Games

Archero (Mobile game)

Occasionally I like to play mobile games. Problem with that is most games are idle games that require no skill or need to play. You just boot the “game” up and everything is done automatically. You only need to make a few taps here and there, but other than that, you have no agency. Then I saw this game which came recommended by the Google Play store editor and after spending a few days on it, it’s become clear that app developers pay off the Google Play store editor to write praise about their game. This game deserves no praise, it is predatory at its best and downright thievery at its worst. Oh, and if you call them out for problems with the game, they’ll cry wolf to Google and have your review on the Play store deleted.

The game in question, Achero, is essentially that you control a character that shoots projectiles but only if you’re standing still. You have to move to avoid enemy projectiles, and during this time, you can’t harm them. You can acquire better gear but the item drops are incredibly rare. Instead you’re forced to spend gems to get chests which have a slight chance at giving you good gear. More often than not, the chest will contain useless items. Gems are very hard to acquire but are very easily paid for. In fact, all the currency earned in game is miniscule compared to the amounts that you can get with real money. This is pure predation.

When you start a round, you get to choose one ability out of a pool of abilities to accentuate your strength, but alas, most times these abilities are completely useless. When you level up, you can choose a new ability to add to your growing pool of abilities. The game is roguelite and so you’re forced to play repeatedly hoping for a good run. This takes all agency away from the player and you’re left at the mercy of the game. Secondly, the game is a bullet hell and often times you can’t see the enemy projectiles because your own projectiles are covering them. Also the enemy projectiles will damage you retroactively, meaning that you can avoid the initial projectile but should you quickly move behind it, it’ll magically damage you despite flying away from you.

To unlock more options of gameplay, you have to advance through the stages. And as typical of these games, the first few stages are easy as to lure you in. As soon as you reach stage 4 and then stage 5, the game becomes drastically more difficult in an attempt to force you to spend money so your character can be viable. There is a stage called expedition and it is insanely difficult with enemies that are bullet sponges and take forever to kill. Meanwhile, you die in two hits. Again, it’s made to push you towards spending real money.

I have no nice words for these kinds of developers, and as such, I will not be spending anymore energy or time discussing them. These kinds of games give all game developers a bad name and taste. And because the market is saturated with them, mobile gaming has a bad name. In fact, it’s not even considered as a gaming platform unless you have a Nvidia Shield. The only good mobile games are ports of console or PC games.

Games

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time (Switch)

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the entirety of Samurai Jack, my knowledge of the story is what the game offered.

Let’s start with the good: combat. Since this is an action RPG with hack and slash elements, the core gameplay loop is the combat. And if that is not good, or entertaining, then the entire appeal of the game will suffer. Fortunately, that core loop is quite solid in its presentation. You wield Jack’s magic sword and through combinations of light and heavy attacks, inflict carnage on your enemies. There’s also dodging, blocking, parrying, and counter attacks. It reminded me of Bloodbourne in that regard. To unlock new attacks, you have to upgrade your weapons at the store using gold. However that is not enough, in addition to upgrading the level of your weapons, you also have to level up your skill tree to unlock the moves themselves. The skill tree is quite large and features three trees: physical, spirit, and combat. You would think that physical would improve your sword damage but you’d be wrong. For some inexplicable reason, it falls under spirit. In fact, that tree is the best of them. During my playthrough on normal, I had nearly maxed that tree and had the other two half full.

What bugged me a lot in the game was that certain interactions were so painful to pull off. I had begun to question if they tested the game thoroughly, and upon reaching the credits, I was surprised to only see 5 quality assurance testers. That explains a lot of the problems. They simply didn’t play their own game enough to discover all the issues. For example, you can unlock the ability to jump super high if you hold block and then hold down and release jump. Yet on numerous occasions, Jack would not do that. It became a game of trial and error with me pressing these buttons hoping Jack would jump high. I’d say maybe half the time, it would work successfully. Another glaring issue is how utterly useless parry/block is. The amount of times I would get stun locked into an enemy combo while Jack is blocking is ridiculous. I’m holding block and the enemy is just destroying my health. Or, I would try to parry but it just wouldn’t work. I got roughly 26 parries on my playthrough. Same goes with counter attacks, time it perfectly and it wouldn’t matter because the enemy can somehow block it. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that some enemies will take hardly any damage unless you’re using the correct weapon type against them. And if you’re like me, you’re broke and out of weapons because they have durability and all of them have broken. The worst bit is the game encourages you to break your weapons because that is the only way to gain massive amounts of bushido. Bushido is used to upgrade your skill tree along with another resource which drops from defeated enemies.

The variance in enemies is nice enough for a game of this length. The issue comes in the final stage with what can only be described as lazy game development. Instead of giving us unique encounters, the final stage is you vs 50+ mobs of enemies of everything you’ve faced so far. This was fine in 1993 when Doom came out, but not in 2020. And the final boss, Aku, is such a disappointment. He was the easiest boss in the game. All that build up, and he’s a joke. The boss you fought just before him, Demongo, is easily three times as hard. What I did enjoy about the bosses was that you can’t hurt them unless you find their weak points or if you manage to counter. Like I said, I rarely countered because I could only successfully pull it off against bosses which are few. Depending on well you did during a stage, you’d get a point score and some extra gold for the next stage.

