Tag Archives: brawler

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Atomic Ninjas

Atomic Ninjas, which is a pretty cool name, one I’m a fan of mostly because I am noodling with a new small comic book about bad ninja-themed jokes, has the most uninspired story. It goes like this: a security guard at a nuclear plant falls asleep on the big red button that one should never, ever push and the planet explodes. However, not all have perished. Thanks to their natural survival instincts, ninjas are mystically altered. And for some reason, they must now fight each other. That’s it. You get nothing more than that to go off of, which is mostly fine considering this is a brawler a la Super Smash Bros. Melee, but c’mon. Try a little harder.

After a quick tutorial with your sensei, an old man who speaks in broken English, your only gameplay options are to have an online match or a local match using friends on the couch or adding in bots to the mix. I tried twice to get an online match going, but it doesn’t seem like Atomic Ninjas has a huge fan base. The game came out in 2013, but it’s one of the newer additions to the PlayStation Plus family of downloads. At one point, someone did join my lobby, and their username had the word Vita in it, but they quickly left after nobody else showed up. Oh well. So it was off to experience this brawler via battling bots.

The main action plays out like this: you and three other players (or AI-controlled bots) are dumped into a somewhat small arena and must destroy each other by flinging them off the limited number of platforms and knocking them into the laser beams on the outskirts. Rinse and repeat, with a few different modes thrown in for good measure, like king of the hill or capture the flag. The premise remains the same, and the focus is always on multiplayer. There are three weapons to use (punch, shuriken, and a force grab to chuck boxes and knock foes back) and three gadgets (grappling hook, wall claw, and rocket-backpack) to help you traverse through the area quicker.

Alas, the action is repetitive and somewhat uninteresting against bots, and the arenas aren’t anything exciting to explore. The ninja costumes you unlock are just that, cosmetic, and don’t really add anything new to the experience. Also. the camera is zoomed in pretty far, which makes figuring out where enemies are a little difficult to discern. Lastly, there’s just not much to do other than what I’ve already described, and the rewards for leveling up are so minimal they might as well not exist at all. Sorry, Atomic Ninjas. Maybe you should have let that massive explosion take you in the end.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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2018 Game Review Haiku, #6 – Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

Classic coin-op port
Branching paths, monsters galore
Named my soldier Pault

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

A King’s Tale is not your typical childish bedtime story

Chances are, I’m never going to play Final Fantasy XV–and that’s fine. I’m still currently plunking away at the original Final Fantasy, trying to earn enough gil for that mythril sword, and a part of me thinks that, after that, maybe I should try tackling Final Fantasy IV again. I have it on my Nintendo DS and played for a bit way back when I got it for myself as a birferday gift, but never stuck with it. Shame on me. This is me shaming myself publicly, so no need to add to the dogpile. Anyways, Final Fantasy XV is fascinating from the outside-looking-in. I mean, it stars what appears to be an upcoming indie hit boy band as they drive around some fantasy land and slash up monsters. In one way, I appreciate that, and in another, I want nothing to do with this timesink.

Thank goodness then for A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, which I finished in under two hours. In, out, done. If only all Final Fantasy titles could be this succinct. Just kidding. I do like long-as-the-day RPGs, quite a bit. It’s just that there are currently way too many of them to eat up at once, and so they all end of sitting, untouched, painfully ignored. I believe this thing was originally a pre-order bonus for those getting in on the Final Fantasy XV action early through their favorite retailer, perhaps GameStop only, but now it has been given out to all as a free download on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Maybe the PC, but I’m too lazy to confirm that. Either way, it’s zero dollars…and not at all an RPG.

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV takes place thirty years before the events of Final Fantasy XV, for those curious and fearful of spoilers. Young Noctis can’t fall asleep and asks his father, King Regis, to tell a fairy tale brimming with fantasy and adventure. Anything but another boring, generic bedtime story. Regis begins with a peaceful day being disrupted when monsters raid the royal capital of Insomnia. Young Regis is joined by Weskham and eventually Cid and Clarus, where they travel to the plains of Duscae only to discover a mysterious cave where their true enemy resides. Sounds like a decent setup for…a retro-style beat-em-up in the veins of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, with some modern mechanics thrown in for good measure.

Yup, you walk from left to right and beat up enemies in your way. These enemies are, of course, taken right from the Final Fantasy mega-verse, so be prepared for lots of Coeurls, Behemoths, Goblins, and so on. Plus that ever-so-cute knucklehead Tonberry. There’s a pretty deep combat system here, with combos, counters, and Regis being able to warp around the screen wicked fast to keep the action moving and avoid dangerous swarms. Certain enemies will block specific attacks, which prevents too much mashing from happening and keeps you on your toes. As you level up your combo meter and refrain from getting hit, you can call in companions to perform special attacks, and if you continue to level it up even more, eventually you can user Armiger, which brings together all your buddies for a powerful, sometimes screen-clearing move. There’s also magic spells–lightning, ice, and fire–though I used them fairly infrequently. Lastly, in some areas, you can summon Astral entities to obliterate your foes, and these obviously look pretty good, but shouldn’t be relied on for surviving the moment-to-moment encounters. For most of the game, paying attention to enemy types and what type of attacks you are using are key, as is rolling around to grab health pick-ups when needed.

