Tetris 99 has a Fire Emblem Event starting tomorrow

Life is but a theme, doo wop doo wop…

Tetris 99 is one of the few games not on my phone I can pick up, play a round or two, and walk away feeling like I have played ‘a game’. This weekend, the sixth Maximus Cup is on, and this time it crosses over with Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

Winning the theme is simple – play and earn 100 points during the event. How do you earn points? Just play.

If you win a round, you will get 100 points instantly. One game, and a new shiny is yours!

From memory you get points for coming in the top 80, with more points the higher you place. This does make winning the prize more skill based, but one thing I love about Tetris is if you keep playing for the weekend, you are all but guaranteed to earn the points you need!

Oh yeah, another event just before I take off for a week!

The Splatoon theme is my favourite to date, and I am loving the fact I want to start playing Three Houses Sunday as I head over the ocean to New Zealand for work.

Obviously, this plan was supposed to be!

Are you going to join in? If you have Switch Online, Tetris 99 and entry is free!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

The Mandalorian and The Witcher 3 Switch release dates and more!

So many things going on!

So the relative drought of games releases lately is coming to an end. Gamescom announcements have been flying by my periphery this morning, and I don’t have the time to watch them all as they happen. Stupid day job :p

The Witcher 3 Switch Release Date Revealed

One notification that did grab my attention though was a hard release date for The Witcher 3 on Switch. October 15th is the day. The Tuesday after PAX Aus in fact. I don’t know why they didn’t highlight this in the new trailer though?

For me, I don’t know about buying it on Switch though. And it’s nothing to do with ‘graphical downgrade outrage’ or anything of the sort.

I have it on PC, and I still have to play it. I planned to replay the trilogy, maybe even recording the gameplay, but the timing is sucking. I also bought it on PS4 to try out console controls for the series. My planning was trying to work out if I played Cyberpunk 2077 on PC or Console.

Getting it on the Switch might mean I get to play it. Even though I wanted to finish Final Fantasy X by now, the fact I have been able to take it with me or play it on the couch means I am about 20 hours further in than I would be. And that’s the appeal of ‘Switcher’ for me – I will finally get to play it!

Disney+ is coming to Australia in the first run – and it brings The Mandalorian!

In another bit of news released recently, the new streaming behemoth Disney+ has a launch date. And that date is November 12th.

Usually, I would be looking at the date and thinking “That’s nice. The US gets the thing. When does it come to Australia?”. PlayStation Now and Google Stadia, I am looking at you!

This time though, Australia is in the first round of non-US releases. Australia and New Zealand will be getting the service by the end of November 2019!

Pricing wise, it looks good as well. $8.99 a month or $89 for an annual subscription. That’s a brilliant price to compete against pretty much anyone, and in Australia, it’s much cheaper than Netflix and Stan.

And one series that has always been a Day One launch title is The Mandalorian – I can’t wait to see what they are going to do with this series!

Because I don't already have a backlog of things to watch and play!

Iron Harvest, the RTS in the Scythe universe, has a release date as well!

A while ago, I backed Iron Harvest. It was basically a no brainer for me. A real time strategy game based on the same world as Scythe? OH HELL YEAH.

With all of my time juggling, I haven’t had a chance to sit with the Alpha build I got as a backer, which has been dissapointing. But I have been sitting back and waiting, madly hoping that this and Phoenix Point don’t release at the same time!

Don’t know what I am talking about? Have a look at this mornings new Gamescom trailer below!

Until then, I still need to finish XCom 2’s War of the Chosen expansion. Maybe over the holiday break?

What news has been coming out that has you excited? Let me know in the comments, Facebook or #JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pandemic is coming to XBox One and Switch August 1st!

Pandemic can now be installed almost anywhere

I really enjoy Pandemic. Anyone that has played with me or seen my collection knows this to be true. If you would like my thoughts on the game, you can see me review here. Short version though – I consider Pandemic a classic, and a game everyone should play.

A few years ago, I grabbed Pandemic for iOS. It was fun to be able to pick up my phone and play a game or two with no setup times, just the core game experience. Like most digital board games, it was a quick solo distraction that was fun, and back in those days it was also a rare treat – it was a good digital version.

It was a lot of little things that made the digital version so much fun. Hitting new game for the first time on iOS bought up a choice for how much help teaching you Pandemic you needed. It even has the rulebooks (albeit in a simple point form) of the board games to let you see what it’s doing in the background!

