By: Uma Smith
With a new line of video game consoles coming about, it’s important to remember our roots. Developers have kept this in mind when releasing titles intended to bring a sense of nostalgia to classic gaming. And while the Ys series hasn’t really seen the light of day outside of Japan, XSEED has still proceeded with remaking one of the titles, Ys: Memories of Celceta, on the PlayStation Vita in hopes of creating new “memories” for gamers to cherish.
Engaging in combat never felt tighter and more reactive with the square button assigned to pulling off combo attacks, the X for dashing, triangle for blocking, and the circle for switching between characters. While the game may appear to be a button-masher at first glance, there’s more involved here, especially when you want to unleash the advanced skills for your characters.
Ys: Memories of Celceta makes use of the PlayStation Vita’s capabilities as well by allowing players to perform a pinch on the rear touchpad in order to get your support characters to step back while the main character does the work during combat. You can also analyze your enemies by simply touching them on screen.
Ys: Memories of Celceta looks absolutely impressive under the PlayStation Vita’s OLED screen. The colors are plentiful and graphical detail is set to a high degree. Sadly, the frame rate does tend to lag at certain points, specifically during panoramic scenes. Nevertheless, the special effects that display during battles are like fireworks. And the animated cut scenes themselves showcase the artistry and creativity behind the talented individuals involved with this game.
As for the audio aspects of Ys: Memories of Celceta, the soundtrack provides the high caliber of melodies and tunes that bring light and magic to the gameplay. Expect a mixture of the sounds of the violin and electric guitar to add comfort to your ear drums. Although English dubbing in a game like this may not sit well with Japanese anime fans, the voice acting turned out alright. That, coupled with some pretty effective sound effects, provide an dynamic overall auditory experience.
The story in Ys: Memories of Celceta is engaging enough to retain players’ attention spans. You have Adol Christin, who enters into the Casnan City after having ventured into the Great Forest. He doesn’t remember what happened as he wakes up in a bar where he meets his friend, Duren. All of a sudden, the city gets attacked by a bunch of underground creatures and monsters. At the request of the governor, the two characters venture back into the Great Forest.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is basically an action RPG with a fast-paced combat system that requires some planning and strategy. Thankfully, your AI characters are smart enough to do what they should without fumbling, thus making the whole strategy aspect desirable and easy to execute. During your journey, you’ll notice that enemies come in nice little groups to keep you well entertained. The boss battles themselves also put up quite a challenge that keeps the game interesting and exciting. However, considering that victory depends on determining the right attack patterns, observation and reaction are important during these encounters.
When you look closely at the mechanics behind the battles, you’ll realize there’s more to it than blindly executing attacks. Specifically, there’s a system where each enemy has a weakness associated to one of three elements, which is tied to three attack types: slash, strike and piercing. Therefore, you’ll want to use the right attack type on your enemy since you get extra rewards for doing so. Timing is key when considering that a good defensive approach involves finding the right moment to counterattack. Additionally, if you happen to dash away from an enemy attack, your characters’ following attack will have a nice boost to it.
Although the whole story can only take about 20 hours to complete, there’s a lot to do in Ys: Memories of Celceta that will keep you really busy. With all the item crafting, weapon/armor upgrades and a number of deep character attribute systems, you get an extraordinary level of customization that ends up feeling more personalized for your specific tastes. Furthermore, there’s a vast amount of side quests provided by each of the town’s board for you to embark in. In the end, the replay factor here can be pretty insane.
Simply put, Ys: Memories of Celceta is one of the must-have titles that will make you feel thankful for owning a PlayStation Vita. With the huge amount of content and outrageously remarkable presentation, this game will ensure that you’ll end up with plenty of fond “memories.”
By: Jeff Cater
Beer Pong is a title developed and published by JV Games Inc, which might as well be just one man, a full ashtray and a worn dartboard full of post-it notes.
The thing about real life beer pong is that its directly related to how coordinated you are, and how well you maintain composure. Second comes drinking ability. In this video game adaptation of our nation’s beloved pastime, the PlayStation Move and Six-Axis systems are clumsily used to aim your shot. While the aiming works well enough (as aiming with a Move controller generally does), firing off your shot requires flicking your wrist forward, and that pretty much negates any sort of accuracy you may have been going for. The Six-Axis controls are weirder than that, requiring lifting the controller and adjusting aim with the right stick. Really none of it is thought through at all.
Not a lot of effort was put in to making Beer Pong special looking or sounding. The announcer, who just ribs people constantly, will have you mashing on the mute button before the uninspired and generic soundtrack gets a chance to be noticed or become grating; which may well be a blessing in disguise.
There’s literally nothing remarkable about the visuals, either. Tables look decent enough, but they’re just freakin’ tables. Cups look like cups so that’s a plus — incredibly, I’ve seen games get cups wrong (Tetris, Chinese Checkers). The ball will often clip through edges of cups and netting, though, robbing you of goals and further negating the “accuracy” of the finely-tuned controls.
GAMEPLAY, BRO (1/5)
Although there are a couple of different modes to choose from, like a tournament-style Speed Pong and a laughable practice mode, essentially you’re giving it your best effort to toss balls into cups while fighting the controls. It seems that the AI is playing with the same control scheme, because although they can sink some unexpected shots they will screw up the exact same amount of easier shots.
Online multiplayer is there, but I was not able to connect to a single game. The online leaderboard was there as well, but it’s unclear what I’d have to do in order to place. There’s so little… everything in this game. Only four “dudebros” and four “chickarettes” to choose from, and they aren’t anything to go crazy over, just collegiate binge drinkers.
Beer Pong does not contain any redeeming qualities or perks to playing, although, on the plus side, it does not give you liver damage… I think (I will update you on the results of my recent MRI). Unfortunately, the damage of lost time to playing a bad game is damn near irreparable these days, so stay far away from this one until JV Games ups their efforts and maybe tries a more conventional gaming concept or some other genre, because right now they’re on course to flunk out, brah.
By: Uma Smith
We’ve seen chickens being showcased on the big screen in such movies as Chicken Run and Chicken Little. But I guess these “fowl” creatures want to spread their publicity onto video game consoles as well. Courtesy of Teyon, their latest Nintendo 3DS game called Crazy Chicken: Director’s Cut 3D is now available from the eShop as a downloadable title.
The premise behind this game is that you shoot down a bunch of chickens within a movie setting. Actually, it’s a total of two settings — horror and science fiction. The latter is accessible from the start, but after playing a few minutes, you’ll get the former setting unlocked. Essentially, your objective is to achieve a high score with the limited amount of ammo you have.
Using the stylus on the bottom touch screen of the Nintendo 3DS, you’ll be able to move and aim your crosshair. As such, the controls are responsive and smooth. The only other buttons you’ll need to be aware of are those responsible for reloading and shooting. These are assigned to the face buttons, d-pad and the shoulder buttons. So there is a lot of autonomy in terms of the control layout that accommodates both right- and left-handed players.
Graphics-wise, Crazy Chicken: Director’s Cut 3D is pretty basic at best. While the amount of activity on screen can get pretty busy, the use of special effects is quite minimal. Furthermore, the 3D effect doesn’t produce much of a lasting impression. So, while the character designs and colors may seem plentiful, the end result leaves a flat impact on players.
The music itself doesn’t provide much of a punch either when you consider the constant looping of the same tunes over and over (and over). Nonetheless, the humorous audio effects do give the game some of its charming and hilarious moments.
Talking specifically about each setting, the horror scene consists of props that include Frankenstein and The Exorcist while the science fiction is made up of Star Wars, Men In Black and Aliens. During the game, there are a variety of chickens to shoot down. They can be quite funny to look at with their wacky actions. But, of course, don’t let this distract from your main goal of getting a high enough score for yourself.
As you progress further, the setting expands, thus affording you the opportunity to fire at more of these “fowl” creatures. Do note that there are specific non-chicken targets that reward you with points. So it becomes a game of discovery. However, such an ordeal can only hold its appeal for so long, and eventually it ends up feeling repetitive and monotonous.
Because Crazy Chicken: Director’s Cut 3D does feature online leaderboards, it could manage to captivate the players’ attention spans. The fact that they would be able to see how they perform in comparison to others around the world could potentially encourage them to revisit the game to keep that top ranking.
At the end of the day, however, it boils down to whether or not you’ll get tired of seeing the same two settings as you fire away with a limited number of ammo. Hence, it’s best to play this type of game on casual sessions.
Crazy Chicken: Director’s Cut 3D is a very affordable game offering in the 3DS eShop. While it offers cheap fun, players may feel the overall gameplay experience to be cheap itself. Therefore, this 3DS title’s shallow yet “crazy” idea may or may not sit well with players, depending on how welcoming they are toward simple types of games.
By: David Tavernier
Cubetractor is a strategy tower defense game made by Ludochip, a two-man development team that – according to their website — creates “crunchy bite-sized games.” It would be hard to sum up Cubetractor with a better phrase. With a cheap price and a modest-sized campaign that has just the right challenge, Cubetractor is a game that is lightweight and cheap enough to fit right in your pocket.
In Cubetractor you play as Endroi, a blue robot with a good sense of humor that is being tested to evaluate his personal strength and ingenuity as a younger resident of the robot kingdom. As such you will have to face wave after wave of defensive challenges, which collectively amount to an overall enjoyable experience.
The controls in Cubetractor are very simple. Endroi can be moved around using the arrow keys while the “z” key pulls cubes and “x” cancels structures that you build by pulling these cubes. There is very little beyond this. The challenge of the game comes from pulling cubes at just the right time to create a turret or barrier at precisely the location that is desired. Cubetractor‘s simple controls function perfectly well in accomplishing this and should not be an obstacle to even the most inexperienced of gamers.
The graphics in Cubetractor mirror the 16-bit era. You should expect some nostalgia as you play if you grew up in the ’80s or early ’90s. I found myself thinking of SNES classics such as Secret of Mana, ActRaiser, and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Despite this, some of the character designs are charming and comical, and both the world itself and the levels you play all seem perfectly appropriate. So, even if the graphics are simplistic they are still well done for what they are.
Cubetractor‘s sound design is similarly retro with sound effects and music simple enough that they could easily be confused with an NES or SNES game. This being said, just like its graphics, Cubetractor‘s sounds and music are well done for what they are. The music is especially catchy in the menus, world map, and while playing each level. It’s nice to have something catchy to listen to while playing Cubetractor as it helps distract the player as they deal with each level’s challenging puzzles.
All this being said, although the graphics and sound are well done for what they are, they are not going to astound or amaze anyone. They are pleasant, but you shouldn’t expect them to impress you.
Cubetractor is fun and challenging… but not too challenging. It’s a tower defense strategy game where on each and every map you face a system of towers and barriers that must be destroyed by constructing your own towers from cubes lying around. There are yellow, purple and brown cubes that can be combined in unique ways to create different types of towers that can be used to destroy the enemy towers on each map.
For instance, smashing two brown cubes together creates a defensive barrier, two yellow cubes together creates an offensive turret, and two purple cubes form a turret that fires heat-seeking gobs of plasma. Yellow and brown cubes create a power plant that increases turret fire speed and so on.
Often there is a special trick to each map, and you’ll often have to think and think and make numerous mistakes in order to discover it, which then makes finishing each level much easier. After you discover it, though, the trick often seems like it should have been obvious to begin with. Conversely, there are some levels that have no simplifying trick and must be passed with sheer dexterity.
These levels require you to run about, creating turrets and barriers as fast as you can so that you can whittle down enemy defenses piece by piece. Often destroying one enemy tower alone can be enough to breach the enemy’s defenses. However, getting this first crucial kill can be quite challenging and may take several restarts to accomplish. In any case, due to the game’s challenge, making progress against the enemy defenses is always an enjoyable experience.
As the player moves through the game, level by level, they should become more adept at pulling blocks at just the right time. This will be required especially in the harder levels toward the end of the game, but once the player has mastered this timing even the final levels will be able to be completed without too much aggravation.
Cubetractor can be a considerable challenge. This makes the game fun, and it has lasting value in that every level can be perfected by earning a gold star. It took about 9 hours to beat the game while mostly acquiring silver stars on each level, but if you were to try to get a gold star on every level it could take you considerably more time. Cubetractor also has 13 achievements — some of which are very difficult to obtain — that give the game even more replay value.
Iif you like tower defense games that are challenging and don’t mind retro graphics and sound, the $9.99 price tag is appropriate, and you should feel satisfied with your purchase when the credits roll.
By: Uma Smith
It’s been a little over a year since Rainbow Moon released for the PlayStation 3. While it may have some issues, the game has some solid gameplay and happenin’ graphics. SideQuest Studios didn’t just stop there. They worked hard in ensuring that Rainbow Moon saw the day of light for the PlayStation Vita. With its arrival in December of 2013, will this particular title still have a pot of gold at the end of its “rainbow”?
Both the PlayStation 3 and Vita copies of Rainbow Moon will have the version 2.0 patch applied, which will essentially give the same degree of controls and fixes for both of them. That said, there are improvements made so that character movements are smoother and more responsive. Furthermore, the mechanics behind the menus have changed so as to prevent any unintended selections.
Unfortunately, the absence of the touch screen features feels as if Rainbow Moon has fallen a bit short in terms of unleashing its potential on the PlayStation Vita. While it’s a pity, the controls still translate very well onto this portable console.
Quite impressively, Rainbow Moon for the PlayStation Vita turned out just as beautifully as the console version, if not even better. This is mainly because of the use of its OLED screen to help showcase its graphics in all their colorful glory.
Shifting over to the audio aspect of things, Rainbow Moon does give mixed results. Both the sound effects and voice acting leave much to be desired due to their lack of lasting impression as well as its repetitiveness. The saving grace here, however, would be its stellar background music.
Being a perfect port of the PlayStation 3 version (the full version of which can be read here), you should expect all the same RPG enjoyment and mayhem for the PlayStation Vita. The game does not have multiplayer from the get-go. So, one should not expect any online leaderboards or multiplayer features. Hence, this is meant to be enjoyed via the single-player experience.
Considering again that the newest patch would lead to fixes and improvements incorporated for the home and portable console versions, the gameplay is essentially identical. The overall playthrough will still require at least 40 hours on account of its massive content and involvement.
With that said, the main thing to note is that Rainbow Moon has changed so that it’s slightly more accessible. Additionally, its included features translate to convenience and flexibility in the eyes of the players, thereby giving more reasons for the game to be more addicting.
Even though Rainbow Moon for the PlayStation Vita should be given almost the same evaluation as its console counterpart, the inclusion of bug fixes and improvements lead to a slightly higher mark. And with the cross-save functionality, this will play seamlessly between consoles. If you want to be able to devote some extra time to Rainbow Moon, be it on the couch or on the go, then you can’t go wrong here with the Vita.
By: Casey Curran
Remember when getting a bunch of controllers was a no brainer when picking up a new system? Nowadays I have a shiny new PlayStation 4 with absolutely nothing I want to play that has four-player co-op. So PS4 time has mainly been delegated to passing around the controller between Call of Duty sessions; that is until Super Motherload came along promising a fun four-player, simultaneous co-op experience. One of the words in the description does not belong, care to guess which one?
Super Motherload is exceptionally polished for an indie title. The game is based around drilling through the ground and mining the various minerals you come across. There are also a variety of bombs to instantly destroy areas around you, letting you access areas you normally could not. Your driller is also equipped with hover capabilities for getting back up through previously drilled areas. Hovering has great physics to it, which make sense and add a little bit of trickiness to backtracking.
While not a technological wonder, Super Motherload’s style adds much needed charisma to its visuals. The 1980s’ cheesy sci-fi feel works well for the game, which will impress a number of gamers with its charm. When these elements are reduced, during the core gameplay, however, consisting more of just an underground arena, the game begins looking much blander.
The sound effects match its visual style well, which somewhat mitigates when the game is not using its aesthetic to the game’s visual advantage. Music is neither memorable nor annoying.
This is the part that pains me because I rarely see a game this polished from a downloadable title. Unfortunately, though, Super Motherload is a game with great mechanics built around a boring premise. The game consists of mining until you run out of cargo room or fuel, then hovering back up to sell your cargo, refuel, and go back to do it again. That’s a fine idea for the fundamentals of a game, yet Super Motherload does next to nothing beyond this.
There are two basic goals in Super Motherload: Upgrade your ship and push down further underground. The upgrades are well thought out, and in a different game they would work very well. The issue, however, is pushing down offers almost no reason to keep playing. There is occasionally dialogue giving insight into the history of the Martian planet you’re drilling, as well as a wealth of gold or platinum that requires strategic use of bombs to access.
These instances, however, were too few and far between, and it quickly became apparent that I was spending the vast majority of my time not being challenged or engaged in any way. The game simply became a time waster. Even co-op cannot help this, as all players share fuel. This just makes trips back and forth down more common, which gets progressively more annoying the deeper you dig.
Super Motherload is just missing something – a time limit, an objective beyond mining, enemies or hazards getting in your way, something… Combine this with how seemingly half my sessions ended with an application error, and Super Motherload was a very hard game to like.
Super Motherload is another game I did not particularly enjoy, yet would like to see the developers try again. Fill this with all kinds of traps and a variety of ruins to discover as you mine and it could become a very compelling little title.
By: Justin Redmon
Final exams have a funny way of making people completely freak out and lose all rational thought. Long periods of no sleep and binging on energy drinks have a tendency to turn even the most sane person into a slobbering lunatic, albeit with an encyclopedic knowledge of one subject due to an intense cramming session. Final Exam by Mighty Rocket Studios looks to take the stress of test day away and replace it with monster-killing madness for you and three of your closest friends. With baseball bats, chainsaws and plenty of automatic weaponry, there’s plenty of ways to beat back the horror of the night.
With melee, ranged and all manner of dodges and jumps supported, Final Exam gives you a lot of options to choose from on how you want to handle a monster horde. Melee brawling will be your main method of dispatching foes, with ground and air combos rounding out your monster-mashing repertoire. Guns and throwables give ranged some meat as well, letting you rack up combos from a distance as well as keep some space between you and more dangerous enemies.
It’s worth noting that at first you might find movement a bit cumbersome and stiff, but after a few battles you’ll come to grips with the controls.
When it comes to looks, Final Exam makes the grade with room to spare. The 2.5D presentation is used to great effect, with enemies jumping in from the background and certain level sections having objects come into play in the background – for example, in the first level you run across the roof of a subway train dodging lights hanging from the ceiling while fighting off baddies. An almost comic-like presentation accents nearly every action, making things like attacks and explosions pop on screen.
The music accents the dark and rundown environments, letting the horror movie themes shine a little brighter. It does seem that animations can sometimes appear a little jittery, though, as transitions between movements and dodges can be a bit jarring.
So, you’re heading to possibly the biggest party of your life. You and three of your closest buds are finally back together just like the good ol’ days. Of course, life wouldn’t have it this way, as a sudden outbreak of nightmarish monsters puts an end to any party going. From there out, you choose one of four characters, each with different skill specializations, and go to battle with the monsters of the night.
Combat is fast and hectic, giving players plenty of ways to put the hurt on enemies; my favorite being an air juggle slam combo to a hail of bullets from the sky not unlike that of Dante of Devil May Cry fame. Each character also comes with unique special moves, ranging from breakdance-like beat downs or infinite ammo for your weapons. Combos feed a perpetually rising meter, and with the press of a button you can cash in your combos early to secure your points on high score runs, else you play a dangerous game where a single hit loses it all.
Weapons are found in level, letting you smash heads with a variety of pain-bringing instruments — my advice is to hold onto the sledge hammer, whose charge attack makes quick work of almost any enemy. After each level, you can upgrade base stats on your character, and also fit special skills and buffs to make taking down baddies even easier.
Although a fun game, Final Exam has some serious problems with repetition. I get that a brawler doesn’t exactly have to offer much, but it seems like the only things Final Exam really presents by way of gameplay is either extremely tedious fetch quests or a constant fighting of enemy hordes. Although late-game battles definitely carry enough weight to be interesting, early on your move set just isn’t diverse enough to stop it from becoming tedious. Final Exam also constantly seems to think fun comes from moving explosive objects from point A to point B while enemies constantly harass you, which results in you blowing up a hell of a lot and generally getting frustrated with the entire process.
Playing with friends is the easiest cure for many of Final Exam’s small problems, and though variety may be lacking throughout your time with Final Exam, overall it’s a fun beat ‘em up.
While it may trip over itself deciding just how to keep the brawling fresh, Final Exam eventually finds its niche as a satisfying co-op brawler that’s sure to keep you occupied.