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12/31/2011

Last post of 2011

In just four hours (where I live) 2011 is going to end. I'd like to wish a Happy New Year 2012 to everyone out there who has been following me. This year was really awesome is pretty much every aspect. A lot of games came out, I played many and had a blast. I'll always remember 2011 as one of the best years for the modern gaming industry and I'm really happy to have lived through it like I did.

When looking back, I can say that my Top 10 for 2011 were definitely Dissidia 012, Uncharted 3, Skyward Sword, Dead or Alive Dimensions, KOF XIII, DiRT 3, Little Big Planet 2, Ocarina of Time 3D, Forza 4 and Resistance 3. 


All those games marked 2011 for me. There were others that came out BEFORE, like Reach, Uncharted 2 and Dead or Alive 4 but the top for this year are those. If I only had to choose one, I'd have to go with Dissidia 012. It was the game I liked the most and I spent many, many hours on it in a matter of weeks. As a FF fighting game, it gets the job done perfectly and I really consider it the 2011 game I enjoyed the most. As honorable mentions, Catherine, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Halo Anniversary and F1 2011 seriously need love too. They were amazing games that gave me (and still give) tons of hours of fun in my gaming sessions. 

So, this is my last post for 2011. The next time I write here, a new tag will be opened in the site's calendar and the 2012 articles and post will start to stock up in there. Again, Happy New Year 2012 everyone!

My gaming habits are STILL a mess


After exactly one year of creating this blog, I look back at my first post talking about my 2010 Christmas gifts and how I was inside a tornado of unplayed titles and funnily enough. I'm exactly in the same situation right now. 

A lot of things have changed but just like last year, I still have a mountain of unopened and unplayed game. Probably even bigger than last year's. But this time, playing my beloved games is actually one of my 2012 resolutions. Next year, I won't spend as much money on gaming stuff to force myself to play and enjoy the ones I already have. Of course, and as I've mentioned here before, I will definitely buy the ones that I wanted already like FFXIII-2 or Ninja Gaiden 3 but I won't randomly spend money on games like before.

In my "Currently Playing" list (which I'll update up there once I finish writing this) are Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, Black Ops, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, KOF XIII, Virtua Fighter 5, DOA4 and DOA Dimensions. TOO MANY! ... Ah, and I want to finish Hero Mode in Skyward Sword.

The thing is that when I think about it, it should be considered a great thing to have all these games sitting on my shelves and though I am happy about it, it confuses me a lot about what to buy next. But anyway, 2012 is gonna be full of finished games and articles about them, both reviews and opinion stuff. Before the year ends, I want to make a post with a few photos of some of my figures taken from my iPhone. I should have it up in a couple hours.

12/30/2011

Happy 1st Birthday Blog!


This blog is turning one-year-old today and when looking back at its beginnings, Wow, so many things have happened that I can’t even begin listing them all. I remember exactly one year ago that I was looking at some comments about game blogging and decided to create one given that I like gaming and writing stuff, so a mix between the two would be nice. Besides, I’ve been reading opinion articles, previews, reviews, hands-on and stuff like that about the game industry my entire life so writing my own seemed like a good idea.

I was scared at first, especially if I was going to do a good job with it, how to design the site and all that but fortunately, Blogger dashboard is easy-to-use so someone ignorant in web-design like me was fully capable of putting up a fairly nice site. Also, I was doubtful about how to find followers but everything went fine.

One year ago, I was still into hunting down platinum trophies on my PS3 and to be honest, I was doing quite a good job with it. I remember that I wanted to get as many as I could but by the time this place was created, I was starting to notice that playing games only to get platinum trophies was retarded and that I had my other awesome consoles abandoned because of it, so I radically changed the way I was playing games and it worked wonders.

Still, I’m very proud of some of the trophies I got, especially the DiRT 2 and Final Fantasy XIII ones. But getting easy trophies was seriously affecting my gaming sessions and when I found myself playing crappy games like Sly Cooper for trophies I knew something was very wrong with me.

Ironically, I switched to the Wii after I quit trophy-hunting, just a few days after creating the blog and I spent a lot of time on games like Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Wave Race 64 (Virtual Console version). I remember making some comments about how cool it was that I was playing a lot on a console I hated so much some time ago.

