A Shiny New 3DS and Animal Crossing New Leaf

I’ve only just recovered from E3 in terms of tiredness. I hope you all enjoyed my coverage. One day, I hope to be able to bring you all the latest news directly from the show itself. It’s a personal goal of mine, and I really hope I can reach it soon.

Onto the subject of this blog post though. After reading the reviews of Animal Crossing New Leaf, my indecision about whether or not to get a 3DS really peaked. If there’s something I can’t resist, it’s something cute that involves finding things, building things, and generally playing God. The first Animal Crossing was a true addiction when I got it, and this would no doubt be the same.

So after researching a bit online, I bundled myself onto a train to Manchester (any excuse), and went on a bargain hunting trip. I can’t use the 3D on the 3DS because it makes me feel sick, so I didn’t want to pay full price for that very reason. I could have got a brand new 3DS online for £133, but I wanted one for less than £100. I was hoping that after the Nintendo Direct there would be some sort of price decrease. Maybe I was hoping a little bit too much. Anyway, I ventured into GAME and CEX in search of a second-hand 3DS for under £100. First of all, GAME wanted to charge me £110 for a used console with  few scratches on it, no box, and a third-party charger. No way that was going to happen, so off I went to CEX. I could either pay £110 for a used 3DS with no scratches on, or £90 for a used 3DS with one or two scratches on. It was a no brainer, and the scratch is barely noticeable, and it’s on the back.

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£90 later and I’m the proud owner of a cosmos black 3DS, and £34.99 later also the proud owner of Animal Crossing New Leaf. Words do not describe the torture of the train journey home, as I sat with a 3DS that had no charge in it, and a new game. I was actually tempted to ask the staff in Yo! Sushi if I could charge it while I ate my burger, but I thought that would have been a little bit cheeky.

So I got home, plugged it in, and away I went. I’m already in love with it, and it brought back memories of my time with the original DS Animal Crossing, and all the animals that I came to love and look forward to meeting. I love the new twists in it and the new processes. I love the fact that I get to play Mayor, and it’s a fantastic idea that you can change when the shops open, and when residents are out to suit your play style. I’m a bit of a night owl, and because I work on the weekends I end up getting onto my 3DS at about 8PM, so I’ll be making my entire town into night owls as soon as I get the chance. It’s nice to see old faces as well as the new ones.

The 3DS itself though I am very impressed with. I didn’t know what these play coins were until I researched them, and now I think I’m a bit hooked. It’s a very clever way to get you to take your 3DS with you everywhere you go. I even went as far as taking it to work with me in my pocket. In the walk to and from work I got my maximum 10 play coins for the day easily. I even took it out today with me and clocked up over 7000 steps.

I’m also impressed at the size of the 3DS in comparison to my DS Lite, as they’re pretty much the same. I was told by friends to get the 3DS XL, but I don’t like chunky handhelds, and as much as I’m sure the bigger screen would have been awesome, it would have been more money. I like how compact it is, and it fits in my hand really nicely. I’m definitely happy with my purchase. I just need to save up for some more games on it now like Pokemon X/Y and Tales of the Abyss.

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Unfortunately I am lacking any street passes at the moment due to the small town I live in, but next time I am in Manchester or London, I will definitely be taking it with me to see if I can pick any up. Feel free to leave a comment with your code if you wish.

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Ponderings on DmC

I’ve gone back to playing Dmc over the past couple of days. I kind of lost my motivation for playing any games after finishing Ni No Kuni. JRPGs always really take it out of me, and it’s like I need to have a cooling off period before I can really get back into any games at all.

Anyway, before DmC even came out I was still sitting firmly on the fence with it. It received some good reviews, and a reboot is without doubt exactly what the series needed. However, I get the feeling that it’s swayed a little bit too much away from the original concept. I can be quite fussy when it comes to my games at times.

My main issue with the game is this; I don’t think it knows what it wants to be. It’s very highly stylised, but it’s missing some of the charm of the original. I know it’s a reboot, but it’s still got the same characters, and the same basic story elements to it. It just feels like they wanted to make something so very different that they lost the very essence of what Devil May Cry is all about. The missions feel really short to me, and it all seems a bit random and disjointed. The story is very basic, I think, but it also feels so rushed that you don’t really know what’s going on sometimes.

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Boss battles are decent, but a little inconsistent and sometimes a bit too weird

I don’t find DmC to be as creepy as the original series, and I can’t put my finger on why that is. It appears to be focusing a lot more on the grotesque rather than the eerie. I’ve only faced a handful of bosses, and even those weren’t exactly challenging, they were more an excuse to show off some of the grotesque character models and the highly stylised theme they were going for.

I do have to say in its defence that I think the battle gameplay is far more user-friendly than it ever was in the past. I’m not one to go for combos in Devil May Cry, I much prefer to just bash whatever buttons I feel like, and if it looks cool and gets me a decent battle rank, then even better. The amount of weapons at your disposal help this a lot actually, and the ways enemies respond to these weapons is interesting as well. Certain enemies can only be defeated with ‘angel’ weapons, and the same goes for those who can only be defeated by ‘demon’ weapons. Both styles have their merits in battle, and it really does encourage you to shake things up in order to get the best score.

