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Super Smash mods photo
Super Smash mods

Super Smash Bros. sure got a lot sexier with Bayonetta around


Who needs arms with legs like these?
Feb 10
// Ben Davis
The Super Smash Bros. series has had its fair share of mods, but I think this just might be my favorite one yet. Modder Smb123w64gb has taken the liberty of swapping everyone on the Super Smash Bros. roster with Bayonetta's c...
The Flame in the Flood photo
The Flame in the Flood

Everything is out to kill you in The Flame in the Flood


The wilderness is not your friend
Feb 10
// Ben Davis
After a successful Kickstarter campaign a couple years back, The Molasses Flood is set to release its first game, The Flame in the Flood, later this month. The team, comprised of industry veterans who have worked on AAA games...

What's so great about Undertale and The Witness?

Feb 07 // Ben Davis
That's unusual though, right? It seems like a new phenomenon. I don't usually come across games where I can't discuss some of the core mechanics without ruining it for others. The Witness creator Jonathan Blow made a point to warn prospective buyers that some reviews were full of spoilers, and I can definitely understand why he did. On the other side of the coin, in Destructoid's review of the game, Brett Makedonski was noticeably vague and short on details, and I know exactly why he wrote it that way. When I wrote my Undertale review, I had to dance around the parts of the game that excited me most. But Undertale and The Witness can't be the only games like this. While trying to think of other examples, the first that came to mind was Frog Fractions. Now, that's kind of an extreme example for a number of reasons, but I think the point still stands. If you've completed Frog Fractions, think about how you might describe the experience to someone who hasn't played it. It would be a challenge. You would likely have to convince them to try it without saying anything about it other than, "You're a frog, and you eat bugs to make fractions. Just play it!" Admittedly, Frog Fractions is a little different than Undertale and The Witness. There are many interesting aspects of those games one could discuss without giving everything away. But at best, I can imagine only being able to describe what sounds like an average to above-average video game. And then someone would (understandably) ask, “Well that all sounds okay, but what exactly makes it so special?" And that's a question you couldn't answer, even if you really wanted to, with anything other other than "Just believe me." It's even more onerous to justify the high praise to players who actually completed Undertale or The Witness, and somehow missed their hidden strengths. This could easily happen with either game. Even though I managed to discover Undertale's most unique element before even leaving the tutorial area, I've spoken to other players who had no idea what I was talking about, or had only noticed it in the game's final few boss battles. It's much more apparent once you start a second playthrough, but a lot of people that didn't get it the first time around probably wouldn't have much interest in playing the game again, so they might never know about it. In The Witness, I still hadn't discovered the coolest thing the game has to offer before the end. Brett actually had to nudge me in the right direction, and, when I finally found it, I was blown away. I was actually surprised I hadn't figured it out myself somewhere along the way, as it seems like something I should have noticed at one point or another, even if by accident. But it's certainly no surprise that, once again, many players will never stumble upon it. Some might argue this is bad design. 'Why hide an experience's greatest strengths to such a degree that some players might never find it?' you might ask. However, I've come to believe the reason these games leave such an impact on players is precisely because these secrets can be difficult to find. Undertale and The Witness start off as great games (or average, or bad, whatever your view), until something unexpected happens that elevates them to another level. And suddenly they might have you thinking, "Whoa, what?! This changes everything!' and make you want to excitedly tell everyone about how amazing they are before realizing, "Wait, maybe it's best to let them discover this on their own." If I've had a conversation with someone about Undertale or The Witness and it seemed as though I was deliberately vague or leaving out information, this is exactly why. I want to talk about them so badly, but at the same time, I know I shouldn't and it kills me. They really are amazing experiences, but unfortunately you'll just have to take my word for it!
Spoilers photo
It's a secret!
In the last few months, two games were released that I feel might be among my favorite games of all time, Undertale and The Witness. But what exactly makes them two of the greatest gaming experiences I've had in recent m...

What changes can we expect from an official Mother 3 localization?

Feb 06 // Ben Davis
So, what would Nintendo change during the localization process of Mother 3? Well, let's first take a look at EarthBound, a game that received quite a few notable changes before it made its way out of Japan. This might give us a clue as to the types of things Nintendo will be looking for in Mother 3. Ignoring the many revisions to text and dialogue for now, EarthBound featured several sprites and background visuals that were altered for various reasons. The major ones include: Ness's nude sprites in Magicant being covered with the pajama outfit from the beginning of the game, obviously because nudity would be more problematic in the West. The Octopus and Kokeshi statues changing into Pencil and Eraser statues, since the cultural references would be lost on a young international audience. The Insane Cultists' battle sprites had the letters "HH" removed from their hats and were replaced with little puff balls to make them look less like KKK members. Also, the town name Threek was changed to Threed, possibly because Threek could be interpreted as Three-K, or KKK. Red crosses were removed from hospitals and a certain red truck's appearance was altered to avoid potential lawsuits with the Red Cross and Coca-Cola. Signs that read "drug" were replaced with "store" in most instances (but not in the Dusty Dunes Desert, for some reason), and signs that said "bar" were changed to "café." Moreover, any references to alcohol being replaced with coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and the like. There was an emphasis on removing or reducing references to violence and death, including new sound effects used when Pokey and his brother are disciplined by their father. More changes can be found over at Legends of Localization, a handy resource compiled by Clyde Mandelin of Starmen.net. So, to break it down, with EarthBound, Nintendo was specifically interested in nixing or mitigating any references to nudity, sexuality, drugs, alcohol, violence, material that might lead to a lawsuit, and obscure cultural references. Since Mother 3 happens to contain a few of those things too, here are some of the changes I expect Nintendo might make if (*ahem* when) Mother 3 finally comes to western shores. First off, a few name changes are probably in order. It's safe to assume that the game will be called EarthBound 2, or some other variation on the EarthBound name, rather than Mother 3. With the original Mother being changed to EarthBound Beginnings for its western release (I still wish Nintendo stuck with"EarthBound Zero!"), this would come as little surprise. There are also a few character and location names that might need to be reconsidered. Specifically: Kumatora, Hinawa, Club Titiboo, Osohe Castle, and DCMC. Of course, it's important to note Super Smash Bros. Brawl did use the names Kumatora and Hinawa on stickers, so they would probably stay the same -- although I honestly wouldn't mind Hinawa's name being changed to correspond with her husband's name, Flint. "Hinawa" refers to a matchlock gun, similar to a flintlock gun, and considering the names of with neighbors, Lighter and Fuel, I've always wondered why Hinawa wasn't changed to something more consistent. "Match" would be a weird name, but I'm confident a localization team could come up with something suitable to keep with the theme. As for the others, I'm sure Club Titiboo could be seen as potentially offensive (heh, Titiboo), Osohe Castle is a little hard to pronounce, and the band name DCMC might be too similar to ACDC. They already re-colored the Runaway Five to look less like the Blues Brothers, so who knows what else they might change, but I hope they leave it as is. I also expect we won't see an enemy called the Gently Weeping Guitar for similar reasons, even though it's a great name! Now onto the bigger stuff. Whenever the topic of Mother 3's localization comes up, fans point to a handful of scenes and characters as reasons why it will never see the light of day outside of Japan. For starters, we have the Magypsies. These wonderful characters are technically not human and have transcended gender. Their appearances resemble those of stereotypical drag queens, complete with dresses, makeup, and facial hair. They even give Lucas and friends mementos comprised of razors and lipstick. The Magypsies are some of my favorite characters in the game, but given their depictions, it would be no surprise if Nintendo thought they were too controversial for a western audience. I could see Nintendo changing their outfits, mannerisms, removing any references to gender, or choosing one specific gender and sticking with it. However, I sincerely hope the Magypsies would be left unchanged. I think they're perfect just the way they are. There's a specific moment involving a Magypsy named Ionia that I can almost guarantee would be changed, though. The scene in question occurs in a hot spring, when Ionia teaches Lucas how to awaken his PSI powers for the first time. The fan translation makes it a bit unclear what is actually happening, and it's probably just as ambiguous in the original Japanese text. Basically, Ionia (who admits to being naked in the hot spring) turns Lucas around as the screen fades to black. We then hear Ionia saying, "Don't struggle! Just endure it for a little bit!" After a moment, the screen opens back up to Lucas with his head under the water and Ionia standing behind him. And suddenly, Lucas has awoken to his latent PSI abilities. [embed]339478:62147:0[/embed] Now, I'll admit this scene has always left me feeling rather icky. It's more than likely that the scene was meant to be a sort of "baptism," with Lucas keeping his head under the hot water until the stress and pain forced his mental powers to surface. But it's definitely not made clear, and it's easy to see how it could be interpreted in a more sinister, suggestive way. This is actually one change I really hope Nintendo does decide to make, and it would be very easy to do. Simply add a bit of text when the screen goes dark to make it clear what's actually going on, or better yet, don't have the screen go dark at all so that we can plainly see what's happening. Problem solved. Aside from the Magypsies, the other big moment occurs in the jungles of Tanetane Island, where Lucas and friends consume some suspicious-looking mushrooms and end up with some seriously psychedelic hallucinations. With Nintendo's insistence on removing references to drugs and alcohol in EarthBound, it's no wonder why fans would be skeptical of this scene. Personally, I honestly don't think this part of the game is too problematic. They're eating the mushrooms to survive, rather than for recreational purposes, and they have to deal with the consequences. It's meant to be humorous. However, it's possible Nintendo doesn't not view this issue the same way and might decide to alter it, but how anyone's best guess. I think it's likely the mushroom sprite could be changed to something else, perhaps a pool of liquid or a food that causes dehydration, some kind of creature that uses hypnosis, or whatever other creative solution localization editors can come up with. Then just rewrite the text and remove any potential drug references, and Nintendo is in the clear. If they do decide to keep the shrooms though, it would certainly be ideal. It's one of my favorite moments in the story, after all! Staying consistent with the removal of drugs and alcohol, they might also decide to remove the wine-drinking ghost in Osohe Castle. They could also just make a point of having the ghost call it "juice" or something, kind of like the guy in EarthBound who calls his drink a cappuccino when it's obviously a mug of beer. Watching the wine flow through the ghost's body and splash onto the ground is always hilarious, so I hope they keep him. [embed]339478:62148:0[/embed] Next up is the issue of violence. Ignoring the final boss fight (which better not change, or so help me, Nintendo!), there are two questionable moments: the campfire scene and the chapter with Salsa and Fassad. The former is one of the most powerful moments in the story and it would be a huge shame to see Nintendo cut any of it out. But Flint straight up smacks a dude in the gut with a piece of wood and whacks another guy across the face with it before getting clubbed in the back of the head with a huge piece of lumber. If Nintendo is still concerned about the violence in EarthBound, then it's possible some parts of this scene could be edited. As for Salsa and Fassad, there's the whole issue of animal cruelty. But seeing as how Salsa eventually gets revenge on both Fassad and the device he uses to electrocute the poor monkey, hopefully none of that will have to be altered. Last, but certainly not least, we have the Oxygen Supply Machines of the Sea Floor Dungeon. These machines were made to resemble mermen with luscious lips, and in order to get oxygen from them, one must give them a nice big smooch. So, basically, we have a young boy, a woman, a man, and a dog making out with mermen in order to stay alive under water. Now, I'm of the opinion that the Oxygen Supply Machines are too ridiculous and hilarious to be seen as sexually obscene, but it's entirely possible Nintendo feels differently. I sure hope the company would keep them, though, because I love those guys. The Sea Floor Dungeon just wouldn't be the same without them. Oh yeah, and there's also the scene where we see Lucas's butt. Are butts okay, Nintendo? It's a funny moment, but I could take it or leave it. Other than that, I'm sure we'd see some new dialogue, updated enemy and item names, and many other changes to the text to make it stand out from the fan translation. I know the creators of the fan translation offered to let Nintendo use their work for free, but I highly doubt Nintendo would take them up on that offer. And that's fine! I'm excited to see what Nintendo's localization experts come up with, and if I don't like it as much, I can always go back and play the fan-made version. Those are the biggest changes I expect we might see if and when Nintendo finally localizes Mother 3. A few of them I would honestly be okay with, but some others would be severely disappointing. Of course, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I'll be happy as long as we actually get the game. Anything is better than nothing, and I say we've waited long enough. Nintendo, we want Mother 3!
Mother 3 localization photo
Lucas' butt might be a no-no
We've waited nearly 10 years for Nintendo to officially localize Mother 3. The wait has been so long, it's started to seem like an impossibility. However, due to some rumors over the past week, it's beginning t...