The story is ultra thin and throwaway. The bedtime tale for Noctis basically ends with a talking tentacle monster trying to steal some crystals. I’m sure if I knew more about Regis and his buddies I’d have picked up on more details via their conversations, but I rushed through most of it to get to the good part–fighting. After you beat A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, you can access Dream Battle Special Challenges. These are one-off challenges, each with their own requirements and varying levels of difficulty. Some ask you not to take any damage (yeah right) and others are more focused on doing something X number of times. I did a few, looked at the remainder, and decided that it was better for me to quit while I was ahead.

All in all, A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV was a nice, short distraction from my usual mainstays on the Xbox One. I’m still not interested in digging into Final Fantasy XV, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of other Final Fantasy titles in my backlog to get to, and, if anything, I’m now hungry for another 2D beat-em-up. Shank 2, perhaps? Now there’s a game I’ve let sit ignored for far too long.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #49 – A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV

A bedtime story
Where you mash fast and walk left
Tonberry, so cute

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

Charlie Murder is pure punk rock punching and kicking

Charlie_Murder_screenshot_8

Charlie Murder is one of the two free games given out last month on the Xbox 360 for Gold members, and I nearly forgot all about it, ending up downloading it on its last available day, a few hours shy of midnight. Whew. Thankfully, it’s a small game, somewhere under 400 MB, and so it didn’t take very long to go from Microsoft’s server to my hard-drive. Skip ahead a few more days, and I actually got to play a wee bit of it, enough to put some thoughts in my head, which I’m now sharing with y’all.

Let’s see. Charlie Murder from Ska Studios is…well, I don’t really know what’s happening story-wise at the moment. The game begins with our titular character in Hell, but only briefly; see, a paramedic is actually resuscitating Charlie, though I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Seems like the streets are now overrun with denizens of Hell because the end times are upon us. Three cheers for that. Now back on his feet, Charlie and his friends (if you have friends to play with, that is) must fight off this stirred evil. There’s also some story stuff about Charlie’s band, which I’m only just beginning to glimpse, though I imagine it is either going to be of the “rise to fame” or “fall from grace” ilk. We’ll have to wait and see on that for now, and I’m definitely more interested in that than anything else.

Charlie Murder‘s a brawler, a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up, which, to be honest, is not a genre that really excites. Sure, over the years I’ve had some decent fun with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, Streets of Rage, Shank, X-MEN Arcade, and so on. Heck, I’ll even openly admit right here, right now, that I put many hours into the demo of Fighting Force because, in 1997, I just couldn’t stop hitting men with broken bottles. But for the most part, walking left to right and beating up generic goon after goon with fists or a range of weapon types until you can move on wears out its welcome real fast with me. Especially the part where you repeatedly mash the X button. Alas, that gameplay style seems to still exist here in Charlie Murder, but at least the game has personality, as well as some RPG elements to freshen tactics up.

There’s just one problem–I can’t read any of the text in this game save for the colored button prompts for quick time events. It’s tiny and scribbly, and yes, I’m wearing glasses and even sitting pretty close to my television. See, a big part of the game is using your smartphone, checking in on a Twitter-like app to see who is messaging you and how many followers you’ve gained, as well as reviewing your inventory, buying skills, and selecting which special powers to assign to what buttons. Y’know, key elements to make Charlie stronger and more unique, and I’ve ended up going on guesswork alone, hoping that this shirt is better than the other one based on some iffy color cues. Like, I know this is a bad image to begin with, but this is more or less what is like to be me and see the game and its text as I’m playing. Insert a grumpy face emote here.

So, that’s a bummer. Thankfully, the game has style out the wazoo, and you wouldn’t be wrong for immediately thinking of Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics and Invader Zim series. Muted colors save for greens and purples and dark, quirky humor work pretty well here, especially that one part where Charlie had to rough up a man in a hamburger costume at a fast-food joint. You can change how your character looks with clothing and tattoos, which is always a plus in my book, seeing your actual equipped attire reflected on the person, and it seems like there’s plenty to spend on, though money does not come fast or free, which might mean grinding, and now all I’m doing is frowning.

But yeah, this indie brawler is nice to look at and listen to, I just worry that playing by myself, especially unable to read most of the stats on weapons and gear, is not going to be a lot of fun. You can join up with other people online, which I tried once and got immediately booted, so there’s that option, but I don’t suspect I’ll be back to stop this punk-rock apocalypse from happening any time soon unless I magically receive two more Xbox 360 controllers and three new ready-to-go friends. It’s competent, but conventional, and I’m sorry if that hurts to hear, Mr. Murder and friends.