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Divinity: Original Sin (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

July 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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You have to be willing to spend a lot of time on this game because of how addictive it can get and in order to progress, you are going to have to do quite a bit of work.   But because Larian Studios gives gamers the choice of how to play the game, “Divinity: Original Sin” is no doubt one of the most awesome games I have played in 2014.  It truly is an epic game!

“Divinity: Original Sin” is under the copyright of Larian Studios. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Divinity: Original Sin

TYPE OF GAME: RPG

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: STEAM PC/MAC GAME

DEVELOPER: Larian Studios

RELEASE DATE: July 2014

Welcome back to Rivellon, player, welcome back to this vast world of role-playing. Experience a classic RPG adventure that includes an isometric perspective, strategic turn-based combat and innovative co-op dialog. Return to the days when the realm was young and evil first reared its head. In the wake of a terrible sin, two heroes share one destiny.

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For PC Gamers, Larian Studios is best known for their “Divinity” video game series.

From the release of “Divine Divinity” (2002), “Beyond Divinity” (2004), “Divinity II: Ego Draconis” (2009), “Divinity II: Flames of Vengeance” (2010) and “Divinity: Dragon Commander” (2013).

While the studio has created video games that have been well-received, for their latest “Divinity” multiplayer fantasy RPG titled “Divinity: Original Sin”, Larian Studios went to Kickstarter in hopes that the prequel would gain enough fans to help expand the content of the game.  And sure enough, Kickstarter raised over $1 million.

And so, the prequel to “Divine Divinity” was released on July 3rd and “Divinity: Original Sin” sold 160,000 copies and would eventually become Larian Studios’ fastest selling video game.

“Divinity: Original Sin” is a single player or multiplayer game.

From the very beginning, it allows you to create and customize your characters and distribute points (from attributes such as strength, intelligence, speed, constitution and perception to special abilities which you can have your character focus on).

You can choose from Wizard, Battlemage, Cleric, Enchanter, Fighter, Knight, Ranger, Rogue, Shadowblade, Wayfarer or Witch and then have your character focus on various abilities such as crafting potions, identifying unknown items, become a healer, use a one-hand sword, two-hand sword, use a bow and arrow, etc.

You can play a solo character or start off with two characters you choose and have two more other characters join you on the first map: Madora (a warrior) and Jahan (an enchanter that specializes in air elements) and as you advance, replace characters with others.

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GAMEPLAY:

“Divinity: Original Sin” is a tactical turn-based RPG.  Using your mouse, you can control the leader of the group by clicking to a destination or control each character and have them doing different things.

For example, if you want to steal an item from someone’s home, you can have your main character converse with the character or divert them upstairs, while using your other character to rob a home and steal paintings, spell books or other items which you can barter or trade with other locals in the city.

When it comes to combat, you control your character but you are limited to activity points.  A movement can take up activity points, using a spell or healing a character can take activity points.  So, you need to be careful and plan your movement and attack or be on the defense and heal other characters in your party.

With that being said, “Divinity: Original Sin” is a fun RPG because it changes with each gameplay.  And the replay value is high because different types of characters can handle various missions much differently.

For example, I started off with a cleric and a warrior.  I mistook this game as your standard RPG game where you fight and you gradually grow with experience points earned.  The problem with “Divinity: Original Sin” is that a lot of the enemies are much powerful than you are and if you choose the wrong type of character, you are going to lose.

So, starting off with a cleric and warrior, these are sword fighters but when going against skeletons or enemies that shoot poison at you or choose you with explosive arrows, you are simply going to lose.

Created another game with a Wizard and a Battlemage and sure enough, I was using pyrotechnic spells that would instantly light up enemies on fire and made the game much easier.

But I figured that since I started off with a cleric and a warrior, gained another warrior in the process with Madora and the air enchanter Jahan, I would need to figure out myself through trial and error to get far.

Losing many times and learning that the game awards points through battles which I was not winning, I knew I needed a change, so I focused on making money to purchase better weapons and armor.

It’s important in “Divinity: Original Sin” to talk to EVERY character.  A character can either give you great information or help continue a storyline for that map.  So, for Celcea, you are investigating a murder and to accomplish your investigation, you are going to have to do a lot of talking.

Also, with each character, they may have a certain item or ingredient you need for trading.  Or an item they have for sale.  So, you need to make the effort and talk to other people.

With that being said, by talking to other people inside their homes or establishments, I made unpopular decision to try to open chests.  Typically, in most RPG’s, opening a chest in another home or location doesn’t affect a person but for “Diversity: Original Sin”, people don’t take kindly to you touching their stuff or trying to steal their belonging.  Do it enough and you will either need to fight the home/business owner, fight against the guards, pay a fine or go to jail.

Feeling that I either had no money or kept breaking weapons that would allow my strongest character to break down doors to homes or locked chests, I came up with a strategic and unpopular plan.  Instead of risking jail or getting killed, I did something dishonorable by having three zombies follow me into the heavily guarded city of Celcea, have them follow me first to the military barracks and watch as the zombies annihilated each soldier, while I stole their items after they died or from their living quarters while they were busy.

And then doing the next dishonorable thing by having the zombies follow me to the merchants area and have the merchants fight the zombies and get slaughtered, while I went to town by stealing as many items that I can.

It’s an unpopular decision to have innocents killed, just so I can use their money to buy better things or take their belongings left behind after they were dead, but for this game, it’s about decisions for your characters. Eventually, with better weapons and better clothing, I was able venture Northwest to take on the weaker enemies and get the points that I needed for one of my characters to become a blacksmith (so I can keep repairing broken weapons), another character to have a long range markmanship for healing and another character to use pyrotechnic for fire spells.

And that is what makes the gameplay for “Divinity: Original Sin” so fun and exciting because anything can happen and you craft your characters the way you want, unlike other RPG’s where the path and what your character can eventually become is pre-destined by leveling up.  In “Divinity: Original Sin”, you need to think and plan your characters carefully and use your points wisely.

CONTROLS:

Controls are fairly easy.  It’s literally a click of a mouse button to direct your characters on where to go, which spell or what potion to use.  While the keyboard is helpful if you want to use F5 to do a quick save or F8 to redo a scene.

GRAPHICS & AUDIO:

The graphics for the “Divinity: Original Sin” is fantastic and I love seeing how the “Divinity” games evolve over time.  Graphics are colorful and sharp, buildings and locations are wonderfully painted and animation and effects are nicely done.

The audio is one of my favorite parts of the game as the music for “Divinity: Original Sin” is absolutely captivating.  I found myself pausing or just listening to the music of the game because the soundtrack was so enjoyable!  Definitely one of the better game soundtracks that I have heard in 2014!

REPLAY VALUE:

“Divinity: Original Sin” is a game that has plenty of replay value because of the different characters you can play and customize.  And you can create a character to your own specific plan and do things differently.  With several types of characters and the combinations available for a player, this game can last a gamer hours of gameplay!

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“Divinity: Original Sin” is an RPG that I am having a lot of fun playing.  So, much that I have concurrent games saved with different characters because you realize after playing the game for hours, that you can get things all wrong if you think it’s just another banal RPG game.

Many may find the game hard, many will find its intricacies to be part of the game’s asset because the game has many possibilities of how it can be played.

Despite the challenge involved in planning for combat, planning for acquiring money or how to better utilize your character, it takes considerable thought and it’s probably one of the more interactive RPG’s that can easily eat so much of your time because you are busy thinking and strategizing of how you want to accomplish this or that.

Because one thing is for sure, “Divinity: Original Sin” is a game that you will find yourself dying multiple times because you haven’t put in enough work to better your character or haven’t chosen the right customization for your character.

But that is part of what I enjoyed about “Divinity: Original Sin”, finding ways to overcome your enemies, may it be luck or perfect strategizing, the feeling of accomplishing something important in the game, may it be with good intentions or bad… the choice of how you want to play is up to you and rarely games offer that type of gameplay.

“Divinity: Original Sin” does just that and more!  You have to be willing to spend a lot of time on this game because of how addictive it can get and in order to progress, you are going to have to do quite a bit of work.   But because Larian Studios gives gamers the choice of how to play the game, “Divinity: Original Sin” is no doubt one of the most awesome games I have played in 2014.  It truly is an epic game!

“Divinity: Original Sin” from Larian Studios is now available on Steam for the PC and Mac and is highly recommended!

 

HILARIOUS FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAME QUEST FOR INFAMY NOW AVAILABLE!