Pokemon Nendoroid photo
Pokemon Nendoroid

Red and Blue battle it out as the newest Pokemon Nendoroid figures


Gary was here, Ash is a loser!
Feb 05
// Ben Davis
It's getting hard to keep up with all these awesome and adorable Nendoroid figures! Coming soon are new figures for the Pokémon trainer and his rival from Pokémon Red and Blue, as well as Mew. As with all Nendor...
FFVII first-timer photo
FFVII first-timer

Popping Cherries: Final Fantasy VII


Mako'd for the very first time
Jan 31
// Ben Davis
Nobody has time to play every video game. We all have classic games that have slipped us by for whatever reason, be it time constraints, money issues, initial lack of interest, or any number of other things. But that just mea...

Experience Points .30: Dragon's Dogma

Jan 23 // Ben Davis
Mount your foes Ever since Shadow of the Colossus came out, I've always wondered why climbing on monsters never really became a thing. It's an effective strategy for dealing with massive enemies, and it really opens up options for interesting combat as well. But these days, it seems like monster climbing is relegated to quick time events, like in God of War and Bayonetta, where the majority of combat takes place on the ground or in the air, but every once in a while Kratos or Bayonetta jump up onto a giant foe to chop off its body parts, as long as the player remembers to press X at the right moment.Dragon's Dogma revisits the idea presented by Shadow of the Colossus, allowing players to grab onto enemies and climb around them in the heat of combat. This often makes it easier to deal tons of damage in a short amount of time. I could just latch onto one of that Hydra's heads and hack away for as long as my stamina allowed, or until the creature decides it's tired of being poked by some insect and tries to dislodge me. Even smaller enemies could be grabbed, but usually this was only useful for holding them in place while the pawns attacked freely. My favorite thing to do is to climb atop a flying enemy, such as a Griffin, so that I could keep stabbing it even when it tries to fly away. Some of my most thrilling moments involved slashing away at a vicious Griffin's back as it soared through the sky, its feathers catching fire thanks to my mages, until it finally plummeted back to the ground all bloody, singed, and ragged as I hopped off triumphantly to finish the deed. Those kills were always the most satisfying! Pawn to King 4 The pawn mechanic is an idea unique to Dragon's Dogma, or at least I can't think of another game that has done something similar in quite the same way. Along with creating a main character (the Arisen), players also get to create a pawn, their primary sidekick throughout the game. Pawns act on their own, but the player can choose their equipment, combat strategies, personalities, and so forth. And for a game with such a robust character creator, being able to make two different characters in any given playthrough was a godsend. I made my fighter pawn, Demetrius, a thin, muscular, bald man with a full beard. Eventually, I got him equipped with a huge, rather intimidating spiked mace, and gave him an incognito mask and a golden belt. He basically looked like an executioner who had just won a wrestling championship. Not sure what I was going for, but I thought he looked pretty cool anyway.Pawns also act as the primary way to interact with other people online. By entering a Rift Stone, players can browse through pawns created by others and enlist up to two into their own party. These pawns will have all the equipment and stats provided by their creators, and they might even know some strategies for defeating certain enemies or info about specific quests that the player has yet to encounter. Once a player is done using someone else's pawn, they can send along ratings, messages, and gifts to the original creator. I had a lot of fun simply viewing everyone's pawns to see what they came up with, from the beautiful to the grotesque.I always enjoyed logging back in every now and then to see how my own pawn was doing and find out whether or not he had been helping other people on their adventures. Demetrius received above average ratings and seemed to come back with a lot of different gifts for me, so I'm glad at least a few people got some use out of him. I figured his wrestler/executioner style might get him noticed in the Rift due to his bizarre, yet menacing demeanor. I wonder if someone is still using him today. Three heads are better than one I'm very fond of the enemy designs in Dragon's Dogma. They're based on classic depictions of mythical beasts, so even though they're not particularly fantastic or unique, they have a certain traditional charm to them. They almost look unusually realistic, at least compared to most other video games that contain the same types of monsters. My favorite enemy was the Chimera, one of the more common giant beasts to be found in the game. A chimera is simply a hybrid monster made up of different parts from more than one kind of animal, most commonly depicted as a lion with a goat's head protruding from its back and a snake for a tail. And that's exactly what the Chimera in Dragon's Dogma looks like.Chimeras are so fun to fight because of all the different tactics that can be used to defeat them. Each of its three heads have their own specialties; the lion primarily uses physical attacks, the goat casts magic, and the snake can inflict poison. Each head can also be “killed” independently, so its up to the player to decide which part of the Chimera to destroy first. Personally, I liked to take out the snake first, followed by the goat, and finish with the lion. The best part is seeing the effects of damage in action. The snake head can be chopped off entirely, leaving a severed, bloody stump of a tail flailing around. The goat head will remain attached to the body, but once it's been defeated, it comically flops around like a limp rubber toy. It's even possible to kill the lion head first, in which case it sort of droops and rolls around sadly while the goat and snake keep up the attack. It's a bit unsettling how much I enjoy watching a Chimera suffer, really. Your Dragon Aside from the pawns, another way for players to interact with others online was through the dreaded Ur-Dragon. This massive, undead dragon is the most powerful enemy in the game. While playing online, it's simply not feasible for any one player to defeat it on their own. Instead, the battle employs an asynchronous cooperative component, meaning players from around the world will be working together to slay the beast. Damage from each individual player will slowly stack over time until the Ur-Dragon has finally been defeated. Players lucky enough to be fighting during the killing blow will have the chance to earn some nice rewards, and any other player who contributed to the Ur-Dragon's death can enter the Chamber of Lament later to claim some loot as well. Afterwards, the next generation of the Ur-Dragon will spawn as an even more powerful foe than the last. This type of idea isn't anything new, as similar things have been done in some MMOs, but they're still fun to participate in every now and then. I fought a few of the earlier generations of Ur-Dragons, but never managed to land a killing blow (aside from offline). Last I checked, the PlayStation 3 Ur-Dragon was around Generation 800, so it's pretty cool that people are still fighting them. The legendary Hot Pants, forged in dragon's flame This one may seem a bit random at first, but it has to do with one of my funniest moments. There is a ton of equipment to choose from in Dragon's Dogma, ranging from practical, to stylish, to revealing. While there is some gender-specific clothing, most pieces can be worn by either gender – even some of the more revealing ones. Whenever I play games like this, I tend to choose equipment that I think looks good on my character, so I go for the highest possible stats while still trying to look nice.In my first playthrough, I left the first town with not much armor to speak of, since the shops didn't really have much to offer. Since I was playing a Strider, I wanted light armor anyway, so I was dressed in cloth wrappings and a pair of short pants, which basically look like denim hot pants. Not gonna lie, my beefy adventurer could really rock those short pants! I figured I would find better armor later, but eventually I was in Gran Soren and still wearing those short pants. Everything else I could find was either worse stats-wise or just plain ugly. And then I began adventuring farther north and encountered my first Drake. Why mention the Drake? Well, upon defeating a Drake, or any other dragon-type enemy, there is a chance for a piece of equipment to become “dragon forged,” meaning it automatically reaches the highest level of enhancement, past the normal three-star level. And it just so happened that the one piece of equipement to become dragon forged was my pair of short pants. Suddenly, this silly piece of sexy clothing was one of my most powerful possessions. It was a sign – my Arisen was born to wear these short pants. I never switched them out for the remainder of the game, because it was too perfect that they were the first thing to become dragon forged. Plus, by that point, they basically