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Review: J-Stars Victory VS+

Jun 28 // Laura Kate Dale
J-Stars Victory Vs+ (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita) Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentRelease: June 26, 2015 (EU), June 30, 2015 (US) I may not be the most knowledgeable anime fan out there, but I'm always willing to try out a new series if it looks interesting. As such, I was pretty excited coming into J-Stars Victory VS+. I was hoping to experience well known characters I already knew, as well as finding new characters to get invested in and try watching going forward. Unfortunately, J-Stars Victory VS+ was a bit of a disappointment in that regard. The representations of characters I already knew didn't feel accurate and the hooks to get invested in new series just weren't there for me. So, as this is a fighting game first and foremost, let's talk about the fighting mechanics at play. Every character has one light attack button, a heavy attack button, a special attack button, a block and a dash. While these are tailored to each character, the movesets all feel very similar to play using. While it's cool to see Ichigo pull off a Getsuga Tensho and Goku a Kamehameha, both on a mechanical level act near identically. Every move is an approximation designed to fit a specific combat system's mold, which ultimately takes away some of what makes these characters unique. Defensive techniques like cancels are minimal, so if you wait for an attack animation to start then start mashing buttons you'll usually win. J-Stars Victory VS+ is not a game of skill, it's a game of waiting for any enemy to attempt anything slower than a light attack, interrupting with a light attack then button mashing while they remain locked in your combo. [embed]294934:59255:0[/embed] So, ignoring the fact the combat system itself lacks depth, lets look at how this functions as a pure fanservice game. Just looking at the numbers there is a lot here for fans of Shonen anime to love. There's representation from newer series like D.Gray-man as well as older series like Rurouni Kenshin and a whole host of series in between. There's even inclusions from my super niche sports anime, but only as support characters rather than full playable roster members. Damn, I was just about ready to praise this game for supporting my niche interests. So, let's talk about the modes on offer in J-Stars Victory VS+. There's J-Adventure, where you sail around the world on a tiny boat given to you by god to earn your way into a tournament of champions, where everyone involved seems perfectly fine with the fact god gave them a boat that couldn't get most of the places it needed to go and needlessly pads out the experience with narrative fluff between fights. This mode has four arcs, each of them near narratively identical. I couldn't see any reason players would want to go through all four of these, they're all equally padded and dull. Your other options are Victory Road which sets up special fights loosely themed around anime dream team fights, a standard Arcade mode which offers minimal challenge, local free battles and online free battles. None of these modes felt terribly coherent or fleshed out. On paper, the roster of nearly 40 playable characters is certainly impressive, but what makes these characters unique is rarely utilized fully. Each character's ultimate attack feels decidedly less visually impressive than comparable titles like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. The story mode offered on disk features static 2D images of characters that may say the odd single word to each other, but otherwise remain silent. Their dialogue feels terribly homogeneous, stripped down so that every character speaks with the same uniform voice. This doesn't feel like a series of characters clashing for the first time, rather it feels like one person in many different outfits badly acting out their alternative universe fanfiction. Where the games opening cinematic gave me hope for a visually impressive, fanservice heavy experience, the single player largely boiled down to watching static images talk to each other in a weirdly unemotional tone then fight for no adequately explained reason. It just wasn't compelling. Ultimately, J-Stars Victory VS+ only succeeds as numbers on paper, the game itself being largely disappointing. The roster have had much of what made them unique stripped down, stopping me getting truly excited about the characters I knew and preventing me getting a sense of which characters were worth me investing future time watching. The mechanics are shallow, the fanservice is surface level and it only succeeds in terms of its pure number of supported characters. Overall, I walked away rather disappointed. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
J-Stars Victory VS+ photo
Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash, mash......
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a game that's mechanically light, heavy on fanservice volume but that only ever skims the surface of the characters it includes. If you want an anime brawler that focuses on the sheer volume of anime ch...

Troops vs Women photo
Troops vs Women

Murder women in SJW Riot: Troops vs Women - in Video Game


'Terrorising men, just for being men'
Jun 27
// Jed Whitaker
An Indiegogo campaign for a new game called SJW Riot: Troops vs Women - in Video Game, in which social justice warriors -- who are apparently only women -- have "lost their mind, again, and are terrorising men" according to t...
Shantae: Risky's Revenge photo
Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut is better than the original


Now on PS4 this week
Jun 27
// Chris Carter
Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? Back in 2002, WayForward released the original Shantae for the Game Boy Color. It wasn't a massive hit, but it quickly became a cult classic, and eventually lead to th...

