Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mighty No. 9 Game Review

Cool heroics shown by Beck... in an otherwise mismanaged environment...

Let me start off by saying that I am far from being a hardcore Mega-Man fan. In fact I have barely played any of the Mega-Man games, and clearly I am not that good at playing Mega-Man style games, so forgive me if I sound too "green" when discussing the gameplay functions of this game I'm going to review. I am aware of how unfavorable this game is to many gamers and critics alike, and I take all of their criticisms under consideration. However, like with any video game review, I have to judge a game on how I, Steven Vitte, view it. I can't be influenced by what I read and hear on the internet. What matters to me is how I enjoy myself by playing a video game.

Now let's get down to the muddy terrain of this game called Mighty No. 9. It is supposed to be a successor to the Mega-Man series as it involves one man who once made the creative decisions for the Mega-Man games in Keiji Inafune. Now Inafune served as the writer behind the story of this game, but he also had a hand in operating the Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9, a game that promised Mega-Man fans an experience that would sharply remind them of the Blue Bomber himself. Inafune requested $900,000 in funding for this project, and he ended up getting an amazing response from gamers, so much so that the project for Mighty No. 9 received $4,000,000 by the end of the campaign. That's simply staggering.

So, did $4 Million do enough to make Mighty No. 9 a successful project? Well, not exactly. Accusations of mismanagement on the part of the game dev team quickly emerged when people realized that Inafune and company were trying to find ways to develop merchandise for Mighty No. 9, an unproven game at the time, while also funding another game project called Red Ash: The Indellible Legend. All these decisions lead gamers to wonder just how much work was spent in getting the Mighty No. 9 game itself to work properly.

Controls - 15 out of 20 Points

The controls of Mighty No. 9 are not perfect by any means. The game's controls respond just fine, so it isn't a matter of pressing a button and nothing works. I believe it has more to do with the fact that I went into the Main Mode of the game blind, as in I didn't know all of the moves that Beck, Might No. 9's name, could actually do. I had to look up some moves after pausing the game. Not good. I should at least get some sort of hint as to what to do before I lose all my lives failing to get past a certain obstacle.

The score of 15 for the controls mainly reflects on the fact that when you press a button, you will get a response, which does help. Other than that, if you can stomach a learning experience as a gamer, I suggest that you tread lightly. There will be guaranteed frustration if you are not used to Mega-Man style platforming games.

Story - 12 out of 20 Points

An above average score for the story of Mighty No. 9, but nothing to write home about. I believe the concept that was made for this game is okay for what it is. I don't see anything too blatantly horrid or out of place. This does stay true to the Mega-Man theme. I do like the fact that when you play through the Main Mode you do have the choice of running the gauntlet in any way you like. For example, you can start your journey by picking a fight against Mighty No. 5 and his turf, but then you can switch to Mighty No. 8 and do battle against him and his minions. I definitely prefer that gamers have the choice of experiencing a story the way that they want to experience it.

What brings the score down for me, though, is a case of "I've kinda seen this before, and it was in Mega-Man." It's one thing to pay homage to Mega-Man, but it's another thing when you're almost copy and pasting Mega-Man themes all over the place. Mighty No. 9 didn't do enough to separate itself from being called a "Mega-Man Knock-Off". The bosses blend in too much with the environment, the side characters that are helping Beck are for the most part forgettable, and while not sounding bad, the voice actors and actresses here didn't sound all that motivated. This combination of issues puzzles me.

Music - 17 out of 20 Points

This is definitely a strong point of the game. Mighty No. 9 can lay claim to having a pretty good soundtrack list. The music isn't anything extraordinary or relatively new, but the beats are catchy and they don't do anything to distract the player from playing the game, which is important.  Now some of the tracks will remind you of Mega-Man tunes, which shouldn't come as a shock, but I wouldn't consider that to be a bad thing. I can probably re-listen to these tracks online if I wanted to.

Replayability Factor: 10 out of 20 Points

Truth be told I struggled giving this a proper score. I kept going back and forth between a low score and a high score. I suppose it's only fitting I settled on an average 10 out of 20 points when it comes to whether or not I believe gamers should replay this game over and over again. After you give Mighty No. 9 one play, unless you are either a hardcore Mega-Man platforming game fan or if you're the type of gamer who only gets casually involved with platforming games, then you may just want to keep this game a rental only. If you don't fall into either one of the categories I just mentioned you probably won't enjoy this game after playing it around 5 times.

Bonus Points - 5

Really? This game actually gets bonus points? For what? I know it's hard to believe that Mighty No. 9, a game project mishandled greatly by Inafune and company, would actually get a boost in review points, but just hear me out. Whether you end up liking this game or not, the fact of the matter is if you know where to look in this game, there were points where Comcept and Deep Silver actually tried. They tried to make this game interesting in some aspects. They tried to make levels challenging, and yes, probably too much so, but they tried. They tried to make some interesting characters, even if they were based on Mega-Man characters. They tried to make an interesting concept, which along with the finished product felt toned down for whatever reason.

I do see where effort was actually made to give this game a lift, but these attempts of making Mighty No. 9 interesting clearly didn't resonate with many gamers.

Overall Score: 59 out of 100 Points (5 Bonus Points)

At the end of the day Mighty No. 9 still gets a low score from the Gaming Journalist Gazette. However, I honestly don't have a whole bunch of bad things to say about this game. The overall score of 59 is kinda misleading in a way. For the record I currently own a PS4 copy of Mighty No. 9, but I don't intend on returning it to my local GameStop store. I plan on keeping my copy, for better or worse. My overall score mainly reflects on how a typical gamer is going to view this game, as in I myself am generally okay playing a game like Mighty No. 9, whereas I know other gamers probably won't be nearly as kind to this game.