provided more defense than the majority of other pants anyway. My Arisen gets to show off his well-toned legs and can still take a beating doing it. That's definitely a win-win in my book! What is love? Romance options in games have never really interested me all that much. This is partly because there are usually no gay options, but even when it is an option (Mass Effect, Dragon Age), the romance subplots still feel weird, stiff, and out of place in context with the rest of the game for whatever reason. Romance in Dragon's Dogma is also really weird. Like, super weird. So weird that I actually kind of enjoyed it. You see, at a certain point in the game, a character is chosen as the player's “beloved.” Grigori, the antagonistic dragon (dragon-tagonist, if you will), kidnaps the beloved, supposedly as a way to get the player all fired up for revenge and rescue of the character they love most. However, most players won't know who they'll be rescuing until the big reveal. It's like a surprise love interest, and given the romance options provided by the game, the results can be hilarious.Almost any character in Dragon's Dogma can become the beloved. This includes characters of any gender or age, even children and the elderly. That's right, a player might get to the end of the game only to find out that their handsome, burly Arisen is in love with a frail, elderly woman. Or a small child. Or the court jester who bears a striking resemblance to The Legend of Zelda's Tingle (*shiver*). The perceived randomness of it all, while surely annoying to some, was very entertaining to me. I never knew who I was going to romance, and I always looked forward to the eventual reveal.Of course, there are ways to increase the chances of getting a specific beloved, primarily by completing certain quests and giving lots of gifts to increase affinity. However, even knowing that, it's still rather difficult to get who you want. I always had my beefy, bearded Arisen flirt with the armory merchant, Caxton. He may have some annoying catch phrases, but at least he has a nice beard! Apparently, my copious amount of gifts were not enough to woo him, though, because I always ended up with either the young witch, Selene, or the sultry merchant, Madeleine. Dammit, Caxton, quit leaving me with all these ladies! They're nice people, I'm sure, but you're the masterwork of my heart! Where did I go wrong? Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007 .28: Pokémon Red/Blue .29: Skies of Arcadia
Dragon's Dogma photo
Masterworks all, you can't go wrong!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Tokyo Jungle photo
Tokyo Jungle

Sony might be considering a new Tokyo Jungle


It's the circle of life
Jan 17
// Ben Davis
Based on some recent tweets by Sony producer Masaaki Yamagiwa, there may be some interest in making a new Tokyo Jungle. Yamagiwa had a meeting with Crispy's president Yohei Kataoka, developer of the original game.Roughly tran...

Review: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

Jan 15 // Ben Davis
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human (PC)Developer: YCJYPublisher: YCJYReleased: January 19, 2016MSRP: $9.99 The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human tells the story of the last surviving human being, thrown into an unknown year in the distant future via a wormhole. All that is left of our civilization on Earth has been entirely submerged under the ocean. Crumbling cities, broken machines, and other remnants of human civilization are still present, slowly decaying in the sea. The world is now thriving with sea life, as huge fish swim about the dilapidated structures and aquatic plants grow out of control. The only clue about what happened in the past are holo-tapes containing the last recorded information of humanity from the year 3016. This is not a story of hope. As the last one left, you have no way of repopulating the world. Humans had their time, and it's over now. The only thing left to do is try and figure out what happened and live out the rest of your days attempting to make the most out of your present situation. [embed]334534:61880:0[/embed] The player character passes the time aboard a submarine, exploring the serene ocean depths, floating among the thriving sea life, and looking out at remnants of the past. There seems to be very little danger in the surrounding waters; groups of angry giant clams here and there, some pipes spilling out corrosive gases, a few floating sea mines, but for the most part it's smooth sailing. That is, until the last human encounters The Worm. Much like Shadow of the Colossus, there are very few threats in the world of The Aquatic Adventure aside from the bosses. The game compensates by making every boss fight unique, challenging, and memorable. Conquering these massive sea beasts will require puzzle-solving skills, strategy, quick reflexes, and most of all perseverance. The submarine will most likely be destroyed many times before a boss will finally be defeated, but with enough observation and planning, any obstacle can be overcome. Thankfully, the submarine's abilities will take some of the edge off of the difficulty of boss fights. A damaged hull will slowly repair itself automatically over time, so as long as the sub stays out of danger long enough, it can come back full force in the heat of battle. Upgrades can also be found scattered throughout the sea, offering new weapons, tools, improvements to the hull, and more. So if a player is having a particularly rough time with a certain boss, a little exploration might result in better equipment to make the fight a bit easier. There are eleven boss fights in total, but most of them can be fought in any order the player chooses. In the vein of Metroid, new areas can be opened up with upgraded equipment. Every time a new item is acquired, it's usually a good idea to fully explore the map to figure out all possible options for progress and decide which boss to take on next. Although there are a few instances where the player does not have a choice, and the only option for escaping is to fight their way out. The real heart of The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human comes from the graphics. While the thought of exploring a large map with very few threats may seem uneventful, I almost didn't even notice most of the time due to the entrancing sprite art covering every inch of the map. The environments and sea life are so detailed and well animated that they seem to come to life in movement. Everything looks painstakingly hand drawn, with personality oozing out of every object. I had to spend a few moments in each new area just admiring everything around me, from the tangles of seaweed and peaceful (yet sometimes startling) sea creatures to the ruined edifices and malfunctioning electronics. While it looks beautiful even in screenshots, I honestly don't think still images do this game the justice it deserves. To add to the whole charming ambiance, the wonderful electronic soundtrack helped to capture the beauty and strangeness of an underwater world, while also ramping up the tension during boss encounters. Other visual effects added to the charm as well, like how the screen slightly tilts depending on the direction the submarine is moving, the subtle flickering of text to indicate it's being viewed on a monitor of some kind, and what looks like handwritten text which appears upon arrival to a new area. All of these little details add up to give The Aquatic Adventure its own unique flair. If I could offer suggestions for improvement, I do think there needs to be more map functionality. Especially for a game where backtracking is important, it would have been nice for certain obstacles to be highlighted on the map, like green lines to indicate vines which need to be chopped or grey bars to specify doors that can be opened. Of course, obstacles leading to secret areas can be kept hidden from the map, so that only the keenest explorers will find them. I might have also liked a manual save option, for those instances where I was killed by a part of the environment, requiring me to navigate large parts of the map all over again to get back to where I left off, although the fast-travel system did help with that somewhat. Lastly, I did encounter a few annoying bugs while playing, but thankfully they were fixed very quickly. I really enjoyed my time with The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human. It may be a bit on the short side, especially for players who are able to take down the bosses with relative ease, although most players are probably looking at about six to seven hours of playtime. But in that short amount of time, it manages to pack a satisfying amount of action, tranquility, and exploration into a concise, captivating adventure. Just don't be afraid to dive too deep into the ocean depths, no matter what horrors might lurk in the dark abysses below. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Aquatic Adventure review photo
Steve Zissou will outlive us all
Unlike many others out there, underwater environments tend to be some of my favorite areas in video games. So when something like The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human comes along which takes place entirely underwater, I ca...

