Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Nintendo Switch: The Games We Know So Far [Gaming]

So as we get ever closer to that conference on the 13th of January, it's time for a look at those games we know are coming. Many rumours have been circulating about specifications and such, and how it might fare in competition with the other consoles, but this is just to focus on the games we know are confirmed.

I was surprised and excited to note that Warner announced LEGO City Undercover to no longer be a Wii U exclusive. As well as PC, Xbox One, and PS4, it is also coming to the Nintendo Switch. How it'll hold up I can't exactly say, but I would like to think that transfer to other consoles allows for the load times to be drastically reduced. The map on the Gamepad screen would have to be added to a proper map screen with the usual radar placed on the HUD. I can't really think of other things they could do unless they were to drastically alter some parts of the game.
For instance, most other LEGO games allow local two player co-op. This game didn't. It's not that bad of a thing, as special suits were able to substitute for lack of co-op, but it still wasn't as good as having a group of team members. I get that the Undercover part of the name sort of implies only one person, and the game was developed as a more kid-friendly Grand Theft Auto [which only allow for one player, at least until GTAV came along]. However, at least in the hub world, co-op could be a thing in special missions that allow players to work together to overcome a goal. It's a big stretch, and I don't think they would go that far, but it's just something to add additional content to it.

We've known for quite some time that Dragon Quest X and XI were coming to the Switch. While my experience with the series up until recently was only a small play session on Heroes: Rocket Slime for the DS, it's been a series I've partially followed since that time. Recently I bought Dragon Quest VII on 3DS, and the experience has been good so far, so with the entirely new version, I'm sure I'll be getting a much greater experience. Now, Dragon Quest X more than likely won't make it outside of Japan, so that leaves XI. Now we don't know much about it, except it's also being made for PS4 and the 3DS. The PS4 version is being made in Unreal Engine 4 with HD graphics. Whether the same can be said for the Switch version, only time will tell. The traditional battle system is in place, so the turn-based battles are still a thing. While I haven't got very far with Dragon Quest VII, I have been liking what the story offers, and from what I've read of the series - and know from RPG's in general - a good story is usually key. The advertising for XI will probably start at the Switch event, and it's there we will most likely see what the story offers.

Two of my core franchises already have games announced for the Switch, though we don't know too much about either. The Pokémon game has only been mentioned as coming, not in any specifics. However, Sun and Moon have recently released on 3DS, and a lot of rumours point to a third version coming to the Switch. The fact that walking animations for all Pokémon were found in the game files, the bottom screen hardly having much use this time around, and the fact it seems the start of a generation with a new console around the corner makes for an interesting set of circumstances. This seventh generation of games could of course come and go in a year, but that seems very unlikely. As I mentioned in my previous Switch post, if Game Freak are planning a full 3D adventure in the style of Colosseum and Gale of Darkness, then those two games could be put on a Gamecube Virtual Console. Though of course, a full game like that probably won't be a main series title unless they changed the formula up a bit. Adding proper grass patches and proper routes would be a start, and it seems Sun and Moon are the start with experimenting with that - considering the grid system has gone. Whatever game it is they're cooking up on Switch, I hope it is a main series title. And if it is, it certainly won't be coming at launch.

The other of my core franchises is, of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. Project Sonic 2017 was revealed at the same time as Sonic Mania, and unless there's been a switch in plans and Mania also comes along, Project 2017 will be the first Sonic game on the Switch - probably in the same month as Pokémon Switch. From what we know, Project 2017 is going to be like Unleashed with its story but Generations with its gameplay. We know Classic Sonic is returning from the trailer, which is why I said like Generations from a gameplay standpoint. It also looks to be going for the serious yet light tone that Unleashed presented. I found Generations to be one of the better games in terms of gameplay, though not so much story, so a fuller story - even if not much in terms of complexity - should be good with the gameplay to back it up to make one of the better Sonic games of recent times.
I'm sure many people wouldn't mind some tweaks to the gameplay though. Many have said Sonic feels like a car to control, so loosening up the control of Sonic wouldn't be too bad. Making sure the boost wasn't as easy to gain would make a bit more of a challenge. Not so much on Colours' level, but not so much that every thing you do gains some boost energy. As for Classic Sonic, make his control a bit more like the classic games. Add proper rolling physics and tone the spin dash down a bit so it isn't as powerful as in Generations. And a last thing to add, we have Classic for 2D gameplay. Do not fuse 2D and 3D elements into Modern's levels again. Yes, it works. But as well as 2D gameplay for this game, there's also a full 2D game in Mania releasing the same year. While the gameplay on both should be great, I'd still prefer a full 2D and full 3D game.

A number of smaller games have also been confirmed for the Switch. First off being Stardew Valley. A well known game on other platforms, it's inspired by Harvest Moon. Heavily taking elements from the series, Stardew is also a farming simulator. It is more inspired by the original games in the series while still being its own thing. It's a popular game on Steam, and coming to the Switch will bring it to a portable system for the first time.
Cube Life: Island Survival is a Wii U game released in June 2015, following in the footsteps of other Minecraft clones that appeared on the system when it looked uncertain if Minecraft would make it to the Wii U. Cube Life proved popular, so now is getting ported to the Switch and PS4. It doesn't appear as though anything is changing between consoles, so this is purely for those who don't own the Wii U version.
While I'm not going to cover all the smaller games coming to the Switch, one of note is Constructor. A remake of the original game from way back in 1997, the game is a management simulation game where you build facilities to gain manufacturing materials which you then put towards buildings. The rent tenants pay for occupying these buildings then helps to fund the company, with the aim to put other companies out of business.

