Review of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — Oh no, there goes Tokyo

Everyone’s favorite plumber and hedgehog are once again going for the gold, as the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has come to the Nintendo Switch for its sixth installment.  Sure, it may seem like nothing more than a simple cash-grab, but there are some enjoyable new features to be delved into.  So without further ado, let’s light the torch and get into the review itself.

Time-travel turmoil

We haven’t seen a story mode in this series since the 3DS version of the London 2012 installment, but it returns in this edition.  After an opening confrontation, the competitors are inadvertently sent back in time to the Tokyo 1964 games (The setting of which is presented in 2D), and getting back to the present is going to be way easier said than done.  In the meantime, our heroes and villains must venture around the retro venues and compete in old-school 2D events, and there are also 10 special minigames that you must unlock in this mode before you can play them elsewhere.

It shines like gold

Tokyo 2020 has a big list of events to play, and there are some new ones like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate.  Whether you’re playing the 2020, 1964, or Dream Events, each minigame comes equipped with tight control schemes, and you can choose between motion controls and standard gamepad controls.  While the controls are fluid and responsive, you still might want to read the instructions for each event in case they seem a little complex at first.

For the first time in the series, online multiplayer is included.  However, I feel that it is, at the very least, half-baked.  The tournament format in events like table tennis and badminton is ditched (Thus making them feel way too short in length), and you are unable to play the 1964 events.  These aren’t dealbreakers, but they make me believe that the online in Tokyo 2020 just isn’t for me.  If inviting three friends over (And possibly ordering a bunch of Pepsi and Domino’s Pizza) is what I need to do in order to get the multiplayer experience I truly want from this game, so be it. But hey, maybe the developers will improve the online multiplayer in a future patch.

It’s the final countdown

It may knock a few hurdles to the ground, but this is a decent comeback for the Mario & Sonic series and a fine debut for it on the Switch.  If you can stomach the fact that this isn’t supposed to be in the same league as minigame compilations like the Mario Party series, this Tokyo 2020 installment is a great place for you to go on the hunt for gold medals.

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EA announces its return to Steam

After eight years, Electronic Arts is finally partnering with Valve’s Steam service again.  Not only will Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order be released on EA’s own Origin store, but it as well as other recent PC games from the publishing giant will also be on the Steam marketplace.  The five additional confirmed games are The Sims 4Unravel 2Apex Legends, FIFA ’20, and Battlefield 5.  Along with these games, EA is getting ready to integrate its subscription service EA Access into Steam.  That integration will be completed in 2020, and will be a big help to PC gamers who are unable to shell out the dough for the larger roster that Origin Access offers.  Even if you have had a beef with EA for a long time, I’m sure we can agree that this is a cool move on their end.  I personally never thought EA would ever release a game on Steam again, but lo and behold, they’re back at it.

Graveyard Keeper DLC Stranger Sins Releases

Graveyard Keeper’s brand new DLC, Stranger Sins, releases today adding several hours of content and a bar to run.

The game’s Steam page promises 4 to 8 more hours of game-play, the ability to run your own tavern, new quests and character from NPC’s, background story from 200 years ago and more. Lazy Bear Games and tinyBuild’s game is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and the DLC is out on all platforms starting today.

Read our review of the original PC release here, and expect our review of the Stranger Sins DLC soon!

Review of Grid (2019) — I always race to win

I know I’ve said this at least several times before, but I’m gonna have to say it again  — Codemasters has a long resume when it comes to racing games. Whether it be rallying, Formula 1, or even over-the-top off-roading, the British publisher has done it all. But while Dirt and F1 have still been going strong, fans had been wondering if/when the Grid series would return to the track.  Well, after five years, we don’t have to wonder anymore.  This self-titled reboot is the series’ debut on current-gen hardware, and I’m here to give you the full synopsis on everything it brings to the table.  So with that out of the way, let’s drop the green flag and get this review started.

