As those who follow my twitter probably know, I’m really into the Smash series. I follow the Melee and Project M competitive scene religiously and I compete a bit myself. Obviously I’m excited for the next entry. As per usual with my blog, this article is impromptu with no planning; I just wrote down my thoughts in real-time and I’ll probably be rambling a lot. So I included a TL;DR at the end.
I know it’s silly to expect the level of depth and complexity that Melee’s gameplay had, since it’s been known for a while that Sakurai didn’t want that from the game. So I’m not gonna compare it to Melee, that’d be unrealistic. Smash 4 is not Melee, and it doesn’t need to be like Melee to be good. Instead, I’ll be comparing it to what I consider to be a satisfying experience. Mostly I’ll be pointing out the things that weren’t “good” or satisfying to me, and I’ll try to provide insight on how it could be improved.
Another thing to note is that I’m not gonna be talking about Smash 4 as a whole just yet, I’ll probably have another article altogether on that. I’ve only played the demo so far, so I’ll only be talking about the demo.
The first thing I noticed when I started playing was the massive amount of landing lag (I think they call it “recovery frames” in traditional fighting games) on aerial moves, though it wasn’t a surprised. We knew about this since the first playable demo at E3. Some landing lag is a good thing, as it allows for punishes. But it feels way overboard in Smash 4. There’s so much lag that I never even want to use an aerial move because I know I’ll have to watch my character recover from it, whether I hit with it or miss. That having been said, there are also a lot of aerials that can be auto-cancelled. Obviously this will lead to the auto-cancellable moves being used predominantly, while the aerials with massive lag will be rarely used. In a worst-case scenario, one could even predict that this will eventually lead to the characters with a large amount of auto-cancellable aerials being used more than the others, effectively limiting the list of viable characters.
The worst part about this whole thing is that they already had the perfect system for this. L-cancelling in 64 and Melee made sense: aerials have a reasonable amount of lag, but if you time your L-cancel perfectly, then the recovery time is cut in half. If you miss it, then you have a higher chance to be punished, and it’s your fault. There was no reason to change this system.
My next issue was the movement. If you ask a Melee player their favorite thing about Melee, and what separates it from other fighting games (even other Smash games) they’ll say it’s the movement. Melee’s deep and difficult movement options are the key to spacing and positioning, both of which are vital to the metagame. L-cancelling, dancedashing, wavedashing, wavelanding, SHFFLing, shield-dropping; these advanced techniques are what make Melee unique, and they play a large part in the reason why Melee can be taken to such a high skill level. Much like Brawl, most if not all of this movement options are taken away from the player in Smash 4. You can run, jump, and use attacks. That’s pretty much it. Because of the removal of these options, I don’t feel like I have complete control of my character in Smash 4 (granted, it may be partly because of the 3DS circle pad; I’m sure it’ll be a bit better when the Wii U version comes out). That’s my biggest problem; I can’t express myself through my movement properly because the options to do so don’t exist. Everything feels slippery. I can’t cancel my dash animation with a SHFFL or a wavedash, so I have to slip and slide everywhere. This, combined with the intense lag time, leads to a largely unsatisfying experience.
Going into the demo, I thought the thing I’d dislike most about the game would be the lag time. Turns out I was wrong. The biggest problem with Smash 4, by far, is that it’s extremely difficult to KO. There are a few reason for this, the most pertinent being the fact that the blast zones on every stage to be taken seriously are absolutely huge. In far too many cases, I’ve had an opponent at extremely high percents, (150-180%), and I’d hit them with an attack that should kill them. They’d fly far away, really far, and they just didn’t die.
This leads into the next point: it’s far too easy to make it back to the stage. Edgeguarding, an important component of the Smash metagame, is nearly non-existent in Smash 4. Since the blast zones are so big, the character gets more air time to DI and air-drift back to the stage. Also, following Brawl’s trend, all up-B recoveries are far more effective overall, making it extremely easy to get back to the stage when knocked off for most characters. To top it all off, the new “ledge” system ensures that you grab the ledge even if it’s already occupied by another character. Edgeguarding used to separate the good players from the not-so-good ones. With effective edgegaurding, you could get early kills through skill and stage awareness. Now it’s virtually gone. RIP in piece.
