Review of Kill la Kill the Game IF — Running with scissors

If there was ever an anime that had a short run and deserved a comeback of some kind, it was Kill la Kill. Fans like myself have long been lauding the series for things like its enthralling storyline and energetic music, not to mention wishing it would one day make some sort of videogame appearance. And thanks to the talented folks at Arc System Works, that wish has finally become a reality in the form of Kill la Kill the Game: IF.

The scissors need sharpening

Storyline-wise, it’s no different from the anime upon which it’s based. 17-year-old Ryuko Matoi has arrived at Honnouji Academy in search of answers regarding her father’s murder. In order to learn the truth, she has to fight her way through an egotistical student council led by the fearsome Satsuki Kiryuin. Sadly, the story mode makes you watch cutscenes of the Elite Four battles and just thrusts you into a tutorial fight that takes place after the best of the best are defeated. I know that’s nitpicky on my end, but I still feel the story mode starts in a weird way.

Another slight beef I have with this game involves the graphics and sound. While the visuals, music, and voice-acting do not disappoint whatsoever, the English dub’s lip-syncing is pretty poor. The English voice cast reprises their roles quite well, so it’s a shame that the speaking animations don’t really play ball with the script. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but it needs polish.

Don’t lose your way

Although it may seem like this game is a huge disappoint to me, I assure you that’s not the case. What really matters in a fighting game is the combat itself, and that’s where Kill la Kill sharpens the scissors. The control scheme is easy to get the hang of and never ceases to feel tight. You’ll also be treated with few-second cutscenes whenever you pull off one of your special moves. There’s even a QTE mechanic that may remind you of the clash system from the Injustice series.

When you need a break from classes at Honnouji, there’s a two-player mode both locally and online. The roster is a bit thin (Only eight characters plus two DLC fighters), but you do get a nice selection of prominent locations from the show. And no matter where you do battle, you can rack up credits to purchase things from the gallery, such as figures, music, and voice clips.

Before my body is dry

It’s not quite as polished as Arc’s other fighting games, but Kill la Kill the Game: IF is still a very good comeback from the short-but-lauded anime it’s based on. With things like accessible controls and a beautiful 2D-to-3D translation of the show’s animation, this game is a must-have for arena-fighting fans and anime diehards alike. The term “running with scissors” takes on a new meaning.

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Review of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order — Back in black

If you’re both a gamer and comic book collector, chances are you spent many hours playing the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series from Activision. And in turn, you might have been pleading for a third title in the ten years that have passed since Ultimate Alliance 2‘s release. Luckily, the folks at Nintendo and Team Ninja have finally granted your wish in the form of the Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

No roses, just stones

The story is very similar to the recent Avengers films. Thanos teams up with a group known as the Black Order, and they go on another hunt for the six Infinity Stones, which were inadvertently scattered by Guardians of the Galaxy leader Star-Lord. It’s up to you and up to three other players to put together a giant roster of heroes and anti-heroes, sharpen your beat-’em-up skills, and save the galaxy before Thanos’ team conquers it.

Hack-and-slash? More like hack-and-Hulk-Smash

Gameplay-wise, The Black Order is a team-based beat-’em-up. Your heroes have light and heavy attacks as well as special moves that can be used when standing next to your allies. There are no complex button combos to memorize, so every battle and puzzle is basically full of button-mashing. As your journey progresses and you keep taking out bad guys, you’ll be earning enough currency to upgrade your characters’ stats and give them some new moves. Your starting roster is comprised of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Groot (With Rocket Raccoon on his shoulders), and many other popular Marvel characters will join you along the way. The overall roster is pretty big, and it will keep getting bigger thanks to free updates and a season pass.

Despite the limitations of the Switch’s hardware, the character designs look as if they’ve escaped from whatever comic pages you happen to be reading, and that’s a compliment. The graphics engine itself is also well-designed, and I have not run into any framerate issues whatsoever. The music definitely sounds like something out of a comic book show or film, and it’s accompanied by wonderfully-performed voice-acting from stars such as Laura Bailey, Phil LaMarr, James Arnold Taylor, Nolan North, and Yuri Lowenthal.

Talk about a MARVEL-ous adventure

As I mentioned, it had been a decade since Ultimate Alliance 2 hit the shelves, and the third chapter does an above-average job picking up where the folks at Activision left off. Whether you’re an avid fan of comic books or adept at co-op beat-’em-ups, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 will reward you and your friends with more action-game fun than you can shake a stack of Free Comic Day books at.