Lovely Planet Arcade photo
Lovely Planet Arcade

Super cute, super tough Lovely Planet is getting a sequel


Don't be fooled by the cheerful graphics
Jan 15
// Ben Davis
A sequel was just announced for Lovely Planet, the deceptively adorable, exceedingly difficult first-person shooter from indie developer Quicktequila that released on Steam in 2014. The sequel, called Lovely Planet Arcade, cl...
Dark Cloud 2 photo
Dark Cloud 2

Dark Cloud 2 is coming to PS4 next week


Relive the joy that is Spheda
Jan 14
// Ben Davis
According to the latest PlayStation Blogcast, Dark Cloud 2 (or Dark Chronicle in Japan and Europe) will be joining the PlayStation 4's steadily growing list of PS2 emulations on January 19. They already released the first Dar...
Pokken Tournament photo
Pokken Tournament

Another new fighter revealed for Pokken Tournament, and it's a hot one


Can(dle) you guess who it is?
Jan 14
// Ben Davis
Earlier this week we found out about three new Pokkén Tournament fighters joining the roster: Garchomp, Braixen, and non-shadow Mewtwo. However, none of them matched the clue Bandai Namco gave earlier this month, teasi...

Experience Points .29: Skies of Arcadia

Jan 09 // Ben Davis
Sky's the limit Skies of Arcadia has one of the most intriguing worlds I've ever explored in a video game. Civilizations of people living on floating islands, traveling between them via airships, with fish and other creatures normally associated with the sea flying around in the clouds, and entire sections of the world blocked off by powerful air currents and other obstacles that could tear ships apart. It was all very exciting and mysterious. I constantly wondered what secrets lay hidden on the other side of those currents, or past that ominous rift. Would it be possible to descend under the clouds, or perhaps fly even higher into the sky? Eventually, Vyse gets to explore all of these places, satisfying every last bit of the player's curiosity. Each new area discovered is a thrilling experience. Everything from the lost civilization of Glacia, the thriving society of Yafutoma that had been cut off from the rest of the world, the terrifying depths lying beneath the clouds, and the bright, open atmosphere above. I kept wondering what I might find next. The most powerful moment for me was when they dive beneath the clouds and enter Deep Sky for the very first time, by flying through the huge maelstrom known as the Vortex. Entering the land beneath the clouds was unheard of for Vyse and his people, but they attempt it anyway in order to retrieve Fina's lost ship, even though they run the risk of damaging their own ship in the process due to atmospheric pressure. The area under the Vortex resembles a deep ocean abyss. It's incredibly dark and murky, and almost looks alien compared to the bright, airy world above. The crew of the Delphinus must use sonar to navigate the area and locate Fina's ship, but they also need to be wary of the giant bioluminescent creatures known as Raja which lurk in the darkness! There's nothing more terrifying than the unknown horrors of the deep. Wonders of the world Continuing the theme of exploration, my favorite activity in Skies of Arcadia was flying around and making Discoveries. This involves searching the skies for hidden landmarks, rare creatures, forgotten shipwrecks, and other special locations which don't normally appear on the map. Once Vyse makes a Discovery, he can then sell the information of its whereabouts to the Sailor's Guild for cash. But he also needs to be mindful of other Discovery hunters, such as the famous explorer, Domingo, who might find them first if Vyse takes too long. I've always been the explorer type while playing video games, keen on visiting every last location and wandering around all edges of the map to see what I might find. So games that try to reward that exploration really make me happy, and Skies of Arcadia is just about the perfect example of that with its Discoveries side quest. It may not seem too exciting for some, searching for hidden objects which don't really do anything except float there and are only good for making money, but I found it to be oddly captivating. In the world of the game, Vyse is the usually first person to have found these things. Lost landmarks like the Giant Throne spoken about only in legends, fabled creatures like the Ancient Fish which many believed to be extinct or pure fiction, shipwrecks that no one had been able to locate, slowly fading from memory. Finding things like that in the real world would be truly awe-inspiring, and it made me really get into playing the role of Vyse because I loved the idea of living that kind of life. From Hell's heart I stab at thee The story of Captain Drachma and Rhaknam is heavily based on my favorite book, Moby Dick, so it's no surprise that it left an impression on me. But even for those unfamiliar with the themes of Melville's classic novel, Skies of Arcadia's take on the relationship between man and whale was quite powerful in its own way. Much like with Captain Ahab and the white whale, Drachma had dedicated most of his life to hunting down the giant purple arcwhale, Rhaknam, who not only stole Drachma's right arm from him but also caused the deaths of his crew, his wife, and his only son, Jack. The hunt eventually proves fruitful, when the crew of the Little Jack confronts Rhaknam and manages to spear it with the ship's harpoon. Unfortunately, an enemy ship manned by Ramirez takes the opportunity to fire upon the Little Jack while they're distracted with the whale, setting the ship aflame and forcing Drachma and crew to evacuate. But at the last moment, as Vyse and the others are getting into the lifeboats, Drachma pushes them overboard. He remains on the burning Little Jack, dragged along by the harpoon stuck in Rhaknam's back, presumably to his death. Of course, that wasn't the last we would see of Captain Drachma. Vyse and crew eventually meet up with him again in the most unexpected of places, the abandoned ancient city of Glacia. Rhaknam had apparently made the place its home, and fled to the icy fortress with Drachma in tow. Realizing that the whale had actually saved his life, Drachma had a sudden change of heart and decided to care for and comfort Rhaknam, who had been mortally wounded during the attack by Ramirez. Vyse and friends arrive just in time to witness Rhaknam's final moments, as the whale sings mournfully and sheds a single tear before passing on. Afterwards, Drachma decides to live out his days as a fisherman now that he no longer has to spend his life hunting down his arch-nemesis. Even though the death of Rhaknam is rather sad, it's still heartwarming to know that the two lifelong enemies were able to make amends. It's actually a much cheerier end than the one Captain Ahab received. Kraken the sky While most of the battles aboard the ship are fought against other ships, there are a few optional engagements with huge, frightening sky beasts which are particularly exciting. My favorite is the battle against a certain blue cephalopod. For a game centered around sailing (even though it takes place in the sky), you just know there's going to be a giant squid encounter, and Skies of Arcadia doesn't disappoint. Of course, any game with a giant squid is going to get a shout-out from me, because giant squids are awesome! Once Vyse's ship gains access to certain parts of the map, the crew might happen upon an open area with nothing but some floating rocks and an ominous Discovery called the Giant Squid Nest. Nearby lurks a beast named Obispo, a huge blue squid floating lazily through the clouds. Flying up to Obispo, who is larger than the Delphinus itself, will initiate an optional ship battle. Obispo will attack the Delphinus with huge bursts of ink, but it's probably no match for the ship's cannons. Cause enough damage, and the giant squid's tentacles will begin to fall off one by one, sinking to the clouds below. Upon death, the animal actually bursts into flames and falls out of the sky. I almost expected it to go out in a glorious explosion! Build-a-base At one point in the story, Vyse finds himself stranded on a desert island where he is forced to figure out a way to survive while rebuilding a lifeboat to escape. This island, called Crescent Isle, later becomes the base of operations for Vyse and his crew. A small settlement is built for crew members to live while not aboard the Delphinus. But the coolest thing about Crescent Isle is that the player actually gets to customize it to their liking. Players can choose which buildings to upgrade, decide who should rebuild them (which changes the architecture), add decorations like fountains or cliffside reliefs, bring animals to the island (like fish, flamingos, alligators, and pandas), and pick a flag to represent the crew. I had Kirala construct most of the buildings in the exotic Yafutoma style, with fish and pandas to liven things up. I decided to forgo the cliffside reliefs, because having a character's giant face looming at everyone seemed kind of unsettling to me. I also went with Fina's flag design, which features a super happy flying dolphin, because duh. I loved being able to give the island my own unique flair; it made the place actually feel special to me, rather than just some rock that I could return to every once in a while. I wonder how many others spent as much time designing their islands as I did. Trial by dragon Skies of Arcadia's battle system featured Super Moves, which were special attacks that had short cinematic sequences to go along with them. They were all pretty cool. Vyse had a bunch of pirate-themed moves, Aika's were named after the Greek alphabet for some reason, Fina called upon the power of the moons to help them out, and Drachma straight up body slammed dudes. But my favorite Super Move belongs to Enrique. Upon activating his final move, “The Judgement,” Enrique summons a huge colosseum full of roaring spectators, announcing, “Your trial shall be swift and just!” as if this is a perfectly normal thing to just suddenly appear out of nowhere. He then calls upon a dragon-shaped sigil on the ground, which opens up a portal in the sky above him to release an actual dragon. The silver beast spirals through the air before flying face-first into the enemy, slamming into them for massive damage as Enrique yells, “Face your punishment!” And then he ends the attack with a confident flourish of his sword. Wow, Enrique. Way to make everyone else look bad! Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007 .28: Pokémon Red/Blue 
Skies of Arcadia photo
Cutlass Fury!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Big the Cat photo
Big the Cat