Lastly, I want to again mention The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The gameplay has been looking great, and from the small snippet we got to see of the Switch version in action on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, it looked to be running very smooth. As I've said before, this is probably one of the first Legend of Zelda titles I will get on launch, as it looks a very interesting design. Rumours of delays might mean this misses launch.

We are two weeks away from the Switch Presentation, and for those in the UK that means 04:00 of the 13th. As such, most will probably miss the presentation itself but be able to catch up on the news later that day. It will certainly be interesting to see what the console is actually made of, and what games we get at launch. As I said in my last Switch post, I'm hoping for a Star Wars game to be announced, as that will then be all three of my cores catered for. Either way, that's all for now, so bye for now.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review [TV&Film]

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, and as spoiler free as possible. The story presented in Rogue One is as we've known for a long time. The Death Star plans are stolen. But the journey it takes to get there is an interesting one, with plenty of scenes that make you feel for these characters. Most of them get developed very well across the story.

The story itself feels more down to earth - more gritty - than any before. We have here the good guys working their way to get the plans, and the villains trying to prevent that from happening once they realise what the rebels are up to. However, there are underlying elements of trust from both sides. The characters question each other, they try to up their own personal status, and in the case of Krennic... Well, let's just say the film does a good explanation as to why he isn't in charge come A New Hope. Within the story is a very great sense of high stakes being presented for the rebels, and one particular scene at the end is something never seen in Star Wars to date. In fact, make that two things, as I don't recall ever seeing a cruiser pushing another cruiser into yet another cruiser. And yes, that final battle is just all kinds of wow.

The effects and camera work are all really well executed to make the audience feel closer to the action. Especially with some of the camera placements during the space battle. The worlds themselves are unique from one another, and each presents different architecture and other design to make them stand out from one another. When it comes to explosions, there are some really good ones here. And the Death Star blasts - even with it only firing low powered beams - are stunning. The Battle of Scarif also has numerous effects that worked well for the environment, such as blasts from the water and exploding trees.

There are numerous references to other Star Wars media. Some being the obvious, such as Mon Mothma in the base on Yavin IV, others being blink-and-miss, such as the Ghost [from the Rebels animated series] being present in the final battle, and a very unsubtle showing of how the position of Red 5 opened up for Luke. I'm sure this will press into spoiler territory, but the film also sets up nicely how Rogue Squadron came to be.

From the opening to the end I was enjoying watching this film. The use of music is sometimes powerful, sometimes flat, and I'm pretty sure during the final battle I heard hints of the Death Star battle from A New Hope. Without going into much more detail for fear of spoilers, there is a very real feeling of despair throughout most of the film, with hope trying to break through. You end up rooting for the rebels come the Scarif battle, and hope everything goes well for them. And though characters do some questionable things, it adds rather than takes away from the film as a whole. The film itself in a way is set up to allow those things to happen.

So to round off, this is the most mature and realistic Star Wars to date, with great action, great character building, and a wondrous sense of scale throughout. I'd definitely say it is a must-watch film. I've heard it said elsewhere, and I'm in agreement, but this film is better than The Force Awakens. The freshness of it, while still being in a much-loved era, makes it a great watch. The Force Awakens was reversed. A new era, but following familiar ground. Thank the circle theory for that. Both are great films, giving new perspectives on old ground, let's just say. Out of the two though, Rogue One wins out.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Dealing Every Card [Network]

December here at last, and with it brings Rogue One. Just as with The Force Awakens, I'll be watching it near my birthday. Unlike with The Force Awakens, I'll actually be getting a review done near the time I watch it.
Updates to Crossover Corruption and Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles never happened during November as it's that time within a university semester when most of the work gets done. They will definitely be updated this month.

As I said last month, I have a new monthly series planned. This month it starts, and I can announce it now. Looking back through my posts, it has been quite some time since I put focus on some TV and Film posts. Yes, there was The Force Awakens review, and the Rogue One review this month, but unlike early on with this blog there has been no real focus in that area. So, that's where this monthly series comes in. And rather than put the focus into one of my cores, I'm going to focus on a TV series that will give content throughout 2017. That being Power Rangers.
Bit of personal history regarding this series - I was never an active watcher. The only series I caught in their original runs were Dino Thunder and SPD, and that wasn't even all episodes. However, in 2013 when I first subscribed to Amazon Prime, I saw all the series were available to watch. Going back to watch the two was great. A year later I did the same thing again, though this time carried on through the series, ending up with Super Megaforce. I definitely felt a connection to the series. Now, I'm starting from the very beginning, and this time I'll be giving my thoughts on all of them.

Also this month on the blog will be another Nintendo Switch article, this time dealing with all games confirmed for the system. There might also be one or two posts going into detail with some of the ideas I presented in the last Switch post.
With GTA on Youtube, the posted video is not the one I was originally going to post. The one I'm posting is actually two, and both are from the Rockstar Editor. And I waited for December as one of them is from New Year's Day last year - when the map was covered in snow.

There's the chance for one or two other things depending on certain circumstances, and the latest SONM Weekly Super Highlight Reel is awaiting upload to the SONM Network Youtube channel. That's all for now, so bye for now.