Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice (2008)


Genre: Adventure/Visual Novel | Players: 1 | Developer: Capcom

As I stated in my review of Case 1-5, Ace Attorney as a series is a game of archetypes; this entry is the main reason. There’s a Maya character, an Edgeworth character, and…there’s Ema. She transcends and brings her forensic experti….mini-games back for another few rounds. Even if the other main characters seem familiar it isn’t done in an insulting way and they are pleasantly enjoyable for what they are. I.e., comfortable, yet admittedly inferior imitations. The aesthetics are slightly different as well, but it is a bit strange to acknowledge this as I never got burnt out on the consistent art style of the main trilogy. Again, an ultimately welcome change. What isn’t inferior or comfortable, however, are the events comprising this new collection of trials. This outing gleams as it presents not only legal and social commentary but genuinely shocking and riveting happenings, one of which is most likely the biggest ‘whoa’ moment I’ve ever experienced in gaming.

While we’re given the chance to discuss this as a game, it’s worth noting that, on the whole, it plays like T&T, if Ema were around instead of Maya. For his part, Apollo brings a perception system whereby he’s able to notice the ticks and twitches of witnesses as they’re lying or being unforthcoming on the stand. As with most things here, it’s perfectly welcome if not something that necessarily puts me over the moon. Psyche-Locks are better.

In the end, this entry brought about in me two beliefs I have never wavered on: 1.) Hobo Phoenix is a magnetic and enigmatic evolution of the character and 2.) Apollo is a different enough protagonist at the center of his own strongly compelling maelstrom. These work together, in my mind, to justify my insistence that Apollo should have received the two sequels he was owed.

Based on some symbolism in the first trial, however, it now seems to me that at least some of the creative staff actually intended this to be an ending for the series, even if there are some infinitely tantalizing loose-ends and they did continue on with both Nick and Apollo. Think the ending credits to Iron Man 3. This, combined with my feelings about a decision made for Dual Destinies, makes me feel completely comfortable in saying that, for me, Ace Attorney concludes with this game.

A single blue card in the final red hand, indeed.

Buyer's Guide: It's a DS Exclusive. Sadly, it hasn't gotten a Wii Ware release and isn't part of the Trilogy collection.

4 Beliefs That Toku is the Best Gift Anyone Could Ever Give out of 5

Friday, April 8, 2016

MotU: He-Man: Defender of Grayskull (2005)

Genre: Action / Adventure  |  Players: 1  |  Developer: Savage Entertainment

The objective of the game, if I'm not mistaken, is to advance through poorly designed and repetitive levels battling bland enemies, employing badly animated sword strikes to end their miserable existence. You'll use a roll manoeuvre during combat in an attempt to add variety, but it's not necessary and you'll soon grow tired of even that. You'll discover that it's quicker to simply lock onto them with L2 (if you're lucky) and hack and slash until they become a crumpled heap.

He-Man can also jump, which comes in handy for cocking-up the awful platform sections. At those times, collision detection in hinted at but largely absent.

He-Man's muscular physique is referenced often, in the piss-poor animation and in having each step he takes be accompanied by monotonous heavy footfalls that drill deeper and deeper into the player's brain with each laboured step.

You'll be required to hit switches and then wonder if they even registered, collect keys that are approximately half as big as you are, and reset your game often because of getting stuck in parts of levels that are easy to get into but impossible to exit from. On the plus side, you don't actually have to carry the keys once you find them, because he has a magic gaming pouch in his furry pants.

If you endure, like a real hero would, you're rewarded (compensated?) with special moves that do more damage but take an age to enact. I'm genuinely not sure if they were purposefully slow-mo or if the frame rate actually shit itself.

The Eternian hero is voiced by Cam Clarke, who also played him in the short-lived but fantastic Masters of the Universe reboot in 2002. That series was never released outside of R1 territories, whereas this game was only released in Europe. MotU fans from R2 got shafted in the first instance, but MotU fans from countries other than Europe should consider the second instance an act of mercy.

My time with He-Man: DoG ended when I rose from sitting, walked purposefully to the console and said aloud, "Get the fuck out of my machine!"

1 drawbridge out of 5

Sunday, April 3, 2016

3D Dot Game Heroes (2009)

Genre: Action / Adventure  |  Players: One  |  Developer: Silicon Studio

If I say the words: sword, shield, life meter (red), magic meter (green), bomb bag, bottles, boomerang, magic boots, maze-like puzzles, side quests and fairy companion then there's a high probability that you're going to think of The Legend of Zelda, right? I would too, but now you can add 3D Dot to the list. It has a stupid title, I know, and it would be natural to assume before playing it that the blatant theft makes it deserving of derision, but the opposite is true, it deserves much praise. It takes the classic, honed to perfection, 8-bit LoZ 2D aesthetic and translates it into a homage-filled 3D adventure for PlayStation 3 owners.

I don't mean the Ocarina of Time (1998) kind of 3D, either. It keeps the angled/overhead perspective of an older LoZ title and instead of turning pixels into regular polygons it lovingly builds everything from blocks, keeping it old-school even while it utilises modern tech, imbuing everything with an almost tilt-shift photography vibe (for the technically-minded, it uses voxels).

Furthermore, despite there being no need to do so, the screen even slides from designated area to area just like it would on a handheld. It's that kind of game; you can feel the love and nostalgic charm in every constructed part.

Speaking of construction, you can customise your character completely (except weapons), as long as you can visualise him/her/it in square blocks. There are tons of pre-made ones to choose from, but if you're feeling adventurous you can start from scratch and build Link, Samus, Mario, Iron Man, Voltron, Jesus (on or off a cross), anything you want! (For extra jollies, name your character 'Bates'.)

If you get bored being who you are then simply change at the load screen. And it's even possible to share creations with friends because, unlike some other developers, the people at Silicon Studio haven't locked the save files. They made it as easy as pie to pop them onto a USB stick and give them to the world.

Your chosen hero's swords are upgradable. If you have enough cash you can leave the blacksmith's with a weapon that'd give Cloud Strife an inferiority complex.

Note: Beware, a large portion of the side-quests are time-sensitive events, requiring a player to have discovered and completed each one in-between clearing Temples. If you've not triggered an event before polishing off a Temple Boss then that particular quest (and its reward) is gone forever. Likewise, any branching quests that are dependent on the first one being brought to fruition will also be gone forever. It sucks when you remember too late that you forgot to revisit a particular corner of the map and speak to a specific fretting NPC.

4 swords for a jobbing hero out of 5