeframe. Along with Grandville’s artwork, a large portion of the soundtrack comes from classical French musicians such as Debussy and Chopin. The developer’s usage of these public domain works really adds to Aviary Attorney’s feel as an old-timey detective story.

The strongest part of Aviary Attorney lies within its writing and characters. JayJay Falcon and Sparrowson are a terrific duo and play off each other incredibly well with their well-timed humor. If you like dad jokes, there’s plenty of them here. The story itself, which builds up to the 1848 French Revolution, develops well over time and by the end has done a great job building intrigue over the fate of Paris.

Playing Aviary Attorney won’t take that long. Gathering evidence doesn’t take a lot of time, and the court cases are rather quick, unlike other detective games like Daganronpa or the Ace Attorney series. My first playthrough was completed in a few hours. There are two additional endings based on what happens in the third act, and you can go back and replay the third act once you clear the game.

Aviary Attorney’s clever writing and storytelling are its strongest suit, and is worth playing for that alone. It’s not in-depth as other detective games, but it doesn’t need to be as its other qualities more than make up for some of its shallowness. Aviary Attorney is great for those that want a short, but thoroughly entertaining experience.

TalkBack / SEGA AGES Shinobi (Switch) Review
« on: January 23, 2020, 07:38:00 AM »

When is being a ninja not cool?

The very first Shinobi, released in 1987, is the latest classic Sega arcade classic to receive an Ages retouch thanks to the development team at M2. Here you’ll find a solid platformer that is very tough, even with new additions that make it easier to clear. It’s a short experience, but Shinobi remains a sharp, competent platformer that’s worth playing.

Shinobi has you, a ninja warrior named Joe Musashi, complete five different missions. Each mission has four stages, with a boss fight that takes place in the fourth stage. The main goal of each non-boss fight stage is to rescue all the hostages the cruel criminal organization kidnapped from Musashi’s ninja clan.

There are a lot of enemies, and as the game progresses it can get a little tough clearing them all. This Ages release touts a new ninjutsu technique that lets you reverse time -- in other words, a rewind feature. This allows you to rewind and avoid any real mistakes made during gameplay.

Another mode, called Ages Mode, gives you a white outfit and weapons right from the very start that allow you to clear the game without any problems. Think of the SP versions of the Nintendo Switch Online NES games. Shinobi can be a pretty tough game, but these new features relieve any major headaches that may develop.

Once you clear Shinobi, there isn’t really much to do. There’s no multiplayer, and there are no other additions besides the Ages mode. The whole experience can be finished in about an hour. Kind of makes me wish they added more, like maybe include the console versions of Shinobi for example. There is a leaderboard at least, and your playthrough gets automatically uploaded each time you play.

I liked Shinobi a lot, even though the experience was very quick. The controls felt good and tight, there were some clever enemies (especially towards the end) and the entire concept of being a ninja is a real cool idea. Shinobi is a fleeting experience, but not one that I don’t regret having.

TalkBack / Bravely Default II Announced, Coming 2020
« on: December 12, 2019, 01:50:00 PM »

Bravely Default II will arrive next year.

Bravely Default II has been announced for the Nintendo Switch and is coming next year.

A short trailer aired at tonight’s Game Awards. It was definitely concise, with little information other than some illustrated artwork and a shot of what appeared to be the game’s protagonists at the end of the trailer.

The trailer confirmed that the game will be developed by Team Asano and Clay Tech Works. Revo will be back to cover the game’s soundtrack.

Bravely Default II will be released on the Nintendo Switch in 2020. You can watch the announcement trailer below:

TalkBack / Doraemon Story of Seasons (Switch) Review
« on: October 21, 2019, 11:19:12 AM »

Don’t we all want an Anywhere Door?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Doraemon characters were somehow transported into a Story of Seasons game? Whatever your response, it’s become a reality. Doraemon Story of Seasons is exactly as advertised. Doraemon’s lighthearted humor meshes extremely well with the all too familiar yet solid Story of Seasons mechanics, creating a harmonious union of great gameplay and lighthearted dialogue.

The story finds Noby, Doraemon, and their friends transported into a mysterious town after planting a mysterious seed in modern-day Japan (or North Carolina, if you are into the recent anime dub). Doraemon has the tools needed to get them home, but they are strewn around Shizen Town. After some friendly townsfolk befriend them, Doraemon and friends all settle in quickly and find jobs, with the eventual goal of retrieving the tools needed to get home.