This blog was going to be used just as a diary of my gaming activities originally, but then I started to get ideas about opinion articles, reviews and a small section for my other geeky hobbies: figure collecting and Anime. So I organized it a little more and while much of the content is personal, the big articles are created for the public to read them.

I started to share it around Twitter and managed to meet a lot of awesome people, from fellow hardcore gamers to community managers from companies like Namco and Tecmo. Watching how they worked and how they wrote about gaming gave me a lot of ideas I used for the good of my style and it seems to have worked awesomely. While I have a very little group of followers on Blogger itself, I’ve managed to get a lot on Twitter and Tumblr because of it and I always get positive opinions about my articles. That’s what motivates me to keep working on this.

There are many, many plans that I have for this place but I just can’t put them all up together by myself. During the year I planned to make my own gameplay videos, create a retro section, give more attention to the anime reviews and other things but I had to either cancel them completely or write way too little about those. But I still have those things in mind and with luck; I’ll slowly work on them during 2012. I even had the idea of “recruit” people to work with me on this but when thinking about the long-term scenario, I decided to keep running the blog by myself and it’s going to stay that way.

I’ve reviewed 27 games in 2011. It sounds like a little but it’s actually a lot of titles. I’m very surprised myself to have written about so many great games in only a year. Many of them impressed me a lot and I completely loved them while others disappointed me a little. The highest scores I gave were a couple of 9.8 out of 10 for Forza 4 and Halo Reach and the lowest ones were a couple of 7.5 out of 10 for Star Fox 64 3D and Ultimate MvC3.

The first game I reviewed for the blog was Donkey Kong Country Returns, I gave it a 9.25 out of 10. When I read that article, I laugh at how my style for writing has changed over a year. My newest ones seem more serious and take much more stuff into consideration. Still, I think my early reviews are excellent and I’m very proud of them… Actually, when thinking about it, my reviews for Tales of Vesperia and Final Fantasy XIII are older than the one for DKCR but I didn’t have the blog when I wrote those so I simply posted them on Facebook notes and then put them up here.

The game reviews are probably the most important articles in the site. They were the ones I worked the most on and took the most of my free time. I played the games not only to have fun, but to analyze every aspect of them to actually elaborate a good opinion. In fact, some of my gamer friends over Twitter refer to me as a “passionate game reviewer” and I love how that sounds.

Reviewing games no matter what console, franchise or genre they come from is a really amazing thing and makes me realize even more how beautiful and diverse this hobby is. Over the last 365 days I drove awesome cars, fired thousands of guns, killed hundreds of monsters and KO’ed dozens of enemies with martial arts and I can’t help but feel happy about it. I’m extremely proud to be a gamer.

Just like this year was, 2012 will get as many reviews as I can write. As I mentioned before, I’ll most likely pay more attention to older games next year given that I won’t spend much money on gaming stuff and that there are old games from this very generation that I feel I need to write about, like Bioshock 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and many others.

My opinion articles didn’t get much attention from myself sadly, I wrote several ones like the anniversary of the Zelda franchise, the N64 and one with my reasons for hating FF8 but I really didn’t pay much attention to these. I have plans for many that I’ll write during 2012, out of my head I‘m thinking about a pro-Final Fantasy X-2 article and others defending or hating other games. I was way too objective with my reviews in 2011 (and they will still be as objective as possible I promise) so I’ll give myself the opportunity to be a little subjective with more opinion articles next year.

For the anime section, I promise to work more on it. I saw a lot of cool series (actually a little, just the ones I reviewed) and there’s a mountain of DVDs on my room waiting to be used. I’ll slowly but steadily watch all those and write about them. In fact, watching more anime is one of my 2012 resolutions. Ah, I think it’s time to mention that the most visited article in the entire blog is my review for Queen’s Blade, I find that really funny and makes me wonder if I’m the only one out there who openly says liked the series.

2012’s first mayor article will be an anime one, a review for Code Geass. I’ve been holding it since June but I just can’t bring myself to watch the entire series. I usually just play games, watch something else on TV or spend time with my girlfriend and buddies on my free time. Watching long anime series is not my thing but I actually like Code Geass a lot and want to give it justice and write the cool article it deserves.

