Games of March 2019

Happy Devil May Cry 5 release day everyone. This month has been a long time coming, bringing several AAA titles and two that I’ve personally been waiting for for quite some time.

My top 3 for this month are:

Devil May Cry 5

Release: March 8

Platforms: XBO, PS4, PC

I mean, I wouldn’t wish everyone a happy launch day if I wasn’t completely sold on this right? Capcom’s RE engine makes the already over the top action icon look better than it ever has and the prospect of listening to Johnny Yong Bosch shout one-liners alongside Reuben Langdon while slaying demons is just icing on the demon cake.

If you like action games don’t miss it.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Release: March 22

Platforms: XBO, PS4, PC

FromSoftware has been cooking this Japanese inspired Samurai simulator for what seems like forever, and we’re weeks away from getting to see what this non soulsborne title will be like. I’m ready to be impaled and decimated by everything that is going to be thrown at me during my time with Sekiro and I couldn’t be more excited.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Release: March 29

Platforms: Switch

Why would I promote a game with a main character guilty of tax fraud? Mostly because it’s difficult to deny the adorable appeal of the artistic design that the game has. Maybe it will end up being fairly easy and intended for younger players, but it could also be a ton of fun and a solid platformer to keep Nintendo enthusiasts entertained until the next big first party release.

That’s all for this month. As we get closer to E3 the AAA titles do begin to slow down a bit, giving us time to catch up until we get to more announcements and inch closer to the summer and fall titles.

 

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Tells from Nintendo’s February Direct

Nintendo had no shortage of announcements during their Direct on the 13th, but as interesting and informative as some announcements were, it’s what they did not show or talk about that I find the most interesting, and the most telling.

Obviously there was no Metroid news to be expected. Nintendo already told us in an update video that development has to be restarted and that it will be some time before we hear anything. This isn’t to say, however, that another Metroid isn’t in progress unrelated to the Prime series, and it isn’t out of the question that Samus shows up at E3 in some form, but I find it highly unlikely.

Notably absent from the direct was any mention of Star Fox. Nintendo has gleefully launched first party after first party behemoth multiple times the past few years with Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Smash Bros. and Pokemon Let’s Go being a mere fraction of their first party offerings. This year we know to expect Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion and Mario Maker 2, but there’s likely room for more at E3, even if it’s not on track to release this year. Star Fox has already shown up on the Switch with his team in Starlink: Battle for Atlas, but a mainline or even spin-off title could be in the works.

Speaking of Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion, they were nowhere to be found. It’s not difficult to predict Nintendo headlining their E3 conference with Animal Crossing and the forthcoming mainline Pokemon title. We can infer fall and winter launches for these with the current trajectory of information that we’ve received in the past year, and though fans will have to wait a bit longer, E3 will likely be loaded with information on not only these titles, but surprises we may not even expect.

The most telling to me, was the deliberate silence on Smash Bros. Ultimate news. “You’ll just have to wait for more” is quite plain in its message, but their timing looks to be very specific when you look closer. Joker from Persona 5 is due to release in April of this year, which is the month immediately following the Sega Fes 2019 event in Japan on March 30-31. It’s speculated that a slew of Persona related announcements are to be revealed at this time, not limited to Joker’s full reveal in Smash, Persona 5 R, and Persona 5 Arena. Persona 5 also has a special “Stars and Ours” broadcast on March 23rd, which could also hold a surprise or two when it airs. With this information in mind, it makes perfect sense that April would be the month for Joker, even if I would have liked him to release yesterday.

It’s also very possible to get a Smash Bros. Direct sometime at the end of March in order to reveal the rest of patch 3.0. But we’ll have to wait and find out.

Nintendo has given us its roadmap to E3 and even slated huge games for the fall, and the details are due sooner than later. Animal Crossing, Pokemon, Bloodstained and more are going to make nothing short of an incredible year for Switch owners and this isn’t even counting incredible 3rd party offerings like Bayonetta 3 and Rune Factory 5.

It’s tough to wait but fun to speculate. I fully expect all eyes to be on Nintendo leading up to E3 in June.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Resident Evil 2 is a game that preyed on my paranoia while simultaneously giving me the tools to face it head on. Following in the footsteps of Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil 2 puts you in a horrific claustrophobic environment and challenges you to survive using finite resources while you try to uncover just what started this zombie apocalypse in the first place.