I’m glad I could explain that in one paragraph because the game’s actual introduction takes approximately one hour to get through. That’s no exaggeration; you get every single intricate detail about the plot before you're put to work on the farm. To top it off, the presentation is extremely text-heavy and there’s no autoscroll, so you’re going to be pressing the A button many, many times.

Once the story is all settled, you’ll soon realize that this is, in fact, a Story of Seasons game. You’re taking care of an old farm, meaning there’s land to clear, animals to feed, relationships to foster (no marriages, obviously), fish and bugs to collect, ore to mine, and so much more. It’s instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons title. None of it is revolutionary, but if the gameplay isn’t broken, do you really need to fix it?

Doraemon’s characters mesh well with the Story of Seasons gameplay. The former is a long-running children’s cartoon full of charm and humor. Story of Seasons is also a generally breezy experience. The game’s story is interesting, and the translation is top notch, if not a little hammy. If you like dad jokes, there’s plenty of them here.

One of the highlights of Doraemon Story of Seasons is the presentation. The art is beautifully drawn: a storybook-esque design that visually looks tremendous. Shizen Town looks wonderful, with its lush rivers, intricate buildings, grassy knolls, and amazing views. The only negative is that some of the character models come off looking less than lifelike, and sometimes their animations can look very weird.

Doraemon: Story of Seasons combines the two series into a wonderful new experience on Switch. There’s nothing here that breaks the mold, but that is the charm of Story of Seasons: it feels comfortable and easy to get into, and this iteration definitely goes out of its way to help you ease into the gameplay. If you can get through the excruciatingly long introduction, this is a well polished, beautifully-drawn version of Story of Seasons that anyone familiar with the series will love.

TalkBack / Columns II: The Voyage Through Time (Switch) Review
« on: October 17, 2019, 10:33:22 AM »

Everything fits with this puzzler.

Sega has released a number of puzzle games throughout the years, with Columns being one of their earlier titles. The second game in that series was released in 1990 exclusively for the arcade, and now it’s been released here on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Sega Ages line. It’s a perfectly serviceable puzzle game with a few enhancements to make it the best Columns II experience yet.

This puzzler is pretty straightforward. The goal is to match 3 or more jewels to their corresponding colors either diagonally, vertically or horizontally. Like any good puzzle game, it’s easy to figure out the basics and play, but hard to actually master and advance.

There are two modes to the core game. Flash Columns has you attempting to clear a blinking tile on the screen, while Vs. Columns is more akin to the original Columns, where you just focus on clearing tiles. The Sega Ages release gives you stage select options, as well as the ability to remove skulls, which can ruin your game if you try to remove them from the board. There’s nothing fancy about any of this, but the gameplay is rock solid and fun.

This new release has included a few more bells and whistles to sweeten the overall experience. There is an Infinite Jewels mode that allows you to clear as many tiles as you want. There’s also online play and leaderboards that help further the game’s replay value. Avatars can also be collected as you advance through Column II featuring obscure characters from Sega's past. It's a neat thing to work for if you want to up replay value.

There’s not much to talk about in terms of presentation. Column II’s graphics and sound are perfectly decent for its time. Sometimes the music can be grating, especially if a level takes a while to clear, but it does change pretty regularly. The tiles change patterns throughout each level; they could be anything from Column’s original jewels to disks or even fossils, living up to The Voyage Through Time subtitle.

If it seems like I don’t have much to say about Columns II: The Voyage Through Time. That’s because, well, I really don't. This is a perfectly average, competent, fun puzzle game that was very fun to play for a few hours and nothing more beyond that. It doesn’t revolutionize the puzzle genre in any way, but it was a good experience while it lasted. And like with any Sega Ages title, the added content makes this the best version of the game yet.

TalkBack / Dragon Quest (Switch) Review
« on: October 01, 2019, 03:03:19 PM »

This doth get most tiring after a while.

The first Dragon Quest game was released in Japan in May of 1986. This fact becomes ever apparent in the latest re-release of the classic RPG, now out on the Nintendo Switch. While the Dragon Quest charm resonates even in this first installment, the game shows its age in just about every way.

Your task in Dragon Quest is twofold: rescue Princess Gwaelin from evil forces, and take down the Dragonlord, who has brought terror to the kingdom of Alefgard. Much like in the original NES release, the translation mostly consists of old English dialogue. It’s cute for a few minutes, but as the game wears on it gets pretty stale having to decipher just what exactly people are saying. The overall experience is basic fare and relatively short, only lasting around 10 hours.

