20 Posts

I originally beat Kingdom Hearts, back in 2002, when it originally came out for the Playstation 2. Having fond memories of the game, I picked up the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX compilation for the PS4. The version of Kingdom Hearts in this compilation is Kingdom Hearts Final Remix. It adds some new content in addition to updating all the game assets to HD.

So how did it hold up the second time around? Overall, it is not as good as I remember, but it is still fun. Some things are still just as horrible (the space shooter sections of the game), while some things remain awesome (character design).

For those that are not aware of Kingdom Hearts, it takes a lot of Disney characters, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters and mashes them all into one action-role playing game. On the surface this sounds like a disaster, but Square pulls it off.

The story follows a boy named Sora, who is out to save not only one princess but seven princesses and multiple worlds from the Heartless (the bad guys). The Heartless' end goal is to destroy all worlds through the power of darkness. During Sora's journey he is joined by Goofy, Donald and a handful of other level specific Disney characters.

Each world you are trying to save is essentially a level. The majority of these worlds are mainly straight out of Disney movies. You have Tarzan, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Hercules, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, and a handful of other worlds that are newly created for the game. The design of these worlds has not aged well. All the worlds are walled in, which in turn makes them feel very claustrophobic. Each time I made it to a new world, I was ready to leave it as soon as I could and move on with the story.

Going between worlds is bizarre. Square decided to slap on a space shooter as your method of travel. In addition to the space shooter aspect, they added in a whole system to modify and create your own spacecraft. This portion of the game stands out like a sore thumb. It is just so mind-numbing. Luckily you are only forced to travel like this when it is your first visit to a planet. After that you can skip this portion of the game and just warp to where you want to go.

The final complaint I have about this game is the controls. Some of the controls suck. First off, Square decided to update the camera mode for the Final Remix to match Kingdom Hearts 2 (The original camera mode is still available). This new camera mode gets in the way of battles and platforming more often than not. I should have tried the original camera mode to see if it was any better (sadly I don't recall what was used when I originally played it). The other part of the controls that gets in the way is using items and magic. You can assign three magic spells to hot keys within the game, for the rest of the magic and your items, you must navigate menus in realtime. What this means is you literally need to find a place to hide during any battles if you plan to navigate the menus to cast magic and/or use items. If you do not do that, you risk getting severely hurt or even killed.

So what saves the day for Kingdom Hearts? The art direction, voice acting and story save the game from being painful, to somewhat enjoyable.

Kingdom Hearts nails the art direction. Each world is colorful and nails the theme of the movie that Square is going for. All the Heartless are well designed, and the characters look amazing in HD. The Disney characters are so well designed they look like they came straight out of the cartoons.

The voice acting is top notch too. The Disney characters sound like their movie counterparts (and are sometimes the same voice actors) and the new characters are voiced by the likes of Haley Joel Osmet, Hayden Panettierre and Billy Zane.

Finally the fact that Square manages to cram a bunch of Disney movies, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters together without the story falling apart is amazing. It is pretty much a standard video game story, but overall it works.

While my recent play through has soured me on the game a little bit due to bad camera controls, realtime menu navigation, claustrophobic levels and a crappy space shooter, the story, art direction and voice acting save the day. I look forward to giving Kingdom Hearts 2 a try and hope they solved some of these problems. If they did not fix the problems, hopefully I can at least enjoy the story.

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I have been playing a lot of Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ on my Switch. Is anybody else still playing this? I finally beat it once, but I feel it was the luck of the draw on items rather than my skills. Does anybody have any good play tips?

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For those of you not familiar with Blaster Master, it is a game that was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1988. Blaster Master 0 takes the original game, updates it for today’s hardware, adds in more modern day controls and game conventions and gives it a little more story.

Blaster Master 0 takes place in the future, where humans were forced to move underground at one point, due to an ice age. At the time the game takes place, humans are living back on the surface of the planet. You play a boy named Jason Frudnick. Jason discovers a new type of frog, which he takes home and names Fred. Fred eventually escapes and jumps down a hole into the earth. Jason follows Fred down the hole and makes another discovery in the form of a vehicle called SOPHIA III. Jason gets in SOPHIA III and takes off to find Fred. At this point the gameplay kicks in.

Blaster Master 0's gameplay comes in two forms: A 2D sideview platformer and a 2D overhead dungeon type of game. The sideview portion feels kind of Metroidish, where you are exploring different areas of the map trying to unlock abilities and items. While the overhead view becomes more of a dungeon-like shooter.

As a kid, I really enjoyed Blaster Master on the NES. Over time I have revisited the original game and have found it to be brutal and unforgiving. Some of the things in Blaster Master that make it unforgiving are: you only have one life, with no save or continue, and brutal boss fights. Blaster Master 0 takes away a lot of this difficulty by adding in save states, and making the boss battles easier. I feel Blaster Master 0 is more accessible due to this, but if you are looking for a game as difficult as the original, you will be disappointed.

Despite being easier, I still enjoyed the game as much as the original. The save points definitely made it easier to play the game in batches of time rather than needing to play all night and day to beat the game. The level design, weapons and updated graphics add to its enjoyability.

The story was a little weak, but it seemed to be more in depth than the original. I do not remember the original having much of a story, outside of Jason chasing Fred, so it was nice to see it expanded upon.

Blaster Master 0 is available for both the 3DS and the Switch. I played the Switch version, which makes use of the HD rumble. While the HD rumble is not required for the game, it does add another fun dimension.

Overall, I would recommend this game to anybody that wants a fun 2D platformer/shooter that is not too difficult and can be finished in under ten hours.

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Today is the SNES Classic launch day! I was able to get an in stock order off of Thinkgeek at midnight last night, so I should have mine in a few days. Did anybody else get one?

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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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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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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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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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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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