Sims 4 Seasons Expansion Review

Double Jump Kris MiiHello, everyone!

The Sims franchise is a favorite of mine ever since a coworker back from college let me borrow her collection of Sims 2 expansion packs. Sims 2 turned into Sims 3, which I still have installed, before Sims 4 came around. Sims 4 is how I find myself wasting and enjoying time nowadays, especially with the newest expansion pack, Seasons.

maxresdefault

The Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack came out a couple of weeks ago on June 22. Being a Sims expansion pack, I bought it for myself just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo, a monthly writing challenge, and I’ve been playing it as a reward for whenever I reach my word count goal for the day.

The Pets expansion packs always tend to be my favorites, because who doesn’t love virtual dogs and cats? Aside from that, though, Seasons is right up there as it gives so much more variety to the world that you’re playing in. The temperature changes, holidays, the new clothes and accessories for the sims, Seasons was always a coveted expansion pack for the Sims.

The Sims 4 Seasons comes with all of those. The temperature changes bring about new deaths and interactions for the sims, depending on how hot or cold the weather is. A thermostat is a new item for homes and businesses, allowing sims to make the temperature inside the house comfortable… supposedly. I still had my sims automatically dress up in their outdoor winter gear around the house in the colder weather despite the thermostat being set to warm (not to mention a fireplace or two in the house).

Holidays were interesting, especially since you can create your own. A calendar button is included in the interface, allowing the player to see the coming seasons and holidays in the next couple of weeks. Each holiday has “traditions” that you can assign it, actions that your sims can take in order to really celebrate the holiday. For example, Lovefest is the Valentine’s Day equivalent, and traditions can include gifting flowers to someone or going on a date, while Harvestfest’s main tradition is eating a Grand Meal. A sim’s personality traits also effect how they feel about the individual traditions. A romantic sim loves the idea of going on a date during Lovefest, while a loner sim ignores the same tradition. It’s pretty interesting to play around with, creating your own holidays as well as being able to plan events like birthday parties in advance.

The biggest addition to Sims 4 Seasons is the Gardening career. The gardening skill got an overhaul, making plants seasonal, while also adding the Flower Arrangement skill. With the Gardening career, you can either become a botanist or florist. Botanist focuses more on research and the gardening skill, while florist utilizes the flower arrangement skill as well. Gardening is the type of career that allows you to work from home if you wish like the careers from City Living, or you can create your own retail store for your floral arrangements if you have Get to Work.

One of the disappointing aspects of the expansion pack, in my opinion, is that there was no beach world or beach area to allow the sims to swim in the ocean or just hang out, really. Imagine being able to have a 4th of July-based holiday on the beach or just a beach party to go with Seasons. In Sims 3, with its open world, being able to swim in the ocean was a major development, and I feel that Sims 4 is missing out on this.

Still, there are plenty of extra activities, such as rollerskating, ice skating, beekeeping, having snowball and water balloon fights, along with the new holidays and Gardening career to keep you entertained should you choose to purchase the expansion pack. If you’re a big fan of the Sims and have the cash to spare, Seasons is a pretty good expansion to add to your game.

Do you play the Sims 4? Have you gotten the Seasons expansion pack? What do you think of it?

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Advertisements

Undertale [Game Review]

header

Title: Undertale
Developer and Publisher: Toby Fox
Platform:
PC, Playstation 4, future release for Nintendo Switch
Category:
Role-playing
Release Date:
Sept 2015 (PC), August 2017 (PS4), 2018 (Switch)
How I got the game:
I bought it on Steam.

krismii
When this game first came out a couple of years ago, I really wasn’t sure what to think of it. It’s popularity surged, but it wasn’t until we saw a Let’s Play of the game last year that I was actually interested in playing it. I finally got the game on Steam a little while ago and then, lo and behold, the game got announced for the Nintendo Switch this year!

gameplay

Undertale is a role-playing game where you play as a child who has fallen Underground, a dark place filled with Monsters. It’s in a top-down perspective, and you move about the overworld, navigating the land while interacting with other characters and, usually, solving puzzles. Depending on how one solves the objectives of the game determines the kind of ending one will receive.

When encounter enemies, the battle mode will trigger. The battle mode involves controlling your character’s soul, which is represented by a red heart. In each battle, as the heart, you must avoid attacks from the enemy that attack you similar in a bullet hell shooter. Various elements to the battles are introduced further in the game, such as different obstacles to dodge and conditions for controlling the heart.

Players have different options in battle. You can either choose to attack, act (such as talking to, mimicking, or even flirting with an opponent), use an item, or mercy, which allows players to either flee from the battle or spare the opponent if the time is right to do so. Depending on the players actions will sway the battle and, ultimately, the ending of the game. It is possible to beat the game without harming any enemies.