There is tons of grinding in Dragon Quest. A lot of those ten hours will have you slaying the same enemies over and over and over. The overworld is small enough to where you can pretty easily figure out where you need to go, but if you want to make real progress in the game there will be several times where you will need to spend hours not only leveling up but grinding to get enough gil to get better weapons and armor.

The presentation is a mixed bag. This is an enhanced version of a mobile port released earlier this decade. The 16-bit graphics look fine, and Akira Toriyama’s enemy artwork has been redone. Some parts of the game appear pretty dated, but aside from one glaring flaw the backgrounds and overworld have a nice old-school RPG feel that’s quite appealing.

Unfortunately, Square Enix went with the decision to completely redo the character models in the game and as a result, everything looks really weird. It’s as if they cleaned up these character sprites to remove all pixelation. This feels distracting, as not only was it an unnecessary move, but the clean sprites look very jarring against the pixelated backgrounds, making the visuals look like a jumbled mess.

The first Dragon Quest feels like a relic from the past with its incessant grinding and tiring dialogue. But it’s hard not to recommend: it does have that Dragon Quest appeal that many games in the series have, and the soundtrack and visuals (save the character models) give this release a great classic feel. There’s no doubt this 33-year-old game shows its age, but Dragon Quest presents a simple, straightforward experience that’s worth playing if you can forgive its dated flaws.

TalkBack / Bubsy: Paws on Fire (Switch) Review
« on: September 05, 2019, 11:02:00 AM »

What’s next, a Punky Skunk tactical RPG?

Bubsy the Bobcat’s strange revival continues with Bubsy: Paws on Fire, now out on the Nintendo Switch. From BIT.TRIP Runner developers Choice Provisions, Bubsy’s latest title is a mindless, simple adventure that doesn’t take much to experience. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this endless runner, but at the same time there’s nothing worth your time, unless you like hearing Bubsy’s lame one liners.

The opening cutscene explains that Bubsy’s nemesis Oinker is back at it again, this time kidnapping animals to create his own zoo. Despite his friends telling him that they’ve got this, Bubsy joins in anyway after berating his niece and nephew, who were nice enough to get him new sneakers from the flea market. There’s only two cutscenes in this entire game and both times I was left wondering why anyone would possibly want to interact with Bubsy, let alone be his friend.

Gameplay has you switching between Bubsy and his friends Woolie (an alien) and Virgil (a tech geek). Each has their own unique abilities and level designs: Bubsy can glide and pounce, Virgil has a double jump and can slide, while Woolie’s levels are side-scrolling shooters. This freshens things up a bit, as each individual level can get repetitive pretty fast. Bubsy’s armadillo friend Arnold is also playable, albeit for a bonus round level similar to that of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

The game is pretty short, with three worlds and three boss fights to play through. The different gameplay styles add to the replayability, especially if you just blitz through the game and only grab enough medals to advance to the next level. You can also customize the characters by using the items collected throughout the stages to buy new outfits, in case you want to give Bubsy a t-shirt that says “OOF” on it.

Presentation-wise, Paws on Fire is pretty unspectacular. The graphics are decent and so is the music. There’s sort of a dated feel to both, though, since Bubsy himself feels straight out of 1992. On a technical level, the game runs fine, but there are frequent loading times, and some feel pretty long.

Bubsy: Paws on Fire is an adequate game, a harmless romp that’s fine to play for a few hours. There’s no real challenge involved in getting through, save for the frequent loading times. However, there’s far more memorable and interesting endless runners out there, a lot of them by the same developer no less. If you miss the ‘tude mascot characters of the early 90s and want something that's at least decent, this may be fun for a while. Otherwise, nothing of note would be lost if you didn’t play the latest in Bubsy’s exploits.


Banjo-Kazooie out today, Terry Bogard is coming to Smash Bros. Ultimate, and there's still more to come.

Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard is the latest DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while Banjo-Kazooie is being released later today.

Banjo-Kazooie will be arrive today following the conclusion of today's Nintendo Direct. Masahiro Sakurai will be providing a demonstration of the character immediately after the Direct.