I got a few of my friends into it as well. It was surprising how much the tension built with the music in the background. Even the simple animations built excitement and terror as you watched outbreaks spread out of control!

The iPad version, the first time you hit new game.

When I went from iOS to Android, I didn’t pick up Pandemic on my new phone, but I did grab it on Steam on sale and have a game or two on my iPad when I need to take it somewhere.

It wasn’t because I don’t enjoy playing Pandemic, it was because a lot of board game adaptions had been getting better and better so I had more to choose from. Plus, I prefer playing Pandemic with people – the cooperative nature is half the fun!

That said, that busy outfit Asmodee Media announced today that Pandemic is coming to XBox One and the Switch August 1st!

It looks like it will be just the base game initally, with the On the Brink Expansion coming in September.

Nothing against the XBox, but I think this will be a great fit for the Switch. Being able to play party type games already on the go, being able to play Pandemic in a hot seat mode with the Switch seems to be a great fit.

Who will you choose to help you save the world?

There is also the easier nature of the touch screen with the Switch. Playing on mobile and PC, I definitely prefer the tocuh method to using a mouse, so using a controller I don’t think will be as good.

That is of course assuming that you have to move a pointer around the screen with the left stick or similar. Until I see how the control method on XBox works, just keep it in mind as something I am wary of rather than a blanket statement of bad controls.

If you already know Pandemic, you already know exactly what information is being shown

Pandemic for XBox One and Switch will be priced at USD$19.99 – a little more expensive than the iOS, Android and Steam versions but if that includes the On The Brink expansion then it is a bit of a better deal.

Asmodee Digital also released an announcement trailer this morning, as they have been doing with Catan and similar releases in the past. I have linked the Pandemic video below, but be warned – it’s a nice attempt to try and make Pandemic look and sound cool, but it makes me miss 80’s TV!

I don’t think I will be rushing to get Pandemic on the Switch. I already have 2 digital versions, plus every physical version of the game, so I think I am pretty sorted.

But if you would like to play the original Pandemic and digital is a good choice becuase of price/storage/players/whatever, I highly recommend the digital version to play.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – 29th April, 2019

Donut County Trashpedia

So the Switch is great when you are mid-move…

With all of my games boxed up and ready to move, plus just being really busy, my gaming options have been a little slim lately.

But I did get a few games in this week thanks to the portable power of the Switch!

Donut County

I did the formal review last week, but you can’t really explain Donut County in a way to convince people to try it.

If you do, a fun light puzzler awaits.  If you don’t, there isn’t enough hype to remind you it exists anyway.

Donut County is fun, light, and is a great game for the Switch.  I recommend checking it out if you get the chance!

Donut County Story
Between each level, you find out a bit more of what's been happening

Tetris 99

There is always something soothing about a game of Tetris.  This week my games have been a lot harsher than normal though.  I had a few weeks at my normal Top 30 to Top 10, but this week I have had many games in a row where I was in the first 10 to be knocked out this week!

I did end the week with a very satisfying win though, so that made up for the frustration really well 😀

20190415 Tetris 99 Hard Start
Well this was a fun way to start. A few pieces in, and the pressure starts to mount

Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy is a series I love.  One general truth I have observed over the years is that the ‘best’ Final Fantasy game tends to be the first one that people played.

Final Fantasy X doesn’t even crack my top 5 favourite Final Fantasy games, and I don’t remember even finishing X-2.  But X does have my second favourite mini-game in the series – BLITZBALL!

I don’t know if I will finish Final Fantasy X properly on the Switch, or just have a portable Blitzball league. I have a few hours to go before I get to that stage, so I will see how I feel then.

It looks amazing, and plays just like I remember – warts and all 🙂

Final Fantasy X Switch
One of the most commonly viewed scenes of the intro, but it looks so good on the Switch!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Let me know what I missed playing this week!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Donut County Review

Donut County Title
Donut County Title
Released 2018
Platform Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PS4, XBox One, iOS, Steam, PC, Mac
Publisher Annapurna Games (Website)
Developer Ben Esposito (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Puzzle
Physics-Based
Diversion

Who would of thought playing as a hole could be so much fun?

If someone says a game is a puzzle game, you usually have a good idea of what to expect.  There could be deduction puzzles such as Access Denied (reviewed here).  There could be more 3D type puzzles, such as the Portal games.  You can even have adventure games with convoluted solutions to getting past a goat (Broken Sword!).