Obscure Video Games: Kick Challenger - Air Foot

Jun 27 // Obscure Video Games
There's a variety of interesting power-ups to tread upon. A variety of Nike sneakers are available to alter your movement, but there's no indication that they were officially licensed. I assume Air Master was a reference to these swap-meet Air Jordans. As with many of the games I highlight here, piles of feces make an appearance, as well. For some reason in this game stepping in it makes you temporarily invincible. There is even one item that turns you into a pesticide can which can shoot at the bugs (as you can see in my GIF at the top). The game is not without its faults, though. The five levels included aren't very long, but in a way this is good because it does get a bit repetitive.  Also, the difficulty and frustration level can be a bit much. One of the main things that got me was the warp spots, which almost always take you back to an earlier point in the level. They spring up all over the place, and can be quite tricky (sometimes impossible) to avoid. The game also won't let you backtrack; if you get stuck in front of a warp, you have to take it. This kind of trial-and-error stuff is just begging to be played on an emulator with save states. Overall, if you're forgiving and want to try something truly original, different, and (of course) challenging, I'd say Kick Challenger is worth checking out. [embed]294633:59217:0[/embed]
Obscure Video Games photo
1, 2, 3, kick it!
In 1986 Nintendo released the Famicom Disk System add-on for the Famicom in Japan. For some reason the company decided it wasn't worth the time to sell it anywhere else in the world, but that didn't stop game makers from rele...

Mighty Switch Force! photo
Mighty Switch Force!

Mighty Switch Force! is out on PC this week, and it plays great


$8.99 until July 2
Jun 27
// Chris Carter
If you haven't played the fantastic Mighty Switch Force! yet, now would be a good time to start. WayForward has just released the game on PC, and it's the most complete version to date, while also sporting the same gorge...
DestrUKtoid photo
DestrUKtoid

DestrUKtoid Episode 10 - Dad Jokes Jingle


On The Busses
Jun 27
// Laura Kate Dale
The UK, it exists and Destructoid now has writers there. Great British Pounds. Eastenders. Steptoe and Son. The Destructoid UK Podcast (DestrUKtoid). This week UK Editor Laura Dale is joined by Joe Parlock and Vikki Blake to shout a bunch of words about Destiny being a bit crap. Have a listen on iTunes or Direct Download.   