Sega teases plans for Sonic's 25th anniversary with Big the Cat


Get ready for a Big surprise
Jan 08
// Ben Davis
An image of the guys from Game Grumps holding a Big the Cat doll appeared on the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter and Facebook pages today, along with the message, “We've got some pretty exciting stuff planned for th...
Blind gamer photo
Blind gamer

Watch this blind gamer beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time


Think you can win with your eyes closed?
Jan 04
// Ben Davis
Terry Garrett has been playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time since 2011, and five years later (with long breaks in between) he has finally managed to finish the game. Oh yeah, did I mention he's blind? Garrett has adap...

Ben Davis's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 02 // Ben Davis
10. Tembo the Badass Elephant Game Freak's unexpected new game was a little on the short side, but Tembo really drew me in with its vibrant, comics-like art style and cute (I mean, badass) main character. Plus, I'm a big fan of platformers, and the mechanics made this one such a joy to play. Tembo's impressive agility and wide variety of techniques provided me with non-stop action from start to finish. There was never a dull moment. I only wish it was a bit longer! 9. Yo-Kai Watch Between this and Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, there was a period of time when it was almost impossible to pull me away from the 3DS. Yo-Kai Watch was my favorite of the two, since it introduced me to a whole new cast of strange and interesting characters to meet and befriend. I also really enjoyed the battle system, which allows the player to take a more managerial role while the Yo-Kai do most of the real work automatically. I can't wait to get my hands on more of this series! 8. Sunless Sea Sunless Sea was a narrative delight. Some of the gameplay mechanics may have taken a bit of getting used to even though they make sense in context (namely the slow movement of the ship), but it's all worth it for the wonderful setting and narrative. Sailing across a vast, dark, underground ocean, learning about the various islands and their inhabitants along the way, and trying to cope with the unnerving Lovecraftian mysteries of the deep – all of it struck the perfect chord for me. The FTL-like prompts and decision-making helped to enhance the replayability and created some very intriguing stories full of horror, romance, paranoia, mutiny, and sometimes even cannibalism. 7. Grow Home This charming little title may have come from the much-maligned Ubisoft, but that didn't stop me from falling in love with it. I've always believed it's a good idea to support a company when it does something right, after all. While Grow Home is a relatively short game, my time with it was filled to the brim with smiles and fuzzy feelings. Controlling BUD and watching him wobble and stumble around awkwardly was a delight, and for such a small game, the scale of its world was actually rather impressive. 6. Titan SoulsTitan Souls was an exercise in simplicity, and I thoroughly enjoyed its unique approach to combat. You're armed with only one arrow against massive bosses that can kill you in one hit, but they can also be defeated with a single arrow strike – this premise led to some particularly intense boss fights, many of which required fast reflexes or puzzle-solving skills to figure out. Sometimes the battles took me dozens of attempts to succeed, other times they were over in the blink of an eye. I feel like this would make an excellent game for speedrunning. 5. DownwellDownwell is one of those thoroughly addictive “one more try” type of games. A single run can be over rather quickly, but you'll slowly start to develop skills and figure out the most effective techniques to make it farther and farther down this seemingly bottomless well. Eventually, I was combo jumping and shooting my way through the well and feeling like a pro. That growth in skill was so satisfying. I still haven't beaten the game yet, but I have no doubt that I can make it if I keep learning and trying hard enough! 4. Rocket LeagueI may not be particularly interested in sports or cars, but man, Rocket League is fun as hell! The idea of zooming around a soccer field in a rocket-powered vehicle while ramming into a gigantic ball that literally explodes inside the goal is simply awesome any way you look at it. The premise is so absurdly silly that I couldn't stop laughing with all the explosions and cars flying all over the place. There's also a degree of skill involved which can make for some very impressive-looking plays, but I haven't quite reached that level of mastery yet. 3. SplatoonI'm generally not a fan of shooters, unless they're quirky and lighthearted like Team Fortress 2 or Borderlands. Nintendo took the idea of a quirky, lighthearted shooter and turned it up to the max with Splatoon, and I couldn't be happier with it. I love that I can contribute to my team without focusing on killing the enemy, but rather covering as much ground as I can. I've never been a great shot, but it's impossible to miss when I'm aiming at the ground! Of course, it also helps that squids happen to be my favorite animal. I refuse to play with anything other than Kraken weapons, because the giant squid attacks are the best thing ever! 2. Bloodborne As a huge fan of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, Bloodborne was obviously going to be a big deal for me. The faster-paced combat and lack of shields admittedly took a while for me to get comfortable with, but once I figured everything out it was incredibly satisfying! I've always taken the more careful approach to fighting in earlier Souls games, so getting all up in my enemies' business in Bloodborne made the whole thing feel fresh and exciting. I'm eternally grateful this series exists in today's gaming landscape. Game of the Year: Undertale Undertale pretty much came out of nowhere for me. I played it before all the hype, which was maybe a good thing. Having known nothing about it beforehand, I was surprised by just how engrossed I became with the characters, the humor, the gameplay, the music, the secrets, and just about everything else. In fact, I was originally planning to do less of a countdown GOTY post and more of an awards-type deal, until I realized Undertale would have won all of them. Best boss fight? Undertale. Best new character? Undertale. Best soundtrack? Undertale. Favorite moment? Undertale. I can honestly say that it's currently one of my favorite games of all time. Like, easily in my top ten. I never expected to play one of my top ten favorite games this year. So, you know, 2015 was all right by me! -- BONUS ROUND The “Why didn't I play this sooner?” Award: Deadly Premonition This award goes to games released prior to 2015 that I never played until this year. How did it take me so long to get into Deadly Premonition? Granted, I had to wait for the PS3 release, but still. This game was all kinds of weird and bad, in the best ways possible. The characters and the mysteries were all so strangely engaging, I just couldn't put it down until I'd finished the story. I really hope Swery65 keeps making games, because his style is fantastic! The “I'll get around to it someday” Award: Lara Croft GO I can't play all the games released every year, so there's always going to be at least one that I'm excited about yet never get around to actually playing. I'm a big fan of the Tomb Raider series, especially the first three games, so seeing this neat little title returning to the roots of the series gets me all pumped up! Sadly, it won't run on my current phone, so I'll have to wait until I can get an upgrade or until it releases on another platform. And hey, Hitman Go is coming to PlayStation soon, so maybe there's a chance!  Most anticipated game of 2016: Persona 5 This has been my most anticipated game for the past three years. Persona 3 and 4 are some of my all-time favorites, so I cannot wait to get my hands on Persona 5! I've been trying really hard to avoid any and all coverage of the game, because I'd like to go in completely blind. The only thing I've seen so far is the initial teaser trailer, which told me literally nothing except that Persona 5 is a thing that is happening. And that's really all I needed to know!
GOTY photo
Huzzah!
2015 was a tremendous year for me. I've now been an official contributor at Destructoid for just about a full year, since I started last January. I may not have had the time to write as much as I would have liked, but I had a...