Terry Bogard was also announced as the next playable character. His reveal trailer was heavy on SNK/NEO GEO nostalgia, featuring the classic arcade intro. Several fighters from Fatal Fury including Geese Howard, Ryo, and Iori were seen trying to snatch the Smash Bros. invitation. However, it was Terry who was able to grab it.

Today’s Direct also announced that more characters beyond the five Fighter’s Pack characters will be coming.

Terry Bogard will be playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in November.

TalkBack / Overwatch Coming To Nintendo Switch in October
« on: September 04, 2019, 11:13:00 AM »

Blizzard's popular shooter is coming October 15.

Multiplayer first-person shooter Overwatch is coming to the Nintendo Switch next month.

A video showcasing various Overwatch characters was seen in the first trailer of today’s Nintendo Direct. There will be new ways to play, as the trailer showcased new motion control gameplay.

Overwatch will be released on Nintendo Switch on October 15.

TalkBack / Nintendo Reportedly Taking Action On Joy-Con Drift Issue
« on: July 23, 2019, 01:25:00 PM »

Nintendo reportedly is set to take action through free repairs without proof of warranty.

Nintendo is taking steps to solve the Nintendo Switch “Joy-Con drift” issue, according to internal documents.

The steps being taken, according to documents obtained by VICE Games, include instructing customer service to issue repairs for affected Joy-Cons “at no-charge”.

Additionally, customers will “no longer be requested to provide proof of purchase for Joy-Con repairs” and won’t require confirmation of the hardware’s warranty status. Customers will also be able to receive refunds from previous paid Joy-Con repairs.

“Joy-Con drift“, an issue in which the analog sticks on Joy-Cons move objects on the screen, has gained attention following a Kotaku article that detailed the issue. Nintendo later released a response to the article, saying “We are aware of recent reports that some Joy-Con controllers are not responding correctly. We want our consumers to have fun with Nintendo Switch, and if anything falls short of this goal we always encourage them to visit so we can help."

TalkBack / Final Fantasy IX Music Bug To Be Fixed In Future Patch
« on: June 27, 2019, 10:34:51 AM »

You can finally listen to FFIX the music in full soon.

A bug that caused problems with Final Fantasy IX’s  background music will soon be fixed in a patch.

In a tweet released today, the official Final Fantasy Twitter account has addressed the problem and have patched the PlayStation 4 version of the game. This fixes the problem of music restarting whenever you exit a battle or a Tetra Master match, which was not in the original release.

The Twitter account also noted that they are working to fix the bug in other releases, including the Nintendo Switch.

Final Fantasy VII’s release on Switch had the exact same bug upon its release back in March. Square Enix released a patch last month that fixed the issue.

TalkBack / We. The Revolution (Switch) Review
« on: June 26, 2019, 12:01:00 PM »

There’s no pleading the fifth.

It’s easy to say these days that political tensions are pretty high everywhere. But things were even more dire in the time during the French Revolution. We. The Revolution brings to light just how drastic times were in France during this period, and it illustrates wonderfully how doing the right thing wasn’t always exactly the right thing.

We. the Revolution is a courtroom adventure game (think Phoenix Wright but more realistic and shorter court cases) set during the French Revolution, a period of social and political unrest that started in 1789, eventually threw out France’s King Louis, and ushered in the country’s first republic. As judge Alexis Fidele, you are given evidence and are able to ask questions to those who are accused of anti-revolutionary crimes. Once all of the questioning is finished, you then choose a verdict to be issued.

The setting plays perfectly into the kind of choices you make, none of which are all that great. You have to juggle various factions, including the jury that wants to uphold the law and the civilians who want to take care of the situation themselves. This winds up putting you in moral dilemmas, giving you choices you may end up not liking but need to make in order to keep balances between all the forces involved.

I ended up liking these courtroom cases overall, but at times it gets kind of tiresome to read so much text at once. There’s no real puzzle solving, just a mini-game that helps you connect the dots before asking questions. Controls in these scenes are also kind of annoying, as they didn’t feel responsive enough when trying to make the right selection.

In addition to all of the political upheaval, you also have to deal with family situations at home, which often times are tense and even on occasion spill into court cases you are deciding. We. the Revolution’s narrative is far more fascinating than the gameplay itself, and thus I was intrigued in between courtroom cases thanks to the game’s strong cutscenes and storytelling.