Beyond Earth & Civilization titles 81% off in Weekend Deals

Jun 27 // Dealzon
Civy Deals Use Code: GET23P-ERCENT-OFFGMG Civilization: Beyond Earth (Steam) — $15.40  (list price $50) Civilization V (Steam) — $5.77  (list price $30) Civilization IV: Complete (Steam) — $5.77  (list price $30) Civilization III Complete (Steam) — $0.96  (list price $5) Xbox One + Free Game + $50 (Saturday Only) Update: AC Unity now included for free in the bundles below. Xbox One Halo MCC Bundle + 2 Free Games + $50 Promo — $349 Xbox One 1TB Halo MCC Bundle + 2 Free Games + $50 Promo — $399 Recent Releases s06/25: Total War Attila: The Last Roman (Steam) — $9.95  (list price $15) 06/23: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward — $29.99  (list price $40) 06/23: Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (Steam) — $16.49  (list price $25) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) — $49.99  (list price $60) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (Steam) — $32.99  (list price $60) <- ehhhh maybe wait? 06/23: Evolve Hunting Season 2 (Steam) — $19.25  (list price $25) 06/09: Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense (Steam) — $10.49  (list price $15) Upcoming Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $35.49  (list price $55) 11/06: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (Steam) — $51.49  (list price $60) TBA: Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power — $18.69  (list price $22) TBA: Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns + 2 Steam Games — $44.99  (list price $50) PC Game Deals Mac Game Store Super Summer Sale Use Code: PCGAMES5OFF Borderlands 2 Complete Edition Bundle (Steam) — $14.24  (list price $60) Daedalic Comedy Bundle (Steam) — $11.39  (list price $80) Broforce (Steam) — $11.39  (list price $15) Blackguards Franchise Pack (Steam) — $11.24  (list price $75) Star Wars Starter Pack (Steam) — $4.14  (list price $70) <- KOTOR, Jedi Knight I & II, etc. Games Republic Summer Blockbuster Sale Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $26.79  (list price $40) Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (Steam) — $4.99  (list price $20) DLGamer Hot Deals Ultra Street Fighter IV (Steam) — $15  (list price $30) Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $10  (list price $40) XCOM: Enemy Unknown The Complete Edition (Steam) — $9.99  (list price $50) More PC Games Killing Floor 2 (Steam) — $25.49  (list price $30) Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition (Steam) — $17.95  (list price $40) Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $17  (list price $50) Cities: Skylines (Steam) — $14.49  (list price $30) <- cool beans. Alien: Isolation (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) World of Diving (Steam) — $9.24  (list price $20) Lost Planet 3 (Steam) — $6.25  (list price $25) Remember Me (Steam) — $6  (list price $30) Valkyria Chronicles (Steam) — $5  (list price $20) <- get it Console Game Deals $50 PlayStation Network Code (Digital Delivery) — $45  (list price $50) Bloodborne (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) The Order: 1886 (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $40) <- maybe  at this price? Final Fantasy Type-0 HD - Pre-owned (PS4, Xbox One) — $19.99  (list price $40) Gran Turismo 6 (PS3) — $14.99  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag + AC Rogue (PS3) — $14.99  (list price $60) Xbox Live Gold 3 Month (Digital Code) — $14.95  (list price $25) Battlefield 4 (Xbox One) — $11.99  (list price $30) Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare (Xbox One) — $11.99  (list price $40) Laptop Deals 15.4" MacBook Pro, i7-4870HQ, 16GB, 512GB SSD — $2,049  (list $2,499) <- only $2k, you peasants. 14" Lenovo Y40-80, i7-5500U, Radeon R9, 16GB, 512GB SSD — $849  (list 1,600) 15.6" Asus, i7-4720HQ, 12GB, GTX 950M — $749  (list $1,000) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend Deals photo
Facing Gandhi's wrath
Steam's Summer Sale is behind us but the the Summer PC gaming discounts continues on, especially on Civilization titles. This weekend GMG launched a wave of discounts on this year's Civilization Beyond Earth, drops to on...

Same-sex marriage photo
Same-sex marriage

Gaming companies voice their support for the same-sex marriage ruling in the US


#LoveWins
Jun 26
// Ben Davis
History was made today when the Supreme Court struck down bans against same-sex marriage, ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. Social media was immediately set ablaze wi...
SQUARE ENIX photo
The market is moving on
There comes a point in every console's life cycle where we all collectively decide the party is over. Some people start filing out around midnight. Others will disappear later on. Eventually it's just one guy trying to keep t...

Fire Emblem Dates XXX photo
Fire Emblem Dates XXX

Strip and get your poke on with Fire Emblem Fates characters


Who needs a stylus anyways?
Jun 26
// Jed Whitaker
The Japanese version of Fire Emblem Fates -- called Fire Emblem If there -- is available to purchase as of yesterday and new information and spoilers are starting to pour out. If you consider minor features of a gam...
Uncle Jack photo
Uncle Jack

Let We Happy Few's Uncle Jack tuck you into bed tonight


Definitely not creepy
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
It's getting late. Have you applied the minty paste to the exposed part of your skeleton? If so, let good old Uncle Jack read you a bedtime story. It will be fun! You won't have nightmares. Probably. One of the neat things a...
Ink photo
Ink

Ink is like Super Meat Boy if Meat Boy's blood were a rainbow


And if the environment were invisible
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
Today is a good day to celebrate rainbows, eh? I mean, every day is a good day to celebrate rainbows, and even if that weren't the case, I'd still highlight Super 91 Studios' Ink. It started as an entry to Ludum Dare 32, who...
PSN flash sale photo
PSN flash sale

Time for another PlayStation Network flash sale


Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen for $13.20!
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
I haven't made much use of the PlayStation Network flash sales -- the best deals are often for games I own -- but I'm happy they're a regular occurrence. There's another one this weekend. PS4 Bound by Flame ($14) CastleStorm...
Dad Beat Dads photo
Dad Beat Dads

