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About
Just a guy who enjoys Video Games, TV and Movie animation, story writing/telling, and other similar things. I own a PC, PS2 and PS3, PSP, 3DS, Wii, and I enjoy them all. My RPG Maker XP project is on indefinite hold due to lack of graphic/sound skills to make original material for the program.
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A long time ago, I made a blog detailing how my dream space game would be. Well I figure now would be a good time as any to do another list, but this time, it's not about what I WANT in a space game, it's why this certain game is so much better than the ones I've tried previously (freelancer aside).

This game is actually an indie title, made from Star Wraith 3d Games, and it is my "Reasons Evochron Mercenary is the best space mercenary game in the last 5+ years" list. Don't get me wrong, all of the space games I own I adore, but this one, has reasons why it's different. I'm pulling these facts out of my head, so if I think of any later I'll add them.

1: It's more in depth than Freelancer, and not as deep as X3. This is a great starting point. X3, a good game in it's own right, literally has a learning WALL, not a curve. You have to have an eye on everything that game is doing at one time, as well as remembering all the blasted shortcuts the game wants on your keyboard. EM does have a lot of short cuts, but they aren't as needed here as often. All you really have to worry about is yourself for the most part. You don't need to worry about that fleet of traders you hired to get the goods for you to build a station in the middle of nowhere so you can create a resource empire.

2: Small size. Evochron Mercenary installs at about 250 megs. It's tiny on the hard drive, but does require a lot of memory if you want max detail (about 1.4 gigs free at the time of playing). Considering what's going on under the hood of this game, that 250ish install size is simply amazing.

3: Freedom. All the space games I like have this, we have games like Elite and Privateer to thank for this, but in recent years, most missions are about the same, kill this, take this there, build this, buy this, stuff like that. Evochron does more, one of the first missions you can do is a time attack race through rings, it's more varied in that way.

4: Planets. Planets in most space games are more for eye-candy (X3 especially from my experiences) than anything else, Freelancer had them as a place to dock and buy stuff or get missions. Evochron does this too, however unlike freelancer, there aren't any docking rings. You manually fly down into the planet's atmosphere, and land in the city yourself (you can even fly around the planet along it's surface if you want to).

5: Seamless experience. This ties into 4 a lot too. You can fly from one end of the universe (game universe) to the other, with 0 loading times. You can jump to other locations with 0 loading times, you can land on a planet with 0 loading times. Once you're in the game, there's no load times to bring you out of the experience, even Freelancer can't say that.

There's a lot more in terms of good stuff on display on this indie game. The graphics (especially the planets when you're flying above the surface) are pretty darned good (although being a lower budget indie title, some things aren't as spiffy as high budget games), The sounds are decent, and the game-play is fun on the main level. It's not perfect, but neither were the other great space games. If you have time (for the 80 minute totally open demo), or the 30 dollars to buy it, it's worth a look.










Iíll be blunt, I held off on getting this game. In a small way it was a mistake because I missed buying it in the alpha stage, but at the same time, I wasnít sure if I would play it enough to constitute the price of purchase. However after a trailer, some funny vids and of course, Yahtzeeís review, in which he is actually positive of it, I decided to just bunker down and buy the game. Iíve only spend a few hours playing, so that is why this is a first impressions. So letís take a look at Minecraft.

Presentation:
Despite having seen this game with high resolution texture packs, even the default look has an old-ish charm to it. The blocky, pixelated world Minecraft creates for you is a (somewhat) peaceful and relaxing, giving you fields, mountains, caves, lakes, snowfields, deserts, and beaches to explore and build upon. Sound effects are passable, but considering the origin of this indie title, itís easy to let it go. The music, while infrequent, is good stuff that helps draw the player into the world. With the graphics the game has, the lighting engine is actually very impressive, you canít see anything in an enclosed space without a torch, and even then itís still very dim. Only sunlight is bright. The game also has a nice day/night cycle, although you canít enjoy night until a tower or something is built so you wonít get attacked.

