Astral Chain Review

Today we review Astral Chain, a Nintendo exclusive recently released with an interesting style in gameplay. As always,  if you don’t want to spoil any elements of the story skip the section between the usual spoiler announcement.

Some may compare some of the mechanics with the former PS2 game Chaos Legion. Astral Chain takes you the player, into the story of a character that oddly enough, manages to overcome a barrier others seem to be unable to overcome. Due to this it makes you one of two
people who are the sole protagonists of this game.

Of course both of the people able to do this are characters the player may choose to play as. At the very beginning you are given the choice of a male or female character. Once selected the other becomes a computer controlled AI that will on occasion appear at your side in battle. The one big thing to note is, whichever one you choose, they suddenly develop the inability to speak, and basically give affirmatives in grunts. Your sibling on the other hand ends up having plenty of self reflective conversations with you the silent wall.

*Begin Spoilers*

Moving on from this unfortunate setup that Platform Games did, this game actually has a pretty awesome stylized gameplay. You play a rookie cop through the first mission you are launched into a variety of scenarios attempting to save civilians and some other minor things. Obviously this is to let you get coordinated with the game. Once that is done you then run into an enemy you can’t seem to see. At this point your objective is to try and defeat them or survive. As this occurs a special department that handles these sort of situations appears, and pretty much save you from becoming human mince meat.

As this scene progresses, it seems you have been discovered to have some high compatibility with a piece of technology that this special team is using and the leader is instructed to equip you and your brother with your own set. At this point you are then equipped with your first
“Legion”. You proceed to have a quick boss battle that is fairly simple, and once completed you go to the base and are indoctrinated into this department.

*End Spoilers*

 

The game takes you through three stages per each file, each file is the equivalent of a chapter. As you progress you can find tons of hidden elements in the game with many little missions, and often conversations will give you clues to reaching a 100% completion of the game. Without these clues however, it’s pretty much guaranteed you aren’t going to be getting everything, unless you already know everything. These stages are as follows :

  • Prep – This stage is where you can get your weapon upgrades, clean off your Legion, change outfits, and read up files to further the plot lines of the story. You can also get many of your survival items at this point in the game.
  • Detective – At this point you will run around the specified area finding clues that will allow you to move forward. Being an officer however you have other responsibilities such as making sure gang activity is kept to a minimum, helping lost children and several other side quests. This is one of the points that you have to pay attention to dialog extremely well. You may often find hidden bosses in these too.
  • Action – Here is where you get into the nitty gritty of the combat system the most. They do throw in some puzzles as well, and MANY hidden paths. Don’t be afraid to explore, use your abilities and test boundaries, there were some points that had some interesting puzzles that led to some pretty awesome hidden bosses. If you think you can reach something, more often than not, you can. These stages usually end up with a boss battle as well at the end. These battles were always quite fun and at times could be a bit challenging.

I don’t want to go too in detail about these Legions because obviously you may want to play this game, and I don’t want to ruin the experience, however I will say this : you will run into a lot of areas that contain objects that seem like they can be interacted with but at the point in time you could not interact with it. You can come back later on with the correct Legion for those parts, and they do make sure to teach you very well how to use each and every one of the abilities of the Legions.

Overall This game performs quite well on the switch and was absolutely thrilling to play. Although you could not play as the Legions themselves, you were able to have some minuscule control over them, at least in single player mode that is.

That’s right there is a multiplayer coop in this. However this coop is only possible locally. Additionally you can only do it via the Joycons. One player controls the main character, the other controls the camera. Additionally as the player performs his combo’s the second player
must time what is called “Synchronized” attacks. These attacks often come in a powerful combo finisher, or counters. It’s a bit awkward, and often (if you and your partner aren’t synchronized) you will stumble over each other when your minds think a bit differently.

Overall this game was delightfully fun, and actually tries to get you invested with explanations of how things came to be. However with the shoddy work of making the main character a silent protagonist, and making it the coop features so gimmicky, and some rough camera angles when in some enclosed areas, I have to rate this game as a 3.5 out of five. It’s still pretty good but it can definitely have been better.

Borderlands 3: Bringing that smile back to your face!

The long awaited Borderlands 3 Finally hit shelves September 13th, 2019, and this game once again delivers us to a world that is so wacky and nonsensical that you can’t help but laugh and listen for the silly one liners and the absolutely ridiculous comments all of these characters do.

