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E3 Predictions-Nintendo

E3 2014 is just a week away, and I could not be more excited for this years show. There is so much to look forward to when it comes to this years E3 conferences and games on display. All three major console manufacturers have a lot riding on these presentations. Whether it is Sony trying to keep up their momentum as the market leader in the current generation of consoles. Microsoft is trying to remove the bad publicity and public image the Xbox One has among gamers after last years E3 reveal. And Nintendo is trying to justify the Wii-U’s existence to the market and prove not only it’s value as a console, but also Its Gamepad controller. It will be very interesting to see what exactly all three companies will have planned for next week.

I have never done E3 predictions before in a format like this. But this year I decided to be adventurous and throw my ideas out there for others to see. This week I am going to give my predictions for the company I am most excited to see, and that is of course Nintendo. I’m going to lay these out into two categories as a way to keep this piece as organized as possible. I’ll start with the obvious, or what I perceive as the obvious and then move on to predictions.

The Obvious

Official 3DS and Wii-U Smash Bros. Release Dates

This is something I think most people expect to see during this conference.During the Smash. Bros. Direct in April, Nintendo already announced some vague release schedule for theses two games. Smash Bros. 3DS is scheduled for a summer release, and the Wii-U version is releasing later in the winter. Similar to Pokemon X and Y Nintendo is going to try for a simultaneous release of these titles worldwide, or at least only a few days apart. Smash Bros. is a huge franchise for them, and they will want to cut-down on as many spoilers as possible. My heart wants it to release in July, but my brain tells me that is just not going to happen. Smash Bros. 3DS will release August 15th. Smash Bros. Wii-U is most likely Nintendo’s huge Christmas title. I see this game getting released when most games like that are for Nintendo. I believe Smash Bros. Wii-U will release November 14th.

New Trailers/Release Dates for Announced Wii-U Games

To keep this post semi-condensed I’m going to categorize all these into one section. There are three specific titles that come to mind, these games are Bayonetta 2, Yarn Yoshi, and Monolift Softs X. These titles will be released this year. This is due to Nintendo traditionally cramming most their console releases in the fall and winter as of late. Considering we have seen the most of Bayonetta 2 at this point I think it is pretty safe to say this title will release first, and that it will probably be released late August to early September. Even though we have seen almost nothing of Yarn Yoshi I am still confident this will come out this year as well. Ever since New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Nintendo has made it a point to release a platformer every year during holidays. I doubt that changes this year, especially with how well Kirby’s Epic Yarn was critically received. I expect it will fall into the October release window. Monolift Softs X is honestly the only title I’m not confidant on for this list. I could easily see this title slipping into the early 2015 window. But I will go against my better judgment and say it will get slated for sometime in December of this year, before Christmas.

New Smash Bros. Character Reveal

This is one that I think is fairly obvious. Almost every Nintendo Direct we have gotten recently has revealed a character on the roster, whether they are new or just a returning vet. This is anyone’s guess and it could be anything. But I am going to take a guess and say that because Namco Bandai is helping them develop the game, they will want representation in some form within the game. I think Pac-Man makes a lot of sense as the next character revealed. We have already seen him represented in fighting games like Street Fighter X Tekken. And I think him being in smash bros. along with Mario, Sonic, and Megaman just makes too much since. I’ll be happy with the reveal whether I am right or not though. I just love hearing about new Smash Bros. whenever we get it.

Mario Kart 8 Season Pass

This is another that I think is going to happen. Nintendo is looking for new revenue streams, and have embraced DLC in some of their more recent games. Games like Fire Emblem or Mario Golf World Tour which the latter actually already includes a season pass. I think that it will be a series of four different DLC packages, and each with include a new character, and a Grand Prix. I also would not be surprised to see if Nintendo tries to make its new NFP(Nintendo Figurine Platform)work in some way with it. I love Mario Kart 8 so this is something I am definitely looking forward too.

Zelda Wii-U is Officially Revealed

Considering Nintendo has already confirmed it will be at E3 this is an easy one to say. The hardest part honestly is predicting exactly what will be at E3, and what will it look like? I am hoping for fully playable demo. At least than we can gauge how far in development they are with the game. While just a trailer would be disappointing, I would settle for that, if it included some in-game footage. I am hoping that they follow something like the art style in Skyward Sword or something unique that we have not seen before. But I am sure either way it will look great, and I will be just as excited for Zelda.