Another huge problem with the game is the unbalanced knockback from attacks. Generally, aerial moves are less effective for KO-ing. By less effective, I mean, have fun trying to KO with an air move before 150%. It seems like Sakurai really wanted you to use Smash moves to KO, as they seem to be the only reliable way to get kills at a reasonable percent.
Knockback is a big issue. To sum it up, Smash 4 has the unfortunate combination of the knockback being generally too much to get follow-ups, hit confirms, or combos, while being not enough to KO at reasonable percent. This leads to long, drawn-out, boring matches. At this point it seems Smash 4 will follow the “hit once, run away, reset situation” Brawl-esque style of play. Then at higher percents, players will spend most of the time fishing for stray smash attacks for KOs. Blegghhhhhh.
So here’s the TL;DR:
– too much lag time on aerials that don’t autocancel
– lack of movement options result in being unable to express myself properly
– blast zones are far too big
– up-B recoveries are too effective for edgeguarding to be meaningful
– aerial attacks are generally too weak to get kills with; using smash attacks generally seem to be the only way to get KOs at reasonable percents
– knockback is generally too much to get follow-ups, hit confirms, or meaningful combos, while being not enough to get kills at reasonable percents
Before I end this article I want to get a few disclaimers out of the way first. This should go without saying, but the game is brand new (it isn’t even out yet, in most of the world). It will take some time for players to adjust to the new engine. Hopefully the game will become more fast-paced as players get better and get used to the new engine. Also, who knows, there may be some important undiscovered advanced techniques that radically change the metagame for the better. These are just my first impressions on the demo.
When I compared Smash 4 to Melee when I talked about movement options, I wasn’t trying to imply that Smash 4 had to be like Melee to be good. If anything, I was implying that it needs movement options in general to be satisfying, at least in my opinion. It doesn’t have to be Melee’s options, it could be techniques that are unique to Smash 4. But as it stands now, the movement in Smash 4 is insufficient for me to be able to properly express myself.
It may seem like I’m being overcritical, but I’m not complaining just for the sake of complaining. I love Smash and I want to to be as good as it can be. I’m critical because I’m passionate.
Lastly I want to say that even though this article consists mostly of being a hypercritical turbonerd, I’m sure Smash 4 will be fun. Brawl was fun with items, custom stages, 4 players, etc. I’m sure Smash 4 will be the same. I just don’t see a competitive future in it as it stands now; no matter how hard the Smash community tries. Before trying to force it to be competitive like they did with Brawl, they should first evaluate the game and ask, should there be a competitive scene for this game?
I’m gonna preface this article by saying that I haven’t finished Xillia 2 yet. I’m not even that far into it. These are just my thoughts on it so far; I’ll probably write a follow-up article when I complete the game. Remember that this isn’t a review, it’s just my thoughts on the game. As a result, it’ll probably be unorganized and I’ll probably be rambling a lot. Oh well.
As a person who put around 160 hours into the first Tales of Xillia and got the platinum trophy, there’s a reason why I’m not very far into Xillia 2 when most people have beaten it already. And the main reason is because I’m just not interested in it. I’m trying to get into it. I want to like it, but it’s just not doing anything for me. And I think my dissatisfaction with it (so far) stems from the fact that the main character, Ludgar, is a silent protagonist. He never talks, aside from the many choices you make, most of which are inconsequential. And even then, you don’t even see/hear him say the decisions you chose. You’re just presented with a sound effect letting you know that you made the choice. Those of you who know me a bit probably know that I usually hate silent protagonists in any game (I won’t go into detail as to reason why here; I’ll probably make a separate article about that). But it’s especially disheartening to see a silent protagonist in the Tales series, where one of the staples of the franchise is the heavy banter between the cast. There is literally no reason for Ludgar to not be voiced and as a result, I feel extremely disconnecting from him as a protagonist and by extension, the rest of the game.