Presentation-wise, We. The Revolution has solid, crisp backgrounds and a nuanced but attractive art style. The voice acting during cutscenes was also a nice touch. My only real problem was when playing in handheld mode; sometimes it was pretty hard to read the text, which is vital for any adventure game. When playing on the television, it was perfectly fine.

We. the Revolution is a well-presented, fascinating look into one of France’s most significant historical chapters. The courtroom cases themselves could be a tad more interesting, but the game’s overall narrative is strong and engaging. We know the story of the French Revolution, but we can’t necessarily imagine what it was like living in those tumultuous times. We the Revolution is a fascinating look into the moral struggles of the era, where things weren’t as clear-cut as they seemed.

TalkBack / Luigi's Mansion 3 (Switch) Preview
« on: June 12, 2019, 09:46:00 AM »

Luigi just can’t stay away from mansions.

Just when he thought he was through, Luigi is back trekking spooky mansions in this third installment of the Luigi’s Mansion series. The overall mechanics take some time to get used to, but inside Luigi’s Mansion 3 lies a very clever mix of platforming and puzzle solving.

The demo at this week’s E3 convention starts with what appears to be a prince mocking Luigi, who somehow is usually the butt of everyone’s jokes. Luigi then enters the mansion with a plethora of items that will help him advance through: plunger launchers that can be used to steal away shields or help reveal hidden items, a flashlight that stuns enemies with its brightness and, naturally, Luigi’s vacuum that sucks up the ghosts and can even smash them around.

Luigi thankfully isn’t alone here as he also has a couple of pals that help him along the way. The aptly named Gooigi, Luigi’s solid green, gooier doppelganger helps by going through areas that the normal, fleshier Luigi can’t access otherwise. Gooigi can also help solve puzzles, as one of the demo's puzzles had Luigi travel through an elevator by having Gooigi use a nearby windmill.

His other friend is a friendly pooch by the name of Polterpup. The ghost dog helps you take down and strike enemies, which gives you ample opportunity to grab ghosts and smash them into oblivion.

The boss of the demo ended up being the jerk prince that taunted Luigi at the start. It’s a boss pattern that’s pretty easy to follow: wait for him to charge, flash him with the flashlight then attack with the vacuum.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems very promising based on the E3 demo. It took some time getting used to all of the mechanics at your disposal (there’s a lot!) but once everything is figured out, there’s a fun puzzle game here. There’s no firm release date the moment, but Luigi will be entering haunted mansions sometime later this year.

TalkBack / Pokemon Sword and Shield (Switch) Preview
« on: June 11, 2019, 11:35:00 AM »

So much larger than life.

There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about the Pokemon Sword/Shield demo that is being shown this week at E3. It treads on the familiar, with highlights being new Pokemon and battle techniques.

The demo throws you into a water gym with a puzzle where you have to flip switches on and off in order to stop rushing water so you can continue on your path. A gym guide was nearby that helped heal Pokemon if necessary. This area actually seemed like a throwback to early era Pokemon gym puzzles, as it was simple and not as elaborate as puzzles found in more recent games. The three starter Pokemon (Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble), Wooloo and Corviknight, a steel/flying type, were available to use. There were also two new Pokemon that haven’t appeared in the recent Directs: Yamper, an adorable electric Corgi that will certainly threaten Wooloo as everyone’s favorite new Pokemon and Impidimp, a dark/fairy creature which, as the name suggests, is an imp. The former was playable while the latter was not.

After facing three trainers and clearing the water puzzle, it was time to enter a stadium filled with fans. The final battle in the demo has you pitted against Nessa, the gym leader.  She had two Pokemon: a rather uninteresting Goldeen and the much more intriguing Dreadnaw, a new rock/water Pokemon.

Dreadnaw had the ability to use Dynamax, the new battling mechanic that causes your Pokemon to grow exceptionally tall, giving them new moves in the process. I chose Yamper to use the Dynamax technique and quickly took out Goldeen with its new Thunder Max attack. Dreadnaw was a tougher battle, but with Yamper and grass starter Grookey I managed to make short work of the newest turtle Pokemon.

The demo ends after some encouraging words from Nessa. You’re given a nondescript water badge, which is placed in a circular keeper that seems to complete a puzzle once you collect all of the badges.

From what the demo showcased, Pokemon Sword and Shield is nothing new, as anyone who has played Pokemon should get a feel for it instantly. But that isn’t a bad thing, as the new Pokemon, the Dynamax mechanic and sleek HD visuals are intriguing enough for any fan who’s waiting to chomp at the bit to play. More of the newer features, such as open world routes and raid battles will likely come to light as we near the November 15 release date.