Bold Predictions

Trademark S.T.E.A.M is Miyamoto’s New IP and It is an FPS

There are a couple of reasons why I think this is true. Though most of it is just speculation and more than likely wishful thinking. Miyamoto did confirm just last year that he and Nintendo are working on a new IP. So we have known for a while now that Nintendo is working on something new. And E3 seems like the perfect place to reveal it.

Back on April 7th of this year Nintendo of America filed a trademark claim for a title called Codename S.T.E.A.M.(Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace). It was also reported recently that Nintendo of Japan made the same trademark claim. As I stated before this is all speculation, but the title includes Strike Team. From my perspective that gives off the feeling of some type of shooter. Whether it is from a first or third person perspective, or even if this trademark will lead to anything significant is anyone’s guess.

The reason this all leads me to believe it is a First-Person shooter is because, Back on June 12th 2012 Miyamoto stated that he does have interest in making an FPS game. Miyamoto was quoted in an interview with Kotaku as saying the following ‘’I actually do want to make an First-Person Shooter,’’ but I don’t have the time.’’ The obvious part to consider is that he did finish that statement with ''I don’t have the time''. But he was working with Nintendo EAD on Pikmin 3 and Next Level Games with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon at this point. But Miyamoto also had some pretty interesting ideas when it came to the type of FPS he would like to make. Miyamoto went on to say ‘’Rather than necessarily the question of ‘what kind of weapon do I have?’ in a first-person shooter or ‘what kind of effect does that have on an enemy?’, I think that the structure of a first-person shooter is something that’s very interesting,’’ ‘’Having that 3-D space that in theory you are in and being able to look around and explore that–particularly being able to do that in conjunction with another person–is very interesting.’’ Miyamoto would obviously like to make a more deliberate first-person shooter game. Rather than the traditional action-packed military first-person shooters we are used to these days. Miyamoto even gave some brief thoughts on how the Wii-U Game-pad could work in a game like this. Miyamoto brought up following concept ‘’Well if you’re playing a first person-shooter and you have the game up on the television and you have your sub-screen below [in the Game-pad controller], within that game world you’re able to turn in all directions around you.’’ This is similar to what we have seen before in Wii-U games like Game and Wario or Nintendoland. None of this confirms that he is making an FPS, but it shows he at least has some concepts on how exactly he would like to make one if the opportunity presented itself.

Battalion Wars 3

This is simply wishful thinking on my part. I was going to just throw the typical F-Zero out their. But I think the Wii-U at this time needs titles that do a good job distinguishing themselves from one another. And with Mario Kart 8 just releasing, I don’t think Nintendo wants to pull any attention away from that game. Last year the Wii-U had Rayman Legends, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3-D World, and Sonic Lost World. That’s a lot of plat forming even if they are all unique from one another. I think a Strategic Game like Battalion Wars would stand out pretty well on the Wii-U. And I think the Game-pad could lend some interesting control configurations when it comes to managing all those troops. I highly doubt this will happen, but I am still optimistic.

Wii Music U is a Thing

This probably going to be the biggest disappointment for people. Wii Music was not Nintendo’s biggest success when it came to the Wii-series of games. It was critically panned for the most part, and was overall lackluster in its music choice, game modes, and control set-up. Miyamoto has expressed interest though in the past as wanting to revisit Wii Music and how he would improve upon, and recently there was a patent that surfaced that looked an awful lot like a concept for Wii Music on Wii-U. Rhythm games sort of faded out in popularity among most people. But all that means in my opinion is that Nintendo has an opportunity to capitalize on a market that is relatively untouched at this time. Wii Music had a lot of potential, and I would love to see it realized in a sequel.

Mystery 3DS game is…Star Fox

This is something that is a wild guess. The safe bet is probably Majora’s Mask 3-D. But I want to give a different perspective with this one. I think that Nintendo’s biggest concern is that they simply don’t know what to do with the Star Fox franchise. Would people really pay $60 for a rails shooter? A game they released last generation by the name of Sin and Punishment: Star Successor would say otherwise. But that could easily be attributed to the fact that it is a niche series. I think a 3DS release of a traditional star fox game makes a lot of sense. They already have an engine in place from Star Fox 3-D, and it would not be nearly the financial risk as a full console release would. Add in a well-built multiplayer mode, and I think Nintendo would be in business. I am sure some fans would still be disappointed by this, because of it being on a handheld and not on a console. But I think Nintendo shows a lot of good will to those fans who want a new Star Fox, and gives themselves minimal financial risk in the process.

Of course I could be completely wrong on most of these and none should be taken as truth. I hope for the most part I am wrong on most of these honestly. Because I love being surprised at E3 even more than I love being right. Nintendo is the type of company that does a great job at keeping things under wraps. But they do sometimes leave subtle clues about their future plans. I am incredibly excited for this years E3 and I hope you all find something to enjoy about this year. Whether it is from Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo for that matter. Let know what you think of my predictions, or even share some of your Ideas in the comments . HAVE A WONDERFUL E3 WEEK EVERYONE!

Sources-

Totilo, Stephen. "The Creator of Mario and Zelda Wants to Make a First-Person Shooter."Kotaku. N.p., 13 June 2012. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://kotaku.com/5918095/the-creator-of-mario-and-zelda-wants-to-make-a-first-person-shooter>.

Sheridan, Connor . "Nintendo patent may outline Wii Music U - CVG US."ComputerAndVideoGamescom Multiformat RSS. N.p., 22 May 2014. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.computerandvideogames.com/464680/nintendo-patent-may-outline-wii-music-u/>.

Campbull, Evan. "Nintendo Files 'Code Name S.T.E.A.M.' Trademark - IGN." IGN. N.p., 7 Apr. 2014. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/04/07/nintendo-files-code-name-steam-trademark>.

Review: Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Hot and Cold

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a game that has garnered a lot of disdain from the gaming community. Whether it was the idea that this games existence meant that Nintendo truly is out of ideas when it comes to new experiences. Or whether it was the other argument of them wasting the incredible talent and potential of the game developer Retro Studios. I always looked at it as retro simply continuing a trilogy of a game series they revived, much like they did with Metroid so many years ago. So is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze simply what people thought it would be? A simple, safe, and familiar sequel? Or is it a truly ambitious game filled to the brim with new ideas for the Donkey Kong Country series? The answer actually lies at a happy medium, and not a full-blown yes or no for both scenarios.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze controls like your traditional side-scrolling 2-D platformer. Much like the original you will be jumping on platforms, and from left to right avoiding hazards such as pits that lead you to fall to your death. Much like the previous title, platform stages vary greatly and you will not always be traversing on foot through the stages. The game controls are tight and responsive, and Donkey Kong’s weight feels great. He has a bit of a float, but his weight feels just right for timing specific jumps that are tricky. The only time you will feel a little out of control is when you do the ground pound and roll maneuvers. The abilities are mapped to the same button with the only difference being the that you can press down on the d-pad to do a roll. This at times can cause accidental deaths when trying to do a pound near a ledge, and you end up rolling off the edge instead. But this seemed to rarely happen, and Retro Studios gives multiple button layouts options for the gamepad, and pro controller.

Platforming mechanics from previous game make there return such as the rocket barrel, Rambi the rhino, and the mine cart. These stages do a great job in breaking up the traditional platforming stages found in the game. They do however at times feel very familiar to the previous title, even if the locales have changed considerably from the first

game.

Retro studios have done a great job in adding some newer platforming mechanics to the game. The first is the return of the underwater levels, found in the previous Donkey Kong Country trilogy. These stages are a beautiful edition to the game and play wonderfully. These underwater segments add another lair of variety in traversal of the stages, and overall level design of the game. These segments also give other levels, where swimming is not the full focus an excellent extra lair in-depth when it comes to exploration and finding secrets of the level. The only downside to these new stages, is the absence of Enguarde the Swordfish from the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy. Unfortunately he is not included, and it seems like a missed opportunity to give the levels even more diversity.

