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M. Lloyd (Buckinghamshire)

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by Level99Games
Price: £16.56

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but not entirely fulfilling, 29 Dec. 2013
Don't look at the score and get the wrong impression, I had immense fun playing A Link Between Worlds, the problem is the was is simply too easy and I found myself steam rolling through it despite having no intention of doing so, it was if I was on auto pilot the whole way though.

My first Zelda game was Link's Awakening, and for me the top-down and handheld Zelda games will always be what defines the series for me, I could never get into the full 3D home console counterparts. So when I finally got my hands on ALBW, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it.

The good:
- You're left completely to your own devices once the introductions are over with. There's no filler to speak of.
- The wall merging mechanic is used pretty well outside of being a means to travel between worlds.
- Weapon rental leads to a more non-linear approach in which order you tackle dungeons.
- The soundtrack never fails to impress.
- This is one of the few games where I'd actually suggest playing in 3D, it works wonderfully here.

The not so good:
- The game is simply too easy and straight forward, many users cite somewhere between 15-20 hours, but ALBW took me just over 11 hours despite collecting half the Maimais, extra hearts, doing most of the treasure rooms and dabbling on mini games. However, I'm going to chalk this down to having experience with these games.
- It's a sequel to LttP, which isn't bad in itself but a great deal of the Hyrule map is identical to the letter, some bosses are recycled (though reworked and given new attacks). Lorule isn't identical to the Dark World but it still bears a great deal of similarities. Whether this bothers you or not is up to personal preference.
- Level design, despite being logical and well thought out didn't actually require me to /think/ a whole lot. I described playing the game feeling as if I was on auto-pilot and that's exactly how it was. If you're familiar with Zelda dungeon design quirks ALBW probably isn't going to pose a great deal of challenge.
- I didn't come close to dying, I didn't even pick up the Pegasus Boots until it was time to beat the final boss and I was running on one bottle for 9/10ths of the game.
- You unlock a harder mode after beating the game that ups enemy damage, but that isn't going to adjust the dungeons layout - which is where most of my issues with this game are rooted.

Despite the flaws I still had loads of fun and I don't regret playing it at all. However I feel ALBW, despite being a sequel to LttP is better suited to newcomers, who will find the level design and boss quirks the most fresh. For experienced players your mileage may vary.

I really can't rate ALBW above any of the other top-down Zelda games, I don't feel it's inferior in its own right simply because of how much fun I had playing it, but I greatly suggest checking out the other top-down Zelda games if you already haven't - Link's Awakening and the Oracle games are available on the eShop and provide chunky, fulfilling experiences that have really stood the test of time.

Ni No Kuni - Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Ni No Kuni - Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Offered by Click For Games UK
Price: £16.99

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most beautiful slog you'll ever play, 14 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After 14 hours I'm done, I can't take it any more. I can't bring myself to Enjoy Ni no Kuni. I don't feel like it's a bad game in its own right, but it does absolutely nothing that appeals to me. There's some good aspects but that's not the purpose of this review.

I don't care about any of the cast, the familiars are boring, the combat system has little depth, the dialogue gets on Golden Sun levels of bad and drawn out and why the hell does the BGM just stop during prolonged dialogue sequences so that all you're left with are text blips and ambient noise? It just makes the dialogue even more of a slog.

Drippy and his ilk are almost the only redeeming part of this game, but the fact he's constantly used as a hand holding device just ends up making him somewhat intolerable. Did you really need to tell me about Chance Time a third time? Was that really necessary?

The hand holding gets especially bad, even several hours into the game. At one point a party member tells you rest at an inn but then proceeds to tell you where that inn is located - an inn you would have probably rested at already at least 3 times; an inn that's located in a town which has a layout that is literally a series of straight lines. Just why? Why do that?

The characters are devoid of much of a personality, though the third party member seemed to have some hidden motivation but I can't bring myself to continue playing to even see what it is or if he even has one. Oliver's reason for taking on his quest takes the back burner to the point that you even forget his mother died in the first place. Oh, and rest assured - everyone in this game loves to talk, they love to talk a whole a lot but you're not actually missing anything if you just button mash through it.

Party AI is atrocious and can't keep itself alive and it's not uncommon to see it burning through all its MP on special attacks when you specifically told them to 'keep us healthy', not that they have the MP to support such a feat for a prolonged period anyway. The only thing the AI is proficient at is getting itself killed, for instance: if the AI decides to use a squishy spell casting familiar you can bet they're going to charge in with melee attacks and get destroyed in the process. Oh, and your third party member has a peculiar habit of fighting enemies himself instead of using a familiar, with pathetic damage output to boot. Ultimately the only person you can rely on is yourself.

Joe Hisaishi doing the soundtrack, huh? That's surely an impressive and redeeming aspect of the game, right? It's not bad, sure, but the problem is that new tracks are so few and far between that you'll be listening to the same stuff over and over and it's not even that memorable. The only song that's stuck is the map music and I can't even remember the battle theme. To make matters worse the game only has a total of 33 tracks, which is absolutely dire for a game that allegedly take at least 45 hours to clear without touching things like side quests and post-game content (which I haven't heard pretty things about either). The isn't a matter of quality over quantity, there's just nothing exceptional about the soundtrack, it gets the job done (except during long dialogue sequences, as stated before) and that's it.

Don't even get me started on the pacing and side quests.

