RPG Maker Fes Review (3DS) – “Unlimited RPGs in the palm of your hand”

RPG Maker is a game creation tool that has been around for quite some time on the PC. Its ease-of-use and plethora of options have made it a popular application for RPG enthusiasts, and newcomers, to get their creativity flowing out there for others to experience. The latest release, RPG Maker Fes, is now opening the game creation series to the 3DS crowd. This release marks the very first time it is available to the handheld/console market. So, how did Kadokawa Games do handling the conversion to the 3DS?

Gameplay: 4/5

Game creation tools can be hit-or-miss when striking accessibility with the user. Some game creation tools may be a bit complex or convoluted, while others (like Super Mario Maker for example) are incredibly simple and intuitive to use. Thankfully, the team at Kadokawa Games have crafted the latter with a truly great interface that took very little time to grasp. When creating a game, there are a variety of elements you can choose to create: maps, events, items, etc.

When creating a map, you will choose the size of that specific map, as well as what type of design it is intended for. These vary from an overworld, town, dungeon, or house/castle interior. Each one provides specific assets that pertain to those styles. You can choose if you want to create each area from scratch, or tweak any of the sample layouts provided. Placing objects on the grid-style map is a breeze, whether using the D-Pad/Analog Nub and pressing the A button, or drawing on-screen with the stylus. You can open up a menu and see all the ground textures and objects you can choose to place on the map. You will also choose the song that plays for each map (and can change it at specific spots as well, but more on that later).

Now, placing objects on the map is nice and all, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t tweak its interactions. This is where Event Settings come into play. Here is where some basic knowledge of logic is useful, but don’t worry, as there is no actual coding involved. In terms of basic knowledge, it’s a matter of understanding how to place events to trigger, when they should trigger, and the order of events that should kick off when the event starts. It’s honestly not difficult to grasp at all once you give it some time. However, the game does have plenty of preset events to utilize if you just want to get your creation going in a playable form as quick as possible. With events, you will be able to do numerous actions. These range from transitioning from a house to its interior, reading signs, opening treasure chests (as well as what you place in there), save points, and even dialogue scenes between characters. There’s plenty of options to utilize here without question. Again though, I cannot stress enough just how accessible this all is thanks to its simple interface.

The last component absolutely essential to your creation is the Database. Here you will be able to get all your assets together: characters, party, monsters, groups, encounter chips, skills, weapons, items, your game’s title and info. The level of customization in this area is very impressive. When creating a character, you can type in their name, add a nickname, their profession, a portrait of the character to display, and a description of them. Then you will be able to tweak all their attributes, what equipment they start off with, and their grow speed (i.e. how quickly they level up). Creating monsters is handled similarly, except you will be able to edit every stat they have: HP, MP, Attack, Defense, EXP, Gold, etc. Then you can place enemies on the map as either invisible encounter chips (like Final Fantasy) or create characters that are visible to encounter yourself. Unfortunately though, there is no pixel art editor, so you will not be able to draw/create your own characters from scratch. You will have to use preset characters and toggle their color variation.

Combat is the one area where customization is not as flexible to create. Combat is handled in first-person mode, so never seeing the characters battle is a bit of a bummer. There are plenty of combat animations to choose from that are assigned to each weapon. You can even choose how many times a move can attack in one sequence, whether it can hit one or more enemies, whether you can sell the weapon or not, and what the value of it goes for. This also pertains to other items like armor and accessories that can be equipped. You can also create Special Skills for characters to use, such as magic or deathblows. You can even choose from preset backgrounds to have when combat initiates. The customization aspects are still more than effective for combat sake, but just wish the combat wasn’t restricted to first-person perspective.

Creating a title and game info is a great touch to provide your creation. Here you can choose what audio to play at the main menu, the background image, and a border frame. You can even enter in credits to show everyone involved in your project. Additionally, you can enter in game info so that you can highlight what genre your game is (granted it’s always an RPG, but can vary based on the themes you set), as well as whether you’d like it as a public release, or one that’s locked/unlocked for editing by those who download it.

Testing your game is an essential component to ensuring everything works the way you intend it to. Doing so takes no time to kick off, and it always saves your changes before you start testing. During testing, you can actually hold a button to remove any collision detection so that you can quickly move around your maps. Literally every component works as if it’s the full build of your game, meaning you can even save the game at points and load it from there during testing.

One more element that needs to be mentioned is the free RPG Maker Player application that anyone can download from the eShop. This lets anyone download and play any uploaded projects that creators post through RPG Maker Fes for free. This is one of the best ideas to roll out here, as it lets people share their creations for friends or anyone on the server to download and enjoy, regardless if they don’t own the actual game itself.

Graphics: 4/5

RPG Maker Fes certainly pushes for that 16-bit art style that truly nails that retro feel. The pixel art is very well done, with great environment textures and simple, yet effective animations. The game’s combat is entirely in first-person perspective and feels like a missed opportunity to showcase some very cool looking combat animations for the characters. The game does run without any issues or hiccups at a locked 30 fps. Considering the grid-based movement, this is more than acceptable for this gameplay style. Overall, it’s a great looking game that captures the retro style.

Sound: 4/5

In terms of audio, RPG Maker Fes has plenty of arrangements to pick and choose from. Whether it be tracks tailored to exploring the vast lands, interior homes, dungeons, castles, or even ambience, there’s something here that will fit the needs of your creation. Audio effects are also very effective, whether in combat or placing certain audio cues to play during scenes or triggers. The selection is again, very well done. Much like the visuals and assets, this is all solely based on the “Fantasy” setting that’s the only choice initially. There is more content on the way that will expand on the overall options and combinations possible. Overall, RPG Maker Fes has a great audio package with tunes that you will find yourself having stuck in your head when not playing/creating the game.