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Battles are always fun when you can experiment with so many weapon combinations

In all honesty, I do like DmC, I just don’t love it. I reach the end of a mission and find myself thinking ‘Was that it?’ and I find myself not really caring about the characters, as well as feeling as though the story is in such a hurry to progress I never really get to delve into the details of what is going on, and why. Dante is not a likeable character, but I can deal with that. It’s an action game, but even the best action games need a better thread of plot. I can only hope that the ending ties all the loose ends up, and maybe will encourage me to invest in DLC.

Ponderings on Bioshock Infinite

Well, I’m currently sat on one of my many trains to my holiday destination of Devon, and I realise I never posted any ponderings before I left! I’ve got my music on, and I’m crushed on a train full of commuters, so why not ponder now?

As soon as my parents sent me Bioshock Infinite in the post, all the other games in my to play pile got neglected.

Before I go onto my ponderings, I will say this; Infinite is a solid 10/10. No doubt about it, it’s an absolutely fantastic game, and I can’t really fault it enough to give it any lower than a perfect score. There are some things that it falls short on in my opinion. I might get those out of the way first.

I’ve really struggled to view Infinite as an entirely seperate game to the first two games. I’m missing Rapture, or at least elements of it. Rapture had it’s time, and it would have been like flogging a dead horse if yet another sequel was set there. The thing I miss the most though is the eerie feeling of Rapture. Don’t get me wrong, Infinite is creepy, but Columbia is lacking that claustrophobic feel that Rapture had. I think it’s just the horror junkie inside me though.

Moving onto the good though. I love the vigors, and I think they did a really good job of keeping them familiar enough, but also completely different. Sure, it’s all been a bit simplified, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can still chain vigors together for ultimate gory devastation, and you can still obliterate people with a huge host of guns. It’s just a bit easier to manoeuvre around everything. I have to say though, there is a certain vigor that’s my favourite, simply because it makes enemies heads explode. Not only am I a horror junkie, but also a gore junkie. And of course my weapon of choice is the machine gun.

On the side of characters, they’re all fantastic as usual, and none of them feel hollow or undeveloped. Even some of the minor characters feel fully developed. On the same note, I think the pacing of the plot is brilliant. It’s fast enough to make you push forward to find out more, but it also doesn’t force you forward. You’re free to wander around and explore, and that’s one thing I really love to do. I’ve managed to wander and clear my path without realising on several occasions.

The graphics and environment are also stunning. Despite me missing the cold, dark feel of Rapture, Columbia is a beautiful city, even in complete and total destruction. I spent the first few hours playing it and just going ‘oh my god, it’s beautiful’ to myself. It’s nice to play a game that isn’t trying to look real. It looks like a game, and you can really tell the effort that went into it.

Overall, I’m completely in love with it. There are certain things I won’t mention in this, because they could be potential spoilers, but let’s just say I’m expecting a lot more twists, and a lot more, well, ‘craziness’ from certain characters.

I’ll be back from holiday next Wednesday, and I hope to be able to post full ponderings on all the games I’m catching up on.

Have a gaming filled bank holiday weekend, and I’ll catch you next week.

The Sequels I’m Still Waiting For

If you’re a fan of any particular game series, you’ll know that feeling of frustration when you’ve been waiting so long for a sequel, that you’re not entirely sure whether it’s going to happen or not. I’ve got a few that I’m still waiting on, and I’ve nearly lost hope. Whether I’m waiting for them to be released at all, or just waiting for them to come to this country, here’s my list.

Kingdom Hearts 3

I don’t even know how long it’s been since I played a decent Kingdom Hearts game. Even Kingdom Hearts 2 was a bit rubbish, and after all the incredible promo that they did for it. The most annoying thing is, that Square Enix have done so many random spin offs and rehashes of the original that it’s like they’re trying to distract us while they throw away anything to do with Kingdom Hearts 3. Will it happen? I don’t know. I want it to, but I do worry that by the time it does happen, I’ll have lost all interest in the series at all.

If the most recent attempts at the Final Fantasy series are anything to go by, then I’m not sure I even want Kingdom Hearts 3 anymore.

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It would be nice to see the KH gang back together again

Drakengard 3

I’ll be the first to admit that the Drakengard series isn’t the best. It’s hack and slash at it’s finest though. Ever wanted to ride a fire-breathing dragon and kill hundreds of soldiers by spitting fire at them? Well, Drakengard is pretty much that. I suppose more than anything it just appeals to my love of mass slaughter in video games. I love nothing more than beating down huge crowds with a single swing from a ridiculously pathetic looking man called Caim. Who calls their child Caim? That’s just cruel. In fact, I can’t even remember the story of Drakengard (if there even was one). All I remember was a demonic child and some pretty awesome cut scenes for its time.

Apparently Drakengard 3 is coming this year, although I’ll remain sceptical about that one. It would be nice to have a hack and slash game that is even marginally better than Ninety Nine Nights though. Apparently, this sequel will include a female protagonist, that’s certainly an interesting change.