My other main complaint that I want to get out of the way is the combat system, particularly Ludgar’s. I loved the combat in Xillia 1, I felt that it had just the right amount of simplicity while still not being a complete mashfest (*cough* Graces f) and being very fun. I’m happy to see that the combat system is largely unchanged in Xillia 2. Except for one thing: Ludgar. When playing as Ludgar, you have access to three different weapon, as opposed to the usual one, each with their own unique moveset. This seems like a great thing on paper, but in practice it doesn’t feel like it was implemented very well, at least in my opinion.
Without going into too much detail, it feels like they made 3 subpar weapons for Ludgar instead of making 1 really good one. The biggest problem with it however, is how it handles link partner skills with the 3 different weapons. Basically, each party member you can link with has a specific weapon that they prefer you use. I.E. to get the most out of linking with Alvin, you have to be using guns. For Elise, it’s the staff/hammer. So, in order to be most efficient, you’ll have to change your weapon every time you change your link partner. One of the things I liked most about the battle system in Xillia 1 was how quick and seamless it was to change between partners. Now in Xillia 2, it’s pretty much gone because it becomes a big commitment to change your partner since you’ll have to change your weapon as well, and by extension your entire moveset. It’s a hassle now.
Now that my big problems are out of the way, it’s time to talk about some of the less important stuff. Small gripes, little things I liked, etc.
I guess I should at least mention the debt and travelling restriction system since it seems to be one of the staples of the game. A lot of people hate this, but I don’t think it’s so bad. It’s kind of neat actually. Basically you need to pay a certain amount of money to progress to new areas and progress the story. The main way of earning money is by doing sidequests. As someone who generally enjoys sidequests and usually goes for 100% completion in games, I have no problem with this. In fact I like it because it makes me feel like I’m rewarded even more then usual for doing sidequests, increasing my interest in them.
Another common complaint about the game is that nearly all of the areas (towns, dungeons, outdoor areas) are ripped straight from Xillia 1 with little or no changes whatsoever. There are hardly any actual new areas in the game, so for most of the game you’re just revisiting places that you’ve already been in the first game. Yeah. It’s kind of lame. I don’t have much more to say about it. However @MDanishU brought up a good point in his Xillia 2 review and I agree mostly. I’m okay with games reusing assets to lowest their budget costs so that they can make a game that perhaps couldn’t be made otherwise. To an extent, of course.
And here’s a really nitpicky thing. When Nova contacts you to collect your payment, it puts the default amount to donate at 1/10 of the payment required. E.I. if the payment is 15,000 it puts the default amount to 1,500. Why does it do this? It should either put it at 0, and then you can easily add as much as you want, or start it at 15,000 and then you can go down from there. Whatever. Not really important, but it just struck me as strange.
So those are some thoughts I currently have on Tales of Xillia 2. Like I said, I’m not done with the game yet, so everything here is subject to change as I play more of it. I’ll probably write more thoughts on the game when I complete it. As always, feel free to leave comments and talk to me!
I’m going to be listing my thoughts about Virtue’s Last Reward; things I liked, things I didn’t like. Things they could’ve improved on, etc.
These are literally just some thoughts that I jotted down on the memopad in my phone periodically while playing the game. They are haphazard and unorganized. If you’re looking for a proper review then you’re in the wrong place (sorry!).
Also I will be spoiling at least one major plot point in this article. SPOILER WARNING. You’ve been warned!!
I’ll start off with the positive stuff. I love Virtue’s Last Reward and I think it’s an extremely good video game.
VLR is fully voiced. Because it’s a visual novel, there’s a huge amount of dialogue and pretty much every single bit of it is voice-acted in both Japanese and English. Good job! Also I think the voice acting was great, even in English.