Replay Value: 5/5

RPG Maker Fes is loaded with nearly endless possibilities. The amount of time you will stick with this to really get your creations going is staggering. If you’re the creative type, there’s no question you will lose countless hours perfecting your creation. When you’re not creating a game, you can easily access the network and download others’ creations uploaded on the servers. The fact that you have an endless stream (as long as the community sticks around) of RPG titles to play will no doubt keep you engaged. NIS America and Kadokawa Games will also be supporting even more assets and overall content to utilize, leading to even more diverse creations over time. Couple this with the fact that anyone who doesn’t even own this can download RPG Maker Player on the eShop for free and play anyone’s uploaded games, and you’ve got a very robust package.

Overall Score: 17/20 = 8.5 out of 10

RPG Maker Fes is a truly accessible game creation tool that fits the 3DS perfectly. If there’s ever been a perfect fit to have a game creation tool, the portable format is certainly the way to go. The amount of content available at launch here is already very impressive, and we can’t wait to see the content updates in the near future. Having the ability to create your own RPG with a very accessible interface is sublime, and despite some minor quirks, is a must-own for all creative enthusiasts. Even if you’ve never delved into creating your own content, the ease-of-access makes it very addictive to stick with from the get-go. Do not let this title pass you by. Now if we could also see a possible Switch version of this…

Pros:

+ Very accessible tools

+ Extensive content, with more to come

+ Downloadable RPG Maker Player so that anyone can play your games for free

+ Great retro vibe in terms of visuals

+ Incredibly engaging to stick with

Cons:

– First-person combat only

– No pixel art creation system

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for RPG Maker Fes! Copy reviewed on Nintendo 3DS.

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review (3DS) – “The Hunt Returns in a New Dimension”

MH4U Wallpaper

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (MH4U) is the 12th installment into the series, but the 7th that we’ve seen in the states, and only the 3rd that we’ve seen on a Nintendo platform. It’s had raging success overseas, but hasn’t shone much in the past few years. A new marketing plan, some overhauls and new ideas seem to have put it in the spotlight along with the New 3DS XL; but does it live up to the hype? Or does it get trapped in its own pitfall…trap?

Gameplay: 4/5

Monster Hunter is infamous for its grind-heavy gameplay nature…not so much for its story. In fact, this is really the first MH game to attempt a story and somewhat succeed. Past titles have simply thrown you into a town with the “it’s you’re duty to protect this village” cliché. MH4U starts off with some pretty enticing cutscenes to introduce the village you’ll be spending a lot of your time at. We’re introduced to who will be essentially our guide – a rugged adventurer who is pretty much the epitome of a role model in this world. He states (through text mind you, though mumblings are spoken but the only form of communication is through text) that something is happening and they need to get to the bottom of it. With his newest recruit (you), he decided you’d be the best to venture into the wild – untrained – and ascertain information about the impending doom of monsters overruling the village.

The story starts out somewhat slow, which is nice. It gives you a chance to explore a little bit of everything in the mechanics before pulling you in too strong. But as you complete more quests, the story slowly begins to pick up. In traditional fashion, one solution leads to another problem’s discovery, and before you know it, you’re slaying just about anything you can find in a ‘monstrocidal’ rampage fashion. Essentially, there is a wild virus that is going around making all of the monsters crazy. Not terribly long after you get the hang of the game, you’re forced up against the foe making all of this happen. It might have been a little rushed to pit you up against a monster of that caliber so soon, but this really is a game that you can move at your own pace with. You find that even after killing that monster, something still isn’t quite right. Many other monsters are being noticed when they shouldn’t be and it’s your duty to discover why…and that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing for about 90% of the story. Miscellaneous quests will become available with some small dialogue that attempts to make it seem like killing this monster in particular will lead us to the next. Like a bad game of Clue, you just need to push to the end to reveal the secrets behind this children’s “mystery”. Successful completion of the story nets you a bunch of village upgrades and unlocks a ton of content though. So while it is necessary, it feels like they may have forced it a bit too much – much like the childish jokes and comedy rampant throughout the game that simply distract the player rather than add anything to the value of the dialogue. Once the story is completed though, there really isn’t anything left as far as a structured outline. You’ll partake in a plethora of different quests, both offline and online, and it begins to feel like monster hunter all over again.

MH4U Gameplay 2

Grinding has always been a major part of the Monster Hunter series; and it’s no different in MH4U. If you’re against grinding, then you’ll want to stay away – but really, MH has a way of making it feel like it’s not even grinding at all. There are hundreds of quests in 4U that pit you against 70 different large monsters and a handful of smaller ones. The premise is simple: you defeat a monster, use what you earned from it to make better equipment, and repeat the process until you’re satisfied (spoiler: many of the people who play these games are never satisfied). In order to complete this task, you’re given 14 different weapons, an all-time maximum! You can choose to take on monsters alone or with a group of 3 others, and considering the difficulty doesn’t scale to the number of players, having more only makes things easier. [It needs to be mentioned here that this is the only MH game I have ever had difficulty playing online with others – not due to connectivity but due to greed. With so many people “needing” different things, most won’t help unless it’s what they need – an issue I haven’t encountered as being this pervasive before. Nonetheless that doesn’t take away from the score.]

Considering there are 14 completely different weapon classes, and 70 main monsters… there’s a lot of gear to make! So understandably there’s a lot of hours that can be put into the game, making the replay value shoot through the roof. Monsters are programmed to know where you’re at and exactly how they can combo you into fainting if you’re not careful. Three faints in a quest and you fail so you really need to learn the monster’s attacks and how to avoid them. In many respects, this is one of the most skill-based games on the market meaning that no matter how much time you put into it, you can always improve, adding additional challenge and an overwhelming feeling of success after every hunt.

