Saturday, September 30, 2017

A few thoughts on the Monster Hunter Stories 3DS demo after putting about five hours into it

Just over a month ago, Nintendo plopped a demo for Monster Hunter Stories onto the North American 3DS eShop.

I promptly downloaded it, of course. And I say "of course" here because I've been curious about this Pokémon-esque Monster Hunter spinoff since it was released in Japan last fall.

That's not to say I promptly played through its demo. Although I put maybe 30 minutes or an hour into it shortly after my download finished, I didn't really dig into it until a week or two later (mainly because I was obsessed with Mother at the time).

As of now, I've played it for nearly five hours. Based on what I've read on line, there's still a few hours of content left for me to explore. Rather than wait until I hit that wall to write up my thoughts on this Monster Hunter Stories teaser--which is what I'd normally do--I decided to jot down and share them now.

Why the rush? Well, for starters, I'm really enjoying the demo--even more than I expected to, if I'm to be honest. Plus, I'm pretty sure nothing's going to pop up in the next hour or two that will change my opinion of Monster Hunter Stories.

With that out of the way, here are some of my thoughts on this surprisingly generous demo:

It looks absolutely lovely--I've liked Monster Hunter Stories' art style since I first laid eyes on it way back when. OK, so I wasn't initially all that keen on the design of Navirou, your odd-looking Felyne sidekick, but I eventually came around to it. I've always found the game's human designs appealing, though. They're cute without being generic or anime-esque, if that makes sense. I also really dig how the designers at developer Marvelous used a lot of bold, saturated colors while crafting Monster Hunter Stories' vast environments.

Its battles are more enjoyable than I thought they'd be--No one is going to accuse Monster Hunter Stories' fights of being confusing or complicated. In fact, they're little more than rock-paper-scissors bouts. That's fine with me, though, as it keeps them moving along at a good clip--which can't be said of all modern RPGs, that's for sure. My only worry is they might become boring while playing the full game. Considering that's rarely been an issue for me before, though, I don't see it impacting my decision to pick up a physical copy or not.

It chugs a bit on an original 3DS system--I don't know how the Monster Hunter Stories demo runs on other 3DS hardware, but it slows down and stutters now and then on an original unit. It doesn't do so all the time, and it's hardly that annoying, but I thought I should bring it up anyway. The question is: does the full game chug a bit on early 3DS systems, too, or does it perform better than this demo? Thankfully, I can play the former on my New 3DS if need be, but I'd prefer to play it on my "flame red" unit.

It's convinced me to buy the full game--Don't take this to mean me picking up a boxed copy of Monster Hunter Stories is a sure thing. I'd certainly like to do that, and soon, but the fact is my recent Switch acquisition is going to force me to be pretty picky with my game purchases for the foreseeable future. I still want quite a few 3DS titles--many of which I wrote about in this post from April, although I highlighted two others here and here--after all, and then there are Switch and retro games to consider, too.

Oh, well, even if I don't buy the retail version of this Pokémon wannabe, it won't be because I disliked its demo. How about you? Have you played either the Monster Hunter Stories demo or full game? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section that follows.

See also: 'I tried the Hey! Pikmin demo and I think I liked it'

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mark your calendars, folks: March 27, 2018, is the last day you'll be able to add or buy Wii Points

I know what some of you are thinking: why the hell should I care if I can't buy Wii Points or add them to my Wii account after March 27, 2018? And, really, maybe you shouldn't care. If you don't own a Wii (or Wii U), or you own one but no longer use it, the fact that you'll no longer be able to buy or add Wii Points to your account after the above-mentioned date shouldn't bother you much.

If you do still own a use a Wii (or Wii U), though, you might appreciate the reminder that the Wii Virtual Console offers a lot of NES, Master System, Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, SNES and Neo Geo gems. (Don't take my word for it, check out this impressive list of North American Wii Virtual Console releases.)

Anyway, this news certainly bothers me. OK, so "bothers" may be too strong of a word, but it definitely saddens me a bit. That's because I still use my Wii fairly regularly. And not only that, but there are still a good number of Wii Virtual Console and WiiWare games I'd like to buy and play.

For instance, I've long meant to purchase Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom for the NES and Super Mario RPG for the SNES via the Wii Shop Channel. Also, Shining in the Darkness for the Genesis and Monster Lair for the TurboGrafx-16. (I own an actual copy of that last game, but you just know neither it nor my PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 system will last forever.)

