Pocket Players Podcast #74: Not a Good Idea

Kirby Triple Deluxe: Bringing the Heat

While Pennsylvania gets hit by some particularly obnoxious heat (and my lack of a decent AC limits use of my waffle iron of a laptop so much) I thought I would pick up a few 3DS titles to review for y’all.

My first review is Kirby: Triple Deluxe! I’ve been playing Kirby since the Game Boy port, and though I have missed a few titles in the series, I do thoroughly enjoy them. So I was excited to see how Nintendo would handle this new version, and this did not disappoint!

The bright candy graphics and ear-worm music are all present, as one would expect from a good Kirby game. There are plenty of remixed and re-orchestrated classics thrown into the soundtrack as well. What I was not expecting was just how well the 3D was utilized. This is literally the best use of 3D on the 3DS I have seen yet, especially on a platformer. Kirby jumps back and forth from foreground to background to solve puzzles and gain collectibles, and many enemies fly or jump between them as well. You’ll dodge trains that Kirby-Triple-Deluxe-Kirby-on-a-Big-White-Glovecome roaring towards you, pendulums that swing forward and back, trees that fall and smash the ground to bits, and cannons that shoot at you from the distance. It is brilliant, and probably one of the few titles where even detractors of the 3D function will want to have it cranked up while playing.

Still, I found the 3D effect to be slightly more restrained than earlier 3DS titles that occasionally would have you seeing double if you had the 3D turned up all the way. But it seems Nintendo found just the right sweet spot for Kirby, which is much appreciated. However, owners of 2DS’s should not fret too much. The lack of 3D will never put you at a serious disadvantage, but you are definitely missing out.

The story is simple enough: One peaceful night in Dreamland, Kirby was sound asleep, when suddenly a mysterious beanstalk called the Dreamstalk lifts Kirby’s house and Dedede’s Castle high into the clouds and into the land of Floralia. Kirby rushes over to the castle just in time to see a strange insectoid creature named Taranza assault Dedede and capture him! Kirby takes off in hot pursuit to save Dedede and the land of Floralia from Taranza’s wicked schemes.

The main game itself is rather short – almost too short (I beat the end boss the first time in a mere 7 hours). However, it is still decently challenging, especially in later levels, and the massive amount of collectibles and handful of mini-games will keep you coming back for more.kirby5

The collectibles come in two varieties: Sun Stones and Keychains. Sun Stones are found in each stage and will unlock a bonus stage for each world once they have all been collected. Keychains are more random. Several can be found in each level and will be “appraised” at the end and turned into a random keychain which you may or may not already have. They can also be bought with Play Coins and exchanged via StreetPass. The Keychains themselves are sprites of friends and foes from past Kirby games, each labeled with their name and the title of the game they first appeared in, and can be viewed in 3D and jangled around by turning the 3DS.

The mini-games are: Dedede’s Drum Dash, a rhythm/platformer starring Dedede, whom you must guide as he bounces on drums and collects coins to the beat; The Arena, where you face off in a gauntlet of boss battles for prizes and glory and where your success is shared with others via StreetPass; Dedede Tour!, where you plow through the main story stages in a time attack as Dedede and face off against powered up “deluxe” bosses; and of course, Kirby Fighters, the Smash Bros. style single or multi-player beat ‘em up using many (but not all!) of Kirby’s copy abilities.

Speaking of copy abilities, there are several new ones this time around, and almost all of Kirby’s copy abilities have had new combos and moves added to them, making many of them feel closer to Smash kirby2Bros. brawlers than simple copy abilities. The new ones are: Archer, which shoots arrows with power and precision; Beetle, which plays like a cross between Fighter and Suplex with lots of fast short-range combos and grappling moves and throws; Bell, which lets you smash enemies with… bells… yeah…; and Circus, which makes Kirby up like a clown who tumbles about, somersaults, and does other such tricks to attack and dodge.

So, despite being a bit short, the replayability offered by collectibles and mini-games, and the sheer fun of this game make it definitely worth the buy, whether you’re new to Kirby or an old fan. If nothing else, it is definitely one of the best platformers available on the 3DS, and makes for a fun diversion from the summer heat!