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Infamous Quests’ Kickstarted Tale Releases Today for PC and Linux on Steam, GOG

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – July 10, 2014 – Phoenix Online Publishing is excited to announce that Quest for InfamyTM, a humorous role-playing game inspired by classic adventures in which you play the charming villain, releases today for PC and Linux on Steam, GOG.com, the Phoenix Online Store and other online retailers for $19.99. Consisting of over 200 beautifully hand-drawn scenes, and offering customizable spells, and three characters classes with unique storylines, players will lie, cheat and steal their way through turn-based RPG battles and adventure game puzzles on their way to infamy!
Meet William Roehm, witty and irreverent bastard, as he comes to the town of Volksville after slipping out of the Baron’s castle in the middle of the night, where he may or may not have dishonored the man’s daughter (spoiler alert: he did). Choose to play between the stealthy Rogue, the burly Brigand and the spell-wielding Sorcerer as Roehm ventures through the Valley of Krasna earning Infamy Points and, if he has time, saving the Kingdom of Lonaria as well.
“Quest for Infamy is the culmination of years of dreaming,” said Steven Alexander, company co-founder and designer of Quest for Infamy. “We wanted to create a game that combined the classic elements of adventure games we loved and role-playing elements as well, add our unique sense of humor and a touch of an epic story to create a memorable and authentic experience that would evoke feelings of nostalgia for the days of classic adventure gaming.”
Why be famous when you can be infamous? For more information, see www.POStudios.com.

About Phoenix Online Publishing – Every Game Has a Story™

Phoenix Online Publishing is a new independent video game publisher dedicated to bringing compelling and cutting-edge story-driven titles to market worldwide in every genre and across the full range of gaming platforms and devices. Providing game makers with business management, marketing, media and digital/retail distribution services, the company is committed to providing a platform for bringing titles with rich storytelling and atmosphere to life. Designed by indie game developers for indie game developers, Phoenix Online Publishing operates in parallel with Phoenix Online Studios, an award-winning game development studio (The Silver Lining, Cognition), and maintains a global network of development, publishing and distribution partners. More information about Phoenix Online Publishing can be found on the company’s website, < span lang=”EN-CA” style=”font-size: 10pt;”>www.POStudios.com.

About Infamous Quests

Founded in 2012 by Steven Alexander and Shawn Mills, Infamous Quests is a dedicated team committed to making games we would love to play ourselves. They came together with the common goal of creating fantastic games – ones that would feel like they came from and fit perfectly with the best titles of the golden era of adventure games. Visit http://www.infamous-quests.com for more information.

 

Plants vs. Zombies Pinball from Zen Studios for the PC (Steam) and PS Vita (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

March 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Plants vs. Zombies” is a fantastic pinball table for “Pinball FX2” and I can only hope that the collaboration between Zen Studios and PopCap Games continues because this pinball table was addictive and awesome!  “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball is highly recommended!

“Plants Vs. Zombies is under the copyright of PopCap Games and “Pinball FX2” is under the copyright of Zen Studios. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Plants vs. Zombies Pinball

TYPE OF GAME: Pinball

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: STEAM PC GAME/PS VITA

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios

PUBLISHED: Microsoft Game Studios

RELEASE DATE: March 2014

 

Sewn together from the meaty bits of PopCap’s hit title, Plants vs. Zombies Pinball brings the zombie invasion to the pinball playfield. It’s time to grow your plants, collect sunlight, plan your defenses, and repel the Zombie Invasion!

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Since 2007, Zen Studios has been the jet setter when it comes to pinball games on all video game platforms.

From featuring “Star Wars” and various Marvel Comics superheroes and superhero teams comes a new collaboration between the company and PopCap Games with the release of “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball for multiple home and portable consoles.

Since 2009, “Plants vs. Zombies” has been a major title for PopCap Games, receiving rave reviews and winning awards for game design and innovation and what better than to take the various characters from the game and letting Zen Studios creating a pinball version.

The results with “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball is a table that is vibrant, colorful and as always from Zen Studios… fantastic!

GAMEPLAY:

With “Plants vs. Zombies” for “Pinball FX2”, Zen Studios takes the concept of pinball for the digital realm by introducing various acts, special effects, audio and gameplay elements that you won’t typically experience on a real machine.

For pinball purists who have played a digital pinball game, yes the game requires you to shoot the ball, use your flippers to hit the ball and you can briefly nudge the machine (nudge it too much and you are in danger of tilting). You lose a ball each time it falls down through the center (between the flippers) or far left and right boundaries of the game. The good news is that if you quickly lose a ball not long after a launch, you are given another chance with a free play ball.

But various tables offer more than just the ability to score more points. It also allows you to fight various villains and take part in mini-games, if your ball is able to reach a certain location and certain goals are met.

CONTROLS:

On Steam via PC, the controls are primarily [Enter] to shoot the ball, shift keys for trigger and [c] for changing table views.  For the PS Vita, you are using the should trigger buttons and using the [x] button or analog stick to shoot the ball.

Prior to playing “Pinball FX2” on Steam, I played various tables on the XB360 and PS3 console. On Steam, I will tell you that your mileage may vary when it comes to computer use and operating system. The older the PC, you can expect some lag.

Otherwise, I have been playing this game on my laptop with Windows 7, another via Windows 8.1 and tested the game on a PC with Vista and the game runs perfectly smooth. Ran it on an older PC and I saw lag when it came to using the triggers but like any game, the more recent the computer and a good amount of memory, you should be fine!

On PS Vita, controls are quite easy as the location of the shoulder trigger buttons are very convenient.

As for common questions in regards to controls:

Which is better, keyboard or controller pad on Steam?

As for my choice on using an XB360 controller or the keyboard, it is subjective. I tried both and enjoy both but I do recommend a keyboard if you have no lag, while a controller pad is much better to use if you do experience a little lag.

I’ve actually tested various heights of my keyboard to see which I felt comfortable with the keyboard and also what distance from playing the various tables. As mentioned, I have played these on my console, sitting about 10 feet away. But playing it on Steam and having a chance to have the monitor up-close, I can see the flippers on bottom and top and table details much more clearly, so I felt I had better visual perspective in coming up with strategies of how to hit the ball and where to hit.

How are the physics of the game?

Physics for this game on Steam was perfect. I had no issues of balls reacting differently during bounces. If anything, physics for “Plants vs. Zombies” were accurate.

GRAPHICS & AUDIO:

The graphics for the “Plants vs. Zombies” table was vibrant and colorful.  From playing the game on a big 27 to 55″ HDTV or monitor, on my laptop or playing on the PS Vita screen, the game look absolutely great!

While I do prefer playing pinball games on a bigger screen, on the PS Vita, I admit that I was worried that playing on a smaller screen would be difficult.  But after a half hour of playing, I felt comfortable playing on the Vita and the smaller screen was easy to get used to.

Audio is another plus as the original narrator for the “Plants vs. Zombies” game is utilized, the music from the game is utilized and for the most part, the audio for the “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball table sounds great!

REPLAY VALUE:

“Plants vs. Zombies” pinball is a game with a lot of replay value if you are into getting high scores. With the number of challenges available to unlock, one will find themselves playing this game over and over.  It’s quite addicting!

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After a string of awesome pinball games featuring “Star Wars” and “Marvel” characters/groups, it’s great to see Zen Studios collaborating with other companies and in this case, PopCap Games in developing a “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball game.

As a fan of Zen Studios “Pinball FX2” games and “Plants vs. Zombies”, I felt that Zen Studios did a fantastic job by creating a colorful table but also giving credit to them for creating a game that will no doubt attract many other gamers in trying a digital pinball game.

With “Plants vs. Zombies”, there is a bit more interaction than other pinball games as you want to choose the right character/weaponry to fight against the zombies and love the fact that they added the element of equipping a certain character/weapon to fight against zombies rushing in is a plus.  The table is also simple but complex enough that you can spend a lot of time figuring out how to activate a challenge, how to get a ball to select a flower pot and get multi-balls and more!

While I may not have surpassed the 100,000,000+ points as some of my counterparts who have been enjoying the game, I have to say that “Plants vs. Zombies” is one of the fun pinball games I have had because of its character use, the colorful and creative table is quite unique especially with the added gameplay during challenges.

As for my preference for Steam and PS Vita, personally, I enjoy both.  The Steam version and the video game consoles allow for a bigger screen, while the PS Vita does have a smaller screen but it takes a while to get used to and the positive aspect is that the Vita is portable and so, I love the fact that you can play this game on a commute and easily come back to the game hours later and start where you last left off.

And while I enjoy using the XBOX 360 controller as a primary controller to play the game and have used the shift/enter buttons on my PC keyboard, the PS Vita layout was quite comfortable as well, using the should trigger buttons.

But the gameplay was smooth and enjoyable, controls were easy on both Steam and PS Vita and as mention, Zen Studios did a great job in creating a “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball table.

May you be a fan of pinball games or not, Zen Studios has catapulted themselves in being the best company when it comes to creating digital pinball games and creating tables on established names from film, comic books, video games and more.

Overall, “Plants vs. Zombies” pinball  is a fantastic pinball table for “Pinball FX2” and I can only hope that the collaboration between Zen Studios and PopCap Games continues because this pinball table was addictive and awesome!

“Plants vs. Zombies” pinball is highly recommended!

 

Dr. Strange Pinball from Zen Studios for the PC (Steam) (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

March 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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From the enemy battles, lighting and special effects utilized and the ultra-fun gameplay, “Dr. Strange” is another fantastic Marvel Pinball table worth purchasing!  Recommended!

“Dr. Strange” and “Pinball FX2” is under the copyright of Zen Studios. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dr. Strange Pinball

TYPE OF GAME: Pinball

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: STEAM PC GAME

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios

PUBLISHED: Microsoft Game Studios

RELEASE DATE: February 2014

 

The greatest powers of the occult, both from our own world and the darkest dimensions in existence, are combining their forces to take over Earth. And only one man can stop them – Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme! With the help of the beautiful Clea and his faithful servant Wong, the Master of the Mystic Arts faces his greatest challenge ever in Doctor Strange pinball, the newest addition to the Marvel Pinball library.

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Since 2007, Zen Studios has been the jet setter when it comes to pinball games on all video game platforms.

From featuring “Star Wars”, “Plants vs. Zombies” and a multitude of tables available, their installment of “Pinball FX 2” have showcased various Marvel pinball tables and the latest entry for Marvel Pinball comes “Dr. Strange”.

Featuring numerous voice over lines and situations adapted from 50 years of “Dr. Strange” comic books, the pinball’s theme revolves around Dr. Strange’s rival Baron Mordo calling upon the demonic forces of the Dread Dormammu, while other evil entities have plans of their own.

With this single table now available on all home and portable consoles, the game was released on Steam.

GAMEPLAY:

With “Dr. Strange”, Zen Studios takes the concept of pinball for the digital realm by introducing various acts, special effects, audio and gameplay elements that you won’t typically experience on a real machine.

For pinball purists who have played a digital pinball game, yes the game requires you to shoot the ball, use your flippers to hit the ball and you can briefly nudge the machine (nudge it too much and you are in danger of tilting). You lose a ball each time it falls down through the center (between the flippers) or far left and right boundaries of the game. The good news is that if you quickly lose a ball not long after a launch, you are given another chance with a free play ball.

But various tables offer more than just the ability to score more points. It also allows you to fight various villains and take part in mini-games, if your ball is able to reach a certain location and certain goals are met.

CONTROLS:

Controls are primarily [Enter] to shoot the ball, shift keys for trigger and [c] for changing table views.

Prior to playing “Pinball FX2” on Steam, I played various tables on the XB360 and PS3 console. On Steam, I will tell you that your mileage may vary when it comes to computer use and operating system. The older the PC, you can expect some lag.

Otherwise, I have been playing this game on my laptop with Windows 7, another via Windows 8.1 and tested the game on a PC with Vista and the game runs perfectly smooth.  Ran it on an older PC and I saw lag when it came to using the triggers but like any game, the more recent the computer and a good amount of memory, you should be fine!

As for common questions in regards to controls:

Which is better, keyboard or controller pad?

As for my choice on using an XB360 controller or the keyboard, it is subjective. I tried both and enjoy both but I do recommend a keyboard if you have no lag, while a controller pad is much better to use if you do experience a little lag.

I’ve actually tested various heights of my keyboard to see which I felt comfortable with the keyboard and also what distance from playing the various tables. As mentioned, I have played these on my console, sitting about 10 feet away. But playing it on Steam and having a chance to have the monitor up-close, I can see the flippers on bottom and top and table details much more clearly, so I felt I had better visual perspective in coming up with strategies of how to hit the ball and where to hit.

How are the physics of the game?

Physics for this game on Steam was perfect.  I had no issues of balls reacting differently during bounces.  If anything, physics for “Dr. Strange” seemed accurate.

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GRAPHICS & AUDIO:

The graphics for “Dr. Strange” is fantastic.  But what is more impressive is the amount of special effects and fight scenes when you are able to activate a villain in which Dr. Strange must fight.  From the sword fight against Baron Mordo to the dark colors employed when Dormammu is awaken.  Lighting effects and special effects for the game was well-done.

Audio is another plus as voice acting is well-done and the audio definitely complimented the game and it’s overall atmosphere (for those who read the comic books are familiar with the slightly darker tone that “Dr. Strange” had considering the enemies he often faced).

REPLAY VALUE:

“Dr. Strange” is a game with a lot of replay value if you are into getting high scores. With the number of challenges available, it gives one a chance to focus on a table and learn it and move on to the next table and continue getting high scores, topping a table leaderboard and obtaining achievements.  But also to unlock the various modes and battle multiple enemies.

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There is no doubt that Zen Studios pretty much has the market for digital pinball games.

No company has ever taken the genre of digital pinball to new heights than what Zen Studios has been able to accomplish in these past few years and by having the Marvel and Star Wars franchise has no doubt led to many people discovering digital pinball or rediscovering pinball games in general and finding out how awesome they are!

And with the latest release of “Dr. Strange”, it’s another awesome addition to Marvel Pinball and for old school and new school fans, you have to appreciate this latest pinball table for the number of Dr. Strange rivals that are featured and for the most part, how challenging this table is until you figure out how to get the big points.

I have to admit that the first week of playing “Dr. Strange”, I was a bit frustrated as the ball would go through the sides or through the center until I found a strategy and realized how much points you get for defeating an enemy.

From defeating Baron Mordo, I immediately received 30,000,000 points and from then on, knowing how many points you get from each villain beaten became a priority and found myself really enjoying this table.

From the enemy battles, lighting and special effects utilized and the ultra-fun gameplay, “Dr. Strange” is another fantastic Marvel Pinball table worth purchasing!

Recommended!

 

 

Pool Nation for the PC via Steam (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

November 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you are a billiards fan and just love playing pool, in real life or via video game, “Pool Nation” is one of the most enjoyable and challenging billiard games I have played in a long while. I’m really enjoying this game! In fact, I’m quite confident in saying it’s the best billiards video game available!  And for under $10 on Steam, it’s definitely recommended!

Images are courtesy of © 2013 CherryPop Games Ltd. All rights reserved.
CherryPop Games and CherryPop Games logo are either trademarks or trademarks of CherryPop Games

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Pool Nation

TYPE OF GAME: Billiard/Sport

PLATFORM: PC

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: Steam

DEVELOPER: CherryPop Games

RELEASE DATE:  October 18, 2013

Pool Nation, is the ultimate pool game – with eleven addictive game modes, including the adrenaline pumping Endurance, extensive career modes and seven exciting online modes including the new Speed Pool! Not forgetting the Box of Tricks coming soon to Steam, giving you the ability to imagine, build and share your most outlandish trickshots with the world. Utilizing a variety of objects, including Ramps, Pikes, Loop the Loops and Speed up strips, the Box of Tricks is limited only by your imagination.

With Pool Nation, gameplay is king! Online or offline, the ease of control gives you the ability to pull off shots you wouldn’t dream of in the real world. The balls behave exactly as they should use the table surround to create the most unbelievable trickshots and view them back in super slow mo.

The graphics are as shiny and pixel-perfect as the physics, with beautiful locations, stunning exterior landscapes, eye-catching interiors, the ability to change the time of day, and customize your games with a huge array of balls, cues and table decals creating your ideal pool playing environment. Every detail has been considered and polished, from the super-detailed table baize and deforming cushions, to the explosions of chalk dust from the cue tip.

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From CherryPop Games comes their first title, a billiards video game titled “Pool Nation”.

Having played the PS3 version of the game, it’s time to check out “Pool Nation” on Steam!

Take on a variety of characters in a game of classic 8 and 9-ball games to Killer and the frantic Speed Pool, once you master these games, you can prove you are among the elite and take on the various exclusive tour modes. And with each competition, complete a challenge and you can unlock a ball set, decal, cue and more!

Minimum Requirements:

Minimum:

    • OS: Windows XP, SP3/WINDOWS VISTA SP2/WINDOWS 7
    • Processor: Dual Core, AMD/INTEL 2.6 GHZ
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB OF VIDEO MEMORY ATI RADEON X1600/NVIDIA GEFORCE 7600/INTEL HD 2000 OR HIGHER
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection

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Download for “Pool Nation” on Steam actually took about two hours.  It was much longer than what I was expecting compared to the download on the PS3.   But the file size is about 1.6GB and when fully installed, it takes about 13GB of hard drive space.