Undertale also employs metafictional elements. When a player replays the game, dialogue and certain sections of the game will be altered depending on the previous play through. How the player interacts with the game’s characters — by slaying, sparing, or befriending them — determines how the end of the play through will go. A player can achieve a True Pacifist run, Neutral runs, or a Genocide run, and subsequent play throughs will be effected by the ending of the previous play through.

graphics-music

Undertale’s graphics are pixel-y and charming, reminding me of older video games from the NES and SNES days. Despite that, every character — whether they were major, minor, or just background — was distinct in its looks, dialogue, and even sound. When characters spoke, their words typed out to distinct sounds, giving the characters voices without voice actors.

The game, being set in a place called the Underground, was filled with dim colors, dark blues, grays, and some red-hot areas. Some spots were a little spooky, or tried to be, but the music was always coupled well with the areas, such as a relaxing waterfall setting or the snowy town at night. I was very impressed with the quality of music and sound effects, especially since the composer was also the developer and publisher.

storyUndertale’s story opens up with a child falling into Mount Ebott, which brings them to the massive Underground that is populated with Monsters. The first character that the player encounters is Flowey, a sentient flower that explains the basic mechanics of the games before attempting to kill the player. The player is then saved by Toriel, a kind, goat-like, maternal monster who teaches the player how to navigate through puzzles and how to end battles without killing.

Once the player leaves Toriel’s home, you explore the vast Underground while meeting many other new characters, such as Sans and Papyrus the skeleton brothers, Undyne the Head of the Royal Guard, and Alphys the royal scientist. The player’s main objective is to get home. Along the way, you learn about how the Monsters came to be Underground.

Long ago, there was a war between humans and Monsters. Humans, with their stronger souls, pushed the Monsters Underground, sealing them with a barrier. Despite their magic, Monsters are not strong enough to break the barrier. However, if the Monsters collect enough human souls, they will grow powerful enough to break the barrier. As the child, you learn that that is what Asgore, the King of the Monsters, intends to do.

And you are the last needed human soul.

As you explore the Underground and meet other characters, your interactions with them will determine the outcome of the adventure. Many Monsters will want your soul for their king, and it is up to the player to either befriend or kill them. When it comes to escaping the Underground, it is up to you on whether or not you want to help the Monsters… or just yourself.

replay-value

With the charming graphics, awesome music, and quirky characters, Undertale is a game that I would boot up multiple times just to visit the characters over and over. Along with the fact that there are different endings with metafictional elements, Undertale has some great replay value.

…Although, because I enjoy the characters so much, I’m not sure if I really want to do a Genocide route! I prefer the happier endings, haha!

Undertale gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Super Mario Kart [Game Review]

Super Mario Kart | Game Review | Nintendo | SNES Classic Edition | DoublexJump.com

Title: Super Mario Kart
Developer: Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform:
Nintendo SNES (SNES Classic Mini Edition)
Category:
Racing
Release Date:
1992 (2017 for the SNES Classic) 
How we got the game:
We bought the SNES Classic

krismii
I felt so old booting up this game. Super Mario Kart was one of my first introductions to the gaming world when I was first able to pick up a controller. It was amazing to play this game again and be able to actively compare it to the latest installment of the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which was the most prominent game we played this past summer.

rachmii
This game was familiar to me when we turned it on. The music especially caught my attention, though I’ll admit I barely remember playing it. I wasn’t even born when the game was originally released. In fact, I think the only reason I recognized any of the levels was because Nintendo remakes them from newer Mario Kart games.

gameplay

krismii
Super Mario Kart is a simple racing game. You use the D-pad to steer and the buttons to either accelerate, brake, or throw items at opponents in an attempt to sabotage them. Super Mario Kart was also the installment that enabled you to “hop” rather than drift around corners.

rachmii
You make it sound so easy. While I didn’t find myself steering the controller itself, I wished I was able to. The controls are simple enough, but I couldn’t drive straight to save my life. I gave up on hopping quickly after I jumped right off the stage a couple of times. Most of the levels have a lot of twists and turns to them as well making it hard to remain on the pathway.

 krismii
This game was definitely harder than I remember it being, but then I began to wonder if it’s because the newer Mario Kart games became easier. Super Mario Kart has limited control options while the newer installments are customizable to fit a player’s preference. Not only that, but it seemed as if the computer opponents were more difficult. There were multiple times where an NPC Yoshi would be chucking eggs at us on the course when eggs weren’t an available item to us from the item blocks. Yoshi seemed to have an endless supply of them, as well (which, for the character, makes a little sense, but it seemed like cheating for a race!).