RATING: 4.5 / 5

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Handheld Deals of the Week

It’s been a while since we had some new Vita deals worth speaking of here. But Amazon had their first real price dip for Deception IV: Blood Ties this week, bringing this brutal, trap placement RPG down to $33. And in case you ever wanted the special collectors edition of Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God, that particular version is now $37 (down from $50) and includes a pretty curry plate in the shape of Kuu, a curry spoon, and a few other cutesy nick-knacks.

For 3DS, this week saw a Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl and Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan both slide down to $15 for the digital version on the eShop. Both of those are games I’ve actually held off on buying for just such an offer, as I always said that series is best to have just permanently ready to go on your system.

TOP VITA DEALS

16GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card-  $36
32GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card-  $69

Deception IV: Blood Ties-  $33
Dragon’s Crown
-  $25
FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster-  $30
Gravity Rush
-  $15
Persona 4 Golden-  $20
Rayman Legends-  $20
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God Limited Edition-  $36
Soul Sacrifice-  $27
Tearaway
-  $30

TOP 3DS DEALS

Bravely Default-  $34
Mario Party: Island Tour-  $30
Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D-  $21
Pokémon Y-  $32
Pokémon X-  $35
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy-  $30
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright (Pre-order)-  $30
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers-  $20
Yoshi’s New Island-  $35

[Image: Tecmo]

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Pocket Players Podcast #73: Into the Secret Base

Pocket Players Podcast #72: Gaze Upon Gigas!

WHAT WE’RE PLAYING

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

QUESTION OF THE SENNIGHT

WHY OR WHY NOT

[Image: NIS America]

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Handheld Deals of the Week

Today we have the rare pleasure to bring you a huge Android game giveaway on Amazon. Over $100 worth of paid apps (about 30 titles in all) can be download from now until Saturday for free! Highlights of this deal would be series staple, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, the surprisingly well rated Card Wars – Adventure Time and Kairosoft’s RPG town simulator, Dungeon Village.

Pre-orders are now available for Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney on Amazon. You can save $8 for reserving your copy before the August 29 release date.

There were also a few notable price drops for Vita, including 16GB memory cards hitting $25, and Dragon’s Crown at the rare $20 price tag.

TOP 3DS DEALS

3DS XL (Gold/Black) Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - $265

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! - $15
Bravely Default$34
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars – $35
Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D – $19
Paper Mario: Sticker Star – $20
Pokémon Y – $32
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy - $30
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright - $32
Shin Megami Tensei IV – $20
Yoshi’s New Island – $35

TOP VITA DEALS

16GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card – $25
32GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card – $68

PlayStation Vita 3G/Wi-Fi Bundle – $230

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – $25
Dragon’s Crown - $20
FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster – $36

Gravity Rush – $15
LEGO The Hobbit - $24

Persona 4 Golden – $20
Rayman Legends – $20
Soul Sacrifice - $28
Tearaway – $25
Ys: Memories of Celceta – $30

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Pocket Players Podcast #71: Marry / Boff / Kill

JV joins the fun as we play everyone’s favorite game of hypothetical choices (with Final Fantasy characters)! We’ve been playing a lot of games this week, so we have a ton of them to cover as well.

WHAT WE’RE PLAYING

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

QUESTION OF THE SENNIGHT

WHAT’S THE MOST EMBARRASSING GAME YOU’VE PLAYED IN PUBLIC?

[Image: NIS America]

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Nintendo’s E3 Presence – Showing up to Play

Nintendo not only did spectacularly well at E3 this year (especially compared to last year); they blew the competition out of the water. With tons of upcoming titles for both the 3DS and the Wii U, Nintendo isn’t done yet, and they aren’t afraid to let everyone know it.

If the company was as nervous as some of their fans are about the company’s financial troubles, they certainly didn’t show it at E3. Nintendo opted out of a press conference again this year, instead doing a “Digital Event”, which was a little different than anyone expected it to be. It satirized the traditional E3 press conference, making it a funny stop motion skit similar to Robot Chicken. Nintendo also got a little mean, with a stop-motion Reggie throwing a fireball at a stereotypical whining fan as he begged to be given Mother 3.

I had mixed feelings when I saw the stop-motion stuff, because I was afraid Nintendo would go overboard with it, as they often do. But the presentation was personal, and had that air of Nintendo fun, like my favorite part where Reggie and Iwata actually duke it out Smash Bros. style. But style and fun aside, Nintendo really did deliver on the content.

Most of the announcements were for the Wii U, which was understandable. The Wii U is really still learning to walk, while the 3DS can do its own taxes at this point. But what they did talk about for their handheld caught my eye. They announced the definitive release date for Super Smash Bros. 3DS (October 3rd), and for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (November 21st). And on top of a whole heaping pile of new eShop titles I couldn’t even begin to cover here, two new games really interested me.

CodeNameSTEAM

©Nintendo

The first is called Code Name S.T.E.A.M. set to come out some time next year. This game is made by Intelligent Systems, best known for the incredible Fire Emblem series. This is another of the strategy RPG genre they’re so known for, but it’s very different from what they’ve made before, in more ways than one. The game is about a special forces squad formed in the Age of Steam by president Lincoln to fight off alien invaders.

It’s very steam punk, and very stylized after the silver age of American comics, namely the work of Jack Kirby. The thing that really makes this game different is that the traditional top-down view used in strategy RPGs is abandoned. You play through the levels without knowing where your enemies are or even the lay of the land, which I was very uncomfortable with at first while watching gameplay, being so used to IS’s more popular strategy series. But the more they explained and demonstrated how the game worked, the more I liked it.

Each character starts a turn with so many units of steam, which they use to move across the grid, or to attack. You can move around as much as you want per turn, to the limit of your steam tank. Moving back to your starting position will replenish any steam you use. This allows you to run out, scope the land ahead of you, then run closer to where you started to regain some action points, and plan how to use them accordingly.

The enemies on the map are in the same situation as you are: they don’t know where you’re hiding. So if you happen to accidently wander into an enemy’s field of view while walking around, they’ll see you, and make sure to try and come after you on their turn. This makes the game very exploration based. It also makes it more realistic, as you are no longer some all-powerful strategy god that can see everything that is happening. It’s something that will make strategies a lot more interesting and make this game truly unique. Strategy RPGs tend to just suck up way to much of my life, so maybe this won’t be one I’ll be getting right off the bat, but it’s definitely one I’m keeping an eye out for.

FantasyLife2The other game I really liked was Fantasy Life. This game is made by Level-5 Studios (creators of the Professor Layton series), and is set to be released this October. This game was described as an adorable mashup of Animal Crossing and Final Fantasy, and that sounded like that might be a little strange. But I found out that the game is actually supposed to be ridiculously deep.

Fantasy Life is based around lifestyles – such as woodcutter, blacksmith, alchemist, etc. – that you can switch between whenever you want by talking to the right person. By training as a specific class you build up that class’ skills. This unlocks abilities you can keep no matter what class you switch to.

There are tons of things to collect and craft and utilize all over the land. You could spend days just searching and foraging for resources to create the perfect weapon or potion. And the crafting portions of the game are actually mini-games where your success is determined by the quality of your items. I think this is a really cool concept, because no matter how high-leveled you get in blacksmithing for instance, the quality of your sword will always be at least partially based on your skill in the real world. Though doing the mini-games might get a little annoying after the 100th try, I’m willing to give it a go.

Each of the 12 life styles has a life master who is the epitome of your trade, and will give you special missions to fulfill in your class to help you on the road to mastery. And you can focus on some skills, and ignore others, and live your life in the way you choose to, making your character very personalized after you’ve been playing for a while.

FantasyLife3And fun side quests aren’t all of what this game has to offer. The main story is supposed to be pretty time consuming as well, with people saying the RPG as a whole is composed of over 21,000 pages of text. That’s pretty heavy. Seeing as it’s from the makers of the Professor Layton games, I’m sure they will be keeping you interested, but the story isn’t mandatory.

This is where the Animal Crossing aspect comes in. If you want to just spend your time mastering your favorite classes, or just killing monsters and collecting money, and never touch the main story, there’s enough in the game to keep you occupied doing that for a long time. If you decide you want to dive in to the story, there’s just as much – if not more – there for you to play. And if you want to do both and complete everything, you better not be too attached to your social life.

Speaking of social life, the multiplayer is cool in this game as well. When hooking up with a friend, they seamlessly join you in your world, and you are free to do what you want, such as beat a boss that you aren’t strong enough to tackle alone.

I’m really liking the style and huge size this game seems to be showing off, and every day I’m closer and closer to convincing myself I need it. I think this will be a great game both for people who just want to take it easy and progress through life, and for those who want to have tough battles and go through an interesting story.

[Images: ©Level-5, ©Nintendo]

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Pocket Players Podcast #70: License to Hunt