Belated Father's Day: Throw babies in Dad Beat Dads


My dad could beat up your dad
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
True story: my dad used to be quite the brawler. At a stocky 5'5" (165 cm), he was often underestimated. What he lacks in height and reach he makes up for in tenacity. What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure my dad co...
 photo

Friday Night Fights - Today is Awesome


Seriously, awesome!
Jun 26
// Mike Martin
I don't have much else to say. Hells yeah. Let's play some games and celebrate!
Newstoid #4 photo
Newstoid #4

Steamy drama, marriage equality in Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy VII changes - Newstoid #4


It's about to get gay in here
Jun 26
// Jed Whitaker
Last night the boyfriend and I got together -- giggitty -- and shot this latest episode of Newstoid since Jess Brohard is out hunting fugitives with Dog the bounty hunter or whatever. Who knew we would talk about marriage eq...

Willy Chyr's Relativity is Escher art come to life

Jun 26 // Jordan Devore
I only got to play around in one world, but there are others, each with a different theme or pattern. One was straight out of House of Stairs. Their designs make a lot of sense once you know that Chyr does, among other things, installation art. It shows. Relativity is somehow his first game. He has something cool in mind for how those worlds connect, but wouldn't say any more about the transitions. I'm curious to see how everything ties together, assuming I don't get totally lost.
Relativity preview photo
Walk on walls
When you jump off a ledge in Willy Chyr's Relativity, you can keep falling. Forever. The abstract world, made up of floating platforms and puzzle rooms, loops. Why climb a huge flight of stairs when you can just "fall" to the...

Pip-Boy photo
Pip-Boy

Bethesda's not making any more Fallout 4 Pip-Boys


Hope you snagged one
Jun 26
// Brett Makedonski
Like Fallout's Wasteland, resources are limited and not everyone's going to get the most sought-after of Fallout 4 memorabilia: a replica Pip-Boy. Yes, people quickly scooped up the limited number of Pip-Boy editions of ...
Stay freeeshh! photo
Stay freeeshh!

Splatoon's first balance patch nerfs the Kraken


Two new weapons are being added tonight
Jun 26
// Patrick Hancock
We've got some Splatoon update information to share! Two new weapons are being added to the game tonight, and an actual balance patch is coming on June 30. The two weapons tonight are the Carbon Roller and Custom Dual Squelch...
Warframe photo
Warframe

Unlike some games, Warframe has free emotes


;)
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
This week's Destiny snafu is a case study in the making. There was a backlash against the collector's edition of an upcoming expansion, The Taken King, for locking content behind a way-too-steep price tag. Bungie came back wi...
Attack on Titan 3DS photo
Attack on Titan 3DS

Attack on Titan 3DS maneuvers to Europe next week


Plus a discount for North America
Jun 26
// Kyle MacGregor
After a short delay, Shingeki no Kyojin: Humanity in Chains is launching across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand next week on July 2, Atlus USA announced today. If you're curious as to why the Nintendo 3DS game is being rel...
Bethesda photo
Bethesda

Don't expect another E3 presser from Bethesda next year


'It felt like the right time'
Jun 26
// Brett Makedonski
Bethesda kicked off E3 2015 a day earlier than usual this year, but don't expect it to become tradition. The publisher's Hollywood spectacle was well-received, and that alone would coax some companies into making it an annual...
Battlefront alpha photo
Battlefront alpha

Star Wars Battlefront alpha invites are going out


Check your inbox
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
DICE has been emailing invites to the Star Wars Battlefront alpha on Origin. Well, more accurately, these are invites to apply for the alpha (which can be done here). No guarantees you'll get in, as "space in the Closed Alpha...

Review: The Controller Shop custom DualShock 4

Jun 26 // Kyle MacGregor
Okay, so maybe it wasn't a complete enigma. Still, cracking the case open and laying eyes on the controller for the first time, I was taken aback. It wasn't at all how I pictured it in my mind's eye. The thing literally glittered, metallic paint beaming in the sunlight, its splashy buttons distracting from the intricate detailed artwork in the periphery. It was shocking, really. Maybe a little gaudy. Certainly more than I bargained for, more vibrant and impressive than anything I might have conjured up. My attention was soon drawn to the portrait of Mr. Destructoid along the left handle. At a glance, our robot mascot looked flawless, so impeccable that I figured it was a decal. Upon closer inspection, though, you can see its tiny imperfections. This didn't roll off a conveyor belt in a factory somewhere. It was painstakingly rendered by hand, a labor of love. Subtle stripes and understated circuitry art accent the front panel, while the rear is underscored by a dozen or so little Space Invaders and an elaborate pattern of triangles clustered around the edge. While The Controller Shop offers rear paddles (similar to the ones featured in Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One Elite Controller) and foot pedal accessories, ours didn't come included with any significant hardware upgrades. But that isn't to say it feels identical to a standard DualShock 4. The surface is more glossy than matte, and the anterior lacks the grippy feel of other DualShock 4s. Having spent an extended period of time gaming with it, I can't say I prefer it over the basic edition, nor can I say it's any worse. Just different. Though there are a few specific instances where I might favor one over the other. In a side by side comparison, The Controller Shop's face buttons feel more satisfying. They're a tad clickier -- if that makes any sense. The shoulder buttons feel slightly heavier. The biggest difference was the D-pad, though. It takes more effort to move around, making it feel ill-suited for fighting games or other genres where a more rigid range of motion might be an impediment. On the other hand, the analogs feel firm and potentially more durable, which could be a plus, given how the set on the standard model are prone to falling apart. Whether or not a custom look and vaguely different feel is worth $100+ (or, in the case of this one, closer to $250 due to its hand-painted graphics and whatnot) is debatable and highly subjective. I can say that if you're in the market for such a luxury item, you could certainly do a lot worse. This may not have been the particular design I would have chosen for myself, but that was kind of the point. I wanted to see what The Controller Shop could do, and they produced a finely-made work of art that exceeded my expectations in many respects. If you can afford to channel that craftsmanship into your own style, it might very well be worth it. [This review is based on a retail unit of the controller provided by the manufacturer.]
REVIEW: Custom Controller photo
Handcrafted hardware
When a custom controller outfit offered to let us design our own tailor-made gamepad, it was a proposal we couldn't refuse. Except designing things is hard. So we rolled the dice and left that task in their hands, hoping thei...

AMAZING photo
AMAZING

Animal crossover: Oh my god KK Slider covering Outkast


Hey you
Jun 26
// Steven Hansen
Hey, what are you doing right now? Fuck you, because it's not as cool as what I'm doing right now, which is listening to KK Slider covering Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Now I'm listening to KK Slider doing Johnny Cash's "Hurt." Get on...

And Destructoid's E3 Game of the Show is...

Jun 26 // Niero Gonzalez
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Konami isn't shy with what it has in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. With most titles, publishers tend to sit you down and let you play through a well-crafted chunk of game -- maybe 15 minutes before shuffling you off the station. That's the common preview experience. Not this time. Instead, Konami plunked three of our editors -- Jordan, Steven, and Brett -- down in chairs and let them have at The Phantom Pain from the very beginning. Jordan and Brett got a solid two hours in; Steven wound up with a staggering 14 hours. If this is some sort of vertical slice trickery, it's the most elaborate in the history of video games. Much more likely is that we got to see the final product (or very close to it), and Kojima's going out with a bang. The Phantom Pain has an open world that somehow doesn't feel all that open. Just ahead at pretty much all times are guards who are dead set on shouting things at you, throwing bullets with their guns, and just generally blowing the cover off this whole stealth operative you fancy so much. But, it's plenty open world in the sense that nothing seems scripted. You're given the reins (to a horse and the game), and the plan-of-attack is entirely up to you. The encounters often sprawl and there are just so many ways of doing anything and everything. For that to be pulled off with any degree of competency takes some seriously skilled design. That's not to say that our efforts were always executed with a degree of competency. The Phantom Pain has a way about it where you just sense that nothing you did was quite good enough. Sure, it got the job done, but that's not how real Snake would've done it. Botch job and all, it still has a neat "totally meant to do that!" air about it. Man, that kid makes fucking up look cool. Wait. Now, go ahead and jettison a guard away with a weather balloon -- err, your Fulton. That guy works for you now. And that horse you're riding? He poops when you want him to. Big Boss, indeed. All that stuff is indicative of what will surely make The Phantom Pain a great video game. Not only is it incredibly polished and detail dense, but it also has enough silly stuff to remind you that you're playing a game. There's plenty of weirdness to be found, and Kojima's tightly tethered it to the title's core mechanics. As we finished our play sessions, it was tough for us to imagine a game that would be more deserving of Destructoid's Best of E3 award. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain just plays so damn wonderfully. In hindsight, Konami wasn't going out on a limb by letting us have at it at our own pace; it did exactly what any publisher would do if it had something this special on its hands.
E3 Game of the Show photo
So many good options
We've hemmed. We've hawed. Destructoid's editors and judges have kindly suggested, boldly voted, bickered, scolded, stabbed each other with rapiers, revenge-slept with each other's illegitimate cousins, and finally have come ...

Toukiden photo
Toukiden

Toukiden: Kiwami is now on Steam but it's $60


I still love those demon designs
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
Omega Force's action-RPG about hunting Oni has come to Steam. Great news! There are few if any games like this available on PC. But because it's Koei Tecmo, Toukiden: Kiwami costs $59.99. This is an expanded version of Toukid...

Review: LEGO Jurassic World

Jun 26 // Ben Davis
LEGO Jurassic World (PS4 [reviewed], PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PC)Developer: Traveller's TalesPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 12, 2015 As a huge Jurassic Park fan, LEGO Jurassic World is pretty much exactly what I expected from a dinosaur game themed around children's toys. There is no shortage of humor, plenty of satisfying references to the movies and books, playable dinosaurs, and I get to run around as Ian Malcolm with his shirt torn open. What more could I ask for? LEGO Jurassic World's story is built around the plots of the movies, but while the movies can be tense and thrilling, the game remains silly and lighthearted. Death scenes from the films are played out in a comedic fashion. The LEGO characters are never actually killed; instead, they usually end up sharing a goofy moment with the dinosaur that attacks them. For example, Gennaro can be seen cleaning the T. Rex's teeth with a toilet brush after being pulled from his restroom hiding place, and the raptor tamer who dies in the very first scene of Jurassic Park only loses the precious sausage he was holding onto rather than his legs (there's a weird recurring sausage joke for some reason, which I can't say I really understood). Meanwhile, other parts feature raptors riding motorcycles, wearing fruit hats, and chasing lawn mowers through the long grass, so the dinos are generally more charming than they are terrifying. Of course, for a LEGO game, this was kind of a necessity. [embed]294839:59241:0[/embed] Gameplay is heavily puzzle-based, requiring obstacles to be solved by choosing the specific character required for the task. Most of these obstacles are accompanied by button prompts, and there are numerous quick time events scattered throughout as well. There is also some light combat, whenever the party is attacked by dinosaurs or InGen employees, but it involves little more than punching things until they get dizzy or fall apart. Characters do have health bars, but the only penalty for dying is losing a few studs, so it's not really a big deal. The health bars honestly feel wholly unnecessary, as there aren't any lives and characters already essentially feel invincible. They could have probably scrapped that mechanic entirely. It's possible to play as nearly every character from the Jurassic Park films, even minor characters such as Mr. DNA and that weird boy at the dig site who says raptors look like giant turkeys. Each character has their own unique skills which typically play off of their personalities and roles in the films, all of which will need to be utilized in order to traverse each level. Some characters, like Dr. Grant and Gray Mitchell, are good at building things out of dinosaur bones; characters like Lex Murphy and Kelly Malcolm can scream loud enough to shatter glass; characters like Tim Murphy and Ian Malcolm have items that can illuminate dark areas (night vision goggles and flares, for example); and others like Ellie Sattler and Owen Grady aren't afraid to get dirty and rummage through dino droppings (by diving in head first, no less!). It's necessary to play as many different characters in order to clear all of the puzzles and obstacles in the game. Of course, there's not only human characters, but dinosaurs to control as well. Most dinosaurs are unlocked by collecting amber bricks hidden in every level. They can be summoned via dinosaur creation pads, and sick dinosaurs can be healed in order to join the party as well. The dinosaurs come with their own sets of skills; Triceratops can charge and bash open large objects, Dilophosaurus can melt certain things with its venom, T. Rex can roar loud enough to shatter stuff, and Velociraptors can pull switches and sniff out hidden objects. The craziest option is the enormous Brachiosaurus, which can be used to crush certain platforms with a huge stomp, but it's so gigantic and slow that it's almost hilarious. It's even possible to play as Pteranodons and Mosasaurus, although they're restricted to the aviary and aquarium, respectively. Story mode will take the player through twenty levels centered around many of the most memorable and action-packed scenes from the movies. It's really fun to reenact classic scenes like the very first T. Rex attack, the raptors in the kitchen, the San Diego crisis, and more through the playful lens of the LEGO world. Every level is filled with puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, and a set amount of collectibles to find. Many levels implement chase