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If this is what Drakengard 3 looks like, then I want it, now

Baten Kaitos Origins

Ah Baten Kaitos. It took me years to finish you, and I still remember the day I did it. I spent all day grinding my characters in the final tower, occasionally attempting the final boss once again, hoping I wouldn’t get annihilated. Inevitably I did get annihilated, lots of times, but after lots of rage and tantrums, I did it. It was one of those games that wasn’t exactly brilliant, and it utilised that weird card system that the Japanese love so much, but there was something about it that made it magical. The characters were wonderful and camp, and as annoying as the battle system could be, when you got it right it was glorious.

Unfortunately Baten Kaitos 2 never made it to this country. I can see why, it was in a rather tiny niche pretty much all on its own, but it would have been nice to have been given the option. I still hope that one day it will make its way into my hands, but it’s been 7 years already, so it’s not looking good.

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Sure it’s niche, but could we not have at least tried it?

Grandia 3

Another game that never made its way to the UK, and I really don’t understand why. Grandia was one of the best JRPGs on the PS1, and Grandia 2 was simply amazing. I still remember Justin and Feena like it was yesterday, and the brilliant real-time battle system was truly a piece of genius. Evidently though, after the second one, someone decided that we Brits just didn’t want it, so we were denied this piece of gaming beauty.

The annoying thing about this one, is that it actually was meant to be getting a release in the UK, but it just never happened. It’s been 7-8 years since Grandia 3 was released in Japan and North America, so the chances of it getting a UK release now are very slim. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a PS3 download in the future.

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Why weren’t we allowed this?

Are there any sequels you’re still waiting for?

Ponderings on The Walking Dead

I’m late to the party again, but I’ll bame university work (again).

I spent my Easter break working my way through the episodes of The Walking Dead on my Xbox. I played the first episode when it was being offered out for free a while ago, and I remember I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It seemed a bit static and a bit too much like hard work if I’m honest.

However, over Easter I noticed that there was an offer on the rest of the episodes. 400 MSP a piece. It would have been rude to not buy them really, and I can’t resist a good story about flesh-eating zombies.

I played them mostly while my boyfriend was trying to sleep off his illness that he blames Yorkshire for giving him. I ploughed through the whole thing in a week, with the occasional input from my boyfriend, suggesting choices (which I mostly ignored to be honest) and trying to swy my moral compass.

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Is she a zombie, or just a really tired teenager?

So anyway, I played through them all rather quickly as they did become slightly addictive. It was the situation of just wanting to do one more scene. I just wanted to progress that little bit further, and before I knew it I was at the end of that chapter. I stayed up until the small hours of the morning, completely gripped by the story and characters until the credits were rolling, and the birds were coming out for their morning chirp.

Overall, I really enjoyed them. Much more than I ever thought I would. It was like someone had taken the gameplay style of Heavy Rain and made it work so much better. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Heavy Rain, but it was a bit laborious at times. The Walking Dead didn’t feel like a chore, because I genuinely cared about the characters and how my actions would affect them.

The graphics initially put me off. I’m on the fence with cell shading graphics. Done well they can be brilliant. Done badly, and you’re just staring at a tacky looking piece of art. After getting into it though, it was clear that The Walking Dead had got it right with cell shading. There was enough of it to give it that cartoon feel, but not too much that it made it feel like a child’s game.

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Deciding who to help can sometimes be a tough call

It was refreshing to see a game tackle morals in such a great way too. The choices weren’t black and white. You had to choose between people. You had to choose who lived and who died. Thinking about how they would help or hinder the group. Even though Lee wasn’t a voiceless or faceless protagonist, I felt as though my choices were really his. I was playing a character, but I made him my own, and it was like I was reflecting myself onto him.

It was also quite nice to have someone who was dependant on you, but not in an annoying way. Yes, I’m talking escort missions. I remember how annoying it was trying to keep Ashley safe in Resident Evil 4, and any other game where you have to escort some helpless being. The most that Clementine would do, is never let you forget that one time you didn’t save her from a flesh-eating zombie because someone had punched you in the face. She was a sweet girl, and I actually wanted to look after her.

My only grumbles are that there are no extra achievement for doing things a different way. This kind of took away from my desire to play it again if I’m honest, because there didn’t appear to be much incentive. On that note also, I found it disappointing on my second play through that even though I made different choices, nothing drastically changed in the story. I was expecting the story to take a dramatic turn in the opposite direction because I had chosen the opposite. It was just lacking somewhat in that area.

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Would you choose the living, or the dead?

The ending was also somewhat disappointing for me, but I think that was before I knew there were going to be new episodes. It wasn’t dramatic enough for me, as heart breaking as it was. That all comes down to personal preference in story telling though.

In the end though, I have to say I’m very excited for the next season of The Walking Dead, and I’m intrigued to see where they go with it. I’ll make a separate blog post on my feelings on episodic gaming later, but for now I can say I’m swaying more towards the positive, as long as other episodic games can follow any similar format.