Tag: Metacritic

The highs and lows of recomposing Zelda

The highs and lows of recomposing Zelda

I never played Crypt of the NecroDancer.

When the roguelike rhythm-based dungeon crawler was released by Vancouver game studio Brace Yourself Games in 2015, it got a lot of good press for being a unique Indie game that blended disparate genres seamlessly.

I’m not sure why I didn’t try Crypt, so I’ll just say I assumed a lack of rhythm as a suburban white boy.

It would take something special to pique my interest in Crypt’s unique gameplay style. Like a special crossover announced at 2019’s Game Development Conference.

Of course I’m talking about Cadence of Hyrule.

I forgot about the game until Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct, where we found out it was $25.

Cadence is a fascinating beast in concept. Nintendo let an Independent studio with a bizarre gameplay hook handle one of their most popular franchises. Hopefully it succeeds and encourages more experimentation!

There’s a good chance it will, because if Zelda is known for anything, it’s solid music. Why not use it in a rhythm-action game?

That’s where Cadence shines brightest: Homaging and using elements from Zelda’s history.

The game’s story is as simple a vehicle as they come. Cadence (the hero from Crypt of the NecroDancer) is transported to Hyrule and must help defeat the wizard Octavio before he puts the world to sleep with musical magic.

That framework is all you need to just run into a world of classic Zelda locations with a new rhythmic twist:

 

 

The map is primarily based on A Link to the Past. Tools like the Cane of Somaria return, as do recognizable sound bites like that of a portal to the Dark World.

 

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The Dark World is arguably a spoiler, but it’s only about an hour at the end of a 15-20 hour game that thrives more on its experience than the plot. It also features the best remix in the game.

Other bits of Zelda canon play into Cadence’s world too. Much of the music is from Ocarina of Time, as are places like Gerudo Town and people like Dark Link.

Dark Link

I know he’s technically from Zelda 2. But this is a very OOT design.

There are also overt references to characters like Tingle, who the player must awaken to clear the Lost Woods:

Tingle
You had to play Saria’s Song and it ruled.

Then there are subtle touches which might not be references, but feel like clear inspirations.

For instance, the Lost Woods is full of poisonous water that felt visually similar to Twilight Princess’ Faron Woods.

Hidden caves are on nearly every map square like in the original Legend of Zelda, and the final area has elements of the Four Swords games.

I’d also say that the art direction feels more reminiscent of Minish Cap than A Link to the Past.

And let’s not forget the bosses. Zelda classics mixed with instruments:

 

 

The victory chime from A Link to the Past plays in that instrument when you beat them. Very good stuff.

Brace Yourself Games were also willing to add new things to the canon:

Bomb Cones
He’s my child and I love him.

With all that said, you’d think Cadence of Hyrule is a perfect 10/10 game for me.

But… Here’s the rub.

I kind of dislike the gameplay?

Don’t get me wrong, Crypt of the NecroDancer has strong bones. The gameplay is functional and works well. I just personally don’t enjoy it very much.

This rhythm game requires movement and attacking to the beat, and the only way you can use your weapon is by running into opponents.

Like the NES game Hydlide.

In the 20 hours it took me to beat the final boss and collect every item, I never quite acclimated to running into enemies and avoiding telegraphed attacks on-beat.

There’s only one screen that really requires an expertise in the mechanics, but I’m not sure I’m excited to go back to the original Crypt having heard it’s much harder.

Now to be fair, I like the use of different weapons with different patterns, from three-square wide broadsword slashes to two-square long spear stabs — especially for unique weapons like Zelda’s rapier.

Speaking of, how amazing is it that this is a Legend of Zelda game where you can play a Smash Bros.-inspired Zelda, who utilizes Din’s Fire and Nayru’s Love, for the entire runtime?

Some items like the bow are also solid, but others like the Rito Feather are incredibly underwhelming. Also, why not use the Zelda-staple Roc’s Cape?

But to be completely honest, those complaints are somewhat negligible.

After all, Cadence of Hyrule is a two-player co-operative game.

Co-op

Being able to fully complete a game with my sister, who is both a musician and a Zelda fan, is an experience I don’t get very often.

And that, alongside the incredible attention to detail, makes Cadence of Hyrule an experience I’ll not soon forget.

Even if I’m still iffy about Crypt of the NecroDancer.

 

Jason wrote a fanfic

Jason wrote a fanfic

I have been playing a LOT of Stardew Valley over the last week.

For those uninitiated members of the audience, Stardew Valley is an independent farming/life simulation game in the same vein of Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing that came out in 2016 to critical and audience acclaim.

Well-deserved acclaim at that. This is a title with some incredible pixel art design, a treasure trove of content and enough charm to reduce your Pikachu’s attack by six stages — all made by one person, ConcernedApe.

That was a Pokémon joke by the way. *marks off checklist*

I bought the game alongside my friend Samantha, who was one of my close friends to recommend it years ago when I had no time to join the fad.

We’ve gone through cycles of playing different co-operative games together in the past. From brief stints with Don’t Starve Together to an innocuous MMORPG called Aura Kingdom, as well as hundreds of hours invested in Terraria just a few summers before she moved away.

This time The Dream Team reunited for the multiplayer update to Stardew that dropped for Switch last December.

Unfortunately she’s been a little more busy with work so far this summer, and we haven’t gotten the chance to play a lot. But I started my own single-player file to learn the basics so I wouldn’t be a complete disgrace.

I fell into the game hard. I’ve been up playing until 3:00 a.m. a few more times in the last week than I’d care to admit.

Originally I intended to write a review of the game for my blog to justify all the hours I’ve poured in. But I’m three years late to the party and everything I could say has already been said.

Plus it would more or less just be hundreds of words gushing about what a mastahpiece it is, and that can’t be very exciting for a three-year-old game.

You can honestly judge for yourself based solely on the trailer:

However, something strange happened with this game.

Even though I resigned myself not to write a review, a totally different craving bore its way out of my subconscious mind after watching my single-player character get married to my Stardew love, Emily.

2019061202594600-C2B49A475DF5A340494292A1BD398579
Ain’t they the cutest?

There was a particular string of events and cutscenes leading up to the marriage that I thought flowed together like an unintentionally beautiful story…

And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My blood ached with the desire to show my adoration for the game by doing what I do best: Writing.

The other day I announce my intention to ruin my credibility by writing a Stardew Valley fanfiction, totally abandoning my original book for an afternoon to use digital ink on flourishing personal video game experiences instead.

I may or may not have managed to pound out 6,000 words.

Sometimes you just have to strike when the iron is hot. Writing is writing.

My blog post fell to the wayside as a result, but I think you’ll find it was a worthwhile sacrifice.

My quick turn-around on the fanfiction meant I was able to get it briefly edited by Mom (who I’m sure is now ashamed of that college degree [NEVAH- mom]) and posted online at fanfiction.net.

Even though the website’s posting rules meant I had to wait an extra day to get this post to you.

I’ve never used the site before, as most of my character-writing impulses have been expended via brief roleplays.

The only time I recall writing a legitimate fanfiction was a very short scene between Alela Grora and Wodahs from The Grey Garden for Sam, who also introduced me to that pseudo-visual novel RPG.

Talk about another title I’ll need to dedicate a whole post to. A particular bad end in that game haunts me to this day.

All of that is to say you get to be the lucky audience who sees my debut piece of fanfiction not counting Wattpad.

It’s pretty heavily focused on recreating scenes from the game to convey a budding romance in a grander fashion. So if you’re into that sort of thing, check it out here!

I’m past the point of shame, so there’s a genuine curiosity to know what you think.

Regardless of your thoughts, I will say the exercise was a nice break from my novel that kept me in an invigorated fiction-writing mood.

Can’t complain about that right?

Quick Time Events suck

Quick Time Events suck

I know it’s a cliché to argue exactly what I’m saying in the title here, but don’t worry. I’m not actually planning on going on a long tirade against QTEs in video games.