Rachel Mii Double Jump
The NPC characters were brutal, I agree. Though I can’t complain because it made for a nice challenge. What shocked me was that you have lives in the game. If you get below fourth place, you lose a life. After you lose three, you’re out of the game. There were quite a few times Kris had to finish the cup for us because I kept getting a game over. It made for some good laughs if anything else.

graphics-music

krismii
The graphics and music are such throwbacks to the past! Compared to games nowadays, the graphics aren’t up to par, but I think the game aged rather well. The graphics are enough to paint the scene and let you follow the road well enough to keep going with the race.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
The game is very bright and colorful. The sprites are hilarious to look at. The characters look as though they were stuffed into karts that are ten-times too small for them. Still, it works.

krismii
The music was very nostalgic as well, but there obviously wasn’t a different tune for every race nor a variety of instruments, if you will, due to the computer-generated tunes. Still, the music did it’s job as always, making you raring to go as a race started up.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
That music will stay with me forever. No, there wasn’t much of a variety, but it was still catchy. It’s the kind of music that I could hear randomly and say, “That’s from Mario Kart.”

replay-value

krismii
Like the rest of the series, Super Mario Kart has several cups for the grand prix races as well as a handful of different characters for players to try out. It’s a good challenge to best your high scores and win the gold trophy in every match of races, giving the game decent replay value.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I have to play this game again. I need some serious practice.

Super Mario Kart gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Sonic Forces [Game Review]

sonicforcesartwork

Title: Sonic Forces
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Platform:
Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Category:
Platformer
Release Date:
November 7, 2017 Worldwide
How we got the game:
Received it for Christmas for the Nintendo Switch

krismii
My interest in Sonic the Hedgehog grew mainly from comics rather than the video games. Growing up, my main source of Sonic the Hedgehog video games was from an arcade cabinet in my childhood dentist’s office. I would be able to zoom through the first couple of levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 before I got called for my turn in the dentist’s chair. Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for the GameCube were some of my favorites after that, even if they haven’t aged that well. Since then, Sonic games have been… meh. Sonic Forces, though, wasn’t that bad.

gameplay

Sonic Forces consists of levels that star Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, or the Avatar. There are a few where the Avatar teams up with Modern Sonic as well, allowing you to use the skills of both characters. Levels with Modern Sonic consist of the 3D game play style while Classic Sonic is mainly side-scrollers that do well inducing nostalgia within the player. Most of the Avatar levels are similar to Modern Sonic’s.

It was pretty simple to get into the game control-wise, yet I will admit dying more often than not because I decided to hit the Stomp attack button rather than Jump/Homing while flying over an abyss. The levels in general were decent, but most were not very challenging. In true Sonic form, zipping through a level was usually enough to reach the goal, even if a few levels had a couple of hiccups when it came to moving on.

The Modern Sonic levels were probably my favorites just because they’re Sonic. He’s the guy the games are named after, the reason why we pick up the games in the first place, however misguided the past few Sonic the Hedgehog games have been. His levels emphasized speed and were awesome to just breeze right through! There were a couple of issues when he went too fast and ran right off a cliff once or twice but, overall, they weren’t bad.

I didn’t mind the Avatar levels. There were a handful of weapons that you can unlock for the Avatar to use in the levels, such as a flamethrower and one that throws around lightning, and each were fun to use,  that allowed you to create plenty of strategies in how to best the level, but there could have been more variety. The Avatar had a grappling hook-like tool that allowed them to mimic Modern Sonic’s Homing attack, which was useful. They were, however, extremely similar to Modern Sonic’s levels.

Classic Sonic was… eh. It was fun seeing him appear and completing his levels, but he was definitely slower than Modern Sonic and had no Homing Attack. On that hand, his levels were more challenging than Modern Sonic’s and the Avatar’s, but being a Sonic game, I wanted to go fast. Aside from that, I don’t think Classic Sonic really brought anything to the game. He had a bit of a narrative part to Tails’ part of the story, but another established character could have played that role (or, hell, let Tails stand on his own for once with the ability to carry out what Sonic would have done).

graphics-music

The graphics in this game, especially on the Nintendo Switch, were amazing. Honestly, the Switch has yet to let me down when it comes to the graphics and designs of the games on the platform, and Sonic Forces is no exception. The character designs, while familiar, looked great on the Switch (even if the Avatar’s facial expressions sometimes looked dorky enough to be funny).

The music, though? The music was so much fun to listen to during the levels. Both vocal and instrumental tracks were awesome, reminding me that the music tended to be my favorite part of the games. The songs got you pumped up for the level, especially the boss themes, but didn’t distract you enough from the level to mess you up. The game was fully voice acted as well, which was a delight to me. The voice acting and writing were well done, even if there were corny lines about friendship and love being the ultimate reason as to why the heroes prevailed.
storyThe story starts out a little darker than most Sonic the Hedgehog games. We begin with Dr. Eggman and some of his “allies” — antagonists from previous games — taking over the world. Eggman’s newest partner Infinite is a creature able to create illusions via virtual reality, having power enough to enable the virtual reality to harm the protagonists. Infinite takes out Sonic, leaving the world defenseless enough for Eggman’s robots to swarm.

With Sonic feared dead, a resistance is created by Knuckles, one that includes Amy Rose, Silver the Hedgehog, and the Chaotix. Rouge the Bat plays the role of spy for them, while Tails is too busy mourning the loss of Sonic to be of much use to the resistance right away. The Avatar — nicknamed Rookie — joins the resistance as well and plays a crucial role in freeing Sonic and, ultimately, the world from Dr. Eggman and Infinite.

It’s a standard story to go along with the game. Sonic is freed fairly early in the game and joins the resistance, as does Tails and Classic Sonic when the pair figure out the weakness in Dr. Eggman’s plan for total world domination. While playing the three main characters, you’re immersed in the story as important pieces to freeing the world.

However, the only character in my opinion that is truly “needed” in the story is Modern Sonic. Classic Sonic appears very conveniently to rescue Tails and appeared to just be a catalyst in bringing Tails back into the story line, considering he ran off in his grief about Modern Sonic. If they needed another character as a partner for Tails, the developers could have easily used E-123 Omega, the robot character that Tails was fixing when Classic Sonic appears.

As for the Avatar… it was fun, I’ll give it that. Fifteen to twenty years ago, I would have been wicked excited about creating my own character to join the heroes on their adventure to save the world, and it was great to do so this time around. However, the Sonic universe has plenty of unique characters that could have been in that third “main character” slot if it needed to be filled. Being able to pick your character before each level, a character from the resistance force, would have been an interesting twist to the story.

Let’s infiltrate the Death Egg as Rouge. Let’s destroy the power core as Amy Rose with her hammer. Let’s rescue civilians in Park Avenue as members of the Chaotix. The story could have been more intriguing with different takes on the levels with all the characters the Sonic universe already has.

replay-value

Sonic Forces has some replay value if you enjoyed it enough to turn it on a second or third time. There are daily missions and plenty of challenges for you to continue playing, as well as the ability to create more avatars to explore the levels with. There is also the free Episode Shadow DLC that launched with the game that acts as a bit of a prequel to the main game, and gives a bit more insight to the new antagonist’s, Infinite, origins. And, honestly, the music in this game is enough to make me want to turn it on again.

Sonic Forces was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. It was fun to see these characters again in a game that I enjoyed, for the most part, playing.

Sonic Forces gets…
Video game review: 3 Lives
3 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Fire Emblem Warriors [Game Review]

SWITCH_FP_package_20170201pro

Title: Fire Emblem Warriors
Developer: Omega Force, Ninja Team
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform:
Nintendo Switch (also available for the 3DS)
Category:
Hack-and-Slash Action RPG
Release Date:
October 20, 2017 worldwide
How we got the game:
Pre-ordered a physical copy

krismii
Fire Emblem Warriors is a crossover game between Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors series and Intelligent Systems’ Fire Emblem series. It’s the second such crossover since Hyrule Warriors — using characters based on the Legend of Zelda franchise — for the Wii U back in 2014. I had enjoyed Hyrule Warriors and playing with some of my favorite characters in a new game style back then, and being a sucker for the Fire Emblem series, I was looking forward to Fire Emblem Warriors as well.

gameplay

Being a hack-and-slash game, the gameplay consists of the player taking control of up to four characters on a given map and demolishing the opposition. Each character attacks by the player more or less button mashing, but if you wanted to be more precise, there are combo attacks that you can trigger by pushing buttons in a certain order (generally the Y and X buttons). The more enemies one defeats, the quicker one can unleash a special attack that can be particularly devastating on hoards of enemies and even the sub-boss characters, such as Fort Captains. The controls themselves were fluid and responsive, which is excellent considering how quickly one is dropped into the fray of the battles, even if there were times when it seemed my character was running too quickly for me to make a turn!

Characters can be given orders on the battle map, such as directing one person to fight a certain enemy or to guard a teammate. While the player can switch between four characters, there is usually four additional teammates on the map to aid the playable characters. The AI of NPCs was well-done, in my experience, as the majority of them were eager to complete the goals and sub-quests that popped up with the map.

The majority of the characters in Fire Emblem Warriors are sword-users, but there are a few who use lances, axes, magic tomes, bows, and dragonstones, which are a special item to some unique Fire Emblem characters to transform into a dragon. Like the Fire Emblem games, characters are able to level up in their weapon rank, allowing them to use stronger weapons and attacks as the game progresses. In Warriors, this is achieved by crafted crests, which are used for attacks, defensive purposes, and enabling special skills. Crests are crafted with materials that enemies drop as well as collecting items from characters themselves when they increase their Support rank with one another. The more two characters fight together — by being on the same map, helping to guard one another, healing each other, or by literally pairing the two up as a support pair — the higher their Support will be. A Support Conversation between the two characters can be unlocked once they reach an A-Support rank.

The major flaw with the gameplay is how little diversity there is amid the weapons and characters themselves. Slashing away at enemies with swords is fun and all, but having more variety would have definitely helped me explore the maps of the game multiple times and giving it more replay value. Daggers and shuriken, lance-users on the ground instead of being regulated to Pegasus Knights, more axes and magic, beaststones for laguz from the Radiant series…

To go along with the lack of weapon diversity is the character roster. It mainly focused on the cast from Awakening and Fates, along with Marth as one of the Fire Emblem series’ first protagonists. Fire Emblem Warriors stars a pair of twins who both use the sword as their preferred weapon. The Heroes that we must track down as per the story mode all use swords as their preferred weapon. While I have nothing against any of the characters that are on the roster, I would have loved to see characters from more Fire Emblem games.

Let’s get Ephraim from Sacred Stones as a lance-user Hero. Hector from Blazing Blade can be the axe-wielding Hero. There are laguz characters from the Radiant series — Ranulf, Lethe, Tibarn, Naesala — who could be Heroes in their own right. Lilina from the Binding Blade as not only a mage Hero but also another female.

Perhaps it would have been a little too much to throw so many different timelines into Fire Emblem Warriors, but there was so much more weapon and character variety that could have been packed into the game!

graphics-music

One of my favorite things about the Nintendo Switch is the graphics. The graphics of every game we’ve played so far on this little console have been crisp, clear, and beautiful, and I loved seeing the dynamic Fire Emblem Warrior battles on the Switch. The animated movies were fairly well-done, being on par with most of the animated scenes in most of the more recent Fire emblem games.

I’ve always been a sucker for Fire Emblem music, and Fire Emblem Warriors would be no exception… except for most of the, erm, “suggestions” that continued to pop up in the first half of the game. Since everything on the battlefield happens quickly, so do character dialogue boxes popping up with someone talking about someone else being trouble or telling you of a new quest that has arisen. The cacophony of the battle was interrupted much of the time for the game to continue on, which threw me off a bit at times. It was tolerable especially when I reminded myself that it went hand-in-hand with the chaos that was supposed to be the battlefield. It was quick and exciting, even if the voice acting had me rolling my eyes once in a while.
storyLike most Fire Emblem games, the story was a bit cliche, with it being way too focused on bonds and support among one another, and you defeat a dragon at the end.

The story opens with the royal twins of Aytolis, Lianna and Rowan, sparring with their friend Prince Darios of Gristonne. Monsters appear from Outrealm portals, attacking the castle, separating the twins from their mother, and starting the twins on their journey to protect their homeland. They journey across the land to find Heroes that have been displaced in time, Heroes that have Gleamstones to power up the Shield of Flames to defeat the evil dragon Velezark.

The characters spend much of their time focusing on friendship and their bonds with one another, which is a bit corny but sweet message. The twins work and grow together with the help of the other heroes to ultimately succeed in the end. The story itself had a few plot holes or threads that could have used more closure — such as the Darios subplot — but it wasn’t too bad for game.

replay-value

Fire Emblem Warriors has the story mode and a history mode. The story mode has about 25 “chapters,” or battle campaigns, in it while the history mode allows players to battle in scenarios from past Fire Emblem games that were re-imagined for Fire Emblem Warriors. Each has different levels of difficulties and goals, giving one a few more challenges if one wishes to replay the game.

While I wish that the roster wasn’t so sword-user heavy — really, seeing a thief character or more axes and lances would have been wonderful — and had characters from more Fire Emblem games rather than focusing mainly on Awakening and Fates, I did have a lot of fun with Fire Emblem Warriors. There’s something so satisfying about the hack-and-slash aspect of the game, and I know I’ll pick it up again.

Fire Emblem Warriors gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Double Jump Kris MiiHello everyone!

Being a sucker for the Fire Emblem franchise, I was very excited for the release of Shadows of Valentia, a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden that was released only in Japan. As always, this is just my personal opinion. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

fire_emblem_echoes

Title: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Company: Nintendo
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Console: Nintendo 3DS
How I got the game: I bought it.

Warning — there may be story spoilers!

gameplayLike the majority of Fire Emblem games, Shadows of Valentia is a turn-based tactical RPG franchise with a myriad of characters that the player raises into an army. Shadows of Valentia is based off of the Japan-only released Fire Emblem Gaiden. Considering I had never played any form of Fire Emblem Gaiden — emulated, translated, not even YouTube videos — the plot of Shadows of Valentia was completely new to me.

Despite the perma-death aspect that Fire Emblem games are famous for, I played the game in the Casual mode, allowing characters to come back after falling in battle as opposed to being out of the game entirely like they would on the Classic mode. While there is a special item called Mila’s Turnwheel in the game that lets players turn back a turn in the game should a mistake be made, the Casual mode allows me to fully enjoy and get to know the characters while also doing my best to unlock as many Support conversations between them as possible.

Unlike previous games with Support conversations, where various characters could be paired up, gain spouses or best friends, depending on how strong their supports were, Shadows of Valentia has a limited number of Support conversations. Characters have good or bad endings that are mostly dependent on whether or not their predetermined spouse or best friend lives until the end of the game.

Shadows of Valentia has plenty of the same character classes as previous games, with fairly strict class tiers. Unlike the Fates trio, Shadows of Valentia had gender-locked classes again, with Pegasus Knights and Clerics being female only, while males were the only ones who could be Mercenaries, Soldiers, and Archers. Mages and Cavalier class trees were accessible by both genders.

Tactical battles are similar to previous Fire Emblem games, with each side taking turns to move and attack. Each character class had access to specific weapons and magic, with many weapons unlocking special skills the more the character grew and used the weapon. Shadows of Valentia also had a navigable world map as well as dungeons that one could explore through a third-person behind-the-back perspective and towns that were explored like a visual novel, talking with villagers and allies, and point-and-click interaction with the backgrounds. I enjoyed this unique exploration take, even if some of the dungeons took a little too long for me to get into the next battle.

 

graphics-music

As usual, I was pleased with the graphics of the game on the Nintendo 3DS. The few anime cut scenes were fun to watch, as was the opening video, and the character models were on par with the previous Fire emblem games. The battle maps and dungeons were mostly unique as well.

I definitely enjoyed the music too, the battle scores always leaving me eager to beat the map. This game also had full voice-acting, which was a pleasant surprise. I found myself really enjoying the voice acting, with each character’s tones being really well done. Exclamations, questions, pauses, everything said sounded full and natural.

story

Fire Emblem games revolve around wars and revolutions. Shadows of Valentia is no different, keeping the classic story formula that works so well for Fire Emblem games.

As a brief summary, the main plot involved warring gods, where each one ruled over one part of the continent of Valentia. The god Duma ruled Rigal to the north while the goddess Mila ruled Zofia to the south. Duma believed in strength while Mila believed in peace and pleasure, and the truce that the pair had was broken when Rigal’s Emperor Rudolf invaded Zofia to seal Mila in Falchion, a divine sword. It’s Mila’s disappearance that prompts Celica to start her journey to search for the goddess, while Rudolf’s invasion of Zofia compels Alm to leave his village to fight for the country he calls home. Eventually, Alm’s and Celica’s armies join up to take down the final boss to bring peace throughout the continent.

Shadows of Valentia has dual paths, letting the player switch back and forth between Alm’s and Celica’s routes with ease. Alm’s path consists of leading the Deliverance, a band of Zofia’s last remaining soldiers fighting to free their country from Rigal’s invasion. Even after Zofia is free and the larger plot looms before them all, Alm continues to lead his army into the heart of Rigal in order to break the land free of Duma’s influence. His path was my favorite regarding a variety of battles and scenes, along with plenty of interesting characters to recruit and speak to. However, his motivation for quite a few of his battles were saving a “damsel in distress” — literally all of the female recruitable characters except for Faye (who is even an optional recruit for Alm’s side) could be recruited after being rescued. Saving people is a fine motivation and all, but a little variety regarding who was saved or how the ladies were recruited would have been nice.

Celica’s route involves… mostly pirates, to be honest. Her path is about traveling to Mila’s temple and, upon finding Mila missing, searching for the goddess, pitting her against Duma’s most faithful follower Jedah. About half of her battles in the second act of the game took place on boats, which got monotonous for me quickly. The speed of the characters and their limited movement on boat maps were tedious unless I had the Pegasus sisters on my side. While her story and characters were more engaging to me than Alm’s was, there was in the second half of the story that bothered me about Celica’s character — she didn’t communicate as well as she could have with her closest allies. In order to move the plot forward, she needed to keep a secret, and it’s a common enough trope that just annoys the hell out of me. These people are putting their lives on the line for you, Celica, you owe it to them to tell them everything that’s going on!

All in all, the story was okay. The plot twists were simple enough to figure out long before the game revealed them, but it was still on par for a Fire Emblem game. I had fun creating strategies for the myriad of battle maps and raising my little army, which is what Fire Emblem games are all about.

replay-value

Like other Fire Emblem games, Shadows of Valentia has a decent replay value if one considers the different combinations one can use to create an army. However, in Shadows of Valentia, every recruited character is used in battle until the last dungeon where the player must pick nine additional members to go with Alm or Celica, depending on which side you are playing. Generally you pick and choose which members of your army joins you in a every battle in Fire Emblem games, giving them more replay value than Shadows of Valentia.

In addition to that, there are more varieties to character classes in previous Fire Emblem games than Shadows of Valentia had. In the beginning of Shadows of Valentia, players are able to choose a handful of classes for the few villager characters that join Alm’s side, allowing players to switch up what their beginning army will be like, but other than that, most classes are static and, depending on who you recruit, one side can get all swordsmen while the other is full of mages. Each presents their own challenges, of course, but I would look forward to replaying Shadows of Valentia more if I was given the chance to really choose my army with the classes and characters for each battle.

Of course, there’s plenty of DLC for the game as well, pricing at about $45 dollars for it all, which is more than the game is going for now on Amazon.

In my opinion, though, there are other Fire Emblem games that I will replay again before Shadows of Valentia.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia gets…
Video game review: 3 Lives
3 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Fire Emblem Fates Game Review

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday!