Gearbox Studios once again delivers a funny, fun, and absolutely captivating storyline with returning cast members such as Lillith, Claptrap, Hammerlock, the voluptuous Moxxi, and so many others. To my eager curiosity they even bring back Tiny Tina, though she isn’t so tiny
anymore, she still packs the purely awesome performance that was presented to us in Borderlands 2.

As always please beware of our spoiler warning, if you don’t want any part of the games story spoiled then skip the spoiler section.

Gearbox brings us Borderlands 3 with a bold claim of having over 1 Billion guns in the game. I’m certainly not going to cover 1 Billion guns in this review, but I can mention that they did an amazing job of making each gun from each company have its own unique feel and abilities. For example Jakobs weapons tended to have a ricochet perk. Critical shots will bounce to an additional target for an additional crit (only once per shot unless a shotgun, then once per pellet). The more Jakobs weapons you use the more they drop for you, and the ability evolves, meaning it can do more targets on the ricochets.

Tediore, known for the throw-away-to-reload weapons, actually slowly change as they evolve from explosives to self shooting guns to temporary walking turrets (as you get more guns of course). These are just a few examples of what your weapons are capable of becoming, and ultimately one of the most awesome things about this game. It adds a whole new element of complexity to the game. This could even make some new challenges for players such as a Jakobs weapon only run through.

*Begin Spoilers*

The story of Borderlands 3 begins with as usual a pretty sick cinematic scene involving 4 characters, each using unique abilities to overcome an obstacle. Once the cinematic comes to its inevitable end, you are presented with Marcus driving a less than sanitary looking jalopy as he opens the door and basically invites you in. It is at this point where you get to pick one of 4 characters. These characters are Amara, Zane, Fl4k, and Moze. Each one with their own unique abilities. Once you select your character you are then placed in the vehicle and see a short cutscene where our famous firehawk speaks to you (you get to see the face of a very attractive Lillith that looks if I may say so myself, quite attractive.

She does a quick hi, and says to meet her hidden soldier, and you quickly make a small comment about how you are hearing voices in your head. Once Marcus drops you off you get to see… You probably guessed it, but for those of you who aren’t that familiar with Borderlands,
Claptrap! ( CL4P-TP). You get the usual presentation into the HUD, and get a small agreement prompt (which quickly disappears before you can read through all of the gibberish, and its quite long). Then you move forward along the story where you get to see Claptrap performing his usual funny routines including a “stealth bit” where he seemingly can’t shut up and be stealthy. Of course in all
the hilarity this scene is quickly followed up with an explosion, and a pretty accurate line of “this is Pandora, if things aren’t exploding, its weird. Of course this sets the pace for the arduous adventure you are about to embark on.

*End Spoiler*

This game of course makes it clear from the beginning it’s going to be a pure adrenaline rush senseless gunfight with plenty of hilarious quips and situations. They did also add some pretty awesome and unique hidden boss fights. With the massive assortment of guns, and the well done mechanics, this game is sure to carry you on for quite a bit of fun. Let’s not forget the amazing job the voice actors did, Their acts bring life to these characters on a level that I appreciate completely.

Seeing all of the small details they put into this game, I am fairly positive the developers for this game, or at least the guys that pitched ideas for it, were having an absolute ball making this game, and the delivery in my opinion is absolutely phenomenal.

With all these good things about this game, there is one extremely blaring flaw. The multiplayer mode in the game on the same console performs atrociously. There a glitches, delays, and consistent freezes. Now to be exact, the freezes don’t really occur while the players are outside of the menu, they occur when a player opens up their menu, to either pick an ability or change their inventory around, or even look at the map. When one player does this, the system ends up having a processing problem and freezes up a bit, causing players, enemies and other objects to jump slightly. This is very disorienting, and definitely hurts the multiplayer experience on the same console. Additionally you can’t play 4 player multiplayer on a single console, I was somewhat disappointed about this one. I wanted to see my friends reactions when we played our game.

Aside from that glaring problem the game is actually quite solid, delivering a pretty awesome game to add to the library of Borderlands games we all play. All in all I give this game a 4.5 out of 5 . You did Well Gearbox, you just didn’t properly optimize that multiplayer, otherwise, you would have been the first to get a 5 out of 5 from me.

Daemon X Machina Review

Demon X Machina, a Nintendo Switch exclusive, published by Nintendo and developed by Marvelous Inc, is a Mecha-genre game with a curious choice in design. Instead of going a high graphic quality type game they went back to a bit more of a cell shaded style, which in this case, came out to make a visually marvelous piece of work to play.