The game features protagonists Leon Kennedy, a fresh recruit for the Raccoon Police Department and Claire Redfield, a college student looking for her brother Chris, who also works for the R.P.D. Each character has their own campaign featuring unique weapons with interconnected stories.

The game is simple enough to play. Carefully gather resources as you explore your surroundings and kill whatever stands in your way, or run. Your inventory space is small, and players will be rewarded for effectively using everything they come across. Board up windows to keep zombies from breaking in, combine gunpowder to make more ammo and grind herbs to keep your health up.

Resident Evil 2 triumphs in establishing a setting that is both terrifying and fascinating. Halls are narrow and quiet with zombies both inhabiting the station and trying to break through the windows. What’s more is it’s never easy to tell exactly if a zombie is truly dead. Many times I’d leave zombies at my feat after several headshots only for them to lunge at me on the ground when I revisited the area hours later. Lickers are another feral horror lurking throughout the game that are blind but act viciously to any sound they hear.

But one particular enemy stands out among all others. Affectionately known as Mr. X, this hulking, fedora-wearing bio-weapon is designed to hunt you down and chase you no matter where you run to. You cannot harm him. Your only option is to flee or attempt to stun him with bullets or grenades.

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X gonna give it to ya

Mr. X, unsettling and terrifying as he is, is a fantastic design element that brings a unique kind of tension to the game. It forces you to explore carefully, especially since you can hear his heavy boot echo through the halls of the station. He can hear you and track you regardless of how well you think you outran him. Though I love to hate him, he’s an essential component that returns to ruin your day again and again, even after you’ve left the station for good.

Resident Evil 2’s story is simple on the surface. Claire is trying to find her brother who’s been off the grid for a long time, and Leon is a duty-bound rookie cop who can’t help but investigate what’s going on. Add in bio-terrorism shenanigans and the mysterious Umbrella corporation and you’ve got a recipe for something that’s over the top, yet grounded by a small but compelling cast of characters.

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No they are not dead yet.

Fan favorite Ada Wong, a mysterious ally in Leon’s campaign, has excellent chemistry with Leon and both deliver fantastically cheesy one-liners that helped make an otherwise tragic tale lighter in tone.

Similarly, Sherry Birkin works with Claire in her campaign and offers her own unique perspective that presents the player with information that Leon’s perspective never gets to see.

Even if it’s predictable at times, Resident Evil’s story is supplemented with various notes and memos from different characters. Finding these around each of the game’s four main environments give extra life to a story that’s solely inhabited by the undead. I loved discovering pieces of clues left behind by former officers and memos on the computers of Umbrella employees that helped me piece together the greater picture of what was unfolding as I progressed. Best of all, it’s there if you want it, and you can skip them if you don’t.

Leon and Claire’s campaigns each have two routes to them. The first acts as an introductory route with whichever character you play as arriving at the police station before the other. The second act puts you in the perspective of the character that arrived at the station second. Aside from offering a different start, the second playthrough offers a new weapon, new enemy and key item placements and a definitive ending not shown in the first routes.

Even though I liked the second routes more, repetition does set in to some degree as I visited the same locations and killed the same enemies and bosses each time.

Those who wish for a plethora of bosses in their games may be disappointed in Resident Evil’s recurring boss appearances but I found each encounter to be enjoyable despite the fact that it’s mainly the same character each time.

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Leon, get out of there!

One of my biggest takeaways from playing Resident Evil 2 was that despite my lack of enthusiasm towards the horror genre in general, it presented me with a game that was too much fun even if I reacted to every jump scare in the entire game.

I was enamored with every environment and felt compelled to explore and loot every room so that I could watch the area turn from red in color to blue on my map, indicating that I had found every item it contained.

The game is fairly short, with my longest playthrough clocking in at under ten hours, but because it’s designed to be played through multiple times and beating both routes with either character unlocks a new mode with Hunk, I didn’t mind at all.

Additionally, Capcom is planning to release an update on February 15 called the Ghost Survivors featuring three new playable characters.

