So, remember earlier this year when I began my Xenoblade Chronicles review talking about how I no longer had the time for lengthy RPGs? Well… apparently I do. Three months and 125 hours later, I’m finally done playing that game’s sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles X. Originally published in Japan by Nintendo on April 29, 2015, Monolith Soft’s Wii U follow-up arrived in the west half a year later, on December 4, 2015. Featuring no narrative continuity with its predecessor, this entry recounted humanity’s survival on an alien planet following the destruction of Earth. In nearly every way, the developer’s improved upon and expanded the systems they introduced in the previous game, making for an incredibly deep, and fulfilling experience. Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles X [Wii U] – Review
It’s been a little more than a year since my last post, wherein I ostensibly reached the end of my “Grand Ambition.” Shortly after, I completed the National PokeDex in OmegaRuby, registering all 721 known Pokemon at that point. Upon hitting that milestone, my interest cooled. I continued popping into Sun to claim each new distribution, but nothing more.
Well, a few weeks ago I started playing OmegaRuby again, finally setting out to obtain some shiny Pokemon. My first target was Charmander.
As a reward for completing the National Dex in OmegaRuby, I received the Shiny Charm, an item which increased the likelihood of encountering shiny Pokemon. The standard rate in this particular generation is 1/4096. That is, each encounter, in the wild or by hatching an egg, has a 1/4096 chance of a shiny Pokemon appearing. Pretty dire odds… The Shiny Charm increases this rate to 3/4096, or roughly 1/1365. There are ways to further increase the odds though, such as breeding Pokemon from different regions – the Masuda Method. In doing so, and if in possession of the Shiny Charm, the odds the breeding Pokemon produce shiny offspring is increased to 8/4096, or 1/512. Regardless, they’re still very rare.
Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track of my progress, but I got my shiny Charmander after 150-200 eggs! I’d say that was maybe ten hours of playtime, spread out over a dozen or so sessions.
Wanting to “properly” train him, even though I don’t intend on playing competitively, I went down the rabbit hole of individual values and effort values… which is an overwhelming topic for another day.
Next target… SHUCKLE!
Acting upon a sense of urgency for no particular reason, this year has seen me completing many of the games that have populated my backlog for ages. Singularity and Syndicate, a pair of narrative-orientated first-person shooters, each with unique gameplay hooks, are two such games. While it misses the mark on alliteration, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare otherwise fits the bill, scratching that itch for what I want in an FPS. Published by Activision on November 4, 2014, it was Sledgehammer Games’ second entry in the series, following their co-development of Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward. Additionally, Raven Software (the studio behind Singularity, coincidentally enough) developed the multiplayer components while High Moon Studios handled the previous generation versions. Continue reading Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare [PlayStation 4] – Review
Having completed Jet Grind Radio for the first time, nearly twenty years after its original release and in spite of my awareness of its cult popularity, I’m nonetheless impressed by how fresh it remains. The team at Smilebit encapsulated a period of pop culture history so well: tonally, stylistically, and with such zest, that the game has eluded a potential fate of mere time capsule and is instead, timeless. It’s not without fault, however. In contrast to the vivacity of its aesthetics, the act of playing was oftentimes tormenting. An inadequate method of camera control compounded grievances I had with skaters’ rigid movement, momentum, and their flippant adverseness to grinding. With adaptation, I was able to compensate for these shortcomings and enjoy the otherwise exciting combination of skating and graffiti tagging gameplay. Continue reading Jet Grind Radio [Dreamcast] – Review
Follow the video game industry closely enough and you’ll hear a common refrain. Something to the effect that it’s a miracle any video game gets made, regardless of quality. Ensuing explanations cite a myriad of ways that development could have, and may well have, gone off the rails. Bearing this in mind, it’s astounding that Axiom Verge is the product of a sole individual: Tom Happ of Las Vegas. Never mind the fact that it’s a nigh-perfect action-adventure experience, paying homage to Metroid and many other classic influences while introducing mechanics that differentiate itself. Originally released March 31, 2015 for the PlayStation 4, it has since been ported to numerous platforms, including the Switch, where I played it last week. Continue reading Axiom Verge [Switch] – Review
The year is 2069. Once common forms of government now occupy historical archives on the dataverse, having been supplanted by mega-corporations decades ago. These mega-corporations, or syndicates, are few and amongst them Eurocorp is dominant, thanks to their invention of the DART chip: a neural implant allowing access to the dataverse. Unique syndicate specific versions are embedded in roughly half the world’s population, creating a societal divide between the haves and the have nots, metaphorically illustrated by the lush skyscrapers users live, work, and shop and the destitute “downzone” areas on the surface. As they’ve vied for control of the populace and protection of their intellectual property, corporate espionage and outright warfare have become standard, necessitating the need for bio-engineered agents enhanced with the latest in chip technology.
Continue reading Syndicate [Xbox 360] – Review
Exactly one year ago, I struck while the iron was hot. Browsing GameStop with a friend, I spotted a pristine copy of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn that I couldn’t pass up. We’d see copies every so often but they’d be missing their manual or in poor shape otherwise not meriting the hefty asking price. Little did I know that this acquisition would solidify the schedule of our weekly get-togethers for the next year and that we’d eventually clock more than eighty hours in order to complete one of the hardest entries in the tactical RPG series. Continue reading Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn [Wii] – Review