TalkBack / Assassin's Creed III Remastered (Switch) Review
« on: May 30, 2019, 03:13:06 PM »

Life, liberty and the pursuit of an audio patch.

The Remastered versions of Assassin's Creed III and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation are now available on the Switch. Both titles feature a wealth of content, including all of the downloadable content from Assassin's Creed III. The problem is that while both are intriguing games and generally fun to play, this release, which is designed to be a “remastered” version of both games feels more like a shoddy port featuring a ton of technical issues.

Both III and Liberation takes place during the mid-to-late 1700s in the colonies prior to the formation of the United States of America. Assassin’s Creed III focuses on colonial America during the American Revolution with Liberation taking place in Louisiana towards the end of the French and Indian War. It’s a fascinating time period to explore, and Ubisoft did a great job bringing history to life with notable historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington all making appearances.

The stories themselves are interesting, with III telling its story over a couple of decades, first through Haytham Kenway, then his son, Connor. It takes a while for the story to really get going (you don’t play as Connor for a number of hours) but it eventually finds a good pace and uses the historical settings to its advantage. Liberation also has a strong narrative, telling the story of Aveline, a French-African woman who serves as a templar in New Orleans.

The Remastered versions bring HD rumble and touchscreen support for the Switch, which are nice touches. It's also fun to play in portable mode. But graphically, III’s visuals are a disappointment on the Switch. Among many complaints: backgrounds come off as bare, models look dated, and everything for some reason comes off as really dark and hard to see, especially when you enter a room or tavern. The actual settings and locations are impressive, but visually it doesn’t hold up, and the upgrades that were brought in for the PS4 and Xbox One re-releases such as improved lighting don’t seem to be here.

Gameplay wise, both titles feature fun and varied missions to play through. Most missions require stealth and detective work, though of course there are plenty of times where you are required to take out enemies. Eavesdropping into conversations without being detected, tailing persons of interest and accomplishing tasks while avoiding capture are just some of the missions you’ll take part in. There’s additional goals to meet in order to obtain 100% synchronization, which are fun to try but not required in order to clear a mission.

Unfortunately, the Remastered editions are riddled with technical issues. The most heinous being notable audio problems, especially when transitioning between cutscenes. It gets old fast, and is a problem that never seems to fix itself. Another notable issue is where I would shoot or attack enemies and they would either freeze in place or literally combust into a pixelated, glitchy mess.  

Both Assassin's Creed III and Liberation are titles worth investing time into. They contain tons of content that’s fun, and the time setting makes for some interesting scenarios, but the technical issues for this Switch port aren’t worth the trade off for being able to play on the go. These issues aren’t bad enough that the Remastered editions on the Switch are an unplayable mess, but it’s still a mess regardless.

TalkBack / Re: Resident Evil (Switch) Review
« on: May 22, 2019, 03:47:13 AM »
This is the re-release from a few years ago that is a HD version of the Gamecube game, if that makes any sense.

TalkBack / Resident Evil (Switch) Review
« on: May 20, 2019, 08:01:00 PM »

Open that door, if you dare...

Resident Evil is a series I haven’t really gotten into. I’ve played the fourth and fifth entries and liked them for the most part, but it’s easy to say that I’m unfamiliar with the bulk of the series. So playing the first Resident Evil, a port of the GameCube remaster from 2002 now out on Switch, was a pretty cool experience. It’s easy to understand how the series became popular, as the presentation and gameplay are strong, filled with creepy enemies and a cool, dark atmosphere.

The goal of the first Resident Evil is to explore a mansion you and your team find yourself trapped in, looking for clues about what’s been going down in Raccoon City as of late. You can choose between two characters, Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, whose paths are slightly different from one another and can obtain different items as their stories progress.

Gameplay is very much puzzle-based, as you need keys and other items to unlock doors and discover new areas within the haunted home. Obviously you will need to step in and use weapons when necessary, but puzzle solving is just as important as maiming zombies and wiping out angry, undead dogs that come barrelling through the mansion windows.

The atmosphere of Resident Evil is easily the it’s strongest suit. The mansion is dark and poorly lit, creating the perfect atmosphere for a survival horror title. The graphics, which were completely redone for the 2002 remake, show their age with some grainy textures here and there. Still, the ambiance more than makes up for the shortcomings in this department.

But beyond the graphics, there are several gameplay annoyances here that really show this remaster’s age. For one, you need ink ribbons in order to save your progress. Granted, they are there to create tension, which Resident Evil is really good at doing. But it also feels amazingly archaic in this day and age, especially when you can only carry so many items, which is another issue in itself. With only so many item slots, there were often times where I would have to stop and look around for an item box so I could either grab what I needed for the next area or just dump whatever I had so I can move on. It’s pretty tedious and at times stalled my progress.

Despite shortcomings, the remake of the first Resident Evil title is a tense, exciting romp through a mansion that has a ton of creepy secrets. There are definite signs of aging here that make me appreciate current day luxuries, but once I got past those I enjoyed Resident Evil’s puzzles, scares and horrors.

TalkBack / Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package (Switch) Review
« on: May 09, 2019, 12:09:26 PM »

Well, it certainly isn’t boring.

It’s kind of hard not to compare the Saints Row series to Grand Theft Auto, as the core gameplay is virtually the same. But Saints Row’s third entry cemented the series as something totally different—whereas Grand Theft Auto went in a more serious direction, Saints Row: The Third embraced complete zaniness and lunacy, featuring balls-to-the-wall violence, zombies, aliens, and so much more. Some aspects of the re-release, subtitled The Full Package, feel a bit dated, but the sheer wealth of content means there’s no end to the shenanigans the gang gets into.

The story is relatively simple: your gang is thrust into a new city, Steelport, following the events of the opening mission and start working on plans to take over the city. There’s a number of rival gangs who are looking to do the same thing, including one that wears luchador masks and another that dresses in goth. Although there are some underlying stories about revenge and redemption, more often than not you’re quickly thrust into crazed violence. I wouldn’t say the story is the game’s strongest suit, but it’s serviceable.

There are tons of things to do in Saints Row: The Third. Beyond the story missions, there’s a wealth of side missions that deal with tasks ranging from securing neighborhoods from rival gangs to collecting insurance fraud. There’s even one that has you competing in a Smash TV-esque game show where your goal is to kill as many people as possible for the most cash before time runs out.

The included DLC expands on a few of these side missions and features some storylines of its own that are completely out there. They feature everything from acting in an alien movie to securing a clone of Johnny Gat that's running loose in the city. It does a great job of making what already is a silly game even sillier, which is one of the game’s stronger suits.

Beyond the story mode, there’s also Whored (horde) mode where you fight swarms of enemies until you die, which is always fun. Both local and online co-op play rounds out the package. For whatever reason, you need an additional Switch and a second copy of Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package if you want to do local co-op, which is an unfortunate burden.

On a technical level, The Full Package is anything but. Not only does it feel dated graphically, but there are also a ton of bugs. I had to restart the Switch several times due to the game freezing, particularly when navigating through menus. There was also an instance where I had to restart a mission because a vehicle froze and I couldn’t complete the mission without it.

Full Package should be retitled “Flawed Package” because there are a few issues here that are noticeable enough to hamper the experience. It’s prone to substantial bugs to the point where it freezes, and there’s just a dated feel to it, both in the humor and the visuals. However, while there are noticeable issues, the core sandbox gameplay is strong, and if there is one thing I can say about Saints Row: The Third, it’s definitely not boring.

TalkBack / Nintendo News Report: Switch Scramble - The Sales Strikers
« on: April 26, 2019, 01:59:00 PM »

Nintendo's coming to steal all your free time.

Hey everyone! Join a full Nintendo News Report team at about 10:15 Eastern as we talk about the fallout from Nintendo's earnings call, look ahead to E3, try to figure out how we're playing everything coming out in July, and... Persona 5 is coming to Switch in a fashion.

Don't forget to grab the audio version of the show on iTunes,  Google Play or in your podcatcher of choice!

TalkBack / Shred! 2 - Freeride Mountianbiking (Switch) Review
« on: February 28, 2019, 09:26:42 PM »

The only time I'll ever look competent on a bike.

Shred! 2 - Freeride Mountianbiking is a sequel to a mobile cycling game that focuses on perfecting tricks and sticking jumps to earn stars, advancing through to the next level. The experience was a mixed bag: on one hand, the trial-and-error gameplay is enjoyable and replayable. On the other, weird controls hamper the experience, never feeling quite right.