The Verdict:

Resident Evil 2 is a fantastic entry into survival horror for people who may be like me and are averse to the genre. It’s designed to be scary, but it gives you all the tools to not only fight back, but to explore and discovery Raccoon City’s secrets. I hope that future titles embrace the third person, slow paced perspective that is polished to a tee in this installment.

I fully expect this to be a Game of the Year contender and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys horror, action or zombies.

9.5/10

Games of February 2019

While it can’t match the heavy hitters that highlighted last month, February has a handful of games you should probably have on your radar.

Though I don’t plan on picking anything up this month, my top 3 are:

Steins; Gate Elite

Release: February 15

Platforms: PS4, Switch

Fans of the anime masterpiece Steins; Gate should look forward to the visual novel coming to Switch and PS4 on February 15. It’s a fantastic time travel story that will put you through every emotion you can think of. This is an incredibly easy recommendation to anyone remotely interested in anime or visual novels in general, and an especially great Switch pickup. Switch owners will get a fun 8-bit mode as free bonus DLC on the 19th.

Jump Force

Release: February 15

Platforms: XBO, PS4

Do you like anime? No, I mean, do you REALLY like anime? Because Bandai Namco is bringing you an anime crossover with a comical amount of manga heroes and shoving them into an arena to beat each other into the next anime season. I walked away disappointed from the open beta, but die-hard fans of these anime should find a ton to like, especially those coming from other arena fighters.

Anthem

Release: February 22

Platforms: XBO, PS4, PC

If you’re looking for a new multiplayer game while you’re waiting for the new Monster Hunter World Expansion or Smash Bros. DLC like I am, Anthem may be right up your alley. Javelin exosuits, giant monsters, and online co-op are what you’ll get in Bioware’s new sci-fi action shooter. I’m not entirely sold on it yet myself, but I’m all for more awesome co-op games. A beta version of the game is also available for anyone looking to try it out.

Those are my top 3 for this month. Of course, other releases like Far Cry: New Dawn, Crackdown 3, and Metro Exodus are sure to be on plenty of people’s lists as well.

Next month has a ton of highly anticipated titles to look forward to as well as potential Persona related announcements. I’ll have the entirety of Kingdom Hearts III to help pass the time for those.

The impressive strengths and odd weaknesses of Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition

JRPG season seems to be in full swing with Kingdom Hearts III finally releasing, but one game hope it doesn’t overshadow too much is Bandai Namco’s definitive edition of Tales of Vesperia.

I’ve had experience with many Tales games that have come after Vesperia, and despite Vesperia sharing an abundance of qualities with both its predecessors and successors, I found it uniquely enjoyable compared to what I had come to expect.

After more than 50 hours of getting lost in its fantasy world I can say that the game has aged incredibly well for being originally released in 2008 and the mechanics make for a fun and frantic combat system that kept me grinding for skills and monster parts.

One of the interesting draws to this particular Tales game its very odd cast of characters. No character has an abundance of things in common with each other, but their motivations and values draw them to work towards similar goals.

I especially enjoyed the rivalry between protagonist Yuri and his childhood friend Flynn. Yuri, previously a knight from the imperial army, left with the view that life can’t get better for the poorer people in his city from the inside and wants to find a path separate from the knights. Flynn joined the knights with the explicit goal of changing things from the inside, and believes he can accomplish Yuri’s goal by believing in the governmental system in place.

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It’s fun to see each cast member go through several changes throughout the story, making the narrative both dynamic and unpredictable, even if they do fall into some cliche anime stereotypes. We see characters like Estelle go from sheltered princess to a headstrong medic and ostracized “extremist” Rita evolve into a genius mage and Blastia researcher.

Maybe this is obvious, but combat has always been Tales’ biggest strength. Combos allow you to get creative and each character plays very differently, making the cast both diverse and useful to switch around depending on the enemy type.

Skills obtained from weapons let you do even more over the top maneuvers like linking arcane artes back into base artes, and enhancing your overlimit. It provides an almost dizzying amount of options but there’s no shortage of skills to cater exactly to the playstyle you prefer.

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Great game

For as much as it gets right, Tales of Vesperia has some aspects I took serious issue with.

For one, you can completely miss side quests and be unable to go back to complete them after certain portions of the game.

