What Games Do You Enjoy Revisiting?

What game(s) do you find yourself coming back to time and time again?

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As someone who poured easily 120 hours or more into the Witcher 3, you would think that would be it for me? However, every time I want to put this game down for good, I throw it in my system “for one more go.” Each time I do that, I find even more quests, scavenger hunts, and more to do that keeps me playing for hours on end each session. Don’t take that the wrong way: I’m forever thankful that this game keeps providing endless hours of entertainment!

Which brings me to the point of this article. What game(s) do you find yourself coming back to time and time again? Is it a sports game like FIFA, NHL, Madden, or MLB The Show? What about an expansive RGP like Witcher 3, Dragon Age series, or Mass Effect? Or maybe you love JRPG’s like the Persona series, Shin Migami Tensei, or Final Fantasy? Let me know in the comments! I can always use a new classic to return to or start for the first time!

The Pros and Cons of Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Instead of doing a traditional review, I am making the creative decision to do a list of pros and cons for the game (hopefully with similarly positive results like those in this masterpiece of a video game). Not only does this allow me to produce more quality content in the same amount of time, but it also let’s me provide a concise list of what features stood out the most, both good and bad.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Instead of doing a traditional review, I am making the creative decision to do a list of pros and cons for the game (hopefully with similarly positive results like those in this masterpiece of a video game). Not only does this allow me to produce more quality content in the same amount of time, but it also let’s me provide a concise list of what features stood out the most, both good and bad.

Pros

  • Art Style-continuing the hand-drawn look of the first game that stands up to Studio Ghibli’s pedigree was a smart decision. This game looks just as good as the original, and possibly even better during battles and in the over-world.
  • Re-imagined Combat-The switch to a more Tales-like combat style that emphasizes mobility and quick decisions without the ability to pause the action mid-combat paid off. I think it is the most improved aspect in the sequel and a major reason I poured over 70 hours into my play-through.
  • City Building-Ni No Kuni 2 introduces a robust and enjoyable city building feature that is something other games could implement in the future. While it isn’t necessary to engaged with this system, it is well worth your time if you plan on getting the platinum trophy.
  • Higgledies-I wasn’t sold on the concept of Pikmin in my Ni No Kuni game, until I realized how valuable they are to succeeding in combat (in additional to be adorable). Having a Hiddledie that can boost your elemental resistance when fighting a dragon can be a difference maker, especially on late game enemies. They can also have abilities like bringing another Hiddledie to battle when they power up (Awaken), transform into a cannon with their respective element, or even boost your attack. With so many different ones to find in the world and create in your city, the variety of combinations is impressive.
  • Side Quests-Most JPRG’s have fetch quests galore. Thankfully, this game mixes up the objectives required to complete the plethora of quests. From getting specific items, to completing strategic battles where you control four groups of different warriors with different abilities and battle against other groups on the over-world map.
  • Pacing-Something that should not be overlooked in games is the pacing, whether it’s a story that drags on a dozen hours too much, or has too many points where you can’t progress without completing certain objectives. Whereas the first game did have some pacing problems, often slowing down the progression of the game to a crawl, I am happy to report that the pacing in this game is nearly perfect. It took me about 30-40 hours to complete just the main story, which to me felt like the perfect amount of time.
  • The Map and Traversal-I included both of these in this point since they are closely linked. The traversal in this game is vastly superior to that in the original, to the point that going and playing the original has been a tough sell lately for me. The map itself may not feel as large as the original game once you acquire all types of traversal, but the layout and getting from point to point is easy and doesn’t require too much additional travel time in between. Also, the Traps (teleport spots) scattered throughout make getting where you need to very accessible.

Cons

  • The Story Until The Last Chapter-I want to be very specific about this point. The last chapter in this game is phenomenal, and has a giant twist that I honestly didn’t see coming. However, until then I feel the story was slightly underwhelming and that a few of the story beats that should have been momentous instead fell a little flat. Still, overall it was enjoyable and the last chapter made up for all the previous areas that didn’t have the impact of the original game.
  • Strategic Group Battles-There are battles in the game where you are able to choose four groups of warriors, each with their own individual stats, strengths, and abilities, and are asked to complete objectives that normally include defeating the enemy groups. There isn’t a ton of variety in these battles, and to fully complete the game you need to grind out a minimum of 50 of these (something I am slowly working towards completing). They aren’t always exciting, sometimes have very high level requirements, and occasionally leave me wishing this feature wouldn’t have been relied on as heavily as it is for the side quests.

Those are my Pros and Cons for Ni No Kuni 2. Hopefully you are able to find these helpful and informative. Are there any that you feel I missed? What do you think of my choices? Let me know in the comments!

Tips and Hints for Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Here are some spoiler free tips and hints as you begin your journey with this spectacular and breathtaking new JRPG from Level 5.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

I have learned a lot with during my time with Ni No Kuni 2: Higgledies are like adorable Pikmin but better, I am pretty sure I would love the Tales games if the combat is anything like Ni No Kuni 2, and open world JRPG’s still bring out that wonder you normally only feel as a kid. Here are some spoiler free tips and hints as you begin your journey with this spectacular and breathtaking new JRPG from Level 5.

