Rachael Ward

  • Rachael Ward‘s profile was updated 3 years, 8 months ago

  • ThumbnailThe path to power is a steep and dangerous one, even more so for individuals who attempt to follow it with integrity. But even once that power is secured, how do you wield it? Or will having it even make a […]

  • Review|Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

    Review| Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

    When the beloved Persona series of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise made the jump from RPG to fighting game in 2012, fans like myself were both excited and a bit hesitant. Not only was Persona 4 Arena a complete genre shift, but P4A promised the meeting of the cast from both Persona 4 and 3. However, with Arc System Works at the helm of the project, all worries were laid to rest as the original game was an interesting installment to the Persona story as well as an incredibly fun fighting game in its own right. With its first sequel now on the shelves, does this new series still hold up, or has P4A begun to stagnate from its former glory? As a fighting game enthusiast and Persona fan, I am happy to report that Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a solid addition to the series.

    To start with; story mode has been changed to make the narrative more streamlined than before. The previous character select screen has been replaced with a branching chart with different chapters told from alternating characters’ point of view (very similar to another Arc System Works game: Blazeblue Chronophantasma). Each chapter is told in a visual novel style, which is written description of off-screen action added with voice acted dialogue. Though the written sections tend to drag at points, the mystery is interesting enough to keep players invested. This was a major concern of mine in regards to the original P4A; the Persona series is well-known for its complex and compelling stories, but with a fighting games the action needs to be consistent otherwise any other players besides Persona fans are going to get bored quick.

    Shadow_Akihiko_P4A_Ultimax_Artwork

    Fortunately, Ultimax does not suffer from the same problem. There are two different story modes,each focusing on both the P4 and P3 cast respectively. Just like the original P4 Arena, it is a blast to see how the stars of both games work together for a common goal, and even better to see how the P3 cast has grown up since their high school adventures. The characters introduced in this particular series (ie: Labrys and Sho Minazuki), while not the greatest individuals to have come out of the franchise, at least feel like they belong with the rest of the cast and do more than just take up a spot on the game roster. New playable characters are already available as DLC, including Tohru Adachi from Persona 4. While not doing anything too daring in terms of storytelling, Ultimax’s story mode is an enjoyable addition to the game and a real treat for both P3 and P4 fans alike.

    In terms of gameplay, not much has changed. Button combinations are still limited to two physical attack buttons and two skill buttons which summon the characters’ Personas. Personas can still be attacked and temporarily disabled, and the character can be inflicted or inflict various status aliments to an opponent (ie: Naoto and her persona can cause silence thus disabling the enemy’s skills, etc). However, one distinct change is the ability to increase in strength of specific combos at the cost of SP or HP.

    Aside from story mode, there are plenty of alternate modes for players to try out: Arcade mode, a more traditional story mode for fighting game veterans; Score attack mode where you play against numerous opponents to gain points and reach new high scores; Versus mode, and a new addition; Golden Arena mode. Once again taking cues from its RPG roots, Golden Arena mode attempts to mimic the dungeon exploration from the main series by allowing players to pick a character and “climb” the levels of Tartarus, fighting different opponents on each level. After each fight, the player gains experience and can level up their character at different intervals. Increasing specific stats and even gaining new skills to use. Without an actual chance to explore this so-called ‘dungeon’ does lose some of the fun, it is a fun diversion and unique way to change-up the typical fighting game formula.

    All in all, P4U added several changes in order to keep the gameplay fresh without having to change what wasn’t broken. Not only that but it was another fun mystery/adventure featuring the characters Persona fans have become attached to over the years. Though the Arena franchise may not hit all the same notes as their parent franchise, it is still a ton of fun for Persona and fighting game fans alike. So if you’re looking to get hyped for the next big Persona title or just need a new fighting game to test your skills, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a great game to try out.

    Final Score: 3.8 out of 5

     

    Click here to check out the Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’s main website.