MH4U Gameplay 3

A few new mechanics have been added to hunts as well, further expanding on the knowledge and strategy needed to successfully pull off a quick quest. Mounting is by far the most prevalent of the additions. MH4U takes the fight to the third dimension by allowing verticality within the levels. You can climb and jump off of ledges and cliffs and attack midair. Successful attacks on a monster will cause you to enter a “mini-game” where if you complete it, the monster falls over for a extended period of time, completely open to attacks for the duration. At first, I was skeptical of this mechanism, but over time I came to realize it is well balanced and pivotal in controlling the moral of certain fights. (Also, for those veterans, this solves the issue of upswinging).

They’ve also added a plethora of new skills to the game. Skills are unlockable abilities that come with certain armor pieces. Combine enough of the right pieces and skill points and you’ll unlock the ability. The new skills either contain a very special ability, like consuming an item only to have your stock count remain the same; or a combination of skills bundled into one. Considering skills are one of the most important parts of the game, these can really push the odds in your favor.

One of the more robust changes to the game are expeditions. These are ‘free hunts’ that set you out into a procedural (never the same) forest where you encounter a variety of different items and monsters. While this does add a new dimension to the game, it feels like it does more harm than good. Many of the large monsters included in the 70 are actually hidden behind this expedition wall. In order to unlock them, you must go on an expedition and encounter a different monster. Killing it, or giving evidence of its discovery, will offer a small chance that you will unlock a guild quest. Guild quests can be stored (up to 50) or registered (up to 10). Registered guild quests can be posted in the guild hall like any other quest, with one catch. Every time you complete it, it levels up. You can level it all the way from low rank to high rank and then to G rank. The issue is that this drastically limits the number of monsters available to most people as personally it took a few days of extended play for me to acquire a guild quest for one monster. Once I had that monster, it wasn’t long before I had leveled it up and it was no longer useful to me (needing low rank parts and it had leveled to high rank), meaning that I had to grind expeditions again. There is no indication as to what monsters found in expeditions will give rise to certain guild quests, so you’re pretty much just guessing out there.

MH4U Gameplay 4

Expeditions also yield armors and weapons that have their own upgrade paths outside of the traditional means. Many of these armors contain skills not available outside of expeditions (or in rare quantities), and therefore can be useful in armor sets. With the exception that drops are completely random and often armors are lacking in many other qualities, these could theoretically be used, though they truly seem to be a wasted effort in such a coordinated pre-established system. The weapons on the other hand are a different story. Much like the armor you can discover, you can also find misc. weapons on expeditions. These weapons also have set stats, but unlike their normal counterparts made from the smithy, they’re stats can vary wildly. Essentially this equates to a random number generator (RNG) process where you may end up with an incredible weapon, or something utterly useless. Monster Hunter has always been known for its ability to stick to a straight statistical format, rewarding those who put forth the effort to overcome the odds of accumulating rare items. This new process appears to thwart this system by offering high reward for simply being lucky (much like the talisman system already in place). While it is entirely up to each individual if this is desirable or not, it stands that it is breaking away from the traditional Monster Hunter formula.

All things considered this is a Monster Hunter game, and it definitely plays like one. The addition of the third dimension blends extremely well with the hunting system and there’s more equipment than you could ever imagine. If you’re a fan of collecting gear and working for it, then you’ll be right at home.

MH4U Gameplay 1

Graphics: 3/5

Considering this is my first 3DS review (as well as first 3DS game), I really don’t have a lot to compare to personally. However, I’m no stranger to watching playthroughs or other gameplay videos of 3DS games so I have certain expectations. In all honesty, I was somewhat impressed at the start of the game. The graphics in the cutscenes were vibrant, full bodied and detailed, leaving very little to desire for. However, instantly upon seeing actual gameplay, I began to cringe as it looked nothing like I was anticipating. Environmental textures are flat and near-dimensionless, which really makes you feel as though you’re playing something from the early 2000’s. I was even more upset when it looked as though the armors and weapons didn’t stand out from the environments like they have in past titles (see MHP3 HD). Considering they are the crux of the entire game, I would have thought some more effort would have been put into making the gear you create more visually nourishing. While they are certainly detailed and in their own right, impressive and cool looking, there is nothing about their graphical quality that alleviates the disappointment of a world constructed on pixels. Luckily, monsters seem to be somewhat of an exception here. While they definitely do not stand out as better quality, many of the monsters you fight appear to be much smoother – getting away from the rigidity of the square infestation that is the overwhelming pixel ratio.

God forbid you ever try to play in 3D, the already unimpressive graphics take a drastic plummet, giving both me and my friend headaches within 10 minutes of use.  In such a fast paced game, it truly doesn’t make a lot of sense; as with the 3D turned all the way up frame rate begins to stutter from time to time, really taking you out of the experience. While visually the game leaves a lot to be desired, it should be pointed out that the game is still lively and vivacious, making the poor quality easier to forget when you’re enjoying the warm palette of the volcano, or the bitter scheme of the frozen tundra. In the end, it seems as though the game is limited by its console; it tries exceptionally well to bring a lot of detail, color and crisp visuals, but instead falls short and the graphical conflicts are brought out twice fold.