Graphically the game is fantastic, I have no complaints in that department. Everything looks fantastic and towns are lively and nice to just stroll through. Unfortunately, good graphics don't carry a game.

In short, Ni no Kuni is a game that rides on the coattails of its developers, is incredibly over-hyped and will probably appeal to a fair amount of people despite its glaring flaws. If you're interested in buying this game please read a few more reviews before delving in because it really is a love-it-or-hate-it affair, but to be entirely frank if you're someone who holds good combat and interesting game mechanics in a high regard I'll just outright tell you to not bother with Ni no Kuni at all, it's not going to satisfy you in that department.

Pokemon X and Pokemon Y: The Official Kalos Region Guidebook
Pokemon X and Pokemon Y: The Official Kalos Region Guidebook
by The Pokemon Company
Edition: Paperback

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably the worst Pokemon guide yet, 18 Oct. 2013
Let's keep this short and sweet (or sour, in this case).

288 pages
No regional pokedex, there's not even an index of pokemon locations
No index of items. In fact, there's no real index of anything at all.
Character/pokemon cut-in art is incredibly scarce compared to other guides and tiny when actually present
Absolutely no information on anything post-elite four. I'm serious here, the guide ends at the champion battle. There's nothing.

The guide pretty much covers just beating the main game, which is pretty funny because by the time this has been released a great deal of people have either beaten it already or are most of the way through it.

The lack of a regional pokedex means there's no updated list of which pokemon can learn what(which is the information people are really after) and the lack of index makes it a nightmare to navigate if you're trying to find a specific item or pokemon.

Chances are all the post-game content and the pokedex are being released in separate supplements at a similar price, which is pretty disgraceful when you compare it to Pokemon Platinum's 551 page tome.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 27, 2013 1:30 AM GMT

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Games.C
Price: £49.90

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best Zelda handheld game to date, 2 Feb. 2010
This is my first review, so here goes:

There's few times when I finish a game and verbally say `wow'. Spirit Tracks is one of those games and I can honestly say it's the most fun I've had playing a Zelda game (or a DS game, for that matter). The game's presentation is pretty impressive and you'll find few games on the DS with as high production values.

The control scheme is incredibly intuitive and it'll take mere minutes to understand the basic mechanics. If you've played Phantom Hourglass you'll feel right at home here. Link is entirely controlled via the stylus, while either shoulder button will activate your secondary weapon. Don't worry if you're left handed; Nintendo has you covered here.

There are less main dungeons here than there are in previous games - 5 in fact. There's still a returnable dungeon like there is in Phantom Hourglass, but you're not required to visit previous floors, there's no time limit and utilizing the phantoms is actually part of the mechanics instead of avoiding them completely. However, having less dungeons isn't a problem at all because for what Spirit Tracks lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality and passion. Spirit Tracks is a game that feels as if a lot of love and thought just went into. Often you might be left after solving a puzzle and end up thinking `How on earth did they think of that?' The boss fights are all impressive and utilize both the DS' screens and each one is more impressive than the last. The final boss fight sequence instantly became one of my favourite boss fights ever.

There's also hours worth of side quests to do, which will give you access to extra sections of tracks, allow you do customize your train, upgrade your shield and sword and even change Link's clothes. If you just want the collect treasure then you're also free to do that - which is where the mini-games come in. Spirit Tracks has five mini-games, all of which are completely different from each other and incredibly fun. Each one act as a means to gain useful items, treasure or just to pass the time.

The characters carry the same charm as they did in Phantom Hourglass and each town has its own unique qualities. There's no Linebeck like there was in Phantom Hourglass this time around though (who has arguably the best character in that game), but you do have Zelda tagging along with you instead. Spirit Tracks actually manages to make Zelda more than just a plot device and actually makes her into a fairly charming, likeable and entertaining character. She's also an integral part of the gameplay too.

The music - especially the overworld music (which you'll be hearing a lot) is incredibly well done. There's even the added touch of the train sounds actually syncing up with the music. If I had a top list of game themes, Spirit Track's overworld theme would pretty high on the list. It's incredibly catchy, gets you in the mood and you'll probably be whistling or humming along to it as you play. There's a few other songs in the game that stand out as well, such as the Goron Shooting Range theme.

Graphically, you're not really going to get any better on the DS. Spirit Track is a pretty gorgeous game considering it's on the DS and the only games that springs to mind with comparable graphics would be its predecessor and Avalon Code. This is a perfect example of why a stylised art and graphical direction are much better than trying to look realistic.

There are a few minor problems though, but they might only be a problem to the completionist. When you start a game, certain items from the treasure pool will become rare and incredibly hard for you to come by - probably to promote the trade system. This is a problem when collecting train parts since they all require a certain amount of treasure to purchase. There are workarounds to counter this, but they're still fairly time consuming. The rabbit catching fetch-quest can also a bit long and tedious, but not something to worry about unless you really want to go for a 100% save game or want your sword to shoot beams. There are also sections of slowdown while on the tracks when certain enemies appear in certain areas, though this isn't much of a problem.

So overall, I personally find this game to be the best handheld Zelda game available. While Link's Awakening and the Oracle games were amazing for their time, Spirit Tracks just brings everything to an entirely new level while still managing to introduce some new themes without falling on its face.

It's not your conventional Zelda game, and it's all the better because of it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2012 8:34 PM BST

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