The scenery was enjoyable, and I’m sure fans of Samurai Jack will recognize many of the locations. The graphic style of the game was essentially cartoon and it worked well. Story was easy to follow along and was welcoming enough for even newcomers, such as myself, to make sense of what’s going on. I played on the switch, and despite my problems with the game, I had no game breaking bugs or crashes like I do on other switch games.

Overall, it was a fun if not short experience; my playthrough was 9 and a half hours. There is replayability if you wish to grind out the skill tree, and there are extra missions unlocked after beating the main game. If I had to compare it to another game, it would be the first God of War. Even the chests reminded me of that game. I recommend this game if you’re a fan of Samurai Jack, or if you’re just looking for a fun hack n slash game on the switch. This game is available on all platforms, and PC, and I find there’s much better titles on PC/other consoles than to get this. But for switch? Definitely get it.

Games

Apex Legends Season 6

Alrighty, I’m done giving this game any praise. As far as I’m concerned, Respawn Entertainment deserves all the vitriol and hate directed their way, all that and more. Their idea of improving a live service game is to essentially keep throwing content at you to distract you from the fact that their core game experience is built upon a heaping pile of shit. You have bugs from Day fucking One, pardon my language in this post. And instead of taking their core development team and fixing those bugs, they keep adding new guns, new maps, new legends, new shiny cosmetics that’ll keep bringing in revenue. They don’t give a single care in the world as to their average player. They cater to whales that’ll spend thousands on the game. And no, EA did not choose the prices. They did that themselves, they have become the very greedy scum that left Infinity Ward to become Respawn in the first place.

Sound is the single biggest problem in the game. All the time you will not hear a player sneak up on you, or you won’t hear their gun firing, or you won’t hear abilities going off. And since this is a battle royal shooter, sound is your biggest and best asset. Knowing where the enemy is, is half the battle. Yet Respawn won’t, or seemingly can’t be bothered to fix that issue. And then to compound things further, they keep adding things to the maps that produce sound as a way to get you distracted from gaining the knowledge where your enemy is. Too bad none of it matters because hey, they’ll not produce any sound. Only some players will.

Secondly, it’s come to my attention that they hired a former Riot designer who is infamous for his wrong stance on a champion (Kayn) so much so that he got let go, then they fixed what he refused to do, and whatya know? The champion is in an infinitely better spot now. So you went and hired this incredibly stubborn individual? Yea, that’s the direction you wanna go. That’s a designer you want on your team. He fits right in, given how stubborn Respawn is with their game. You try telling them that there’s problems with the game on their official subreddit, and guess what happens? It’s infamous by now. They called users freeloaders and a whole bunch of other names. And they wonder, oh god they wonder, why they get vitriol sent their way.

Thirdly, their servers. With the amount of money they make, sorry have made, why haven’t they given it a go and acquired better or even more servers to avoid the plague of issues. Way too many server shutdowns, way too many code leafs, way too many random crashes because the game logic can’t handle you doing something simple as using a character’s ultimate ability while using a geyser. And they cannot use Covid-19 as an excuse because all these problems existed long before that ever came around. The answer is simple and ever so infuriating, they simply don’t care about the core experience as long as the whales keep bringing them revenue. That’s it. They are the furthest thing away from a consumer friendly company.

Now onto season 6. At this point, Apex legends has been around a year and a half. What did they add this season? Well you see, they made the bright decision to lower overall hp by 25 and then to add two guns that have a less than one second time to kill. A moron could see that using any other gun is a waste of time. Evenly matched, any gun vs the devotion or the volt will lose 10/10 times. A year and a half of data and this is what they come to. My favorite lie is when the developers come onto the forums and say they look at play rates, win rates, kill rates, down rates, professional play, etc. That’s a big stinking lie. And I’m tired of hearing it. They don’t, because if they did, they would have realized that those two guns are incredibly overpowered. No, what they should be saying is, “we don’t care, we do what we want. This is our game. You can stop playing at any moment.” And guess what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I was a top tier player. But now, Respawn, Fuck you. Sincerely.

Edit: Final thoughts; the sunken cost fallacy is why I kept enjoying the game. I had sunk too much time into it that I felt I owed myself to keep playing. But the game is like this, imagine you’re a dog and you live in total squalor. Your owner hardly ever changes your food bowl, and when he does, oh how excited you are! And you love your owner, and everytime you play fetch, it’s so much fun! We started with a tiny little stick, but now we got a large stick! This is what Respawn has done to the average player. The game is a lot of fun, but all the bugs, terrible changes and server issues are like living in squalor. Our food bowl is the LTMs and content they slowly drip out. And the stick changing is the different seasons of the game. But we stuck by them, because like a dog we are loyal. Not anymore. Time to bite the hand that feeds.

Games

A Rant Against Nintendo

I don’t think I’ve ever used a system such as theirs that actively disables my third party purchases. They’re a company run by maximizing profits, like any other. You can only use their products, and the products they sell at triple the cost with their units. Want a new controller? Better pony up 1/3 the price of the system. Oh, you bought a third party controller for a fraction of the price? Sorry, let us push an update that not only makes your device not work anymore with ours, but disables your device from working with any other system too! Aren’t we such friendly gamers? Loved by all, such a family friendly company that we love, nay strive, to gouge our consumers dry.

Don’t get me started on HDMI cables too. Nearly half of them don’t work with the switch, they work fine with PC or other consoles but not with switch. Gotta get the right one. They would prefer you bought theirs. Oh, and game prices? Let’s talk about the “switch tax” aka any game sold on switch is marked up by nearly half compared to any other system. Dead cells, for example, is nearly 45 dollars on switch and 30 bucks everywhere else. The ability to play anywhere does not facilitate such a price increase. The downgrade in graphics most games receive to play on switch should have the opposite effect. The price should be lower or the same, not marked up. One can assume that the Nintendo store charges extra for developers if almost most games have to have raised prices.

Then we get to the joy con controllers themselves. Out of all consoles, these have the fastest fail rate I’ve ever been witness to. It’s like they are designed to fail as soon as possible, so you have to give more money to Nintendo. It’s no surprise then that there are several class action lawsuits against them for such. The joycons will drift. Then they are useless. Time to pony up another hundred dollars. My PlayStation controllers have never drifted, neither have my xbox. No controller I’ve ever owned has until the switch’s ecosystem showed up.

Nintendo is like the Apple computers of gaming companies. They took an already existing device (Nvidia shield) and touted/marketed it as a brand new device aka the switch. Then they set up their own ecosystem and can charge whatever they want and their loyal lap dogs will eat it all up. Any criticism is disguised, and brushed away. Money always wins. What a depressing reality. You’d think that actively nurturing and helping a consumer base would be the goal so they in turn reward you by purchasing your goods but it’s not. Gaming is no longer about enjoyment for the user, but how can investors bleed dry the market before moving onto the next. Given this, it’s so rare to find a game that’s purely made to be enjoyed. No ulterior motive, no microtransactions. No downloadable content. And Nintendo is definitely not where you look if that’s what you want. If I had to say where, I’d say go with a sony exclusive. Time and time again, these have been proven to be nothing but pure enjoyment for the consumer. There’s no extra purchases needed. The game is as is. One look at Ghost of Tsushima and that’s all you need to know. Review for that upcoming.

To surmise, I’m tired of Nintendo’s ecosystem. Price gouging through and through. The fun I get with Super Smash Bros is always sullied by the drift in my controller. This is one system that gathers more and more dust and is only pulled out for parties.

Games

Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout

This is one of those games that you see advertising for all over the internet. You start to think, “hey, this looks fun” and your initial impression would be true. This game was given freely via ps plus and were it not for that fact, I would never have willingly played it. After having played this game for a few hours, I can safely say this not worth a 30 dollar price tag. It is worth the sweet price of being free to play.

The gameplay itself is rather simple, yet the developers in their infinite wisdom, do not give an options menu to allow you to switch to inverted camera controls. Ergo, many matches I’m staring at the ground barely managing to avoid obstacles because the camera is my biggest enemy. You can move about, dodge, or grab things (other players included). By allowing the player to grab other players, this game ceases to rely on any skill. And is merely an exercise in sheer luck. Now some players might find that fun, and enjoyable, but I do not. Because for all my skill at carefully avoiding obstacles, my run could end because Johnny is a dick and just grabs onto me, and I lose.

The game is colorful, I admit. And does give off a nice summer vibe, but all the happiness and joy at advancing through rounds almost always gets ruined because a player wants to be malicious, and derive joy from ruining the experience for other players. Some feel inclined to tell me this is part of the “battle royal” aspect of the game. And true, being able to grab other players allows for this. However, they need to nerf this mechanic badly. Personally, the game would be much more fun, if after being grabbed, there’s about 3 seconds where I can’t be grabbed again. That would deter so many trolling players. Alas, there’s no such safety mechanic in play, and this game encourages to bring out the worst in players.

To surmise, if you enjoy ruining other player’s experiences and don’t care about winning in the slightest, then you’ll find joy in fall guys. Some of the modes within the game encourage the players to play shady. Like one where you gotta collect the most eggs, but wait there’s a timer! So you gotta be shady and stealing from other players constantly, and you just might lose because the other two teams ganged up on your team. I play to enjoy my games and to have a semblance of winning. There is no winning in fall guys, there’s the opportunity to lose repeatedly over and over and that you somehow get lucky to be the last standing. That’s not winning. That’s luck.

Last thoughts, this game is filled with microtransactions for cosmetics. Which I have no problem with, but given their very nature, it can easily lead to a slippery slope. And given the graphics and colors, it’s clear the game is aimed at younger children and as such, this might be predatory because children are more susceptible to wanting to purchase those cosmetics. As such, I don’t recommend this game for purchase but go ahead and grab it while it’s free on PlayStation plus.