MH4U Gameplay 5

Sound: 4/5

Monster Hunter has always been known for its ability to encapsulate the feeling of the game perfectly in its soundtrack. Unfortunately, it has managed to miss its mark a little bit in this entry. While many of the quests are paired with great music counterparts (mostly taken from past games and reapplied), the villages and guild halls have been paired with songs that tend to make you feel as though you’re at the carnival, rather than a smoky tavern filled with life-risking bad asses (and your overly occasional 12 year old). Perhaps the developers were trying to go for more of a contrast between on and off a quest, playing on the light-hearted nature of the scenery; but it just doesn’t seem to quite fit. Nonetheless, the monster’s roars, the sound effects of hurling your friend high into the air while simultaneously tripping a monster with your elemental great sword are spot on and immersive. I cannot recommend enough that you use a decent headset while playing this as all of the sound effects in a hunt get brought out marvelously. So while the majority of the sounds in the game are adrenaline-inducing, there are a few times when you’re painfully reminded that you’re not a small child standing in line for a cotton candy at the nearest amusement park. [And as a side note for all of the MH veterans, the main, epic, incredible MH theme song does not appear in the game until the third song in the credits]

MH4U Gameplay 6

Replay Value: 5/5

While the expedition quests don’t make a lot of sense when trying to acquire new armor and weapons, it does add one element to the game: replay value. The random assortment of monsters that can be combined in a guild quest acquired from an expedition feels limitless. This addition, combined with the built-in online, makes for a truly unique experience. Any hunters can post a guild quest and work with others to level it up; this means that beyond the hundreds of other quests in the game, you now have an entirely new, ever-changing repertoire of quests to undergo. Happen to enjoy a particular quest? Then ask that friend to share it. Anyone can send you any guild quest they’ve acquired and you’ll receive it at the base level it was discovered at. Since you can store 50 at one time, you can really build up some fun and exciting hunts!

Beyond expeditions there are well over thousands of weapons and armors to make, meaning you’ll need to do quite a bit of hunting of every monster in the game, but it’s all worth it for that shiny new sword! There are also challenge quests that pit you and a single friend against certain tough monsters – the catch? You have to use the equipment they provide! Completing all of these unlocks something special of course, so it’s definitely worth your time! With challenging gameplay that never fails to put your skills to the test you can sink hundreds of hours into the game.

MH4U Gameplay 7

Samus joins the hunt…

 Overall Score: 16/20 = 8.0 out of 10

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate holds true to the series’ pre-established grind/reward system, offering players an impressive array of equipment if they put in the time. While a number of new additions work very well, there seems to be the beginning of a shift from a statistical system to a random number system, contrary to nearly every past game. The graphics leave a lot to be desired and 3D should never be used, but the sounds are immersive and boastful. If you’re a fan or the series, or enjoy collecting an extreme plethora of different, powerful, and unique equipment, then you should definitely pick it up! Don’t let the score fool you, the core gameplay is sound and enjoyable and yields to an incredibly impressive replay value.

 

Pros:

+Gameplay is fluid and reliably the same as past titles

+Extremely large replay value

+Insane amounts of creative equipment to make

+More weapon classes than ever before

Cons:

-Story is a good attempt, but feels forced and drawn out

-Graphics draw away from the experience and 3D is abused

-Some childish moments clash with the blood spewing gameplay

-Some establishment of RNG takes away from theme of putting in time and effort to get reward


Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was purchased by the reviewer and tested for the New 3DS XL system.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

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Nintendo’s Digital Event E3 2014 Conference Live Blog

nintendo-wii-u

Worried you might not be able to watch Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference live on June 10th at 12:00 pm EST? No worries, we’ve got you covered here on Gamers Xtreme! We’ll be live blogging the whole event and you, as the community, will be able to interact with us throughout the whole conference! The blog is also mobile friendly so for those of you with smartphones, you’ll be able to still catch every minute of the conference through your phone. Enter your e-mail address below to be reminded of when the event is about to go live and get involved with E3!

Nintendo’s Thanksgiving Deals

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Thanksgiving will be arriving this Thursday, November 28th, and it marks a perfect time for Nintendo to start promoting their hardware aggressively. Nintendo of America has stated its official 3DS and Wii U sale offers for the upcoming holiday and Black Friday. For the 3DS, you will have the new Cobalt Blue standard 3DS Luigi’s Mansion bundle, launching on 11/28 for $169.99. In addition, there are also two retailer-specific offers. Walmart will be selling a 2DS for just $99.96 and Target will be selling a 3DS XL for just $149.99 on 11/29. Lastly, the Wii U will see Nintendo Land bundled with a custom Luigi Wii Remote Plus for $59.99 on 12/2.

(Source – NintendoLife)

Nintendo Combining eShop Credits Across Consoles, and Bringing MiiVerse to New Venues

Nintendo Mario

Yesterday, Nintendo gamers received a welcome update that combines eShop credit across the 3DS and Wii U systems, but this came with another great piece of information. The Miiverse will finally be coming to the 3DS and 2DS. Miiverse originally launched with the Wii U last year, and a website version was released shortly after. Smartphone apps are currently in the works as well. A Nintendo spokesman had this to say:

“A December system update will allow users to register their Nintendo Network ID for Wii U on their Nintendo 3DS systems and combine Nintendo eShop account balances…this system update will also mark the beginning of Miiverse support on Nintendo 3DS. With a Nintendo Network ID, users will be able to connect with other players around the world to share their experiences and game tips through Miiverse on Nintendo 3DS.”

(Source – NintendoLife)

Wipeout: Create & Crash Review (Wii U/Wii/3DS/360): “Not a Total Wipeout”

Wipeout Create & Crash Logo

Wipeout has become quite the reality show on ABC over the past few years. Essentially being an Americanized version of the cult-hit “MXC” on Spike TV years ago, Wipeout brings together contestants to tackle absolutely insane obstacle courses with completely unexpected traps to dodge. Naturally, with a mixture like this, it was only a matter of time before the gaming industry tried to formulate this into game form. Wipeout: Create & Crash is the fourth installment in the Wipeout game series, but is it an obstacle course worth tackling or should you just avoid this “big balls” of a game?

Gameplay: 3/5

Wipeout’s gameplay is simple: you’ll run along a set path on the obstacle course, jumping and sliding past the traps that await you. You’ll take part in 12 episodes all based on specific themes, such as pirates, halloween, wintery scenes, prehistoric times and even your traditional classic Wipeout theme. Each episode has you running the gauntlet in four levels, the first and third being always being a specific course, the second being a mini-game (which I’ll explain in a bit) and the fourth being the Wipeout Zone, where you’ll face the most brutal of obstacles in the biggest spectacle possible. Controls are incredibly simple and straightforward that practically anyone will be able to pickup the controller and play. The camera is fixated behind the character’s back, always facing forward. You’ll move forward by pushing up on the analog stick and can take steps backward pushing the stick down. You never adjust the direction you’ll be facing and only push the stick left and right to change spots on a specific obstacle or when zip-lining to avoid obstacles on the sides. You’ll also be able to jump with the A button, duck with the B button and slide with the Y button.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 4

Before tackling an episode, you’ll be asked if you’d like to partake in a Daily Course Bonus Challenge. Once a day, you can participate in a single run through a randomly generated course for a few extra Ballsy Bucks. During episodes, I mentioned that there are four levels. The first level is a Qualifier Round, where you’ll be sprinting your way through a course as fast as possible. The second level is a mini-game where you’ll either have to shift lanes on the tracks to avoid incoming obstacles, or bounce on angled trampolines while avoiding getting nailed by an airborne obstacle. The third level is just like the Qualifier Round, only with less people in the standings. The fourth and final level of an episode is the Wipeout Zone, which is the grand finale. Here, you’ll be tested with the most challenging obstacles and start by being launched into the water and swimming your way to the start point. The course itself is always over-the-top with fireworks, flames and spectacles around. There are two difficulties you can play the game on: Normal and Black & Blue. Normal mode is basically “easy” mode, where if you fail an obstacle at a certain checkpoint 3 times, it’ll automatically advance you to the next checkpoint (but you do add 10 seconds to your timer every time you fall in the water). Black & Blue mode removes the “3 try” rule and makes you keep repeating an obstacle until you successfully pass it, no matter how much time you accrue on the clock. I highly recommend playing on Black & Blue mode off the bat as it gives the game a bit more challenge. Speaking of challenge, while the game is pretty easy, this year’s edition of Wipeout brings a huge improvement over last year’s “Wipeout 3”. The course designs are more demanding and imaginative than ever before, with some pretty crazy obstacles to dodge. When you get knocked into the water, you can press the B button to see an instant replay of your “wipeout”, with a few cinematic camera angles that try to replicate the feel of the show. These are ok, but often times the camera does a poor job of showing the “pain” of your mistake.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 3

Aside from the main episodes you’ll complete, there are a few more modes to explore. Wipeout Max is new this installment, where you’ll play through an endless amount of randomly generated levels that increase in difficulty. This is basically an endurance of how far you can get before a course becomes too challenging for you to beat. It’s a fun little mode that helps keep things interesting. However, the biggest addition to the game that’s the main selling point is the Course Creation system. For the first time in a Wipeout game, you’ll be able to become the mastermind of some truly devious courses. You’ll use your Ballsy Bucks to purchase themes based on the episodes you complete, at which point you can purchase and choose the layout of your choice to customize. Once selected, you will enter the course creator, where you can select between 6-12 adjustable obstacles depending on the layout you chose. Creating a course is incredibly simple to use that anyone can easily jump into and create something in literally minutes. You’ll use the D-Pad to scroll to each adjustable obstacle, at which point you can cycle through the variety of pieces to place, as well as the difficulty of each set of obstacles. There are 3 difficulties to cycle between, each with their own unique obstacles. Depending on how big the obstacle section is determines the type of obstacle you can place, such as a catapult, a straightaway with 8 wrecking balls, a spiral spinning cylinder, a zip-line trail and more. You can also test out each obstacle at their specific locations or just test run the entire course without any load times at all. The bummer with the obstacles of choice is that no matter which theme you choose, you can’t use the theme specific obstacles. So if you choose to make a course with a snow theme or a pirate theme, the obstacles will always be the same default choices.

Wipeout wouldn’t be Wipeout without a multiplayer mode (which is completely omitted on the 3DS version oddly). I mean, it is based on the TV show where contestants are competing against each other. The game’s multiplayer provides two modes: Party Mode and Trap Attack. Trap Attack gives players with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk the chance to run the gauntlet on the TV screen, while the player with the GamePad will see fixed camera angles of the course from the GamePad screen directly. The GamePad player can launch balls at the opposing player, as well as trigger specific traps to mess up the opponent and make them fall off the course. Party Mode is more the traditional multiplayer where players take turns running the course and competing for the #1 spot for the fastest time and of course, the Wipeout winner. It’s nothing great or overly engaging, but can provide for some solid fun with friends and some laughs as well.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 2

Graphics: 3/5

Wipeout: Create & Crash has a basic, fun art style to it, that’s certainly passable and pleasing on the eyes most of the time. However, there are some seriously wonky physics issues. Whenever your character gets knocked backwards, you’ll see them cycle through a variety of animations stuck in place, hovering over the ground. Get hit by a wrecking ball and you’ll see the character clip completely through the ball in slo-mo, then launch to the side. Then there are the balls being shot at you outside the course…except they literally appear out of nowhere in the distance when shot towards you. Another weird design are the water effects. When swimming in water, there’s almost no effect shown that your character is swimming in the water. Even when you fall in the water, the splash is incredibly minimal and is essentially flat textures layered over each other. Some unpolished issues aside, the level designs are pretty solid, with a decent amount of detail given to the obstacles. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but an average one that’s hindered a bit by some wonky animations and visual effects.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 1

