Tagged: Square Enix

FFXIV Stormblood: Please Get Off the Server. Now.

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Stormblood launched officially on the 20th, though people who pre-ordered could get in as early as the 16th. I’m really happy I chose to jump ship from a highly populated server to a saner one last month because old gaming buddies weren’t shy about showing off their screenshots of 2k+ queues. Those screenshots brought back really bad memories of WoW’s launch where you’d wait pretty much all week just to log in and play before you were randomly disconnected. Yay, MMORPG launches.

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Yes, of all the Switch Games, it’s Spelunker I’m writing about

Minna de Waiwai! or as Google calls it, Everyone is crazy! Speller Car

The only game in the entire Switch presentation that sent my fists pumping triumphantly into the air was Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker. It’s not a system seller for me like it was on PlayStation 4 but beyond Breath of the Wild it’s the only thing they showed that I was eager to play.

The gameplay (and stages) look to be the same as in Spelunker World but the trappings around them have been refreshed. There’s a new art style to the menus, a new world map and base camp screen, and the multiplayer lobby looks to be more informative about what gear everyone is bringing. Speaking of multiplayer, the game is reduced from a max of 6 players to 4, all of which can play together locally via splitscreen in TV Mode. It even supports 4 players in Tabletop Mode, though I can’t imagine staring intently at 1/4th of a 6-inch screen would be any fun. I was worried that the game would be local play only but word has it that online multiplayer is supported as well.

Visually the graphics feel pared down to me, lacking the reflections and sharp detail that frequently surprised me on PS4. Forgive me, but on the Switch it looks more like a Wii game in HD. It’s not a knock on the hardware, I think the flatter, more cartoony style just doesn’t play so well in screenshots. I’m still waiting to see it in motion beyond the 1.5 second snippet from the sizzle reel. See if you can spot it!

4 player local Spelunker is a brawl waiting to happen!

Possibly the biggest change is that the game isn’t free to play anymore! For roughly $45 you’ll be able to download the game or pick it up at retail. I am especially tempted to import the game just to have a physical Spelunker to hold and love and hate and love again… and smash against a wall for all the times it killed me. The price tag also means there’s no concept of buying Retries, at least there aren’t any Moon Stones in the screenshots released so far. New players will never know the real agony of death unless they come up with a new system to take its place. Maybe you lose coins or experience and it just takes longer to level up your gear.

But maybe my favorite thing about Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker is that Google translates the title to “Everyone is crazy! Speller car” which is the follow up to one of my favorite games, “Everyone with Sprank Car Z”. If I do somehow end up with a Switch you can expect much reporting on Speller Car after its Japanese release on April 20th (and then again whenever it hits the U.S.).

I finally got to play NieR: Automata

I’ve played through the NieR: Automata demo 3 or 4 times now (once on Hard with no weapons, even) and I’m still not sure I love it. I don’t usually enjoy Platinum Games’ releases but I love the ultra-weird anime universe of NieR and especially its soundtrack. The music is very much in place for Automata but that was a given since the first teaser where original composer Keiichi Okabe was confirmed for the sequel.

The combat gameplay seems dense and involved — expanding on NieR’s penchant for turning into a shmup — but it’s hard to tell with only 3 weapon choices in the demo. All of the weapons have upgrade levels that will expand in the full game but even on the Hard difficulty it was pretty easy to button mash through fights. Simply holding the Square button initiates an automatic (and elaborate) 4-hit combo animation but it doesn’t feel especially rewarding without working for it. Dodging attacks is super simple as every enemy telegraphs their intent with flashing red eyes and the window for the counter is super wide. Hopefully the final game is a little more nuanced as the team has shown in a few different livestreams.

One intriguing element that I only found by digging into the menus is the Plug-in Chip system. It’s basically a system of passive skills but all of the UI interface options are in the list. I can imagine trying to squeeze in a powerful buff and disabling, say, health bars or the mini-map to make it fit. Your OS Chip is also in the list and I can confirm the game definitely ends if you remove that critical system. You also pick up a ton of crafting materials in the demo that you can’t do anything with and unlock shortcuts to previous areas implying that we’ll be running through these maps multiple times.

I came out of the demo more looking forward to the features I couldn’t actually put my hands on than the gameplay that was there. I’m still undecided but I recorded a brief playthrough without commentary for anyone else interested in the game. Of course, you can try it yourself for free by grabbing the demo from the PlayStation Store. Let me know what you think if you do check it out.

“Minecraft meets Dragon Quest” in Dragon Quest Builders Demo

Dragon Quest Builders, otherwise referred to as the Minecraft/Blue Slime mashup, is nearly out on Sony platforms in Japan. In anticipation Square Enix released a fairly lengthy demo which I grabbed immediately and jumped right into. Here’s just over an hour of mostly straightforward gameplay with a little plodding confusion at the end. Right after I finished recording I solved my own problem so I’ll be back with a follow-up if there’s anything exciting left to see in the demo.