Cherry Pop Games posted the following info. on Steam Discussions for the game:

We are looking into packaging this better so the file size will decrease, we know this is a high priority – we’re sorry for any inconvenience caused but this issue will be sorted soon. (Also when it downloads it should compress to 1.6GB so it downloads quickly)

Its something that we can’t update quickly we have to test the build thoroughly to ensure in compressing we haven’t removed something essential – so in short we’re on it and we’ll update as soon as we can 🙂

Upon starting the game, you will be prompted with a screen with which language you want to choose, render device, audio device, anti-aliasing and display mode.  Also, the options to select v-sync and windowed mode.

It’s important to note that by selecting the lowest display mode, the better chance it will work on older computers.

I tested several computers to see how performance is.  The more powerful the graphics card and the computer, the better one can play the game in better resolution.  Tried a four year old computer and it was very laggy in the best resolution but was able to get smoother gameplay via the lowest resolution.  I tested the game using a computer with a built in video card that is about four years old and it wasn’t able to play without a Vertix Shader 3.0.

But in order to get the smoothness of gameplay like its PS3 counterpart, you have to own a better computer with a better graphics card, but those with an older computer by several years can play this game as long as it has a better graphic card and by experimenting with display modes.

 

 

When you begin your game of “Pool Nation”, you are given the following menu items:

  • Single Player – 9-Ball competition, go up against many competitors in game of 9-ball. Hit the balls in the following order with the 8-ball being last. 8-Ball is a competition of who will play solids or striped balls, with the 8-ball being the final ball to hit last. Battle various competitors to win each cup.  Also, coming soon is a DLC known as “Box of Tricks”.
  • Endurance – Exclusive to “Pool Nation”, it’s you against the clock in a game of Pool.
  • Versus – Compete against a friend in various competition modes including golf!
  • Online – Compete against a friend or someone who owns the game online.
  • Free Play – Free Play Mode
  • Leaderboard – Check your current online ranking via Pool Nation Leaderboards.
  • Help & Options – Help and options for “Pool Nation”. Change audio, controls and learn how to play.
  • Download Content – Content that will be available for “Pool Nation”.

I spent most of my time playing on single player 9-ball and 8-ball competition. Take on men and women on the Pool Nation circuit.

Before anyone gets into competition, it is recommended to go through the tutorial. The reason is that each competitor you go up against has three challenges that you want to accomplish. From executing a combo shot to getting a consecutive number of shots, sometimes you will need to execute shots which require you to put spin on a ball or even jump above a ball. So, learning how to execute the shots are important.

Challenges can also include having a 6-ball streak challenge to winning a best out of 3, 3-ball competition.

Achieve all three challenges and you can win that competitor’s decal (that can be used on a table), ball sets, cues and more. Also, by beating certain competitors and unlocking their challenges, you may be able to access a bonus area that will open up a new area.

But while you may get through the first five competitors quite easily, the more you advance, the better the competition. Some competitors where you need to apply strategy as some may knock every ball into the pocket during their turn. So, there are times where you will need to plan out each shot perfectly and no chance for error. Also, the further you get into a match, some opponents require a best of three frame competition. So, who ever can win two frames is the winner of that matchup.

The good news is that if you lose, you don’t lose anything, nor does your rank go backward in a single player game. You can keep trying over and over again.

There is also no waiting for the other player, you can hit the X Button and skip and bypass the computer opponent’s plays and get into the action right away. So, for the impatient players, fortunately this is possible.

And while I have beaten the main characters of the Sky Lounge Cup (the entry cup) in both 9-ball and 8-ball play, I have not achieved the challenges of the more difficult players. It’s not easy and you’ll find yourself challenging yourself for hours in trying to beat those challenges. It’s not easy!

You can also watch slow motion replays and save replays of entire matches.

For online matches and tournaments, you can compete against someone around the world and also partake in speed pool online.

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I opted to play “Pool Nation” with an XBOX 360 controller.  The controls are very good and responsive. Using the left analog stick, you can control where you want to hit. Using the LT and RT buttons, you can make the stick go up higher, especially if you want to make the ball jump. game directional button allows you to add spin, back spin or to make the ball curve and you can lock in how much power you want to add. For beginners, you can have an assist beam which tells you where the ball is going to go after you hit it. So, I usually use this, especially overhead mode, which allows me to play much better in competition.

But the controls are easy to pick up and learn, but I do recommend going through the tutorials and learning the advanced moves.

 

 

The graphics for the game is stylish and the rendering of the balls are shiny and beautiful. While you don’t get to see the competitor during a matchup, you do see their avatar and you can apply their images to a pool table. But it’s important to note that if you are using the assist beam of where the ball is going to be hit, sometimes the colors may conflict with the table. For example, by the second round of competitors, you will play on a blue pool table with hot neon pink background. When you are hitting a blue or purple ball, it’s hard to see that directional beam as the color conflicts with the table.

But for the most part, the graphics for the game look great and probably one of the better looking billiard games I have played so far.

As for audio, the soundtrack is crystal clear, no voice dialogue or moaning or atmospheric sounds. You get the sounds of a stick hitting ball, ball hitting ball as is expected. There is no crowd watching you, no voices but just the sounds of pool playing and electronic music, which you can switch off if needed.

 

 

With the the challenges for each competitor, the bonus areas and the number of challenges and modes available, there is a lot of replay value in “Pool Nation”. You can beat your competition via online multiplayer on Steam, you may find yourself wanting to win all challenges or get the best score via Steam leaderboards.

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As a fan of video game billiard games, “Pool Nation” is one of the best look billiard games I have played, it’s also one of the more challenging billiard games out there!

It’s one thing for me to beat a string of competitors during the first Sky Lounge tournament but playing the second, not only does it take patience but you’re going to need a perfect game. To make things even challenging are winning the challenges and mastering the back spin as many games I played, I lost because I scratched.

But it’s part of the enjoyment of “Pool Nation”, taking on a variety of computer opponents, each with their name and skill set that you know that if you run into them again at another competition, more than likely they are going to be a challenge to beat.

I found myself quite a bit on these challenges and enjoying the competition, but realizing that to win the game and beat your competition, you probably will only get 1-2 messups, most of the time only one. So, players will need to have their best game each time.

I also like the fact that you can win table decals, cues and balls if you beat a bonus round. The bonus around is quite challenging and sometimes I felt I beat the opponent by luck but the bonus games add replay value in trying to access extra items and also acquiring a star to achieve all three challenges per competitor.

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One of the coolest additions I have seen added are the various versus mode and also an upcoming section on single player known as “Box if Tricks” and this is reminiscent to something I can compare with the old Hot Wheels car tracks and trying to make your cars go through some wicked spiral tracks.  It seems that the developers are coming up with creative ways to play outside of the billiards box and have some fun.  So, I look forward to playing “Box of Tricks” when it becomes available.  So, with all these modes and types of gameplay that will included with this game, gamers are getting their money’s worth!

As for graphics, the balls look absolutely wonderful. The game is stylish and kept simple, so you won’t see human players or crowds. It’s just the player, the competitor’s avatar and then playing at a variety of venues. With that being said, some venues are tough, not just for its competitors but for those who need the assist beams/lights that help you know where your ball is going, sometimes a color of a table can prevent you from seeing those directional beams but you eventually learn to make do without it.

Audio is primarily music and special effects. The special effects sound magnificent from the cue hitting the ball, ball hitting other balls to the sound of potting a ball.

And also there are other modes such as endurance, versus, online and free play mode.  While those with older computers may be able to play this game, if you want to experience the smooth graphics and controls, you can either play the PS3, XBOX 360 version or invest in a better computer but you can play on an older computer and still enjoy the game, graphics won’t be as great and you may experience lag.

I do recommend having an XBOX 360 controller or some arcade stick for better controls.

I also give Cherry Pop Games a thumbs up on customer support.  I have monitored the “Pool Nation” Steam discussion boards and they have been very courteous in listening to player suggestions and complaints and keeping people updated on what they want to implement in future updates and more.

Overall, if you are a billiards fan and just love playing pool, in real life or via video game, “Pool Nation” is one of the most enjoyable and challenging billiard games I have played in a long while. I’m really enjoying this game! In fact, I’m quite confident in saying it’s the best billiards video game available!  And for under $10 on Steam, it’s definitely recommended!

PROS:

+ Awesome and challenging pool competitions.

+ Additional replay factor with challenges, bonus rounds and multiple modes.

+ Wonderful graphics for the balls and also slow motion use.

+ Not easy, you are going to have to learn various advance moves to take on the more experienced competitors.

+ Physics are very good on the PC via a newer computer, smooth gameplay, no lag!

+ The ability to select display modes for older computers

+ Affordable at $9.99 and definitely worth the money if you are a billiard fan!

+ Positive customer service on the Steam discussion boards

+ The number of modes in versus and the upcoming “Box of Tricks” adds more gameplay fun for players!

NEGATIVES:

– For those expecting more than a pool table and balls and want to see crowds and CG characters, this is not that type of game.