But a puzzle game where you are a hole?  It took me a while to warm up to the idea.  Even the trailer doesn’t really explain the game in such a way that you ‘have’ to try it.  Check it out:

But I bought it on Switch and it has been sitting there until I had time to sit and play it.  And with most of my gaming all packed up and a tired brain, it seemed like a good time to try it.

And I am really happy that I did 🙂

Don’t let the ‘puzzle’ aspect of Donut County put you off – this is a fun little experience.  The goal is to almost always just to drop everything on the map down the hole.

You start each level as a small hole, and as things are dropped down the hole it gets bigger.  And bigger.  Eventually, you will be consuming entire buildings!

While you need to work out how to get to some parts, at no point does the game put you in a state where you will lose.  Just keep at it, and you will get through the level.

Donut County Gameplay
How do you reach those high up chickens?

Because Donut County is so simple, there really isn’t much more that can be said about the gameplay itself.  It’s a game you knock over in an afternoon, with a semi-traditional ‘boss battle’ at the end of the game.

Eating everything on the screen and seeing how the hole interacts with things though is calming.  It’s got a similar zen state as Tetris in this way, and there are two levels in particular I can see myself replaying just for this feeling.

Even though you can drag the hole around the screen with the touchscreen, I used the Switch Joy-cons and it behaved pretty well.  For really fine movement the analog sticks moved a little too much. The end result was normally a fun flick of something across the screen, so it wasn’t frustrating at all.

The real fun of Donut County is hidden in the humor and story of the game.  Everything you have eaten ends up at the bottom of the hole, and between levels, the story slowly unfolds as to how everything has come to be.

It’s far from an epic tale of intrigue and suspense, but almost every story put a smile on my face and made me want to see what happened next.  There is even a little redemption arc for BK 🙂

Donut County Story
Between each level, you find out a bit more of what's been happening

Another fun little part is the Trashpedia.  Between levels, all the trash you have collected in the hole gets an entry added to this tome.

Reading the descriptions of the items from a Racoon’s point of view is really fun, and worth the minute or so to flick through the new entries 🙂

Even some of the level design has elements of humor to them – but I will let you discover those ones for yourself 🙂

Donut County Trashpedia
Bet you never thought of a snake like this!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Donut County

Final Thoughts

Donut County is a fun little diversion that I can see appealing to a lot of different people.  The new elements are introduced in a logical manner, and I never felt frustrated with the game at all.

I enjoyed this on the Switch, and it felt like the best platform for it.  I can see it working well on mobile, but the required touch screen controls I think would work against it overall.

On PS4 I just looked up it has a Platinum trophy as well.  I don’t think I will rebuy it just for that, but if that is something that would sway you think about it 🙂

Basically, playing Donut County for an afternoon where I was physically tired was a fun experience, and totally worth it.  It’s one of those games that I will most likely play again just because of how good it feels to gobble everything up with a hole!

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  •  A fun light little diversion
  •  Cute art style
  •  Good difficulty curve

Cons

  •  Short
  •  On a phone, you would block what you need to see with your finge

Access Denied Review

Access Denied Feature
Access Denied Feature
Released 2019
Platform Steam, PS4 (reviewed), XBox, Switch
Publisher Stately Snail (Website)
Developer Stately Snail (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Logic and Deduction
Escape Room-esque puzzles

When you want to exercise your mind instead of your trigger finger

While I have been playing some action-oriented games lately, I do enjoy logic problems. Getting a puzzle and working it over and over until a solution is found is an incredibly satisfying experience.

So a few weeks ago when I saw Access Denied on the PlayStation Store, I thought “Why Not?” and spent the AUD$8 on what looked like a promising little title.

So I one afternoon when I was working from home, I started playing. I thought it would be a good thing I could pick up and put down as I was waiting.

What I didn’t expect was to finish after about 2 hours. And that was a distracted 2 hours. But more of that later – let’s talk about the good stuff first.

What Access Denied does well

Access Denied doesn’t hold your hand. You start the game with a control panel and some great rain sounds. Clicking start raises a box, and then you are pretty much on your own.

You can rotate the device before you, and change the viewing angle. The first puzzle is straightforward, but you still need to work out what you can interact with.

When the puzzle is complete, a little hologram orb appears, and the next challenge rotates in. Simple, straightforward, and satisfying when you complete a puzzle.

The difficulty curve I thought was about right as well. New mechanics are slowly introduced, and I never felt stumped. There was always a path I knew I could try.

All in all, it’s a generally smooth experience that allows people new to puzzle games a safe entry point.