  • In the aftermath of Nintendo’s E3 showing, it is clear that the company is in the process of delivering on its most popular franchises, with Super Smash Bros, the new Zelda games and even the recently-successful Mario Kart 8. At long last, Nintendo fans may finally get what they have been hoping for since the Wii U launched. However, another fairly recent release from the past year also gives fans a reason to whisper and discuss what else Nintendo may have in store, but have been too tight-lipped to say anything: creating HD remakes of popular titles.

    With the success of Wind Waker HD, one has to wonder if Nintendo intends to build on the success by picking more classic games, revamping their graphics and controls to fit their console that is in dire need for a larger games library. This also creates an opportunity for new generations to experience the games that their older siblings or even their parents grew up playing. Though remakes for classic Nintendo games for the 3DS have been fairly successful as well, would revamping old games be worth the potential expense or even get more people willing to buy a Wii U?

    I would say “yes,” but it does heavily depend on the games. Not only would you have to consider which of the titles are the most requested or popular, but also the age of the game. For example, the Ocarina of Time remake for the 3DS got a serious face lift in terms of visuals, but who knows how much longer it would have taken or how much it would have cost to remake it for a console system like the Wii U (not to mention incorporating Wii U controls). It’s not impossible, but still much more expensive than it could have been if it hadn’t been created for the 3DS first.

    The games that would be easier to remake would ones from the Gamecube generation. Exclusive games such as Animal Crossing, No More Heroes, and Super Mario Galaxy would probably be the most well received if they were remade for the Wii U. But by all accounts, Nintendo fans aren’t looking for a remake of something that came out within the last decade.

    In fact, when talking about remakes, most of the requested titles are from the Nintendo 64 era, with the most prominent request being an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. With Skull Kid inclusion as an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros, there is a good chance that his appearance could mean that a HD remake for this iconic game is on the horizon.

    Though there was no mention at E3 in regards to these rumors, the silence has only lit a fire among fans, from incredible fan trailers to petitions on Change.org, and bringing up the game in almost every forum related to the topic of Nintendo remakes. It’s safe to say that if Nintendo agreed to make this a reality, it would likely be one of the hottest sells that the Wii U has seen.

    Another remake rumored to be in the works in 2013 was a revival of Super Mario 64. According to WiiUdaily.com, the game would be reworked to include multiplayer having both Mario and Luigi working side-by-side and traveling to the game’s numerous worlds. An interesting concept but sadly nothing ever came of these rumors. Other titles prime for re-release include Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Paper Mario, F-Zero X, PilotWings, and other Nintendo classics, even though it would still be uncertain if such remakes would use the Wii U’s controls properly.

    13_02_03_pokemonsnap03One HD suggestion however, while not as widely received as a Majora’s Mask remake, would make excellent use of the Wii U hardware: Pokemon Snap. While the original clearly shows its age since many new Pokemon have come out since 1999, a sequel including new generations, new environments, and maybe even a few new tweaks on the camera controls alongside secrets to unlock would make for a wonderful retread of a classic game that would appeal to both old and new Pokemon fans.

    With the Virtual Console and new Wii U controller adapters for old systems, Nintendo clearly wants to give folks who buy their latest console access to games from previous generations. However, since the Wii U continues to wait on its biggest sellers in an attempt to save it, perhaps remaking old titles to fit the new console specs could just be the shot in the arm that the Wii U needs in order to encourage customers to buy the console.

  • steven_cave

    Nintendo was able to provide fans with a plethora of information at this years E3 on what to expect later this year. Particularly some more elaboration on their next pair of Pokemon titles, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (remakes of the classic Ruby and Sapphire games) that are set to release November 21, 2014. From brand new trailers to screen shots and official art, there is a lot of new information to keep fans occupied on what will separate the old from the new. From the looks of things, the plots main focus seems relatively unchanged. The protagonist (male or female depending on the player’s choice) begins their journey of the Hoenn region from their hometown of Little Root. This island region of the Pokemon world is kept in a delicate balance between the large ocean surrounding it and the live volcano that is slowly but surely expanding the landscape. Again much like the previous Ruby and Sapphire, players will get involved between the struggle of a villainous team that is set of destroying the islands balance.