As if that weren't bad enough, there are a ton of Japanese Virtual Console games I'd like to purchase before Nintendo pulls the plug on the Wii Shop Channel. Granted, doing so will require me to pick up a Japanese Wii, and I'm not sure that's in the cards at this point, but the point stands.

I mean, just look at some of the great games that have been made available via the Japanese Wii Virtual Console and nowhere else. Mizubaku Daibouken, Parasol Stars and Star Parodier for the PC Engine. Pepenga Pengo for the Mega Drive. Twinkle Star Sprites for the Neo Geo. Clock Tower, DoReMi Fantasy and Sutte Hakkun for the Super Famicom.

Is it really possible I'll buy a Japanese Wii as well as all of the above-mentioned Virtual Console titles  before March 27, 2018? (Technically, I wouldn't have to do the latter until January 31, 2019, but I'd have to purchase Wii Points for them by the earlier date.) Possible, sure, but I wouldn't call it likely. As always, though, I'll give it my best shot.

How about you? Will any of you spend your hard-earned cash on some Wii Points between now and the end of March so you can pick up a few final Wii Virtual Console games?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Anyone else planning to pick up The Alliance Alive when it hits North America in early 2018?

Actually, I'm not "planning" to pick up The Alliance Alive when it's released here this coming March, as I've already pre-ordered a copy via Amazon.

In case this is the first you're hearing of--or reading about--The Alliance Alive, it's basically a semi-sequel to another FuRyu-made 3DS RPG I found so appealing I bought it twice. (See my post on my Japanese copy of The Legend of Legacy, as well as my post on my North American copy of the game, for visual proof.)

Although different groups of developers and designers made The Legend of Legacy and The Alliance Alive, they're surprisingly similar, SaGa-esque games. Both are RPGs that allow players to select from a bevy of unique protagonists and then set them loose on a decidedly open-ended adventure.

One notable difference between the two games: The Alliance Alive provides a pretty traditional overworld for players to explore, while The Legend of Legacy offers up a single hub town and a series of maps that can be gradually unlocked.

To be honest, I'm not all that interested in owning the art book, CD soundtrack or keychain that will come packed inside the launch edition's sure-to-be-bulky collector's box (see above), but it seems there'll be no other way to buy a physical version of game early on, so I guess I'll have to stash away everything but the cartridge once it all arrives on my doorstep.

Anyway, that's where I stand on The Alliance Alive at the moment. How about you? Have any of you pre-ordered it, or are you planning to purchase it either before or after it's released in the West?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Five long-awaited 3DS, Switch and Vita games I wish would be released already

Although this year's Tokyo Game Show was a bit of a snoozefest, at least one good thing came out of it as far as I'm concerned: it prompted me to remember a few long-awaited games that had fallen off my radar.

Unfortunately, it also prompted me to wonder if some of those games, discussed below, will ever see the light of day. Here's hoping they do--and sooner rather than later.

2064: Read Only Memories (Vita)--The Vita port of MidBoss' LGBTQ-friendly cyberpunk adventure game has been a long time coming. After all, the original PC versions came out two years ago, while the PS4 port came out over eight months ago. Sadly, the developer ran into some problems with 2064: Read Only Memories' Vita version late last year and has barely said a word about it since. Considering it's now working on bringing the game to the Switch, I can't say I'm all that confident I'll ever be able to play it on my pink-and-white Vita. At least I now own a Switch. I'd rather add 2064: Read Only Memories to my Vita's home screen, but I'll add it to my Switch's instead if that's my only option.

Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain (Vita)--Admittedly, Nippon Ichi, which developed this dungeon-crawler and published it in Japan last summer, has never suggested a North American localization of Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain might be in the cards. A Western release has long been rumored, though, so I'm including it here anyway. It's possible the powers that be at NIS are waiting for the PS4 port of the game to hit Japanese store shelves in just a few days to reveal their overseas plans for Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain. Even if that's true, though, it's possible they'll give us just the PS4 version. I'll choose to stay positive and hope both it and the original Vita cartridge earn a trip to our shores.

Picontier (3DS and Switch)--Of all the games mentioned here, Picontier is the one I've been waiting for the longest. I'd also say it's the one I'm most keen on playing. Why? Because it's a portable life sim that sports some wonderful sprite-based graphics. Also, I've thoroughly enjoyed a number of the digital titles publisher Circle Entertainment has brought to the 3DS eShop so far--Witch & Hero and Witch & Hero II, in particular--and this one looks similarly worthwhile. The question is: when will it finally find its way onto my 3DS (or my newly acquired Switch, I guess)? A demo popped up at Tokyo Game Show 2017, which could mean the full game is just weeks away. Or it could mean fans like me have to wait a good while longer. Fingers crossed it's the former.

Stardew Valley (Switch)--Although I've never put more than a few minutes into a "real" Harvest Moon game (The Lost Valley doesn't count), I've long been intrigued by Yasuhiro Wada's decades-old series. By most accounts, this copycat is nearly as good as, and possibly better than, anything Wada and company have put out over the years. Whether or not that's the case, I'd really like to give Stardew Valley a try. It seems to be a perfect fit for the portable Switch, so that's the version I'll pick up whenever it ventures onto that console's eShop.

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (Vita)--Like 2064: Read Only Memories, I've been waiting for VA-11 HALL-A's Vita port to drop for ages. Unlike 2064: Read Only Memories, I know this Vita port is either finished or nearly finished, as its physical Japanese release is set for mid-November. That suggests VA-11 HALL-A for Vita's North American release is imminent. The only problem with that: I'm not interested in buying a digital copy of this game. Instead, I want a boxed copy, which means I have to wait for Limited Run Games to do its thing. Oh, well, I've waited this long, what's another month or two, right?

BONUS ROUND: Tasukete Tako-san (Switch)--I've been slobbering over this GameBoy-inspired "platform RPG" since it was announced way back when as a Wii U title. Well, I'm even more interested in it now that developer Christophe Galati has moved the game, which Nicalis is publishing here as Save Me, Mr. Tako, to the Switch. Thankfully, Tako-san's supposedly still on track for a late-2017 release. In the meantime, I'll re-watch its most recent trailer whenever I feel antsy.

Are there any long-awaited games you wish would be released already? If so, let's chat about them in the comments section of this post.

See also: 'the best 3DS eShop games you've never played'

Sunday, September 24, 2017

And they said it would never happen: I (finally) got a Switch!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram likely already know this news, but for the rest of you: I finally got a Nintendo Switch!

Shocking, I know. Especially since I never bought a Wii U despite regularly saying I would do just that. Also, back when Nintendo revealed the Switch, I declared I likely wouldn't purchase one until its price dropped to at least $250. I've also suggested on more than one occasion that I'd prefer to wait for the inevitable hardware revision to be released before I pick up a Switch.

Well, all of that went out the window after a Super Mario Odyssey Switch bundle was announced during the most recent batch of Nintendo Directs. (Read this post for some of my thoughts on those broadcasts.)

That's not to say this bundle caused me to go weak in the knees or anything like that. I'm probably as interested in Super Mario Odyssey as the next Nintendo fan, but I'm not so interested in it that I'm champing at the bit to own a pair of "Mario red" Joy-Con controllers or a Super Mario Odyssey-themed carrying case.

However, when I realized this bundle was going be pretty widely available--you can still pre-order it via couldn't help perk up a bit.

So, I pre-ordered it. Within days, maybe even hours, though, I discovered Walmart had almost surreptitiously started selling a Splatoon 2 bundle.

This same bundle--featuring a copy of Splatoon 2 as well as a set of neon green and pink Joy-Cons and a Splatoon-branded carrying case--has been available in Japan for some time now, but Nintendo of America's never even breathed a word about it since the game's late-July release, so I assumed it wouldn't be an option for me. (To be honest, I'm not entirely sold on Splatoon 2. I am, however, sold on the pink and green Joy-Cons.)

Anyway, everything changed once I knew about the availability of this Splatoon 2 bundle. I kept an eye on it for a few days and after it became clear it wasn't going to sell out immediately, I canceled my pre-order for the Super Mario Odyssey bundle and pre-ordered this one instead.

It arrived yesterday, but I've yet to even open the box, let alone turn on the Switch and give it a go. Don't worry, I plan on doing that soon, though perhaps not for a few more days. I want to wait for the screen protector I just bought to arrive (and be applied) before I put this lovely piece of hardware through its paces.

Once that's out of the way--watch out! The first thing I'll do is make my way to the Switch eShop and download the Octopath Traveler demo. (See the latest Octopath Traveler trailer and read some of my thoughts on it here.)

After that, I've got to decide what I'm going to do with the Splatoon 2 download code that's packed inside the pretty box seen throughout this post. I want to play the game at some point, don't get me wrong, but at the moment I think I'd rather use whatever money I could get for it on something else (like a physical copy of Super Mario Galaxy).

Do any of you have a Switch? If so, what do you think of it? Also, do you have any advice or recommendations to share with a newbie like myself? If you do, please share them in the comments section below.