But not everything was so great, there was a time when Blogger as working properly, around the July-October gap when I simply couldn’t access the site at all and was having a lot of trouble with it. I even thought about buying a domain and moving the entire thing away but fortunately, the tech support forums were really helpful and fixed the issue just days after I asked about it.

I’m very happy about how this place has shaped up. Many things are going to change in 2012 and to start it; the name of the blog will no longer be “Mike’s Gaming & Life”. In fact, that was something silly I made up when Blogger asked me to name the site and since everyone calls me Mike and the blog was going to be about my gaming sessions, I called it that. But during the entire year I’ve been thinking about another name. Several ones came up but I’ve finally decided for “The Nibelheim Post”. For the ones out there who don’t know, Nibelheim is the name of the hometown of Cloud Strife, the protagonist in Final Fantasy VII, one of my favorite games of all time. And the “post” is because it’s a site about gaming articles, just like a newspaper, so I think it’s a cool name for it.

I have also been thinking about creating a separate Twitter account exclusively to share the mayor articles from the blog to avoid spamming my own followers there. I’d still share stuff from here in my personal account but having a separate one would be great to share articles several times a day without fear of my non-gamer followers getting pissed at it. I don’t like to be spammed on social networks so I won’t do it to anyone.

My experiences here have been really positive and I’m going to keep working on it. I send my regards to everyone who has supported me on this by giving me ideas, telling me I’m doing a good job or simply sharing the site on their own. 2012 is going to be great in this place so if you read this blog, stay tuned and participate more.

Happy 1st Birthday Blog!

12/29/2011

OBJECTIVE COMPLETE!

I finally finished the reviews I wanted to upload for this year. It's been a lot of gaming sessions trying to find out everything each game offered to be able to give opinions as objective as possible. Given what people have been telling me, I think I've been doing a great job with it so I'll keep it up for 2012. 

In about 15 hours, the blog will turn one-year-old and I have plans to write an article for that sharing all my experiences about game blogging and the things I've liked and hated about writing in this place. So, Skyward Sword's review is up and I actually have a final objective before finishing the year, upload my Code Geass review. I still have a lot of episodes to watch and then write the entire thing but I think that it's manageable. I'll try to do it, but if I can't know that it's going to be the first mayor article of 2012. 

REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)



It’s been several years already since the last big Legend of Zelda game came out for both the Gamecube and Wii. Twilight Princess managed to get a lot of positive reactions, reviews and opinions from the entire public but the most hardcore fans of the series still thought that the game didn’t give Ocarina of Time justice. So the responsibility was on the next title: Skyward Sword. Recently released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii and introducing tons of motion controls new to not only the franchise, but gaming itself and the results are great for the most part.

Like in all Zelda games, in Skyward Sword we play as Link. But this time, the hero is a student in a knight academy on a floating island above the clouds named Skyloft. He’s best friends with Zelda, the mayor’s daughter and a student in the academy as well. The game begins in the day of the Wing Ceremony where the students must race riding their loftwings (some big birds the people from Skyloft use to travel around the floating islands) to then pray together with Zelda under the Goddess statue.

Obviously, Link wins the race and ends up praying and flying around with his blonde-haired friend but she falls off her loftwing after getting caught in a estrange tornado and ends up in the land below the clouds so Link sets up on a journey to rescue her, learn more and themselves and save the entire world once again.

In all honesty, the beginning of the game is extremely tedious and slow. Nothing really important happens for the first hour or so and even when they finally do, it won’t get interesting enough to keep anyone on the edge of their seats or anything. Fortunately, after the first dungeon, the game actually becomes amazing so a little patience is needed until that point.

Graphically, the game looks very nice. It has a mix of the style from Twilight Princess with the cel-shaded visuals of Wind Waker and the result is very interesting and pretty. Just like with the game itself, none of the visuals in the beginning of the game will be jaw-dropping, but as the player advances on the story, the environments and locations will get much better. The textures are very pretty a polished for the most part, there is a lack of antialiasing in some points that is easily noticeable but taking the Wii’s power in consideration, Nintendo did a great job with the graphics.

The same can be said about the animations, Skyward Sword runs very smoothly at all times and though they don’t compare other games in the other two platforms, the animations in both Link and his enemies are pretty good and fluid. The lighting effects and shadowing are of top quality as well and though they lack the realistic effects from its HD counterparts, they’ll look very good.

But the gameplay is the best aspect in the game. Skyward Sword is probably the only title in the Wii that takes full advantage of the Wiimotion Plus and Nunchuk combination. Every item usage as well as normal actions like climbing a ladder requires the use of the motion sensor. The most important one is definitely the swordplay, depending on how you move the Wiimote; Link will do the same with his sword. You can slash vertically, horizontally, in a diagonal fashion and even thrust your enemies. At first, it will seem like the system doesn’t work properly but the truth is that it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

Given the swordplay mechanics the game uses, many enemies will take advantage of it, so they will normally block at some directions while leaving others open for attacks. You need to notice this and counter quickly before they take the initiative. The shield also responds to motion controls, but it uses the Nunchuk. By moving it forward, Link will block incoming attacks but you need to be careful because they can break if they take too many hits. If you move the Nunchuk quickly, Link will do a shield bash that will counter ranged attacks and stun some enemies. Still, like it’s common for almost all Wii games, it’s not necessary to move the peripheral all around your body for Link to use his sword, by only moving your wrists quickly; the hero will know what to do.

Most of the items in the game also require great uses of the motion controls. The Bow and Slingshot make you aim at the screen with the Wiimote, the bombs can be thrown in two different ways depending on how you’re holding the control and some new items like a flying beetle will allow you to move around the area and carry stuff on it. The items are used and controlled in different ways to avoid monotony in the controls, they’re all pretty cool and especially in the final parts of the game, when you have them all available is where the true potential of the gameplay will be noticed.

One of the coolest portions of the game where the motion controls are required (besides the swordplay) is when you fly around the floating islands riding on the loftwing. Depending on how you tilt and move the Wiimote, the bird will fly around and though it takes a couple of minutes to figure it out, the tutorials are easy-to-understand and you’ll be flying freely around the skies in no time.

There are also glimpses of normal gameplay style here and there of course. You control Link’s movements with the analog stick and by hold “A” he can sprint, but will get tired after a few seconds. You can talk to NPCs, interact with switches and other mechanisms and things like that and when mixed with the motion controls, they make a great new gameplay style for the franchise.

Skyward Sword is not a difficult game. In fact, it’s really easy for the most part. Almost none of the enemies impose a real threat to Link if you know how to play. Even if they’re making an excellent job at blocking the sword attacks, there are many other ways to defeat them like stun them with the shield, throw bombs of fire a couple arrows from a safe distance. The dungeons’ puzzles aren’t difficult either and they will usually require the usage of an item found recently to solve them and if not, there will always be a clue somewhere nearby telling you how to do things.

The gameplay in Skyward Sword also has its negative parts. For example, there’s no voice acting at all except for Link’s yells, Zelda’s giggles and some of the other characters making strange noises when their dialog texts appear on screen. This affects the game in a bad way, especially the storytelling and makes you wonder if a voiced Zelda game would work, even with a mute hero like Link. But when you see that gaming has been using voice acting for fifteen years or so (even on the N64), you can’t help but feel that the text-based storytelling on a modern game like Skyward Sword is a bad thing.

Another negative aspect is that despite the awesome motion controls and new gameplay mechanics, the game itself is based on the same exact formula that all Zelda titles use. The entire game will move around the “Quest>Dungeon>Boss>Repeat” cycle. While it has worked wonders in the past, the public can’t help but start thinking the Nintendo should probably start looking at other genres and adapt things from other games to keep the franchise fresh.

Still, the motion controls, bosses and environments more than make up for the lack of voice-acting and a new formula. And the truth is that there are new things, like the ability to upgrade lots of items in the blacksmith store if you find enough materials. By doing this, many of the objects like the shields, bomb bags and quivers will have better performance. There are also a lot of insects scattered around the game and by catching them, you can make better potions to heal Link, restore air when swimming underwater, sprint for longer distances and even repair your shields with them.

In the sound department, the game makes use of a lot of awesome effects for the environments, everything emits a sound. The wind, waterfalls, Link’s steps, bomb explosions, everything and though some of them are a bit too cartoony (like the sound the game emits when you successfully hit an enemy with your sword), the sound effects are of great quality overall, even with the voice-acting issue.

The music is great, like in all Zelda titles. In fact, the soundtrack is similar to the ones in the previous 3D Zelda games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. There are dozens of beautiful tunes for every location and some of them are very catchy. If you’re a normal gamer, don’t be surprised if you find yourself just walking around somewhere in the game just because you wanted to listen to the music for a few more seconds. Skyward Sword makes excellent use of musical scores to represent what is happening in the game at the moment. The songs will get more climatic in the boss fights and slower in the storytelling sections, especially when Zelda is the one getting more screen time.

Fortunately, the game doesn’t only have the main adventure. There are tons of side quests with great rewards available all around it. Some of them are a little harder than others but by investigating and talking to NPCs, you’ll be finishing them in no time. It’s also possible to hunt for materials and insects to fully upgrade all the items, find all the treasure chests scattered around Skyloft and even play a boss-rush mode that allows you to fight every important enemy in the game one after another for a great prize.

After you finish the main story, you have the option of playing it again in “Hero Mode” which is a harder version of the game where enemies deal double damage and it’s impossible to find hearts around places, forcing the player to heal him/herself by using potions. The dungeons themselves won’t change a bit but Hero Mode is a great opportunity for hardcore games looking for a bigger challenge in a Zelda game.

In short, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is definitely one of the best Wii games out there and the one that takes the most advantage of the motion controls the console offers. The story is very pretty though not very innovative. There’s an important lack of voice-acting which makes the game feel like an old JRPG from the mid 90s but the excellent gameplay, graphics, music and length more than make up for the problems. This game will not take the crown that belongs to Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask but it’s without a doubt a great Zelda game and one of the best in Nintendo’s history.


Pros:

-          Awesome motion controls take full advantage of the Wiimotion Plus + Nunchuk combo.
-          Excellent boss fights.
-          Great visual presentation.
-          One of the best musical scores in the entire Wii catalog.
-          Huge amount of side quests and things to do after the main story ends.


Cons:

-          No voice-acting
-          No innovation in the formula
-          The game itself is way too easy (except for Hero Mode)



-          Graphics and Visuals………...9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....8
-          Gameplay…………………...10
-          Replay Value………………...9


-          Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

12/28/2011

I got Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3...

My godfather gave me a gift that most gamers nowdays would consider the best in the world but I actually dislike it and have been talking a lot of shit about it for the last couple of years. I got Black Ops and MW3 for the Xbox 360. Yeah, no shit.

Considering that I'm a gamer and that I didn't own these games before, it's actually a great Christmas present so I gladly accepted it and started Black Ops campaign as soon as I got home. It reminds me a lot of COD4, plays the same, looks the same and sounds the same. And considering how many years it's been since I've played a COD game, they will probably come in handy, at least to be able to criticize the franchise having actually played the games.

I won't play the competitive multiplayer modes in any game except for just trying them out and I'm still considering if I should review them. I kind wanted this place to have a lot of gaming (and anime) info without having to rely on the Call of Duty franchise, but now that the games are in my hands... what the hell... I should probably just do it.

I'll try to elaborate a "First Impressions" article on Black Ops soon as well as with Mario Kart 7 and Kirby's Return to Dreamland.

Super Mario 3D Land first impressions

Now this is the game the 3DS needed. I can't believe so much months passed by without the portable console having a kick-ass Mario game. But it's finally here and it's awesome. The amount of nostalgia moments on it are incredible, the colors, graphics, 3D, level design, enemies, items and controls are all very cool. 

As usual, it's about Peach getting kidnapped and all that repetitive shit nobody cares about and seriously, I can't think of any other franchise that can have the luxury of not having a good storyline and still be good no matter how many times they tell it. 


The level design so far it a little like what we saw in Sunshine and 64. There are no weird gravitational pulls or jumps between small planets (so far) like in both Galaxy games. But it's still amazing. I've been using the fire ball and Tanooki suit, traveling around the flying ships inspired in Super Mario 3 and defeating Bowser by destroying the bridge he's on like in Super Mario 1. AWESOME GAME.

If you have a 3DS, go and buy this game. It's definitely a must-have for the console. It seems to be really short at first, even if you collect all the stars but I already heard something about a second set of worlds unlocking after you 100% the first one.

12/26/2011

Christmas presents!

This Christmas Eve was amazing, I had a great time with my cousins and the presents were very cool. I got a lot of cool and useful stuff, from clothes I was seriously needing and a perfume to a 3D puzzle of the Burj Al Arab and a TOTALLY AWESOME book with Star Wars collectibles from my girlfriend. Except for the clothes, I took pics of everything and here it is:


This is figure of Yojimbo, the summon Aeon from Final Fantasy X. I got it from one of my friends in a Secret Santa meeting we had at my place. She also gave me an awesome Rugby ball last year, I want her to give me presents every Christmas!



These are the Halo Reach Kais I've mentioned before. My father gave me Jun and Noble Six and I got Jorge and Emile. They're inside their boosters in those pics.





In here, they're already posing on one of my shelves. I'm completely in love with them and actually considering getting Kat and Carter to complete the squad.



My new games: Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS and Kirby's Return to Dreamland for the Wii. I'll be talking a lot about them of course.


This is a simple controller for the PC. I was needing one of these for my Project64 emulator.


A new cellphone! An iPhone 4S. This is probably the best gift from this year along with the Star Wars book. I'll most likely be buying cool games for it like Final Fantasy 1, 2 and 3 and even review them.


An awesome 3D puzzle of the Burj Al Arab hotel in the Emirates. I'll build it tomorrow and hopefully post some pics of it.




And finally, this is what my girlfriend bought me. An awesome Star Wars book commemorating the 30th anniversary of the franchise. It has a ridiculous amount of incredible collectibles and interesting things to read and see. I'm sure I'll be using this for years to come. This and the iPhone are definitely the best presents of the year.





12/25/2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm just getting back from my Christmas dinner. I spent the night eating a lot on my godfather's place and just hanging around. Now I have to wait for my parents to fall asleep to put their presents under the tree. Fuck yeah Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

This place is almost one-year-old now. I'm very happy about it, it has grown a lot and I'm very proud about what I've achieved in this blog and the people I've met because of it. So, once I wake up I'll check to see if there are any gifts for me under the tree tomorrow morning (in a few hours actually). 

To anyone out there who reads me, Merry Christmas!

12/23/2011

Fighting games update

Even though I admit I was one of the tons of people out there with a HUGE hype over UMVC3, I gotta say that I'm very disappointed with the results. As you can see in my review for the game, I state that it's simply a rehash of Vanilla and none of the things that should have been in the game made it to the final version. Especially the gameplay balance.

I'm used to play fighting games where you can pretty much use any character and win if you are good enough with him/her. But the balancing in UMVC3 is simply terrible, in Vanilla you clearly had to choose Wesker and Wolverine if you wanted results in a serious match, and don't even get me started on the Phoenix issue. I personally liked Deadpool and Morrigan best with bits of other "mid-tier" characters here and there and though I do consider that I got to an OK-level in the game, I was always crushed horribly when I played someone who used the top-tier teams.

I thought the game would be fixed in Ultimate because every forum said the low and mid-tier characters would get a lot of tweaks and new moves. But I started to worry when I saw the official changes in both the Marvel and the Capcom side and when I spent some hours with the actual game, I simply lost hope. The problems are still there and I don't really see any future for this game competitively. 

I mean, winning with Wesker, Wolverine, Vergil, Akuma, Amaterasu and others is so fucking easy that's not even funny, you don't have to work to get your combos and once you hit your opponent once, the doom, you can get a 700k+ combo easily while my characters (Deadpool, Morrigan, Felicia, Dante, Spider-man and Zero) require insane inputs and timing to do less damage than the others. It's ridiculous.

That's why I've decided to simply move to KOFXIII and Blazblue CS. While I know I won't ever get to a pro-level or anything on any of them, at least I can be sure that I won't be beaten by cheap-bastard characters who don't require any skill. In fact, I usually lose a lot to Iron Tager in BB and he's considered to be the worst fighter in the game by everyone. But I'd rather still play that game and learn Platinum, Makoto and Litchi than suffer with the stupid X-factors and almost-infinite air combos from UMVC3.

Every time I try out a new fighter in KOFXIII I can't help but admire how he/she was made and I usually spend some time in Practice and Arcade modes with them. I recently said I'd be maining Kensou, Kyo, Athena and Mai but now I'm starting to like Yuri, Kim and Ryo a LOT. And I'm getting interested in trying out Raiden, Andy and Joe. 

So, for 2D fighters, I don't think I'll be playing UMVC3 anymore. It's very sad because I really like playing as Deadpool in that game but the truth is that it gives me more anger than satisfaction, so I simply quit, unless Capcom decides to actually fix the stupid game and add Venom and Megaman.

12/22/2011

I finished Skyward Sword!

Last night I finished Skyward Sword and I gotta say that after the horrible beginning the game had, it left me very pleased at the end. I am happy to have played such a beautiful and great title by Nintendo and the care a dedication they had to make it is more than obvious. I totally recommend this game to anyone with a Wii out there. This is definitely the game that uses the Wiimote + Nunchuk combo in the best way and moving around with Link while using the sword and items with the motion controls is extremely fluid and well done.


It also looks and sounds very pretty and the mechanics for the combat and puzzles are very cool. Still I hold my ground with my opinion that the formula needs to change but this time, the motion controls managed to overcome the repetition in the formula and the lack of voice acting. So, before the year ends I'll be writing a review for it. Right now I'll spend my days trying to beat Hero Mode, wish me luck!


REVIEW: The King of Fighters XIII (PS3)



The King of Fighters is back with its thirteenth entry after a very long and successful history of games in many consoles and arcades since the early 90s. Even though the series has never had the fame of competitors Street Fighter, Tekken and others, it has managed to spawn 12 different titles that have always gotten a lot of respect from the industry. KOFXIII is available for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 and it seems to have fixed all the problems people noted out in the twelfth game like the gameplay design, online performance and game modes.

This is a 2D fighting game like the ones that everyone played back in the 90s and very-early 2000s; it uses animated sprites to represent the fighters in a 2D environment with a background with many different things happening at the same time. The game doesn’t use any HD textures, lighting effects or any of the amazing things available in the visuals of modern-looking games like Uncharted 3 or Halo Anniversary but it manages to be really pretty with characters that move with excellent animations that look very fluid and are full of awesome colors.

There is a curious thing with the characters sprites in KOFXIII when compared to a similar game like for example, Blazblue. The sprites in that game look better and from the normal distance, it is hard to notice the pixels that form them but their animations are a little old-school and look like if they came from a PS1/N64 title. On the other hand, The KOFXIII’s sprites are actually a little pixilated so they look old-school but their animations are much better and fluid than the ones in Blazblue which makes the game look very good even though it tries to represent the standards from a dead gaming generation.

The backgrounds are another thing. They’re all very beautiful and many of the objects on them actually look better than the characters themselves, like in a stage that represents India and has a lot of very pretty elephants on the background with a big crowd sitting on them. The stages usually have groups of people doing different things and moving inhumanly fast but they look very cool and funny and will surely cause a lot of awkward comments from the people playing the game for their first times.

In the gameplay, KOFXIII truly shines. The button configuration seems easy-to-get-into at first, with only two punches and two kicks with several actions that mix those four in the shoulder buttons, but the timing required to combo with normal hits is very hard and takes a lot of practice and patience. Like in all 2D fighting games, you can sprint forward and backwards, jump, crouch and block incoming attacks. You also have several “special” moves at your disposal which you can use by mixing the buttons with quarter-circles, half-circles, the “Z” movement or charging a set direction in the directional pad or control stick, depending on your preferences. The specials include the common fireball or a jumping or charging attack, depending on the character.

The King of Fighters XIII has four different types of jumps depending on how you want to move around the stage, you can make short or long jumps among two different others. You have to practice to know which to use because you can’t block in the air so jumping needlessly can end up with your character getting hit by a powerful attack. The game also uses four different bars. The HP one which represents the life and is equal for all fighters, no matter if it’s a big grappler with huge muscles or a tiny little girl, the guard one which decreases by blocking repeatedly and can end up with a dangerous guard-break, the power one that charges by hitting your opponent and getting hit yourself and stocks up allowing for the use of powerful special moves and the drive gauge that allows to combo different special moves together to damage your opponent with devastating combinations of several attacks.

Knowing how to charge and use the gauges effectively is one of the keys to winning in the game, the inputs for the moves are sometimes a little hard to pull off and doing combos by using them together is no easy task. But with patience and practice, it can be done and once you do, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from it.

Like in most games of the genre, there are many characters to choose from. They go from the ones that move extremely fast and excel in offense like Kyo Kusanagi and the returning Mai Shiranui to the heavy ones that prefer a defensive style like Clark or Daimon. All of them have several moves to choose from and their own learning curves so trying them all out is a good idea until you find the ones you really want to master. A curious thing is that KOFXIII can be played in 3 vs. 3. In fact, the game is divided in teams of three fighters each by default but you can mix characters of different ones into your own of course. Unlike Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there are no assists and you can’t change fighters in the middle of the fight. Instead, you use one character per round. If you defeat an opponent but lose half your health, you’ll fight the next round without healing. The winner will be the player who defeats the three characters of his/her competition first. You can secretly choose the order in which they’re going to fight before the match in an attempt to try and take advantage of the match-ups.

The game has a lot of modes, starting with Story which allows you to choose a team and fight the KOF tournament while looking and reading at the story that revolves around the character Ash Crimson for the most part. The story is pretty boring to be honest and reading through the entire thing can be tedious. You can also play Arcade mode which makes you fight different AI-controlled teams until you reach a final boss, Versus Mode where you play offline against either a friend or the AI and Online Mode where you choose a team and fight against a player somewhere in the world. This one usually runs very good and with little lag but part of the public criticized it so SNK is working on a patch that will upgrade the net coding for even better online performance.

Besides those, you can spar in Practice Mode, use Customize to choose between dozens of colors to make the characters look exactly like you want them to, try to beat as many AI opponents as you can in Survival mode and try out extremely hard combos in Mission Mode where each fighter will have around ten different ones that give you an idea of what they’re really capable of. By playing the game in almost any mode, you can unlock more colors to customize the character and content in a Gallery where you’ll see pictures and artwork from the fighters and stages as well as the videos from Story Mode and listen to the entire soundtrack.

Sound-wise, the game is very good as well with tons of dialogs for when the characters do their special and normal attacks. Most of them even say the same things in different ways and the variety is more than welcome. Still, some of the voices can be pretty annoying like the ones from the young girls Yuri and Athena which can easily get on the nerves of even the most patient players. But the voices are pretty good for the most part. Sadly, Story and Arcade mode don’t have voiced dialogs between the fighters which could have been cool.

The soundtrack is awesome, which is pretty uncommon given that most games of the genre don’t usually have good music. But The KOFXIII is not the case and has a lot of cool songs in both the menus and the actual fights. Each team has a song that can go from Jazz to Rock and the truth is that they’re all pretty cool and fit perfectly with the game. In its normal presentation, the game comes with four soundtrack CDs with the most iconic songs from the previous entries in the series and the entire roster of songs from this one and to be honest, at 50 dollars it is a great price for all that.

As usual for fighting games, this one will provide countless hours of fun to the players. It is a little hard to recommend it to the casual crowd given that the gameplay here is a bit hard to get into and that part of the public will most likely feel more comfortable with easier games like MvC3. But for the hardcore crowd, this is possibly the best 2D fighter in the next-gen consoles, probably even better than Street Fighter 4 and Blazblue given the tons of characters available, variety of game modes and the awesome gameplay design and soundtrack it offers. SNK seems to have gotten it right this time; The King of Fighters XIII is an amazing game.

Pros:

-          Awesome gameplay design.
-          Great animations in the sprites.
-          Tons of characters to choose from.
-          Very good variety of game modes.
-          Excellent soundtrack.
-          Good net coding for online play.

Cons:

-          The sprites are pixilated.
-          It’s hard for the casual gamers to get into it.
-          The story is boring and uninteresting.



-          Graphics and Visuals………...8
-          Music and Sound Effects….....9
-          Gameplay…………………...10
-          Replay Value………………..10

-          Overall Score……………….. 9.25 / 10