The second most noticeable inclusion to the new platforming mechanics is the Dynamic Camera Angles. These camera affects basically do a shift from the traditional 2D plain into a 3D plain. While these camera affects mostly occur during barrel blasts there are some special cases, where the camera angles add another…’’dimension’’ in certain platforming segments, where you have more control. The angles are always entertaining, and do a good job in showing just how much depth these the levels have. The Dynamic Camera was clearly made with a lot of care and consideration to the situation you are in. I can’t remember a time in my play through when I thought they were actually ruining or causing unnecessary deaths during the game. They add variety and offer a nice break from what would other wise be familiar plat forming for the series.

In addition to Diddy Kong making a return as a playable character, 2 other kongs join in as choices for playable characters. Cranky Kong is one of the new additions and he has his own unique ability of using his cane to bounce. This gives the player extra height after a landing and gives you the ability to jump on hazards you wouldn’t normally be able to. Dixie Kong is the other option and she serves as more of a buffed Diddy in a sense. Not only does she give a float jump. Dixie is also able to gain extra height while in mid-air with her pony-tail. When playing as a single player one Kong can be brought along or acquired during a stage. This provides Donkey Kong their abilities to use in the stages, and also gives him extra hearts.

The Kong’s do offer variety when it comes to control and different play styles for the player. Unfortunately however they are not fully used to their potential. Some levels will only allow you with a certain Kong to use. However they are not required to complete these stages. And most other stages simply give you the option to select any of them to use at your discretion. This is done by smashing barrels that are laid out through the stages. This is once again a missed opportunity when It comes to creating variety for the game levels. If the Kong’s were used as simply power-ups, their could have been even more potential in some of these stages. One of the best things about platformers are when stages make you master specific mechanics of the game. It is not that none of the stages offer this, far from it in fact. But when some of the stages feel this familiar to the previous game, it would have been nice to see what stages could be made with the different Kong’s provided.

Those aren’t all the of the slight alterations though. One thing this game lacks from the previous title, is the super guide. Rather than having the super guide in this game retro has included are some new items in the shop to use. By using banana coins collected throughout the stages you can buy a variety of items from the in-game shop provided. All the items from the previous game make a return as well as some new ones. Two examples of these new items are a green balloon that lifts DK back up from the pit he may fall into during a stage. And the other being a an extra vehicle heart for stages that involve the mine cart or rocket barrel. These items are of course optional, and you never feel gimped without them.

The only issue I have with the technical side of things are the loading screens. Specifically the Initial launch of the game once you’ve selected your control method. It just takes longer than one would expect. There are also times when abruptly a stage could take slightly longer to load into. They occur rarely though and do little to dampen the flow of the game. The game does run beautifully in stages and has a very clean smooth look, when it comes visuals and frame rate.

One of the biggest knocks against Donkey Kong Country: Returns was the lackluster, or unimaginative presentation. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has remedied that greatly this time around. The art direction of this game is top-notch, and the stages have a great variety when it comes to the environments. Stages that range anywhere from jumping on parade animals, beautiful silhouette scenes, swinging through a beehive, or swimming under the sea. It all does a great job in capturing the feel of the Donkey Kong Country Series. The other criticism of returns was the at times the uninspired music. The music in this however is extremely diverse, and entertaining all the way through. The whole game just sounds and looks great, and it is great to see such a minor thing to some like music be handled so well.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is a tough thing to grade definitively. On the one-hand the game looks, and plays fantastic. On the other it honestly seems like retro played it too safe when it comes to the overall game design. there are some missed opportunities when it comes to the possibilities of level variety, and design. But that doesn’t take away from the great things Retro Studios did do to expand some of the design choices of the previous game. The Dynamic Camera angles add a great new spin on the levels, the underwater segments expand greatly on level exploration, and the platforming despite being too familiar at time is hands down better than what its predecessor offered. Overall Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a great game, but it is just unfortunate that Retro left so much on the table. If you are a fan of the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy or the previous game returns, then I can’t recommend it highly enough. But if you are someone who is expecting a HUGE revolution in terms of level design from the previous title, than you could be left still feeling relatively Luke-warm even after completing it.

Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate(Wii-U)

Monstrously Challenging, Incredibly Deep, Awkwardly Designed, Yet Still Incredibly Fulfilling!

In March 2013 Capcom saved a huge game drought for Nintendo’s new console the Wii-U. Games were constantly being delayed or cancelled, and most of Nintendo’s ‘’Launch Window’’ games were nowhere insight. Nintendo’s console needed a title with longevity, and depth. Enter Capcoms enhanced port of a past-gen Wii game: Monster Hunter Tri. After a 1 year of owning Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and only spending 170+ hours with it. I am happy to say that I am glad Nintendo, and other third parties dropped the ball when it comes to game releases in this case. If it was not for the absurd game drought, I may have never given this game another chance.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a third person action-role playing game. Where you assume the role of a hunter within the game’s world. You travel to an island in distress, where violent earthquakes have happened. These quakes threaten to destroy the island and its inhabitants, and its your job to figure out who or what is causing them. And that is about it for story: A hero comes to town, fights the ultimate baddy, and saves the day. The story though thankfully isn’t what is going to get you to delve deep into monster hunter. The two things that will gravitate you towards a game like monster hunter are simple. You will love the great satisfaction of defeating or capturing these massive monsters. Or by the ‘’carrot on a stick’’ game design implemented within the loot collection design that monster hunter creates.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate follows a traditional loot-game design formula such as Diablo, or Borderlands. Unlike those games though, you are not given specific weapons or armors for defeating enemies. Instead you are given materials needed from hunting large monsters each quest in the game tasks you with hunting. This allows you to craft specific pieces of armor or weapons. To put in the simplest form: You will hunt monsters, defeat them, gather materials, craft armor and weapons from those materials, hunt stronger monsters, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Hunting monsters gives you the choice of two distinct goals to choose from game. Your goal is to kill the monster designated in the quest or capture it. Your choice on how you want to dispatch these monsters will either stem from the goal of the quest itself, or whether you are looking for a specific material for a weapon. The great thing about the loot in monster hunter is that there is so much depth to them. Weapons varying from the slow, but highly damaging Long-Sword. Or the party buffing and healing horn that plays completely differently. With the large choice of weapons included in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, you will easily be able to find a weapon that supports your play style. And that doesn’t even include the varying types of damage they each deal. This does not mean the regular damage of the weapon itself, but the different types of elemental damage found on them. Figuring out what weapons workout the best from a damage perspective for specific fights will be key, when it comes to how successful your hunts will be.

The great depth doesn’t just stop their at the weapon variety though. The role-playing elements of the game are highly involved when it comes to armor choice. Rather than a traditional leveling system found in most role-playing games. Monster hunter 3 Ultimate doesn’t use a talent tree or experience bar. Instead the leveling system in terms of quests is known as HR(Hunter Rank). Your HR will dictate what level of monster you are able to hunt, and how difficult they will be. Your characters stats and abilities are determined by the armor combination you bring into each hunt. The typical stats are all here: specific elemental resistances, stamina, defense, health, etc. But you will also be selecting other specific abilities and bonuses based on your gem choices. Certain armor sets will have a set number of gem slots that can be filled. It will be up to the player when it comes to deciding what abilities and stat boosts will be best for the weapon-class they are playing as. Certain amount of points given to certain abilities will offer extra bonuses to the player. Just as a side note you will need specific materials from monsters, to craft gems. This system gives player a lot to experiment with when it comes to building the best character for their weapon-class and play style.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is definitely one of those games that gives you great value for the price. I can easily say that the main story mode in the game will run you at least 30-40 hours, and that is if you don’t tackle a lot of side goals, or grind for specific pieces of loot in the game, But that is not all. Once you have completed the main story, the game offers even more single player content that is far more challenging. Things such as multiple monster hunts or even new sub-species of monsters to hunt. The game also offers online multiplayer, and is where you will put most of your time into this game. Though there aren’t a great variety of modes on offer. The game does give you the option of up to 4 player multiplayer hunting with voice chat. The players are able to do quests available to you or the other players based on their HR. Grinding HR will become even more important post-game. This is because certain quests are only unlocked at specific levels of HR. As long as you enjoy the content in the game already on offer in single player, You should easily get great value for your dollar in this game. And it is easy to see why so many players end up putting a great deal of time into these games.

