[EXPRESSO] Blue Archive iOS | Gacha, Girls & Guns

More gacha? Want more gacha? There’s always more gacha to talk about, not so much play as often gameplay it vestigial obligation or barely there so it can technically be considered a “videogame” and not a “JPEG slot machine”. And because these things always wants all your time. And money.

What kind of free-to-play anime gacha game is Blue Archive?

The story (as far as explained by the prologue) it’s basically A Certail Magical Index via Girls Frontline and a touch of Girls Und Panzers, minus the magical elements and sci-fi robots, so it’s a basically an island full of academies and anime girls students & prefects (all sporting halos, animal ears, etc) going around with weapons, riding tanks in broad daylight, and you’re the “Sensei” that shouldn’t be there but it’s now de facto leader tasked to resolved the current crisis.

Even if you’re amnesiac, like in Arknights, for example.

It’s fairly generic niche anime bungum.

Gameplay it’s mostly what expected, as you witness your selected team of 3 characters (plus supports) automatically proceed, shoot (and take cover if possible) through the battlefield, leaving you to basically just use skill cards for special attacks, buffs, etc

Each unit uses a specific type of gun, it’s more proficient in a specific type of terrain and belongs to a certain class, but that’s it, ultimately it’s about picking the right team combinations, the rest it’s windowdressing.

There is a grid based “strategy map” to move the units around before the auto battling segments, which reminds me of Girls Frontline…. minus lots of strategic elements. So ultimately it’s very similar to Princess Connect, a waifu collector “bonsai game”, with some decent character designs and good production values.

I will admit i enjoyed this one a bit more than Priconne, but not by much.

[EXPRESSO] Contra Returns iOS | Better than Rogue Corps

This isn’t technically new, since it has been available in China for years, but i guess someone at Konami woke from their slumber and figured out they didn’t release it westward yet.

I mean, this is the same company – among OTHER things – that wanted to release 3 Silent Hill games in the same month, cancelled a project involving Junji Ito, Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro, and keeps embarassing itself even with the few things it still peddles as videogames, instead of pachinko and/or slot machines.

Who the hell knows.

And i wanna stress that, because i’m almost surprised by how this is actually decent, fun even, and furious since Konami decide to release that abomination of Rogue Corps and ask full price for it, when the older free-to-play mobile game by chinese developer Timi was miles better.

Sure, it looks cheap, the art direction it’s kept familiar to the Contra bombast even if you can still kinda tell it was handled by a chinese team (as in, it’s solid but kinda generic), but it’s actually proper Contra devoid of bullshit (like overheating mechanic for weapons in a shooter)), and it’s actually playable enough with touch controls, while it supports (and plays better with) gamepad.

There’s the gacha, the power level bullshit and all the upgrading n equipping and shit that comes as standard with the mobile free-to-play model to get you hooked and all the usual crap we fully expect from this business model.

It even leans big into the nostalgia for the olden days, but it actually backs it up on the gameplay department, nothing great in terms of level designs, but considering the trappings of being on mobile and free-to-play, Contra Returns it’s definitely fun enough to waste some time on it.

Didn’t expect that.

[EXPRESSO] Castlevania: Grimoire Of Souls iOS | Rise from your Konami grave

Another review i wasn’t expecting to make anymore, since this mobile Castlevania title was made available only in Australia (outside of the usual asian territories) before getting removed after only one year. Until it was recently resurrected as an exclusive Apple Arcade title, so this version is free of microtransactions bullshit seen in the original free to play release.

It also “means” i used the free trial period to play it and see if it’s any good.

Plot see Alucard travel through various magic books (the titular “grimoires”) regarding all past events and stories of the Castlevania games, all to subdue the dark power that has grown in them and keep them under control. An excuse as any to have all the characters from the series together.

Gameplay it’s an actual sidescroller 2D Castlevania that really benefits from playing it with a gamepad (and now it’s easy as pie to connect a PS4 or X-Box One controller to iOS devices), but it’s fairly playable even with the touch controls, and know what?

It ain’t bad.

The removal of microtransactions is compensated by handing out the “premium currency” liberally, but they didn’t change anything else, so it’s clear this was originally designed as a mobile free-to-play game, with multiple currencies and resources, gacha for weapons and items, and having to keep upgrading the characters’ “power levels”.