It’s difficult to fault the game too much for this, especially since the amount of content is staggering. However, it’s incredibly frustrating to learn after the fact that I had missed some crucial side quest trigger by not talking to a specific NPC or visited a specific area of a town at a very precise point in the game. Depending on the quest, there’s very few clues to lead the player to trigger these quests, and it’s made worse by the fact that some of the most interesting pieces of story and world lore come from these.

Not only are some of the best story pieces in the side quests, but powerful equipment is as well. As someone who constantly chases the best gear in every game they touch, it was crushing to learn I had missed some fantastic sword or spell that I’d have to try again for on a new game file.

I know that this isn’t the series’ first time using timed side quests, but it’s definitely a mechanic I think Tales could do without.

For a game that understands and develops its heroes so well, it definitely had some one-dimensional antagonists that I found difficult to feel even remotely attached to or even appreciate.

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Yuri agrees with me.

Crazed killers, egotistical masterminds and brooding anti-heroes are just a taste of the stereotype suite of rogues you’ll encounter and I wish there were more to them. Maybe this is overly nit picky, but it’s disappointing because the narrative is constructed so well and the villains deserved better. This is by no means exhaustive of every enemy in the game, but the disparity between fun villains and aggravatingly boring ones is rough.

Negative aspects aside I’m very happy I was able to experience this game in it’s definitive form, and I encourage anyone who missed out on this the first time around to give it a shot. There’s content to keep you busy here for an impressive amount of time, and 50 hours didn’t even get me to the post-game dungeons. I know Kingdom Hearts III is many JRPG fan’s game of choice right now, but I hope that this release isn’t overshadowed too much.

Games of January 2019

2019 looks to carry the momentum of all the huge titles that arrived one after the other towards the end of last year. Rather than highlight everything slated for release, I want to go over what I’m personally looking forward to, as well as a few others.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Release: January 11

Platforms: XBO, PS4, Switch, PC

Originally releasing back in 2008 exclusive to the Xbox 360 and then getting a Japan only re-release a year later on PS3, Bandai Namco has finally granted the west a full English release of one of the most beloved “Tales of” games. New playable characters, additional voiced segments and visual upgrades round out a JRPG that’s aged very well. I haven’t played the series since Xillia 2, but I’m eager to evaluate how Vesperia stacks up against some of my favorites in the series.

Resident Evil 2

Release: January 25

Platforms: XBO, PS4, PC

Moving from re-releases to remakes, Resident Evil 2 is a gore-filled terror fest that I got to play back at San Diego Comic Con last year.  Capcom was able to provide a revamped horror experience when they released Resident Evil 7 almost two years ago, and this installment looks to provide just as traumatizing an experience. A “One-Shot” timed demo is currently available on all platforms, so give it a try if you’re on the fence like me and aren’t sure if playing games while stressing about jump scares every ten seconds is worth it.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Release: January 29

Platforms: XBO, PS4

So yeah, this game is actually real and we’re just weeks away from Square’s Disney crossover fiesta. Like Resident Evil 2, I walked away impressed from my time with the demo at Comic Con. I’m still trying to get myself to finish all the contents of 2.8, but I’m not finding it to be anywhere near as fun or interesting as the demo I got to play last July. I don’t think it’ll take any convincing on my part to get Kingdom Hearts fans on board, and I’ll be picking this one up just to finally see how this incredibly convoluted story gets wrapped up. A wise man once told me, back in 2005, “Chris, we will be in college and Kingdom Hearts 3 still will not have come out yet.” I was able to get his positive impressions on the demo just before his first semester of graduate school.

That’s not the entirety of January, however. Here’s a handful of other games you can look forward to this month:

  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey (3DS): Jan 11
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch): Jan 11
  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4, XBO): Jan 18
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch): Jan 18
  • Life is Strange 2 – Episode 2: “Rules” (PC, PS4, XBO): Jan 22

Spider-Man “Silver Lining” Review

(Warning: Full spoilers ahead)

What Spider-Man’s final DLC chapter lacks in Symbiote suits, it makes up for with challenging fast-paced sequences, a surprisingly humorous story, and a finale that excites me for what’s to come.

By now, if you’ve played any episodes from “The City that Never Sleeps” you can likely pencil out what to expect from “Silver Lining.” The story revolves around a specific character, Screwball offers you challenge missions to complete and the villain has warehouses around the city that offers wave after wave of goons to defeat and claim even more tokens.

