Review – Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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Welcome to the last major Switch game of 2017! Just when I thought we were out of the woods, we get yet another gargantuan experience to add to this year’s tally. This time, it’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the latest game from RPG developer Monolith Soft. While I unfortunately never got around to playing Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U, I loved the hell out of the original Xenoblade Chronicles, and I was looking forward to this game.

Like the original, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a JRPG with a twist. It has all of the traditional narrative-driven progression the genre is known for, and throws in aspects more commonly found in MMORPGs and western RPGs. That includes large, open environments and lots of side quests to fulfill for gear and cash. The first game was excellent, thanks to its visually memorable and unique zones, as well as the well fantastic characters and mature, refined story. The sequel really wants to catch that lightning in a bottle a second time, and while it doesn’t quite reach the same level as the first game, it still managed to be well worth the time I put into it.

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Review – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Switch/PSVR)

This review is going to be a little unique. We have two new versions of Skyrim, and being the Elder Scrolls fan that I am, I couldn’t stop myself from nabbing both. (Yeah, call me crazy!) Both ports were compelling to me for different reasons, and they are both great in their own ways. Still, they are the same game, so I decided to combine both reviews into one. I will write briefly about the game as a whole, and then I will dive into each version.

Skyrim should be a game that requires no introduction. Even if you’ve never played it, it’s impossible to miss the lasting impression this game left in the collective psyche of gamers everywhere. It was an enchanting experience, carried by the strength of its dense game world and interesting lore. Today, its DNA lives on in many modern games, but there’s still nothing quite like exploring the cold, desolate and wondrous landscape of Skyrim.

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Review – Doom

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Playing Doom on the Nintendo Switch is kind of a surreal experience. This is the full Doom experience here, and while some concessions have been made in the visuals, it still walks the proverbial demon-slaying walk. It’s easy to see the parallels to 1995, when the original Doom was ported to the SNES, with its own hits to visual quality, frame rate and resolution. And while today it is not the most ideal way to play Doom, it was an impossible port that brought the game to a wider audience.

Of course, things aren’t as dramatic for this port of last year’s Doom reboot. That said, there’s still an undeniable magic in playing a game like this on a portable system. This is a polished modern AAA experience, in the palm of your hands. This is really what the Nintendo Switch was made for, and it’s an important port that shows what this system is capable of.

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Review – Super Mario Odyssey

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Partway through Super Mario Odyssey, in the New Donk City level, there is a moment that pretty elegantly sums up the entire soul of this game. Mario helps Pauline to put together a festival for the citizens of the city. It all culminates with a jubilant scene that serves as one of this game’s highlights. That’s what Oddysey is–it’s a celebration of Mario‘s long 30-year history. The whole thing from front to back radiates joy, tugging endlessly at your nostalgia while simultaneously being like no other Mario game before it.

This is your spoiler warning: This review will speak about the game’s structure. I will be mentioning things such as the amount and size of the levels, what you do in them, and the amount of moons in the game. However, there are tons of surprises in this game that I don’t want to ruin for anyone who hasn’t played it yet, so I will avoid stuff that I think should be a surprise. 

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Flash Reviews – October 2017 (Human Resource Machine, Minecraft, GoNNER)

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I play a lot of video games, especially on the Nintendo Switch. I like dissecting their components and putting them under a magnifying glass for a review. However, I just don’t have the time to fully review every game I play, and as a result, I get behind on posting my opinions on various games that I’ve played this year. So in order to play “catch-up,” I had the idea to write shorter 1 or 2 paragraph reviews for these. I still have other games I have yet to review, so I think I will make these kind of posts any time it makes sense to.

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Review – Sonic Mania

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If there’s a game that I certainly wasn’t expecting to gush over this year, it’s  Sonic Mania. Sure, the original 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games are awesome, but it’s not like Sega hasn’t tried to capitalize on fan nostalgia for these classic games before. Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which came out in two parts in 2010 and 2012, was fun, but it lacked the soul and creativity of the original games. That game was the New Super Mario Bros. of the Sonic series, simply providing retro style stages without thinking out of the box.

Sonic Mania, however, is different. This game feels like a celebration, treating the history of Sonic with a care and reverence that previous games have missed. Mania has it all: obscure references to older games, beautiful sprite artwork, creative set pieces, great music, perfect platforming physics, but most of all, fantastic level design. Mania successfully takes the baton from the Genesis titles, and ends up evolving into what could very well be the best Sonic game ever produced, period.

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Review – Mighty Gunvolt Burst

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Mighty Gunvolt Burst is the sequel to 2014’s Mighty Gunvolt, a short crossover between the good Azure Striker Gunvolt games, and the not-so-good Mighty No. 9. I never played the original Mighty Gunvolt, but I can vouch for this game being a good throwback to the classic Mega Man games. Developed by Inti Games, the developers behind the excellent Mega Man Zero series on the GBA, Burst elegantly packs enough nostalgia for those who crave a new Mega Man game, while carrying enough unique ideas to set it apart.

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