It’s not a bad game per se, it’s just not very good either, it starts promising enough but the level designs and enemies take a while to ramp up, and it hindering from being better by mobile design trappings, so it values content more than the quality and favors the usual “upgrading shit” as a way to resolve hurdles over actual skill.

Still, it’s just ok, nothing that bad to be worth shutting it down.

[EXPRESSO] Metal Slug Commander iOS | Cards Frontline

While that other mobile Metal Slug game (the one looking like a proper Metal Slug title, previosly known as Metal Slug Code J and now called Metal Slug Awakening) is still yet to come somewhere this year and the really promising Metal Slug Tactics is in development, SNK dropped a new mobile “RTS” title for smartphones, with Metal Slug Commander.

Apparently it was on beta test since october of last year, but i didn’t even knew the game (developed by SNK’s Hong Kong branch) existed, so whatever, it’s in open beta and available worlwide now.

More intriguing than another tapper, i guess.

This time it’s not a tower defense dealio, but the other popular mobile gameplay set-up: cards based.

You arrange the position of your cards/units in the 5 spaces (divided in 2 lanes) against the enemy formation, the units attacks automatically and you can tap to unleash a skill/powerful move when they’re able to. Pretty standard fare through and through, nothing really complex or fancy in any way, and you’re encouraged to just let it go on auto-battle, but there is something to it, as positioning the units and selecting the right counters does matter.

And as far as balancing the “pay to win” bullshit, this is a step up from Metal Slug Attack (and an idle resource collecting feature eases the grind a bit), so it feels less of a facade to justify the gacha of new characters, some sporting quite good designs.

Which just makes me wish we could actually get a new proper side scroller Metal Slug for consoles and PC to make good use of the new designs, i mean, SNK should have milked the franchise through mobile free to play games enough to warrant it.

Or re-release Metal Slug 3D, why the fuck not?

Don’t expect a review of Godzilla Battle Line

I planned to play and review this one like i did for the other mobile Godzilla titles Toho unleashed on us this year, as in via the EXPRESSO format, but the game just refuses to work on my iPhone, regardless if i reset the device, uninstall and reinstall it, remove other apps to make space in the phone’s memory storage, i have tried for 2 weeks by now to make this damn thing working on my device, but it ALWAYS, without fail, immediatly crashes after being launched.

Despite the app being constantly up to date and my device being compatible with it.

I have no clue why, the updates didn’t change a fuckin thing, and unless the next one magically fixes the issues (which seems to affect other uses with more advanced iPhones), i’m never gonna be able to play the damn thing, and hence i will never be able to review it. And i kinda wanted to do that, for completition’s sake if nothing else.

The review might happen, and they might just update the game to make it work immediatly after i post this, and tomorrow i will be able to play with no issues at all.

But until that happens, the review isn’t either.

Sorry, but that’s the situation, so expect other EXPRESSO reviews coming from tomorrow onwards, today is a forced review-less day.

#E32021 XBox-Bethesda & Square Enix [Highlights]

Still haven’t fully digested that Microsoft did actually buy Bethesda, but i didn’t have much interest in their games before… with the exception of Doom, Wolfenstein and pretty much anything they published but not developed, but still, it is a big deal.

Cared more than i could ever care about Microsoft’s offerings this last generation (and if anything so far into the X-Box One X is indicative of something, make it two), but whatever, let’s see if the two companies can offer a proper conference, at least with the standards we expect from “AAA” publishers and console makers.

Continua a leggere “#E32021 XBox-Bethesda & Square Enix [Highlights]”

[EXPRESSO] Godzilla Destruction iOS | Now BACK to Early Access!

Had to take this from the site because this fucking shit game doesn’t even have a splash screen. I’m NOT kidding.

The third and final mobile Godzilla game promised by Toho for this year, and the only one of the bunch that lets you actually control the Big G itself.

And because of some cosmic monkey paw’s doing, it’s also the worst of the bunch… actually, it’s shockingly bad, even without comparing to other two smarthphone titles in the same batch, it’s an impressive specimen of videogame dookie, so much i would rather play the shit Godzilla PS3/PS4 game Namco dared publishing some years back.

AGAIN.

Gameplay is pretty simple… scratch that, gameplay is just insanely primitive: you use a virtual stick to control Godzilla’s movement, and touch an enemy to either use your beam or a close range melee attack to defeat the enemy waves. Problem is, the virtual stick isn’t fixed, and it gets in the way when you attack, and you can’t do both at the same time, so you’ll inevitably get hit and will have to keep choosing the health recovery when given the option, as the levels are just insanely repetitive waves after waves of the same handful of enemies, able to do any kind of damage because of the shit controls and the lousy range of your beam attacks.

Eventually you’ll fight bosses that are also cheap as well, but i honestly got already bored sick in the first 10 minutes, it doesn’t help this one also sports no story or setting, it looks embarassingly cheap, on top of its abysmal presentation and glaring errors like english text clearly – and badly – overlaid over the japanese one, typos, obvious & bad machine translation, leading to odd word choices.

I almost expected the intro be an actual joke… but nope, it’s just THAT bad.

Waste of data, let alone time, even for free…..just don’t bother.

That’s the sound of 10 years of Ken’s Rage

Sorry to “interrupt” Dino Dicember, but i wanna talk a bit about Koei’s musou series based on Fist Of The North Star, dubbed Ken’s Rage. If you follow any gaming news site, you’ve might already know of this, but since we do have some preview footage running around, i feel the time it’s right to talk about what Koei did to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Ken’s Rage.

(images taken from Siliconera)

Continua a leggere “That’s the sound of 10 years of Ken’s Rage”

[EXPRESSO] Goblin Sword NSWDDL | Good Mobile Sorcery

Mobile games get a bad wrap, and while the industry itself is guilty as hell for it…eventually you get a mobile game that actually wants to be just a game, made for enjoyment instead of retention (followed by the game testing your resolve against your wallet)… which you probably didn’t even knew exist until it gets a PC and/or console port.

Yeah, Goblin Sword is a mobile game that found its way to the Switch’s eShop earlier this year, and despite some asset flips (and similar crap from malingering homunculi) from Steam starting to surface here as well, you can still get proper esposure on it, especially since it’s a 2D retro styled Metroidvania-sidescroller hybrid……lacking the random ass rape in the beginning, now we have to warn people of that due to a certain series with “goblin” in the title.

Then again, there isn’t much of a plot, it’s basically you against an evil wizard that wants the titular “goblin sword”. And… that’s it. Gameplay itself it’s a basic sidescroller with a Metroidvania twist, as in you get power-up needed to reach previously unaccessible areas, but progressing in the levels it’s done in a traditional side-scroller gameplay, go right until you reach the end of the level, with double jump being the fancier ability available, and collect all treasure chests and crystals you can.

Gelato Games (oddly not an indie italian videogame studios, despite the name) did cook up a good sidescroller, with a pleasant but a bit generic art direction, and you can still kinda tell this was made for mobile first, but you’ll soon forget that, thank to good level design, the tight controls, the great difficulty curve, a good amount of content and replayability.

I’m glad this one was ported to Switch, because it deserves more attention.

[EXPRESSO] One Piece: Bon Bon Journey iOS | Match-3 Pirates

One Piece Bon Bon Journey iOS

There are many One Pieces videogames, even on smarthphones. This is another one, one that i actually pre-registrered for, but i didn’t noticed it released worlwide a couple of months ago.

For smarthphones we already had a One Piece lite RPG, a beat em up, a fighting game (among others never released outside of Japan, China or are defunct), so i guess it was time for a puzzle game, a match-3 with objectives (in the vein of that puzzle game that rimes with “baba yaga”), done in a chibi-esque style, with the numerous, regognizable and highly marketable cast of One Piece characters rendered as mini-sized round shaped head-dolls, like a cross between the actual “bon bons” pastry items and nicely decapited collectable figures.

And to my surprise, it’s actually fairly good, not original in any shape or form, but it actually retells the story from the beginning in a fairly decent manner (especially given the aesthetic choice), and finds ways to work the various scenes (even minor ones like the girl giving an onigiri to a tied Zoro in Shells Town) into the gameplay, with various goals and gimmicks to keep things interesting. This also means having a “toy on toy” style cutscenes for the more serious or epic scenes, like the ending of the Dracule Mihawk VS Zoro fight at the Baratie… which is a thing, not sure if good or bad though.

As far as the freemium economy goes… it’s nothing worthy of particular scorn, the usual free-to-play crap that is to be expected nowadays (shit as it is), with timers and gacha, but nothing out of the ordinary you haven’t already seen, and often done worst. Despite the usual freemium crap, here you can actually do some progress in a reasonable manner even in the later stages.

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