Tales of Berseria
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Rating: teen (blood, mild language, mild suggestive themes, partial nudity, use of alcohol, violence)
Tales of Zestiria
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Rating: Teen (Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence)
Review contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
If there's one thing you could always count on from the "Tales of" series of Japanese RPGs, it's a great story. So what happens when you take that away? Tales of Zestiria, sadly. The hero is Sorey, a young man raised by the angelic seraphim who leaves his peaceful mountaintop home to face a demonic plague in the world below. With his pure heart and spiritual abilities Sorey becomes a legendary figure prophesied to bring the world into an age of light. While previous Tales games featured complex storylines with ample twists and turns, Zestiria settles for the most cliched, predictable "chosen one" narrative imaginable. Sorey comes off as the world's biggest goody-two-shoes and the supporting cast is equally bland. Cutscenes drag because no one has anything interesting to say, and even the voice actors sound disinterested. I made an effort to enjoy this, but it's just… so… boring!
Little else has changed from previous games, with real-time combat that uses O for physical attacks and X for magic. You can map various thumbstick and button combinations but enemies tend to be pushovers so button mashing will suffice. The camera remains behind you during battle, making it hard to judge the distance between you and enemies. The back of the box boasts of an open world adventure, but that's a bit of a misnomer. The over-world has indeed been opened up considerably but there's nothing to do but run between cities. I consider myself a fan of the Tales series but it's hard to ignore the shortcomings of Zestiria, especially without a strong storyline to hold the experience together. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2017)
Publisher: Atari (2018)
Tennis World Tour
Publisher: Bigben Interactive (2018)
Publisher: Wales Interactive (2016)
Rating: Teen (violence, blood and gore, language)
Publisher: HB Studios (2014)
The Golf Club 2019
Publisher: 2K Sports (2018)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2016)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, language, violence)
Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (Japan)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei (2016)
I've always gravitated toward "bullet hell" titles (call me a glutton for punishment) and this is a unique take on the genre. Instead of moving up a vertical scrolling field while blowing away swarming ships, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet is a one-on-one fighter with rapid-fire shooting and melee combat. The basic concept is similar to Space War
(Atari 2600, 1977) as you exchange fire with an opponent on a screen-sized battlefield. The menu and setup screens offer a lot fun music and colorful anime graphics. But as you would expect of any game with the word "ballet" in the title, it sucks. An endless tutorial explains at the gauges, indicators, and attack modes in methodical detail. After paging through 500 text bubbles you'll just say to hell with it and quit out. There are so many subtle elements, like reconstituting your charge attack by "grazing" (brushing up close to enemy projectiles). Initiating a spell positions your opponent at the bottom of the screen and lets you pommel him with waves of bullets. Despite its anime style Bullet Ballet isn't much to look at. There are two fighters are tiny and surrounded by a pair of concentric circles. The background graphics are so uninteresting you won't even notice them. The bright-colored projectiles offer plenty of fireworks, but the action is mediocre at best and the constant shooting noise is obnoxious. Most bullet hell shooters reward the player with eye candy and a sense of progression. Bullet Ballet provides neither and doesn't even save your offline scores! It's a real shame because I got the special edition with a soundtrack and art book. I think my friend Scott put it best: "I don't know what's going on here, but it's not fun." © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Publisher: Sony (2016)
Rating: Teen (blood, language, use of alcohol and tobacco, violence)
Publisher: Fangamer (2017)
Rating: Everyone 10+
Review contributed by eneuman96 of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
Summarizing a boldly unconventional RPG like this without revealing any spoilers is quite the challenge. Undertale puts you in the role of a child trying to survive an underground world so you can return to the surface. You'll encounter a wide variety of quirky enemies and allies, often in the form of half-goat and half-fish characters. Discovering a new creature is always a joy due to their creative designs and descriptions. Much of Undertale's appeal emanates from the fact that it subverts or eschews so many RPG conventions. For one thing, killing enemies is unnecessary. The player is allowed to spare them, usually after conversing with them first. Despite occasional moments of trial and error, Undertale is anything but dull whether you choose to be a pacifist or a psychopathic killer. The game goes out of its way to make you feel guilty if you choose the latter. Although battles are turn-based, enemy attacks are dealt with innovative shoot-em-up-style action segments where you dodge obstacles with a heart. The simplistic yet charming graphics (reminiscent of cult classic SNES title Earthbound) belie the insane amount of detail present in every other aspect of the game. With a memorable cast of characters, hilarious yet moving writing, and some of the catchiest video game music of the decade, Undertale will remain with you long after you've completed it. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2015)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language)
Wild Guns: Reloaded
Publisher: Natsume (2016)
Recommended variation: team
Our high score: 39470
1 to 4 players
Wipeout: Omega Collection
Publisher: Sony (2017)
Rating: Everyone 10+
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Publisher: Bethesda (2014)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs)
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
Publisher: DotEmu (2017)
Publisher: Team17 (2017)
Publisher: Zoink (2015)
Rating: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Language, Crude Humor, Use of Drugs)
I've been a fan of side-scrolling brawlers dating back to Double Dragon
(NES, 1988) but modern games can't seem to get the formula right. My initial impression of Zombie Vikings was much like Dragon's Crown
(PS3, 2013) and Pirates Plundarrr
(Wii, 2010). The game offers artistic visuals, offbeat humor, and frantic button-mashing fighting. I'm always rooting for games like this, especially when they support four-player local action. Zombie Vikings opens with a cutscene replete with wacky humor and professional voice acting. But while the actors seem to be having a great time these long-winded cutscenes will eventually have you reaching for the skip button. The hack-and-slash action is pretty standard with an emphasis on combinations that allow you to spin through a group of characters like a whirling dervish. You'll slice and dice trolls, witches, worms, cats, and all sorts of gnarled creatures. But despite the stylish visuals and jazzy music Zombie Vikings left me cold. The muddled stages all look the same and any interesting animations are lost amidst the pulled-back camera and frenetic carnage. There's some technique (like throwing objects) but a mindless hack-n-slash approach works just as well. And who cares if you can deal 200 points of damage at a time when you still need to hit an enemy 20 times? The final nail in the coffin came when my friend Scott and I became hopelessly stuck and unable to advance. I had heard rumors that the game was buggy, but this qualifies as broken!
I suspect I could download some kind of enormous patch, but in this case I don't think it's worth my time. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
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