GBAtemp's 2019 game retrospective

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Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope everyone had a lovely past week, full of celebrations and Tempmas cheer. With 2020 almost upon us, it gives us time to reflect on the past previous year, and for most of us, that means remembering all the games that released throughout 2019. Did you think it was a good year for gaming? Our magazine staff certainly did! As you can see in the wondrous GBAtemp Review Center, our writers published 221 reviews in 2019, covering a huge variety of games, from Katamari Damacy Reroll, to Devil May Cry V, to Pokémon Sword, and many, many more. Not every game got a full review, though, so before the New Year clocks in, we’re going to be giving a last-minute rundown of some of the video games we might have missed, or give a shoutout to a game you should definitely try.

Contents:
The Outer Worlds
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Persona Q2
Baba Is You
Devil May Cry V
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
The Touryst
Crisis VRigade
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Moero Chronicle: Hyper
Dragon Quest XI
Kingdom Hearts III
Ni no Kuni Remastered



Chary: The Outer Worlds and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order


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Prior to this year, if you had asked me out of all the possible glut of titles releasing in 2019, which one excited me the most, I would have answered with Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds, without hesitation. When the game was announced during 2018’s Game Awards Show, I was blown away. Not only were the creators of Fallout working on a new game, but a third-person action RPG, at that, made by the development crew behind Fallout New Vegas. It was the perfect climate for such a game reveal too, amidst all the outrage and drama surrounding Bethesda’s handling of Fallout 76. People were starting to take a more critical look at the narratives and story-telling in Fallout 3 and 4, and both games began to be regarded more negatively, while Fallout New Vegas was seen as more flawless with each passing day. What better way to make use of current social perception by announcing a game that was teased as Fallout New Vegas, but in space? It seemed like the perfect storm; Obsidian was back, and they were going to show us how a real story-driven shooter was done.

When release day rolled around, I was sitting at my computer, eagerly waiting for midnight to strike, so I could play what I was anticipating as something on the levels of Fallout 2, Pillars of Eternity, or Fallout New Vegas. There was no doubt in my mind that The Outer Worlds would be nothing short of fantastic. Upon beginning my adventure, I was overjoyed--everything felt exactly as it should. It wasn’t Fallout, but it was. You had V.A.T.S. targeting, slightly tweaked, lockpicks, terminals, all the little boxes were ticked. Pre-release reviews even put the game at a higher critical ranking than New Vegas. And that, is a real tragedy. Because at its core, The Outer Worlds seemed to be the perfect game, something that every Fallout or action RPG fan had been wanting since 2011. And yet, despite the talent behind it, all the exciting trailers and hype, The Outer Worlds is nowhere near the same league as its inspiration. And it kills me to say that, because I really, truly, wanted to love this game. But even a fanboy of the highest degree can’t play blind to all the flaws and shortcomings found in The Outer Worlds.

For all the comparisons to Fallout that this game has drawn, by players, reviewers, or the game itself, The Outer Worlds lacks a lot of the freedom and choice that typical Fallout games do. There are no factions, outside of the big bad corporation Halcyon, and the honest hardworking everyman being pushed to their limits because of ridiculous exaggerated working conditions. The satire that The Outer Worlds uses as the basis for its entire concept is over the top and in your face, from start to finish. There’s never any room for the player to think, or for any real political commentary to be made, unlike Fallout, which was subtle in its writing, and created a viable, believable chain of events leading to the world being the way it is. Even your choices, which make or break games in this genre, are binary, and never feel rewarding or like you’ve made an impact on the story. The quests are simple, boring, uninteresting; there’s not much world-building to be found, save for the occasional terminal that tries to again, ham up the fact that “Corps are bad. Monopolies do mean things. Big company is evil.”. Even exploration is a slog--the maps are fairly linear, and any rewards you obtain from looting are immaterial, since you run into ammo and resources as if they were candy, littered in the streets. For all the flack that I give this game, it’s not inherently bad; the gunplay is fine, there are no major bugs, crashes, or glitches, and from time to time, there is the occasional bit of funny dialogue. But that’s not enough to save The Outer Worlds from resounding mediocrity.


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I’ll admit it: I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I liked two of the nine main movies that the franchise has spawned, and I’d never bothered playing a Star Wars video game. That all changed with Jedi Fallen Order. With a story penned by Chris Avellone of Planescape, Fallout, and Torment fame, I was immediately sold on the concept of the game, despite my relative disinterest in Star Wars itself. Developer Respawn Entertainment is fairly new to the industry, but they managed to create a respectable adventure, full of lightsaber-swinging and cool Jedi powers worthy of the Star Wars mantle. There are some hiccups along the way, such as the somewhat clunky climbing, and the collision detection feeling a little awkward at times, but on the whole, the game is fun, giving you the tools to stop enemies in their tracks with the force, while repelling attacks with swift, showy strikes of your lightsaber; exactly what every fan could hope for.