– Some tables make support lights hard to see during gameplay.

– Older computers may experience considerable lag.

 

NINTENDO DOWNLOAD HIGHLIGHTS NEW DIGITAL CONTENT FOR NINTENDO SYSTEMS – OCT. 24, 2013

October 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:

Nintendo eShop on Wii U™
Assassin’s Creed®IV Black Flag – It is 1715. Pirates rule the Caribbean and have established a lawless pirate republic. Among these outlaws is a fearsome young captain named Edward Kenway. His exploits earn the respect of pirate legends like Blackbeard, but draw him into an ancient war that may destroy everything the pirates have built. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag will be available on Oct. 29.

Batman: Arkham Origins Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous villains and assassins, the game showcases a young, raw, unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, witness identities are formed and key relationships are forged. Batman: Arkham Origins will be available on Oct. 25.

Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS™
Phoenix Wright®: Ace Attorney® – Dual DestiniesPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies sees the return of courtroom hero Phoenix Wright. The much-loved game play and features from previous games in the Ace Attorney series are back, but for the first time in stunning 3D graphics, bringing the courtroom and characters to life and putting players directly in the heart of the action.

Batman: Arkham Origins BlackgateBatman: Arkham Origins Blackgate brings the core pillars of the Arkham series to a hand-held format for the first time. In this companion game to Batman: Arkham Origins, players can continue the storyline of the console version and discover more details of the Dark Knight’s past. With gripping 2.5-D graphics, fully voiced narrative and a captivating storyline, players will explore deep inside the bowels of the remote island penitentiary that plays an important role in the Arkham universe. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate will be available on Oct. 25.

Nintendo eShop on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS
Sonic Lost World for Wii U and Sonic Lost World for Nintendo 3DS – In Sonic Lost World, Sonic faces his most powerful enemy to date: the Deadly Six! Available exclusively on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems, Sonic must unite with his arch-nemesis Dr. Eggman and explore a mystical world in order to take the Deadly Six on head-to-head. Use Sonic’s amazing new moves and Color Powers to speed across a variety of unique terrain, racing inside, outside and upside down in every level. Sonic Lost World will be available for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS on Oct. 29.

Virtual Console™ on Wii U
Pinball – Hit various targets and rack up points in this classic pinball game, originally released for the NES. The game is fun and easy to learn, and includes bonus balls for high scorers, as well as a bonus mode starring Nintendo’s legendary character Mario™. On top of all this, it features a two-player alternating mode, so you can play with a friend.

Virtual Console on Nintendo 3DS
Star Soldier – The standard for vertically scrolling shooters, Star Soldier is the original game that spawned all of the games in the long-running Soldier series. Your mission: to stop Starbrain’s galactic invasion by piloting Caesar, a new, compact space fighter through 16 deadly stages. Collect power capsules to increase three different attributes of your ship: firepower, movement speed and defensive shields. Blast wave after wave of approaching enemies or use the innovative Trap Zone feature to fly beneath a land mass and avoid incoming fire.

Nintendo eShop Sale
Urban Trial Freestyle – Race through a wide range of urban environments in this fresh take on the action bike racer genre. Starting on Oct. 24, download Urban Trial Freestyle in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS for $4.99 until 9 a.m. PT on Nov. 7.

Also new this week:
Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS) – Available Oct. 29
Baseball (Virtual Console on Wii U)
PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures (Nintendo eShop on Wii U) – Available Oct. 29
Monster High13 Wishes (Nintendo eShop on Wii U) – Available Oct. 29
Monster High13 Wishes (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS) – Available Oct. 29
Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
My Little Baby 3D (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)

To view this week’s Nintendo Download in its full graphical version, please visit: http://news2know.net/nintendo/download30trjlyz.php.

In addition to video games available at retail stores, Nintendo also offers a variety of content that people can download directly to their systems. Nintendo adds new titles weekly to the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U system as well as the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL systems, to the Nintendo DSi™ Shop for the Nintendo DSi system and to the Wii™ Shop Channel for the Wii console.

The Nintendo eShop is a cash-based service and features games, applications and videos. Users can add money to their account balance by using a credit card or by purchasing a Nintendo Prepaid Card at a retail store and entering the code from the card. All funds from one card must be redeemed in either the Wii U eShop or the Nintendo 3DS eShop, respectively. They are not transferable and cannot be divided between the two systems.

The Wii Shop Channel offers games and applications and uses Wii Points™, which can be purchased via the Wii Shop Channel. The Nintendo DSi Shop offers games and applications and uses Nintendo DSi Points™, which can be purchased in the Nintendo DSi Shop. A Wii Points Card™ and Nintendo DSi Points Card™ can be purchased at retail locations. All points from one card must be redeemed in either the Wii Shop Channel or the Nintendo DSi Shop, respectively. They are not transferable and cannot be divided between the two systems.

Remember that Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo DSi feature parental controls that let adults manage some of the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu, http://www.nintendo.com/wii, http://www.nintendo.com/3ds or http://www.nintendo.com/ds.

 

“World of Tanks” Takes Home Golden Joystick Award for Second Year in a Row

October 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Massively popular title named Best Online Game of 2013

25th October, 2013 – Wargaming, the leading free-to-play MMO developer and publisher, today announced that its popular MMO action game World of Tanks was named “Best Online Game” at this year’s Golden Joystick Awards. The second and the third places in the category have been gained by League of Legends and Dota 2 respectively.

“This second victory for World of Tanks at the Golden Joystick Awards wouldn’t be possible without our passionate and vocal World of Tanks community,” said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming. “We’re extremely grateful to our players for their continued support and their personal involvement.”

Last year the title took home the highly coveted “Best MMO of the Year”, further cementing its status as a truly global phenomenon in the video game industry.

The Golden Joystick Awards, the only games industry accolades decided entirely by players, standpoint video game titles each year in a number of categories. They are voted by players online and presented during the ceremony at the Westminster Bridge Plaza, London.

About World of Tanks

World of Tanks is the first and only team-based, massively multiplayer online action game dedicated to armored warfare. Throw yourself into the epic tank battles of World War II with other steel cowboys all over the world. Your arsenal includes more than 300 armored vehicles from United States, Germany, the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain and China, carefully detailed with historical accuracy.

Join World of Tanks:

http://worldoftanks.eu/registration/ (Europe)
http://worldoftanks.com/registration/ (North America)
http://worldoftanks.kr/registration/ (Korea)
http://http://worldoftanks-sea.com/registration/ (SEA)
About Wargaming

Wargaming is an award-winning online game developer and publisher and one of the leaders in the free-to-play MMO market. Founded as a privately held company in 1998, Wargaming has shipped more than 15 titles. Currently, Wargaming is focused on its team-based MMO war series dedicated to the mid-20th century warfare that will include the armored World of Tanks, the flight combat World of Warplanes, and the naval World of Warships. The three intertwined titles will form a common gaming universe integrated within the portal – www.wargaming.net.

Official website: www.wargaming.com

 

Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force for the PlayStation 3 and Steam (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

October 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

SWP Key Art - Web

“Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” improves over its original with better tables, awesome gameplay and challenging pinball that we have came to love with Zen Studio pinball games.  Featuring very good physics, beautiful table graphics, awesome audio and music plus special effects. “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” is just  fantastic video game pinball that I highly recommended! 5 Stars!

Screen Captures are from Steam gameplay. “Star Wars Pinball” is under the copyright of Zen Studios. 2013 Lucas Film Entertainment Company Ltd. or LucasFilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Star Wars Pinball

TYPE OF GAME: Pinball

PLATFORM: PlayStation Network, XBOX Live, Steam, Windows 8, Google Play, iOS, Kindle

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: PlayStation 3 (PSN Download)/Steam

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios

RELEASE DATE: October 15, 2013

The biggest Star Wars space battles come to life on the Star Wars™: Starfighter Assault pinball table, releasing in two weeks for the new Star Wars™ Pinball: Balance of the Force pack. Players must choose to support the Rebel Alliance’s Fleet or the Galactic Empire’s Armada as they complete missions while dodging turret fire and destructible ramps!

As missions are completed, players will earn Fleet Upgrades that can be spent to upgrade the fleet, fighters and turrets. In addition, players will be able to advance the rank of their pilot as they progress through the table!

The table includes legendary Starfighters like the X-wing and TIE fighter, along with iconic vessels like the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star II.

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Zen Studios is back with three brand new “Star Wars” pinball games as part of the “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” which was released for the PlayStation Network (North America) on Oct. 15th and the XBOX Live Arcade, Steam, Windows 8, iOS, Google Play, Kindle and PlayStation Network (Europe) on Oct. 16th.

Three pinball games based on the American epic space opera “Star Wars” franchise created by George Lucas, each of these three tables not only gives you more than one can expect from a digital pinball game but so many areas that pinball fans and fans of the films or animated series will be excited about.

To start off “Star Wars Pinball”, you have a choice to contribute your skills to the side of light or darkness. The more you play, the more you see your skills go up and benefit you as a Jedi or Sith.

You can play single player or multiplayer. Single player allows you to play each game and build up your level, while multiplayer for each table is about who can accumulate the most points and reach a certain goal and the game restarts once the person reaches that goal. Multiplayer can automatically search for players and quite often, you may get an invite from a player you have played with before.

But one can play the game to be on top of the leaderboards, to open up PS3 trophies or open up achievements on Steam to challenge oneself and opening and beating many scenes as possible or try to get the best score on the leaderboards.

With “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force”, Zen Studios takes the concept of pinball for the digital realm by introducing various acts, special effects, audio and gameplay elements that you won’t typically experience on a real machine.

For pinball purists who have played a digital pinball game, yes the game requires you to shoot the ball, use your flippers to hit the ball and you can briefly nudge the machine (nudge it too much and you are in danger of tilting). You lose a ball each time it falls down through the center (between the flippers) or far left and right boundaries of the game.

Fortunately, Zen Studios implements a “Shoot Again” if your ball goes down the center early in the game, so you do have a second chance. Also, if you hit the ball in the ramps multiple times, it will activate a “Lite Kickback” which kicks the ball back to play if it goes on the left or right side of the table. Meanwhile, there are ways to get free extra balls as well.

So, a lot of the newer tables add a lot of extra gameplay features that make it worth your time to learn, not only for achievements but also because of certain bonus areas or scenes that you may not know about and also finding out strategies on how to get a high score or how to open up various areas.

For example, one may focus on their main bottom flippers, but some games have flippers on the top that if you time your hit, you can see your score multiplying and building up to millions of points. Some require quick thinking where one flipper must be pressed and immediately released, so a ball heading towards the top flipper will not come in contact. Or other strategies that may initiate a kickback (most pinball games have the frustrating area on both ends that will make you lose a ball) or something that may pick up your ball and shoot it so quickly that by the time you hit the flipper, the ball has gone through the center hole and you lose your ball.

COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED ABOUT THE GAMEPLAY:

Are there difficulty modes? While playing a table, you can pause and select “OPERATOR” on the menu, it allows you to install a difficulty mode such as extra easy, normal, extra hard, etc. BUT this is good if you do not want to play with other players and compete in leaderboards. Easy allows for extra balls and better scoring. But once again, it’s important to note that you will receive a warning that if you change settings, your high score will not be included in the leaderboards.

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You can play single player or multiplayer on “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force”.  Single player allows you to play each game and build up your level, while multiplayer for each table is about who can accumulate the most points and reach a certain goal and the game restarts once the person reaches that goal.  Multiplayer can automatically search for players and quite often, you may get an invite from a player you have played with before.

Star Wars Pinball: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

First, let’s take a look at “Star Wars Pinball: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi”.  This pinball game is set on Endor and of the three pinball games featured on “Balance of the Force”, is the most unforgiving because of it’s short table and because by hitting the ball, sometimes the ball is shot or reflected to the side which will lead you to lose the ball.  Of the three,  it’s a pinball table where you must stop the ball with your flipper in order to spell out a word.  It takes very good timing.

The game features three flippers, while most of the time, I used two as the third sent my ball to a trap door (hole) most of the time.

My strategy for this game was to use the right flipper,wait until the ball gets right to the tip and shoot it out to hit the left side in which Luke tries to get a hold of Jabba the Hut or trying to target the ball in the area that lights up.

So, this pinball game is about precision targeting than just hitting the ball because the ball can easily land in the outside boundaries.  But I feel that if you try to aim for certain spots, especially towards the bottom left and try to aim your ball to the cave, the more points I was able to accumulate as the game went on.

While I put hours into this game, I have yet to activate a lot of scenes.  One scene I was able to access is where you are on your speeder and trying to go after a Biker Scout.  You must hit the pinball directly center in order to shoot the Biker Scout.

But I really enjoy this game because of the possibilities of discovering ways to open up various scenes.

But it’s a challenging table which I enjoyed playing because of how it tries to make you slowdown the pace of the game by trying to stop the ball and target various areas with your flipper.

 

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Star Wars Pinball: Star Fighter Assault:

For this game, you must choose if you want to play the Rebel or the Empire from the opening animation. For “Star Fighter Assault”, the table is much longer and gives you more freedom to hit the ball and utilizing the four flippers on screen.

Where “Star Wars Pinball: Return of the Jedi” has you slowing down the temp and stopping the ball, this game is more about pinball and hitting the ball.  You do have to aim the ball and make sure you hit it through a ramp that has lights blinking on and off but for the most part, it’s a longer table that in which you can find yourself getting many points.

It’s also a game in which you can have X-Wing Fighters vs. Tie Fighters flying around the screen, so by hitting the ball through a correct ramp, it will activate cannons that will begin shooting at the enemy aircraft.

Cut scenes include you controlling three X-Wing Fighters or Tie Fighters, using your L1 and L2 (or shoulder buttons of your XBOX 360 controller) to move the three ships left or right to avoid asteroids and shooting down the enemy aircraft.  Another features you on a Tie Fighter or X-Wing Fighter and trying to target rebel aircraft, similar to an aircraft shooting simulation game, which I enjoyed.  And I’m sure there are more that I have yet to unlock.

There are modes that allow for “Multiball” in which you can have several balls locked and sent out all at once.  And it’s a game that you may want to use the tilt as there are times where the ball may fall straight down the middle.  So, it does require some quick thinking at times.

An enjoyable table that you will find yourself playing for hours!

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Star Wars Pinball: Darth Vader

The last table “Star Wars Pinball: Darth Vader”.  This the combination of the first two games where you can play freely but also will need to target certain areas.  This is probably the game where you will amass a ton of points and of the games played, the one I found the easiest to get cut scenes.

The main goal is to hit the target on the top left corner, this will activate a scene and by hitting the balls to areas that are blinking, you can easily get a multi-ball.

Not sure if this is a glitch or special scene but holding the L2 button on your PS3 controller before you begin the game will take you directly to a scene in which Darth Vader is being assembled and by hitting the ball on the assembling arms, you automatically get a million points per arm.

But other than that, this table is for those who want to play freely without having to stop the ball.  But for those who do want to amass points and open cut scenes, you will need a combination of playing freely, aiming the ball and because of the longer table, prepare for balls that fall down straight the middle, which you need to nudge the table (without tilting).

 

 

The controls for the PS3 is fast and fluid, no lag whatsoever, even during multiplayer, I was able to play the game with no lag.  While on Steam, it’s more likely that my PC had a bit more lag, so playing by keyboard was not an option and I preferred using the XBOX 360 controller.

How are the physics of the game?

Table physics are good, at times, it felt the physics were off. For example, I can tape on the edge of a flipper with great power and sometimes the ball only goes a short way up. Sometimes I hit a ball not hard enough but yet it goes farther than what I expected. But I never expect a digital pinball game to have a perfect replication of gameplay digitally but it comes close and once you get to learn each table, the better you will do each time you play.

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The graphics for each of the tables are absolutely gorgeous. A lot went into table design and character models but there was good planning when it came to the actual tables. On my HD big screen, colors were vibrant, tables were amazingly well-detailed. The game looks great on the PS3!  The game also looks great on Steam!

The audio for the game is also fantastic! “Star Wars” not only features the voices from the film but also the popular music from the film.

 

 

“Star Wars Pinball” is a game with a lot of replay value if you are into getting high scores. With the number of tables available, it gives one a chance to focus on a table and learn it and move on to the next table and continue getting high scores, topping a table leaderboard and obtaining PS3 trophies or Steam achievements.

Each time I play these games, I feel I discover something new!  So, there is a lot of replay value in any of the pinball games from Zen Studios.

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Zen Studios has done it again.  After creating the first three “Star Wars: Pinball” and make us all fans again with the more impressive “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” pinball with great, addictive gameplay, graphics, sounds and music, they managed to improve with three tables in my opinion are even better than the last three!

For this latest “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force”, you get “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi”, “Starfight Assault” and a “Darth Vader” and there is a great combination of gameplay but also challenge that you can’t help but play them over and over again, it’s that fun and entertaining!

When it comes to pinball, growing up, pinball machines were a big part of my life as a child. Playing them at the local burger shop, even receiving a Superman pinball machine as a child, pinball machines were fun, addictive and I continued to play them even when everyone moved towards “Pac Man”, “Street Fighter II” and other popular arcade games for each decade.

My pinball experience would eventually lead me to playing the game on NES, Gameboy and dedicating hours to getting the highest score on “Pinbot”. Then came “Super Pinball” on the SNES, “Devil’s Crush”, “Metroid Pinball” on the DS, “William’s Pinball” and “Akira Psycho Ball” for the PS2 and recently playing various pinball games on my iPad.

But Zen Studios have really taken pinball to even greater heights with innovative table creation (great effects and lighting), obtaining licenses to utilize popular franchise’s or iconic characters including the voices and music from the films and incorporating it into this game.

So far, Zen Studios have made pinball so much fun again! It’s not just about hitting the ball and getting the high score, there is strategy involved in playing a Zen Studio pinball game.

As I said with the original “Star Wars Pinball”, it’s literally pinball crack and they feed your addiction with three awesome tables, in my opinion are much better than the original three.

Once you play, you become addicted to the game and find yourself playing it for hours and trying to figure out various strategies. And while the single player game is fantastic, the multiplayer is OK. It’s more or less a contest of who can reach the most points and the game restarts and you keep on playing. What would be nice is to find out how some of these players during multiplayer rack up millions of points in a short amount of time, so if there was a watch mode, where you can see other players playing a game realtime, that would have been cool to see and also learn from.

These three “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” tables are also quite creative in gameplay and each are very different from each other, requiring different strategies, so one can expect to put a lot of time playing and replaying to see how things work, especially how to defeat various missions.

As for playing the game on the PS3 versus on Steam, I will say that I felt physics and fluidity and smoother gameplay was noticeable on the PS3 but for those who prefer having the monitor right near them, so they can see things clearly, I’m sure it’s subjective to each player. But the PS3 feels smooth and experienced no lag.  But the lag I experienced on Steam, was mainly through the response of the controls, until I switched to an XBOX 360 controller and I was able to play just fine.

With each table, some require strategy and quick thinking. For example, one would not want to let the ball roll too quickly down your flipper as momentum is so quick that by the time you press the button the flipper, the ball falls quickly through the center and you lose a ball. And sometimes, the placement of a ball will end up in the far boundaries, making you lose the ball. So, you come up with strategies of how to get a kick back (so, if the ball goes out on the left or right boundaries, the ball is kicked back on the table) or to regain a “Shoot Again”, so a lost ball will result in free play ball.

The most challenging is when you have multiple balls in play. This will give you a chance to rack up enormous points but it’s not easy when you have four balls all coming down all at once, so sometimes you act erratically by hitting the flippers repeatedly. So, it requires patients and finding out new ways to deal with multiple balls.

But the big part of the strategy for this game, for me, is to figure out ways to utilize the top flippers and where I should have the ball aimed. Some tables reward nicely if you use those top obscured flippers correctly.

So, each table, I have had a lot of fun playing and trying to learn what the game has to offer and with the addition of playing with friends via the leaderboard or gaining achievements, it adds to the replay factor of the game.

But each time I play each table, I discover something new and no matter how many hours I have put in, I still have yet to try out the different scenes for each table.  So, there is great challenge in these pinball games and it takes some strategy on your part on slowing and stopping that ball and hitting it in the right area.

Overall, “Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” feature awesome gameplay and challenging pinball with very good physics, beautiful table graphics, cool audio (in this case, also fantastic music) and special effects.

“Star Wars Pinball” continues to raise bar for digital pinball games and for fans of “Star Wars” or pinball in general, you can’t help but be addicted to these games. These tables are not just challenging but among the most enjoyable digital pinball games I have played.

“Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force” from Zen Studios for the PS3 and Steam are highly recommended!

PROS:

+ Awesome and creative gameplay and you discover something new each time you play the game.

+ Additional replay factor to challenge others and win trophies (PS3) or earn achievements (Steam).

+ Wonderful graphics for each table!

+ Great use of sound effects, music and dialogue!

+ Physics are very good for these tables on the PS3, smooth gameplay, no lag!

NEGATIVES:

– Gameplay for some people may be a little frustrating.

– Purists expecting perfect physics may be disappointed.

– A little slowdown on Steam in terms of keyboard response but if you use an XBOX 360 controller, it feels right.

 

CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen DLC for “CastleStorm” on Steam/PC (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

October 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” was a lot of fun, in fact, I had so much fun playing it that I was bummed out that Campaign mode was a bit on the short side because I enjoyed the game so much!  Yet, it’s a DLC and an awesome one at that!  Zen Studios’ “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is highly recommended!

“CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is under the copyright of 2013 Zen Studios. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen DLC

TYPE OF GAME: Brawler/Physics Based Destruction

PLATFORM: Steam and XBOX Live Arcade

PLATFORM GAME REVIEWED: STEAM PC GAME

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios

RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2013

The Warrior Queen reveals a new Viking Elite troop class, plus huge additions to the arsenal of weapons available for the destruction of your enemy’s castles. We’re not joking around here: Meteor Showers, Exploding Barrels, Stormbringers, Golem Hostages, and you heard it here first: FROZEN SWORDFISH. Throw in 20 new battles and new achievements and you have an excellent addition to your favorite super 2D physics destruction tower defense brawler mashup.

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In July 2013, Zen Studios unveiled their latest video game on Steam, “CastleStorm”.

A mashup of 2D physics destruction mashed with a tower defense brawler, according to Zen Studios, the game was inspired of a childhood memory of building and destroying LEGO castles.

As the first game focused on the character Sir Gareth, the game focused on Knights vs. Vikings and featured a story-driven solo campaign, a customizable castle editor, online multiplayer and co-op modes.

Weeks later, Zen Studios released their first DLC titled “From Outcast to Savior” which featured a new 20 battle campaign, new hero, Royal Guard-class troops, new weapons and achievements along with new environments. And the war against the Vikings continued as the goal was to capture the power-hungry Viking warrior, Chief Ramhorn.

And here we are with the second DLC from Zen Studios titled “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen”. And this time around, Sir Gareth may have met his unfortunate demise, but he intends to continue and do good by helping a new class of Viking Elite warrior, the Warrior Queen to fight against the infamous Chief Ramhorn.

So, how is this DLC?  Let’s take a look at “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen”!

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“CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” has four gameplay modes: Campaign, Skirmish, Survival and Hero Survival.

Campaign:

This is the main story mode of the game which allows you to play as Freia the Viking in a 2D fight mode and the other as you must send your troops to battle to steal your opponents flag or destroying their castle.

The storyline is that Sir Gareth is now a ghost after trying to save Freia. He tries to help the Viking Freia escape from prison by having a cake delivered to her with an axe inside.  Now, Freia must free her comrades and lead her troops to battle against Chief Ramhorn and his knights.

The game is rather short and can be beaten possibly in five hours or less.

During the Campaign Mode, similar to the previous “CastleStorm” games, you control Freia (and other fellow Viking friends) as you try to fight the enemy vikings with your axe.  You can clobber them or you can throw axes afar.  But it’s not that easy as the enemy has shields, some are weak and can be beaten easily, while others are in armor or you have giant beats going after you which can literally pummel the life out of you with two hits.  So, you need to stand on a distance and throw your axe while preparing for attacks on both sides and preparing to use your shield to defend yourself and attack.

I found the 2D fighting portions to be challenging and found that using a controller pad makes it much easier as defense is the key in this game.

But most of the fun is the physics destruction games in which you can earn enough gold to upgrade your projectiles such as barbed harpoons, spear guns, flaming explosive barrels, golem hostages, strombringers, beatmakers, frozen swordfish, arctic snowballs and meteor showers.

During battle (destruction games), you can use spells that sends Freia, Captain Thorvard to fight briefly or send rock showers, lightning bolts, ghost armies, blizzard or protective shields.

You can upgrade your troops such as Berserker Elites, Pack Leaders (Wolves), Bombardiers, Shamans, Motivational Chiefs, Hammer Chiefs, Valkyries, Warrior Trolls and Flying Dragons.

But remember that the other side are doing the same thing, so you need to be quick on your selections and choose the right weapons to equip for battle.

And rooms for your castle to increase military size, faster cool downs, improve pantry’s, breweries, armories and gold reproduction and more (this plays more into Skirmish Mode).

But where I find most of the intense action are the physical destruction of another castle or trying to steal their flag.  While one can see the strategy similar to “Angry Birds”, it’s not.  The opponents army is coming after you during battle, while you try to destroy the buildings with your weapons.

Your weapons don’t run out but their is a refill gauge which takes its time to fill up before you can use the weapon again.  Thus the importance of upgrading your weapons, for faster response times, stronger weapons, etc.

Skirmish Mode:

This mode allows you to play the destruction mode or play a side that must defend its flag from a hoard of knights trying to steal it.

Survival and Hero Survival Mode:

Survival and Hero Survival is a last man standing with Hero Survival allowing one to play an unlocked character right at the start as you try to survive each wave and prevent an enemy from stealing your flag or killing you.  The more you advanced with each wave, the more stronger your opponent is.

 

 

While you can you use your mouse and keyboard to move the character (A to move left, D to move right, W to jump).  I found that for me, my finger was starting to cramp, so I decided to use the XBOX 360 controller which made the game so much easier to control your character and to pull of defensive moves.

In fact, defense is going to play a major importance later in the game especially if your difficulty is set at hard.

Which is better, keyboard or controller pad?

Because of the amount of clicking I was doing with my mouse, it felt as if I was getting cramps or repetitive pain from overclicking.  So, while it may be subjective to the player, I found playing with an XBOX 360 controller made the game much more convenient in pulling off offensive and defensive moves.

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Graphics for “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is beautiful.    The characters and environments are wonderfully painted, special effects are well done.  Physics is well-implemented and for the most part, the game is quite colorful.

As for audio, there is not much talking…maybe with a few words and dialogue at the end of the game but pretty much you will hear short vocal sounds, a few words and mostly music.  There is some narration in certain modes as “the enemy has taken your flag”, “The enemy has dropped the flag”, etc. But audio is quite appropriate for this game.

 

 

“CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” has replay value for those who want to challenge the game and obtain all achievements. Or to be on top of the leaderboards.

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“CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is a fun and addictive game like the previous “CastleStorm” games.  Some modes are quite challenging especially one which requires you to be a dragon (that one took me more than hour to figure out the strategy and realize how easy it was to beat once I figured it out) and the final level as you take on Ramhorn.

But I found myself replaying a lot of the levels to obtain more gold and leveling up my army and weapons for upgrade.

I enjoyed the gameplay especially the games that required one to steal the other opponent’s flag or destroy their castle.  The weapons were pretty far out, such as the use of throwing fishes at your opponent to throwing exploding barrels or golem hostages at your opponents castle.  But the fun of unleashing a ghost army on many of your opponents during battle.

The game was a lot of fun and some levels were quite challenging.  And I felt that I was having random clicking fatigue via mouse until I switched to an XBOX 360 controller and the game became much easier to defeat an enemy during Freia’s fight games, while the keyboard and mouse was easy for the destruction games, but you can use the XBOX 360 controller but it takes a little getting used to at first.

But the “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” DLC was better than I expected and for those who have played and enjoyed “Castlestorm” and “From Outcast to Savior”, will surely want to play this DLC game.  A lot of humor, plenty of action and enjoyable gameplay.  I don’t think there is any game where you can impale an enemy with a frozen swordfish!  That’s how crazy and fun this game really is!

“CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is a game that I can’t find any faults other than I wish the game was longer. “The Warrior Queen” was a lot of fun, in fact, I had so much fun playing it that I was bummed out that Campaign mode was a bit on the short side because I enjoyed the game so much!  Yet, it’s a DLC and an awesome one at that!

I can only hope that Zen Studios continues releasing more DLC for “CastleStorm” in the near future!  It’s definitely one of my favorite games to play on Steam!

If you own the base game of “CastleStorm”, then Zen Studios’  “CastleStorm: The Warrior Queen” is highly recommended!

 

AiRace Speed for the Nintendo 3DS (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)

September 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“AiRace” has been an exciting race game for years on the Nintendo DS and it’s latest sequel is even better for the Nintendo 3DS.  Great challenging and addictive gameplay, “AiRace Speed” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of Qubic Games. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: AiRace Speed

TYPE OF GAME: Futuristic Racing Game

PLATFORM: Nintendo 3DS (via Nintendo eShop)

DEVELOPER: Qubic Games

RATED: E for Everyone

RELEASE DATE: September 19, 2013

Take the challenge in AiRace Speed, the third sequel of the best-selling Nintendo DSi™ classic – AiRace, and pilot the most advanced and powerful jets as you compete to beat your best time. Experience the action as you race on stunning high-speed tracks featuring extremely difficult tunnels, spectacular halls and hidden shortcuts.

Take speed to a whole new level and enjoy a frantic new gaming experience including:
Take the challenge – fly extreme speeds across 18 adrenaline-fueled tracks
Stunning environments packed with challenging obstacles, tunnels, shortcuts and more
Take control of one of 5 high-speed futuristic jets powered with advanced technology
High-performance graphics and immersive 3D effects that put you in the middle of the action
Compete against fellow competitors around the world in online leaderboards
Fantastic replay value with special achievements to be unlocked
Third game of the successful and highly rated AiRace series

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The futuristic racing game “AiRace” is back in its third sequel “AiRace Speed” (from independent development studio QubicGames) for the Nintendo 3DS via Nintendo eShop.   Fast and furious, try to use your futuristic jet as you navigate through environments packed with obstacles, tunnels, shortcuts and more.  Try to beat your own personal time or against fellow competitors around the world via online leaderboards and unlock special achievements.

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Have you ever watched the movie “Star Wars” and remember the scene where Luke Skywalker and the rebels had to navigate through the Death Star’s small areas as quickly as possible to destroy it?  The feeling of going through the smallest areas at high speed.

Well, that’s how the AiRace games have been.  Adrenaline pumping, speed race as you try to accomplish the best time by going through tunnels, obstacles with only enough space for your aircraft at different angles.  You get a good sense of the feeling of speed and while I’m sure there are people who can probably use the 3DS controls and memorize certain patterns, I had a hardtime of using full speed and completing certain courses, in fact, braking became my biggest ally in the game.

The game sports up to 18 tracks and up to five vehicles and to move on to other levels, you will need to beat the previous level to move on.

The earlier levels are much more forgiving.  Certain spacecraft have a health meter and if you hit walls, the health meter goes down but slow down and brake and the meter goes back up.  But by the sixth level, the track doesn’t allow for brakes but then you will need to utilize your skill, get past that and you make it through a new level featuring different aircraft, environments and challenges.

As for the game, some levels will let you restart as many times as you want.  After crashing, restart takes place where you passed a glowing blue marker, so you don’t have to replay the course after a crash which is good.  But I noticed on the sixth course, three crashes and the game went back to the menu.

Crashing does dock you several seconds on your time, so if you are playing for the best speed…you want to not get into any accidents.  Otherwise, I felt I was playing not much for records but opening up new courses and aircraft.

But for the most part, I found myself memorizing certain obstacles through a lot of trial and mishaps and certain courses that I thought would be impossible, actually very possible.  Just need to learn from the certain segments after you pass each marker and prepare for it.

If you are a fan of these types of games, you’ll love “AiRace Speed”, I found myself addicted to the game and really love the challenge!

 

 

The main controls is using the stick or the directional buttons to steer, shoulder buttons to roll left or right, and A for nitro and B for brake.  In the options menu, you are able to use button mode or stylus mode, flight assist and change invert up/down and also change miles to km if needed.

 

 

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Graphics for “AiRace Speed” is very good.  Each panel is well detailed, shaded, some with very good reflections and there are more than a number of obstacles during the game.  The environments are very well-done but because the amount of speed that you are going, it’s one of the few games where you don’t get to admire the graphics so much because you’re racing through them quite quickly.  But the environments are detailed, great use of lighting and the spacecraft are also well-done and good use of flame and electricity effects as well.

Audio features synth-based music and the main audio you will hear is if you speed up, slow down, crash or when you receive a warning alert, but the majority of audio is through the music playing during the game.  And the effects do sound good via 3DS speaker but moreso with headphones.

 

 

“”AiRace Speed” does have replay value for those who want to receive special achievements or are interested in having the best speed in the leaderboard.

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I have to say that this is one of the most challenging futuristic race games I have played.    It’s an addictive game for those who love futuristic racing game like “F-Zero” and “Wipeout” with the exception that you are not racing against other vehicles and most of the time, it’s about you trying to beat your own personal time or other times while going through courses with just a small amount of openings or just simply challenging yourself to beat each course in order to open another and open up other aircraft.

“AiRace Speed” featured well-designed exteriors with plenty of detail, the feeling of speed is also well-done and what I loved about the game is the feeling that courses that seemed impossible at first, become very possible and you start to realize that the more you play, the more trial and error through crashing, you eventually start to memorize those obstacles and find a way to get through them.

It’s a great feeling of accomplishment as I was able to advance through the courses and just became immersed by the game and its various challenges.

“AiRace” has been an exciting race game for years on the Nintendo DS and it’s latest sequel is even better for the Nintendo 3DS.

Great challenging and addictive gameplay, “AiRace Speed” is highly recommended!

PROS:

+ Challenging futuristic race game

+ Well-detailed environments with great variety of obstacles and challenges

+ Addictive gameplay

+ Achievements and leaderboard

NEGATIVES:

– It may be challenging for impatient players

– The further you progress, certain levels/courses becoming increasingly frustrating

 

 

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