Sound: 3/5

Wipeout’s audio consists of an entirely appropriate soundtrack that provides the vibe of the TV show and themes of each episode. Commentary is provided by John Anderson and John Henson, with Jill Wagner providing additional lines. While they are the commentators of the show, they’re just not very entertaining or funny to listen to. John Henson’s lines in particular always fall flat and are just plain bad…almost like he’s trying too hard to be comical. Lame jokes aside, the sound effects are exactly what you’d expect of Wipeout nature, with over-the-top effects kicking in when being nailed by an object. The audio isn’t too bad and is solid overall, just don’t expect anything great here.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 6

Replay Value: 4/5

Wipeout: Create & Crash offers a solid amount of replay value, especially compared to the previous installments. While completing all 12 episodes will only take 2-3 hours to complete, there’s plenty of characters and gear to unlock. Additionally, each of the episodes has you aiming for bronze, silver and gold Ballsy Trophies, as well as additional objectives in each level. However, this year’s installment introduces the new Course Creation mode, which is where players will spend most of their time on. Using the Ballsy Bucks you earn in the game, you’ll unlock numerous obstacles and themes to build your own crazy courses with. Add in the new Wipeout Max mode that has you doing an endless endurance run of randomly generated levels until you fail and there’s some really good replay value. There’s no online mode to find here and sharing level creations is done in a very archaic method of swapping 14-digit generating codes.

Wipeout Create & Crash Gameplay 5

Overall Score: 13/20 = 6.5 out of 10

Wipeout: Create & Crash is without question, much better than last year’s Wipeout 3. It brings more content, more ideas and more creativity to the table. If you enjoy Wipeout games, you’d do quite well to give Wipeout: Create & Crash a look, especially with the Course Creation system that opens up a solid amount of game time. While it’s nothing great or memorable, what’s here is still an entertaining game.

PROS:

+ Fun gameplay

+ Course Creator is simple to use

+ Interesting course designs

+ Good amount of unlockables

CONS:

– Wonky physics

– Sharing created courses is dealt in an archaic method

– Commentary isn’t funny at all

– Some technical bugs

A special thank you to Activision for providing us a review copy for “Wipeout: Create & Crash”! Copy tested on the Wii U.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review (Wii/360/3DS): “Ahh…Shell Shock”

TMNT 2013 Wallpaper

Over time, we’ve seen some stellar media franchises progress over the years. One particular franchise that’s had numerous changes has been the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Between it’s dark toned comic, chipper late 80s/early 90s cartoon, to the comic-based 2003 cartoon and now, Nickelodeon’s rendition that started in 2012, there’s no question we’ve seen the turtles in a variety of ways. However, if there’s one thing that fans of the franchise will remain fond of, it’s the video games that released in the early 90s. Whether it be TMNT: Turtles in Time, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, TMNT: Hyperstone Heist, TMNT III: Manhattan Project or even the 2003 TMNT game for the PS2/GC/Xbox, they’ve always been known for their downright fun, beat-em-up gameplay. Well, with a new media rendition comes a new game based on the latest cartoon. Developed by Magic Pockets and published by Activision, is the turtle’s latest return a radical one or should it stay in the sewers?

Story: 2/5

There’s one thing for sure: TMNT games are never really known for their story. However, if you plan on incorporating one, make sure it’s somewhat coherent. Unfortunately, TMNT’s story here mainly falls flat. The turtles are thrown into mischief as there’s a mutagen bomb that Stockman plans on detonating in NYC that will turn all its inhabitants into vile creatures. Fans of the show will instantly recognize characters such as Fishface, Dogpound, the blob known as “Justin”, Krang bots, Foot Ninja, Karai, and naturally, Shredder. The story is told through very brief cutscenes with minimal dialogue just to remind you there’s something to connect the player to the scenario. However, as opposed to the story being somewhat engaging, it’s very shoddily pieced together. It doesn’t help that the presentation of the story is downright poor and incredibly rushed. Even though it’s nice to see familiar faces return, the story is minimal and very subpar.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 1

Gameplay: 2/5

“Well, that was incredibly mediocre.“ Leonardo states this numerous times throughout the game, and it pretty much sums up the gameplay of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game is designed as an old-school style brawler where you can choose between all four turtles on the fly, which is nice since you don’t have to wait to lose a life before choosing another character as had been done in previous TMNT games. This option gives you the chance to try out any of the characters during any point in the game. Yet while each turtle has their different variation of moves, they are very limited and the game becomes more of a continuous button masher. Each turtle has a basic attack move, a special attack, and a throw feature (along with jumping). The problem is that the moves and gameplay are incredibly repetitive. Each level is a series of areas where you need to defeat a horde of foot ninjas and Krang bots. Once destroyed, you continue on your path until you do it all over again. This continues until you complete the level.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 5

There are 5 levels in TMNT and each level contains 3-4 sub-levels. Yet with the exception of the last sub-level on each level, you are basically attacking enemies until you complete the level. There are some minor collectibles that you can locate in order to gain more points, and pickup items such as throwing stars and smoke bombs, but they are pretty much useless in the game as you can just slash your way through everything. At certain moments, you can access your camera device to locate hidden doors. If you locate them, you can find additional mutagen canisters needed to unlock a mini-game (which is essentially the classic arcade game “Defender”, TMNT style) in the Extras area. The last sub-level is a boss battle that pits you against some of the main enemies from the TV show, such as Dogpound, Baxter Stockman and the Shredder. These boss battles deliver a change of pace and strategy, which was refreshing, but not enough to help ease the boredom that the game delivers. The game is also extremely short, taking only about 2-3 hours to complete, and in a way, I’m glad it was short because of how tedious it is. While you can co-op your way through the game on the Wii and 360, the 3DS is mysteriously missing this option, which is strange. I did enjoy the ability to upgrade each turtle by collecting orbs from defeated enemies and then using them to update your characters strength and move set, but most of the upgrades aren’t even needed to complete the story mode.

Once you do finish the game, other options become available to you, such as Time Attack and Survival Mode, but they are more of the same and offer nothing new to the experience. You can tell that the game is geared towards a younger audience based on the easy difficulty, and that Nickelodeon wanted to quickly put out a product that aligned with the popular show.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 3

Graphics: 2/5

Let me start off by saying, the versions I am reviewing are the Wii and 3DS version, not the Xbox 360 (which is already an odd assortment of consoles they chose to develop for…omitting the PS3, Vita and Wii U). However, even for a Wii game 7 years into the console’s lifecycle, the visuals here are less than average. Washed out textures, incredibly blocky character models, stiff animations and lifeless, mundane environments round TMNT to be one of the most inexcusable visual games for 2013. The TMNT game that released in 2003 for the PS2/GC/Xbox looked next-gen compared to this…and that was 10 years ago! When I look at a 10 year old game and am immediately blown away by the comparison, it’s just plain sad. On the 3DS, it’s a bit more excusable and less ugly due to the condensed resolution. The only benefit visually is that the game runs quite smooth, with only a few rare instances of slowdown.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 2

Sound: 2/5

Turtles games have relied heavily on energetic soundtracks to really engage the player during the beat-em-up fun, with the pinnacle soundtracks being Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist. What we have here is something that matches the tone of the show a bit, which is fine. Although there’s nothing memorable to leave the game humming too, it’s still serviceable background music that neither adds or detracts from the experience. The voice actors from the TV show reprise their roles, but they all fail to deliver any excitement to the game. Some of the line deliveries just don’t match the tone of certain scenarios and just feel stiff. For example, there’s a boss battle where April will keep shouting “keep it up guys, you’ve almost got him!” but I didn’t even hit the boss once yet. The boss battle lasts for about 5 minutes and she repeats it every 20 seconds…so do the math and it’s pretty nonsensical. Worse yet, occasionally some voices will be blown out while others will be much lower. Sound effects are pretty poor overall as well, feeling like stock sound effects for an amateur game development program.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 4

Overall Score: 8/20 = 4.0 out of 10

When I heard there was a new TMNT game coming out, it was easy for me to get excited. Being a die-hard turtles fan, I’m always eager to play a new game in the series. However, what I was left with was an immensely rushed and pale imitation of the SNES/Genesis beat-em-ups from years past. What the game lacks is soul. It feels lifeless, generic and doesn’t have anything that the older TMNT games didn’t do better…in 1992 or even 2003. While I had the slightest mild enjoyment playing this game for the fact that it was a TMNT game, the game itself is just incredibly dull and unimaginative. The only thing going through my head as I played it was, “Ahh…Shell Shock”.

PROs:

+ Has the show’s intro

+ Turtles can be upgraded

+ 4-player co-op on Wii/360

CONs:

– Ugly visuals

– Awful audio mixing

– Subpar, rushed storytelling

– Unimaginative, bland levels

– Very spotty hit detection

– Too easy

– 3DS version omitted co-op completely

A special thank you to Activision for providing us a review copy for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”! Copy tested on the Wii and 3DS.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.

3DS “IronFall” Promising 60 FPS and “Gears Of War” Style Gameplay

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VD-Dev is keeping their latest project for the Nintendo 3DS under a tight veil, but it is already causing quite a stir. The studio is currently developing a title called IronFall, which has garnered much interest since E3. Today co-founder of the studio Fernando Velez dropped a few tantalizing details regarding the technical nature of this new title. The title itself is described as a “Gears of War” style gameplay that will make full use of the 3DS console’s dual-screen layout.  Interestingly enough, stylus control is VD-Dev’s “preferred” interface, however Velez stated that his team will listen to fan feedback and incorporate as many control options as possible. Velez also stated that his team is striving for 60 frames per second with the 3D effect enabled! This accomplishment alone would be an impressive feat. Velez went on to state

“60 frames per seconds is our goal. Shooters offer better playing experience with this frame rate. With the engine we can reach 60 frames per second with and without stereoscopic view. But if frame rate drops we don’t want to sacrifice the amount of AI, and graphics we have on screens, just because of the stereoscopic view (sometime we have to draw 3 screens, 1 for the left eye, 1 for the right eye, and 1 for the bottom screen where action will also take place sometimes. So maybe we will add a feature that allows in REAL TIME, the player to switch from 60 FPS with the 3D slider pushed down, or 30 FPS with 3D slider pushed up (no need to go to some menu).” When asked about the in game engine, he responded “The engine used in Iron Fall is called the ‘Big Bang Engine’. Its an engine we have programmed from scratch and is optimized for the Nintendo 3DS. It took us several months to write (days and nights), and is written fully in assembly code, using all the ARM optimizations we know. We also have written our own graphics driver for communication with the 3DS GPU to get the best of the handled graphics processor. The engine has many features, more on this will be shown on a video available on the 28 October.

Velez spoke briefly about VD-Dev’s future plans, including developing for the Wii U and a possible 3DS sequel:

“We have to finish IronFall on the 3DS, that takes us all our time, the Wii U seems to be wonderful maybe be we’ll work on it one day. If IronFall is successful we want to listen what players like or don’t like about the game, and if they want more we could realize their wish.”

[Source – Nintendo Everything]

Is Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Coming To The Wii U?

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Well it seems Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which released earlier this year as a Nintendo 3DS exclusive, might be making a console debut according to online retailer Newegg. The site has listed Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon as a Wii U game slated for a December 31st release. Nintendo has yet to make an official announcement, however most rumors are pointing to this as a high probability.