Review of Mischief Makers — Shake-shaking things up

If there was anything the Nintendo 64 was knee-deep in, it was platforming games. Not only was Super Mario 64 an absolute masterpiece in the genre, but there were a handful of second and third-party platform gems in the 64-bit console’s library. And no matter how obscure a game may be, you know it has a strong cult-following when lots of gamers request it to be re-released on a digital marketplace…Which brings us to a 1997 2.5D platformer called Mischief Makers, developed by the fine folks at Treasure.

Stop and shake it

To set the scene, the Planet Clancer is faced with the growing possibility of war, not to mention the Emperor is tricking the inhabitants, known simply as Clancers, into doing indisputably evil things. The brainwashed Clancers kidnap one of the planet’s visitors, that being the robotic mastermind Professor Theo. Luckily for him, the professor’s robotic assistant Marina Liteyears witnesses the capturing, and she sets off on a journey to not only bring her creator to safety, but also protect Planet Clancer from all of the threats that are about to unfold.

Every level puts your 2D platforming skills to the test. And thankfully, Marina has plenty up her…Robots have sleeves, right? Marina can perform both normal and long jumps, and the C buttons grant her special moves like rolling, sliding, and even boosting herself in any direction. However, these moves are afterthoughts compared to the game’s emphasis on grabbing and shaking the many objects and NPC’s you’ll come across. Grabbing things in mid-air and launching yourself towards platforms far away from you will become very vital as your journey progresses. Along with a truckload of platforming playgrounds, you’ll be faced with a handful of boss fights against rogue Clancers and other cold-hearted villains.

Shaking, not stirring

For a 1997 N64 game, Mischief Makers is full of good-looking level backgrounds, well-animated characters, and above-average cutscenes that some gamers may have thought the N64 just couldn’t pull off. In terms of sounds, you’re not gonna hear a lot of voice-acting (Although it was performed well) due to the console’s limitations, but you’ll still be treated with plenty of well-composed songs that are very fitting for each level and boss fight you go through.

In terms of replay value, Mischief Makers‘ length depends on how long you are willing to explore each level and whether or not you can succeed at the bonus tasks in the special events. If you’re good enough, you’ll be able to find all the gold crystals, one of which is found in each level. The amount of gold crystals you have at the end of the adventure determines how long the ending will be, so you’re gonna need a lot of patience and platforming prowess if you want the full experience.

No tomfoolery, no hijinx, just mischief

Just because a game falls under the radar due to its console’s heavyweight-filled catalog doesn’t mean it’s a meaningless game, and Mischief Makers strongly proves that. It doesn’t fit into the same league as heavily-revered platformers like Super Mario 64, but if you’re looking for an obscure platformer with an entertaining (And sometimes funny) plot and a deep pool of replay value, Mischief Makers will not disappoint you. Also, I don’t recommend taking a shot for every time Marina says “Shake, shake!” Alcohol and robotics don’t mix!

Talk about monkey business — Sega announces Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD

Remember this charming party-game series from Sega called Super Monkey Ball? The reason for that question is because from out of absolute nowhere, the Japanese former first-party company has announced they are unearthing the Wii game Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and giving it an HD coat of paint. This remaster is set to release on October 29, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with a PC version coming this winter. For those who don’t know, Super Monkey Ball is a series in which you roll around in a ball, play a butt-ton of minigames, and try to collect as many bananas as you can. I’m personally very excited for this release, even though the closest I came to actually playing the series was via a McDonald’s Happy Meal LCD game. Yeah, that’s how old I am! Anyway, fast food toys aside, I’ve been meaning to play a full-fledged Super Monkey Ball title for some time now, and if you haven’t already delved into the series, this remaster sounds like a good place to begin. We’ve only got three months before Banana Blitz HD hits the market, so be sure to stock up on bananas…Or at least any kind of fruit!

Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid gets a long-awaited update and DLC

After a long wait Nway has updated their console fighting game Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid. This update is huge for fans, bringing in crossplay between Playstation 4 Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Furthermore the ability to search for specific players and invite friends to matches is exciting.

Three new downloadable characters were announced in the season one pass. Trey of Triforia and Jen Scotts, followed by Lord Zedd in a future update. players can purchase the season pass for $14.99 or buy the characters individually for $6.99.

Trey of Triforia: The original Gold Zeo Ranger, Trey was an alien from the planet Triforia who came to earth to help the Zeo Rangers battle the Machine Empire. There, he was attacked and split into three separate beings, forcing him to temporarily transfer his Gold Ranger powers to veteran ex-Ranger Jason Lee Scott.

Jen Scotts: Jen Scotts assumed the role of leader of the Time Force when her fiancé, the Red Time Force Ranger, was killed by an escaping criminal named Ransik.  Fearless, determined and compassionate, Jen and her team did everything they could to track down Ransik and bring him to justice.

Lord Zedd: (Coming Soon): The self-proclaimed “Emperor of Evil,” Lord Zedd has conquered and enslaved much of the galaxy. Initially leaving the “insignificant” Earth for Rita Repulsa to conquer, he returns to punish her for her failure and finish what she started.

Gameplay for Lord Zedd hasn’t yet been revealed however fans are excited to see what damage the mighty Lord Zedd can dish out.

Through the Driver’s Window — NASCAR Heat 4 announced for a September release

It’s the weekend after the 4th of July, which means it’s time to start gearing up for another annual edition of virtual stock cars. The folks at 704Games have announced NASCAR Heat 4, which is scheduled for a release sometime in September. Along with the news that veteran driver Kevin Harvick is gracing the game’s cover, the North Carolina-based publisher has revealed a hefty list of new features and pre-order bonuses.

Many NASCAR gamers like myself felt that last year’s version felt very rough around the edges, but the team promises to address Heat 3‘s mistakes and bring us a full pit race team of goodies. A common complaint was that the game had no track map, which is a necessity for realistic driving games. Thankfully, Heat 4 is guaranteed to give you a well-designed map that will no doubt assist you in finding opponents that you can’t see. And speaking of opponents, your ability to draft with the other drivers will be easier to capitalize on thanks to the devs’ goal of improving the aerodynamics model. Also, each track you race on will have multiple racing lines and affect your tires in many different ways, both of which indicate that the race will be quite different each time. And if you feel like the button configuration isn’t to your liking, Heat 4 allows to set the controls to whatever kind of setup you wish. Before moving to the next paragraph, I will mention that 704 is touting a massive improvement in graphics and sound, the former of which makes me think the game is moving to the Unreal Engine. I say that based on what the graphics looked like in the trailer, but I could very well be wrong. Whether it’s Unreal, an updated Unity, or any other kind of engine is yet to be found out.

These new on-track features sound really awesome, but the overall depth of this game is something I really hope delivers. Luckily, 704 has promised 38 tracks, more than 150 teams and drivers, unlockable paint schemes, and a deeper career mode. I should also point out that if you prefer the Gold Edition, you’ll get the 2019 Season Pass, Martinsville at night, three-day early access, a Jeff Gordon steelbook case, exclusive access to Gordon’s legendary 24 car, and you’ll even get spotter audio voiced by the four-time Monster Energy Cup Series champion. We may as well call this edition the Jeff Gordon Edition, wouldn’t you say? Also, the #24 legend car makes me wonder if we’ll get a lot of other legend cars in this year’s game, which would be pretty sweet since it’d bring back memories of EA Sports’ NASCAR series.

I’m not gonna bank on it, but I have a good amount of confidence that NASCAR Heat 4 can have the pit stop of a lifetime and be the best mass-market NASCAR game in a very long time. As long as the developers are truly committed and they don’t make any big mistakes, NASCAR gamers of any kind might be in for a real treat. If you’ve got a PS4, Xbox One, or powerful PC, get your engine fired up in time for Heat 4‘s proverbial green flag in September.

The Last of Us Part II Release Date and Editions Possibly Leaked

It’s long been rumored The Last of Us Part II will release February 2020 and a new leak further fuels that rumor and gives additional details on several editions of the game.

The news comes from gaming forum ResetERA where Senior Analyst at Niko Investors ZhugeEX confirmed the February 2020 release. ZhugeEX also mentions there will be four editions of the game coming out as well. The obvious standard, special and collector’s editions are pretty standard nowadays. The fourth is the Ellie Edition. There aren’t any details on what each edition includes though. I’d look to Days Gone and Death Stranding editions for an idea of what to expect.

What makes this seemingly random forum post newsworthy is it comes from the same leaker who gave us the Death Stranding release date and edition details before. But even though that leak was true take all of this with a grain of salt. Leakers have been wrong before and it is the internet. But until Sony and Naughty Dog give us any more info, it’s exciting to possibly have an idea of when to expect this highly anticipated sequel.