Though the game is loaded with depth and content, one area Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is lacking is in the controls. The problem with them is that they do not offer the most intuitive experience at times. The controls will not come naturally at first, and they do have a bit of a learning curve. Things such as cycling from one item to another in real-time during a fight, and learning exactly how all the weapons attack, and feel is very daunting at first. Once the player has the controls down though, they feel incredibly comfortable, and natural to the player. One problem with the game-play though is the needless animations the game has. While part of the game is learning how to work around the animations, and timing your item usage during certain fights. The problem stems from needless additional animations your character will make. Such as consuming a potion, it healing you, and then having your character performing a flex animation that keeps your character locked in place and open to taking an attack. Though they are easily worked around once the player has a good understanding of them. Needless animations, and unintuitive controls may drive some new players away, despite how satisfying the combat in the game is.

When it comes to visuals of the game they are disappointing. It is clear that the only real effort that came from the upgraded visuals of the Wii-U version went into the detail of the monsters, and not the environments. The environments in the game are really not that much more detailed than the original version of the game. The only real upgrade to environments are the lighting, and colors are noticeably better. Thankfully though the monsters look wonderful, beautifully animated, and are full of detail.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is not a game for everyone. The game offers a great deal of content to the player. Though there is a great barrier of entry here for some. This is because a lot of the mechanics in the game are not well explained to the player. Things such as having to break specific parts of a monster to get materials required for certain pieces of armor. Or what benefits the stat boosts from gems provide, and where to find specific items is not explained properly to new players. Monster Hunter is a game with so much to it. It seems as though Capcom still has a lot to work with when it comes to explaining certain mechanics to the player. A Wiki or FAQ on the game is almost always required for new players. Unless of course you have a friend who is already well ingrained in the games depths. Certain players who are not willing to go to these lengths to figure out the ins and outs of the farming techniques or crafting depths may want to steer clear of the game.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the perfect game for players who want great ‘’bang for their buck’’. It offers a great deal of content to the player, that will last them hundreds of hours. But certain unnecessary animations, and unintuitive controls may come off as cheap to some. The environments look woefully outdated considering the era of gaming we are in. And a lot of the systems within the game take a lot of dedication, and time to learn. But with all that said, these faults whether they be small or large to some do not detract from all the wonderful things about this game. The monsters are extremely satisfying to defeat. The animations, designs, and detail on the monsters are wonderfully diverse. The game has an incredibly deep and satisfying crafting system that easily keeps the player engaged. And the addictive nature of creating your own character to suit your play-style is very fulfilling. If you have the time and the patience for a game likes this, I highly recommend you look into the monstrously wonderful, addictive, challenging and at times incredibly frustrating world of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.

Review: Child of Light(Wii-U)

Beautiful To Look At, Deep Combat, But Some Aspects Still Fall Flat

Japanese Role-Playing games have seen a rise in popularity as of late. Titles like Xenoblade, Bravely Default, or Shin Megami Tensei 4 have all done their part in creating this resurgence. It is great to see a genre that was for the most part ignored last generation, see such a healthy amount of great titles being released lately. The good majority of them do a great job of distinguishing themselves as well. Enter Ubisofts recent downloadable title: Child of Light. Boasting a beautiful art direction, and a unique spin on turn-based combat. Is the game worth your time? Or is it simply…slime?

Child of Light is 2-D turn-based combat role-playing game. It starts with a stylized fairy tale passage reading. You play Aurora a young princess who in the middle of the night without known reason dies. Aurora awakens in the land known as Lemuria. Aurora sets out to discover where she is, and what her purpose for being there is. You than run into Igniculus. Igniculus is a shining ball of light who will help you in combat and puzzle solving throughout your journey. I Will leave the story elements there since I do not want to give too much away.

The combat in Child of Light is fairly straight forward turn-based affair. You and your enemies will take turns attacking , debuffing, or healing one another . The twist with Child of Light are the real-time elements that play into who actually makes their attacks and when. You and your enemies attack order is decided by a cast bar given at the beginning of combat. You are able to see where you are in terms of casting by a display image of your character on the bar. You and your enemies will start at the beginning of the bar. An enemy or player chooses an action for the turn, once they have reached the casting point on the bar. Your character’s speed will determine how quickly you reach the casting point on the bar. The combat becomes very strategic from this point. That is because, you can still be interrupted once you have selected your action for the turn. So you or your opponent can still interrupt one another if they have a faster casting time on their offensive move. The casting bar is where Igniculus helps greatly as well, Because Igniculus can use his light to slow down enemy speed and cast times. And As the game progresses the combat gains even more depth. This is because, you will meet a variety of companions throughout the game. And they all have their own unique abilities. So instead of having a job system like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Child of Light goes for a simpler approach in that every one of your party members have a specific job. You are however limited to just two characters at anytime in combat. But you can also easily rotate through them mid combat as a way to have access to all of their unique abilities. It is a more streamlined approach than other role-playing systems. But that still does not make it any less engaging.

Even though the combat in this game is very well thought-out, other role-playing elements are lacking. The leveling system in this game follows a very streamlined approach. Leveling trees like World of Warcraft are found here. They are however underwhelming in the options they give to the player. You are given three different trees to use when it comes to leveling. But instead of making them each have a unique play style. They all just level up various stats such as health, mana, damage, Or improve specific moves your characters have. But that really will not change the way the characters play at all. It is a little disappointing but still gives you the ability to improve the skills you find more valuable for your characters. The crafting system in the game is also lacking. Rather than having gear you buy or craft. The game will reward you with gems. These gems are acquired when you defeat monsters or open treasure. You will find plenty of these throughout the game. The crafting system works as follows: gems combine with other colored gems, to turn into stronger gems, and then get placed in one of 3 sockets each character possesses that will either increase stats or buff damage. The problem with this system though is that it is poorly explained. In fact the only time I was even told about this ability was by a random NPC on my way to a new quest. It is a neat system but the only thing you have to work with is a vague hint system the game provides. I only played on normal difficulty. So this system could be far more important in hard or the new game plus option it offers upon completion of your first play through.

Child of Light does shine though in the presentation aspect. The game uses Ubisofts UBIART engine used in the recently rebooted 2-D Rayman platformers. So the game looks very vibrant and colorful with the areas in the game all having a unique style and color palette. The music is also lovely to listen to with soft piano melodies or lovely violin pieces. The characters however in the game due often lack a lot when it comes to personality or development. The rhyming dialogue is cute, but it only gets you so far when it comes to making characters likeable or interesting. The game otherwise has top-notch presentation quality.

Child of Light as a franchise has great much potential. This is obvious due to its beautifully created world and streamlined but still deep combat system. It is just unfortunate that other aspects like the crafting, leveling system, and characters were not more fleshed out. It is easily worth the asking price of $15. And does provide a solid length of play of 10-12 hours. To players looking for a unique twist on turn-based combat, and a beautiful art design Child of Light comes highly recommended. But those who are looking for much deeper role-playing experience, should look elsewhere. Child of Light is only a good game at this point but I could easily see a sequel being something truly special.

First user review is up!

Hello Everyone, I just posted my first user review, and it is for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It is underneath the review tab, and I more than welcome criticisms on not only my opinions about the game. But also suggestions on anything else that could be fixed up such as: Grammar,Spelling, and structure.

Thanks in advance!

Some early thoughts on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Thoughts and Impressions-

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is a game that has been met with much disdain sense It was first announced. It is almost humorous in a way. It seemed Nintendo unintentionally threw this game under the bus most of the time. It started with the first E3 2013 hype of Retro Studios new title. Or the Spike TV VGX Awards where they revealed the Cranky Kong trailer. People were expecting more from Nintendo on both these occasions. But Nintendo clearly thinks highly of this game to show it this much, Especially during an event they rarely attend, such as the VGX. Even I was expecting more from Nintendo when it came to that event. But after playing the game for about 3 Hours and playing through the first two in a half worlds, I can see they wanted to show this game so much.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a 2-D platforming game that plays just like it’s predecessor. If you have played Donkey Kong Country: Returns you will feel right at home here initially. You will generally only travel from left to right using the left thumb stick or directional pad . You will also of course be doing a lot of jumping on platforms, and on top of enemies to avoid falling to your death using the A or B button.

The mechanic of pounding has returned in which you will smash various things in the environment using the ground pound mechanic to unlock new areas, and secrets in the levels you play. Tropical freeze has made a subtle change in the mechanics when it comes to finding its secrets in the level. This change is the removal of the blow mechanic from Donkey Kong Country: Returns. In the previous game you would blow on objects whether they were flowers, windmills, or even enemies on fire. This mechanic acted as another method in unlocking, and exploring secrets in the level. Tropical freeze has removed this feature, but replaced with pulling. Now with the L and R buttons Donkey Kong can pull objects out from the ground in the environment. Like I mentioned earlier this is just subtle change but it does seem to suit the character, and environments better than the previous mechanic.

A cool addition to Tropical Freeze are the inclusions of Cranky and Dixie Kong. These two new characters play the same role as Diddy Kong did in Returns by giving you helping hand when it comes to navigating levels. The characters abilities do differ from one another so each one does serve a valuable purpose. Diddy Kong has kept his jet pack from the previous game which allows you to float in mid-air for a couple of seconds. Dixie Kong Offers extra height and a slight float with a hair twirl. And Cranky uses his cane to give you extra height in your jumps on any surface, or allows you to jump on hazards you would normally take damage from like spikes. Though the abilities do differ so far it seems like you won’t need to master them specifically for any particular one of the levels. Though some levels seem to only have one option, Other levels let you choose when you come across their barrels. It is a missed opportunity in my opinion as one of the best and most rewarding things about platformers is when they ask you to master a specific ability your character may have to get through certain levels.

A big change when it comes to Tropical Freeze is the broader level design. Anyone who plays returns knows, that the levels in that game are fairly straightforward when it comes to depth. Thought they did have you jumping into the background a lot the levels didn’t have a lot of exploration. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze so far is alleviating that by adding underwater segments to the games early levels. Retro has also changed how unlocking extra stages work from the previous game. In Donkey Kong Country Returns you merely needed to pay a certain amount of banana coins to unlock extra stages in the world besides the Kong letter stages. Now in Tropical Freeze to unlock bonus levels in the world you will need to explore certain levels, and find hidden exits within them. So far though Retro Studios has designed it so it is fairly obvious which level you need to go into to find the secret exit.

One of the biggest things touted by retro when the game was first revealed was the new dynamic camera angles. So far these camera angles are really well done, and do a good job in expanding on the background movement ideas from Returns. They also slightly remind me of the more cinematic 3D parts of most recent sonic games, but they seem a bit more polished in their execution. They have yet to intrude on the platforming, and I haven’t yet felt that they are purposely making certain parts of the game difficult. Unfortunately though as I finished playing through the first world the second world did not really use these angles at all. The dynamic camera angle is used quite extensively in the first world, but that may have just been because the levels did feel very familiar to begin with.

On the technical side the visuals and art style are top-notch. While some areas seem quite detailed, others are lacking in same level of polish. So far though I think the game is the best looking Donkey Kong platformer I have played with Jungle Beat coming in second. One of the gripes I do have though is the load times. The first start-up screen after the main menu does take a noticeable amount of time to load, and at times the game does take longer than I’d like on loading screens. The game runs buttery smooth though when running in a level, and on the world map as far as I have gotten so far.

I also feel I must mention quickly that another huge improvement in this game is the soundtrack. One of the knocks on Donkey Kong Country Returns was that the music was way to familiar. Tropical Freeze has so far impressed me with it’s catchy music numbers. The instruments used vary greatly as well as one level you are listening to a nice jazz melody and the next stage you are listening to a hard rock guitar ballad.

So far Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is wonderful. Even though the first world, and platforming mechanics felt very familiar at times. I do feel my biggest gripe is with the missed opportunity in the non-restrictive use of the other Kong’s. Despite these flaws, and at times some strange loading hiccups, I think that Tropical freeze has shown me enough subtle changes in mechanics and large changes in the level design, music, and new dynamic camera angles to validate its existence at the moment.