This would be a smart move for Nintendo, especially after the recent delay of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was released in March of this past year, and is still holding strong at the No.2 spot on the 3DS charts. Hopefully, we will be seeing an official announcement soon from Nintendo. In the meantime, stay tuned.

[via NintendoLife]

Nintendo 2DS Reveal Trailer, Wii U Bundle Price Drop and Official Game Release Dates

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Today, Nintendo has made out a big press release that has shocked many people. First off, the Wii U Deluxe Set will drop to the $299.99 price point as of September 20th. However, with the price drop is the Zelda Wind Waker HD digital copy included, as well as an exclusive GamePad design.

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Second, the 3DS has been a huge success and Nintendo is looking to provide an entry point into the portable console. It was just announced that a Nintendo 2DS is on its way on October 12th. Below is a video showing it off:

Here’s a full press release:

Nintendo 2DS, an entry-level dedicated portable gaming system that plays all Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS games in 2D, launches on Oct. 12, the same day as Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. (Photo: Business Wire)

A $50 price drop for the Wii U Deluxe Set to a new suggested retail price of just $299.99, effective on Sept. 20.
A limited-edition Wii U bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD launching on Sept. 20.
The introduction of Nintendo 2DS, an entry-level dedicated portable gaming system that plays all Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS games in 2D. Nintendo 2DS launches Oct. 12, the same day as Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, at a suggested retail price of $129.99.
Dates for an outstanding lineup of Q4 video games for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
The announcements demonstrate Nintendo’s aggressive approach to providing new games and experiences available only on Nintendo platforms for all types of people this holiday season. Nintendo announced these items at the GameStop Managers Show in Las Vegas.

“Nintendo has one of the strongest and most diverse video game lineups in our history,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president and COO. “Today we’re making those unique Nintendo experiences more accessible and affordable. However you play and whatever you play, Nintendo has you covered.”

Nintendo 2DS

The newest member of the Nintendo 3DS family is designed specifically for anyone looking for a more affordable entry point into the world of Nintendo hand-held video games. Nintendo 2DS will be available in Red or Blue on Oct. 12 at a suggested retail price of $129.99.

Nintendo 2DS plays the entire library of packaged and downloadable games for Nintendo 3DS only in 2D. The system features a distinctive fixed, slate-type form factor, and optional carrying cases will be available in Red or Blue at launch at a suggested retail price of $12.99. Nintendo 2DS maintains many of the same hardware features as Nintendo 3DS: dual screens, game-play controls and touch-screen features. The system also has backward compatibility with the existing library of more than 2,000 Nintendo DS games, as well as access to wireless connectivity features like multiplayer online game play, fun Nintendo Video content and great digitally delivered games in the Nintendo eShop. To view a video of Nintendo 2DS, visit http://youtu.be/sAExBTWIp3M.

People eager to test drive the new system will have the chance beginning in October, when Nintendo 2DS joins a sampling tour in conjunction with Simon Malls that visits several different markets before it wraps up on Nov. 3. For more information about the tour, visit http://www.nintendo.com.

New Suggested Retail Price – Wii U Deluxe Set

Starting Sept. 20, the Deluxe version of Nintendo’s Wii U system will be reduced in price by $50, to a new suggested retail price of just $299.99. The new price makes Wii U an even greater value, particularly with the strong lineup of Wii U games available and on the way for the system in 2013. These include Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, EarthBound, New Super Luigi U, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Bundle

A new limited-edition Wii U bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD launches on Sept. 20 at a suggested retail price of $299.99. The bundle includes a black Deluxe Wii U console; a GamePad controller adorned with gold lettering, a gold Hyrule crest and gold symbols from the game; a download code for the digital version of Hyrule Historia, a book that details the chronology, history and artwork of The Legend of Zelda series; and a code that can be used to download The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD from the Nintendo eShop immediately at no additional cost.

The digital version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will also launch on Sept. 20, while the packaged version launches Oct. 4 with distinctive gold-foil packaging, both at a suggested retail price of $49.99. GameStop is also offering an exclusive Ganondorf figurine bundled with the packaged game at a suggested retail price of $54.99.

Q4 Games

The robust lineup of games on the way for Nintendo systems in Q4 includes:

Wii U

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD: Launches Sept. 20 (downloadable) and Oct. 4 (packaged) at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Wii Party U: Launches Oct. 25 bundled with a Wii Remote Plus controller and stand at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Super Mario 3D World: Launches Nov. 22 at a suggested retail price of $59.99.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Launches Dec. 6 at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Wii Fit U: Launches this holiday season. Further details, including launch date, pricing and bundling information, will be revealed at a later date.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games™: Launches this holiday season. Further details, including launch date and pricing, will be revealed at a later date.
Third-party titles: Previously announced titles on the way from Nintendo’s publishing partners include: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Sept. 24) and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Fall) from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; Skylanders SWAP Force (Oct. 13) and Call of Duty: Ghosts (Nov. 5) from Activision Publishing; Sonic Lost World (Oct. 22) from SEGA; and Rayman Legends (Sept. 3), Just Dance 2014 (Oct. 8), Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (Oct. 29) and Watch_Dogs (Nov. 19) from Ubisoft.

Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Launches Nov. 22 at a suggested retail price of $39.99.
Mario Party: Island Tour: Launches Nov. 22 at a suggested retail price of $39.99.
Third-party titles: Previously announced titles on the way from Nintendo’s publishing partners include: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Sept. 24); LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril (Fall) and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Oct. 25) from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; Skylanders SWAP Force (Oct. 13) from Activision Publishing; Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! (Nov. 19) from D3Publisher; and Sonic Lost World (Oct. 22) from SEGA.

[Source: Nintendo PR E-mail]