Access Denied Level Complete
When you are finished, the game shows you so very clearly

And what could Acces Denied improve?

I have only played on the PS4, but the controls aren’t great. Maybe the touchscreen would be better? Moving the reticle and clicking isn’t too bad, but you have the problem of moving too much or not enough with the analogue stick. A way to adjust the sensitivity of the movement would be nice.

And dials. They are terrible. Using the dials was genuinely frustrating for me. They made straightforward puzzles unnecessarily annoying.

My only other real gripe is the length of the game, but at less than $8 (on PS4) I don’t expect a 40-hour game.

Access Denied Dials
There is a trick to it, but it's still REALLY annoying to turn dials

And then there are the trophies…

On PlayStation and Xbox are the trophies or achievements. Earning them increases your score or level on your platform, and is something either sought after or ignored generally.

For PlayStation gamers, trophies come in four ranks and are awarded for specific tasks in a game. Bronze for small achievements, the backbone of the system. Silver for harder tasks or hidden goals, recognition of extra work. Gold for outstanding in-game actions. Get every other trophy in the game, and you earn the platinum trophy signifying your mastery of the title.

Kingdom Hearts 3, my first platinum since Resident Evil 7, has 46 trophies in all. 32 bronze, 10 silver, and 2 gold – plus the platinum.

Batman – Return to Arkham: Arkham Asylum has 48 trophies. 28 bronze, 18 silver, 1 gold plus the platinum.

The Telltale game The Walking Dead: Season One also has a platinum trophy. It is generally regarded as an ‘easy platinum’ as you only need to finish all of the episodes. Each episode is essentially a mini-movie with the occasional choice, so they aren’t considered ‘hard’ games. The Walking Dead: Season One has 41 trophies over 5 episodes. 30 bronze, 5 silver, 5 gold and of course one platinum.

JohnHQLD Trophy Sample
Day of the Tentacle doesn't count as a short game - I have played it at least once a year on PC for years!

Among these titles, you now have an idea of how trophies usually are shared out in a game. You are given a semi-secret score for each trophy you earn, all of which add up to your gamer level.

What struck me as odd was how much my PSN level jumped when finishing Access Denied. Sure, I had earned platinum which is worth a lot of points, but it still didn’t seem right. Plus it was only 14 trophies; things weren’t adding up. Then I looked at the trophy distribution. 2 silver, 11 gold, and the platinum. Not a single bronze trophy in sight.

For $8 and a couple of hours of my time, I had bought a platinum trophy and more gold trophies than three ‘full’ games. Not going to lie – this left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t consider myself a trophy hunter, but this feels like an artificial sales incentive for Access Denied.

Want to get a lot of trophies quickly? Buy Me!

Access Denied stands on its own merits.  If I had just finished the game with nothing but a few bronze trophies, I would have been happy.  On PS4 at least this trophy grab incentive cheapens the game in my eyes.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Access Denied

Final Thoughts

If the biggest problem I have with a game is a perceived marketing ploy, it really can’t be a bad game.

Even the controls I could work around.  Access Denied is a game you pick up and play in short bursts normally.  Working around issues like that for a short time, especially for the price, is forgivable in my eyes.

If you are new to video game escape room type puzzle games, Access Denied is a fine game if you know it’s shortcomings.  If you have more experience, you can still grab The Witness for free on PlayStation Plus for a couple more days.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Solid introduction to video game puzzles
  •  Challenging puzzles
  •  Cheap

Cons

  •  Frustrating Controls (on PS4 at least)
  •  Short gameplay overall

Pokemon Let’s Go Review

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Released 2018
Platform Nintendo Switch
Publisher Nintendo (Website)
Developer Game Freak (Website)
Homepage Pokemon.com (Website)
Players 1 (2 player is a little deceptive)
Category Light RPG
Collectables

Let’s Go on so many levels indeed!

To call Pokemon a marketing phenomenon would be fair.  Even if you are not into games, it’s even money you know Pikachu.  You may not realise what Pikachu is, but you know the little yellow mascot by sight and possibly the call.

This all came to a head a couple of years ago with a massive surge in popularity due to Pokemon Go.  Droves of people were walking everywhere trying to catch all the Pokemon.  True, initially it was probably the sizable number of fans that always wanted to catch a Pokemon themselves, but the media frenzy that followed definitely got a lot of people that had never played a Pokemon game loading Pokemon Go onto their phones.

So what is Pokemon Let’s Go?