Turn the car into the wind

Like other established series such as Gran Turismo and Forza MotorsportGrid tasks you with making a name for yourself in a variety of racing disciplines.  You won’t find rally racing or modern Formula 1 in here, but you get to race sports cars, open-wheelers, touring cars, tuner cars, and stock cars from different eras of the sport.  During your career, you must not only place high in the standings, but also manage your race team properly.  It’s your job to collect prize money, buy (And paint) the cars you want, and hire teammates.  No virtual racing career would be complete without a diverse track roster, and this game delivers a hefty number of road-course, street-course, and oval configurations.  There are only 13 locations at the moment, but more will be added in free updates.

GRID-dle cakes

Of course, all of the above would be meaningless if the racing itself wasn’t solid, and the folks at Codemasters have once again delivered solid racing in spades.  While not an arcade racer like Need for Speed or BurnoutGrid tries to be a little more accessible than Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport.  Despite the car-setup functionality being quite simplified, the driving does have weight and realism on both gamepad and wheel.  Flags and pit stops are non-existent, but you still have to drive carefully to avoid crashing out or being penalized.  If you race an opponent too aggressively, they’ll become a Nemesis and try to give you a taste of your own medicine.  Like the previous game in the series, you have the ability to ask your teammate to charge through the pack or play defense, not that they’ll always be able/willing to do what you ask them to do.

Online multiplayer is a bit shallow in this game, as you only have quick-match and private-match options.  Without any search options for public lobbies, you basically jump into public races hoping that the events found are to your liking.  If you want an online race that can be run the way you want it, you have no other alternative but to invite 1-15 friends who have the game.  It’s not a dealbreaker, but I do hope this online-mode drawback can be sorted out.

Pedal to the floor, lap is runnin’ faster

After sitting in its garage for the last five years, the long-running Grid series has made a satisfactory comeback in the form of this reboot.  It may occasionally bust a flat or drop some horsepower, but it still belongs on the shelf of any type of racing-game junkie.  Checkered flag, here I come!

Destiny 2 Year 3 First Impressions

As of this writing, I’ve been playing Destiny 2 Year 3 for 12 hours. There are very good things, and some not so good things. Grab your ship, we’re going for a ride.

The Moon

How are things now on the moon? Well, in short, it’s hell. The geography has gotten even worse with giant fissures where cracks in the ground were once seen. The Hive are even more prevalent then back in Destiny, and they’re more powerful now. Needless to say, they’ve been up to no good up here. I won’t say any more than that because of spoilers. But, it’s a fun challenge.

Eris is still up here, brooding (and so can you if you got that pre-order exotic emote). She’s created a Sanctuary up there, or about as good as you can get on the Hive-infested Moon. Here you can watch her brood, pick up bounties, and some other cool stuff that you’ll discover as you progress through the missions of Shadowkeep.

Brood with me, Guardian, and face fear.

Power Resets

So everyone, whether you’re a new player with New Light, or a veteran who had already reached power cap in Year 2, starts at the new lowest light of 750. This is both good and bad. Good because if you’re like me and haven’t done a bunch of adventures, you can now go do them and get decent rewards for it. Bad for new players because they don’t get the experience of leveling from zero, which to me is essential, but maybe not to others.

Season Pass

Okay, so there has been some controversy over Bungie including a season pass in to the game. Most battle royale style games have season passes which require you to play an absurd amount of games just to get anything good out of it. This one, however, seems to be rewarding both free players and those who purchase it the same at the start. You gain experience here just by doing your normal stuff- campaign, quests, strikes, PvP. It doesn’t take long to gain levels either. In my 12 hours logged (about 2 of those were idle and in menus and such) I’ve gained 8 tiers, almost to the 9th. If you hard push you can gain even faster too.

Free tier on top, Paid tier on the bottom (not my screenshot)

There are two tiers: free and paid. Free season pass is included for everyone and this is where the Season Artifact resides, and it seems pretty well balanced, at the start. There are some tiers where free players get nothing, but up until rank 35 (where you would get Eliana’s Vow) there aren’t many of these. After this, however there are more blank spots, especially as you get above rank 60. Plus, most of the free rewards in the higher tiers are the Nostalgic Engrams from Eververse, so is this really a reward for all the time spent playing?

