More Final Fantasy VII Remake info coming June

It looks like it is coming along nicely!

Last week, Sony had its second State of Play event. It’s still essentially a Nintendo Direct rip-off inspired presentation, but they seem to be finding their feet with the format reasonably well.

I still haven’t had a chance to go into everything they showed in full depth, but the new teaser for the Final Fantasy VII Remake looks amazing!

I don’t quite get a lot of the negatives I hear around this remake.

Is Final Fantasy VII a beloved game? Yes.  For many players around my age, this was their first Final Fantasy game.  That is nostalgia gold right there.

Was it a perfect game?  Nope.  Not by a long shot.  A great game sure, and one I still love playing today, but not perfect by any means.  So why just bring out the identical game again?

So Square is remaking it.  Not HD Remastering, a full-blown remake.  Gameplay that was set because of old limitations can be overhauled, not just the graphics.  Look how well Resident Evil 2 remake has been received – this can be done very, very right.

Personally, I am looking forward to Final Fantasy VII Remake. It may crash and burn horribly, but I want to see what happens before making any judgements!

I am hoping the news coming in June at the ‘Not E3’ Conference will finally include a release date.

What about you?  Is this something you are looking forward to?  What is your favourite Final Fantasy so far?  Let me know on Twitter @JohnHQLD or drop me a line on Facebook!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Review

20190102 AstroBot
20190102 AstroBot
Released 2018
Platform PlayStation 4
Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment (Website)
Developer Japan Studio (Website)
Homepage PlayStation.com (Website)
Players 1
Category Virtual Reality
Platformer
Collectables

The little bot that could

One of the first ‘games’ you get (or should get) with PlayStation VR is called The Playroom VR.  Essentially a few mini-games showing off the VR tech, The Playroom VR is a great introduction to different nuances of VR gaming.

One of these mini-games is Japan Studio’s Rescue Robots.  The idea is simple – you control a single robot through a 3D world and try to find all your missing friends through the level.

The catch – you are actively in the game.  Your avatar is a (relatively) huge vacuum looking robot that floats through the level on a set path.  Your controller is visible on the screen at all times, as it is part of the game.  You can shoot out a rope and grappling hooks to create tightropes and pull down walls.

It was a very immersive experience and a highlight of the package.

Robots Rescue PlayRoom VR
Rescue Robots was definitely one of the most popular Playroom VR mini games

And now Rescue Robots is all grown up

Now, Rescue Robots has evolved into its own game – Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

The basic gameplay is almost identical, but a bit of polishing has happened.  On starting a new game, you get to see the Bots and their sentient mothership attacked by an alien.  The ship is ripped apart, and the alien makes off with the ships PSVR visor.

So you control Astro, captain of the ship, and set off to explore five different worlds and find your friends.

Story-wise, this will never win awards.  It’s all a thin premise to get you where you need to be for the platforming, and that is where Astro Bot Rescue Mission shines.

On the surface, it’s a very straightforward platformer.  Control Astro and explore the stages, collecting coins and finding your missing crewmates.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Opening
The more of your crewmates you save, the more greet you on the opening screen

Some crew are out in the open, some are hidden in various ways.  The great sound of the game lets you hear the bots cry out for help, and the 3D sound makes it easy to home in on where you should be looking.

What it doesn’t do is home in on how you should be looking – and that is a great element of Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

If you think of yourself as a camera moving around on a dolly, that would be fairly correct.  But you aren’t fixed in your seat.  There will be times you will want to stand and look ahead or behind you for secrets and hidden paths that your initial view hid with perspective.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Exploring the World
So the little guy looking up is Astro, the guy up inm the air is one of your crewmates, and the big huge thing in the screen is you!

And that’s just part of it.  Some of the bots are hidden, but not all of them are calling out for help.  Some are quietly lazing around, minding their own business until you knock something or turn around to see them.

This kind of thinking is slowly introduced through the levels of the game.  In the first level, the fact that a bot in it that is lazing next to an enemy subtly teaches you that just because enemies came from there, doesn’t mean that a crew member can’t be around.

Then you get into the environmental controller bonuses.  Some levels give you different ways of interacting with the world directly.

The first tool is the grappling line, similar to Rescue Robots.  Create tightropes or pull down walls to make Astro new paths.  Shurikens are another bonus, allowing you to embed them in certain walls to make platforms.  Another is a water hose, letting you grow plants and vines as paths in the Garden levels, or cool lava to make a path in Volcano levels.

And of course, there is the old fashioned mini-gun ball launcher, to knock over everything in your way 🙂

Astro Bot Rescue Mission New Item Unlocked
Trouble from above? Mini ball blaster unlocked! You have to play yourself, it's not all on Astro!

But it’s not just the gameplay

Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a great traditional platformer with not so traditional twists.  And as I have said, the story isn’t going to win any real prizes.

But the characters.  Initially, you think ‘Oh cute’.  But I actually started caring about not only the Bots but the ‘enemies’ stopping me and the others that help you along the way.

Having Astro look at you and wave as it makes its way around the level was fun, and a few times I actually found myself waving back!  This is a world that you don’t think about when you start playing, but truly pulls you in completely.

The cutesy graphics style may make Astro Bot Rescue Mission look like a kids game, but don’t let that fool you.  There is a lot happening here, and the simpler graphics not only establish the world but let it play smoothly on the PlayStation hardware.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Cute little game
There is no way you can say the characters don't have personality

On the whole, the controls worked great.  There were a few times that I would go ‘out of field’ with the headset, but just moving back fixed that and it never happened at a critical moment, only when I was physically walking around exploring.

Once you put the PSVR on, you are in the world of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

So what’s wrong with it?

Honestly – not much.  The controls have a little bit of a learning curve, as the direction you push to send Astro is relative to where you are looking.

The biggest complaint I would have is the game length, and even that is a relative complaint.

There are five game worlds, each with four levels and a boss.  Once these are cleared, there is one ‘final’ boss – the alien from the start.  This is a pretty short game to get to the end overall.

But there is a lot more to do.  Each level has a chameleon you have to find, and finding these unlock challenges.  This adds 26 extra levels to the game, adding a couple of hours overall.  It’s a welcome addition and requires skill and practice, but unfortunately, it also feels a little like padding.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Challenge Levels
Just when you thought you were done...

There is also a ‘grabber’ mini-game where you spend your coins.  This lets you rebuild levels inside the mothership to play and explore in.

Grab a bomb, waste some coins.  Levels can be replayed to farm coins, so it’s not a massive issue, but the mini-game is more for novelty than gameplay value.

That said, I have put Astro Bot Rescue Mission on the ‘I am going to Platinum this’ list for 2019 – and hopefully before the end of January!

Astro Bot Rescue Mission In The Mothership
When you get the grabber items, you get pieces for fun mini levels in the Mother ship. Ride an abducted cow anyone?

Even though the game is relatively short (a dedicated day to finish everything is my guess), it is a lot of fun to play and well worth the price of admission.

As long as it’s on sale.  AUD$55 is a bit much I think for the amount of game you get, but the AUD$31 until 19/01/2019 is pretty much spot on.

But there really is no better way to understand Astro Bot than by playing it yourself.  And while it’s not as good as having the controller in your hands, below is my first video of 2019 – finishing the first level of Astro Bot Rescue Mission with all the secrets!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Final Thoughts

It’s fun, immersive, and has that ‘one more go’ factor that makes great games great.

In small doses, Astro Bot Rescue Mission might even be a good trainer for getting your ‘VR legs’ if you experience motion sickness in VR.  Either way, a heap of fun and another great game from Japan Studio.

MORE PLEASE!!!

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  •  Lots of fun
  •  Great use of VR systems
  •  Great start to a potential new franchise
  •  Friendly learning curve

Cons

  •  Can cause Motion Sickness
  •  Relatively Short

PlayStation Classic coming this December!

PlayStation Classic in hand

Because apparently, I am a retro geek sucker

When Nintendo announced the NES Classic, I jumped onboard.  I was a Sega lad on the whole, and the mini console let me play a whole bunch of games I knew I had missed.

Same with the SNES Classic.  Not as many games I really wanted to play, but enough to make it worthwhile.  The C64 Mini was a no-brainer – it was essentially my first computer, and I was ready for that trip down nostalgia lane.

And then last night, this happened.

Final Fantasy VII, with the original no-stick controllers.  The memories are flooding back like crazy, and that is from just one title.

This was when I took console gaming ‘seriously’.  Sure, I had the Master System and a couple of handhelds, but until the PlayStation, if the game wasn’t on PC it just wasn’t worth buying.

We know the console will have 20 games preloaded in total, with only Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms confirmed.

PlayStation Classic in hand
Another retro console is about to join my shelf. Well, I am pretty sure it will.

The other 15 games will be revealed over the coming weeks, but I am really enjoying the quick turnaround between the announcement and on the shelf.

Looking for a retro gift for an older player?  Maybe you aren’t old enough to have tried the original console?  This is a great gift idea for either!

Just like the Nintendo and C64 mini versions, everything will run via a USB micro a cable, but no power supply is included.  I know a lot of people complain about this, but honestly how many spare USB adaptors are in a house these days?

It also looks like Sony has gone with Standard USB ports for the controllers, so cable extenders and possibly Dual Shock controllers could be plugged in.  Wireless adaptors maybe?

Either way, with the current popularity of classics such as Crash and Spyro, the timing is great to get gamers back into retro PlayStation gaming.  And on a Sony Platform. *cough Switch envy much? cough*

PlayStation Classic Front and Back
The classic style, but with modern conveniences

If you only have a current gen console and don’t have access to PlayStation Now, this is a great way to play some classic games.  I have mine locked in.  I am going to have to build a mini-console shelf soon!

In Australia, the PlayStation Classic will set you back $150 and you can preorder from EB Games here.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD