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Gaming PC PS4 Retro Reviews

Review: Dino Dini’s Kick-Off Revival (PC)

Developer: Koo Games
Publisher: The Digital Lounge
Genre: SimulationSports
Rating: E for Everyone
Platforms: PC, PS4, Vita
Price: $9.99  

In the late 80’s and early 90’s Dino Dini was a well-known name in the world of game development. The most well know franchises were the “player-manager” games and the “kick-off” series. Starting with the original Kick-Off for Atari and Amiga consoles in 1989, the franchise developed a number of sequels on multiple formats. At one point Kick-Off had its own version of a console war as gamers fought over whether it or Sensible Software’s Sensible Soccer series was the greatest simulation game. Now almost 28 years since the release of the first title, Dino has revamped the series with “Kick-Off Revival.” Being the resident Brit on staff, and jumping on retro and revival titles since joining, I agreed to give the PC port of this a look.

Content Guide

Violence

The only violence seen is during slide tackles in game. More often than not these are punished by the referee.

Language

There is no language when playing the offline game. I was unable to test the online functionality and can’t comment if there is a voice chat option.

Positive Content

The game implies a reward for perseverance.

Review

I have played a number of soccer simulation games in my life and in fact played Super Kick Off when I was younger. Combined with my on again, off again relationship with my chosen soccer team, I have just enough concept of soccer to know the meaning of the offside rule at least. The key features of Kick-Off when it was first released was what the developer considered to be a realistic approach to the game. It maintained this through the use of yellow and red cards for fouls, referees with different temperaments, and the inclusion of tactics and other attributes that genuinely made some aspects of the original game feel like the real thing. Whether the revival maintains this, however, is something to be decided.

First off, let’s discuss the aesthetics. The look of the game is beautiful. A lot of effort has gone into upgrading the original graphics without compromising on the original look. It is clear that you are playing a retro title and yet it manages to improve the look with clearer edges as opposed to blockier sprites. This is complemented with traditional early sports game music i.e., it adds a sense of excitement but without any lyrics—there’s the feeling that you may come across this tune on your next elevator ride. The in-game sounds are actually quite realistic and do add to the overall experience. The crowd cheers at the appropriate moments, you do get the impression that there are opposing fans at times, and there are even periods of time where the crowd will sing along to encourage you. Added to this are the obvious whistle and goal sound effects that ultimately give you a pretty encouraging simulation.

The gameplay, however, is where we enter the controversial and disappointing territory. One of the biggest selling points in the early titles was the realism of the game. This included the ball being in constant movement rather than the more modern idea of having the ball at a player’s feet at all times. This has been carried over into Revival but with the combined use of an analog stick. The two combined do not work well together. For example, the amount of force applied to the stick will dictate the strength in which the ball is kicked; this is horrendous when attempting to move in the same direction.

The same can be said for the use of the “one button” function. The game literally uses one button to control all kick actions. The combination of stick position and length of button press dictates the strength and direction of passes, shots, and other motions. The game expresses this sentiment at the start, encouraging you to spend time in the training levels before playing any match time and in fairness, the controls fall under the “easy to learn, difficult to master” category. Seasoned veterans and people who want to sink a number of hours into the game will rise to this challenge and enjoy the sense of accomplishment when the ball crosses the opponent’s goal line. The more casual player will simply be put off at the thought of not being able to pick up and play the main game. Indeed, it took me a good 10 or more hours before I started to feel more confident on the pitch, and for more modern gamers, this is a considerable amount of time to build on the learning curve for a sports game.

Other aspects of the gameplay aid to the realism of playing soccer in reality. The use of tactics isn’t present in this update, but the distribution of red and yellow cards to punish players who wantonly crash into opponents, which happens more often than you think, is.  Again, this aspect falls foul to the controls mentioned earlier. Despite playing for a considerable time, it was difficult to see if the referees had different temperaments as mentioned. The referees and players do, however, have their own individual names mentioned. In order to avoid copyright, they have clearly reworded versions of famous players where possible which makes for humorous reading when you are playing with company. There is also a realistic tournament mode made to replicate the European championships tournament structure with group stages followed by a knockout stage. There is also an online game mode, but I was unable to find a match while playing so could not test the feature further.

Playing Kick-Off Revival, I found myself easily frustrated at first. In an age where we have developed the use of multiple buttons and more realistic physics engines, part of me wanted the game to bridge the gap between the originals and the modern. However, it’s clear that the focus of this game was to provide a modern love note to a bygone era. There are people who will clearly love the feel of the classic game and will sink hours into it to develop that learning curve. But for most, this is a game you should avoid.

 

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Categories
Gaming PS4 Retro Reviews

Review: OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliworld (PS4/PSVita)


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ESRB: T for Teen
Genre: Sports
Developer: Roll7
Publisher: Roll7
Platforms: PS4, PSVita, XBox One, PC, MAC, Linux, 3DS
Release Date: January 21, 2014 (PSVita), July 22, 2014 (PC, Linux, MAC), August 26, 2014 (PS4), March 5, 2015 (3DS), March 6, 2015 (XBox One)
Price: $14.99
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliworld is a sequel to OlliOlli. Both are side-scrolling, 2D skateboarding games. I have never played OlliOlli, so I did not know what to expect. To be honest, I almost gave up playing this game after an hour of struggling with the controls.

 

Storyline

OlliOlli has no storyline. You play as a skater trying to survive and get the best score on a run.

 

Content Warning

Violence: The only thing of note is your skater will end up a bloody 8-bit mess when he crashes.

 

Gameplay

OlliOlli is one of those games that gives you a star rating on each level. There are five stars to get per level. These are obtained by completing certain objectives. These can range from getting a score bigger than a target score to performing a set number of tricks on a run to not having any bad landings on your run. You need enough stars to move on to the next level and the levels get tougher and ask you to perform better as you progress in the game.
The basic controls are hard to get used to. You press the square button to push-off or to speed up. So far pretty easy. To olli, you make your guy crouch by holding down the left thumb stick. You then flick the stick up and your guy kicks the board and himself into the air. At the perfect time you need to press X to make a good landing. Points for a trick will not count if your landing is sloppy.
Here comes the tough part. To do another trick (other than an olli), you need to rotate the left thumb stick from bottom to either side and let go, instead of flicking up. Your guy will kick the board and himself into the air and rotate the board in the trick that you designated. Landing is still the same.
Now we add grinding on rails. You do your trick as normal and the difference comes when you want to land on a rail as in you push the left thumb stick in the direction you want the board to land on the rail. You don’t press X, but you will hold that direction on the stick until you come to the end of the rail. Flicking the stick in any direction (other than the one your are holding) will make your guy do a trick off of the rail.
To manual (ride on only either the front of back wheels only) you will press X and a direction (left or right) on the left thumb stick as you land. As you can already tell, you will have to string all these moves together to create combos and get higher points. And your combo score can be ruined by a bad landing. As you can see, this is getting complicated.

Each move in itself is pretty easy. I had trouble getting my mind and fingers to perform the moves correctly to string together a run that would allow me to get any points at all. Landings where the worst for me. I would string together this huge combo, only to have it ruined by a bad landing. This all came to a head at about an hour and I was about to give up on the game. All of a sudden, it clicked. I was able to make huge combos and nail my landings. I started to beat level after level. Soon the game started to become addicting.
OlliOlli 2 is a cross buy and cross save between the PS4 and the PSVita. This is good as you only have to buy the game once. The game controls exactly the same on both versions. The PS4 version is funner to play because the controller is much more comfortable. Cross save works, but you have to do it manually. You have to save it on one system and then load it on the other. I wish this process was automatic, because I believe it should be easy to do.

 

Presentation

OlliOlli is presented in the 8-bit/16-bit style that has become very popular in the indie game market. Obviously they are not using the 8-bit/16-bit color pallet. The colors are vibrant. Developers have gotten a lot better at the 8-bit/16-bit art in recent years. The same can be said of this game.  It looks amazing.

 

Conclusion

OlliOlli 2 is a great game. Understanding the controls takes a bit of time. There is a steep learning curve, but the payoff for that learning curve is huge. I got addicted to this game once I got past that learning curve. Getting that perfect combo has become an obsession of mine.

 

Categories
Gaming Retro Reviews

Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Content Warning:

Death.  Murder.  Slightly sexualized characters.

Story:

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Monokuma is at it again.  He now has sixteen students stuck on Jabberwock Island.  These students are the ultimate at the things they do.  He has removed their memories of how they got there.  They are told they must commit murder to leave the island.  The only caveat is they must commit the murder without getting convicted of said murder.  If the students figure out who the murderer is, that murderer gets punished and put to death.  If they fail to figure out who the murderer is, that murder gets off the island and the remaining students get punished and put to death.

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The story is, like most Japanese games, a little weird.  The Ultimates are weird also. The Ultimate Traditional Dancer and the Ultimate Princess are a couple of the Ultimates in the class.  The weird story does not matter because I got wrapped up in the murder mysteries.  The murder mystery part of the story is top notch.   Each murder mystery is filled with twists and turns.  I am usually pretty good at figuring out “who done it” in a lot of movies and TV shows.  But I had a harder time figuring out who each murder was.

Gameplay:

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Danganronpa 2 plays the same as Danganronpa with the exception of the class trials.  The idea of the class trials, to figure out the murderer, is the same.  There are a couple added elements.  For one is the duel.  A classmate will challenge one of your statements and you will go into a duel.  You will have to cut through their arguments by swiping the screen with your finger.  Then you must select the correct truth sword (facts in the case) and cut down a highlighted argument.  Hangman’s Gambit is still there but now you must select doubles of letters in the order of how the word is spelt.

You still wonder around and talk to your classmates, gather their stories and look for clues on who the murderer was.  During down time between the class trial and the next murder, you hang out with your classmates and get to know them better.

Overall the gameplay is really good.  There were a few times that I couldn’t figure out what clue to use in a certain part of the class trial and had to go through all the options to figure it out.  When I had figured out there rare instances, I had no idea how that clue fit with the question being asked.

Presentation:

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There are some improvements over the first Danganronpa.  Danganronpa had too much 3D navigation.  This sucked as the 3D navigation sucked.  Now the 3D navigation is limited to inside environments.  When you are moving between each environment, you move on a 2D plain.  In my opinion, 3D navigation should be removed out of the game entirely.  On that point, this game needs to be completely 2D.  The 2D art style is great.  I have mentioned this before in my other JRPG reviews.  But I really hate how most JPRGs use both 3D and 2D assets.  Just pick one and stick with it already!

Conclusion:

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a great game.  Even with a few minor gameplay problems, the crappy 3D navigation and the weird story.  I really love playing these Danganronpa games and I hope they continue to make them.

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Gaming Retro Reviews

Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1

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Story:

The  CPUs have been fighting over who gets to rule all Gamindustri.  These fights have been known as the Console Wars.  Neptune is defeated in battle by the three other CPUs.  She then falls down to the planet she rules, Planeptune.  Upon crash landing she gets knocked out and then wakes up in a strange house with no memory, other than her name, of who she is.  She must go on an adventure to find out who she is.  All Gamindustri counts on it.

The story is engaging enough to keep you interested to keep playing the game to the end.  But it is nothing revolutionary or spectacular.

Gameplay:

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The gameplay is an interesting take on the JRPG gameplay of games before it.  It has the attacking order of Final Fantasy X but you are able to position each of your characters you want during each of their turns.  When you are attacking you can use an light, medium or powerful attack.  But the more powerful the attack, the more of the attack amount is used up.  Each attack turn for each character has an allotted attack amount.  Characters and enemies attack in the order shown on the screen.  I found this help with the planning of each turn. Neptune can engage CPU mode.  This mode changes her into Purple Heart and also changes her personality.  Purple Heart has greater attacks.

The map and exploration are the same as the Persona series.  Neptune moves around a 3D map and you can either attack enemies on the map or they can attack you.  If you attack the enemies first you will go first in the battle.  If they attack you first, they will go first.

Other than that, all the normal JRPG elements are there and function the same as any other JRPG.

Hyperdimension Neptunia has engaging gameplay that is really fun.  I also like how the game lets you think through your attacks.  This is much better than the active time games like Final Fantasy VII.  I like to think through my attacks.  The more I find success in battle the more I will want to carry through with the game.

Presentation:

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Hyperdimension Neptunia does the same thing most JRPGs do.  It uses 2D character art for the story of the game and then uses 3D character art for the gameplay.  Please just pick one style and stick with it.  Another thing is the CPUs, when they go into CPU mode, are far to sexualized.  As far as I can tell there is no need for this to be as it does not help with the story of the game.  I do like how the CPUs personalities will change depending if they are in CPU or normal mode.   This adds a fun little twist to the story.

Conclusion:

Despite the short comings I have listed, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is a fun game to play on your PSVita.  It is probably one of the top JRPGs out for the PSVita right now.

Categories
Gaming Retro Reviews

Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

Content Warning:

Hyper-sexualized characters

Story:

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Gamindustri is ruled by four Console Patron Units (CPU).  Something happens and now Gamindustri has been thrust into an idol boom. People are becoming very interested in these idol pop stars.  This has caused each CPU’s shares (controlling power) to disappear in each of their four regions of Gamindustri.  Idol pop group MOB48 has taken over all of those shares.  The CPUs have decided to become idols themselves to try to win their shares back.  They need a manager to help them achieve this goal.  They choose you.

The story is a little weird, but as far as a Japanese game goes it is standard fare.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Gameplay:

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As the manager, you will have to pick one of the four CPUs to manage to idol stardom.  As far as gameplay goes there’s not a whole lot to go around.  It plays out like your traditional dating sim, with you choosing between a variety of options each day.  You can practice singing, practice your dance routine, study about being an idol, record a new song, promote by going to events or coming up with an ad campaign, have your idol host a TV show, or put on a concert.  The concert is the only gameplay you have control over.  You setup the location, song, and stage props.  Once the concert starts, it is your job to play with the camera angles and stage props/effects.  You can also send the CPU into HDD mode, which turns them into hyper-sexualized versions of themselves.  Each week you are presented with a top 50 list of songs popular in Gamindustri.  Also, you will be shown how many shares you have in each of the four regions.  At one point in the game you are forced into creating a group with one of the other CPUs.

The gameplay is threadbare and devolves into clicking through a text heavy story.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Presentation:

Being a traditional Japanese dating sim, the main gameplay is traditional, static 2D anime characters with static backgrounds.  The story and decisions are presented to you in text and are accompanied by voice acting most of the time.  Concerts are presented in 3D.  The mixed use of 2D and 3D is a little weird.  Also, the songs used in the concerts are sung in only in Japanese.  You would think in this day and age they could localize the songs used in this game.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Conclusion:

Producing Perfection is an OK game that fails to deliver on the gameplay and presentation.  It’s really just fan service for those who enjoy Hyperdimension Neptunia.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 10

Notes:

– screenshots provided by NIS America