The paid season pass (included if you bought the deluxe edition of Shadowkeep) is where most of the good rewards lie. Glimmer and XP boosts for you and your fireteam, awesome weapons, and ornaments, as well as more frequent Upgrade Modules are here. Also, if you get the season pass, at rank 1 you get a crate that has Eliana’s Vow and a set of seasonal armor for your class.

Each season can be purchased as a whole set, or individually. The current season is Season of the Undying, which features Vex events and the seasonal artifact- Eye of the Gate Lord- which can be upgraded to give you armor mods and other effects.

Weasels and Squirrels and bugs, oh my!

Squirrels are not good, in this sense, or in legacy Magic The Gathering. If you need context on the latter, Google it. Personal qualms aside, Weasel and Squirrel are error codes dealing with connection issues in Destiny 2. They took down their servers shortly after launch on October 1st because people could not log in. Shut down at 4 pm EST and back up at 9 pm EST, I’d say that’s a decent turnaround for login issues on the first day with new servers on a different service. Bugs are still being found and fixed, including where The Scarlet Keep strike on PC wasn’t performing matchmaking. I ended up beating that strike solo, in just under 40 minutes, and it was actually pretty fun!

Review ongoing

Overall, I’m having a blast with this new year and new expansion. I hope that sometime down the line that Bungie adds more free tier rewards and doesn’t just focus on the paid season pass. I’m wishing them luck that their bugs get fixed quickly, and I hope that those who are playing New Light are enjoying their time in the universe. Eyes up Guardian, we’re just getting started.

Vlast plays Destiny 2 on PC and streams on our Twitch channel! Give us a follow and see him live Friday mornings at 10 am EST.

Review of FIFA ‘20 — Where the street is named VOLTA

The whistle has blown, and it’s once again time to lace up the cleats and jugar futbol.  EA Sports’ global juggernaut in FIFA has hit the pitch for the 27th time, and while it’s certainly not completely different from its predecessor, it does include a handful of obligatory refinements, not to mention a throwback to its spin-off series.  Do these new features make FIFA ’20 worth the $60 price of admission? Let’s dust off our vuvuzelas and find out.

You held the world in your arms

This iteration’s most hyped-up feature is a mode that replaces the Journey mode from the last three games.  Known as VOLTA Football, this mode is essentially a callback to the FIFA Street series.  The two teams have 3-5 players apiece, and you get to choose whether or not the match has goalies and walls.  The pitches are set in some of the world’s most famous cities, and they come with commentary spoken in the native languages.  If you prefer matches that emphasize showmanship over teamwork, this mode is tailor-made for you.

Don’t worry, the VOLTA mode isn’t the only addition to this year’s game.  The ball physics, penalty kicks, and free kicks have been given some tweaks, making the on-pitch action more fluid than ever.  The Mystery Ball and King of the Hill match types are now not only in single games, but in Ultimate Team as well.  The offline career mode has been updated quite heavily, featuring interactive press conferences and player convos, the ability to fully customize your created manager, and a very streamlined user interface.

I am just a copy of a…

Despite facing the usual tough competition from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, EA Sports’ globally-iconic FIFA series continues to nail its headers and volleys.  Whether you prefer team-based strategy or fancy footwork when it comes to how you play soccer games, this installment won’t disappoint you.

Ever wanted to be a Shonen character? JUMP FORCE Review

JUMP FORCE, a fighting game developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco, is now available via Xbox Game Pass (on console only). I’m interested in anime games, so I figured I’d take a shot at it. My childhood was fueled by these shonen comics, and I’m glad that they made a fighting game where they can go head to head against one another to see who comes out on top (I’m rooting for Naruto).

The “Tweet Review”

JUMP FORCE is a fun game on its own, and better when fighting with friends. A lot like Dragon Ball Xenoverse, the animation and fights are well done. Non-story missions lack a bit in content, but free fights are fun. I also fought as Josuke. Fun times.

7/10

The “Normal” Review

Okay, if you’re still reading this, you want some more details. I’ll be happy to oblige.

Beginning of the Journey

The story begins with your character being saved from the brink of death by Trunks and being transformed into a hero. That’s really what happens, by the workings of a magic cube. Bare with me here.

Create your hero, using standard anime guidelines of course

After this, you fight off the invading forces of soldiers called Venoms led by Frieza and various other shonen villains, and then are transported to the home base of the Jump Force, or J-Force as they’re called in the game.

You are tasked to join a squad- Alpha, Beta, or Gamma- and team up with them to go on missions. Alpha fights off the invaders (Dragon Ball captain, Goku), Beta retakes control of lost territory and finds new fighters to join the J-Force (One Piece captain, Luffy), and Gamma is in control of espionage (Naruto captain, Naruto clearly).

They’re all itching for a fight

Missions/Items

There are three different mission types: Free, Extra, and Key. The team you join determines what kind of story (Key) missions you will go on. However, because your character is an important asset to the J-Force, you will regularly be given Extra Missions where you will join members of the other teams to complete them. Example: You do a mission to rescue Vegeta, who then joins Beta team, and then you do a mission with him later on regardless of if you’re on Beta team or not.

Free missions work a lot like the system in Dragon Ball Xenoverse where you can go fight teams of enemy combatants to earn money and items to make your characters stronger. They range from easy to very hard difficulty, and the higher difficulties give better rewards. You’ll have to do these missions multiple times to get all the items, or you can buy most of them from the shop at each team base at a premium price.

The Extra and Free missions are one and done fights as far as I’ve experienced, but I’m still relatively low level, around 15. Once you complete a mission, another higher leveled one may come up after it. I hope that they will have more steps or waves of enemies to each mission, like the mission system in Xenoverse, with the higher difficulties.

Combat/Animation

Skills

With skills available from multiple shonen universes, you can create a character specific to how you want to play. My current character has a move each from One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball, and one more that I can’t remember off the top of my head. He plays really well for being a beginner character, good mix of close and ranged attacks. He’s also wearing a Josuke costume, because he can.

Some skills have you dash towards your opponent to make impact, others fire projectiles, and some are ranged attacks. Still others have an initial button press to create an effect or attack, then if you hit the button again, the attack goes off, like Hellzone Grenade. The large number of skills you can unlock allows for a ton of customization, so don’t be afraid to try out new skills.

Chargin’ my attack

Ultimate skills aren’t something that can be used all the time. You need to fill your Awakening gauge to at least 50% to use one. You do this by preforming combos, and taking damage. Awakening causes different effects for each character who uses it; for example: Goku goes Super Saiyan and Gon gets that impossibly long hair and ages like eight years for a massive power buff.

Actual Fighting

Combat is done in teams of three, and you’re able to call in the others for support attacks and to switch to them when you wish. There is a cooldown on this so be careful. There is no guard limit (so far that I’ve encountered), so guard whenever possible because it can even block ultimate attacks. The CPU likes to spam guard though, so break through it with a Smash attack (that’s actually what it’s called). Use your skills, keep the combo going, and you’ll get the win in no time.

You can also fight against other players online and in local offline battles, but I haven’t tried this out yet. I’m waiting on my friend to wrestle it away from his brother so we can play together. If it’s anything like Xenoverse, these battles are the highlight of the game because it makes you think on your feet, not follow the motions of the CPU.

Animation

The animation throughout the game is well done, and it shows in the details they put into the combat. Breaking ground, particle effects from attacks like Spirit Bomb, and the smoothness of movement make it just plain fun to play, and that’s what I like about this game.

Did someone say ZA WARUDO?!

Final Thoughts

Despite the missions being run-of-the-mill fights for rewards, the fights themselves are what make this game great. The combinations of skills and teammates, paired with how well combat flows (when the CPU isn’t spamming guard) make it fun to play. Will I play this game all the time? No, because I would get bored really quickly. But, I will play this game whenever I’m in the mood to fight Dio as Josuke, or just kick Frieza around as Kenshin or whoever else I want to play as at that time.

7/10

Silver Soul Gaming is not affiliated with Microsoft, Xbox, or any other affiliates. This is not sponsored content.