Gameplay:
Simple gameplay with real depth is hard to achieve and make it fun. Minecraft accomplishes this, by basically being a world of Lego bricks, this allows the imagination of the player, no matter how twisted, to create amazing structures. On the multiplayer server I play on (currently run by a temp group), the storage bank is a complete remake of the Scrooge McDuckís money bin, with a giant 8-bit art of Scrooge McDuck himself floating over it. This is just one example of the awesomeness that can be done with the gameís engine. However there is more than just mining and building. When it gets dark, either due to night or entering a dark cavern, you could be attacked by either zombies, skeletons, or the most feared creatures, creepers, thing walking, exploding plants. The crafting system itself is well done and intuitive, to make something, simply place the ingredients in the basic shape of the object and click the new icon. It works well and means thereís room for many combinations.

Final Thoughts:
Minecraft is hard to really explain. It just has to be played to get. Itís more fun than it looks, and despite some things that are bugs (nothing game breaking, which is actually amazing for this beta) itís an impressive beta. The fact that you can change your skin by loading the template into a paint program and change it there means almost anyone can make a skin. I donít give scores for first impressions, however I will say this:

If you are on the fence on this one, or think building whatever you want while fending off monsters at night is even slightly interesting to you, I really think you should get it, besides, once it comes out it will be more money, so if you didnít get it in alpha, should do it now. And really, the thing MUST be good, in less than 6 months the game has amassed over 1 MILLION purchases and the game is still in beta.
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I know I know this is waaay late, but I have my reasons, being I have yet to get an ending (had to restart, will explain in review) I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the game-play before I started, but here he go... *clears throat*



Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley (from now on just called HoLV) is the first original game in the Harvest Moon series that is not a spin off or direct port. Considering the series has a long history, with many greats in there, how does this newest PSP version stand to the series?

Story
The game begins with your character, for the sake of the review, we'll name him Jack, receiving a letter from his dad. This letter asks Jack to go take care of things on his grandfather's farm since he passed away. However upon arrival, Jack discovers the harvest sprites, Nic, Nac, and Flak. They inform him that the Funland Corporation is going to tear down the valley and build an amusement park over it soon, and beg Jack to put a stop to it. So it is up to Jack to stop Funland from starting their construction in two years by any means necessary.

For a Harvest Moon title, this game actually has a deeper story than most, considering the game has 16 different endings to obtain (although to "Win" the game, there are 4 possible outcomes, each with their own set of needs to accomplish). For the most part the story structure is fine, you make friends, meet requirements and if you did it in time you trigger the next cut-scene at a certain range of dates. There is one issue however, I have yet to see clarification on it, but two of the story lines, one being the main story/best ending meet at one event on the same day, at the same time, and same place, I'm leaving the info out of the review, but I'll explain in better detail below the review and hide it, so those who want to know can. Even with the issue the story is actually decent given the game it is in.

Game-play
HoLV is a simple game to play. Over the course of two years, spanning four seasons with 30 days each the player will grow crops, make friends, go fishing, mining, wood cutting, and a variety of other activities, even going to festivals or special events. Although there aren't as many scripted ones, like the moon festival or the cow festival, there's plenty of diversions to keep the game from getting dull. Each of the endings requires a different set of objectives to be completed, like befriending woodcutter and fisherman Joe, and spending some time fishing, which is presented here in one of the best systems ever used for a HM title, as it isn't just a quick button press or hold timing.

Mining also is better, as each area is actually a puzzle that, if done correctly, only requires one swing of the hammer to clear the rocks in the room. Cooking is back, as well as the playable ocarina, and even bug catching. There's also more to the horse racing this time around as there are three types of races, the short race, the long race and the steeplechase. The amount of animals goes back to a more basic model, as only a dog, chickens, cows and a horse can be owned. One would think, after a game like Tree of Tranquility where there was like 20 different creatures to own, that this would be a drawback. In reality it isn't as much, as the management of the animals is much more simple, and being a small valley farm, you don't have a lot of room.

Crops are tweaked also, you still till the soil, plant the seeds and water them, however now there's a little more to it, each bag of seeds does one square, and you can use mineral crystals (that are found in the mine) to change the crops into a new variation of crop that is worth more. There's also a seed machine that can be won in the races that will grow 2 different plants on one square. There is no shipping bin either, you must sell your goods to the shops around the valley. Another neat little feature is when your house is upgraded so you have the bath, every time you use it your character will wear a different colored outfit. There are 3 in total everyone gets, but one ending unlocks a fourth. Also, just a heads up, you can only save when you go to bed at night. At first it seems odd, but when you take in the PSP's sleep mode, it becomes almost a non-issue.

Presentation
For a Harvest Moon game, hell for a PSP game this title looks and sounds pretty good. Most textures are sharp, and some of the shading gives an almost sketch-like look to the game, which actually looks pleasing. Little details are everywhere, like a poster that is the box art for one of the Game boy titles, just without the hat. Rain looks good, even if it moves a little slow, and the fireworks, which go off in real time on the day of the Fireworks Show are good to look at, even if you can only see them from maybe two spots. There may not be a drastic change from Spring to Summer, but Fall and Winter are huge changes in graphics that bring the game a very nice change, this is the first fully 3D title that I'm aware of (that DOESN'T use a over-head camera) that actually has snow on the ground in winter.

The sound track for the game is really good for Harvest Moon standards, one of the better sound tracks in the series, and this is coming from someone who is REALLY picky about music in the series (NOTHING has come close to Save the Homeland's Summer Theme, not even the remix that appears in later games, although the sound track in HoLV comes closest). Most of the sound effects are good, some just workable, which is what is expected in this series.

The presentation is not perfect though, in some areas, although it seems to become less frequent later in the game, you can see the seams of the landscape as light blue lines. It's not a game breaker by any means, but if can be a slightly bit annoying. Also on a PSP-1000, which I played the game on, everywhere outside the farm seemed to be slower in graphic movement, not in skipping more frames. Again it's not a game breaker, since all but one area is at this speed, where the farm is slightly faster, but is is noticeable and needs to be taken note of. The load times I've heard are bad, but I don't buy it, every area in my game seems to load in maybe 8 seconds, tops. Maybe it's because I'm patient with a slow paced game, but they don't bother me. The other flaws are more design choices, but they seem like off choices, as rain, wind (for storms), fireworks, and a couple other things possibly, don't have sound effects for them. It's an issue that makes you wish they were there, but it's something that is relatively easy to look past unless you are a nit-picker.

Final Thoughts
It's OK to go into this one with the worry that it's just an enhanced port of Save the Homeland (The first PS2 game in the series), because that is basically what it is, although there's so much more to it, like being able to continue after the end and get married, that it feels like it's own game. The game has some minor flaws and off decisions in the presentation department, but overall it's actually a refreshing feeling game in the series, because it goes back to a simpler time.

Note: Turn off your pre-load cache on PSP-2000 and 3000 with the UMD version, as it can cause strange issues, however this is NOT exclusive to just this game, hence why no points will be docked because of it.

Content Score: 8.5
Recommendation: Buy

Below is the story issue I mentioned earlier, highlight the text to read, or if it doesn't work as planned, don't read below the line.

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[color=white]The story for the Horse racing champion and the main story meet at the 2nd year spring horse race. It is unknown to me whether you can still obtain the best ending (as you must defeat ALL of the robots Funland releases during the main story) if you are going for the horse race champion ending, as the circumstances are slightly changed.[/color]
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Ok to start off with, this list ISNíT games that came out this year, itís the 7 games I either discovered, or really sat down and played for the first time this year so far. These are the games I am glad to own, and wouldnít want to be without ever again.

NUMBER 7:

Released: Febuary 12, 2009

Flower is a hard game to explain, in fact in actuality it canít be called a game. Itís an experience, and downright amazing one at that. A game that truly finds its home on the PS3, itís a gorgeous, easily controlled masterpiece with a loving, calm soundtrack, and a completely wordless, yet emotional connection. If you own a PS3 and HAVENíT experienced the best example of gaming as an art form, there is something wrong with you. Also, do yourself a favor, pay the 3 bucks and get the soundtrack from the PSN, itís worth it for the relaxation you get from the soft tunes.

Number 6:

Released: March 10, 2010


Having played this title no less 4 times since I learned about it on the spectacular podcast ďThis Week in GamesĒ hosted by Jason ďLordkatĒ Pullara and Micheal ďSkitchĒ Schiciano (hosted at lordkat.com), shows this game has staying power. Taking place ď5 minutes into the future of 1988,ď this game plays out by having the player dial BBS systems from his terminal, with a GUI that is almost an exact copy of the Amiga Workbench from way back. A great soundtrack along with a stunning awesome story makes for one of the best indie games Iíve played this year.