Jedi Fallen Order definitely takes a lot of concepts from other popular games, in the hopes of mashing them together to create a familiar experience, and it works in that regard, though you’re always left with the feeling that you’re playing a slightly bootlegged Dark Souls in space, or Uncharted, without the sweeping cinematic camera. These concepts blend well, but the story campaign, as interesting as it is, is shorter than I would have liked. That would have been okay, if the game had a little extra time in the oven to polish some of its mechanics and refine the overall gameplay. The real excitement comes with the possibility of a sequel, which could iron out the minor issues and create something that could really stand up to its inspiration. If you're willing to deal with a little clunk, or just love Star Wars, you'll have a blast with Jedi Fallen Order.

Relauby: Persona Q2 and Baba is You


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The Persona series, you might be able to tell from the name, focuses heavily on developing the psychology of its characters. Given their depth, fans have become very attached to these characters and, given the success of the series, some sort of fanservice-y crossover always seemed inevitable. The Persona Q sub-series isn’t afraid to indulge in fan service, but it also puts in the effort to avoid feeling like a total cash-in.

The gameplay is a mixture of the Persona series and the Etrian Odyssey series. Not having played the Etrian Odyssey games, I can’t speak to how it matches up to them, but it falls short as a dungeon crawler. The combat itself is fantastic, strategic and fast-paced, but there’s very little variety in the random encounters, meaning each dungeon will just be the same fights repeated ad nauseam. It’s also a shame that with such a large cast of beloved characters, you’ll mainly be relegated to your five person party, as there’s no easy way to advance inactive party members. An EXP share would have gone a long way.

There is a plot here - something about a lonely girl trapped in an otherworldly movie theatre - but it doesn’t really matter. The plot only serves to drive the action, giving the characters we actually care about something to do without interfering with their established arcs. Unfortunately, the writing for these characters is a little inconsistent. Anyone new to this sub-series (Persona 5’s Phantom Thieves and Persona 3 Portable’s female protagonist) are generally treated well by the script, but returning party members struggle. Persona 4’s cast in particular are too cartoony and out-of-place, which makes a certain amount of sense given that game’s lighter tone, but without its dark themes and tighter plotting to ground them, they grate on the nerves here. Worse yet, some of them become caricatures of themselves, and characters that are harder to reduce to a stereotype seem to be given less focus than those that can just harp on one note for the entire game. Still, there are some fun character moments. Of particular interest are the side missions, which group together two or three characters, and while some are obvious, like pairing up detectives Naoto and Akechi, some are more inspired and finding the common ground between an unlikely group can add depth to them all.

It would be easy to dismiss Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth as pure fan service, based on the chibi art style and the crossover premise, but Atlus has put in the polish to make sure this doesn't feel like a second-rate experience. Even though the writing doesn’t have the depth of a mainline entry, and the game struggles with its dungeons and managing its enormous cast, there is still a lot of love poured into it. It takes full advantage of its art style to deliver a game that’s visually striking, even on the 3DS’s outdated hardware, and the combat is familiar enough to feel like a Persona game, but introduces enough wrinkles to avoid feeling like a retread. Despite its missteps, Persona Q2 always feels like a game worthy of Persona 5’s legacy, and the Persona name in general.

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It’s always fun to break the rules in games. It’s why cheat codes were popular, it’s why speed running communities obsess over every little exploit, and it’s why Baba is You is so brilliant. Everything revolves around manipulating the rules to suit your needs.

The game’s rules are laid out in simple phrases as physical objects on a gridded playing field, and are often the only objects you can interact with. In the example here, “BABA IS YOU” means that you control Baba, “FLAG IS WIN” means that touching the flag is the victory condition, “WALL IS STOP” means you can’t pass through walls, and “ROCK IS PUSH” means you can move the rocks. You could push the rock out of your way to reach the flag, or nudge one of the words out of the sentence “WALL IS STOP,” which turns it into an inactive rule and the wall will no longer offer any resistance. Alternatively, you can replace “STOP” with “WIN,” making the wall the win condition, or create the rule “WALL IS YOU,” giving yourself control of the wall and walking it into the flag to win.

Baba is You cleverly coaches its players to unlearn their normal game playing habits and think of its objects as mere functions rather than representations of actual real-world things. One early stage presents itself with fairly standard rules (“BABA IS YOU,” “WALL IS STOP,” “FLAG IS WIN”) and the next one has a nearly identical setup and solution, but switches around the semantics of the rules (“WALL IS YOU,” “FLAG IS STOP,” “BABA IS WIN”) to reinforce their flexibility.

It starts out deceptively simple, with many of the puzzles just requiring a single rule change. As you might expect, however, handing over that level of control to the player quickly becomes chaotic. Especially once more complicated rule words like “TELEPORT” or “ALL” get involved, it becomes very easy to break a level completely. Thankfully, there’s a rewind button that lets you back your actions up one at a time.

Really, I can’t think of anything else that messes with the very nature of games quite the way Baba is You does. I’d often find myself stuck on a puzzle and just deciding to play with the rules to kill time and see what the game would let me get away with. It teaches you to forget everything you know about games, even the things it just taught you about itself, because it’s all arbitrary and can change any second. You make the rules here.

Meteor7: Devil May Cry V and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice


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The team over at Capcom were really put in a tough spot with this one. I mean, how could anyone reasonably be expected to follow up the unmitigated success of the 2013 reboot, so succinctly and not at all redundantly named "DmC: Devil May Cry"; a game which all fans loved the world over, praising its brilliant original story and compelling new design of our titular protagonist Dante?

Ha, I'm kidding, they scrapped that. Pff, could you even imagine? Hahahaha… aha. Anyways, despite my, at the time, deep investment in the Devil May Cry world and its characters (2008's DMC4 was my favorite game for a long while back when it came out, before I played DMC3SE), I can't say I necessarily despised everything about the DMC:dmC:dMc:TheDevilMayCry&Knuckles reboot, but it was definitely more a step backwards than forwards, so it's great that DMCV decided to embrace the best of what the franchise had ever been.

To be honest, when I first saw the game shown off in the E3 trailer, I thought the combat looked too familiar to really be called a true sequel, but I can comfortably say now that I was mostly wrong. Nero is familiar, but greatly expanded as a character, using a healthy selection of robotic arms to replace the one that was torn off. These have all manner of unique functions (one to perform a mid-air dodge, for instance, and the time-stopping one which I call the DIO fist). He also gets a couple new sword techniques in his kit to keep players learning and give him more aerial options. Dante changed perhaps the most, with all kinds of brand new weapons, some reminiscent of older weapons (Cerberus) and some completely new altogether (demon possessed motorbike halves which are both swords and also a functional motorbike because video games). The newest addition to the party gameplay-wise is definitely V, whose moveset is comprised of zoning and summoning, with V doing very little fighting himself. Each character on their own has a good deal of meat to how they play, and they each feel diverse enough to keep things fresh. Don't worry, in addition to utility, each of their movesets are absolutely dripping with personality.

What DMCV gives is, in my opinion, the tightest-feeling and most deep combat experience in the series to date (yes, I'm considering DMC3SE as well, settle down, I still love DMC3), a wealth of creative enemy types, and what I can only call an absolutely sublime PC port, optimized to hell and back with some of the cleanest frame-pacing I think I've seen in any PC game. Seriously, it's hard to understate just how little there is on the technical side preventing you from immersing yourself into the combat; I was streaming this game to a friend on launch and still getting 140+ fps consistently. It's gorgeous. The story is presented with brilliant slapstick and the dorkiest humor, all without becoming so irreverent as to detract from what drama it does have. The combat is a tight, satisfying casserole of flashy combos and reactive gameplay, where you control the battlefield with equal parts vigilance and knowing your i-frames, as well as gung-ho, high-octane, creative combo construction.

The few complaints I have aren't insignificant, though they aren't enough to detract from the experience too badly. Firstly, while V is interesting to play, it's just too easy to completely lock-down and wall mobs out, making V nigh untouchable. Luckily one still needs to put in some concentration for most bosses, but when it comes to standard enemies, V can basically rest in a hammock while his demons take care of things. More than that, the game will award far too many style points for what amounts to thoughtless button mashing. This isn't an issue for any other character, but it means that V's stages are just too trivial to S-rank. I suppose the saving grace is that V's S-SSS taunts are equal parts ironically hilarious and genuinely fantastic.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is a problem in which, for whatever reason, missions 10 and 18 are inordinately difficult to S-rank on higher difficulties. If you save up the orbs, you *can* use Faust to cheese the missions, but what fun is that? Well, probably at least a little, because pelting your enemies with a thick, unyeilding stream of demon blood which is also money is never going to be not entertaining, but still. This problem doesn't come up often at all, in just two, arguably two and a half missions, but it's there all the same.

Despite the minor downsides, this is exactly where I wanted the series to go and exactly where I think it needed to in order to remove the lingering taste of DmC from our mouths. I wouldn't hesitate to give DMCV at least 9.5/10, if I were reviewing it proper, but I'm not, so hey, consider it a freebie.

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In many senses a more focused experience than that of the Dark Soulses, FromSoft's Sekiro takes a new angle on the action RPG formula by daringly removing most methods of customization and diversification the DS series had been known for. No longer can you roleplay as your very own Thrupsterday Von Scheudelbreudel, the cleric mage with a fondness for crossbows and a jaw the size of Kentucky, now you are just Sekiro, the wayward samurai. Character and build customization both have been stripped away for a single moveset and set protagonist, making it more reminiscent of a more traditional RPG storyline than its predecessors, and as a result, Sekiro himself is a much more active director of the game's narrative than is typical for a FromSoft game.

Instead of the wealth of different weapon movesets the DS titles have been known for, the player begins with Sekiro's trusty sword, and is steadily given both sub-weapons and special artes to be used with a replenishable resource. What the combat system sacrifices in diversity, it gains in fidelity. Where many DS weapons throughout the series could feel rather jank, Sekiro's focused moveset is much more fleshed-out and comprehensive, and all around more reliable.

Things have further been shaken up in the combat corner, with dodges beginning and ending much faster, and, in most cases, having slightly less i-frames than even a DS1 fat roll. That being said, Sekiro can jump, either directly up or at an angle, and those jumps give 1.1 and 1.27 seconds of i-frames specifically for sweeping attacks, with the latter giving 0.1 seconds for non-thrust attacks. Gone too is the stamina bar, meaning one can dodge and jump to their heart's content, making for a much faster combat flow, however the coverage of enemy attacks still makes misinputs readily punished, so precision is a must. In place of a traditional stamina bar is instead a posture gauge, which when filled, causes Sekiro's posture to be broken, leaving him open to attack. Similarly, fill up the enemy's posture gauge and wham bam slip slash, you get a flashy insta-kill. The best way to try and break the enemy's posture is by performing perfect-guards as the enemy attacks. Think DS1 parries, but if someone designed an entire meta around them. This means that, in large part, to defend means to attack. This puts even more emphasis on extremely precise, reactive gameplay, and it's an absolute thrill.

When you aren't fighting a big boss, you're exploring the mystical Japanese-themed landscapes, grappling from rooftop to treetop and finding hidden pathways/secret bosses. Sekiro is incredibly athletic, and it allows for all kinds of interesting ways to navigate and think about the landscape.

I regret nothing in getting all endings, and especially regret nothing in giving up Kuro's Charm at the beginning of my NG+1 file (essentially opting in for a more difficult experience.) Sekiro's NG pluses follow a very shallow difficulty curve naturally, to the point where NG+4 becomes an absolute joke. That's unless you give away Kuro's Charm. Being the unquestionably pro gamer that I am, this run definitely didn't make me growl expletives at certain bosses as I fought them for the 26th time, nor did it give me a lingering phobia of owls. ...Like, not at all.

Cough

Anyways, I give Sekiro thee topknots out of a dragon kid, and I heavily recommend it to anyone who enjoys anything.

Kiiwii: The Touryst and Crisis VRigade


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Take a load off, go explore, have fun!

The Touryst completely flew under my radar back in November thanks to being pre-occupied with games like Luigi's Mansion 3 and the inevitable run-up to Christmas, however upon second glance I couldn't wait to dive into the warm sun-soaked waters and feel those 8-bit cubes of sand beneath my toes, so I unwaveringly dropped £17.99 on its mere 246mb download, and got stuck in during any free time I had.

Exploration and enjoyment are key staples of this game as you investigate every blocky nook and cranny of the archipelago with their soft-as-silk tilt-shift bokeh scenery and native inhabitants. You begin with nothing to do and end up with a list as long as your arm per-island, and it's wholesomely engrossing. Tasks range from changing your garments, deep-sea diving, mining for diamonds thousands of feet underground and taking photographs of the monuments and certain people of interest.

I love this game for its simplicity and the overall best thing about this game is that there is no time constraints, no deadlines, no pressure. You find your way, discover ancient riddles and solve the mystery of the islands. I can honestly say it was a blast playing through this title, and although it only took around 6 or so hours of play to complete over 80% of the game, I feel that if you really went back and took your time doing all the side quests and enjoying the sights and sounds you could sink into this for a good 4-5 more hours to 100% it. Highly recommended.

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If you even remotely liked the lightgun games of yore such as Time Crisis or Virtual Cop, you are going to absolutely love Crisis Vrigade!

When I recently won a competition at work and scored a £10 PSN voucher, I knew exactly what I wanted to play having trawled through PSVR trailers a few days earlier. As a huge advocate of lightgun games on virtually every console to date; Crisis Vrigade spoke to me on a whole new level in terms of engaging pressurised situational heroics. Master your proficiency in the shooting range and then duck, cover and gun your way to success over 3 varied stages including; "Bank Robbery", "Port Ambush", and the latest addition "Ransom". The latter sees you storm a highrise building to the top and gun down your enemies with a mini-gun. There is also Rookie and Hell difficulty levels: need I say more?

The cover system has been revised this year to include better bullet physics that don't magically penetrate solid surfaces and bullet-time bullet-trails that show you who and where you took a bullet from. You can blind fire over obstacles, smash through wooden objects, and target the obligatory red coloured props such as barrels that explode, fire extinguishers that plume out smokescreens, or shoot down crane construction payloads to rain down on your foes for maximum damage. Things like this have fine-tuned this title into what I would consider an essential purchase, especially if you own one of the badass PSVR Aim controllers too. With the move controllers you default to a handgun, or if you pick up a machine gun you can use your free hand to steady the weapon, or if you have the Aim controller you are graced with a superb looking rifle with a faster rate of fire.

I can't help but revisit this game on an almost daily basis to improve on my scores and try to find new routes or better methods to reach the goals. Everything about this just works. From the accuracy level of the weapons to the variety of the environments and the ways in which you can choose to tackle them; though it has got a harsh learning curve, it's downright fun and I cannot recommend it highly enough for an arcade-style sub £10 game on PSN.

Prans: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger


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If you’re looking for a game that’s not too demanding but yet offers an enjoyable experience, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be what you’re looking for.

Initially released in 2013, the game made its way to the Nintendo Switch this December 10th. Despite being a 6 year old game, this first-person shooter still manages to provide fun on the Switch. You play as Silas Greaves, a bounty hunter in the Wild West, who explores his memory to uncover the truth behind the legendary tales tied to his name.

Those very tales might often sound over the top but as the good storyteller that he is, Silas adjusts them on the fly as he recounts them to his saloon audience. As you play in his memory, he will often conjure new elements like a path to a mine when none was present before or rectify that it was bandits and not Apaches who attacked him, changing the current scene. Sure the plot does not take itself seriously and there’s no harm in that for the gameplay provides the most fun.

As an FPS with upgradeable skills and with weapons from close to long ranging ones, you’ll nevertheless be fine going in guns blazing, taking cover and repeat until the area is clear. These mindless shooting and exaggerated plot makes Call of Juarez: Gunslinger what I call a stress-reliever. It’s easy to pick up to play for short bouts of time and offers much fun whenever you get back to it.

As a bounty hunter, Silas Greaves won’t miss to flesh out how he faced notorious Wild West outlaws in duels. These play out by having you control Silas’ hand and when to shoot and unfortunately it feels like an odd mechanic which I had trouble getting used to. The Switch version allows you to use the detached Joy-Cons to handle this like a gun-wielder but don't really improve these duels.

Other than the Story Mode, there’s also an Arcade Mode. The latter consists of 10 stages where you’ll have to aim for the high score by linking kills with combos while trying to stay alive. This mode might be what will keep you coming to the game as Gunslinger feels like an arcade game from the get go.

If you’re looking for a chilled game to spend the end of the year with, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a decent title to go for. The port runs perfectly fine on the Switch in both handheld and docked modes and I encountered no issues to speak of. The title will take you around back in time to the Wild West across varied landscapes in a pleasing cel-shaded aesthetic while hunting or being hunted. It's high noon!

Scarlet: Moero Chronicle Hyper and Dragon Quest XI


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2019 has been a good year for me, looking at my game library, but finding a few games to talk about for this proved a surprising challenge. You see, most of what I love I already reviewed for the site. From Fire Emblem Three Houses, to Dragon Quest Builders 2, Mario Maker 2; I've said what I wanted to say already. With that in mind, I looked a little deeper to bring something obscure and something great to the table.

The obscure is Moero Chronicle Hyper. When I saw this game all those months ago, I had only one thought, really one question. Why is this port not the Neptunia Trilogy? That aside, the game was cheap enough at launch to tide me over with some spicy dungeon crawling as I waited for NISA's Labyrinth of Refrain to finally fall in price. It's quite a standard dungeon crawler, but that's not necessarily something to its detriment. It hits all the right points to keep you hooked if you're the kind of degenerate to enjoy a Compile Heart game or two. You explore set dungeons on a ridiculous quest with bizarre characters, and naturally the monster girls you pick up on the way. You have innuendos aplenty, scantily dressed women, and the weirdest rubbing game since Fire Emblem Fates. I'd say more but… That's kind of it. It's a good laugh and a decent dungeon crawler.

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Now the great game? Dragon Quest XI on the Switch. Unlike most of the games the rest of my comrades in mag staff have chosen, I'm far from finishing this. Having only picked it up at Christmas and played around ten hours, I can't begin to fathom what an adventure I have yet to sprawl before me. It's a JRPG by all JRPG standards, and in this age of gimmicks and quirks, it stands out for its completely traditional nature. It seems insane to recommend it for its almost generic qualities but when they're polished and refined to such a degree that the game doesn't need to rely on flashy features to stand out, it's worth shouting about. Though I've only barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, it's one I already find myself recommending to others, and I'm excited to see how my opinion fully forms as the game goes on. Even after beating it, there are challenge modes to play, not to mention the fact the game can be switched to a classic 2D JRPG at any point. Honestly, if you're starved for some back to roots JRPG action, waste no more time and get in on this gem.

Ericzander: Kingdom Hearts 3 and Ni No Kuni Remastered


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Kingdom Hearts is a series that I was introduced to when I was about 10 years old and I think it’s safe to say that I grew up on it. I didn’t get my own PS2 until about 2006 but I regularly visited my cousin’s house just to watch him play Kingdom Hearts on his. When I finally got the system it was one of the first games that I bought with my own money and I was hooked ever since.

While Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced in 2013 it wasn’t until 2018 that we got a release date of January, 2019. In anticipation I dedicated 2018 to playing all the Kingdom Hearts games in the 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8 collections, as well as casually playing the mobile game which was everything I needed to get ready for Kingdom Hearts 3. Picking up the game at 25 years old felt the same as picking up Kingdom Hearts 1 as a child.

Diving into the game was a real treat for me and it wasn’t until after completing the game and thoroughly enjoying everything it had to offer did I allow myself to be exposed to the controversy that surrounded the game. In my perspective, this was a very fun game but, despite the insanely long development time felt rushed in the story department and maybe even a bit in the gameplay department. I knew beforehand that it would be impossible for this game to appease those who only played Kingdom Hearts 1+2 (which I don’t advice doing) as well as those who played every game (which is almost necessary to do to appreciate the story of this game) and also those who never played a Kingdom Hearts game before (but what can you expect at that point?). As a result, I admit that the game gimped the story in a way that didn’t fully satisfy any of those groups. In addition, the game was panned for being too easy, the Disney Worlds feeling shoehorned in, the lack of a colosseum, and the final act feeling rushed. Luckily, free DLC has added an additional difficulty mode that fixes the gameplay problem. Further, in January of 2020 we will be able to purchase the Re:Mind DLC which looks to add a lot to the story and expand upon the final act. As with all series like this, haters will hate and fanboys will fanboy. I don’t consider myself a fanboy of many things, but Kingdom Hearts is one of those things. I will gobble up everything they throw at me. That doesn’t change the fact that while Kingdom Hearts 3 didn’t live up to the insane hype behind it, it is a good game that is still receiving quality of life improvements and is worth playing if you’ve played the others before it.

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Ni No Kuni was originally released on the PS3 in 2013 and I unfortunately did not have a chance to play it back then due to the fact that I was pretty firmly stuck in the Nintendo ecosystem until late 2015 when I got a PS4. However, I got the chance to play Ni No Kuni Remastered which came out in 2019 and dozens of hours of playing and a month and a half of real world time later I was able to platinum it and I loved every minute of it. This is still an amazing JRPG holds up in every way in 2019. With such a beautiful world, score, characters, and plot, it's hard to find much to hate. Level 5 and Studio Ghibli really knocked it out of the park this time.

The game’s story is very reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films and follows the main protagonist, Oliver, and his friends on their adventure to stop the evil Shadar, revive Oliver’s mom, and save the world. This game uses a real-time combat system that requires players to think on their feet. The game is not overly complicated and it is easy to grind your way to victory, but it takes a while to do everything that the game has to offer. My only regret is that I was not able to play this game earlier because I really believe it should be a staple in the JRPG genre. If you’re interested, you can read my full in-depth review of the game here.

What did you think of 2019? Was it a good year for video games, or were there more flops than hits? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tags: [GAME=/game/kingdom-hearts-iii.2933]Kingdom Hearts III[/GAME] [GAME=/game/the-outer-worlds.113114]The Outer Worlds[/GAME] [GAME=/game/star-wars-jedi-fallen-order.74701]Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order[/GAME] [GAME=/game/persona-q2-new-cinema-labyrinth.54220]Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth[/GAME] [GAME=/game/sekiro-shadows-die-twice.76882]Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice[/GAME] [GAME=/game/devil-may-cry-5.76253]Devil May Cry 5[/GAME] [GAME=/game/dragon-quest-xi-s-echoes-of-an-elusive-age---definitive-edition.110069]Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition[/GAME] [GAME=/game/ni-no-kuni-wrath-of-the-white-witch-remastered.119390]Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered[/GAME]
 

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Shit did you write all tht up by yourself - hope ther paying you good I wouldn't take less than 15 quid an hour:D
 

relauby

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What? No Untitled Goose Game?

FWIW, I did a user review of UGG before being promoted on the site. I didn’t want to reuse it here though since I didn’t really like the game so I didn’t want to go out of my way to shit on something people love, especially when I do respect it, it just didn’t click with me.
 

eriol33

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2019 is one of the best year in video gaming for me, as this year we got RE2, KH3, and Control. Control is the first digital game that I paid in full price, and boy, it was my superpower fantasy coming true! Too bad there are not so many post game contents, but two dlcs are coming next year.

I agree that Kh3 in standard mode is ridiculously easy, but after replaying in critical mode and I died like 5 times in tutorial, maybe it was a good choice as critical mode is super hard (at least in the beginning where you cannot access cure).

I bought ni no kuni in PS3 played it for 10 hours but it didn't grow on me, I feel the entire battle system was so awkward, I am glad they changed it into action rpg in the next game (however weird the plot premise is), I really should revisit the game sometimes though, I wonder if I could appreciate it this time.
 
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Ericzander

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I agree that Kh3 in standard mode is ridiculously easy, but after replaying in critical mode and I died like 5 times in tutorial, maybe it was a good choice as critical mode is super hard (at least in the beginning where you cannot access cure).
That's why I'm excited for Re:Mind to come out because I'm going to play the game again with critical mode and the QoL updates beforehand. I'm excited to finally lose a few fights.
 
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AkiraKurusu

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Persona Q2...it would've been more appealing, had Atlus decided to splurge on English VA (personally, I cannot stand non-English VA, because I rely on voiced dialogue for true 'immersion' into the game. Not being able to comprehend what anyone's saying breaks that; they'd be better off removing voice altogether, in my opinion). As it stands, only Q1 has English VA, but I never got to play P3FES or P4G (thanks to not knowing about Persona during my PS2 youth, and refusing to buy a Vita just for one game), so Q1 is thus not really something I want to buy.
I mean, I understand why they didn't spend money on English VA - the 3DS was dying, so sales would likely be low - but that's business. Personally, not having it sucks.

Also, personally, a "2019 Retrospective" cannot be completed without mentioning how truly awful Pokemon Sword/Shield were. I'm a long-time Pokemon fan - most of my accounts have Pokemon icons, most of my easily-remembered (non-Dashlaned) passwords and PINs relate to Pokemon, and I've played almost every non-Switch mainline Pokemon game and quite a few spin-offs several times - so leaving Sword/Shield off is a crime.

Pokemon Sword and Shield deserve to be on EVERY "Top 10 Worst Games of 2019" list.

Two utter abominations that were released incomplete - not even 40% of the content found in the 3DS games made its way in. Over 470 Pokémon (out of 807) missing, a slew of moves gone, and Mega Evolution (along with Z-Moves...meh) replaced by a much less interesting and worthwhile gimmick. Visually, it doesn't do the Switch justice whatsoever; Pokémon models and animations are ripped straight from the 3DS releases with minimal changes (mainly not having to compress them anymore, and shading differences for models; moves just have a different rendition of the exact same basic animation used since 2013), environmental assets such as trees can be compared unfavourably to the Nintendo 64, and NPC movements are incredibly stilted with only occasional moments of increased effort put in.

There's also performance issues, such as incredibly obvious and close pop-in and the occasional lag. The online sucks (and not just because it's paywalled) - the traditional GTS, present since 2007's Diamond/Pearl to allow for global trading, has been removed, with a much less helpful system forced in. Online battles have a shorter time limit, making stalling a more abusable tactic. Dynamax Raid battles are insanely repetitive and get quite stale after a while.

Speaking of Dynamax, this can only be used in certain situations - it cannot be used at any time, unlike Mega Evolution and Z-Moves. When it can be used, it only lasts three turns before reverting the Pokémon to its regular size - whereas Mega Evolution lasts the entire battle (though if the Mega Evolved Pokémon faints and is revived, it reverts to its base form and cannot be Mega Evolved again in that same battle). Gigantamax, the second inferior gimmick, has the additional restriction of being unavailable for all members of a capable species - that is to say, not every Charizard, Meowth or Snorlax can Gigantamax, only certain ones; compare this to Mega Evolution, where every Mewtwo, Heracross, Medicham, Lucario and Audino can Mega Evolve, as long as they're holding the right item.

There's very little exploration - no real branching paths or open fields, and the ONLY 'caves' are two incredibly short mines with unimaginative names (essentially Mine No. 1 and Mine No. 2). Compare this to every single previous game in the series, which had multiple caves and dungeons for the player to prospect. Sword/Shield also don't feature their main Legendaries until the postgame, leaving the main adventure feeling very empty - this isn't helped by how lifeless and one-note towns and cities feel, or how lacklustre and unlikeable the characters are. The rival/friend, Hop, just never shuts up, and the Champion (Leon) is a douchebag egotistical braggart. Also obligatory goth girl.

There's an insane amount of auto-heals present, and the inability to toggle the Exp. All mechanic (i.e. every Pokémon in the Party gets Experience, instead of just the ones that went up against the just-KO'd foe) off unlike the 3DS games further reduces any semblance of challenge. The classic Elite Four and Champion challenge has also been butchered, especially since it now allows you to essentially visit a Pokémon Centre between each fight, instead of forcing you to rely on whatever healing items you had stocked up to survive.

Game Freak and The Pokémon Company never once revealed just how many Pokémon had been cut, and for their Japanese audience never revealed they removed Pokémon whatsoever. They also gave easily-debunkable bullshit reasons behind the unjustifiable removal - essentially, they stated they cut Pokémon to include 'higher-quality visuals' and 'graphical fidelity', which is obvious bunkum, as mentioned above. To top the trainwreck off, they also promised last year - LAST YEAR, 2018 - that the next games would be "aimed towards veterans" and they promised not to "cut anyone's favourite Pokémon" - both statements turned out to be utter lies. Broken promises.

There IS no defending Pokémon Sword, Pokémon Shield, Game Freak or The Pokémon Company. Instead of delaying the games for a year to ensure all 807 Pokémon and moves (and hopefully Mega Evolution) made it in, they pushed it out onto store shelves, relying solely on the Pokémon brand alone to make bank instead of actual game content and quality. This is unforgivable. While they haven't yet stooped low enough to implement extra transactions, the sheer fact they're keeping many people's favourite Pokémon locked out is pure scum.

They also have failed to keep up with modern RPG standards - Persona 5, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Octopath Traveller and Final Fantasy (among other JRPGs) have left Pokémon in the dust, since its system has remained essentially unchanged since the GBA days (that was the last time the system was overhauled), with some holdovers from the original Game Boy.

If anyone's looking for actual worthwhile Pokémon games, my personal recommendations are, in order, Black/White 2, HeartGold/SoulSilver, Platinum, Black/White, Emerald, XD: Gale of Darkness, Colosseum, Ultra Sun/Moon, FireRed/LeafGreen, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. Yes, I did include GBA and GameCube (not made by Game Freak; instead, Genius Sonority) games, since they still keep up with and surpass some more recent releases.
For worthwhile Switch games, try Link's Awakening, Astral Chain, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, or Kirby: Star Allies. They're all stellar games that provide so much more than Pokémon Sword/Shield ever could.
For worthwhile JPRGs, Octopath Traveller, Persona 5 (P5 Royal's coming out early next year!) and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on PC are more fulfilling.
 
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raxadian

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I skipped buying Pokemon Sword or Pokemon Shield. I don't care about Mega Evolution or Z-moves anyway, those can stay gone.

If they included every Pokemon It would have better than the stupid Kaiju battles.

I do like Kaiju battles but this is a Pokemon game, and if the option is between every Pokemon or Kaiju battles then give me the option of every Pokemon.

Worse, the graphics do not do the Switch justice, if you are gonna remove most Pokemon then at least make the Pokemon left look good, not like they got ripped from a 3DS game.

I would have been perfectly okay with just 150 to 200 Pokemon if the graphics were worth it, but they aren't. Do 150 new Pokemon, allow 50 classic Pokemon to be back.

About other games well... is a real shame the one I am interested in is the one with the Goose that I hope it eventually gets some DLC because is a tad short.
 
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YukidaruPunch

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I urge everybody reading this thread to play Sayonara Wild Hearts. It's a game about a girl who suffers a devastating heartbreak and spirals into sadness and anger until she learns how to reconsider her own feelings and starts forgiving herself. It's a fantastic game about self-acceptance, heartbreak and human relationships - but it's all disguised as an amazing pop music album with neon lights and machinegun equipped motorcycles drifting at 200 mph. The music, style and heart of the game are all fantastic; it's crafted with such care you rarely find anywhere that you just know the devs absolutely loved doing whatever they wanted to do. And I love it as well.

swh_eshop_banner_1920x1080.jpg


It is an absolutely wonderful game and one of the most heartwarming experiences I've ever had. If you like games such as Rez, Space Channel 5, Mother or Ouendan, give this one a shot as I don't think you'll regret it. It's my personal favorite game of the last decade.
 
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