There are no apparent significant plotholes, which is especially impressive with a story as complex as this one. If something could be considered a plothole, it usually feels as if it was intentional, that it will be addressed in the sequel.
The writing in VLR is so good that it makes silly things such as robots and telepathy believable.
Now for the not-so-good stuff. Some of this stuff may seem like nitpicking or being overly-critical, and they probably are. Remember, these are just thoughts that popped into my head while I was playing. I’m just listing them here.
One of the biggest problems I have with VLR is travelling. When moving from room to room, you have to watch a little dot (you) on the map literally just move across the map while making an annoying beeping sound. When your character goes through a door, you have to watch a cutscene of the door opening slowly. Then it’s back to the map to watch the dot move. This may seem like a small gripe, but it happens a lot throughout the game and most importantly, it interrupts the story and gameplay for no reason. The dot on the minigame should move three times as fast. That way, you’d still see where your character is going to, and it’ll be fast enough so that it wouldn’t interrupt the game.
One of my notes on my memopad was “Sigma should be voiced like everyone else”. Followed by that was my reasoning why. Here it is:
[Sigma is too independent a character to not have a voice and be a “silent protagonist”. It creates an awkward mixture of Sigma being a completely individual character, and the player having very limited control only when the game wants you to. At no point does it feel like Sigma is “me” and in that case, why am I even making decisions for this guy? And why doesn’t he have a voice like everyone else?]
That mini-rant was written before I had beaten the game. Now that I completed it, I understand why he wasn’t voiced. It makes sense, but it still feels a little cheap. The only reason he wasn’t voiced, essentially, was to hide information from the player. It was necessary I suppose, but…eh.
I personally found the bunny Zero Jr. thing kind of annoying after a while. It’s just personal preference though, I know a lot of people who love it. One could argue that it doesn’t fit the otherwise serious tone of the story and setting.
Character endings don’t have much to do with the actual character. I.E. Clover’s ending could have just been any other ending, it didn’t have much to do with Clover. We did learn some of Clover’s backstory in the route but arguably not enough to warrant it to be her character ending; we are exposed to characters’ backstories somewhat regularly throughout the game, many of which aren’t during that particular character’s route or ending. In Tenmyouji’s ending, we learn more about Quark than Tenmyouji.
For the sake of investing the player in the story more, and perhaps due to the developers wanting more accessibility to new players to the series, characters do not always act within what would seem to be realistic to their respective personalities. For example one would assume that Tenmyouji (since he’s Junpei from 999) would have a much different – and much more enthusiastic – reaction when seeing Clover in the beginning of the game, since they were both in the previous Nonary game together. Clover would have a different reaction too. Why wouldn’t they explain to the other 7 people that they’ve been through this before what to expect, etc.
Tenmyouji is Junpei. In other words, Tenyouji is the player from 999. He’s supposed to be me in 999, but not in VLR. I don’t think this works very well. In VLR, he acts as a completely different person; far from how I would act and as a result, far from how Junpei would have acted in 999.
So yeah, those are some of my thoughts on Virtue’s Last Reward. Looking back, I’m not sure they were enough to warrant their own article, but whatever. That’s what this blog is for I guess. Just random thoughts. Most of them were negative, but that’s because everything else in the game is so good. So these nitpicky “problems” I had with the game are just ways to improve the game to make it almost perfect.
If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment! Whether you agree or disagree, or I got something wrong. Let me know!
Hello this is a blog for twitter user https://twitter.com/_Cruxis . I like talking about video games and making a blog like this is a good way to do it with more than 140 characters.
This blog is pretty much gonna be filled with my thoughts on games. Not “reviews” per se (unless stated otherwise), but I’ll just be giving some of my thoughts on the games I play; pointing out major flaws, giving compliments, listing arbitrary thoughts and opinions, stuff like that.
So yeah, feel free to follow me on twitter i post porn of monster girls and stuff sometimes. Leave comments on my articles, i like talking about games !!