To say Pokemon Let’s Go is a remaster of the original Gameboy Pokemon Yellow isn’t quite right.  A lot of the story elements are there, the basic map and abilities are all present, but a lot of the game has been modified as well.

Pokemon Let’s Go is a new gateway game to the world of Pokemon, with many nods to the old school fans.  Gameplay has also been tuned to make the game accessible for the players that Pokemon Go is their only background to the world of Pokemon.

Pokemon Lets Go Meeting Oak
Your first meeting with Professor Oak! This time you don't pick your partner Pokemon first.

This made the initial reception to Pokemon Let’s Go mixed for some.  The hardcore audience screamed that the series had been dumbed down, while some new players were overwhelmed with the adventure and complexity of the world compared to Pokemon Go.

My take: Game Freak, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company took the opportunity to not only update a 20-year-old game, but to update the entire series in such a way that a whole new way of playing was introduced.

And it works well.

The Story

I’m not going to beat about the bush – the story isn’t anything super special.  If you want a deep narrative that rivals the greatest literary works, this isn’t it.

Yes, you get to beat the 8 gym leaders and then take on the elite 4 to become a Pokemon Champion.  You get to stop Team Rocket and their ‘evil plans’.

The overall story is enjoyable but predictable.  As I said – kids game.

But.

There are moments that are beautiful.  Playing with your Partner Pokemon is adorable, even if it’s not part of the story proper.  And reuniting Cubone with its mother pulled more heartstrings than a story like this deserved.

Pokemon Lets Go Facing Brock
80's kids already know all about Brock, the first Gym leader you meet on your travels.

Describing the story of Pokemon Let’s Go is like describing a day out at a park or something similar.  You remember the highlights and the individual moments and somehow gloss over the mundane things that you did for most of the day.

Yes, like any adventure game you grind facing other trainers to be strong enough to battle the next leader.  You run around for hours catching various Pokemon.  But the individual moments make it all worthwhile to see it through to the end.

The old school changes – the story run

One of the biggest changes to a traditional Pokemon game (even ones as recent as Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon) is the random battles required to capture Pokemon.

You used to walk around and wander in fields of grass and hope that the Pokemon you wanted to catch would appear.  Then you had to battle it, and hope you didn’t knock it out, then when you wore it down, you could throw your Poke Balls at it to try and catch it.

This worked and allowed you to give your Pokemon experience to level them up and improve their stats.  Just like any other RPG, your individual stats don’t matter, it’s your parties stats that count.

Unlike most other RPG’s however, you aren’t the hero of the quest battling whatever comes along – that’s what your Pokemon do, so they need to increase their skills.

While fun, this quickly became repetitive, the very definition of ‘the grind’ of RPGs everywhere.  Coupled with the random chance of Pokemon appearing, this quickly put off a lot of casual gamers in the past.

Pokemon Let’s Go takes advantage of the much-improved graphics and storage capabilities of the Switch to change this up.  Now as you explore Kanto, you can actually see the Pokemon inhabiting the land around you.  Don’t want to capture any more Weedles?  Don’t walk into them, and problem solved!

Pokemon Lets Go Seeing The World
Being able to see the Pokemon around you makes it both easier to collect them, and more immersive.

You also don’t have to fight the Pokemon first.  Taking inspiration from Pokemon Go, if you see a Pokemon all you have to do is capture them.  Better Poke Balls give better odds of capturing them, and you can use different berries to stop Pokemon from running around the screen or like you a little more to help.

Pokemon can run away, which can be frustrating.  You can throw a lot of Ultra Poke Balls at a Pokemon,, run out and capture the same Pokemon with a standard ball first time.  But what you can’t do is accidentally knock out the Pokemon, stopping you from attempting the capture at all.

Pokemon Lets Go Catching Pokemon
Catching new Pokemon is almost the same as Pokemon Go - just time the throw with the circle, and see how you go!

The Old School Changes – Post Game

For those that screamed ‘It’s too easy!’ when Pokemon Let’s Go launched, this is where they should probably have stuck with it.

A lot has been added to the post-game content.

You can hunt down and catch some legendary Pokemon, such as MewTwo, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.  Not that unusual as post-game content, but it’s there!

Finding the Mega Evolution stones should also be on your list.

Also on the cards are the original two rival trainers, Red and Green as well as Blue.  Finding more powerful trainers sounds standard as well, but these aren’t the only three.

Pokemon Lets Go MewTwo
The legendary MewTwo. Guess who I am running around with post game?