Number 5:

Released: March 22, 2010

Iíve known of Cave Story for a few years now, having played and completely enjoyed the freeware PC version. So why does the Wiiware version, despite having some flaws (that a patch IS on the way for) make it on here instead of the original? To start with, the enhanced graphics are the best starting point, all the sprite-work for the characters was redone by Pixel himself, giving the game a vast new level of detail. The Wiiware version runs at a smooth 60FPS, which makes the game feel smoother than the PCís 50. Also, the game just feels RIGHT on an NES style control layout.

Number 4:

Released: March 23, 2010

The first Direct X 10 only game I have ever played or owned, Just Cause 2 gives you a kick ass physics system that throws realism out the window for ďOMG!!! That was awesome!Ē Along side that is a beautiful island to explore by way of vehicle or parachute/grappling hook, and all the exploding and shooting toys you could ever want. Blow up whatever you want, thatís what you are there for!

Number 3:

Released: August 24, 2009

This title is harder to find since itís no longer being produced. Featuring Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption all on a single disc, with the flawless Wii controls. Add to that enhanced textures and a steel book casing, and the art booklet that comes with as well and there is no reason not to own this if you are a Wii owner. This is a must have.

Number 2:

November 12, 2009

I bought the Gold Edition of X3, which comes with both, X3: Reunion and X3: Terran Conflict, however I have only really played the latter. A space simulation game in which you can do what you want, when you want, the game is a lovely game to set eyes on, with itís graphics pushing huge numbers of polygons at any given time, along with the great shading work, you canít believe how good this game looks until actually seeing it running live. The game is complex, which is the biggest drawback, so expect to spend a lot of time learning what things do. The game can be enhanced with a cockpit mod, and a mod that allows you to save anywhere. By default you can only save while docked, but are able to save in space with insurance, that costs 3k credits for one. Originally I thought it was awesome, but once you start getting into missions that call for long travels then combat that you can lose (pretty easy if you arenít careful), then you start to wonder why saving anywhere isnít there. Even so itís a brilliant game, with a HUGE soundtrack (over 100 songs) and quite a few of them are very well done and make you feel like youíre floating in the huge emptiness of space.

Number 1:

Released: October 30, 2003

This is a game I feel guilty about. I feel guilty about it because I had the opportunity to play it long ago, but never did. I played Oblivion for quite some time, until Steamís Winter Sale this last year, when I got Morrowind for 5 bucks. Iíve pumped 55 hours into the game so far and still feel guilty about passing on this game all those years ago. With a superb storyline, a diverse and lively world, and the whole werewolf thing, it keeps bringing me back. With texture and mesh enhancement mods, as well as the ďitís totally needed nowĒ Morrowind Graphics Extender, I have distant land draw distances that make Oblivion blush, and water that is some of the best looking in any game, oh right and sun rays, like in Crysis.


Honorable Mentions: These are games that I have played, but havenít gotten quite the enjoyment or playtime out of as the listed games:

Vindictus
X3: Reunion
Broken Sword series
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Revenile
6:10 AM on 09.21.2010

So I got bored about two hours ago, and decided to make my own cover for "The GAF Collection." I'm no artist, but in 2 hours time I came up with something. I should have noticed the TOS first on the "no free email" for signing up on NeoGaf (a stupid thing I think but it's not my call.) So instead of posting it there, I'm going to post it here in my blog. Before seeing it (and yes I made it a printable size) note three things:



I used Paint.net, so there aren't any real fancy tricks here.

The images and even the font were found with a google search, so aside from the layout and that kind of thing, the pictures, the font, even the template don't belong to me.

I am NOT an artist by any means in the form of visual art. My artistic nature seems to come through stories and such (as seen by my in progress RPG MAKER XP project.)

Enjoy Destructoid community, my 2 hour creation, if you want me to upload the full printable version of the DVD case cover, ask in the comments.

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Revenile
4:58 PM on 09.14.2010

So about a week ago I found a game on amazon.com that made me turn my head. For a while now I've been trying to find a modern day take on the open world space game, similar in style to games like Privateer, and I had heard good things about this game, so I picked it up. The game is X3: Gold Edition, and even though I haven't, and will probably never touch X3: Reunion (I payed the extra 3 bucks for the soundtrack disc), X3: Terran Conflict has quickly become a newfound joy for me to play, despite it's complexity (the manual being 112 pages of fairly small print English), and after finding a mod to fix the lack of cockpits for all the ships, I found a guilty pleasure in flying around this universe the game set me in, despite running basically on no ideas on what to do. The game got me thinking though...

What features would be in my dream space game? After some thought, I came up with the following things, they are not numbered by any kind of importance, they are just numbered for organization's sake.

1: A large game space that feels connected. Freelancer did this the best so far, having each system have a few points of interest to the player, and having those connected via the trade lanes. Switching systems through the warp gates, even with the 2 second load time of white screen, really felt like you were heading to a new area. I'd like to see that kind of experience in more space games. X3: Terran Conflict gets close, but it's not quite to the degree of connectivity that Freelancer has.

2: A user friendly interface that has enough depth to please most if not all space sim junkies. I understand this is really hard to do, having an interface that is streamlined and easy to access, yet having all the commands of like building a space station to your specifics, or setting up a legion of traders under your command, but it can be done. It would allow new players to feel like they aren't being overwhelmed by the amount of interface options, but can also learn now to send those three wings of fighters to escort your trading ships to the planet Oculous VII. This is X3: Terran Conflict's biggest issue with me (and Reunion even more so), there is a lot that must be learned with just the UI before you can hope to really get anywhere.

3: Open ended mission variety. X3 has this in spades, not all missions need to be hunt this person, destroy these ships. Maybe I want to smuggle contraband to other planets and get payed by the employer to do it. While I have yet to know if X3 does stuff like that, I know there are plenty of mission choices beyond killing.

4: The circle of factions and their radius of power. Freelancer was somewhat on the right track with this. Space is stupidly large, and you can bet that in a game where there is a huge area to explore that not only where there be factions like the military or pirates, but that there will be branches off those those factions, and other third party factions. I'd like to see the radius of power of these factions shift depending on actions taken by the player, like if a player decides to do a mission for pirates, but near the end sends a communication to the military to launch an attack on the pirates to attempt to seize that sector of space, that if the pirates then lose the coming fight, their radius of power shrinks, and they would have to launch a new offensive to take it back. This of course would work the other way too.

5: Let me customize my ship, from weapon load-outs to shields, enhancements and for goodness sakes let me customize the paint job. I want my ship to have hot rod flames for a short time, I don't think custom paint jobs would be hard to put in, would it?

6: Show the current situation on the trade routes. Show me what's the safest or more risky routes at the time, and show me what planets are currently doing good rates on what product, I know this kinda falls into number 2, but I felt it should have it's own thing.

7: When in cockpit view, make me feel like I'm in the cockpit. This is more of a little polish touch thing, but if I'm in a cockpit, and the sun glares on my viewing glass, let there actually be a little graphic touch, like a bit of reflection of the cockpit onto the glass, Evochron Legends does this, and it really adds to the immersion. Also, have it sound like it, let the hum of the instruments sound, the beeps, the various systems check themselves. When the ship is close to going boom, let warning sirens go off, let me hear my mighty (or puny) engine whirr and rumble.

8: I want to see the surface of the planet myself, let me fly into the atmosphere and fly above the surface of the planet, scan some foliage, and maybe find some rare collectibles to be placed in a display room on my HQ space station that I can view at anytime I'm docked there. Evochron Legends did the part of being able to fly yourself down to the surface, but didn't seem to do anything with that.

9: So let me get this straight, in all these space games, we have the technology to self sustain ourselves in space, in a small craft for who knows how long, reaching the farthest stars in a matter of minutes, and have the weapon technology to blow other star ships up... yet we don't have a built in music player in the ships...why? I mean really, this is something that always got me, the tech is so advanced yet in very few if not none of the space games, we can't use our own music selectable from the ship's computer interface. Maybe I WANT to be blasting space pirates to the sound of "Livin' on a Prayer."

So there you have it, 9 features I'd like to see in a space game, of course there's a lot more to it than that, like controls and such, but most space games now have basically the same layout for things like that. If you think of a feature you'd like to see in an open world space game, go ahead and post in the comments.

As for X3: Terran Conflict, if you have a rig that can run it on high settings, and like space games, definitely check it out, it has my seal of approval.