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Arnold has seen better days.

What makes “Silver Lining” stand out however, is that it doesn’t leave you hanging. We’re at the finale and are rewarded with closure for several story lines. Screwball’s challenges don’t fall victim to repetition and instead end with us finally ending her streaming days. The villain warehouses (or sewers this time) introduce us to a character working for Silver Sable and give us insight into who he is, what his motivations are, and closes it in a satisfying fashion true to Spidey’s character.

One surprising and unique story that I didn’t expect to continue in this episode was Captain Yuri Watanabe’s. We know that she’s left the force in her vendetta against Hammerhead and his gang, but what we don’t know is the full extent of her fall from grace. We’re finally given an answer in the form of strange audio recordings that Spider-Man can find scattered across the city, similar to the backpacks from the main game. After discovering the final recording, we’re shown the full extent that the previous DLC had on her, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in a villain role moving forward.

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I think this means no more Spider-Cop.

 

We’re also reunited with Felicia Hardy and although it seemed obvious that she never truly met her demise, she was still a surprising and welcome inclusion.

Everything “Silver Lining” throws at you has immense payoffs and play off of an phenomenally written story that fans have been invested in for months now. Alternatively, choosing not to pursue the side missions that I thought enriched my experience so much wouldn’t even be a detriment to the player. Silver Sable’s story colliding with Hammerhead’s was already a blast from beginning to end, and there were so many moments where I found myself either literally laughing out loud from the humorous moments between Spider-Man and Sable or sitting with a stupid grin on my face from discovering easter eggs or nailing a photo-bomb in a Screwball challenge.

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Who’s that anti-hero?

 

My favorite aspect of this episode was how Spider-Man handles Miles Morales’ desire to become a hero. It’s an all too common trope to have heroes shy away from helping their younger friends or family develop into budding crime fighters in an effort to spare them from the danger that comes with it. Instead, Spider-Man empathizes with Miles’ desire to use his powers to help people. He slowly develops Miles, encouraging him to stay eager but to not be rash and put himself into danger. Miles is recruited in this episode to help Spider-Man in a way that doesn’t involve going head-to-head with super villains and then at the very end, the two begin web slinging around New York. I look forward to playing as Miles in the sequel.

The Verdict:

“Silver Lining” learns from the past mistakes of the previous episodes. Repetition is at a bare minimum and stories we’ve been following since the first part are given closure or tease a sequel that I hope is on its way.

9/10

3 Games you forgot about in 2018

It’s new year’s eve, you’re probably almost halfway through Red Dead Redemption 2, gleefully spending half an hour riding your horse across vast wastelands and enjoying yourself.

Or perhaps you’re trying to get a low tier character into Elite Smash in Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Maybe you’re tying up loose side quests in Assassins Creed Odyssey or starting your 500th match of blackout in Black Ops 4.

Nothing is intrinsically wrong with any of these but in the wake of such an incredible density of triple A titles, there’s a couple of games I think most of you forgot about. Games that didn’t quite get the budget or marketing of the behemoths of the holiday season. Games that I think deserve your attention or at the very least want to introduce you to.

#3 Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

 

Look Persona 5 R isn’t being officially announced until March and you’re on pins and needles in the last month leading into Kingdom Hearts III, I get it. But in the midst of all of this Bandai Namco already supplied us with a gorgeous Studio Ghibli inspired JRPG that should curb your appetite for JRPGs for a bit. It’s got a story full of heart and brings the whimsy of a Ghibli film to life, but most importantly it put the original game’s combat mechanics into the trash can and revamped it into something enjoyable. If you need more info on this check out my review.

#2 Dead Cells

 

I originally discovered this game after one of IGN’s new hires plagiarized his review of the game from a popular YouTuber and that’s probably one of the happiest accidents of my year. Unlike the Metroid series in 2018, Dead Cells was there for me when I craved fast-paced sidescrolling action. Dead Cells starts you off with a single sword and asks you to traverse its levels to the very end, picking up new weapons and unlocking secrets along the way. Perish, and you’re sent back to the beginning. It flawlessly weaves challenge and creativity into both its level design and its weaponry, making each run different as well as giving the player the feeling of being just a little more prepared than your last run through. There are sure to be a couple of important Metroid-vania styled games in 2019, but with the price of entry being so low and my enjoyment while playing this being quite high, this is an easy recommendation that I feel got buried by all of the large releases this year.

