August 30, 2017

Travis Touchdown Returns In No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again For Nintendo Switch

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Otaku stereotype and laser sword enthusiast, Travis Touchdown, returns to a Nintendo console with the reveal of No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again for the Nintendo Switch due out in 2018.

In the self-aware and stylish in-engine trailer – Travis gives the viewer a basic rundown of his world. As the worlds top assassin Travis loves a few things in life: namely gaming, killing, and anime. When antagonist The Bat comes to collect on al old debt Travis is sucked into “the phantom game console” towards the climax of the brief video.

All of this is an allusion to an upcoming cross promotion with various indie developers and developer Grasshopper Manufacturer to produce six unique crossover games that will see Travis Touchdown take on the bosses from these indie developer’s key franchises. It is no wonder that none other than Hotline Miami is briefly seen on Travis’ television screen during the reveal trailer.

No More Heroes skipped the 7th generation of consoles entirely (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U) – with the last installment coming in the form of No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle in 2010. The original No More Heroes was released all the way back in 2008 – meaning that the release of Travis Strikes Again will mark the franchises 10th anniversary.

No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again comes from the mind of talented director and developer Suda 51.



Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice | Review

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has made quite the splash in the gaming scene as of recently. It is the indie game with the AAA quality looking to make a point to publishers, that it can be done without the AAA publishers sticking their fingers in the pie. Ninja Theory has labeled this game as the “independent AAA” game because of its focus on their strengths of strong character story, combat, and unique art style. They wanted to take these three key elements are far as they would go without anyone holding them back, but with that large ambition comes huge risk. Did this game pay off? Did it prove its point? A look at Ninja Theory’s claimed three key elements of story, combat and art will help make a conclusion. Is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice more than just it’s slightly silly name? Or is there something deeper.

When we look at Ninja Theory’s first claimed key strength of character’s stories, there is a huge advantage that Senua has over many large budget AAA titles. It can take the story in directions that would scare off a lot of big publishers. In order to portray the main character’s psychological illness and psychosis with a degree of accuracy, neuroscientists were consulted along with non profit organizations who specialized in mental illness. Senua’s Sacrifice uses this aspect of Senua’s character to not only give subtle hints and guidance to the character through whispers informing you of incoming enemies and someone being behind you so you can evade or block them, but it allows for some interesting and even eerie imagery and visual storytelling. Senua’s visual hallucinations also allow the player to explore this character more deeply because we see how she reacts to different, sometimes extreme situations even though she wasn’t there, like when you meet a character named Druth and experience his horrifying story from when he was a captured slave through Senua’s psychosis and a bit of the supernatural. She also interacts with her auditory hallucinations occasionally or they sometimes try and speak for her intentions or her feelings. This could be assumptions that we have to decide are truth or mockery, but it adds to Senua’s character by showing the player her vulnerability and insecurities about her journey at least. Deep down, she has these thoughts and fears in her mind, adding greatly to her fairly silent character. Overall, Ninja theory has great characters and uses Senua creatively to tell an interesting and haunting tale that had me shaken down to my core at times.

The combat in my opinion is the weakest element, but still effective. Using the voices in Senua’s head to guide her during combat was a creative choice by Ninja Theory. The enemies are intimidating and while there are only but a few at a time, that works in the game’s favor as it makes the fight seem more intimate, intense and have more weight. There is no horde to slice through like a hot knife through cheese, but just you and your literal demons and a few strong monsters at a time. They won’t go down with a simply slice, you need to be fast and reactive and know when is best to hit and when is best to dodge. You also don’t want to forget your ability to slow down time and get some well placed hits in that hard to kill enemy which is especially effective for a more casual or less talented player. This is good, considering you are warned at the beginning of the game that if you die too often, your story is done and you need to start over with your save file deleted. Play on easy mode if you are the more cautious sort.

The art in Hellblade is the third element Ninja Theory mentioned and is very striking to say the least. There are often bright colors against dark colors to make the, at times, frightening images stand out so you take notice and allow it to stick in your head. The puzzles that have you searching for a matching symbol in the scenery are a great excuse to take your surroundings in and appreciate the well detailed textures and eerie environments. Senua herself is a beautiful character design with her face paint, large emotional eyes and strong looking body., It’s also haunting if you begin to fail your combat and see the black rot take over her body slowly.

Overall this game is a wonderful story of love and devotion and strength told in the most disturbing and eerie way possible. With its striking art and imagery, intimate and intense combat and haunting story telling, this is a homerun for Ninja Theory and its team. It is easy to tell they had a goal and were determined to reach it and they succeeded. Hopefully, more indie developers show that AAA publishers are not always needed to put out AAA quality products.



Yakuza Kiwami | Review

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Broken Joysticks

Game Reviewed By: John Bridgman

“Kiwami means extreme!” the tutorial explains, and that’s a good way, to sum up Yakuza Kiwami, the remake of Sega’s first entry in its open-world Yakuza series. It keeps the series’ proud tradition of bombastic martial arts combat, gritty organized crime drama, and ridiculous diversions.

An immediate warning to prospective players is in order – Yakuza Kiwami has depictions of violence and aggressive harassment of women, both implied and on-screen, so keep that in mind before playing if you are affected by such things. As well, there are displays of intense gore and mutilation which can be upsetting.

Our protagonist is Kiryu Kazama, who is fresh out of prison after taking the fall for the murder of the Patriarch of the Dojima family. Paroled after ten years of model inmatehood, he returns to Kamurocho and finds himself pulled into a wildly changed Yakuza. Power struggles have broken out among the remaining Yakuza families, and caught up in the middle of it all is his childhood friend Nishkiyama who is now a family Patriarch himself, having gained a ruthless ambition in the wake of Kiryu taking the rap for his crimes.

With these pieces as a setting, Kiryu is let loose to discover the plots surrounding his loved ones, in the only way he knows how – violence. And Kiryu is extremely gifted at the liberal application of violence. He punches, kicks, stomps, throws, swings blades, and smashes thugs with bicycles and more throughout the city. Encounters crop up through the city as you run around, including the ever-looming specter of Kiryu’s rival, Goro Majima.

Majima Everywhere is one of the most fun parts of the game. He can pop up anywhere in the city with a sing-song “Kiryu-chaaan”, ready to challenge his stoic rival and test to see if Kiryu’s skills have grown to match his reputation as the Dragon of Dojima. These fights unlock Kiryu’s skills in his Dragon style, so in addition to normal leveling up, to truly master being Kiryu Kazama, you must engage with Majima.

The game hits some lulls when the narrative shrinks things down and removes the degree of openness the game has. Yakuza games shine when something ludicrous is happening on-screen, and searching for an item on the pavement isn’t particularly interesting, especially without the prospect of fighting anyone for a while. These segments aren’t difficult but if you have trouble finding what’s needed it really breaks the flow of the game.

When it’s open though you really get to experience the variety that Yakuza games have come to be known for. While traveling from plot to plot, you will find yourself distracted by fights, games, fights, sidequests, fights, bars, restaurants, and fights. Head to a bar and shoot some darts, have a drink, then make your way to karaoke – all of which will net you experience points and thus lead to improving Kiryu’s skills.

There is a very strange minigame I feel I have to discuss. In your travels, you will begin to find trading cards with pictures of ladies in swimsuits and bug hats. These you can then use to have weird rock-paper-scissors matches, complete with 3D modeled and animated wrestling holds between the scantily-clad women in an arena surrounded by bugs. It’s absolutely bizarre.

Combat though – oh the combat is where Yakuza Kiwami excels. Kiryu has an enormous variety of moves and combos to perform, which only gets more involved as you level up his skills. There are four styles to switch between, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing when to use which and when to switch is key to major fights. The Rush style is about fast combos and dodging rapidly, the Brawler style is the balanced option, and the Beast style is tanky and has an emphasis on breaking nearby objects over your opponents. The fourth style is Kiryu’s Dragon Style, which features unique and powerful abilities, but can only be trained by fighting against Majima.

Yakuza Kiwami is a game that manages to balance its bombastic, ridiculous, and grim elements very well. It can seamlessly carry you from winning dolls out of a crane game for a businessman to give to his… “daughter”, to kicking a road cone and knocking out a group of thugs, to smashing an assassin’s face against a wall with your fist in a span of minutes. It is extremely violent, extremely silly, extremely bizarre, and extremely fun if you can get past the uncomfortable elements. “Kiwami means extreme!” indeed.

Yauza Kiwami’s publisher SEGA USA provided us with a review code for our consideration.


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