Pokemon Let’s Go also has Master Trainers.  These are trainers that have trained one specific Pokemon to level 75.  Not only do you have to beat them with the same Pokemon, but without any items or assistance as well!

Now people were complaining about levelling up Pokemon as the main experience source was catching Pokemon, and Poke Balls cost.  Unlike any other Pokemon Game I have played, you can continue to face Gym Leaders and the Elite Four for experience and a cash boost at any time!

Pokemon Lets Go Master Trainers
Not only do you have to train all of the Pokemon, you have to find the right trainers as well

While not everyone will want to do these activities, this should be what every hardcore Pokemon player was hoping for.  Yes, you have to finish the game to get to this, but this becomes the biggest collectible/side quest Pokemon I have ever seen!

And fair, I have only finished Yellow, Sun and Ultra Moon until now – but that’s kind of the point.  Pokemon has been almost the same game for over 20 years – it’s great to see something new in the mix!

Pokemon Go Integration

A game heavily influenced by Pokemon Go, many including myself were intrigued by the idea of importing between the two games.

I managed a connection once, imported Ditto, and then didn’t do it again.

Don’t be put off by this though – if you are a keen Pokemon Go player with all of the Pokemon to transfer, the ability to play with Pokemon in Let’s Go is amazing!  You just don’t need to do it to play the game, and I found the process annoyingly unintuitive.

Pokemon Lets Go Transfer with Go
Exchanging Pokemon is a whole lot of fun. There are even cool descriptions I won't spoil 🙂

Biggest issue – Pokemon Let’s Go doesn’t like sharing Bluetooth connections.  If you have a Fitbit or similar tracker, prepare for some issues.  But once it was working, the experience was fun, and it’s a great way to bring in some missing Pokemon if you don’t have anyone to trade with for the missing Pokemon between Eevee and Pikachu.

Poke Ball Plus

I already talked about this in my Poke Ball Plus review, but this was a fun add-on to the whole game.

Controller wise, it worked reasonably well.  The motion controls I actually found better than the single Joy Con.  I wasn’t as happy with the fact that you had to shake the ball to use the Y button though.  Overall this isn’t an issue, but because shaking in battle brings in a partner, if you don’t know exactly what a move does (bought up by the Y button) you are in trouble.

But taking your Pokemon for a walk makes up for all that in a lot of ways.  Read the review for my full thoughts, but if you are only going to get Pokemon Let’s Go, it may be an expensive luxury.

Poke Ball Plus Battery Level Check
If the light is green, the trap is clean! Wait, wrong franchise...

What’s this about 2 players being deceptive?

The one thing I was hoping to try was playing with my Partner, but timing kind of killed that.  In some ways though, it’s kind of lucky it did.

It’s true you can have a helper in the game, the second player.  But that player controls one of your party and uses your Poke Balls to try and catch Pokemon.

They don’t get any benefit at all other than helping you out, and you don’t even need another person.  Pokemon is turn-based, so if you are having trouble in a fight you can just play both ‘trainers’ yourself with a second controller.

Now this is great if you have little ones that are having trouble in a fight or catching Pokemon.  You will be playing together and helping rather than taking over the game.  But playing the whole game like this?  I feel it’s a little less than advertised.

Pokemon Lets Go Two Player Roaming
The help works, but it's not what I would describe a true two player game

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Pokemon Let's Go

Final Thoughts

I didn’t play constantly, but I enjoyed Pokemon Let’s Go every time I picked it up.  Personally, I don’t have a preference for Eevee or Pikachu so my choice was dictated by my partner getting Pikachu.  Both games are almost identical, with a few Pokemon only available in the other game.

If you are interested in Pokemon or are curious about turn-based role-playing games, Pokemon Let’s Go is a great choice for you.  Light enough with a little handholding in-game to teach you the ropes, but enough in it to keep the interest intact.

Even as a relatively hardcore RPG player, Pokemon Let’s Go was a fun experience that I will probably keep picking back up to beat all those Master Trainers for some time to come.  It has a surprising amount of depths and layers around it, making it one of the better examples of ‘the game you want it to be’ for quite some time.

Overall
8.7/10
8.7/10

Pros

  •  Modern take on a beloved franchise
  •  Playing with your partner Pokemon is amazing
  •  Great to pick up and put down as you need to

Cons

  •  Music is so repetitive
  •  Second player isn’t really a second player
  •  Veterans may not see it through

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Final Season is being finished by Skybound

The Walking Dead The Final Season Feature

Great news for fans, not so much for Telltale employees still

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for Telltale fans.  It has been harder on Telltale employees.  On Friday the 21st of September, almost everyone turned up for another Friday – just business as usual.  The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 was due to ship the following week, everything was going as expected, but then the worst news possible was delivered.

Effective immediately, around 250 employees were told they no longer had a job.  No explanation, no severance, just so long and (I hope) thanks.

The community answered strongly with support and job opportunities, but it doesn’t help lessen the blow to so many people.  The skeleton staff that was remaining to complete Minecraft: Story Mode with Netflix about a week later.

The Walking Dead: The Final Season started being pulled from sale, and fans were left wondering what would become of a story that they were halfway through.

Yesterday, they were answered.

Now, selfishly I am glad this final chapter is being finished.  Telltales Walking Dead not only got me interested in the series again but wove a tale that has me genuinely caring about what becomes of Clementine.

I also enjoy many of the other episodic Telltale adventures, and I was especially looking forward to Wolf Among Us 2.  But I had also been bitten with buggy episode releases and an erratic release schedule, so I start buying Telltale games when they are complete and not before.

Given Telltale’s financial situation, I may not have been alone.  This may have contributed to the fall of the software house, as if most of their sales were coming after a game has finished that is a lot of money the company continues to pay out.

While this is all great news for fans, it’s still not great for Telltale’s staff.  They are looking for new work with only what they had at the time to support them.  Some will be able to move into a new position quickly sure, but these sort of situations still take time to resolve so what do they live on?

And now this stops being about video games

And here is where I take a turn.  This is a terrible situation, but how can something so basically and obviously wrong be allowed to happen in a country like the United States with no backlash?

It’s easy to forget that a fast food worker has more guaranteed job protection than software developers or many other industries in the United States.  Think about that. Fast food workers – the people almost all of us make jokes about as an entry-level job.

This is largely due to union representation in the States, but how can there not be a federal minimum standard for all workers across the board?

There are good employers sure – but it’s up to the employers, and Telltale hasn’t done anything illegal.  All it takes is a board change or a bad day, and an entire industry is suddenly worried about if they have a job tomorrow, and what protection they have if they don’t.

Similar to my thoughts and rants on the Australian Classification Board and their double standards as an example of where our government is going wrong, those of you reading this in the United States remember that your government is leading the way into making situations like this more widespread rather than protecting against it.

This isn’t intended as a party statement or a stab at US politics – it’s an overall observation of the current political system in many Western countries right now.  Take this simple example of exploitation by a software company and how little your government cares about it.  Now apply this logic to the things you really care about and see if it is treated with similar indifference.

Voting is a pain.  Having to take time out and go to a polling station and fill out a form is annoying.

You know what’s more annoying?  Having your rights taken from under you.  Being told that you aren’t important enough, or your issues aren’t valid.  Being treated as someone that is different not because you are unique and should be valued, but because one individual has the ability to make it law that entire groups of people are not equal.

Register to vote, and look at what your representatives are doing for you.  If your representative is doing everything they can for you, vote to keep them in place.  If they aren’t – vote to kick them out.  While it’s true that sometimes you can vote in someone worse, you can also vote in people that are better.

Yes, not everyone will have everything they want – everyone is in the minority on something.  But the more people that make their voices heard and demonstrate what the people actually want, the less the lifetime politicians can simply vote for what they want.

There are many governments in the world right now that need to be soundly reminded that they work for and represent all of the people in their countries – not just themselves.  Sadly, Australia and the US are high on that list right now, but hopefully, this can change soon.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Time Carnage Switch Review

Time Carnage Feature

Once more unto the breach

Not long ago, I did a review on Time Carnage VR.  It’s a bit of fun, far from the greatest game but a fun way to pass some time.  It doesn’t hurt that playing the game in VR makes you feel like John Wick.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Time Carnage was coming to the Nintendo Switch.  I wondered if Time Carnage could successfully port to the non-VR Switch, and now I know.

Gameplay

Time Carnage, for the most part, is identical to the VR versions, so I am not going into detail in this review.  If you would like to know my thoughts on Time Carnage overall, all of that is covered in my original review.

Today I am more talking about the differences playing Time Carnage on the Switch.  In VR, the experience is very intuitive and even natural.  You know you are shooting at the things running at you, you reach for your weapons and turn your head to see what is happening around you.

The main difference to gameplay though is the number of waves per level.  On the PS4 and PC, each wave has 10 levels.  I am yet to see a level past 5 on the Switch though – honestly, not sure what is happening there.

Time Carnage Switch Choose Control Scheme
Pick your poison - but only on the opening screen. From now on, use Gameplay to change control options.

Controls

The Switch has none of these benefits however.  You can play with motion controls sure, but your choice is the hybrid motion controls or the ‘standard shooter’ controls.

The first difference no matter the control scheme you use is both of your hands point at the same target.  In VR, your hands work independently of each other, allowing you great in-game freedom.  To simulate this on the Switch is the job of Co-Op mode, where each player controls an arm each.

I say hybrid motion controls, as the movement of your controller moves your aiming reticle on the screen.  The sticks still control your body movement and the camera, meaning motion controls is almost the same as the standard shooter controls but has you waving your controller more.

In a lot of ways, motion controls are best for Time Carnage on the Switch – but that’s not saying a lot.  Compared to almost any other shooter, the control scheme is unnatural and has a huge learning curve.   A game like this should feel like home for any shooter player, instead you feel like you are fighting the control system the entire time.

This is bought home with the motion controls by constantly having to recenter the controller during the waves.  Nothing pulls you out of the moment like having to wrestle the controls, and even the PSVR at it’s worst is nothing like the Switch.

Graphics

Time Carnage Switch Gameplay
Aiming with Standard controls is definitely helped with the Pro Controller and tweaking the sensitivity

Graphically though, the Switch version is surprisingly close to the PC version in terms of screen clarity – it may even exceed the PC in some of the background details.

None of the ‘darkness’ that is present in the PSVR version plagues the Switch version.  And that is before tweaking the brightness and gamma in the settings.  It may be that the ‘underpowered’ Switch is taking advantage of only needing to render a single image compared to dual images for VR, but it works for what is being presented.

Time Carnage Switch Better Visuals
A strange positive is the Switch graphics are much clearer than both the Vive and PSVR versions

Value

And here is the hardest comparison.  Time Carnage was less than AUD$20, making it not a bad purchase for a light Time Crisis/House of the Dead light gun experience.  Playing Co-Op only adds to this old-school arcade feeling, but the loose controls make this hard to recommend to people looking for a frantic shooter experience. ‘Missing’ waves doesn’t help either.

I know more expensive, but if you are looking for a fun Switch shooter experience, Splatoon 2 may scratch your jump in/jump out itch.  It is going to get even more expensive come September 18th with the Nintendo Online requirement, but the USD$20 a year will give you many other benefits making it a no-brainer buy to me anyway.  Also, there is the very free Fortnite.

Yes, both of these games are very different from Time Carnage but you will probably be playing them a lot longer.

Overall Thoughts

If you haven’t got VR, Time Carnage on the Switch is an inexpensive way to play the game.  But without VR, all of the best aspects of the user experience are all but sucked out of the game.

Being able to play co-op with one arm each can be a bit of fun, but there are a lot of other games out there for quick and fun co-op play.  The solo game is fun for a stage or two, but the comparatively unnatural controls make this a fan game only.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Time Carnage is coming to the Switch – sans VR

Time Carnage Feature

Time Carnage Switch?  Is there a headset coming?

I have reviewed Time Carnage earlier this year, so I won’t be talking about it too much here today.

Short version – stand in place and pick up various weapons to shoot everything from dinosaurs to robots in the face.  It’s a wave shooter, it’s a bit of fun, really that’s the story.

Looking through an impressive list of games released in the next couple of weeks, I was very surprised to see Time Carnage on the Switch.

Initially, I thought it was a typo. Time Carnage coming to something else. According to Nintendo though, it’s legit.

Now the trailer looks really close to the PSVR trailer, but the Nintendo site talks about motion controls.  This might work with the Joy Cons taking the place of the Move or Vive controllers, and I am guessing 2 player mode is just two players with one controller each.

What I don’t see working on the Switch though is the field of view.  A big part of Time Carnage VR is close to 180° field of view, and looking in the right direction is important.

But on the Switch, especially two player?  Use the analogue stick on one controller to simulate the head swivel maybe?

I don’t know if I will be buying this one day one, especially when I have it on VR already (twice technically).  But it’s interesting again seeing the raw variety of game coming to the Switch.

Maybe with the upcoming Nintendo Switch Firmware 6.0 update, maybe there is a Google Cardboard type headset on its way?  Nintendo already likes cardboard!  OK so probably not, but it would be interesting playing Time Carnage literally anywhere with the Switch on your face as a screen and using the Joy Cons as pistols.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD