16 Posts

Square Enix recently released a demo of Project Octopath Traveler on the Nintendo Switch. Traveler is a “2D-HD” turn-based RPG developed by Square Enix and Acquire. It currently does not have any firm release date beyond 2018.

So what is “2D-HD”? 2D-HD takes 2D sprites and surrounds them with 2.5D environments and modern special effects. It is a very unique approach. I feel that the environment and special effects look awesome, but the sprites were somewhat disappointing. The sprites seemed to lack detail and looked very blocky (especially on a big TV). Maybe I am spoiled with more modern sprites, but it feels like they could have spent some more time with the artwork here.

The demo comes with two of the eight classes enabled. They are the warrior and the dancer. I put some time in with the warrior and enjoyed the turn-based battle system. It has the standard fare of abilities, defense and attacks, but it also adds in a way to boost your attack. After each turn, you get another dot on your boost meter, which you can use during your next attack. You can chain up to three boosts in one turn, which makes for some strong attacks. Boosts can be combined with your normal attack and your abilities.

Each class has a unique ability that can be performed outside of battle. In the case of the warrior, he can challenge people to a battle. When you challenge another character, you will see their ranking in a five star based scale. One star is easy whereas five is hard. In the demo, most of the time these battles lead to experience and money, but sometimes it will complete a quest. This is an interesting addition to the turn-based RPG, but I found that I was getting bored with challenging people. Maybe if they put it to better use in the full game, it could be fun, but who knows what their grand plan is.

Outside of challenging people, the majority of battles happen randomly while you wander around the world. It is no different that other turn-based RPGs in this aspect.

I found that the warrior’s story was not very strong and kind of boring. He is a fallen warrior that failed to protect somebody from being killed. He then moves to a town under a different name and tries to lead a quiet life until a group of brigands threaten the town and kidnap a boy. At that point you go save the boy and your identity is revealed. I just did not care for the character all that much and found the dialogue to be bland.

I plan on giving the dancer a try to see if her story is more compelling. I want to love this game, but in the end, I felt that it is not the strongest turn-based RPG. They also need to find a new name for this game, I can never remember it.

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Guns 'N' Stories is an early access VR wave shooter set in the old west. It is being developed by MiroWin. The overall story is the tried-and-true scenario of a woman getting kidnapped by a big bad, and you are out to save her.

The first two levels that I played were enjoyable. You start out with one pistol and soon end up with two. You fight wave after wave of bad guys while you are dodging and shooting down bullets. Based on the fact that my pistols turned into high-tech automated weapons during the second level, it looks like MiroWin has a weapon progression plan in the game.

Given that this is a wave shooter, there is not a lot to explore. You pretty much stand in one place and fight the bad guys, but you do get a workout ducking and dodging the incoming fire.

I really enjoyed the narration. It starts out with a boy asking his grandpa about his gun, which in turn has the grandpa telling the story which you are playing. The game is narrated in real time, so the grandpa will start talking about things that change the course of the game. For example, you start out the game with a cup in one hand and a bottle in the other. The boy asks how he fights with a cup, to which the grandpa responds that it is actually a pistol. At that moment the cup changes into a pistol. Overall, the narration was the highlight of the game.

I plan to keep checking out this game to see what the developer adds. They definitely have a fun story surrounding this wave shooter. Hopefully it holds up.

This was reviewed using a download key provided to Cheerful Ghost by MiroWin.

Guns 'N' Stories: Bulletproof VR is available for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

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Specter of Torment is a prequel to the original Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope game. It follows Specter Knight as he "recruits" each member of The Order of No Quarter. It also dives into Specter Knight's backstory, which I will not reveal here.

The game itself is similar to both Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows. It is a 2D platformer that has you fighting boss battles at the end of every level. What is different from Shovel and Plague is Yacht Club Games has gotten rid of the world map. In the previous games you used the world map to travel from level to level (like Super Mario World), but in Specter, you just jump straight to any level via a portal (think Mega Man games). I missed the world map, and I wonder why they did not include it here. I think they were going for the Mega Man feel here, but it just feels like they dropped a feature due to time.

Speaking of time, this game is a lot shorter than both Shovel and Plague. It took me about six hours to beat the game, where Shovel and Plague took me ten and twelve hours, respectively. This is a quick game that you can beat in a day.

Another thing that I felt that Yacht Club Games scaled back on is story. Both Shovel of Torment and Plague of Shadows had great stories and characters. Specter of Torment does not have as grand of a story. This leads me to care less for the characters than in previous games.

The one thing that Yacht Club Games does nail is level design and controls. They are tight. The mechanics of Specter Knight are really cool with his wall scale, the ability to jump off walls, and the ability to do what I will call a "lunge attack" in air. I cannot tell if they reused previous levels from the other games, but it does not really matter, they are still great. I actually finished this game a while back, and then played it again for this review and I still had a lot of fun.

The boss battles in this game range from really easy to moderate difficulty, kind of inline with the previous releases of Shovel Knight games. I found that I could beat all bosses with some ground attacks and in-air lunge attacks. I was not really surprised by this given the difficulty of the boss battles in the previous games.

Secondary items, called Curios, were neat but not really needed to beat the game. The only one that I used all the time was the healing item. The rest were fun to get and try out but were barely needed to solve the puzzles and beat enemies.

Overall I enjoyed this game, and will play it again. The story wasn't quite there for me, but the level design and controls were top notch. Overall, I would rank it as my least favorite in the series, but still fun.

The review for this game came from the Switch version. Specter of Torment is also available on the PC, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Vita, PS3, Xbox One and Fire TV.

Yacht Club Games provided Cheerful Ghost with a Switch download key for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, which Specter of Torment is part of.

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http://yachtclubgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/plague_of_shadows_title_black_bg.png
Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows is an add-on campaign to Shovel Knight. You play the role of Plague Knight as he goes through the Shovel Knight world collecting ingredients for a potion that will make him powerful. It takes place at the same time as the original Shovel Knight.

Plague of Shadows is an add on that uses all the same levels from the original Shovel Knight, while adding some new areas within those levels. Since it is pretty much the same game, it is Plague Knight's gameplay mechanics and his story that makes it stand apart from the original.

I think you will get the most enjoyment out of the story if you have already finished the original Shovel Knight. It is not a requirement, but there a lot of references, both obvious and not so obvious, that add a lot to the story.

As for gameplay, Plague Knight has a whole different set of weapons, special abilities and movement mechanics from Shovel Knight. His main weapon, a bomb, is highly customizable, allowing for different types of gameplay. I found myself focusing on a few combinations that helped me get through the game.

With the change of movement mechanics, the reuse of the old levels from the original Shovel Knight works. It feels like a new game. I also found that the levels were more difficult with Plague Knight than with Shovel Knight.

My main problem with Plague of Shadows is the same as the original Shovel Knight. The bosses are just too easy. Plague Knight makes the majority of bosses much easier than they were in Shovel Knight.

Overall I enjoyed Plague of Shadows as much as the original Shovel Knight, if not more. The story and platforming are so good that they outweigh the easy boss battles.

I recorded a video of the intro, first level and town. This video is from Hard Mode, where you carry over all unlocked abilities. You can view it here:

https://youtu.be/EPxbRGYixZ8

My original Shovel Knight review is here:

http://cheerfulghost.com/Will_Ball/posts/3294/review-shovel-knight-shovel-of-hope-part-of-shovel-knight-treasure-trove-for-the-switch

Yacht Club Games provided Cheerful Ghost with a download key for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove for the Nintendo Switch. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is also available for the Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Vita, PS3, Xbox One, Mac, Windows, Linux and Fire TV.

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http://yachtclubgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/logo_shovel.png
Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope is the original Shovel Knight game released by Yacht Club Games in 2014. It is a platformer with an 8-bit sound and art style. The version reviewed here is part of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove for the Switch, which was provided by Yacht Club Games, to Cheerful Ghost in the form of a download key.

I previously played Shovel Kinght: Shovel of Hope on the 3DS, and now on the Switch. The Switch version wins the match between the two, hands down, in my opinion. While the Switch does not have the 3D that the 3DS has, it has a beautiful handheld screen and great sounding audio.

Yacht Club Games did an outstanding job with Shovel Knight. The level design was awesome. Each level was difficult, but not to the point where you give up. They designed it in such a way that you felt finishing each level was achievable, which is was.

The retro 8-bit sound and art was well done too. The thing that stood out the most to me was the use of lighting on some levels. Not only did this provide a fun game mechanic, but it also provided ambience to those levels.

The controls on the game were very responsive, even with the Switch's D-Pad buttons. The D-Pad buttons took a little bit of getting used to, but after an hour or so of play, it felt like a good replacement for a D-Pad.

My two small problems with the game were that some of the auxiliary weapons didn't seem needed (maybe it was just the way I played), and the pogo attack move seemed overpowered. The reason I felt it was overpowered, was that for the most part, it could be used to take down the majority of enemies including the bosses. Maybe this was by design, but it would have been nice if I needed a little bit more strategy to defeat the bosses for each level. The only time it felt balanced was when there were knights with shields that could block you from bouncing on their head.

Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope is just one game out of three in Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. I would recommend getting Treasure Trove for the Switch just for Shovel of Hope. I hope the other two games live up to this first Shovel Knight game.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is available on Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Sony PS3, Sony PS4, Sony Vita, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, and Nintendo Switch.

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Recently, Yacht Club Games provided Cheerful Ghost with a download key for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove for the Switch. Given that I just got the Switch and have yet to try a 2D platformer on the platform, I decided to download the game and fire it up.

Before I dive into my first impressions of the game, let's talk about what Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove on the Switch comes with. The Switch version includes the following:


  • Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows

  • Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

  • Co-op mode

  • Four player battle mode

  • Amiibo support



There is a lot of game here and the co-op mode really interests me. Since the Switch has two controllers built in, getting a co-op game going seems like a perfect use of the system in tabletop mode, or even on the TV.

Now on to my first impressions...

My only exposure to Shovel Knight has been on my 3DS. I have enjoyed it a lot on that platform, so when I had a chance to give it a try on the Switch, I was game. This game really pops on the Switch. Shovel Knight on the Switch's screen is gorgeous. I went back and compared it to my 3DS version, and found that my 3DS gave me a headache (both in 3D and 2D mode). This has nothing to do with Shovel Knight, but rather the difference in the platforms. The Switch's display is night and day better than the 3DS, and Shovel Knight shines on it.

The controls are solid on the Switch. You can use the thumb stick or the "D-pad" (actually D-buttons) to move Shovel Knight. Given that I prefer to play 2D platformers with a D-pad, this is the method of control that I decided to use. Playing with the D-buttons is taking some time to get the hang of, but I feel I will get there. Again, this is not a Shovel Knight problem, but rather a Switch design choice.

Next up, I docked the Switch and played Shovel Knight with the Switch Pro Controller on my 47" TV. It looks just as great on the TV as it does on the Switch screen. Moving back to a traditional d-pad was also a bonus (at least until I get used to the D-buttons on the joy-con). The game seemed to preform perfectly on the big screen. I am not sure if there is any resolution change here, but if there is, it did not seem to impact performance.

If I already had Treasure Trove, or all three of the versions of Shovel Knight mentioned above, I would probably have skipped this version, unless I was a die hard Shovel Knight fan, then this is probably a must have for the Switch. Given that I only have Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope on the 3DS, this is a great value and I would have picked it up.

Overall, I think this will be my go to version of Shovel Knight over my 3DS version. The screen just makes the difference to me.

You can find Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove on the Switch eShop for $24.99.

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Update
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The archive of the stream can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es_4dXrQkpA

Original Post
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Today at 12pm pacific, IGN and the Video Game History Foundation are teaming up for a 5 hour stream of them playing "a slew of rare things, including canceled games, unreleased consoles, forgotten preview builds, and much more." This is also a fundraising event for VGHF which looks like it perserves old games and consoles. I don't know much about the charity, but the event seems pretty cool. I will be checking it out.

For more info on how to watch it, go here:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/02/21/how-to-watch-igns-save-point-live-stream

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The Last Guardian has arrived! Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are my favorite games, so I have been anticipating this game for a while. This game is the main reason I got a PS4 (as I already own an Xbox One). The beginning of the game is very enchanting. I thought I would record the beginning if anybody was interested (I also got to test out my new game capture device).

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https://willballblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/img_0194.jpg
I recently dusted off my N64 and fired up Shadow Man. After 30+ hours, I have conquered Deadside!

Shadow Man deals with a world of voodoo and the land of the dead. They call this land "Deadside". As Shadow Man you are protector of Deadside. You are sent to collect the dark souls and stop Legion and Jack the Ripper (plus their minions) from collecting them. This is a game of dark subject matter, which is a nice change of pace for a game on a Nintendo platform.

I enjoyed my time in Deadside. The world is well built and the mechanics are fairly solid. There is some good platforming here and the dual wield system for the weapons was a nice touch. As for weapons, you have both real world guns and voodoo weapons. Most of the weapons also have some use in solving puzzles, which makes them more useful than for just killing the bad guys.

All that being said, I did have some problems. The N64 version had some bugs. I had the game freeze once, monsters would disappear through walls and walk through doors, and at one point the camera pointed at the ground for a transition scene. The camera got in the way at points too. There was no real easy way to control it on the N64, which in turn made some of the platforming elements difficult. Also the strafe targeting did not always work so well. It often would lose its lock and either target nothing or switch to another enemy.

I also felt that this game needs a map. It is a very drab world, which is appropriate given that Deadside is essentially Hell. This drab world makes it easy to get lost. A lot of it looks the same, and sometime the textures would blend together and you would not notice a path. There is also a lot of backtracking, so a map would make things a little bit easier and more enjoyable.

You can currently get this game on Steam and GOG for a few dollars. So if you want to check it out, it is still available on the PC and Mac, and I would say worth the few dollars. You could also dig up used copies for the PlayStation and Dreamcast.

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https://willballblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/wide_rygar2.jpg
Hey all, I recently sat down and played through Rygar on my NES. My overall review of the game is, that while fun, it is pretty easy. I feel that the lack of save game is the part that makes it most difficult. I had fun revisiting this game from a nostalgia point of view, but there are better games out there.

If you are interested in reading a more in-depth review, here is the link:

https://willballblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/rygar-nes-version-1987/

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http://www.tawmis.com/onlinesierra/sierra2.jpg
It looks like a bunch of old Sierra games have been released on steam:


  • Police Quest Collection

  • Gabriel Knight 1, 2, 3

  • Arcanum

  • Quest for Glory Collection

  • Phantasmagoria 1 & 2

  • Caesar 3 & 4



I played a lot of these games when they first came out. I had a lot of good times with them. I can't say how well they have aged, but they might be worth checking out if you want to play some old Sierra games.

http://store.steampowered.com/news/23840/

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http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/k/2016/03/VR_Web_ValveRoomScale_Graphic_0216.jpg
Anybody have a Vive? If so, what are you playing?

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I have a bunch of old consoles that I want to hook up to my HDTV. Does anybody know of a good solution that will keep the picture looking decent? Googling seems to point to the Framemeister. Is this still the best solution?

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First off a little background on me: I haven't been a hard core PC gamer in years. In my limited gaming time I tend to focus more on consoles. I don't consider my self a controller snob. I don't have a favorite controller, and I don't care if a controller feels "cheap" or not.

The unboxing: The controller felt light out of the box. The controller takes two AA batteries. One battery goes into the left handle, the other into the right. This adds a little bit of balanced weight to the controller. The A/B/X/Y buttons feel really small (think mini m&ms).

The setup: This went easy. I plugged the wireless dongle into a free USB slot and I was ready to go. But wait, how do I navigate big picture? There was no indications on how I navigate big picture, so it was a little bit of trial and error. My first thought would be that you navigate with one of the touch pads, nope. It turns out you use the thumb stick to navigate with. I would have thought it would be the touch pad (isn't this one of its selling points?).

The controller: I like it. It feels comfortable to me. I really like the grip buttons. The small A/B/X/Y buttons don't bother me. The touch pads are just like a trackpad on my computer. Haptic feedback seems like a gimmick to me. I don't feel like it adds anything.

The games: I tried three games out. Portal 2, Starship Rubicon & Borderlands 2. Most of my time was spent with Borderlands 2.

Portal 2: I picked this game due to it having native steam controller support. The first mode I tried was gyroscope for mouse look. I knew this would be gimmicky, but I wanted to see if my gyroscope worked. Yup, it worked and I quickly turned off this mode. :) I then switched to right touch pad as mouse look and thumb stick as movement. The mouse look drove me nuts, as it was always fighting me and wanting to go to the upper-right. Later on I revisited the game, and it worked fine, so something must have not been set up right. My second visit to the game worked out ok. Again, it feels like I have a trackpad under my right thumb.

Starship Rubicon: I picked this game because of Cheerful Ghost. First up, Starship Rubicon does not recognize the steam controller as a game controller, so I could not use Starship Rubicon's native game controller support. I ended up using the keyboard and mouse setup for the steam controller. It took me a while to figure out how to bring up the on screen keyboard to enter my pilot's name. Once I did, it was a very interesting experience. Left touch pad is your left hand and right touch pad is your right hand. You pick the letter you want and then push the corresponding trigger button to enter the letter. Game control is on par with a trackpad and controller. I find that since I don't know all the keys this game needs that I need to remap the controller as I go. Example: I needed to map the left-shift button. Overall it is better than playing on my macbook air with its trackpad and keyboard (which did not go so well :) ).

Borderlands 2: I used the game controller with mouse setup, which is what steam recommended. This works out fairly well. I find that I am not used to the touch pad sensitivity out of the gate, but I am getting better at it. The right touch pad is your mouse look, while thumb stick controls your movement. The right touch pad is set to trackball mode. I find myself running out of touch pad on occasion as I hit the edge with my thumb. I think I will get better with it over time, as I am already seeing some improvement after a couple hours of use.

Overall I like the controller. I really like the grip triggers. It is a keeper for me.

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