#1 Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

What do you mean what is this game? Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a Kickstarter bonus for the upcoming title Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Bloodstained is being developed by Castlevania mastermind Koji Igarashi after breaking away from his underground prison cell at Konami, he finally got to fund what you may call a spiritual successor to Castlevania on his own terms.

Full disclosure: I am indeed a backer on his project, have met the guy, and may or may not be shamelessly plugging a game that is near the top of my “Most Anticipated” games list of 2019. Even though this may have been just a fun offshoot from the real game that is still in development, it still acts as a supremely challenging action sidescroller that may as well be a refined old school Castlevania title. With multiple playable characters, a killer soundtrack, and an aesthetic that hopefully won’t stay uncommon I urge you to check this one out as it is available to everyone for the measly fee of $9.99.

So there you have it. Maybe you didn’t forget about these. Maybe you all beat every Triple A title months ago and I’ve insulted your pride by assuming otherwise. If you’re looking for something different or just something to tide you over before the many games of January that are on their way, do yourself a favor and give these a look.

Thanks for reading.

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! Review

When the Pokemon Let’s Go! titles were first revealed, I among many other fans dismissed it as a spin-off title whose purpose was to hold fans over until the next core title due out in 2019. The Pokemon Go catching mechanic combined with the removal of Pokemon abilities and other aspects that have been staples for years surely meant that this wasn’t a “true” Pokemon title right?

As I played through Let’s Go, Eevee!, it became increasingly apparent that not only is this game not a spin-off, but a title that is worthy of fans’ time and attention.

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I forget too

Let’s Go ditches the traditional course of running into caves or tall grass to spawn Pokemon via random encounters in favor of Pokemon appearing in the overworld ready to be caught. While it’s purposefully emulating Pokemon Go to help ease new or returning players back into a core RPG title, I was surprised at how much I did not miss running into Zubats every ten seconds whilst exploring caves and scavenging for items. Pokemon walking around different routes in the game gave the area more personality and made the world feel like it was actually inhabited by Pokemon. Pokemon look lively and are animated thoughtfully, rounding out the core encountering experience nicely.

Speaking of catching, Let’s Go introduces a brand new controller peripheral called the Pokeball Plus. Built and shaped as a small Pokeball, it acts as a motion controller to simulate a more immersive catching experience. Additionally it’s equipped with a joystick and cancel button so that the entire game can be played with it. Catching a Pokemon prompts the controller to light up and vibrate just like a Pokeball in the show or game, and the signature screech of the Pokemon sounds off when they become caught. The motion controls while fun, can be inaccurate, and mapping the confirm button to clicking the joystick can cause some mistaken inputs. Motion controls certainly aren’t the main attraction of the game, and I did find myself playing in handheld mode for the majority of my playtime, but the Pokeball Plus controller was just another in a wealth of pleasant surprises that the game had in store for me.

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That could have been you, Eevee

Outside of a few minor differences Let’s Go, Eevee! plays largely like any main Pokemon title before it. Kanto is still a pleasure to explore and a Pokedex of only 153 (instead of 800+) motivated me to catch as many as I could. Team Rocket’s Jesse and James are finally included as antagonists in the story with Blue helping out you and your rival along the way. Throw in Pokemon following you (or riding on top of them if they are big enough) and traveling becomes even more fun. An even more impressive traveling mechanic awaits trainers who best the Elite Four.

Let’s Go also allows players to access their PC box from the main menu rather than forcing them to run to a Pokemon Center. This was the most profound and welcome change that I didn’t realize I wanted. This along with Pokemon following the player are mechanics that I hope become staples moving forward.

Rather than roam the Safari Zone, players now have the option to transfer their Kanto region Pokemon from Pokemon Go to this title. It’s not the most intuitive feature as it took me a few tries to connect my smartphone with my Switch, but it was nice to use what little I had in Pokemon Go and put it towards my Pokedex.

Eevee or Pikachu are the main attractions in the game, and they serve as a powerful and adorable companion throughout your journey. You can feed them, dress them up, use them in battle, or utilize them to affect the overworld with what were previously HMs. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t evolve my starter Eevee, but with the character being so integral to the game’s mechanics and especially the cutscenes, it made sense that the option did not exist.

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Certain Pokemon will require a battle before they can be caught

The game is not without its flaws, however minor. Your Pokemon journey won’t be immensely challenging by any means, though swapping out most of my team midway through did increase the difficulty significantly while I was leveling them up to par. The post-game content also isn’t very expansive. The Master Trainers are a very fun inclusion, but outside of challenging them and catching them all , there isn’t too much more to do. If you’ve played through Kanto countless times before, a fresh coat of paint and mechanics may or may not be enough to warrant a return for all players, but I was more than happy to be back.

The Verdict:

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee is one of my biggest surprises of the year. It’s previous features that I originally perceived as shortcomings ended up being some of the aspects of it I enjoyed the most. This entry is a standout title in the series that reminds me that Pokemon isn’t defined by it’s random encounters or competitive battling but by the characters themselves and their presentation. I still have a Pokedex to complete and Master Trainers to challenge, so it’s safe to say my 25 hours spent with the game so far are only going to increase.

9/10

“Do you have Fortnite?” A Parent’s Guide to Buying Video Games

The holiday shopping season is here and similar to last year, your child’s wish list is full of brand new expensive video games that only you can obtain for them. Unlike last year though, you’re prepared. You have pictures on your phone of exactly what you need, you know exactly what video game console they play on and your list is tucked into your pocket.

What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately quite a bit. Let’s go over three small details that your child may have overlooked when giving you shopping instructions.

#1 Special Editions

We’ve parked the car and walk inside the mall on a mission to obtain Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! Easy right? You walk up to the cashier and request the game, only to be asked a simple question, “Were we needing the Pokeball Plus Controller with our game today?”

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Don’t forget your controller!

Poke-what? What controller could little Johnny possibly need? He’s already got four. There’s now a $49.99 controller that works only for this game? Is that something he wanted?

It’s important to remember that some games will come with extra accessories designed to coincide with a specific design aspect that the game advertises. Additionally, games may come in packaging that include these bonus items, or additional digital-only bonuses that add more content to their game.

 

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Don’t forget to ask which version they want!

#2 Digital Only

Alright now that we’ve figured out all this special edition nonsense the next item on the list is something they never stop talking about. Fortnite is on the list but the shelves seem to be barren of any copies. We’re pretty sure that Fortnite is one of the biggest games around, but we can’t find it? And we know Johnny is already playing it all the time, why is this on the list? Upon further inquiry with a store associate we find out that there’s something new for Fortnite, the “Deep Freeze” bundle.

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There is no game cartridge or disc inside these physical cases

 

What Johnny is really wanting is the new digital content for the game, even though this “physical” package will suffice. It has a code within the box to grant access to all the new costumes and digital money they want. This can also be obtained via digital gift cards, but perhaps this will be more appropriate to wrap up so it can be opened during the holidays.

Remember that any season pass, or other digital packages are obtainable with digital gift cards. Not everything will have a pseudo physical package like Fortnite.

season pass

Digital-only content (DLC) released over several weeks or months

#3 Pre-Orders

We’ve weathered the special edition minutiae, deciphered the digital pass enigma and we’re down to the final item on our list. Before we even have a chance to approach a sales associate with a question, we see a poster for just the item we seek!

smash-poster

Release date: December 7th

There’s only one problem. Johnny’s most wanted item has not released yet. We could come back on that day, or we can see if the retailer takes reservations on games. It’s not the end of the world if we don’t reserve it. In fact, we may be able to come right into the store on the release day and pick it up without any issue. But the possibility exists that this is the battle plan of every other parent, and grandparent, and aunt, and uncle, and maybe everyone’s in-laws are trying to do this too. And apparently the location already has over 150 copies reserved for eager gamers?

Sometimes the biggest titles release in the very midst of the holiday season. It never hurts to double check when games are going to be available for purchase. Don’t forget to actually pick up the game as soon as it comes out! They won’t be held forever!

There are other oddities and details that can put a wrinkle in your holiday shopping adventures when it comes to gaming, but these are what I feel are the most common aspects that may confuse people. Happy shopping, and may the store’s inventory be in your favor.