sequences, such as running from the Gallimimus herd, or puzzle-based boss fights, like taking down Indominus Rex. There's nothing too complicated, though, so it should be an easy ride for most players. Upon completing each level in story mode, free play mode will be unlocked, allowing players to choose any character they want and switch to someone else at any time. Many of the collectibles can only be obtained in free play, since the characters in story mode might not have the required abilities, so it's necessary to play each level at least two times in order to find everything. Outside of story mode, players can also freely explore each of the four parks. The parks contain more collectibles to find, sick dinosaurs and workers in peril to help, characters to unlock, photograph locations, races, and more. The parks on Isla Sorna are unfortunately rather small and unexciting, but Isla Nublar's Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are both huge and full of all sorts of attractions and cool areas to discover. Strangely, though, once story mode is completed, free play in the parks takes place entirely during nighttime, which kind of bothered me as some areas just seem much less exciting in the dark. I'd prefer to view these beautiful parks in the bright sunshine. [Edit: Apparently, this can be changed, but only by fast travelling to specially marked areas on the map. Still an odd choice, but at least there are options!] Split-screen co-op is also an option, and players can jump in and out of the game at any time. Co-op can make solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles much easier, as players will not need to switch between characters as often and multiple tasks can be completed at once. For such a light-hearted adventure as LEGO Jurassic World, I can definitely see co-op being a popular option. The best aspect of LEGO Jurassic World for me was all the little nuances and nods to the films which were sprinkled throughout. Idle animations for characters usually highlighted certain aspects of their personalities or referenced specific moments from the movies. For example, Zach Mitchell will put on his headphones and start dancing, Amanda Kirby will test her megaphone (put that thing away!), and Ian Malcolm will run a Chaos Theory experiment by dripping water onto his hand. Many of the trophies also make great references to the movies; I think my favorite is the "Hello John!" trophy which is awarded for having both characters set to John Hammond. I also loved that Mr. DNA was in charge of all the tutorials and loading screen trivia. Aside from borrowing plot, characters, and locations from the movies, LEGO Jurassic World also borrows sound clips. While some new dialogue was recorded specifically for the game (mostly for the Jurassic World section), a lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the films. This can be entertaining at times (hearing Jeff Goldblum's ridiculous laugh on the helicopter never gets old, even when it's coming out of a LEGO character's mouth), but it can also be quite jarring. Since the tone of the movies does not match the tone of the game, the dialogue is often way too tense and emotional for what should be silly, light-hearted scenes. There are also many instances where background noise from the films can be heard in the game's dialogue, which sounds really strange when compared to the newly recorded dialogue. Unfortunately, LEGO Jurassic World is not without its fair share of bugs. During my time with the game, there were several instances where I had to restart a level after a character got stuck between a wall and an object and couldn't move or jump to escape, or after they fell through the ground when I switched away from them. There were also a few instances where, after spawning a dinosaur and taking control of it, I could no longer switch to any other character and was permanently stuck in my dinosaur body. Usually, this meant I lost all progress on that level up to the point where I got stuck, so that was always a bummer. While it may have its flaws, I was still perfectly satisfied with my time in LEGO Jurassic World. Fans of the LEGO games should basically know what to expect, and Jurassic Park fans should be more than happy with the story, cutscenes, characters, and references. It captured all of my favorite Jurassic Park moments and added its own unique sense of humor into the mix, and that's essentially all I really wanted. And if you still need a reason to play this, just remember that is has LEGO Jeff Goldblum. Let's be honest: that's all anyone really needs. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
LEGO Jurassic World photo
Hold onto your butts
Another year, another beloved franchise gets the LEGO treatment. This year, blocks and dinosaurs come together in LEGO Jurassic World, a compilation of games spanning the entire Jurassic Park film franchise. Released simultan...

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