The designs in this game are easily comparable with armored core, and it’s easy to see why, as Shoji Kawamori (an integral part of the original Armored Core) was brought onboard this project. His designs can be seen as showing a deep resemblance to Armored Core, at times even a clone.

If I had to compare a game that this reminds me of, I would definitely point at Armored Core for Answer. Armored Core for Answer had some incredibly fast pace battle mechanics with many variations of each. The game included a multiplayer vs mode that often ended up with players taking advantage of glitches, or even creating their own objectified mini games of hyper-speed racing.

That being said, after getting my hands on this jewel, I can say I felt like I had returned to the fun days of playing Armored Core for Answer. The Mecha’s are incredibly responsive, with every detail displayed in numbers. The pace of the game extremely fast paced with time missions such as knocking a super train off its rails before it gets out of battle-zone and then proceeding to battle against this out of control train.

I honestly didn’t really play this one for the story, and much of the dialog I simply skipped (sorry not sorry, I needed this high adrenaline action!!!). Hopping into the action you get little details of the characters and a bit of insight into their personalities as the developers did a great job of not only showing the characters and how they align during the long conversations (OK so I did listen to it) and how they acted in the battlefield. Often they say repeated lines as you play along the levels, but thankfully they don’t just continually repeat themselves more than once per play-through of a mission.

The weapons systems are quite vast, and the most common way I have obtained my weapons, well looting off the dead robot bodies of my enemies! As you amass your money you can go through and perform upgrades to certain weapons or even yourself the pilot. Yes that’s right, you can modify your own body to have cybernetic enhancements. Not only can you do that, but you can exit your mech mid-combat and fight in your human/cyborg body rather than controlling the mecha.

Unfortunately this game falls victim to the same problems I have with many games of this type. The gameplay becomes extremely repetitive, and at times the extremely fast motions can actually disorient you with the variety of colors in this games design. Overall what kept me excited throughout the entire game was the wonder of whether we would get to make something like the White Glint. Unfortunately so far in my play-through I haven’t found all the parts, but I have found parts that look very similar. I am still crossing my fingers to completely assemble this one!

There is also a multiplayer mode, and if you don’t like your early game parts, you can definitely join others and begin scavenging the parts to make the mecha that fits your tastes.

Overall I give this game a 4 out of 5. The game dives right into the category of fast pace action when you begin your mission and it absolutely does not slow down during the battles.

Meet the Streamer: A one on one with LuluLuvely

Meet the Streamer Overview

Meet the Streamer is about getting to know your favorite streamer in a different light.  My hope is to give the featured streamer’s viewers a chance to learn things you might not be able to while watching their stream.

Featured Streamer: LuluLuvely

LuluLuvely, aka The Queen of Apex, is from Texas.  She is a very skilled FPS player and absolutely lives up to her name.  She is very “luvely”. She attended ACU and studied marketing. She seems to have put those marketing skills to good use on Twitch.tv.  Hope all of you enjoy watching the interview as much as I enjoyed speaking with Lindsey.

Meet the Streamer: A one on one with PippenPrime – Segment 2

Meet the Streamer Overview

Meet the Streamer is about getting to know your favorite streamer in a different light.  Sometimes it’s difficult to interact with your audience when you are focused on winning the game or getting the kill.  My hope is to give the featured streamer’s viewers a chance to learn things you might not be able to while watching their stream.

If you are interested in being featured on Meet the Streamer, contact me on twitter @og_vondux.  There are no viewer requirements. It doesn’t matter if you are partner or affiliate or even just getting started.  We would like to get to know you!

Featured Streamer: PippenPrime

My name is Thomas “Pippen” Peters.  I am 23 years old. I grew up in a small town where I played a lot of sports and spent a lot of time outdoors.  My first experience gaming was on a Super Nintendo before I began playing Xbox. My first games were Halo and Gears of War.  Halo is where my love for competitive gaming started and the rest is history. I have played a few other games competitively such as CSGO, PUBG and now Apex Legends.  I love to stream because I am able to show off my love for gaming as well as my passion for meeting and interacting with new people.

PippenPrime’s twitter  link:

https://twitter.com/PippenPrime

Anarchy Gaming Podcast:

https://www.anarchyesports.com

Video Games & The Art of the Mundane

Back in June, I started playing the Grand Theft Auto V story mode for the first time after owning the game for two years (and I loved it, in case anyone was interested). As I got into it, I began noticing a lot of the rather mundane things that players have the option of doing while playing. That got me thinking about the use of such tasks within this game and others. For this article, I’m going to looking at and analyzing the effectiveness of the utilization of similar mechanics in games such as Detroit: Become Human, Life Is Strange, Until Dawn, and GTA V. I will be comparing them on the basis of narrative and mechanic uses.

What Makes Mundanity Effective in a Video Game? And What Makes It Ineffective?

When it comes to video games, especially ones that are story driven or contain a lot of action, mundanity is something that comes from the completion of an incredibly simple or underwhelming task when compared to the other action in the game. There are few games out there that can accomplish making the mundane stand out in a positive way or in a way that doesn’t make game-play tedious.

Detroit: Become Human is not one of those games. As wonderful as the storytelling and characters are, the game-play is tedious in every sense of the word. Every minute action is a quick time event or is, in some way, interactive. While, yes, it can be quite entertaining to make Connor fumble with a doorknob for twenty minutes, this tedium is… annoying in a certain sense. Not only is it unnecessary but it also removes you from any sense of immersion you might have had within the story, which isn’t great in a story-focused video game. I suppose this is the hubris of David Cage’s vision for video games, which seems to be just a desire to create interactive movies or, as he calls them, experiences. That’s not necessarily a problem but making a player sit there for five minutes with their fingers clamped down on both trigger buttons of the controller just so a character can open a door is a problem. It’s more about how David Cage goes about making those movies interactive for the players. His vision prevents the game from having compelling game-play and mechanics. The game struggles in the realm of game-play because of the movie-like quality. When the game is something that you are spectating, instead of participating in, it is much harder to find a good excuse to give the player control. The tedium serves in no way to push the story forward in any meaningful way. It serves no purpose, especially in the later parts of the game. It would be different if the tedium were confined to establishing a status quo before it is changed with the events of the game. But that’s not what happens. Even after you’re past the washing dishes and doing laundry, you still have to quick-time-event every little thing.

When it comes to other games like Life Is Strange 1 and 2, the mundane tasks that you perform in either game do serve a purpose. In Life Is Strange 1, you spend a good part of the first chapter walking to Max’s dorm room to get a flash drive. You also spend time in other chapters doing rather simple things like putting a CD in a stereo or picking up car keys. In Life Is Strange 2, you spend time picking out snacks and beverages for a party. The reason these kinds of things work in these games is because these games don’t present themselves as anything more than what they are.

The things that I’ve mentioned here are meant to establish a status quo. A status quo is simply the state of the character’s lives, or just what their day-to-day looks like before the story begins.  It’s the basic structure of adventure stories to establish a status quo for the main characters so the audience can see just how much that person’s life changes when the inciting incident happens. The calm before the storm, if you will. Picking out snacks or putting a CD in a stereo works because the world building in either of these games doesn’t present the game as anything more than normal people being put into strange circumstances. There is no reason to believe a character would do something out our definition of ordinary because they live in a perceivably normal world. The status quo contrasts with the other events in the game, making the events that much more exciting and giving them even more meaning within the context of the story.

With Detroit, the major problem with the way mundane tasks are presented is in the promise of the what the world building presents for potential players. You’re playing a game set in a futuristic world where androids and other automated systems have become the norm. However, the player is stuck playing as an android that has to wash dishes and can’t open a door without your help. When you have to do absolutely every single little thing, it isn’t as fun as simply seeing a before and after of what a character’s life looks like after the story has already begun or has ended. There wasn’t a change in the status quo. The android that you’re playing as, that is supposed to be this exciting character, still needs your help to open doors after all that time.

Until Dawn is another game using some of these same mechanics. While it might seem like it’s in the same club with Detroit: Become Human, there is a major difference in how these two games use simple mechanics like turning door knobs and other “full controller use” tasks. In Detroit, like I’ve mentioned, mechanics like these don’t really add anything to the game, except a reason to call it a game. In Until Dawn, those same tasks serve a purpose, whether it seems like it or not. Until Dawn is a horror game. Yes, it is almost like an interactive film or show but it has interactive elements for a very distinct purpose. In a horror game, sometimes the most important part isn’t the monster chasing the protagonist. Sometimes, it’s the atmosphere, the tension in the air as you wait for something terrible to burst from the depths of your worst nightmares. From personal experience, that’s always what makes my anxiety shoot through the roof while playing games like this. When you’re playing Until Dawn, the simple tasks that might have annoyed you in Detroit: Become Human are the ones that now heighten the atmosphere and immerse you in the tension of the story. Something as simple as retrieving spray-on deodorant from a bathroom cabinet can be kind of freaky because, not only do you know this is a horror game, but the slowness at which you open the cabinet door makes you scared for what kind of horrors could be awaiting within. Most, if not all mechanics like this in the game serve that same purpose, to immerse you within the atmosphere and tension that the characters might be feeling, giving you a sense of urgency or understanding of the situation.

As I mentioned in the introduction to this article, Grand Theft Auto V is another game that actually manages to accomplish the mundane without bogging the story of the game down at all. I think what makes it so successful is that, aside from a few required missions, the mundane tasks are a choice and never something that you absolutely have to do. You can do yoga. You can go to therapy. You can go drinking or smoking or even on a ride on a roller coaster or play tennis. Compared to the heists, those things are rather normal. But they also make sense because that is how the world is presented. It is presented as a normal world. There’s nothing special about the characters or the world that we, as players, are presented with. There are no androids or people with superpowers. There are just three completely (comparatively) mundane main characters who live in a normal world. Doing those normal tasks don’t remove you from the immersion into the story because those mundane tasks are still normal in the world that you’re exploring as you play. There is no reason that someone living in a normal world would avoid doing those things because they are normal.

With none of the world-building indicating that the world is in any way fantastical in nature, it is much easier to accept the mundane tasks. If anything, it adds to the immersion, especially since it is an open world game. Aside from that, it works because it adds another layer of humor to the game that wouldn’t be there if you didn’t have these normal and random tasks included. It serves a purpose. Having Michael do yoga with his wife in their backyard as a required mission is funny especially because you don’t expect it compared to other missions in the game. It is presented as if their normal lives are continuing outside of their heists and that makes it even better. In addition, normal tasks like going to a bar or riding a roller coaster are never part of the main story of the game. Those mundane tasks don’t bog down the nameplate or remove you from your immersion because the accomplishing of those tasks or even the thoughts of doing them are to be expected in a normal world where there is no hyper-advanced technology or superpowers or magic.

How Should Games Utilize Mundanity & Why Should They Be Careful About It?

Mundanity in video games is a slippery slope. The success of using them depends entirely on the way that it is being utilized in the game. If it is being used for the purposes of fleshing out the world building or being used to genuinely change or affect the story of the game, then mundane tasks like grocery shopping or yoga are perfectly acceptable. They have a purpose in the game that you are playing and, as long as they don’t get in the way of the storytelling capabilities of the game, they really aren’t a huge problem.

Go to intensely into incorporating them into the game, though, and you could end up in the same boat with David Cage. That’s why it’s a slippery slope. There has to be a balance between those kinds of tasks and the actual story so they don’t get in each other’s way. That’s David Cage’s problem. There is no balance between the simple tasks and the story because the simple tasks get in the way of the story. It violates a very simple commonly accepted idea about storytelling. Detroit completely ignores the unspoken rule that things that are unnecessary to the story should be removed. You can describe someone walking through the door without describing to the audience how that person turned the doorknob. Knowing that detail is completely irrelevant to the plot and wastes the audience’s time because they’ve likely already guessed that the character turned the doorknob. There is an unspoken understanding that those kinds of details don’t need to be included because it just feels like fluff. With Detroit, it just makes it look like they wanted an excuse to call it a video game instead of making it into a movie.

Why Was Until Dawn’s Use Effective While Detroit’s Use Fell Flat?

Mundanity should be used in a video game to add something to it, whether that be to create an experience, add to world-building, or put a clever spin on storytelling conventions. Despite David Cage’s intention in creating experiences instead of games, he seems to fail even at his one goal. Well, maybe failure isn’t the right word. The game certainly is an experience but not necessarily the kind of experience that he’s likely hoping that we, as players, have. When everything is interactive, the novelty of it isn’t as fun further down the line and it becomes tedious when the only thing we experience is frustration. The reason Until Dawn succeeded, despite similar game-play, and Detroit failed was because the things that were interactive actually did create an experience. Like I mentioned before, the small things that you do in the game like turning on a phone flashlight or opening a cabinet add to the experience that the player has by creating an atmosphere for them. In doing those things, the player is gifted with a sense of urgency and placed right in the shoes of the actual characters as they are inundated with horrors beyond their wildest imagination.

Final Thoughts

I think that using simple tasks in a video game can be incredibly effective but only if you utilize it in the right way. I love storytelling games but the experience can be ruined when the mechanics do not work to add something to the story. Overall, I think using these mechanics can be a balancing act and I think more game developers should be more careful about using them.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Review…of One House?

Co-developed by Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo Games, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the latest installment in the iconic Fire Emblem series, and a much welcomed return to the home console after more than a decade solely on handhelds. In this particular iteration, the player takes on the role, initially at least, of a professor at the Garegg Mach Monastery. Shortly after being brought to monastery by the Knights of Seiros (the faith associated with Garegg Mach Monastery, you are tasked with choosing a House of the school to represent as professor and guidance provider. The houses each represent a different region surrounding the monastery, with the Black Eagles representing the Adrestian Empire, the Blue Lions representing Faerghus, and the Golden Deer representing the Leicester Alliance.

While this might seem like an insignificant choice at first glance, the house you choose to represent greatly impacts the storyline that you get to experience for the rest of the game. Thankfully you can play through again with New Game+ to experience the other storylines, though at an estimated 80 hours per playthrough this can be an awfully daunting task. For the playthrough represented in this review I went with the Black Eagles.

Story wise, many of the typical RPG tropes can be found throughout. Mysterious characters, the main character hearing a voice (that basically has amnesia no less), characters born of commoners trying to prove themselves to the upper crust, characters born of nobility trying to prove themselves to commoners, and faith-based conspiracies abound. However, this certainly does not present itself as a bad thing, and in fact helps to make the player feel at home almost immediately. Past that, you will have to play the game yourself because I refuse to spoil such a great story for anyone.

Rout Those Enemies, Fam

Outside of beautiful cut scenes, much of the story of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is moved forward using the tactical, turn-based goodness of battle that fans of the Fire Emblem series have come to expect. Mild battle changes have been noted compared to previous games. Rather than the traditional weapon triangle (such as sword beating axe, axe beating lance, and lance beating sword) deciding who is more powerful in a battle, Three Houses instead focuses on utilizing how skillful the character is with the particular class of weapon to influence the results of the battle. This can be further altered through power combat arts that unlock with increased skill, even with some combat arts simulating the weapon triangle itself.

Another interesting addition to battle comes in the form of battalions. Upon unlocking the Battalion Guild, each character can “equip” a battalion of NPCs as a way of boosting certain stats depending upon which battalion is chosen. Additionally, battalions grant the character gambits, or additional moves that can help sway the battle in their favor if used appropriately.

Finally, if playing the game online, you will occasionally find spaces on the battlefield with purple or yellow swirls on them representing where “fallen soldiers from the past” have died. By having a character finish their turn on one of these spaces, certain benefits will be granted such as stat/xp boosts for the yellow spaces and items like rusted weapons for the purple spaces.

Socialization Simulator

Apart from battling it out, players should expect to spend a significant amount of time socializing in the digital world of Fódlan. Part of the significance of choosing a house to represent, in fact, is knowing who you will be spending most of your time within game. Through conversations and other activities engaged in between battles, you can increase bonds with members of your house, learn more about their likes, dislikes, and personalities, as well as seeing how they interact with their fellow housemates. In fact, depending on who you interact with during your socializing time, you can watch side interactions between characters for the purpose of increasing their support for one another in battle.

Speaking of socialization, like myself, did you also fret endlessly as to which house to represent, spending entirely too much time going back and forth between all of the choices? Never fear! The game essentially allows you to do the same socializing with members of the other houses and even some of the other Monastery staff. In fact, if there is a character that want to be part of your house instead of whatever silly house they started in, if you meet the requirements that that particular character looks for in a house you may be able to recruit them to join you. If you are not sure you want to put in all that effort for a particular character, you even have the option to invite a character from another house to tag along and join your house for a month for most battles to test them out first. The only exception to these options is with the heads of those houses. In other words, as I chose the Black Eagles as my house, the option to recruit either Claude or Dimitri from the other houses was not available.

It is also important to not ignore other staff members. I frequently received helpful, interesting information from the guards stationed around the monastery. Likewise, improving bonds with the professors of the other houses and a couple other important folks unlocks the ability to train your character’s abilities much like you do for your students.

Teach the Children Well

In order to properly prepare your students for the many battles they are expected to participate in, you have two choices. The first option is just practice battling through non-story missions on your off days. The new option added in for Three Houses, however, is the ability to teach your students through group projects and seminars. While this (much like many other options) can be set to automated, the more enjoyable option in my opinion was to choose who to teach what each week based on what you need improved for battles. The improvements mostly come in the form of increased weapon skills, which then result in new spells for magic users, new combat arts for weapon wielders, and so on. Group work can also be assigned to two students at a time, which again improves skills but also has the added benefit of improving bonds between the students.

Upon reaching certain skill thresholds and class masteries, characters become qualified to take certification exams in order to unlock additional and more advanced classes. While you may enjoy the class that you students are already in, due to changing battle requirements/terrain differences it is still advantageous to unlock other classes in case they are needed later.

Other Interesting Bits

Just like with any game that offers such in depth game play, it is easy to get burnt out on the process after a while. Thankfully, Fire Emblem: Three Houses sprinkles in a nice combination of other ways of improving stats and such to give enough variety to break the monotony. As the game progresses you slowly unlock further areas of the monastery to explore, as well as other side activities to engage in. I can report that I probably spent WAY too long fishing in the beginning, but that is why it is there! To give an alternative from time to time on days off. Other activities such as cooking with a student, eating with a pair of students, even singing in the choir with a pair of students are also available as alternatives ways to learn about characters and improve relationships with them. However, some of these activities do require activity points, preventing you from just eating or singing for hours at a time. Activity points are increased by leveling up your professor rating, though proper prioritizing of activities remains important throughout.

Overall: 9 out of 10

If you have ever played a Fire Emblem game before, and more specifically played one and enjoyed it, you will not be disappointed here. Fire Emblem: Three Houses certainly represents a positive return to home consoles for the series, while also moving the familiar formula forwards in the best way possible. This is not really a quick, pick-up-and-play game in any sense, and in fact will end up taking you several hundreds of hours of playing to experience all of it. However, if you enjoy storytelling, tactical battles, and dealing with the craziness of socializing with vastly differing personalities, this is the game for you.

Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3: Marvel’s Newest Rendition of the Infinity Stones

After Nearly a decade, Marvel adds another title to its Ultimate Alliance series. This time published by Nintendo for the Switch. And following closely on the trail of the infinity wars movies, this game also touches up on infinity stones (hey if you didn’t realize this when Magneto held the power stone in the previews I don’t know what to tell you).

This game brings back the classic 4 hero concept that was placed in so many marvel titles (including the ultimate alliance series). The team of heroes can consist as 4 of any of over 30 heroes (including DLC characters that will be released over the course of the year). SPOILER*  Characters such as Miles Morales(MM) Spiderman, and Spider Gwen (Ghost spider) as well as Ms Marvel make their first appearance on the ultimate alliance series. Deadpool makes an appearance as well with his signature “Taco Tuesday” hilarity. And of course Marvel’s “Defenders” make an appearance as well.

These different groups can create certain buff bonuses that will help you get through some of the more difficult levels, such as the combination of MM Spiderman, Ghost Spider and Ms Marvel will give a Generations buff that will increase a certain stat, just as the original avengers will give a separate buff. This somewhat encourages the users to set up teams based on certain teams. However, each character has other buffs that can be mixed and matched so you can build teams such as : Venom, Draxx, Hulk and Thor and get the “heavy hitters” buff improving the damage that you deal with those characters.

Systems aside, Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3 has some nifty features.The online mode with random players, although fun, is a bit stunted by the inability to communicate directly through the Switch (rather than having to use the app). The camera angle at times can be terrible, but for the most part tries to follow the player at a certain distance. In multiplayer, however, the camera tends to get more of a centered layout and will at times zoom out way too much to distinguish if you are in tablet mode. With a big enough screen this can be rectified, though for a system that has a primary selling point of being portable it becomes a bit of a problem.

Sounds are pretty awesome, and voice acting is spot on. They keep characters mostly in character with nifty one liners and sometimes the attitude they most represent, except maybe Draxx, who doesn’t seem nearly as brain dead as his MCU counterpart (not saying I don’t like the character, just stating it as I see it).

Overall I think this game scores a solid 7 out of 10, This game could definitely use a bit of a work up on its camera system, and maybe a modification to its current leveling curve. Or something that divides exp to the characters you aren’t using so that if you choose to switch later on, you aren’t putting a level 6 character with a bunch of level 28s to fight against level 30s. (just an example)

Meet the Streamer: A one on one with PippenPrime – Segment 1

Meet the Streamer Overview

Meet the Streamer is about getting to know your favorite streamer in a different light.  Sometimes it’s difficult to interact with your audience when you are focused on winning the game or getting the kill.  My hope is to give the featured streamer’s viewers a chance to learn things you might not be able to while watching their stream.

If you are interested in being featured on Meet the Streamer, contact me on twitter @og_vondux.  There are no viewer requirements. It doesn’t matter if you are partner or affiliate or even just getting started.  We would like to get to know you!

Featured Streamer: PippenPrime

My name is Thomas “Pippen” Peters.  I am 23 years old. I grew up in a small town where I played a lot of sports and spent a lot of time outdoors.  My first experience gaming was on a Super Nintendo before I began playing Xbox. My first games were Halo and Gears of War.  Halo is where my love for competitive gaming started and the rest is history. I have played a few other games competitively such as CSGO, PUBG and now Apex Legends.  I love to stream because I am able to show off my love for gaming as well as my passion for meeting and interacting with new people.

PippenPrime’s twitter  link:

https://twitter.com/PippenPrime

Anarchy Gaming Podcast:

https://www.anarchyesports.com

 

Devil May Cry – Switch Review

Months after the release of Devil May Cry 5, Capcom has brought us Devil May Cry on the Switch. The first time I played Devil May Cry was on Playstation 2. For those not familiar with the console, it was around a few generations ago.

It was probably not the most appropriate game for my age but nevertheless, I fell in love with it. From it’s a hack and slash mechanic to those awful and terrifying puppets and memorable bosses, it’s a game that is dear to my heart.

So, let’s get Stylish! and jump right in.

Controls

I’m not going to lie, getting used to the controls on the Switch took a while to figure out. It’s mostly due to the fact that the controller is all types of weird, but that is probably because I don’t use the Switch controller too often.

There’s also the fact that the move set could be found under the Normal weapon tab which let’s players see what moves they can perform with the starting gear and weapons acquired throughout the game . The only reason I found this strange was because the majority of those moves can be used with all weapons. Dodging remains the same regardless of what weapon is equipped at the time. It’s been that way since a long time but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.

Devil May Cry has aged really well. Older games can feel clunky at times but, as I played through the game, combat was fluent. With those not familiar with the series, the games feature a ranking system of sorts during combat, starting with Dull! to Stylish! So, if you want to fight with style don’t spam the same button. Since the game isn’t combo heavy, linking attacks is fairly easy.

There is one thing that I still don’t enjoy about the game. That dedicated camera angle has killed me more often than I’d care to admit. Bosses are obscured so you might get hit with an attack that you could have otherwise avoided. Of course, I won’t forget to mention how the camera angle tends to mess with your orientation especially when you’re on a time crunch.

Graphics and Sounds

For when the game was released, I have to say, the graphics still hold up. Sure, it’s not the crisp images we’re used to seeing but the game still looks good. The cut scenes don’t really hold up really well but that’s to be expected. The lighting can be a bit better but that’s easily fixable in the settings option. Plus, considering we’re running through a demon invested castle, all that darkness is appropriate for the setting. I can tell what’s going on and, I think, at the end of the day, it’s the only thing that matters.

Moving on to Sounds, we have the dialogue. It may just be me but I find some of the dialogue a bit cringey. It’s definitely dated. Of course this is me nitpicking however, I do have to say that those cringey lines do add some charm to the game. Plus, cringey lines and dialogue haven’t been enough to stop me from playing any game (that I can remember).

 Music. What is there to say? The soundtrack is amazing as ever. All those little cues of sound especially when the song gets louder as it leads up to an encounter bring everything together.

Conclusion

Overall, Devil May Cry is definitely a game that needs to be picked up. The graphics hold up really well and, although we can see that the cut scenes are a bit outdated, they still do their job. It didn’t bother me in the slightest. In my opinion, the Devil May Cry series has the best soundtrack out there (yes, I’m biased) and it’s worth listening to.

In general, I think it helped that I had played the game before. There’s a sense of accomplishment when I’m able to find a secret item or get through some boss fights because I know what to expect. It was also very nice that I could take the game with me on long road trips and play to my heart’s content.

The game introduces a wide variety of weapons to combat all different types of enemies. Plus, those bosses aren’t something you mess with. They hurt so any little mistake can cost you. It took me a couple of retries to nail that lava spewing spider and let’s not talk about those multiple rematches with a few bosses. There’s plenty of challenge presented by the game.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a new fan or a long-running fan, Devil May Cry is worth playing again.