Valkyria Chronicles photo
Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles Remaster looks great in its debut trailer


But we already knew it would!
Dec 25
// Ben Davis
Sega released the debut trailer for Valkyria Chronicles Remaster, set to arrive on PS4 in Japan on February 10. The original was already gorgeous on PS3, so it's no wonder that it will look even better on PS4. Valkyria Chroni...
SMT IV: Final trailer photo
SMT IV: Final trailer

Shin Megami Tensei IV Final's new trailer is full of demons


Every time a bell rings...
Dec 25
// Ben Davis
Atlus released the second trailer for Shin Megami Tensei IV Final today. This one focuses primarily on the demons and main characters, with bits of gameplay mixed in throughout. I never did play the original Shin Megami...
Ninja Senki DX photo
Ninja Senki DX

Ninja Senki DX slashes onto PS4 and Vita with giant shurikens


Also coming to Steam
Dec 21
// Ben Davis
Tribute Games, developer of Mercenary Kings and Curses 'n Chaos, is set to release Ninja Senki DX on PS4, PS Vita, and Steam in February. Ninja Senki DX is an updated version of the freeware game from 2010 created by Jonathan...

Review: The Bit.Trip

Dec 15 // Ben Davis
The Bit.Trip (PS4 [reviewed], PS Vita, PS3)Developer: Choice ProvisionsPublisher: Choice ProvisionsMSRP: $9.99 (Cross-Buy)Released: December 5, 2015 (PS4, PS Vita), TBA (PS3) The Bit.Trip is a collection of all six games in the Bit.Trip series which were originally released on WiiWare, similar to Bit.Trip Complete for Wii and Bit.Trip Saga for 3DS from a few years ago. It may have a different name than the other compilations, but it's largely the same aside from the controls, menus, and a few extras. The Bit.Trip differs in that it offers Trophies and leaderboards, which already existed for the PC versions of the games, but not for the Wii and 3DS versions. However, it's lacking all of the bonus content and extra challenge levels introduced in Bit.Trip Complete. Those extras would have been a nice addition here as a way to entice people who have already played some of the games before, but as it stands, it's basically just a straightforward compilation. [embed]326911:61531:0[/embed] Even so, the Bit.Trip games still hold up incredibly well, and the price is perfect for anyone looking to experience them again (or for the first time). All six games can be accessed from the slick main menu, featuring some neat concept art whenever a title is selected. Each game also allows the player to choose between Easy, Normal, or Hard difficulty settings, which is nice because the Bit.Trip games can be quite difficult, even on Easy! For those who haven't played Bit.Trip before, the series spans several different genres with an emphasis on rhythm-based gameplay, all held together with similar themes to tell the story of the life and death of Commander Video. Bit.Trip Beat and Bit.Trip Flux are very Pong-like in nature, requiring the player to move a paddle up and down to bounce incoming beats back to the rhythm. Bit.Trip Runner switches things up as a rhythmic auto-running platformer, while Bit.Trip Fate takes the series in another drastically different direction as a musical on-rails shooter. Bit.Trip Core and Bit.Trip Void are a bit harder to describe, but they both offer gameplay that is completely unique to the series. Core gives players control of an X and Y axis which can zap any beats that pass over them, while Void has players controlling an ever-expanding black hole which must consume other black shapes while avoiding white ones. Void is actually my personal favorite of the series, simply because I've never played anything else quite like it. The biggest difference for the PlayStation versions of these games is of course going to be the controls. I found playing with the Dualshock 4 to be quite comfortable and intuitive, easily on par with the Wii controls. Both Core and Void let the player choose between the left analog stick or the d-pad for movement. I found the analog stick to be preferable in most situations, although the d-pad was useful for a certain boss in Void which requires precision movements, and some players will probably prefer to use the d-pad to play Core (I found it to be a little uncomfortable after a while). Fate uses both analog sticks -- one for movement and one for aiming and shooting -- and it felt perfect. The controls for Runner are about what you'd expect, since it only requires simple button inputs. It would be kind of hard to mess those up. As for Beat and Flux, the controls work similarly to the Wii Remote in that you simply have to tilt the Dualshock 4 forward and back to move the paddle. It seemed to really pick up on my hands shaking though, which caused the paddle to sort of vibrate slightly up and down all the time. This made it feel as though I didn't have as much control over the paddle as I would have like, but it wasn't too much of a deal-breaker for me since I wasn't going for high scores or anything. However, it did make the final boss of Beat especially difficult since it's easier to win by hitting the beats back with the very tip of the paddle. I kept missing even the slow-moving beats by the slightest degree, most likely because of the vibrations. Finally, for players interested in leaderboards, they'll be happy to know that each game has separate leaderboards for every individual level, divided between the three difficulty settings. These can be accessed directly from the main menu or individually from the menus of the specific games. While The Bit.Trip could have been made marginally better with the addition of any kind of bonus content (such as the extra challenges found in Bit.Trip Complete), it's still a solid compilation of an excellent series of games. Thankfully, they hold up just as well on PlayStation consoles as they did on the Wii. If you still haven't taken the dive into the rhythmic, arcade-y goodness of Bit.Trip, or if you've been looking for a reason to play through it all again, now would be the perfect time to do so. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
The Bit.Trip review photo
SERIES.COMPLETE
The Bit.Trip series holds a special place in my heart. With a wonderful blend of rhythm-based mechanics and arcade-style gameplay spanning various genres, the games are easy to pick up, quick to fall in love with, and yet inc...

Noby Noby Boy photo
Noby Noby Boy

After six years, Noby Noby Boy's Girl has completed her journey


Ending sequence revealed!
Dec 15
// Ben Davis
Well this was sudden! We just heard last month that Noby Noby Boy's Girl had finally reached Pluto. Shortly after, she has already looped around and made her way back to Earth, ending her journey where it began. I figured it ...

Experience Points .28: Pokemon Red/Blue

Dec 12 // Ben Davis
The Big Six Every trainer has their own method of choosing a team in Pokémon. Some players choose only the most powerful Pokémon, such as legendaries and whatnot. Others choose Pokémon based on stats and abilities, in order to maximize their fighting potential. Some people might even just go with whoever they find first, without swapping them out for something different. Or maybe they want to try using only certain types, such as having an all Water team like Misty. I always chose to use my favorite Pokémon, regardless of strength or stats. Sometimes I'd even keep them from evolving, because I simply preferred how they look unevolved. Cubone was always a staple in my teams, since he's my favorite one. Marowak is cool too, but he loses some of Cubone's charm in my opinion, so I never let my Cubones evolve. Other common choices for my Red and Blue teams included Haunter, Scyther, Cloyster, Weepinbell, Omastar, and Mr. Mime (it's true, I like Mr. Mime!), among others. I never used legendaries, and I usually dropped my starter Pokémon at the earliest opportunity. I'm probably kind of weird in that regard. My teams may not have been the most powerful, but they got me through the main games easily enough, and I loved seeing them all in the Hall of Fame. Battling other players was another story, however. I was terrible at fighting my friends' Pokémon. I even entered a tournament once, and lost in the first round. But at least I went down with a team I cared about! Bringing the legends down a peg I may not use legendary Pokémon on my teams, but I do enjoy hunting them down and catching them... only to let them sit in the PC forever, remaining completely useless to the world now that they're in my possession. You thought you were hot shit, Mewtwo? Think again! Ahem... as I was saying, coming across a legendary Pokémon in the wild was always thrilling. Finding Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos just chilling in their respective locations got me really excited, and I knew I'd be in for a difficult fight. It's almost impossible to catch them until they're at the very last sliver of health and also asleep, and trying to get them to that state without killing them or being killed by them in the process can be quite tense. And then I'd just start chucking Pokéballs at them. Like hundreds of Pokéballs, because I never wanted to use my one Master Ball. Sometimes I'd go through my entire stock of Ultra Balls, Great Balls, and regular balls before finally capturing a legendary Pokémon. I always thought it was funny when I'd catch one in a regular Pokéball, because then they don't even get to enjoy the luxury of living inside of a nicer ball. They're doomed to live in the cheapest home, stuck in the PC forever, like they deserve. I'm such a jerk. All Pokémon go to Heaven My favorite Pokémon actually gets his own little storyline in Red and Blue, so of course it was one of my favorite moments in the game. In Lavender Town, the player comes across the Pokémon Tower, which is essentially a seven-story graveyard for deceased Pokémon where trainers come to pay their respects. It's also home to wild ghost Pokémon, as well as wandering Cubones. While exploring the town and the tower, the player will hear about a Cubone whose mother was killed by Team Rocket while she was trying to protect her child. A man named Mr. Fuji apparently went to the tower to stop Team Rocket and help the Cubone, but hasn't been seen since. Towards the top of the tower, the player will suddenly be stopped among the gravestones with a creepy warning: “Be gone... intruders...” A battle with a ghost ensues, which turns out to be Marowak, the Cubone's deceased mother. She cannot be captured, even with a Master Ball (she's DEAD, you heartless trainer!), but defeating her in battle will ease her spirit and allow her to pass on to the afterlife. Afterwards, Mr. Fuji can be found at the top of the tower, and he's happy to hear that Marowak's spirit has been calmed. I always assumed that the Cubone in question was whichever Cubone I ended up catching, since I made it my mission to catch one as soon as possible. That way he would have friends to cheer him up and help him cope with his mother's passing. Poor little guy... Did I mention how much I like shorts? One of my favorite things about the Pokémon games are all the weird comments that the random trainers make whenever they're encountered. They usually manage to bring up something completely unexpected and off topic, giving the player unnecessary information about their lives without being asked. We just met, and you're bragging to me about how cool your boyfriend is? He sounds great, but maybe introduce yourself first before diving right into your personal life. The most memorable line comes from a Youngster outside of Pewter City. He walks up to the player and the first thing he thinks to say is, “Hi! I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!” …Ummm, that's cool, I guess. It's always a good idea to start a conversation with a stranger by talking about your pants, right? This kid is so fired up about shorts, it's like we're suddenly in some kind of clothing commercial. And now I can't stop staring at this kid's pants... maybe it was really a clever distraction strategy all along! In the zone I was always a big fan of the Safari Zone. It had lots of cool Pokémon to catch and I didn't even have to fight them. Just throw down some bait and toss some Safari Balls and hope for the best! I spent a ton of time there trying to catch all the rare Pokémon the park had to offer, like Scyther, Pinsir, Tauros, Chansey, Kangaskhan, and Dratini, and picking out the best hunting spots to find each of them. I always made it a point to catch Scyther before I left (or Pinsir, depending on the game), since he was one of my favorites. Plus, chucking rocks at Pokémon felt pretty good sometimes. Especially if they were being obnoxious and refused to be captured. Don't want to be my Pokémon, Tauros? Maybe some rocks to the face will change your mind! Sometimes I threw rocks at them just because they were appearing too often and annoying me, like all those Nidorans when all I wanted was a Scyther. Too bad there aren't any Zubats in the Safari Zone. It sure would feel nice to throw some rocks at those guys! The truck Pokémon Red and Blue were rife with rumors of secret things players could find. While not actually a part of the game per se, some of the rumors still have significant value when I think about the time I spent with the game as a naive youngster. I remember trying desperately to access Bill's “secret garden,” a hidden area located behind Bill's house which supposedly housed many rare wild Pokémon. It was somewhat believable because there appeared to be a path leading offscreen right behind his house, even though there was no visible way to access it. I also remember trying to pull of a specific sequence of events in order to discover a leaked Pokémon named “Pikablu,” which actually turned out to be Marill. Both of these rumors were false, of course. But the biggest rumor of all involved the truck near the S.S. Anne where Mew was supposedly hiding. This rumor was particularly convincing because of how tricky it was to access the area, and because of how weird it was that the truck even existed in the first place. In order to find the truck, players have to faint on the S.S. Anne after obtaining HM01 from the captain by losing a battle before leaving the ship. This will bypass the short cutscene of the ship leaving port, meaning players could go back at any time to visit the ship again. Later, return to the S.S. Anne after teaching a Pokémon to use Surf, and surf off the boardwalk right before entering the ship. The player will be able to freely surf around the harbor, which contains nothing except for one very conspicuous truck, which strangely doesn't appear anywhere else in the game. According to the rumor, the truck could be pushed aside by having a Pokémon use Strength, similar to moving a boulder. And in the space where the truck used to be, it was possible to encounter the legendary Mew, which at the time was impossible to obtain without going to an official Pokémon event. The rumor was false, but that didn't stop me from trying everything I could possibly think of to move that truck. It had to be there for a reason, right? Why would there be some random truck in a hard-to-reach area for no reason at all? There must be something! Unfortunately, the only thing to ever come out of that truck was severe disappointment. Glitch in the system However, there were some rumors that actually turned out to be true. I heard talk of a secret Pokémon named Missingno, who could be found under special circumstances by surfing along the coast of Cinnabar Island. So of course, I had to check it out for myself! Missingno did, in fact, exist. After completing a sequence of events involving the old man in Viridian City and surfing along the coast of Cinnabar, I finally encountered the fabled creature... which turned out to be a weird mess of random pixels. It was a glitch. The glitch Pokémon, whose name is short for “Missing Number,” could actually be caught, raised, and used in battle. It could even be used for item duplication, meaning it was possible to get infinite Rare Candies by simply encountering Missingno. But being a glitch, it also corrupted some of the game data, so finding and catching one was rather risky. I still did it anyway just to see what would happen, and while it did interfere with some stuff, like scrambling sprites and messing with the Hall of Fame data, nothing particularly bad seemed to happen. Maybe I just got lucky. Regardless, Missingno is still one of the coolest video game glitches ever. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007
Pokemon Red/Blue photo
Welcome to the world of Pokemon!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Nuclear Throne photo
Nuclear Throne

Nuclear Throne is finally out of Early Access


Officially launched on PC, PS4, and Vita
Dec 08
// Ben Davis
It feels like Vlambeer's Nuclear Throne has been in Early Access limbo for ages, but the punishing roguelike shooter has finally reached its official release date. You can now purchase the finished version of Nuclear Throne o...
Binding of Isaac DLC photo
Binding of Isaac DLC

An expansion for The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth is already in the works


Will feature a bestiary and mod support
Dec 08
// Ben Davis
Afterbirth, the expansion to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, which was just released last month, already has some DLC being planned. This expansion of an expansion is tentatively being called Afterbirth+. Afterbirth+ will of c...

The Curse of Issyos is the Ninja Gaiden of Greek mythology

Dec 05 // Ben Davis
The story of The Curse of Issyos follows Defkalion, a fisherman from Issyos who hears the voice of Athena warning him about a curse affecting the isle. Worried about the safety of his daughter, Defkalion hurries back home to protect his only remaining family member. On his quest, Defkalion will have to fight off hordes of monsters and giant bosses, including cyclopes, hydras, and minotaurs, with a limited arsenal of weapons. He can swap between a quick, short-range sword and a slow, long-range spear. I vastly preferred the spear myself, but the sword can be useful in certain situations. There are also arrows which can be fired by holding up and attacking, in order to pick off pesky enemies from afar. As usual for a Locomalito game, the biggest hurdle is the level of difficulty. He likes to use old-school difficulty mechanics. Players will need to beat the game with three lives and four continues, and finish each level under the time limit. Some extra lives can be found as well. It's a hard game, but it feels very fair. You have plenty of time to watch and react to new enemy types, and bosses tend to project which attacks they're about to use, so there's nothing that should really take the player by surprise. It's all about watching and learning, and then skillfully pulling off attacks at the right moment. I was able to make it all the way to Medusa's lair on my first attempt, but I never made it to the end. Victory seemed so close, though, I could feel it! The Curse of Issyos will be available December 15 for PC (or right now, for anyone who has donated to the developer), and can be downloaded for free over at Locomalito's website.
Curse of Issyos photo
More free games from Locomalito
The Curse of Issyos is the newest game from indie developer Locomalito, known for releasing a ton of cool freeware games like Hydorah, Maldita Castilla, and L'Abbaye des Morts. He started this particular project back in 2010,...

Monument Valley photo
Monument Valley

Escher-esque puzzle game Monument Valley is currently available for free


Get it while it's free!
Dec 02
// Ben Davis
Monument Valley, the peaceful isometric puzzle game with a visual style reminiscent of Fez, is currently available for free on iOS devices and on Android devices through Amazon Underground, dropping its previous $4 price...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

The tragic backstory of Yo-Kai Watch's Jibanyan is based on a real-life incident


You're famous now, kitty!
Dec 02
// Ben Davis
Jibanyan, one of Yo-Kai Watch's most popular mascots, has quite a sad tale to tell when players meet him in the game. He was once the loving companion of his owner, a girl named Amy, before he got run over by a truck and turn...
Disaster Report 4 Plus photo
Disaster Report 4 Plus

Disaster Report 4 Plus is looking real nice on PS4


I'm glad it's back
Nov 27
// Ben Davis
Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories received its debut trailer and some shiny new screenshots today. Developer Irem previously announced Disaster Report 4 for PS3 back in 2010, but it was delayed and then canceled shortly...

Review: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon

Nov 27 // Ben Davis
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: November 20, 2015 To start things off in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, the player will take a short personality test. The test determines which of the 20 starter Pokémon they will become; it also chooses their partner. However, the results can be overruled if the player is unhappy with their chosen 'mon. The game picked Mudkip for me, with Torchic as my parter, so I just went with it. The story of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon revolves around a human who has been turned into a Pokémon and has lost their memory. The Pokéhuman wakes up in confusion to find that they're being attacked by a group of Beheeyem, but they're quickly led to safety by a kind Nuzleaf with a southern accent who shows them the ropes and brings them into town. Once in town, the player will make some new friends, meet up with their destined partner, and begin going on expeditions into mystery dungeons. From here, the main storyline will begin to reveal itself in bits and pieces. There are whispers of Pokémon around the world mysteriously being turned to stone, the Beheeyem are still following the player, and their memory of being a human refuses to return to them. Eventually, everything will start to fall into place and a grand adventure of world-ending proportions will unfold. But before all of that happens, there are dungeons to explore. These make up the core gameplay, of course. Mystery dungeons are made up of randomly generated grid-based floors filled with enemy Pokémon, items, and traps. Enemies only move when the player moves, so sometimes it's best to take things one step at a time so as to avoid suddenly becoming overwhelmed with foes. [embed]322769:61271:0[/embed] To attack, just hold down the left bumper to open up a menu of four possible moves, then select an action. It's also possible to combo moves with other team members by tapping the right bumper, which activates an "Alliance" to hit an enemy with multiple moves at once. Strategy is key to winning battles. Sometimes the best course of action is to waste a turn so that the enemy might move closer, opening up the possibility to land the first strike. Or, maybe it would be safer to switch positions with another teammate so they can take a blow and allow others to heal. Perhaps a liberal use of items will get the player out of a jam. A lot of planning and foresight is necessary in order to survive most confrontations, so simply spamming attacks is not going to cut it for the most part. Moving around dungeons will slowly heal injured Pokémon, but it will also decrease a hunger gauge as well, and if hunger reaches zero then the Pokémon's health will slowly begin to deplete. On top of that, there are status effects to worry about, such as poison or burns, which will stop Pokémon from regenerating health and will hurt them. Other effects, like confusion, can mess with a Pokémon's movement or ability to act. This can prove to be very annoying and potentially dangerous, so it's always a good idea to have the proper items available. Actually, a big part of mystery dungeon navigation involves managing items effectively. Only a certain amount can be held at once, but items will be scattered about all over the place and will quickly fill up the bag. It's a good idea to figure out which are the most important and plan accordingly. Some of the more important ones are oran berries and reviver seeds which are necessary for healing, elixirs which replenish the PP of moves, apples which stave off hunger, and wands and orbs that keep enemies at bay or help with dungeon navigation. There are also "Looplets" which act as the sole source of accessory. These can be upgraded with "Emeras" or gems which provide a wide array of different effects to help with combat and navigation (some may even cause a Mega Evolution!), but the Emeras will disappear upon exiting a dungeon. If the player fails a dungeon, they will lose all the items and money currently being held, unless they opt to wait for a rescue mission. These can be arranged on Pelipper Island, where the player can request help from other players via passwords, QR codes, local wireless, or IR connection. Alternatively, the player can simply return to their old save in order to retain items and money, but of course progress might be lost. Helper Pokémon can also be sent out from Pelipper Island for streetpass purposes, although I haven't encountered any yet. While story dungeons will force the player to use specific teams of Pokémon, normal dungeons will allow the player to choose any three Pokémon they wish to use. More Pokémon can be recruited by completing expeditions or simply chatting with folks around town, so the pool of possible allies will continue to grow larger and larger. All 720 Pokémon are available to be recruited, including legendaries, gender variations, all forms of Unown, and more. Using Pokémon in dungeons will allow them to level up and and learn new moves. I don't believe they can evolve, but since their evolutions can also be recruited, it doesn't really matter too much. Normal expeditions are where Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon really shines, but unfortunately they are few and far between until the main story has been completed. Free play finally opens up in the epilogue, but players are looking at about 20+ hours of gameplay and cutscenes before that happens. Aside from that, my only real complaints are the lack of skippable cutscenes and the fact that some story missions don't provide much opportunity for preparation. Even though it often allows the player to choose the items they want to take along and check out the shops beforehand, I still occasionally found myself woefully unprepared for story missions and ended up getting stuck with lousy equipment. The game also tends to save before long cutscenes right before boss fights, so I was forced to rewatch the same scenes over and over again whenever I died. The one before the final boss was particularly frustrating; it was so long! I'd have to say my favorite part of Super Mystery Dungeon is the way the Pokémon are portrayed. In most games and in the anime, the Pokémon simply say their own names and their personalities, if they have one at all, can only be implied. The main cast of characters in Super Mystery Dungeon consists of a good mix of Pokémon from each generation, and they're all given their own voice, each with different quirks, opinions, personalities, and sometimes even accents. It's really fun to learn about these guys in a new light. Some that I liked before I ended up hating this time around (like Pancham and Shelmet, those jerks!), while others that I may have ignored in previous games quickly became some of my favorites (like Espurr!). The cutscenes may have been long and the story may have been a little over-the-top, but I'd say it was worth it in the end just to get to know some of the Pokémon a bit better. Having never played any of the previous entries in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, I can't really compare it to the earlier games. However, for my first foray into Pokémon roguelikes, I had a great time! The difficulty seemed to ramp up considerably in some places, but between items, Emeras, and the random elements, I was generally able to figure out a strategy that worked well enough for me to just barely make it through. But if that doesn't work for some players, there are always the rescue missions to fall back on in case of an emergency. If you're like me and you haven't tried a Mystery Dungeon game yet, this one comes highly recommended. I'm fairly confident fans of the series will not be disappointed either. On its own, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is a quirky, light-hearted spin-off with well-developed dungeon crawling gameplay that provides a satisfying level of difficulty and gives the player plenty of room to develop their own strategies, all the while offering tons of customization options with a huge roster of potential allies and moves. It's a solid entry in the Pokémon franchise. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Super Mystery Dungeon photo
Like Magic(karp)
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spin-off series transports the colorful cast of pocket monsters from the role-playing games into the challenging world of a roguelike dungeon crawler. Super Mystery Dungeon retains the charm...

The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth coming to PS4, but other platforms unlikely


'Outlook NOT good'
Nov 20
// Ben Davis
Afterbirth, the expansion to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, was released last month for PC users. Owners of Rebirth on other platforms have since been left waiting, but according to a tweet yesterday from Edmund McMillen, the...

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