Katana ZERO: From the first time I saw this game from the Nintendo Direct and when I tried it at PAX East, I always wanted to beat Katana ZERO. Even though it has been out for a while now, I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy the game. Once I booted up the game, I was so hooked that I ended up beating the game in one night.
I really like the 80’s neon-noir style the game is going for with both its music and its visuals. Each stage plays out as if your character is planning how he is going to get through the room, and after you beat the section you get to see a recording of you going through the room in real time. The game gets visually trippy with some cool visual effects. Sometimes when you play in a later stage, the screen is like a video that skips and rewinds on its own, which reminded me of a horror game. This is probably representing the drug your character is injected with before each stage wearing off.
Attacking and damaging enemies has a satisfying crunch to it, which is something that I did not notice when I played the game at PAX. The gameplay is quick when it comes to completing sections in levels, which makes me interested in speedrunning the game some time in the future. The level design is great, with the enemy placement, behaviors, and having different things to interact with in the environment. This allows for multiple solutions per section, similar to the shrines in Breath of the Wild.
I was surprised how interesting the story was. You have real-time dialogue options, where you can be impatient and interrupt NPCs talking to you, choosing a funny response, or not responding in time makes you choose the default option. However, it only affects the dialogue interactions in the moment and not the overall story. After I beat the game, I felt like I was left unsatisfied with how the story ended. The game does a really good job building up the plot throughout the game, but it ends up abruptly. The game does teases and leave the door open for a sequel or future DLC, which would make the ending fine.
Overall, Katana ZERO is a gem of an indie game that people with a Switch or a PC should try out especially if the game has additional content coming in the future (*Author’s Note: In the time I wrote this, the new update that added a hard mode and speedrun mode).
Skies of Arcadia Legends: A game that I surprisingly remember playing on the Dreamcast as a kid was Skies of Arcadia. I was intrigued by the airships and being able to play as sky pirates, but didn’t play a lot of it because I didn’t like playing turned-based RPGs at the time (Pokémon being the exception). With my recent appreciation of JRPGs, I was interested in giving the game another shot. I was able to find a complete copy of the GameCube version on eBay for $60 (which was a complete steal!) this week and had the opportunity to try it out.
Even though it’s a GameCube game, it visually looks like a classic Dreamcast game. While the textures are only okay in today’s standards, but I was taken back to my childhood looking at the game in action. As the game’s main characters, I really like Vyse and Aika. While Aika is the bubbly sidekick, Vyse is a high energy pirate that reminds me of Robin Hood. For some reason, I thought Vyse was going to be more edgy and reserved since he was a pirate, which is why his actual personality is great. There are two different types of pirates in the game’s world: The Blue Rogues and the Black Pirates. The Blue Rogues, the group that Vyse and Aika are affiliated with, are pirates with good intentions, since they steal from the rich to help out the poor. The Black Pirates, on the other hand, are your typical pirates that steal from anyone for themselves.
As a turned based RPG, this game does enough different to feel unique and fun. When your party and the enemies attack, they move around the battle area with some attacks change depending where you character is. For example, Aika uses a boomerang that she throws if the enemy is far away but uses it as a blunt object if the enemy is close to her. Magic and Special Attacks use the SP gauge, which is shared with the party and also increases per action. The interesting thing about that is that magic only uses 1 MP in addition to SP, which is different from other RPGs, where magic uses more MP. You learn magic by gaining Magic Exp, which is gained by attacking with your weapon. Depending on the color of the weapon (which you can change during battle), you gain experience for that color. For example, if you attack with a magenta weapon with Vyse, you gain experience for magenta magic. Once you get enough experience with magenta, you learn a fire magic attack.
With very intriguing battle mechanics and an interesting world, I can’t wait to dig deeper into this game.
Devil May Cry 5: Out of three characters you play as, Dante plays the best in my opinion. Being able to change weapons and fighting styles on the fly is perfect when the situation changes in the middle of a fight. From using a hat as a gun to using a FREAKIN’ MOTORCYCLE as dual wielding swords, the weapons Dante uses are ridiculous and I LOVE IT! Speaking of ridiculousness, Dante doing Michael Jackson-like dancing was very random and out of place, yet I was entertained.
For most of the bosses in the game, I felt like I could get away with button mashing to beat them (although that might be because I was playing in Human difficulty). However, the last two boss fights against Vergil were very challenging yet satisfying (Nero’s Demon form took care of Vergil really quick though). With the Secret Missions, I like how creative each objective is. For example, Secret Mission 10 had you reach the blue orb fragment without touching the ground, which made you use Nero’s moves in a creative way.
After beating the game this week, I can confidently say that this is my favorite stylish action game I have ever played (step aside Bayonetta 2!). Stages and environments were not look/feel repetitive just like the first Devil May Cry (only the hell/underworld environments felt slightly repetitive). The game is fast paced, but slow enough to understand what you’re doing and pull off different combos. Playing as Dante, Nero, and V felt similar yet different enough to not feel repetitive. The music was perfect for this kind of game, with heart-pumping heavy metal that makes you feel like a badass. As of right now, this is the best game I have played that came out this year (not counting re-releases like Tales of Vesperia or Final Fantasy X/X-2) and I would highly recommend Devil May Cry 5.
Final Fantasy X: This week, I took a few days off from playing X, since I felt a little bit burnt out from playing RPGs in the previous weeks. My little break definitely helped me feel motivated to continue my playthrough. Starting off at Gagaet Mountain Cave, the combination of going through the two trials and the high encounter rate made the section feel sluggish to get through.
I found it funny that I finally reached the point where the intro cinematic took place since it was the third time I saw that cinematic (not including every time I boot up the game). For some reason, I wanted the game to start from the beginning again after Tidus said “Listen to my story” just for laughs. I really enjoyed going through Zanarkand Ruins, since the area looked beautiful with the souls floating around with the nighttime sky in the background. Seeing the scene from Yuna’s sphere was cool, learning a little about Yuna and what each guardian meant to her. It felt like I was watching Yuna’s last will, which made me feel sad.
I was able to exploit the Sanctuary Keeper boss, which made the fight feel not as satisfying as previous bosses. With a combination of Hasteaga and Threaten, I was able to almost defeat it before it got a chance to attack me. This was how I dealt with most of the monsters in the cave and didn’t think I would be able to do that with this boss.
The Spectral Keeper was also easy to take out, although it was more satisfying than the Sanctuary Keeper since my strategy didn’t feel cheap. I moved Yuna and Auron behind the boss. While leaving Tidus in front to take hits from the boss and deal most of the damage. I was able to pull that off by having Yuna support Tidus with her white magic.
Since I’m at the end of the temple at Zanarkand, I think I am getting close to the end of the game. Hopefully I beat the game sometime in the next few weeks.