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Exploring the world is an absolute delight!

Play the Game Your Way

This might sound obvious, but it’s especially true with Ni No Kuni 2. After the somewhat brief (compared to other JRPG’s like Xenoblade Chronicles 2) tutorial, it becomes abundantly clear that there are many more moving pieces going on here that you can interact with and enjoy. Or not. That’s your choice! Do you want to focus on upgrading and nurturing new Hiddledies? Would you rather build up your city into a glorious and magical new kingdom? Or do you want to hunt down all the tainted enemies that inhabit the world to truly make it a peaceful world? You can do all that and more, or choose to just play through the story with minimal to no interaction with the numerous systems available. That’s just one of the great things about this game that I hope people don’t overlook.

Don’t Rush To Sell All Your Items

I made this mistake about half way through the game. I though that I needed all the gold possible (trust me, you don’t), so I decide to sell all the extra armor, weapons, and miscellaneous items I had in my inventory. Turns out, I definitely needed those to complete side quests a couple hours later and had to spend a lot more gold than what I received for selling it to get similar items for those quests. Word of advise, don’t sell all your items unless you have plenty extra or are more focused on completing the main story and not the majority of side quests.

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The combat is very different from the original, and that’s not a bad thing.

Upgrading Your Spells Will Make Combat a Piece of Cake

The Spellworks building in game allows you to upgrade your skills/spells for each character. If you want a challenge, don’t upgrade them to the max or unlock the upgraded version of them. However, if you want to feel really powerful by the end and exert your power as King Evan by demolishing anyone who stands in your way (i.e. tainted monsters), then upgrading these will definitely help you accomplish that goal. By leveling up the building, having the right personnel assigned to it, and completing research you are ultimately working towards building an unstoppable team of charming adventurers.

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Did I mention they are really cute yet?

Higgledies Aren’t Just Cute, They’re Useful Too

Going into this game, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the combat. I loved the first game, and really enjoyed the familiar catching and evolving that reminded me of an open world Pokemon game. Still, I went into this one with an open mind about the combat and, like everything else in this game, it doesn’t disappoint! Each Higgledie has an elemental affinity, like normal, fire, nature, just like the familiars in the original game. Unlike the orginal game though, you don’t take direct control over them. They are still important since they can boost your stats, or even awaken and use special abilities like transforming into a cannon or raising your resistances to certain elements. Having the right combination of Higgledies in your party can sometimes mean the difference between defeating a tainted enemy, or having to retry the battle from the start. By upgrading the Higgledie Hut and nurturing new ones, you can make sure you’re prepared for any enemy you want to take down. Plus, they are really, really cute.

What do you think of Ni No Kuni 2? Has it lived up to your expectations? Are you enjoying the change in combat more or less? Let me know in the comments and feel free to post any other hints or tips I may have missed.

6 Tips For Getting Started in Xenoblade Chronicles 2

While the story isn’t as engaging as I anticipated, I can’t help but praise the art style, wonderful world, satisfying and sometimes challenging combat, and intricate systems. So without further ado, I present five tips and hints for starting your journey through Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

After almost a dozen hours in the breathtakingly beautiful world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I feel it is safe to say I’m definitely enjoying my time with it. The JRPG, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, caps of a brilliant first year for the versatile new console. While the story isn’t as engaging as I anticipated, I can’t help but praise the art style, wonderful world, satisfying and sometimes challenging combat, and intricate systems. So without further ado, I present six tips and hints for starting your journey through Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

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1. The Map is Your Best Friend

This one seems obvious, and it should be. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive world, with countless side quests which combined together can understandably be overwhelming at first. I found it best to consult the map if I ever had trouble finding where certain side quests wanted me to go (indicated by blue diamond with white question mark inside). The main quest has been fairly simple to track, since it is denoted by magenta diamonds with white exclamations marks inside, but even then I have gotten turned around once or twice. Just keep in mind that you CAN navigate over large roots to trees in the left part of the map where the gold person is found on the image above. I found that out after an hour of wandering around and then getting slaughtered by a level 75 King Kong-looking monster.

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2. Spend Time Exploring the Menus

Like many JRPG’s, this game has A LOT of systems working simultaneously during battles. Whether it is upgrading your Arts, Affinity grid, or unlocking new Blades, there is always something that can be improved in your party if you know where to look.  The Affinity Chart above is a great example of all the upgrades available for completing certain tasks explained for each bubble. One might require you to revive a companion a single time in order to receive 20% extra health from potions dropped from enemies, while another may require you to enter 10 battles in order to get a permanent boost to physical defense. These may not seem like much, but you will appreciate that extra defense and health from potions when the battle lasts 10+ minutes and you have a skill that specifically drops health from enemies.

3. Don’t Expect Too Much From the Story

This one comes off as negative, but it isn’t meant to be. Setting your expectations appropriately for this game will help you enjoy it much more. After the great story from the original, I had high hopes for this one to continue that trait. It might fall flat on its face at times, and the lip syncing during cut-scenes might be laughably bad at times, but the game play and intricate systems make up for it. It won’t win any awards for the story it appears to be telling, but if you can get past that it will reward you with everything else it has to offer.

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4. Grinding Isn’t Just Necessary, It’s Also Fun

Games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 usually feature some form a grinding, whether it’s White Knight Chronicles, FFXV, games from the Tales series. Grinding is something that is expected and can even be relaxing if you do what I do and throw on a podcast to listen to while you go through the motions for an hour or so each night, chipping away bit by bit at your slowing increasing experience bar. I haven’t found the grind to be too cumbersome at this point, and hope it doesn’t become frustrating come late game content. The enemies have interesting designs, and rounding a couple up can result in fantastically engaging battles that leave you nearly out of breath and HP by the end. A dozen hours in, and I look forward to spending some more time fighting the denizens of Alrest.

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5. Timing is Everything

Whether you are scavenging the clouds for treasure or fighting a plethora of monsters all at once, timing is everything. Whenever you choose to scavenge for treasure, you will be presented with button prompts. Hitting the corresponding button on screen while it is inside the inner circle in every prompt will result in better rewards from the dive, and can get interesting once you progress farther into the game and encounter enemies that are over 20 levels above you when you arrive on land.

Button prompts are also a key element of battles. While using your special attacks, depending on which ones you use with different weapons, you’ll have the opportunity to hit the correct buttons to do exponentially more damage. Timing your abilities just after landing a hit (auto-attack or Art) will increase the damage even further, so it is entirely possible to turn the tide of a lopsided battle in seconds once you begin to master the system.

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6. Tackle Named Monsters of Equal Level

During my time, I encountered a few named enemies that may look like normal enemies, but are denoted by a special symbol and are much more difficult to bring down. I attempted to bring a level 12 beast down when I was level 15, and after 10 minutes of intense button pressing and frantically running to pick up dropped potions, I felled the beast and received numerous rewards for their defeat. I highly recommend trying to tackle some of these once you gain three characters simultaneously in your party. The monster I took down wasn’t overwhelmingly challenging, and I felt great afterwards! They even have a little gravestone where they were that allows you to fight them again should that be something you wish to do.

Overall, I’ve had a great experience with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, despite a few frame rate stutters and the occasional annoying character. It is a JRPG after all, and I can’t stop looking ahead and getting excited about what awesome Blades I will be able to unlock or wonder how this connects to the original game.

Have you picked it up yet? If you have, are you enjoying it so far? Let me know in the comments!

Five Things I Like About the Nintendo Switch

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As I raised my fists in victory, glowing as I watched the Nintendo Live Press Conference for the Switch last night, I realized just how excited I am for this ambitious device.  While the design is sleek, the controllers look comfortable (if slightly diminutive), and it looks easy enough to handle, I can’t express enough how encouraging their initial first year lineup appears on paper (and via the streamed video).  Below are the five things that excite me the most about the Nintendo Switch.

  1. The Design

This one is an obvious first choice.  While initially skeptical of a design that closely mirrors the failed Wii U controller, the tablet itself appears thin and comfortable to hold (per recent sources).  While the Wii U had a good concept, I never quite understood the weight to the device, or the fact that it felt like my hands were always too far apart for it to feel like an actual controller.  Hopefully this one gets it right.

  1. The Detachable Joy-Cons

While most knew about the detachable Joy-Cons since the initial design was leaked, no one was able to report on how they felt or looked for sure.  Now, we know that there are “shoulder” buttons built in to the side for use when apart from the main console.  Also, you can hold them apart just like you could with the nunchuk and Wii remote.  The freedom that gives your hands is something no other console can offer, and that’s always a plus.

  1. The Launch Lineup

It was speculated that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would miss the initial launch window.  Thankfully, our doubts were vanquished when Nintendo confirmed that it would, in fact, be released alongside the Switch (and this awesome collector’s edition is something to swing a sword at).

Also, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks beautiful and will release within two months of the console being available.  Breath of the Wild alone should be enough to satisfy the hardcore fans long enough for other promising titles to reach our anxious paws.

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  1. All of the Unique Games Announced

Now, I know that not all of the titles announced will be out anytime soon, let alone this year.  However, that doesn’t mean that a brand-new Shin Megami Tensei game on console or Fire Emblem Heroes isn’t enough to get me all fired up.  In particular, Super Mario Odyssey looks like a blast (minus the lifelike people in that trailer, boy they looked rough) and the super interesting Project Octopath Traveler have me licking my gaming chops.

  1. The Possibilities Ahead

This is my last point, and as such is somewhat ambiguous. Instead of focusing on a singular topic, I want to expand it to all the possibilities for this new console.  I know they haven’t announced or even mentioned Metroid yet, but how cool would it be to play a brand new Metroid game on a portable system that isn’t as limited as the 3DS?  To be able to take a console quality Metroid game on the go would be a dream come true!  Plus, with the added power,  the Switch could serve as a great return to form for a legitimate 2D Castlevania game that rivals SotN.

Those are my thoughts for now.  Feel free to comment or email us with any questions: officialgoldenagegamers@gmail.com