The easy comparison to Shred! 2 would be the Trials video game series, but in a more traditional mobile-based layout. It features over 40 levels consisting of mountains, streets, downhill areas, and other locations that are perfect for, well, shredding on a bike. Crashes and extreme wipeouts are very common in Shred! 2. Pro mountain biker Sam Pilgrim lends his likeness and voice to the game, grunting and shouting whenever the bike crashes or stops moving due to lack of momentum. It’s never discouraging having to repeatedly try a level over and over again. It can be tedious, but also rewarding once the right trick is finally pulled off.

I found the controls in Shred! 2 to be a bit off. They just never felt perfect, and there was always second guessing whenever trying to launch or break at just the right moment. It’s actually a real pain in the butt to prepare for a jump, launch into the air, and then reach all the way to the right joystick to execute a move, all while making sure I landed safely. It’s not impossible, but it can take quite a while to feel confident enough to clear a level with no problems.

Presentation-wise, Shred! 2 is also a bit of a mixed bag. The soundtrack features a number of original tunes that, while nothing out of the ordinary, fit well with the game and can be shuffled around pretty easily if so desired. The graphics themselves are slightly better looking than most mobile games. Not that they’re horrific-looking, but they're simply average and serviceable at most.

The trial-and-error gameplay of Shred! 2 is solid, and there’s always a sense of achievement and hard work once a level is finally cleared. Seeing the camera pan out as a large jump is executed is also a really cool feeling. There’s plenty of levels to choose from and the customizable options give the experience a nice, personal touch. Moving with the controls never felt quite perfect, but doesn’t render the game unplayable. Shred! 2 is simply a pretty solid, fun game that has its moments once you look past its issues.

TalkBack / Final Fantasy IX (Switch) Review
« on: February 20, 2019, 09:42:08 AM »

A great game, a shoddy port.

Final Fantasy IX, in and of itself, is a wonderful game. Harkening to the earlier days of the series, the PlayStation’s final installment is utterly charming. An intriguing story, rich soundtrack and vibrant characters make it easy to recommend. The Switch re-release is a serviceable port, but unfortunately it fails to fix bugs found in the PlayStation 4 and Steam ports that have been out for years.

First and foremost, Final Fantasy IX is a great game, filled with hours of wonderful storytelling and vibrant settings. I’ll admit the pacing is a bit slow, but the constantly creeping mystery surrounding the origins of main characters such as Zidane and Vivi kept me going. And once I got deeper into the game, there was a fascinating story to be found. The battle system is just kind of there (earning abilities based on character class and weapons), and I never felt as engaged with it as I did in other Final Fantasy titles, but it’s still serviceable.

Final Fantasy IX is now nearly 20 years old, and it shows. Moving around in the overworld can be kind of a chore, and the slow pace of battling feels like a boring grind. Thankfully, there’s a number of quality of life features in this port that alleviate these kinds of issues. There’s a fast forward option, which zooms you through dialogue, the overworld map and battles. There are also options to eliminate random encounters, kill enemies in one hit and become invincible. This makes it much easier if you just want to clear the game as quickly as possible without hitting any roadblocks.

Another upgrade is sort of a mixed bag. The character models have been cleaned up and look great, a big upgrade from the original PlayStation release. The problem is that the pre-rendered graphics, which the Final Fantasy games of this generation relied heavily on, did not get an upgrade for HD devices, making most of the backgrounds look grainy and blurry. It’s a shame, as the art direction of the game is tremendous. It’s just unfortunate that some parts just couldn’t be touched up more.

While the new quality of life features are great, this port of Final Fantasy IX, which is based on a mobile re-release, has issues that have never been fixed which is a real shame as they’re very noticeable. The game’s UI, for example, looks very bland and plain compared to the original. This isn’t a huge issue, but it’s not that appealing on a cosmetic level and I'm not sure why they kept this mobile-based UI that's been an issue for most of the Final Fantasy re-releases. The bigger issue is random crashing during the game —at least twice during cutscenes my game froze to the point where I had to reboot the game. It’s almost astonishing that despite noticeable technical problems, Square Enix did nothing to resolve these kinds of issues after nearly three years.

That’s not to say people should avoid this re-release, because despite the problems there’s a strong game here that’s worth playing and experiencing. FFIX is reminiscent of a simpler time, boasting a strong narrative and quality of life features that make it easy to get into. I just wish it had a better presentation, one that a game of this quality truly deserves.

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