This is just another case of ‘I spent all day hanging out with my friends and didn’t take the chance to write anything so I need some space filler.’

Welcome to space filler.

The reason I bring up quick time events in the first place is because most of our time today was spent playing a little known title called Detroit: Become Human. That’s right, the narrative-driven title brought to the world by Quantic Dream and the ever-controversial developer David Cage.

It’s a game that’s interesting… But pretty heavily flawed. In some key places.

We’ve been playing the game over the last few hangouts we’ve had while Jonathan was off in Canada on an extended road trip vacation, and it’s given me the chance to absorb some of what I feel are the big problems with my experience of the game — outside of issues with the studio and some of the ways women are treated that have been played to death in media.

No, my main problems with the experience of playing Detroit: Become Human involve certain gameplay elements. Beyond just the way it awakened a previously unknown pet peeve of being back-seat gamed when messing up a quick time event because I’m not used to Playstation controls and stuff is too sensitive and gettING YELLED AT ABOUT SCREWING THE GAME OVER UP DESPITE THE FACT THAT LATER IT’S REVEALED EVERYTHING WORKED OUT OKAY BECAUSE I’M A GOOD ROBOT JESUS JUAN AND TIANA CHILL OUT.

*Ahem*

Sorry about that. Just lost the last few seconds of my life, but I think I’m okay now.

But yes, besides issues with quick time events, it also annoyed me how much the game relies on using invisible walls and choices that inevitably seem to make no difference in the narrative necessarily.

For example, in one scene a character can lose their memory if the player doesn’t respond to a series of events fast enough. In the branching paths of the story’s narrative there is apparently a pathway that can be ventured down where the character legitimately loses their memories forever and becomes a mindless android servant.

But that isn’t a result of actually losing their memory the first time.

No, if the character loses their memory, that isn’t the end of the scene. Screwing up didn’t just kill the run, it instead let the character walk out and find ways to regain their memories.

I suppose the argument could be made that having these kinds of levels of choices to be made is an example of having a successfully branching narrative.

But there’s a narrative dissonance when the character you’ve been playing loses all sense of themselves… But that doesn’t inherently affect the player’s abilities to control their actions. All it really does is add a few extra steps for the player to advance into the next scene rather than going straight there because nothing about the experience of playing changes.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a fan of the style of games presented by Quantic Dream, but elements like that bugged me. It felt somewhat manipulative, attempting to throw the player in a certain story direction under the guise of giving them multiple different choices.

I won’t go on too much about the issue, since it isn’t necessarily something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. It just seems like an interesting topic to broach and potentially get the internet’s opinion on by throwing it out into the aether here.

Besides we had a lot of fun playing it together even when I was getting yelled at for nothING. It probably isn’t the kind of game I would play on my own, but with friends it’s an interesting concept to experience.

Unlike a different game we spent some time playing, Enter the Gungeon. That’s the kind of rogue-like I’m legitimately considered getting for the Switch.

Though I’m conflicted between getting that game or Hollow Knight, which I’ve talked about before.

Either way I think I’ll probably be getting a new game on my Switch at some point this week since I just got a little extra financial security through my SPJ scholarship, I’m just not sure which one.

I suppose if anyone has some suggestions for that, I’d be open to hearing those too!

Perhaps I’ll even throw out a poll on Twitter, see if that gains any traction. I’ve never done that sort of thing before so it might be fun.

We’ll see.

No matter what I’m going to stop rambling and let you all go, because this is getting a little ridiculous for a dumb space filling post. Hope everyone out there had a good weekend!


P.S. — Featured Image courtesy of Metacritic

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

As it turns out, I must be using the momentum from my Daily Titan post earlier this week to my advantage. Sometimes I astound myself with the way I can just go dark for days on end when I know I’ll enjoy myself after I manage to get out multiple posts in a row.

It’s just a satisfying feeling, man.

But that’s neither here nor there. This is a place to talk about video games. Not any of that real life garbage.

There’s probably some news going back a few weeks that I missed, but honestly I’m going to focus this entertainment beat report on a couple of really big things that have happened just recently in the video game realms that I follow.

So, without further adieu.


Overwatch League player terminated over sexual misconduct allegations

That’s right, we’re starting off with the heavy stuff today folks.

Jonathan Sanchez, a player known as “DreamKazper” from the Boston Uprising team taking part in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League tournament, had his contract terminated on Sunday when allegations went around that the 21-year-old was sexually involved with a 14-year-old fan.

Both the League and his former team have released statements about the scandal that can be seen over in the Game Informer link I put above.

I’ll be honest, I don’t exactly have a lot to say about this subject specifically. I have been following the League a little bit for this class, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Certainly not enough to know whether or not losing this player will leave a huge dent in the team’s abilities for the rest of the tournament.

But the fact that this story came out and received the reaction it did is important. In an era where the “Me too” movement seems to be taking down celebrities and other popular figures left and right (with good cause), it’s nice to see that a niche industry like eSports is not immune.

Though the League as a whole does not seem to be having a fantastic first run in regards to its media pull, which overall is somewhat unfortunate. Game Informer also linked to coverage of another case where a player was suspended and fined for derogatory language, and I remember writing a beat report not too long ago about one female commentator receiving death threats.

As an obvious fan of all things video games, I’d like to see a mainstream popular League like this survive beyond these controversies.

I suppose only time will tell.


“Donkey Kong” high score disqualified

Everyone loves Donkey Kong, right?

Well yes, Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series is certainly what people know the hulking ape for nowadays, and those games are undoubtedly wonderful both as experiences in themselves and as developments in gaming history.

But I’m talking about old school arcade Donkey Kong. The game where proto-Mario jumped around on scaffolding to save future New Donk City mayor Pauline from the clutches of the red tie-wearing monkey’s grandfather.

Is Donkey Kong a money? I swear I took a primate class not too long ago but I’m still nowhere near enough of an expert…

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, OG Donkey Kong had a worldwide high score set by a player named Billy Mitchell. Mitchell’s scores was removed from rankings of the game following the discovery that many of them were achieved using an emulator, according to a report by Kotaku.

Heather Alexandra has a pretty in-depth story on the subject that’s fascinating in its level of detail, so I’m going to just recommend you read it off the link I posted above.

If you’re at all interested in the retro gaming scene, you’ll have a good time.


New “God of War” title received stellar reviews

There’s a little-known franchise making waves in the game review circuit right now.

Oh, who am I kidding, anyone who’s reading this likely knows what “God of War” is, as it’s far from ‘little-known.’ The highly acclaimed series will be breaking into the next generation of consoles soon with a new release on the PS4, and people have been hyped for the game since it was announced some time ago.

Like many other people, I will affectionately refer to the game as “Dad of War” because the main character, Kratos, is an older man with a son in this title.

The game’s reviews have begun to trickle out now that there’s about a week before its release, and at this point everything looks to be highly in favor of the new Dad of War. On Metacritic, a site that accumulates review scores from across the web, the game has positive acclaim across the board.

Hell, at least three sites have given everyone’s favorite god-slaying daddy a 100 percent. Even IGN, which is pretty famous for hilariously bad reviews (look at you, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s 7.8/10 score for ‘too much water’) gave the game a perfect 10 — literally describing the game as a masterpiece.

After initial reviews like that, the question remains: Will Dad of War truly be as impressive as everyone is letting on?

I won’t personally be able to say given the fact that I don’t own a PS4. But my friends might play it.

If they do, I suppose I’ll get my answer there.


There are also probably a few smaller things I could throw into this, but for the most part it would be items of personal interest like the release of Klei Entertainment’s “Don’t Starve” on the Nintendo Switch.

(Shout out to Klei for liking my tweet. I’ve been noticed by Senpai!)

I love the game to death and played hours on end over Steam, so I’m excited to get to dive into it on a more portable system.

That said, it really is more of a personal item, so I’m going to let you all off early on this post.

I hope you all learned something new here today, and if there’s any big news in the world of video games that I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments down below!