I have finally played through all three of the Fire Emblem Fates trio of games — despite the fact that they have been out for about a year and a half. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this trio, I will admit. Overall, Fates was an excellent addition to the Fire Emblem family, but there were definite aspects of the games that irked me as well. As always, this is just my personal opinion. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

maxresdefault

Title: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Conquest, Revelations
Company: Nintendo
Release Date: June 2015
Console: Nintendo 3DS
How I got the game: I bought them.

Warning — there may be story spoilers!

gameplayFire Emblem games are a turn-based tactical RPG franchise, allowing the player to raise and direct his/her/their own army of characters. The majority of these games feature a permanent death aspect — once your character’s hit points drops to zero, he/she is dead and gone from the game. The newer installments of this series has different game modes, where the permanent death mode is called Classic (or Lunatic, for an extra challenge) while the Casual mode allows characters to return for the next battle. Fates also introduces the Phoenix mode, which enables fallen characters to revive on the very next turn, allowing even novice tacticians to enjoy the games.

I played the Fates trio of games with the Casual mode because I am a sucker for character development and backstories. The Casual mode also allowed me to enjoy the story of the three games without worrying about any of the characters — such as the secondary protagonists of the avatar’s siblings — dying and missing out on main events.

Like the previous Fire Emblem games, Fates has a plethora of unique characters and classes for said characters. Swordsmasters and Paladins, Troubadours and Clerics, Wyvern Riders and Pegasis Knights, to name a few familiar classes. Birthright and Conquest each star a different kingdom and, thus, have different character classes than the other, some of which are new to the series. Birthright has more lance and dagger/shuriken users like ninjas, while Conquest features more magic-orientated classes like sorcerers. It was an intriguing difference between the pair, with the player needed to adapt to the cultural differences between the countries when it came to creating strategies for battle.

Fates had a Castle feature, a safe spot for the player and the army to rest after each battle. The Castle had the weaponry and item shops, along with fun little features you could build like a hot springs to chat with fellow soldiers, a mess hall where cooks could create dishes to give your soldiers small stat boosts for the next fight, and a private quarters so the avatar can grow closer with the soldiers. The Castle was also the battleground if other online players ever “invaded,” letting you pit your army with another’s.

An important game play feature of the Fire Emblem series is the support system, where two units can grow closer and grant each other stat boosts during battles if they are stationed next to each other — or paired up and sharing a space — often enough during fights. If two units gain enough support, they may marry and have a child unit (if a male/female pairing) or be able to change into each other’s classes (if a same-sex pairing). Fates is the first Fire Emblem game to give the option of a same-sex marriage, but there is only one option per gender and depend on which game you are playing. While both options are available in the third game Revelations, the lesbian option is featured in Birthright while the gay option is in Conquest.

With the marriage aspect of the game, I did find some of the “bonding” experiences to be odd. After marriage, the avatar’s spouse will live with the avatar in their private quarters in the Castle feature. While the little chats could be cute, once in a while you would need to rub the touch screen to wake up your sleeping spouse (half the time I accidentally smacked my husband) or blow through the microphone to, I dunno, dry off your spouse after they had a bath. Perhaps I just don’t understand how that could be appealing or romantic. I know in the Japanese versions of the game there is a patting mini-game, which I probably would also find a little strange.

Child units made a reappearance in Fates after Awakening, unlocking new paralogues and maps that serve to recruit the children into your army. While the characters were interesting, I didn’t feel as if there was a point to the child units. In Awakening, most of the child units were optional as well considering they would exist only if you decided to marry some of your first generation units, but they had a point to the plot. With Fates, the children served to bolster your army (which, I suppose, can be necessary if you’re playing the Classic or Lunatic modes) and for some cute support conversations, but that was it. Indeed, when I was playing Revelations, I only had my unit marry quite far into the story along with one other pair (merely because they had reached that point in their supports).

Despite the few newer features, the game play for Fire Emblem Fates was very similar to the other games in the franchise, and it was fine. You can’t fix what’s not broken, right?

graphics-music

The graphics of this game were wonderful, with clean and smooth cut scenes when appropriate, even if the character models seem to be a bit clunky at times. Considering that the main character is your customizable avatar and its on the screen the majority of the time, the graphics work well. The battle animations weren’t bad, but they did get tedious enough for me to turn off the option to watch them. I preferred to watch the little pixel models smack each other to save time.

The Fire Emblem franchise has some of the best music, and Fates did not disappoint. I adored the main theme and Azura’s song, “Lost in Thoughts All Alone.” The music always matched the tone of the battles, especially during the final fight with a version of Azura’s song playing in the background. There are a couple of versions of “Lost in Thoughts All Alone” available to buy and download, but I’d be ecstatic if I could find the full soundtrack!

 

story

 

The stories for the Fire Emblem Fates trio were okay. I enjoyed them, but having them broken up into three games — even though all three were fully fleshed out — was not my favorite aspect of Fates.

Birthright and Conquest allowed us to follow the respective country — Hoshido and Nohr, respectively — and unique cast of characters while trying to stop a war between the two kingdoms. Birthright was the avatar’s original home kingdom and family, and the avatar helps to defend Hoshido from the invading Nohr. In Conquest, the avatar joins their adoptive Nohr family in conquering Hoshido. The main villain in each game is the corrupted Nohr king Garon, a puppet to an even larger enemy. Revelations is the story when the avatar chooses to side with neither Hoshido or Nohr, instead choosing to find peace while figuring out the true enemy and inspiring both sides to work together. Each country has a quartet of siblings that care a great deal for the avatar, and the avatar wrestles with the emotions that come with siding one over the other or neither at all. These feelings drive the avatar to stop the war and achieve peace as soon as possible.

Birthright is pretty straightforward when it comes to protecting the kingdom from the Nohr king, while Conquest focuses on conquering Hoshido for its throne, which has a special magic that forces King Garon to reveal his true, monstrous form. Birthright is a classic defend-the-kingdom plot, while Conquest’s theme is the end justifies the means. Revelations figures out what is behind King Garon’s motivations, finding an ancient, evil god and fighting to prevent the god from ravaging the world.

Buying all three of these games costs about $80, which isn’t too bad if one remembers to just buy one retail copy of Birthright or Conquest and then digitally download the other two games for a discount. This does not count any DLC, none of which I bought except for Boo Camp for experience grinding and Ghostly Gold for money. If one wants the full experience of the story, then all three games should be in your game library.

While each game was fully fleshed out, siding with either Hoshido or Nohr made me feel as if I were missing half of the story. Considering the sheer amount of characters and how close the avatar appears to be with all of his/her siblings, it made me eager to not only play both sides of the game but to also dive into Revelations. To me, Revelations seemed to be the “true” story of Fates. However, after playing through Revelations, it seemed a touch rushed with all of the characters that joined your avatar’s side. Each story depends on the other two for the whole experience, which left me with mixed feelings. They were all enjoyable, but no matter the game I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something.

Characters also make up a large part of the stories in the Fire Emblem games, and Fates was no exception. Your avatar is a fantastic main character (even if sometimes they are so eager and idealistic that once in a while I wanted to shake them by the shoulders), leading the army through a war against an evil god. The support conversations I have unlocked so far reveal lots of interesting and fun tidbits of the other characters, and it’s always great to figure out each character’s reason for being in the army.

I do, however, feel that the game’s main male characters were more developed than the females. Out of the eight sibling characters, it was clear that the brothers of both Hoshido and Nohr had the games’ focus while the sisters were there to be the cute healers (in the case of the younger two) or to fulfill the games’ quota for sex appeal (in the case of the older two). It’s the four brother characters that get the most animated cut scenes, that get the most dialogue, that get the four divine weapons that combine with the avatar’s to create the Fire Emblem.

It’s a shame, for while I love the development the brothers had gotten, I truly wish that same focus was given to the sisters, especially when the women’s support conversations hinted at interesting backstories, such as Camilla’s mother using her as a pawn in politics and Hinoka’s drive to become such a strong warrior. I would have loved for their backgrounds to be played up more in the story and game itself.

I feel as if the games would have worked just as well if the number of royal siblings was cut down, despite how much I enjoyed all of their characters. For example, Hoshido could have had the older Prince Ryoma and the younger Princess Sakura while Nohr would have the older Princess Camilla and the younger brother Prince Leo trying to persuade the avatar to their side. Birthright, going along with its easier difficulty, would have the advantage of an early healer in Sakura and Conquest has early access to magic units with Leo. Ryoma is the just crown prince of Hoshido, and Camilla could have been the crown princess that showed off her blood lust in more than just snatches of dialogue. Cutting out a few of the royal siblings also would cut out the extra retainer characters, lightening up on the sheer amount of characters to keep up with in Revelations.

Despite the faults I found with the stories of the Fates trio, I did enjoy them. Revelations was my favorite, considering that it rounded out the other two stories and gave the player the “true,” in my opinion, ending.

replay-value

Fire Emblem Fates has plenty of replay value, if only for the many support conversations and pairings one can unlock throughout the three stories. Considering that the avatar can marry anyone of the opposite gender (along with the one same-sex option, depending on the game), as well as reach best friend status with anyone of the same gender, pairing up all sorts of characters with the avatar during battles allows tons of different strategies for fights.

The multiple difficulty modes add on to the replay value, and players can easily create their own challenges with the ability to change the characters’ classes with the use of the item seals — Master Seals for advance classes, Partner and Friendship Seals for maxed support units, and Heart Seals, uniquely allowing a character to change to a class that’s more suited to his/her personality.

Owing all three Fates games also gives the player nine save files to fully explore all the options available to them in the games. If you have extra money to spare, there are also a handful of downloadable content with extra tales and maps to play.

With all this said, Fire Emblem Fates is a game I’ll probably pick up again, but it most likely won’t be played as often as my other Fire Emblem games, such as Awakening.

 

Fire Emblem Fates gets…
4-lives4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this trio of games? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! 

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr