Pokemon Sword Review

posted in: Reviews 0

It took me a while but I finally figured out that I only like Generation 1 Pokemon games. I tried Pokemon Sun but bounced off it. I finished Pokemon Sword but was desperate for the credits towards the end. I realized that I enjoyed Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee a whole lot more than this game and it was all due to nostalgia.

Pokemon Sword was fine. The Galar region was well crafted and filled with many touches inspired by England. Large open spaces gave the region scale like I’ve never seen in a Pokemon game before. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how many spaces I was able to enter and explore. Sure many homes were carbon copies of one another, but it was still an appreciated detail that made each new town/city seem massive.

In-between the major city hubs were wild areas where Pokemon roamed. It was a neat idea that should have been leveraged more. More game could have been wrung out of it but instead I found myself just blitzing through most of it after capturing what I could at the time. The desire to “catch them all” is the primary reason to tread and retread these areas. Different Pokemon will appear depending on time of day and weather. I explored and hunted around these parts for a bit but I just didn’t have an affinity to these newcomers to revisit often.

I pushed forward and wrapped up Pokemon Sword in just over 30 hours. By the end, I was desperately pushing through the final series of battles with sheer brute force. I relied on Hyper Potions, Revives, and a trio of over-leveled Pokemon to carry me to the end credits.

I wasn’t driving forward for story reasons, I just wanted to see the spectacle. While the story was a snore, the spectacle was not. Every Dynamax moment or Gym Leader battle was awesome. Pokemon never felt so grand and I think they nailed the atmosphere of those battles. I just wish the story was as captivating.

As straightforward as the story was, I felt the gameplay was a bigger offender. Earlier Pokemon games leaned in on the game aspect of this series with weird areas like the secret Team Rocket bases with teleporters and conveyor belts. There were caves and other areas that felt like puzzles with TMs and other treats hidden within. The Galar region was noticeably more grounded coming from Pokemon Let’s Go and the Kanto region. There was little to no figuring out in this game. It all felt too straightforward.

There’s fundamentally nothing wrong with Pokemon Sword. In many ways it’s superior to its predecessors. Battles are more complex than ever. The Pokemon are more complex. The Gym Leaders are stylish. The spectacle is more grandiose. But I just felt it all didn’t resonate with me like Pokemon Let’s Go did. It took me a couple of games as of late but I finally realized that I’m not a Pokemon fan. I’m just a fan of Pokemon Red/Blue

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

Ring Fit Adventure Review

posted in: Reviews 0

My most played Nintendo Wii U title is Wii Fit U. It was my regular interactive yoga routine that legitimately helped me stay in shape. I found the feedback provided incredibly useful and motivated me to stick with it. I used it to get in 30 minutes of stretching activity per day after some pushups and crunches. It wasn’t the most rigorous exercise but I was content with it. 

Other exercise games found on the Xbox One may have been superior experiences but I stuck with Wii Fit U until I finally got my hands on Ring Fit Adventure in December of 2019. After getting over the loss of Wii Fit trainer for their less vocal cousin, Tipp, I was sold on the entire setup.

I found the Joy-cons (installed on the Ring-con and leg strap) provided accurate tracking of movement which resulted in less frustration and reinforced good form during many of the exercises. I did not miss having to restart entire exercises just to recalibrate the Balance Board. The Ring-con wasn’t perfect but easy mid-exercise recalibrations were possible simply be pointing downwards. I didn’t have issues with exercises tracking me properly but the flying disc smashing mini-game would lose tracking after several swings of the Ring-con. That imprecision didn’t bother me until one of the Adventure mode’s side quests asked me to perfect it. That was an exercise in frustration and a test of my mental strength.

I think spent nearly an hour doing torso twists.

The Adventure mode is fun. I’m at World 10 at the time of writing with just over 30 days worth of sessions. Ring Fit Adventure doesn’t reward daily streaks but both the fiancée and I have committed ourselves do playing Ring Fit Adventure at least 5 days a week. We primarily play Adventure mode. Marrying turn-based RPG mechanics with Pilate exercises worked brilliantly. We strive to burn off at least 100 calories (in-game) per day. The calorie count is an estimate but it usually averages out to about 20 – 30 minutes sessions. I don’t think either of us pay any attention to the dialog but we sure love getting the numbers to go up, acquiring skills, and making progress through these worlds. I don’t know how many Worlds there are but I would gladly pay money to acquire more.

I never heard of a Pilates ring before Ring Fit Adventure. I didn’t come in doubting its ability to deliver a genuine workout for me but I still came away surprised how effective it is. We’re both building muscles with creative exercises involving the Ring-con and occasionally just with the leg strapped Joy-con.

We both started the difficulty levels around the low to mid-20s and gradually inched our way up to the max of 30. Every tick in difficulty resulted in more reps. I appreciated the game’s regular prodding to increase or tune difficulty. Some exercises were still kicking our asses but we were able to tackle level 30 exercises without feeling like we’re brushing with death.

I found the aesthetics fun, quirky, and surprisingly beautiful at times. The visuals gave off The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild vibes as well. The nonsensical upbeat battle music is something that I will forever remember too.

We’re keeping up with Ring Fit Adventure. I don’t see myself or my fiancée putting it down any time soon. Many games will come and go but Ring Fit Adventure may end up being the most played Switch game ever. It’s what happens when you successfully marry fun and fitness.

Verdict:
I loved it

Ratings Guide

LTTP: Resident Evil 7: biohazard

posted in: Reviews 0

It took a while but I finally played Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I haven’t touched a Resident Evil game since Resident Evil 5 for the PlayStation 3. The demo of Resident Evil 6 was ridiculous but reviews scared me off. I didn’t consider either of them horror games – I didn’t even consider Resident Evil 4 a horror game. The last Resident Evil game to unsettle me was the Resident Evil Remake on the GameCube.  

It’s been well over 10 years since I considered a Resident Evil game unnerving and I’m glad they’re back at it with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. 

A brand new engine, aptly dubbed RE Engine, adorned RE7. It’s a solid engine and ran well enough on my GTX 1070 powered PC but it certainly showed its age when compared to the likes of Resident Evil 2 or Devil May Cry V. Textures were especially grimy looking in daylight. The night is full of terror — or at least — dimly lit and grungy confined spaces are. RE7 was in its element in the opening hours where everything is still a mystery and the imagination is running wild.  

The new first person perspective placed me right in the front row of the horrors. Gruesome faces and brutal attacks that would normally kill any human were directed right at me. I may have been playing as Ethan but I felt those knife and chainsaw attacks. The combination of disturbing faces and spine tingling sounds worked together to unsettle me.  

Resident Evil games were at their most unnerving when they were set in disheveled but familiar places. The creepy houses wrought with cobwebs, dust, and remains that lead imaginations down cynical paths built tension. RE7 had a handful of those houses. I found it a little silly that the Baker family had so many houses on their property. It lead to a couple of excellent areas in which to scare me but its believability unraveled with each passing hour. 

RE7 may have started out as a grounded horror game but it quickly revealed itself to be a tried & true Resident Evil game and all that entailed. Herbs? Knife? Inventory juggling, weird specialty keys, and light puzzle solving all surfaced themselves as the game and story unfolded. Umbrella Corporation, talks of cover ups, and biological weapons testing came back in force by the end of it all. It was somewhat predictable and trite, but it was classic RE fun. 

Fun scares and puzzles but the combat was by far the game’s weakest element. One could argue they’re continuing the franchise’s classic roots but that’s not a valid excuse for lame boss or easily cheesed enemy encounters. It felt like I was supposed to employ lame tactics in order to overcome the adversities. I didn’t enjoy the fact that I was just going through the motion of avoiding enemies or watching some dumb boss attack a pillar in a pathetic attempt to get to me.  

The controls took a bit of getting used to. Years of muscle memory with first person shooters built-up an expectation with regards to speed. There was a deliberate sluggishness to the Resident Evil 7. I was able to pull off everything I wanted but I was forced to play at their pace. Reloading of weapons took longer than I was used to. I also had the turning speed of a tank which could have been remedied by utilizing the classic Resident Evil quick turn, but it rarely came to mind in the thick of it. It reminded me of Red Dead Redemption 2’s first person mode. It felt like they literally took classic Resident Evil and plopped in a first person view. It works but it takes a bit of getting used to. 

After finishing Resident Evil 7: biohazard, I came away rejuvenated with the Resident Evil franchise. It’s fun dumb horror and I’m glad Capcom found their groove with this franchise again. I look forward to playing Resident Evil 2 Remake and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 Remake, but I hope to see Capcom return to a first person Resident Evil game again. They’ve proven it works and they’ve also proven they’re good at it. 

Verdict: 
I liked it

Ratings Guide

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review

posted in: Reviews 0

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is my favorite 2D Zelda game. I’ve played Phantom Hourglass, A Link to the Past, and now Link’s Awakening but that 3DS original continues to be my favorite.  

I wouldn’t have played Link’s Awakening if Nintendo didn’t remake it for the Switch. The most Game Boy I experienced was Pokemon Yellow via emulator. I owned a Game Boy Advance but we only bought Pokemon Ruby for it. The Game Boy was a Pokemon machine and nothing else.  

For the longest time I mistakenly thought Link’s Awakening was a lite version of A Link to the Past for the handheld. There were some resemblances to the SNES classic but this was a wholly original adventure. However, it had some shockingly rudimentary side-scrolling segments. This was surprising coming from the makers of Super Mario. I realize it’s likely a faithful adaptation from the Game Boy days but those moments stood out as oddities considering the Goombas and other Mario hallmarks within them. 

Nintendo have always been very good at creating a beautiful and timeless aesthetic for their 2D games and I think this may be their best work yet. Unfortunately uncharacteristic performance dips frequently plague the overworld and even occasionally in dungeons. They were not game breaking but it was odd to see these issues so prevalent in a Nintendo developed title. I even waited a few months in hopes for a patch but ultimately gave up on that idea. 

These issues are even more boggling when a more graphically and technologically ambitious title like Luigi’s Mansion 3 is so performant.  

Thankfully the flow of the game was not nearly as bumpy. I hit some trouble spots with locating a few entrances but after night’s sleep I was able to pick out that cracked wall or finally recall the part of the map that I didn’t revisit yet. Progress was not as straightforward as it could have been but that’s part of the original’s DNA. 

Remakes in general are tricky propositions. How much does one change? How faithful does it have to be to the original? Some of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening’s flow issues could have been ironed out but that would have resulted in a much shorter game. Upon reflection, I think this remake did a bang up job walking that line between modernizing and remaining faithful to the original. If I can pick up a guide referring to the Game Boy version and have it still be relevant in this 2019 remake, I think they’re onto something. It’s a shame about the performance issues though.  

Verdict: 
I liked it

Ratings Guide

1 2 3 4 73