    Team Aqua, who wants to raise the seas and Team Magma who is looking to seize the power of the volcano and expand the landscape. While both of these teams will make an appearance in the games, the team that will have the most impact on the narrative will depend on which version of the game you are playing. However, this conflict is not the only part of the story according to Nintendo. There is also supposed to be a character by the name of Steven, a mysterious rare stone collector, who is on a journey to learn the mysteries of Mega Evolution (a game mechanic introduced in Pokemon X and Y) and Legendary Pokemon. It is satisfying to see that the Pokemon Company is continuing to elaborate on a groundbreaking change to Pokemon Lore even in a remake of existing games.

    Since Mega Evolution continues to be such a prominent plot point, of course they would include more Pokemon that will have this special ability, including all three starter Pokemon of the Hoenn region (Treeko, Torchicand Mudkip). Which can be accessed after each have reached their final evolution. Furthur elaboration on each of the starter Pokemon’s Mega Evolution would unlock in an exclusive trailer. For example, a mega evolved Serpentile gains the type advantages of the Dragon type and gains the Lightning Rod ability to absorb electric attacks and increase its special attack. Other like the already known Mega Blaizken (Introduced in Pokemon X and Y) will gain not only and attack increase, a speed boost ability and even the flying type move Brave Bird. ImageArt_MegaDiancie_layersremoved There is even a trailer showing off another new Mega Evolution concerning the Pokemon Diancie. A Pokemon that can be gained through Pokemon X/Y and can be transferred to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. How players can gain this Pokemon has yet to officially stated, but there was no time wasted on showing off this Pokemon’s Mega form.

    Promising to be a powerful new addition to the Fairy type line up. All of this on top of the already popular three-dimensional look of Pokemon X/Y, Omega Red and Alpha Sapphire look to be another promising installment of the Pokemon franchise. A mix of old and new that is setting up to be its own unique installment instead of the rehash of a past title.

  • Super_Smash_Bros_large_verge_medium_landscape

    Its no secret that Nintendo’s Wii U sales have been less than stellar since its release in late 2012. The reason? Not having enough games in the initial release that would keep both die hard nintendo fans or the general audience interested. I have stated in an earlier article that it is a shame that it is a shame that a product of this caliber got such as poor start, not to mention disheartened with the fact it took Nintendo so long to realize their mistake. However, with games such as the new Super Smash Bros set to release this year, the question becomes this. Is Super Smash Bros the game that could save the Wii U? (On a side note, it’s good to see Mario Kart 8 selling well and also moving consoles).

    The general consensus seems to be relatively negative on that question and I can understand why. Making the case that Nintendo has waited far too long to get back into the game to even stand a chance at reaching the same numbers that the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have reached. And in all honesty, I have to agree. Nintendo messed up big time and unless Smash Bros is a gargantuan success, as well as the other big Wii U exclusive releases, there will be no way for the Wii U to make up for lost time.

    WiiU_SmashBros_scrnS01_02_E3

    That isn’t to say that I don’t think that the next installment of Super Smash Bros is going to be good. Far from it actually. I’ve been very impressed with how Nintendo is promoting this game in both public events and trailers. I think this game is going to be the title that Nintendo is hoping for to change public opinion on the Wii U and maybe even sell more systems. However, like I said before, it would be childish to pin an entire console sales on one game, especial one that has been out for this long.

    Whether Nintendo decides to wait and try to improve what they have or begin putting their resources into the next big thing still remains to be seen. But as a Nintendo fan, I would hope for the latter. Though the Wii U is still an innovative system, it is a a failure when you look at it from a business point of view. And time spent making minuscule improvements could be better spent on getting a head start on the next generation. Creating something that could blow both Sony and Microsoft out of the water.

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