What I do find to be sad and in poor taste is how Keiji Inafune and his game dev team handled this project from start to finish. When they initially launched their Kickstarter campaign to get funds for Mighty No. 9 they had an obligation to focus on making this game a good game, something that fans would be talking about for years to come. Inafune and company had to know what they were getting themselves into when the money came rolling in. They had to know that enough time had to be put into developing the game itself, and not any of the side projects including promotional branches for Mighty No. 9 or for Red Ash: The Indellible Legend.

I guess this is just one broad lesson in Crowdfunding 101, ladies and gentlemen. Trust is a valuable thing. NEVER abuse the trust that crowdfunding supporters give you for a project.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Intrigued by Yooka-Laylee

I will be keeping an eye on this game...

Footage of the Toy Box Demo:

Remember when there was a time you can reflect back on the simpler aspects of being a gamer? Remember when you were a young kid and you were just getting introduced to video games? Remember when your imagination took off because you played a game like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot and other games of the sort?

It makes you wonder why in this day and age it's been harder and harder for gamers to remember of such a time.

Never mind the fact that shooting games and RPGs flood the Gaming Industry today, and that's the only real impression you're left with when you go to a big store like GameStop or Wal-Mart and you venture in to see what new games they have. What do you see when you get there? Shoot 'em up games, war-themed games, massively popular spin-offs of Final Fantasy, which has been done to death. I could go on...

I suppose that's why it's refreshing to know that a new platforming adventure game is finally being released sometime in the First Quarter of 2017, and it's called Yooka-Laylee. For those of you who are unaware of what kind of game this is, you might want to study a bit on the history pf the Banjo-Kazooie series to understand what the hype is all about. The makers of the Banjo-Kazooie games on the Nintendo 64 are basically the same guys who are the masterminds behind the development of Yooka-Laylee, which is a positive sign if you are a platforming game fan and you're begging for a new challenge.

Many gamers voiced their opinions and pleaded for there to be new installments to the Banjo-Kazooie series, but unfortunately, because of the fact that Rare, deeply associated with Microsoft and Xbox, has made it well known that all they care about is making money off nostalgia and remakes with fresh coats of paint, those requests will never be heard.

That's where Yooka-Laylee's game dev team arrives on the scene. They have formed a new company called Playtonic Games and they're basically doing the same things that got them noticed in the first place with Banjo-Kazooie, which is making an enjoyable platforming game experience. Gee, what a novel idea!

Check out the gameplay footage by clicking on the links above. These videos will give you the reactions and opinions to the demo of what we're going to see in Yooka-Laylee. Personally from what I gather, I believe that we're in for something unique in some aspects. This is something creative from a gameplay standpoint as well as stylistically. The graphics are colorful and amazing, and you can tell that the vision for a game like this was put in place well in advance.

I also seem to like the main characters themselves, Yooka and Laylee. They seem like characters that can relate with the platforming gaming audience. I think Playtonic chose the right kind of animals to represent these characters. An iguana (I think that's what Yooka is), and a bat make sense.

Something like Yooka-Laylee's arrival on the scene is something that has been sorely missed by gaming communities and by the Gaming Industry in a practical aspect. Why hasn't more of these types of games been made in recent years? Why do we have to leave it up to just Mario and Sonic to give us platforming adventures? I thought our industry had more creative freedom than that. Well, at least with this we'll get a glimpse of what games we could be getting in the future if this starts a healthy trend.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Punchy Business: Meetup Presentation

Saturday August 6, 2016 was a pretty important date for me as I, along with good friends Peter Kirk and Justin Yeagler of indy dev team Sketchy Games, presented what turned out to be a good chunk of our mobile game project Punchy Business. Most of what was presented was finished aside from finishing touches. It was quite an experience for me to put on a presentation because previously I had never done it with a team, and I gotta say that it felt great to finally present something that I know I worked on.

I think for the most part our presentation resonated well with folks who attended The Idea Foundry in Columbus, Ohio, although it was pretty hot on this day. The summer weather hasn't been so cooperative many times this year, but that's another story. Anyway I believe Punchy Business was received well and I think people really liked the concept of what we were attempting to achieve. One of the organizers of the meetup group told me that we did a phenomenal job showing the features of our demo.

It would have been nice to complete the demo, but from what we achieved I came away feeling very encouraged about the entire process, and knowing that we all gained a learning experience from this 2 month trial, we are aiming at finishing what we started. I believe in finishing what I start, and come 2017 (sometime) I promise you, the readers of the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog, that you will get to view and play the finished product, depending on if you're in the Columbus, Ohio area to start.

I've made it known on this blog that it has been a looooong journey for me as a writer to get my foot in the door and work on a game development project of any sort, and yeah, my eyes lit up once I got the green light to finally work on something like Punchy Business.

Platforming/Fighting merged together to make a unique gaming genre... That's basically the gist of Punchy Business. You start out platforming, and then you work your way to the fight. You collect cherries for health, a boomerang as a weapon, ring bells to help fill your Momentum Meter, my little invented feature, and you punch your way to victory. It's really a simple concept, but implemented in a way different than what gamers are accustomed to seeing.

This is only the beginning, fellow gamers. I've never been closer to realizing my dream of releasing a mobile game, and my creative juices are flowing again at a time when I really need those juices to flow. Exciting times are just around the corner, and I hope that you guys will join me on this interesting wild ride.

Until next time, mate, keep them punches flyin'! [/Australian accent]